Matthew 9; Two Groups of Church People

I am writing today from the beautiful Florida Keys.

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.  Matthew 9:2

 

Luke gives a little more detail; “And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was [present] to heal them.  And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought [means] to bring him in, and to lay [him] before him.  And when they could not find by what [way] they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with [his] couch into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.  Luke 5:18-20

 

Here we see the doctors of the law and Pharisees, the religious big shots sitting around with Jesus in a house. How important they must have felt to be able to debate theology with Jesus, or on the other hand, thought how important He must feel to be able to debate theology with them.  Meanwhile some people show up who have been bringing people to Jesus. Notice they could not get in because of the people blocking the way. Who was blocking the way? The big shots, who wanted to sit around and debate theology. Here we have to groups of people. One group is in the church, but blocking the way for others to come. Do we do the same today? Do we block people out who are not as old as us, rich as us, who just don’t think exactly like us? The second group were out bringing someone to Jesus. The man may not have even had faith, but when Jesus saw their faith He healed him. So this man, may not have been like the others who brought him to Jesus. The people bringing him to Jesus were not  bent on getting the man to think exactly like them, they were just bent on bringing him to Jesus! Also the people bringing him to Jesus were not about to let the so called religious big shots keep this man away from Jesus.

 

So which group are in? Are you sitting in church, maybe even next to Jesus, but to you the church is just an exclusive club? Or are you in the second group, where you are busy bringing people to Jesus?

 

Notice too, they were willing to tear the house apart to get him in to meet Jesus. How much do we read into that if anything at all? Of course our standards and doctrine cannot be altered. However, I sadly remember being a Bible Worker in a church long ago that was made up mostly of older people. A young couple joined our church, and I began Bible studies with their teenage cousin and a few of her friends.  Three of them got baptized with her! They did not stay long though. They  wanted to become active in the church and the older people became threatened by their presence. One older lady in the church actually told me, “William, don’t let these kids take over our church!” I was shocked! What made this lady think it was her church in the first place! I thought it was God’s church! Sadly these teenagers did not last long in the church. Sadly that church is still struggling to exist even today.  Isn’t it our calling to bring people to Jesus?

Matthew 6; The Lord’s Prayer

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  Matthew 6:5-6

 

Jesus endorses both public and private prayer, but there is a difference. Public prayers should be simple and brief. In our private prayers we share more specifically what is on our hearts. For example, if Aunt Jane has started drinking and running around with men again we do not need to bring that up in public prayer. When we do this it is nothing more than gossip. We save this news for Jesus’ ears only. Also our private prayers have no time restraint. Jesus spent all night in personal prayer but did not spend all night in public prayer. When we have the morning prayer for church and pray a long prayer what we are telling everyone is that we have no personal prayer life, so we have to make up for it by making long public prayers. Jesus’ public prayers were very brief because He had a personal prayer life outside of public speaking.

 

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  Matthew 6:7

 

A vain repetition is when we recite words that do not come from the heart. Songs as well as prayers can be vain repetitions if we are not singing from the heart. God wants us to share our hearts with Him not just our lips. I love the way one author puts it:

 

“Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of His children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:11. His heart of love is touched by our sorrows and even by our utterances of them. Take to Him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for Him to bear, for He holds up worlds, He rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for Him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of His children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which He takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3. The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share His watchcare, not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son.” – Steps to Christ, p. 100

 

Remember God wants a relationship with us. He is not a vending machine, where we just tell Him what we want, get it and go. Also while many wonder why they do not get there requests in the time they would like there may be many reasons (See Psalm 66:18) but the biggest reason may be as simple as we are not God’s boss!

 

Let’s take a look now at the model prayer Jesus gave us. This prayer does not need to be repeated word for word. Many recite this prayer with no thought and thus it too becomes a vain repetition.

 

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Matthew 6:9

 

We begin by acknowledging Who we are talking to. Yes He is our friend but He is also ruler of the universe and more than capable of handling any problem we may have.

 

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven.  Matthew 6:10

 

God drove Lucifer out of heaven and He can do the same here on earth. God’s will can be done in our hearts, homes, and communities, as we pray for God’s will to be done in those places as well as in heaven.

 

Give us this day our daily bread.  Matthew 6:11

 

Jesus never asked for anything just for Himself. He also asked for the blessings of others as well as Himself. When Daniel’s prayer was answered in Daneil 2 it was not only his own life that was saved but that of all the wise men as well. When the disciples prayed Jesus to save them from the storm at sea, it was not just their boat that was saved from the storm but all those around them on the sea as well.

 

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  Matthew 6:12

 

Again no self or pride in Jesus’ prayer. He does not pray “forgive everyone else but as you know I have never sinned.” No, there is no pride in His prayer. Pride may allow us to pray on our knees while we are still standing in our heart.

 

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  Matthew 6:13

 

Christ’s prayer concludes with again reaffirming Who it is we are praying to and acknowledging that He is more than able to care for all our needs.

The Acts of The Apostles-A Liberal Church

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapter 32

This Chapter is based on 1 Corinthians 9.

God’s chosen messengers, who are engaged in aggressive labor, should never be compelled to go a warfare at their own charges, unaided by the sympathetic and hearty support of their brethren. It is the part of church members to deal liberally with those who lay aside their secular employment that they may give themselves to the ministry….But when, through the selfishness of men, their rightful support is withheld, their hands are weakened, and often their usefulness is seriously crippled.  {AA 340.1} 

  The displeasure of God is kindled against those who claim to be His followers, yet allow consecrated workers to suffer for the necessities of life while engaged in active ministry. These selfish ones will be called to render an account, not only for the misuse of their Lord’s money, but for the depression and heartache which their course has brought upon His faithful servants. Those who are called to the work of the ministry, and at the call of duty give up all to engage in God’s service, should receive for their self-sacrificing efforts wages sufficient to support themselves and their families.  {AA 340.2} 
     In the various departments of secular labor, mental and physical, faithful workmen can earn good wages. Is not the work of disseminating truth, and leading souls to Christ, of more importance than any ordinary business? And are not those who faithfully engage in this work justly entitled to ample remuneration? By our estimate of the relative value of labor for moral and for physical good, we show our appreciation of the heavenly in contrast with the earthly.  {AA 341.1} 
     That there may be funds in the treasury for the support of the ministry, and to meet the calls for assistance in missionary enterprises, it is necessary that the people of God give cheerfully and liberally. A solemn responsibility rests upon ministers to keep before the churches the needs of the cause of God and to educate them to be liberal. When this is neglected, and the churches fail to give for the necessities of others, not only does the work of the Lord suffer, but the blessing that should come to believers is withheld.  {AA 341.2}

The above quotes from Acts of The Apostles, reminds me of a devotional I wrote back in 2006:

And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, [is it] not evil? and if ye offer
the lame and sick, [is it] not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will
he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. 
Malachi 1:8

This morning I was reading Malachi for my morning devotional and this
verse caught my eye. The lord is asking why His people are giving him the
“scraps” from their flocks when He asked for the very best. And shouldn’t
He have the best? After all He gave His only begotten son, He gave the
very best He had. Still His people were keeping the best for themselves
and giving the least they could to God.

What caught my eye was that this is not just a money issue. It is also a
time issue. Just as God asked for the best of the flock for a sacrifice
and today asks for our firstfruits for offerings and not just what’s left
over after we pay our bills and buy of all our luxuries, so He also wants
the best of our time and our day. Do we give God the firstfruits of the
day, the morning moments? Do we make consecrating ourselves to Him our
very first work? Do we give Him the primetime of our day or is primetime
for TV? At the end of the day have we given God the best part of our time
and day, or just whatever “scraps” of time we have left?

Doesn’t “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all,”
deserve the best of all we have, including our time?

In Malachi when the people did not give their best of the flock, the
offerings were lame and defective. When we give God less than the best our
offerings are just as "lame".

Your Christian servant,

William
Look for more devotionals and studies at In Light of The cross.

In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides

You can download a printable copy of the complete set of In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides for free here. You can purchase a copy for your Kindle here

Newly Revised In Light of the Cross Bible Study Guides

Prepared by William Earnhardt, 2005, Revised 2009

The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light that streams from the cross of Calvary. I present before you the great, grand monument of mercy and regeneration, salvation and redemption–the Son of God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of every discourse given by our ministers.–Gospel Workers, p. 315. 

Introduction

Why “In Light of the Cross” Bible study guides? Our salvation is found in the love of God alone (Ephesians 2:1-9). Since Satan realizes this fact, he only has one purpose in spreading lies and false doctrine-to make us misunderstand God’s love so that we do not appreciate or accept God’s love that brings salvation. Every false doctrine is more than just an attack on truth. It is an attack on the very character of God. False doctrines skew and misrepresent the character of God. Jesus tells us in John Chapter 8 that He more than just has the truth, He is the truth. If truth equals Jesus and Jesus equals God and God equals love then truth must equal love. The purpose of these study guides is to help us find God’s love in His truth. Doctrine is only helpful as it aids us in understanding the love of God which saves us. We are not saved by doctrine. We are saved by God’s love. Hence, the In Light of The Cross Study Guides which are prayerfully designed to help us understand and appreciate the love of God which saves us.

How to use the In Light of the Cross Study Guides

These study guides are designed as supplements with references following for deeper study. You may use the supplied references for your study or just use the supplements with your own favorite study guides. Power Point presentations are also available.

Table of Contents 

Salvation  

Scriptures

Death  

Punishment of the Wicked 

Health and Temperance 

The Sabbath 

Stewardship 

The Sanctuary

The Gift of Prophecy 

The Second Coming 

Christian Living 

Baptism 

Click here to find simple solutions for hard to understand Bible texts.

Click here to find more studies and devotionals on my website “In Light of The Cross”.

Worship: Is It All About God?

I am writing today from my church in beautiful Tampa Florida.

While the Bible clearly teaches us there are many different ways to worship God, Satan also has his counterfeit ways of worship. While we should always be open minded to different ways of worship lets also be careful that we don’t adopt any of Satan’s ideas for worship.

Various forms of worship are condemned today which the Bible actually endorses. We condemn them today simply because they are not a part of today’s tradition in the church. For example I have seen people raising their hands in worship only to be met with condemning stares. Why? Because while David talks of lifting his hands in worship in the 141st Psalm, that just is not the way we do things today.  So raising

hands is condemned by some today, not because it is unbiblical but rather just because it is not largely our tradition.  We don’t need to condemn new ideas in worship just because they are new, especially when some forms of worship are not new at all but are just new to us. Some forms of worship that are new to us were actually approved of in the Bible we just don’t happen to worship that particular way today so we think they are wrong. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good”.  Let’s keep an open mind and hold what is good.

 

Below are some thoughts I have on worship. As I have studied, what I have found is what really separates wholesome worship from evil worship is our motive of worship. We are often tempted to seek and please self while claiming the whole time we are actually worshiping and seeking God. I am not saying we always give in to that temptation, but I believe the temptation is always there. 

 

 

Worship: Is it all About God?  

 

 I recently purchased a CD with worship music. In one of the songs the lyrics say, “Lord I’m sorry for the thing that I made it to be, when it’s all about you it’s all about you.” For centuries, mankind has tried to worship God their own way, forgetting that it is all about God and not about us. When David worshipped the Lord he cried out “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, [bless] his holy name.” PS103:1  But how often do we worship God with the intention of blessing Him rather than being blessed by Him? How often do we worship God seeking His glory and not our own?  

For centuries man has made self the center of his worship experience, and in the process the worship experience has been designed to feed the ego of the worshiper instead of the One being worshipped. Instead of offering a lamb as God instructed, Cain offered the fruits of his own works. In so doing, Cain put trust in his own ego instead of the Lamb of God. He also changed the system of worship that God had commanded to make it more convenient and pleasing for himself.

Around the first century AD certain people in the church started worshipping on Sunday in order to entice the Eastern religions. They disregarded God’s command to keep the Sabbath Day holy in order to make their worship more convenient for themselves and to feed their own egos by increasing the number of believers to their religion. Thus, we can be certain that when we disregard one of God’s commands or lower His standard of worship to increase membership, our motive is not God’s glory but rather our own egos! The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye [were] the fewest of all people” Deut. 7:7 Let’s take a little inventory of our worship service, to see if our worship is truly all about God, or like Cain’s worship service, all about self.  

 

Speaking: Is it all About God?

 “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter [any] thing before God: for God [is] in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” Eccl. 5:1-2  

 

It has been said that a preacher will cross the ocean to give a sermon but will not cross the street to hear one. Before sharing an opinion in Sabbath School or a testimony during the Sacred Service or even giving a sermon it would be well for us to ponder our motive for speaking in God’s House. Is it to give glory to God, or frankly is it to hear ourselves talk? I have witnessed “Testimony and Prayer” times that were nothing more than gossip sessions! Just because we begin talking about some one by saying “pray for John…..“ does not keep it from being gossip.   True worship does not call for much speaking. “The LORD [is] in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him”. Hab. 2:20  

Music: Is it all About God?  

 “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” PS 69:30  

 No doubt God calls upon us to rejoice and praise Him with our songs and music. At the same time there is a type of “feel good ” music that makes us not only feel good about God but even more so about ourselves. So what’s the problem with that? First of all our worship is to be all about God and not about us. Secondly scripture tells us to examine ourselves when we come to worship God. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves….” 2 Cor. 13:5 “ But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that]cup.” 1 Cor. 11:28   There is a type of music that plays upon our emotions and keeps us from taking an honest look at ourselves.

Not only do we need to be careful of the music but even the words we sing. Jesus in the sermon on the mount warns against vain repetitions. Vain repetitions can be more than just meaningless words in prayers but also our songs. Just because we can belt out the chorus “When we all Get to Heaven” does not mean we are all getting to heaven, even though the emotions may be there. Just because we respond to an altar call as the congregation sobs through “I Surrender All” does not mean we surrender all, unless we do so during the week when the music is no longer heard.  

 Music must be a response to our emotions, and not our emotions a response to music! 

 

There is much more I could say about this, but I will let inspiration be the final word. Many have used the following paragraph to say that drums are evil. However the context tells us it is not the drums but the way they were being used and the over all big picture of everything involved that was evil. “The things you have described . . . the Lord has shown me would take place just before the close of probation. Every uncouth thing will be demonstrated. There will be shouting, with drums, music, and dancing. The senses of rational beings will become so confused that they cannot be trusted to make right decisions. And this is called the moving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit never reveals itself in such methods, in such a bedlam of noise. This is an invention of Satan to cover up his ingenious methods for making of none effect the pure, sincere, elevating, ennobling, sanctifying truth for this time. . . . A bedlam of noise shocks the senses and perverts that which if conducted aright might be a blessing. The powers of Satanic agencies blend with the din and noise, to have a carnival, and this is termed the Holy Spirit’s working. . . . Those participating in the supposed revival receive impressions which lead them adrift. They cannot tell what they formerly knew regarding Bible principles. No encouragement should be given to this kind of worship. The same kind of influence came in after the passing of the time in 1844. The same kind of representations were made. Men became excited, and were worked by a power thought to be the power of God. . . . I bore my testimony, declaring that these fanatical movements, this din and noise,were inspired by the spirit of Satan, who was working miracles to deceive if possible the very elect. {Mar 234.5} We need to be on our guard, to maintain a close connection with Christ, that we be not deceived by Satan’s devices. The Lord desires to have in His service order and discipline, not excitement and confusion.” {Mar 234}  

Dress: Is it all About God?  

“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?”  James 2:2-4    

A friend of mine once complimented her boss on her nice watch. Her boss then explained that since she was not allowed to wear jewelry growing up she always wore the nicest watch she could find. Here is the problem; the sin of jewelry is pride. However, if we get rid of the jewelry but do not get rid of the pride it will just show up somewhere else as it did in the case of my friend’s boss in her watch.

Do we dress for God when we prepare for church or is it an ego thing? Do we worship to glorify God or make a fashion statement? I am reminded of a story I heard about a man who went to a church where he was shunned for his long hair, sandals and plain clothes. He noticed a picture of Jesus with long hair, sandals and a plain robe and began to pray asking Jesus why the people at the fancy church shunned him that day. Jesus answered him, “I don’t know about that church, I never go there.”

  “Now wait a minute” you say. We are suppose to wear the nicest clothes possible, for God when we go to worship Him. You are correct. We are to wear the nicest clothes possible FOR GOD, not for MAN. Is our dress all about God when we worship? What is on our mind when we shop for our worship clothes, God or what is vogue? Do we ask ourselves what God will think and say or about what our friends may think and say?

There is a verse that many Christians use to condemn jewelry when actually it condemns more than jewelry but all pride in dress. Let’s take a look,: “Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” 1 Peter 3:3,4   By the way, this verse teaches us that it is the wearing of jewelry that is legalistic, while some try to say that abstaining from jewelry is legalistic. In this verse Peter is telling women that God will make them beautiful as He fills them with his goodness. That is the gospel. Men and women who depend upon their jewelry to make them beautiful are not trusting God to make them attractive but are trying to work out their own beauty themselves instead of just letting God’s grace do it’s work. That is legalism in its truest sense!  

It’s All about God when it comes to worship. God is more intere sted in the heart than the “outward adorning”. He is also more interested in the heart than the words we say and music we play. He is also more interested in the conversion of the hearts of those worshipping than the number of those in the congregation . If our numbers fall we are tempted to change our format of worship to attract more people. If our worship is all about God would it not make more sense to have a format of worship that would attract God rather than man? If we did thus, would God not draw people to our worship services who are seeking Him with all their hearts? Would He not draw people who realize, true worship is all about God?   

Read Willow Creek’s Confession. 

You can find more studies on my personal website.