Begin with the word of God. This will teach the priority of the word of God. This will demonstrate the need to continue to read the word.
Hebrews 5:12-14 is a passage that challenges us from both sides of the issue.
- Milk is for babes
- Meat is for maturity
Milk was once meat digested by the mature and given to the immature. Meat is only for the skillful in the word and can cut a line between good and evil.
Just like physical babies who must be served spiritual babies need much care. Mature believers entertain and mentor the immature with a goal of seeing them grow. It is a joy to have babies and watch them grow up. When they age but do not grow up something is wrong.
After starting with the word of God give illustrations and examples and conclude with a challenge for life change.
The way to earn the right to speak to anyone is to open or add to a conversation with something you have in common. Paul was a master at finding commonality see I Corinthians 9:22.
At the appropriate time give your testimony and then give the gospel.
- What I use to believe
- How that messed up my life
- What God said
- How God has blessed as I have obeyed
- God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
- We live in a sin cursed world.
- You and I started as sinners and no hope.
- Jesus paid our debt on the cross.
- Receive His gift of eternal life by faith to become a child of God.
i. John 3:16
ii. Romans 3:23
iii. Romans 5:12, Ephesians 2:12
iv. Romans 5:8
v. John 1:12
It is important to communicate that disciplines His children to bring them to maturity. See Hebrews 12:5-11
- Children do not come into the family of God because of ignorance. Give them a clear presentation and they will get saved. Everyone must come as a child.
- Teens do not receive Christ because of the lies they have been told. Explain the truth that is holding them back and they will receive the new birth.
- Adults are held in bitterness. At some point they determined that an all knowing and loving God would not allow “a circumstance” to them. People do not forgive because they don’t understand the:
- Sovereignty of God.
i. Sin came in the world by one man making the wrong choice.
- Spirit of Satan.
i. God did not do the evil but gives each of us has a free will and keeps Satan on a leash.
- Sanctification of Man
i. Freedom from bitterness comes when we forgive God and people.
How well known are you in Hell? Those who communicate the gospel are going to the gates of hell and snatching the lost from the burning Jude 23.
Think scripturally and communicate with character. God declares that success is the result of meditation on His word with a goal of doing what He said Joshua 1:8. That will change your character.
The litmus test for a mature believer is not how much Bible he can quote but how much he lives. Hebrews 11 is God’s hall of faith. The key to the chapter is in verse 8 and the key to that verse is obeyed. Life change takes place when we hear God (Hebrews 11:8) and conform our life accordingly (Psalm 1).
King George and the British Parliament laughed at our Founding Fathers until they learned:
- The fundamentals of the faith and to limit their conversation to them when conversing with other denominations.
- How to communicate the character of Christ without Bible Thumping.
The Bible is so concentrated that we will be learning it throughout eternity. That is beyond my imagination. God gives us little bits and pieces of His eternal truth so that we can grow and help others now in this life. Because it is so concentrated and because it He opened up a passage we must use simplicity and display personal conformity.
- In this passage we see that Peter wrote a second time.
- Peter references our pure minds indicating New Man of the second birth.
- Since there is a New Man there is also an Old Man which has an impure mind.
- Our natural tendency is to reflect on the impure.
- Therefore the diligent leader knows the constant battle for the pure mind.
Approximately 11 of the over 300 Founding Fathers did not believe in Jesus Christ as their personal saviour. However the one common ground that all of them had was “character.” Benjamin Franklin was one of those 11 and another reminded him of the Christian influence upon his education. After 5 weeks of the Constitutional Convention Franklin said: “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?”
- We have removed the Bible from schools and replaced it with situation ethics.
- To qualify for a TV sitcom every episode must mock at least 3 of the 10 Commandments.
- Many government officials today appear to focus on their personal benefit instead of those they serve.
Hebrews 3:13 tells us to “exhort one another daily.” That is the kind of diligence it takes to have a consistent walk with the Lord. Growing in character is a mark of a leader.
Here are some ways to let people know you are a believer:
- Wear religious jewelry
- Put on bumper stickers
- Display religious pictures
- Carry a cross around town
- Or take Peter’s council by keeping in focus the character growth goals so that people who know you say he or she is a person of character.
Last night someone at church told me that one of our city officials was fired and another is under investigation and all of this since I talked with a senior official who asked for my contact information a couple of months ago and has not contacted me yet.
- How is your walk with the Lord?
- Are you accountable to someone outside of your family?
- Are you receiving regular character training?
A flag is a standard. The flag in the picture above flew over Chu Lai in 1967 while I was there. It was given to me by a captain that was the commanding officer over the recon group that was there. We met many years later.
Christian standards are not designed to fly like a flag nor should we be ashamed of whom we are. A Christian should use discretion with standards. Queen Esther kept the fact that she was a Jew secret until the appropriate time.
Often new believers wear jewelry and bumper stickers to display their faith. It should be obvious by the different walk that we have from the world.
What are Standards?
When I saw standards being emphasized in a church that continued to grow many grabbed on with a carnal religious motive. I see restaurants with a sign: “no shoes, no shirt; no service.” Laws and rules are set up to protect and define the group. Standards need to be taught with a lot of grace. If forced it becomes legalistic sanctification and the recipient becomes proud of his standing.
Why have Standards?
Why are standards important? A standard should represent a mile marker in one’s walk with the Lord. When a believer receives a word from God and makes a life changing application that is a new standard for that believer and can be looked upon as a point of growth or a mile marker. Standards conform us to a leader or a group but Christian standards should please God. When properly taught standards still need room to be tried out and tested in the believer’s life.
When to apply Standards
God’s Rhemas are the keys to when to apply a standard. A believer that receives a word from God should make a change. However just like everything else the believer must keep in memory or lose it. Watchman Nee’s book The Normal Christian Life helped me to understand the whole issue. Nee pastored a church within a church and there was no condemnation for those without standards.
If you are better than anyone because of something you have accomplished you are involved with legalistic sanctification. If you make a change because you have a word from God and your motive is to please the one who went to the cross for you that is pleasing to God. Daniel and his friends made an appeal to eat a diet that was prescribed by the Lord. It wasn’t long before the unbelievers set out to kill them. Today those with standards are not being killed in America but they are being persecuted.
Are you asking the Lord how He wants to change your life?
Today many will have a celebration for Jesus coming to the earth. Many picture Jesus in a manger at Christmas time.
“For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?” Hebrews 1:5
I believe there was a day that God the Father said “good bye” to His Son in heaven. That day was not at the birth of Jesus but when He was conceived.
Jesus has a preferred title: Son of Man. He does let us know that He is the Son of God from eternity but this day is something that He has waited for with great expectation even more expectation that a young child waiting to open presents on Christmas day.
In eternity past when God had perfect fellowship they decided to make Jesus the Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the world. When Jesus is conceived it is with the goal that He will be crucified to redeem mankind that He lost through the lie of Satan.
Most Bible scholars believe that Jesus was born in the fall of the year. So if you do the math by backing up through the gestation period of 38-42 weeks it could be Christmas that He was conceived.
Christmas actually has pagan roots dating back to Nimrod and the Tower of Babel but don’t let that discourage you from celebrating the reason for the season and the easiest time of the year to tell people why Jesus came to die so that we might live.
I remember a unique opportunity to help someone in trouble that required creativity and boldness.
Shortly after going into business in Islamorada in the Florida Keys I bought a boat. The boat traveled at 61 mph and I used it for water skiing and skin diving.
One day at a marina next to a bridge going over the waterway that took us from ocean to bay I was filling up with gas. A small plane began flying over the waterway at low altitude rotating his wings up and down as if in distress. I did not see it the first time but when he went out over the ocean and turned around someone pointed it out to me and said I think he wants you to follow him.
So we jumped back in the boat and followed him into the bay. As soon as we got past the mangroves we saw a boat on fire. So I headed that direction at full speed. As I drew near I saw three men in the water.
They were the men that captured porpoises for Sea World, Marine Land and other such places. They informed me that the gas tank had just been filled which contrary to popular opinion meant that it was safer because it was acting like a long wick. If the tank had been empty it is more likely to explode.
I remember once in Chu Lai, Vietnam in 1967 during a rocket attack they hit a stack of empty fuel tanks and it created a large explosion that looked like all of MAG 13 had blown up.
I dropped the men close to a bell boy in the bay and made a high speed run directly at the burning boat. I turned too fast on the first attempt. On the second run I created a spray of water from one end of the boat to the other which put out the fire that had spread to the whole boat. Now the only fire was right at the fuel tank.
I did not have anything to put out a gas fire. I made a few more high speed runs focusing all of the water on one spot but it was futile and by then the Coast Guard had arrived and they were signaling me away.
Sometimes just being available is not enough. I had enough control of the boat to do what was needed.
What do you do in emergencies? Being prepared requires learning character.
In 1970 I began to prepare for the construction of my first speculation house. On January 1, 1971 I laid out for the foundation.
My spiritual foundation had been laid in 1954 at the age of 9. A Sunday school teacher told me that if I could keep the 10 Commandments for one week I would earn my ticket to heaven. So I tried for several weeks. I was told that all I needed was one week so I got a fresh start each week. I never made it past Monday. Finally I came to the conclusion that God would accept my effort and let me in when I died.
That is the very essence of an idol. You see I had created a god of my making. Not according to His standard which is perfection but my own standard of a good works. So when I built the house I used the best materials. I did the best workmanship I knew how. I built a good reputation in the community. I had people lined up for me to build a house for when it was completed.
Towards the end of the construction I began going to a church where the gospel was preached. For five months I prayed every Sunday to receive Jesus. Finally the blinders came off when He revealed that it is not a prayer that saves but faith. So I trusted Jesus as my only hope for Heaven in November of 1971.
Now I was free and wanted to tell everyone about the free gift of salvation. So I began telling my subcontractors. The next house a man asked if he could watch me build a house for him on 5 acres on the Atlantic Ocean. He meant that literally. He had a lawn chair under a palm tree and watched everything we did from beginning to the end nothing like pressure on a brand new contractor but it paid off as he spread the word.
Now I had more work than the one fellow could handle so I hired more men. Now I had more motivation to build to an even higher standard. The foundation was laid for a new lesson illustrated by the first two kings of Israel.
- Saul: it is all about me. Remorse when caught doing wrong
- David: it is all about the Lord. Repentance when caught doing wrong.
When the prophet Samuel pointed out Saul’s sin allow me to paraphrase his response: Okay, okay I did wrong now make me look good in front of the people. Can you see his thinking; it is all about me.
When the prophet Nathan pointed out David’s sin David’s response was Psalm 51. David took the credit for all of the wrong doing. God’s ways were exalted. David suffered the consequences. God’s truth was made obvious.
Repentance or Remorse
I continued to visit the man in jail he sobbed some times and often explained why he did not want to go to prison. The case lasted for a year. The young man that did the machine gun hold up came to court to testify once.
While waiting to get into the court room I overheard two lawyers talking; one said to the other that the judge was the toughest in the county. Then I saw those lawyers stand before the judge who asked the first one what he wanted three times raising his voice each time. Finally he told the judge and then the judge asked the other 5 times. After both lawyers said what they wanted the judge made a suggestion that both liked. The whole thing took about 5 minutes.
The judge never looked at the defendant during the trial. I realized later that the statue of Justice is blindfolded. There is something about seeing lowers our standard of Justice. It is hard to justify justice on someone we know. Justice looks only at the facts.
I had been taught, now I was being trained. I am convinced that the judge went through many things in the process not only to make sure that justice prevailed but that I would be able to discern in the future.
The young man was guilty and never came to guilt to ask for mercy. Finally the evidence was overwhelmingly convincing and the man was sentenced to 270 years plus life and the judge added in all of my 27 years on the bench I have never seen such a scoundrel as you. You will never see the light of day again.
Sometime later I left the pastorate to go into evangelism and a pastor asked if I would be the principal at their Christian school. He said I could take off anytime necessary for meetings. During that year as the principal one of my responsibilities was disciplinary action on students.
Previously one teacher had always accompanied the principal when discipline had to be administered. She began to tell the other teachers what she was learning about how to discern between truth and lies that the other teachers began to appeal to take turns to be in on those sessions.
God used that judge to train me in His ways. What processes is God allowing you to go through so that you will be equipped for the future?
Justice and Mercy.
In 1982 I was pastoring a church in Waterford, MI. A woman called from Ohio saying that her son was in jail in my county and asked if I would go to see him. The Chaplin for the jail was a member of my church. So I asked him what he knew about this 27 year old in jail. He said he had never talked with him but that he was guilty.
I thought that that was judgmental and ignored it. He set me up to visit. When I went to see him he cried crocodile tears (I have never seen a crocodile cry but saw what my mother described as crocodile tears which qualified me to describe them.)
His trial lasted a year. I visited him often in jail and every time he went to court. When I went into the court room with him he never cried but only demanded justice. He did what he could to explain away all of the evidence against him.
Once I suggested that I would see if Lester Roloff would take him. Lester Roloff had 6 orphanages. He took the worst often when the juvenile system would not even take them then Lester Roloff would get them and see a complete life change.
The judge said I could have 5 minutes in chambers the following month. When I walked in the door he said that is far enough; what do you have? He had a large office. Both lawyers were there close to him. I was at least 20 feet away.
Lester Roloff had sent me a package of cases that should convince any judge. I began with the first one. About 20 seconds into my speech the judge hollered out: “I said 5 minutes.” I thought to myself okay let me have it, but instead I went to the end of the list because I was saving the best for last.
I told the story of a man on trial for 9 counts of child molestation and Circuit Judge Sandra Day O’Connor sentencing him to Roloff’s home. (This was shortly after Sandra Day O’Connor had been appointed to the US Supreme Court.) He said okay you have my attention go on.
Then I told of a young man that had held up a service station with a machine gun, graduated from Roloff’s, and was in Bible College. I finished my 5 minutes and was dismissed.
I will finish the story tomorrow. What do you think happened?