We Want a King

We Want a King

In 1 Samuel 1–5 we find the corrupt sons of Eli, priests, unwilling to heed their father’s instructions. They cause the children of Israel to despise the sacrifices of the Lord. Then the Philistines slaughter the Israeli army and carry off the Ark of the Covenant. In the midst of all this God is still faithful to fulfill His will, keep His promises, and He providentially raises up Samuel to be a prophet and a priest.

king of men

Do you want a king of men or the King of all?

Then, in chapters 6–10, Israel, who has never been satisfied with the leadership and awesome power of the Lord, desires an earthly king to rule over them. He had guided them out of bondage and into the Promised Land. He had set over them righteous representatives to lead them (Moses, Joshua, the Judges, and now Samuel), yet they continued to rebel. Now they want a king like the nations around them.

Let me posit this question, “Whose side are we on?” If not on the Lord’s side we are His enemy. But He will conquer and every enemy defeated (Matthew 11:30). “Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?” (Hebrews 12:9).
While we are often hard on the children of Israel maybe God is trying to get us to see our own nature. He has provided us with divine, kingly leadership in His Son. But that isn’t good enough for most people. He is King of kings and Lord of lords! Will you allow Him to rule your life? Here’s a test… have you and are you obedient to and subject to Him?

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Cotton Candy Christianity

Cotton Candy Christianity

While the concept might have originated in Europe, it was William Morrison and John C. Wharton of Nashville who made it become a reality. In 1897, they created the machine which used air and sugar to popularize the spread of a new product. They called it fairy floss. It still has that name in Australia. In much of the world, it is called candy floss. In France, it is called Papa’s beard. You have eaten it since you were a child and likely call it cotton candy.

cotton candy religion

Sugar coated religion?

There are some interesting parallels between cotton candy and what has happened in the religious world since the Lord established the church. He established the church in a world whose appeal was to the outward aspects of religious life. The pagan world had temples everywhere, and the devotion to the gods worshiped there was popularized by gods who sought to satisfy the fleshly nature of man. They were not designed to change the hearts and souls of men.

Even Judaism in the first century had ignored the greatest commands and focused on sabbath keeping, showy religion and ceremonial rituals. The Lord described them as only having a form of godliness, while neglecting grace and the weightier matters of God’s law (2 Tim. 3:5; Matt. 23:23). Christianity was designed to change the heart and then using the truth revealed in the Bible to bring men to God. It was based on the principle that God is a spirit, and we bow before Him with our spirits and souls seeking Him (John 4:24).

But, all that has changed. So much of religion in our land is like cotton candy. Cotton candy looks so great. You can get it in any color or flavor you desire. Our religious world is so divided that you can find any “flavor” of church you want. However, cotton candy has little nutritional value (remember your mom’s devotion that you have a balanced diet) and doesn’t really give you what you need. America feeds itself on the “sugar and air” mixture of religious cotton candy.

After you eat your two ounces of sugar and air, your body still needs more. Religion without deep Bible knowledge destroyed Israel and is destroying our land (Hos. 4:6). One cannot know the Lord without knowing His word (1 John 2:4). One cannot love the Lord and ignore keeping His word (John 14:15). A child at the fair sees the cotton candy and it tastes so good, but a steady diet of this will destroy his health. This is our land. Religiously, we are feeding ourselves and starving our souls.

What an amazing world it would be if we sought to return to the spiritual food which fed the early church. Cotton candy Christianity is so far removed from the food Jesus gave the early church and seeks to give to us today.

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Our Heavenly Father’s Day

Our Heavenly Father’s Day

What comes to mind when you consider the term “Father’s Day?” Time spent with family reminiscing what wonderful things your dad did for you growing up? How he worked to love, guide, protect and provide for you? Is the first thing that comes to mind perhaps the Sunday celebration of “Father’s Day” where you take/took the time to travel to his house and present to him your gifts of love, gratitude, and appreciation? Maybe it’s a special meal as you and your siblings all gather around the same table to eat, enjoy, and celebrate? Now, granted, for some, there may be a far sadder stigma attached to “Father’s Day” because their dads were somewhat less of a father than God desires that they should have been.

Do You Remember Your Father’s Day?

However, no matter what it is that may come to mind for you when you hear the term “Father’s Day,” one thing is for sure: If you are a blood-bought and adopted child of the living God (Gal. 3:26-27), your perfect, loving, and adoring heavenly Father is certainly worth celebrating every day in every way – but especially and in a special way on this, His special, “Father’s Day!” He brought us forth because He wanted, and it was His will to have us (Jms. 1:18). Every good thing we have is from Him (Matt. 7:7-11, Jms. 1:17). Every good thing heaven has to offer we have been given by our heavenly Father in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3-10). He guides, provides, nurtures, protects, strengthens, comforts, leads, teaches, matures, directs and disciplines us – all for our own good, growth, and godliness. But He does so with mercy, pity, and compassion, remembering our frailties (Ps. 103:8-14). He is truly “our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace” (2 Thess. 2:16).

And so, we celebrate Him. We come together with His other blood-bought children – our spiritual siblings in Christ – bearing our gifts of love, adoration, and appreciation, as we gather together within His house (2 Ptr. 2:4-5; 1 Tim. 3:15). It is there that we sing His praises and give Him thanks (Eph. 5:19-20; Col. 3:16-17; Hebs. 3:15). It is there, on His specially set-aside day, that we present Him with our gifts (1 Cor. 16:1-2). And it is only and especially there and on His special day, that we have the privilege of sharing in the most sacred, special, and meaningful meal ever provided, as we gather around the table of the Lord together (1 Cor. 10:16-17, 11:23-25; Acts 20:7).

You see, after all He’s done for us, our heavenly Father is far too special to celebrate only occasionally or annually. Every first day of the week is our heavenly Father’s Day! Let us be determined not to miss it for the world!

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Are You Feeling Guilty?

Are You Feeling Guilty?

There are two kinds of guilt in the Bible. There is the feeling of guilt when our conscience condemns us—subjective guilt. There is also guilt for doing something objectively wrong. This guilt isn’t a feeling; it is a state of being that results from having sinned. It is the criminal that is pronounced guilty by the judge – objective guilt. The word “guilt” is found 79 times in the New King James Version. Seventy-eight times it refers to objective guilt. Once it refers to someone feeling guilty (Zechariah 11:5). The Bible uses the word “conscience” in association with the subjective feeling of guilt. The word “conscience” is found 30 times in the NKJV, and only in the New Testament. When our conscience accuses us (Romans 2:15), we feel guilty.

guilty brown

We can do something about guilt.

The work of Jesus eliminates guilt of both kinds. First, the offering of Jesus blood eliminates objective guilt for those who believe and obey the gospel. Jesus said, “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). Peter said to the guilty in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Second, our guilty conscience is also cleansed by Jesus. Hebrews 9:14 states, “how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” This means that holding onto guilt is a choice we make for irrational reasons. Moreover, guilt prevents us from doing God’s work of evangelizing the lost. Let go of guilt, and get to work.

If we are feeling guilty about our past forgiven sins, then we are doing so for irrational reasons. Let’s think about some of those irrational reasons.

First, we may feel guilty due to self-blame. Some confuse blaming self with taking responsibility. Self-blame is really a mechanism to excuse oneself from responsibility. We tell ourselves, “I am guilty of [some wrong],” so I better not do [some right]. After all, I don’t want to be a hypocrite!” The truth is: you are a hypocrite for doing what is wrong. To stop being a hypocrite you need to do what is right. Guilt due to self-blame fails to act. Stop feeling guilty and get to work.

Second, we may feel guilty due to false standards. Those suffering from eating disorders often set up false standards of acceptance. They feel guilty when they eat because they tell themselves that eating will make them fat, and they will be rejected. False standards of acceptance are irrational, but it isn’t guilt that is the problem, but the false standard. Eliminate the false standard, and the guilt will disappear.

Third, we may feel guilty to control others. Some express feeling guilty to manipulate others to act like they want them to act. This brings false validation, and means that they don’t value themselves correctly. Such manipulation is sinful and irrational. The Christian’s validation and worth comes from Jesus.

The feeling of guilt is an emotion that we control. Others do not make us feel guilty; we make ourselves feel guilty. We must take ownership of our own behaviors, including our guilt, by handling them correctly through Jesus. Unbridled guilt robs us of peace, joy, love, and contentment. Trust Jesus, and let go of guilt.


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Gay: A Little Leaven Leavens The Whole Lump

Gay: “A Little Leaven Leavens The Whole Lump”

The First Baptist Church in Greenville, SC, made headlines with its decision to “allow same-sex couples to marry in the church,” “ordain gay ministers,” and “embrace the complexities of gender identity.”  The senior minister of one of the oldest churches in the city dating back to the early 1800’s explains how they came to this decision:

“What I heard was, ‘We need to do the right thing, regardless of what anybody thinks or says about us,’” says Jim Dant, the 184-year-old church’s senior minister who led the church through its six-month discernment. “There were a few people who said, ‘Are they going to start calling us the gay church in town?’”

The dialogue culminated into a consensus — the kind that, by the earliest tradition of Baptist discernment, resulted in a public affirmation by each present member.

The call wasn’t to render a verdict on whether homosexuality is right or wrong.

Instead, it was the general agreement of a congregation that it could hold divergent personal beliefs but still come together in a desire to worship and serve.

Apparently this had been a long time in the works.  The article outlines the gradual, step-by-step acceptance of this sin by the First Baptist congregation:

Throughout the years, First Baptist has identified itself as a congregation of moderate temperament.

And for years, the LGBT community has worshiped in the church alongside heterosexual peers.

The sentiment throughout much of the church’s recent history, Dant says, was one of general acceptance of the LGBT community, but with an unspoken, de facto “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

When the church recently decided to state its position clearly, it at first was “headed down the road to having a vote with winners and losers.”

Instead, he says, the conversation began as one of discernment with an eye toward reaching a statement of consensus.

Over the course of four Sunday evenings in November, more than 200 people sat in circles of eight and engaged in candid discussions.

Personal convictions varied, Dant says, and members made themselves vulnerable, on all sides, in a spirit of fellowship.

The discussions distilled into a central question: “Can you worship and live with the LGBT community in the church?”

The answer, for the most part, was yes.

The members then affirmed that “being open and welcoming to all people is part of the essential nature of our community of faith.”

The next crucial step, Dant says, was assuring members that no one would try to tell them that their personal convictions were wrong.

The process led to a brief but pointed consensus statement: “In all facets of the life and ministry of our church, including but not limited to membership, baptism, ordination, marriage, teaching and committee/organizational leadership, First Baptist Greenville will not discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In May, members of the congregation during a service were invited to stand to affirm the consensus statement. The vast majority stood. The few who didn’t were then offered the opportunity to stand to agree to remain in fellowship.

By the end, all were standing.

Today, First Baptist can perform same-sex marriages.

And members, no matter their sexual orientation, can serve in leadership roles and can be ordained as ministers.

First Baptist in Greenville reminds me of the church at Corinth two thousand years ago.  They had boastfully allowed an unrepentant sexually immoral person to stay among them rather than mournfully withdrawing fellowship from him.  God inspired the apostle Paul to rebuke them by saying:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.  And you are arrogant!  Ought you not rather to mourn?  Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing.  When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good.  Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler — not even to eat with such a one. 

Purge the evil person from among you.

— 1 Corinthians 5:1-6, 11, 13b

By allowing for years open fellowship with those in known, unrepentant sin, First Baptist had opened the door for its members to eventually accept the sin and no longer even attempt to put God’s will above their own.

gay baptist

Whose will do you follow? Man’s or God’s?

Thus, they intentionally avoided “the call…to render a verdict on whether homosexuality is right or wrong” while claiming, “We need to do the right thing, regardless of what anybody thinks or says about us.”  Never mind that God specifically cites homosexuality as sinful in the New Testament (Rom. 1:26-28; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:9-10).

Thus, “the dialogue culminated into a consensus…the general agreement of a congregation that it could hold divergent personal beliefs but still come together in a desire to worship and serve.”  Never mind that God specifically commands congregations that “there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10).

Apparently, it’s more important for First Baptist to be popular and accepted by the world than it is by God.  Again, I’m reminded by the divinely inspired words of Paul:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

— Galatians 1:10

Christians, this is what happens when we “tolerate” unrepentant sin among us.  We end up accepting it, and by doing so we become God’s enemy even while we arrogantly and naively still consider ourselves to be his friend (James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17).

Truly, “a little leaven leavens the whole lump!”

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