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My Mom Just Didn’t Know pt II


As I mentioned last week, all things considered, I had a very enjoyable time celebrating our 53rd wedding anniversary at the beginning of this month. For those of you who weren’t here allow me to explain. My wife and I left for our vacation very early on Sunday morning. I didn’t mention the fact that I had received a very upsetting email from a hurting young woman most of you folks know and care about greatly. She wrote, Mike, during the past week it’s been very hard to escape from the devil, especially when I’m alone. I ask Jesus to shoo him away from me but he comes right back. The devil keeps telling me to kill myself and I almost did. Then I heard another voice telling me not to and I snapped out of it.

So we drove away from our home with me not knowing if this woman was still in our world or the next. I knew you folks would because of the way the devil told her to kill herself would be all over the local news. I was glad a couple of you had agreed to email me that day telling me how the morning Worship Service went and that was the first thing I did when we checked in. Nothing! I checked on and off throughout the day and the next. You can imagine the thoughts that were popping into my head. They were ranging from those two people didn’t want to tell me and put and damper on my vacation or maybe something bad happened in their lives. I was greatly relieved when I received an email from the woman towards the end of the following afternoon. “Mike. I’m sorry for sending you an email about my experiences when you are supposed to be enjoying your anniversary. I’m very sorry to make you worry about me. You need this time to mend and heal. I’ll be OK because Jesus is taking care of me by shooing the devil away. We can talk when you return. Hope and pray you and Vi are well and enjoying your time together. I’ll be praying for you.” Needless to say I phoned the woman several times during our vacation in an attempt to comfort and encourage her. I found out the day after we returned home that the two folks who assured me they would let me know how the Worship Service went just happened to get caught up in a lot of unexpected busyness and simply forgot. As I said in the beginning of this message, the devil was able to whack me real good during our three day vacation. My mom never told me how diabolically clever the devil is in influencing people because she just didn’t know.

In some respects this woman reminds me of our friend Dick from whom I received the following email yesterday. “Mike, throughout time satan has been aware of the lives of all the people who have been born. He knows a lot about them but not everything because only OUR LORD does. At every turn and every move he will do all he can to turn everyone he can away from JESUS. Because of who he is and wanting to be the one in control he does what he can to turn each and every one of us to his way of thinking. If satan calls on you, talk to the only One that can help, OUR LORD “JESUS.” “Ask HIM to chase that demon away and out of you. HE “JESUS” has helped me many, many times in this last 4 1/2 months. I will continue to use HIS help. HE “JESUS” has helped me throughout my lifetime to keep satan at bay, especially 27 years and 4 months ago. I hope that I will continue to be strong enough not to listen to satan and to ask JESUS for help. YOUR FRIEND IN CHRIST, Dick LaBelle.”

Each of these Christians is grieving over the recent loss of someone they love dearly, and both are being ferociously attacked by the devil. As far as I know, neither of them presently attend a church, nor have a pastor. This is the specific issue I plan to address in this message because of its seriousness. I’m sorry to say it’s all too common among Bible believing Christians in our country today. It’s also something which often causes other Bible believing Christians to wonder if these folks are truly followers of Jesus, and it’s certainly something my mom would have taught me about the devil and his wiles when I was a boy if she had only known.

“And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, 25 Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25 (AMP)

Commenting on these verses, R. Kent Hughes writes: “The final exhortation in this section is to mutually consider one another and it extends through verse 25, which is actually a principal phrase carrying on the thought of verse 24: “People have a thousand reasons to stay away from church. This is not a new problem. The early Jewish church had had a fall-off in attendance due to persecution, ostracism, apostasy, and arrogance. Today persecution and ostracism may not be our experience, but people find many other reasons to absent themselves from worship, not the least of which is laziness.” “We meet Christ in a special way in corporate worship. It is true that a person does not have to go to church to be a Christian. He does not have to go home to be married either. But in both cases if he does not, he will have a very poor relationship.” “Next, if you absent yourself from church, you will encumber your ability to glorify God in worship. Congregational worship makes possible an intensity of adoration that does not as readily occur in solitude. On the tragic level, a mom tends to descend to a much deeper level of cruelty than individuals. It is also understood that the appreciation and enjoyment of an informed group of music lovers at a symphony is more intense than that of a single listener at home. This holds true for worship as well. Corporate worship provides a context where passion is joyously elevated and God’s Word ministers with unique power. “It is also true that giving up meeting together hampers one’s theology and doctrinal understanding. Paul, in Ephesians 3:18 prays that the church in Ephesus “may have power, together with all that saints, to grasp and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” Great theological truths are best learned corporately-“with all the saints.” Theology is done by the assembled church.” (A)

Kenneth Boa adds: “Comparatively speaking, the Old Testament lays more stress on corporate life while the New Testament more fully develops the personal dimension in addition to the social dimension of life in community. But both Testaments affirm the personal and the corporate as well as the inextricable relationship between the two. The personal inside-out transformation that is realized through the presence and action of Jesus is meant to reconcile and renew our relationships with others. Since spirituality does not flourish in isolation, the corporate process of discipleship should inform and supplement personal discipleship. Unfortunately, there is a natural tendency to be pulled toward the extremes of individualism and institutionalism. The individualistic extreme minimizes the value of life in community, while the institutional extreme causes the person to be lost in the service of the institution. It is best to avoid the two horns of this dilemma by embracing the both-and tension between solitude and community. Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it well in Life Together:

“Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when He called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting God’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called ….Let him who is not in community beware of being alone; into the community you were called, the call was not meant to be alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray. You are not alone, even in death, and on the Last Day you will be only one member of the great congregation of Jesus Christ. If you scorn the fellowship of the brethren, you reject the call of Jesus Christ, and thus your solitude can only be hurtful to you.”

Boa continues: “In a series on Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry, Henri Nouwen uses Luke 6:12-16 to illustrate the combination of these three disciplines in the life of our Lord.

“It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew; 15 and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. 17 Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place; and there was a large crowd of His disciples, and a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were being cured. 19 And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all. Luke 6:12-19 (NASB)

“Jesus spent the night in solitude with God, and in the morning he formed community by gathering his disciples around him. Then in the afternoon Jesus ministered with his disciples to the physical and spiritual needs of the people who came to hear him. In the same way, we should imitate this inside-out order that flows from devotion to Christ (solitude), to devotion to the community, to devotion to the gospel (ministry). Community is the bridge that connects solitude (intimacy with God) with ministry to believers and unbelievers.” “As believers grow in the solitude of intimacy with the Lord, their capacity for life in community increases as well. True community in Christ is not a collection of lonely or isolated individuals but a dynamic interaction of people who know they are accepted and beloved in Christ. God does not call us to be Christians at large or a colony of hermits but a vital organism of others-centered people of which Christ is the head.”

“The more we realize that we are allies on the journey rather than independent agents, the more clearly we will see that personal spiritual growth does not take place in a relational vacuum. In this world, we are part of a community of pilgrims who are traveling toward God, and we are meant to assist, nurture, and encourage one another along the way. Commitment to a local community of faith enhances spiritual growth by providing a corporate context for identity, involvement, and ministry. This commitment to mutual nurture and service is most clearly expressed in the New Testament reciprocal “one another commands.” (B)

I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. John 13:34 (AMP)

10 Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. Romans 12:10 (AMP)

16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits. Romans 12:16 (AMP)

5 Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5 (AMP)

19 So let us then definitely aim for and eagerly pursue what makes for harmony and for mutual up building (edification and development) of one another. Romans 14:19 (AMP)

7 Welcome and receive [to your hearts] one another, then, even as Christ has welcomed and received you, for the glory of God. Romans 15:7 (AMP)

14 Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also. Romans 15:14 (AMP)

33 So then, my brothers, when you gather together to eat [the Lord’s Supper], wait for one another. 1 Corinthians 11:33 (AMP)

25 So that there should be no division or discord or lack of adaptation [of the parts of the body to each other], but the members all alike should have a mutual interest in and care for one another. 1 Corinthians 12:25 (AMP)

13 For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another. Galatians 5:13 (AMP)

2 Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it]. Galatians 6:2 (AMP)

2 Living as becomes you] with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another. Ephesians 4:2 (AMP)

32 And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 (AMP)

19 Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, Ephesians 5:19 (AMP)

3 Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Philippians 2:3 (AMP)

16 Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts. Colossians 3:16 (AMP)

18 Therefore comfort and encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (AMP)

11 Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (AMP)

13 And hold them in very high and most affectionate esteem in [intelligent and sympathetic] appreciation of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 1 Thessalonians 5:13 (AMP)

15 See that none of you repays another with evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and to everybody. 1 Thessalonians 5:15 (AMP)

24 And let us consider and give attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, Hebrews 10:24 (AMP)

16 Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. James 5:16 (AMP)

8 Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]. 9 Practice hospitality to one another (those of the household of faith). [Be hospitable, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way who are of Christ’s body.] And [in each instance] do it ungrudgingly (cordially and graciously, without complaining but as representing Him). 1 Peter 4:8-9 (AMP)

10 As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor]. 1 Peter 4:10 (AMP)

5 Likewise, you who are younger and of lesser rank, be subject to the elders (the ministers and spiritual guides of the church)—[giving them due respect and yielding to their counsel]. Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another. For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5 (AMP)

NEGATIVE EXHORTATIONS

13 Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother. Romans 14:13 (AMP)

15 But if you bite and devour one another [in partisan strife], be careful that you [and your whole fellowship] are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:15 (AMP)

26 Let us not become vainglorious and self-conceited, competitive and challenging and provoking and irritating to one another, envying and being jealous of one another. Galatians 5:26 (AMP)

9 Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, Colossians 3:9 (AMP)

11 [My] brethren, do not speak evil about or accuse one another. He that maligns a brother or judges his brother is maligning and criticizing the Law and judging the Law. But if you judge the Law, you are not a practicer of the Law but a censor and judge [of it]. James 4:11 (AMP)

 

9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you [yourselves] may not be judged. Look! The Judge is [already] standing at the very door. James 5:9 (AMP)

I’ll close by reminding us that God commands us to assemble together regularly and unless we have a very good reason not to, we are sinning against our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s necessary for carrying out the work Jesus desires us to do. He wants His Church to be visible. Assembling together is absolutely essential for our spiritual well being. If we don’t, we will have let the devil con us into starving our own soul. When we come together as a corporate body of believers we are drawing near to God and receiving spiritual blessings such as occurred at Harvest Time last Wednesday. Who of us have no praises to acknowledge or desires of our heart or obstacles to overcome in our own journey through this dark sin infested world?

God wants us to exhort, advice, and lovingly warn each other whenever it’s necessary. I can’t help wondering how many depressed Christians there are outside the corporate Church, some of whom are even contemplating suicide or how many divorces among Christians would have taken place if pastors and other brothers and sisters in Christ were aware of the seriousness of the relationship problems those couples were experiencing and had an opportunity to council them.

Lord willing, soon….

(A) Hebrews, Volume Two, © 1993 by R. Kent Hughes. Published by Crossway Books a division of Good News Publishers, 1300 Cresent Street, Wheaton, Illinois 60187, pp34-35.

(B)  Conformed to His Image, © 2001 by Kenneth Boa. Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, pp. 417, 418, and 431.

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May 15, 2011 Posted by Categories: Uncategorized 2 comments

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