Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Importance Of Doing Something

By John Stallings

Do you know how to swim?

Living in Florida with the ocean, lakes and rivers, and every other house with a swimming pool, you seldom meet a person who doesn’t know how to swim. But there are millions of people who don’t. Many of them sadly around the world have never been near enough water to even try.

Pretend you’re one of those people. The most water you’ve ever been in was in a bathtub. Now you decide you want to learn to swim, but the only pool available is ten feet deep everywhere; there is no shallow end. I think you’d be a little reluctant to just dive in.

I could tell you that the water would support you, that you would float. I could show you in an encyclopedia that the density of the human body is ever so slightly less than that of water. I could explain Bernoulli’s laws and Pascal’s laws, and Archimedes’ principle, so that you would become intellectually convinced that your body would float. ... Now are you going to jump in? Probably not. You believe me when I tell you that you can float. But you’re not ready to act on it yet.

You can tell me that you have absolute faith in what I have told you. You can quote back to me all the scientific details. You can study books on swimming, and quote them back to me word for word, chapter and verse. You can tell me how much you love swimming. But until you get wet, it doesn’t mean a thing. Faith without works is dead.

HEALING AT POOL OF BETHSEDA

Some of the better truths in the story of Jesus healing the man at the pool of Bethesda happen after the man was healed & entered the temple, encountering the Pharisees.

In John 5:14, Jesus later found the man in the temple & spoke to him. Jesus had already dealt with the man in “grace” & now He applied “truth,” telling him to stop sinning or something worse would happen to him.

Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you. John 5:14—NIV

Notice;

JESUS FOUND THE MAN IN THE TEMPLE

The narrative seems clear to me that Jesus went looking for the man He’d recently healed. It’s amazing how Jesus can always find us. Though we sometimes want to feel we went looking for Him, the fact is, God came searching for us. Do you know why it’s often said that Christianity isn’t a religion? Answer; religion is defined as, “Man’s search for God.”

In the strictest sense, a person can be praying to a bird or the Sun & be said to be practicing religion. Mankind is & has always been on a cosmic search for God.

But in Christianity, man wasn’t searching for God, but rather God came searching for man. It was happening all through the Old Testament through the prophets & other phenomenon, & it culminated in Christ coming to earth to dwell among men & die on the cross.

Paul said in Romans 3:11, --there is none that seeketh after God.

The Psalmist said in Psalm 14:3—there is none that doeth good, no not one.

Over & over it’s been demonstrated that when an individual sinks so far into sin all seems hopeless, --“man’s extremity is God’s opportunity,” & God finds that person.


WHEN JESUS FOUND THIS MAN IN THE TEMPLE, HE SAID SOMETHING INTERESTING! HE SAID…..

STOP SINNING OR SOMETHING WORSE MAY HAPPEN TO YOU.”

STOP-SINNING!! Here’s one of the most profound theological commands ever uttered. Are you ready?

STOP!

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the YOUTUBE video on STOP IT with comedian Bob Newhart. If not, take six minutes & watch it. He’s at his funniest, stuttering, brilliant best.

Newhart plays a very different kind of Psychiatrist who charges five dollars for a five minute session. A woman comes into his office & unburdens her phobia about being buried alive in a box. Newhart asks her if anyone had ever threatened to bury her in a box or if there was any real basis for the fear & she says there isn’t. Then he looks at her & says; STOP IT!

Newhart’s finished in three minutes but he can’t break a five dollar bill for the woman so she stays for two more minutes to get her monies worth. She tells him she doesn’t think his advice is going to work for her, & he says, “O.k. if the two words aren’t enough for you I’ll give you ten words,

“STOP IT OR I’LL BURY YOU ALIVE IN A BOX.”

That little skit is humorous but in reality it speaks volumes.

We could read the Bible through & memorize every word of it but until we, as an act of our will make the decision to forsake sin & put it to death, we’ll never be victorious over sin. At some point we have to stop the action, habit or sin because no one else can do it for us.

Are you thinking negatively? STOP IT!!

Are you over-spending? STOP IT!!

Are you overworking? STOP IT!!

Are you gossiping? STOP IT!!

Are you judging others? STOP IT!!

Are you obsessive/ compulsive? STOP IT!!

Do you think your opinions are always best? STOP IT!!

Do you lose your temper? STOP IT!!

Are you overeating? STOP IT!!

Are you indulging in a secret sin? STOP IT!!

It’s like the man who went to the Doctor & told him when he lifted his arm a certain way it hurt. The Doctor, said, “Stop lifting it like that.”

I heard about a man who was having trouble with his voice. He went to a throat specialist, & after a long series of tests, the doctor told the man, the only thing I can tell you is; you talk too much. Stop it!”

Years ago I heard comedian George Burns, nearly one hundred at the time, tell about developing a condition that caused him to constantly clear his throat with a little short cough. He’d been doing it for thirty years & mentioned to his doctor that he was concerned about the cough especially since he smoked cigars. The doctor told him he could easily get rid of the cough for him & gave him instructions, “Stop doing it.” Burns said “that was fifty years ago & I’ve never coughed since.” They aren’t making doctors like that any more.

Here’s the best way I’ve ever found to lose weight; STOP EATING SO MUCH!!

You can do it the low-carb way, which is the way we’ve done it for the last few years, or you can eat 1,000 to 1,500 calories a day but however you do it, you’ve got to STOP EATING SO MUCH.

You may have a problem that isn’t a sin-- it’s just a bad habit but you can handle it the same way, JUST STOP IT!!

DON’T TRY TO MODIFY OR REDEFINE SIN, OR SLOW IT DOWN, JUST STOP IT!

In the seventies Dr. Karl Mennineger wrote a very good book called, “Whatever became of sin?” He talked about this problem of rationalizing sin or calling it by another name. Over thirty years later the problem has grown exponentially. Our society now has a hard time labeling things right or wrong. When President Ronald Reagan called The Soviet Union an evil empire, it upset a lot of people because they couldn’t come to terms with calling certain things or nation’s evil.

When I read Dr. Mennineger’s book in the mid-seventies, I humbly answered his question thusly; “Sin went to the doctor & was diagnosed as a disease. Sin went to the psychiatrist & was diagnosed as a dysfunction.” Some people choose to try to modify their sin or cut down on it, like ordering a half-order of something in a restaurant. But the edict of heaven is still, STOP IT.

Jesus tells the paralyzed man,--SIN NO MORE!

You may think a Christian can’t sin but as long as we have a robe of flesh we will have a bent toward sin. The Lord’s Prayer says-- forgive us our sins; it doesn’t say –forgive them their sins.

You can be saved, sanctified & filled with heaven’s sweet Holy Ghost but you still have to STOP SINNING!! You can pray until your hair turns green but you still have to STOP SINNING!!

You can fast until you're skin & bones & God will certainly grant you His grace & power but at some point you’ll still have to make the decision to STOP SINNING!!

In Romans 8:13 Paul says, --For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the flesh ye shall live.

 The word mortify comes from the same word that we get the word mortician. This is what must be done to sin.

It’s possible to be “too spiritual,” expecting to sit passively by while God comes in & takes the evil desires & temptations out of our way. He won’t do that but He’ll always create an escape hatch for us to escape the temptation. Of course we’ll have to take the time to look for His way of escape.

Listen how Paul handles a situation where a person has a problem with stealing;

Does he say to the person: “You know, stealing is so ingrained in you & you’ve been so defeated by it, the only hope you have to being victorious over stealing is to have the Lord come in & deal with it for you?” No! What does Paul say? Listen to Ephesians 4:28;

Let him that stole, steal no more! --- JUST STOP IT! Now that’s some deep theology, wouldn’t you agree?

Paul deals much the same way when it comes to growth in grace & spiritual maturity. He tells us in 1 Corinthians that he was at one time young & immature like everyone else. There were the same weaknesses & childishness in Paul’s life that all of us know about.

But did Paul say, “Well, I went to a great revival meeting & went forward & do you know what? God came & instantaneously took away all my childish ways in a heart-beat?”

No. What did Paul say? He said, -When I became a man I put away childish things.-1 Cor.13:11

Paul is saying that as an act of his will, he put away from him the juvenile things that were holding him back.

Paul also tells us how he was able to deal with his day by day attitudes. But he didn’t say;--“You know, I had such a problem with my attitude, I didn’t know what I was going to do.” He didn’t say; “I was always miserable & constantly complaining about my accommodations, the food, and the beverages & really just about everything in my life. But, you know, one night in prayer, God just came into the room & touched me. And since that night, I’m just as contented as one of those old contented cows, anywhere God puts me.”? No! Paul didn’t say that.

What Paul said was;

……For I have LEARNED, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Phil.4:11

Paul didn’t get his sweet disposition in a miraculous manner. No Sir! He had to cultivate it. He had to learn it. Have you seen these spiritual babies that are waiting for God to work a miracle & transform them from a miserable Christian to a happy camper? God isn’t going to do for us what, through prayer, study of His word, & bringing our flesh into subjection, we should be doing for ourselves.

AN OLD TESTAMENT WAY OF DEALING WITH SIN

In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel anointed Saul & gave him instructions to kill all the Amalekites. While God doesn’t need me to come to His defense, there was a reason for this seemingly cruel order to be given. These folk, a nomadic race & descendants of Esau, were the mortal enemies of the Israelites. This was the people who attacked Israel in the famous battle when Aaron & Hur had to hold up Moses’ arms. God had already told Moses he would utterly blot out the memory of these people from under heaven.

The bloody Amalekites were one of the reasons the Israelites disobeyed God & balked at entering the Promised Land. God’s anger burned against these people because they hated Him & detested Israel. In short, the Amalekites were very bad people & Saul was to be God’s instrument to execute judgment on them.

As we know, Saul didn’t obey the clear command of God & motivated by covetousness he kept all their best possessions & actually spared their king, king Agag. Maybe Saul’s pride led him to want a “king on a string.”

The disobedience by Saul was so serious to God that He sent Samuel to tell him God was taking the throne of Israel from him & his descendants forever. We don’t usually think of Samuel, that great prophet of God who was called as a youngster under the tutelage of Eli, as a harsh & vindictive man.

But what Samuel later did about this miscarriage of God’s justice is shocking. He coolly said,

“Bring me Agag!” Agag thought he was safe & came to Samuel & cheerfully told him he was glad the threat of death had passed.

Obviously Samuel wasn’t amused. Do you know what Samuel did then? He took a sword & cut Agag to pieces. 1 Sam.15:32-33.

This might seem cruel & merciless, but let there be no mistake; this was an act of divine judgment to show the holy wrath of an indignant God against a cruel & incorrigible people.

For proof, you only have to go to the end of the book of 1 Samuel not long afterwards, to see the reinvigorated fragments of the Amalekites were still running around the countryside, eating, drinking & pillaging & still causing trouble for Israel. It was they who raided David’s town Ziklag & took his family captive. David caught up with them & got his family back, fighting them all night long into the next morning killing all but four hundred of them.

I can’t think of a more perfect illustration of what sin can & will do if not dealt with harshly. Like the Amalekites, sin if not mortified has a way of reviving, regrouping & launching new & unexpected attacks at the worst times & in the most unexpected ways.

Let’s be real here; living a pure life is difficult today & sexual temptation is one of the strongest. Did Jesus talk about that? Yes He did & He gave us three ways to break the power of sin in our lives.

1. LOOK AWAY

In Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus said;

Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, “Thou shall not commit adultery: But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a women to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Jesus is saying that looking at someone lustfully is just as detrimental to our heart & soul as if we had physically committed adultery. If you allowed contempt & hate to build up in your heart against a person it would create a barrier between you even if you never acted on those feelings. Likewise, having lustful thoughts hurts us spiritually if we never act on them because seeing someone as a sexual object builds the wrong feelings & motivations. We realize that thoughts precede actions & thinking about something paves the way to acting it out.

Look away, divert your eyes. Looking refers to one who continues to look with deliberate intent. We can’t live in a world without visual temptations but we don’t have to stare. We can always get up & leave a theater. We can put a book aside & not finish it. Even though we rented a movie, if it gets weird we don’t have to watch it.

If you go on a diet the last place you need to go is to the Dairy Queen or Wendy’s. If you’re counting calories the last thing you need is to go somewhere they have luscious pictures of Lobster Primavera on the menu. Then Jesus said;

2. CUT IT OUT.

If your eye or hand offends, put them away from you. Now we know Jesus isn’t actually speaking of mutilation here, He’s speaking figuratively. What He’s saying is whatever causes you to sin, get rid of it.

I’ve heard of good honorable people who can’t have a computer because of the temptation to log onto a porn channel. Not having a computer prevents them from communication with relatives, checking their bank accounts, checking news stories, driving directions to different locations, purchasing things conveniently, using the spiritual materials that are available online, knowing what’s happening to ministries around the world, & a multitude of other good things. But they can’t trust themselves to have those conveniences because it could open a door for a temptation they feel might be their spiritual downfall.

There are others who can’t have cable T.V because they don’t trust their ability to change the channel. Some people won’t listen to certain kinds of music & even terminate romantic relationships that are leading them into tempting situations.

There are people who haven’t had a drink for years & won’t go places where alcohol is served because it’s a temptation they don’t want to have to deal with. We might look at these folk critically but the bottom line is; whether it’s canceling AOL, having cable television disconnected, transferring to another department at work, whatever is necessary to keep out of a situation that causes temptation to sin, it’s wise to cut it out. It’s better to go dateless, have no television, not get a promotion & forego the knowledge the Internet could supply than to be trapped in sin.

3. GUARD YOUR HEART

David said; Create in me a pure heart O God….Psalm 51:10

I realize that temptation is a matter of the heart not just our surroundings & certainly our heart must be dealt with but in the case of many people, they feel by eliminating certain sources of temptation they get along better & give themselves the opportunity to focus on the real issues, the state of their heart.

God wants to purify our hearts so that dating isn’t a problem, surfing the Internet isn’t a problem or working with an attractive member of the opposite sex isn’t a problem. But we have to do our part. In order to be victorious, we’ve got to eliminate certain distractions, learn to look away from temptations, learn to avoid sinful situations, & learn to focus on the work he wants to do in us.

Please understand the Christian life isn’t a cut & dried proposition, a life that we live in our own strength. While It’s true that we can never abandon our responsibility to mortify our own sin, as Christians, God’s Spirit is always with us working in us, both to will & to of His good pleasure. Phil.2:13. If we have a desire to do right in the first place, it’s God’s spirit that has come along side us to give us that desire.

In a very real sense, it’s as simple as this; “Walk in the Spirit & you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. Gal.5:16.

Let us therefore cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh & spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. -- 2 Cor.7:1

“When we all get to heaven” we’ll be rid of the flesh, but like the Amalekites, until totally eradicated, sin can always come screaming back with hellish fury when least expected.

Paul said, -But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. 1 Cor.9:27.

We might as well accept the fact that we have a stalker named sin & it’s our duty, with the daily faithful assistance of the Holy Spirit, to mortify it, until we rest in gloryland.


Blessings,


John

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Serious Salvation

By John Stallings


…..the violent take it by force.—Matt.11:12
.

In 1985 I conducted a revival in Watertown, New York. I flew into Syracuse & the host pastor picked me up at the airport.

The car trip to Watertown, as I remember was about an hour. On the way, I saw a sign on the side of the hi-way pointing to Adam, New York. It looked to me like Adam was way back in the boonies.

Why was Adam, New York significant? When I started preaching as a teenager, I devoured the biographies of the early preachers, mostly those out of the 1800s. One of the most effective preachers of that era was Charles G. Finney. Finney was practicing law in the tiny hamlet of Adam, New York when he was saved.

The church in Watertown loaned me a car for the duration of the meetings so I moseyed down to Adam as soon as I could to do a little “sleuthing.”

While practicing law in Adams, at the age of 24, Finney realized God’s hand on his life. My reading told me that Finney became so hungry for God he found an old tree that was bent over making a place of shelter where a man could crawl in & hide. Hoping to avoid prying eyes, Finney crawled into that space, determined never to come out until God had revealed Himself to him.

Finney records, “An overwhelming sense of my wickedness so took hold of me that I cried at the top of my voice exclaiming I wouldn’t leave that place if all the men on earth & all the devils surrounded me. I prayed until my mind was so full that before I was aware of it I was on my feet headed home. Time had become unimportant & when I sat down to dinner that night I realized I had no appetite.

I tried to play hymns on the Viol but was so moved that I couldn’t sing without weeping. All my feelings seemed to rise & flow out. The utterance of my heart was-“I want to pour my whole soul out to God.” The rising of my soul was so great that I rushed into the room back of the front office to pray. I wept aloud like a child & made such confession as I could with my choked utterance. It seemed to me that I bathed His feet with my tears.”

Finney deeply desired an encounter with God & during that encounter his writings tell us he was filled with The Holy Spirit. As a result he became one of the world’s most powerful preachers. The Finney revival is one of the greatest in history. His sermons were like those of a gifted attorney pleading for the lives of condemned men. Surveys indicate that 75% of his converts remained true until death. If the reader wants to pursue Finney’s works, I’d suggest –Finney’s Systematic Theology.” My experience reading after Finney is, -you have to take in a sentence, then sit & ponder it for awhile, waiting for the full force to hit. I’ve been reading & re-reading the aforementioned book for over fifty years & some of his astute observations haven’t hit me yet. I think Finney is the man, other than Bible writers who first gave us the term “deep” in things theological.

SERIOUS SALVATION

The Finney revival was so powerful that he’d walk into a factory & without saying a word the workers would be so stricken with conviction that they’d fall on their knees & repent. Everywhere he went places of business would have to close down because of the Holy Ghost conviction that would engulf the populace.

Being an evangelist by calling, I’ve always believed & preached that Christianity is a “large tent,” with room for everyone. I’ve literally gone around the planet with the message that “whosoever will may come.” I still believe that & always will. But there’s another way to look at the gospel of Christ. Here it is;

Straight is the gate & narrow is the way which leads to eternal life & few there be that find it.—Matt. 7:14

Notice with me please that Jesus excludes all other gates. Mankind has come up with 6,000 other gates but Jesus has made it clear that He is the only way to salvation. So really when you & I check closely, we find that as much as we’d like to make Christianity a “big tent,” or large gate, it’s after all a small gate, not at all like people say today. The word narrow means difficult. The idea is that it’s a narrow & difficult way.

Years ago I read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. No one ever described the “way” better than Bunyan. In his great book, the sojourner named Pilgrim has an unbelievably difficult time leading up to his conversion to Christ. As Bunyan points out there are many things to stop a person from becoming a Christian. There are many obstacles to stop you & me from being converted & transformed & many chances for a person to go off in some other direction. The bottom line is; to be saved we come into the small gate & then we embark on a narrow road that leads to salvation.

HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT IT?

Over the years I’ve observed that the people who see miracles & healing in their life are those who won’t take no for an answer. They have violent faith.

The woman with the issue of blood is a good example. [Mark5:25]

In Leviticus 15:25 we read,--And if a woman have an issue of blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of her issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean.

If the New Testament woman has the same condition described in Leviticus, then she’s apparently in trouble & her very serious condition is one that only Jesus could handle. Not only that, the woman in Mark was broke, having spent all her money on doctors who couldn’t help her.

This unnamed woman later to be called “daughter” by Jesus took her situation in hand & made a violent/desperate move of faith. Did her desperate faith work for her? Indeed it did & Jesus acknowledged it, saying to her; -Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace & be whole of thy plague.

Another woman you will remember is the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15 who came to Jesus on behalf of her daughter who was tormented by a demon. She seems to be about half-crazy, having carried the concern for her daughter so long. Her daughter’s pain has become her pain. Every parent can relate to that. I heard recently about three care-givers who looked after a loved one & each of them died before the person they were caring for died. Isn’t that just the pits? If you’ve ever spent any time caring for a friend or loved-one you can relate to this woman. Her kid was sick. She was having convulsions that are enough to scare you to death. So this lady has a “holy violence,” she has an attitude & she’s going to get in anybody’s face that can be of help to her. I like this woman.

This Canaanite woman had taken her girl down to Dr. Abrahamson & he says, “Well, your child has a bad demon. What in the world did you do that was so bad that your kid has a demon living inside? What did your child do to be punished in this way? You know the drill because it still happens today. This woman doesn’t give up, but rather comes to Jesus, walks right up to Him & says, “Jesus, Son of David, would you please heal my child?”

The disciples didn’t like what they were seeing & hearing out of this woman. They view her as a distraction, a waste of time, someone not worthy of Jesus’ attention. They don’t appreciate all her shouting - it’s giving them a headache. Those disciples were “pieces of work” weren’t they? Always trying to send somebody away, like the children who came to Jesus. Jesus had to rebuke them for that but this time, with this woman; it looked like Jesus Himself was going take a pass on this pushy gal.

What the disciples & Jesus Himself were saying to the woman was “bug-off.” The lady didn’t “bug-off” however. Desperation had turned her into an audacious character. Jesus calls His disciples aside & says, “Guys, this woman is a gentile. I’m going to heal the Jewish people first & then I’ll get around to the gentiles.”

I don’t need to tell you that in life, there seems to be an unwritten rule that new requests, new initiatives, & new ideas suggested are often met with an initial negative response. It’s called “resistance,” & it’s a very common phenomenon. If you don’t understand this concept- now’s a good time to learn it. You’ll meet this resistance in all areas of life, so if you & I ever expect to get anything done we’d better take some lessons. This Canaanite woman can give those lessons. Rule number one is never taking no for an answer, not without giving it everything you have.

The first thing Jesus & His disciples do is offer the woman silence. Have you ever gotten the silent treatment? Some people call it –passive aggressive. But this woman isn’t intimidated by silence. Then Jesus offers some resistance to this woman but she persisted. If you don’t think the resistance Jesus offered was harsh-try this- Jesus said, “It’s not right to take the children’s bread & give it to the dogs.” Here’s a lady almost out of her mind with worry & Jesus is using a figure of speech she doesn’t even understand. He has called her people, the Canaanites, dogs. Wow!! To be honest, the way Jesus was talking doesn’t hit our 21st century ears just right, but of course he was speaking the language of His day.

Even when Jesus used the dog comment, this woman did as women often do; she turned it around on Him. Many people don’t know how to answer back with a right spirit. They get all upset & storm away never knowing the exhilaration of hanging in there & winning the day.

This woman didn’t get her back-side over her shoulder, she just answered “but master, even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” In other words- “I don’t mind being a dog if I can be your dog.” Desperate & highly motivated this woman forges headlong into a straight- talking, transformative “dust-up” with none other than Jesus Christ, who is one-third of all God is.

Can you relate to this? Have you ever had people’s attitudes toward you make you feel no better than a dog? Friend, if you haven’t- you will, so pay attention. Have you met people like the disciples who majored in putting barriers up, being “guard dogs” & offering resistance?

It was as days go, probably a tough day for Jesus. He had a lot on His mind. He’d been arguing about the theology of defilement & hygiene with the Pharisees & then having to explain it all to the disciples. But isn’t it good to know God doesn’t get offended when we come to Him with expectation & keep coming until we receive an answer?

God meets us in our openness, even if it has to be the openness of our wounds. God meets us in our brokenness even if it has to be the brokenness of our hearts. God meets us when our compassion isn’t so much compassion as it is passion to see a need met for ourselves or others. God meets us when we have the audacity to stand & say—“Your love & grace demands our inclusion too.”

Jesus was tired. He wanted to move on. And yet He allowed Himself to be distracted & challenged by this outsider, this almost boorish but needy woman. In the end He acknowledged that she not only had a good point, but she had great faith. She could go her way now, her daughter was healed. We should take a lesson from this woman. This is the way we ought to pray.

A SICK MAN & FOUR FRIENDS

In Mark 2:1-12, there’s the story of a man, sick of the palsy. His friends were so desperate to get him to Jesus they actually tore the roof off the house where Jesus was preaching. The story says;

“It was noised that He was in the house.”

We can have programs on top of programs & activities on top of activities but I believe the key reason people gather is they know when they get there He'll  be there. The news got out that...

The sea walker was in the house.
The Chief Shepherd was in the house.
Present in the building was the King of Kings - & Lord of Lords.
The earth-maker & earth-shaker was in the house.
The star-kindler was on the site.
The deaf ear opener, the blind eye healer,
The man who can make the lamb walk & the dumb talk was in the house.

Over the years we’ve seen a host of spiritual leaders with big heads brought down because they forgot it really wasn’t them the people wanted to see, it was always Jesus. In a world that’s searching for answers, we need to let people know the answer to every problem is Jesus Christ.

In our story, this palsied man had been sick a long time but he was fortunate enough to have four friends who cared enough about him to drop by & carry him, in his bed, to the house where Jesus was preaching. There were four corners to the sick man’s bed & he was blessed to have four friends, all in one accord & in agreement that he should be transitioned to where Jesus was.

We’re facing hard times in America & we need to not only pray for each other but watch out for each other, love each other, encourage each other & strengthen each other.

Galatians 6:2 says,

-Bear ye one another’s burdens, & so fulfill the law of Christ.

Notice what these men did. They couldn’t get to Jesus through the front or back door so they climbed up on the roof & began tearing a hole in it. As Jesus is talking to the crowd, dirt & dust began to fall from the ceiling. Then you see arms reaching down & then a man’s bed being let down. These men are violent. They won’t be frustrated in the work of getting their friend healed. They took desperate measures on behalf of their friend & he received a double-miracle—the salvation of his soul & the gift of full deliverance from palsy.

When Jesus saw the faith of the men who brought their sick friend down through the roof, he said to the man sick of the palsy, -Son thy sins be forgiven thee, take up thy bed & walk.

Jesus didn’t scold nor disapprove of the violent faith these men possessed. Some of the folk sitting around criticized Jesus for forgiving the man’s sins. They’ll always be critics steeped in legalism who’ll find something wrong with those who move out in faith.

AMERICA NEEDS A “HOLY VIOLENCE”

Folks, we have a nation to save. There will be those who think me radical here- but so be it. I’ve got to be honest & tell you that what is happening in our nation under Obama is happening much more quickly than even I thought. If you read this blog you know that I’ve been opposed to an Obama presidency from the time he threw his hat in the ring.

What we very well may be facing is a man who’ll never leave office if we don’t wake up. Back in June we heard a speech by Anita Dunn, White House Communications director where she told her two most admired political philosophers & the ones she goes to most were Mao ZeDong & Mother Teresa. Really? A great example for students -don’t you think? Especially since Mao had millions of his own people murdered.

Ms. Dunn also admitted that the White House controls the media, except Fox News of course.

If that isn’t enough, we learn that our new Supreme Court Justice, Sotomayer has said that during her nomination the White House even picked out her clothes. If the White House thinks so little of a Supreme Court nominee’s ability to pick her own wardrobe, I wonder what they think of us common folk?

Benjamin Franklin said of a fledging America-- “Now you have a republic—if you can keep it.” I’m starting to wonder. What we see in our White House is beyond scary & we must do something about it. We may have one more chance to save our way of life next election in 2010. We have to elect people who believe in small unintrusive government whether they’re Dems or Republicans. Until that time we must all lift our nation to God in prayer.

America is waking up, as evidenced in the Virginia & New Jersey elections. There is evidence that millions have “buyers remorse” & now realize [oh if some of these hard-heads would just have listened] we’ve elected, to put it mildly, a Socialist president who’s surrounded himself with the most radical group ever assembled in Washington. All you have to do to see the people are swinging hard to the Right is look at the tea-parties, the Town-hall meetings, the latest elections & the rise in the sale of conservative books.

Today we learned that unemployment in this country is now over 10% & it looks like a “healthcare” bill is going to be rammed down our throats that the nation has made clear they don’t want. Don’t despair if this happens because it may just make the coming backlash against this regime more certain & more decisive.

If “we the people,” touched by Holy Desperation can stave off attempts by the liberals to destroy our country between now & November of 2010, history may prove that all the selection of Obama did was trigger the return of this nation to what our Founding Fathers intended.

One more example of people who experienced a great hunger for God resulting in an uncommon move of God’s power.

John Wesley & the early Methodists learned how to hang onto God! In his Journal, John Wesley writes about the beginning of the revival that was to shake England & America.

“On Monday morning, January 1, 1739, Mr. Hall & my brother Charles were present in Fetters Lane, with about sixty of our brethren. About three in the morning as we were continuing in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy & many fell to the ground.”

John Wesley received such a great outpouring of the Spirit in this meeting that his preaching transformed entire cities. Today, Methodist churches everywhere witness to the power of God apparent in that man’s life.

God is looking for people like Wesley who will pray until they touch the throne room of heaven. God says;

Ask of me, & I shall give thee the nations for thine inheritance & the uttermost parts of the world for thy possession.—Psalms 2:8

The spiritually violent take it by force!


Blessings,

John

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Talkers-Dreamers-Wishers-Dabblers-& Doers

By John Stallings



There are five types of people you’ll find in every area of life. 

They are in business, education, & even the Church. Only one of these types ever really accomplishes anything, & it certainly isn’t the;

1. Talkers

Talkers gab & blab. They are always talking about what they are going to do but never do anything. These folk have the ability to get people excited. They have the gift of gab. The gift of yada-yada-yada. They can charm the birds down out of the trees with their chatter.

I have met these talkers as a pastor. They come into a church & know just exactly how to present themselves. They seem to know just what you want to hear. They will talk & as they talk they’ll use exaggerated hand motions to paint you a picture of what they will do & help you to do. The problem with these folk is they are all “talky- talky- talky & no walky- walky -walky.” They will get you all excited & leave you hanging.

Talkers usually end up bouncing from church to church because they know people will finally catch on to their yada-yada & stop listening.

I learned the hard way about talkers as a young pastor. In my first church I allowed a man I hardly knew & was new to the church to influence me to add another weekly prayer meeting, one he suggested should be an “all-nighter.” Being inexperienced I felt it would look “nonspiritual” if I declined & some of the faithful members agreed to try it. Can you imagine our surprise when we learned that this man who had the idea wasn’t going to be present at any of them; He was too busy? But he was certain still the all night prayer meetings were the answer for our church.

A little checking on my part revealed that this man had misrepresented his past & his life had been a series of one flop after another. Out of twenty years of a so called Christian life, he’d spent half of it in jail & the other half running from town to town presenting himself as something he most definitely wasn’t.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not against all night prayer meetings but after that experience my question to an individual who suggests we add another night to an already crowded weekly schedule is- “where were you ten or twenty years ago when the people of the church were praying & interceding for the lost?” Usually the truth is they were out sowing wild oats & living like the devil while the people of the church had been faithfully serving God.

These folk are just talkers & nine times out of ten they won’t be around for more than a month anyway. But you can be sure they’ll be somewhere else giving their yada-yada to someone. The prophet Hosea calls these people “morning clouds” that appear for a little while & then poof, they are no longer visible.

Next we have the,

2. Dreamers.

I don’t want to be too hard on dreamers because people need their dreams. However, too many dreamers read books, go to seminars, take notes, write mission statements, write out goals & “pray about it” but they never carry through. They never cut a rut from a plan to a practice, from a list to a living ministry. Dreamers are always dreaming but never able to live out their dreams. When I was a kid I used to want to be a cowboy; to be exact, a singing cowboy. I spent many hours of my days dreaming about being like Gene or Roy.

There is one kind of dreaming that’s very powerful so long as a certain ingredient isn’t missing. Let me explain. I suppose my cowboy dreams were normal but at some point I had to lay those childlike dreams aside & dream for my real future.

When I was growing up, since my dad was a pastor we usually lived next to the church. Starting at about age fourteen, a few times a week I’d go over to the church, lock the door & get up behind the pulpit with my guitar & act like I was in an actual service. I’d open “the service” with prayer. Then I’d say, “Now I’d like to sing you a song I wrote.” Then I’d proceed to sing a song, but not one I wrote, because I hadn’t as yet written any songs. I was day-dreaming. Then I’d sing one or two more songs “I wrote.” I wanted to be a songwriter so bad I could taste it. When I finished with the music portion of the service, I’d open the Bible & start preaching to my imaginary audience. Well, I wouldn’t exactly preach, I’d read a little bit & then I’d holler. I’d read a little bit more & holler. It seemed to me that’s what my dad did as well as all the other preachers I’d heard; they’d read & holler. Then I’d close my imaginary service, slip out the side door & go home, hoping no one was the wiser.

If you came to one of my services today, over fifty years later, in all probability here’s what you’d see & hear; I’d get up & welcome the people & sing a song or two that I wrote. But these songs would be songs I actually did write, because now I have some songs of my own. Then I’d open my Bible & read a few scriptures, expound on them & there would be several spots that I’d raise my voice to emphasize a point. I do in reality what that teenager envisioned so long ago.

But if I’d never gotten out of the dreaming stage, if I’d never started getting up in front a real audience, all the practicing & all the secret dreaming wouldn’t have gotten me anywhere.

So I think I can say all my boyhood dreams came true. Dreaming is a powerful & necessary thing but dreaming alone isn’t enough. An individual must make the effort & be willing to work & do all necessary to bring those dreams into fruition. Then we have the,

3. Wishers.

These people wish things would change all by themselves but they won’t act to change them. They wish they had a better prayer life. They wish they knew the Bible better. They wish they could get to church more often. They wish they had a better devotional life, but never open their Bibles between visits to church. If all these people blew the dust off their Bibles at the same time, we’d all choke to death in a dust-storm. They wish the church had more money to reach out to the lost but they never give any. If wishes were horses beggars would ride.

I heard a story about a preacher who got up in his church & said, “This church is on its knees now, but I can see this church rising.” All the people said amen. Then he said, “This church is not only gonna rise, this crawling church is gonna walk.” Everyone said amen. Then he said “This church isn’t only gonna walk this church is gonna run.” You guessed it, everyone shouted amen. Then the preacher said, “Brothers & sisters, God has shown me that if we’ll all start being liberal with our tithes & offerings, this church someday very soon is gonna fly.” Then everything got real quiet & one man on the backseat said, “Let her crawl brother, let her crawl.” Next come the,

4. Dabblers.

Dabblers love the feeling of starting a new project but they never finish anything. Dabblers get bored easily. They shine one shoe & leave the other not shined. Dabblers often leave a wave of disappointment behind them. They dabble a little here & they dabble a little there but never bring anything to completion. There are far too many Christians who dabble at serving God.

God is a finisher. He finished creating the earth. Jesus hung on the cross & said “It is finished.” He didn’t as some supposed on that day say, “I am finished.” He said “It is finished.” He said the great plan of God that was established before the foundations of the earth were laid- was finished. Too many people have exchanged the word finished for the words, “I’m through.” I’m through with that church.” I’m through with this marriage.” “I’m through with school.” They are always getting through with things but never finishing them. One meaning of the word finish is- “bringing to perfection.”
When the carpenters are through with a house they bring in the finishers. The finishers put the Crown molding around the edges & corners of the rooms. They hang the doors & make sure they are well balanced & open & close smoothly. A house left “unfinished” would be a rather ugly house even though it had four walls & a roof. Many people in high society send their young women to “finishing school.” There they learn the finer points of being a lady so they can later be at ease & poised in the circles they’re expected to move in.

We can never be truly successful if all we do is dabble. To be successful at anything, we must put our all into it, for one thing is certain, we’ll only get out of an enterprise what we put in it. My mother wanted me to learn to play the piano & was willing to pay for me to learn but I can’t play the piano today because all I wanted to do was dabble & play chopsticks. I suspect I’m not alone in that.

The only accomplishers in this world are the;

5. DOERS.

Doers make things happen. Doers don’t just wish things would happen. They don’t dream & talk about it. Doers aren’t dabblers. They actually get things done. Doers are daring. They are movers & shakers. Doers build churches. Doers build businesses. Doers are the ones with the testimonies. No church, business or enterprise has ever gotten off the ground without a few doers. We will always have more than enough of the others but we must “Be doers of the Word not just hearers.”

Doers don’t go by their feelings. I read an article somewhere that said “80% of the world’s work is done by people who aren’t feeling well.” That didn’t really surprise me. Many people will sit & wait until the “mood” strikes them before they’ll move on a project. They have to have a certain feeling but the problem is the feeling seldom comes. As I read the article, I thought, you know, I’ll bet the man who wrote that it wasn’t feeling well when he wrote it. And it wouldn’t surprise me if some who read this article won’t be feeling all that great as they read it. As I think about it, I’m not feeling all that great as I’m writing it. But what do our feelings have to do with anything? Can we allow feelings to rule us when they can change overnight for no apparent reason? I’m sure you’ve learned by now that if you’re going to get anything done you must put your feelings on the back burner & go to work because feelings will fall in line as we move. It was William James who said, “We don’t feel our way to a different way of acting, we act our way to a different way of feeling.”

Heres how to shake off depression? Get up & start doing something. Now if you have some sort of clinical depression & are being treated for it, that’s between you & your doctor. However, I’ll bet he’ll tell you you’re better off doing than just sitting. If you wake up depressed, tell depression you’re going to work & you’ll take the depression with you. Chances are great that you’ll leave depression behind as soon as you start moving.

There is so much in the Bible about DOING! James tells us; ---“Draw nigh to God & He’ll draw nigh to you.” He also told us—“Faith without works is dead, being alone.” One of my favorite verses of scripture is Daniel 11:32….But the people that do know their God shall be strong & do exploits.”
If you want to do something special with your life, resolve with me to stand up on your feet & get moving!

As Todd Beamer said, one of the passengers on the ill-fated airliner that crashed in a Pennsylvania field, on 9/11/01, trying to take back the hi-jacked plane & thwarting the plans of the terrorists, "Let’s Roll!"

Let’s be "doers of the Word" & works of God.


Blessings,


John

Monday, August 10, 2015

Great Balls Of Fire

By John Stallings



Two men stood on a hill overlooking the lush, fertile plain below.

One of the men was quite old, the other very young -but both were super- rich. It’s interesting that the young man was rich. That would have been quite unusual in that era.

It was obvious that these men & their flocks were taking up a lot of room & logistically speaking it was best that they split up.

Abraham, the uncle, told his nephew Lot, “you take the direction you want & I’ll take what’s left.” Pretty large of the older man wouldn’t you say? Since this is one of the oldest stories in the Bible we all know what happened. Lot made a bad choice. He immediately transitioned toward & acquired property close to the big city of Sodom.

Five cities, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zebolim & Bela [Zoar] dotted the plain of Jordan. In this fertile plain Lot chose to settle. Evidently Sodom & Gomorrah were the chief cities. Sodom was a beautiful place. The temperature was nice practically all year round. It was full of palm trees, olive orchids & flowers bloomed everywhere. Sodom sounds a lot like Palm Springs California to me.

The men of Sodom were mean, evil, wicked & nasty & that’s just their good traits. They were homosexuals. Since children were still being born, many of these rascals must have been bi-sexual. I read somewhere that a large percentage of young Hollywood actors/actresses are bi-sexual. Just a point of information.

The men of Sodom wanted wives to cook & clean for them, then at night they’d go chasing men while their wives went chasing women. What a sick place. Lot had two daughters that he took to live among these reprobates.

We don’t need to know much else than God’s destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah to realize that He especially despises homosexuality. Some people would put this sin in the same category as others but in truth, any place we look in the Bible- from cover to cover -where homosexuality is mentioned, it’s abjectly condemned. To say that homosexuality is an alternative form of sexuality is like saying that bulimia is an alternative form of eating & that drunkenness is an alternative form of drinking. Homosexuality is nothing less than a wholesale abandonment of God’s ways with respect to sexuality.

God loves the homosexual but He hates homosexuality. Did Lot know what a rotten town Sodom was? Of course he knew. But he reasoned; “all these sinners will buy my corn, oil, cattle & wool. And besides that I’ll be in a fertile mission field & I’ll be a light in a dark place.” Right. It’s obvious that Lot had no impact on Sodom but Sodom decimated his family & almost killed him.

The Bible says that “Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom.” He wanted to be facing the big city. However, it wasn’t long before Lot & family were living in Sodom. The next step was that Sodom finally moved into Lot & his family. We see here the progressive nature of sin. Satan is incredibly patient. Lot may have eventually been Sodom’s mayor. Lot’s wife especially liked the raucous lifestyle of the town.

One evening two men [angels] visited with Lot & Lot invited them to stay for a meal. As the evening wore on the angels unfolded to Lot God’s plans to destroy the city, admonishing he & his family to flee. To see how perverted they were, in Genesis 19, we read about the men of Sodom surrounding Lot’s house desiring to gang-rape the visiting angels inside the house. God struck the men blind so they failed in their attempt. A sickening aspect of the story is that Lot tried to appease the mob by offering his own daughters to them but this only roused them against him. The depravity of these men was so deep that both young & old, rich & poor participated in this grotesque riot.


HUGE FIRE BALLS FELL FROM HEAVEN ON SODOM

The next morning a small cloud appeared over the city of Sodom. The Angels continued to beg Lot & his family to leave. Lot didn’t want to go & his wife lingered even longer. She wanted to sort through her jewelry & the daughters wanted to pick out some clothes. The women folk dillydallied around & Lot argued with the angels.

But the lightening produced huge balls of sulfuric fire & poured torrents of blazing brimstone & scalding sulfur from the sky as the heaving earth belched oil & pitch from beneath. Fire came from heaven like hell was breaking loose & hurricane like wind swept the fire over the city & the plain.

Balls of fire fell on Lot’s wife as she stood there lingering & looking back & she was struck dead & became a pillar of salt.

UNUSUAL ADVICE FROM JESUS - “REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE

In Luke 17:32 Jesus uttered one of the shortest verses in the Bible;-Remember Lot’s wife.

Certainly everything Jesus said should be remembered. As a matter of fact Jesus never said anything that wasn’t vitally important.

However, Jesus is clearly exhorting us to remember someone. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus never asked us to remember Abraham? Isn’t it interesting that He never asked us to remember Isaac, or Jacob, or Sarah, or Hannah or Ruth? Jesus could have told us to remember & ponder on the great flood of Noah’s day. He could have requested of us that we remember the rebellion of Adam & Eve our first parents. He could have asked us to remember ancient Israel & their deliverance from Egyptian bandage.

 Jesus asks us to remember something that happened 1900 years before he was born, & really one of the “less memorable” things in all of Holy Writ. He singles out only one person to be remembered & that was a person who was lost forever. He cries out—Remember Lot’s wife.

Jesus was saying this in the context of His own second coming to judge the world; he’s describing the awful state of unpreparedness in which many souls will be found. Jesus isn’t saying this to the Scribes & Pharisees who hated Him, but Peter, James & John & many others who loved Him. Even to these good folk He sees fit to warn—Remember Lot’s wife. He speaks as if we are in danger of forgetting something exceedingly important. He speaks of Lot’s wife & wants us to keep firmly in our minds what happened to her. He cries out—Remember Lot’s wife.

Remember- that Lot’s wife was a favored woman.

Remember- that she had a believer for a husband.

Remember- that she had an uncle by marriage who was the father of the faithful.

Remember- that Lot’s wife lived close to these two men & she knew their God was real.

Remember- that she knew her husband & uncle served God not out of religious formality. - Serving God was the ruling principle of their lives.

Remember- that having a Christian relative isn’t enough to save anyone.

Remember-that spiritual advantage won’t open heaven’s doors to anyone.

Remember- that Lot’s wife saw the angels who came to warn & rescue them.

Remember- an angel took her by the hand to lead her out of the city.

“Remember Lot’s wife.”

Remember that close association with good people even spiritual people doesn’t rub off on us. Joab was David’s captain. Gehazi was Elisha’s servant. Demas was Paul’s companion & Judas was Christ’s disciple. These all died in their sins showing that rubbing shoulders with spiritual friends or relatives won’t save us; only God’s Grace can do that.

"Remember Lot’s wife."

WE SHOULD TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT WHO’S ASKING HERE.

This is asked by no mere man. The one doing the asking here is none other than God’s only son, the Lord Jesus Christ himself. You will remember that when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, God’s voice was heard to say; - this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased-HEAR YE HIM!
We should honor the request to remember Lot’s wife if for no other reason than the fact that it was made by none other than God’s Son.

WE SHOULD REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE BECAUSE SHE LIVED IN A DAY NOT UNLIKE OUR DAY.

We can see many parallels between Sodom of old & our beloved America. Homosexuality, free love, pre-martial sex, cross dressing, same sex marriages, & spouse trading are all being accepted as alternative lifestyles.

AIDS has killed & is killing millions & man is trying to find a cure for it. In my opinion we should stop looking for a cure & start looking at the CAUSE of it which is SIN! If we get rid of the CAUSE we won’t need the CURE!

Maybe we should remember Lot’s wife because she was warned of judgment to come just as you & I have been warned.

WE SHOULD REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE BECAUSE SHE CAME SO CLOSE TO BEING SAVED.

She made an honest effort to be saved. Unlike her sons-in-law who made no effort to escape the wrath of God, Lot’s wife actually left Sodom with her hand in an angel’s hand. If we miss heaven by a few inches we may as well have missed it by a million miles.

“Almost” is a sad word in anybody’s dictionary. In Acts 26:28 Agrippa told Paul that he’d almost persuaded him to be a Christian. Almost is a traveling companion to expressions like “If only,” as we say in the South, “near bout.” “Almost” smacks of missed opportunities & fumbled chances.

THE RICH YOUNG RULER

This young man’s story is repeated in Matthew, Mark, & Luke. Each version is slightly different so we tend to mix it all together into one composite story. This wealthy young man came running to Christ to learn more about the eternal life He preached. Jesus told him to go sell his possessions & give the money to the poor & come follow Him.

Jesus wasn’t against money neither was He against prosperity. Money in itself is morally neutral. When Nicodemus came to Christ, he wasn’t asked to sell his possessions. The reason He required this of the young man was that Jesus knew he was using his money as a security blanket & not trusting God. But neither did Jesus make the offer to Nicodemus that he made to this young man. He actually told him that after he had liquidated all his possessions, he could come & follow Him. This young man turned down an offer that was made to precious few people. People were usually encouraged by Jesus to stay where they were & be faithful, but Jesus must have had a place for this young man. He could actually have been one of Christ’s disciples. One of the saddest passages in the Bible is—he went away sorrowful for he had great wealth. The rich young ruler almost found eternal life, but Jesus’ instructions to sell everything he had & give it to the poor to him was way too much.

I remember the great preacher, the late C.M Ward saying once that the main reason he didn’t want to go to hell was because of all the stupid people who would be there. At first that might sound a little snarky but this is what Ward meant; God arranged for all our sins & mess-ups to be transferred to the shoulders of Jesus when He died on the cross. In exchange, we can be clothed with the righteousness of Christ. What a trade! All we must do is endorse it by faith, confess our sins, & trust in the risen Christ as our personal Lord & Savior. Ward’s thought was that anyone who’d stumble over that fifteen second transaction, has to be a little stupid.

Lot’s wife took a step in the right direction. She separated herself from her sinful surroundings even though the angels had to hold her hand & lead her out. She was being whisked out of harms way by heaven’s angels & was given the instructions—Escape for your life-Look not behind thee….lest thou be consumed. Genesis 19:17

WE SHOULD REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE BECAUSE SHE REFUSED THE SIMPLE WARNING OF GOD.

When Lot, his two daughters & his wife were led out of Sodom they were all warned not to look back. But as they reached the little town of Zoar, Lot’s wife turned & looked back. She was out of Sodom but Sodom wasn’t out of her. When she looked back, she was immediately turned into a pillar of salt. In one scintillating moment she lost her life & her soul.

What a contrast this story is to the testimony of the great Apostle Paul. He said—

This one thing I do, forgetting those which are behind & pressing toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14

A FINAL QUESTION

What did Jesus really mean by that cryptic expression—Remember Lot’s wife? What does that woman who lived & died so long ago have to do with people who’re watching the closeout of history?

After all Lot’s wife did leave the city. Her only fault was her focus problems. She looked back. Lot’s wife serves as a warning to all of us. Jesus said,-No one having put his hand to the plow & looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.

You & I can’t cling to heaven with one hand & cling to hell with the other. We can’t walk the broad road to hell & the narrow road to eternal life simultaneously. We can’t leave a world of sin by looking longingly over our shoulder missing what we left behind.

Hebrews says,

For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, & every transgression & disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord & was confirmed to us by those who heard them.

We aren’t told what Lot’s wife’s eternal destiny was but given the fact God saw her sin as great enough to deserve a death sentence, it’s likely the sentence was permanent. Many people sin & don’t let it bother them because they’re certain God will forgive them of anything. I believe what we could use in 2015 is a good healthy dose of reverential fear of the one who sits upon that throne.

Hebrews also says;--Therefore since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to come short of it.

Listen again to Jesus’ words;

Woe to you Korazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre & Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth & ashes.

But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre & Sidon on the Day of Judgment than for you. And you Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for you.—
Matthew 11:21-24.

While we’re remembering Lot’s wife, let’s not forget Lot. He didn’t fare so well either did he? How much did he lose in Sodom? He lost his wife & all his possessions. What happened to him can happen to any of us who love the world more than we love God.

Sodom still lives, not externally but internally. We can see traces of Sodom in our beloved America. We can follow the way of Abraham or we can go the way of Lot.

Why did our Lord admonish us to –Remember Lot’s wife? Jesus spoke those words because He knows if we don’t remember her, if we forget her story, the dreadful prospect exists that we will repeat her mistake.


Blessings,


John

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Great Falling Away

By John Stallings


Behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. (Isa. 60:2)

The greatest revival  in history is here and will continue for some time. We know that a great awakening is sweeping across the nations. We look with joy as God fulfills His promise to pour out His Spirit on all flesh and empower His people to bring the gospel to all nations. What a privilege to live in this awesome hour of history!

Listen to Peter on the Day of Pentecost….

It shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams… I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy… before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. (Acts 2:17-20)

The Spirit is speaking about this outpouring in our day. We are in the middle of the great end-time outpouring of the Spirit. The Spirit  will continue to release the miracles seen in the book of Acts.

BUT CONSIDER THE CRISIS THAT IS AT HAND

We’re living under the threat of natural disasters, terrorism, lawlessness, and war. The oldest citizens among us can scarcely remember floods, earthquakes and violent storms like we’re witnessing today. –Matt.24:4-12-

Radical Islam is growing more intolerant as they seek global domination while Western governments are growing more tolerant as they legalize perversion and corruption. Fear is quickly becoming a predominate emotion.

Men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things… (Lk. 21:26)

Abortion continues to kill 4,000 babies each day in America. The sanctity of marriage has come under siege, threatening to destroy the moral foundations of our nation. Sexual immorality, both heterosexual and homosexual, is reaching epic heights of depravity.
Entire school systems are giving way to this craziness. The number of women and children being trafficked in the sex industry is growing at an alarming rate. The list could go on and on.

Satan, realizing he can’t prevail against God’s church, has joined it and is presenting “another gospel.” A new wave of confusion is systematically seducing young adults into deception. Sincere believers, once ablaze for The Lord, are being allured into compromise on biblical truths and practices.

A kind of “social gospel” is insidiously supplanting the true gospel of Jesus Christ, but no amount of ministry activity can “balance out” the profound spiritual compromises that many are making. More and more is being done in the name of justice and humanity, and less and less in the name of Jesus. In the name of tolerance we are settling for politically correct theology that trivializes God’s glory. Our works of compassion and justice must flow from allegiance to God and His Word, not take their place.

The tsunami of the greatest revival in America’s history approaches even as our nation stands on such precarious footing. The onslaught of darkness is increasing in classrooms, boardrooms, courtrooms, and bedrooms. Confusion is pouring forth from many pulpits and from the halls of Washington.

We live in a very significant hour of history. I believe we are in the time described in the Scripture as the “beginning of sorrows,” or “the beginning of birth pains,” that precedes the Great Tribulation -Mt. 24:4-8, 21. The Bible tells us that during the Great Tribulation, sin will become fully ripe with unprecedented and unimaginable levels of debauchery.

In the letter to the Thessalonians, a church that was eagerly awaiting the return of the Lord, Paul outlined a few events that will come to pass before "the day of the Lord" arrives. The day of the Lord is a general term pointing to an entire series of events that culminate with Jesus landing on the Mount of Olives and taking up the throne of David in Jerusalem.

He says in II Thessalonians 2:1-4 that two things must happen -- a great falling away, and the revelation of the Antichrist, or man of sin. He goes on to discuss this pivotal character in end time history, and then starting in verse 10 Paul introduces the theme of end-time delusion. There are constant reminders throughout the New Testament, from the teachings of Jesus Himself to the writings of Paul, John, Peter, James, and Jude, indicating that the end times will be times of great delusion and deception. These warnings are specifically directed at "the elect" that they might not also be carried away with the "strong delusion" that God will send expressly for the purpose of separating true believers in Him from those who "have not a love of the truth."

The Great “Falling Away”

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed... (II Thessalonians 2:1,2)

There are some things in the Bible that are hard to understand and we can generally leave them open to interpretation. But there are some things that are all too clear. One of these things that should be without debate is that the Rapture of the church will not occur until after something Paul calls “a falling away” happens first.

This has always seemed strange to me but there are those who equate the “falling away” with the Rapture, or the catching up of the Lord's people to meet Him in the air [I Thessalonians 4:17]. They see the Body of Christ "falling away" from the earth as the Lord miraculously draws them up to be with Him in the air.

However, the Greek word translated "falling away" is the word "apostasia," the basis for the English word apostasy. It is the act of going back on the faith. It is a denying of the basic tenets of the faith one once held. “Falling away” is a deviation from or forsaking of an authentically established position.

While there has been a general apostasy on earth since I was a boy, it’s getting exponentially worse almost daily. This falling away will result in persecution of the true believers who refuse to follow “religion” in its retreat from true, authentic Christianity. In fact, it’s likely that it’s just this sort of persecution that will create the unity among Christians that will help them overcome the division that keeps her from coming together as one chaste virgin to meet her Bridegroom King.

Expect to see more liberalism/ modernism, also referred to as “Liberation theology” or the social gospel, continue to invade and take over more mainline Christian  denominations. We can also expect to see true Bible believing Christians come under more and more pressure to comply with the form of Christianity that will be spearheaded by the media, the press, and the United Nations. It will be ecumenical, multicultural, tolerant of other faiths and religions, and ultimately conceivably enforced at gunpoint or through other coercive means.

Before you say this is not a possibility in our lifetime; there are restrictions on preaching already being enforced in places like Australia and Canada on the preaching and teaching of Biblical truth. Laws are being passed that will make it "illegal" to teach the Biblical view when it comes to such issues as abortion and homosexuality. And this is just the tip of the iceberg and a shadow of things to come over the next decade.

T.V evangelist John Hagee recently sent lawyers to defend him from accusations he’d preached “hate speech.” Hagee said that the “handwriting is on the wall” because even though he won that round the victory cost him about ten thousand dollars. I don’t claim to be a prophet but I’ve predicted  for decades that the time would come when preaching the gospel would be costly.

A MOMENTOUS TIME IN HISTORY

I believe we’re blessed to be alive at such a time in history; a heaven sent revival flourishes world-wide in spite of the fact that we’re witnessing the slow undoing of Western civilization. Should Christ tarry His coming it will be interesting in the days ahead just to see what sort of order will come about following the collapse of much of our social, governmental, financial, and technological systems. Of course that’s just around the corner.

The Bible foretells that the current systems will ultimately be brought under the control of one great authoritarian dictator.  This seemingly benevolent dictator will become personally indwelt by Satan himself, the great enemy of God, and will bring havoc down on the heads of God's people until God Himself removes him from the scene. It’s then that God establishes His own Kingdom, with Israel serving as the planet's political focal point.

But the Falling Away is only one of the signs Paul wrote about. In addition to a general apostasy, there will also be the revealing of the man of sin.

That Man of Sin shall be revealed...

 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed... (II Thessalonians 2:1,2)

There is much written in the Bible about this man.
He is called the "Antichrist" by John -I John 2:18, 22 and 4:3, the "little horn" and the "prince that shall come" by Daniel- Daniel 7:8 and 8:9; Daniel 9:26. He is the "idol shepherd" of Zechariah 11:17. According to the Book of Revelation, where he is called "the Beast" -Revelation 13:1, he will be a much admired world leader- Revelation 13:3 and exercise incredible authority over the Western hemisphere. It is for this reason that he is often referred to as the coming "one-world leader." He institutes an economic system involving personal identification numbers- Revelation 13:18- that is used all over the world, just as credit cards are now used all over the world.

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.-II Thessalonians 2:4

People speculate that certain current leaders have all the earmarks of the anti-Christ. I would just remind them that this is because the spirit of the anti-Christ is and has been in the world for some time. I seriously doubt any of the current “usual suspects” people point to have the power to raise the dead, a power that the “man of sin” will have.

 This man decides to break the treaty he has made between Israel and her neighbors half way through the term of the treaty, or 3 1/2 years after its signing. At that time he will enter the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and sit himself down in the mercy seat of the Most High God and he will declare that there is no higher God in the universe then himself. He will then demand that all the people of the earth, or at least all the people under his control, worship him as God under penalty of death. The Jews will become irate saying he's blaspheming, claiming to be God. His answer will be-"You're looking at God." Paul said-"Blindness in part has happened to the Jews." On this day the scales will fall from their eyes.

According to Daniel 9, this event marks the beginning of the final 3 1/2 years of the "times of the Gentiles."

At the end of that time, the Lord Jesus Christ will return to the earth and to Jerusalem where He will fulfill the Old Testament promises to Israel that Zion shall never be without a descendant of David to rule as King. Everything on the planet will come under the direct control and supervision of Jesus, who is God in the flesh, and those who were faithful to Him and His promises during the current age the church age will "live and reign with him." (Revelation 20:4).

God shall send them strong delusion...

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie... II Thessalonians 2:11

One of the great characteristics of the end times is described in the New Testament as deception, or delusion, on a grand, unprecedented scale. Jesus warned that the deception that is coming in His Name and accompanied by great shows of power will be so convincing that even the very elect stand in danger of being carried away in the deception.-Matthew 24:24.

In discussing the end time delusion that will accompany the world's acceptance of Satan himself as the savior of the world, Paul points out that when this "man of sin" arrives on the scene, he will be accompanied by great signs and wonders -II Thessalonians 2:9.

The world believes that Israel is an imposter in the Holy Land and is "occupying" "Palestinian" territory! The world also believes that there can be peace outside of submission to God and His authority. All of this is purely delusional. The fact of the matter is that God has given Israel to the Jews with an oath and a promise that cannot be broken. The world will know no peace until the Prince of Peace returns and takes up His rule from David's throne in Jerusalem. Anyone who has read and believes the Bible knows these things, but the world doesn't know these things.

One day soon, God, by divine intervention in the return to earth of His Son, is going to snap history in two. The climactic point of history will be reached. God is going to crown Jesus King of kings and Lord of it all. There will be a coronation in the sky. What a moment that is going to be! All of us are there in our white robes, and the orchestras of heaven are going to play. The choirs are going to sing; the angels will furnish the music.

The stars will sing together. They are beginning to find now that stars do sing. They send forth rays that make music to ears that can hear. The stars will sing, and our ears will be attuned to the songs of the universe.

And then, the angels will fold their wings. They will sit down, and then we are going to sing. We'll stand and sing redemption's theme song, "Saved, saved by the blood of the crucified One."

The angels can't join us because they never knew the joy that our salvation brings. I'm glad to be a Christian in this momentous hour. Aren’t you?


Blessings


John

Saturday, July 25, 2015

"Saving Face" --That Old Devil EGO


By John Stallings


In 1985 a super group of American popular singers were invited to Los Angeles to record a song written by Michael Jackson called, “We are the world.” It was billed as USA for Africa.

Arranger Quincy Jones held the baton & the charity single was intended to raise funds to help famine relief efforts in Ethiopia which experienced unusual drought in 1984/85.

The single sold 800,000 copies its first week & was the highest debuting single since John Lennon’s “Imagine, “ & won Grammy Awards for song of the year & record of the year.

Jones coined a statement that day that took on a life of its own when he placed a sign at the front of the studio reading, “Please check your ego at the door.”

Jones knew he had a few dozen of the most successful solo artists in the world in one place & all of them were used to running their own show so he said in essence; “You’re not going to sing a solo [though an effort was made to somehow feature everyone’s voice at some point-that to me was comical,] you’re not going to fiddle with the sound-system & you’re not going to call the shots. This is a group effort- period!”

From all accounts things went well that day because Jones was wise enough to see the obvious pitfalls of a venture like this & “nip old man ego in the bud,” & each of the performers realized the occasion was bigger than them.

WHAT IS EGO?
  • Ego is the invisible shield planted around self to protect it from the outside world.
    · Ego is being shy & unable to move outside to connect with others.
    · Ego is fear of what others think.
    · Ego is critical & will not accept compliments.
    · Ego is lack of trust in others because trust has been violated.
    · Ego is living inside a comfort zone to protect from failure & other people.
    · Ego can be thinking you’re perfect or striving for perfection.
    · Ego will take the credit when credit doesn’t belong to you.
    · Ego has a mind like a steel-trap. Closed.
    · Ego is not allowing yourself to learn & grow for fear of responsibility.
    · Ego is refusal to forgive because you feel justified in your anger.
    · Ego takes offense quickly at what others do or say.
    · Ego is self-righteous & critical.
    · Ego is false humility.
    · Ego is oppressive & loves living in the past.
    · Ego is having to be in control of everything.
    · Ego is thinking no one can do it as good as you.
    · Ego is an inability to admit you need help.
    · Ego needs to “keep up with the Jones.”
    · Ego needs to appear like everything is perfect when it isn’t.
    · Ego is a victim.
    · Ego is prideful
    · Ego will never, never apologize but if necessary, to preserve itself, will go down to the grave with every relationship torn asunder.
    · If we turn our lives over to God our ego will safely be left outside the doorway of our life.
    · In short---EGO IS ;
E.—Edging
G.—God
O. ----Out

WE ALL HAVE AN EGO

If we didn’t have an ego we wouldn’t last long on this earth. Our Ego tells us what we want to eat for dinner, who our friends are & what books we want to read. The dangerous part of our ego’s is when it gets so swollen & inflated it turns into an evil monster with another name—self-centeredness.

Duke University did studies on ego & found that people who were egotistical & self-absorbed scored the lowest in any test measuring happiness.

We’ve all seen people who were egotists & usually they wonder why they have it so hard in life, but no one likes a person with a big-head, puffed-up with pride.

A crowded United Airlines flight was cancelled. A single agent was rebooking a long line of inconvenienced travelers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk, slapped his ticket down on the desk & said, “I have to be on this flight & it has to be first class.”
The agent replied, “I’m sorry sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you but I’ve got to help these folks first.” The passenger asked loudly, “Do you know who I am?” Without hesitating the agent smiled & grabbed her public address microphone. “May I have your attention please? She began, her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal. “We have a passenger here at Gate 14 who doesn’t know who he is. If anyone can help him find his identity please come to Gate 14.”

In the first chapters of the book of John, John the Baptist comes on the scene as the forerunner of his cousin Jesus. By taking a close look at what was happening here we can see the dynamics of what can take place when an individual is willing to make their ego subservient to a cause greater than itself.

John the Baptist throughout his life played second fiddle. That’s what his life was about. He played before, & he played behind, & he supported the main melody, the main act the main event, the “one who was coming,” which was Jesus. That was his job so that when Jesus came His voice would ring loud & clear.

It was John’s job to wake people up before Jesus came. It was John’s job to create an air of expectancy about Jesus & prepare peoples ears to hear His message. It had been many years since a great prophet had been active in Israel so John’s job was to wake the people up to the fact that God was sending Jesus the Messiah.

John was to be the dry run before the test. He was to be the lightening before the storm. He was to be the first tremor of the earthquake that was on its way. His job was to be the “leaked press release” before the president’s speech so that before Jesus came to speak, people would be speaking about what was going to be spoken.

The prophets Isaiah & Malachi years before had said that someone would come to do this, to prepare the way for God’s Messiah. John was to be a voice crying in the wilderness & he knew he was that voice. So up & down the West bank John went dressed like a prophet of old, eating bugs & stirring the people up with anticipation.- of Jesus who was to Come.

SO HOW DID JOHN LET GO OF HIS EGO?

John put his ego aside. He had disciples but he knew he wasn’t going to keep them for himself. They would be sent by him to Jesus.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Saving Face.” John wasn’t in the business of saving face; he was spending all his energies preparing the hearts of people for his cousin, whom he knew was the one sent from God to die for the sins of the world. Let’s take the word FACE as an acronym, using each letter to make a word describing John’s method of operation. The first word is;

FEAR

John let go of fear. Fear of being rejected & subjugated to his cousin Jesus. John could well have felt like his disciples following Jesus meant that they were rejecting him or that they had no more use for him. If John had given in to that fear he would have had to spend all his energy protecting his ego & kept his disciples in orbit around him, “The great John.”

We often see husbands so fearful that their wives will get out from under their control that they spend all their time working on their minds making sure there isn’t one speck of difference in the way they see things. I’ve known men who called their wives from work every hour, on the hour to talk, especially if they felt they needed to be conditioning her to think like they do on some issue. This is nothing more than fear that things will get out of their control. It’s an autocratic, mental domination stemming from an ego that would be crushed if it wasn’t regulating everything in their sphere. This in the long run plays out as genuine hurtful even destructive behavior.

Relationships will be healthier when we love others deeply enough to serve their needs rather than using them to meet our needs & further our agenda’s.

Our next letter is A, which stands for

ATTACHMENT;

Attachment- to being right; to being the only star in our personal solar system. John could have viewed his disciples leaving him for Jesus as an attack on what he was teaching. He could have allowed himself to let him view their behavior as a sell-out & dug in his heels to defend his precious ego. He could have started criticizing Jesus & pushing himself. He might have responded like a Blow fish blowing himself up to look bigger than he really was in order to compete with Jesus & keep his disciples as HIS disciples.


Do we have a heavy investment in always being right? We are in the middle of an argument with our spouse, a friend or loved one & we come to realize we are dead wrong. Do we admit it or do we dig in even deeper because our Ego is too fragile to “lose.” We are willing to hurt the other person & damage the relationship rather than simply admit we were wrong & apologize.

Why can’t we apologize when we know we’re wrong? Why can’t we say things like “I might be wrong”? Why do we have to have the last word in every altercation? Why can’t we reach out to others & extend an Olive branch of peace & understanding? It seems to me that if we allowed it free rein, our ego would destroy all our relationships & alienate the rest of the world so long as it was coddled, catered to, stroked & never threatened. The C stands for;

CONTROL,

.....the need to control others. If John needed his disciples to do things his way in order to feel good about himself he never would have let them go with Jesus. He’d have tried to control them. He might have tried to manipulate them or to somehow use guilt to get them to do his bidding. If we need others to behave or look or think certain ways in order for us to feel good about ourselves then we’ll be people who have a strong need to control others.
We need to learn from John. We need to learn how to love people deeply enough to let them go. To trust them enough to release them to blossom & bloom into the people God created them to be. Finally, E stands for;

ENTITLEMENT,
...the idea that I should be loved & respected without any personal responsibility or obligation. John might have felt that his disciples owed him their loyalty & that it was his right & privilege. Again if John had felt that way he would never have encouraged his disciples to follow Jesus.
However John doesn’t have a sense of entitlement. He’d rather serve others than expect them to serve him. If you & I really care for others we will let go of the FACE of an over inflated Ego & look for ways to serve them rather than thinking they owe us.

THE EGO’S OF JAMES & JOHN

In the tenth chapter of Mark, James & John the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus & asked Him- to grant that they may sit, one on they right hand & the other on thy left hand in thy glory.
Before we condemn these two men let’s look at ourselves & ask if we don’t have the same basic desire for recognition & importance; the same desire for attention & the same desire to be first. There is deep down within all of us an instinct to be out front, to lead the parade. And it’s something that runs the whole gamut of life.

Sigmund Freud contended that sex was mans dominate impulse but later psychoanalysts argued that the quest for attention & for distinction is the basic drive of human life. Our first cry as a baby was a bid for attention. We came into this world a bundle of ego.

A SWOLLEN EGO CAUSES US TO LIVE ABOVE OUR MEANS

People will drive cars they really can’t afford but they do it anyway because it feeds their ego.
Much of the latest housing crisis in America with people losing their homes is due in many cases to buying above what they could actually afford to pay for, thus they are going into foreclosure in record numbers. EGO is responsible for much of this.

EGO will cause you to be a name-dropper. In an attempt to pacify an enlarged ego some people will try to identify with so-called “big-name people.” They will make you think they know somebody they really don’t know. They will try to convince you they sip tea with famous folk. That actually happens to people.

SPREADING GOSSIP & LIES ABOUT PEOPLE IS THE REFUGE OF A SICK EGO.

When a person fails to harness their ego they will be driven to try to push others down in order to lift themselves up. When they do that they engage in a vicious sin & a sin God particularly hates. They will spread evil vicious lies on people.

Lately we’ve heard the politicians, Clinton & Obama, accusing each other of elitism. This also is one of the places the Ego goes, to snobbish exclusivism. This happens in churches. I’ve heard pastors say, “we have so many school teachers, & so many lawyers & so many doctors & businessmen in our church.” Now don’t get me wrong; these people ought to be in church. That’s fine. The problem is they can sometimes say this as if other people don’t count. Maybe we could call this; “An Ego-driven church.” If there’s any place that a doctor should forget he’s a doctor & a PHD should forget his education, church should be the place. When a church is true to its calling, it says, “Whosoever will may come.”
THAT BOY IS BACK IN TOWN

When Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth, the people responded to him with their EGO’S in full bloom. Jesus offended almost everyone. He asked His family, “Who are my brothers & sisters?” He told His disciples, “Get behind me Satan.”
He offended the Pharisees….the ancient religious right. He offended the Sadducees…the liberal, spiritual, well-educated left. He offended the Herodians…the opportunistic secularists of the day. Have you noticed how many folk are getting miffed in the gospel stories?
You can tell a lot about people when they are offended, especially when you see what it is in them that has been offended.

YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’VE BEEN OFFENDED THAT EGOS IN CONTROL.

When you find yourself saying “She didn’t include me…” They disagreed with me & were critical of me.” How dare he suggest such a thing?” “They didn’t consult me.” When we’re in that state…we’re controlled by something & it’s not God.

When Jesus goes home & He’s teaching, the home-boys & girls get offended. “Where did He get this stuff?” “I remember this guy from school. He had pimples back in Junior High. He was terrible at stick-ball. Who does He think He is?” “Its all well & good for someone to be a prophet but not someone I baby- sat…The carpenters son…might as well have been my son…nothing good can come out of Nazareth, certainly not me.”

Can you see how these people’s Ego’s caused them to be offended? In Jesus’ teaching in their temple, He mentioned how Elijah was sent to a woman during the famine & she received a miracle & she wasn’t even Jewish. He also mentioned General Namaan who was healed of leprosy & he’d been Israel’s enemy. They felt like God worked only through the Jewish people & here was Jesus, point blank telling them it wasn’t so. These Nazarene’s blew a fuse. They said, “Enough of this. Man the battle stations….Lower the draw bridge…Stones for everyone…Lock & load.” Jesus had bruised their tender & sensitive Ego’s.

NAMAAN’S EGO ALMOST LOST HIM HIS MIRACLE

You will no doubt remember him from 2 Kings. Namaan was a great man, a general in the ancient army of Aram, the area we now call Syria. He was great but afflicted with leprosy so he comes south to Israel & meets with the prophet Elisha.

He has heard that Elisha can heal him so he goes to Elisha’s humble house but Elisha won’t even come out to meet him. Instead Elisha sends his servant out to tell him to “go wash in the Jordan River seven times & you’ll be clean.”

Namaan gets miffed. He’s hurt & upset. Remember this man has a large ego. He’s filled with pride & flies into a rage. “No exception for a man like me? And what is this Jordan River? Its nothing compared to the rivers of Damascus! It’s just a puddle or a pond.” It was all beneath him. His ego almost outweighed his chance for healing.

Namaan had some good & faithful servants who said, “Do it anyway Namaan, do it anyway.” Namaan put his ego aside & found his healing & a new life in a seemingly small & insignificant thing like dipping himself in the Jordan seven times.

THE GREATEST SERMON CHRIST NEVER PREACHED

Our example in humility & laying aside of ego is Christ. In John 13:1-14, Jesus laid aside His garments & took a towel & began to wash His disciple’s feet. Jesus didn’t preach this sermon but a sermon it was; a sermon in humility. In Jesus’ day, this was a job for slaves because people’s feet got every kind of filth on them from dirt to dung. This one, who was the Messiah of God, humbled Himself & became obedient to the circumstances of human existence to the point of death on a cross.

Jesus affirmed Himself on Palm Sunday as Messiah & allowed the crowds to shout hosanna. But then, with not an egotistical bone in His body, He went from the praises of Palm Sunday to the humiliation of the Roman cross.

But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled Himself & became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.—Philippians 2:7-8

Blessings,


John