Monday, June 30, 2008


and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also
(2 Timothy 2:2 – ESV)

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers…(James 3:1). Just because you have the ability to teach (impart and communicate information in an understandable way) does not mean you automatically have correct doctrine. You may know how to teach, but WHAT are you teaching? Just because you can teach in some certain areas doesn’t qualify you to teach the Bible. It certainly helps to be able to teach, but WHAT is taught is the primary necessity. A great communicator of heresy is still deadly, and even more so than someone who teaches falsity but isn’t captivating, memorable, or engaging.

This is why one of the primary skills a good biblical teacher needs is the ability to discern. If that is a problem, then you have a problem. Perhaps you ought to teach, once you have gone back and learned the curriculum. You shouldn’t be looking to teach new things, and some of the old things you know so well and have taught so long are not truth. You may know how to guide studies but you might lead down the wrong path.

It is not simply that you can teach, and how well you teach, it is about what you teach. For the most part, you only teach what you know. You impart knowledge and help discipline to develop skill and wisdom, but if you are going in the wrong direction you do more harm than good. If you want to teach, you had better learn.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, June 27, 2008


And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
(1 John 5:4 – ESV)


The reason why God’s commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3) is because of the power we have received from God upon being born again, attested to by our faith. We can continue to keep the righteousness of God and His commands to us in view, in focus, and stay on target, because even when then world would try and drag us back, the power of God brings us through. That is the power of the faith that God gives us to overcome the world. Faith is more about being a martyr than it is moving a mountain. The mountains moved might be when they have fallen on top of you, yet they hold no eternal weight to truly crush you. They have been moved, they are light as a feather compared to the weight of glory (Romans 8:17-18).

Faith is not the power to zap problems out of existence; it is the power to trust in God even when they are trying to zap you out of existence. Faith is not “I now have enough so I don’t have to go through those things again”; it is “look, even though I have gone through these things my faith in God is intact, and even stronger”. It is not, “I won’t be beat down again”, it is, “Pressed but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Overcoming doesn’t mean overpowering the natural, it means being able to survive spiritually despite being overwhelmed in the natural. We overcome even when we die (Romans 8:35-39). We overcome the devil and the world by Jesus, loving Him more than life itself, and sometimes having to die to prove it (Revelation 12:11). We have overcome Satan’s accusations because we count on the blood of Christ as our righteousness.

This isn’t about living some successful, victorious, abundant, physically rich and healthy life, it is about things that money cannot buy, and the devil cannot steal. The abundant life that Jesus says Satan is trying to steal, kill, and destroy, he can’t, because it is spiritual abundance (John 10:10). Our faith is what teaches us that (1 John 5:4). The victory that overcomes the world even our faith doesn’t mean our faith gets us out of the problems it means we remain faithful even while we are in them! We have been granted the faith and the power to endure suffering not to remove it. It isn’t the more faith you have the less suffering and trials you will have but the more faith you have the more faithful you will be during them! We keep on conquering what the world would try and have us do, turn our backs on God, and instead, our faith turns us back to God, crying Abba Father (Romans 8:15)!

When the rest of the world would fear, Jesus says fear not, because even though you will have trials, troubles, and tribulation in this world He has overcome it (John 16:33). THAT is how we identify with Christ, even while we are being shot at with flaming arrows from the enemy. Overcoming is not, “I can avoid all falls”, but “nothing can keep me down”. Not, “I will never have any bruises”, but “I will continue to fight on”. Not, “There will be no more pain”, but “I can see the redeeming power of Christ through it”.

I don’t want you to feel guilty for feeling good, and if things are good rejoice. But when things aren’t so good, rejoice, because they will be eventually, and that for eternity (James 1:2 / Philippians 4:4). That is the eye of faith. Faith isn’t, “I can take control in Jesus’ name, and I can do what I will”, it is “I give God control in Jesus’ name, and He can do what He will”. Amen.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zealous Zombies

…when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
(Matthew 23:15 – ESV)

Just because we are a Christian and think we have a right heart about something does not mean that we cannot be deceived. Zeal and sincere belief are not enough to guarantee our right standing before God. Think about radical Muslims today who are all too willing to become martyrs, are they going to paradise like they believe? Aren’t they sincere? What about Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses? What about “good” people? Romans 10:2 talks of the Jews (we could put others in this category) and their “zeal for God, but not according to knowledge”.

A zeal for witnessing does not mean you automatically have correct doctrine. Our text bears on this point, graphically illustrating the truth that zeal in seeking converts does not prove that one’s beliefs are correct or that one is saved. “But I am a Christian”, you say. Well, what about the fact that some will unknowingly serve “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4)? It is possible for sincere people, even people who are among the fellowship of true Christians, to be deceived into following “another Jesus”.

Repentance, not sacrifice, is what God wants; read Isaiah chapter 1. Reformation of character, not revival of charisma is the call of God. Too often we are equating spiritual revival with emotional displays, without seeing (permanently as opposed to temporarily) transformed lives. The fruit of the Spirit is the tell tale sign, not emotionalism, and not even gifts. Actually, the fruit of the Spirit often may involve a lack of personal passion (i.e. showing patience, self-control). Emotional feeling cannot be the measure of a deepening relationship with God; the Bible declares the measure to be the fruit. You can’t display all those in a one-hour service each week. These are things measured over time in the test tube of life, and manifest in the day-to-day walk, irrespective of any emotional component.

Emotion is to be expected, even invited, but it is not the measure of faith. We can be glad for those people who may be feeling a touch from God. You may have seen someone be “slain in the Spirit”, or “go down under the power”, or whatever, and people call this “revival”. Even if they mean it, or it is “real”, that is not the sum total of what revival is. It does them no good to fall down today if they fall away tomorrow. Revival is measured by the transformation of human lives and the transformation of the immediate culture as a result of those transformed lives.

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul went to great lengths to contrast what was going on at Corinth with regard to spiritual gifts, etc., with how it should have been proceeding. In other words, Paul was reprimanding, if you will, the church at Corinth (and us today), explaining to them that spiritual experience without love is worthless. The gifts will eventually die off, but love will always remain. Love, then, is the virtue to be strived for. To seek after gifts without love and humility is to pervert God’s order. The signs and wonders were only a part of the package, and really, they were just the stamp and address. The inside of the package, Christ Himself, was the thing to be opened up and had, the thing (person) to be sought. It is what is inside the package that matters.

It seems that today, however, there is a need for signs and wonders to manifest or the witness is “weak”. What happened to the power of the Word? Even in apostolic times, signs and wonders were not always present, and many would argue that they were never the norm, even in the first century. If we concentrate on the need for signs, are we really putting things in proper order?

But for us to seek after these signs means that we are doing exactly that: seeking the sign from God and not God himself. It’s as if God was the sign itself, and indeed, we may make a god out of signs and wonders. Some meetings seem like a séance, a summoning or invoking of a spiritual presence, and when the feeling comes, whatever it is, it is called “God”.

You are forgiven; it is a lot to be emotional about. Seeking signs to affirm God’s presence only distorts this notion however; God is there, we guarantee you that. The signs only need be upon His sovereign will, not our ability to muster them up. The Holy Spirit comes as He wills, and we can want this to happen, but shouldn’t seek supernatural signs just for their own sake.

People are seemingly always talking about inviting, or getting into the presence of God, as if this is what the aim really is. Consider this: the Jews saw miracles, signs and wonders we can only dream about, and yet they turned to other gods. You can have all the passion in the world but still be dead spiritually. Many of the unregenerate masses practicing false religion attest to that fact.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

You’re Not So Special

But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction…
(2 Chronicles 26:16 – ESV)

Uzziah was a good king, and did that which was right in the sight of the Lord (vs.4). He defeated enemies, built up cities, and was respected by other nations. He even developed special weapons and was “marvelously helped”, and “strengthened exceedingly”.

Many people who are helped greatly by the Lord forget one essential element of faith: humility. By humility we do not mean only an acknowledgement that God has done all the work; many accomplish that. What we are talking about is a deeper understanding, realizing that no matter how much we “do” in or for the kingdom of God, we are no more righteous than the next guy who is covered with the blood, no matter how awful he is.

We may see more manifestations of the Spirit in our individual lives because our obedience to God allows us to be in the fellowship of faith, like a child who gets fed by her parents because she is present at dinnertime, not out wandering around. But we will never grow in righteousness; Jesus makes us as righteous as we will ever be. Personal growth in holiness, yes, but that isn’t what allows us to come before God. The only reason we may approach God is because of Christ’s righteousness, not our own, and Uzziah forgot that the priests were to make atonement for the people before them.

Uzziah no doubt went in to serve God, to give God the credit, the glory, and the honor. He of course realized that God was the author of the blessings, but his pride led him to believe that God bestowed the favor due to his being such a great man compared to others. Just as David took a census, and Solomon multiplied horses, Uzziah began to think that this entire blessing was due in part to him, and his personal holiness, and not God’s abundant grace in spite of him. He probably felt that he did not need the priesthood, God’s ordained order, in order to worship the Lord.

The parallels to today are striking. How many believers think that they can get direct words from the Lord about any situation at any time, apart from being in God’s ordained order, the Church? Certainly God speaks to us as individuals today, through His Word, but can we really believe that we alone are the instrument that God will use to solve all the dilemmas of society, or even the dilemmas in our own personal lives, apart from the covenant congregation of other Christians? Is this God’s normal mode of operation?

No, it is not. God set up the Levitical order in the Old Testament, and He has given the New Testament Church as the koinonia, the fellowship of the Spirit. The Church is the vehicle for coming together as one in Christ, the means by which we worship corporately, and the normal venue for teaching from the Bible and learning about God. We hear the echo of God’s voice as we listen to the Word preached and rightly divided. We see the Word in visual representation as we fellowship around the Lord’s Table and participate in baptism. We see here what can happen when we are lifted up, and believe that we have a special access that others do not, especially if we feel we have been used of God in a mighty way.

This doesn’t mean that we are not able to access God directly; we are all priests (1 Peter 2:5-9 / Revelation 1:6). What this means is that we are not some special case, a favorite, or super-spiritual person that has a more prominent place than is recognized. If you are not an elder in your church you are not an elder. If you are not the pastor, you are not the pastor. If you are not a man (uh oh, here we go!), you are not a man. The point is that we are called as parts of a body (1 Corinthians 12:18), we must know our part (vs.27), not to try and do it all (vs.19), and respect the God-given authorities (Hebrews 13:7).

We are not above God’s order, laws and demands. This is one of the reasons that Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 14:36 is such a vital truth for everyone to digest fully. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? The first part of the verse is saying, did you write the scripture originally? And the second part is saying, did God’s Word come to you directly, and no one else?

We must remember what the serpent said to Eve when we doubt God’s unwavering decrees, laws, and commands. Satan replied, Yea, hath God said?, and sin was ushered into the human race. We must not dilute the Bible; even if is unpleasant to our modern notions of equality, gender or otherwise. God’s Word is binding truth. If God has said it that settles it, whether we believe it or not, whether we think it relevant or not, whether we think we are in a special circumstance or not.

We must never yield to the presumption of faith in thinking that we have achieved a special place before God because of past spiritual victories. We must remember the holiness of God, and the reverence that accompanies this. A relationship with Jesus does not allow for us to be so familiar with God that we, instead of crying “Abba, Father”, say “hey, Daddy-o”.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Loving Truth or Living Lies

But that is not the way you learned Christ!
(Ephesians 4:20 – ESV)

Believing a lie is the genesis of sin, and it hardens our heart. Hardness of heart leads to an increasing futility of mind, which leads to more corrupt practices. Even Christians can have this happen to them, we all do to a certain degree. Paul is saying we should strive to make it happen less, stop believing lies and start embracing the truth, dance with it instead of dancing with the devil. This whole passage from Ephesians 4 is about the truth and learning to trust and obey it, which becomes an easier thing to connect with when we discover what lies we are believing. Usually they are about the fear we have of letting something go and embracing something else because we haven’t ever done it that way before.

We are both loving truth and trying to stamp out sin or we are living in lies and loving our sin. The deceitfulness of sin is what hardens your heart which leads to the darkness of a futile mind where we think we are doing good but we are not, we are only doing it the way we want to and only obeying in the way that appeases our own undeveloped or underdeveloped conscience. This has many disastrous effects. If we continue to love a lie, we do more than believe lies, we become hardened in our hearts and we actually cherish the lies, we cherish the sin; we love our false doctrines, and our pet theologies. We also are prone to believing more lies, like believing that we are hearing from God or that we discern some teaching as true or false doctrine when we don’t have any scriptural support. We just trust our feelings without any basis in bible facts.

The word of God must be the arbiter; we must evaluate teachings based on the plumb line of the bible. Pagan practices have made their way into the church, and false teaching breeds false believers. Unfortunately, when confronted lovingly with bible truth, many people would simply rather believe a lie than lose face or submit their will. It comes down to a case of “My judgment is superior to yours”. They may say, “God told me you are wrong”, or “I have the gift of discernment”, or “You are just all about head knowledge”, or use the pragmatic yardstick – “look at all the fruit”, and on and on it goes.

Until the believer believes the Word enough to submit his heart, mind, and will to its authority nothing of great value can be accomplished. As long as the opinions of the believer reign supreme the person teaching them cannot take him anywhere. Worst of all are the instances where the person believes he has received a “personal” word from the Lord and uses it to justify himself. The pastor or teacher or discipler will subsequently find that he cannot lead this person down the road of obedience. As Jonathan Edwards observed, “As long as a person has a notion that he is guided by immediate direction from heaven, it makes him incorrigible and impregnable in all his misconduct.”

We must always be willing to learn and turn if we can be shown clearly from scripture and plain reasoning that our position is wrong. Renewing your mind means changing it. Stop believing the lies and start believing the truth as we see so clearly in this whole passage. Put on the new you which is the true you who believes in truth. Church should be a place where everyone tells the truth in a safe environment for the people and a deadly environment for lies. Speaking the truth in love so as to grow up means we don’t let it just go. We should live in fear of accepting error. We must confront error when confronted with it. If we love the truth we won’t stand for living with lies.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, June 23, 2008

60 Seconds (6)


Charles Spurgeon declared, “I would sooner walk in the dark and hold hard to a promise of God, than to trust in the light of the brightest day that ever dawned.”

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Who among you fears the Lord? Who obeys the voice of His Servant? Who walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely upon his God,” Isaiah 50:10. The word “trust” here means, “to place one’s hope in,” “to go to for refuge,” “to have confidence in.” Remember, “It is better to walk in the dark with God, that to go it alone in the light.”

F. B. Meyer stated, “The Oriental shepherd was always ahead of his sheep. He was in front. Any attempt upon them had to take him into account. Now God is down in front. He is in the tomorrows. It is tomorrow that fills men with dread. But God is there already, and all tomorrows of our life have to pass before Him before they can get to us.” A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize Psalm 23. She gave them a month to do so. One small boy was particularly excited about the challenge, but he just could not remember the Psalm. After much effort, he could barely get past the first verse. On the day when the youngsters were to recite the Psalm before the congregation, the little boy was extremely nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone, and proudly said, “The Lord is my shepherd – and that’s all I need to know!”

When Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the sea towards Christ, he began to sink, only to be rescued by the Lord. Jesus said to him, “Why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:31. The root meaning of that word “doubt” is looking two ways at once. Peter had one eye on the Lord, and his other eye on the storm around him. When tempted to doubt, remind yourself that, “A contradiction in our minds does not prove a contradiction in the Word.”

Jeremiah wrote in a dark hour, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, therefore I hope in Him!” Lamentations 3:22 – 24. When David Livingstone sailed for Africa the first time, a group of his friends accompanied him to the pier to wish him “Bon Voyage.” Some of them, concerned for his safety, reminded him of the dangers ahead. He was urged to remain in England. Livingstone, in response, opened his Bible, and read aloud from Matthew 28:20 the promise of Christ, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the ends of the age.” Turning to those who doubted, he said, “That, my friends, is the word of a Gentleman. So let us be going.” “I know not where He leads me, but well do I know my Guide” (Martin Luther).


Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, June 20, 2008

Who Are You?

Not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven…
(Matthew 7:21)

To our mind, this is the passage that points out the presumption of faith at its worst. Here Jesus was warning of false prophets. Notice that He did not refute their claims about the deeds done in His name. The problem was not false miracles, etc.; apparently these people did do what they said. However, the problem is seen in their response to Jesus’ refusal to accept them into heaven.

Notice what these “workers of iniquity” appealed to Jesus with: the works of power themselves. They did not confess love for Him; they did not recall their cry for salvation, or speak of their repentance, appealing to His mercy and grace.

They had the presumption of faith – they believed that because they did these wonderful works, that they were indeed on the right track. But doing “wonderful works” in God’s name does not mean we are doing God’s will. The Apostle Paul knew this (1 Corinthians 9:27). And doing the Father’s will is what is required – But he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Think about this: Judas Iscariot cast out demons, healed the sick, raised the dead, etc. He was given power by Christ to do so (Matthew 10:1-8). Yet John the Baptist did no miracle (John 10:41). Which one is in heaven?

So the question is about doing God’s will: It is obviously not doing great works, so what is it? For this is the will of God, even your sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3). In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

There are many verses that point to the will of God, and they have more to do with the inner man, rather than the outer workings. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love), it profiteth me nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2-3). These poor souls of whom Jesus spoke had the power, but not the person, Jesus Christ. We must know Him personally; we must have a relationship with Him.

We must be changed on the inside – And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments (1 John 2:3). Commandments can be understood as “law”. The word “iniquity” in verse 23 of Matthew 7 is also translated “lawlessness”. It is dangerous to presume that because we do things in “faith” and we see results (manifestations) that we are doing God’s will. Instead of doing things “for the kingdom”, we should first be concerned with “the man in the mirror”. Do not accept blindly as fact the idea that because we purpose to do right that we are doing right by God’s standards.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not So Fast

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant…
(John 18:10)

In our own flesh, we may desire to do what seems right in the moment, but it is not as right an action as we think it to be. We make hasty decisions, not having patience and trust in the sovereignty of God. Peter knew that Jesus was God, but his flesh was “rash to do good”. We must be on guard today against such a presumption, especially when we, or someone we know, is persecuted. It is our pride that tells us “how dare they!” but God tells us “though He slay me yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

It can be easier to deal with tribulation for ourselves, but when loved ones are involved, we feel a strong urge to intervene, sometimes when we shouldn’t. In such cases we must still cling to our Lord. Thinking about that quote from Job, consider that he had lost his children already, and then you may see the need to understand that though He slay someone I love, yet will I trust Him.

A good example of not having this presumption is David, letting Shimei curse and throw rocks at him (2 Samuel 16:5-13). Absalom, his son, was trying to usurp David’s throne, and Shimei was cursing David and praising Absalom. David didn’t presume that because he was in the right that he had the right to destroy Shimei, even though Shimei was wrong. Just because we are doing God’s business does not necessarily give us the right to attack those who oppose us. God allows adversaries at times in order to promote our faith and also to give Him an extra measure of glory by bringing us through a tough circumstance. Sometimes, like Paul in prison, we are appointed to the defense of the gospel (Philippians 1:17), and we must remember that all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12 – NKJV).

Think also of the fact that although Samuel anointed David as king, and the throne was rightfully his, he did not kill Saul when he had the chance (1 Samuel 26:9-10). Abishai, David’s faithful and courageous companion, wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to slay Saul (vs. 8). But David knew that God had anointed Saul, and even in his rebellion, Saul was still the Lord’s. David had faith in God to do what was right, he had faith that God himself would place David on the throne, and end the reign of Saul, without having to “stretch forth mine hand against the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 26:11).

Even though King David swore to Shimei that he would not kill him (2 Samuel 19:23), Shimei got his just reward, as it were, from King Solomon (1 Kings 2:44). Indeed, we must remember that the wicked are caught in their own trap (Esther 9:25 / Psalm 7:15-16, 9:15-16).

Christlike love is not provoked (1 Corinthians 13:5). Never draw first blood, and never throw the first counter punch. Defend the gospel, not yourself, and the glory of God will rest upon you (1 Peter 4:14). Instead of giving place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27), we need to give place to God (Romans 12:19 / Hebrews 10:30).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Are You Adopted?

…the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe
(1 Timothy 4:10 – ESV)

The Gospel is for all people, and all people groups, and yet there is only one way and one Name by which we can be saved (John 14:6 / Acts 4:12). The call has gone out everywhere (Romans 10:18 / Colossians 1:6, 23 / 1 Timothy 4:10 / Titus 2:11 / 1 John 2:2). From every nation God will get Himself a people (Revelation 7:9), but not all people will come to Him in faith and be saved, of this we are sure (Matthew 7:21).

How can we truthfully say, and in what sense is God the Savior of all men? It is not that all men are saved as in universalism but that there is only one Savior for all men; it isn't as if Christians have one Savior and others might have another savior. Notice Paul's point in 1 Timothy 4:10: especially of those who believe; Christ's atoning work is adequate to save anyone, but only effective in saving those who come to Him by faith. Jesus is the only Savior of all mankind; the only way we can have eternal life (John 17:3 / Romans 10:9-13). Salvation wasn’t localized to a particular place or people and is not limited to a particular time period. The call is indeed universal, but only those who will receive it are saved (John 1:12).

There is only one Gospel for all men, only one path, contrary to the people who declare that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all have the same God. Jesus was intolerant of any other way, and God has declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah the Jews were looking for but missed, and God declared that the promise was through Isaac, not Ishmael, so the Muslims are wrong. Also, it cannot be the same Jesus because the Christian Jesus is the Son of God, and the Qur’an says that Allah has no son.

Not all people are the children of God. Jesus told the Pharisees that they were of their father, the devil (John 8:44). You are not a child of God just by being born in America, or having godly parents, or going to church, or taking Communion, or being this or that religion. No, you must be adopted into the family of God (Galatians 4:4-7). We are called children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2, 5:6 / Colossians 3:6) before we are called out of the darkness (1 Peter 2:9) to be children of light (Ephesians 5:8). We are born into the kingdom of men, but we must be born again into the Kingdom of God (Galatians 3:26). Has Jesus signed your adoption papers?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

60 Seconds (5)


An employee of the United States Postal Service told how one evening he was handling a very large box, when he noticed something written on it. The sender had noted, “Fragile – Ego Enclosed.” In the Greek of the original New Testament, the word for “I” was “ego.” Today, we use it to describe someone who has an inflated opinion of himself.

It has been noted, “There is only one thing that can keep growing without nourishment - the human ego.” Here are some practical ways to deal with our ego; then, some practical ways to put others first.

To begin with, dealing with our ego:

1. Resist the temptation to defend or vindicate yourself. It has been stated, “An ego trip is something that never gets you anywhere.”

2. Resist the temptation to praise yourself. Proverbs 27:2 admonishes, “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

3. Let others win. In planning and strategizing, let others have the credit for an idea. Peter Marshall prayed, “When I am wrong, dear Lord, make me easy to change, and when I am right, make me easy to live with.”

4. Remind yourself of God’s sovereignty. All our gifts, talents, accomplishments, etc., God gave to us. In Romans 12:6, we are reminded, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.”

Second, here are some practical ways to put others first:

1. Make a conscious effort every day to consider the needs of others, and place higher value on their needs than your own. J. F. Newton said, “An egotist is not a man who thinks too much of himself. He is a man who thinks too little of other people.”

2. Listening. Take time to listen to others. Take an interest in their life. Make them the expert. People want to feel valued and important. One of the flagrant problems with most conversations is that we fail to listen to others.

3. When asked for help, be available, whether a menial or very important thing.

4. Take to time to encourage others. Booker T. Washington reminds us, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else.”

“Love is never boastful, nor proud, nor haughty, nor selfish, nor rude,” I Corinthians 13:4-5 (T.L.B.).

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hearing Voices

to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,
(Ephesians 4:22 – ESV)

Believing a lie is the genesis of sin. It is the reason behind your sin; whatever sin you’re in is because of some lie you are currently believing. Those who are sinning the most are the ones who are most gullible to believe a lie. Our goal is to find out what the truth is and believe it, to connect with it, to learn how to process our way through the lies and into the truth.

The old man is the old man of our flesh (Romans 8:6-8, 13). In the flesh basically just means you will do things your own way. Now with some crafty Christians, as we might call them, which are just people who are in the flesh and are deceived about it, these people think they aren’t doing things their own way, they think they are doing things God’s way. However, they really aren’t because God’s way to them is dictated though their feelings or impressions. They think God gives these things, but they don’t match up to scripture, they are a lie, and these people are deceived. So if you think God is trying to tell you something, what does the bible have to say about it? Is it consistent with godly character, a mature understanding, and a biblically informed conscience? How would you know?

You might think that this is obvious but I’m here to tell you that this happens a whole lot out there. I have been guilty of it, you have been guilty of it, and we all have been guilty of it at one time or another. The challenge, the right thing to do about it is to keep learning your bible, keep checking the facts, and stay in fellowship with other Christians, preferably ones who are progressing or ones who are further along than you. Stop being disobedient, stop believing the lies that you think you are hearing from God when the things He’s supposedly telling you don’t line up with scripture. The next time you get an impression or hear some voice, tell it to come back later after you have consulted with your bible first. If it says no it can’t wait, you know for sure it isn’t God talking to you (Acts 17:11 / 1 Thessalonians 5:21). That isn’t a lack of faith; it is a stand for truth. The truth is in the text; if it doesn’t agree with scripture don’t agree with it.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Radio Broadcast / New Website

Hey there everybody,

We have ventured into local radio and have added a New Website ( which is still under construction. However, already available there is a radio button link, click it and it takes you to a page with a show archives link underneath my mugshot...we are broadcasting M-F 4:30-4:45 pm, today (6-12) being day 4, but the first week is archived already...I realize that many of you are nowhere near us, but we hope to be doing streaming audio soon, and of course the archives can be listened to at anytime, if you can stand hearing me for 10-15 minutes! Um, don't answer that. This is not a very high power station, limited to Citrus County, but good coverage here, and we have the archives, and the site, which will give you an overview of our church and the various ministries we are involved in, will be being developed over the next week or two...This site will give you an idea of what we have been doing, and will link to our blog, which we post on 5 or 6 days a week, and links to our sermons from every week.

May His mercy shine upon you all,


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Truth and Love

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
(Ephesians 4:15-16 – ESV)

Truth in love – this is not so much a balance here as it is a package. We must have both. Of course, the “truth” part can be easier than the “in love” part to ascertain. Too often people want to define the “in love” part so as to mean non-offensive or non-confrontational but if that were the case this “speaking”, for correction, wouldn’t need to happen (cf. Galatians 2:11-14 / 2 Timothy 2:2, 25-26 / Titus 1:9-16, Titus 2). Of course some people will tell you that you are being hurtful even when you are doing it right (Galatians 4:16). In love doesn’t mean weakly it means real concern for real connection, for true spiritual growth. To speak the truth in love you must be in love with the truth.

People think that the love here means humility. Yes, real, biblical humility is an integral part of holiness, which is true love. As we become more holy, practically speaking, we should be becoming more humble and loving (Philippians 2:1-15). However, humility doesn’t make something more or less true, it only tends to makes the connection better, but a false humility can lead to serious danger (Colossians 2:18-19). If we are centered on and around Christ and learning the truth we will be growing up and each part will be equipped for its role, knowing its role and the whole body functioning properly.

The context of all this is spiritually gifted people helping us to become of one mind towards Christ and so therefore growing up together as a unit in Him. All of our gifts should help protect us from being swept away by every wind of doctrine. This happens when we are forgiving one another yet holding each other accountable, not to punish but to grow, and we need everyone on board for that to happen to its full capacity. This is also why it is so clearly evident in the New Testament that there are no such things as maverick Christians who aren’t a vital part of a local body or those who think they can just jump around, because they have no real accountability and they have no real growth, not in the way Paul is describing it here. It doesn’t work that way; that would be you believing a lie about your spiritual growth. When you are away from this truth you are stunting your growth and the growth of others. It isn’t just “oh yeah, I can grow all by myself”, what about the others you are supposed to be connected with? We are to grow up into Christ, He is the head, and in the revelation of Him, the bible, that is where the truth is. The bible teaches that committed, connected fellowship is vital for the believer.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Bridge

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
(Ephesians 4:15 – ESV)

We are all on a bridge and we are traveling one way or the other, toward the truth or toward a lie, toward maturity or toward apostasy. We reach maturity by allowing more and more truth to connect into and with our lives. The problem comes when we know the truth but it hasn’t connected with us yet. We have the conception but it has not made the connection into our life. This is a real concern because we can correctly identify something but then fail to apply it correctly. Perhaps we know some bible but not enough of it, just enough to be deadly to ourselves and to others who we poison. Also, a big reason why we misapply scripture is because we are only looking for a way out of sacrifice when Jesus is the way in. We are looking for scripture to perform for us, for God to perform for us, instead of us performing to the dictates of scripture regardless of what happens.

When teaching truth or in receiving truth, we must bridge the gap between conception and connection. Here in this passage of scripture from Ephesians, and especially in this verse, is a true key for our understanding. The bridge between conception and connection is compassion. We need to teach with compassion and we need to see that God is compassionate in giving His truth to us, even when it seems hard. However, we must emphasize the truth that true compassion is not some wishy-washy, feel good, no confrontation so we always compromise thing. True compassion must be undergirded by true, real conviction, and this will help people make the connection with real truth for their lives.

Conviction with compassion brings conception into connection for people. You can see all of that demonstrated here in this 15th verse. We are supposed to speak the truth (conception) in a loving way (compassion) so that we may grow up (connection) into the likeness of Christ (conviction). Passion for Christ is passion for truth is compassion for people. You have to know the truth, live it, and be convinced of it, you have to want the other person to grow up, and that isn’t real unless you are growing up too.

You can have the truth (conception) but it still not make you grow up (mature, connection). Looking at Ephesians 4:22 we see that sin is deceitful. One of the dangers of sin is the deceitfulness of sin; every sin ruins a bit of your mind. As this text progresses we see the pattern, the danger of sin, deceitfulness of sin, and the disobedience of sin. It is like our bridge but backwards, in a sense. The bridge between conception (danger of sin) and connection (disobedience of sin) is compassion (deceitfulness of sin, we love it, we have passion for it), which is held together by conviction (hard heart). When someone’s heart is hardened they want to believe a lie and so they will follow teachers who will only tickle their ears (2 Timothy 4:3-4 / 2 Thessalonians 2:9-13). You are going either one way or the other on the believer’s bridge.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, June 09, 2008

Instruments of Hope

After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.
(Judges 3:31 – ESV)

So what do we need to do? We need to rise up like Shamgar. But how are we to do that, how can we battle back the massive tidal wave of sin and godlessness in our society, what can we do as one church, as one person, in one community? How can we raise up a revival when we cannot get up ourselves? It would seem as if there is no hope for a Shamgar today.

No, we cannot be like Shamgar, actually, not until we see that we need to be delivered and that Jesus is our ultimate deliverer. When He came on the scene there was spiritual darkness greater than at any time in Israel’s history. True believers were living in fear, taking the back roads, unable to overcome. Until John the Baptist the Jews had been without a prophet for 400 years. They were under Roman rule and religion had apostatized under the Pharisees. Now here comes Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, a lowly carpenter, no weapons in His hand, nailed to a cross, seemingly defeated and yet ultimately victorious. In this insignificant first century little old Israel, this most massive event of consequence took place.

Jesus is our righteous judge, He is the One who has delivered us from sin, death, and hell, and only He can cause us to rise up to declare His righteousness, in the place we are at, the place of grace. The Savior has won the war, and He causes us to be spiritual Shamgar’s to deliver His people in battles all over His world.

Friend, Jesus delivered you and His people while the rest of the world was mocking and laughing, and His disciples were in fear. The world can laugh at you and your insignificant little life, and your Christian friends can be living in fear, but if you trust Jesus and give glory to God, He will raise you up like Shamgar to show the light of Christ like a flaming fire to a dark and desperate world, and He will use you to help your brothers and sisters in Christ to also rise up again, and He will use you to help deliver souls from hell. You don’t have to be some ministry big shot. Christ has been raised up and He wants to raise you up to show forth His unconquerable deliverance. You can start a revival, you can be raised up, cry out to God today, and be used whenever, wherever, and however He sees fit.

The truth is that the Philistines remained a thorn in Israel’s side for many years later. Shamgar wasn’t the only or the final deliverer. The Philistines were still around, waiting to give Israel much trouble, but Shamgar did what God raised him up to do. He was raised up for a revival in that part of the land for that time. Believe me, those people he delivered were just as joyful at what the Lord did thorough him as with anything else. To them he was the deliverer.

You may not drive back the enemy fully, but you can fight fully in the power of the Lord and His might, and set those free whom God has called you to, in your own life, in your home, your work, your school, your church, your community, your world. No, Shamgar didn’t stop the Philistines from advancing forever, but he did have the satisfaction of a life lived for the Lord. He was willing to die that the power of God might live through him, and for that one moment, at least, God used him to do something supernatural. God made his life count.

That is the essence of revival, that God would allow us to arise from the dead and be the instrument of His grace, to make a difference, and there is great satisfaction in that. Let us not be satisfied until we see a revival in our own lives, in our church, and in our world. Oh Father, that you would empower us with your Spirit so that we may shine the light of Christ for your glory. Raise us up, send a revival, let us live out your Word, and drive back the enemy, amen.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, June 06, 2008

Even You

After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.
(Judges 3:31 – ESV)

Hearing this message, it may cause you to think or you may have heard people say things like, “I wish I had those gifts, I wish could get to do that, I wish I had that big ministry, I wish I could get a break”. Christian, not every one is called to be an Ehud, a John the Baptist, a Martin Luther, a John Wesley, or an Apostle Paul, but everyone has the chance to be a Shamgar. If you are ready and willing God will make you able.

Still, how can you say that you are ready and willing to do the big things when you aren’t ready and willing and doing the little things? Believe me God shows us here that Shamgar was important, and even if no one else notices God does, and it is important to Him. He is the one passing out the rewards anyway, so don’t worry about the size or recognition, concern yourself with being found faithful to use what you have been given.

Christians are too often acting helpless, being terrorized by the enemy, seemingly without weapons, unable to resist the enemy, and in fear. Will God use you as a deliverer? You may be outnumbered, perhaps even alone, but this would inspire others. This gives people hope to see someone overcome the enemy when conditions are bad.

Ehud seems to be the main, national deliverer during this time, and Shamgar had a smaller role, but it is a big lesson for us. Some might not even seem to be victorious in their particular scenarios, but their place is part of the overall victory, not all battles are won in a war, but all are important pieces of the puzzle.

He also” or even he – even Shamgar, the man of no big reputation, God used even him, and he can use even you. Scripture is filled with ordinary men and women who did extraordinary things. Shamgar is an example of a man who was willing to be used by God for the purpose God designed for him. Shamgar was ready when God needed him, for the place and time God had for him. Even his name is of uncertain meaning; he was of no status but to God. But it isn’t your background, but your backbone that matters to God.

No Christian should think their role is insignificant in God’s sight. Challenges will come our way, and all Christians will suffer persecution of some sort, no matter how entrenched in an isolated cave they get. Still, all Christians can be a Shamgar in those tough times if they act with faith and courage, if they confront the enemy that terrorizes God’s people.

When we don’t stand up for God and live holy lives, we as a rule slide back and out of sight. Instead of us being bold the enemy grows bold and begins to oppress us, to keep us down and invade and terrorize and take territory. Spiritually our churches suffer, our families suffer, and our lives suffer. The witness of God is clouded over and all that the people do is worry about their own sins and how they cannot get free. That is when a deliverer is raised up to shine the light again, and evangelism and discipleship happen, the word of God is magnified, the name of God is glorified, the people of God are edified, and the kingdom of God is multiplied. Even you have a role in all of that.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wherever You Are

After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.
(Judges 3:31 – ESV)

The application of this passage is not about a physical battle but a spiritual battle (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 / Ephesians 6:10-18). We may feel that we are not equipped, but look at what Shamgar had to use, we may not as yet have our minds renewed as they ought to be, and we may have let our sword go dull, but our spiritual weapons are available and we need to avail ourselves of them. We need to fast, we need to pray, we need to read our bibles, we need to work as unto God, we need to witness, and we need to live with holy boldness and holy gladness. It is our duty to keep our minds sober and our sword sharp. We need the Word of God, we are in danger of losing our sword, we are living the words of Amos 8:11-12. We will either use it or lose it.

It is not about political victory or physical power but standing in the power of the Lord and the strength of His might. When we are doing what we are supposed to be doing and wearing the armor of God then that is when we will stand out from the cowering crowd and be attacked. However, instead of this making us cowards it is testing us so that we may see just how strong this armor actually is. 600 Philistines said, oh yeah, you little farmer, we’ll show you what happens when someone defies us by taking a stand, but God showed them what happens when one man stands in the power of the Lord! We need a revival of the Word of God, we need to stop sin from stealing our sword, and keep the enemy from running us over and ruining our witness.

Now this wasn’t a foolhardy man who just got his dander up and went out in a rash manner. No this was a man with true conviction whom God raised up. He didn’t go out looking for the fight it came to him, and he was made ready to defend, to deliver, to declare the power of God. Believe me God will raise up His lights to shine in the darkness even in small corners where no one else may recognize it right away but the powers of darkness will be driven back all the same.

Shamgar was a man of character, a man God raised up, a man who made a stand. He was willing to be harassed, to suffer for being out in the open, to fight and he was intentional. You might have to go at it alone, like Shamgar, and like another farmer, the prophet Amos. During the darkest times the brightest lights will come forth shining as a flaming fire. During the time of Ahab and Jezebel we see God raising up Elijah and Elisha. During the time of the dark ages and the apostasy of the church we see God raising up the reformers like Martin Luther. In the darkest periods of humanity is when the church should shine brightest.

What does that say about us today, considering the condition of our world and the condition of the American church? Who will God raise up to be a Shamgar to this generation? Many, in God’s providence, this is my prayer, that many will fight the battle on their own little battlefield. They may be unnoticed but they will still be empowered by God to wage war in their own place, not worried about gaining recognition as some big time super saint, but willing to lay down their lives for the cause of Christ in the place where they are. We may never know their names this side of heaven, but God sees them as we see Shamgar, a mighty deliverer, a declarer of God’s righteousness and His faithfulness to His people.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Out from the Shadows

After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.
(Judges 3:31 – ESV)

A huge problem today is that we often think that we are not hiding in the shadows of sin because we are not “sinning” as bad as we used to. But I am talking about more than that. We cannot think that we aren’t hiding away when all we do is live our Christian life isolated from the non-Christian world. We cannot be so content to occupy the back roads that the enemy has made inroads to our main roads. They may leave us alone for now, but they will advance if we don’t stand for Christ. I am talking about spiritually, of course. We cannot sit back and retreat into a Christian ghetto, isolating ourselves into our little Christian caves, because the enemy will eventually make its way into any place we retreat to. No, we must live boldly as martyrs out there in the real world, proclaiming the gospel even if it means, and especially if it means, persecution. We must be living the light of Christ, out in the open, out where people can see us, can see the light, and can experience Christ through our lives and our witness.

Shamgar was plowing, occupying his own piece of land despite everyone else fleeing and fearing and leaving off normal business. This is probably why he was challenged. When the rest of the people are falling into sin or simply compromising, their bold witness is lost. That is when we need modern day deliverers to stand as a standard of the Lord, to give hope to the helpless. This is why we need judges today, to show the people just how far they have fallen into sin and away from the power of God to shine as lights in this dark world. The judges’ example judges the sin, it says no, we as Christians do not have to live in fear, we do not have to hide in the shadows, we do not have to act like the rest of the world, we will stand up when the world is beating us down, even if we are put down into the grave for it.

Their example judges the sin, but it also points to Him, to Christ, who has judged sin, and who empowers us all to be delivered out of the hands of the enemy, from out of the shadows, out from the fear, and back into the highways of holiness, shining again as bright lights to the way of God. We need a revival of true religion today. The answer is not simply “come to our cave” unless it is also “go out and be brave”.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

60 Seconds (4)


An Italian proverb states, “He who would have no trouble in this world must not be born in it.” A man painted a picture of a boy with his satchel full of apples. He was hanging by the tips of his fingers from the top of a wall. Just above the wall on the other side was the owner of the orchard from which the boy had taken the apples. At the bottom of the wall was a big bulldog, chained to a kennel. The boy could not go up for fear of the owner. He dared not drop down for fear of the dog. Below the picture were these words: “In A Fix.”

In Psalm 77:19, Asaph referred to the time when the children of Israel found themselves “in a fix.” They were boxed in from all sides at the Red Sea, and gripped with terrible fear, because of the advancing Egyptian army. Things looked hopeless. The problem was bigger than them. To make matters worse, they could not see God anywhere. The Red Sea speaks of impossible situations.

Today, this may be your home, your finances, your health, your children, your job, or your ministry. However, Asaph said, “Your way is in the sea.” They did not expect to find God there, but they encountered Him in the midst of the Red Sea in a way that they had never experienced Him before. The Red Sea became the place of miraculous deliverance. They watched in amazement as God came to their rescue. The Living Bible says, “Your road led by a pathway through the sea – a pathway no one knew was there.”

Andrew Murray reminds us, “Your religious life is every day to be proof that God works impossibilities. Your religious life is to be a series of impossibilities made possible and actual by God’s almighty power.” In a cotton factory there was a card on the walls of the workrooms that read: “If your threads get tangled send for the foreman.” One day a new worker got her threads tangled, and she tried to disentangle them, but only made them worse. Then she sent for the foreman. He came and looked. Then he said to her, “You have been doing this yourself?” “Yes,” she said. He questioned, “But why did you not send for me according to instructions?” “I did my best,” she said. “No, you did not,” the foreman said. “Remember that doing your best is sending for me!”

Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, June 02, 2008

Raised for Revival

After him was Shamgar the son of Anath, who killed 600 of the Philistines with an oxgoad, and he also saved Israel.
(Judges 3:31 – ESV)

Judges were deliverers who were raised up when the people cried out from oppression (Judges 2:18). Shamgar followed Ehud, a great deliverer, who brought 80 years of overall peace, but from Judges 4:1 it appears that Shamgar was a regional deliverer during the time of Ehud. This is the first mention of the Philistines as troublesome neighbors of the Israelites, and they were in the Southwest region of Canaan, and this is about 1290 BC.

The people’s disobedience was the cause of the oppression of their enemies. Sin against God led to their defeat and the decline of their way of life. Because the oppression became so great, the people groaned under the weight of it, they cried out, and God raised up judges to deliver them once again. This was a cycle of defeat and deliverance throughout the times of the judges, after Joshua, and before the kings. They were defeated, it was as if their way of life was dead, and they needed a deliverer to bring revival and victory and restore their way of life again.

Shamgar used an oxgoad – This instrument is eight feet long and about six inches in circumference, with a sharp point at the end. Not really a weapon at all, but a device used to drive working animals. God used it through Shamgar to drive back the Philistines.

The people were impoverished; there were no swords (1 Samuel 13:19-23), no defenses, no power, no way out of their oppression. The enemy was so entrenched and fortified and bold that the people hid in the shadows for fear, traveling on back roads (Judges 5:6-8). The people were being oppressed and their land was being possessed.

Sin does that to us as Christians. We are either actively possessing the land of our souls for Christ, or the enemy is making inroads, setting up outposts which turn into strongholds. We will either drive the enemy out, or we will be driven back. The Puritan John Owen said, “be killing sin, or it will be killing you”. When we, through our disobedience and unbelief, allow the enemy to start invading our lives, our families, our churches, and our communities, then the people of God will be driven to hide in shame and helplessness. Their way of life seems dead, there is no power, they had lost their ability to resist the inroads of the enemy, and they need a revival. That is when God raises a deliverer.

Shamgar used the only resource he had but God made it enough. The only weapon He had was the instrument of his daily work. How often do we forget that our homes and our workplaces are a battleground and plowing field? Now we don’t attack people but we must be doing our work God’s way, shining as lights, being bold to live out the gospel, not mouthing off to people, but being excellent in our duties, faithful to be honest, helping others.

We need to be like Shamgar, working as unto the Lord, doing what we are supposed to be doing, not sinking back into the shadows because of our own disobedience, and letting the enemy of our souls make inroads into our way of life, dimming our shining light before the world. The rest of the world is defeated; as Christians we can’t afford to let the only light they may have be drowned out by our own disobedience. When the world is darkest and there is no hope that is when God’s people can shine the brightest, and when deliverers are raised up, to show God’s people that they are still free and others that God is still setting men free.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©