Am I Being Used by the Devil?

I’ve just viewed a YouTube Video from the 2018 Power Lectures of the Southaven Church of Christ in Southaven, MS. The speaker was Cliff Goodwin. Cliff taught from Scripture that you and I CAN BE, but ought not to be used by Satan by: (1) Resisting God’s Pattern; (2) Refusing Forgiveness; and (3) Retaining Overconfidence. I would highly recommend this study to you. Please take the time to view it. It lasts 45:32 minutes.

Is the Young Man Safe?

… the major news that David sought when two messengers came back from the fighting lines was: IS THE YOUNG MAN SAFE?

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When we read 2 Samuel 18 we read the question of this title twice, specifically addressed with regard to the SAFETY of ABSALOM (vv., 29, 32). David is the one doing the inquiring in this context.  He had given strict orders to his commanding generals that they were to “deal gently for my sake with the young man” (v. 5). David’s woes have been compounded by the rebellion of this son, yet he loves him dearly and evidently feels partly responsible for the sad state of affairs that now exist between the two of them.  David is finding out, day by day, about the burden of sin’s consequences. He had committed terrible sins and was reaping the whirlwind, but he desperately wanted his son spared from death. Thus, the major news that David sought when two messengers came back from the fighting lines was: IS THE YOUNG MAN SAFE?

As with many great questions asked in the Bible, this question also is an interesting one to apply to others besides that single one mentioned in the text. What of young men today?  What about our young people today? How is it with them? Are they safe? Time spent contemplating these questions surely is time well spent, both for the young and for those who love them.

Temptations of Satan are strong in every phase of life on this planet. Yet, who would argue with the fact that life as a young person has its particular and powerful threats to true safety?  In this instance we are not so interested in physical safety (as David was about his son Absalom), but rather safety in the long run. Solomon talks about the LONG HOME or the eternal home in Ecclesiastes 12:5. For Bible-believing and wise people any thought of SAFETY for young people would involve the spiritual aspect of their lives.

Satan is so successful in implanting into the minds of young people the idea that they have plenty of time to settle down SOME TIME IN THE FUTURE. The concept used to be expressed: “Go ahead and sow a few wild oats; then pray for a crop failure.”

This concept is one that will endanger the young people–KEEP THEM FROM SAFETY–and one that will give Satan great glee as they accept it in great numbers. The Apostle Paul teaches us plainly that this concept is dangerous and can only be accepted by those who are DECEIVED. We will reap what we sow–“Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Gal 6:7-8).

So then, what shall those of us who are older do to help our young people be SAFE and to help them avoid the common idea that there are yet many years ahead for settling down and living a life which involves preparation for eternity? Let me propose a list of items that should be useful in seeking that worthy goal.

  1. Let us show interest in their lives and the things that are important to them.  You might be surprised just how much such interest from an older member of the Lord’s church might encourage them to do what is right.They may begin to think of you as someone to whom they might turn for a different perspective from that which they receive daily from their peers.
  2. Let us set the right example before them. So many poor examples are out there from among those who are older that it is no wonder they often follow those poor examples. We have a great responsibility as older Christians properly to model the Christian life before those younger in the faith.Let us say to them as Paul said to the Corinthian saints: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).
  3. Let us speak freely and often to them of the heavenly reward toward which we are headed.  As Christians grow older we tend to think more about heaven.  We love to sing the songs about the eternal reward.  We love to read the passages which attempt to picture heaven for us. The world is telling our  young people that they must JUST DO IT. Grab all the gusto of this life. The emphasis they hear from others is get all the pleasure there is in life. That emphasis is upon THIS LIFE and totally absent is any mention of life after death. What if we can help the young man or young lady see the beauty of heaven? Will that not make a strong contribution toward securing the SAFETY of the young man or woman?

Yes, this short list is only a starter and I know that YOU can continue it for a few more pages without any great effort. Is it not a worthy effort to contemplate the question: IS THE YOUNG MAN SAFE? Whenever we begin to do more of this kind of thinking, as those who are older, then we will see a great impact on young lives! Of that I am extremely confident.


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You might recognize the expression of the title of this article as coming from the pen of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:23. Please notice verses 22 through 25. In this section of Paul’s letter to the saints at Colossae, instructions are given to various categories of Christians. This particular instruction is for SERVANTS or SLAVES. If we would make proper application of the text to our day, we would take the principle and apply it to employer/employee relationships. The extent of the obedience mentioned is given as “in all things.” Of course, this would not include instances when an employer makes some demand that would cause the Christian to disobey God (Acts 5:29).

In verse 22 the concept is put forth that it is possible to obey WITH EYESERVICE (opthalmodouleiais); the idea being of service or labor that needs to be watched   (i. e., if someone is not watching, a less than full effort would be put forth by the servant). In our modern setting, there are those who are “clock-watchers” and are not so productive at those times, as they long for the time to leave the place of employment in order to get on to their own concerns. Paul teaches that the Christian is not to work in such a fashion, but rather he is to do his work in SINGLENESS OF HEART, fearing God. There is a higher and nobler cause that drives the Christian in all that he does, including what he does at the work place. He does what he does in order to bring glory to God and out of fear of God. There is a SINGLENESS OF HEART that moves the Christian to render the kind of service that does not require constant watching and prodding along. That singleness of heart is the desire to be well pleasing in the sight of God. To please God like Enoch of old did when he “walked with God” (Gen 5:24; Hebrews 11:5).

The Christian has opportunity at the work place or wherever he finds himself to be a shining light of influence (Mt 5:14-16). In another passage written by Paul to servants, he suggests what has to be an amazingly attractive and awesome opportunity. Listen to the instructions. Titus 2:9–Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

Now the possibility of actually ADORNING the doctrine of God ought to be quite exciting to all of us. As we go about our work we have opportunity to represent before others what it means to be part of God’s family. We can make Christianity attractive to those who are outside of Christ in a lost condition.

The part of the passage from Colossians that I would like us to focus in on is that part that talks about doing WHATEVER we do HEARTILY. Yes, the context is that section dealing with slaves or servants. However, can we not see how inconsistent it is for a Christian to do anything he does in any other way than the way that the Holy Spirit demands servants to work for their masters? After all, it is clearly pointed out that all Christians (whether we be an employer or an employee in the work situation) are the servants of the Lord Christ (v. 24).

If we would study the word HEARTILY in the original Greek, we would see that it is the same word root that is often translated SOUL. The idea is that of working with your whole heart, with all of your being. That is, putting your entire self into the work.

Colossians 3:24 speaks about the motivation for doing whatever we do heartily. The reward is not the paycheck at the end of the week, but the one that is coming further down the road. It is the reward that comes from serving the Lord Christ. It is the crown of life (Rev 2:10).

When I think of this passage, I think of my need to be concerned about excellence in whatever I do. I need to be doing all that I do HEARTILY. As a Christian, I serve the Lord Christ. As a Christian, people are watching me and they need to see a true and genuine Christian. Those watching me need to be influenced toward that which is right and good. They need to be led by my behavior to ask a reason of the hope that is in me, and I need to be prepared to give them that answer (1 Peter 3:15).

Next time you are called upon to perform some task, why not allow this word from the Holy Spirit to ring in your ears. Let us all decide to render the service we render in whatever place or time it is rendered, heartily!

A Curse on Neutrality

The curse of Meroz teaches us that it is not wise to attempt to “sit on the fence.” 

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Please consider these words… Judges 5:23— Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty.  The Book of Judges may be described best by the word “neglected” as far as the amount of time Christians spend studying its content.  However, there are some powerful lessons recorded within its pages.  If you remember the way we divided time into Fifteen Bible Periods, you recall that the Period of the Judges was one of the fifteen.

The KJV does not clearly show it, but all except the last phrase of verse 31 in Judges 5 is poetical, it is “Deborah’s Song.”  When I think of Judges, usually the word CYCLE comes to my mind.  The period might best be pictured by the Roller Coaster at the Amusement Park.  Up and down, up and down, was the nature of this period.  For a time Israel would be faithful, then they would become more and more like their heathen neighbors.  God would judge them by allowing their enemies to become their conquerors.  Then the people would cry out to the Lord for deliverance and God would send a deliverer, a Judge, if you will, and the cycle would begin anew.

If we study the context of Judges 5:23, we find that apparently the people of this location, MEROZ, did not help their brethren in battle against the Canaanites.  Deborah, by inspiration, is rebuking and passing on God’s judgment against their attempt at maintaining neutrality.  They were near to the place of fighting, yet entered not into the fray!  By the fact that they are condemned it ought to be obvious that they had opportunity, yet acted not.

Since these people of Meroz are mentioned nowhere else in Scripture, this very negative remark serves as the only remembrance of them.  In this sad status they share with the New Testament city of Chorazin (Matthew 11:21).  Jesus pronounced a woe upon Chorazin because of their unwillingness to take a stand with Him, even in the face of mountains of evidence.

CURSE YE BITTERLY–These strong words from the prophetess and Judge Deborah naturally stir us to inquire about the cause of the severe words.  In our Bible reading if we will seek to be students of theology (study of God), we will be wise and greatly blessed in that wisdom.  What does this incident from the days of the Judges teach us about God?

Quite obviously, it teaches us that we need to be careful not to seek the false comfort of neutrality when it comes to the battle of good versus evil.  It is NOT pleasing to God for His people to hide from the battle when His will has called us to become involved.  Rather our position must be to make our choice known, put on the whole armor of God, and stand and defend (Ephesians 6:13).

The curse of Meroz teaches us that it is not wise to attempt to “sit on the fence.”  Our Lord teaches clearly in the Sermon on the Mount—Matthew 6:24… No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.  Of course, the context here has to do with compromise to attain wealth, but any way that we show lack of commitment to the Lord would put us into the “despising Him” category.  There is great peer pressure these days just to “live and let live.”  Pluralism is having its HEY DAY in our society!  But we will not be any more pleasing to God today with that approach than were the people of Meroz in their day.

We might wish to ask ourselves in an honest bit of self-examination: “Is there any way that I sit as Meroz to the work of the Lord here?”  The work of the Lord, the work which the Lord has placed into the hands of His church, is saving souls.  Can it be said of me that I am allowing others to do this work and I am idly watching?

It is a wonderful thing to have peace.  To be lovers of peace is part of living the Christian life.  However, Satan is out there and he is having enormous success in causing our family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to live in such a way that their end will be that place prepared for him and his angels (Matthew 24:41).  For us not to enter the battle, having knowledge that there is a cure for the disease of sin, is Meroz-like neutrality and endangers our own destiny.

May we all dedicate ourselves to the proposition that we will learn well from the folks at Meroz.  That doing as they did will NOT be our course.  That having the knowledge that Christ will be WITH US (Matthew 28:20), as we go forth with the gospel, we will not cease to carry that sword of the Spirit.  That we will make it our practice to live in such a way that we can be “read” (2 Corinthians 3:1-2) with soul-saving profit to all with whom we come in contact.  And let us be praying continually that the Lord will be able to use us mightily in the battle for truth, and right, and the salvation of lost souls.

At Thy Word

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In Luke 5.5 we have Simon Peter using the words of the title above. He did not come close to understanding the reason for letting the net down, as the Lord had just directed him (he openly questioned its wisdom), but he would do so at His word. He presents to us here one of the most remarkable instances of unquestioning obedience that is to be found in all of Scripture. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net (Luke 5.5).

I found some interesting comments about this incident from the late and great Bible scholar, Franklin Camp. He writes…

When one considers that Christ was a carpenter and Peter a fisherman one can imagine Peter’s thoughts. Just think of a carpenter telling a fisherman how to fish. It is even more suggestive in view of the fact they had fished all night and caught nothing. I think I can sense how Peter felt. It is as though he would say, “I do not think it will do any good, but we will do what you say.” The way to overcome doubt and questions about divine commands is to obey what the Lord says. Think what would have happened if Peter had just flatly refused to obey. Christ would not have forced him to let the nets down.

Discipleship is a challenge to faith. A disciple is a learner. Christ is the teacher. One does not learn by refusing to do what the Lord commands. Multitudes have found to their joy that blessings come when faith accepts the challenge and launches out in obedience to His will [Franklin Camp, Studies in Luke, Thomas Eaves, editor, p. 68-69].

I really like brother Camp’s statement: The way to overcome doubt and questions about divine commands is to obey what the Lord says. That seems to me to be quite a simple and yet elegant approach to life. The fact of the matter is, we will NEVER go wrong in following that prescription.

If we will only partake of the spirit of obedience demonstrated on this occasion by Simon Peter, we will certainly be the winners as a result! The result for Peter was that he hauled in such a multitude of fish that the nets began breaking (v. 6) and the boats began sinking (v. 7). The result for us is that we will live eternally in the beautiful home of the soul (John 14.1-6).

I have always been moved by the words Peter exclaims after seeing the Lord show His great power in the field which was Peter’s specialty. Listen to his statement of awe: Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord (Luke 5.8). Peter seems to me to be acknowledging that he was unable to show Jesus the respect and reverence He deserved and that he thus was not suitable to be in Jesus’ presence.

Thankfully, the Lord intervenes with words of encouragement to Peter, James, and John: Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men (v. 10). Read a little further and see that Peter, James, and John were ready to forsake all and follow Jesus (v. 11). They knew well that one who could do what they had just seen done would be able to provide anything they might possibly need.

Notice also, brother Camp’s statement: Multitudes have found to their joy that blessings come when faith accepts the challenge and launches out in obedience to His will. On one occasion an attempt was made to praise the mother of Jesus. His response at that time was to redirect the praise: Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it (Luke 11.28). The importance of unquestioning obedience to the will of the Lord needs to be emphasized more and more.

What advantage you and I have as we open our Bibles and have so freely available the amazing, completed, written, revelation from God! We can read about this miracle performed by Jesus and so many more. John tells us that there is a REASON for the recording of such powerful signs—John 20.30-31… And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Having LIFE through the name of Jesus is dependent upon believing that Jesus is the Christ! When we truly believe that fact, is it really any challenge to behave in the same way that Peter did in giving such a faithful response to the Lord’s command in Luke 5.5? Let us be challenged by the beautiful response of the Apostle Peter and say to the Lord, regarding whatever command might be given: AT THY WORD.

How to Love Life

Larry Acuff teaches us from Hebrews 13.1-8 how to love life.

I found an interesting presentation by my friend, Larry Acuff, from a link on Twitter. It is absolutely true that you can find GOOD things on Twitter if you are careful! This was posted by Truth for the World. Larry fills his presentation with Scripture. In this short lesson he directs our attention to Hebrews 13.1-8 and gives to us suggestions from that text on how to love life: (1) Love one another; (2) Respect marriage; (3) Learn to be content; (4) Imitate those who lead us; (5) Trust in Jesus. I think if you will watch this short video it will help you to love life!

Vocational Awareness

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Paul teaches about how Christians are to act by stating a challenge to develop a bit of “vocational awareness.”  In the earlier part of the letter to the Ephesians we are taught about WHO we are (Ephesians 1-3), and then, in 4:1, we are urged to live our lives accordingly.  “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ephesians 4:1).

We commonly use the word VOCATION to describe our occupation, business, or profession.  Then there is the word AVOCATION, which is “something a person does in addition to a principal occupation” [].  Think about that definition for just a moment, especially that word, PRINCIPAL.  Is it not true, that as a Christian, if I truly have my priorities aligned properly, walking the Christian walk will be my vocation and whatever I do to earn money to support myself would have to be considered an avocation?  We do not deny that there is value and importance in what we do to earn a living (1 Timothy 5:8).  But that aspect of our lives relates to our temporal existence on the earth whereas walking the Christian walk has to do with the eternal existence.

The Bible teaches us that the way we are called (according to the way Paul uses the term here) is by hearing the saving message of the gospel (Romans 10:13-15; 2 Thessalonians 2:14).

Now, think about the word WORTHY Paul uses.  He pleads with us that we will walk in such a way that our walk will be worthy of the vocation.  In the ESV, the expression is perhaps more clearly stated as: “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” We might even say that Paul pleads for VOCATIONAL AWARENESS.

If we can ever gain a more complete understanding of the value of the gospel which CALLS us, and then apply Paul’s powerful words from this text to our lives, we will be so much less in the mood to object to matters related to a faithful walk with the Lord.

Does God’s Word give us examples of those who were “vocationally aware”?  I think that it certainly does with abundance.

One example would have to be the Apostle Paul, himself.  On the occasion of his meeting with the Ephesian elders at Miletus, Paul says, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).  This remarkable statement of dedication to the task is a reaction to the fact that he had been warned that bonds and affliction awaited him if he continued on in his planned itinerary to the city of Jerusalem.  Paul counted his project of delivering relief from the Gentile churches to suffering Jewish Christians in Judaea to be more important than sparing his own life.  It is my opinion that Paul considered this special collection to be a way of promoting unity between Jewish and Gentile brethren.  There is no question but that Paul had an awareness of the value of the gospel and of the importance of his own involvement in getting it spread by a UNITED body of Christ.

A second example of a man who was “vocationally aware,” would be young David.  At the time of this incident in his life, he was not yet king, but only the younger brother, sent by his father to check on the older brothers in Saul’s army.

Israel was encamped in battle array against the Philistines in the Valley of Elah (1 Samuel 17:10).  As David was on his way to see how his brothers were doing, he saw the host of Israel going forth to battle and we are told that he “shouted for the battle” (v. 20).  The giant, Goliath (9’9” tall) was coming out twice a day for 40 days issuing a challenge to a duel (v. 16) to anyone in Saul’s army.  On the LAST of those 80 boastful challenges, Goliath’s words reached David’s ears.  Though some 79 times Israel’s finest had heard this defiant Philistine make fun of them, no volunteers were to be found.

Along comes David with these words to his king: “…Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine” (v. 32).  And you know the rest of the story.

Here was young David, whose vocation was tending his father’s sheep.  Yet, he took offense at the proud Goliath’s loud and blasphemous chatter.  David could not sit idly by and allow his God to be insulted in such a way.  He knew that God would be his helper as this giant of a man would be humbled.

Brethren, we are in need of “vocational awareness” today.  We have instruction from Almighty God about how best to live our lives here.  When we disregard these instructions and live like the rest of the world is living, can we not see that we are disrespecting the gospel that has called us? What a TREASURE the gospel of Christ is and how vital it is for us to be respectful of it by the way we live our lives!

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