God Ordained Work
At the very dawn of history God called man to work. God ordained work before the Fall. Work is not a part of the curse. Adam was commanded to tend the garden before he fell into sin (Genesis 2:15). Labour is a God-given responsibility. Work is not a curse to be avoided, nor is it an undesirable activity only to be pursued when necessary. In the Bible we are commanded to:
“be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed…” 2 Timothy 2:15
Heathen Nations Despised Work
Before the coming of Christ, the heathen nations despised physical work and consigned it to slaves. When Christ was born, half of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves. Three-quarters of the population of Athens were slaves. When Luke visited Athens he noted that
“all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” Acts 17:21
Jesus Revolutionised Labour
But Jesus revolutionised labour. By taking up the axe, the saw, the hammer and the plane, as a carpenter our Lord imbued labour with a new dignity. Christianity undercut slavery by giving dignity to work. By reforming work Christianity transformed the entire social order. In time this gave birth to the free enterprise system which brought unparalleled prosperity and progress to billions of people.
“The hand of the diligent makes one rich.” Proverbs 10:4
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“Which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of Holiness, by the Resurrection from the dead.” Romans 1:2-4
Careful Investigation is Encouraged
There is nothing wrong with being cautious and careful when it comes to eternal matters. Indeed there is much in the world that we should be skeptical about. We should not be gullible. There is far too much superstition and ignorance in the world. We should carefully investigate and establish what the facts are. We need to have the courage to face the facts.
Faith in Facts
Christianity does not require one to make a blind leap into the dark. False religions require blind faith. Christianity is an intelligent step into the light, in response to facts. We do not promote faith in faith, but faith in facts. It is not the amount of faith you have, but in where you place your faith.
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“Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days, He ate nothing and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word of God.’ Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You and their glory; for this has been delivered to me and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Get behind Me, satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve.’ Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the Temple and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’ Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:1-13
Expect Opposition and Temptation
After the dove at the baptism came the devil in the wilderness. When you have the approval of God you can expect the assaults of the devil. Immediately before this time of fasting and tempting in the wilderness, our Lord Jesus was baptised in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit came down as a dove, the Words of the Father was spoken from Heaven, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones… My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor detest His correction; for whom the Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:5-12
The Worst Pope
When Professor Martin Luther was asked which pope had caused him the most trouble, he replied, “Pope self – the pope who sits on the throne in my heart. No pope in Rome has caused me as much trouble as I have caused myself!”
The Most Trouble
When “the Prince of Preachers,” Charles Spurgeon had built up Baptist Tabernacle to over 5,000 members, he was asked, which member gave him the most trouble? Without hesitation, he responded, “Charles Spurgeon!” “You mean you have a member here who has the same name as yourself?” “I refer to myself,” explained Charles Spurgeon. “No one has given me more trouble than I have given myself.”
This is true for ourselves personally, for families, for congregations, for denominations, organisations, companies, countries and continents. The worst wars are civil wars. The United States of America lost more men killed in action in the war between the States of 1861 to 1865, than in all the other foreign wars it has ever fought, including the First and Second World War, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Iraq War, combined. More South Africans are murdered every year than died in the First World War, Second World War and Angolan War combined.
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways’, says the Lord. ‘For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’.” Isaiah 55:6-11
How can you tell the difference between real guilt and false guilt?
Corporate Guilt or Personal Responsibility?
We live in an age of guilt manipulation, where many reject the concept of an objective standard of right and wrong. Yet, while denying personal responsibility, many will accuse whole nations of corporate guilt.
A Brazilian Confession
An example of this was seen at the Cape Town 2010 Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelisation. On the final Sunday, at the Africa regional meeting, a delegation from Brazil asked to speak to the African participants. Their spokesman then read out a very long declaration, which in very categoric terms declared their guilt for the Slave Trade: “We are guilty of having kidnapped Africans from their homes, transported them across the Atlantic, to excavate our mines and to build our cities.”
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“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His Name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25
The year was A.D. 155. The persecution against Christians had swept across the Roman Empire. It had come to the city of Smyrna. The Pro-Consul of Smyrna, swept up into this persecution, put out the order to arrest Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp was to be arrested and brought to the local Coliseum, for execution.
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"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 4:31 - 5:2.
Bitterness defiles and destroys lives, friendships, families and one’s future. Bitterness is like a cancer. It devours its host. Bitterness is self-induced misery.
Real or Imagined
When we sin, we feel guilt. When others sin against us, we feel bitter. Bitterness is always based upon someone else’s actions. These actions could be real or imagined, they may even be based on a false report, but the bitterness is always very real. Bitter people cannot imagine the possibility that they are bitter over imaginary sins. As far as the bitter person is concerned the other person’s guilt must always be real. Rioters, arsonists, ANTIFA and BLM protestors ae all bitter and angry over something they believe others are guilty of.
“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15. The Bible warns us lest any root of bitterness spring up causing trouble and defiling many people. If there is a root of bitterness, it will bear bitter fruit. Bitterness is destructive and devastating.
The Roots of Bitterness
The fact that you cannot normally see roots does not mean that they are not there. Roots drink in moisture and nourishment and they spread. Because a root is something that is underground, it cannot normally be seen. But sometimes you can see visible evidence of their presence such as when they start to lift up driveways and pavements. The riots in many streets are also evidence of the roots of bitterness bearing destructive fruit.
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"Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, 'This is a hard saying; who can understand it?' When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, 'Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The Words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe'…" John 6:60-64
Many took offence at Jesus' teaching. They refused to listen to His explanations and were unwilling to accept His teachings. The Lord challenged them that if they were grumbling at His hard teaching, what would their response be to the scandal of the crucifixion and the offence of the Ascension?
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'" Matthew 16:24
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31 May is Pentecost Sunday.
John the Baptist was "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight." Matthew 3:3
John said: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I'm not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in His hand and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Matthew 3:11-12
"For our God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:29
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31 May is Pentecost Sunday.
God has promised "I will give water to the thirsty land, I will pour out My power on your children." Isaiah 44:3
"Here is My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations." Isaiah 42:1
Commands to Christians
The disciple of Christ must learn and experience what it means to:
Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5: 18).
Be led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14).
Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:26).
Pray in the Spirit (Jude 20; Romans 8:26).