"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Are We Giving Birth To Life Or Death?
Last week we discussed the birth of Christ and the celebration that we have annually called Christmas. We talked about how and why it offends and specifically why the name of Christ offends in the first place. This week, we will dive into the process of birth and how children are not the only things that we can birth in our lives. The events of pregnancy and birth are perhaps some of the most exciting moments for a young mother. However, to maintain this state and rapid pace of growth from within, she must take extra care of her body and developing baby. This mother has to not only eat right, but also ensure that they receive good pre-natal care and maintain the least stressful environment as possible. During the pregnancy, the mother goes through a range of hormone induced emotions which are brought on by this life giving process of carrying a child. There are going to be food cravings, random moments of crying, shouting, and even some hostility towards dad. The closer to her due date this new mother gets, the larger her child becomes, and the more developed he/she becomes. Around the eighth month, the child now stands a great chance of surviving outside of the womb. Many of the physical features are now visible. Mom’s mobility is now very limited. Her belly now sticks out blocking her view of the double-sized swollen ankles and feet. This mother-to-be now aches in pain and her body is sending messages to her brain that new life is about to be birthed from within her.
The big day finally arrives after several false alarms and mom is rushed to the hospital. Everyone is both nervous and excited. The nurses come in the room to check mom’s dilation, the doctor is now informed and the hospital makes its preparations. Dad begins to call all the family and notify them of the soon coming birth if he hasn’t already out of excitement. Now all the family rushes to the hospital (usually more frantic than mom herself). Grandma and Grandpa couldn’t be more excited because now they get to spoil another child, who they can also send home to terrorize their mom and dad. Besides, they owe them a few headaches anyway! As mom begins to push, she experiences severe pain and her hips begin to literally break apart. She screams out in agony and even though it seems like eternity, in an instant you hear and see a crying baby appears. Even though mom has experienced all of those battles and obstacles, she is overwhelmed with feelings of joy, love, and admiration of this new little one in her arms. Everyone becomes even more excited and is buzzing around the hospital just hoping to get a glimpse. Is he/she more like mom or dad? What color is the hair and eyes? How long are the eyelashes? All of these things come to mind.
A new birth is certainly a thrilling time full of joy and hope for the future. Many billions of exciting births have taken place all around the world. Some have ended in unfortunate tragedies; while most have produced new citizens of society who have gone on to produce more children. A major birth that comes to mind, especially this time of year is the birth of Jesus Christ. Although His birth had unusual circumstances surrounding it, it must have surely been an exciting time for Mary. Isaac also comes to mind when you reflect on exciting births and Joseph may very well be another. However, children are not the only thing that we adults can give birth to. As our Scripture points out, we can also give birth to great sin, despair, and curses upon others and ourselves.
Psalm 7:14-16 (KJV)
14 Behold, the wicked brings forth iniquity;
Yes, he conceives trouble and brings forth falsehood.
15 He made a pit and dug it out,
And has fallen into the ditch which he made.
16 His trouble shall return upon his own head,
And his violent dealing shall come down on his own crown.
James 1:13-15 (NKJV)
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Being pregnant with sin and evil desire is not what I would consider an exciting time. It is the type of pregnancy and birth that I want to avoid at all costs. I am sure that it is unintentional when we become subject to the sin that we give birth to, however it never fails that someone often falls as a victim to this commonality. Why, you might ask? The reason is obviously because our flesh is prone to sin (Matthew 26:41). But what does it mean in Psalm 7:14-16 as it says to be “wicked”? One source explains the “wicked” by saying, “the wicked are so hotly set upon the evil which they maliciously intend, that they would be immediately acting of it.” This type of individual has no care for what is right or wrong and no conviction for the injustices that they perpetuate upon others. But, how do we get there and how can we avoid such a title as being considered “wicked”?
If you are a born-again believer (confessed faith in Christ and believe) it is impossible for you to obtain this title. One would have to literally renounce their faith and have no conviction at all, which is nearly impossible. The reason it is impossible is because God has ensured that “He will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6), however we may forbid Him according to our own free will from interfering in our lives by conviction. Some may consider this to be the actual unforgivable sin mentioned in Mark 3:28, however I do disagree with that distinction. Regardless, God cannot violate His Word and law by going against the will of mankind. This should give us hope as believers that as long as we have even a “mustard seed of faith” in our hearts, we have a hope in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ! But does this prevent us from “conceiving the trouble” which we entertain and giving birth to the “falsehood” that we bare? Absolutely not!
Every time we entertain sin and give it a host in our lives, it will take root and begin to manifest itself through us. The Holy Spirit’s job is to lead, direct, guide, and pray for us; however we make this job difficult and at times irrelevant when our decisions disregard His work. God simply won’t force us to be obedient to Him. He will simply just wait for us to get our act together, much like a school teacher who has lost their patience with a rowdy class. He will begin to wait until we have had suffered enough from our own iniquities and come running back to Him for help. When we give into temptation, sin, and the wickedness of the world over and over again, we give it the attention that it desires. More specifically, we begin to consider and now lay down with the enemy. As we become attracted to the things of the world and ways of the enemy, he mesmerizes us with all the flashy lights that sin has to offer. But like anything dealing with the enemy, it is all “smoke and mirrors” as they say. Soon, after lying down with the enemy in his bed, we will have “conceived” these troubles and now “bring forth” the “falsehoods” that it manifests. In other words, our evil fruit will begin to bear itself through our life.
Sin begins with a thought or feeling as highlighted in James1:13-15, but then is soon entertained when it is not resisted. When the sinful thoughts are not resisted, we begin to conceive its evil, which then allows the sin to give birth to full blown acting upon the sin. This is the “death” that is”brought forth” in verse 15. This is the part that we as Christians need to avoid, that “conception” and “death.” We will always be tempted as we pointed out earlier that the flesh is weak. Being that Jesus was also tempted, do we not expect to be also tempted ourselves? With the temptations being inevitable, we should focus on how to avoid entertaining sin and therefore its following conception and birth. We do this by following God’s Word regarding the avoidance of the entrapment of sin. Scripture such as Luke 22:40; Romans 8:37; and Hebrews 4:15-16. We should also keep in mind the words of 1 Corinthians 10:13 which states that, “he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear” and also “escape.” So, let us avoid the type of birth that gives way to the evils of this world. Let us also avoid the types of labor pains that aren’t necessary in life and cause curses that can only be taken away by the Lord’s return. As we exit this Christmas season and enter into a new year, let this new season also bring with it a new mindset and spiritual renewal. Dive into the Word of God and allow Him to do His work in you, reminding you of who’s you are and who you are! You are the child of the King! Therefore, you will give birth only to the blessings and goodness that God has willed for you in this season. God Bless you all, and may you have a most wonderful New Year’s Eve!
Matthew 26:41 (NKJV)
41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Luke 22:40 (KJV)
40 And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
Romans 8:37 (KJV)
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Hebrews 4:15-16 (KJV)
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)
13 No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
‘Tis The Season of Repentance or Offense
As we all gather for the Christmas holiday this season, many of us will reminisce of past times and magical moments of our childhoods. Many times it seems that Christmas will never be the same as it was when we were five and amazed by all the lights. They were much simpler times when everyone seemed to have more patience and wanted to stick around just a little while longer at holiday events. The food was better and all the loved ones we lost along the way were present with us in those good times. In fact, as we reflect it is easy to catch ourselves taking the here and now for granted. It’s easy for us to forget how blessed we are every day by the same baby who made this season possible a couple of thousand years ago. While we are reflecting, celebrating, and exchanging gifts this holiday season, let’s not forget our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must not let our hearts develop no room in the Inn for the savior of the world. Don’t put the Christ child out in a mental manger until the holidays are over, let’s remember His sacrifice and worship him now.
We all know one of the most favored Christmas songs heard this time of year called “Mary Did You Know?” It dives into all the unknowns that we wonder about how Mary must have felt and wondered about her new child who would soon be the Savior of the world. I find myself wondering a different set of questions also. Questions such as: Mary how bad was the world when you were pregnant? Did it seem that no man would repent in those days? Did you warn those who you met that they must soon repent for the King was soon to be present with them? Mary did you know that John the Baptist would soon preach repentance to the world and prophesy the ministry of Jesus? I wonder all of these things and many more as I read about the birth and prophesied Christ stories of Luke, Matthew, Isaiah, and others. Jesus was not only the birth that brought the most joy to the world, but also brought in the most controversial message in all of the history of the world.
The message of His gospel will either convict or divide us (Luke 12:51-52). For many years in the United States, corporations have been forced to remove nativity scenes, crosses, and even Christmas trees from their premises during the holidays. Recently, it has become a common place for many people to use the saying, “happy holidays” instead of the traditional “Merry Christmas” in fear of making an offense to someone of another faith. It leaves me to wonder, why is the name of Christ offensive and why must this holiday be offensive in general? There are many reasons that could be explained in an academic debate for days, but we can address the main reason here and now. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (KJV). Christ and the cross that represents his crucifixion offends those who are convicted by the Holy Spirit, but deny responsibility for their transgressions. The Word also tells us in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (KJV). Of course, Christians will never fully escape persecution so long as the enemy roams this earth (2 Timothy 3:12), however we can break free from our bondage and the offense that the cross brings us by repenting of our sin.
The cross and the name of Christ bring offense to the hearts and minds of man because of what it represents. Since because the holiness, righteousness, and presence of God brings conviction upon man, we are reminded of these offenses in the presence of His name and cross. Just the mere presence of either one of these two brings such power and conviction, that rather than just ignore it, those who won’t give in to it have to lash out in agony. The reason is that the Scripture tells us that we are either servants of evil or servants of God (Romans 6:15-18) and because those who are servants of sin are also servants of the enemy, they cannot bear with the meaning behind the name of Jesus Christ. The Word of God also tells us that we cannot serve two masters and must serve either God or the enemy (Matthew 6:24). The enemy knows because of the sacrifice of Christ, he has been defeated. He also knows that if you bear the name of Christ in your heart, that you have also chosen eternal life over defeat with the enemy in Hell. In knowing these things, we must be quickened to turn away from our wicked ways and repent (Acts 3:19). Even as born-again believers, we must remember when we encounter someone who is offended by the name of Christ not to take offense by their reaction, but to witness the love of Christ in return. We should give them the Gospel with love, and in God’s timing they may believe because of the seeds that we have sown into them. Of course not everyone will believe and many will be offended along the way, but we must be in constant prayer for these individuals keeping in mind that they are indeed “slaves to sin” and a dead system. Thank God that He has provided us with a way to life because He was the “life.” As you celebrate with family and friends this Christmas season, let us remember those who are less fortunate than us and on their way to suffering by remembering the reason for the season! God Bless and Merry Christmas from your family and friends here at SCM!
Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Galatians 4:4-5 (KJV)
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons
Matthew 1:21-23 (KJV)
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
John 1:29 (KJV)
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV)
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Luke 12:51-52 (KJV)
51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.
Romans 6:15-18 (KJV)
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Matthew 6:24 (KJV)
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Acts 3:19 (KJV)
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
John 1:4-5 (KJV)
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Smart Sheep Among Wolves
With the advent of smart-phones, smart-cars, smart-homes, etc.; why do we have to be sheep waiting to be slaughtered? We need to be enabled by the Holy Spirit, to move upon the will of God and to walk in his ways! We must be sheep who outsmart the prey hiding in the thickets among us. Unlike cell phones, cars, and technology, Christians seem to decrease in knowledge over time rather than increase. We go from discerning in Spirit to concerning!
Acts 20:27-31 (KJV)
27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
31 Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Paul was well aware that false teachers and instructors of evil would come after he was long gone to lead the sheep astray. Paul’s job was to warn and prepare them for such a day as that. Paul reminded the overseers of that church to feed them with the truth and Word of God, reminding them that Jesus paid for the church with His own blood. Paul also reminded them of the hard work that was brought forth to establish this ministry, not for his own credit, but because Jesus holds all of man as precious and being created in His own image.
Matthew 7:15 (KJV)
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Isn’t this Scripture so true? False profits have never been more plentiful and outspoken than they are today, even showing pride and confidence in the evil they do. They boast themselves as awesome and Godly ministries on Christian television networks, but all they truly care for is your financial support. Regardless of how you are doing, they seek the funds that you have to send in. Be careful because this kind of ministry is not of God and they will bleed you dry and devour you as a pack of wolves over a young calf. Another thing about wolves is that they don’t mind going after the sick or young. The same is true for us Christians; wolves seek the sick and young (the backslider and recent converts) in order that they might devour them.
Luke 10:3 (KJV)
3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
God isn’t sending us out to work for the boy scouts. As Christians, we are taking on a full scale spiritual war. We need to be willing to risk anything for the sake of Christ and His kingdom. Not just ourselves, but we place our families at risk as well. However, God will see and bless us for our sacrifices. Although our families are under attack, God will anoint and bless them beyond measure for generations to come. It is the next Scripture where we are to learn how to defeat this as it says….
Matthew 10:16 (KJV)
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
If we are wise, even though we are in the midst of wolves, they can be outsmarted. Every winter season in the great state of Alaska, we see wolves get outsmarted by the dozens. They are known as clever and the most capable of all wildlife of outsmarting man’s traps, however there are certain vulnerabilities that make wolves susceptible to defeat.
According To The Defenders of Wildlife Organization:
“Wolves live, travel and hunt in packs of 7 to 8 animals on average. Packs include the mother and father wolves (called the alphas), their pups and older offspring. The alpha female and male are typically the pack leaders that track and hunt prey, choose den sites and establish the pack's territory. Wolves develop strong social bonds within their packs. Wolves have a complex communication system ranging from barks and whines to growls and howls.”
The first thing we learn about them is that wolves rarely operate alone and if they do, they are more vulnerable anyway. If there is a pack, they are always led by an alpha! The alpha gives all orders for the submissive wolves. However, even the alpha leader of evil takes orders from the Alpha and Omega of heaven and earth!
We have to be smart and remember how wolves operate. We have to study their behavior and learn to expect them at all times. Wolves love to attack when least expected. They wait and watch until you show vulnerability. Recently, one showed up to an awesome and powerful service that we had one Sunday morning. I remember God moving in a mighty and powerful way, despite the presence of the wolf right there among us near the front of the church! After service, that wolf showed its teeth and exposed its real purpose for being where it was.
It wanted to influence the church and pastor with a false gospel and theology that could possibly mislead other believers into a false religion.
According to wolf pack behavioral experts:
“If a dominant wolf approaches a more submissive one, the latter may lower its ears, pull its tail between its legs or show its throat or groin to demonstrate subservience. When greeting a more dominant member, the lower-ranked wolf may lick the other's muzzle like a servant kissing a king's scepter.”
Little does the enemy tell you, but because of the cross He is defeated!
Whenever we call on the name of Jesus, all enemies have to respect the name and the authority that it is given to it. An enemy cannot reign free where it is restricted by the power of Jesus Christ!
Like a submissive pack member, when we call on the name of Christ and His Spirit resides in our hearts, the enemy must tuck his tail between his legs and abort his intentions to bring war against us. We must take this opportunity when he shows vulnerability to us that we seize him by the throat and finish the job we have started. However, we cannot do this without a proper relationship and knowledge of the power of Christ.
No, don’t fake authority on a wolf!
Acts 19:13-16 (KJV)
13 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth.
14 And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so.
15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
16 And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
It is obvious that these clowns didn’t really know Jesus. They couldn’t call on Jesus because they did not have the authority of Jesus within them. They weren’t born-again!