This past week, as a fellow teacher and I were talking about the many discipline problems we have in our classes, a third teacher came along and told us her solution to all these problems was to tell the children, “There are no bad children, just bad choices.” I couldn’t help but share the thought on my Facebook page and it generated quite a bit of buzz.
As for my response to the teacher who said this, I simply smiled, nodded and bit my tongue fighting back the deep desire to bring some actual biblical truth to bear on the conversation. Knowing that whatever I said would be rejected, I went back to my classroom full of “non-bad” children, who make horrendous “decisions.” Of course, the goodness of these children just abounds. I get tingly goose bumps just thinking about it…no, wait, that is actually a recurring rash I get as a result of stress.
I saw your little letter to us and found it quite fascinating. I readily admit that for many of us, we struggle with you. You have been quite clever in coming up with ways to distract us from our purpose in life and our goals. After all, I was even captivated by your statement, “he who dies with the most toys, wins.” You are far more clever than we are. But you forget yourself.
Remember, that our Savior has overcome you. You work double-overtime, but since we belong to Him, you will never completely have your way with us. Yes, we do admit, your lure is strong. But Our Savior’s love, grace and Spirit are even stronger. You may entice us for a time, but the longer we walk with Him, the more we see you for the shallow satisfaction that you truly are. You can never really satisfy us. Even if we have all that you have to offer, that offer is empty and short lived.
We live in a day when a morbid charity induces many to exaggerate God’s mercy, at the expense of His justice, and when false teachers are daring to talk of a ‘love of God, lower even than hell.’ Let us resist such teaching with a holy jealousy, and abide by the doctrine of Holy Scripture. (J.C. Ryle’s commentary on Matthew).
I remember my church history professor, John Hannah, telling us about the early church and the practices they had for joining a church. If I recall correctly, a person that wanted to join the fellowship had to go through several years of instruction while the leaders of the congregation got to know the new acolyte. Then, after supporting a credible profession of faith, the new convert would be baptized and allowed into the congregation.
“When we were without strength,
in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
William Gurnall writes:
Here is a word for Christians. Knowing your strength lies wholly in God and not in yourself, remain humble–even when God is blessing and using you most. Remember, when you have your best suit on, who made it and who paid for it! God’s favor is neither the work of your own hands nor the price of your own worth. How can you boast of what you did not buy? If you embezzle God’s strength and credit it to your own account, He will soon call an audit and take back what was His all along.
From The Christian in Complete Armour: Daily Readings in Spiritual Warfare, edited by James S. Bell, Jr.
A debate was raging on FB via an Eternity Matters post about Donald Trump’s profession of religion. Neil Simpson just came right out and said that the Donald was not a Christian, but was posing as one in order to court evangelicals.
Of course, there were a few who brought forth the ignorance card, “you can’t know. That is between God and the Donald alone.”
This is the third part of a series that I did on what The World, Flesh and the Devil want for us during the coming year. I’ve been quite hesitant to write this one because I have been using the technique of personification, which worked well from the standpoint of the World and the Flesh. It doesn’t work well for the Devil. The Devil is a real, created being who is set on the destruction of all things, especially those who are in Christ. Writing from his standpoint makes me uncomfortable. But I will give it a shot, resting in the knowledge that nothing can separate me from the love of Christ or rip me out of His hands. My hope is in nothing less than Jesus and His righteousness for my salvation, hope, sustenance and future.
With that said, here is what Lucifer might say to us:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I hope that you have a wonderful New Year, much better than the one you just had. I have so many things to say to you for the coming year. It’s hard to pick one. But however I come to you, know that I want your happiness and well being more than anyone. So let me get started:
When I first entered the ministry some 20 years ago, there was a catch phrase that was bouncing around among the churches regarding what they were looking for in a pastor. The word was “winsome.” This really struck me as troublesome on one level, although I could not say why I found it to be so. I should have looked up the word to understand it.
Winsome is defined as “cheerful, pleasant, and appealing.”
On a superficial level, this sounds great. Who doesn’t want a pastor who is “cheerful, pleasant, and appealing?” After all, a man like that could attract large crowds of people, build a ministry so big, that you could use an old basketball arena to house all the people. In fact, when thinking about the quality of being winsome, no one fits the bill better than Joel Osteen out of Houston. He is definitely “cheerful, pleasant, and appealing.”
I know that there are many who struggle with assurance of salvation in their walk with Christ. A lot of times, this is simply because they are focusing on how they feel in the their walk and because they feel the overwhelming sense of sin, thinking that they are not saved.
The first problem can be overcome by looking back to Christ. It is in Christ that we have our assurance because He is the One who saves us. Our salvation isn’t based on anything we do, but on what He has done. By trusting and resting in the finished work of Christ, our assurance should return.
In trying to say that I wanted my readers to have spiritual growth for the New Year, I was hit with the idea of what The World, The Flesh, and The Devil would want for us in the coming year. This is part two of that series. You can read the first one by clicking here. This one focuses on what our enemy, The Flesh, would want from you in the coming year.
For the coming year, I simply want you to become a better you! That is not so evil now is it? Who can argue with such logic? Well, let me explain how I want you to become a better you. I might even tell you why in the process.
First, I want you to spend lots of time on your body, after all, bodily exercise profits a great deal. That is quoted straight from the Bible, so you can take it from me, spend hour upon hour working in the gym, running on the road, being a lover of self as you keep your body in tip-top shape. In doing so, you won’t notice that those around you are still dying at a rate of one death per person. Just ignore the fact that your body is perishable and will eventually be put in the earth, or cremated if you are more environmentally minded (don’t want to pollute the earth with your remains).
I know with a title like that there will be a collective feeling of disappointment among many, but this is the reality that Jesus gives us when He tells us that there will be no one given in marriage in the afterlife.
He reveals this truth to us in Matthew 22:30. The Sadducees have come trying to trip Him up with a deep theological question. They give a scenario in which one woman ends up marrying seven different brothers, none of which have any offspring. Their question: “…in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her.”
He then responds by rebuking them on “not knowing the Scriptures…” and then goes on to say, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”
The best that I can wish for you for the coming year is that you grow in grace and the fruits of the Spirit. I don’t mean this in a trite a manner, but I’m thinking of the statement by J.C. Ryle about heaven. He wrote “heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” So my hope for you is that you grow in the things of the Spirit, like humility, holiness, obedience to our LORD, faithfulness, kindness, etc., so that you are prepared for our eternal home. Not wishing you to go there soon, but to be ready in His timing.
In the process of writing this, I asked the question: “what would our foes, The World, The Flesh, and The Devil, want for us in the coming year?”