GOD GETS IN YOUR FACE

3_creation“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1) is the most radical statement ever made.

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic but it just seems some days like the world is so untouched by God’s goodness. It seems like any kind of goodness which makes the news in its essence makes it rare. When I read the book of Genesis I see God look over his finished work and say “this is good, very good.” “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1). Satan does not own anything in this world. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” (1 Tim 4:4-5).

This is not to say that God has left some scant details about himself like a billion piececreation 2.jpg puzzle leaving us that were trying to figure things out although for some people it may seem that way. But God is evident. He is seen. When you read a very familiar passage such as Psalm 19 case such a wonderful display of God, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” (Ps 19:1-3). Creation can be seen bursting with song, loud, bright clear and powerful.

god-creating-creatures-by-r.jpgClearly, it means there is a God. God confronts us face to face, challenges, dares and even threatens people with his existence. Even more drastic, it means that you and I cannot escape God, “You are all around me-in front of me and in back of me. You lay your hand on me.” (Psalm 139:5GW). If you don’t want him around-he’s there anyway-he’s not going anywhere. He is always there and always will be there for all our lives and when we are dead and gone.  God will always be God. You are eventually going to have to confront the whole “God” issue, now or later.

“First, God. God is the subject of life. God is foundational for living. If we do not get the sense of the primacy of God, we will never get it right, get life right, get our lives right. Not God at the margins; not God as an option, not God on the weekends. God at the center and circumference; God first and last. God, God, God.” –The Old Testament Books of Moses © 2001 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Genesis is God giving our lives significance and meaning. God made the world where everything and everyone is created with an intention and design. He does not work impersonally from space, but he is in operation in the here and now. No matter how good or bad anyone is, we continue to be a part of his project-the Adam Project so there is no place to drop out.”

©2016 Stephen S. Gibney, don’t plagiarize-give us the credit and God the glory. 

THE SECRET LIFE OF REVEREND MITTY

“Here comes the dreamer!” (Gen. 37:19). mitty

I can relate in a way to the fictional character Walter Mitty. I was wondering what it would be like if he was cast as a pastor rather than a negative asset manager. He zones out many times thinking of adventures, and exploits. So do I. My imagination can run away with me. I just think about things. I used to be a full time Pastor and I loved doing it. I still dream about it and imagine preaching to different congregations all over the world, meeting Christians everywhere. Preaching for me is simply being in the mix where God is see him actively healing, delivering and saving people. 

I imagine some days I am Elijah, covered with hair. I can speak loud as God speaks through me.  I am confront an evil King Ahab and tell him it is not going to rain for years until he and the backslidden nation repent. I am a fugitive and the manhunt is on for this brazen prophet. I can see the ravens bring me meat as I lodge hidden by the last river in the land. I get to fight in prayer in the battle of the gods and see Yahweh bring lightning down out of a clear sky to vindicate his honor. Rain is coming. I fall to my knees and see a small cloud. Rain is coming. I am praying and the heavy droplets touch my skin. rain has COME and I feel my body filled with strength as I outrun Ahab’s chariot all the way to his palace.

Word of God to Pastor Steve. Word of God to Pastor Steve. Take your call seriously and put your armor on! Word of God to Pastor Steve. Preaching scripture, praying hard, step up to the Pulpit and may God’s love be with you.

Some days, I see myself as David prophesying to the enemies of God, standing toe to toe with the widowmaker Goliath. I sense the presence of God fills my body. I see my arm catapult a large stone and feel it leaving the sling and watch it hit the forehead of the giant. I can hear the gasps of the stalemate armies and the whole valley is silent with awe as the giant falls to the ground with a thud and without a thought I run over to him and pick up his huge sword and feel the heavy weight as I lift it and shear off his blaspheming head. Then I lift up that head by it hair, hold it up and shout in this gruesome victory and the army of Israel and shouts with me starts running after the Philistines.

Word of God to Pastor Steve. Word of God to Pastor Steve. Take your call seriously and put your armor on! Word of God to Pastor Steve. Preaching scripture, praying hard, step up to the Pulpit and may God’s love be with you.

Sometimes, I imagine I am Ezekiel transported to a valley of dry bones. It a desert graveyard with no graves. It is quiet, thirsty and barren. God talks to me, he asks me if these bones can come back to life. He tells me to speak to the bones with His Words and I can hear the bones begin to rattle and come together like metal to magnets and thunder as they form skeletons. I can see their hearts, lungs, and vital organs grow inside them and then sewn together with veins and arteries; sinew and muscle and then their ears and noses grow and eyes form in their sockets and hair on their heads. God tells me to talk to the wind and tell it to come from every direction and fill these slain soldiers with air. I speak God words again and I can hear them all at once breathe in, it sounds like one loud breath. They all stand up, dressed with armor and weapons.

Word of God to Pastor Steve. Word of God to Pastor Steve. Take your call seriously and put your armor on! Word of God to Pastor Steve. Preaching scripture, praying hard, step up to the Pulpit and may God’s love be with you.

I have looked all over the Christian world, doctrines, churches and denomination. I discover have the Quintessence of life in my Bible. It is Christ. An undeveloped picture of my life becoming developed into his image. The making of a brave Christian man. 

© 2016 Stephen S. Gibney all rights reserved.

THE 1 John 1:9 CONTROVERSY 5: STAYING ON THE SAME PAGE

same-page.png“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you.” John has a message from Jesus and he does not want his readers to miss what he is saying. In fact, he uses excessively longer phrases and more words to emphasize the meaning of his teaching when he could have simply used shorter phrases and fewer words. For example, he could have simply said, “God is light.” or he could have said, “There is no darkness in God.” It is as though John is saying, “This is what I mean and this is what I don’t mean.” He wants all Christians who read this to be on the same page. 

What is this message? God is light and in him is no darkness at all.” 

John teaches that God is light. He uses the term “the light” (v.7) later but that has another meaning. In this verse it refers to God’s nature and essence as light. This is not physical light, but spiritual light that spreads everywhere and invades everything. His essence is truth, purity, holiness. In him there is no darkness at all. John emphasizes that there is not one bit of darkness in God. James says “There is never the slightest variation or shadow of inconsistency.” in God. (James 1:17 Phillips). God is untouched by the darkness of sin and He is “absolutely perfect…there is nothing in him …which would dim or mar the pure splendor of his character.” (Barnes). 

With this is mind, the Apostle takes another sharp turn in his teaching and He puts truth and lies; light and darkness; obedience and sin; deception and honesty; reality and fantasy; saying and walking side by side. John says that the talk and action of some of the people does not match up to God’s standard of fellowship, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not do the truth.”  (v.6). These are very strong words. He calls these people liars and says they are not practicing Christians. People have no fellowship with God if they practice sin. They are living a lie. Truth is not just sterile doctrinal beliefs that you can distance yourself from. Truth is all about how you behave and act. God is in his nature is light and not in any way dark and what he says is light and not in any way dark. So in this passage the word truth means acting lawfully and walking in darkness is living in deception and disobedient behavior.

“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”   Walking in the light of God means that we are drawing closer to God.We act and live in that light. His word and truth are like light that exposes our errors and deception has nowhere to hide. We welcome that because he cleanses us and purifies us continually from all sins. Now John again wants to make sure we are staying on the same page by showing our fellowship with God and one another is by these two things: walking the light of God and his cleansing holiness by the blood of Jesus.

Then John takes another turn and says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (v. 8)  The Bible teaches here that people who deny indwelling sin and do not admit their wrongdoing have gone so far off course they are believing their own lies. They claim to know the truth but they are deceived. Saying one can reach a place where they never sin after they are saved is a terrible error. Saying that we can live without confessing our sins or be disobedient is also a soul damning teaching. John say these type of people have deluded themselves to the point their hearts are evacuated of truth.

The Apostle turns again in this winding passage, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (v.9). We MUST freely admit we have sinned,  God says we MUST consent to this truth. Notice HE is faithful and just it says. As the Amplifies comments, “he is true to His own nature and promises.” The ISV says that “he might forgive us and might cleanse us of our sins.” As we must pray to receive an answer to prayer we must confess our sins to be forgiven. Christ forgave us on the cross, but we still must ask his forgiveness as proof that the truth is in us and that he is loyal and consistent in all his ways.

If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (v.10). The dangers of misrepresenting Christ and his teaching should always be on our mind. He says if we do not say what he says about sin we are saying God is falsifying his Word and misrepresenting Himself. In effect, we call God a liar. Unthinkable! This failure also shows exposes that the Word is not in us if we say such things. It used the word “truth” in verse six but here it says “word.” This is a person who insists they know “the Word” and refuse to own up to their sin nature and their acts of sin. We are actually destitute of God’s life-giving Word if we refuse to, humbly welcome the word of truth that will blossom like the seed of salvation planted in your souls.” (James 1:20Voice).

“John condemns the man who claims that he is so far advanced in knowledge and in the spiritual life that sin for him has ceased to matter; he condemns the man who evades the responsibility for his sin or who holds that sin has no effect upon him; he condemns the man who has never even realized that he is a sinner. The essence of the Christian life is first to realize our sin; and then to go to God for that forgiveness which can wipe out the past and for that cleansing which can make the future new.” (Barclay).

© 2016 Stephen S. Gibney, if you quote it, gives us some credit and God the glory.

THE FIRST JOHN 1:9 CONTROVERSY 4: READING THE MAIL THE RIGHT WAY

1_john_title.jpgIn 1 John 1:9 who confesses their sin? Who is God faithful and just to forgive their sin?  Who is the “we” and “us” in 1 John 1: 9? This may seem a unusual question to ask but if a letter, email or text was sent to you from someone else and you read it thinking it was for you, when it was not, it could change everything. If you thought it was from one person and it was from another, that also would make a huge difference. That is why we should distinguish the author from the recipient. The Apostle John is the writer who represents Christ, his fellow apostles and the church that Jesus started. He is an original follower of Jesus, and his very close friend (John 13:22-24).  

He begins the first five verses of chapter one with the pronouns “we” and “us.” John the Apostle refers exclusively to the testimony of the life of Christ that he and the other Apostles had witnessed (v. 1-3). He speaks of Jesus Christ whom they have seen, heard and touched (v. 1-2). They were the people who knew Christ more personally than any of us because they saw him physically. They saw everything that Jesus did and heard everything that he said and he gave them the power of the Spirit so they could give perfect evidence to defend his claims (John 14:28; 15:26-27; 16:13-15).

John was one of those Apostles who was directly commissioned by Christ to carry the gospel message to the entire world (Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15). The Apostles were made responsible by Christ to communicate their testimony about Him to the Christians of their day and now we read their writings.  Thus, the biblical Christ is the only real Christ. The purpose for his writings according to John was so that people in his day and in ours may have the joyful fellowship which they had with Christ and his Father (v. 3-4). Got it? We were those people that believed in Christ through their word (John 17:20) which are found in the Holy Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17).  

That is how we identify who Apostle John is talking to, those to whom the letter is addressed. It identifies the pronoun “you” as the people to whom the Apostle declared the true God. The word “you” has a double reference to those who are outsiders and need to come inside the circle of fellowship and the insiders of that circle of Christian fellowship who need to have their memories refreshed about the truth found in Christ (see 1 Cor 5:12). Clearly this shows that without the Bible, without the Prophets of the Old Testament and the Apostles of the New Testament you cannot know Christ who is the center and circumference of them all (Eph. 2:20). 

Now in verses five through ten we see the details of their message about God.  These are truths all Christians believe.  In these verses the “we” and “us” become a reference to the teachers and their students. It refers to “all of us.” So the whole circle of fellowship of insiders is made clear. While the application of truth regards insiders and outsiders the Apostles are addressing those who are already inside the circle of Christian fellowship.

Another case for the fact that John expected people who were already Christians to confess their sins to God.

See the next article in this series.

©2016 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

GOD’S UNSPEAKABLE GIFT 

“Thanks be unto God for his *unspeakable gift.” (2 Cor. 9:15).

People can only give when they see God as generous. If a preacher proclaims God as stingy with his time, mercy and grace people’s giving of themselves will dry up as well.

*Unspeakable (anekdiēgētō) is only used here in the whole New Testament and it means that the gift of Christ is incapable of being adequately expressed, unutterable and ineffable. Christ is the Gift who is so celestial and sacred he is beyond words. It occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.

It is higher than the mind can conceive; higher than language can express…Man had no claim on God. He could not compel him to provide a plan of salvation; and the whole arrangement – the selection of the Savior, the sending him into the world, and all the benefits resulting from his work, are all an undeserved gift to man. (Barnes).

“Our thankfulness should be shown by highly prizing and valuing this gift; by laying the whole stress of our salvation on Christ…” (Gill)

Here is a short synopsis by Alexander MacLaren

There is one blazing sun which shines out in the midst all the galaxies which fill the heavens. There is one gift of God which is beyond all others and only deserves the designation of “unspeakable.” The gift of Christ attracts all other divine gifts after it. “How should He not with Him also freely give us all things.” The expression here “unspeakable” is what I wish chiefly to fix upon now. It means literally that which cannot be fully declared. Language fails because thought fails.

Unspeakable Love 

The love is the cause of the gift and the gift is the expression of the love. John’s Gospel says that the Son which is in the bosom of the Father has declared Him. Paul here uses a related word for “unspeakable” which might be rendered, “that which cannot be fully declared.”  The declaration of the Father is that He declared the undeclarable…language fails when it is applied to the expression of human emotion…with lowly condescension He uses all sweet images drawn from earthly relationships, to help us in understanding His love—the love of father, mother, husband, wife, brother, friend, and after…<yet> all are exhausted…

Unspeakable Sacrifice 

When Paul in the Epistle to the Romans says, “He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all” he is…quoting, the divine words to Abraham, “Seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me” <This> permits us to parallel what God did when He sent His Son with what Abraham did when, with wrung heart…he bound and laid Isaac on the altar and stretched forth his hand with the knife in it to slay him. Such a representation contradicts the vulgar conceptions of a passionless, self-sufficing, icy deity… All through His life Christ was in contact with evil, and for Him the contact was like that of a naked hand pressed upon hot iron. The sins and woes of the world made His path through it like that of bare feet on sharp rocks. If He had never died it would still have been true that, “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.” On the Cross, He completed pouring out his love which had continued pouring throughout His life and “poured out His soul unto death” as He had been pouring it out all through His life. We have no measure by which we can estimate the inevitable sufferings in such a world as ours of such a spirit as Christ’s…Should it not call forth from us floods of praise and thanks to God for His unspeakable gift?

Unspeakable Results 

In Christ are hid, “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” When God gave us Him, He gave us a storehouse in which is contained treasures of truth which can never be fully comprehended, and which, even if comprehended, can never be exhausted. The mystery of the Divine Name revealed in Jesus, the mystery of His person, are themes on which the Christian world has been nourished ever since, and which are as full of food, not for the understanding only, but far more for the heart and the will, to-day as ever they were. The world may think that it has left the teaching of Jesus behind, but in reality the teaching is far ahead…and the Gospel is the guide of the race, and each generation gathers something more from it…each of Christ’s scholars finds about gift, and in the measure of his faithfulness to what he has found makes ever new discoveries in the unsearchable riches of Christ. After all have fed full there still remain abundant baskets full to be taken up.

Conclusion 

No single soul, and no multitude of souls, can exhaust Jesus; neither our individual experiences, nor the experiences of a believing world can fully realize the endless wealth laid up in Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega of all our speech, the first letter and the last of our alphabet, between which lie all the rest. Who has ever spoken adequately and in full correspondence with reality what it is to have God’s pardoning love flowing in upon the soul? Many singers have sung sweet psalms and hymns and spiritual songs on which generations of devout souls have fed, but none of them has spoken the deepest blessedness of a Christian life, or the calm raptures of communion with God. For us the only recompense that we can make for the unspeakable gift is to receive it with “thanks unto God” and the yielding up of our hearts to Him. God pours this love upon us freely…it is unspeakable in the depths of its source, in the manner of its manifestation, in the glory of its issues. It is like some great stream, rising in the trackless mountains, broad and deep, and leading on to a sunlit ocean…

 

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CLING TO THE CROSS

At 6 o’clock one Sunday morning Clare Gant was going to church and not even the torrential rain outside would stop her. But she never expected that her vehicle would be suddenly caught in floodwaters near a lake.

Her car stalled and then began to float away with the powerful force of rushing water. She knew she was in trouble. She called 911 and no one answered. She finally called her grandson who was on his way to rescue her.

Her car shifted and went backwards into a field and she thought, “Dear Lord are you taking me home right now?” But he was not.

By the time her grandson arrived her car had been washed off the road into a church yard. Her car had stopped besides a huge red cross. Her grandson, Travis, came with a deer harness off of a deer stand and some rope he says somehow he got the jammed door open despite the rushing waters and his grandmother out of the car and they both grabbed hold of that cross and held on for five hours until someone came and rescued them.

Gant said, “I was literally, after I got out of the car, holding onto the cross. I was clinging to the cross…Jesus is my savior. This story is not about me, this is about what he did to save me.”

I want to ask you dear friend are you clinging to the cross of Jesus? From the story you can tell that that was all they could hold on to. It was such a wonderful illustration of our own bankruptcy spiritually, or like the hymn says

Nothing in my hands I bring simply to the cross I cling.

Although we may be good people as far as culture is concerned. We have certain things that are admirable and we do many moral things that make us basically good people – but as far as God is concerned spiritually we have nothing to offer him but our sin. Not only our sin but even our good works disqualify us from heaven. That’s why Jesus came.

God bankrupt heaven for bankrupt sinners so that they could be saved. They could not hold on to their good works, that they are a giving and loving person or a good parent or a good son or daughter or a good provider – nothing of that matters with God when it comes to entering heaven. The only way that you can enter into heaven is completely embrace what Jesus did on the cross as payment for your sins.

He died to save you. He lives to love you.

This is the Jesus that we preach. Some of you today like that woman in our story have bumped into this article like her car bumped into that red Cross. Would you not consider that God is showing you that the only way you can be saved is through Jesus Christ? Receive God’s love gift today. Make a 180 degree turn from what you’re doing now and ask God to save you through what Jesus did on the cross. Believe that Jesus died for you, especially you.

It’s simple trust- just knowing what he did and basing your entire life on the fact that Christ died and rose again from the dead for you. Then you will truly know what it is to cling to the cross.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

FOR THOSE WHO WAIT

There’s a deep agony of heart, that is worse than pain in the body. It is a hope, a desire, a dream that is unfulfilled.

It can be nagging of the mind, a gnawing of heart, that refuses to be comforted. It is a scent of the spirit, a sound beyond what anyone can hear but me.

Lord, only you can say the word and I will be healed. Pound thy gavel, Righteous Judge let the courtroom hear. Like Samuel anoint me in the midst of thy brethren.

Feed me by angels hands, meet me in that cave that is so dark yet alive with your voice send me to the mountain that is shaken and rocked by your lightning so that all that is false is driven from my land and my heart.

You know that I desire to be what you want me to be. Do not withdraw thy hands from this frail clay vessel. Let thy skilled touch be evidence you are with me.

Let me be fashioned and formed into a vessel of honor and filled with thy glory and poured out in your sight and the voice of last drop utter thy will be done.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

HYPNOTIC

bigstock-Hypnosis-7337942-300x300“…Who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth? (Gal. 3:1). 

I am sure you have heard about the Florida school board who settled with three families for $600,000 dollars over the death of their children.  It is very sad. I grieve with them. But these teenagers were not shot by some madman, nor were they the victims of domestic terrorism. They died because of hypnotism. 

North Port High School Principal George Kenney was practicing hypnosis on students who were struggling with grades, anxieties due to tests and their athletic performance. He may have hypnotized over 70 students. His actions introduced an element into their lives for which they were not prepared-demonic activity.

Hypnosis causes a trance (an altered state of consciousness) in which the hypnotist can make suggestions to the subconscious of the person being hypnotized. Back in the 18th century occultist Franz Anton Mesmer from whose name we get the word word mesmerize—was a man who practised the occult in the name of alternative medicine. In fact, the above passage uses the word bewitched which means to mesmerize by magic arts, to fascinate, charm and take away the power of resistance. This stuff is demonic and you should stay away from it and warn your family and friends about it.

The hypnotic spirit of antichrist that has been attempting to lure people away from Christ for two millennia and hypnotize them to oppose the gospel (1 John 4:1-3) by all means possible. The real cure of the gospel message about Jesus Christ is seen as that dangerous by the Devil because it breaks the spell of the devil. That is why the Bible warns believers to be careful.

With the Christians at Galatia, Satan used teaching, yes teaching. It is called the teaching of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). Satan is actually speaking hypnotically through some teachers because they have abandoned the scripture for the philosophies of the world and apostate religion. The Galatians were hypnotized by legalism the idea that says you can get to heaven by doing good things. Instead of what the Bible teaches that human beings are sinners and only believing in Christ and what he did on the cross as the sole means to go to heaven. They gave up their liberty for the false security of doing religious things rooted in self righteousness instead of learning how to be empowered to live for Jesus by the Holy Spirit to obey God and love Jesus in any and all circumstances. They ended up hypnotized by a false gospel, an erroneous view of Christ and a different spirit (2 Cor. 11:3-4).

Many people don’t realize that some of the most popular “preachers” today could very well be the duped agents of Satan in deceiving millions (2 Tim. 3:13) because they do not preach the raw truth of the Gospel (Gal 2:14). Some of these so called ministers endorse “prayer practices” that are actually a form of hypnosis and they are dangerous. As far as I am concerned they need to be rebuked continually and repeatedly so they will repent.

Satan can hypnotize and introduce his thoughts as well through other means. You would never guess most of the time who is under his spell. You see them at work, at church even at home. He can use entertainment and media of all kinds. He has been using the Harry Potter saga, Twilight trilogy, movies about the Ouija Board even Annabelle the demon possessed doll.  As idiotic as some of these horror movies are they may introduce spiritual darkness into the thinking of unsaved people and Satan can even assault lukewarm Christians and have them spinning in circles.

Lately, the fascination with the occult, demon possession, vampires, humans changing into animals and zombies are all part of Satan’s last day strategy just to enslave the thoughts of people. The thoughts of sinful men in the media are communicated unknowingly to the mind and spirit of those who open themselves to them. Christians should think twice about going to movies, what they see on the internet, cable or satellite television. “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord.” (Prov. 15:26).

The devil can do this as well through drugs and alcohol. Sorcery (pharmakeia) is the abuse of drugs that can cause an altered state of consciousness (Gal. 5:23, Rev. 18:23). Alcoholism alters the personality and its no wonder people used to call it spirits. It is my belief that if enough alcohol is consumed not only does it create addiction but opens the persons spirit to demonic influence. The Bible overwhelmingly takes a negative tone concerning alcohol (Prov 20:1).

Satan, of course, can use our own weaknesses against us if we are not careful. He loves when we defeat ourselves before he can even get to us. If we get fixated upon worldly things and allow a carnal mind it will detract from the life and peace of the Spirit God wants us to have and brings death (Rom. 8:5-6). No Christian can be demonized or possessed by Satan. that is false doctrine.  But a believer in Jesus can leave their mind open to his hypnotic suggestions. But we should throw down thoughts against God (2 Cor. 10:3-6). Like Martin Luther said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” We need to put on the helmet of salvation to protect our thoughts and give us mental toughness during trials (Eph. 6:17).

Satan wants us to distract people from Christ and place their focus on self or circumstances. He wants to traumatize people, take away their sleep, steal their health or introduce addiction through sex, drugs, worldly entertainment and alcohol. He wants to hypnotize you with, “…craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.” (1 John 2:16NLT). He wants you to be at peace with him and the world’s way of doing things. Did you not know there is a war going on? (Eph. 6:10-12). Have you forgotten? Are you going run away from the sounds of war (Psa. 78:9)? You cannot turn the evil days of battle on and off. Like it or not you are in a fight for your soul and the souls of your family and friends. Satan is fighting hard in these last days and it seems more and more Christians and their leaders are asleep at their posts, some are even changing sides joining Satan’s campaign (Gal. 1:6). It’s time to wake up!!! “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Rom. 13:12).

It is part of Satan’s plan to attack the mind’s of people and enslave them to his power. Satan wants to breakdown your resistance. He wants you to focus on financial hardship and sickness, personal attacks on your reputation, troubles at work and home all to make suggestions that God is lying to you, holding back from you. The Enemy wants you to be hypnotized with thoughts that God does not love you or he will not help you. The devil and his agents want you full of anger, fear, anxiety, self-pity, discouragement and loneliness. Satan wants you to ruin your testimony for Christ and keep you from helping others!

You can fight back and stand your ground against Satan and he will run away terrified (James 4:7). You must get your focus off your problems and on the wonderful love and strength of your Savior Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:1-3)! The victory has been ours since the days Christ washed away all our sins. God’s promises of victory in the scripture is to the one who believes in Jesus and they have already overcome the world (1 John 5:5). Christ who lives in us is greater than Satan and his emissaries in this world (1 John 4:4). Now we can go in Christ’s authority and reprimand Satan in the name of Jesus Christ and tell him you will not be hypnotized by his lies.

©2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

The Return of The Older Minister

moses-19“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.” (1 Tim. 5:17). 

Have you ever heard the term-respect your elders? “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” (Lev. 19:32).  Did you notice the motivation in respect of godly elders in that verse-the fear of God? God takes very seriously how we treat our elders and will punish those who do not respect them. We are to see them greatly honored and blessed by God because of the length of their life and the experience and wisdom which they have acquired. That is what the Bible teaches. That is God’s design for leadership in the church. Even outside of the church people realize the value of older workers.

Companies see the benefits of hiring older workers. They statistically exert a detail oriented, higher quality work. They are focused, punctual, organized, less rattled with problems and have pride in a job well done. They know how to train other workers and communicate better than those younger than them.

Surprised? I am not.

I wrote this article after hearing a district official of my former denomination say that they want younger men to pastor because older men are set in their ways. That is rubbish!  I say maybe older ministers are not recommended because they cannot be fooled by denominational politics. The middle aged man is the best candidate for being the Lead or Senior Pastor of a church today.  In a day when men are being dishonored or demeaned, needless the offensive manner in which seasoned citizens are being treated by society this is when a minister is at his best. In fact, it should be the biblical model for us to follow. The New Testament uses the term bishop, elders, and presbyters interchangeably. It refers to an older, seasoned Christian who presides over a church as a pastor.  No wonder the church has more and more issues because of the sophomoric mistakes of younger preachers who are getting job experience in pulpits.

In the past few decades, men and women have been entering the ministry at older ages. Most had another career before going to seminary, and by the time they settled into the role of minister they tended to be middle-aged. In a recent study, the median age of senior or solo Protestant pastors was 51. The median age of senior or solo black pastors was 53.

A church would have a great advantage having the Senior pastor training and mentoring younger ministers, who assist him in his ministry and church work. By doing this they gain training and experience. But the bottom line (with some few exceptions) the man leading the church should be no younger than thirty five years old which would give him at least 20 years experience in ministry training. Some of you whippersnappers are rolling your eyes. But I am telling you that churches that look for younger pastors are setting themselves up for the many mistakes of inexperience and youth.  Now people will tell me that Paul told Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth” (1 Tim. 4:12). But he was at least 35 years old, maybe forty when he pastored Ephesus. We also have to take life expectancy of the times in view-but I think wisdom and experience trump youth and idealism any day of the week.

The Bible teaches older men should lead the church. “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders…” (see 1 Peter 5:1-14). I cannot say it any clearer churches today should desire that their leaders be elders-those who have acquired wisdom with age. 

In this day when we have so many still droning on about the Paul-Timothy relationship it seems we have the Timothy’s trying to tell the Paul’s that they are old schooled albatrosses because the elder reflects the sound doctrine of the Bible from past years while many younger men pant like a teenagers with their hormones out of control for new ways of doing things. I am so taken back by the stupid wet behind the ears attitude of men who say the methods have to change but the message stays the same. The message is the cross, the method is preaching. If these young fools would read their Bible they would know that, but they are full of silly misunderstandings. 

I know many ministers feel useless in the fifty and above crowd. But this is just the devil. God wants to bless others through your life and do not forget it, Your time will come. You stay in the Word and prayer and walk with the Lord and you will grow in wisdom and be a blessing to many of those in need of a fatherly person who can help them grow in Christ.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney

SAMSON: A WARNING TO THE CHURCH AND ITS LEADERS

maxresdefaultIn Samson we see an impersonation of Israel.

Like him, the nation was strong so long as it kept the covenant of its God.

Like him, it was ever prone to follow after strange loves. Its Delilahs were the gods of the heathen, in whose laps it laid its anointed head, and at whose hands it suffered the loss of its God-given strength; for, like Samson, Israel was weak when it forgot its consecration, and its punishment came from the objects of its infatuated desires.

Like him, it was blinded, bound, and reduced to slavery, for all its power was held, as was his, on condition of loyalty to God.

His life is as a mirror, in which the nation might see their own history reflected; and the lesson taught by the story of the captive hero, once so strong, and now so weak, is the lesson which Moses taught the nation: “Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, by reason of the abundance of all things: therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things, and He shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck” ( Deut. 28: 47, 48 ).

The blind Samson, chained, at the mill, has a warning for us, too. That is what God’s heroes come to, if once they prostitute the God-given strength to the base loves of self and the flattering world.

We are strong only as we keep our hearts clear of lower loves, and lean on God alone. Delilah is most dangerous when honeyed words drop from her lips.

The world’s praise is more harmful than its censure. Its favors are only meant to draw the secret of our strength from us, that we may be made weak; and nothing gives the Philistines so much pleasure as the sight of God’s warriors caught in their toils and robbed of power.”  

–Alexander MacLaren