unnamed2unnamed

With the recent passing of the Religious Liberties Bill here in Mississippi and all that has been written and talked about by the liberal main stream media since I figured I would chime in with my two cents.

First it needs to be stated I am very conservative, I belong to the Constitutional Party, (yes you can look it up) I am also a Reformed Baptist who believes in the infallibility of scripture. The end of the Bible in the book of Revelation Chapter (KJV) 22  18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. That means what God wrote I accept as truth and cannot and will not change.   

          That being said the liberal media paints a picture of hate and discrimination about believers like me surrounding issues like this. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, that is true born again believers are commanded, not asked, to love our neighbors; Matthew 22:36-40 ESV “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” and this of course includes those of the LGBT community.  No one let me repeat no one claiming to be a Christian can truly be a Christian and HATE someone from the LGBT community.

The word of God not the word of man says that the LGBT lifestyle is wrong. That those apart of the community are caught up in the bondage of sin and in need of being set free. As a Christian I (we) have two duties. First is to share the Good News Psalms 96:3 NKJV “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.” that Christ is the way to true freedom.  Note as the Apostle Paul stated we are to always do this with gentleness 2 Timothy 2:25 ESV Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, that God may be at work and not us.

Secondly we are called to never compromise the Word of God. Psalm 119: 1-4 (AMP) How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless], who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord. 2 Blessed and favored by God are those who keep His testimonies, and who [consistently] seek Him and long for Him with all their heart. 3 They do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways. 4 You have ordained your precepts, that we should follow them with [careful] diligence. Yet this is exactly what we are being called to do. The liberal minority has deemed this truth, Freedom of Speech (which this falls under) is this; you are free to agree with their liberal viewpoint or our speech is free to be censored and or outlawed or we are free to be imprisoned. It begs the question; who is being discriminated against here?

My Pastor last night made an interesting observation. If this was about anything more than wanting full acceptance for the LGBT community, they would look at this as a great opportunity. Start a business that caters to just that clientele, if as they claim their number are so strong they should do great and leave those with strongly held religious convictions alone.

         By His Grace Alone

 Trials or Tribulations?

 

            Today is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. I thought it a good opportunity to reflect again upon what many Christians refer to as trials and tribulations.

 

            I have heard and read from many with illness, financial woes, the incarcerated and those with a variety of other problems that they must endure the tribulations that they are going through. That they can with God’s help deal with these great present tribulations, While the sentiments are nice they are somewhat lacking in biblical standing.

 

            As much as I can understand their feelings, I must first caution them that Biblical tribulations are always something one endures for the sake of Christ. Tribulation always equals suffering via persecution.  Even Nehemiah’s situation was not one of tribulation. A trial certainly, but true persecution for God; I think not.

 

            As we learned last week Nehemiah was living as an outcast in the land of his captors. Yet as the King’s cup bearer and trusted servant of the court his life could hardly be described as one of suffering. Although he has a lofty position in the court of King Artaxerxes, he is as a prisoner. He could only do what the King ordered and allowed. He may have been trusted but as we have seen in Ester the Persians probably did not approve of his high post. Finally he is a Jew in a pagan nation much like we all are as Christians in the World today.  Nehemiah must have been in daily conflict. To live as a Jew was greatly different than that of a Persian.

 

            The lesson from last week is this; most Christians today, like Nehemiah, go through trails in their lives. Some are brought upon themselves by illegal, immoral or unethical actions. While others through no direct action of their own (illness, injury, work cut backs, etc.) have equally challenging trials.

 

            I want to take a minute or two to expand on this for a moment. Verse one says:

 

1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. And it came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,

 

            Do you remember why Nehemiah was in Shushan and not say Bethlehem? He was there as a direct result of the actions of his forefathers. They had broken God’s law and there was a price to pay for such actions. Listen even though Nehemiah was not one of those who had broken God’s law that led to the Babylonians conquering and enslaving the nation of Judah in 586 B.C. he must endure the consequences.

 

              Illegal actions that lead to our imprisonment have consequences not only for us but for our families and friends. While prison is not a fun time for anyone and can certainly be a trial in that it tests us in many ways it cannot be considered a time of tribulation. After all (in most every case) you put yourself there.

 

 

            Marital problems due to infidelity while trying are not a time of tribulation. Nor is the aftermath that while trying and seemingly under persecution (high alimony) again it is a problem of your own making.  Laziness that leads to financial woes cannot be blamed on the economy or anyone else. A man that will not work (at any legal job) to feed his family is not a real man in my book. Immoral acts such as gambling and drinking that lead to family, financial and health issues cannot be described as times of tribulation. Trying yes, but that is everyday life in a fallen and depraved world.

 

            There are many in the world today who face real tribulation. Who daily are persecuted for their faith in Christ Jesus.  We in America are blessed that true persecution has not reached our shores. But be forewarned that day is coming. The actions of a misguided mayor in Houston and the passing of Hate Crime legislation making it seemingly illegal to speak out biblically against abortion, sexual orientation, same sex marriage etc. are bringing the day ever closer.

 

            For real Tribulations in the life of Christians today Voice of the Martyrs is one of the best sites for information. I gleaned the following from a long list:  

 

Egypt - Akhom, was shot during an attack on his Christian neighborhood. VOMedical will help him get the treatment he needs.

 

India - House Destroyed an Orissa victim sits amid what used to be her home. “We are waiting for the next riot. We do not know where it will happen. We know this was a warning, not an end.”

 

India - Imprisoned Indian pastors are imprisoned for their evangelical activity.

 

India - Four young Dalit pastors in India - Shivashankar, Ramiah, Yesuraj and Jeevan - were beaten by Hindu radicals and police and imprisoned. We assisted in their release from the Karnataka jail. They have returned to Bible study and ministry!

 

Indonesia - Before Christmas bulldozers were sent by the Muslim government of Tangerang County to destroy five church buildings.

 

Indonesia - Police tried to protect Christians of the Batak church, but two of the church’s pastors, including Pastor Purba (in the red tie), were beaten by the mob in August 2010. One banner carried by radicals during the protest read, “The Muslim community rejects the building of a church in Mustika Jaya.”

 

Iraq - In 2011, militant Muslims burst into Afanan’s home in Iraq. They locked Afanan and her two children in a room while they tortured her husband. The family was forced to listen to his cries until they ended with a fatal gunshot. VOM is supporting this widow and her children.

 

Laos - Somchi, a young Khmu woman, handed us an unusual package — a burned Bible in a plastic bag. The Bible was still wet from the rain, but we separated and dried the pages. Somchi has underlined many scriptures in her Bible. The most underlined section was around I Cor 9:19. She put a blue asterisk by this verse.

 

Nigeria - Seyi was hit with a machete several times and almost burned to death during Muslim rioting in Nigeria.

 

Nigeria - Monica was attacked by Islamic radicals in July and has already had four surgeries. She is due for another one.

 

Nigeria - Godwin lost his arm in an attack by local Muslims. VOM provided him with a prosthetic arm.

 

Pakistan - When Muslims attacked a Christian neighborhood in Gojra, Pakistan, in 2009, Christians used a cart as a strecher to transport the injured.

 

Vietnam - Pastor Cong’s home was destroyed by local authorities.

 

Vietnam - Who can forget the stunning photo we printed of Vietnamese secret police officers swinging a club at a member of Pastor Nguyen Hong Quang’s Mennonite Church in August 2006? About 50 police officers swarmed the grounds of the house church, beating congregants with nightsticks, nunchucks and electric cattle prods. Pastor Quang was arrested. Today, Pastor Quang, released from prison, is operating a Bible school. Currently, 47 young Vietnamese and tribal youth are studying in the three-year program. The course teaches them a thorough understanding of the Bible, how to use a computer, how to establish a church and qualifies them to serve in full-time ministry. Oh, and secret police are still coming by his church and home.

 

India - VOM helped a woman after Hindu radicals beat her husband and burned her Bible. Christians are attacked in India more frequently than in any other country.

 

            For a look at real persecution and tribulation in the lives of Christians today I recommend you watch the following video. Afterwards ask yourself are you ready to answer the call of God? Are you truly a Christian?

http://www.persecution.com/idop       Leana’s Prayer

In HIS Service

 

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

- - - 1 Corinthians 3:1-3

   Let me ask you this, you believe in carnal Christians don’t you? That was a comment from one of the men I minister to the other day. My reply was simple. No, not in the modern understanding, but my belief does not matter. What God says in the bible is all that matters.

   In order to explore this I think we need to define what most folks are referring to as a carnal Christian. In the New Testament the word “carnal’ is translated from the Greek word, sarkikos; which literally means “fleshly.” When the vast majority of folks today refer to carnal Christians they are in context referring to one who lives a fleshly depraved life (old creature) and not a life for Christ (new creature)

   In examining this topic more closely I wish to make three points. First a true Christian cannot be a carnal Christian as we defined it above. Second Christians can act in a carnal (sinful) manner. Lastly Christians will always battle with their carnal (evil) nature.

   I believe one of the great failings in the church today is rightly dividing the word of God. It is far easier to take a scripture and barely scratch the surface of it when proclaiming its meaning than spending countless hours studying it in context. I believe this belief in “carnal Christians” is such an example. This belief that a true Christian can come to Christ and then live a life of sin and depravity is unbiblical.

    The theory that a Regenerated, Born Again, Holy Spirit indwelled Christian can be living a carnal life comes from a misunderstanding of 1Corinthians 3:1-3. The Apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is writing to believers (Brethren) in the city of Corinth. He three times refers to them as carnal, but as unto carnal, for ye are yet carnal, and are ye not carnal. So it would on the surface appear that “carnal Christians” are a reality. If we ignore our definition above the answer could be yes in this context. BUT, Paul started preparing the road for these verses back in Chapter 2 verse 12, turn there with me.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

    True believers, Christian brothers and sisters receive not the spirit of the world {could read flesh}. No they must in fact receive the spirit which is of God. Why? Simply put an unbeliever, natural man v.14, cannot receive the things of God and foremost on that list is Salvation. Salvation starts with regeneration or rebirth, the work of the Holy Spirit upon those who living the carnal or fleshly life Ephesians 2:1-10

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Note here in verse one Paul says they were dead, meaning slaves to trespasses and sin but made alive (quickened) in Christ. They in times past walked according to the world because their conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath. BUT ! ! ! For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Do you see it friends, prior to our regeneration we were carnal in every aspect of our lives but now we are made alive in Christ to do good (Biblical standards need apply) works. A man cannot claim to be a Christian and live a life of fleshly service.

    Need more, check out 1 Peter 1:23:

23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

    Regenerated man is born of what kind of seed incorruptible. The Greek word here is Aphthartos, meaning not liable to corruption or decay.

    Paul could not have been referring to the brethren in Corinth as in the modern understanding of “carnal christians”. To accept the modern belief that a true Christian can live a corrupted, depraved life is to deny the power of God in regeneration.

    Our second point today is a familiar one; Christians can act in a carnal (sinful) manner. We spent a good deal of time during our series on Free Will looking at this topic but it is worth another look.

    Allow me to summarize using Romans 7:15-23 {Amplified Bible}

15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [that which my moral instinct condemns].

16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it.

17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me.

18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. [I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.]

19 For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do, but the evil deeds that I do not desire to do are what I am [ever] doing.

20 Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it [it is not myself that acts], but the sin [principle] which dwells within me fixed and operating in my soul].

21 So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

22 For I endorse and delight in the Law of God in my inmost self [with my new nature].

23 But I discern in my bodily members [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh] a different law (rule of action) at war against the law of my mind (my reason) and making me a prisoner to the law of sin that dwells in my bodily organs [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh].

    Here is the Apostle Paul, who says he does things he knows to be morally corrupt (v15) and evil v19. So by his own admission the Apostle Paul is a Carnal Christian? I think not. Look at verse 21 with me again:

21 So I find it to be a law (rule of action of my being) that when I want to do what is right and good, evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands.

    Do you see it Paul says, that when I want to do what is right and good, he is speaking of his desire. He does not desire to live a carnal life no he desire to live a righteous one. BUT!! He understands evil is ever present with me and I am subject to its insistent demands, and occasionally he will stumble and sin. This is not describing a modern “carnal Christian”. This is describing every true Christian.

    The Bible is absolutely clear that no one is sinless 1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Every time we sin, we are acting carnally. This is the carnal Paul is referring to when writing to the Corinthians. Again many in the modern church have twisted the idea of a “carnal Christian” by saying that it is possible for people to come to faith in Christ and then proceed to live the rest of their lives in a completely carnal manner. It is one thing to sin another to embrace sin.

    Our final point is that Christians will always battle with their carnal (evil) nature. Since some struggle more than others with the battle between flesh and spirit maybe that is how the misguided concept of “Carnal Christians” has evolved today. It is a fact man will always battle with his old self. So much so Paul devotes two entire sections of letters to two churches (Galatians 5 and Ephesians 6) to the matter.

    In Galatians chapter 5 Paul starts with a plea for the Galatians to Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

    The next 15 verses are dedicated to showing the old sinful nature is one constrained by the law. If you choose to pursue righteousness under the law good luck. Verse 17 makes is plain: For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. Starting in verse 19 Paul lays it out. Here are the fruits (works, actions, desires) of those under the law (carnal man) and those who have the Holy Spirit guiding their lives. What to know if someone is a Christian what fruits are they displaying?

    The key for me is in verse 16: This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. The word walk is the Greek word Peripateo and means to regulate one's life and to conduct one's self. In context here is to live one’s life as a matter of habit in the Spirit.

    How can you live a life pleasing to God? A fulfilling life that may occasionally be marred by sin; yet a life that is not consumed by sin? Make it your habit, your daily practice to Walk in the Spirit. Listen, practice makes perfect is not joke.

    Lest I neglect to mention Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, you cannot win the battle over flesh alone. Practice is great but is requires the power of God. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians explains this:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

    Carnal (devoted to sin) Christians are an unbiblical concept. You cannot be a child of God and live a life dedicated to sin. You cannot be a child of God and expect not to fight with your flesh, fail and sin sometimes. You cannot expect just because you are a child of God that you can defeat your sinful temptations on your own. You can as a child of God through practice, prayer and the providence of God, be victorious over your old sinful nature living a life that Glorifies God.

    Until next time may God greatly bless you all.