The Price Of Influence

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But Moses was angry with the officers of the army, with the captains over thousands and captains over hundreds, who had come from the battle. And Moses said to them: “Have you kept all the women alive? Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man intimately. But keep alive for yourselves all the young girls who have not known a man intimately. (Numbers 31:14-18)

The Price Of Influence

There are difficult passages in the Bible to read and the text of Numbers 31 is of no exception. At first glance, there is a shock at the severity of the command given by the Lord to Moses and the nation of Israel. Moses had been told by God to take vengeance on the Midianites for the children of Israel. Twelve thousand men of war went against the Midianites and they killed all the males, the kings of Midian and Balaam the son of Beor they also killed with the sword. The children of Israel took the women of Midian captive, with their little ones and all their animals and goods. When Moses, Eleazar the priest and all the leaders of the congregation went to meet the returning army, Moses became angry with the officers of the army. As in times past, the people did not understand the full intent of the purpose of God to destroy the nations that sought to corrupt and defile the hearts of the people of Israel. The Midianites had tried to destroy Israel by seducing them to idolatry through the prophecies of Balaam. When Israel remained in Acacia Grove, the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab and sacrificing to their gods. The Midianites sought to harass Israel with their schemes by which they seduced the people in the matter of Peor and Cozbi, daughter of a leader of Midian. When the Lord told Moses to take vengeance on the Midianites, He demanded a complete cleansing of the plague of wickedness that filled the hearts of the people of Midian. There would be no exceptions. The officers either refused to kill all the captives or failed to understand the complete measure demanded by God. Regardless, Moses commanded the men to kill all the women who were not virgins and to kill all the male children of all ages. They carried out the command and killed all the women save the virgins and every male child among the captives. Thirty-two thousand women were spared with an untold number killed along with the infants.

In the modern voice of reason, this kind of action would be met with horror, disbelief, and condemnation by the world. Critics of holy writ challenge the action of such measures against women and children as severe and undeserving of death. The reason the Holy Spirit preserved the text of the war against the Midianites was to affirm the righteousness of a Holy God against the influence of unrighteousness on His people. God was not relishing the idea of killing women and children but executing divine judgment on a people that sought to corrupt the holy nation of God with the inducements of evil. Idolatry was the height of ungodliness, immorality, debauchery, and depravity. The Midianites did not serve the true and living God. They were people corrupt in the pleasures of the flesh, immoral in heart and mind and lived for the passions of the carnal. The word of the Lord demanded this influence be purged from the people of God because the power of the women who had known men through the idolatrous worship and the male children who would grow up and continue the idolatrous practice must be stopped. It seemed severe but it says more about the view of the Lord against influence than a matter of killing women and children. Idolatry would eventually destroy the holy people of God and without keeping in check the influence of its carnal desires; there would be no hope for the people. That is the insidious power of Satan as he seeks to sway the hearts of the righteous with the appeal of the sexual inducements of idolatry. The only way to stop its power was to destroy it – totally. If killing all the women who were not virgins and the children would help hold back the plague of idolatrous influence then God demanded it.

The wisdom of man finds it hard to justify the action against the Midianites but human wisdom is what created the practice of idolatry. It must be understood how corrupt and immoral the people who practiced idolatry were as they murdered their children in human sacrifice, raped innocent women, sexually abused children, killed old people, committed bestiality, homosexuality, and worshiped with violence, debauchery, and unbridled passions. God’s directive against the Midianites was to stem the influence of ungodliness that appealed to the weakness of His people. Satan has not ceased from his impact on the hearts of God’s people as he destroys the hearts of the righteous with the purge of pornography, sensuality, abortion, immodesty, materialism and social gospels appealing to the need for entertainment. God demanded severe action against the influence of the nations around Israel. It may require the Christian to take severe action to lessen or extinguish various forms of temptations that will – if left unchecked – destroy the soul. What will the value of the internet be to the soul that stands condemned before the Lord when the heart of the righteous knew the power of temptation in pornography? When dealing with the influence of pornography, when will the decision be to rid the home of the internet in exchange for the salvation of the soul? Is that so extreme it cannot be considered? Giving children their own smart-phones may show them to be accepted by their peers but at what cost if it creates a world that could damn their soul? If a job keeps a person from serving the Lord as required by the word what value will that job be in hell? Jesus said there are those who will live as eunuchs in the kingdom of God because they value their souls more than the love of an unlawful marriage. It may seem severe to divorce a person who is deeply loved by another but if the marriage is not blessed by the Lord what purpose will it serve in eternity? What may seem severe in this world will be longed for in the world to come. Killing the women and children of the Midianites was commanded by the Lord. He knew the price that would be paid. Do we see the price and the cost of compromise? Can eternal damnation be worth the cost? The power of influence – let the power of God influence your decision for righteousness.

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When The Preacher Starts Winding Down

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When The Preacher Starts Winding Down

Preaching has a lot of peculiarities to it by its form and nature. A man stands before an audience sharing thoughts gleaned from the word of God as he has studied various points to storm the will of the hearers with the prayer of helping change lives. There is nothing more powerful in the world than the word of God spoken to the hearts and minds of those who would listen to the preaching of the gospel. Lives are changed forever when the seed of the word implants itself in the heart. Souls that were chained to the darkness of depravity will be set free by the purity of the revelation of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. Preaching has been around as long as the world has existed. Noah was a preacher of righteousness in a dark and troubled time when the world was filled with wickedness. The Bible is filled with stories of the good news of God’s grace given to all men to show them the way to the Father. Jesus came to the earth to open the gates of eternal life in the message of the risen Savior. The disciples of the first century went everywhere preaching the word. By the grace of God, the Holy Spirit preserved the words of God throughout all generations so the knowledge of the Lord can be fully revealed to all humanity.

Preaching the word is a powerful tool. Nothing matches its grandeur and influence but like many times before in the nation of God’s people, an indolent view of its power can overshadow its effectiveness in the hearts of those who need it most. There is no Biblical pattern for how the sermon must be conducted as to length and manner of finishing the message. In the modern world of church politics, the sermons are framed within an hour of worship and usually must conclude with what is commonly referred to as an invitation with an invitation hymn. This pattern of worship accommodates a broad platform of needs in worship but it must be noted this is more a form of tradition. The first sermon on Pentecost was interrupted by devout men who were pricked in their hearts crying out to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do.” There was no invitation hymn and no aisle where three thousand people came walking down. Peter did not say, “Please stand and sing.” However it came about, Peter and the eleven explained what those gathered in the assembly needed to do and they found a place to baptize three thousand people.

The practice of the modern church service includes an invitation followed by a hymn to exhort and encourage the hearts touched by the gospel to respond.  This is a good pattern to follow but like many things can become so routine the purpose is lost in the translation. The audience can tell when the preacher is winding down his message and can easily forget the impact of what is about to happen. Listening for those keywords or seeing on the sermon notes the end of the sermon is near, the minds begin to prepare to leave. Books are gathered, coats put on, and a host of activity begins while the preacher concludes his thoughts. The impact is the activity becomes a great distraction to the climax of the sermon where hearts are to be challenged to consider eternal questions. There could be someone in the audience that is pricked by the message but because of all the commotion going on about them, they cower back with timidity and take no action. A soul may be lost because of it.

Recently, an article was posted to a blog discussing the impact of the noise when the preacher is preparing to finish his sermon. The writer says, “After shushing my son at the end of a sermon today, a memory popped into my mind, so I’m passing along something important that a preacher said to the congregation I was in many, many years ago: You never know who is sitting in the pew on any particular Sunday. You may think you know everyone, but only God knows the heart. When a preacher has finished his sermon, he usually has a tell-tale sign … whether he walks away from the pulpit and approaches the audience, closes his Bible, says “in conclusion…”, or says “if you’re here today and need…”. That’s the cue. No, it’s NOT the cue to start shuffling papers, zipping Bible cases, waking small children, and packing up their things. NO! That’s the cue that the most important part of the sermon has begun: the invitation. Picture yourself sitting there, knowing you have something heavy on your heart, knowing you need salvation. But all around you, there are people who are in so much a hurry to get to lunch that they can’t even be bothered to listen to the invitation, much less wait for you to prolong their hunger-suffering to bring your needs before them. When the sermon is coming to an end, all attention should be on the speaker. Let the people in the pew know that you’re in no hurry to leave. You’d rather stay as long as needed to help them get right with God. Pack up your stuff after the last prayer has ended. Someone’s soul might depend on it.”

If the invitation is to be a vital part of the worship and a time to exhort souls to respond to the gospel, the action of the audience may very well determine the outcome. Another practice of many that ruin the moment of invitation is when someone or a family decides to walk out during the invitation song. It seems they have somewhere to go and to beat the rush will pack up everything and make their way to the doors during the invitation hymn. This is incredibly rude and will tell those who may want to respond to the gospel of how little importance the  invitation can be. Waiting for ten minutes has never been a life-changing decision. It must be remembered the invitation, corresponding hymn and closing prayer is still WORSHIP before the Lord and not to be taken lightly. The response of the audience can make or break an invitation. “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). If the noise is too loud some may not hear Him call or if there is so much activity going on they may not realize Jesus said anything. Let our lights shine in the worship assembly so that all can see our faith and love for the preaching of the gospel and the prayer that a lost soul will find salvation in the obedience of the gospel. Let’s stand and sing.

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Shipwrecked

Shipwrecked

This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:18-20)

Shipwrecked

The earth is covered with an incredible blanket of water that displaces seventy-one percent of the volume of the earth’s mass. From ancient days travel on the highways of seas was a dangerous and perilous journey yet many braved the unknown sailing to far parts of the globe. It took great faith to leave sight of land. Trusting in the guidance of stars and knowledge of navigational skills honed from generations of previous generations, nations explored the edges of the world around them. Many lost their lives perishing in storms, failed navigational information and as many lost at sea. The shipwreck was a real danger and feared by the boldest of sailors. To be stranded without means of returning home became a constant fear on the high seas. There was finality to being shipwrecked. When a ship was destroyed in a storm and the crew stranded, death was almost certain with little hope of rescue. Even those who did not sail the oceans knew the dread of a shipwreck. Paul uses this vivid fear to describe the condition of those disciples of Jesus who had faith in the resurrection of the Lord and had tasted the heavenly gift but had cast aside their faith. Rejecting the faith of God and deliberately violating their consciences, Hymenaeus and Alexander turned away from the love and grace of God to their serve their fleshly and carnal desires. It is not known the specific reason for the lost faith of these two saints of God but the end was devastating. Turning away from the only hope is to shipwreck the faith one had in the saving blood of Jesus Christ.

Faith is the assurance of things not seen and the reality of what can be hoped for in Christ. This faith must be constantly cultivated in the image of Christ. Rejecting faith will bring ruin to the eternal nature of man. There is nothing more tragic and sad than to see a ship that once sailed the oceans lie rusting at the bottom of the ocean or being torn apart on the shore. Peering closely to the rusting hull one can see how the vessel held a place of honor as a clean, powerful machine that served its purpose with glory but no longer. It lies destroyed and useless. For most ships there is no rescue. The decay has taken away any hope of return. When Paul wrote of Hymenaeus and Alexander it must have grieved his heart deeply to know of these men who once sailed the ocean of God’s grace as useful and purpose-filled children of God but now have scuttled their faith for the trappings of the world. He knew the end would be worse than the beginning for these men. This story is repeated in every generation and sadly among the people of God, many shipwrecks occur with regularity. Reading through religious papers of days gone by it breaks the heart to see names of men who once boldly proclaimed the gospel of Christ now lying shipwrecked in their faith to the Lord. Adultery took one man and criticism of the traditional perceptions of the church took another man down a rabbit hole of religious confusion seeking something unattainable. God is a merciful and just judge who knows the hearts of all men and declares who among the faithful have shipwrecked their faith. As the oceans of the world are filled with the wrecks of sea-going vessels of long ago, the spiritual ocean of God’s kingdom is littered with lives destroyed by the deceitfulness of sin.

The warning of Paul to Timothy was clear to charge the preacher to commit his life to the Lord without reservation. It will take waging a constant conflict of war to keep the soul safe from the shoals of Satan’s devising. Many rocks fill the waters of life that if not heeded will damage and bring destruction to the ship of faith. See the names of these once honored preachers of the gospel remind the timid soul that the wiles of the devil can destroy anyone. While little is known of the two men Paul mentions in his letter, it should serve as a warning that because Paul names them, they were men of note who lost their faith. Any ship can suffer shipwreck as the Titanic became a symbol of the great tragedy of pride. Sailing requires constant watch and careful sailing in dangerous waters until the day comes when the harbor of eternal rest is found. Do not give up the ship or take your eyes off the horizon of God’s love through the blood of Jesus Christ. As sailors used the North Star as their guiding point for travel, so must the child of God constantly keep his eyes on Jesus to find his way through the oceans of life. Above all, do not allow your life to be shipwrecked on the shores of carnality, desire, and pride. For some, there is no return.

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Daniel Describes God

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Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:20-22)

Daniel Describes God

As the Bible teacher walked by the desk of her pupils, she noticed a little girl intent upon drawing a picture. Asking the girl what she was creating, she replied, “I am drawing a picture of God.” The teacher was amused at her answer and reminded her that no one knows what God looks like to which the little girl replied, “They will when I finish.” Describing God is a tenuous effort because the Creator has left glimpses of His image throughout the pages of holy writ and revealed His nature in the world He formed by His power but left no concrete visibility for man to respond to as an image of God. This has frustrated man who wants to create God in his own image so that the wisdom of men can dictate the will of the Lord. All of the failures of human history are borne upon the wings of man’s desperation to create God in an image other than given in the revelation of His word. The prophet Daniel preserves a wonderful description of God when the dream of Nebuchadnezzar is revealed to him and his three friends staving off certain death by the king. What was demanded of the wise men was impossible as the king not only required the wise men to tell him the interpretation of the dream but the dream itself. Only God could reveal the secrets of men and through His grace the dream was known to the four godly men serving in captivity. All wisdom comes from the heavenly Father exhibiting His great power. For centuries, wise men have interpreted the dreams of kings but no king demanded the wise men tell him his dream. This is impossible apart from the revelation of God. When Daniel and his friends came to the Lord in prayer, the dream and its meaning were revealed. Daniel would give honor to the power of God as the source of the revelation and its meaning.

The dream of Nebuchadnezzar was a nightmare when seen at its source. It was of a great image made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, and clay. A stone was cut out without hands that demolished the image and broke it into pieces. The stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. Without the power of God to reveal the dream and its meaning it would have been a dream of horror. Instead, the Lord reveals His scheme of raising nations up and bringing others down. The four parts of the image represented four great kingdoms that would rule the earth. First the Babylonian empire followed by the Medo-Persian and then the Greeks with the final kingdom the Roman Empire. It would be during the days of the Roman Empire the church of Christ would be established and fill the earth. Daniel tells the king the dream is certain and its interpretation is sure. In Daniel’s praise to God, he describes the character of the Lord as one who fills the earth and declares the beginning and end of all things. Nations rise and fall at the discretion of the will of the Lord. Those who seek wisdom are given wisdom and when seeking knowledge it will be given by the grace of God. The deep things are told by God as well as the secret things. There is nothing hidden from the mind of the Lord and He knows all things that happen upon the face of the earth. The character of God is light shining in darkness revealing His nature and His love. Daniel understood this as the prayers of his friends found its answer in trusting in the power of God to reveal the impossible.

Describing God requires accepting the nature of God and His will in the heart of men. Daniel did not describe the Lord with words but in his heart knew the incredible gift of the Lord revealing the dream and its meaning so the glory of God can be seen in the heart of the king. Nebuchadnezzar concluded that God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings and a revealer of secrets. He came to understand in part the character of God through the faith of Daniel and his three friends. The life of these four Hebrews would change many hearts to believe in the word of the Lord because they not only knew the character of God but allowed His image to mold their lives to stand for truth regardless of how hot the furnace was or fierce the lions. The Christian has the fully revealed word of God that unfolds His nature, His character, His goodness, and His wrath. Accepting the character of God into the heart will change the mind of the person to live more holy and acceptable to the will of the Father. Wisdom and might belong to the Lord. He works among the nations of men today accomplishing His will. God knows everything that is said and done and all things done in secret. The Lord is the light of the world.

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A Good Woman Builds A Good Home

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The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1)

A Good Woman Builds A Good Home

The Bible is out of step with the modern world’s view of the home. Although not a novel or new idea, the freedom of the sexual revolution in the Sixties and Seventies was another recurring theme of how the home is attacked for the character of stability, direction, and godliness. Satan knows full well that in order to destroy a nation he must first undermine the home. To do this, he must change the view of the family hierarchy to become an expression of individual freedom where the children are taught to be entitled to whatever they desire, the man is considered an idiot incapable of accomplishing anything and the woman becomes the leader, head, and ruler of the family. Through the avenue of self-worth the role of the woman takes on greater meaning when she is occupied with the accomplishments of the business world as a leader in industry and community involvement to the extent she bears the children of the family but her role ends there of any significance. The home becomes a latch-key revolving door where children fend for themselves, husbands are considered second-citizens in the role of leadership and the woman is a success in every part of life but motherhood and her role as a wife. In time, the home deteriorates to a pile of rubble where factious individuals scream for their rights and the home is wrecked beyond repair. What could have been a home built by a godly woman to the glory of the heavenly Father is torn down by the hands of a foolish woman.

Roles are important in every part of life and none as transparent as the roles found in the home. When God created the world He established various laws that would govern the continued existence of what He created. The law of gravity is there for a purpose and when men deny the law they will suffer harm. This is easily understood in the material world that going against the established order of God’s creation will only bring about negative results. Nothing is more clear than seeing the role of the home and how each person is designed to fulfill their part. The wise man emphasizes the role of the woman in the home and the result of how she will either build the home for the glory of God or destroy the home because of her selfish refusal to follow the will of the Lord. There are two kinds of women in a home: a wise woman and a foolish woman. A wise woman knows her place in the role God has given her and accepts with humble submission how God has blessed her with building the home. The foolish woman will disregard the pattern formed of God and demand her rights in accord with her will. Wisdom does not come from the writings of men who seek to change the pattern of the home. In a world of social change where rights of men are more important than the word of God, women have been deceived into believing that success comes from Wall Street rather than Main Street. The home on Second Avenue in Main Street U. S. A. is where the character of godliness, holiness, truth, and righteousness are formed by a wise woman. Folly follows the footsteps of the foolish woman who tears her house down with her hands when she becomes liberated to leave the home and rule the world. Sadly, what she finds at the end of her journey is a home broken, dysfunctional and with little love.

Homes require building. They do not happen overnight and they are not built by ignoring the blueprint of the Creator. No greater glory can a woman find than when her heart and her love is in the home that she builds forged upon the pages of God’s word. She is the keeper of the light of truth in the home as she creates a world of safety in the bosom of the Lord. The Bible does not forbid a woman from working outside the home as later illustrated by the ‘worthy woman.’ However, the home is built by the wise woman who knows her role is to guide the spirit of the family to the gates of eternal life. Nothing matters for her family than the warmth of grace tendered by the hand of God in her heart as she shares that love with her husband and her children. Jeremy Taylor wrote, “A good wife is heaven’s last best gift to a man; his angel of mercy; minister of graces innumerable; his gem of many virtues; his casket of jewels; her voice, his sweetest music; her smiles, his brightest day; her kiss, the guardian of his innocence; her arms, the pale of his safety; the balm of his health, the balsam of his life; her industry, his surest wealth; her economy, his safest steward; her lips, his faithful counselors; her bosom, the softest pillow of his cares; and her prayers, the ablest advocates of heaven’s blessings on his head.”

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Sleeping In Jesus

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But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15)

Sleeping In Jesus

The human body is a marvelous testimony to the creative power of the Heavenly Father who ordained all of the intricacies of anatomy to work in tandem with one another producing the greatest results to sustain life. From the moment of conception, the body begins to organize and produce all of the biological thumbprints required to produce a living being that will talk, remember, create, exercise and show forth the glory of its Maker. The body requires sustenance to maintain a certain level of expectancy for life and without exception, every human form cannot survive without food; regardless of economic, social, cultural and generational time stamp. Without food the body will die. Another requirement of the body is sleep. It is possible to go for long periods of time without sleep but God has placed within the human structure the need to sleep whether the person wants to sleep or not. The body will deteriorate without a proper diet of physical slumber. All men must sleep at some time. Two requirements of the body are nourishment and sleep. These two essential elements of human survival have been shared by all of humanity since Adam and Eve. There is another part of the human story that all men share and it is a different kind of sleep. The joy of physical sleep is after a grueling day of activity the body needs to stop and rest for a period to time to be renewed. There is a certain expectation after a sleep of waking to an invigorated spirit of greater things in the new day. As all men are created in the image of God, the spiritual man inhabits a physical body that is marked to die but life does not end in death. Adam and Eve were cast from the Garden of Eden lest they take of the fruit of the tree of life and live forever. God created Adam and Eve as mortal beings that would be sustained by the nourishment of the life-giving tree. Denying the tree as a consequence of sin brought death to all men and all men die. The Lord calls death sleep and as all men require sleep so all men face the reality of death.

It is possible to go for a period of time without sleep but eventually the body must stop and rest. Living for many years is possible for those who can live into their centennial years but death still comes. Death is sleep and all men must sleep in the bosom of death regardless of where they find themselves in the world. The very rich die along with the very poor as do powerful leaders of great nations will all perish like the lowest citizen of the kingdom will die. Death comes to all and the question is not the reality of death but what they find on the other side of their eternal sleep. There is a caveat that must be realized about death that it will not be a pleasant sleep for most people. The Holy Spirit speaks of death as sleep but only in the context of those who die in the peace of God. Sleep is viewed as a beautiful time of rest with joy coming from the experience. Sleeping in Jesus is when the child of God has removed the garments of the flesh and imbibed in the nature of the Divine as eternal creatures awakened to a new day of glory, praise and eternal life. They awaken in the arms of angels who carry them to the bosom of Abraham where the find rest, peace and solace. Sleeping in Jesus is given to those who are in Christ in the fellowship of the covenant of His blood through the grace of the Father. To die in Christ is to sleep in Jesus. There is a joy in death for those who are in the body of Christ because they know that while death can have an uncertain nature to its character the result of death is eternal life. Fear is gone for those who peer into the darkness of death as nothing more than a slight rest before glory. The hope of God fills the heart with the courage of the eternal so that when the wearied toil of life is over a sweet rest remains for those who sleep in Jesus. Salvation comes from the blessed sleep promised by the Lord.

It must be noted that often for the human frame, sleep is not a pleasant experience. Because of troubles in life or the activities of the day, sleep becomes troubled and often nightmarish. When these nights pass no one says they slept well or even slept at all but tossed and turned and spent the night in a fit of discomfort. It makes for the day after to be very difficult and hard. Speaking of the eternal sleep of those who die outside of Christ is to suggest anything but sleep. Any nightmare experienced on earth will pale in eternal comparison to what awaits the soul that does not fall asleep in Jesus. It will be a horror that is almost indescribable. The experience will be anything but restful as the word of God describes the place for those outside of Christ as a place of pain, suffering, gnashing of teeth and eternal darkness. There will be no rest and no comfort. It will be a nightmare that will never end. Those who die in Christ sleep in the blessing of the Son of God and those who refuse to do the will of the Father will perish in eternal torment along with Satan and his minions. Death will not be a time of joy but a time of incredible horror and eternal fear that is without end. All men will die but not all men will sleep. Jesus said only a few will find the blessing of rest in the Father as most men walk in their own accord by their own desires and will. They disregard the divine word of God and as a result, will find death to be most terrifying. It is sad to hear of one who passes into the realm of death unprepared for the judgment of the Lord. Their body may look like they are only sleeping but their eternal soul is in an eternal nightmare. The only joy that can be found in death is when one dies in Jesus. Asleep in Jesus requires obedience to the will of the Father in accordance with the divine word. Death will come to all men. The difference will be whether they sleep in Jesus or if they die outside of Christ. How will you die – sleeping or screaming?

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A Teacher Of Lies

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What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, the molded image, a teacher of lies, that the maker of its mold should trust in it, to make mute idols? Woe to him who says to wood, “Awake!” to silent stone, “Arise! It shall teach!” Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet in it there is no breath at all. But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. (Habakkuk 2:18-20)

A Teacher Of Lies

Idol worship has been the bane of mankind since the beginning of time when men turned away from the word of the Lord to create their own gods and placate the carnal desires of the flesh. The foundation of idolatry has always been men seeking to find happiness in themselves. Cutting a tree down and forming it into an image of man’s imagination and calling it a god is the height of absurdity as there is no life in the object. It cannot speak on its own, walk by its own power or teach wisdom because it is an inanimate object of wood or stone. Covering it with gold or silver gives it no more life than when it was first formed. Carving stones to stand mute before the worshiper who is the creator of the god is the folly of human reasoning that accepts a self-made creation as a higher being than its creator. No man can create a god greater than himself because the creator of the object will always be greater than his creation. The idol becomes a teacher of lies when men trust the object of gold or silver more than the one true God. Human wisdom is a remarkable failure of self-appointed glory to the depravity of creating objects of worship that are dead. The evidence of a higher being than man is clearly evident in the world but the challenge for man is to accept the need to worship a creature higher than himself. Idolatry allows man to be his own god and to form his own body of law. Life is measured by the carnal rather than the eternal. Happiness comes from the will of man instead of the commands of the Creator. Men are free to do as they please soothing their conscience with the platitudes of self-gratification and pleasure. What makes idolatry worthless is what is found at the end of journey. The image carved of stone stands erect in temples of wood and mortar while its worshippers die and face the only true Creator. Throughout the history of man the Stonehenge’s of failed theology reminds the next generation that all is vain and empty apart from the worship of the one true God.

Trusting in images of wood and stone is folly because it is founded on a lie. Creating an image into an idol is the madness of human wisdom. Man will always be its creator, protector, provider and instrument of creation. Anything that comes from the idol is formed first in the mind of man. How foolish to trust in a creation formed by the hand of man that cannot talk. An idol cannot tell a man what to do or how to live. Overlaying the idol with gold or silver does not give it life. It remains a mute object of man’s folly to believe in a lie that man is his own god. The Lord is in His holy temple and if men are to find peace, happiness and hope they must turn to the only true Creator. When men come to the Lord they find they are not their own god and the temple of the Lord is a place of wisdom, knowledge, and words that are spoken for the good of all men. Idol worship is falling down before a dead god but the worship of the Creator is kneeling before the only true and living God. The wisdom of the Lord is greater than the wisdom of man because man is not his own god. How foolish for the creation of the Lord God to fall down before his own creation and call it his god.

It is easy to see the folly of idol worship in a culture where images of stone and wood fill the landscape. Idolatry may not seem to have an impact on the people of God who would never find themselves falling down before an image of wood or stone but the danger is more evident than what is seen. A subtle ploy of the great deceiver is to convince believers in Christ to worship their fleshly pleasures more than the Lord and His word. Materialism is just as much an idol as a stone carving on Easter Island. The church is filled with idolaters who believe in the images of social acceptance, carnal entertainment, immodesty, social drinking and the pursuit of worldly pleasures. Their lives are gauged by the lie that happiness comes from the enjoyments of the world. The American success story is a great lie for modern men. It becomes the idol of the modern century when men trust in their own wisdom and power rather than seeking the word of the Lord. The temple of the Lord remains standing and those who come to worship in His temple will find themselves standing before the only true and living God. In contrast to the idolatry of men that come with shouting and noise and loud proclamations of self-worth; those who assemble in the temple of the Lord come in silence to honor their Maker and Creator. The wisdom of man is a teacher of lies. Trusting in the word of the Lord is a teacher of truth.

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