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Lovers of Truth

Because I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold,
and because I consider all your precepts right, I hate every wrong path

Ps. 119:127-128

It takes a passionate love for God and His Word to develop in us the motivating force to “hate every wrong path.” It is God’s will that we become lovers of truth so that we will not be partakers of evil. If we do not hate evil then we will not have a strong enough incentive to turn from evil in our actions, thoughts and desires.

Christians should be lovers of truth not only in relation to who God is, but also as it relates to life in general. We should want truth to permeate all of life—family, church, entertainment, society, business, culture, science, education and government. However, this is not the condition of America as a whole and the church specifically.

One sign that we are not being lovers of truth is when we begin to separate truth from practice. Today’s Christians are not disturbed over this grave incongruity. If we do not love the truth then we will by default love evil. It is irrelevant if we repackage evil with religious words or politically correct rhetoric, evil will always be evil.

Shortly after Barak Obama was sworn in as president, I was ministering at an urban church. The pastor’s daughter proudly wore her Obama shirt displaying that her candidate of “Change” was now president. There was a large disparity between her political views and Biblical Christianity. Without the least inclination to the fact, she had developed a secular worldview rather than one that was authentically Christian.

There are serious inconsistencies with this young college student’s faith on an intellectual, moral and spiritual basis. Though she is Christian, her decision to vote for an unrighteous man – that aggressively promotes abortion, homosexuality and many other issues blatantly anti-Christian – are irreconcilable with the teaching of Scripture. One primary reason she voted as she did is that she failed to be a lover of truth.

To claim that we love truth but not promote the truth as it relates to all of life is a contradiction— a form of hypocrisy. How can we be lovers of truth while we practice or support evil in any form? Similarly, how can we vote for a candidate that advocates evil? The Lord commands us to, “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts (Amos 5:15). This means that we should be lovers of truth as it relates to politics and government just as much as we love it working in our home or church.

While sitting in the kitchen of the pastor’s house I asked his daughter why she voted for a candidate that aggressively promotes the killing of unborn children. Her response typifies how people can sanction and promote evil while claiming to be Christian. “Well, I don’t believe in abortion, but abortion is a woman’s own choice and I have to respect the personal choices of others.” Her statement betrays her secular worldview that is permeated with moral relativism. Women should never have the right to murder anyone, whether it’s their unborn babies, husbands or parents!

One reason why we live with this personal dichotomy between believing in truth and practicing evil is that we do not love God as we claim. Paul taught that, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). And the Psalmist admonished, “Let those who love the LORD hate evil” (Ps. 97:10). Love for God will always produce hatred for evil, but never of people. To love any expression of evil is to hate the truth and hatred for truth is actually hatred for God Himself.

The Scriptures teach that the reason people die in their sin and spend an eternity in hell is because, “they refused to love the truth and so be saved” (2 Thes. 2:10). When people choose to love God they begin to hate evil. At times we may be ignorant of what constitutes evil. Nevertheless, to remain ignorant of evil causes us to practice or justify evil. We were given God’s Word so that we can walk securely in this corrupt world. If we do not know the Word, then we have nobody to blame but ourselves. We cannot blame others for our willful ignorance of the truth.

Another reason why people love evil is that they do not fear God (this includes professing believers). Solomon wrote, “To fear the LORD is to hate evil” (Pr. 8:13a). Take for example watching TV and movies. “Christians” that do not fear God will watch that which is evil. This exposes their blatant hypocrisy. If we hated evil, we would hate every expression of evil, even that which touches entertainment.
It is interesting to note that the next statement in Pr. 8:13 is made by the Lord, “I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” God declares once again that He unequivocally hates all evil. Since God hates evil, who do we think we are to love it, promote it, vote for it or cover it up?

True believers are called to hate evil just like God does. That is why Paul admonished us to, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thes. 5:21-22). Hatred of evil causes people to abandon every practice of evil and to avoid its mere appearance. This includes the evil of self-righteousness which is the ugliest form of pride. Religious pride is self-exalting and people debasing. It makes people think that they are good when they are inherently wicked. Self-righteousness turns believers into Pharisees and sets them on an equal path to hell as Jesus proclaimed (Mt. 23:15).

So what are we to do when we see our hypocrisy, when truth and evil collide in our very bosoms? We need to apply three truths to our lives. The first is to do a thorough job of repenting. Fall at Jesus’ feet and plead for forgiveness and character transformation. We are powerless to change ourselves for good by ourselves. By living a lifestyle of repentance, we will keep a tender heart before God so that He can reprove us as necessary. To live a lifestyle of repentance we must be quick to repent which produces the desire to straighten out the crooked areas of our lives and correct our erroneous ways of thinking.

Next, we must become good students of the Word so that we know, love and live the truth. When we know the truth, we will be able to discern good and evil so we can apply the truth to all of life, not just in matters of faith. By knowing the Word we can develop an authentic Christian worldview that can empower us to stand against all the lies and assaults of hell.

Finally, we must become true lovers of God. Those who are lovers of God will fear God and be passionate about knowing and living the truth. Anyone who loves God will hate lies. Since God is Truth, He is the author of truth and speaks nothing but truth (Jn. 14:6). When we truly love God we will love, practice and promote the truth. It cannot be otherwise.

Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Angry With God by Jessica Meldrum

The young woman that sat across from me was very pregnant and extremely angry. Her features, which were probably very pretty, were so distorted with bitterness it was impossible to see any beauty. I have known people who have allowed a consuming anger to destroy their lives but I still don’t understand the desire to hold on to such an ugly emotion, especially when it is directed towards God.

I met Amanda last week while my husband, Glenn and I were ministering at a Christian drug and alcohol rehab for women and their children. It is a tremendous program that provides the opportunity for these women to surrender their lives to Jesus and let Him conquer their addictions. Needless to say, all these women come into the program with lots of baggage including a history of physical abuse or incest. Amanda is one of these. She was sexually abused by her father and now she cannot forgive. I’m not talking about forgiving her earthly father; I’m talking about forgiving her heavenly Father.

She began her life story by telling Glenn and I how she came to be in the program. Although she is only 25, Amanda has been in jail often for drug related crimes. Two months ago as she stood before another judge he shocked her by offering an alternative to jail. He suggested she consider entering a year long Christian program to get help for her addiction. He then offered to pay her entrance fee out of his pocket. Amanda chose to enter the program and acknowledges that God did a miracle for her.

At this point the conversation took a turn. Amanda confessed to being in and out of Christianity for many years and said the reason for this was that she had not been able to forgive God for the abuse she suffered. Glenn responded by questioning her as to why she would lay the blame on God for what her father did to her. She explained that she was angry with God because it was His job to make sure nothing bad ever happened to her and He had failed her in this. Of course we tried to show her the error of thinking this way using Scripture and trying to help her understand the nature of man’s freewill, but she was determined to make God as evil as her father. 

What became clear was that Amanda felt that God did not take good care of her and that she believed that she was a much better parent than He. She proclaimed her love to be so great for her children that she would give her life for them; she would never let anything bad happen to them. In other words she condemned God by claiming herself more kind and compassionate than He was. After questioning her about her “children” I learned that in addition to her unborn child, Amanda had a six year old daughter who had been taken from her. She wouldn’t tell me why but I did get her to admit that her daughter had to be taken away because Amanda was not a good mom. Yet again Amanda declared she would lay her life down even now for her daughter and her unborn child. Obviously she has not yet understood that she would never die for her children because she has not been willing to live for them.

As the conversation came to a close I asked Amanda to pray that God would show her the cross; the reality of our wickedness, Jesus’ incredible sacrifice and the gift of forgiveness offered to rebels such as us. I suggested that the real reason that she is experiencing anger towards God is because she has not truly seen Him or known Him; she does not understand who He is. She replied that she knew all about the cross, God and Jesus and there was nothing more to learn about Him. Now it was up to God to bless her so that she might one day forgive Him. Until that time she would continue to be angry with Him.

To believe that God has done anything for which He needs our forgiveness is a polluted, twisted idea. Only created, sinful beings are guilty of crimes that need to be forgiven. The Lamb of God is pure and holy. Jesus has never committed an evil act. In this Amanda showed her complete ignorance of the character of God, the sacrifice of Jesus and her own wickedness. However, the struggle with anger towards God is a very real issue for many of us.

To feel anger towards God is something we all have experienced at times even if we dare not tell anyone about it. Sometimes we don’t recognize it for what it is or we try to dress it up in religious garb to make ourselves appear righteous. Anger is a strong emotion and we will not begin to conquer it until it is confessed. It is not sin to feel an emotion, at times we cannot help feeling anger, but it is what we do with the emotion that matters. If we are angry at God we must drag that anger up the hill to Calvary and lay it down it in the shadow of the cross to see whether we really have any right to our anger. Then as we walk by faith back down Calvary’s hill we must determinedly surrender our emotion and cry out for a heart that “would see Jesus.”

From some of Job’s statements it appears that he had his struggle with anger at God. He accused and questioned God. He wanted some answers for what he perceived as injustice on the part of God. But notice at the end of the book of Job God does not address Job’s questions and Job no longer requires any answers. In fact all his questions were forgotten. Why? Because instead of responding to his inquires God gave him a revelation – He answered Job with Himself. It is here we find Job acknowledging the foolishness of his anger when he confesses; “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”  (Job 42:5&6)

When Job had an encounter with God two things changed; Job’s perception of God and Job’s perception of Job. How much better it would have been if early on Job had said; “I do not understand what is happening, but I will yield my emotions to the Character of God. By His Word I know He is loving and He is merciful. I choose to surrender my emotions and conception of God (surrender to who) because I only know Him but a little.” Would this have immediately caused Job’s anger to die? – probably not (at least it doesn’t for me). Yet statements of truth are expressions of faith that will subdue the emotion until a fresh encounter with Jesus puts to rest our questions. Consider David’s Psalms of lament in which he brings out a complaint, yet soon afterwards makes statements like this; “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. (Ps 86:15)

The abuse suffered by Amanda is not the obstacle to her finding freedom from her anger; it is her unwillingness to surrender her emotions to God. Until she is willing to “despise herself and repent” she will remain blind to her true condition and her need of mercy. She has heard of Jesus, but she has not seen Him. At this point Amanda will not even consider the possibility that God is other than what she believes Him to be. The freedom for which she longs will elude her unless, in brokenness, her heart begins to cry out; “I have only heard of You, but now let my eyes see you.”

Jessica Meldrum has been a national evangelist with her husband Glenn since 1997. She speaks to women’s groups, is a freelance author and wrote the book “Floods on Dry Ground: The Story of the Hebrides Awakening.” Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn and Jessica Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Character Matters

            While in the midst of preaching a series of meetings at a church the pastor came to my motorhome for a visit. He apologized for not coming by earlier but had two marital counseling sessions that took his entire morning. One of the couples had a fight the night before where they physically beat each other and bore the marks to prove it. The other couple consisted of a woman who had five affairs on her husband and he had ten on her. Obviously, both marriages were in shambles even though they all claimed to be Christian.

            At another church where I ministered a woman had divorced her husband because she could not forgive his besetting sin – he was unwilling to help with the house cleaning. She believed God would never want her to be chained to such a man for the rest of her life so before the divorce was final she found another man that she hoped would make her happier.

            Then there has been the string of well known “Christian” pastors and recording artists that have been practicing homosexuals. Some claim to still love Jesus asserting that God doesn’t have a problem with their homosexuality. And what about the evangelist that shot into fame but was actually a falling star? Not only was he propagating gross heresies, but within a week of his public coronation as an “apostle” by some influential leaders the facts surfaced about his adulteries, drunkenness and breakdown of his marriage. Now add to all of this the increase in adultery, pornography and divorce among spiritual leaders and we still only see the tip of the iceberg that is shipwrecking the American church.

            How has the church fallen to such a low spiritual and moral condition that people can live in such blatant wickedness yet still claim to be Christian? Because growing portions of professing believers have abandoned the Biblical truths that define what it means to be Christian. Godly character is no longer thought of as a valuable prize to be passionately sought, a beautiful adornment to grace our lives and the only path in which to draw near to God (Isa. 35:8-10; 1 Thes. 4:1; Heb. 12:14). Even though most believers would assert that godly character is important, few are actually pursing it with abandon. The low spiritual condition of our churches verifies this distressing fact.

            One major reason why we are having such a spiritual and moral crisis in our nation and churches is because we are failing to recognize that character matters. At one time the church knew this truth and promoted it. But the secular lies of moral relativism and tolerance have crept into our congregations stripping us of the moral absolutes based upon the Scriptures that are integral to building godly character.

THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING CHRISTIAN

            It was in the ancient Syrian metropolis of Antioch where Jesus’ followers were first called Christians. This designation indicated that they completely devoted themselves to Christ’s teaching and strove to be like Him in character (Acts 11:26). We do not know if they were called Christian by their enemies as a derogatory label or if they called themselves by that name. Either way, they counted it a complement of the highest order. All who were privileged enough to receive such a title paid for it at great cost.

            Those early disciples were not identified as Christians because they belonged to a particular denomination, attended a specific church or prayed a “sinner’s prayer.” They were called Christians because they bowed their will to Christ’s lordship and had a Christlike character to prove it. This caused them to experience sporadic outbreaks of persecution, some of which were widespread and brutal. They understood that to be Christian meant there was a good possibility that they could suffer for the faith, even to the point of death.

            It is ridiculous to think that anyone willing to suffer persecution for Jesus would not be vigorously striving to develop a Christlike character. If we do not want to pay the price to be Christlike now, then we will not pay the price to follow Jesus in the face of persecution and suffering. Our unwillingness to suffer for Christ is one reason why we are not willing to crucify our sinful nature that destroys marriages, devastates churches and disgraces Christ before the world.

            Husbands and wives that authentically love Jesus will cultivate a Christlike character so their marriage will be pleasing to God. They will crucify their hellish behaviors that devastate their marriage and children. How can people say they love the Lord yet refuse to repent of the wicked character traits that are causing their marital breakdown?

            Since salvation is the gift of God we are not saved because we are Christlike. However, those who are truly born again will actively pursue a Christlike character because salvation is evident and operating in them. In other words, those who are authentically Christian will be laboring through divine grace to be like Jesus. Their lives and character will give clear testimony that they belong to Him.

            On the other hand, everyone who professes to be Christian but does not bear the mark of a Christlike character is not in true fellowship with God. The harsh reality is that they do not belong to Christ. There are multitudes claiming to be Christian that do not genuinely know Jesus. Their character proves that they are of the world, and not of Christ. They act like the world because they love the world.  

            We always imitate whoever, or whatever, is our real spiritual and moral teacher. If Jesus is really our Savior then our character will reflect His transforming influence in our lives. But if the world is our teacher then our character will be a reflection of the world. A vast number of professing Christians are more defined by TV, movies, sports, secular music and the internet than by Christ and His Word. Since Satan is the prince and the power of this world’s systems, all who are schooled by the world bear the character of Satan, even if they call themselves Christian.

            We can only be Christlike if we are truly Christ’s. Because people call themselves Christian does not mean they are the genuine artifact. Imagine the eternal horror of those who claim to be believers but in reality are not. They will stand before God and hear Him say, “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity” (Mt. 25:41). Those words will torment them forever. At Christ’s judgment bar it will be too late to develop a Christlike character, too late to repent and too late to own Jesus as Lord. Now is the time to, “Examine yourselves to see whether we are in the faith; test ourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5). To fail the test holds damnable consequences!

            Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

Desesperado por Cambiar

Escrito por Glenn Meldrum
Traducido por Alfonso Ramírez de El Salvador

Una de las grandes verdades del Evangelio es que Jesús compró la humanidad con Su propia sangre para que pudiéramos caminar triunfantes sobre el poder del pecado. Trágicamente, hay muchos que nunca superan el hábito del pecado porque se atascaron en una ruta de apatía y desesperanza. La verdad es que no van a poder apartarse de su pecado hasta que no tomen en serio su relación con Jesús, de manera que hicieran cualquier cosa para caminar en santidad. La gente debe llegar al punto de desesperación antes de estar dispuestos a abandonarse a Dios sin reservas.

Siendo pastor en Detroit ministraba alcohólicos, prostitutas, drogadictos y distribuidores de drogas. Estas personas habían sido devastadas por el pecado; habían perdido todo en la vida. Uno esperaría ver una gran determinación mental para romper con las estranguladoras garras del pecado, pero increíblemente, la mayoría de ellos no parecía tener la voluntad para cambiar. Carecían de la desesperación que está siempre presente en la vida de una persona que encuentra la verdadera victoria sobre el poder del pecado.

LA LEY

Un creyente que lucha está en mucho mejor posición que alguien no salvo en las calles con una adicción a las drogas. El pecado podrá estar controlando su vida, pero al menos tiene el conocimiento de la ley de Dios que esta constantemente recordándole lo erróneo de sus trasgresiones. Sin embargo, la ley no puede nunca traer libertad al pecador.

Imagine que una persona escribe la lista completa de lo que se debe y lo que no se debe hacer (leyes morales) de la ley en las paredes de su casa. Esta lista no lo haría más santo, solo más culpable. Estas leyes le señalarían acusadoramente porque cada ser humano rompe esas leyes de manera constante. La ley solo mata y condena a la gente porque revela que son transgresores de la ley.

Aun cuando las ley moral manifiesta la culpa de una persona ante Dios como un trasgresor, esta carece del poder para hacerlo cambiar o para poner en él, el deseo de cambiar. Las leyes claman: “alto a la lujuria!, Alto a la fornicación! Alto al Adulterio!, Alto a la homosexualidad! Alto al pecado!” Aun así el deseo y poder para romper las cadenas del pecado no está ahí. Debe haber algo más, un amor mayor que el amor de la persona por el pecado y por si misma.

La ley no fue creada para traer libertad; fue creada para mostrar a la gente su gran necesidad por Alguien que pudiera salvarlos del poder del pecado. La ley no puede hacer que una persona quiera cambiar, porque el conocimiento del pecado no es suficiente. Aún cuando una persona sabe que debe dejar su conducta pecaminosa, está atrapado en una terrible tendencia de esclavitud espiritual y desesperación. Debe haber algo más grande que su pecado y si él no se toma fuertemente del Mas Grande, nunca tendrá la desesperación por cambiar que se necesita.

Cuando en un hombre crece la desesperación por Dios, tendrá la voluntad para hacer lo que sea necesario para vencer el pecado. Su corazón comienza a cambiar y un clamor emana desde adentro, “Señor, yo no puedo romper estas cadenas. Son muy fuertes para mi. Por favor ayúdame!” Este es el punto de desesperación en que Dios visita a Su gente y los libera. Solo un hambre por Dios que toma control del alma producirá la pasión que conduce a la santidad necesaria.

EL PODER DE RENDIRSE

Uno de los más grandes obstáculos que las personas enfrentan en busca de la victoria es el asunto del control. La mayoría de las personas quieren ser libres de las cadenas del pecado, pero quieren hacerlo mientras mantienen el control sobre su vida. “Si tan solo puedo hacer esto en particular, encontraré la libertad,” se dicen a si mismos. Sin embargo, mientras crean que hay una solución fuera del abandono a Cristo, se mantendrán cautivos del pecado. Sus esfuerzos de ganar la batalla por sus propios métodos y fuerza están condenados al fracaso mientras ellos mantengan el control.

El poder de vencer el pecado nunca se va a encontrar en la determinación o sabiduría de una persona. La libertad de la esclavitud del pecado solo viene a través de la rendición a Dios. El hombre debe llagar al punto en que cae sin reserva a los pies de Jesús y clama, “Oh Dios, estoy cansado de mi pecado! No puedo vencerlo sin Ti. Tue res mi única esperanza!” Es en este punto de impotencia que el hombre está más cerca de la victoria.

El General William Booth, fundador del Ejército de Salvación dijo, “La grandeza del poder de un hombre se mide por su rendición” Gente que ha hecho tremendas hazañas para Dios, no poseen grandes habilidades en si mismos pero son personas que se abandonaron completamente al Señor de los milagros.

De igual manera es la batalla con el pecado. La victoria no se encuentra en el esfuerzo propio sino en el abandono propio. Oswald Chambers lo dijo de esta forma: “Lo que se necesita en el tema espiritual es un abandono temerario al Señor Jesucristo, abandono temerario y sin especulaciones, sin ninguna clase de reservas”

EL ENFOQUE EN EL AFECTO

Adquirir una determinación implacable de vivir en victoria no va a suceder a través de la fuerza de voluntad de alguien sino por medio del afecto. Para ponerlo sencillo, es una cuestión de amor. La gente se vuelve adicta a algún tipo particular de pecado obsesivo porque esto es lo que la carne ama. Y aún más, la carne siempre lo amará y no hay ninguna cantidad de esfuerzo de parte de una persona que pueda terminar con su amor por el pecado y por si mismo.

Su única esperanza para vencer el hábito de pecado es reemplazar su amor por el pecado por un amor que le consume por Dios. Hasta que este amor toma control del alma, la persona nunca experimentará una pasión que lo guíe a la santidad. Solo cuando la persona vea al amoroso rostro de Cristo, encontrará un amor que va a eclipsar su amor por el pecado y por si mismo.

De manera que aquí reside la respuesta. Es ver a Jesús, enamorarse del “Amante de mi Alma.” “Mis ojos están puestos en Ti, oh, Soberano Señor.” (Salmo 141:8) Cada vez que un hombre cae en pecado es porque quitó sus ojos del amoroso rostro de Jesús. En otras palabras, abandona su primer amor. Por esa razón el Diablo y el mundo están sin cesar tratando que más creyentes quiten sus ojos de Jesús. Pero los hombres y mujeres de Dios han aprendido el secreto de hacer de Jesús el enfoque de su pasión.

El poder de la santidad viene por medio de la intimidad. Vea a Jesús, y Su amor arderá en su corazón. Cuando El dice, “Cambia,” tu dirás, “Si Señor.” Smith Wigglesworth dijo una vez, “Ningún hombre puede ver a Dios y vivir. Eso es de la Escritura. Por eso es que todos necesitamos ver a Jesús, para que podamos dejar de vivir y El viva en nosotros.” La mayor victoria y gozo que conocerás será tuya en la medida que sin reservas te abandones a Cristo.

Voy a compartir una cita final para cerrar. Robert Murray McCheyne dijo, “Deja al Espíritu Santo llenar cada espacio de tu corazón de manera que no quede ningún espacio para disparates, para el mundo, para Satanás o para la carne.” Si usted carece de este tipo de llenura del Espíritu Santo, pon tu rostro delante de Dios y clama por ello. Pídele al Señor que cree una desesperación por El dentro de ti. Pídele que te lleve a un lugar de absoluta rendición. Es allí – en completa desesperación por no ser capaz de encontrar las respuestas en tus propias habilidades y fuerzas – que vas a encontrar al Único que puede liberarte del poder del pecado.

Glenn Meldrum es un evangelista ordenado (Asambleas de Dios) y tiene un M.A. en teología e historia de la iglesia del Seminario de Teología Ashland. Si algún pastor tiene interés en tenerlo como conferencista puede recibir una cinta gratis de su predicación, para esto deje su nombre y dirección en el buzón de voz de Glenn (651) 247-3979.

Character Matters

Your heart will be stirred in this teaching by Glenn Meldrum. You will learn the importance of godly character, what it is and how to mature in Christ. Proof of spiritual maturity is always revealed in the quality of our character, not in our gifts, talents or years we claim to have been a Christian. Be challenged to be more like Jesus.

Fasting Part 3 – A Fasted Lifestyle by Glenn and Jessica Meldrum

 Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard (Isa. 58:6-8).

 One primary reason we are commanded to fast according to Isaiah 58 is so we will have food to share with the hungry, clothes to give the naked and shelter to provide the for wander. Can such work be accomplished by skipping a meal or two a week and using those savings for others? It can help a little. But maybe there is something more to this than first meets the eye. Could not the Lord be calling His people to live a life of fasting that goes beyond the forsaking of food for the salvation and well-being of others? Might not this be part of our Lord’s call for His people to take up their cross by living a lifestyle of fasting?

What is a lifestyle of fasting? It is applying Jesus’ teachings regarding the wise use of this world’s material goods in living out our everyday lives for the purpose of bringing Him glory. Through submission to Christ we are compelled to live simply so we will have more money to give to missions, churches, the poor or to any need He shows us. Though this simple way of living is thoroughly Biblical it is also blatantly contrary to the American way of life that focuses upon the self-indulgent pursuit of wealth to squander it upon ourselves.

Wealth is not the issue—it is how it is used. Selfish people, whether they call themselves Christian or not, will live for themselves and this will be revealed in how they make and spend their money. True Christians strive to live like Christ (1 Jn. 2:6). His was a selfless life: “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus freely gave us the wealth of salvation so that we could spend our lives for His glory.

The Lord did not save us to live self-absorbed lives in the pursuit of wealth and pleasure. No, He saved us to promote the very purpose that compelled Him to come into this world: “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). The nitty-gritty of the matter rests upon who will be lord of our lives—the Lord Jesus or our sinful, selfish nature. K. P. Yohannan addresses this issue stating:

The most important goal is to employ material things for the kingdom of God rather than ourselves. This is one of the truest tests of where our affections really lie. Christ demands nothing less than lordship of our whole being, including the material blessings we have accumulated in this life. It’s not how much we give that counts – but how much is still left sticking to our fingers. That is the way to measure correctly the simplicity of one’s life (Road to Reality, 159).

When we yield to Christ’s lordship He will be Lord of our finances, time, relationships and recreation.

It seems that in the Western church we have forgotten that we are only stewards of our lives and will give an account of it to our Lord and Master. In Luke 12:16-21 we find the parable of the Rich Fool. One character trait patently glares out—that he was a self willed, selfish man. All of his financial decisions were based upon his desires to live in ease and comfort now, and to secure this lifestyle for the future. His repeated use of statements like; “I will do”, “I will build”, “I will store” speaks volumes about his spiritual condition. The Rich Fool does not acknowledge God in any of His decisions.

In verse 20 we find that his life ended much sooner than he anticipated. The Lord decreed that the man’s soul would be required of him that very night. The Greek word for “required” comes from two root words, one meaning cessation or completion and the other to call for or desire. It means his life has ended and God was calling for a reckoning of what was entrusted to him. The Rich Fool mistakenly thought certain things were his, “my crops”, “my goods”, “my soul”, but in truth they were merely on loan to him. He discovered too late that his soul was on loan as well as his possessions. There is no escaping this Day of Reckoning. 

We also must give an account for how we live in this world and what we do with the loans we are entrusted with. The bookkeeper does not make the decisions about how money is spent, he only receives directions from the owner and distributes as he is told. Many Christians think they are good people because they take a certain, comfortable percentage of their income and give it to missions or a local church but it hardly affects their lifestyle. When our finances are surrendered to Him we will live very differently from the world; we will not buy as they buy or vacation like they do or be motivated by money in employment choices. To live simply for the sake of the Gospel “costs”!   

There have been many good examples of those who lived the fasted life. One that stands out is John Wesley, a man that could have been wealthy yet chose to live simply. He gave to churches, orphanages, the work of spreading the gospel and printing Christian literature. Very little “stuck to his fingers”, which is why he died with only pennies in his pocket.  But look at Wesley’s legacy—he turned England upside down and set America ablaze through the Methodist revivals. This very moment Wesley is enjoying the true wealth that can never be taken from him.

The fasted life is not one that seeks poverty believing it to be a noble thing, but rather lives as simply as possible so that others might know Christ. Instead of spending money and time on extravagances and frivolous pursuits we lavish it on Christ for His glory. We should freely give to grow the kingdom of God out of the abundance that Christ has poured into our lives.

We need to rightly hear what Paul taught the Ephesian elders, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive'” (Acts 20:35). Paul was not teaching the greedy false doctrine of giving a supposed faith seed so that we get a tenfold return. What selfishness! That kind of thinking was anathema to Paul. He was compelling the elders to give everything to Christ for the sake of His glory and the growth of His church. By teaching the spiritual leaders how to live a fasted life he was securing the expectation for the people to live the same.

In this world we live only a few short years and only in this life are we given the privilege to suffer for Jesus. We may not have to bear in our bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus as Paul did, but we better have some kind of scar upon our life for the Gospel’s sake when we stand before Him. Our wallets should testify of sacrificial giving. The lack of comforts in our homes, vehicles and possessions should prove our hearts were fixed on the city whose builder and maker is God. Both our prime years and retirement years should bear the marks of selfless service for the kingdom. Amy Carmichael warned her potential missionary recruits that they should expect to bear scars in their service, for did they not follow a wounded Savior? She later wrote the poem Hast Thou No Scar:

Hast thou no scar ? . . . Hast thou no wound? . . .

Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,

And pierced are the feet that follow Me;

But thine are the whole: can he have followed far

Who has nor wound nor scar?

Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.

In Front of Your Nose

My third book, The Radical Jesus, was hot off the press. While holding a fresh copy in my hands I thought that the printer did an excellent job. I was excited over how wonderfully my wife designed the front and back covers and laid the entire book out. It was better than I expected.

Within the next couple of days my wife and I sent copies of the book to everyone that helped with the editing. A week or so later I got an email from Kathy Gallagher, the wife of Steve who wrote the foreword to the book.  In a very sweet and humble way Kathy informed me that we spelled their last name wrong on the front cover. I was shocked. How could Jessica and I have missed such an obvious mistake? We only printed 250 books for a trial run so the error will not be too far reaching. Nevertheless, it will be a testimony of how blind we can often be to the obvious.

It was interesting to me that neither of us could see what was right in front of our noses; we were blind. This issue when applied to our spiritual life and character is not a minor problem but a potentially deadly blindness with far reaching consequences. What sins and character flaws are we blind to that everybody else can plainly see? Let me give an example from my family. My dad had just turned 91. Two years prior he buried his third wife (the first two he divorced). While his third wife was slowly dying in a convalescent home he had a girlfriend on the side that lived in the same retirement complex. The family of this woman secretly removed her from the complex due to my father’s inappropriate conduct.

Throughout all of my dad’s marriages he never accepted any responsibility for their breakdown. He always blamed the “stupid women,” to use his phrase and manner of thinking. He also drove his three sons away from him and refused to acknowledge the reasons they all, at one time or another, disowned him. My dad is willfully blind to the obvious truth of his bad character. His sin is right in front of his nose, but he stubbornly refuses to open his eyes and own up to his sin.

When I recognize the blindness people have concerning their sin and the ugly dimensions of their character, I often wonder what corrupt areas of my life others can clearly see but to which I am blind. Spiritual blindness is most always a willful choice. We think it is easier to ignore the problem, blame others or hide behind whatever excuses we fabricate rather than face the cold, hard facts about what we actually are on the inside.

More times than I care to count I have seen families that call themselves Christian suffering under the ravages of their sin, yet refuse to repent and change. Even though they are damaging their children and the cause of Christ they deny that they have done anything wrong. And even if they do acknowledge that they have sinned, all too often, they do little to change the situation. Stories abound about violent martial fights with police being called; habitual arguing that tears the family apart; incest, adultery, homosexuality and pornography that devastates the home; drug and alcohol use that leaves scars that last a lifetime; foolish financial decisions that bring ruin to the family and the list goes on and on.

At times there is a form of self-righteousness that accompanies spiritual blindness whether it is in the life of a professing Christian or nonbeliever. Sometimes this self- righteousness is expressed in the deceptive belief that they are “good people.” As a result, they cannot see the reality that the motions of sin are working in and through them to their own ruin and that of others.

Take for example the breakdown of marriages. They disintegrate because spouses refuse to accept responsibility in the destruction of the marriage. They become experts at blaming each other and can recite from memory a long list of offenses the spouse has committed. All the while they refuse to acknowledge their part in the matter, repent of their sin and change.

Through our foolish ways of thinking we can even blame others for the sins we practice as if we are innocent of the matter. This often happens with alcoholics and drug addicts that blame their condition on their parents or other circumstances. Even though they may confess that they are sinners, they refuse to accept personal responsibility for their actions. They think it is easier to cope with their problems by blaming others for their sin rather than receiving God’s transforming grace.

Another way people hide behind this pseudo-form of self-righteousness is by comparing themselves with others. In this state of affairs, people downplay their sin by claiming they are not as bad as other people or that everybody is doing it so it cannot be that bad. They maintain their sins are only little ones such as “white lies” or “I’m only a recreational drinker.” Yet God’s Word informs us that “drunkards” and “all liars” will be cast into “the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (1 Cor. 6:10; Rev. 21:8). This means that there is no such thing as a small sin.

Along with the above scenario people often try to hide behind the declaration that “God understands.” This shallow argument comes out of the false belief that they are somehow exempt from responsibility for their sins or above God’s laws. One man I confronted over his sexual sins claimed his sex drive was stronger than other men’s so God understood his problem. Such statements should terrify us because the Lord knows why we practice sin and that we have no excuses to hide behind. The ever increasing number of church folk that are living in common law marriages (which are no marriages at all), are also quick to claim “God understands.” The Scriptures call this sin fornication and boldly declares that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10). In spite of what the Word clearly teaches, many believe they will not face divine judgment because God is love and He “knows my heart.” They erroneous believe that God would never judge them for loving someone.

Oh, the seemingly endless stories of people and families that are rushing headlong into a major train wreck of life. You see the coming disaster, you warn them of their approaching ruin, yet they refuse to see what is right in front of their nose. When their actions produce a moral, spiritual and relational train wreck, devastating those they claim to love, they often blame God for their suffering because of the evil they practiced.

The Lord declared through the prophet Zephaniah that, “I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD” (Zep. 1:17). This is a cyclical problem: the more we practice sin the greater the blindness that ensues and through our blindness we recklessly rush into more sin. Breaking this pattern can only happen when we are willing to see our sin and take the path of repentance. Out of genuine repentance comes the desire to right the wrongs we have committed. Failure to repent will only make the impending train wreck worse.

God’s love made personal to us is seen in His reproof, “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal” (Job 5:17-18). The Lord knows our natural propensity to spiritual blindness so He actively labors to help our blind eyes to see. Sometimes this is an agonizing process due to our stubbornness. He uses everything from pain and suffering to loneliness and despair to bring us to the place where He can heal our sin-sick souls. Friends, family and even strangers can be instruments in His hands to reprove us. Solomon was right, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Pr. 27:6). We need help from those who can see in us what we cannot see ourselves.

David, addressing this issue declared, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it” (Ps. 141:5). The king was humble enough to receive instruction and wise enough to know that it was an act of kindness. Pride and insecurity can cause us to reject correction. We can even be so defiant as to stubbornly continue in the very practices that we have been reproved over. It takes a tender heart towards Jesus to receive discipline.

The Lord gave the church shepherds to love and care for His flock. One of the tools that godly pastors have to help shepherd the sheep is loving reproof, both from the pulpit and through personal discipleship. However, we can be very rebellious sheep. As a result, many self- professing Christians surround themselves with cowardly pastors that speak what their itching ears want to hear. Such shepherds abuse the sheep and “multiply kisses” through their soft messages. They are actually unkind, even heartless when they give their congregations crossless, costless sermons that leave the people in their sin. Jeremiah accurately described these man- pleasing leaders, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). The Lord declared that this proliferation of pathetic ministers has come upon us because “my people love it this way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jer. 5:31).

At times we all need help seeing what is right in front of our nose. The wiser we become the more we will rightly respond to the Lord’s loving care that often comes in the form of reproof.  Can you receive a rebuke from a pastor, friend or family member? Is your heart tender to powerful and convicting preaching? As Solomon wrote, “Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you” (Pr. 9:8). So are you a foolish mocker or a wise man or woman? Let me be transparent here, nobody likes to receive correction, including myself. Nonetheless, it is a very necessary work that the Lord uses to get us to our heavenly home.

We must look beyond our offended pride and insecurities to grab hold of the prize that awaits us when we respond to the Lord’s reproof. With great tenderness the Lord stated, “If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you” (Pr. 1:23). Is not such a prize worth it all?

Glenn Meldrum has been a national evangelist since 1997. Prior to his calling as an evangelist he pastored for 15 years. He is ordained and holds an M.A. in theology and church history from Ashland Theological Seminary. Visit www.ihpministry.com for articles, sermons, books and information on Glenn Meldrum and In His Presence Ministries.