Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Isaiah 17 Predicts Destruction of Damascus, Syria!!!

A brother in the Lord recently brought to my attention that since the terror attacks upon its own people in Syria, the United States and other countries are talking about an attack on Damascus. As I look at current events in light of biblical prophecy, I can't help but notice that Isaiah prophesied of Damascus' utter ruin and destruction in the end times after the rapture of the church:

"The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from [being] a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap." (Isaiah 17:1)

I have listed a couple "eye-opening" links as to what may occur that could fulfill Isaiah's prophecy:

1. Syrian Crisis: Western Military Options
2. Israel will hit hard, if Syria strikes against Israel
3. Overview of fulfilled prophecy of Isaiah 17
4. Why Destruction of Damascus is after Rapture

Is this simply talk or could we see this fulfillment in the very near future, maybe in a couple months? Whatever the case, this should cause us to be ready for the Lord's return for His Church because these are things that will happen in the tribulation, and we know that "God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." ( 1 Thess. 5:9) True believers will not have to go through the Tribulation, but be taken out before that horrible 7 year period ( 1 Thess. 4:16-17).
Come Lord Jesus, Come!

In Christ -Dustin

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Failure to do Expositional Preaching: It's Effects

Taken from John MacArthur's Sermon: "Why I'm Committed to Expository Preaching."

1.       A failure to do expositional preaching usurps the authority of God over the soul:  If you don’t open the Word of God and let them hear the message of God, you have usurped His authority.  God has a right to speak to men and women, has a right to speak to His church and when His church gathers, it is to hear Him speak...not you.

2.       It usurps the headship of Christ over His church

3.       A failure to preach and teach expositionally  hinders the work of the Holy Spirit: The Spirit uses the Word as the means of sanctification. So if you fail to proclaim, to teach, to exposit the Word of God, you usurp the authority of God, you usurp the headship of Christ, and hinder the work of the Holy Spirit

4.       A failure to do expositional preaching demonstrates then pride and a lack of submission, pride and a lack of submission.

5.       A failure to do expositional preaching severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture:  Week by week by week by week exposition of Scripture calls for week by week by week intense study of the text. They’re concerned about reaching the culture and identifying with the culture and they know all that’s bad and they’re intimately acquainted with what’s bad in the culture...that’s toxic.

6.       A failure to do expositional preaching, biblical, doctrinal exposition removes spiritual depth and transcendence from worship:  If you’re superficial and you’re shallow in your preaching, your people think superficially and therefore they worship superficially.

7.       A failure to do expositional preaching prevents the preacher from fully developing the mind of Christ critical to His work: Physicians of the soul diagnose with a divine diagnosis and cure with a divine cure. If you’re not biblically expert, then you’re not fulfilling your responsibility. It’s not about style, and you know that. It’s not about being cute and funny and clever, creative and innovative and attractive and winsome and charismatic, it’s about truth, and it’s about knowing the truth and being consistent and having facility with the truth and speaking the mind of Christ on that.

8.       A failure to do expository preaching depreciates by example the spiritual duty of personal Bible study: If it is not demonstrated from the pulpit that there is a serious commitment to regular and intense examination of Scripture, how do you convince the people in the pew that it’s important? But if it’s more important for you to be clever or insightful, or psychological or anything else, you cannot convey that to the people

9.       A failure to do expositional preaching prevents the preacher from being the voice of God on every issue of his time:  Wherever you are, whenever you have an opportunity, you want to be the voice of God.

10.   A failure to do expositional preaching breeds a congregation that is weak and indifferent to the glory of God and Christ. A failure to preach Scripture redirects people from a God-centered perspective to a man-centered perspective. It tends to undermine confidence, of course, in Scripture.

11.   A failure to do Bible exposition robs people of their only true source of help. It robs people of their only true source of help, the Scripture.

12.   A failure to do biblical exposition produces an attitude of indifference toward divine authority.

13.   A failure to exposit the scriptures lies to people about what they really need:  Treating people’s wounds superficially? They think they’re getting spiritual help and they’re not.

14.   It strips the pulpit of power:  You’re gone and the people are under the authority of the Word of God. And they want to be wounded and they don’t want to be wounded superficially. They want to be cut deep. When you don’t exposit the Word, you strip the pulpit of its power.

15.   A failure to do expository preaching assumes that the preacher can change people by his ability: Don’t tell me what you believe, show me by what you do when you get in the pulpit.

16.   A failure to do expository preaching reduces the preacher’s words to the level of everyone else’s word: So when you don’t exposit the Word of God, you reduce your own words, void of Scripture, to the level of everyone else’s words.

17.   A failure to do expository preaching portrays an attitude of self-love rather than loving the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul.

18.   It creates a destructive disconnect between doctrine and life:  You give people superficial ideas about God, they are superficially motivated. So you create a destructive disconnect between sound doctrine and life. Life always imitates theology.

19.   A failure to do expositional preaching denigrates the person of God by omitting those attributes and truths of his revelation that trouble and terrify the unregenerate. How would you define the Seeker Movement, the Emerging Church Movement that seeks to be inoffensive, right? And you denigrate the full glory of God by omitting those attributes and those truths of His revelation that trouble and terrify sinners.

20.   A failure to do expositional preaching reduces the preacher to the level of every rival teacher shorn of authority. It leaves ministry success to be determined by who is most clever, who can get the biggest crowd.

21.   A failure to do expositional preaching emasculates the dominion of the pulpit over people’s minds and souls.

22.   A failure to do expository preaching disconnects people from the legacy of the past from the history of the church: But if you had no interest in the deep things of Scripture, you have absolutely no connection to those people and so you disconnect yourself from the great legacy of the past, the history of the church, the doctrines, the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit on those great men of the past.

23.   A failure to do expositional preaching removes protection from error and carnality so dangerous to the church: If you feel the pain when God is dishonored and if you feel the pain when you’re people sin, then you’re going to do everything you can to lead them down the path where that’s not going to happen.

24.   Failure to do expositional preaching abandons the duty to guard the truth: “What’s the biggest problem in the church?” Lack of discernment. You know, it’s spiritual AIDS. And people have a deficient discernment system can die of a thousand heresies.

25.   A failure to do expositional preaching denies defacto all spiritual blessings from one’s relationship to the Lord: And our relationship to Christ develops along the line of understanding, loving, embracing, obeying truth.

26.   A failure to do Bible exposition generates shallow, selfish prayer...shallow, selfish prayer. No deep communion.

27.   If you don’t do expositional preaching, you fail to lead people to self-denial, cross-bearing humility.

28.   A failure to do expositional preaching cheats people of the means to truly delighting in the Lord: Shallow knowledge means shallow love. As you go through your life and as you study the Scripture year after year, after year, after year, it’s so awesome, it’s so stunning, it’s so staggering, it’s so consistent, it’s so powerful

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why I Am Committed to Teaching the Bible

By John MacArthur

I have never aspired to be known as a theologian, a polemicist, or an academician. My passion is
teaching and preaching the Word of God.
Even though I've dealt with theological questions and doctrinal controversies in some of my books, I have never done so from the perspective of a systematic theologian. It is of little concern to me whether some point of doctrine fits with this tradition or that. I want to know what is biblical. All my concerns are biblical, and my desire is to be biblical in all my teaching.

Preach the Word

That is how I have approached ministry from the beginning. My father was a pastor, and when I first told him years ago that I felt God had called me to a life of ministry, he gave me a Bible in which he had inscribed these words of encouragement: "Preach the Word!" That simple statement became the compelling stimulus in my heart. It is all I have endeavored to do in my ministry--preach the Word.
Pastors today face a tremendous amount of pressure to do everything but preach the Word. Church growth experts tell them they must address people's "felt needs." They are encouraged to be storytellers, comedians, psychologists, and motivational speakers. They are warned to steer clear of topics that people find unpleasant. Many have given up biblical preaching in favor of devotional homilies designed to make people feel good. Some have even replaced preaching with drama and other forms of staged entertainment.
But the pastor whose passion is biblical has only one option: "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction" (2 Timothy 4:2).
When Paul wrote those words to Timothy, he added this prophetic warning: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth" (vv. 3-4).
Clearly there was no room in Paul's philosophy of ministry for the give-people-what-they-want theory that is so prevalent today. He did not urge Timothy to conduct a survey to find out what his people wanted. He commanded him to preach the Word--faithfully, reprovingly, and patiently.
In fact, far from urging Timothy to devise a ministry that would garner accolades from the world, Paul warned the young pastor about suffering and hardship! Paul was not telling Timothy how to be "successful," he was encouraging him to follow the divine standard. He was not advising him to pursue prosperity, power, prominence, popularity, or any of the otherworldly notions of success. He was urging the young pastor to be biblical--regardless of the consequences.
Preaching the Word is not always easy. The message we are required to proclaim is often offensive. Christ Himself is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense (Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:8). The message of the cross is a stumbling block to some (1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 5:11), mere foolishness to others (1 Corinthians 1:23).
But we are never permitted to trim the message or tailor it to people's preferences. Paul made this clear to Timothy at the end of 2 Timothy 3: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (v. 16, emphasis added). This is the Word to be preached: the whole counsel of God (cf. Acts 20:27).
In chapter 1 Paul had told Timothy, "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me" (v. 13). He was speaking of the revealed words of Scripture--all of it. He urged Timothy to "Guard . . . the treasure which has been entrusted to you" (v. 14). Then in chapter 2 he told him to study the Word and handle it accurately (2:15). Now he is telling him to proclaim it. So the entire task of the faithful minister revolves around the Word of God--guarding it, studying it, and proclaiming it.
In Colossians 1 the apostle Paul, describing his own ministry philosophy, writes, "Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God" (v. 25). In 1 Corinthians he goes a step further: "When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (2:2). In other words, his goal as a preacher was not to entertain people with his rhetorical style, or to amuse them with cleverness, humor, novel insights, or sophisticated methodology--he simply preached Christ crucified.
Faithfully preaching and teaching the Word must be the very heart of our ministry philosophy. Any other approach replaces the voice of God with human wisdom. Philosophy, politics, humor, psychology, homespun advice, and human opinion can never accomplish what the Word of God does. Those things may be interesting, informative, and entertaining, but they are not the business of the church. The preacher's task is not to be a conduit for human wisdom; he is God's voice to speak to the congregation. No human message comes with the stamp of divine authority--only the Word of God. How dare any preacher substitute another message?
I frankly do not understand preachers who are willing to abdicate this solemn privilege. Why should we proclaim the wisdom of men when we have the privilege of preaching the Word of God?

Be Faithful In and Out of Season

Ours is a never-ending task. Not only are we to preach the Word, we must do it regardless of the climate of opinion around us. We are commanded to be faithful when such preaching is tolerated--but also when it is not.
Let's face it--right now preaching the Word is out of season. The market-driven philosophy currently in vogue says that plainly declaring biblical truth is outmoded. Biblical exposition and theology are seen as antiquated and irrelevant. "Churchgoers don't want to be preached to anymore," this philosophy says. "The baby-boomer generation won't just sit in the pew while someone up front preaches. They are products of a media-driven generation, and they need a church experience that will satisfy them on their own terms."
But Paul says the excellent minister must be faithful to preach the Word even when it is not in fashion. The expression he uses is "be ready." The Greek term (ephistemi) literally means "to stand beside." It has the idea of eagerness. It was often used to describe a military guard, always at his post, prepared for duty. Paul was speaking of an explosive eagerness to preach, like that of Jeremiah, who said that the Word of God was a fire in his bones (Jeremiah 20:9. That's what he was demanding of Timothy. Not reluctance but readiness. Not hesitation but fearlessness. Not motivational talks but the Word of God.

Reprove, Rebuke, and Exhort

Paul also gives Timothy instructions about the tone of his preaching. He uses two words that carry negative connotations and one that is positive: reprove, rebuke, and exhort. All valid ministry must have a balance of positive and negative. The preacher who fails to reprove and rebuke is not fulfilling his commission.
Years ago I listened to a radio interview with a preacher known for his emphasis on positive thinking. This man had stated in print that he assiduously avoids any mention of sin in his preaching because he feels people are burdened with too much guilt anyway. The interviewer asked how he could justify such a policy. The pastor replied that he had made the decision early in his ministry to focus on meeting people's needs, not attacking their sin.
But people's deepest need is to confess and overcome their sin. So preaching that fails to confront and correct sin through the Word of God does not meet people's need. It may make them feel good. And they may respond enthusiastically to the preacher, but that is not the same as having real needs met.
Reproving, rebuking, and exhorting are the same as preaching the Word, for those are the very same ministries Scripture accomplishes: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). Notice the same balance of positive and negative tone. Reproof and correction are negative; teaching and training are positive.
The positive tone is crucial, too. The word "exhort" is parakaleo, a word that means "encourage." The excellent preacher confronts sin and then encourages repentant sinners to behave righteously. He is to do this "with great patience and instruction" (4:2). In 1 Thessalonians 2:11, Paul talks about "exhorting and encouraging and imploring . . . as a father would his own children." This often requires great patience and much instruction. But the excellent minister cannot neglect these aspects of his calling.

Don't Compromise in Difficult Times

There is an urgency in Paul's charge to young Timothy: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires" (2 Tim. 4:3). That is a prophecy reminiscent of those found in 2 Timothy 3:1 ("Realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come"), and 1 Timothy 4:1 ("The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith"). This, then, is Paul's third prophetic warning to Timothy about the difficult times that were to come.
Note the progression: The first warning said that the time would come when people will depart from the faith. The second one warned Timothy that dangerous times were coming for the church. Now the third one suggests that the time would come when those in the church would not endure sound doctrine, but desire instead to have their ears tickled.
That is happening in the church today. Evangelicalism has lost its tolerance for confrontive preaching. Churches ignore the biblical teaching on women's roles, homosexuality, and other politically charged issues. The human medium has overtaken the divine message. That's evidence of serious doctrinal compromise. If the church does not repent, those errors and others like them will become epidemic.
Note that Paul does not suggest that the way to reach such a society is to soften the message so that its people will be comfortable with it. Just the opposite is true. Such ear-tickling is abominable. Paul urges Timothy to be willing to suffer for the truth's sake, and keep preaching the Word faithfully.
An appetite for ear-tickling preaching has a terrible end. Second Timothy 4:4 says these people will ultimately "turn away their ears from the truth and will be turned aside to myths." They become the victims of their own refusal to hear the truth. "They will turn away" is in the active voice. The people willfully choose this action. "Will be turned aside to myths" is in the passive voice. It describes what happens to them. Having turned from the truth, they become victims of deception. As soon as they turn away from the truth, they become pawns of Satan.
The truth of God does not tickle our ears, it boxes them. It burns them. It reproves, rebukes, convicts--then it exhorts and encourages. Preachers of the Word must be careful to maintain that balance.
There have always been men in the pulpit who gathered crowds because they were gifted orators, interesting storytellers, entertaining speakers, dynamic personalities, shrewd crowd-manipulators, rousing speech-makers, popular politicians, or erudite scholars. Such preaching may be popular, but it is not necessarily powerful. No one can preach with power who does not preach the Word. And no faithful preacher will water down or neglect the whole counsel of God. Proclaiming the Word--all of it--is the pastor's calling.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Value of Understanding God's Sovereignty

These excerpts are taken from I book I just finished called: "The Sovereignty of God" by A.W. Pink, a true classic full of biblical truth.

"It is not until the sinner despairs of any help from himself that he will ever fall into the arms of Sovereign mercy; but if once the Holy Spirit convicts him that there is no help in himself then he will recognize that he is lost, and will cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner," and such a cry will be heard." (pg. 161)

"The success of the ministry which He has committed into our hands is not left contingent on the fickleness of the wills in those to whom we preach. How gloriously encouraging, how soul-sustaining the assurance are those words of our Lord’s if we rest on them in simple faith: “And other sheep I have (“have” mark you, not “will have”; “have” because given to Him by the Father before the foundation of the world), which are not of this fold (i.e. the Jewish fold then existing): them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice” (John 10:16). Not simply, “they ought to hear My voice,” not simply “they may hear My voice,” not “they will if they are willing.” There is no “if,” no uncertainty about it. “They shall hear My voice” is His own positive, unqualified, absolute promise. Here then is where faith is to rest! Continue your quest, dear friend, after the “other sheep” of Christ’s. Be not discouraged because the “goats” heed not His voice as you preach the Gospel. Be faithful, be scriptural, be persevering, and Christ may use even you to be His mouthpiece in calling some of His lost sheep unto Himself. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not invain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58)." (pg. 175)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Extra Revelation Outside God's Truth: The Mark of all Falsehood!!

 After listening to a recent sermon entitled: "Is God still revealing Truth," by John MacArthur I began to think about the common thread that exists for all the extra revelation that is being presented. By "extra revelation" I mean teachings, experiences, visions, tongues, revelations, dreams, trips to heaven, declarations made from "hearing from the Lord" or speaking ex-cathedra that are outside of the Bible itself.

God warned in Revelation 22:18-19: "For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."


There is a very serious warning to those who try to add or subtract from God's only revelation of Truth: The Bible. All 66 books of the Bible are inspired of God and are our only source of truth. When people start to add to the Bible through proclaiming "the Lord told them" this or that, or "God gave me a vision or dream", or "I speak on the same authority that God speaks", there is ultimately falsehood!

I want to bring to your attention a few examples of this:

The Charismatic Movement

Most of the extra revelation supposedly coming from God outside the Bible comes from the Word of Faith movement. This movement teaches that God is still speaking to prophets and apostles today and revealing 'new' information outside the Bible. This is often in the form of dreams, visions, personal experiences or encounters with God, or through speaking in tongues. The problem with this extra revelation is that it is supposedly coming from the Lord. That would give it the same authority of the Scriptures. If God speaks, it carries the same weight. There is no way to really test these revelations except to compare it to the Bible, and even then the revelations given by these people are subjective.
For example: "In 1987 Oral Roberts told his nationwide audience that God had threatened to “call him home” if he couldn’t raise eight million dollars by his creditors’ deadline. Whether and how that threat might have been carried out, the world will never know; Roberts received a last-minute reprieve in the form of a large check from a Florida dog-track owner. (see: Does God still Give Revelation?-MacArthur)
 Or this one: "Kenneth Hagin surely has the most unusual story of all. He says that when he was younger and still single, God led him to break off a relationship with a girl by revealing to him that she was morally unfit. How did that happen? In a most unconventional way. Hagin claims God miraculously transported him out of church one Sunday, right in the middle of the sermon. Worst of all, Hagin was the preacher delivering the sermon!
Suddenly I was gone! Right in the middle of my sermon, I found myself standing along a street in a little town fifteen miles away--and I knew it was Saturday night. I was leaning against a building, and I saw this young lady come walking down the street. About the time she got to where I was standing, a car came down the street. The driver pulled up to the curb, sounded the horn, and she got into his car. He backed out, turned the other direction, and started out of town--and suddenly I was sitting in the back seat!
They went out in the country and committed adultery. And I watched them. I was still in the cloud. Suddenly I heard the sound of my voice, and the cloud lifted. I was standing behind my pulpit. I didn’t know what to say, because I didn’t know what I had been saying, so I just said, “Everyone bow your head,” and we prayed. I looked at my watch, and . . . I’d been gone about fifteen minutes in the cloud." (see: Does God still Give Revelation? -MacArthur)

The Cults of Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses

These may be the most obvious organizations that have strayed from God's Word, but it's also a common thread in falsehood. The extra revelation received by these prophets: "Joseph Smith" and "Charles Taze Russell," have built organizations that have led countless millions astray from the truth of God's Word.
For example, consider the many false teachings of Mormonism such as works based salvation, having multiple wives, created spirit babies, and attaining to godhood (see: What Mormonism Teaches). Also the numerous false prophecies made by Joseph Smith (see: JS False Prophecies)
The Jehovah's Witlessness's extra revelation have produced false teachings such as Jesus was the archangel Micheal, there is no Trinity, Jesus died on a stake, and good works are necessary for salvation (see: JW's Beliefs). They also have numerous false prophecies (see: JW's False Prophecies).
 When people start to believe there is revelation outside of the Bible, these are the type of things that can become of it!!!

Roman Catholicism

 Lastly, the biggest perpetrator of extra revelation outside the Bible is The Roman Catholic Church. There are many teachings that are inconsistent with the Bible that have come from the Popes speaking ex-cathedra. Ex Cathedra is when the Pope speaks out his authority on behalf of the church.  It is recognized as holding to the same authority as the Scriptures. Many of these false teachings arising from this is the immaculate conception of Mary, the work of redemption by Mary, the apparitions of Mary, a works based salvation, praying to Mary, etc. (see: Catholicism vs. The Bible)
 The many supposed appariations of Mary throughout the world is a classic example of extra revelation that is deceiving millions and "adding" and "subtracting" from the Word of God (Rev. 22:18-19)

In Conclusion, there is a common thread that ties all of these movements and many others together, and that is they use extra revelation outside of God's Word to teach and promote "doctrines of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1) Not only will they suffer the judgment described in Revelation 22:18-19, but they will have led millions of people away from the simple and clear truth found in God's Word.

"Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:3-4)

In Christ -Dustin


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Discernment Matters

Take these simple steps in letting the Holy Spirit guide you in the midst of a world of confusion and noise.

by Charles F. Stanley

When was the last time you heard discernment discussed? It’s not a popular topic today, yet there’s probably never been a culture more in need of it. We’re overloaded with information but short on insight. One click online gives access to more information than our ancestors could have imagined. But how do we know what’s true? And has knowing more made us any wiser?
Lack of discernment is all around, causing overwhelming debt, unsolvable problems, and the emotional turmoil of strained relationships. Even right and wrong are up for grabs. We increasingly resemble the disastrous era of the judges in Israel when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judg. 21:25).
In the midst of such confusion, believers need to develop a discerning spirit so that they can know truth and the Lord’s direction in every circumstance. Without it, we’ll veer off course and find ourselves in trouble. Discernment—the ability to look beneath the surface to see reality—involves evaluating information or situations, recognizing differences, considering consequences, and thereby making sound judgments. In our humanity, none of us have this kind of wisdom, but the Lord is willing to give us the discernment we need.
Why do we need discernment?
• To recognize God’s voice. To discover and fulfill the Lord’s plan for our lives, we must be able to hear His voice. Suppose you ask Him to guide you in making a decision. When a sense of direction comes, can you tell whether it’s from God or your own mind? If you seek advice from a fellow believer, can you determine if the Lord is speaking through him? Without discernment, you won’t know for sure and, as a result, might take numerous wrong turns in life.
• To discern God’s will. While the Bible in some respects speaks definitively about how to live, it doesn’t directly cover every situation. For example, no verse will tell you whom to marry or whether to move for a new job. But this doesn’t mean God is silent on the issue. Although your particular situation may not be mentioned in Scripture, biblical principles cover every decision you’ll ever face. The Holy Spirit, dwelling within, is there to guide us to the right understanding of how to apply God’s Word.
• To make wise decisions. Every day is filled with decisions—some inconsequential, others life-changing. We often run on autopilot without giving a second thought to our choices; then we see only the outward appearance of each situation instead of looking beneath the surface to consider possible future implications. For instance, do you stop to think about the financial burden a spontaneous purchase might cause?
• To distinguish good from best. Not every decision is a choice between right and wrong; we may just need to know the best path to take. God doesn’t want us to just limp along in our Christian lives; He desires that we thrive in the fullness of His will. Each day we’re confronted by decisions that set our course to one degree or another. The only way to make choices aligned with the Lord’s will is by seeking the mind of Christ on the matter. It may seem like a grey area to us, but He knows exactly what He wants us to do and is willing to guide us through His Word and His Spirit.
• To distinguish truth from error. We desperately need a discerning spirit is to recognize deceptions. Much of what we see and hear is based on a perspective influenced by the world and Satan, the Father of Lies. Even our school systems are plagued with error. Beginning in elementary school, children are taught that we’re a product of evolution. Universities continue the indoctrination with godless ideas and intolerance of a biblical worldview.
• To avoid being deceived by sin. Galatians 6:7 reminds us that “whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Sin deceptively promises enjoyment, which lasts only briefly and eventually results in a bitter harvest. Many of life’s pleasures are given to us by God, but there will be temptations to go outside His boundaries. Then, we must consider the painful consequences that await us down the road—and also remember the blessings of obedience.
• To distinguish between legalism and liberty. Personal convictions aren’t necessarily moral mandates for all believers. Scripture is explicit about the Lord’s standards. Within those boundaries, God also offers protection by impressing on us to maintain or avoid certain practices, based on our unique strengths and weaknesses. So if someone pressures you to conform to his standards, you should be able to distinguish a biblical command from a preference.
To communicate with others. Perhaps the most difficult area of discernment is in the realm of relationships. It’s easier to read between the lines in a book than it is to truly understand another person. Remember, discernment is seeing the reality beneath the surface. This means we are to listen for not only what is said but also what isn’t said. Discernment is vital in determining whether someone’s being truthful, but it’s also important in our efforts to help others. By picking up on emotional signals that lie beneath one’s outward appearance or pleasant words, a sensitive individual is able to offer encouragement.

How to become discerning
Spiritual discernment is a gift of God. It’s not something we can manufacture in ourselves, but a quality He develops in us if we’ll choose to ground ourselves in prayer and Bible reading. The more time we spend communing with God and filling our minds with His thoughts, the more discerning we will be. The goal is to let His Spirit guide us in every moment. To do that, we must guard what we allow into our minds. Worldly thinking will overpower spiritual discernment if we spend two or three hours in front of the television and only ten minutes in the Bible.
Because of the Holy Spirit’s continuous presence within us, we never have to make a decision alone or depend on our own limited resources. He’s always there to guide us into all truth and help us recall Christ’s words (John 14:26; John 16:13). However, we have a responsibility to put Scripture into our mind so He can bring it to our remembrance.
The time to begin developing discernment is now. You cannot afford to wait until you are facing a critical decision. Sound judgment is produced through practice as our senses are trained to discern good and evil (Heb. 5:14). It’s not a matter of perfection, but a long process of learning to distinguish God’s guidance. We’ll all make some mistakes along the way, but each wrong turn is an opportunity to learn as we evaluate the outcome.
Begin today by spending time in prayer and filling your mind with Scripture. Ask the Lord for guidance, and to the best of your ability, do what you think He’s saying. If you’re truly seeking to follow Him, He’ll show you the way.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Gospel Tracts: A Great Tool for Evangelism

 One of the best tools I like to use to spread the Good News of the Gospel are tracts. What are tracts anyway you may ask? A Gospel tract in particular is a small pamphlet or card that communicates the message of salvation through Jesus Christ in a short, summarized way. It is often a quick read that gets straight to the facts and it often asks for a choice to be made about the content that is being read.
Tracts come in all different shapes, sizes, and styles. They have different approaches to sharing the Gospel using different topics that may or may not apply to a specific target group.
They have tracts for Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses, people struggling with alcohol, drugs, pornography, and depression. Tracts can also be targeted towards the skeptics, the "I'm a good person people," or someone who just needs to identify their need for a Savior.
 I personally endorse Gospel tracts because I have heard testimonies of people who have been saved through reading them (Testimonies). I also find them to be an effective tool for those of us who want the Gospel seeds to be spread and lack the time and opportunities to share with everyone. It is also great for Christians who are timid and haven't built up the confidence to share face to face or can remember what to say.
Some people doubt the effectiveness of handing out Gospel tracts because people might just throw them away. But let me encourage you with this:
In Luke 15:1-7 it reads- "Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him.  And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."
 I like to think of this parable as using Gospel tracts. I understand the context is Jesus the Great Shepherd seeking the lost sinner. But I think using tracts applies. Imagine you pass out 100 gospel tracts and 99 of them gets thrown in the trash! But one of them doesn't and the Holy Spirit uses that one tract to bring that person to salvation and the result is that they believe and understand what is written. Isn't that one tract, that was effective in that one person's life worth it, if they came to saving faith? There would have been rejoicing in Heaven for sure (v.7).  
 We are responsible for spreading the message of Christ! We are NOT responsible with how someone reacts to the message. We know the message of the cross is "foolishness to those who are perishing" (1 Cor. 1:18). BUT to us who are being saved it is the power of God (v. 19)!!!
 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." (Rom. 1:16)
  So start spreading the Gospel through tracts and make sure to always pray after you pass them out! God will make sure to water the seed and bring the harvest!!!
In Christ -Dustin

Resources for ordering Gospel tracts:

1. http://www.livingwaters.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=8&Itemid=199&lang=en

2. http://www.fellowshiptractleague.org/english.html

3. http://www.chick.com/default.asp

4. http://proclaimingthegospel.org/store