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Are You A Frenemy?

wolf

The recently popularized term “frenemy”, is the seamless blending of  the words friend and enemy, referring to someone who pretends to be a friend but actually is an enemy -kind of like a wolf in sheep’s clothing in the world of friendships.

Sometimes I wonder about people who call themselves Christians, but actually seem to be less identifiable as people of faith than those without it. People in the church oftentimes have very little in common with the examples of believers that we have in scripture.
Jesus called us to follow Him, and He also called us to deny ourselves in that process. Today, in the church, it’s possible to be a friend of God, but still be a friend of the world. How we live, how we dress, what entertains us, how we spend our time and money, -those things can tell us where our true friendship lies, and they are worth examining.

Here are some verses to think about as we assess the conduct of our lives:

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?
Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. -James 4:4  

“choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,
considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. -Hebrews 11:25-26 

 He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.  -Matthew 12:30 

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and wealth. -
Matthew 6:24

 
 

Redpath -on ending well.

It is not how a man begins his Christian life, but How he ends it, that counts. It is one thing to come forward at a meeting in answer to the appeal of an evangelist, with 10,000 people looking on, or to hold your hand up, and to sign a card. If it is real, the Lord bless you! But the thing that matters is whether, following that decision, you press into the land of blessing! Do you go on with God, do you persistently, patiently, and in the face of every opposition and every testing, go right through? And if you slip and fall down, do you pick yourself up again and go on, or do you go back into indulgence and sin?
I remember in childhood days, during the first world war, on a certain lovely summer afternoon I was walking with my father along the pier at Tynemouth, near Newcastle, England. We noticed a crowd of people around and many ships in the harbor. Presently a cloud of smoke appeared in the distance, grew larger, and soon a convoy of battleships came into the river Tyne, in the center of them was one battleship healing over -I wondered how it had remained afloat. It was the HMS Lyon, coming back from the battle of Jutland, a naval battle which turned the attack of Germany on our country at that time. As the ship got nearer the harbor, I saw great holes in her deck. She had no mast, no funnel, no turrets; the bridge had gone; the deck was just a shambles. Water was pouring in and out of her and she was being gently nursed home by tugs and an escort of ships. Shall I ever forget the sight of twenty-five sailors and one officer standing rigidly at attention on a part of the deck, with a tattered bit of the royal ensign flying from a piece of wreckage? Every throat that could cheer, cheered, and every ship that had a siren blew it. These twenty-six were all that were left, a tragic remnant of 1,100 men. But the ship had held on, and she fought through to the end, and she came into harbor victorious, holed and wounded, with hundreds of men killed -but still afloat and undaunted!
In the course of the Christian life we suffer many wounds from Satan, and sometimes from friends. If one day, however, when we get into the heavenly harbor, we get a welcome like that ship received, and hear the Lord Jesus say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord,” we will care for nothing else, for it will have been worth it all when we see Jesus.

- Alan Redpath / “Victorious Christian Living Studies In The Book Of Joshua”

I just don’t think it can be said any more beautifully than this. What a magnificent picture.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Meditation

 

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Pride

On one hand, we can be proud of the flesh that God made and take glory in it. We nurture it and keep it looking good as though it is who we are.

On the other hand, we can also be embarrassed about that same flesh that God made and provided us with, pitying ourselves as though it defines us.

Either way is vanity, and comes from not believing who we are as children of God.

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. -1 John 2:16

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2014 in Meditation

 

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We Need Each Other

We Need Each Other

“let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10:24,25

Notice the language in this passage: us; one another; our; assembling together… without question God wants the church to be united.

Jesus prayed that we would “be one” (John 17:22) and when the church is assembled, united in the purpose of receiving instruction, worship, and service, -that prayer is fulfilled.

Notice the word “stimulate” – that’s the Greek word paroxusmos and can mean sharpen or provoke.
This is what happens when we stick together, we sharpen each other’s faith and walk. The wisdom of the proverbs puts it this way: “Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

So what happens when members of the body of Christ decide to withdraw or not participate or assemble together?

History provides a great lesson in this regard… when the children of Israel entered the promised land, there were two and a half tribes that did not want to go in to the land with the rest of the nation. They found land east of the Jordan that they felt was “better for them.”
Although God wanted the nation to dwell and participate together, these tribes were allowed to settle apart from the rest of the nation.
Over time those tribes faded out of the record of the nation. They produced no great heroes or prophets, and are gone from the annuls of history.

Staying together is not always easy, and there are legitimate reasons to part company with a particular group, but “not gathering together” is both unbiblical and unwise.

When individuals withdraw from the church, both the individual as well as the church suffer loss. Sometimes that loss can be significant.

Paul gave us the image of the body in terms of our human body, with limbs and parts that all work together as a whole (1 Corinthians 12). He says: “God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” – 1 Cor 12:18
This is God’s work!

Imagine if your eye decided it no longer wanted to be a part of your body. What if it could separate itself from you.. just pop out and run away!
It would quickly wither and die, and the rest of the body would suffer.
Just as the body needs the individual parts, the individual needs the body.

Christian, don’t listen to the voices that claim that there are deficiencies in the corporate church gathering and that withdrawing is the answer. There will always be problems in every church and every family, because we are all broken sinners. Remember that this is God’s plan, method, and expression in this current age.

We need each other, and it could be, that we need your ideas, gifting, and input to make us all better!

 
 

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Shame Killer

It is no secret that most men hide from God in fear. We are afraid of His righteous judgement, and we have a misunderstanding of His character, always expecting disapproval. So, we hide in shame. We see this exemplified back in the garden when God comes looking for Adam and Eve…

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”
He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” -Genesis 3:8-10 (NASB)

From that day to this, men and women still hide from Him, -and for much the same reasons.
There is a great story tucked away in 2 Samuel, that perhaps all of us can identify with. It’s the story of a young man named Mephibosheth. Yes, say that ten times fast!
Mephibosheth is the grandson of King Saul, and the son of Jonathan, David’s great friend. As a young boy of five, he had become lame in both feet. We read in 2 Samuel 4, he was dropped in an accident when his nursemaid, upon hearing the news that his father and grandfather had perished, rushed to escape their home. There would have been great cause to flee, as it was routine for newly appointed kings to seek to extinguish the life of all other claimants to the throne.

When we get to 2 Samuel 9, we see David now firmly established as the King of all Israel, and he seeks out members of Saul’s household whom he can bless. (David is wanting to fulfill a promise that he made to Jonathan recorded in 1 Samuel 20:12-17.) David has to search out this surviving young man Mephibosheth, who, no doubt, is hiding. When David summons him, Mephibosheth comes to David, but in terror. The gracious King comforts him right away, telling him to not be afraid, and then begins to pour out on this poor lame man, all of the blessings at his sovereign disposal. David grants to him all of his Grandfather’s possessions and land along with servants. Beyond that, David receives this cripple into his own home, inviting him to dine at his table freely as often as he pleases.

What once was Mephibosheth’s inheritance, having been forfeited because of sin, is restored to him by the gracious king. What a beautiful picture of God’s grace this is. All of us are like Mephibosheth, fearfully living under a sentence of death. Crippled by sin, we are invited to come to the King, yet we are reluctant, having nothing to offer and ashamed of our helpless condition. Mephibosheth means “shame dispeller” -I like to call him “shame killer.”
This story is incredibly deep. The longer you consider it, in light of the gospel, the more you see the picture of the grace that is ours in Jesus.

In a day when self reliance is considered such a noble goal, the gospel invites us to come, not based upon anything good in us, but in the good grace of the King who invites us.

We are invited to come, in abject humility.
We are invited to come, though we have nothing to offer.
We are invited to come, based on the work and relationship of another.
We are invited to come, and partake of a promise.
We are invited to come, and be blessed, even though society would cast us away.

As Mephibosheth comes, and receives, he never becomes more than a recipient of God’s grace.
Though good for nothing in the world eyes, and without glory apart from grace, is used for the glory of the King.
The shame that was once his, is dispelled… effectively killed… by that very grace.
I’m reminded of the old hymn:

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2014 in Meditation, Teaching

 

“no rose-scented dalliance”

It cannot be stated too frequently that the life of a Christian is a warfare, an intense conflict, a lifelong contest. It is a battle, moreover, waged against invisible foes, who are ever alert, and ever seeking to entrap, deceive, and ruin the souls of men. The life to which Holy Scripture calls men is no picnic, or holiday junketing. It is no pastime, no pleasure jaunt. It entails effort, wrestling, struggling; it demands the putting forth of the full energy of the spirit in order to frustrate the foe and to come off, at the last, more than conqueror. It is no primrose path, no rose-scented dalliance. From start to finish, it is war. -E.M. Bounds “The Necessity Of Prayer”

I could not say it any better than this. It is not a journey, it’s an adventure, and there is danger. Too many behave as if their Christian life is a Saturday afternoon stroll through the park. -JJ

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Running The Race, Forgetting Why.

People are running. Running for this, running for that, busy, busy, running. We are engaged in all variety of activities, be it sports, entertainment, self improvement, working, etc.

Our days are full, but for many, our hearts are empty. It’s like we are running a race with no goal in mind -a race with no finish line, and no trophy. These days everyone gets a trophy, just for running, without regard for who wins. Winning is out of fashion.

Christians ought to take caution with this mentality. Life is not just about living. We are engaged in a battle, and it’s a battle with purpose. Not everyone wins. Many die. We can be so consumed with the enjoyment of running and the few dividends along the way that we settle for the lesser purpose -the run.

One time (long ago) someone paid me an unusual compliment. They said: “you have good form when you run.” It’s a true story! Now, I’ve never been a tremendous athlete, but I’ve been proud of that compliment from that day to this. We can be so tricked into pride, so content with accomplishment, that the self-satisfaction of form begins to be the goal.

There is a great story hidden in the pages of the Old Testament, one that I learned and have taught many times. On the occasion of the death of David’s son Absalom, someone needed to run and tell the king, the terrible news. This man Ahimaaz insisted on running, he wanted to be the bearer of the news. As the story goes, in 2 Samuel 18, he evidently had a lot of skill in running. His “form” was good, recognizable from a distance. But when he got to the end of his race, he failed with the purpose of his effort.

The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was.” 2 Samuel 18:29

He ran for the glory of the run. He accomplished nothing.

“Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” -Ecclesiastes 2:11

Friend, be careful that you are not running without the goal of victory.
Now, when it comes to life and death, we know that Jesus is our victory, our only hope, and we rest in that. However, salvation is not intended to produce in us a laziness. Spiritual laziness is foreign to our faith.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” -Hebrews 12:1

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” -1 Corinthians 9:24-27

At the end of our race, there will be winners and losers, and only one laurel will be awarded -to those who ran the race well, with the purpose of the Master. There will be no rewards for good intentions, or worldly accomplishments -none.

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ -Matthew 25:21

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Meditation, Real Life, Teaching

 

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