In the church office we get all kinds of advertisements. A few years ago we received one entitled: “Rock the Universe.” It was a religious rock concert being held at Universal Studios theme park. The ad even admitted that it was entertainment. The price for tickets was $44.95 for one night and $69.95 for two nights plus tax. That’s the group rates. Individuals pay more.
Why in the world am I writing about a religious rock concert? It is a sign of the times. Religion is big money. There have always been charlatans out to use religion for financial gain. Remember the novel: Elmer Gantry by Sinclair Lewis. Today it’s the rock concert. The apostle Peter wrote of those in his day that used religion to “make merchandise of you.” (2 Peter 2:3) That’s exactly what is happening today with the modern religious rock concerts. The promoters and performers are using religious entertainment to make money.
In the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John there is the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves and two small fishes. The following day the people came to Capernaum seeking him. But Jesus rebuked them saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled.”
For these people it was a case of misplaced priorities. The miracles that Jesus performed were the proof that he came from God. But this is not why they were seeking him. Rather they sought him because of a free meal. Jesus went on to say, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” (John 6:27)
What about ourselves? In our lives do we have our priorities straight? Do we put first things first?
As God’s people we have certain obligations such as family, work, civic, etc. We also have evangelistic obligations. And like everything else the extent of our evangelistic responsibility is determined by ability, opportunity, etc. But whatever the limits of our abilities, opportunities, etc. we need to always be keenly aware of our obligation to try to reach others with the gospel.
The apostle Paul often expressed his feeling of evangelistic responsibility. Consider these statements:
“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.” (Romans 1:14-15)
“Yea, woe is me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 1:16)
“Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” (2 Corinthians 5:11)
While none of us would anticipate spreading God’s word to the extent that Paul did, nevertheless we should take seriously our obligation to do what we can.
Paul in his letter to Titus whom he had left in the island of Crete, wrote, “One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, ‘The Cretians are way liars, evil beast, slow bellies.’” (Titus 1:12) He then adds, “This witness is true.” The problem was that the Christians there were falling into some of the same sins characteristic of the people around them.
Christian people always need to be careful that they do not fall into the sins of the nation in which they live. What are some of the great American sins?
- Profanity is certainly one. The taking of God’s name in vain as well as other forms of unacceptable speech is so common in America that we must all beware lest we fall into this bad habit.
- Materialism is another. As a people Americans seemed obsessed with material things: houses, cars, clothes, etc. Money and the things money can buy dominate the lives of many. We must beware that we do not become caught up in the fixation with material prosperity.
- Cares of this world is still another. Jesus said, “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put.” (Matthew 6:25) Then He adds a few verses latter, “For after all these things do the Gentiles seek.” (Matthew 6:32).
It would certainly be correct to say that after all these things do the American people seek. Let’s be careful that we do not let the cares of this world run and ruin our lives.
Several of the Psalms in the Old Testament are calls to worship. For example, Psalm 95 opens with these words: “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.” (Psalm 95:1) Then, a few verses later, we are further urged to worship God: “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.” (Psalm 95:6)
But why? Why should we worship God? This Psalm offers two compelling reasons. First, we should worship God because: “The Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”
(Psalm 95:3) None of the gods of the ancient world were real nor are the modern gods of the various world religions. These all are lacking in real power but the God we worship is “a great God, a great King above all gods.”
Second, we should worship God because: “He is our God.” (Psalm 95:7) Not all men can say this; but Christians can. God is our God and he recognizes us as His people. What a great reason to worship and praise Him.
Our culture stigmatizes Christian Values and makes nearly any public stand or statement regarding what Scripture says about homosexuality, objective truth, sanctity of life, and creation an object of great scorn. A moral erosion has been in motion for several generations. Paul points out five facts about a faithless people (Rom. 1:18-32):
Faithlessness ignites God’s fury (18). Wrathfulness is as much a part of God’s nature as graciousness. Paul says the object of His wrath is all ungodliness and unrighteousness.
Faithlessness ignores the facts (19-20). Paul says that faithlessness is not due to an absence of facts, but a willful ignorance of them. It takes a deliberate effort to arrive at unbelief. So much has to be continuously ignored.
Faithlessness includes futility (21). Faithlessness is built upon a flimsy foundation. It’s the slab of speculation. The faithless spend their lives running from the facts in favor of a worldview that makes no sense, gives no purpose, and instills no hope.
Faithlessness involves folly (22-23). It’s not just empty, it’s foolish. Paul’s words here are akin to David’s words in Psalm 14:1 and 53:1, that “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
Faithlessness instigates a fall (24-32). Paul pictures how a person arrives at wholesale immorality. One turns from God and runs the other way.
These verses are proof of divine inspiration, because although they were written 2000 years ago they perfectly describe the current culture.
“But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) This verse is obviously directed at men. But why do some Christian females dress in a way that tempts a man to go there, in his mind, with her? The way a female dresses speaks louder than anything she professes verbally. Overly revealing dress is an invitation to lascivious thoughts. A female who fails to present herself in a way befitting one who professes to obey God (1 Timothy 2:9-10) is not serving herself, her Lord, or the men she encounters. Nor is she setting a proper example for family, friends, and fellow church members. When you dress in the morning, would you make the same clothing choice if you knew later, that very day, you would meet Jesus Himself? If the answer is no, change your clothes. A female who dresses enticingly is not only causing others to sin, but is guilty of sin herself.
There is a lot in our world that is just plain ugly. Catch the news on any day and hear of war, crime, tragedy, etc. Our music often focuses on that which is depressing rather than uplifting. On the other hand, there are a lot of good things on which we can focus our attention.
The good thing is this – we have a choice. Of course we cannot isolate ourselves completely from every unpleasant thing, but we can choose our focus. We can make a genuine effort to fill our minds with the good things and this will make a world of difference in our lives.
Paul put it this way: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
The Book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom – wisdom on how to live. There is a lot in it said about riches and poverty. One choice passage says this:
“Give me neither poverty nor riches –
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
Lest I be full and deny You.
And say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.”
(Proverbs 30:8-9 NKJ)
This passage presents a very balanced view of wealth and poverty. There is an inherent spiritual danger in each. The safest place is somewhere in between and this is where most of us find ourselves.
The apostle Paul offered a similar idea but in different words: “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)