Living in God’s Grace and Holiness | Part 1

Jason Silver | Pastor and Author

holy-spirit-best-bestEphesians Chapter  2
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.


A lot of Christians stop here at that thought and think, “Well… Grace made it so I had to do nothing but believe to be saved.” People continue this line of thinking throughout their Christian lives and think that because of God’s grace they don’t have to do anything with their salvation once they have it. For us to believe that we don’t really have to live different, think different, and speak different is simply not true. Grace is not an excuse to do nothing, it’s empowerment from God to do everything! He’s given us everything for “life” and “godliness” or God-Likeness, meaning to become more like God in character, and in action.

Continuing on in verse 10

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

We are fellow citizens with God’s people! We are members of God’s household!

Every household has principles and rules even that the family lives by; God’s household is no different! As much as there are expectations for how we live in our earthly homes, there are expectations for how we live in God’s home! We must realize that God’s grace does not excuse us from living out these principles at all!

Galatians 5:13-26
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. 14 The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice these things cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:1-5
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

What are some principles to help us make righteous decisions and live a holy life?

These are principles by which I strive to live my Christian life, and I know they will help you.

Principle One
1 Corinthians 6:12-13
“Everything is permissible for me”-but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”-but I will not be mastered by anything.

Principle 2
1 John 2:5-6
This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” Really does still apply!
It’s a great litmus test, so to speak,  to help us make right decisions, and walk in holiness

Principle 3
Ask yourself? Does it bring glory to God?

1 Corinthians10:31-32
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Principle 4:
The Hidden Word

Psalm 119:11
I’ve hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you

Many folks could get victory over sinful habits in their lives just by gettin the Word of God into their hearts more. We say we don’t have time, yet we all find time for less important things. What could be more important than learning to walk pure before God?

http://www.newvictory.ca

Copyright 2011-12 | Permission to copy, print, or use material is freely granted. Provided that the integrity of the material is not compromised in any manner

What Does God Think of Witchcraft?

Jason Silver | Pastor and Author

witchcraft-supplues“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6

The context of this passage refers to priests who knew what was right and wrong, and it would destroy the people, but they ignored God. And they said nothing to the people. And the Lord grew very angry with them.

As a Pastor, as a leader, and as a fellow Christian, it is my responsibility before God to provide knowledge that can save people from harmful ways, and destructive deceptions of our one true enemy….the Devil.

Ephesians 6:11-12
“For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies-the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.” 

One of the more prominent ways the Devil is becoming more active in our society today  is through the fascination and actual practice of witchcraft… or named the more innocently sounding “white magic”. Which by the way is like saying “good evil”. As a Christian leader I refuse to sit back and watch people fall into this dangerous curiosity.

So what does the Bible say about it? And what does God think about it? Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what you or I think about it.

Galatians 5:19-21 says…
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Deuteronomy 18:9-13
“When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God.”

What’s the attraction to witchcraft really?

1. It provides a sense of quick power control. In an out of control world, we feel more secure if we think we can personally have power to control it.

2. It promises you personal control of the affections of your life – money, people you have infatuations towards, and material extravagance.

Note the word CONTROL!

The reality however is that the only control going on is your free will is being controlled to perform mantras, spells, incantations, and all this out of the drive to please your selfish nature.

We see an example of this in Acts 8:9-24
“Now there was a certain man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city, and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; 10 and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, “This man is what is called the Great Power of God.” 11 And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts. 12 But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike. 13 And even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip; and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.

14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 “Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.” 24 But Simon answered and said, “Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”

We can see witchcraft throughout all kinds of areas we are touched by every day. Horoscopes…fortune tellers…movies… music…and one of the more  prominent form of medias today… computer games. Here’s the names of but a few computer games like this: Diablo, Hexen, Heretic. Just listen to the names. It’s quite obvious. In one of these games you can actually play as the Baal’s, the false Gods mentioned throughout scripture that caused Israel to fall time and time again.

We try to justify everything we do that we like… but deep down we know God does not approve, and our involvement in it does not give him glory in the least.

So what am I saying in all of this?

That at all costs, we must stay away from witchcraft in all forms, even fictional books (ie. Harry Potter) music, and games. And if you’re involved in it now, you can ask God for forgiveness, and ask for him to free you from its control.

Ask for forgiveness? Yes… witchcraft is sin. In the Bible, rebellion is compared to the “sin” of witchcraft. This is what it comes down to. You can make a choice to obey God fully in this, and view witchcraft in any form for what it really is; or you can try to sooth your conscience by justifying it with human reasoning.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people use “Well it’s just entertainment.” as a justification. Pornography is also considered entertainment, yet that still does not justify a Christ-follower watching it.

In all of this however, we do not need to fear witchcraft, we need to deal with it.

“For greater is He who is in us, than he that is the world, that is the Devil!!!”

 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. “

Ephesians 6:10-18
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”

 www.newvictory.ca

Copyright 2011-12 | Permission to copy, print, or use material is freely granted. Provided that the integrity of the material is not compromised in any manner

 

Living a Life of Giving

Jason Silver | Pastor and Author

giving-image2 Samuel 24:18-25
On that day the prophet Gad went to David and said to him, “Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” 19 So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.

21 Araunah said, “Why has my lord the king come to his servant?” “To buy your threshing floor,” David answered, “so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.”

22 Araunah said to David, “Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 O king, Araunah gives all this to the king.” Araunah also said to him, “May the LORD your God accept you.” 24 But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”

So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings.

John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Notice that both David and Mary offered gifts that had monetary value attached to them? Even Mary did not offer the Lord something that cost her nothing as was apparent to everyone in that home thanks to Judas pointing it out.

I find it interesting to note, that not long after this took place, Satan entered Judas’ heart to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. It’s estimated that the 30 pieces of silver today, would be worth around $950. Doesn’t sound like much but According to the Professional Coin Grading Service of America, “The value of 30 of these coins was significant at that time. Such a sum likely would have completely purchased a small farm or provided one with at least a year’s wages.”

The scripture says “The love of money is the root of all evil.”  How could Satan enter Judas’ heart? Because Judas provided him the foothold, the root of all evil, the love of money. So what am I saying?  I believe with all my heart that living a life of giving, is a God given safeguard, fully able to keep any root of evil from ever getting its place in our hearts. I need to settle in my heart, that I would far rather give up 30 pieces of silver for Jesus, than to give up Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Let me ask you a question…

How many here can think of something they would like to see change in the Church today?

You know I’ve grown up in the Church, and there’s one thing I would love to see change and it is this: That our times of giving would be marked with the same, or greater enthusiasm, as are our times of praise and worship in song. Far too often I’ve watched lively and vibrant assemblies turn solemn at the very mention of money. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to see that change… wouldn’t you?

www.newvictory.ca

Copyright 2011-12 | Permission to copy, print, or use material is freely granted. Provided that the integrity of the material is not compromised in any manner.

Should the Church Be More Tolerant?

Jason Silver | Pastor and Author

$(KGrHqJ,!o!FBbD+8rHQBQh8GBk(Lg~~60_351 John 4:1-6
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

There has been great pressure upon the Church in the past few years to change the message we speak, to change the way we get the message across, and to change the moral stance that we take in society.  We even see it in the media a lot lately. We see Church Leader’s endorsing it publicly. These agents of this so-called “needed change” say that the Church has become irrelevant and for us to become relevant again there must be a change.  It seems to center around the ideas of “tolerance” and “presentability”. It is subtly suggesting that we should become more tolerant of certain types of behavior or attitudes. It says that the church should become more presentable to society, to be more accepted by society.

Many are saying we need to be more tolerant or more non judgmental. To many being non judgmental means, never saying anything is outright wrong, because that may offend someone… especially those who are doing the wrong. Their view voiced this way… “…well if they want to do that, it’s right for them, it’s just not right for me.” These change seekers call themselves Christians. Yet this philosophy does not sound like anything Jesus taught.

What is a Christian? According to the Bible, in Antioch, where the word was first used… it meant to be like Jesus.

So Was Jesus Tolerant?

In Matthew 23:15 Jesus said… “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you only make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.”

 That doesn’t sound too tolerant to me… that doesn’t sound like Jesus was okay with what the Pharisees believed and taught.  Him speaking out this way didn’t win Jesus any popularity contests. As matter fact they put Him on a cross for it. Now we could look at that and say, “Well Jesus was speaking out to a corrupt church government system… we can understand that.” After all, a corrupt government we all would agree cannot be tolerated. But Jesus’ intolerance is not just towards the actions of corrupt leadership, but to towards all people’s sinful actions in general. After He ministered to someone, He would often say , “Now go and sin no more.”

2 Thessalonians 1:8-10 says, “He will punish those who did not know God and did not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you about Christ.”

Jesus will not be tolerant on the day He returns to those who did not receive Him. But until that day, the Spirit of God calls out through us His Church, to raise Jesus up that all would come unto Him to receive mercy, and grace! Not tolerance…. there’s a difference. Mercy is given to those who admit and recognize that they are sinners, lost, and in need of being found. Tolerance says, “Oh you’re fine just the way you are, you don’t have to change.” With God there is incredible mercy and grace extended towards the sinner, but there is absolute intolerance towards the sin itself.

2 Peter 3:9 says, ” The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. But He is being patient, not wanting anyone to perish, but wanting everyone to come to repentance.”

Jesus did not and still does not tolerate sin. Neither does the rest of scripture contradict Jesus.

1 Timothy 5:20 says, “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.” 

1 John 3:8 says “…the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

Jesus Speaking of the Holy Spirit said, “And when He comes, he will convict the world concerning its sin,  righteousness and judgment; concerning their sin, because they did not believe in Me…


A theologian by the name of Dennis Francis said this:

“The Church is not to be like a politician who takes polls to see what way the winds of popularity are blowing, and then go in that direction to gain the favor of the followers. The church is to be governed by the principles set forth by Christ Himself… eternal principles. If that pleases men, good; if it does not, too bad for those who are displeased.  But the Church must not waver. The Church is often counter-cultural, and that very fact is what makes her a “city upon the hill… a light in the darkness.”

 The idea of tolerance is very much based on a feel good theology, if it feels good do it, and that makes it right. Christianity says obeying God is right and will give you real peace…. And that will ultimately make you feel good.

Dennis Francis also once said…

“Some advocates of the “feel good theology” say, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” That may be true, but we seek the lost souls of people, not flies.”

Should the Church change the message to become more tolerant of this change? Jesus hasn’t changed. Hebrews 3:8 says “He’s the same: Yesterday , today, and forever!” The Bible has not changed, people’s  need for God has not changed, therefore the message of the Church does not need to change.

Tolerance also says that there are many ways to God. And we need to accept them.  Yet it’s the “wide road that leads to destruction”. Christianity says there is only way to God who is Jesus!! And we need to accept Him. It’s the “narrow path” that leads to life”. However those who are supposedly tolerant of all faiths cannot tolerate this statement. The Bible speaks very clearly about a spirit of error in the world in the last days before Christ returns, a false and perverted doctrine of men and demons. And there are many passages in scripture dedicated to warning God’s people to avoid all these things like the plague. And this was my intention… to warn you. Don’t be tempted to tolerate sin. Sin is sin, treat it that way; we do not excuse it, coddle it, or condone it.

I leave you with this passage from the Bible:

Ephesians 4:14-24
No longer be as infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.  17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

 20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

http://www.newvictory.ca

Copyright 2011-12 | Permission to copy, print, or use material is freely granted. Provided that the integrity of the material is not compromised in any manner

Two Common Reasons People Leave a Church

Jason Silver | Pastor and Author

exitTwo of the most common reasons (not the only reasons) for people leaving a Church are:

1. Familiarity
2. Unreasonable Expectations leading to disappointment.

When disappointment sets in, we believe that there’s something wrong with our Church, or maybe we’re with the wrong Church. With such belief, leaving that Church is most likely imminent.

Although most folks, never really see that they will almost certainly go around the same mountain again at the next Church they go to. I’ve had many people over the years come to a church I pastored and their first Sunday give a big long story about why they left the 3 or 4 churches before they landed on our doorstep. And the “why they left” was always someone else’s fault, never their own. Personal responsibility is seldom, if ever mentioned in the process.

If you begin attending and commit to a Church with false or idealistic expectations of what it takes to make it work, no matter how long you stay there, you will have major challenges. And if you cement those ideas by saying to yourself ‘I am right and the Church is wrong’ it only makes matters worst.

Even though we see in scripture how the Church should be, much of our introduction to it comes from our parents, family members, or friends. No matter whose Church you are exposed to, remember that yours will be different because God has given yours its own mission and vision.

How You Can Help:

1) Reduce and or eliminate false expectations for your local Church. Grab a hold of the common vision of the Church. Live today, enjoy today and work toward a better and brighter tomorrow as you grow together in your relationships. In other words, set goals and work toward them as you create the Church God gave you the vision for.

2) Realize that local Churches like marriages go through different phases. Just like the weather; some days it’s sunny, some days it cold, others overcast and rainy, while others are stormy. All Churches are confronted with changes and challenges. But when stormy days arrive, the true test of your commitment will be ‘how did we weather the storm.’ Those who stand firm during times of storms, come out at the other end with a stronger and renewed love for one another.

3) There’s nothing wrong with going to another Church to visit or for a conference and leaving impressed with how they do Church. However, avoid comparing your Church with theirs, and returning back with a corrective attitude towards how your leadership should be doing what that Church is doing. This is actually hurtful, and shows lack of appreciation for the hard work of your home Church leadership. Not to mention, if you actually attended the other Church for any period of time , you would eventually find things you didn’t like about it too.

It’s been said regarding a marriage certificate, that it really is a work permit. Well the same can be said about commitment to a local Church… we’re all in this to work together!

As disciples we are called to be contributors, not consumers. It’s not all about what your Church can do for you, it’s what can you do for your church family?

www.newvictory.ca

Copyright 2011-12 | Permission to copy, print, or use material is freely granted. Provided that the integrity of the material is not compromised in any manner.

God Can Use the Fallen

Jason Silver | Pastor and Author

falseguiltIt is unfortunate how quickly the Church writes off ministers who have blown it.  Many times, the truth is, that they’ve actually fallen from the pedestal that we’ve built out of our own expectations of what a Pastor should be. Why is that when someone blows it in the Church and or ministry, we think that they’re damaged goods, that they’ve somehow become useless in the Kingdom of God? Now if someone is “proud” of what they’ve done, that’s a different story. However I’m talking about people who know they’ve messed up, and they are full of Godly sorrow and remorse over it.

I heard a certain preacher, regarding a fallen minister, on Larry King live say, “Well, it’s too late, they need to be permanently removed from the Pastoral office, and have no place in ministry again!” I was like, “Really…?” What about King David? A man after God’s own heart. Oh! And he committed adultery, and then murder to cover it up! However, he was also “contrite”, which means: quick to genuinely repent, and be sorry before God for what one has done. Yet God doesn’t say to him, “That’s great David, but unfortunately you cannot be King anymore, in fact you cannot do anything for me any more because of what you have done.”  No, God does not say this at all. Now don’t get me wrong, David and his family suffered the consequences, but David blowing it big time did not render him useless in God’s purposes. Why? Because he genuinely repented.

Now Saul, the King before David, remember that guy? Yeah he blew it big time too! Yet he lost his throne. Why? Because he was not genuinely sorrowful for what he had done, in fact he justified it, and was proud of it! He was never restored to public ministry, in fact he was killed in battle. You see, God doesn’t oppose the fallen, as many in the Church would have us think. No, He opposes the proud. Let us not forget this, let us show mercy so that we will receive mercy when we need it ourselves… and we will. Let’s follow God’s ideal as set out in scripture for dealing with our own, and other’s failings. This is just a part of being the Church.

“What if I stumble? What if fall? What if I lose my step and I make fools of us all? Will the love continue, when my walk becomes a crawl? What if I stumble… what if I fall?”  DC TALK | Band

http://www.newvictory.ca

Copyright 2011-12 | Permission to copy, print, or use material is freely granted. Provided that the integrity of the material is not compromised in any manner.

Moderation, Wisdom, and Love in All Things

22-friends-drinking-wine

Jason Silver | Pastor and Author

Please take the time to read the whole Bible passage below as it the basis to what I’m about to say…

Romans 14:1-15:2
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'”  12 So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause a brother to fall.  22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. 15 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not just please ourselves. NIV

Today’s topic is this: Christians drinking alcohol in moderation. And just so we’re clear, in this blog, I am not trying to necessarily defend or make a case for alcohol itself, as I am making a case for what the Bible ACTUALLY says about it. Not belief systems based on religious traditions, and legalism disguised as “Holiness”.

There are generally two stances a local Church can take on this topic:

  1. We don’t taste, we don’t touch, and we don’t talk about it.
  2. If your convictions between you and God allow you, then partake “in moderation” “in love” using WISDOM. (this is where we tend to blow it… not using wisdom)

I concede from the scriptures that number two is a more biblical approach. And if any of you know me, I am all about striving to live like what the Bible says, and teach others to do the same. However I know that what I teach can be interpreted differently then what I originally intended.

So why number two again? Because it really is the most scriptural approach. As I grew up in many Churches that took the number one approach of “We don’t taste, we don’t touch, and we don’t talk about it.” There were many times that I saw a dangerous curiosity forming in many of our younger generation. And I include myself in that group at that time.  I call it the “forbidden fruit syndrome”. And that is, if you forbid someone to do something, or to have something, without giving them a loving and honest reason why, it makes them want that thing even more! It’s simple, if you try to hide something from someone; it causes them to want to know even more.

Moving on…. Paul says in Colossians 2:16, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink… then in Colossians 2:20-23 “…for if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations —  21 “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” 22 which all concern things which perish with the using — according to the commandments and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. 

Now if the Apostle Paul wrote about the handling of food and drink in the Bible, I think we should discuss it too? It’s like if I were to say to you, “Yeah there’s certain things in the Bible that we just don’t talk about.” You’d be like “What?!” Yet that’s exactly what I find a lot of Churches still do.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” BUT I will not be mastered by anything. If Paul followed this principle of living the Christian life, shouldn’t we?

I once heard a Pastor say, referring to the drinking of wine, that “We Christians; whom our consciences allow, should be the ones setting the example of what is moderation and self-control, even as Jesus Himself did. And we know that Jesus drank wine, because He said He did.”

So let’s look at the passage we read at the beginning in a little more detail… Paul starts out with “the weak in faith”. In our day it would be those that would feel in their convictions that they shouldn’t have wine at all. Paul tells us “do not judge them.”  And then he shares a “key” point, “The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does,” The point here is keep your convictions personal. If you know someone who doesn’t drink wine, don’t judge them as not having enough faith. And if you don’t drink wine, but know someone who does, do not judge them for doing so. The only exception is if they are drinking immoderately and getting drunk, then say something, not for the purpose of passing judgment, but because you love them!

When it comes right down to it, we all need to look out for one another! We must remember that God is our judge, we are not called to judge one another, we are called to love one another. Jesus said, “By this they will know you are my disciples.” In verse 15 Paul says, “If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love.” We must realize that the context of this is “before your brother”. If you eat or drink what offends your brother in front of him, all because you have a “right” then you are choosing your “right” over your love for your brother. Paul says… DON’T DO THIS!

Wisdom can direct us in this. If “so and so” is going to be at a certain place that has a problem with something you do, then don’t do it before them. THAT IS LOVE! Even if they come to your home, don’t do it, there are many other times that they’re not there (in your home) that you can do your thing freely anyways…right?

In verse 13 Paul says, “…make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. So just settle it in your mind. If you don’t know what someone thinks about it, then ask, “Are you okay if I have a beer, or a glass of wine?” If people say, “Not really.” Then say, “Hey no problem.” And they will respect you for honoring them! Paul then says in Verse 19 in an ultimate context, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to a mutual building up.” So in other words, let’s do our best to do what in the best way possible benefits everyone. Folks if we love one another through this… it is possible!

Then Paul says that the best thing is, “…whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.  So as much as you can, don’t advertise what you believe about this, keep it to yourself, use your freedom in your own home, and or with other’s whom you KNOW (wisdom) are of the same conviction. Then Paul gives us the ultimate goal of it all in verse 15! “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not just please ourselves.” It really is all about LOVE!

As a Pastor, it is genuinely my heart to lead in a way that expresses our freedom in Christ ruled by the fruit of the Spirit of self control and love. I also want to make sure you that people are equipped to live by these principles to do with food and drink, in the way that the Apostle Paul has described to us. Before God, this truly is my heart. We all need to learn to walk this road of Moderation, Wisdom, and Love in All things!

Just a final thought  and some scriptures I would like to mention and I’m done… In doing some research into signs of actually having a drinking problem, I was very surprised to find this symptom. “You have few if any interest in social events that don’t revolve around drinking.” We need to make sure that just because some of the things we do aren’t actual Church functions (where we really shouldn’t have any alcohol at all… not wisdom) we still shouldn’t need to bring wine or beer to every social gathering. Realizing also that sometimes there may be people there that you may not know, and guess what? … they may have a drinking problem.

So let’s remember what Paul said? “…make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way. So let’s continue to do what it takes to TRULY love one another according to how the Bible tells us we should do so. Even if it means at times giving up our personal freedoms for the sake of love. What you do in your own home is between you and God, but as soon as it involves other’s… LOVE MUST RULE.

Some Scriptures to Live this by:

Ephesians 5:18-19
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to wasteful living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

1 Timothy 3:1-4
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being a church leader, he desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.

Psalm 104:14-15
He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate — bringing forth food from the earth: and wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.

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