A GUIDE For Witnessing In A Christ-like Manner

you will be my witnessesIn my reading of Scripture every morning, my set-aside devotional time, there’s one book in the New Testament that refreshes my spirit over and over again.  It was the first book of the Bible I read through after I was “born again” in 1972.  The book, The Gospel Of John.  

Many truths set forth in John’s gospel have made a great impact on my Christian life.  First and foremost, there is no greater honor than to be a part of God’s work of telling others about Jesus.  So this is where I want to begin; sharing from my own experiences and giving a beginning guide to today’s oft forgotten term… Witnessing to others about Jesus Christ.

We hear from pastor’s sermons at least once a year from a familiar passage in Acts 1:8  “and you shall be My witnesses…”  Now if we take that verse to heart, seriously, maybe we need to reevaluate our preparedness to obey Christ’s command.

WHAT IS A WITNESS?

WITNESS Definitions:  Merriam Webster;  [2] One that gives evidence;  [5] public affirmation by word or example.

The word WITNESS we are most familiar with comes to us from the legal sphere, derived from the root meaning “to bear in mind,” “to be careful.”  Thus a witness in the field of law is one who has the knowledge of something by recollection and experience and who can tell about it accurately.

Biblically speaking, A WITNESS is born when one is born again, that is, when you experience the POWER of God in your own personal death, burial and resurrection. In that sense, Christian Witnessing is not optional, nor is it mandatory.  It is inevitable.

When I first had knowledge of what a witness was, and internalizing Jesus’ message in Acts 1:8 of being “witnesses” in the community, this next little tidbit was added to my spirit: 

The word MARTYR: “comes from the Greek word for “witness”.  Early Christians were often put to death for the “witness” of Christ Jesus.

Boy, after having that scary thought placed in my mind, I needed some real motivation if… I was going to be a witness for Jesus.  But where was that motivation going to come from?

A GUIDE to Being A WITNESS:

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In John chapter four, JESUS is passing through Samaria.  He comes to Jacob’s well, tired from His journey and He sits down (John 4:6).

Now the disciples have gone into a nearby town Sychar, to buy food (John 4:5, 8).  The Bible says it was about the sixth hour which most likely be around noon.

LUNCH TIME!

In my last job before retiring, I was required to be at my desk by 6 AM.  So by the time lunch time rolled around, I needed to get away from the office, where I could sit down, get a bite to eat, and relax.  Many times, several of my co-workers would show up at the same place.  I didn’t invite them to come.  They just showed up!

In this portion of Scripture, we see Jesus’ human side and see that He is tired and evidently hungry, just like when we get tired and hungry.

Notice how Jesus uses a common physical thirst to cause the lady at the well to ask questions about deeper eternal matters.

I was intrigued once more to focus on their discussion.  Remember, they are total strangers to one another–not co-workers, not BFF’s, but strangers.

STEP #1.  Jesus arouses the woman’s curiosity with a promise; the quenching a natural spiritual thirst common to all mankind.  That spiritual thirst which people try to satisfy through giving into the flesh, drinking in the world’s views and Satan’s lies.  Sadly, only a few drink of the Living Water offered by the Lord.

John 4:13-14:

[13] Jesus answer her, “All who drink of this water will be thirsty again.  

THE PROMISE…

[14] But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more.  But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling)  [continually]  within him unto (into, for) eternal life.”

By Divine Appointment – A Personal Story

Working for a large company for over fifteen years, starting as a truck driver and working myself up through the ranks to Branch Manager, in February, 1985, the company was sold, and my services were no longer needed.  I was to be replaced by new management.  Although I was given a decent severance pay package, my self-worth was definitely damaged in the process.

Two weeks later, I received a phone call from an old business associate, who had heard through the grapevine reasons for my termination.  He asked the question–“Would I be interested in taking a job out-of-state?”  “That depends,” I answered.  “Where is ‘out-of-state’?”  HAWAII.  So, two days later, I found myself sitting in front of the president of large Hawaiian Wholesale Plumbing Company on the island of Oahu.

The next several months was a time in my life I have reflected on in detail for years. For my stay was for a brief time.  At the time, A Divine Appointment wasn’t even a thought. But God had set His plan in motion long before I had a clue.

After accepting the new job, part of my negotiated package was housing and a company vehicle to use until my family and automobile arrived from the mainland.  Since the president’s daughter and son-in-law lived nearby and also worked at the same office, I carpooled with the young man…for over two months.  Our conversation varied during the heavy commute, from family to music choices (the car radio was always active), to Hawaiian lifestyle compared to mainland lifestyle.  Then one day he asked, “I’ve noticed you go to church every Sunday.  What church do you attend?”  The opportunity at the well was there and I took it!

I answered his question with a question; asking him his religious background and did he have a personal relationship with JESUS; a few weeks later led him to Christ.

Hawaii wasn’t the place for my family and I to live, and I returned to the mainland; unemployed to employment…and back to unemployment… all with three month’s time.

WHY?  God had a DIVINE APPOINTMENT in mind and I had the privilege to be a part of.  It wasn’t until I returned to my original starting point did I fully understand the details in my going.

Divine Providence brings always amazing things and Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Three simple truths we can hold on to here as laid down by Jesus to help all Christians in their daily witness.  For after all, when we leave our front door in the morning, we don’t go out witnessing; we witness as we go.  It may be today, next week, next month or off and on through out the calendar year.  But know this: God wants to use you.

So how can we follow the simple example of Christ with confidence that Jesus is going to use us?

The FIRST THING I noticed that Jesus did was to make a connection.

The woman who lived a sinful life came out to get water and He makes the connection with her.

You have family members, friends and co-workers just like this lady and you need to be making connections.  Jesus made the connection in being obedient to His Father who was sending Him to Galilee.

All Divine Appointments that are set up for you come about as you are obedient to the Lord’s call on your life.  

Divine Providence brings all glorious things into existence.  Jesus doesn’t want you to miss the opportunities He gives you.

Is there someone in your workplace that you want to reach for Christ?  Is there a neighbor, a family member you’ve been praying for?  Ask the Lord for a connection.

Jesus had a need for water and the lady had a way of getting water from a well that was very deep.  The depth is around 70 feet to the water line with a depth of about 105 feet (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Jacob’s Well).

The point being Jesus, being a man, had a NEED that could not be met without her help.

We all have some needs that we cannot meet and there is someone who is bound by sin who can help you meet that need.

This is a wonderful opportunity to make a connection. It may be an answer to a question about work, home repairs, a physical task you cannot do on your own.

Make a connection with someone who would be shocked that you even noticed them let alone asked them for help.

The lady at the well asks,  “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”  (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans) – (John 4:9)

A Little History About Samaritans –

Samaria is right about center of Israel.  When Israel fell to the Assyrians, Samaria was theacts_1_8_1 place where the poorest were left behind.  They intermarried with other races and brought in a false priest.  Add to that, they began false worship and twisted Scripture while rejecting everything in the Old Testament except the first five books of the Bible (2 Kings 17).

There are many PREJUDICES that keep people from hearing the gospel message of Jesus.

PREJUDICES of the people who are living in sin.  They convince themselves that obedient Christians don’t want to associate with them or care about their needs, problems or concerns.

Jesus’ lifestyle was to be out among sinners, ministering to the sick, the needy, meeting practical and spiritual needs to all who would accept what God was doing through Him.

“Must needs”  (John 4:4)

After looking at different bible translations, I like the KJV version the best:  “And he must needs pass through Samaria.”

Interesting TRUTH can be found here that the Holy Spirit wants us to grasp in our efforts to fulfill our part in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

“Must needs” in application means it was a necessity, a compulsion and Jesus’ destiny to go through Samaria for the sake of His mission.

There are THREE ROUTES Jesus could have taken.  But Jesus had to go through Samaria to lay down a foundational work of the gospel, because it was His Father’s will for Him (John 4:34).

THE SECOND TRUTH the Holy Spirit wants us to get hold of:  Jesus drew attention for temporary satisfaction to eternal fulfillment.

The core of Jesus’ mission at the well as defined in John 4:10 and 13 is to move the lady from what she does know to what she does not know.  He does this in stimulating her curiosity resulting in her asking a question about Him (John 4:12).  She wants to know who this man at the well is:

“Are You greater than and superior to our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well and who used to drink from it himself, and his sons and his cattle also?”

Through Jesus’ example, our goal is to get people from thinking and talking about what they know and talking about and asking they about what they don’t know.

How can we guide the conversation in our connections to talk about what they don’t know?  

One example, when people begin to talk about the problems their family is having, move them to ask about a Christian family that had the same problem, maybe your own family, but do not have them now.  

Point how Jesus did a work in their lives.  Remember the goal here is to be walking in obedience to the Lord.  The focus is to be speaking to people you connect with.  

Let the Lord lead you to the Divine Appointment; to a heart that is prepared to receive what the Lord has for them at that time on their life.

An important note to remember in witnessing to others: Jesus pointed the women’s attention to what matters in eternity.  There is a contrast to what will satisfy PHYSICAL Thirst (water drawn from a well by labor) and to SPIRITUAL Water that will bubble from the inside given by Jesus.

In this incident at Jacob’s Well, the Samaritan lady makes a request, “…Sir, give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water!” (John 4:15).

This lady typifies many of the people we come across daily in our witnessing.  Because they are bound by SIN, they are so slow to respond to the things of God.

Like the lady at the well, many HEAR the gospel message, yet still want the things of God for all the wrong reasons.  In other words, she and those like her, still need a purifying of the heart.

People who are carnal in their thinking and not yet surrendered to the Lord (Matthew Henry Commentary).

In John chapter four, we see that Jesus had to break the barrier that kept her from understanding.

The TRUTH that must be presented to all, including Christianity is FIRST,  the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He is.

The SECOND is the revelation on oneself.

It begins with the realization that LIFE lived without Him being Savior and Lord will not do; that one must be enlightened by the Holy Spirit that he is in great need of GRACE & MERCY of God.  Use your own testimony of how God’s Grace & Mercy made things new in your life.

The THIRD TRUTH I discovered is that the Lord wants us to grab hold of and pass on to others the importance:  What is a TRUE WORSHIPER?

Jesus said,  “You [Samaritans] do not know what you are worshiping [you worship what you do not comprehend]. We do know what we are worshiping [we worship what we have knowledge of and understand], for [after all] salvation comes from [among] the Jews.  A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers.  God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth (reality).”  (John 4:22-24 AMP).

Most of the people we come in contact with are like the Samaritans in a sense who have chosen a partial knowledge of God’s Word.  They, like the Samaritans, have selective worship.  They choose which portion of Scripture they like and disregard the rest.

No one can worship in spirit and truth without an honest heart, seeking God’s will through the whole council of the written Word.

That doesn’t mean that a worshiper has to know ALL of God’s Word, but they must have a heart desire in seeking the Lord’s will and a willingness to live out what has already been revealed to them.

Those who want to WITNESS as Jesus did must point out the Lord is looking for the worshipers who approach God through his spirit, to attain a closeness and intimacy with God–a new relationship.

TRUE WORSHIP is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of oneself, speaks to and meets God, who is immortal and invisible (William Barclay).

This study in John chapter four is but a GUIDE towards your making connections in your community.  Simply use what you have already been given and He will make the way for you to WITNESS for Jesus.

God has a DIVINE APPOINTMENT for you to keep–be ready and willing to keep it!!

 


CREDITS:

Photos & Map – Google image search.

The New Testament Meaning of “Witness” [Founders – by Ernest Reisinger]

Bible translations as noted in the text.

 

 

 

“Feeling Stuck In Life With Just Watching the Sheep?”

"Do I really have to...?"
“Do I really have to…?”

The Phoebe Knapp Story–[*See Footnote [i]]

In 1873, those who probably knew Phoebe Knapp as nothing but an organist at her Methodist church in NYC.  She was a wealthy enough woman–her parents had left a large estate.  But much of it was tied up in her husband’s company National Union Life and Limb.

Nowadays, that company takes its name from the Metropolitan District of New York City, which eventually became successful and know as MetLife.

“Phoebe who?”

Phoebe Knapp
Phoebe Knapp

But in 1873, Phoebe wasn’t all that special.  During The Great Financial Panic of 1873, a similar version to The Great Depression, businesses were failing and the insurance market was in jeopardy.  But Phoebe and Joe felt called to providing insurance.  They stuck it out, and with God’s providence were able to continue their business.

Then in the 1880’s, comparative wealth rolled around.  With hard work and being in the right place at the right time, defining most businesses, Joe and Phoebe Knapp were able to gain wealth and fame running an American icon like MetLife.

But the Knapp’s most enduring legacy came in the depths.  In 1873, Phoebe was just an organist at church, she and her husband were best known for their piety.  But the KEY to who they were was their TRUST IN GOD and letting Him work through them through their circumstances.

THE SIMILARITY TO MOSES’ LIFE:  “I KNOW I’M A PRINCE, BUT I FEEL STUCK JUST WATCHING THE SHEEP!”

[Scripture Verses: Exodus 3:1-16; 4:1; 10-13]

God Had A Plan for Moses – Exodus 3…

When MOSES set out to accomplish righteous ends using his own methods, things didn’t go well.  When he set out to accomplish righteous ends using GOD’S METHODS…things worked out better.  But still, Moses was stuck out in the desert.  Casually reading the story in Exodus, for all practical purposes, MOSES was a nobody.

He was a man who was prince of Egypt, and now he finds himself watching sheep (Exodus 3:1).  Talk about a waste of potential. But GOD had a plan for Moses.  If God wants to do something, it’s going to happen!

God wanted Moses to be…THE MAN…the man who gave Israel His deliverance.  So God did something He doesn’t often do.  He called Moses directly (Exodus 3:2-4).

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We all have some image in our minds of the BURNING BUSH.  It’s a famous encounter when God calls man, asks man to join Him in what He’s doing or about to do.  God still calls us today, even if He is less dramatic about it.  I’m not saying we can’t have a “burning bush” moment is life, because I’ve listened to others testimony.

Our sometimes responses…

I love looking at the JOY in peoples faces serving in ministry of the church by responding to God’s call.  For whatever reason, when God calls, their response is more like that of MOSES–Here I am, Send him/her.  

I have often heard the statistic “20% of the people in church do 80% of the work.”  Why is that the case?  One answer, one that I’ve found to be true in my own personal Christian walk is illustrated by the QUESTIONS of Moses, and more importantly, the ANSWERS God gives.

When God Calls Us to Join Him…

It’s pretty natural to have questions.  After all, He’s God, and well…we’re not.  How we answer these questions determines what part we’ll have in His work.

The Call from a Burning Bush – (Exodus 3:2-11)

6284178236_e6cacb55d2Notice in these verses Moses has a very natural reaction to God’s call in his life.

Here is GOD ALMIGHTY, calling out of a “burning bush, telling MOSES you’re to act on My behalf as Israel’s Deliverer.  That’s no easy task.  Moses’ track record already shown he can take God’s call and mess it up.  So what’s Moses’ first question?

“Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”  (Exodus 3:11 AMP).

In this age where SELF-ESTEEM is so important to teach our children, God has an interesting answer:

“I shall surely be with you…”  (3:12)

Notice God doesn’t say, “Oh, Moses you’ve been trained” or “Moses you’re good man.”  No, God says, ‘Who you are isn’t important.’

“IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER” 

Lacking in self-confidence during my teenage years, as most teenagers do, especially in the case of asking girls out on a date, I tried to build up my courage while in front of the bathroom mirror.  While getting ready for the big evening, I began singing loudly a lyric from Peggy Lee’s hit…“Mr. Wonderful” [ii].  However, I modified the words “Mr. Wonderful, that’s you'” to “Mr. Wonderful, that’s ME.”  Although it didn’t work too often, I enjoyed irritating my 7 year younger brother as he walked down the hallway.

Acting without CONFIDENCE…

I know people like that–venturing out into life with little or no confidence in what they have been asked to accomplish.  And yet, what is God’s answer?

It doesn’t matter who you are–what experience you have, or lack thereof–I’ve called you, and there’s only one thing you need to know–I’m with you.

MOSES’ SECOND QUESTION–

So, if it doesn’t matter who Moses is, then Moses asks the next logical question “OK, God, then who are you?”

The way Moses asks this question, I get the impression Moses is perhaps thinking back in time why he fled Egypt in the first place.  Notice his words in Exodus 3:13:

“When I come to the Israelites and say to them,  The God of your father has sent me to you, and they say to me,  What is His name?  What shall I say to them?”

In Exodus 2:14, Moses remembering what the Hebrew said when trying to intervene in their fight…”Who made you prince and a ruler over us?”  “What gives you the right?”

You see, people DON’T like being in charge and still are stuck on the first question of “Who am I?”  They’re the type who wants God’s ‘help’, yet not His leadership.

“GOD IS GOD, AND WE’RE NOT!”

That’s why Moses gets God’s name.  God isn’t the God of some particular thing, He’s just God!

“And God said to Moses,  I AM WHO I AM and I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE; and He said,  You shall say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you!”  (Exodus 3:14).

THAT statement alone is MYSTERY in and of itself–nothing can be added to it.  When people ask,  “Who does God think he is anyway?”  The answer is simply,  “I AM.”

God is allowed to be in charge, because He is God.  He was GOD yesterday, He is GOD today.  And when we’re dead and gone, GOD will still be GOD.  He is always a present tense God.

Before Abraham was,  I AM.  When He is ALPHA and OMEGA,  I AM.

Even when He hides His face, look up!  God is not dead,  “I AM”.

You see, it doesn’t matter who WE ARE.  GOD “IS”.

It’s NOT who I am, it’s who He is.

THE THIRD QUESTION OF MOSES–The TRUTH isn’t always easy to accept:

“But behold, they will not believe me or listen to and obey my voice; for they will say, The Lord has not appeared to you”  (4:1).

So Moses asks another question and…he raises it as an objection–he says…

‘Okay, I realize it’s not about me, I realize it’s who you are Lord.  But what if the people don’t believe me?’

That’s reasonable response.  I’ve imagined the same question as I sit down to write a new blog: ‘What if the people don’t believe what I’m writing– what truths am I trying to get across in my words?’

People in general like PROOF.  People want PROOF.

Our PROOF today comes from the written Word, the Bible–

For over 2000 years, eyewitness testimony and acts of God are right in front of us, so we can show consistency in what God has called us too, with what He has done in the past.

But in Moses’ time, most of them probably wouldn’t even been able to read.  So GOD talks to them in their terms.

God uses MIRACLES in His calling…

God gives Moses a MIRACLE to show that he, Moses, has been called by God.

Reenactment of MOSES holding his STAFF
Reenactment of MOSES holding his STAFF

I wondered in reading here, why doesn’t God just use a miracle and miraculously move all His people out of Egypt… without Moses?  And, why doesn’t He do the same for us today?  It would be so much easier!  But that’s not God’s style.

Following the Staff of Moses:

God gives Moses a staff–a sign to follow, but leaves the following of to the people.  You’d think that would be enough.  But Moses finally runs out of excuses.  He just lays his lack of confidence on the line:

“And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue”  (4:10).

To paraphrase Moses’ words here…‘LORD, PLEASE SEND SOMEONE ELSE.  I don’t want to do it!’  I know You made me; I know You care for me.  Moses is saying, “That’s just not who I want to be.”  

And so God says, “Okay.  Have it your way, I’ll give you Aaron.”   

Aaron isn’t always a helper–think about the Golden Calf, the grumbling and complaining.  But God says to Moses “You insist on doing it your way?  I can use that too.”  

It might not be PLAN “A”, but I’m God.  I can work with it.

GOD CARES FOR HIS PEOPLE…

But God doesn’t care about their own “self-images.”  He simply wants us to realize, it doesn’t matter who we are.  God is with us.

THE MIRACLES, the GREAT BIBLE STORIES that inspire us, that’s not what we aspire to; there is only a finite number of miracles, only so many stories to read.  Ultimately, GOD allows us to join Him.  He pleads with us to join Him.  But if we are to be God’s people, eventually we have to put up or shut up.  If we’re going to do God’s work here on earth, we must do it in HIS POWER.

THE FANNY CROSBY–[*See Footnote [iii] on the Fanny Crosby story.]

Doing God’s work in His power…

I’m sure you’ve heard this godly woman’s story before and doing the work of God in her own circumstances.

When Fanny was only six weeks old, she came down with a cold that affected her eyes.  Since the family doctor was out, a man who stood in his place; though he knew what to do, he ended up blinding the little girl instead.

Fanny  Crosby
Fanny Crosby

But God hadn’t given up on Fanny Crosby.  She was a smart girl and by the age of 10, she had memorized the entire New Testament.  When she was in her 20 s, she became a teacher and a well-known poet.

She became good friends with another school teacher at the time, a man by the name of Grover Cleveland who later became the President of the United States.  On several occasion in his Presidency, he would call Fanny to write a poem for a special occasion.

She truly was something of a wonder to behold, but even she was missing something.  When she was 30, a cholera epidemic swept through her town.  As she watched love ones die all around her, she realized even with all her great accomplishments, she only lived because of the POWER and the GRACE of God.

God had given her an amazing ability to put beautiful words down to pen based on the truths of God’s Word.  If you’ve ever sung ‘To God Be the Glory,’ you’ve sung one of her songs.  Or, ‘Jesus is Tenderly Calling’ and nearly 8000 other hymns came of this godly blind woman.

And so, in 1873, Fanny J. Crosby was living in God’s POWER, and doing His work.  At her church, the organist wanted a part in that too.  Her name was Phoebe Knapp.

Phoebe eventually could have been successful being the wife of an insurance tycoon.  But that’s not what Phoebe Knapp is known for today.  She composed a tune that she believed, had faith enough, to be of God and she wasn’t a POET.

Going to the home of her fellow church-member and friend, Phoebe asked Fanny Crosby, what does this song say to you? Phoebe played the notes on the keyboard and Fanny spoke these words:  “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine.”

Having a lack of confidence in your ‘self-worth’ right now?

So it doesn’t matter if you are a farmer, a wealthy woman, a blind poet or even a “sheep watcher.”  It doesn’t matter who you are, but only who He is and what He will do through you.

You can have that BLESSED ASSURANCE, but only if JESUS is yours.  Or more importantly, that you are His.

I love the way the Amplified Bible’s reading of a verse in Philippians 4:

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]”  ~ verse 13.

blessed-assurance_t

 SO WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

WHAT IS YOUR SONG?


FOOTNOTES:

[i] Phoebe Knapp story @ christianheritagefellowship.com/phoebe-palmer-knapp.

[ii] Title, music and Lyrics from Peggy Lee’s “Mr. Wonderful, That’s You.”

[iii] Fanny Crosby story from christianitytoday.com/Fanny Crosby/Christian History. 

PHOTO CREDITS:

Phoebe Palmer Knapp – Courtesy of the Christian Heritage Fellowship.

Fanny Crosby – Courtesy of Wikipedia/Fanny Crosby-religion.

“Burning Bush”; A man holding his “STAFF” ; and a child watching sheep- by Photo Pin.

BLESSED ASSURANCE – Courtesy of Google Images for Blessed Assurance.

BIBLE TRANSLATION USED FOR THIS POST:

Amplified Bible Translation – Published by Zondervan – http://www.zondervan.com 

 

 

 

“Being Careful with the Company You Keep”

The words in this blog title, were the words I heard from my parents constantly while growing up as a child.  I’m sure your parents emphasized the same idea to you as well.

I remember my dad telling me, “Mel, if one of your friends jumped off a roof into a fire, would you do the same?”  Hanging my head in shame, “No.”

In essence, my parents were trying to get the point across to me, “Be careful who you associate with (‘who you hang with’).”  Did my parents WISDOM stick in my adult years?  I’ll answer that question while investigating together, the WISDOM given from a father to his son in The Book of Proverbs.

TEXT: PROVERBS 4 – “Oh, kids will be kids…”

This parental phrase has been repeated over and over again in families.  So, I want to elaborate on the idea of responsibility as a PARENT, GRANDPARENT, GREAT GRANDPARENT, AND UNCLE when it comes to teaching the ways of the Lord.  This principle will apply not just to our family kids, but also to our spiritual children; the friends, brief acquaintances, neighbors, and others that we have led to JESUS or leading to Christ.  Some in the church call the process “DISCIPLING”.  And it can be.  But I’m going to call it teaching godly WISDOM, as Solomon speaks to in the Bible.

PROVERBS 4:1-27 AMPLIFIED BIBLE:

"Do NOT forsake my teaching"
“Do NOT forsake my teaching”

HEAR, MY sons, the instruction of a father, and pay attention in order to gain and to know intelligent discernment, comprehension, and interpretation [of spiritual matters].  For I give you good doctrine [what is to be received]; do not forsake my teaching ~  (verses 1-2). 

 

“Boys will be boys” …

We all heard those sayings before, perhaps even repeated the words ourselves.  BUT, what do they mean to us and others?

It means that when someone says that, they don’t believe they have any reason to worry how the kids will turn out…because kids will always be kids.

Now, that may seem logical…but its not!  The MESSAGE I want to make clear in the blog-POST…a child left to their own devises without instruction and correction of disobedience can become monsters.

PROVERBS repeatedly WARNS PARENTS…children left to their own desires will metamorphose into…

–  All the days of the afflicted are evil; but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast ~ Proverbs 15:15 KJV.

–  A wise son makes a glad father, but a self-confident and foolish man despises his mother and puts her to shame ~ Proverbs 15:20 AMP.

–  A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him ~ Proverbs 17:25 NAS.

–  The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother ~ Proverbs 29:15 NIV. 

The Story of Two Sisters:

This story involves TWO SISTERS who had spent the day fighting.  And girls (I helped raise two daughters), if you are reading this story, it’s not 8681712-a-young-girl-says-her-prayers-just-before-bed-timeabout you…well, maybe.

When it became bedtime, the two sisters were still mad at each other.  But as usual, they knelt beside their beds for their prayers.

“Dear God,” the 8-year-old began.  “Bless Daddy and Mommy, bless our dog.”

Then she stopped.  Her mother gently prodded,  “Didn’t you forget somebody?”  She glared across the bed at her 6-year-old sister and added,  “And oh yes, God bless my ex-sister.”

Still, you might be thinking,  “What can you do?  There are some who look at kids who behave badly and just shrug and say…Well boys will be boys; kids will be kids.”

The author of PROVERBS wouldn’t agree.  He believed a parent should and could influence their children.  He constantly preached to his kids about what was right and wrong; as he noted in Proverbs 29:15:

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left undisciplined brings his mother shame” (MP).

Proverbs 22:6:”

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

According to a 2003 study by the Barna Group [See Footnote [i] ]– they found that:

~  A person’s moral foundations are laid by the age of nine.

~  Most people make a decision regarding the personal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection by the age of 12.  [For me personally, I was thirty years old and my wife was twenty-eight].

~  In most cases,people’s spiritual beliefs are irrevocably formed while they are still preteens.

An Attention Getter…

“Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up and take notice so you’ll know how to live!”  (Proverbs 4:1 Message Bible)

SOLOMON is saying “listen to me” “pay close attention to me and learn”–he’s assuming something worth saying is something worth listening to.  So…as if you’re a PARENT, GRANDPARENT, UNCLE/AUNT…what can you say worth listening to?

A SHORT SURVEY OF PROVERBS:

I searched out THREE MAIN THEMES:  (There may be more, but these were the ones that stuck out to me).

Those three main themes are summed up in the following verses:

PROVERBS 1:7 – “The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning and the principal and choice part of knowledge…” (AMP Bible).

PROVERBS 1:8 – “My son, hear the instruction of your father; reject not nor forsake the teaching of your mother.”  

PROVERBS 1:10, 15-16 – “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent”  “My son, do not walk in the way with them; restrain your foot from their path;  For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.”

The On-going Message….

FIRST…Fear God.

Then REMEMBER what I’m teaching you.

And then, be careful who you hang out with and who you try to be like.

Proverbs 4:19:

“The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.”

SOLOMON–ONE OF THE WISEST MEN WHO EVER LIVED!

10646657_10152631217078930_8754778246084982255_nHe talked the talk.  BUT he ended up NOT walking the walk.   And by failing to “walk the walk”…he hurt his son.

Looking back on life, especially in raising our son; in my spiritual immaturity–I perhaps hurt my son by NOT walking the walk with consistency.  Sometimes my life would be exemplary in being like JESUS, and other times, not so much.  Examples: complaining about work, neighbors next door, loosing my temper while driving, etc.  It certainly wasn’t demonstrating the LOVE of Jesus.

Make a Decision NOW!

 Here’s the deal:  If you want a child to grow up the way they should go, and believe me, I learned the following priorities the hard way, you have to DECIDE to keep your priorities straight.

~  DECIDE that YOU’RE going to FEAR GOD.

~  DECIDE that YOU’RE going to REMEMBER what God taught you.

~  DECIDE to be CAREFUL who YOU hang out with.

If a parent will repeat those THREE IDEAS–over and over again to their children–FEAR GOD, REMEMBER OUR TEACHING, BEING CAREFUL WHO YOU HANG WITH; WHO YOU TRY TO BE LIKE, over and over again to the younger generation, it WILL make an impact.  My adult children have demonstrated our teaching and demonstration of living with godly fear in their lives for the most part.  Thank you JESUS.  Are things perfect in their lives? No, but neither is my life.

SOLOMON was very good at “talking the talk”

For the majority of his life, he even walked the walk.  BUT, toward the end of his life, he grew tired of that walk (1 Kings 11:9-13 NIV):

[9] The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.  [10] Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’S command.  [11] So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.  [12] Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime.  I will tear it out of the hand of your son.  [13] Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.

Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, talked the talk yet ended up NOT walking the walk because he FAILED and hurt his son!

Todays PARENTS “Walking the Walk”; Needing to look to God as a Way of Life…

As parents, if we look to God, God will be the One who’s in the center of our lives; and that goes far beyond Sundays at church–or Wednesdays, Mondays…

And if that is true, our own kids, grandkids, nephews/nieces will take notice.  They may not tell you so with their lips, but by their decisions and actions away from the family unit…

That which you fear is that which you will obey…

That’s why Proverbs 9:10 tells us,

The reverent and worshipful FEAR of the Lord is the BEGINNING (the chief and choice part) of WISDOM and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.

If I FEAR GOD, I won’t FEAR anything else.  

So FIRST, we need to talk with our kids.

Secondly, we need to “walk the walk.”

And third…we need to Look to God; looking to God as the center of our lives as PARENTS.

If that’s true, our kids will notice.  If we sincerely look to God in faith–if we believe we can trust God with our everyday lives in all situations–our children will too!

I remember an incident on a New Year’s night, my wife and I were celebrating the evening at home…snacking, dancing, snacking…you get the picture.  We heard a car drive up and heard several voices laughing and quite vocal. As we went to the front room windows, peering out into the darkness (about 11 PM), the front door opened and our youngest daughter, her boyfriend and another couple came upstairs.

Our daughter’s voice rang out at the top of the stairs, “I hope you don’t mind mom and dad, if we hangout here for New Years, it’s nuts out there and we thought it would be safer over here.”   What ‘music’ to our ears as parents.  Godly teaching had gotten through! Thank you JESUS!!

One thing Solomon knew about his daddy, his relationship David had with God was real.  And knowing that, Solomon wanted that same bond/closeness he’d seen in his father.

And because Solomon knew that; because he struggled to follow his father’s example…Solomon’s kingdom eventually became even greater that David’s had been.

Leaving you with one last thought…

What your children/grandchildren become depends to a great extent…upon you; what you choose to do with your God in your life.

Who’s company are you keeping these days?

 

Footnote:

[i]  Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions: Ventura: Gospel Light, 2003.

Bible Translations:

Amplified, NIV, The Message, King James bible.

Photo Credits:

photobucket; Photo Pin.

 

 

 

 

A Momentary Spark in the Shadows of Darkness

[10]  Who is among you who [reverently] fears the Lord, who obeys the voice of His Servant, YET WHO WALKS IN DARKNESS and deep trouble and has no shinning splendor [in his heart]?  Let him rely on, trust in, and be confident in the name of the Lord, and let him lean upon and be supported by his God.

[11]  Behold, all you [enemies of your own selves] who attempt to kindle your own fires [and work out you own plans of salvation], who surround and gird yourselves (surround yourselves with a belt) with momentary sparks, darts, and firebrands that you set aflame!–walk by the light of your self-made fire and of the sparks that you have kindled [for yourself, if you will]!  But this shall you have from My hand: you shall lie down in grief and in torment.

~ISAIAH 50:10-11 AMPLIFIED BIBLE.

Surrounded by momentary sparks!

Making Scripture PERSONAL!

The Lord obviously wanted me to receive and understand His message in the above verses in The Book of IsaiahWhat do I mean by “personal”?  That’s when a Scripture verse, written to the WORLD, suddenly becomes MINE (or in your case, YOURS).

I recognized that the Holy Spirit had something specifically He wanted communicated.  I roughly understood what the verse meant!  As Mrs. Charles E. Cowman said in one of her books,  “It means we are in darkness” (in relation to some situation we do not understand) “and the temptation is to find a way without trusting in the Lord and relying on Him!”  Instead of waiting on the Lord’s plans, we try to figure it out ourselves.

Serving God in the Midst of Darkness–

There are times in our lives that we find it difficult to see very far ahead.  I remember one time driving home from a retreat with my wife in the local mountains near us.  We had a late supper out and on the way home, the headlights of the car went out.  I couldn’t see a thing!

Doing what men usually do in such circumstances, I pulled the car over to the side of the road.  I then raised the hood of the car, pretending I know what I was doing, then proceeded to tell my wife with all wisdom and understanding: “It’s just an electrical short that had caused the headlights to fail.”  Of course after forty plus years of marriage, Dianne knew I had no idea what the problem was–but kept from making her response, making the situation worse.

Going Ahead in the Pitch of Night!

I decided I couldn’t wait there along side of the road all  night and pulled out into the night.  Dianne’s reaction to my fool-hearty decision was, “You can’t drive home in the darkness without light!”  And of course I had anticipated her question in advance and blurted out, “At least the parking lights are working!” 

As I drove down the dark mountain highway, the Lord whispered in my ear “Mel, try turning the knob on the dashboard back and forth,” or something to that effect.  I did so and guess what?  Yep, the headlight’s ‘dimmer switch’ or whatever you call it had been inadvertently been turned off(who did that?).  We got home finally, but with all the car’s lights working.

Dianne asked me a question after we pulled into the garage:  “Would you have driven all the way home in the darkness without any lights?”  And my definitive answer…”We would have been just fine, regardless.  We were in God’s hands and protection.  My answer sounded convincing.

Our DESIRES Can Sometimes Be Confusing–

Are you experiencing a dark time in your life?  Do you have a wayward child?  Have you experienced financial reversal?  Has someone broken your heart or taken advantage of you?  Are you not able to make sense of what’s happening in your life?

As Christians, we DESIRE to be “overcomers”.  We DESIRE to go to heaven but rather mot die to get there.  In its very substance, LIFE is tragic without JESUS CHRIST in our lives.

Questions We Asked Ourselves In Life–

Life as we know it is filled with “sweetness” and misery; high times and hard times.  As Christians, we desire to be “overcomers” but don’t want much to overcome.

–Do you have a wayward child?

–Have you experienced financial reversal?

–Has someone broken your heart or taken advantage of you?

–Are you not able to make sense of what’s happening in your life?

Thinking We’ve Got It All Figured Out!

We’ve studied our lessons, learned our formulas and memorized the promises of God’s Word.  We think that we’ve got it all figured out and suddenly…we are plunged into a deep, deep darkness.  Why does such darkness come to a Christian?

The question we ask more than any other is “Why?”  WHY did God allow sickness to come to me or a loved one?  WHY did God heal that person and not heal me?  WHY?  WHY?  WHY?

What Do We Do When the Lights Go Out?

When we went to school, we received lesson first, then learned the lessons second.  “Premature Deliverance”…from a situation is when man frustrates God’s work of grace in our lives rather than committing the whole situation to Him; willing to abide in darkness, so long as you have His presence.   REMEMBER, “it is better to walk in the dark with God than walk alone in the light” (Mrs. Cowman).  And that’s what it means.  Often, we have prayed prayers and don’t understand at all what happened.  When in fact, God actually has ANSWERED those PRAYERS. 

PRAYERS like, “Oh God, use me”, or “Increase my faith Lord”, and “Thy will be done”.  And of course, He does have a will for your life, as He has for all of our lives.  But His will is likely to go in directions we never anticipated; areas we never ever thought about or desired.  He will answer those prayers, and all to often we haven’t understood His answers.  This is all consistent with His Word:  “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).

GOD has directions and plans completely outside-you and that’s the point!  It’s not about you and I.  When He answers those prayers of ours, He begins preparing us for the life and work ahead.  Be abundantly clear here, the work is His and not yours!

THE DEEPEST DARKNESS (ISAIAH 50:10):

This passage of Scripture is not talking about someone who has wandered away from God.  This person fears and loves the Lord: Who is among you who fears the Lord…”

This verse is addressing the person or persons who fears and loves the Lord.  “Fear of the Lord”  MEANS, “love on its knees”.  The person who FEARS God the most–loves God the most.  This person OBEYS God’s voice (v. 10).

There is a distortion of the truth today when a person becomes a Christian–everything becomes like honey and no bees; all sunlight and roses with no rain and weeds.  There is no reason to deny it.

Tens of thousands of Christians across the world fear and love the Lord, yet are experiencing darkness.  More than 150,000 Christians were martyred last year all over the world.

Job said, “Even young children despise me; when I get up, they speak against me” (Job 19:18).

Habakkuk shouted,   “Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help and You will not hear?  Or cry out to You of violence and You will not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2).

John the Baptist sent messengers from prison and asked JESUS,  “Are you really the Messiah or should we look for another.”

Each one of these men of God came to a “lights out” time on a ‘dark road’ in life and didn’t understand or comprehend why and what was fully happening to them.

FAITH BORN IN THE LIGHT IS OFTEN DEVELOPED IN THE SHADOWS:

Someone once said that FAITH is like film:  “It’s better developed in the darkness.”

QUESTION:  When have you grown the most spiritually in your life?  When Mr  Trouble comes and knocks at your front door–becoming more mature in the spirit becomes better developed than other times.

So, How Does God Develop Our FAITH In The Darkness?

God says in Isaiah’s passage, it takes two steps:  We are to look to the Lord first—“trust in the Lord” (verse 10).  The Amplified translation uses, “rely on,” “trust in,” “be confident in”.  I like what Warren Wiersbe said, “We live by promises, not by explanations.”

Just because it doesn’t make sense to us at the time, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense to our Heavenly Father.  We must continue to stand on God’s Word, regardless of what’s going on in our lives.  GOD’S WORD never changes and remains constant in ALL of the seasons of life.

The Second Step:

Lean upon the Lord–“let him lean and be supported by his God.”

When you find yourself in the dark and along side a lonely isolated road, you don’t need an explanation–you need God!  It is more important to be with God in a valley of darkness than to be on a mountain peak in sunlight without Him.

There are some things that I want in life that I don’t need, and some things I need that I don’t want.  Only GOD can really discern between bad and good–good and best.  God wants to develop our FAITH; never to doubt in the dark what you have learned in the light.  The TEST OF OUR CHARACTER is not what we do in a worship service but what we do in the dark.

FAITH’S DANGER:

It is better to be serving GOD in the darkness than to be standing alone in “man-made” light (Isaiah 50:11).

One of the most dangerous temptations is to be tempted to light our own fire in the darkness.  If God has permitted the darkness, then we must wait upon the Lord.  We must never get the idea that darkness can overcome light; darkness will run from light.

If you don’t believe this is the truth, then turn on the light in a darkened room and open the closet.  You will find darkness is hiding in the closet!  The only way that DARKNESS can enter is that the light be removed.

So, if the LIGHT has been removed from the situations of your life, then God in His wisdom has allowed you to be in the darkness.  If God is the One who has allowed darkness to come your way, don’t be foolish and light your own fire.  Don’t try to undue what God is already doing.

A man-made fire is deceptive.  It’s like a man getting up in the middle of the night, hearing a disturbance in the house and grabbing a flashlight beside his bed.  And with his flashlight, he goes over to the sundial to see what time it is.

God says that if we light our own fire–[work out our own plans AMP] in the midst of God-planed darkness, then we will suffer.  For an example, God told Abraham and Sarah they would have a child of their own–God gave them a promise.  However, God didn’t fulfill that promise immediatelyAbraham, in the middle of his darkness of doubt, created his own fire with Hagar.  Ishmael was born.  Think about the suffering that followed Abraham and the world because he did not wait on God in the midst of darkness.

IF YOUR SUN HAS SET, IT WILL RISE AGAIN:

Faith’s Daybreak–Psalm 30:5

“For His anger is but for a moment, but His favor is for a lifetime or in His favor is life.  Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning.”

Psalm 30:5

“[The Servant of God says]  The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.  He wakens Me morning by morning.  He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]”  (Isaiah 50:4 AMP).

“Come And Light My Fire Jesus”–

God will awaken us in the morning, even though you may be in the dark shadows now, there’s a better day coming!  If you are in darkness, then TRUST GOD, and He will turn every tear into a pearl, every hurt into a hallelujah.

There is a better day coming.

For non-Christians, this is as GOOD as it gets.  And as Christians, this is as BAD as it gets!

A PERSONAL CHALLENGE TO TAKE:

Take a walk and enjoy the warmth of a sunny day.  And while you are lifting your face, enjoying the warmth of the rays, the sun-rays of sunlight are already 8.3 minutes old when they reach you.  Even though you can experience the warmth of the sun, you’ve never seen the full power of the sun.  You have felt its warmth but never really seen the sun.

In a like manner, we can feel the warmth of God’s presence, but we’ve never fully seen the glory of God.  But there is a time coming as a child of God, that we will see the face of JESUS.  We will fully see what we slightly experienced in this life.  Just remember when the lights go out, GOD is still there in the midst of your darkness.

There Are Treasures Of Darkness–

Have you ever heard someone say, “The stars are out tonight”?  The fact is, stars are out in the daytime, but we can’t see them because of the sunlight.

The stars are there for us to praise the Lord (Psalm 148:3).  We would never have a star to praise the Lord without darkness.  GOD wants to give you a star so you can praise Him even more.  Our trials become stars in order to praise the Lord in the light that He gives us.

So, when the lights go out…reflect on our faith’s devotion, development, discernment, danger, and daybreak (Light),  in the POWER of the Holy Spirit’s fire.

“Don’t Mess With My Sacred Cows!”

Is Expediency Permissible?

“Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge” ~ The Philosophy of John Dewy.

As I get older in life, I have found myself getting more dogmatic about what I am seeing in a lot of churches.  Although I am now in a church environment that feels…more comfortable.  I have lived in this part of Washington State now for 10 years and have been associated with five different backgrounds of doctrine; I am definitely not complaining but stating my desire for  ‘a better way of doing things’ philosophy.  I really hate change, so changing churches really isn’t part of my make-up.  So what is the problem here?

Some people are terrified of change. 

Any deviation from “the way it has always been” rocks the foundations of their own world and mine also at times.  The change removes us from our comfort zones or as I like to call them, “ruts.”  It propels us into the great unknown and becomes more than we can handle.  It’s a preference of “safety”; the status quo; THEIR status quo of course.  Do you know anyone like that?  Might it even be yourself?

We might hear those who resist change say when cornered, “there may, in fact, be nothing biblically wrong with the proposed changes, but why to take the risk, let’s play it safe; stick to the old paths.”  TRANSLATION: “We don’t like it and we’ll work against it.”  Come on Pastors, do I hear an AMEN?

An observable, verifiable fact:

The most resistant to change is the very ones most resistant to any challenge; on the basis of their resistance.  And then a barrage of stones, sticks, and dirt are tossed up from the depths of a well-dug rut.  Do we dare to ask someone why they are down there in the first place; opposed to coming out!

Challenging a legalist to provide a reasoned basis for their position (to even state their position or pattern), you will quickly witness a vicious assault.  Maybe not at first notice, but possibly later on; when you least expect it. OUCH!

One reason for the militancy against those who dare to challenge them or their theology can’t withstand close scrutiny and will collapse under examination.  The religious leaders even will shelter their followers from anyone who dares to challenge them to think; flee from responsible dialogue rather than make a defense.

“Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully”  (1 Peter 3:15).

For those so determined to follow the exact pattern of Scripture often displays a great reluctance to follow the instructions of this passage.  Most of their theology is pick and choose.

There’s A Need For Loopholes:

When the basis of your salvation, even your fellowship with others is preciseness of practice regarding a perceived biblical pattern, there has to be some provision in place for the ‘legalist patternist’.  They avoid those aspects of the pattern that are not comfortable; to adopt extra-pattern practices when its convenient for them.

The Pharisees were experts.

They were experts at binding heavy loads on others and then finding ways to avoid such burden themselves.  One of the ‘loopholes’ for today’s Pharisees is “The Law of Expediency.”  The patternist squeezes themselves through this loophole at every opportunity, yet denies its use to all others outside the narrow parameters.  The exclusivity of expediency becomes a great earmark.  If they engage in some practice beyond the specific patterns, then the practice is declared “expedient.”  However, when anyone else engages in some practice beyond the specifics of “the pattern”, their variance is deemed “unauthorized innovation” at best.  More likely “godless apostasy.”

What is an “expedient” and is it a biblical concept?

Webster’s New World Dictionary; an “expedient” is anything that is “useful for effecting the desired result.”  Does the Word of God ever speak of expediencies?  The answer, of course, is Yes.

The Greek word is sumphero, meaning “that which is advantageous, profitable, expedient.”  Notice a few examples:

Jesus is telling His disciples that because everyone is doing it and it’s legal, doesn’t mean its okay; He speaking to them about divorce in the society:  “The disciples said to Him, If the case of a man with his wife is like this, it is neither profitable [sumphero] nor advisable to marry “But He said to them,  Not all men can accept this saying, but it is for those to whom [the capacity to receive] it has been given”  (Matthew 19:8-11).

Jesus on the night of His arrest told His disciples, “it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away” John 16:7 AMP.

Our Lords imminent departure from His disciples in returning to the Father, while leaving them behind in the world, was certainly not something these men initially thought about with a degree of joy.  Yet there was a great benefit (profit, advantage) in His departure:

“Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you]”  John 16:7 AMP.

His going away was expedient.

The apostle Paul told the church in Corinth:

“Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things)” ~ Corinthians 6:12 AMP.

Again the Greek word sumphero is used.  The apostle Paul clearly recognized the legitimacy of expediency.  However, he also understood expediency is not a license to do as one pleases.  There are additional factors to be considered before an expedient is hired (see also 1 Cor. 10:23).

New Covenant Writings Are NOT Unfamiliar With The Concept of Expediency:

The concept of expediency is biblically sound!  How we employ an expedient often is not.  There lies the major problem that, and what various disciples of Jesus perceived to be “authorized” valid expedient.  “The precise identification of what is, what is not ‘expedient’ remains a point of contention among many congregations” [The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement; page 325].

An expedient, however, properly understood does allow for a significant degree of freedom among even today’s disciples to choose for themselves what they believe as the most profitable method or means effecting the desired result.

Again in The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, this concept is defined better than I could explain:

“Procedures or practices that, while not explicitly enjoined by the biblical text are nonetheless not explicitly prohibited because they are instrumental (or ‘expedient’) to the execution of some other biblical command” [pg. 325].

What does all that really mean?  I was searching the web yesterday and as a good detective might do, ran across this email question by a man living in the U.S., regarding expediencies:

“In studying expediencies I have thought of something that no one has been able to answer thus far–maybe you can share your thoughts with me on this.  Brethren typically justify the use of a church building on the basis of it being an ‘expediency.’  And yet, according to the ‘rules of expediency’ (I realized these are man-made rules), an expediency cannot be specified, then how can we specify how an expediency can or cannot be used?”

Here was the answer was given to this man’s question:  “A kitchen in a church building is sinful.”  Really?  Church buildings are never even mentioned in the NT Scriptures.  So, by what ‘authority’ declares a room in such a structure is ‘sinful’?”

Our various choices in the church; what is or is not “expedient” (and we all make them), have become a source for squabbling and schisms among spiritual siblings.  Why?  Because human nature being what it is, we have the tendency to regard our own choices the most profitable.  Thus we regard the choices of others being less so.  In time, it moves beyond mere profitability or lacks thereof.  It moves to ‘absolute necessity’ for fellowship, salvation even;  AGREE with ME or perish!  When we become this legalistic employing mere expediencies, the satanic spirit of sectarianism captures, enslaves their hearts and minds causing the destruction of oneness in the family of God. They can’t stand in AGREEMENT; ‘United we stand, divided we fall.’

How does one then determine when something is truly expedient?  Has the Bible offered any assistance?

IT MUST BE BIBLICALLY CONSISTENT– In 1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:13, Paul regards expedients as falling under the umbrella of “lawful”.

“Everything is lawful for me, but I will not become the slave of anything or be brought under its control” [6:12].

I’ve heard of several stories of young people coming under the influence of the satanic; joining in a satanic cult, then coming out of the influence and giving a testimony of the “lies” they were told; ‘it’s okay to sacrifice a chicken on Satan’s altar. Nobody will even know you did it except those around you and they all believe the same thing.’

Since then, I have not commemorated “Halloween” after hearing about the subtleties of dressing up in “harmless” costumes and calling it something else other than Halloween (see my blog post: HALLOWEEN “Just Harmless Fun, Right?“).  Is that choosing Biblically Consistent or is it ‘My Sacred Cow’?  Should my attitude be more expedient toward such church observations even if they call it by another name?  “A Rose is a rose…”  I’ll address that point later.

IT MUST BE BIBLICALLY UNSPECIFIED— When God specifies something in His Word for or against, we are obligated to obey.  When God speaks we listen and comply.

Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands.”  It’s not optional for the Lord Jesus to become “the Author and source of eternal salvation to all those who give heed and obey Him”  (Hebrews 5:9).  Therefore, if something is clearly specified in Scripture, it can’t rightly fall in the realm of expediency.  It must be biblically consistent and biblically unspecified.

IT MUST BE EDIFYING— My choices; your choices must build up and if not…it’s not truly an expedient.

When we demand something resulting in harm to the One Body (the church), we’re not behaving responsibly to the blood-bought church.  Our expediencies must ‘edify’ our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

IT MUST NOT CAUSE STUMBLINGOverriding principles of the New Covenant must exercise our liberty in a responsible way; with consideration for our brothers/sisters less settled in their faith.  Harvest Festivals; HALLOWEEN might seem expedient to most but if it causes ‘stumbling’ to a new babe in Christ, it is not the responsible action.  If my choices good and right as they may cause a brother or sister to stumble and fall in their walk with Jesus, then I have not truly exercised my liberty in a godly and responsible manner.

Romans 14:1-15:2 and 1 Corinthians 8 stresses this principle time and again:  “Do not let yourselves be [hindrances by giving] an offense to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:32.  This would apply to any area of liberty including our choice of what may be perceived to be expedient in accomplishing God’s will.

Expedients are employed by us ALL…on a daily basis.

Let’s cease demanding uniformity as a requirement and more accepting of and forbearing with one another in areas of choice; let us begin promoting unity instead; applying these principles of course.  I believe such a new attitude and course of action will be more expedient in nature.