Standing For Truth

I ❤️❤️❤️ Tozer. I don’t have a date for when he preached this sermon, but Tozer died nearly 60 years ago so the sermon could be 60 to 90 years old. It’s context would fit perfectly today.

“We have developed in recent times a peace-loving, soft-spoken, tame and harmless brand of Christian of whom the world has no fear and for whom it has little respect. We are careful, for instance, never to speak in public against any of the false cults lest we be thought intolerant. We fear to talk against the destructive sins of modern civilization for fear someone will brand us as bigoted and narrow. Little by little we have been forced off the hard earth into a religious cloud-land where we are permitted to wing our harmless way around, like swallows at sundown, saying nothing that might stir the ire of the sons of this world. That Neo-Christianity, which seems for the time to be the most popular (and is certainly the most aggressive), is very careful not to oppose sin. It wins its crowds by amusing them and its converts by hiding from them the full implications of the Christian message. It carries on its projects after the ballyhoo methods of American business. Well might we paraphrase Wordsworth and cry, “Elijah, thou shouldst be living at this hour; America has need of thee.” We stand in desperate need of a few men like Elijah who will dare to face up to the brazen sinners who dictate our every way of life. Sin in the full proportions of a revolution or a plague has all but destroyed our civilization while church people have played like children in the marketplace. What has happened to the spirit of the American Christian? Has our gold become dim? Have we lost the spirit of discernment till we can no longer recognize our captors? How much longer will we hide in caves while Ahab and Jezebel continue to pollute the temple and ravage the land? Surely we should give this some serious thought and prayer before it is too late–if indeed it is not too late already.”

A. W. Tozer Sermon: Standing for Truth

You Cannot Defend God’s Way by Transgressing His Word

I have observed many a man (and woman) self destruct in their own arrogance and self righteousness. It is excruciating and heartbreaking to watch. You cannot defend God’s Way by transgressing His Word.

God have mercy upon me, a sinner. Have mercy upon us all. Expose our arrogance. Give Light to Your Way.

2 Corinthians 10:12 ESV Not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding

Proverbs 26:12 ESV Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 3:7 ESV Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.

Luke 14:11 ESV For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Philippians 2:3-5 ESV Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. [4] tLet each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. [5] Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

Tell the Whole Truth

Another 60, 70 or 80 year old sermon from Tozer that could have just as easily been written yesterday.

It is sad indeed to know that there are Christian leaders among us who are too timid to tell the people all the truth. They are now asking men and women to give to God only that which costs them nothing! The contemporary moral climate does not favor a faith as tough and fibrous as that taught by our Lord and His apostles. Christ calls men to carry His cross; we call them to have fun in His name! He calls them to suffer; we call them to enjoy all the bourgeois comforts modern civilization affords! He calls them to holiness; we call them to a cheap and tawdry happiness that would have been rejected with scorn by the least of the Stoic philosophers! When will believers learn that to love righteousness it is necessary to hate sin? That to accept Christ it is necessary to reject self? That a friend of the world is an enemy of God? Let us not be shocked by the suggestion that there are disadvantages to the life in Christ!

A. W. Tozer Sermon: Tell the Whole Truth

The Lord Gave and the Lord Has Taken Away

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. BLESSED be the name of the Lord.”

Upon finding out that within moments of one another, Job lost all of his wealth, livestock, nearly all of his servants and his 10 children were killed through a series of raids, fire and a tornado, we pick up in verse 20.

Job 1:20-22 ESV Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. [21] And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” [22] In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

What would it take for you to refuse to worship God and instead charge God with being unfair to you and move forward into offending God’s nature by willful and careless sin?

One Beggar Helping Another Beggar Find Food…

When I hear a member of a local body of believers – a church – say something to the effect of, “you’re judging me” or “judge not lest you be judged”, it gives me great pause. I’m talking about when one believer holds another believer accountable. The intent of accountability among followers of Jesus is not to judge one another. Nay, it’s to help one another. It’s to bring clarity in darkness. It’s to expose cancer that is eating you away. It’s one beggar helping another beggar find food.

As someone who has claimed Jesus as my Lord and Savior, being a “christian” is a declaration that I want to be made like Him, to live like Him, to act like Him, to speak like Him, to think like Him. I do not want to walk in sin, live in hypocrisy or willfully do anything that continues to bring offense to my God and my King. When I am caught in the trap of willful or unrepentant sin (or even unconscious sin), I WANT my brother (or sister) to come to me with the Word of God and lovingly point out where my behavior does not match that of my Savior. That’s not judgment – that’s LOVE!

This act of love should bring me to repentance and confession, filling me with joy and fulfillment…not anger, bitterness or contempt. It should not bring me to lash out and accuse my brother or sister of judging me nor of being a hypocrite.

When I am the one that observes sinful behavior or questionable motives in another brother or sister, the Bible instructs me to FIRST take the log out of my own eye…keep my own sinful heart free of sinful cancer FIRST, and then I will be able to see clearly through the guidance of the Holy Spirit to take the speck out of my brother’s eye. I want my surgeon to have rest (and coffee) before he starts operating on me or my loved ones. I want the chef to have clean hands before he prepares my meal. And I want my beloved friends in Christ to have clean hearts when they come to expose sin in my own heart.

This is what it means to be the body of Christ…the family of God. This is why we covenant together with a body of believers…for love, encouragement, support and accountability. We don’t want someone to just keep cheering even when we’re doing poorly and struggling. We need a coach or a teammate to step up and show us that we’re holding the bat or the club wrong, we’re positioning ourselves on the field in the wrong place, we’ve got our eye on the wrong opponent, our stance is incorrect or we’re missing the bigger picture on the whole field of play.

This separates those who are followers of Jesus from those who prayed a prayer for their “get out of hell free card” or joined a club for the benefits. This is what it looks like to be “being transformed into the image of His Son”.

I Don’t Get a Lot Out of Church…

One of the greatest lies of the enemy of the cross today: “You go to church for you.” This makes YOU the arbiter of whether or not YOU think YOU NEED to “go to church” or whether YOU can pursue more worthwhile events and agenda on Sunday. How many times have you heard “I didn’t get a lot out of church today.”?

It’s not about YOU…it’s ALL about HIM!

The same enemy that convinced YOU that it was about YOU, he goes to church every time the doors are open. The Church does not gather in assembly because of what WE need.

The Church gathers in assembly – like a family – because of what their Father deserves: glory, glory, glory. When we make it about HIM, He ensures that we get everything that we need…and more.

One Among Many Sad Days…

I don’t care how you voted or why you voted for whoever it was. I don’t care which party you claim or denounce. I don’t care if you’re left or right, liberal or conservative, extremist or moderate, whether you believe in absolute truth or relativism. I don’t care if you believe that a fraud was perpetrated upon our nation in 2016 or if it was perpetrated in 2020. I believe it was probably both.

Each of those things are important when weighing with whom I’ll have missional connections and with whom I’ll “do life”. Many hold values and beliefs that I cannot embrace and MUST denounce. However, they have no bearing on whom I will show honor, dignity and respect.

Our citizens on both sides are displaying a complete lack of trust, lack of confidence and lack of credibility in our institutions. I don’t blame them…I feel the same way. This is not who we have told the world that we are as a nation and people are angry about it. I get it. The great American experiment is currently in dire straits.

Yes, this country is made of patriots…but there are people who believe they are patriots for each narrative being written. You cannot allow for patriotism on one side without expecting it from the other side. Everyone thinks THEY are right and everyone who disagrees with them is wrong.

For the most part, those of us in middle America have been completely cut off from the actual truth due to a complete corruption and bias of all media upon which we depend for our news. I’ve watched multiple sources this week creating their own narrative rather than reporting what is playing out.

Interestingly, neither political/social narrative that exists today wants to acknowledge or be linked to their side’s extremists. I know I don’t – not socially, politically, religiously – they don’t represent me.

At the same time, both sides link and stereo-type their opponents by the extremists of that party/perspective and their actions.

First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

What has happened all around our country since May and in DC on Wednesday, January – out-of-control, violent and destructive demonstrations, protests, riots and mobs are ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE behaviors and should not be tolerated by our law enforcement, national guard or our elected officials. Each individual breaking the law through abuse of power, defacing private or public property, threatening the safety and security of citizens or public officials, burning, looting and rioting should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There should be no exceptions…not even the lawmakers and elected officials themselves.

This truth is not relative. Every citizen knows what is legal and what is not….and if in doubt, DON’T!

Do we expect more? Yes…because we’ve believed the enemy’s lie that all men are basically good. However, we really should expect nothing less from a population full of self-absorbed, pagan flesh and blood that denies Jesus as Creator, Lord and Savior.

This is just another of many, many sad days here in our country. God have mercy on us. We are an unholy people.

Reflecting on 2020…

In spite of ourselves and the attacks launched against us by the enemy, 2020 was an absolutely PHENOMENAL year for our family (meaning both my church and blood relation)!!!!

  • God was merciful, gracious, and loving to us. We deserve far worse than we received and received far better than we deserved.
  • He provided for our every need. He has blessed beyond our right to request.
  • He tended to our every wound and heartbreak.
  • He protected us from every enemy, foreign and domestic.
  • Every hardship we faced, we learned from and grew to depend on His strength more.
  • In spite of some deep losses, He has established His way and given us cause for celebration.
  • In a time of division and nasty behavior all around us, He has strengthened us in numbers, in faith, in our love for one another and in our dependence upon Him.

I love Him more today than I ever have. I love His people more than I thought I ever could. I love the lost who need Jesus with greater fervor and determination.

My life will not be measured by the number of days I survived on this earth. My life will be tried by how I lived and leveraged the days He entrusted to me.

 Leveraging who we are and what we’ve been given to reach our neighbors, our city and our world with the Gospel — so others may hear…AND live!  

This is my testimony.

Arm Yourself in 2021

The enemy doesn’t need to destroy you, though that’s his ultimate goal. If he can’t destroy you, he’ll defeat you. If he can’t defeat you, he’ll discourage you. If he can’t discourage you, he’ll distract you. I know a great number of people that are at various stages of the enemy’s strategy against them.

The Apostle Paul draws a contrast between life apart from Christ and life in Christ so as to magnify the power and grace of God in salvation. In so doing, he tells us that the devil is not our only enemy. As followers of Jesus Christ, we are at war with “the course of this world”, “the passions of our flesh” and “the prince and the power of the air”.

Ephesians 2:1-4 ESV
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— [3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,

Colossians 2:13-15 ESV
And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, [14] by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. [15] He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Sometimes our greatest enemy is our own fallen nature, which Christ has subdued. It is a resilient foe, however, that remains until we are completely conformed to His image…which won’t be complete until the Resurrection. The world doesn’t have to tempt us and the devil doesn’t have to ensnare us. We (our flesh) are often our own worst enemy. We must mortify (crucify) the flesh. There are ungodly trends in the world — materialism, naturalism, desire for instant gratification, and more — that once ruled all of our passions but are now defeated in Christ. No longer our ruler, the world still appeals to our remaining sin, so we must maintain our guard lest we fall back into bondage. Satan is the leader of all that opposes God stirs up trouble all over the world, and he even endeavors to infiltrate and disturb the church. The devil is fierce but easily sent running when we resist him by the Spirit, as Jesus has triumphed over him.

1 John 2:15-17 ESV
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life— is not from the Father but is from the world. [17] And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

ARM YOURSELF as we end this year and begin 2021…a GIFT from God that we must not take for granted. Victory is in JESUS…the power and the presence of His Spirit through submission, obedience and commitment to His Word and His Way.

Ephesians 6:10-18 ESV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. [11] Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. [12] For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. [13] Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. [14] Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, [15] and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. [16] In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; [17] and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, [18] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

I highly encourage folks who find that they are often engaged in battle against the world, the flesh and the devil to make a regular practice of praying on the armor of God. You would be amazed at how actually walking out this prayer (not just saying it aloud or to yourself) but actually stepping it out will secure who you are IN CHRIST.

1 John 5:5 ESV
Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

John 16:33 ESV
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

James 4:6-10 ESV
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” [7] Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. [9] Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. [10] Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Romans 6:12-14 ESV
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. [13] Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. [14] For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Blaming 2020…

It’s easy to fall into the cultural narrative, mimicking what you’ve heard like a mina bird…saying what you think others expect to hear. We say so many things without really thinking, filling empty space in conversation with empty words. Often, in our attempt to make a point or agree with a point, we say things that are so untrue, unwise and frivolous. We do so without crucifying the flesh, without taking our thoughts captive, and thinking on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise. I really think that if we did these things before we speak, we’d probably have a lot less to say and we’d learn a lot more.

One thing we all hear daily is trashing on 2020, wishing it away, as if it was the actual calendar that delivered an apocalyptic year of unfortunate circumstances. Did 2020 really do anything to you? Will a New Year’s Eve party, followed by a plate of cabbage and black-eyed peas remedy the situation in which you find yourself?

I heard someone say – a professing follower of the Christ, mind you – “There is nothing about 2020 for which to be joyful.” This is an incredibly painful incite of professing believers in churches today. That statement demonstrates a real lack of regeneration (rebirth/new life) and Holy Scripture power through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. We will never find joy in a year. We will never find joy in a holiday. We will never find joy in a relationship, a child, a house, a car, a job or a hobby.

John 15:11 ESV These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Psalm 16:11 ESV You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

James 1:16-18 ESV Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. [17] Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. [18] Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Our joy comes from Jesus. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit of God who takes up residence in each regenerate follower of Jesus. Pages on a calendar cannot remove joy. Bad relationships cannot remove joy. The list of what you can’t afford or have or what you have lost cannot remove joy.

James 1:2-4 ESV Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, [3] for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. [4] And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Psalm 16:1 ESV Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

So why is it that so many believers are missing out on joy? Let me say this as a parenthetical, I don’t believe that a person without Jesus can have true joy or contentment. Sure, there are many without Christ who find temporal pleasure, satisfaction and happiness in circumstances, relationships, themselves…just like many followers do. But these are fragile, fleeting and often fraudulent and it sets us up for disappointment and even despair when it disappears. I know…I’ve experience this many times. But if Jesus is the giver of true, lasting, impenetrable joy, then only those who know Him can have it. So how does the follower of Jesus find joy? Ask.

James 1:5-8 ESV If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. [6] But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. [7] For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; [8] he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

How does one navigate through a season like we’ve experienced in this year without losing their joy? Well, first of all, let’s be honest and say that it isn’t completely packaged into one calendar year. Much of what has robbed the church of joy this year was brewing months and years before 2020. It’s not just a virus that just came on the scene in March. The virus is just the catalyst that revealed the pig beneath the lipstick, the stink and emptiness inside the white-washed tomb. And if we’re transparent, it’s not going to disappear on January 1, 2021. So, how do we navigate through combative and confusing times without losing our true joy?

James 1:12-15 ESV Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. [13] Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. [14] But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. [15] Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

If Jesus is the source of joy, and He is unchanging and everlasting, then the source of our joy never changes. Jesus is constant. The Holy Spirit’s presence is constant. We forfeit joy when we forfeit His presence and His power, His provision and His protection. We forfeit our joy when we look inward instead of upward. We forfeit joy when we place our faith in what is temporal rather than what is eternal. We forfeit joy when we feed the flesh instead of mortifying it. We forfeit joy when we starve our Spirit of the things of God.

If we are going to have joy, truly joy, then we have to look behind the gifts we enjoy when days are easy, look to the God who gives them. And when days are dark we have to look beyond our painful circumstances to the God who loves us and strengthens us.

To find true joy you must look to the Lord Jesus, find beauty in His character, fall in love with His work, stand in awe at what He has done for you and the future you have in Him. In Him we have joy inexpressible, especially in the midst of trials and temptations.