Archive for August, 2007

Tares among the Wheat

Friday, August 31st, 2007

“Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ” –Matthew 13:30–

Ananias and Sapphira had a choice: They could give a lot to the early church, or they could give a little. Nothing was required of them, but they decided to act as though they were giving a lot when they really were not. This was a sin of hypocrisy.

The Bible also says they lied to the Holy Spirit. This was a specific sin against the Spirit of God. Ananias and Sapphira found out that you can’t fool God. It is interesting that the name Ananias means “God is gracious,” but he found out that God is also holy. The name Sapphira means “beautiful,” but her heart was ugly with sin. It is easy for us to condemn Ananias and Sapphira for their dishonesty. But maybe we need to examine our own lives to see if our profession is backed up by our practice.

The devil loves to counterfeit the genuine. He appears to operate by the adage, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” He has his tares among the wheat. There are false Christians. There are false preachers. There are false teachers, false apostles, and false prophets. There are Ananiases and Sapphiras in our ranks. The Judas Iscariots are out there too. They go to the same churches as we do. They live in the same neighborhoods. They go to the same schools.

But one of these days God, who knows all hearts, will separate the wheat from the chaff and the true from the false. It is not for us to do, however. It is for Him to do.

No Condemnation

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. –Romans 8:1–

We all have our moments of hypocrisy–times when we are not behaving as we ought to behave as Christians, times where we really let the Lord down in our witness. The Bible tells us that hypocrites find out the hard way that you can’t pull the wool over God’s eyes. God deals with them very harshly because, in all honesty, He hates the sin of hypocrisy.

When Jesus walked this earth, He saved His most scathing words not for the sinners of the day, but for the self-righteous, religious hypocrites. In fact, with the sinners He could be quite gentle. Remember the woman caught in the act of adultery? He said to her, “Where are those accusers of yours?”

“No one, Lord,” she told Him.

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (see John 8:10–11).

Does this mean Jesus approved of the way she lived? Far from it–God is very clear about how He wants us to live. Jesus knew the real problem was that her sin needed to be resolved.

It was the same thing with the woman at the well, who was known for her immorality. Yet as Jesus spoke to her that day in Samaria, He did not condemn her for her lifestyle as much as He appealed to her inner spiritual thirst.

The bottom line is that people are empty, and they need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Expend your energy there. Expend your energy in proclaiming the gospel. The heart of the matter is that people are lost. They need Christ. And we need to take that message to them. 

Ability vs. Availability

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. –2 Corinthians 4:7–

When Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, it was a source of complete amazement that these untrained laymen could be so well-versed in the Scriptures–and more importantly, in their understanding. They were ordinary fishermen, salt-of-the-earth-type people. This doesn’t mean they were illiterate. But they had not attended the rabbinical schools or spent their lives in the study of the Scripture.

Acts 4:13 tells us that when these religious leaders “saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” These simple fishermen appeared to be better-equipped than the professionals were. How did this happen? The disciples had been with Jesus. They were boldly sharing their faith. They knew the Scriptures. They were men who prayed.

This should give hope and encouragement to those who think of themselves as ordinary people. Maybe God has not called you to be a pastor, a missionary, or some professional ministry position. But God can use you too. It is clear that He is looking for ordinary men and women to bring the gospel message to others.

God can use you where you are. The opportunities are there. There is a mission field where you work. There is a mission field where you go to school. There is a mission field in your neighborhood. You are God’s representative, and He is calling you to go into this world and speak up for Him. God is not looking so much for ability as He is looking for availability. So make yourself available to Him.

The Battle for the Heart

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

What is our most important stewardship? While many of us tend to focus on economic or financial aspects of our “stewardship,” most of us should be spiritually sensitive enough to recognize that there are other priorities that should supersede economic or material things: family, etc. But what priority should be the paramount consideration among the competing demands on our time and resources? What aspect of our lives will prove to be the primary determinant of our eternal destiny?

Many demands continually consume our attention: family, careers, and the economic pragmatics that determine our personal prerogatives, etc. The “urgent” will tend to preempt the important.

But our most critical stewardship is our heart. That is what God is most concerned with, and it is this stewardship which will determine our response to all of the other issues we face-moment-by-moment, day-by-day, throughout the year, and, in fact, which will determine our eternal destiny. While our salvation is based entirely on what the Lord has done, our ultimate rewards will derive from our responses to the opportunities He provides to us.

Our decisions will derive from our perspectives, and these, in turn, derive from what is commonly called our “world view”: our global perspective of the world we find ourselves in – our origin, our purpose, and our assumed destiny. There are, however, only two basic world views:

1. We are simply the result of a series of cosmic accidents; or
2. We are the result of a purposeful design
There are no other alternatives. All of our attitudes and perspectives derive, consciously or presumptuously, from our world view. If we believe that we are, as our government schools continue to inculcate our children, simply the result of randomness, it shouldn’t surprise us that many lack a sense of destiny or moral responsibility. If, however, we recognize a design in the universe – and in ourselves – we not only acknowledge a responsibility, but also yearn to know as much as possible about the Designer and His intentions.

We live in a dark world. Paul warned his protégé, Timothy, that times would become increasingly hazardous:

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Timothy 3:1-5).”

However there is hope for the future. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.”  Let’s not lose sight of our fundamental anchors in this sea of distress:

1. God still reigns;
2. The Church is still precious in His sight;
3. Its mission is still clear;
4. Our focus is still Heaven; we are but pilgrims, not “earth-dwellers”; and
5. Victory is still certain.

A Walking Light Bulb

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:16–

The religious leaders thought they had eliminated the problem when they crucified Jesus. But now, His disciples were preaching and performing miracles. It was as though Jesus had returned. He was back in the hearts and lives of His people.

This reminds us that one of the best arguments for the Christian faith is a transformed life. Believers are the best advertising God could have because their lifestyles change, their attitudes change, and even their countenances change. The greatest biography of Jesus is written in the words and actions of His people. Your godly lifestyle is a testimony, just as if you were a walking miracle like the lame man whom Peter and John healed.

Jesus told us we are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. There is a place to let our lights shine and proclaim the truth of God. And there is a place for us to be salt.

Even if you don’t tell people you are a Christian, they will sense something is different about you. They will watch you. You are like a walking light bulb. You are a representative of Christ.

If you are being the kind of Christian that God wants you to be, if you are being a “salty” Christian, then your lifestyle will stimulate a thirst for God in others. The greatest compliment is when someone wants to know more, when he or she approaches you and says, “What is it about you?” That is your opportunity to shine the light of the gospel.