Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Made Sin for Us

Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness. (Isa. 52:14)
We believe that this is a picture of Jesus on the cross. If so, “His face was disfigured beyond that of any man,” meaning that no one has been disfigured that much ever; and “beyond human likeness,” meaning that His crucified body did not look human.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted; but he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:4-6)
This text tells us the reason behind the disfigurement. Every lie, every murder, every rape, every idolatrous act was nailed to the cross in Jesus. For those few hours, He not only carried every evil action in the history of the world, but He became sin itself: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).

When we speak of the cross, it should not be glib or in a common place way. Thank God.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

It Is Possible to Sin

It is possible to sin.
It is possible to not sin.

Both of these statements are true for Christians. On the whole, Christians are not convinced that the second one is true. They hear it as saying that it is impossible to sin. Of course, that is false. If it were true, it would contradict the first truth.

We know sinning is possible because God made provision for Christians when they sin. 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

It is possible to sin. Not only is it possible; it is also probable. In fact, it has already happened. When a Christian sins, there are immediate consequences. The first is discipline from God. We see this in Hebrews 12:5-11:
And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
This discipline will probably show up in your conscience. If your conscience is not responsive, then getting caught by an authority helps.
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servant, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom. 13:5-10)
Another immediate and possibly long-term consequence of sin is the loss of joy and, secondarily, the loss of other fruit of the Spirit. "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Heb. 12:11).

There is a way out of this discipline, a way to be returned to the joy of the Lord. First, know discipline is not punitive; it is corrective. If you are a Christian, God is not punishing you. You are not being made to pay for your sin. Jesus paid for it already.

Then why does discipline hurt? The purpose of the pain of discipline is to bring to our attention that we have displeased God by our disobedience and that we need to repent and confess our sin to God.
Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"—and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:1-5)
Keeping silent causes the discipline to continue in: wasting away, groaning all day, God's heavy hand on us day and night, and sapped strength.

When I acknowledge my sin and do not cover it, God forgives the guilt, and I am then blessed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Forgiving Others: Do I Wait Until They Ask?

This question comes up often: "I have read (repeatedly) your book on bitterness and I know that bitterness may result from unforgiveness. I know that even if someone sins against me and is not repentant, I should forgive so I do not become bitter. But doesn’t Luke 17 indicate that our forgiving the other person is dependent on their repentance?"

Let's look at the text. Luke 17:3-4: "So watch yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. Even if he sins against you seven times in a day and seven times comes back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

Luke 17 tells you to forgive him. It does not teach that your forgiveness is dependent on his repentance. If it was, the text would read, “Don’t forgive him until he repents.” In Matthew 18, Jesus tells Peter to forgive the one who sins against him 77 times. "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times'" (Matt. 18:21-22). There is no mention of this person repenting.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

A Forgiving God

Forgiveness starts with the character of God. Both Old and New Testaments abound with descriptions of God's forgiving nature.

None of the gods who have been created by men are forgiving gods. Why? Because they are created in the image of natural, unregenerate man. The real reason these gods are not forgiving is that they do not exist. The demons behind them are real, and they cannot forgive.
They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, "This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt," or when they committed awful blasphemies. (Neh. 9:17-18)

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Ex. 34:6-7)

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins… (Luke 1:76-77)
Forgiveness is unique to God.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Rotting Wealth, Rotting Hearts

Jesus watched money being put into the money box in the temple. He came to the conclusion that the widow who put in two pennies put in more than the rich man who gave a lot of money. The widow gave more because she gave all that she had for living. The rich man gave out of his abundance.

Paul had some additional thoughts on this. He said that the love of money is a cause of all kinds of evil.

James spoke of it as well. “Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you” (James 5:1-6).

Jesus taught about loving money from the Tenth Commandment. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor” (Ex. 20:17).

Jesus taught us to do the opposite in the Sermon on the Mount.
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:28-33)

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matt. 6:19-24)
Someone once asked John D. Rockefeller how much money a man needs. He answered, “Just a little bit more.”

Friday, March 23, 2018

Road Rage

The Scriptures lists fits of rage as one of the works of the flesh. This kind of anger is characteristic of unbelievers.

Road rage is another common kind of anger. It is thinking yourself superior to other drivers. The majority of this kind of anger does not hurt the other person. Because it does not end in a fight, does that mean you are not in sin?

You are told to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4). That means always. Always doesn’t leave room for getting upset at other drivers. Always doesn’t leave room for anger. “In everything give thanks” (1 Thess. 5:18) doesn’t leave room for anger.

It is possible for a Christian to be angry, but it is only normal for an unbeliever.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Divorce & the Christian, Part 3: Married to an Unbeliever

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:14-16)

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (1 Cor. 7:12-14)
The first quotation gives us five reasons why a believer should not be partnered with an unbeliever. The reasons are given by asking rhetorical questions.

The unequal yoke reference is taken from Deuteronomy 22:10: "Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together." Why? I suggest two reasons: 1. The ox was a “clean” animal, and the donkey was an “unclean” animal. 2. Since they are not physically matched, the yoke would hurt both animals.

The yoke covers all kinds of partnerships, including marriages.

There are two reasons why people have unequal marriages:

1. The believer married an unbeliever, either because the believer did not know that the Bible prohibits this, or because he/she thought the unbeliever was a believer. The third option is that the believer knew that it was prohibited, knew that the intended was an unbeliever, and deliberately chose to disobey with the plan of confessing the sin after the wedding and then converting the spouse. They are married for good.

2. After two unbelievers are married, one of them receives Christ. They are now unequally yoked. They are still married for good.

In either case, the believer should not break the marriage. More sin and more damage are caused by breaking the marriage than were caused by the disobedient marriage.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Divorce & the Christian, Part 2: Children

To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. (1 Cor. 7:12-14)
I cannot explain this text other than the obvious; unbelievers are sanctified if they stay married to believers. The children are also sanctified if “unevenly yoked” parents stay together. The opposite is also true; the children would be unclean if the parents are divorced.

I have heard of all kinds of examples where the bad news did not happen. However, we should not make rules of behavior from experience, especially when the good experience is the exception. Children of divorce are candidates for all kinds of trouble.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

New Weekly Class on Christian Living: Learn How to Not Sin

Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators, visited the Naval Academy during my first-class year. On a Sunday afternoon, he spoke to about twenty Christian midshipmen in Memorial Hall. He was a dynamic speaker. At the end of his talk, he said he would like to talk with those of us who really meant business with the Lord. A few of us took him to the chaplain’s office.

He said to us, “How many of you want to sin?”

None of us wanted to sin.

“I will teach you how not to sin.” That sounded good to us. Dawson quoted Psalm 119: “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word… Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:9, 11 KJV).

It was simple; all we had to do was hide the Word of God in our hearts. It seemed to work. In the next fourteen months, I memorized the 108 verses of the Navigators’ Topical Memory System.

When I was back in San Diego after my first year in Korea with the Navy, Doug Cozart was assigned to disciple me. I was impressed. I had a Daily Light devotional book; any verse I pulled out of the Daily Light, he could quote or give the reference if I read the verse.

The next year I memorized three verses a week, and the following year five verses a week. Around that time, I noticed that something wasn't right. I began to get suspicious: I was still sinning. “How many verses do I have to have in my heart to not sin?”

My problem was that I had been hiding the verses in my head, not in my heart. I was less like the Lord Jesus because of my arrogance about how much I knew of the Scriptures.

Beginning this Thursday at 7:00 p.m., I will be teaching a weekly class on practical Christianity in my home at 114 S. Howard St. The class is open to students and adults of all ages. If you read your Bible regularly, you already know what God tells you to do and not do. This class is for those of you who know the commands and want to obey them. That is practical Christianity.

Week 1: The “Read” Bible

Week 2: The Green Bible

Monday, March 19, 2018

Divorce & the Christian, part 1

Another thing you do: You flood the LORD's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, "and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment," says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith. (Malachi 2:13-16)
There are other teachings on divorce in both the Old Testament and the New. There is an exception clause in Matthew 19:9, and some believe there is another exception in 1 Corinthians 7:15 if the one leaving is an unbeliever. It is amazing to me how these two exceptions can be stretched, broadened, and multiplied so that exceptions are now wide enough to march an army division through them.

When we spoke our vows, did we insist on quoting these exceptions in case we might need them in the future?

Why are we looking for reasons to divorce? Why aren’t we looking for the basic sentence instead of the subordinate clauses?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Women Teaching Men in a Sunday Service

In response to my last post, I received a question about whether it is alright for women to teach men in a Sunday service.

If she thinks she is an elder and seeks to pastor a church, the answer is No!

If she is married, and her husband agrees, then Yes!

If she is a single missionary sent out by the church, and she is home, then Yes.

If we answer “No” across the board, we may be tying the hands of the Holy Spirit.

I know of one instance where the pastor spent time in prayer explaining to the Holy Spirit that the woman who was going to speak in his church was not thinking or usurping a place that belonged to her husband. The church thought she shouldn’t speak up front because of their policy, so the pastor felt he had to explain it to God. He shouldn’t have to do this.

If the woman demands the pulpit, the answer is No!

Women in the Pulpit & Women as Teachers

I received the following question: “What does the Bible say about women in the pulpit? I thought scripture said that women are not to be in position of teaching above a man. If this is accurate, then why are so many women now preaching?”

Before you react to my answer, go back to the Scriptures and read the texts again.

The Bible does not speak of pulpits. It does speak of elders. 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, and 1 Peter 5 speak of the requirements of elders, two of which are the husband of one wife and someone who rules his own household well. There are no examples of women elders in the Scripture. We came to the conclusion that there should not be women elders because of this teaching and each of the examples.

Teaching is another thing. All elders must be apt to teach. However, that is not the same thing as saying all teachers are to be elders. Teaching is not a gift that is relegated to men only.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way. (1 Cor. 12:27-31)

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully. (Rom. 12:3-8)
If teaching is for men only, so are the other gifts. It sounds like the gifts are divided up throughout the one body of Christ, and the body includes women.

What about women teaching men? Let's look at three places where the New Testament touches on this.
Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophecies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophecies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. (1 Cor. 11:3-6).

Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. (1 Cor. 14:34-35)

I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing. I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God. A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. (1 Tim. 2:8-15)
It looks as if each of the texts refers to what is happening in a church meeting.

In 1 Corinthians 11, we find that a woman may pray and prophesy in a public meeting as long as she does not dishonor her head (her husband). Men are not heads of women; a husband is the head of his wife.

1 Corinthians 14 is speaking about order in the church: "If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.... But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.... For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints" (1 Cor. 14:27, 30-31, 33). Verses 34-35 are not a prohibition against women teaching; they are a prohibition against women chattering during the service. “Wait until you get home and ask your husband.” The tongue speaker should keep quiet. The prophet should keep quiet. The women should keep quiet. This is a requirement for order.

1 Timothy 2 is again speaking of wives and husbands, not men and women. The word for "man" in Greek is the same word as the word for "husband." The word for woman is the same as the word for wife. Verse 12 would be better translated, “a wife should learn in quietness and full submission (to her husband).” A woman should not be in full submission to men, only to her husband. Verse 12: “I do not permit a wife to teach or to have authority over her husband.” This now agrees with other Scriptures. It is still strong, but is not an isolated text with no other parallel in the Bible as it would be if it were speaking of women being in submission to men. Women are not to be in submission to men. They are to be in submission to their husbands.

Adam was the first man, but in this context he was the only man and the first husband. Wives will be saved through childbearing, not women saved by childbearing.

The common theme in these three texts is the submission of the wife to her husband. She is not to exercise authority or teach her husband.

Why are there women preachers? There are two ditches to fall in here. We can react to those who say that since women may not be elders, therefore they may not teach; or we can react the other way and say, “Since women may teach, they may be elders.” The correct answer is: They may not be elders; however, if they have a) the gift of teaching, b) their teaching is sound, and c) they are in submission to their husbands, then they may teach anyone who wants to be taught. That does not make a woman an elder. The church has used these texts as hammers on a subject that the texts are not teaching about.

I think that we can assume that Priscilla was in submission to her husband. “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18:26). From the early years of our marriage, Bessie and I modeled our lives together after Priscilla and Aquila. Bessie has taught me very much, but she has not exercised authority over me.

There are probably several cultural explanations for why we have women pastors. 1) Men do not want to preach. 2) Pressure from the feminists in the world and in the church. 3) Pressure from men who have bought into political correctness. These are not adequate reasons for having women pastors.

There are and have been women who of godly character who are wise and eloquent. They should not be church elders, but they may and should teach. To name a few, Amy Carmichael, Elisabeth Elliott, Corrie ten Boom, and Irene Webster-Smith. Three of these women did not have husbands. If someone wants to insist (apart from the Scriptures) that these women should not teach men, then let them make the prohibition to the men, that they may not be in the audience, not to the women that they should not teach.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Book Announcement: Sick Bay for the Saints

Michael Collender and I have written a book together, with plans for three more. The one we have just completed is Sick Bay for the Saints. We are open for comments.

Many of you have been very conscious of the spiritual sickness of the United States and many of the evangelical churches. Recently a friend of mine, John Sanford of Cornell University, author of Genetic Entropy, asked me if I could apply what I teach in my book Principles of War to situation in the United States. I asked Michael Collender of St. Anne’s Public House, to join me in writing a series of books to do just that.

There are many books that explain how bad things are in America right now. These books are right—it’s bad. However, the Bible teaches that we have every reason to be hopeful about what God will accomplish. God gives us counsel on how to be effective and advance the gospel, especially in times like these. He has explained how His people win victory in individual hearts, in personal obedience, in the local church, and with networked Christians and church denominations.

The series of books we are writing will address each of these “levels” of the kingdom. This first book, Sickbay for the Saints, is about defeating the sinful habits that keep us from fulfilling the Great Commission. It’s a spiritual hospital you can hold in your hands.

There are several basic truths that every born-again believer knows. When each of us was saved, whether at four years old or forty, we had a joy that we could not describe but could express. Over the years, I have talked to thousands of believers and found that they had a similar experience. But I also found out that the saints do not have the same joy that they had when they were first saved. They do not sing, and they do not testify. (Or if they do testify, it is not with love and joy. It is just with information.)

This is a simple problem with a simple solution. What is the problem? We are storing up unconfessed sin. When we first confessed Jesus Christ is Lord, we were saved. All our sins were forgiven. That is why we had joy. But then we lose the joy because we do not practice 1 John 1:9 and 2:1: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness…. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”

In Sick Bay for the Saints, we help you (or your church, if you want to use the book in a group setting) find out if you have a backlog of unconfessed sin that is holding you back from being as effective as you could be for Christ and his Kingdom. A Christian can have what God promises in 1 John 1:5, 7, and 9: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all…. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin…. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

When a Christian receives this cleansing, his friends and family are going to see it. If this person is you, you will be the beginning of an awakening in your town, church, and family.

We all need this. And no one can do it for us. This book is written to help Christians discover what they may not see on their own. It starts here: Do you want that love and joy? If you do not want it, ask God to give you that desire.

After Sick Bay for the Saints, the next book will teach you how to make an impact through personal obedience. The third and fourth books will address how to turn the tide through the local body of believers and then the national stage.

Please pray for our effort. We also welcome your recommendations. If there is something you think we should address, please email us at michael@collender.org. You may also send comments to me at jimwilson27@frontier.com.

To get your copy of Sick Bay for the Saints for $0.99, click this link.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Joy

Joy in the Bible is different than happiness or pleasure cause by your environment. Joy is not environmental. It is a vertical relationship. It is expressed in shouting and singing.

Joy is received when a person turns from death to life. It is a fruit of the Spirit. It is a companion of love and peace, but it is not love and peace.

We are told to “rejoice in the Lord always—again, I say, rejoice!” The joy that we are commanded to express always is in the Lord.

We are commanded to have this joy always. Is there a reason, biblically, to not have joy? Yes. We see it in Hebrews 12:5-11.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
There it is. No chastening is joyous for the present, but painful. Afterwards, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

The reason we are chastened by God is that we have unconfessed sin. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin…If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:7, 9).

If we walk in the light, we will be in joy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

What I Pray Every Day

There is a wonderful promise to answered prayer recorded in James 1:5. I pray it almost every day and observe an immediate answer to that prayer.

Here it is: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:5-6).

If any of you lacks wisdom. That is my state every day.

Let him ask of God, who gives generously to all.

Let him ask in faith, with no doubting.

I ask for this wisdom every day. I know of people who think I have wisdom. This is why.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Warnings About the Devil

Here are a few warnings about the devil. The first is from the Lord Jesus in John 8.
“Abraham is our father,” they answered.

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did. As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. You are doing the works of your own father.”

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:39-47)
The key words: “He spoke out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Our Enemy is a liar. He cannot speak the truth. The nature of a liar is to sound like the truth. The false prophet does not say, “I am a false prophet; don’t listen to me.” He is incapable of saying that. He will always say that he is telling the truth. Occasionally, you will hear someone say, “I am telling the truth.” That is nice to hear, but it does not mean he is telling the truth. The devil is a liar. He tells lies that sound like the truth.

“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

The second warning comes from Paul in Ephesians:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Eph. 6:10-17)
The key words are “the devil’s schemes.”

The third warning is from 2 Corinthians 11:3: “But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” The key word is that the serpent is described as cunning.

Three warning: lying, scheming, and cunning.

In contrast, when the Scripture speaks of Jesus, it speaks of the simplicity that is in Christ. Jesus also says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Friday, March 09, 2018

To Enable Us All Our Days

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:68-69, 74-75)
This is part of the prayer of Zechariah about the LORD Jesus when John, Zechariah’s son, was named. The second half of the prayer is about John. Notice the last portion quoted: “to enable us to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days.” This is loaded and amazing. We are enabled to:

• Serve Him
• Without fear
• In holiness
• In righteousness
• All our days

This redemption, this salvation, is not just for everlasting life; it is present tense (all our days). It is service without fear. It is service with holiness. It is service with righteousness. God provides the means of all this. It is part of our salvation.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Why People Don't Understand the Gospel

Have you ever noticed that you have told the gospel with great clarity (with or without apologetics) to a very intelligent person, and that after you have finished this clear presentation, he had no idea what you were talking about? Here are a few biblical reasons why this is:

“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:14). They cannot understand because they do not have the Spirit.

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4). They cannot see because they have been blinded by the evil one.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19-20). They love darkness to hide their sin.

Jesus opened Nicodemus’ eyes (John 3:1-12) before He gave him the Gospel (John 3:13-18). Jesus opened the eyes of the woman at the well (John 4:7-15) before He gave her the Gospel (John 4:16-26).

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Request for Input: Writing My Autobiography

At my children╩╝s request, I have been working on my autobiography. I have a slight problem: I have never kept a diary, and I am now 90 years old. If any of you knew me and Bessie in the past and remember events, dates, and/or have pictures, please send them to me. Hold down on the flattery. My memory is fairly good, but there are blank places. You can contact me at jimwilson27@frontier.com.
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. (Psalm 96:1-3)
Sing, sing, praise, proclaim, and declare. In order to declare His glory, we have to know what it is. Words alone will not do it. Experience will be part of it.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:6-9)
Splendor, majesty, strength, glory, worship, and holiness are a few of the words. Ask for the experience.

Bad Pastors

This is Paul’s teaching to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20:28-30: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”

Good pastors contribute to unity. Bad pastors contribute to disunity. So be on your guard.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Is It Good to Love Yourself?

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
A young woman I was counseling told me that she loved herself, and that was a good thing. She did not like it for the Bible to have listed it as a bad thing.

How can we tell that loving yourself is a bad thing? The other words in the list are characteristics of loving oneself. They are subsets of loving oneself. Let’s look at them.

• Lovers of money – loving yourself
• Boastful – loving yourself
• Proud – loving yourself
• Abusive – certainly not loving your neighbor as yourself
• Disobedient to parents – loving yourself
• Unholy – loving yourself
• Without love (to others) – loving yourself
• Unforgiving – loving yourself
• Slanderous – not loving others as you love yourself
• Without self-control – loving yourself
• Brutal – not loving others as you love yourself
• Not lovers of the good – loving yourself
• Treacherous – not loving others as you love yourself
• Rash – loving yourself
• Conceited – loving yourself
• Lovers of pleasure – loving yourself

There are a few other words that describe loving yourself. Almost all anger is based on loving yourself too much. Bitterness is also based on loving yourself too much.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
Jesus doesn't tell us to love ourselves. He tells us to love others the way that He loves us. If you want to know more, please listen to my talk on loving one another.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Four Passages I Have Lived By

Here are four passages of Scripture which meant very much to Bessie and me in our 58 years of marriage. There are many others, but these stand out. We applied them in our life together.
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. (Deut. 11:18-21)

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? 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. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: "Here am I. If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” (Isa. 58:5-11)

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:25-34)

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:5-9)
Each of these has a promise attached. I have put the promises in italics.