Author Archive: Revraney

Some Crazy Mixed up Values

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the man whose name we have all come to know during this pandemic recently said this about shaking hands. “I don’t think we should ever shake hands again, to be honest with you. Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease, it probably would decrease instances of influenza.” So shaking hands, something that has been a part of cultures for thousands of years is something we should do away with.

Interestingly, the same Dr. Fauci was asked in an interview with Snapchat, “If you’re swiping on a dating app like Tinder, or Bumble or Grindr, and you match with someone that you think is hot, and you’re just kind of like, ‘Maybe it’s fine if this one stranger comes over’ What do you say to that person?” Here is Dr. Fauci’s advice, “If you’re willing to take a risk – and you know, everybody has their own tolerance for risks – you figure out if you want to meet somebody…”, “If you want to go a little bit more intimate, well then that’s your choice regarding a risk.”

From the doctor leading America’s response to the current pandemic, shaking hands with others should not be something we do but having sex with strangers, well that’s your choice. Where’s the science here? Where’s the logic here. And for certain, where’s the morality here? Let’s get this straight. We can choose for ourselves to have sex with strangers, but we are told we shouldn’t shake hands. We can choose to engage in risky sexual behavior with known health dangers, including mental health, but we cannot make our own choices when it comes to going to church, going to work, and more.

The issue here is not whether the current response to this pandemic is right or wrong. It is about what are the sacred issues to the world? You see, we can talk about social distancing and lock-downs to protect our health and the country as a whole buys in. We can tell people to make sacrifices for some good that we value, i.e the health of ourselves and others we may infect. We even respect a person for telling us these things, whether we agree with them or not. However, we cannot tell people how to live their lives when it comes to sexuality. That is off-limits. That is forbidden.

These are crazy mixed up values. God has made it clear how we are to live our lives when it comes to human intimacy. We choose not to listen to Him though. We will listen to a human ‘expert’ but will not listen to the God of creation?

Its All About Me Right?

How many times have you heard “If I had been the only sinner, Jesus would have died for me”?

Ask people what the core message of Christianity is and most will answer something like, “God
loves me.” While it is absolutely true that God loves us and in a way that is beyond our comprehension, that is not the core of Christianity. Look closely at that answer; the core, the most important thing about Christianity is God loves ME. The subject of that answer is ‘me’.

But that is not the truth. If we look at the foundation of all things we do not find ourselves or even the collection of all humanity. What we find, is God the creator and sustainer of all things. The eternal, almighty, majestic, God of love is the most important. Our society approaches everything as if we were at the center. The reason for that is the fallen nature of man. We are corrupt, corrupted by the lies of the father of lies. The chiefest among those lies, that we can be like God.

Jesus came to redeem us, to restore us. But that redemption comes at a cost. The cost paid by Jesus on the cross. There is a cost to us as well. Consider this, the Bible never once mentions asking Jesus to come into our hearts. It does however tell us that if want eternal life we must take up our cross and follow Him.

Check out the downloads page for a fuller discussion of this topic in the sermon study guide of the same name

You Cannot Throw out What the Bible says About Something and Remain a Christian

The bible is where we find the answer for what makes us a Christian.

Now, some will argue that it is faith in Christ that makes us a Christian. True, but let us consider the following:

  • Where did we get that idea and what makes us believe it is correct? The bible

  • How do we know who Christ is apart from the bible? Is there a separate Christ from the bible? The bible actually calls Jesus the Word. There is definitive unity between Christ and the bible.

  • Faith and the bible are inseparable. There is always an object of faith. When we speak of having faith, we speak of having faith in something or someone. Faith in Christ means a faith in the Christ of the bible.

  • Christ himself validated the scripture by His own words. This Christ that someone says they believe in is the Christ of the bible – by His own admission.

Followers of Christ cannot be selective in what parts they believe and what parts they live. By its own witness and by the witness of Christ Himself the Bible is true. Instead of following the bible based on the filter of our opinions and worldview we should allow the bible to form our opinions and worldview.

Finish the Race

Consider the story Jesus tells of the man who had the demon cast out, only to have it return with more. In Matthew 12 Jesus says, “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

I was contemplating the acts of Jesus and his disciples when they drove out the demons from different people and a thought came to me I had never considered before.  There is nothing in the scriptures that indicates that for every person who is delivered from these evil spirits they became a disciple of Christ, or that they even remained free from demons. What a sad thought.

Every instance we read of Jesus or his disciples driving out the demons demonstrates for us his absolute power of evil. They cannot stand against him. But God is a God of justice and if a person rejects God and wallows in the mud of evil, even though they may have demons driven out, the evil spirit has a right to inhabit their life.

The Israelites grumbled and complained in the wilderness after having seen such incredible demonstrations of God’s power. Ten lepers were healed, to have only one return and say thank you.

So many people have had so much done for them by God,only to turn to their old ways again, “like a dog returning to its own vomit”. This is not what God has for us. He came to give us life, and that more abundant. What will it take in a person’s life to surrender to Him? Finish the race.

 

Why Gather for Worship

All over the world Christians gather for worship on Sunday. There are lots of different ways we express our worship. Is this gathering a big deal? Is it important? Are Christians told to gather together by the Lord?

Why Sunday, isn’t Saturday the Sabbath? Christians gather on Sunday because it is the Lord’s Day. We do so to commemorate His resurrection. The resurrection is the keystone to Christianity and should not be taken lightly but rather commemorated and celebrated – together.

Is it required we get together for worship? Paul tells us not to forsake gathering together like some are in the habit of doing. He gives us instruction on how we should conduct ourselves when we do gather together for worship.

Jesus died for the church, the entire Body. the body is supposed to work together. Believers are never told to isolate themselves from one another but rather to work together as one Body.

I heard a story years ago about a preacher that went to visit a man that had stopped being a part of the gatherings of the church. The preacher entered the man’s home and sat down by the fire with him. He told the man they missed had missed in their getting gatherings and wished he would return. The elderly man told the preacher he didn’t see much need in it. As they sat by the fire the preacher grabbed the tongs and used them to pluck a cola from the fire. He sat the hot coal on the hearth. As they sat there together looking at the coal it gradually cooled until it was noting more than ash, with no fire in it at all. The preacher had made his point and needed say no more. Removed from the fire the coal became nothing more than ash with no fire or heat. Like us, the coal found its fire and heat by being a part of the larger fire.

Worship together provides for our health as Christians. It provides benefits that are unavailable to us individually. We are to build each other up while we are together. We are to be instructed in the Word together. We are to pray together. We are to show acts of love together. Jesus died for the whole body and the body as a whole. The body works together, not separately.

We are fooling ourselves when we think we can do this alone; when we stay at home we rob ourselves and our fellow believers of the blessings of God

 

Worship

The living church, described as the body of Christ, by its very nature MUST worship God. It is impossible in our relationship with God, because of who He is and who we are, to call ourselves the church and not worship.

So, what is worship? Is it simply singing songs and putting money in the offering plate on Sunday? Or is there more to it than that?

Worship is to honor with extravagant love and extreme submission.’  Webster’s Dictionary, 1828)

 “Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, the nourishment of the mind with His truth, the purifying of the imagination of His beauty, the opening of the heart to His love, the surrender of the will to His purpose.”  William Temple

True worship values and treasures God above all things. In John 4:20-24 Jesus, as he is talking to the Samaritan woman tells us that we are to worship God in spirit and in truth. Worshiping god requires a right mental grasp of who God really is along with a spiritual, emotional affection for His worth. To worship God in spirit and in truth means having a right understanding of God’s nature and a right valuing of God’s worth (his worth is limitless). To worship God is to value and treasure him above ALL things.

“For worship is, essentially, the reverse of sin. Sin began (and begins) when we succumb to the temptation, “You shall be as gods.” We make ourselves the center of the universe and dethrone God. By contrast, worship is giving God his true worth; it is acknowledging Him to be the Lord of all things, and the Lord of everything in our lives. He is, indeed, the Most High God!”   Sinclair B Ferguson   Think about that for a second. Worship of God is the reverse of sin. It answers the question, “who will be the God of your life, yourself or God almighty?”

Worship has both an inner essence and outer expressions. The inner essence of worship is an ever-present attitude of love, admiration and awe; a sense of and desire for extreme submission to the object of worship.

  • The inner essence of worship creates the outer acts of worship
  • If the outer acts are missing or minor, so is the inner essence
  • If the outer acts are not done solely as fruit of the inner essence then they are vain,fake (Matthew 15:8,9)

Hebrews 13:15,16 says that true worship WILL live in expression and demonstration; both in acts of the mouth – acts of praise, repentance, confession, singing; and acts of love – carried out by the body, the hands in service. Worship is an attitude of the heart and soul that absolutely has to overflow into outer expressions.

Is God Almighty the Lord of our lives or are we? Do our lives center on the worship of God with demonstrations and expressions of that worship?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time, a Valuable, Misused Resource

Ephesians 5:15 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

Most if not all of us have probably said something like, “I just don’t have enough time.” When asked how we are doing we say to each other, “I’m so busy.” But are these accurate statements?

Are we really more busy than those who lived before us? Think of the farmers in the field with their horse or mule drawn plow getting the fields ready for planting. Think of the dairy farmer milking by hand rather than a machine. What about the factory worker or the person working in the mines for 12 hour days?

Many of the tasks we do today can be done much more quickly than in days past. To cook a meal today often involves simply getting it out of the package and warming it up in the microwave. Even the more complicated meals are made faster by bread-makers, mixers, food processors and more. It is certainly easier to turn a knob on an oven than to start a wood or coal fire. We use to write a letter by hand, place it in an envelope, write the address and place a stamp on it, before we took it to the mailbox to send. Now we type a text, a Tweet or Facebook message and hit send and it is there instantly.  It’s actually quite ironic that one of the things that was supposed to give us more time has become a major consumer of our time. We stare at our phones or tablets for hours and then wonder where the time went.

Do we really not have enough time or do we just not use our time properly?

We struggle to find time to really study our Bibles and search God’s Word, while we can carry on a conversation about the new popular TV show. We know how to fix the problems of our favorite sports teams, but not always so much the problems in our lives or our families. Answers to those problems aren’t on TV or at the ballfield or arena.

Some of us work far too much as we find our identity in what we do at our jobs or in how much money we can make. We are absolutely called to work to provide for ourselves and our family but we are also called to work at our relationship with God. Actually our jobs are supposed to be a part of this effort to glorify God and grow in Him.

I hear it all the time that we are too busy or we don’t have enough time, but in most cases this just isn’t true. As the scripture says, “making the best use of the time” and “Teach us to number our days aright,” from Psalm 90:12  God allows us to choose how we will live our lives, “choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” Joshua 24:15. Will we choose our phones or our TV? We will choose our jobs or the ball field? God lets us choose everyday. The answer is not to never choose some of these things, sometimes they can be good distractions for a moment, but when we find ourselves saying we don’t have enough time or we are just too busy, then we probably should change our choices. We have enough time.