Christianity 201

January 6, 2018

The Steps to Decision (C201 Version)

If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved. For it is by our faith that we are put right with God; it is by our confession that we are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  (Romans 10:14)

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. (Psalm 37:5-6)

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.  (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NLT)

One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see! (John 9:25b)

…also…

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you…” (Matthew 7: 21-23a)

Earlier today at Thinking Out Loud I shared that at home we had been discussing the process by which people ‘cross the line of faith’ and identify as Christians. It reminded me of a graphic image I had in my files, but then discovered some people had improved on the one we posted there in March, 2014.

One of the challenges we face comes when we try to make things into a formula or try to over-analyze what God is doing by the Holy Spirit in human hearts. As someone once described it, “The problem of trying to figure out how a cat works is that once you dissect it, it no longer works.” Furthermore, God is working in different ways in different peoples’ lives.

So where did the graphic come from? Here’s what I wrote about this at the time,

A long time ago, a pre-internet generation of Christians were as excited about the latest books as today’s host of internet bloggers. While we might think the universe didn’t exist until we were born, there was the same mix of academic writers as well as popular writers.  One of the latter was Emory Griffin who wrote a paperback about evangelism called The Mind Changers, and in that book, he frequently quoted James F. Engel, who wrote the textbook Contemporary Christian Communications: Its Theory and Practice

Engel dissected the conversion process as only a late 20th Century academic could, breaking it down piece-by-piece. I’ve always kept a copy of this particular little chart handy, because it reminds me that making disciples (or what a previous generation called soul-winning) doesn’t happen overnight (though it can) but often involves the careful processing through of ideas and thoughts. Yes, some people encounter Jesus and the transformation can be instantaneous, but often it has to be reasoned through (or even emoted through; I don’t know if there’s a word for that) and it usually involves some other person whose gift is apologetics or just being there with love or perhaps some combination of the two.

Today, people still discuss whether or not salvation happens as a crisis experience (in a moment, in an instant) or whether it is a process experience (as C. S. Lewis defined so well in the train analogy in Mere Christianity) but if it’s a process, it might look something like Engel describes in the graphic.

Why does it matter?

I suspect that many of us, in our interactions with people expect them to move more rapidly to the point of decision. We’re aware of imperatives like “Choose today whom you will serve;” and “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” We’ve heard the story of D. L. Moody opting not to give an invitation at the end of a message, only to have many hundreds who were there that day perish that week in the Chicago Fire. We long for instantaneous results.

While a crisis experience can definitely spark conversion, I think it’s more likely to be a process. Furthermore, we know statistically that guilt and fear may result in short-term decisions, it definitely is detrimental to the making of long-term converts. The attrition rate for those guilted in or scared in is quite high.

Discipleship is also a process involving much followup post-decision. There’s a second part to Engel’s graphic that we didn’t share this morning at Thinking Out Loud that I want to share here:

Today’s thoughts began with some verses on the subject of salvation. To my mind, they seem much more simple compared with the complexity of the upper graphic. But I am aware that as God is a work the lives of our friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers; it may be that a change in the heart needs to be accompanied by a change of mind on various aspects of the gospel, and this might move forward in stages, rather than all at once.

Read the verses again in the light of the chart, and read the chart again through the lens of the verses. Is there someone in your sphere of influence who God is telling you might want to progress on the journey to decision and discipleship?

 

December 1, 2017

Mind Your Own Business

1 Thess. 4:11

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.   (NLT)

and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, (ESV)

and to strive earnestly to live quietly and to attend to your own matters, and to work with your own hands, just as we commanded you,  (Berean Literal Bible*)

We’re back with yet another return visit to Done With Religion by Jim Gordon. If you click the title below and then click the banner at the top of their page, you’ll see that this is a blog written from the perspective of ones who left the institutional church. It’s in some ways a refreshing perspective.

Words Are Important but What About Actions

Do you feel guilty when you do not talk to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about a particular sin? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every conversation into an opportunity to point out sinful behavior or to tell someone about salvation?

If we answer yes to any of these questions, I disagree with all of the above. I agree that some people have the gift of evangelism and should be using that gift to the fullest. I also feel that not all of us need to be forcing the issue with those we come in contact each day and we should not feel guilty for not doing so.

As Christians we are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to the love of God.

We have always heard that actions speak louder than words. Our actions show what is within us. Words do not always show the real us. Words without the actions are usually pretty meaningless or as the bible calls it, faith without works is dead. This does not mean that faith without our effort or good works are required for salvation. It means that our words and our actions should match up showing the love of God to all people. Because of our faith and love for God, our actions or works will be a natural result of that love.

Anyone can speak words…words of condemnation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins, words about Christian living but words themselves have no strength. It is the daily life we live allowing the love of God to show through that makes a difference. How many times have we heard of a pastor saying words against something only to find out the pastor is doing the same thing that is being spoken against?

We need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to the Father. It is not our job to condemn people nor point out what we think is sinful. We do not have to force every conversation into a gospel presentation.

God’s word says that we should live a quiet life, working with our hands and to be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us. Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine minding your business, living a peaceful life and be ready at all times to give an answer about salvation and God’s love when someone asks. Only when the Holy Spirit is leading the opportunity will it make an impact on the person anyway.

By living this way and not forcing our views on others, the words we say will have more meaning to those who are wondering about the hope that we have within us. When our actions are consistently showing the love of God, our words will fall in line and have more impact on those we meet throughout the day.


*Sourced at BibleHub.com

December 15, 2014

Church Planting: Finding the Person of Peace

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“Whenever you enter someone’s home, first say, ‘May God’s peace be on this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.” (Luke 10: 5 NLT and 6 NASB)

This book excerpt by David and Paul Watson from a chapter of Contagious Disciple Making showed up in an email last week.  I thought I would share it with all of you.

An old man sat on the edge of the road approaching the village. When he saw me (David), he started. He slowly stood up and came to meet me.

“Finally!” he exclaimed, “You are finally here.” Before I could say anything he took my arm and pulled me into the village.

“Here is the man I told you about,” he told people as he pulled me along. “Here is the man I dreamed about every night for the last twenty years. My dreams told me that we must listen to everything this man tells us.”

I shared the Gospel, and a church now meets in the village. God is at work in people’s hearts even before we walk into their lives. According to this man, God has told him twenty years earlier that I was coming to his village. Funny thing is, twenty years before that moment, I was studying to be an engineer. I had no desire and no call at that time to be a minister or a church planter.

Contagious Disciple MakingMaking disciples and planting churches is easier if you’re working with God and the people He has prepared rather than trying to force the Gospel on people who aren’t ready.

Engage a community and then find the Person of Peace. Actually, if we do things right, the Person of Peace finds us. Learning how to be found is the key.

The Person of Peace is not simply a good person or hospitable person or friendly person. There are many people in every culture who are good, hospitable, or friendly, but are not the Persons of Peace.

The Person of Peace is the one God has prepared to receive the Gospel into a community for the first time.

There are two major categories of Persons of Peace – some are Persons of Peace by nature, and some become Persons of Peace as a result of God’s direct intervention in their families or communities. There are numerous examples of both in the Bible. Cornelius and Lydia are representatives of the “Person of Peace by nature” category. The Philippian jailer and the Samaritan woman at the well are examples of those who became Persons of Peace through God’s direct intervention.

In all these examples, however, the disciple-makers were conspicuously spiritual people who lived out their faith without apology. This is the secret to finding the Person of Peace. We must live out our faith as conspicuously as possible. This is not about being religious. It’s about being spiritual.

God condemns being religious. Look at how Jesus related and spoke to the religious leaders of His day and how God spoke through His prophets in the Old Testament. Religion was not well thought of or supported by Scripture.

God has a tremendous amount to say to us about being spiritual – rightly relating to God and His creation through a personal relationship with Him. This is about faith and living it out in all circumstances regardless of consequences. It is about loving God and loving people. It is about obedient thinking and living. This kind of life draws in people who are interested in spiritual matters and opens the door to communities for establishing obedient bodies of believers whose Head is the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have to unconditionally live out a spiritual life to make evangelism and disciple-making happen.

So, in reality, finding the Person of Peace is more about us and the way we live than it is about finding the Person of Peace.

If we are the people we should be, those who want to discover Christ come to us. This is more than just living a good life. It’s living an obedient life that demonstrates the love of God and shares God’s Word in such a way that the lost become saved, the saved become obedient, and the obedient make more disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ, resulting in self-replicating disciples and churches of Jesus Christ.

Finding the Person of Peace radically increased the number of churches we planted. We saw disciple-making teams go from planting a few churches per year to planting dozens of churches every year, and in some cases, even hundreds of new churches every year.

The Person of Peace strategy was developed from a composite view of Jesus’ teaching when He sent out His disciples in Matthew 10, Luke 9, and Luke 10. Following are the commands Jesus gave to His disciples as He sent them out.

Matthew 10

  • As you go, preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” – Matthew 10:7
  • Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. – Matthew 10:8
  • Freely you have received, freely give. – Matthew 10:8
  • Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep. – Matthew 10:9-10
  • Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave. – Matthew 10:11
  • If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town. – Matthew 10:14
  • I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. – Matthew 10:16

Luke 9 (Additional commands not contained in Matthew 10)

  • Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. – Luke 9:4
  • This is different from staying only in the house of a worthy person.

Luke 10 (Additional commands not contained in Matthew 10 or Luke 9)

  • Go out by two ahead of Me to every town and place I am about to go. – adapted from Luke 10:1
  • Ask the Lord of the harvest… to send out workers into this harvest field. – Luke 10:2
  • Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. – Luke 10:3
  • Do not greet anyone on the road. – Luke 10:3
  • When you enter a house, first say, “Peace to this house.” If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move from house to house. – Luke 10:5-7
  • Heal the sick who are there and tell the, “The kingdom of God is near you.” – Luke 10:9

The Person of Peace teaching is an entry strategy to new communities. In the Great Commission Jesus commanded us to “go.” What do we do when we get to where we are going? We find the Person of Peace.

This is radically different from traditional disciple-making methods. In the Person of Peace strategy, the disciple-maker has one job – find the Person of Peace. This person may be from any walk of life, but he or she will welcome you, listen to your message, help you with your livelihood, and allow you to stay in his or her home and influence his or her family and the community for the sake of the Gospel.

The disciple-maker does not do any of the traditional things required by traditional disciple-making. He does not preach or teach. He does not hand out tracts or sell books or give away Bibles. He does not do mass rallies or healing services. Finding the Person of Peace starts with obedience to Christ and looks for where Christ is about to visit. This is evidenced by the presence of the Person of Peace. If there is no Person of Peace, then you move on.

The Person of Peace is found through prayer and service. In our experience, this service is sometimes miraculous, as Luke 10 describes. Often, though, service is as simple as feeding the hungry or helping someone fix a flat tire. In both cases, the disciple-maker freely gives him or herself. We are told to pray for harvesters. The Person of Peace will be this harvester. We equip this person to be the disciple-maker for his or her community. We are to be as wise as serpents. This means we are to anticipate Satan’s attacks and avoid them. We are to be as innocent as doves, gentle, and a threat to no one. We are to work or do business for our food, for a worker is worthy of earned wages. This avoids awkward questions regarding how we support ourselves. It also puts us at work when the rest of the community is at work, allowing us to meet people and have a reason to be in the community. All the ministries that Jesus commands us to do are about meeting the real and felt needs of the community. As we do this we are building relationships that allow us to talk about the Kingdom of God/heaven. The person who is responsive to this message becomes the focus of our attention. This focus is on the household, and we do not move around once the Person of Peace is found. We then make disciples of this family, who then takes on the responsibility of reaching their community for Christ.

We train disciple-makers to enter new communities after extensive prayer. When disciple-makers enter the community, they look for ways to meet the felt needs of the community through service, education, or business. As they meet these needs, they are meeting people and sharing openly about the Kingdom of God. When the Person of Peace reveals him or herself, the disciple-maker shifts the focus to the Family of Peace. The disciple-maker starts a Discovery Group to help the family discover on their own who God is and how they must relate to Him. The disciple-maker teaches them how to study the Word of God, but does not lead the Bible studies or do any of the preaching and teaching. The focus is on the family learning directly from God through His Word. The disciple-maker guides the direction of the study, but does not conduct the study, except to model the process a few times in the beginning.

When the family comes to Christ, the disciple-maker helps them to move from being a Bible study group to fulfilling all the requirements of church. A leader is identified and trained to lead the group and to establish more groups through the family’s network of friends and family.

Disciples make more disciples. Leaders equip more leaders. Groups establish more groups. Churches plant more churches.


 

Excerpted with permission from Contagious Disciple Making by David Watson and Paul Watson, copyright Thomas Nelson 2014.

October 19, 2014

Everyone Matters

Jesus’ compassion wasn’t measured by the social context, or the condition of the individual, but by the need.

I found this on the blog of Jonathan Zinck who pastors The Pier Church in Brockville, Canada; a city in which we were involved for 14 years. He wrote it for the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday, and with a largely U.S. audience here, I thought of filing it away for the end of November; but with its references to leprosy it seemed more immediate in light of Ebola and Enterovirus. There are however, less dramatic examples of outcasts around us all the time. Do we reach out to touch them as Jesus did?

Thankful in All, for All

“Everyone has to matter, or no one matters”. This is a quote I saw on Twitter yesterday. Although it was a quote from a current TV drama, it was a statement I couldn’t ‘shake’. The reason it resonates with me so deeply, is because it is a statement I have been wrestling with the last number of weeks. Whether in conversations with friends, in my devotions, or while ‘people watching’ over the steam of a cup of coffee, the message of this statement has been churning my heart.

When it comes to compassion and needs to be met, my first step has always been to meet the challenge. In fact, as a Church family that we affectionately call ‘the knee-cap’, our primary mandate is to invest in others’ lives. So why the challenge in my heart? It isn’t because of the words ‘to matter, but the word ‘everyone’. This statement speaks more than just being compassionate, but that our compassion is not limited to a few, but a commitment to ‘all’. This statement challenges my heart because its origin isn’t in a TV drama, but from the words of Jesus.

At the very onset of His ministry, Jesus was approached by a leper, begging Jesus to heal him. While for us today we would see this leper as a man who was sick, those in Jesus’ culture saw him as a social outcast. People feared so much about ‘catching’ the disease, that they would make those with leprosy yell out “…unclean! unclean!”. As a result, leprosy not only condemned the afflicted physically, but socially as well. Because of this, what happens next is remarkable:

“…Deeply moved, Jesus put out his hand, touched him, and said, “I want to. Be clean.” ~Mark 1:41

Jesus’ compassion wasn’t measured by the social context, or the condition of the individual, but by the need. From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus made it very clear that He had come for all, and that ‘everyone has to matter, or no one matters’. In fact, the Bible tells us that this statement is the very context of the Cross. John 3:16-17 Jesus proclaims that He came to spiritually rescue ‘all’ who would come. John 17:20, Jesus prays that ‘all’ who believe the message will be united as one. Romans 3:22, stresses that salvation through the Cross is for ‘all’ who believe, and 1 Tim 4:10 impresses on us that Christ has come as Saviour for ‘all’.

So what’s my point? Why am I so challenged by the statement ‘ Everyone has to matter, or no one matters”? Because if I am a follower of Christ, I am not only to live a life of compassion for others, but a life of compassion for all. Because as I honestly look into my life I have to ask myself if I show equal measure of compassion to everyone. Am I willing to walk with those who are labeled as socially ‘unclean’ in the same way with those who are socially accepted? Am I willing to invest in the needs of those who oppose me, in the same way I am willing to invest in the needs of those who accept me? For all of us, as followers of Christ and walkers with Christ, is mandate our to show compassion to all…period?

Jesus’ voice from the Cross answers with a resounding “Yes!” What Jesus risked with the leper pales to what He did on the Cross. Taking on the ultimate persecution, humiliation, and torture, He sacrificed and invested His life for ALL…yes All. Regardless of our need, our past, or our social status, Christ made the ultimate sacrifice so that we (all of us) have the opportunity to reach out to Him in faith, to receive the ultimate reward- salvation and eternal Hope.

Thanksgiving is not only a time of celebrating how we have been blessed, but the active sharing of what we’ve been given. Likewise, Thanksgiving of Faith- celebrating the message of the Cross- is not only celebrating our salvation and deliverance, but is sharing this hope to all, by investing in others what Christ has invested in us: all love, compassion, and message of Hope.

So here’s my encouragement, challenge, and request for you. My request is that you walk with me in this. I encourage you to wrestle with what “Everyone has to matter, or no one does” means to you. I want to challenge you to intentionally reach your hand out to someone who you have personally regarded as ‘unclean’, and example Christ to them.

Being a follower of Christ is not only fully receiving what Christ has done for us, but the commitment to follow Christ…walking in His steps…love those He loves (All)…share hope with those He sacrificed His life for (All). This is a Thanksgiving celebration of Faith.

July 13, 2014

Seeking the Person of Peace

Luke 9 and 10, along with Matthew 10, deal with the instructions Jesus gives to his disciples before sending them out in two-by-two ministry teams.  One of those instructions is that when they arrive in the town, they are to look for, depending on which translation you use, a “person of peace” or “man of peace” or “son of peace.”

The NIV reads,

If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.

If you read the extended Matthew Henry notes for verses 1-16, you get the very strong impression that the thrust of this passage is that, as they go on their way, the disciples are to search for fertile ground for their message.

This in itself is rather confusing, because we know that, in the parable of the sower, the seed is scattered widely and lands on soil not amenable to growth, soil vulnerable to the elements, and good soil. The disciples seem to be told to go to areas that are already receptive to their message.

As an aside: Have you ever wondered why it seems that so many churches are planted in certain areas creating a glut of houses of worship in those places, while there is dearth of churches in other parts of the country? I recently heard people joking about doing a church plant in Atlanta because, tongue-in-cheek, “Atlanta really needs more churches.”  It does beg the question as to why it appears there is so much activity in some parts of North America, while others seem to be in great need.

The other aspect of this story that should be piquing your curiosity concerns what Jesus sent these disciples out to do. We know that 20th century Evangelism methodology included sending people out two-by-two to knock on doors on residential areas. Further into the 1900s, this method got ‘trademarked’ by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Latter Day Saints (Mormons) to the point where Evangelicals simply stopped doing door-to-door ministry.

But their message was not Christ Jesus crucified, dead, buried for their sins and then risen again defeating death.  Jesus had not yet suffered and died. Jesus had not yet risen from the dead. Their message was, at best, an echo of their rabbi, his twist on familiar ethics as per the Sermon on the Mount; a message of turning from sin, the message that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Still, their apostolic ministry serves as a model for us and the key to that model is that they were sent out in utter dependence upon God.

So while we’ve left some unanswered questions here, I want to move on to why I was focused on this passage today.  As I left for a morning worship gathering, part of my goal was that God would lead me for someone to interact with either before or after the service per se, and the phrase person of peace flashed into my mind, even though I was fully aware of this phrase’s use in an evangelism model.

In the process, I uncovered the following which appears on several different websites. If someone knows where it originates, I will give proper credit.

When it comes to sharing their faith, most people aren’t strategic. Jesus, however, was very strategic in how he modeled evangelism and sharing the Gospel. In fact, He gave us a template for sharing our faith – and yet most people don’t know what that template is.
What Jesus sends the disciples to do is look for the person of peace…and that method is a reproducible strategy. We see it in Luke 9 when Jesus sends out the 12. We see it in the book of Acts with Peter and Cornelius, Paul and Lidia, Phillip and the Ethiopian eunuch looking for these people who are people of peace.

6 Marks of a Person of Peace

And what we see in scripture is the person of peace is the one who welcomes you, who will receive who you are, who is open to you, open to what you have to say about Jesus, open to the life you live because of Jesus.

But they’re also someone who serves you. So often when we’re seeking to minister we want to do everything for somebody else, but the person of peace often wants to make a contribution in some way.

So, a person of peace will be one who

  • welcomes you
  • receives you
  • is open to you
  • will be open to what you have to say about Jesus
  • is open to the life you live because of Jesus
  • serves you

A person of peace could be a passing relationship. Sometimes a person of peace is a permanent relationship. But the real question is, “Who are your people of peace?”

Who are the people of peace who are open to you, who welcome you, who serve you, and then you will see that the Kingdom of God is nearby.

That’s a whole lot of things to think about today.  I look forward to your emails and blog comments. For more study review Matthew 10 and Luke 10.

January 30, 2013

Standing Firm in the Day of Evil

Today we return to our friends Stephen and Brooksyne Weber at Daily Encouragement where this appeared as, When You Wonder ‘What’s The Use?‘.  (There are a number of additional resources at the source for this article.)

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12,13). “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13).

On Friday Brooksyne and I, along with several hundred thousand others, participated in the March For Life in Washington DC. It was very much a heartfelt and memorable experience to take a visible stand for something good and so vital to our Christian heritage. In the midst of an evil spirit dominating Washington we were pleased to join other ambassadors in that powerful city standing up for a righteous cause.

When standing for a just and righteous cause against a tide of evil we may wonder, “What’s the use?” This is true at all levels so we hope today’s message will be a special source of encouragement to those who are weary of their ensuing battle and might be saying to themselves, “What’s the use?”.

“Put on the full armor of God” In Ephesians 6 the Apostle Paul urges Christ’s followers to “put on the full armor of God.” Putting on the full armor of God is a daily exercise for believers in every generation. It is never optional for the Christian who desires to be effective in their Christian witness and to live in victory over the enemy.

“So that when the day of evil comes”  We all face the day of evil and in so many ways it seems our young people face degrees of evil that my generation was never exposed to. Of course our parents could say the same thing to us, but it seems that the outflow of sin has greatly accelerated in our lifetime. I read an article about the extent of sexual perversion that is actually being taught and affirmed as “good” in schools and of course this evil is spreading. A state university here in Pennsylvania now has vending machines distributing … (too vile to place in this point in the message, see below [at source] for link but please read our message first).

Godly parents, students and ministers who seek to take a stand against evil are reviled by the powers that be. Good is called evil and evil is called good. I really wonder if we are entering the period known as the great apostasy (see 2 Thessalonians 2).

“The day of evil” is something that believers of all ages, beginning with the original recipients of Ephesus, could identify with. However Paul may also have had in mind a specific day of evil that sure seems to describe our age with confusion abounding concerning two fundamental elements to God’s created order; life and marriage. This confusion is unique to our age. Indeed there have always been perversions to both but now it is asserted that these perversions are good and opposing them is bad. Oh, may God send a revival, a worldwide revival! It’s our only hope for turning the evil tide that has swept through our land and around the world.

“And having done everything, to stand firm.” For many years I have been intrigued by the final phrase in our daily text, “and having done everything, to stand firm.” We must, by God’s grace and the appropriation of His appointed armor, stand firm and unwavering in the midst of false teaching and the resulting sinful behavior. We will most certainly encounter adversity and it will increase as more and more people reject God.

The Life Application Bible notes speak to this: “With false teaching and loose morals comes a particularly destructive disease – the loss of true love for God and others. Sin cools your love for God and others by turning your focus on yourself. You cannot truly love if you think only of yourself.” Aren’t we seeing more and more people who live only for their own desires and don’t care about the pain they inflict on others?

Today we pray for each of you, however old you are or wherever you may live, to have a holy boldness in appropriately standing up for your faith. It’s especially hard when you’re dealing with those in your own family who come against you in your stand for righteous living. Yet I find depth of wisdom and a nod of agreement to Scripture in this popular quote, “Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything.” Indeed, let us all courageously stand up for Jesus and remember His sobering words, “He who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Daily prayer: Father, I want to be vigilant in equipping myself today as I battle the spiritual forces of evil. Though I wage war in this present and evil generation I have a body guard in the presence of the Holy Spirit who gives me power over the enemy of my soul. Today, I stand against the devil’s schemes because I take on the full armor of God; the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  As I prayerfully cover my vulnerable self with godly armor I am fully equipped with the necessary provisions to overcome discouragement, disappointment and seeming defeat. Instead I am an enduring conqueror who stands triumphant by Your grace, through our Lord Jesus Christ in whose name I pray!  Amen.

~Stephen and Brooksyne Weber