Thou Shalt Not Whine

Once I received a gift from a friend that was meant as joke. It became one those gifts that keeps on giving, but not the way you normally would think. The gift was a small tapestry quoting what some humorously call the eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not whine.” I decided to temporarily hang it in my motorhome thinking that it would give me an occasional chuckle.

Well, it’s still hanging in its place. It seems that every time I begin whining the tapestry is in my face warning, “Thou shalt not whine.” Never would I have imagined that a little wall-hanging could be so convicting. The Lord has used that tapestry to reveal to me that complaining is a corrupt area of my character that has not been conquered.

A LOVING REBUKE

As a young believer I was presented with the erroneous idea that if we are in God’s will then life and ministry will go easy. At age 24 my wife and I pioneered an inner-city church in Detroit, Michigan. It didn’t take long to find out that both life and ministry can be very hard and demanding.  I was putting in ridiculous hours pastoring fulltime while working a secular job. The church was open seven nights a week. We had Friday night street evangelism, Saturday night concerts, Sunday services and Wednesday night Bible study. The remaining evenings the church was open as a drop in center for youth.

As a young Christian I didn’t know anything about pastoring. Our house was full of new converts that needed a place to stay. We were living in poverty because all of our personal income went into the ministry. I sold my motorcycle so the church would have a down payment to buy a building. Then I sold a nice car and bought an old jalopy so the church could have chairs for the sanctuary. It was costing me everything.

Eventually I started complaining. Then the Lord gave me a rebuke that I will never forget. First He spoke to me from the Scriptures; “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jer. 12:5). Then He warned me saying; “Child, stop your whining! You haven’t even seen a fierce battle yet. Stand up and be a man.  Quit your complaining or I will pass you by and find someone who will follow Me no matter the cost.”

The Lord’s rebuke shook me to the bone. He was exposing a sinful part of my character and it hurt to see the truth. I thought Jesus was Lord of my life until I was confronted with the reality that entire areas of my life were not under His authority. The truth was laid bare; my will and God’s will were at odds with each other and obviously I was the one in the wrong. His reproof was an expression of divine love that I sorely needed; it was health to my life.  

Our complaining makes us miserable, inflicts our misery upon those closest to us and slanders Christ before the world. Most terrifying of all, God’s strong displeasure rests upon complainers. “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp” (Num. 11:1).  Since divine fire does not burn us up when we start whining we do not think it’s a dangerous thing to do. But God hasn’t changed His mind about complaining.

Probably the biggest reason we start complaining is that we have perverted views about God and ourselves. Until we learn to think correctly we will never amend those corrupt portions of our characters. We often start complaining when our expectations of life are not being fulfilled. This happens when we make the primary purpose of our existence the pursuit of a safe, happy, pain free life. But such lives only exist in the fantasies of our minds.

There are no rewards given to whining warriors who avoid the battlefield or to perpetual babies who cry at the least discomfort and problem. When we live self-absorbed lives we will be consumed with our problems, whether real or perceived, and ignore the fact that the mass of humanity is dying in their sins. Its time we grow up and stop our whining. We must take the war to the highway and hedges, to the country and the cities, to the highest places of learning and to the most illiterate, to places of power and to the powerless.

Victories in life are not obtained while sitting in a comfy recliner. They are seized in the heat of battle, in the front lines of conflict, in the throws of spiritual combat. That’s where we receive our eternal rewards; that’s where medals are won; that’s where the entire church is commanded be because that’s where the Lord Jesus is, fighting for the souls of mankind.

SCARS

Paul was a spiritual revolutionary because he strove to be like his Lord. It began with his radical conversion. For three days Paul was in deep repentance over his sins. Then the Lord told Ananias, “I will show [Paul] how much he must suffer for my name. . . . At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. . . . Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him” (Acts 9:16, 20, 22-23). This is what a Biblical conversion looks like, whether in Paul’s day or our own.

The suffering that followed Paul’s conversion did not make him run away from the Savior but to Him. Notice that the Lord told Paul that he must suffer for Him. It was not an option for Paul, nor is it for us today. We forfeit a tremendous amount of joy because we grumble and complain when we go through trials.

Years later Paul testified, “For I bear in my body, the marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). Most western believers will never be beaten for their faith, but we can bear the “marks of Jesus” upon our lives in different ways.  For example, we can bear His marks upon our wallets. This is the idea of living simple lives so we can give more money to advance the kingdom of God. We can bear the “marks of Jesus” upon our time by wearing holes in the carpet of our prayer closets. Some can bear those “marks” by giving up a prosperous career to preach the Gospel. His “marks” should grace the life of every believer with efforts to passionately reach the lost. And we must allow His “marks” to beautify our lives through an aggressive pursuit of holiness.

The Lord will not examine us at the judgment seat looking for degrees, success or fortunes, but for scars. What will he find when He examines us?  Will He find scars upon our bodies, bank accounts and time spent building His kingdom? What proof will we be able to offer Him of our love and devotion? Though we may not receive physical scares testifying to our devotion to Christ He will, nonetheless, look for those scares of loving sacrifice that were just as costly in a culture where Christians at the present time do not have to face a bloody persecution.

Some of the credentials that verified Paul’s apostleship are based upon what he suffered out of love for Christ (how many self-proclaimed modern-day “apostles” could boost of such credentials?). He suffered imprisonments and floggings, five times he received 39 lashes from the Jews; three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned. He was shipwrecked three times, once spending a night and a day in the open sea. He lived in constant danger, in want and in need. He toiled and labored because he did not count his life dear unto himself rather he loved Jesus more than his own life (2 Cor. 11:23-28).

Paul’s credentials are as nothing compared to the testimony of how God used him to turn the world upside down. The Lord poured His power through the man because his life and character were usable by a holy God. Paul’s character demonstrates what it means to make Jesus Lord of our lives no matter what we face or have to endure. Whining was not an option for him nor should it be for us. God is still looking for people like Paul who will give up their lives to advance Christ’s kingdom.

From experience Peter came to understand the value of suffering. While admonishing his readers on suffering he told them, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Pe. 3:15). When Jesus is Lord of our lives we will find deliverance from whippy, whiny characters.  Complaining is telling God that we don’t want His lordship over our lives, that we think His plans for us are detrimental to our desires and agendas. If we had the fear of God we would tremble when we comprehend that our complaining is an accusation against the character of God, an attack upon His very person.

The seeming unfairness of the pain and suffering we experience can make us reel as if we are being driven by a raging sea. At such times complaining is something we are all tempted to do. Yet when our hearts are set upon “Christ as Lord,” and not upon ourselves or earthly things, then we will learn to rest in His perfect love and wisdom no matter what storms we may face. A character of complaining will disappear when our eyes are fixed upon the Savior’s lovely face.

When the waves are ferocious and it seems that the storm will swallow us up, if we look upon the water we will see Christ’s lovely face as He comes walking out to meet us in our desperate need. In our pain, in our moment of greatest need, if we listen closely, we will hear His sweet voice calling us to come to Him. But we must get out of the worthless boat we have constructed of self-trust and self-absorption and step into the midst of the raging storm. Everything in us will cry “save yourself.” The world will think we are mad. But His hand will be there to rescue us. In His presence the fiercest storms cannot disturb us; we are safe in His arms.

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.

Throne of Grace

Divine grace and the lordship of Christ are spiritual realities intricately interwoven to reveal a portion of the awe inspiring tapestry of the magnificence of God and His gift of salvation. The Hebrew writer penned, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Notice that this verse focuses upon a God of grace that sits enthroned as King of Kings. This means that the acceptance of Christ’s lordship is central to our reception of grace and that our characters play a vital role in the equation.

This issue of grace and lordship generates in us a great tension: grace is exclusively the gift of God which can never be earned, yet the reception of that gift is linked to our rightly approaching His throne. Since grace comes from the One who sits on the throne, only those who have authentically made Christ Lord will taste of His grace. John told us that anyone who continues in the practice of sin does not know Jesus and is outside of the benefits of saving grace (1 Jn. 3:6). The Savior freely offers all the supernatural power that we need to live godly lives when we authentically bow to Him as Lord (2 Pe. 1:2-3). With a pure heart and clean hands we can confidently approach His throne of grace (Ps. 24:3-4).

During the formative years of the early church the word “grace” (Greek: charis) was a common secular word that had a wide variety of definitions, some of which are employed in the New Testament. The word spans a large spectrum ranging from expressions of thankfulness to exclamations of external beauty to references on pleasing mannerisms. The Greek New Testament uses this elastic word over 170 times.

Early church fathers took this expressive word and formed it into an important theological term by uniquely applying it to God’s acts of mercy towards undeserving sinners. Paul eloquently employed charis to express the commonly taught definition of grace which is God’s undeserved love and favor demonstrated towards sinful humanity (Rom. 11:5-6). Grace teaches us that all a Christian is or has, is found exclusively in Christ and depends entirely upon Him.

Christ’s redemptive work on the cross is a graphic picture of divine grace in action and the price it took for that grace to be made freely available to mankind (Rom. 3:22-24; Eph. 2:4-7). The Christian life can only be lived through divine grace. The transformation of our characters is directly linked to how we apply the gift of grace to our lives (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 6:1). It is impossible for us to live such a lofty, other worldly life through natural strength, wisdom and abilities (Rom. 11:6).

Grace has never been, nor will it ever be, cheap. Its cost is beyond reckoning and demands that we stop practicing sin and self-governance through the power of that same grace (Tit. 2:11-14; 2 Tim. 1:8-9). Unmerited favor is offered to us so we can overcome sin, not wallow in it or make excuses for it. This marvelous gift is liberally supplied to rescue all who desire to live free from the power and love of sin. To turn grace into a means to justify sin is thoroughly wicked and wholly forbidden (Rom. 6:1-2). 

How we view God and His grace directly affects the development of our characters and how we live in this world. We practice sin and become worldly whenever we turn grace into a cheap commodity. Remove grace from our faith and we are left with just another legalistic religion dependent upon human strength and will.

Paul taught that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). By grace alone we are saved, not through Bible knowledge, water baptism, church affiliation or natural abilities. How we respond to divine grace is our responsibility. To understand that the Lord is perfect in holiness and offers unholy people supernatural power to overcome their sin and corrupt characters is a major step towards victory.

A THRONE

A throne is a seat of authority and power. The King of Creation sits upon His throne possessing infinite power to fulfill all of His plans and execute all of His decrees. He is not like earthly monarchs, dictators and rulers who strive to control their kingdom through political maneuverings which easily succumbs to oppression, deception and manipulation. The Sovereign Lord does not use political intrigues to remain in power, for there is no threat to His throne. We can learn how to rightly approach Him because He is consistent in nature and temperament. “I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” (Mal. 3:6).

Christ is a good, benevolent and merciful king. He calls humanity to, “Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13). His throne is established upon righteousness, truth and justice. The treasures of His throne are mercy and love, which are inexhaustible. He delights in bestowing such gifts upon those who cherish them.

The Lord has only one throne. To one person is it a throne of grace, to another it is a throne of wrath. Our spiritual condition decides the function Christ will fulfill upon His throne as advocate or prosecutor, friend or enemy. The Lord dispenses mercy or wrath through absolute truth. Never has it been His desire to damn people to an eternal hell because He longs to demonstrate mercy (2 Pe. 3:9). He will do everything in keeping with His perfect character to redeem men and woman to Himself. Yet this Just Judge is not afraid to execute righteous punishment upon all who refuse to turn from their wicked ways. His promises of judgment upon the faithless are no less sure than those of blessings upon the faithful.

DRAW NEAR

How we approach the throne of grace is of infinite importance since God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (Jam. 4:6; 1 Pe. 5:5). Our character will either cause God to thrust us out of His presence or draw us to Him.

The Savior who sits upon the throne of grace is also our high priest (Heb. 4:14-15). Through grace alone we can “approach,” or draw near to the One who sits enthroned. To approach in the Greek presents an idea that we can constantly draw near to our sympathizing and great high priest who was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Heb. 4:15).  Yet it is madness to think that we can boldly come before a compassionate and Holy God in any condition we chose.

Jesus told a parable about a king holding a wedding banquet (Mt. 22:1-14). Those he initially invited refused to attend. Some even mistreated and killed the messengers sent to bring them to the banquet. “The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers” (Mt. 22:7). What a dangerous thing it is for people to reject the rightful reign of Christ over their lives, for it will bring upon them the justice of His wrath. 

After the king’s wrath was poured out against those rebellious subjects he sent messengers into the highways and hedges to bring in people so his banquet would be full.  After the hall was filled the king entered to see the guests and “noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless” (Mt. 22:11-12). Judgment was immediately executed against the man for the presumptuous pride of thinking he could come before the king in an irreverent condition. What an eternally perilous abuse of grace.

Character, grace and judgment are clearly seen in this parable. Grace was shown by the king’s undeserved invitation to the banquet. Those first invited would be deemed as religiously and socially fit for such a high societal function. When they rejected the offer of grace those considered unfit were invited. The first group was prideful, rebellious and thoroughly offensive to the king. His judgment upon them was quick, sure and just.

The second group invited understood the great honor offered them and promptly came. Though they were poor, it is implied by the story that they prepared themselves to attend such a privileged event. In this parable the type of clothing signifies a person’s condition of holiness and righteousness. The man that was not rightly clothed for the celebration arrogantly thought that the king would not mind if he was improperly clothed. This indicates that the man assumed he could approach the king with an ungodly character. Again, judgment was quick, sure and just.

There is a right and wrong way to approach the King of Kings. The Savior is not a cruel, moody or quickly angered lord. With confidence we can approach His throne so long as we are rightly clothed in humility, holiness and godly fear. He has made Himself approachable because He desires our nearness. Through brokenness, humility, holiness and the fear of God we can boldly draw near to Him. It is sheer foolishness to think that we could approach a holy God in sin, pride, and self-will and not face His wrath.

Paul closed his epistle to the Ephesians with a benediction crammed full of meaning. “Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (Eph. 6:24). Unmerited favor is freely available to us all. However, the One who sits on the throne demands a right response to His indescribable gift—to love Him with an undying love.

 

             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.

Parasites

This sermon by Glenn will shake you. No watered down, wimpy message here. This is for those who want to be more than a conqueror, not for those who love and practice sin. Glenn will reveal how sin is the worst parasite that feeds upon the entirety of our lives. By contrasting Judas with Peter you will learn how both men sinned, but how one found victory through repentance and the other refusing the gift of repentance died in his sin and went to hell. Don’t let the parasite of sin be your ruin.

Voices

In each of our lives there are voices calling to us; demanding our attention, competing for our interests, luring our affections.  These voices come from within and without.  They are everywhere—in the city and country, among the rich and poor, the educated and uneducated, the young and old.  Relentlessly they tug and pull at us, compelling us to follow, to yield to their desires, to love what they love and hate what they hate.  The voices of the past haunt us with regrets, stir up past offenses, consume us with despair, fill us with pride or awaken deep desires.  The voices of the present battle for our attention, our affections, our very lives.  Whether good or evil, from heaven or hell, these voices yearn to shape our present, future and eternity.  They are a reality we must deal with.

The voices within are our thoughts, emotions, desires, hurts, joys, and conscience.  They are the byproduct of our personal history that has shaped our character and determined our destiny.  The voices from without are the social influences of family, friends, school, career, religion, TV, music and more.  We can willfully silence many of these voices.  With others we are forced to listen.  Nevertheless, whatever enters into us will mold us into the people we are and will be.

In the end, all these voices, both internal and external are rooted in spiritual realities.  They either come from Satan and his worldly kingdom or from God and the kingdom of heaven.  The spiritual prince of this world is Satan (2 Cor. 4:14).  He fluently speaks our language and knows how to manipulate our desires, emotions and intellect.  He can whisper in our ears, speak through men (Mt. 16:23), and use our kingdoms, inventions, intellect and passions to advance his wicked schemes.  Though he offers freedom, he makes men slaves to sin in all of its hideous forms.  His is the voice of pain, suffering and damnation.

The ultimate voice of authority is God.  His voice can pierce the thickest darkness and penetrate the hardest heart.  Heaven and earth tremble when He speaks but a whisper.  Creation will be remade when He roars.  Life is in His words and healing in His touch.  He is the only lasting answer to our problems. 

Far too often, when the Almighty speaks, we choose not to listen or selectively hear what we want.  What causes us to ignore God’s voice and yet be in tune with the voices of this world?  We have immersed ourselves in the language and love of this world—what they are we have become. 

LONGINGS OF THE HEART

Imagine how terrifying it was for Lot and his family to flee Sodom (Gen. 19).  Warned by two angels that the godless city would be divinely destroyed they reluctantly fled to the mountains.  Before leaving the angels warned them not to look back, but ahead to their deliverance.    

Mrs. Lot would not have agreed with most of Sodom’s sinful practices. Nonetheless, Sodom had supplied her with those possessions that became so precious to her. It also had a culture that freely allowed her to pursue the love of pleasure she had come to expect out of life. Without realizing it her constant association with the world had caused her to grow numb to its wicked environment.  In her mind the loss of her beloved worldly lifestyle was more than she could bear, more important then even Sodom’s destruction.  So Mrs. Lot looked back with longing desire and judgment came on her too. That is why Jesus commanded us to “Remember Lot’s wife” so we would not suffer her same fate (Lk. 17:32).  

As Mrs. Lot fled the voices of Sodom called out to her: “Why are you fleeing?  Sodom is not that evil.  Hasn’t God prospered her?  She will not be destroyed.  You can serve God and enjoy the pleasures of Sodom too.  If you leave you will surely suffer.  Consider all that you will loose.”  Her ears were in tune with the voices she loved. When she harkened to those lying voices she received the reward of what they truly have to offer—death. 

The question must be asked: are we the spiritual citizens of Sodom or of heaven?  If we yield to the voices of Sodom, which is an emblem of wickedness and worldliness, we will be formed into worldly people whether-or-not we call ourselves Christians.  Those who are molded by this world have their minds and hearts set on worldly things because they have become “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Tim. 3:4).

Worldly minded people live for the moment, for the satisfying of their desires, lusts and pride.  They do not want to be burdened with Biblical Christianity that demands their entire abandonment.  Many will accept a watered-down version of the Gospel that does not upset their selfish way of life even though it is powerless to save.  Their love self and sin has blinded their hearts and minds to the temporal and eternal consequences of worldliness and compromise.

THERE IS VICTORY

We cannot overcome our natural propensity to worldliness by just claiming to be Christian or attending a local church.  True citizens of heaven have heard God’s voice commanding them to flee Sodom and not look back.  Through loving obedience they have broken Sodom’s control over their lives by setting their “minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2).  Like Paul, they have counted this world as dung “compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:8).  

We will never be victorious Christians as long as our minds are fixed on the passions and pursuits of earthly things.  Worldly thoughts are the result of worldly hearts, for whatever our hearts love our minds will dwell upon.  Jesus taught that, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Mt. 15:19).  Our lifestyles are worldly and self-centered because we love ourselves and this world more than God. 

To change our thoughts we must have a radical change of heart.  We are commanded to set our “hearts on things above” (Col. 3:1).  If our hearts are consumed with Jesus there will be no room for worldly loves.  God has promised to give His people a new heart and mind if we will thoroughly repent of our sins (Ezk. 36:26).  True repentance incorporates the turning from our sin and our absolute surrender to God.  We are then to zealously pursue God in everything we say and do until our dying day. 

We have believed the lies of a multitude of voices that have told us happiness and purpose comes through the pursuit of pleasure and possessions.  As a result, many professing Christians are willful captives of Satan and are now slaves of Sodom through their passions, lusts, greed and pride.  Its time we silence in our hearts and minds these evil, lying voices, for they have done us great harm. 

Jesus taught us to aggressively deal with our sins by cutting them off (Mk. 9:47).  We must have the courage and honesty to examine our lives by God’s Word so we can comprehend how our worldliness has offended a holy God and hurt our family and friends.  Only then will we truly repent of our sins. 

This is war in the inward parts of man. The heart and mind is the battlefield for the soul.  Whoever possesses the heart will control the mind and own the soul.  It is our choice who possesses the deed to our souls, whether it is God or Satan.  There is no middle ground, no demilitarized zone and no place for compromise.   

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.

Radical Christianity

Since Jesus is radical, Biblical Christianity is radical. Glenn, addressing this issue, demonstrates that the faith Jesus gave the church is revolutionary in nature, not with the violence of the world, but through the laying down of our lives that others might be saved. There is a cost to discipleship. If we will not pay the price, then we cannot be His disciple. By listening to this message you will learn what it means to be a true Christian.

Ruin of a Christian

This sermon by Glenn Meldrum is about the historical character of Lot. Lot was a man of great compromise. The primary reason he lived a life of compromise is because he was a prayerless man. Prayer is the lifeblood of the Christian. If a believer ceases to be a person of prayer then he or she will spiritually die. Prayerless people not only ruin their own lives but are agents of hell by devastating the lives of others. This message will challenge you, confront you and bring you to your knees if you have ears to hear.

What Can the Righteous Do?

Glenn Meldrum takes his text for this sermon from Psalms 11. In this practical message Glenn addresses the psalmist statement, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” How are we to live when we see the world growing more corrupt by the day? You will learn the difference between the response of carnal people and that of men and women of faith. There is a vast difference between the two. You, too, can learn to be wise and know how to live in this present evil age.