A Prayer For America

A Prayer for America
by Dave Butts

Father of all that is, I bow before You acknowledging You as creator and king over all. As I come to pray for my country, I realize that the prophet Isaiah told us that “the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:15). No great empire or humble province lasts forever. Yet Your will brings nations into being and uses them as instruments for Your purposes. The Apostle Paul told us, “From one man he (God) made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact place where they should live.” (Acts 17:26).

I thank You for calling into being the United States of America. I am grateful for the godly foundation laid by men and women of faith who built into the very fabric of our country a commitment to freedom that was seen as being a gift from You. Thank You for the sacrifice of so many through the years who gave time, effort, and sometimes, their very lives to preserve and protect that freedom.

With no lessening of my appreciation for this nation, I also realize that we have fallen short of our promise. We have increasingly depended upon our own strength and wisdom rather than that which comes from above. We have often catered to the wealthy and ignored the needs of the poor and afflicted. We have failed to accept all life as a gift from You and have treated the unborn, the ill, and the elderly with increasing contempt. In spite of our stated values of equality and justice, we continue to harbor racism and injustice within our society. Most of all, we have turned our back on You and sought to live as though You were not.

We face troubling times. Our economy has been damaged and many of our citizens are hurting. Our nation is fractured and badly divided in so many ways. The issues faced by our leaders are enormous. Grant them Your grace and peace. Fill them with Your Holy Spirit and give them wisdom and discernment in this critical hour.

Lord…we repent! Please pour out upon our nation a spirit of repentance. Help us to turn from sin and turn back to You. As we seek Your face, would You revive Your people once again? Would you empower Your church in this nation to be the salt and light You have called us to be? Would You help us to love You with all of our mind, heart and soul and strength, and to love one another deeply with kindness and goodness? Make us one, Lord, as You and the Father are one. Holy Spirit, teach us how to honor and respect one another and to journey together with one heart – the heart of Jesus. Transform us into image bearers of Christ who bring glory and honor to our Father whenever we speak or act.

Father, in these days of decision, fulfill Your purposes for our nation. I stand in prayer with my brothers and sisters in Christ and re-commit the United States into Your care.

Restore to us the vision of being a city on a hill, a place from which the light of Christ can shine to the nations. May we be a nation whose God is the Lord!

Amen!  Amen!

 

A Prayer for America

Is It Possible to Walk Away From Your Faith?

I often read in well meaning articles how young people walk away from their faith when they go away to college. The question arises, though, “Is that possible?”

That situation supposes that the young person(who claimed to be a Christian) had the choice to become a non-Christian.

This is Hebrews 6:4 and following:

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

In Colossians 1 we find this passage:

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; 24 who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: 25 whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; 26 even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: 28 whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

This clearly states that the Christian is a totally different person. Yet, many preachers use verse 21 as an escape clause to allow “so-called” Christians to renege on their profession. It is not an escape clause. It is a description. The statement is not an excuse to allow “supposed Christians” to denounce their faith. Rather, it affirms that the Christian will “ continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven.”

The point I am making is that just because a person says they are Christian does not make them Christian.

Look at this passage in Matthew 7.

15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Here, Jesus was speaking of false leaders. But, the truth of the passage addresses all who say they are Christians. It is “by their fruits” that you will know them. A good tree cannot bear the fruit of unbelief. If a person can come to “unbelief” in the Word of God, they never did believe.

It is time to quit playing “Christian” games.

Look at this passage in 2 Corinthians 5:

 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

I ask you, “How can a totally new and different ‘creature’ make itself into its old self. Especially, when the description of that person says that who they are is of God, their creator.

In Galatians 2 we read this:

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

The scripture is plain. The Christian is not just his old self with new clothes. He is a new creation ruled by the Lord Jesus through His Holy Spirit which indwells him.

Romans 10:8ff

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 

The Biblical definition of a Christian is not just someone who grew up in church. Rather, it is someone who has died to self and has become a “new person” who is indwelled by the very person of Jesus Christ, the Lord.

The scripture bears it out and my own and many other testimonies agree with the scripture. Once you experience the life of Jesus filling your life, you can never go back.

Read this in Hebrews 6.

 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 

To act and teach that experiencing the new life in Jesus is something that can be discarded by the lame teachings of evolution is to spit in the face of God. The Creator of the universe is beyond the ability of words to describe. To experience His coming to dwell in your life will bring you into His glorious presence. It will equip you with faith that no physical phenomenon can ever erase. Even the passing away of heaven and earth could not change your mind about Who has come to live in you.

So, let’s forget about thinking that young people are leaving the faith. If they “leave the faith”, they never had the faith. It is time for the “so-called” church to re-asses what it is teaching. Is it teaching the Word of God or a feel-good gospel?

May God grant you wisdom through His Word.

Added and Multiplied-Disciplined

Added and Multiplied-Disciplined

Have you ever read in the book of Acts in the Bible how that “God added to the church daily those who were being saved.”  Notice that in chapter 6 of the same book it says that “the number of disciples was multiplying.” 

Have you ever stopped to consider the difference between those two statements?  Many of us who call ourselves Christian read the Bible very little or not at all.  Some others of us read it and then let the preacher interpret it for us.  The Word of God was not given so that we could have someone else tell us what it means.  It was given to us as food to build us up in the body of Christ to carry on the work that Jesus commissioned us to do.  So it is no accident as to how things are worded in the Bible.  But the treasures of God’s Word will not be “willy-nilly” doled out to those who are not willing to pay the price of discipleship.

Consider the difference

Consider the difference between addition and multiplication.  If we do things the way the modern church does it, we let the preacher preach “the gospel” and he leads the people to salvation.  That is the way that most “so-called” mega churches and denominational churches do it.  They focus on a single personality and promote that person as “God’s Man(or Woman) and they will lead you to Christ.”  This is the addition principle.  If you will notice the two times mentioned in the book of Acts about adding to the church, there was a specific number mentioned.  God was not bragging in those passages but presenting a point.  Actually, He was making two points.  First, they were saved(born again), then God added them to the church.  He did not get them to the church and then save them.  They were saved, then added.  When adding you have specific numbers.  Have you ever noticed that “mega ministries” love to talk about numbers.  But notice also, that a thing can only grow so fast when you have one person to which they are being added to.

When we find in Acts 6 the term “multiplied”, they are referred to as “disciples”.  When you get into multiplication you have entered into a whole new realm.  Addition is a lineal plain of growth.  Multiplication introduces you into “orders of magnitude” realm.  Simply put, there is no limitation on how fast it will grow or how much it will grow.

Disciple

Let me look at this word “disciple” a minute.  In the passage in Matthew 28 called the Great Commission, Jesus commanded them to make “disciples”.  Most people, who say they are Christians, have no idea what a disciple is.  (The enemy has done a good job “dumbing down” a generation of people, hasn’t he). 

If one will take just a minute to study the word, one will see that it comes from the word “discipline”.  Discipline means to shape and to mold someone into the type of person they are to be.  This term could be applied to what a football or basketball coach does to his team.  He coaches them in the techniques of playing the game.  A good coach is very strict in his discipline. The Bible describes our work as a warfare. We are in this war to win.  The conflict we are in is not a game.  The lives of countless people will be eternally spent in anguish and torture if we do not accept and teach discipline to those that are coming into the Kingdom.

It is evident that if we continue the approach of bringing people to the “church” to get them saved, that we shall continue to lose the battle for the souls of men.

I mentioned above that by multiplying we grow by “orders of magnitude”.  To make that a little clearer, we grow exponentially.  You have heard the term that 2²=4.  The little ² means it is multiplied by itself.  If this continues with each succeeding generation of disciples it would take less than 40 generations of disciples to win the whole world for Jesus.  The picture is this: If I disciple 2 people and each of those 2 disciples two people, this will only have to occur less than 40 times and we will win the world to Christ.  It sounds simple enough. (The example of the man who says he will work for a penny a day for the first day and for double that the second day and then double the second day’s pay the following and so forth.  In 28 days the man will be making a million dollars a day.)  Though winning the whole world will not likely occur because human beings are born with the inclination to rebel because they inherit that from their human father, Adam. 

Consider

But consider this.  In only two hundred or so years after the Day of Pentecost 120 Christians had turned the then civilized world upside down to the point that Christianity was the most influential force. 

Unfortunately the “so-called” leaders of the church fell for a ploy of the “enemy” when he declared Christianity the state religion.  It only took a generation or so before Christianity bore no semblance to what the Bible describes as the Body of Christ.  The “so-called” body of Christ is still in the same state to some degree or another.  It bears very little resemblance to what is described in the New Testament.

The church of today lacks discipline.  The scripture clearly states that we are not to be conformed to this world but we are to be transformed by the “renewing” (discipline) of our mind.  That speaks of rigorous training and learning.  Unfortunately, the “church” of today merely transplants the things of the world into the religious structure and gives it a religious acronym.  People are not called to learn and practice the things of God.  They can still do the things of the world but just call them by a name that sounds religious.

Musical Example

As an example, look at the music of the “so-called” contemporary church.  The roots of much of the contemporary church music are not Godly at all.  Many of the foundations of the music is worldly and satanic.  How does one import satanic inspired genre into Godly environs.  If you look at the music itself it lacks the very thing we are talking about.  There is no discipline in it.  The preparation is far from disciplined. (Let me say, that I can understand that many who play the music may very well have spent much time in the discipline of music, but then to squander that discipline on that which has no discipline is sad.)  The music of true worship is disciplined and honors and glorifies the God of Creation.

The True Church

The True Church is in the business of discipleship, not entertainment or attracting the world with its programs.  When the church begins to grow disciplined soldiers who are living the life of Christ, doing the things that Jesus does, then will we see people coming to Jesus.

The world is looking for life that has meaning.  Too often the church tries to attract them with the same thing that the world tries to attract with.  The world is far better at the things of the world than the church.  Jesus said, “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.”  Apparently the “so-called” church is not lifting up Jesus, because more and more people, especially young people, are leaving the church.  Most people would love to learn discipline, even if it hurts.  Jesus did not mix words when He told His disciples(see the word) that “in this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  Those “disciples” never did back down.  They had life and they had it abundantly.  The people of this world are looking for that life and the discipline that goes with it. 

The Challenge

It is time to quit the “mealy-mouth so-called” Christian life and begin to live the disciplined life of “Christ in you” the hope of glory.  If you are tired of undisciplined and anemic spiritual leadership, I challenge you to surrender your life to the discipline of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to conform you to the very image of Christ as He said He would.

It is time to quit adding and begin to multiply.

It will take discipline and it may be hard at times.  But be of good cheer, He has already overcome the world, and so have you.

How to Receive Grace – Is It Free?

Background

In a previous blog “What Is the Difference Between Grace and Mercy” we found that the Biblical application is different from what most theological expositors give. We found that “mercy” was more often used under the Old Covenant and presented a compassionate Creator Who rather than meting out punishment immediately for breaking the covenant, chose to delay final judgment until an appointed time. He, instead, received a sacrifice in which was symbolized the final payment for the trespass. We then found that “grace”, which is a term which is more prevalent in the New Covenant, changed the situation from “delayed judgment” to it is “paid in full”. Then “God”s eager willingness to do good for you” became the attitude of the New Covenant. Grace becomes a free gift. We can not do anything to deserve it because we accept the payment which was completed by Someone Who fulfilled the covenant. How to receive grace, that is the question.

What does the Bible say?

If you wish to know how the covenant works, you need to check with the author of the covenant. For those of us who call ourselves Christian we are blessed because we have been given an in depth and detailed copy of the covenant that we rest in. It is called The Bible. It is divided into two “covenants”, the old and the new. As we studied the two in our blog “What Is the Opposite of Sinner”, we found that the picture that the Bible presents as a “sinner” is one who breaks the covenant. This was first shown in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree and thereby breaking covenant with their Creator.

1 Corinthians 15:22 (KJV)

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Romans 5:12 (KJV)

12

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by

sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

God, Himself, instituted the sacrificial system by which final judgment would be delayed (mercy) until the total price could be paid by the promised Redeemer.
Once the New Covenant was established by the spotless Lamb of God, Jesus, then the whole situation was changed.

2 Corinthians 1:20 (KJV)

For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him

Amen, unto the glory of God by us.

Wow! What a great proclamation! Now God is saying “Yes” to every promise that He has ever made. It will take many blogs to cover that statement. But let us get back to how we receive this grace which fulfills all the promises.

For by grace are you saved through faith

This is what Ephesians 2:8 says:

 

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is

the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before

ordained that we should walk in them.

In these verses we see that grace is brought by faith. We know from Hebrews 11 that “faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen.” By this we know that faith is not some ethereal dream but is real substance and real evidence. OK. If faith is necessary to receive grace how do we get faith. In Ephesian 2:8 it says it is a gift. It implies that we have nothing to do with the getting or working at something to get it. It clearly states that we can not boast about how we got our faith. Well, you say, just how do we get faith by which we receive grace?

Faith comes by hearing

In Romans 10 Paul writes of the condition of the person who comes to salvation in Christ Jesus. He grounds it all in faith. This is how that faith comes:

Romans 10:17 (KJV)

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Most of us stop here and say that that means hearing preaching and going to church. But that is not what it says. Paul, ahead of this statement goes into confession and believing which are part of the growing process, but the driving force is faith. If you look at verse 17 closely you see that it says, “faith comes by hearing”. If you do not understand English grammar you might miss what is being said here. It does not say, “faith comes by hearing” the word of God. It says, “faith comes by hearing, and (that particular type of) hearing by the Word of God.” So the first hearing is referring to something other than just the written word of God. Do not misunderstand, the written Word of God is the beginning of the process. There is no faith apart from the written word of God.

The “hearing” which brings faith is that hearing which Jesus described in Matthew 16 when He asked His disciples who the people thought He was.

Matthew 16:16-18 (KJV)

16 And

Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood

hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church;

and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Jesus made it clear that Peter did not get that revelation by his own intellect, but that it was given to him by the Father, Himself. Then Jesus goes on to say that it is upon “this rock”(revealed knowledge from the very throne of God) that He would build His church.” This is the “hearing” referred to in Romans 10:17.

It is the written and spoken Word of God which brings the revelation Word of God by which we receive faith. We have nothing to do with it. It is totally a gift from God. He has done it all. He and His Word do it all. We have no place to boast or take any credit whatsoever.

How to receive grace

I am convinced that once the grace of God is revealed to someone they cannot help but in awe and wonder be overflowed by it.

The problem is not in getting people to receive God’s grace, it is that we have people who say they are Christians but have never experienced the grace of God in their lives. Does that mean they are not Christians? More than likely, yes. I know that when I experienced the grace of God in my life I was changed completely. I thought I was a “Christian” when I experience it, but as I studied the Word I found out differently. I came to know Jesus, personally, 54 years ago. The peace and joy and confidence that He brought into me has never waned but has grown and is ever new overflowing. Grace cannot be fully described with human words. That is how wonderful it is.

When you experienced the grace of God and you become a new creation in Christ, you can not get enough of the Word of God. As you fill up on the Word you will find what is coming out of your mouth is the Word of God. As you plant that word in the lives of everyone you meet it will begin to bring the crop of “revelation” in the lives of those with whom you share it. Then will come faith by which they will receive the grace of God.

When you have experienced the grace of God you will become like Peter in

Acts 4:20 (KJV)

20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

For by grace are you saved through faith..

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.

 

If you have any questions or any thoughts on this subject, please leave a comment below and I shall be glad to respond.  God bless you.