The Encourager

The Encourager

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I Saw a Friend Die by Dee Bowman

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Death is indeed sad. To watch a death scene is an event not easily erased from one’s catalog of memories. I saw a friend die one time. It was a slow death–so slow in fact that he didn’t even know it was happening. I saw it coming. I warned him. Others did likewise. But it was all to no avail. He just finally died. May I take a few moments of your time and tell you about it? It could save your life.

He first began to show signs of disease with a loss of appetite. He didn’t seemingly care to eat, and even when he ate, he paid not attention to what he ate. He simply was not bothered nor interested in diet. He remarked that other matters needed his attention. His work needed his attention. So did his yard. So did several other things. He had little time to eat. Too many things were demanding of his time.

Now showing signs of a loss of strength, he became sluggish and obviously anemic. It became more and more apparent that he was ill. I talked with him about it. He was evasive and showed no signs of wanting to talk about his condition. He made excuses about this loss of weight, and was not at all impressed with my suggestion that he see the doctor. “I will,” he said, “when I become convinced I need one.”

Then a terrible thought occurred to me. This is a contagious disease; and even if he will not allow us to take care of him, surely he will let us help his children. “My children are my businesses,” he said. “If I die, they’re going to die with me.”

Now they are all gone. My friend, his wife and a lovely group of children. At one time, all of them were the picture of a healthy, happy people, busily engaged in living a good, clean, healthy life. Now they are gone, and I can’t believe it has happened. Why should it happen? Why should a seemingly happy family just up and die like that? It’s sad. So sad.

The preceding story is true. You have already surmised, I’m sure, that the death of this family was spiritual, not physical. I hasten to remind you, however, that the fact that the death was not physical should not lessen the impact of the story. On the contrary, it should bring a greater emphasis to it. Spiritual demise is a most tragic, unnecessary event. Hope is gone. The future is bleak beyond belief. It’s sad, because this death has a remedy; it can be prevented.

What causes this spiritual demise? If it is so that there is a remedy, why in the same of common logic was not the remedy applied? Why was not something said or done to stop this spiritual passing away?

The fact is, you can’t force people to serve God. They have the right to refuse spiritual warnings, ignore spiritual warnings, cast off spiritual concerns. And they will often disdain admonitions to take care of their spiritual health.

I hope this father and mother realize that consequences and implications in their lack of concern. It is not enough that  

they don’t realize their own spiritual condition, but how sad that they are committing spiritual homicide by bringing about the spiritual death of their own children, children who had before been interested in learning about Jesus and His people. What man has the right to commit such an act? Will not God hold him accountable for such dereliction? Surely He will! 

Yes, I saw a friend die–just pass away. A friend and brother in the Lord has gone. Will he come back? Can he bring his family back? I don’t know, but I hope so. How sad to see someone you love die.


Churches: God Centered of Man Centered by Sewell Hall

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Religion by its very definition would seem to involve God. The word godly means God-centered. However, there are those who practice a religion that is all about man rather than God. To say that such religion is godly is not to say that it is wicked, but simply that it is not centered in God.

Jesus described such people in his day in the words of Isaiah: “These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9). Paul writes of those who are “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” while at the same time “holding a form of godliness” (2 Timothy 3:4-5). Jude describes some who are in the church, but are “ungodly men, who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

Why would ungodly individuals continue to profess religion? Some do so, “supposing that godliness is a way of gain” (1 Timothy 6:5). Others, like Diotrophes (3 John 9), love the preeminence that they have attained in the church. Or, like the rulers of (John 12:43), they may love “the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

Contrasting Churches

Local churches may be led either by godly or by not godly men - that is, by men who are most concerned for God and things of the Spirit or by men whose concerns are primarily human and temporal. Such churches can be distinguished by the following:

Goals: Godly leaders have as their goal “the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things unto Him who is the head - Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-15). Men whose thinking is not dominated by God have as their primary goal increasing numbers - a big church. They consider numerical growth proof of God’s approval.

Doctrine: Godly leaders are determined to abide in the doctrine of Christ and not to go beyond it (2 John 9). Not godly men, knowing that most of the public “will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4), provide the teachers that will tickle their ears.

Discipline: Godly leaders will insist that, in harmony with God’s instructions, the church “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly” (2 Thessalonians 3:6). Not-godly leaders advertise: “Come as you are” and boast that they are not judgmental, receiving everyone regardless of lifestyle.

Worship: Godly leaders insist that God be worshipped “acceptable with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28) while not-godly men place great emphasis on “worship” that pleases the public and they seem concerned only that everyone leave “feeling good about themselves” and eager to return.

Preachers: Godly leaders are not nearly as concerned with excellence of speech or of wisdom as that preachers be “determined not to know Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). Not-godly leaders insist that preachers be entertaining and personally popular, even with the world.

Activities: Godly leaders test every proposed action by all the scriptures, determined to “do all in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17), while not-godly leaders offer whatever people want - sports, entertainment, education, feasts, travel - with little apparent concern for what God wants.

Testing Ourselves

The Bible blesses those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). By contrast it condemns those who have “pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:12). Our taste in churches will help us determine which we are. How will a person who has “pleasure in unrighteousness” feel about a church whose goal above all other things is to remake him into the image of Christ, whose doctrine is “the apostles’ teaching,” a church where he is put on notice that he must live a godly life or be disfellowshipped, where worship is designed exclusively to please God, where preachers preach only the word of God - reproving, rebuking and exhorting - where activities are altogether spiritual?

On the other hand, how will one who is hungry and thirsty for righteousness feel about a church he visits where he receives nothing but entertainment, where the “sermons” are little more than jokes and pop psychology, where sin is never rebuked, sinners never convicted or exhorted, and where activities are the same as those offered at a public school, theater or country club.

What kind of church are you seeking - the church of your choice or the church of God’s choice? A godly church or a not-godly church?

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