10-102 — The Trojan Horse
Are you familiar with the term Trojan horse? You might remember from history that the Trojans were attacking, but could not conquer, the city of Sparta. Finally, the Trojans decided to trick their foes by building a hollow wooden horse large enough to hold many soldiers. This Trojan horse was presented as a peace offering. It looked innocent and peaceful on the outside. The pride of the men of Sparta got the best of them. They accepted the horse into the city gates. After nightfall, the soldiers came out of the horse and captured the city.
In the same sense, the antichrist will come into this world as a Trojan horse. People will trust him to bring peace, but he will deceive the nations of the world. How will he do this? By appearing to be theMessiah, the Savior of the world. The antichrist will actually claim to beGod. Remember this: the Apostle John tells us that the spirit of the antichrist is already here (1 John 4:3). We must guard against any who do not acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the only Prince of Peace, the only Savior of the world.
10-116 — Evaluating Your Priorities
If the Apostle Paul were caught in a time warp from the first century and found himself in your church, would he recognize anything familiar? Allow your imagination to wander into this possible conversation you lead Paul on a tour of your church:
"Paul, on behalf of all of the Christians from our era, we would like to welcome you to the modern, all-improved church. As you walk around, what do you think so far? Do our numbers impress you? How about the size of our facility? Have you had a chance to browse through our information brochure? It will tell you all about the many programs we offer the people of our community."
Waiting to take a long bow for our accomplishments, we were somewhat disturbed by Paul's response. "In the churches of my time," Paul said, "we spent time building relationships in order to really know each other. Our meeting place was from house to house. And our programs, as you call them, were pretty simplified: Love God. Love one another. Love the lost." "Oh" we sighed in embarrassment.
God is not concerned with how big or pretty your church is, how many programs you have, or how fancy your website. God cares about the behavior of believers and relationships within the church. Would He be pleased with your church?
10-125 — Drawing on God's Strength
When you share the Word of God with others, do you ever feel you are out on a limb all by yourself? Take heart, for God is not only watching you, He is also there to help you.
Dan, a new believer, was looking forward to an upcoming class reunion. Some of his old classmates who had been close friends had since moved up the corporate ladder of success.
As the day grew nearer, Dan began to feel a twinge of nerves. "What can I say to these fellows who were such close friends? One of them is now a scientist. Another is a university professor. Still another is a great scholar and writer. What can I say that will lead them to Christ?"
Looking for encouragement, Dan called the man who had led him to Christ. "Mike, what shall I do? It's too late for me to back out now." Upon hearing Dan's concern, Mike graciously offered his advice. "Dan, there is no need for you to feel intimidated. It is your responsibility to reveal God's Word. If you will share the gospel, theLord will help you and cause your sharing to bear fruit. Trust Him. Draw on His strength."
The believer must never share the gospel in his own strength. God and Christ are watching our efforts: they are with us, will even give us the opportunity and the words to say. If we will be faithful to share the good news, the Lord will bless our efforts.
10-136 — Satan's Sinister Schemes
There is a web of conspiracy that has been inspired by the devil. He has no problem finding willing individuals to do his bidding. The scary thing is that his volunteers look a lot like the real thing, the teachers of truth!
The story has been told of a conversation between two fallen angels. "Trickster" and "Tempter" returned to their demonic den after another day of destroying people's lives. Sitting at the table, they began to compare their dastardly notes. "What did you do today?" sneered Tempter. With an evil grin, Trickster spoke in arrogant breaths. "I've had a great day. Several of my projects are finally beginning to bear fruit. Today a pastor made the decision to rationalize the miracles in the Bible. A seminary professor has agreed with our master's agenda and is willing to recruit students to worship anyone but Christ. A Sunday school teacher has turned in his teacher's book and has decided to replace the study of the Bible with an 'issues' class."
"Why, that's nothing compared to what I've done today!" responded Tempter. "I've convinced the choir director to cut down on worshipful music and to use popular music instead to appeal to a broader crowd. And he has found a verse in the Bible to justify what he is doing. I've also been at work in the heart of the pastor of another church. I've convinced him that he is the reason for the success of the church and that he can take the church anywhere he wants to go. He is going to be a wonderful pawn in our hands."
All of a sudden the door blew open and Satan stood basking in his evil light. "I overheard what you have done. But that is not enough! Get back to work... NOW!"
Satan stays busy placing false teachers into key places of influence. He never lets up in his war of deception. Neither can we let up in carrying forth the truth.
10-175 — Support Your Local Pastor
There is probably no more awkward time for the minister than when he has to negotiate his salary. Some churches live by the adage, "Keep 'em humble. Keep 'em poor." Here is one story to illustrate this point.
A pastor's search committee was interviewing one particular candidate for their church. They were impressed by what the man brought to the table as a minister. He could preach, teach, and fulfill all the other pastoral duties in a professional manner.
As the interview came to a close, the chairman of the committee tossed out one final question, "Approximately how much money will it take for you to make it financially?" The minister gave him a very reasonable figure that his denomination had suggested to him. The committee chairman took a deep breath and said, "That's a little bit more than we had in mind. We feel that a preacher can live off what we offer and then let faith do the rest."
At first, the minister did not say a word. But under his breath he prayed for wisdom. When he felt confident that God had given him a word to share, he looked each person in the eye and said, "Would you be willing to work for what you just offered me and let faith do the rest?"
Is your church being fair financially to your pastor, or is it trying to pay him as little as possible?
10-211 — Ask God for Church Leaders
Do you feel comfortable entrusting your soul to the care of your church leaders? The Bible instructs us to...
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17).
One of the most important duties of the local church is to ask God for leaders who qualify according to the Scripture. A church that ignores God's criteria for ministers or elders and accepts leaders due to popularity or politics defiles the office of the elder. Woe to any body of believers who compromise on this issue.
10-246 — Drawing on Christ's Strength
Have you been trying to live a pure, moral life in your own strength? No man can succeed in this on his own. In order to walk in a way that will please God, you must ask Him for His power.
Samuel Pearce... at the time of his conversion... resolved to formally dedicate himself to the Lord. He drew up a covenant; and, to make it more solemn and binding, he signed it with blood drawn from his own body.
But afterwards, failing in his vows, he was plunged into great distress. Driven, therefore, into a more complete examination of his motives, he was led to see that he had been relying too much on his own strength; and, carrying the blood-signed covenant to the top of his father's house, he tore it into pieces and scattered it to the winds, and resolved... to depend upon the peace-making and peace-keeping blood ofChrist.
Any effort to be morally pure without God's help is ultimately doomed to failure. But when you draw upon God's strength, you have chosen the path of success.
10-286 — The Desire for Success
Will of God
How does the world define success? How do you define it?What does it even mean to be successful? It does not matter whether you are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, saved or lost—everyone wants to be successful. There are many definitions of success. For some it means...
And on and on. But the important question that demands our attention is this: How does God define success? God's definition of success does not depend on the external things of this world that impress men. When God thinks of success, He is thinking of faithfulness. True success misdoing the will of God. Are you succeeding?