Sunday, June 30, 2013

Solomon’s Folly and America’s Apostasy

I Kings 11:1-14
During the reign of Solomon, we find the most prosperous period in the economy of Israel.  His accumulation of wealth is staggering, even in numbers equivalent to today’s economic market. Certainly, God had raised Solomon to material splendor.  But, as a result of continued disobedience to the Law and the commandments, God gave Solomon over to his own wickedness and his people to bondage.  There are lessons to be learned from his failure.

Subtle compromise leads God’s people away from Him.
Unholy alliances lead to political pressure and can lead to rationalization of spiritual disobedience.
The next generation’s apostasy is the result of the present generation’s compromise.
What one generation allows in toleration the next generation will move to in excess.
Apostasy leads to bondage for God’s people.

  I.     Religious Syncretism

Today, this is called Religious Pluralism.

Multiculturalism is the idea that American culture has historically been neither superior to nor preferable over any other culture in the world, and that all cultures.

Religious Syncretism always results in separation from the One True God.

Chrislam seeks to combine Christianity with Islam demonstrating their ignorance of both religions.

II.     America’s Apostasy

The ignoring of history is a foolish and dangerous action.

·  To reject the Bible is to suffer the consequences of rebellion against the principles of righteousness.

·  To reject the constitution is to disable the strong tenets that support real freedom.

The rebellion against conservative Christianity and its convictions can be read as no less than rebellion against any control by self-indulgent individuals who have chosen to exchange liberty for license. 

Responsibilities of A Christian Patriot

1. Pray for your country and your representatives.

2. Let your voice be heard. Get involved in your country.

3. Vote your convictions and your conscience.  

Friday, June 28, 2013

…and be Baptized…

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

This week we have been taking a look about truthfulness and our own sin.  I know they have been heavier reading but I hope they have helped you to be honest with yourself and let go of sin you are holding onto.

…and be Baptized…
We are wrapping up the devotionals this week with a look at the second thing Paul said needed to be done to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Some confusion exists concerning this verse. Some people believe it to teach baptism as essential for salvation rather than a testimony of salvation.  The essential means of receiving the forgiveness of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is the decisive two-sided spiritual act: repentance and belief in the name of Jesus.

HOWEVER, baptism, as the outward expression of this repentance and faith is not to be underemphasized. 

·      Christ calls us to confess Him before men if He is to confess us before the Father.
·      Many a “spiritual miscarriage” has occurred when someone comes to the very edge of a “saving faith” and backs away when called to confess. Never underestimate the call the baptism!

The Meaning of Baptism
What is the biblical meaning of baptism? We can capsule this meaning by considering two significant words—believer and symbolic.   Once you have repented and accepted Jesus as your savior, you will want to follow through with the ordinance of baptism.  Baptism's meaning begins with the fact that only a believer, a saved person, should be baptized. This biblical truth rules out baptizing babies or others who cannot personally respond to Jesus in faith. The truth also denies any practice of being baptized for others—such as people who have already died. Only a person saved by faith in Jesus Christ can be properly baptized.

As it says above, for the Christian, baptism is symbolic. Baptists regard baptism as purely, totally, and only symbolic, with no power to save. Baptism contains no magical meaning or power.  The Apostle Paul insisted that people are saved by grace through faith and not by works. (Romans 3:21-31; Ephesians 2:8-10). The works to which he denied any saving power were religious rituals—such as were practiced in Jewish ceremonial law. Baptism symbolizes and pictures salvation. It does not give salvation; it is not required for salvation; and its absence does not withhold salvation.  However, it is a proclamation of your faith. People who are saved and do not follow through with baptism may feel they have not completed the process. The longer a person waits, it becomes much harder to go back and do it. 

Baptism symbolizes the total Christian experience. The one accepting baptism expresses his or her confession of faith in Christ and symbolizes in the act of baptism their burial or death to sin their confidence in a resurrection to new life.  The act of being baptized also expresses the believer's vital spiritual relationship with Christ.  Only a saved person can join such a celebration.
God is willing to cancel all your debts and then come and live with you, guide you, change you and empower you. You cannot work to receive this. It cannot be earned, or bought. It is a free gift to all who repent—who turn from darkness to light—and call on the name of the Lord.  Hand it all over to Him today and have the abundant life He gives to all who will receive.

Scripture to Claim:
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection…  Romans 6:3-6

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38

This week we have been talking about sin and being truthful with ourselves about our sin.  Now comes the plan of action.  If you are already a Christian, the scripture above tells us that after being honest with yourself and admitting your sin, you need to repent.  If you are not, should you also follow with a public confession by being baptized. 

What must I do?
The scripture above was in response to a question asked by the crowd of thousands of people that Peter was preaching to in Jerusalem during the Pentecost.  He had been preaching the first gospel sermon ever preached in the name of Jesus and at one point in the sermon, conviction was so strong that the audience cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).  Peter’s answer was direct and clear; repent and be baptized – every one of you. These are not just words; these are words that carry weight. 

Repentance is turning away in Godly sorrow from all sin -- sins of thought, word, and deed, secret sins and known sins. When we truly repent, we are ashamed of and sorry for all sins alike because they are wrong, and we turn from all sin - even the ones we don’t want to let go of. It does not require a long time to repent; these people repented on the spot.  We understand the word repentance as confessing our sin and changing our ways.  In our minds repentance is all about modifying behavior.

Changing behavior has been the object of many programs, especially in addiction.  Shick had a program that used what was called “aversion therapy.”  A person was forced to perform the behavior until they were sick so that when they thought of doing it again, they remembered the pain.

It has been aptly remarked that repentance is the hardest command for man to perform.
·      That may well be because real repentance is not merely changing what I do, it is changing who I am. In short, a man must be set free from the sin he is, which makes him do the sin he does.--George MacDonald

·      Any concept of grace that makes us feel more comfortable sinning is not biblical grace. God's grace never encourages us to live in sin; on the contrary, it empowers us to say no to sin and yes to truth. -- Randy Alcorn

Incomplete Repentance - Why repentance does not work for some
·      Repentance is not just regret. They had already been cut to the heart. (v.3) And now Peter says, "Repent!"

·      Repentance is more than feeling sorry. It means following through on that conviction and turning around — changing your mind and your heart so that you are no longer at odds with God but in sync with God.
The kind of repentance that works changes more than just behavior. It is a radical change in one's 
attitude toward sin and God. It implies a conscious, moral separation, and a personal decision to forsake sin and to enter into fellowship with God.  Real repentance is more than changing my behavior out of fear of hurting others or fear of being caught (sorrow).  It is changing my behavior because now I see things differently. It is ceasing to think like the world and beginning to see things with our new mind in Christ.  It is where truth meets sin.

Scripture to Claim
I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians  7:9-10

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Need for the Gift of God’s Spirit

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38
This week we have been talking about sin and truth.  We have learned that we can avoid the truth by redefining it and we can twist things enough to make our sin relative to our life so that we can justify it.  However we are deprived of God’s forgiveness when that happens.  God wants us to acknowledge our sin and ask forgiveness.  That is the first step in the process of ridding our lives of sin.  After we have repented and asked forgiveness, the bible tells us that we will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Today we are going to take a look at the need to receive the Holy Spirit. 
The Need for the Gift of God’s Spirit
What does it mean to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? Is this a promise of being baptized in the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit, being empowered by the Spirit, or being indwelt by the Spirit
The longer I meditate on those alternatives the less I see reasons in the text to choose between them.  My answer would be simply this: From the day of your repentance and your identification with Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit will be at work in your life as a gift.  If you truly repent and publicly profess the name of Jesus Christ through baptism, the Holy Spirit will be given to you and will make a difference in your life. From that day on you will have the Holy Spirit.

These are the two great needs that we all have:
1.    The first is to be forgiven-to have all the violations and offenses and transgressions and disobedience and sins cancelled out.  Though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow!  Isaiah 1:18.
2.    The second need is to have God Himself come into our lives where sin once reigned. We need a personal relationship with God through his Spirit. We need wisdom and guidance and love and joy and peace and patience and goodness and self-control. And we need extraordinary power for the task of local and world evangelization. We need the gift of the Holy Spirit.  

Scripture to Claim:
However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.  If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies [b]through His Spirit who dwells in you.  Romans 8:9-11

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Relativism Maximizes the Absoluteness of Self

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  Isaiah 55:6-7

This week we are talking about sin and being truthful with ourselves about our sin.  Yesterday we talked a little about how we can avoid obedience to God by redefining the truth about sin in our lives.  We can avoid the truth and block it out but then we deprive ourselves of the blessing of God’s gracious forgiveness.

Relativism Maximizes the Absoluteness of Self – Relativism, generally speaking, is the philosophical position that all points of view are equally valid and that all truth (and value) is relative to the individual.  Basically that means that we can make everything relative to our lives in whatever way we see fitBeing a relativist enables someone to choose his/her own truths and moralities, and consequently, to escape from being accountable to a God of absolutes.

Relativism makes the statement “There are no absolutes.” However, this is an absolute statement which is supposed to be true. Therefore it is an absolute truth and the statement “There are no absolutes” is false. Thus we can see that the basic theme of relativism is self-refuting. As Dr. Ravi Zacharias metaphorically explains, “The pure relativist cuts off the branch on which he is sitting while telling you that branch cannot be severed”.   One of the saddest things about the relativism of our day is that it undermines God's forgiveness. Here's what I mean.

1.    Relativism constantly minimizes or denies the absoluteness of God.

·      It functions implicitly as if God had no clear and unchanging character-as though there were no divine measure for human character.

·       Relativism does not get along well with biblical statements like, "Be holy for I am holy" 1 Peter 1:16, or, "Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect" Matthew 5:48. So relativism minimizes the absoluteness of God and his will.

·      Relativism uses the mind of man to distort the reason of God. If we redefine the law we may avoid guilt, but we will not avoid consequence.

2.    Relativism maximizes the absoluteness of self. It says that the way to healing and wholeness is to stop measuring yourself by external standards or expectations, even God's. Instead, without reference to God or his Word, be yourself.  Make yourself the measure of what is good and acceptable.  Give yourself an unconditional positive self-regard.  The only role that God has to play in this relativism is to be the divine endorsement of your own self-affirmation. God functions as a kind of booster for the absoluteness of self.  If he presents himself as one with standards or commandments, then He is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

It sounds gracious on the surface-to say that God has no law, no standards, no expectations, no commandments, no threats - that He is simply there to affirm me in whatever I happen to be; that sounds like grace and freedom.  But there is one massive glitch…it destroys forgiveness.  Where there is no law, no just standard, no legitimate expectation, no normative way of relating to God and man, there can be no forgiveness.  Because forgiveness is the letting go of real offenses, real transgressions, real violations, and real faults.

Based on God’s word, there is a God, there is a holy law, and in the name of Jesus Christ there is forgiveness. Recognizing our sin and asking for forgiveness is the first need we have towards sin meeting truth, and God stands ready to meet it.

Scripture to Claim:
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.  Psalm 86:4-5

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