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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Beware: There Are "Weeds" In Our Churches

A recent survey polled practicing Christians who “consider their faith very important in their life.”

Twenty-eight percent agreed with this statement: “All people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being.”  
(See: 1 Corinthians 10:20 & Are There Many Ways to Heaven?)

Twenty-percent agreed with this statement: “Meaning and purpose come from working hard to earn as much as possible so you can make the most of life.” 
(See: Luke 12:15Less is More)

Twenty-three percent agreed with this statement: “What is morally right or wrong depends on what an individual believes.”
(See: Psalm 119:11 & Thou Shalt Not....Maybe)

This means approximately 25% of the people in our churches are believing significant errors. Some of these are confused believers, but not all. 

Christ warns us in Matthew 13 that there will be “weeds” in our churches, closely resembling wholesome wheat, but planted by Satan.  

Satan’s purposes are always to damage and destroy God’s purposes, and we should be aware and prepared.  

Now, more than ever, we must be like Bereans, checking every teaching with Scripture. (See Politely Skeptical).
Bible Study

Beware of the Weeds in Our Churches - Matthew 13:24-39

1. All Gods are not the same.

If we believe that our God is the same as pagan, Hindu, Muslim, Mormon, or Jehovah Witness gods, we have not studied these other religions. 

Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses use a great deal of Scripture in their explanations, but neither of them believe Jesus is God, a non-negotiable aspect of Christian faith. 

Hindus worship a variety of gods, and the god described by the Muslims is not even similar to our God. 

To believe in all of these gods would be to believe they are all liars because they all contradict each other.

Scripture is clear:  

John 14:6: Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

1 John 5:11-12: And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

2. Materialism has always been an enemy of faith. 

Matthew 6:24"No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

3. Right and Wrong If right and wrong were truly up to the individual, then we could delete most of the Bible. God alone sets the moral code for mankind. Nations and individuals who disagree are wrong. No debate necessary.

Romans 1:18-20: The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

We must know Scripture and teach Scripture, constantly being on guard against "weedy messages" meant to damage our walk and our witness.
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Dishonoring Parents Dishonors God

We just celebrated Mother's Day and next month we'll celebrate Father's Day. It's a good time to study our relationship and responsibilities toward parents.
Christians stress godly parenting.

But when was the last time you heard an adult lesson on honoring parents?(1)

God included it in His 10 Commandments, and He lists disrespect for parents in several lists of wicked attitudes (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Romans 1:28-32).

Yet many Christians prefer the world's "fifth commandment" which goes something like this: "Parents, honor your adult children. Have no expectations. Give them what they ask. Keep your advice to yourself. Then it might go well with you."

There's an alarming trend in our world of adult children neglecting, rejecting, blaming, and estranging parents, even using grandchildren as pawns to punish or manipulate their parents.

Jesus says we can't honor Him if we're dishonoring our parents (See Matthew 15:3-9).

The two are related.

If we're treating our parents with less respect than our friends, we aren't listening to Scripture.

When we honor our parents, we honor God. When we dishonor our parents, we dishonor God (Ephesians 6:2; Exodus 20).

See this archive of 1-minute devotions on Honoring Parents
(1) Often Mother's and Father's Day sermons stress a mother's and father's responsibilities more than on our need to honor mothers and fathers.

Bible Study 
1. Adult children often excuse their neglect or dishonor of their parents because their parents are difficult people. They are basing their obedience on their parents' worthiness, not on God's worthiness.

How Dishonoring Parents Dishonors God - Ephesians 6:2, Matthew 22:27
1 Peter 3:14: But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. 

James 4:17: If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.

2. When adult children actively seek to honor their parents, it can have incredible impact on the relationship, and the children often realize how much of the problems they created. Even if the relationship remains difficult, honoring our parents helps us develop godly character.

Galatians 6:9: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

3. Note the emphasis of these passages:

Malachi 4:5-6: “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the Lord arrives. 6 His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” 

This Scripture is describing the ministry of John the Baptist, but the mission continues after Christ's first coming. As 2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, disrespect for parents is a sign of the end times. Malachi uses the term "the great and dreadful day of the Lord" to mean the time the wicked are judged and the godly are rewarded - i.e. Christ's Second Coming. Luke repeats this prophecy, using the term "disobedient" in place of "children."

Luke 1:17: And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

2 Timothy 3:1-5: But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 

Disobedience to parents is also listed as an adult sin in Romans 1:30. See the notes about this in Outward Godliness.

Matthew 15:3-9:  Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’” 
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Beware of the "Cains" Among Us - Jude 1:11

What We Learn from Bad Guys - What it means to "Take the Way of Cain"

Jude warns us about people infiltrating our churches who "have taken the way of Cain" (Jude 1:4; 1:11).   

Cain was an unrepentant faker (Genesis 4:1-15):
  • He was religious, but he had no faith (Hebrews 11:4)
  • He had every opportunity to know God and repent. God spoke to him directly (Genesis 4:6-7).
  • He killed his brother “because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous” (1 John 3:12).
"Cains" among us today do the same:
  • They have "religion," not relationship  (2 Timothy 3:5; Acts 20:30).
  • They deceive themselves by hearing the Word but not living it (James 1:22-25). They may "talk the talk" but they won't "walk the walk."
  • They will work against God's purposes in the church like "weeds among the wheat" (Matthew 13:24-30).
"Cains" exist. Jude warns us to be aware and "contend for the faith" (Jude 1:3). We should test all counsel, advice and teaching against God's Word, even if it comes from someone within the church.
Here are 3 other 1-minute devotions that address different aspects of Cain's actions and attitudes.
A Good Bad Example
The Heart of the Matter  
Standing Firm
Bible Study
God obviously has things to teach us through the bad example of Cain. 
What We Learn from Bad Guys - What it means to "Take the Way of Cain"
1. I encourage you to read the story of Cain to refresh your memory of the facts, especially Cain's lack of sorrow over his sins and his self-pity.

Genesis 4:1-16

2. How do these passages give us insight into Cain's choices?  

1 John 3:12: Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous. 

Hebrews 11:4: By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.  

3. Note Jude's description of these false teachers.

Jude 1:3-4: Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Note: This denial of Christ need not be a denial of Him as God - it could be a denial of His character or His commands while professing a belief in Him.

4. How does this parable apply?

Matthew 13:24-30: Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”  
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
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