There is revival among the youth but there is struggle in the midst of revival. Satan is not happy. He is the enemy of our souls and the accuser of the brethren.
When we provide counseling training, the classes fill to beyond capacity. We face students who have sad stories of broken congregations and church struggles and troubled homes and disengaged parents. Reading what they write reveals hurts too deep for their young lives. Some of them are ready to leave our churches. Some have already left.
We can blame them and we do. But they did not show up out of nowhere. They are not the tree. They are the apples on our tree. The tree should not call the apples, “bad.” We raised them. They tell stories of hurt from parents and family and friends and ministers, deacons and bishops. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
The Bible has been the answer for my life. When I tell the youth what the Bible says, they do not want to hear what the Bible says. Why not? Because they have heard it too long. They want to see us live it, and then they will believe it.
Many youth from conservative churches are struggling. They are searching. They are hungry for worship and for truth. They want a mission to adopt and a challenge to accept. They want a cause to accomplish. They want to see men and women who are passionate about God and His Word. They long to be part of the Kingdom of God standing against the gates of hell.
For the past several years, there have been so many hurtful things said and done. Innocent people are vilified. False accusations are made. Church politics dominate. Youth listen and watch and are confused. We will lose them. We lose their hearts first and then they leave for safer waters.
Over the years we have lost so many youth. Much of that loss has been over church struggles. The most important and tragic result of church problems is the loss of the youth. They listen and observe and then they say, we do not need this. We do not want this.
In the midst of the current revival among our youth, they are facing formidable odds. Satan is busy. They are fighting him for all they are worth. They are fighting him with the strength of youth and the strength of Jesus Christ in their lives. They need our strength beside them.
Counseling ministries are springing up everywhere. Counseling classes are overflowing. Most people want help for themselves. They are too injured to help others. Our hurts are hurting those we love most. Our hurts force us to demand our rights and defend our behaviors.
In the midst of all this is God – His Word and His Holy Spirit. That is our only hope. Turn back to God. He is calling to us as He has to all generations. Heal the hurting families. Heal the hurting churches. Stop the politics. Stop the defensiveness. Open your heart to God.
That is our only chance to save our youth. They are counting on us. Their hearts are breaking. That breaks my heart. It should break your heart also. They need us to set the standard. They need us to set the pace. They need us to walk the walk so they can see how and where to walk.
Heartbreak can be healed. God can heal us. We need to turn to Him and obey His Word and follow His Spirit. If we do, the fledgling revival will grow. It will grow beyond our imagination. God will make it grow. We need to live His Word and it will grow. God is waiting for us to open our hearts to Him. Will you do that? Today?
Stand in Awe – or Sin
Stand in awe or sin. Which will it be? Those are the options. Which will it be?
Life has pain. When life brings pain, what do you do? Satan provides options. They are all wrong options. God has an option. His option is the right option.
Job – endured the pain. How much pain? “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him!” Job was willing to endure the pain knowing that God had a purpose in the pain.
He did not sin.
Joseph – endured the pain. How much pain? He “cried so loudly that the whole palace heard him cry.”
Joseph was willing to endure the pain and live a life of Godly integrity.
He did not sin.
If ye be angry, and if ye think ye have cause to be angry; do not let your disaffection carry you to acts of rebellion against God …. Consider the subject deeply before you attempt to act. Do nothing rashly; do not justify one evil act by another: sleep on the business…. Ps. 4:4 The Treasury of David
Turning toward sin is rebellion – rebellion against God. It is “fixing” our problem in our own selfish way. It is rejecting the message God wants to give you.
Turning toward sin takes you deeper into sin. It destroys you and those around you.
God’s Word provides the only option – Stand in awe of God. That is what Joseph did. That is what Job did. These men stood in awe of a holy God to whom they were accountable.
Do you have pain today? How much pain? What will you do? God has a purpose in your pain. Do not rebel. Do not turn to sin. Turn to God. He is there. He loves you.
Do not sin.
Stand in Awe – allow the pain to happen – and
God will meet you there.
The religious leaders were angry that Peter and the apostles were preaching and healing the people.
Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, and they put the apostles in prison.
An angel delivered them and set them free!
And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught.
But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
But the apostles were not in the prison! An angel had delivered them and now they were preaching to the Spiritually hungry people.
Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,
”Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.
Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them.
Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.
And he said to them:
“Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.
And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for
If this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but
If it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—
Lest you even be found to fight against God.”
And they agreed with him.
From Acts 5:17-42
Gamaliel was a teacher respected for his wisdom. He stood up and wisely addressed the religious leaders. He correctly pointed out that they could easily be found on the wrong side of the discussion. The leaders took the advice.
Be careful who you support and who you oppose. God is working. You can be found to work against God. Wise men like Gamaliel can prevent that from happening. His kind are desperately needed today. May his tribe increase.
To the Chief Musician. On an eight-stringed harp. A Psalm of David.
Help, LORD, for the Godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor;
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the LORD cut off all flattering lips,
And the tongue that speaks proud things,
Who have said,
“With our tongue we will prevail;
Our lips are our own;
Who is lord over us?”
Now I will arise,” says the LORD
“For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy;
“I will set him in the safety for which he yearns.”
The words of the LORD are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.
You shall keep them, O LORD,
You shall preserve them from this generation forever.
The wicked prowl on every side,
When vileness is exalted among the sons of men.
Good people get deceived into believing lies and corruption. How can that happen? Recent exposures of fraudulent ministries with contriving and conniving personalities highlight the question. How could this happen?
When it does happen, why do people stay with a situation that is clearly not Biblical? Blindness. Blindness causes people to not see. Blindness can be willful. It can be choosing to not see because we do not want to see what is there or we want to see what is not there. Physical blindness is obvious. Spiritual blindness is so deceptive. It is deceptive because those who are Spiritually blind do not know that they cannot see.
Anyone can be controlled. Given the right circumstances and the right frame of mind and the right manipulator – anyone can be controlled. Almost anyone, that is. People controlled by the Spirit of God are difficult to control by sinful measures. If they initially comply with a powerful but harmful person they will be warned by the Holy Spirit and “come to their senses” and remove themselves from the dangerous situation.
Barnabas, in the Bible, was a good man but he got into a situation where a powerful person (Peter) controlled him. He needed a more insightful and discerning person to show him his blindness.
Nathan the prophet readily agreed with David’s plan to build a temple but God’s Spirit spoke to him and he then returned to David with God’s message. God’s plan was not the same as David’s plan and God revealed His plan to Nathan. Nathan and David had the discernment to accept God’s plan.
People get into misleading and malevolent situations by being gullible and easily manipulated. They believe in the person with the powerful persona and the convincing smile and the impressive argument and the sincere voice. They should be like the noble Bereans and search the Scripture to see what is true and what is false.
Be careful. Do not be deceived. Do not listen to and do not follow persons just because they have a following or because they schmooze you into being their puppets. Keep good, discerning people around you so that if you get caught in a vortex, your friends can extract you from the situation and prevent further damage.
Many people have good and helpful things to say. However, just because part of the program is good does not mean that the program will have a healthful effect. Just a little bit of wrong and sin can poison the soup. It can be mostly good but the little bit of bad can make the whole system destructive.
Pray for discernment. Do not let it happen to you.
First of all – do no harm. This is a rule of life that should precede all of our actions. This is not to ignore the need for Christianity and love of God and neighbor as primary in God’s economy. This is not to ignore the need for training and skill in occupation.
However, as we embark on each event of life, the primary concern is that we do no harm. Do not make a situation worse than it is. Do not cause injury. If you are repairing a motor or counseling a person or restoring a house or teaching a class or filling a tooth; do no harm.
This does not mean that some parts of the repair process will not cause pain. Pain and correction are frequently part of the eventual healing. Just make sure that the pain caused is integral to the healing and not causing the situation to deteriorate.
So, if you cannot fix the problem then let it alone or at least stop before you have caused harm. If the situation is over-your-head, recommend it to someone who has the capability.
Make your commitment to God and His Kingdom. Make your commitment to your family. Learn your skills well. Become proficient at what you do. Stay abreast of developments in your field. Employ your skills.
But above all, in every area of life – do no harm.