Backsliding and Being Restored from It
RESCUE AND RECOVERY
Brother Mike Althaus
Mike Althaus is an ordained baptist preacher and currently ministering out of Lighthouse Baptist Church, 7024 Amherst St., San Diego, CA 92115 USA; phone: (619) 461-5561. You may e-mail Mike Althaus at: email@example.com
This is an eight lesson study designed to help those who’ve fallen by the wayside and need restoration. Click here to see the index showing the eight lessons within this study.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.” Galatians 6:1-3
The Ministry of Rescue and Recovery
1 Sam 30:18-20, “And David recovered all that the (1) Amalekites had carried away: And there was nothing lacking to them, (2) neither small nor great, (3) neither sons nor daughters, (4) neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all. And David took all the flocks and the herds, which they drave before those other cattle, and said, This is David’s spoil.”
Prov.18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
In any branch of the service, the main objection is to be in shape, to be ready to go to war. Not only to go, but also to win any battle that may face them. In the course of the battle, there are casualties; i.e. death, wounded, etc. However, there is one casualty that brings not only the unit together, but a nation, and that is the p.o.w.(the prisoner of war) The thought of an enemy holding one of our own men or women hostage brings anger and aggression to the point of strategy of recovering and bringing them home. Lives have been lost, millions have been spent around the world in order to achieve this goal.
Quickly reviewing 1 Sam 30:18-20 shows David’s ambition to retrieve what God had given him.
- Amalekites had lcarried away. The Amalekite being a picture of Satan.
- Neither small nor great. Church members, choir singers, nursery workers, pastors, missionaries, evangelists.
- Neither sons nor daughters. Church members who have lost sons and daughters to the world.
- Neither spoil. Those that once tithed to the church to help keep it running now spend their money to help support the devils work leaving our churches in a financial bind.
The Bible than says that David recovered all. And not only that, but his attitude was “These things (his wives, sons, daughters, flocks and herds) are mine. God gave them to me and I’m taking them back!” It is quite apparent that David did not do this all on his own, but he had help. They were all of the same mind, and had the same motive; to rescue and bring back to their homes all that God had given them.
As Christians, we are in a army. And our goal should be the same as the worlds, to be in shape, to be ready to go to war. We also have battles and casualties. However, our view of the p.o.w. is different than that of the worlds. Unfortunately, the Christian of the 90’s have little use for those that have either deserted or have been taken captive by Satan. The general feeling among most is “they are reaping what they’ve been sowing” instead of getting angry at the wiles of the devil and making strategies of how they can be recovered. Most forget what the Bible says in 1 Cor.10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
However, our strategy for recovering those taken captive is quite different than that of a regular army. Those taken captive in a war wait earnestly for their liberators, while those taken captive by Satan most times do not wish to be liberated, but to stay in captivity. The objection of this ministry is to show them their need to recover themselves out of the snare of the devil.
However, that is not the only reason. When we see one of our brethren fall away from church, from service to the Lord, we need to do everything that we can to try to rescue them. Bitterness and anger is a very tough enemy to face. Feelings get hurt intentionally and unintentionally. As we move closer and closer to the Lord’s return, it takes less and less for Christians to drop away. Not only will we use the Word of God to restore them, but also we will use longsuffering, patience, understanding, and wisdom to restore unto them the joy of their salvation. (for there is no joy in the clutches of Satan.)
An eight (number of new beginning) week course that will go over the subjects listed below. Our plan is that at the end of the eight weeks, they will be ready to return to their battalion (church) and get back in the thick of the battle.
Peace with self and God (Col.3:15)
Warning of the dangers of bitterness and the damage it causes(Col.1:28)
Restoration with the brethren and with God (Col.2:2)
This study could not have been accomplished without the mercies of my Father, the sacrifices of my best Friend, and the wisdom given by my Comforter. Therefore, all glory and honor belongs to the Godhead for any and all fruits that may result from it. Bro. Mike Althaus
All scripture used is taken from the Word of God–KJV 1611
Forgiveness (Col.3: 13)
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Acts 7:60 And he (Stephen) kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.
Gen.50:17 … and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. (Joseph’s brothers)
The first step back into fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ is being back in fellowship with other Christians. We are commanded by the Lord to take care of our differences between each other first before we go before Him for anything. (Matt.5:23-24) Our prayer life is hindered, (Prov.28:9) our worship is hindered,(Matt.5:23) and our fellowship with the Lord is hindered. (1Jn.1:6-7)
For many, this is the hardest step taken because of the hurt they might have felt, whether intentional or not. Our human nature is one of revenge. We don’t want to forgive, but rather we want to retaliate. There are several ways that an individual does this:
- They strike outwardly (gossip, backbiting, evil communications towards others)
- They strike inwardly (instead of a explosion, they have a implosion; they carry a grudge, they withdraw inwardly; they harbor ill-feelings; few words are exchanged)
- They strike out against God (They quit church, the bible reading is dropped as well as their prayer life; what was once a way of life is now rejected and they return from whence they came. They blame God for the situation they are in; God is at fault for everything)
However, God in His patience, tries to draw them back through several ways:
- By the situation they have put themselves in (Lk.5:15)
- By the conviction of the Holy Spirit (Lk.15:17)
- Through others (2Cor.1:4)
In this lesson, we will look at the three areas of forgiveness. These three need to be confronted before we can have restitution with Jesus.
Gen.50:15-21 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
1) Are you ready to forgive?
Although Joseph’s brothers did him much wrong, Joseph was ready to forgive.(Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.)
How was he able to do that after all that he went through because of them.
a) There was no malice in his heart towards them. In Col.3:8 we are to put off anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.(All these take care of the first way we try to strike out with) and we are to put on kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; and we are to forbear (put up with) one another, if any man (or woman) have a quarrel against any; (that means you against them, or them against you!) and we are to do it even as Christ forgave us (we didn’t deserve forgiveness, but He made a way anyway; that being the cross at Calvary) so also do ye.(That is a command, not a suggestion)
b) Joseph forgot about it and he didn’t continue to bring it up! (And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.) It was his brethren that brought it up, not Joseph. It was never mentioned again after Joseph put them at ease about it. If you are ready to forgive, then you must be ready to bury it and never allow it to resurface again. Micah 7:19 “.. thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Jer.31:34 .. for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
The Lord is ready to forgive because He is ready to forget. The question is: ARE YOU?
2) Are you willing to forgive?
There are two kinds of forgiveness: us hurting others, and others hurting us. In these lessons, we will be looking at the latter. Although Joseph’s brothers did him much wrong, Joseph was willing to forgive them. What is needed to willingly forgive someone when you know perfectly well that it was not your fault, it’s cause you much pain, and bitterness is springing up in you.
a) You need to overlook the cause of the problem. (“God meant it unto good”) Yes, they caused Joseph grief, heartaches, and loneliness. Yes, they caused him to be accused falsely, caused him to spend time in prison, to be sold and treated like a slave. Yes, they cause him anguish to be separate from the ones he loved, his father Jacob and his brother Benjamin.(**personal note: I believe Joseph was closest to Benjamin because (a) they were brothers, not half-brothers and
(b) they came from Rachel who was Jacobs first true love) But yet, when there was a famine in the land, he made sure his father and brothers were taken care of. Why? If anyone had a reason to be bitter and get revenge, it certainly was Joseph. Being the second most powerful individual in Egypt, he was in the position to do serious damage to them if he wanted to. But he didn’t. Long before king David penned these words, the Lord already showed Joseph that the LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.(Psa.145:17) He was able to overlook what they’ve done to him.
That kind of attitude can only be a result of the Holy Spirit. Eph.4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. I’m thankful that the Lord overlooks many of my faults and He tells me to do the same.(Matt.18:32-33)
b) We need to look at the cause of the problem. The reason Joseph’s brethren sold him in the first place was because of jealousy and envy. (Gen.37:4,8,11) These are the same reasons that the scribes and Pharisees delivered up Jesus to Pilate (Jn.11:47-53; Matt.27:18) But yet both these men were able to forgive. Eph.6:12 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.
When we can fully grasp this Scripture and understand what it means, we then can see the cause of the problem; know that it is the satanic empire attempting to disorganize the body of Christ through our hurt feelings and our pride (only by pride cometh contention Prov.13:10) and overlook anything and everything that will stand in the way of our spiritual growth and walk with the Lord.
3) Are you able to forgive?
Has someone done you so wrong that you are willing to give up:
a)His mercy (Matt.5:7)
b)His rewards (Lk.6:27-35)
c)His forgiveness (Mk.11-25-26)
d)His compassion on you (Matt.18:32-35)
e)His blessings (1Pet.3:9)
The time is short, the cost is heavy, and our judgment is at hand. Psa.86:5 For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. Would to God we as humans would have the same mind.
Peace with self and God (Col.3:15)
Rom.14:17-19 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
As a child of God, Jesus in Matt.6 commands us:33 to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness before our basic needs. When we do this, we will have peace and joy. (Note: You can not have joy without peace and peace comes only through the Lord Jesus. Jn.16:33) As someone who has been hurt or offended and has gotten away from church, the saints, and the Savior, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost has been replaced with bitterness, anger, hatred, which are the works of the flesh.(Gal.5:19-21) This is a very dangerous state to be in. What happens is that you leave the path that the Lord has for you, the paths of uprightness, and you end up walking in the ways of darkness. Prov.4:18-19 “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” Where at one time when decisions had to be made, you were being led by the Spirit, God was real in your life, and though life around you was rough, you had that peace that passeth all understanding. Now you’re not sure which way to go. You’re unstable, and instead of being led by the Spirit, you’re being controlled by your hurt, anger, and emotions.
So, what are those things that you need to follow which make for peace?
1) Make peace with yourself. How?
a) Forgive those who might have caused you pain. Mark 11:25-26 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. A good example of this would be Joseph. Here is a young man who never did anything to his brothers, but because of their jealousy and envy, there first planned was to kill him. When Reuben his brother interceded for him, they then stripped him of his coat that his father made for him, threw him into a pit with no water, and finally came to the realization that they could make some money by selling him off as a slave. He was lied about and thrown into prison. His youth, country, father, family life, all was taken from him. But for all these things, Joseph forgave them. They didn’t deserve his forgiveness, but Joseph loved them enough to overlook what they did to him. What all Christians need to realize is that” 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.” Eph.6:12. There has been a few times I have been hurt by the brethren and have carried a chip on my shoulder and in my mind I could justify leaving all because of that hurt, but I realized that losing that peace would not be worth the revenge I wanted to take or the hurt that I wanted to inflict on them for what they did to me. If I did those things, I would be leaving that righteous path and would be headed down a wicked path that may have taken years to get off of. Not to mention that I could take others with me. Josh 22:20… man perished not alone in his iniquity.
b) Ask God to forgive those who have caused you pain. Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. After you have forgiven the individual(s), now you need to ask God to forgive them for what they have done. When you come to this stage, God’s peace is already working in you. Instead of retaliation, you’re asking for restoration between you and others.
It’s a wonderful feeling when you can go to God and ask Him from your heart to forgive someone. It truly is a peace that no one can understand. The worlds motto is get back, get even. God’s motto is forgive, let go, and go on to perfection.
c) Ask God to forgive you for allowing Satan to get in and cause divisions between you and another child of God. 1 Th 5:13 … be at peace among yourselves. This is a command from God. He knows that we will not all get along, that we will say things that are not right. This is why we are told to have longsuffering, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness with one another. The Bible says in Eph.4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not. And the next verse(v27) tells us Neither give place to the devil. So when you do get angry and break fellowship and you quit coming to church, what you’ve done is give placed to the devil and therefore you’ve sinned. But know this, it’s not always the other parties fault. At times, the fingers point back to us. Col.3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. The question is who’s ruling who?
Now that we see how to reinstate true peace within ourselves, how can we have peace with God? Job 22:21 Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee. Get reacquainted with your Savior. When we are in a backslidden state, we break that precious fellowship with our Father. Scriptures that we were once able to quote from memory are now hard to recall. Where at one time we enjoyed going to church, listening to the preaching, fellowshipping, encouraging other saints, it’s now replaced with a feeling of emptiness, loneliness, bitterness, and anger. You’ve forgotten what God has done for you, the blessings He bestows daily, the price He paid on Calvary so you can have the peace of God when you made peace with God. Get back to you Friend, realize He wants you back in fellowship with Him. But understand that it won’t happen until your back in fellowship with others.(Mat 5:23-24) Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah. Psa.62:8
In conclusion, after you have made peace with yourselves, others, and God, here are 5 factors you need to remember.
- Anger and bitterness causes confusion. 1 Cor.14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
- True peace came when you received Jesus as your Savior. God forgave you when you didn’t deserve it. Go, and do likewise to others. Col.1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross
- The need to swallow your pride and humble yourself in order to get that peace. Sometimes the road God leads us down when we want help is not always the road we would have picked! But if we want that peace, we will pursue it no matter the cost. Psa.34:14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
- You need fellowship. It is a very important part of our Christian walk. God never has set it up for Christians to be loners.(Ecc.4:9) 2 Tim 2:22 follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
- You need knowledge. 2 Pet 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Pet 1:5-9 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Col.3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Growth comes in four areas:
a) By study and research.
b) By experience.
c) By trials and tribulations.
d) By chastisement
Briefly, we will look at all four of these areas. As Christians, we are commanded by God to grow. I believe all four of these areas working together will help us to grow into mature Christians.
(a) By study and research The Bible tell us in 2Tim.2:15 that we are to “study to show thyself approved unto God”. Even as God provide food for our physical well being, even so does He provide food for ours spiritual well being. The question is, do we want to grow or not? 1 Cor.3:2 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. Why were these Christians in Corinth not able to bear or handle the meat of the word? Because they were still infants in their Christian walk. Understanding that some have been hurt by the church or by fellow Christians, we still have a command by God to grow in His word which will help us grow in our Christian walk.
There are a good many thing we can learn from studying others. Biographies give us insight into the lives of others that can (if we allow them to) help us as Christians to grow. The more you study about others, the more you’ll realize that you are not the only one who has ever been treated wrongly. 2 In 1 Cor.10:13 the Bible states ” There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” There are several scenario’s that runs through an individual’s mind when another hurts them. They are:
- Anger and retaliation. This is the getting even scenario
- Sadness and self-rejection. This is the feeling sorry for one’s self-scenario.
- Giving up on God, church, and Christians. This is the quitters’ scenario.
- Forgiving and forgetting. This is the right scenario.
Our first instinct as humans is to retaliate. That is a natural feeling for the natural man. (1Cor2:14)
But as Christians, “great peace have they that love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” The only way to love the law (God’s Word) is to spend time in it. That’ why God tells us to grow, because He knows that there will be situation coming in our lives that will try us and if we are not nurtured in His word, we are and will continue to be easy targets for Satan’s devices.
(b) By experience Eph.4:11-14 And he gave some… pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
The second way that we grow is through the local new testament church. Here in Eph. 4 we see three reasons:
1) For the perfecting of the saints. One of the definitions of perfect is: Thoroughly skilled or talented in a certain field or area; proficient. I believe that the purpose for church is not just a place where we go to socialize, but to be aware that we are in a spiritual warfare, and as such we need to be trained on how to fight the battles that come our way daily. And as we are taught, there will be lessons that we will not agree with.
2) For the work of the ministry. Again, one definition of ministry is: The act of serving. God has called out certain men to whom He gave the ability to minister.(1Pet.4:11) God has put these men in churches to be a help to other Christians. God will teach His man who will in turn teach others. As the Lord Jesus Christ says in Mat 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Even so, a true man of God has the same motives.
3) For the edifying of the body of Christ. To edify is to instruct to encourage spiritual improvement. The goal of any teacher or preacher is to strive to help others improve on their Christian walk and they’re going on to perfection. That means that there will be times a sermon is preached, a lesson taught that will go against our reasoning, our “upbringing” our standards, and our “way of doing things.” However, if we have any desires to grow, we have to look at every sermon, every lesson, with the attitude “how can this help me improve my walk with the Lord.” If we go into it with that attitude, than it becomes the responsibility of the pastor to have his heart and motives right with God.
c) By trials and tribulation. There’s an old saying “experience is the best teacher.” Tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience. When we are in trials and tribulations, we ought not see how fast we can get out of them, but rather see what we learn from them. Every trial, every storm God allows us to go through, if we stop and realize that The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.(Ps.145:17) we would than know that it is meant for our good if we would just look for it. In Matt.14, the Bible gives us the account of the apostles being on the sea being tossed to and fro by the storm. A closer look at this account will reveal a few things:
- Jesus sent them out to sea knowing the storm was coming. (Matt.14:22) That shows that He’s know what you’re about to face before you do.
- Jesus would have walked by them in the storm had they not called out to Him for help.(Mk.6:48) That shows that Jesus will help us when we call unto Him for help. In other words, we learn to humble ourselves.
- Peter’s faith was not as strong as he thought it was. (Matt.14:30)
Jesus was walking above the storm, while Peter was sinking into it. The same thing applies to ourselves when we encounter storms. Do we rise above them with the help of Jesus, or do we sink in them with the aid of anger, self-pity, and frustration being used as weights to help draw us down faster! A lesson to be learned from Prov. 24:10 If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.
They witnessed the power of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matt.14:33)
That shows that although we have storms is our lives, as long as we have the Lord in the boat with us, we know that experience produces hope, and with that hope we believe that not only will we eventually come out of it sooner or later, but we will come out of it victorious.
d) By chastisement (Deut.8:5; Heb.12:6-8) There will be situations in which all the reading, studying, church attending, and praying done by an individual will not appease the situation they are in. This usually occurs when Satan has them believing that God is not handling the problem in the fashion that an individual believes He should handle it. The need to jump in and take control overwhelms them and soon the small problem is escalated to a huge problem. At times, God will not allow this to happen and when it is over we’re thankful He didn’t allow it. But there are times that He will allow situations to happen to teach us a lesson. It depends on our motives, our determination to see the matter through, and our willingness to listening to the Holy Spirit when He tries to stop us through His convicting power. When we go on impulse, for the most part God will usually fix it where the damage is not that severe. But when we plot and plan and choose to ignore God’s conviction, that is when He teaches us a lesson we are not likely to forget. And from this chastisement, there are 3 possibilities that can occur.
- We can get mad and quit on God
- We can get sad and quit on ourselve
- We can get glad and learn from the chastisement
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Heb.12:11
Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.Job 6:24
Something to think about when you feel like God is putting you through the ringer and it seems like He doesn’t care when you go through your trials and tribulations.
God Really Only Wants To Help
Psa.119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.
John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.
The next step in getting back in fellowship with God is in the matter of service. After a individual returns back to the church, the general attitude is to remain seated in the pew until he/she are ready to return to service for God, whether as a usher, sun. school teacher, choir, or whatever. I suppose they can justify this within their reasoning because after all they are back in church and “isn’t this what you’ve(the church) wanted?” Yes, we are happy they are back in church, but it’s not what we want, it’s what God wants. God just uses His servants to point out in His Word His will and then lets the Holy Spirit do the rest. So, those back in church are there because the Holy Spirit convicted them and they’ve responded.
Some questions that should be considered to those that wish to remain seated:
- What time span are they looking at before you say “I’m ready?” 6mo., 1yr., 3wks. Remember, all the time seated cannot be replaced. It is lost time. Eph.5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
- What rewards will you be earning by doing nothing for God? NONE!
Prov.14:23 In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. The word penury means extreme want or poverty, destitution, dearth, barrenness. When we work for God, we store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal Matt.6:20. which can be compared with gold, silver, precious stone.(1Cor.3:3:12) But if all you do is sit in the pew and say one day you will work for Him but never do anything, it is meaningless and you are rewarded with slothfulness, and indifference for Gods work which can be compared to poverty, destitution, dearth, and barrenness. (wood, hay, stubble. 1Cor.3:12)
Prov.11:31 Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner. When we work for the Lord, we really get a two-fold repayment for our service to Him. While here on earth, God blesses us with the fruits of the spirit (Gal.5:22-25), the abundantly life Jesus is referring to in Jn.10:10; be it a good home, a good Godly spouse, obedient children and then in His millennium kingdom, we will have the privilege to rule over cities with Him. As for the wicked and the sinner, they also will be recompensed for their service. The wicked being the unbeliever and their reward for serving the devil while here on this earth is a life that is empty, worthless, without meaning. And their reward after they die is eternal damnation in the lake of fire.
The sinner is the backslider. James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (An unsaved man does not know how to do good as defined by the Bible. He may know right and wrong, but not good and evil according to God’s definition.) The reward for the backslider while here on earth is no peace or joy, unstableness, uncertainty of what to do with their lives. He knows he doesn’t fit in anymore with the unsaved because of their wallowing in sin, but yet he doesn’t fit in with those that love the Lord and are serving Him because they are glorying in His blessings in their lives. And so, the best they can, they try to contend with the situation, and some live their lives as a man that travelleth.(Prov.6:11) And then their reward in the millennium is to be ruled over instead of ruling and in eternity no rewards to show, no crowns to cast at Jesus’ feet. Is doing nothing worth it?
- How much of the Holy Spirits conviction will you be able to handle as you sit there watching others work and hearing their rejoicing as they lead or help lead others to the Lord Jesus? The answer- until you’ve quenched the Spirit enough to where He won’t use you until He’s ready.
Prov.16:3 Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. In Neh.4:6 the Bible says that the people had a mind to work. Even though you may not want to work when you first return back to church, if you commit to work for God, the Bible says that God will give you that mind eventually as you work for Him. However, there is another side to that.
Hosea 5:15 I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early. It’s not when we are ready for God’s company, but it’s when He’s ready to allow us to have fellowship with Him. And when He shuts it off, it’s not going to begin again until He says so. That should teach us that we should not take God for granted nor to expect God to use us in His service any old time we see fit.
One of the definitions of the word serve is To give homage and obedience to. We read at the end of John 12:26 if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. So we see that if we submit ourselves wholly to the Lord Jesus Christ and give him honor, His Word says that God the Father will give us honor! Here is the creator of the universe, the King of kings, whose face the earth will flee from, the giver of life to all in existence giving us honor. With these things in mind, you may ask: What can we give God? What can be fit for our Masters use? If we’re not careful, we will believe the lie that God can’t use anything we have to offer, when in fact, we have much we can give Him if we choose to. That’s where it all starts, knowing that God can and will use us if we are willing. What has to be established in each Christians mind is that God does not expect giant things from us, but rather small simple things. They appear giant in our minds because we may not want to fully surrender to all God wants from us. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past, His mercies are new, His blessings are encouraging, and His opportunities are present to those that are looking for another chance. Listed are several things we can give as service to the One who gave all for us.
1) Our time— We have many abilities that we can give to the Lord, but I believe the most important and sacrificial is our availability. Availability means:
- Present and ready for use; at hand; accessible
- Capable of being gotten; obtainable.
- Qualified and willing to serve.
- Capable of bringing about a beneficial result or effect.
We live in a fast pace society, and at times, 24 hrs. in a day seems to short. Working everyday, meeting deadlines, running here and there, we all look forward to times which we can call our own. And then when we go to church, there’s a man standing in front of the pulpit asking, demanding, provoking us for the little free time we do have and give it for the service of the Lord.
There are buses to drive, sunday school classes to teach, ushers are needed as well as those that clean the house of God. There is never a shortage of jobs in the Lord’s work. And now, after coming back into the fold, eventually, you will be asked again to help.
Mat 25:36… I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Mat 25:39-40… when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. The Lord allows us to work side by side with Him to accomplish His plan. It’s up to us to say “no” or “Here am I; send me.” When you say no, you are shutting off any possibilities of earning the rewards God has in plan for those who serve.
But when we say “yes,” what we really are saying is that “my time is really your time and how may I serve thee with what you give me” God loveth a cheerful giver. 1Cor 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
The Lord is keeping track. But here is a question to ponder: Does God really need us to fulfil His task here on earth? The answer to that question is no. We read in Luke 19:37-40 that when the disciples were praising God, the Pharisees told Jesus to quiet them. But He told the Pharisees that that, if these(the disciples) should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. If you don’t want to work for Him, He will find those that will and you will miss out. But it will cost you something, and that something is time. But apply it to your everyday life and consider this: success cost time. Whether it be in a marriage, a family, a career, or a business, to be successful in any of these areas you must put time into them. The same with your spiritual walk with Jesus.
2) our talent-– Every human being that has ever lived, is living, or will be living, God has equipped with a talent. Whether it is being musically inclined, having the ability to work with tools, being a motivator, or what have you, God has seen to it that not one living soul is without a talent. We need to realize that not only does He give us these talents, but He also gives us the opportunities to use them, but it is up to us to make use of every situation. The problem though is that while some never use what God gives them, others use their talents sparingly. And still others use them for the god of this world. If God has given you the ability to speak in front of others, why not be a sunday school teacher? Or how about an evangelist? It will mean sacrifice, but “… God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Heb.6:10
3) our tithe– Mat 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Another way to serve God is with our finances. The lights, heat, air conditioning, everything that goes into providing the church member with modern luxuries takes money. Tracks given out, missionaries going into foreign fields, bibles given out to men and women behind prison bars, all these and more are made possible by church members who obey the command to tithe.
Psa.50:10-12 For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. The purpose of tithing is not to see how much money the church can get from you, but it is for you to have a part in God’s work here on earth. There’s a old saying: If God can get the checkbook, He will have the Christian!
When you get right to the heart of the matter, service is yielding yourself to God in every aspect of life.
Phil 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.The Bible is given to us so that we may know God’s mind on how we are to live as Christians. It encourages us when we sin and fall into divers temptations with accounts of those that went before us, and gives us a glimpse of what will be taking place not only in the future here on earth, but in eternity. However, if we truly want to have a close personal relationship with Jesus, it will only come through prayer. Nothing can build a stronger bond between two individuals than constant communication between themselves. Prayer moves the hand of Jesus, it touches the heart of Jesus, and it heals the hurts of Christians. As a Christian who has been away from church for any length of time, careful consideration must be given on not only your bible reading schedule, but also on the amount of time spent fellow shipping with the Lord through prayer. We will look at three different aspects concerning this topic of prayer.
1) Does God always hear my prayer? The answer to that is no, He does not. Psa.69:13 But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation. This means that we can pray as hard and as much as we want, but if we are not right with Him and with the brethren, God will not here us. Lam.3:8,44 Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that our prayer should not pass through. What can hinder our prayers from being heard and answered from God?
a) Your not saved. (Is.59:1-2) John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners No matter how much an individual prays, God does not hear them. Some may say ” I have prayed before and it seems that He answered me.” In 1 Tim 2:1 the bible tell us that “.. supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men” Some one was praying for you and God granted an answer to there pray on your behalf. (Gen.19:28-29) If God was to answer everyone’s prayer regardless if they’ve accepted His free gift of salvation or not, what would be the reason to get saved in the first place? When we do accept Jesus as our Savior, we are resurrected from the dead, and brought back into fellowship with God, and then we can “… come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Heb.4:16 Because then God doesn’t see us, but He sees the blood of the Lamb that cleansed us!
b) You have unconfessed sin. (Prov.28:13) ” He that covereth his sins shall not prosper” You’ll not have a close walk with God, you’ll not get victory over sin, you’ll not grow as a Christian, whatever the situation, the bible says that you will not prosper in anything when you have sin in your life that you know needs to be dealt with. The line of communication between you and God is shut down because of that unconfessed sin. Get it confessed, accept whatever chastisement (if any) God brings to you, and go on and live for Him. Psa.32:5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. It is a guaranteed fact that the little spankings God gives is not to be compared with the years of agony that can and is spent away from the blessings of God. Prov.10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
c) You harbor sin against others (Ps.66:18) Psa. 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. As a Christian who has been hurt by others, this is a very important fact to consider. If you say you have forgiven someone with your mouth, but not with your heart, the Bible teaches that God will not forgive you until you have truly forgiven others.(Mk.11:25-26)
What needs to be realized is that it is you that is getting hurt by not forgiving others, not the one who might have caused the pain. Jer.5:25 …your sins have withholden good things from you
Mat 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Here we see that if any have anything against us, and we know it, we are to go to them and get it right. We are not to wait on them to see if they will come to us to get the matter right. Our relationship with Jesus and all that we can do for Him will be hindered because of our pride. Mat 18:21-22 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. That means countless. Here in Matt.18, it doesn’t say anything about the brother coming and asking for forgiveness, but in direct relationship with Matt.5, it clearly teaches that we are to forgive regardless if they come and ask for forgiveness or not. Remember, you cannot love and serve the Lord Jesus Christ properly if you have anything against one of His children, which happens to be your spiritual brother or sister. 1 John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
d) When we are in a backslidden state. (1Pet.3:12) 1 Pet 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. The thought of Christians living anyway they want, and then praying to God thinking that He will answer them is as preposterous as thinking you can never read your bible and grow as a mature Christian. It just will not happen. We cannot expect a holy and righteous God to answer our prayers while we are living in the state of sin. Acts 10:34 …God is no respecter of persons. God is not going to deal with you any different than anyone else that is living in sin, no matter what kind of fellowship you think you have with God. What we can expect is the Holy Spirit’s conviction on our lives to get the situation right so fellowship, peace, and joy can once more be restored. The Lord would rather commune with His children than chastise them.
2) What kind of prayers does the Lord accept?
a) When we come to Him of our own free will. (Psa.119:108) Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me thy judgments. Being forced to do anything shows that it is not a free choice on our part. We do not confess our sins because we are forced to, but because we want to. When David sinned against the Lord with Bathsheba, he made it plain when he wrote Ps.51 that he was in the wrong and he begged the Lord to forgive him. Why was God so merciful? ” For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” David came of his own free will and freely confessed his wrong. The results were God forgave him his wrong and David is not only known as the king of Israel, but also as a man after God’s own heart. Psa.54:6 I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good. Mat 8:2-3 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Here we see that what brought this man to Jesus was his condition, not any individual.
b) When our prayers come from our heart, not our lips. Ps.15:1-2 (Jer.29:12-14) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD.
God has never been into lip service. If we really want to get God’s attention, we must show Him that we are serious about what we are asking for. (Lk.11:5-11)
Are we truly desirous about getting sin out of our lives? We sing “all to Jesus I surrender”, but do we mean it? We can make long prayers at church, at the dinner table, we can say all the right words with other Christians around to make them think we are so spiritual, but no one has ever been able to fool the Lord, and no one will.
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts.
c) When we are truly sorry for our sins. (Psa.38:18) For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin. The Bible says in Matt.27:3 that Judas repented himself when he saw that Jesus was condemned. However, when the chief priests and elders didn’t offer consolation to ease his conscience which Judas was looking for, he went out and hung himself. We see from this that Judas was not truly sorry for the sin of betrayal, because if he was, he would not have gone to religion for forgiveness, but he would have gone to God. Religion has a way of putting your conscience at ease, telling you everything is alright, and God loves you, and giving you feel good messages about yourself, and all the other nonsense that goes along with it, and this was what Judas was looking for. On the other side, in Lk.22:61-62, when Peter denied Jesus (which is another form of betrayal– he betrayed his friendship with Jesus) the Bible says that Jesus looked on Peter, (the conviction) Peter remembered what Jesus had told him, and although it doesn’t say, I’m sure Peter remembered what he told Jesus about never denying Him (the condemnation– Mat 12:37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.) and than Peter went out and wept bitterly (the conversion). When God sends conviction into your soul to where you can’t stand it and the need to get it right burns with such a fire that through weeping, praying, and begging God for His mercy you get the matter right, that is the repentance God is looking for. That is when you are truly sorry.
d) When we humble ourselves. (Lk.18:10:14) Here we see that the Pharisee was praying with himself, God wasn’t anywhere near that prayer. He wanted to let God know what a great guy he thought he was. Five times (5 being the number of death) he uses the word “I” in his “religious” prayer. (Religion does have a way of promoting self!) However, the publican knew that the only way to get God’s attention was to humble himself. And he did. Another example is in Mk.7:25-30 Did Jesus answer this woman’s prayer because she admitted she was a dog? No, He answered her because she was willing to humble herself to help another in need of help, which could have only come from the Lord Jesus. Take the centurion in Matt.8. A centurion was an officer in the Roman army, nominally in command of one hundred soldiers. They were usually career soldiers, and they formed the real backbone of the Roman military force. And yet, he was willing to risk much to go to Jesus for help. And the result was a comment made by Jesus that cannot be taken lightly “Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” 1 Pet 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
3) Can we limit God in our prayers? The answer to that is yes, we can. Psa.78:41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. Here is Ps.78, we can see two reasons how we can be limited in our prayers to God.
a) Lack of trust— Yea, they turned back and tempted God. God was not answering the children of Israel’s prayers like they thought He would. Not understanding that all the trials and tribulations they were going through out there in the wilderness was for their spiritual growth, they spent more time complaining about what God was not doing for them instead of praising Him for what He had done and was continuing to do for them. In Ex.13:17 the bible clearly teaches that God did not lead them through the land of the enemy, but through the wilderness.
They didn’t understand that He did that because He loved them. But all they focused on was the negative on every situation until it reached the point to where they gave up on God and wanted to go back into slavery under Pharaoh. They didn’t care about being slaves again because as far as they were concerned, at least Pharaoh fed them daily. But so did God. Had they not noticed that their shoes and clothing were not wearing out! But these were people who were used to walking by sight, not faith. And they didn’t like it. It all came down to a lack of faith and trust in God. Deu.32:20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
Unfortunately, many of God’s children are living the same way today. John 16:29-30 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. And then Jesus asked them a very important question in v31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? How much does God have do for us before we just trust Him, no questions asked? The Bible says in Prov.3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, in all things, at all times. When our faith and trust in God is based solely on the outcome of situations that come into our lives, what we are telling God by our actions is that we do not trust Him. In Psa.21:2-7 the bible talks about 9 different areas in which God blesses David because of his faith in Him. They are: (1) Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and (2) hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah. (3) For thou preventest (or met) him with the blessings of goodness: (4) thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head. (5) He asked life of thee, and thou gavest it him, even length of days for ever and ever. (6) His glory is great in thy salvation: (7) honour and majesty hast thou laid upon him. (8) For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: (9) thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance. For the king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved. How much we miss on God’s blesses and answers to prayers when we trust Him half-way. Psa.20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. The question is: who or what is it that you trust in?
A friend loveth at all times. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. And his commandments are not grievous. (Prov.17:17; Jn.15:14; 1Jn.5:3)
b)Lack of faith— And limited the Holy One of Israel. (Eph.3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us) As Christians, we have been given the capabilities and resources to become great and mighty soldiers for the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the Lord leaves it up to us on how great and mighty we really want to become for Him. One reason most saved individuals HGHhhhh accomplish nothing for the Lord is that they have no faith in the One they are praying to. Their prayer is liken to the man in Mk.9:22 when he brought his son to be healed by Jesus ” if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” He didn’t really believe Jesus could help him. When you have no faith, you have no power.(Jm.2:17) But we see that the Lord turned it back on him “ if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” The man repented of his unbelief, and his son was healed. Another good example is found in John 11:39. The Lord is ready to perform a miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead. All Jesus wanted them to do is remove the stone from the cave where his body laid. Yes, the Lord could have done it Himself, but He wanted them to be involved in His miracle. Martha made the statement ” But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” but yet, when the Lord ordered the stone removed, it was Martha that questioned Jesus on His command.
What was keeping the people from seeing that miracle? It was the stone.
1 Pet 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient. We can compare the stone in Jn.11 to this stone in 1 Pet.
People won’t pray to the Lord Jesus because:
1) They have no faith 2) They have no trust 3) They have no confidence 4) They have no patience. They expect prayers to be answered in accordance to the way they desire and on their time-table, and when it’s not, they feel that God has abandoned them, and they give up one, if not the most important part of benefits we receive when we get saved, and that is direct communication with the Lord of lords and King of kings. We need to let God be God, humble ourselves at His feet, and be thankful on however He decides He wants to answer our prayer. One way we can show people that we serve a living God is when we can show them how He has answered our prayers.
Isa.43:10-12 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, andunderstand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God.
Warning of the dangers of bitterness, and the damage it causes (Col.1:28)
1 Pet 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. The method he uses to devour us is simple: he plots us against each other. Gal 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Cor.2:11 As we can read from these passages, Satan is looking for whomever it is unprotected, unarmed,
and unprepared to fend off his attacks. A good definition for devour is: To prey upon voraciously, or with an insatiable appetite for a pursuit. He’ll stop at nothing to achieve his goal of dragging those unsaved to hell, and making havoc of the lives of those that are saved. Rev 2:24 …which have not known the depths of Satan. And as he goes around trying to accomplish his mission, he has many different devices at his disposal. And one of his devices is bitterness. Jesus said in Mat12:25 … Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. When a Christian backslides and it is not dealt with swiftly and correctly,( the key word here being correctly!) eventually they will turn bitter against other Christians, the church, and God. We will look at these three and see where each one can lead to. Bitterness will bring division into the house of God; the house being our tabernacles (which is our bodies 2Cor.5:1,4) and the church.(1Tim.3:15)
1) Bitterness towards other Christians. Heb12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. When a Christians get mad or bitter at another, not only does it affect that person, but it spreads like cancer to other Christians, and before you realize how bad the damage can be, it’s done! How we need to be careful with our words. Psa.39:1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my
tongue. Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Psa.141:3.
Three reasons why Christians get bitter are:
a) Envy (Acts8:9-23) Here we see a man named Simon who had gotten saved, but let the root of envy grow in his heart. A good definition for envy is having a resentful desire for another’s advantages, and that is what Simon had towards Philip, Peter, and John. Phillip came into the city of Samaria and preached Jesus and many came to salvation. Then Peter and John came and laid hands on those that had gotten saved, and they received the Holy Spirit. Simon also had gotten saved, and when he saw Peter and John laying hands and the Holy Spirit was given by God through them, he wanted this power. Simon was one who was held in high regard by all (v9), when he spoke, people would take heed that it was he that had spoken (v10), and he enjoyed the prestige that he had in the city of Samaria.(v11) But it all changed when he got saved. No longer was he in the spotlight, no longer was it his words that carried weight, now he wasn’t the big shot in the city, it was Peter and John, and Simon didn’t like it. He wanted the ability to lay hands on others not for their benefit, but for his own. That’s why Peter told him in verses 21-23 …thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. There are those today not in church today because they are envious of other Christians. The jobs others hold, the cars other drive, the clothes they wear, the positions they hold in church. You name it, they are envious over it. Why? One word: pride. The Bible tells us in James 3:14-16 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
God places people in the church where He wants them, God blesses one and allows the other to face difficult times. But there are those that feel that they should be behind every good blessing and every important position, and when they are not, they allow that pride to destroy clear thinking, and good Godly living.
b) Jealousy (1 Sam 20:27-34) The second reason why Christians get bitter is a continuance of the first. Again, we need to look at the definition of this word, and it can be clearly seen that Saul was truly jealous of David. To be jealous means:
- Fearful or wary of being supplanted (replaced) (1Sam.24:20)
- Apprehensive of losing affection or position.(1Sam.22:7)
- Resentful or bitter in rivalry; envious.(1Sam.22:13)
- Inclined to suspect rivalry.(1Sam.20:30)
- Having to do with or arising from feelings of envy, apprehension, or bitterness.(1Sam.20:31)
- Vigilant in guarding something.(1Sam.20:27)
- Intolerant of disloyalty or infidelity; autocratic.(1Sam.22:8)
Saul was so bitter and jealous over David that he allowed his anger to consume him by leaving his kingdom to track him down time after time to kill him where at one time Saul loved David.(1 Sam 16:21) It also affected his relationship with his own son Jonathan. Saul accused Jonathan of “choosing” David (or siding with him–v30), and when Jonathan didn’t agree with his father in the matter, Saul attempted to take the life of his son by casting a javelin (spear) at him! By these scriptures we can understand that Saul felt David to be his rival because of his standing with God and knowing he was going to lose the kingdom to him. Jealousy leads to bitterness, there can be no doubt. It hinders Godly thinking, discernment, and discretion on matters that affect us and others.
3) Anger and resentment (1Sam.17:13) The third reason for bitterness towards others is because of anger and resentment they have harbor in their hearts for others. Here in 1Sam.17 we see that the three elder sons of Jessie join with Saul in the battle in the valley of Elah to set the battle in array against the Philistines. David came down to deliver food that Jessie sent, and when he heard Goliath blaspheme against God, he was angered and was ready to deliver justice then and there. Eliab, the firstborn, heard what David was saying to the men and proceeded to tell David in no uncertain words that he was not welcomed or needed there.(1Sam.17:28) Why would Eliab be so angry at his brother? David’s purpose was not to upstage anyone, but to show the Philistines .. that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands 1Sam.17:46-47 Although the Bible does not clearly state why, there are a few possibilities.
a) Eliab’s pride was bruised. After all, he was the firstborn of the sons of Jesse. Firstborns in the Bible hold certain positions and responsibilities. The youngest showing up the oldest did not sit well then as it does not even in today’s society. If anyone was going to lead the battle of the sons of Jesse, it was to be Eliab.
b) Eliab resented Samuel choosing David over him. In 1Sam.16:6, we read that Samuel believed that Eliab was the one to be the king over Israel, but he was rejected of the Lord. Perhaps Eliab harbored this in his heart. Again, he was the firstborn, and by all rights, he should be the first choice to succeed Saul. We know that the Lord chose David, but did Eliab? The Bible does not say.
When anger is first harbored in one’s heart, it is a small flame. However, if we do not take care of the matter, the devil has plenty of gas to pump that small flame into a inferno. It then turns into hatred for that individual . Hatred stirreth up (fuels the fire) strifes: but love covereth (puts out) all sins. Prov.10:12 When hatred takes hold, than resentment is soon to follow. The spirit of resentment is a spirit of indignation.
They are angry, hurt, frustrated by a certain situation that happened and they will not give it wholly to the Lord irregardless if the other individual asks forgiveness and tries to makes things right. The attitude is “I’m angry and hurt, and if I am, you better be to!” When the other party involved does not have the same attitude and God starts blessing them, the devil really turns up the flames by whispering in their ears all manners of lies and false accusations, and this bring resentment for any and all things that Christian wants to do in his/her life for the Lord. In Matt.18:23-27 we read the parable about a servant that was forgiven by His Master when he could not pay his debt. From
v28-31 we see that this same servant did not forgive his fellow servant and it was told to the Master.
Mat 18:32-35 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Here we read that the Lord delivered him to the tormentors. What that Christian doesn’t realize is that God has allowed Satan to do this to teach those that will not forgive from their hearts a lesson. To torment someone does not always means causing physical pain, but it includes mental anguish. The Lord will turn you over to the spirit of bitterness, wrath, anger, hatred, resentment and malice. These spirits will torment you mentally, and you will have no rest until you finally reach the point of full repentance. For some, only days need to go by before they’ve paid all. For others, weeks. Others years go by and unfortunately there are some that go to the grave who never get things right with others. Truly it is best just to forgive, forget, forbear, and go forward for the Lord.
2) Bitterness towards the church. (Acts 6:1) Here in Acts 6, we read that the church was growing and could not properly look after the needs of the people as they once did when the congregation was smaller. When this happened, instead of praising God for more people getting saved and growing together as a body, they looked at the situation and complained that their needs were not being taken care of. A Grecian was an individual who: (a) was a native of Greece and (b) was a Jew that was born outside Israel and understood the Greek language. Whether the apostles lost sight of the fact that the body was indeed growing and that the Grecians were being overlooked in the service that they wished to perform, the fact still remains that instead of going to God with the problem, they started to get bitter about it and that caused them to murmur against those God had in charge. The apostles remedy the situation with God given wisdom and had seven men appointed to help with the everyday running of the church. This is a direct correlation to Ex.18:17-23 when Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, saw the situation that Moses was in when he had to judge the people from morning to evening. Jethro knew it was too much for one to handle and came up with a solution that applied here in Acts 6. Moses’ job, as the apostles, was to be a intercessor for the people to God-ward, that he may bring their causes unto God. And he should teach them ordinances and laws, and show them the way they must walk, and the work that they must do. And so Moses did what the apostles did, he had others help in the smaller detail with the church in the wilderness. So now we read in Acts 6:5, this pleased everyone involved. Were they pleased that they had seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, or were they pleased that their needs were met? I tend to think the latter. Our old man likes to be taken care of, either by our-selves, or by whoever is available. We tend to put our own need above everyone else. It’s known as the “me first” attitude, and that filters into the church. Some of these attitudes are:
- “No one recognizes me and the work I do here.”
- “They didn’t asked me how they should spend the money I help give to the church.”
- “Why did (fill in the blank) get promoted to a bigger ministry when I’ve been here longer.”
- “I was sick and no one, not even the pastor, came and visited me.”
And the list could go on and on. Unfortunately, we are living in a day where Christians carry their feelings on their shoulder. And when something does happened, they are offended easily and react as babes instead of young or mature Christians. The usual procedure is that once they get hurt, they get angry. And after awhile, they become bitter. And then self-pity sets in to where they feel that no one cares for them, that all have abandoned them and left them for dead. At this stage is where Satan gets the advantage. They are vulnerable to any and all “council” that Satan has to offer. The first to get the blame is God Himself. Then Satan blames the church for not caring enough, and then he goes to the individual(s) themselves. Instead of rebuking Satan for the false accusations he had laid, people tend to accept his logic as legitimate. Eccl.9:18 Wisdom is better than weapons of war (the right kind of wisdom): but one sinner destroyeth much good.
When you have a Christian that is bitter at the church, you have one who has the potential of destroying a good, solid church with their anger being the driving force. Destruction from the inside is always more lethal than from outside forces. Psa. 55:12-14 For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.
3) Bitterness towards God. (Jonah 3:10-4:4) Jonah was a prophet(2Ki.14:25) sent by God to warn the people of Nineveh that God’s judgment was coming upon the city unless they repented of their sins and turned to God. Most know the story of how Jonah rebelled and fled and that God prepared a whale to swallow him up until he got right and did as the Lord commanded him. I believe the reason Jonah reacted the way he did was because he was harboring bitterness and resentment towards the inhabitants of Nineveh. The city was the greatest of the capitals of the ancient Assyrian Empire, and the Assyrians were the Jews enemy. In ch.4:2, Jonah told the Lord that he knew that God was going to forgive them and not destroy the town. This did not set well with him so he took off. It was in the belly of the whale that Jonah told the Lord that he would go and preach as he promised. (Jonah 2:9) Here is a good example of working for the Lord and the heart is just not in it. Jonah 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. Instead of rejoicing and praising the Lord for a town turning to God, he got angry at God. In fact, the Bible tells us that he got “very angry.” Because of his bitterness for the Assyrians, he couldn’t see the mercies of God to forgive a wicked people. His anger and hatred had clouded his mind and so it goes for those Christians that flee at God’s voice, be it through prayer, preaching, daily Bible reading, or just the Holy Spirit’s convicting power. They get mad at God. They blame Him for all the wrong that is going on in their lives, for Christians hurting them with their words and/or actions, and for there own failures. Why does God get all the blame?
- They never make a fair evaluation of the situation. Anger usually rules the actions instead of a cool head. Prov.25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Totally defenseless, the same state anyone who rules by their anger is in.
- It’s easier to blame others than yourself. Lam 3:40 Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the LORD. When we do search our own ways, we find that we are the blame, not God.
- They blame it on someone who is not around to defend Himself. Just as the Lord Jesus spoke not a word at His trial but took the accusations, so does our Father take the accusations of mankind, be they saved or unsaved. It seems that God will never get off the trial stand.
But one thing I do know, before you blame the Lord for anything, take a good objective look at the situation and see where God fits in to receive the blame.
If you’ll do that, and truly be sincere about it, you’ll find ten of ten times that it is the individual that’s at fault, and not God. He good to us all the time.
Jn.10:32 Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
Jonah 4:4 Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry?
2 John 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. The Lord speaks of rewards, rewarded, rewarder, rewardeth 112 times in 108 verses in His Word, so we can see God uses the reward system in our lives to let us know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord(1Cor.15:58). However, as we can see in 2 John, there is that possibility of losing that which we have earned in our Christian walk. As children of the King, we should want everything He has for us, but our adversary is trying his very best to stop us from achieving this goal. 1 Cor.3:10-15 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones,(works of the Spirit) wood, hay, stubble;(works of the flesh) Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. How does a Christian lose that which they think is solid and secure? In the parable of the ten, five, and one pound recorded in Lk.19:12-26, the one who lost was the one who did nothing with it. And at the very end of the parable, the Lord tell us what happens to that pound For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. note** the same thing happens to the man with the talent in Matt.25:29 What we need to understand is that God has rewards that He wants to give us, but it is not the devil that hinders us from receiving them, but it is our pride, laziness, and lack of concern that stops us from getting that full reward. Eph.3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. In this lesson, we will not only look at the rewards that can await us when we get to glory, but we’ll also look at what gifts our Father can and will give us while we are down here, if we obey His voice, His Word, and His leading by His Spirit. Deu.6:17-18 Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers.(reward)
1) Gifts given while here.
a) He takes care of us with our daily needs. (Mat 6:25-33) In Ps.37:25, king David made this statement: I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. That is a promise made by God to those that seek to do His will and live for Him. When we decide not to follow His direction, what we are doing is putting His promise of taking care of us behind us and going out on our own. DANGEROUS! Giving up that protection is not worth the hurt, regrets, or angry some of God’s children are carrying right now.
b) He gives us peace and rest. (Matt.11:28-29) Psa 34:4,6-8 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
We live in a age where there is so much uncertainty. Jobs are being lost by the thousands, bankruptcy is a common occurrence in the business world because of the economy being very unstable. The marriage vow is words to most people, those that never had any intention on keeping them.
Morality has dwindled and standing for what is right gets tougher and tougher as each day goes by, and on and on it goes. There are times when it is tough to face the daily battles, not just spiritually, but also materially. 2 Cor.7:5-6 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus. When a Christian is out of fellowship with God, he loses that strong tower where he can run and be safe. There is no peace and rest outside the Lord Jesus Christ, it is not to be found. He is our peace.
c) He gives us the privilege of prayer. (John 16:23) John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. When the Lord rent the veil in the temple when He died, what He did was remove the middleman–the high priest, and the message was sent out, whosoever will may come. The Father was now accessible through the blood of the Lamb. Prayer is a great privilege to have. Only those that have had the prayer line cut by the Lord can truly appreciate what a great blessing it is to have a open line to the throne of God. Never, ever take it for granted. When a Christian gets out of sorts other Christians, their spouses, the church, and they make no attempt to get it right, they are taking spiritual scissors and cutting off the phone line to God. Psa 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. We can see that the psalmist knew God was going to cut the communications off if he harbored sin in his heart, but as we read in v19-20 he didn’t have this problem. But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. Christian, is it worth losing that open line between you and the Father?
d) He gives us the abilities needed to keep His church going on for Him. Rom.12:5-8 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness. When the Jews were to build the tabernacle, every craft needed to fulfill the job was available. Exo.36:1 Then wrought Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wise hearted man, in whom the LORD put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, according to all that the LORD had commanded.
Even though God gives us the ability to serve Him, He rewards us as though we did it all ourselves!
e) He gives us grace. Eph.4:7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. How much grace will He give us? Psa 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. As long as we walk right with God, there really is no limit of His grace towards us. And as we receive this gift of God towards us, we are to grow in grace with one another. 2Pet.3:18
f) He gives us wisdom. James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. God wants us to be increasing in the knowledge of Him daily, and all we have to do is ask. He’ll give us the amount of wisdom He knows we can handle.
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of His gift of forgiveness, long-suffering, patience, forbearance, endless love, guidance, mercies and on and on. Christian, with all this wealth waiting to be given us, why do we snub our noses at it?
Gifts given when we get to Beulah Land.
a) Cities to rule over. (Luke 19:17-19) We can either rule or be ruled.
b) A mansion. (John 14:1-3) I don’t believe this gift will be taken from a Christian.
c) A new name. Isa.62:2 talks about giving us a new name, Rev.217 talks about our new name written on a white stone, and Rev. 3:12 talks about the Lord engraving it on our foreheads. When He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new, He means all things; nature, body, name. Just as our old name we have here is connected to our sinful flesh, so our new name is connected to our glorified body.
d) All memory of this past life removed. Rev.21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.Guarentee, when a Christian gets away from God, he/she suffers sorrow, crying, and pain while they are in that backslidden stage. And when they come back to the Lord, they come back forgiven. And though the sin may be wiped clean, unfortunately the scars of sin linger, and from time to time, Satan will use those scars to bring back into remembrance the things you’ve done while in that ungodly condition. What a wonderful gift, the gift of the washing of the mind, and all the trash that was accumulated in it. We will have one that will not never remember our past. The Lord truly is good to us.
e) Crowns. A crown is a distinction or reward for achievement. 1 Cor.9:24-25 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. Understanding that the general teaching is that there are five crowns to be won, this writer believes that there are four. The crown spoken of here in 1Cor. is explaining what kind of crown it is, and the reason why we should strive to claim all the crowns we can. Everyone who has ever won any kind of award here on earth realizes at one time or another that the glory that went along with that award was short lived, and the glory faded away. Basically, the attitude is “what have you done lately?” One day you can be hailed, and it seems that the next day you’re forgotten unless you keep on top. The Bible is telling us that that’s not the way it works with the Christians rewards. Our crowns will be in existence for all eternity. The four crowns are:
1) The crown of joy. 1Thes.2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? This crown is given to those Christians who minister to other Christians. It is given to teachers, preachers, good Godly parents who bring up their children in the ways of the Lord, to anyone who has put others first so those individuals can and will have a successful walk with their Savior. That is how we can rejoice when others come in the presence of the Lord, knowing we’ve helped them reach their potential for Jesus. But make no mistake, it is a sacrificial crown, the reasoning being in order to help others have a good walk, it will cost: (1) your time (2) your efforts (3) your patience (4) your prayers, and perhaps (5) your finances. But in the book of 3 John, John makes this statement: I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. It’s the heart of a pastor that knows his flock is walking according to the word of God. And the same goes for those that have helped disciple others. Everyone has a chance to receive this crown, if they will be a disciplined one and work for the Master. Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
2) The crown of righteousness. 2 Tim 4:6-8 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
This crown is given to those Christians that have taken their eyes off this world and have fully focused on the return of the Lord Jesus.
Not only do they read about it, hear preaching on it, but they truly believe it to be so, and that is how they live. They know there is a judgment day coming, and they will have to give an account, so their lifestyle revolves around that fact. Everyday they expect a battle, so everyday they have their sword ready. Quitting is an easy out and many have taken it, but for those true soldiers of the cross, there is no quit. The Lord knows the road that leads to our eternal home can be wearisome, but He also rewards greatly those that continue on, those that finish what they start. How was Paul able to fight the good fight and finish the job the Lord had for him? He kept his faith in his Savior. In all that he went through as described in 2Cor.11:24-27, it never seemed to hinder Paul. In fact, it helped him grow closer to the Lord. He knew that “all things worked together for good”, but I’m sure he knew Psa 145:17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways, andholy in all his works. If we can understand that everything that comes down our way, God knows about it and has allowed it to happen, we have the opportunity to become greater Christians than Paul. When it comes down to it, what we need to do is just trust and obey no matter if we: (1) understand it.(2) like it.(3) agree with it. Are you like Paul who forsook the world for the Savior, or like Demas who forsook the Savior for the world?
3) The crown of life James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. This crown is given to those that understand that There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1Cor.10:13
The word endure mean to carry on through, despite hardships. Also, it means to bear with tolerance, and to suffer patiently without yielding. Satan knows exactly how to push our buttons. He knows what we like to watch on T.V., what type of movies we enjoy, what music our we like, how short our tempers are, and how to pump our egos. He then uses these things against us with the permission of the Lord. But the Lord has a purpose for this. We tell our family, friends, brethren, pastor how much we love the Lord and want to be in His service, and so God allows us these temptations to come our way in order to prove us.(2Chron.32:31) The Bible tells us in Prov. 17:17 A friend loveth at all times. In the calm as well as the storm. Know, understand, and accept the fact that we will get tempted. But also know that we do not have to taste defeat everytime a temptation comes our way. We can get the victory if we look for the escape hatch hard enough, and that way out is the door Himself. How can we show the Lord that we love Him? By having enough fortitude to endure the temptations during those difficult times. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 2Tim.2:3
4) The crown of glory 1 Pet 5:2-4 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. This is the only crown that is not available to every Christian. This crown can only be won by a pastor of a church. Briefly, we will look at what is involved in receiving this crown.
1) Feed the flock. This is in regards to a spiritual feeding. The only way a pastor can properly feed the flock is if he is getting fed from the Word daily. It takes work getting lessons and messages together week after week. It takes fasting, Bible reading, a good and productive prayer life, and a broken and contrite spirit to get what He needs from the Shepherd but any pastor worth his salt looks for that “fresh oil” every service. How a pastor nourishes himself in the Lord is how he nourishes the church God gave him to be leader of.
2) Be a leader. The Bible tells the pastors to take the oversight, to be watchful. They must guard against those that come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are wolves.
Also, they must assume the leadership role God has placed them in. It is not the responsibility of the deacons to make decisions for the church. Nor is it the member’s responsibility to have the final say in the matters of the church. It is the pastors, and they must realize this, or not take on the position of pastor. However, the Bible does outline how the pastor is to run (or rule) the church.
a) Not by constraint, but willingly. The word constraint is given to those that threaten or use of force to prevent, restrict, or dictate the action or thought of others. God did not set up the church to be ruled by a dictator. In fact, the Bible teaches that God hates that method. Rev 2:6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate. The word Nicolaitanes means to conquer the common man, and it is in relation to the clergy over the laity. The Lord has given us the liberty to “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Acts17:11
b) Not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind. A pastor’s heart is a heart that wants to give to his congregation what is best for them, and his mind should always be at the ready in this area. He is not looking for what the congregation can give to him outside meeting his and his families needs, keeping them in prayer, supporting and loving him.
c) Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. The pastor should not have a puffed up, prideful attitude that gives them the illusion that only the congregation can do wrong, and not them. It’s a sad commentary, but many churches today are run by those type of individuals. The scribes and Pharisees had this condition. It should not be a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude, but it should be a “follow my example” attitude. The pastor is to be a ensample to the flock. They need to be above reproach. The pastor needs the people see them hitting the altar, they need to see them put into practice what they hear them preach week after week. The pastor needs the people see them passing out tracks and witnessing to others. Words without action is dead.
The crowns are ours for the taking, why not get as many as the Lord wants to give? But know that as freely as He wants to give, so freely He’ll take them away if we don’t want them.
Mark 4:25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
Restoration with the brethren and with God (Col.2:2)
Psa 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psa 137:1-4 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?
When a Christians gets out of sorts with other Christians or God, the joy that they once experienced with their salvation is held captive by anger, bitterness, self-pity, and every other emotion that is geared to destroy our walk with the Lord. The songs of Zion are gone. The backslidden child quits, they weep, they remember, and they lose the song in their heart. The goals of these eight lessons are:
- To show the Christian the error of their ways using God’s Word as the guideline.
- To revive the spirit of wisdom that has been smothered by unclear and misguided thinking.
- To restore them back into the unity of their God and His body; the church.
- To restore that joy back where they will once again be able to lift up their hearts in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.
- To get them back into the service of the King.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
1) You must get an understanding of the situation you are in.(He came to himself.) Self-denial, blame shifting and finger pointing does nothing but fool you into believing that everyone else but you is at fault in the situation. And while you are looking at the problem through biased eyes, you haven’t been looking at the Bible sitting on the shelf, nor have you realized that the time that once was spent in prayer is now spent in a magazine, newspaper, or the television, or you’ve used the time to complain and gossip to others about how unfair the whole thing is! Understand this; that your life is in turmoil which can (and will!) spill over into your family’s walk. You will have no peace until you realize that; although it might not be your entire fault, more times than not, you’ve had a hand in it.
2) You determine that you will get things right. ( I will arise) The next phase after coming to yourself is making it a priority to get things right, first with the one (or ones) you’ve had a falling out with, and then with the Lord. Mat 5:23-24 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. When the Holy Spirit convicts you to get things right, do not procrastinate. Make it right. In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury. Prov 14:23
3) You acknowledge your wrong. (I have sinned) Right here is the key to reconciliation, to admit that you are wrong. Psa 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
When we admit our errors and mistakes, we are in fact humbling ourselves to the person (or persons) in asking their forgiveness. This kind of spirit is what God wants from His children. Psa 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
But unfortunately, one of the hardest sins we as Christians have to deal with is the sin of stubbornness. 1 Sam 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. The word iniquity here comes from the Greek word anomia, which means lawlessness. God likens a stubborn man to be without law and a worshipper of false gods. This is a serious comparison. The Lord wants us to acknowledge what we’ve done, ask the Lord for forgiveness, and advance in our walk for Him. 2 Pet 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But there is one that was left out, and that is:
4) You must be willing to accept the consequences for your actions.(Am no more worthy) Prov.29:23 A man’s pride shall bring him low(the prodigal was in the pigpen when all forsook him): but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit. (The father clothed him with the best robe, he put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, and killed the fatted calf.) Yes, the Lord will forgive you and cleanse and restore the fellowship with Him, but there is another factor involved: Josh 22:20 …Man perished not alone in his iniquity. When a Christian gets angry or bitter at God, the church, or other brethren, they need to remember that they are not the only ones affected by their spiritual condition. Husbands, wives, children, friends, family and so on are the recipients of the anger, hurt or whatever it is that has taken the place of their spiritual peace and it does take its toll. In a matter of minute, words that are spewed out in anger against God, the church, or the brethren in the presence of young ears will produce the fruit that; either intentionally or unintentionally, the speaker planted by their words. And it could take days, weeks, and sometimes-even years to weed out the bad that was produced, if it can be weeded out at all! Psa.59:7 Behold, they belch out (to erupt or explode) with their mouth: swords are in their lips:(used to tear up and destroy) for who, say they, doth hear?
5) Action is put behind the words (And he arose and came to his father) The prodigal could have made all kinds of promises to himself on how he was going to get things right, how he was going to turn his life around, how he was going to go to church every Sun., and on and on. But had he not gotten up out of the pigpen and went, those words would have been meaningless. Words without actions are dead. How many do we know that say all kinds of things, but there is no backing to support what they say. Although I’m sure there are more, listed are six reasons why the average Christian does not get the situation corrected between them and others:
- Procrastination “I’ll do it later”
- Slothfulness “I don’t feel like doing it right now”
- Pride “It’s not me that has the problem, it’s them”
- Anger “I’m not ready to get things right just yet”
- Self-denial “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal”
- Self-protection “I don’t want or need any more conflicts”
Whatever the reason or excuse, the backslidden Christian has no real peace until they correct the matter and are back in fellowship with the Lord and each other. Four basic principles to follow are:
1) Want to be restored. Psa 51:12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
2) Prove you want to be restored. Luke 19:8 And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
3) Believe you will be restored. Isa.57:18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him: I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners.
4) Give thanks for when you are restored. Psa 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psa 116:7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee.
Prov 13:19 The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.
Isa 44:22 I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee.