MESSAGE DELIVERED: OCTOBER 15, 2017
Following that horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, you’d think that people, government-type people, would find some meaningful things to do, but I guess that isn’t necessarily so.
I subscribe to a couple different magazines printed just for preachers, and in one there was an article about the city council in Littleton, Colorado. You probably recognize that, because Littleton was the scene of what was actually the FIRST of this rash of mass shootings, committed by a couple of teenaged boys.
Well, the gist of the article was that there was a Christian couple there who had been holding a weekly Bible study in their home for several years, until now. That city council has decreed that they can no longer do that, and will have to limit it to no more than ONCE a MONTH.
Now, you’d think that, given the gravity of the times we are living in, they would be ENCOURAGING that sort of activity, especially with that Columbine High School incident in their background…but apparently the SHOCK wears off, and people go back to ‘business as usual’.
And the problem is by no means limited to Colorado. The same issue of that magazine I just quoted, also had an article about a public school teacher in New Jersey, who was trying to comfort some of her students who were really upset over the death of a classmate who was killed in a senseless drive-by shooting.
That teacher PRAYED with those kids, and was summarily FIRED, for doing so. And I want you to think about that. There are all sorts of weapons in the schools. Even five and six-year-olds have brought GUNS to school. And teachers can pass out condoms by the handful, but are forbidden to bring GOD into the school…where He is so desperately needed.
So what’s the solution? You know that I don’t advocate boisterous “in-your-face” type protests at abortion clinics and things like that, and I certainly don’t want the GOVERNMENT getting involved in the prayer-in-school issue, but how do we deal with what is so obviously the unfair discrimination of Christians by government officials, no matter who they might be? We need to go into the Bible, and find our answers.
And we should do that while asking the question I brought up last week. What would Jesus do? And it seems when we do that, we find a pretty obvious answer, in Mark 12:16, where the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus by asking if it was right to pay taxes to Rome, and He had responded “Give to Caesar the things of Caesar, and give to God the things of God”.
By “Caesar”, He had meant “the current governing authority”. When He had stood before Pilate to be sentenced, and Pilate told Jesus that he had authority over Him, Jesus had answered “You would have no authority at all, unless it had been GIVEN to you, from Above”.
It seems we sometimes tend to forget that God is still Sovereign over all the earth, and He is still in control of every GOVERNMENT on earth…from the mightiest nation, to the smallest town hall. Every one of them exist, because HE has ordained that they exist.
OUR purpose, as believers, if we don’t LIKE the way certain governments operate, is to take our petition to GOD. It’s okay to write letters to your congressmen, if you don’t agree with them…as long as you can do it with LOVE, which is to always be the hallmark of a believer.
But it should NOT be our position as believers, to try to get the Bible into schools and governments. Schools, and governments are INSTITUTIONS. We need to get the Bible into our school KIDS, and into our government OFFICIALS. See, Christians vote (or at least they SHOULD!)…and the TWO places we should make our desires known, are the BALLOT box, and the THRONE of God.
It doesn’t do a lick of good to write a nasty letter to a congressman, and quote Scripture at him to show him how wrong he is. That is likely what Jesus would refer to as “throwing pearls before swine”. People who don’t believe the Bible, just consider it FOOLISHNESS.
1st Corinthians 2:14 says “The natural man receives not the things of God, for they are foolishness to him. Neither can he know them, for they are Spiritually discerned”.
But what we have to remember is, God KNOWS what’s going on! And HE is allowing it to continue! We may not know why, but we DO know GOD! And if we TRUST Him, we need to turn these problems over TO Him, and let HIM deal with them. Can’t you see how COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE it is, to pray and ask God to REMOVE something, that HE HIMSELF has ORDAINED?
God is NOT in the dark, concerning prayer meetings in Colorado, and school teachers in New Jersey. And WE just need to get on our KNEES, and let HIM do His Work among us.
That’s sorta what Paul is telling his dear friend Timothy in the verse we read today. In verses 10 and 11, he reminds Timothy of some of the persecutions he himself has endured, and then in verse 12 he said that “all who desire to live Godly in Christ Jesus WILL suffer persecutions”.
But WE don’t WANT that. We want our lives to be SMOOTH and EASY. No storm clouds to threaten our tranquility. But these things we’re hearing about, that’s what they ARE…PERSECUTIONS, coming into the lives of our fellow believers. And they will continue to come, as WE continue to live for Christ.
But listen, Paul WROTE that, some 1900 years ago, and he also wrote “evil men and imposters will grow WORSE, deceiving and being deceived”. If you try to say that GOVERNMENT is attacking RELIGION, you’ll be getting the wrong idea. But if you can understand that it is the forces of EVIL, that are USING the governments to ATTACK the forces of GOOD, maybe it’ll make more sense to you. And then you will understand that our ONLY course of action, is to take the matter to God.
Let me remind you of Ephesians 6:12. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age…against spiritual WICKEDNESS in HIGH places.”
Once upon a time, we HAD a Godly government in America. And as a result, we were known around the world, as a godly NATION! Lowell Thomas, some of you will remember when he was the most respected journalist in the country. He once said “The Bible is of vital importance in teaching freedom. Dictators fear the Bible, and with good reason. It is what has inspired the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence.”
John Adams, second President of the United States, and part of the original committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence, wrote these words in a letter to Thomas Jefferson. “The general principles on which this nation has achieved independence, are the general principles of Christianity.”
And the very first Continental Congress voted, in 1777, to spend $300,000…a HUGE sum at the time. That $300,000 was to be spent to print BIBLES, to be distributed freely, among the original 13 colonies. They thought it was THAT important to get the Word of God in EVERYONE’S hands.
And NOW, a bit over 200 years later, that same government is trying to OUTLAW the same Bible it once so highly endorsed. Here’s another quote from John Adams, written 20 years before the Declaration of Independence. “Suppose some nation should take the Bible as their ONLY law book…” (That’s quite a concept, isn’t it?) …“Suppose some nation should take the Bible as their only law book, and every member should regulate his/her conduct by the precepts it calls for. Every member would be obliged in conscience to temperance, frugality, and industry, and to justice, kindness and charity towards his/her fellow man, and to piety, love and reverence toward Almighty God. What a Utopia, what a Paradise that would be.”
But instead, we seem to be moving in the exact OPPOSITE direction. And we’re seeing the OPPOSITE result! Instead of creating a Utopia, we seem intent are creating HELL on EARTH.
And it is BECAUSE of NEGLECT of God’s Word. It’s not that we don’t LOVE the Bible. We DO…as an OBJECT! A lot of people treat their Bibles as a TALISMAN…as a GOOD LUCK charm.
I knew a guy in Florida, a snowbird, who’d travel to Michigan in the summer, and back to Florida for the winter, and HE never drove, his wife did. But he wouldn’t allow her to start the car, until he had his BIBLE on his lap. His “King James”, that’s what he called it. Never OPENED it, just HELD it on his lap, as a GOOD LUCK CHARM.
Louis L’Amour, the western writer, once wrote a short story about a man who LOVED books. This guy was seen acting suspiciously in a library one day, and he took a leather-bound copy of “King Lear” down from a shelf, ran his hands over the cover, gently fingered the pages, and then suddenly stuck the book under his coat and ran for the door. But the librarian caught him before he got away, and he meekly surrendered the book. Then he tried to explain his actions.
He said all his life he had loved books, but he never learned to read. So he would come to the library just to HOLD books. He enjoyed the feel of the leather covers and the thin pages, the smell of the book itself. So he had tried to steal one, just so he could HAVE it.
There are a lot of people that are that way about their Bibles. They carry them to church, enjoy the feel of the covers, the so-thin pages. But they NEVER take the time to OPEN them, and read what God has to say. It has been truly said that the man who WON’T read, is not a BIT better than the one who CAN’T.
Or, at the other extreme, there are those who read it, but don’t really BELIEVE it! There’s a story that’s kinda relevant here.
It says there was a man who lived at the extreme eastern end of New York’s Long Island. This was before TV sets and satellite weather charts. He bought a brand new BAROMETER, and took it home so he’d know what the weather was going to be. He hung it on the wall inside his home, and the needle went straight to the part of the dial that warned of hurricanes.
He shook it, adjusted it, tapped on the glass, but the needle stayed stuck on ‘hurricane’. He sat down and wrote a nasty letter to the company that manufactured this useless thing and on his way to work the next morning dropped the letter in a mail box.
That day a MASSIVE hurricane struck the east coast, and days later, when the man was finally able to get back home, his supposedly DEFFECTIVE barometer was gone, along with the rest of his home. He had SEEN what it SAID, but he DIDN’T believe it.
So we read in the Bible that “In the Last Days, SCOFFERS will arise, and will CHANGE the TRUTH into a LIE”! And when we see THAT actually begin to HAPPEN, we run around saying “On no! What are we gonna DO?”
When we have a problem, we need to take it to our only source of answers. Paul told Timothy, in verse 14, “To continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of”.
The Bible, God’s Word, is our most POTENT weapon. It has been proven able and effective, over and over. So WHY then, when we HAVE a problem, would we go ANYWHERE else, for a solution?
And Paul was very clear on this matter of our WEAPONS. He described the ARMOUR which is to PROTECT us, but our ONLY “OFFENSIVE” weapon, is called “The Sword of The Spirit”, which Paul then IDENTIFIES for us, as “The Word of God”!
But it won’t WORK, unless we USE it. The Blackfoot tribe in western Canada was led by a man named “Crowfoot”. As The Chief of the tribe, he gave the Canadian Pacific Railroad PERMISSION to lay tracks through their tribal territory, which ran from Medicine Hat to Calgary.
In gratitude, the railroad gave Chief Crowfoot a “LIFETIME” railroad pass. He could use it to ride ANY train, ANY time. Crowfoot put the pass inside a leather pouch, and wore it around his neck for the rest of his life, but he never ONCE used it, to ride a train.
It is a TRAGEDY when Christians do the same thing…USE the Word of God as some kind of decorative symbol, that is somehow supposed to IDENTIFY them AS Christians, but never AVAIL themselves of the WEALTH of RICHES the Bible has FOR us.
If they DID, maybe one of the first things they’d find is that Jesus said you are IDENTIFIED as HIS, not by carrying an unopened Bible around with you, but by the LOVE you show to one another.
Thomas Guthrie, Scottish pastor and writer, said this…”The Bible is an armory of weapons, a laboratory of infallible medicines, a mine of inexhaustible wealth, a guidebook for every road, a chart for every sea, and a balm for every wound. Rob us of our Bibles, and our sky has lost its sun”.
That’s pretty much what Paul told Timothy, in verses 16 and 17, “AII Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and it is profitable…”, then he listed THREE areas where it IS profitable, which pretty much covers our whole lives. And first he said “reproof”.
When we fall into FALSE beliefs, or wrong behavior, the Scripture will show us our mistake. BUT, REMEMBER, that means US! The CHRISTIANS! All the Bible IS to UNREGENERATED man, is FOOLISHNESS. That Bible will show us where WE have gone wrong…why we have ALLOWED these conditions to exist in our nation.
The Church in America, by and large, is acting like SALT, that has LOST its SAVOR. When we have a problem, we want to CONFRONT it, WRESTLE with it…PERSONALLY! Hand to hand!
But that is not what GOD wants. HE wants US to come TO Him, with our problems, and allow HIM to deal WITH them. Our refusing to DO that, is our error today.
But Paul also said the Bible is profitable for CORRECTION! And THAT means to RESTORE something, to its proper condition. The Greek word that is used there, is found ONLY in the New Testament, and means to take someone who has fallen down, and help them back to their feet.
In a bit over 200 years, our government has gone from BUYING Bibles to be distributed free among the colonies…to trying to OUTLAW the Bible in certain places…like the public school workplace.
A lady called into that Jay Sekulow “Center For Law And Justice” a while ago, to complain that she had been fired from her teaching position, for having a Bible on her desk. It wasn’t open, she wasn’t reading from it, it was just THERE, on her desk. She wasn’t TELLING anybody about it. It was just THERE, and for THAT, she was summarily FIRED.
Regardless of the outcome of that event, can you DOUBT that America, my beloved country, has FALLEN DOWN! And she needs HELP to get back on her feet! The BIBLE, the WRITTEN WORD of GOD, IS that HELP!
When Christians are finally willing to get back on their knees, and SEEK His FACE…and His HELP, then maybe He will give us a government that will NOT try to promote PROMISCUITY and INFANTICIDE…while PUNISHING those that try to teach TRUTH.
MAYBE God will RESTORE this COUNTRY to her formed glory, when we truly were “One Nation Under God”, when “In God We Trust” was not just WORDS on a coin, but TRUTH!
Because the REST of what Paul wrote was “The Bible is profitable for Instruction in Righteousness”. And it is RIGHTEOUSNESS that is so sadly LACKING today.
We are a nation steeped in UNrighteousness…in sexual IMmorality…in wickedness and murders…of people who are ENVIOUS of their neighbor’s success…or children who are DISrespectful of their parents.
We who know the Lord, need to be taking our troubles TO Him, and asking HIM to deal with them. He KNOWS what’s going on. Maybe He’s just waiting for US to come TO Him, before He’ll deal with them.
But above it all, we are supposed to be “People of the Book”…who READ it, and BELIEVE it, and OBEY it. Because every single one of the PROBLEMS I just outlined, are found in the first chapter of Romans.
And OF those people, God said He has ‘given them over to a reprobate mind”. That’s Old King James English for someone who has been TRIED, found GUILTY, and SENTENCED…and are just now waiting for that sentence to be carried out.
And THAT is where I see America, today. But is it possible for her to be spared?
YES! I think it IS! I want to believe that it is NOT yet TOO late for us, as a nation. So, WILL God SPARE us? I have no idea.
But I know that IF He DOES, it will be because HIS PEOPLE have fallen to their knees before Him, and BEGGED for MERCY.
It will NOT be because the REPROBATE has had a change of heart! So what are we supposed to do, when we see EVIL triumphing all around us?
Jesus only gave us ONE Command, concerning this world we live in. He said we are supposed to be making DISCIPLES, one at a time, and instructing THEM, so they can make MORE disciples.
And let GOD take care of the GOVERNMENTS! HE ordained them. HE knows what’s going on. Just MAKE your concerns known, and get out of His way and let Him work. Trust that He knows what He’s doing!
And I now have to take a minute to ask you if you even KNOW this Jesus we’re talking about? Have you ever asked Him to come into your heart and be your Lord? Your Savior? Your very BEST friend?
This is your opportunity to do that…if you’ll just meet me down here in front so I can introduce you to the One Who loves you SO much.
Romans 10:13 says “Whosoever will call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved”. So, will you do that now?
But He also said “Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord”. So will you join ME, in going to our knees before the Offended Majesty of Almighty God, and ask Him to HEAL our LAND?