Monday, November 28, 2011

The Door is Still Open

In Dewayne Bryant's last sermon here at Willow, he read an excerpt from a manuscript he is working on that is extremely thought provoking. He discussed how Noah and his family must have felt toward those people who were outside of the ark once God shut the door. It was not a feeling of vindication or celebration that Noah's preaching had proven to be correct. Rather, it was a feeling of thanksgiving mixed with sadness and concern for those who were scratching at the ark from the outside. People were desiring salvation but it was too late. In terror, one by one, they all slipped beneath the surface of the waters and were lost. The apostle Peter later noted that God was longsuffering in the days of Noah while the ark was being made ready, but finally God's just wrath for man's sin was satisfied (1 Pet. 3:20-21; 2 Pet. 3:4-10).

Whether the human race accepts it or not, God has set a time for the closing of the door. It could be today, tomorrow, or a million years away. Mock it as man will, the moment that door is closed everyone will want to be inside. In today's Christian age, it is the same as saying: 1. Everyone will want to be a Christian. 2. Everyone will want to be a member of the Lord's church. 3. Everyone will want to be found faithful.

When the door closes there will be no time to debate about whether or not baptism is essential for salvation, what is true and acceptable worship, or who is and who isn't a part of the church. All that will matter is whether or not we have obeyed the word of God and whether or not we are practicing what it teaches.

When the door closes there will be no time for getting around to asking people to worship. There will be no time for knocking doors or setting up potential Bible studies. There will be no time for someday maturing enough to where we are comfortable enough with ourselves to share our faith in Christ with others.

We should not wait for the door to close before we feel remorse for not being evangelistic. We should not wait for the door to close before we get in the boat ourselves. We should not wait for the door to close before we become salt and light in a world of death and darkness. The door is still open! And even if people aren't yet scratching to get in...they will be!

Brethren, they will be!

"So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in." ~ Genesis 7:16

Monday, November 21, 2011

What Are You Afraid Of?

In February of 2008, the associated press reported a study by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, relying on interviews with more than 35,000 adults to document a diverse and dynamic U.S. religious population.

The results of this study found that many American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another religion or no religion at all. Factoring in moves from one stream or denomination of Protestantism to another, the number of people who change their religious affiliation is 44 percent.

How fascinating that nearly half of the people in our country who consider themselves "Christians" make such a big change! But really, it should be an even greater number. The percentage should be 100%. Let's face it, as we grow in our knowledge of the Bible, each of us has the responsibility to change what we believe when it is in conflict with the holy Scriptures.

Every day I talk to people who have either stopped worshiping anywhere, or who have done nothing more than just stay in the denomination in which they were raised. I want to challenge them to question what they believe and engage in a study of God's Word. I am not afraid of any question they have. I am not afraid of their background. I am not afraid of being rejected or being judged. Why? Because I know the Bible will do what needs to be done to make all of us simply Christians and members of the body of Christ.

Now I ask you, friend - when it comes to questioning what you believe, or doing something different than you have ever done, what are you afraid of? Saul had to change. Simon Peter had to change. All of the people in the first century had to change when Christianity was first offered. We all have to change in order to be what God requires. Don't be afraid! Embrace the wondrous working of the will of God in your life! Study the Bible and let it change your life every day! I hope to see you Sunday!

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Giving and Sharing

My four-year-old daughter taught me two lessons this week just by being herself. The first was on sharing and the second was on giving:

1. When she found out that her little friend, Kyla Adams, was coming on Friday to stay overnight with her and spend most of Saturday at our house, she was very excited. Many times when we find out people are coming over, we are also wanting to know when they are going to leave. But not Lyssa. In fact she said to me, "I cannot wait for Kyla to come and stay with us, because I am going to play with her and share all of my toys with her." She was looking forward to Kyla getting to play with her toys. I am confident that she would be willing to let her friend even take some of her toys indefinitely.

2. On Sunday morning, Lyssa was acting up in worship just before it was time for the offering. Amber had to take her out and discipline her. When they got back, the plates had already been passed. Our kids enjoy giving their money to God. When Lyssa found out that she had missed her opportunity to give, she began to cry. It was very difficult to console her, and we thought we might need to take her out again because she was so upset. She wanted to give her money and was crying because that moment had slipped from her grasp. I couldn't help but think, on the flip side, how adults cry about giving because they don't want to. How easy it becomes for adults to hold back from God!

Amber and I are thankful for our children for at least 1,000 reasons. But we may be most thankful for the lessons we learn from them about faith. Adults struggle with sharing and giving. Satan changes open, childlike hearts into closed, cynical, seflish hearts if we let him.

Let's remember during this season of thanksgiving and of doing for others, that God has from His heart given us everything so freely, even the blood of His Son. May God help us to share and to give like little children. May God help us to love unconditionally, to forgive completely, and to embrace our relationship with Him an with one another.

"But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." ~ Hebrews 13:16

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Man with the Four Dollar Soul

This may not be the most appropriate title. But as you read you will understand. Monday evening I was getting gas for my truck when a man approached me from the other side of the pump. He was unkempt and unshaven, his clothes were worn and his face revealed a man who had been beaten down by the cares of the world.

He was with three others in a small blue car which looked like it had only a few blocks left in it. He begged me for some gas. He said he was on his way to a Nashville hospital and nobody else would help them. I had already payed inside and I was about to pump my own gas, but I gave him the only money I had in my wallet - four dollars. He waved to his friends as if to say, put gas in the car, then he went inside.

Since I had already payed, I just started the pump and followed about 30 seconds behind him. He did not go to the counter to pay, but instead he had gone in looking for something. I followed at a distance, but he recognized me, did a loop through the store and exited quickly. I asked the cashier if he had given her any money for gas. She said, "No." As I went back outside they were pulling off and waved as if to say, "Thanks." They had not pumped any gas, they were simply running away. I am glad I hadn't given him twenty.

I am not sad about this incident for me. I am glad, that when I was asked to help someone in need, I did not wimp out, turn him away, or just keep what I had for myself. I am sad about this incident for this man and his friends. He was scamming people for cash to buy something other than what he said he needed.

This man's soul is worth more than four dollars. Jesus said our individual souls are of more value than gaining the whole world. But we sell our souls for far less than four dollars every day by the sins we are willing to commit when Satan tempts us. You might not have the guts to cheat people for a few pennies, but face the reality that you often are willing to boldly sin against your Creator and Judge to please your own whims and desires.

Your soul is worth so much more than what you are selling it for. Think it over. Repent. Save your soul.

"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" ~ Matthew 16:26