Month: June 2013

Where’s the Complaint Department?!

The power of negativity affects more than just atoms, metals and magnets – it affects people too!

Sometimes we think we can change something or make it better by complaining. If we don’t like it we want to let someone hear about it, right? Well, others do not always like to listen do they? One time, I saw a sign hanging on the door to a house that had a mousetrap with a little button glued to the part where you put the cheese. Under the mousetrap were the words: “Complaint Department – Push Button For Service.” I think their point was something similar to leave your complaining at the door.

If we liked to complain as much as we liked to listen to it then most of us probably wouldn’t do it as much as we do, and God can feel the same way when it comes to listening to our complaints.

The Almighty in Heaven recognizes and knows when we have been unfairly treated, and the Holy Spirit teaches in God’s written word that we can talk to God about these things:

Because for long enough, in times past, we have been living after the way of the Gentiles, given up to the desires of the flesh, to drinking and feasting and loose behaviour and unclean worship of images; And they are wondering that you no longer go with them in this violent wasting of life, and are saying evil things of you: But they will have to give an account of themselves to him who is ready to be the judge of the living and the dead. For this was the reason why the good news of Jesus was given even to the dead, so that they might be judged as men in the flesh, but might be living before God in the spirit. But the end of all things is near: so be serious in your behaviour and keep on the watch with prayer;…Putting all your troubles on him, for he takes care of you.”(1 Peter 4:3-7; 5:7 – BBE).

In this situation God is a sympathetic Father who will listen to us as we express the sorrows and troubles we are wrestling with in our life.

On the flip-side, the Holy Spirit also teaches in God’s written word that God will not tolerate complaining, backbiting, gossiping or murmuring forever. All of these words are used in the New Testament to one extent or another and all of them are condemned, sometimes with harsh warnings:

nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyerFor I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults;…These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.” (1 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:20; Jude 16 – NKJV).

Paul expressly warned the Corinthian church about murmuring and he used what happened to the children of Israel in the wilderness that murmured against Moses and Aaron as an example of God’s attitude toward that sin (Numbers 14,16,17). It was at the end of that warning that Paul penned the familiar and lesson filled words, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Complaining, backbiting, gossiping and murmuring were definitely some of those sins that Paul had in mind there.

Often times if we would only listen to ourselves when we complain negatively then we would hear how childish it can be. There have been times when I have reflected on something that I was complaining about and I realized how ignorant and petty it really sounded in the end. It didn’t change the situation and it definitely wasn’t changing me for the better!

The next time we start complaining we should ask ourselves if God would be willing to listen with a sympathetic ear, or would He be disappointed?

Remember that a lot of people like to visit the complaint department but not many people want to work there for a good reason. So let’s break the bad habit of complaining before it breaks us. EA

Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9)

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Does Our Doctrine Make A Difference?

When a word appears 49 times in 15 out of the 27 books of the New Testament that may be a “clue” to its importance.  And these “clues” lead to the importance of following, believing and teaching proper doctrine.

The word doctrine itself comes from the Greek word “didache” meaning, “that which is taught; doctrine, teaching concerning something; the act of teaching and instruction particularly in Christian religious assemblies.” So basically “doctrine” means what a person teaches concerning religious issues specific to the God of the Bible and His will for our life.

Now, although there are many different doctrines taught in the religious world today (which is actually against the doctrine of God taught in the Bible to begin with – John 17:20-22) I want to quickly whittle down all of these doctrines to two different kinds:

There is “sound” doctrine: “holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9)

and

There is “strange” doctrine: “Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.” (Hebrews 13:9)

The word “sound literally means “to be well and in good health” and “having an understanding and teaching free from any mixture of error.”

The word “strange” (which represents any other doctrine other than sound ones) means “without knowledge of” or “unheard of; new.”

So you can see how any lesson, sermon, or opinion, etc. religiously speaking can fall into these two categories.

Now, in light of these two very plain definitions and scriptures shown above, some people today still insist that it doesn’t matter what a person’s “doctrine” is. In other words they believe that a person can teach just about anything they want as long as they are sincere in their belief, but how does the Holy Spirit feel about that particular doctrine?

Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, told Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:3-7 to “…charge some that they teach no other doctrine….” He also told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3 that “…the time will come when [people] will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers.

John said when a person abandons the doctrine of Jesus the Christ, in reality they abandon God: “Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (2 John 1:9-11)

Jesus Himself warned about and condemned any doctrine other than God’s when he said, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:8-9) And as a matter of fact in Revelation 2:15 Jesus told the compromising church of Pergamos that He hated the doctrine of the Nicolatians that they were allowing to be taught.

So according to Jesus the Son of God, the Holy Spirit of God, and John and Paul the apostles of God, does our doctrine matter? Can our doctrine make a difference in our  relationship with God? The answer is a resounding YES.

But before I finish I must ask, can we know and teach “sound doctrine?” Again the answer is a resounding YES. How does this happen? How can we do this? By listening to the Spirit of God through God’s word and God’s word alone found in the Bible and by teaching doctrines that do not contradict God’s written and revealed will for our lives (Matthew 7:24-29).

2 John 1:9 teaches the importance of staying within the boundaries of the New Testament, and that means we must study God’s word to know the sound doctrine that comes from God. And if you’re not convinced yet, read 2 Timothy 2:14-18 and then try to tell me with a straight face that the Bible doesn’t say our doctrine makes a difference. Think about it. EA

How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 6:11-13)

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He Left The Ears For Us

Terribly wounded though counting it a joy on our behalf (Hebrews 12:2) almost every part of the Lord Jesus’ body was pierced (John 19:37) in one way or another due to our sin:

His hands and feet by nails.

His head by thorns.

His back and torso by the scourging tools.

His side by a spear.

But one point that needs to be pierced was left for us – our own ear!

Under the Law of Moses a slave who chose to stay with his or her master past the time of required service could come before the area judges and allow the master to pierce their ear thus symbolizing their willingness to live out their position in life as a lifelong servant to the master’s house (Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17).

It’s an analogy that only goes so far since Jesus requires a lifelong servitude from the beginning but the point can still be seen that a pierced body in exchange for a pierced ear is much more than a good deal – it’s a deal that leads to an eternal home in Heaven. EA

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 – NKJV)

But now, being free from sin, and having been made servants to God, you have your fruit in that which is holy, and the end is eternal life.” (Romans 6:22 – BBE)

Changing Soil Conditions

When Jesus used the parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-15 He described four different types of soil (representing the condition of the human heart) that the seed (which is God’s word – Luke 8:11) fell into. When you study some of the people in the New Testament you will find that it is possible for the soil of our heart to change.

The following people experienced some of those heart-changing conditions that Jesus described in His parable. Some of the people changed for the better and unfortunately some changed for the worse. Identify the soil that they started with and the one that they ended up with according to God’s word. Make sure you read the parable’s description of the soils and the scripture references carefully so you can choose the right answer:

THE CHOICES

Wayside (Hard Soil) – Rocky (Shallow Soil) – Thorn Filled (Cares of the world) – Good (Fruitful)

Paul: From __________ to ___________ (Acts 22:4-16)

Demas: From __________ to __________ (Philemon 1:23-24 and 2 Timothy 4:10)

Joseph of Arimathea: From __________ to __________ (John 19:38)

Ananias and Sapphira: From __________ to __________ (Acts 5:1-10)

Rich Young Ruler: From __________ to __________ (Matthew 19:16-22)

Diotrephes: From __________ to __________ (3 John 1:9-10)

The lesson has to do with our ability to either nurture the soil of our heart or to ignore it and allow it to become unmanageable. Nature teaches us that the soil conditions of the ground can change and God’s word teaches that the soil conditions of the heart can change too.

Today, God’s word is still doing exactly the same thing that it was doing when Jesus spoke the parable that has become so familiar to many people – it’s testing the soil of our heart.

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11)

The amazing word of God never grows dormant; the word of God never fails; the word of God does exactly what it was designed to do, and the word of God shall stand forever! EA

having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,” (1 Peter 1:23)

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