6th Sunday of Easter
Jesus is Here!
1. With his rebuke
2. With his riches
3. With his reward
Text: Revelation 3:14-22
I always know when trouble is happening. All parents know when something is going down in the house. What’s the telltale sign? It’s quiet. Too quiet. Normally the kids are loud or rowdy or pretending they are Batman or Dora. But suddenly you realize it is abnormally quiet. Too quiet.
“Gwendolyn, what are you doing?” “Nuffin’.” “Gwendolyn, what are you doing in there?” “Nuffin.’” “Gwendolyn, tell me what’s going on!” “Don’t worry about it!” (That is an actual conversation that has taken place far too many times lately.) Those are the times that the parent walks into a room and sees every drawer pulled out of every dresser and every piece of clothing piled up in a fort, or all of mommy’s makeup on the child’s face and on the floor.
The same things happen in schools. The teacher turns the back for one second and things start flying through the air. A teacher steps out for one second to discipline a studen and all the others think it’s party time. The teacher is correcting papers at the desk and the students think there is no way they will be caught passing a note, or these days, sneaking off a couple text messages. Then the teacher turns to look and suddenly everyone sits up straight and holds up a book—as if that isn’t completely obvious!
It’s amazing what kids think they can get away with. It’s as if they think they are above the law or immune to punishment. It’s as if they think they are untouchable. It’s as if they think they will never get caught and no one will ever know. But we parents, we teachers, have eyes in the back of our heads. We see everything. We know everything. We will always find out the truth. We will always catch them. They will never get away with anything! Read the rest of this entry
The doorbell rang. Of course! Right when I’m in the middle of something!
I went to the door, looked through the stained glass, and knew immediately who it was. I could tell by the mid-length floral dresses. It was the Jehovah’s Witnesses–again.
I opened the door and they began their regular and rehearsed routine. But I cut right to the chase. “Thank you very much, but I don’t need information from anyone who denies that Jesus Christ is truly God.” They had the look in their eyes like they knew they were in for an up-hill battle.
The two ladies at the door couldn’t answer many of my points from Scripture about Jesus being true God and our true Savior who gives eternal life in heaven to all who believe (not just 144,000). They needed to bring in the cavalry for reinforcements.
I shared more truths from Scripture, but they simply wouldn’t listen. Finally, I made one last-ditch effort to wake them from spiritual slumber. They needed a huge wakeup call from the full force of God’s Law.
I smiled and calmly stated, “My name is Phil. I want you to remember that. I want you to remember so that on the Last Day when Jesus comes and you find out you were wrong, you will know that at least one person tried to tell you and warn you.”
Recently I have been writing about a particular topic–homosexuality. In a broader spectrum I have actually been writing about unrepentant sin of every kind–sinning against God without care, sorrow, or regret. The last two days these posts have been a hotbed of discussion and opinions. One of the more common things I have heard from people is this:
“It’s none of your business.”
“It’s none of your business what other people do. It’s none of your business what people do in the privacy of their own homes. It’s none of your business because it doesn’t affect you.”
But don’t get me wrong, I haven’t only heard this from people living the homosexual lifestyle or in favor of homosexuality. I hear this from the church prospect whose living situation isn’t pleasing to the Lord. I hear this from prescription pill addict who won’t admit he has a problem and is in danger of going to prison. I hear this all the time from many, many people. They all say the same thing:
“It’s none of your business.”
But listen to what the Lord said to the prophet Ezekiel 33:7-11:
7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 9 But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.
10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’
It was Ezekiel’s job, his commission, his mission, and his ministry to be a watchman for the people of Israel. Just as a city watchman would stand on the city walls and warn of impending danger, so Ezekiel’s job was to warn the people of Israel about the danger of their sins.
Amazingly, the Lord even told Ezekiel that if Israel did not repent of their sins and Ezekiel had not warned them, then he would share in the guilt and responsibility of their sins!
Ezekiel was to be a mouthpiece for the Lord. Why? Because the Lord does not desire that people go to hell. The Lord wants people to turn from their sin and evil ways, to repent, to be forgiven, and to be in heaven. That’s what the Lord wants, and that’s what the Lord wants us to tell others.
Imagine you are at the Grand Canyon. What a beautiful sight! But suddenly, to your horror, you see a blind person walking around the rim of the canyon. The person is using a cane, so he has some awareness of the danger. But he chooses to walk in danger anyways.
It gets worse! Terribly worse!
You see that blind person walking toward the edge. Slowly but surely he nears that edge. Then, sadly, he even walks off and falls to his peril.
You stood by and watched the whole thing take place. But you didn’t say anything. Why? Because it was “none of your business.”
Was it really loving of you to “mind your own business”? Would you not say that though that blind person brought on his own death, you also shared in culpability because you said nothing?
That’s exactly what God told Ezekiel, and that’s exactly what God tells his people today. We are his watchmen. It is absolutely, completely, definitely our business what other people do because it our job, our commission, our mission, and our ministry to speak the Word of God to others.
No, we are not to stand in judgment of others. That’s for God to do. No, we are not to look down our noses at others as if we have never sinned and we are so much better. That’s neither realistic nor loving.
But rather we are supposed to be God’s watchmen carefully, clearly, and lovingly proclaiming the truth. Listen to the apostle Peter:
15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Peter 3:15-16)
God wants us to be prepared to speak his truth, to be his mouthpiece, to be his watchmen. Yet–so importantly–he tells us to do so with gentleness and respect. It is in love for the eternal salvation of those living in sin that we proclaim God’s message: “Turn! Turn from your evil ways!” (After we preach the message to ourselves first!)
Many have told me before, “It’s none of your business.” Well actually, yes it is. God has charged me as both Christian and pastor to be a watchman and to proclaim his truth with gentleness, respect, and love.
And besides, I care! I do not want to see people walk off the edge of the cliff!
So, fellow Christians, stand your watch. Care. Love. Proclaim God’s truth.
It is your business.
What a life I have lived!
I’m well past three decades in this world now and marching quickly toward four. Those 30+ years have brought a lot of life experiences. Sadly, there are so many that I am so very ashamed of.
Sometimes I truly can’t believe the things I have done.
How could I have been so disrespectful and rude to my parents at times? My son would be grounded until he has great-grandkids if he pulled some of the same garbage I did.
How could I have said and done the things I did when I was in high school and college? The bravado. The brashness. The cutting words. The sharp tongue. The uncaring heart.
Pathetic! Read the rest of this entry
It finally happened. The first professional athlete in a major team sport (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL) has “come out” as being gay.
Jason Collins, a well-traveled 11-year NBA veteran, stepped forward recently to tell the world that he is in fact gay. He states that it was never his intention or goal to become the first. Rather he has always just been himself and now was finally the right time for admitting it.
This is no small story. It is all over the news. ESPN has made it a feature story after nearly begging for some major athlete to “come out” in recent articles. All the other media sources are giving full coverage as well. This is a HUGE story and a HUGE moment for the LGBT community. And truly . . .
IT IS AWFUL!
On the one hand I can say that I can’t believe the outright sinfulness that is heralded and honored in our country. But on the other hand, I’m never really surprised at what Satan can do. What incredible lies he has blinded people with!
As this story has broken, the overwhelming response has been one of support and respect. Kobe Bryant tweeted his support and pride in Jason Collins’ gay pride. Many other athletes have done the same. News reporters, politicians, and more have been chiming in with their opinions of how “brave” this “pioneer” is.
But truly, this absolutely confounds me. Satan has actually convinced people to think that this is cool, important, and acceptable.
How come no one heralded Tiger Woods for being a pioneer in combining the worlds of athletics and adultery? (Though he really is no pioneer. Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson will always take the cake for adulterous athletes.) But why did Tiger Woods have to stand up and apologize to the world for his behavior while Jason Collins is heralded as a hero? Why can someone be openly gay but not openly adulterous?
How come ESPN 30 for 30 did an entire story on the shame of the many athletes who lost all of their money to a lifestyle of debauchery and greed, but Jason Collins is applauded for his lifestyle?
Why are those who break sports rules by taking Performance Enhancing Drugs condemned as horrible cheaters, but those who break God’s rules for marriage are praised for their ground-breaking choices?
What is it that makes the media want to commend and condone homosexual athletes? Why not do the same for those who “come out” as alcoholics, gamblers, adulterous cheaters, or drug addicts? What if an athlete came out and admitted that he has always “been this way”–no, he was even “born this way” and “pre-progammed”–that he is a member of NAMBLA and loves children in a sexual way? What would the media say then? If that person claims God made them that way and they can’t help it and that they feel oppressed and persecuted, would that pedophile be considered a national hero? Why not?
Here’s the pathetic problem with our world and our country today: There is no concept whatsoever for absolute truth, in particular, what God states is absolute truth. If there were understanding about what is absolutely, completely, 100% true, then there could be no arguments about actions and lifestyles that God declares to be sinful.
The absolute truth is that all of the above actions mentioned are sins–including homosexuality. None of these athletes should be commended or congratulated for their actions. All of them, Jason Collins included, should be rebuked for disobeying what God says and for sinning.
Please don’t misunderstand. This is not a hate-filled post. I don’t dislike Jason Collins. I would play basketball against him or with him. And I know full well that I am probably more of a sinner than Jason Collins is. So this has nothing to do with hatred or persecution or arrogance or anything similar. Rather, this has everything to do with love–love for a sinner ensnared by Satan’s temptations and lies.
Jason Collins and all the other unabashed, open, and “out” sinners of every kind need to be called to repentance. They need to listen carefully to God’s clear Word about what is right and what is wrong. They need to turn from sinful actions and choices and turn to the Lord. There in the Lord and in his truth they will most certainly find forgiveness for their sins. Trust me. If I could be forgiven, if David, Peter, Paul and all the sinners of the Bible could be forgiven, then Jason Collins and the rest can be forgiven too.
The floodgates are likely about to pour open. Jason Collins was the first professional athlete in a major sport to “come out” as being gay. There will likely be many, many more.
But please, for the sake of their eternal salvation, DON’T comfort, condone, or congratulate them!
Call them back to the ways of the Lord!