By S.J. Black
One thing that I never know for certain is whether or not the articles that are written for the website help anyone along in their walk with the Lord by teaching them something or encouraging them.
What I do know is that the Lord has taught me a number of lessons in writing them and often He uses things around me in my everyday life for the lesson. For example, the time I was working in the yard and He showed me that my poison ivy "crop" is a great picture of sin in our lives.
A lesson that the Lord has taught me over and over again on a monthly basis is to wait on Him for writing the articles. Being an accountant by trade, I am not exactly the world's most talented writer and the best that I can do is wait for the Lord to lay a message on my heart to write about. Often the Lord teaches me more in just waiting on Him to relay the message He wants in an article than I do from the message in the article itself.
I cannot count the number of times that it was getting very close to the time of the month where I should be posting an article and I had no clue what to write about. Most often the Lord gives me an idea just in the nick of time and I never know where it is going to come from until it does. Often it is something unexpected that I would have never thought of in a million years on my own.
What the Lord seems to be teaching me is found in Psalm 46:10; "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"
Any time that I try to write just for the sake of writing it always turns out as a disaster. However, if I just slow down and wait on the Lord, He is always faithful to give me the message to put in an article.
This month it has been very difficult to come up with an idea for an article to be really honest. There have been a lot of trials going on around our house such as a broken washing machine, sick children and a broken air conditioner that took five days or so to get fixed. There have also been a lot of just general distractions and busyness such as the election and having to pick up the slack for some people who are on vacation at work.
The last couple of weeks have also brought to mind something that the Lord taught me a while back about worry. It is easy to fall into worry when things keep coming at us from all sides.
I will even admit that I stayed up very late on November 2 this year watching the election results. At one point in the evening I had the T.V. on and I was monitoring a couple of websites at the same time.
Why? The prospect of John Kerry being elected President frankly scared the heck out of me and I was worried the traitor might actually win. I had forgotten that the Lord appoints leaders and that I had nothing to worry about. I had nothing to worry about even if Kerry had won because it is God who appoints our leaders.
My next point of worry since the election was settled has been things such as what am I going to write about this month, when am I going to get this done or that done. If you are not careful you end up going in circles and getting nothing done due to worry of how you are going to get anything done.
The other night I finally got a chance to slow down and just spend some time with the Lord in the word. The Lord reminded me of something that He had shown me a while back in the story of one of the Kings of Israel named Jeroboam.
In the book of I Kings chapter eleven we read where God via the prophet Ahijah ordained Jeroboam as the King of Israel:
Now it happened at that time, when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite met him on the way; and he had clothed himself with a new garment, and the two were alone in the field. Then Ahijah took hold of the new garment that was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. And he said to Jeroboam, "Take for yourself ten pieces, for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and will give ten tribes to you (but he shall have one tribe for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel), because they have forsaken Me, and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the people of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways to do what is right in My eyes and keep My statutes and My judgments, as did his father David. However I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand, because I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of My servant David, whom I chose because he kept My commandments and My statutes. But I will take the kingdom out of his son's hand and give it to you--ten tribes. And to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there. So I will take you, and you shall reign over all your heart desires, and you shall be king over Israel. Then it shall be, if you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did, then I will be with you and build for you an enduring house, as I built for David, and will give Israel to you. And I will afflict the descendants of David because of this, but not forever."' (I Kings 11:29 - 39)
In the above verses we see where God via His prophet clearly told Jeroboam that he would be blessed and rule Israel if…" you heed all that I command you, walk in My ways, and do what is right in My sight, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as My servant David did."
However, fast forwarding a bit to I Kings chapter 12 we see that Jeroboam did not do what God commanded him to do and led the people into worshiping false gods, ordaining priests that were not of the tribe of Levi and a host of other sins.
But notice in Chapter 12, what was Jeroboam's first sin that led to all the other apostasy? Jeroboam let worry creep in which made him think it was wise to try and do his own thing instead of trusting in and relying on God:
And Jeroboam said in his heart, "Now the kingdom may return to the house of David: If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will turn back to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will kill me and go back to Rehoboam king of Judah." (I Kings 12: 26 - 27)
When God showed me this truth from His word, the first thing that came to mind was some pastor trying to come up with a "marketing plan" to grow his church. Trying to make the message they preach more "upbeat" and "positive" so that they can really draw a crowd. Keep in mind here that upbeat and positive are jargon to replace the terms watered-down and more humanistic.
Shouldn't they instead be relying on and seeking God to bring who He wants to bring?
We are commanded to take the Gospel to the world, not to build a country club with good morals. We are not commanded to build a place where no one is ever offended by being called a sinner or led to repentance. All of this reminded me of another verse from the Psalms…
"Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep." (Psalms 127:1 - 2)
And we wonder why the church today is not salt and light to the world?
It seems there are a lot of people today trying to "help God build His church." Like God needs them for a marketing coordinator or something. Maybe God is too busy running the universe to manage the marketing department at the same time?
This is a lesson the Lord has been teaching me time and again in writing articles. The lesson is one about trusting God to do the work through us instead of us doing the work under our own strength and wisdom "for God."
While worry was alive and well in Jeroboam's day it seems that worry lives everywhere that I go today as well. I go to work and worry is already there. I wish he would make the coffee once in a while. Then I go to the store and there is more worry. Turn on the news and there is some expert worried about this or that issue in the world today.
We live in a time where if America does not repent of her sins then we do indeed have cause to worry. God tells us clearly in His word that: "if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." ( 2 Chronicles 7:14)
What I always wonder is why instead of spending time in worry do we not take God's promise for what it says and change our ways before it is too late?
I believe that we are entering into a period of history that is predicted in the Bible and we are entering it at breakneck speed. If you are worried now, I would suggest that you have not seen anything yet.
So should we be worried? Assuming you have a personal relationship with Jesus, No, not at all! The Bible tells us to "occupy till He comes." How do we occupy till the Lord returns?
We occupy by sharing the Gospel and the truth of God's word everywhere we go. We occupy by loving people and helping the poor in the name of Jesus.
But what the church desperately needs to hear and learn today is how to truly trust the Lord and how to be led by the Holy Spirit. The church does not need "feel good" messages meant to tickle ears. Messages about your finances are great I guess, but leave that to the Certified Financial Planners of the world. The church is supposed to be concerned with someone's eternal treasures in Heaven, not their mammon while we are here on earth.
We draw close to the Lord when we truly seek Him. We can only draw close to the Lord with true repentance, study of the word and prayer. It takes humbling yourself before the Lord and seeking His face with a sincere heart.
Isn't it safe to assume that if we are serious about seeking the Lord that things like our finances will take care of themselves? Why waste what little time people actually spend in the church teaching them such things at the expense of not teaching about seeking after God and teaching them how to effectively engage the enemy in Spiritual battle?
What if a lost person comes and instead of hearing the Gospel they hear some message about "achieving your goals" or "managing your money?" Can you imagine the message the preacher would have at this person's funeral if they were killed in a car wreck? "Let me tell you, that fellow was lost as all get out and is burning in hell now. But did he ever have a talent for reaching his goals. Its nice to know he left a big wad of money for his children after donating a few bucks to my church the one time he visited."
The church is missing the point today. We are engaged in a spiritual battle and frankly we are loosing. Before you fire off that e-mail, yes I am aware that Bush just won the election in a landslide. But does that mean we won the war or just a battle and received a temporary reprieve?
If you think we have won the war, ask your preacher if he plans to preach on certain controversial parts of the Bible any time soon. You just might get some answer about not wanting to put the church's tax-exempt status at risk or some garbage about not wanting to offend someone that is lost. Is this the way the early church lived? Jesus called the Pharisees a "brood of pit vipers" and "hypocrites." Do you care to guess whether or not Jesus was concerned about offending them?
What happens if the rapture is several years away just yet and they start feeding Christians to lions again or another Nero comes along and thinks we make good lighting for his garden parties? Will the sort of people who are concerned about offending people now take the stand that needs to be taken regardless of the consequences then? Or will they be too busy teaching you how to manage your finances so that you can give more to their church?
Looking at history, there were plenty of people in Germany in the 1930's who died saying, "It can't happen here." There were also many in "the church" who did zero, nada, nothing to put a stop to what was happening to the Jews and others. Maybe they wanted to be politically correct and did not want to risk offending the Nazis?
Spiritual battle requires spiritual wisdom and much of the teaching out there these days while giving (often worldly) knowledge is not equipping the saints for the battle they are engaged in. It is application of the message in the Bible that will get you to Heaven, not academic knowledge about the Bible.
The battle we are in requires that each person seek the Lord's will and follow His lead. We need to walk in the Spirit and this requires true repentance and taking up our cross daily.
We as believers must learn to be like the early church and share the Gospel regardless of the consequences. Personally, I believe that once we are saved we cannot loose our salvation. However, I also believe that there is no such thing as an "undercover Christian." If you are truly saved and God has done a work in your life, it is often hard to keep quite even when sometimes it might be the preferable choice of options we have.
We must seek the Lord in prayer and learn to use our spiritual gifts diligently. We must refuse to worry knowing that it is a feeling that comes from Satan and our carnal flesh.
All is in the Lord's hands and we need to determine now that we are going to follow Him regardless of where He leads much like Daniel when taken into captivity.
"But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself." (Daniel 1:8)
Have you purposed in your heart not to worry? Have you purposed in your heart not to give into temptation before it comes? Have you purposed in your heart to take a stand for the Lord when called on to do so?
If you have not purposed in your heart to follow the Lord regardless of the circumstances you might find great difficulty in seeking the Lord's will for your life. It has been my experience that the Lord will often lead us to places where we are stretched in our faith so that we can grow and learn to trust Him more.
I would challenge you to truly seek God's will for your life, but I would also challenge you to purpose in your heart before hand that you will follow where the Lord may lead without worry.