Author Archives: Dave

AUDIO for Sunday – June 18, 2017

REVELATION MESSAGE 29 – Revelation 21

Welcome Thirsty Conquerors

 

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Who inherits the blessings of God in eternity? Or asking the question in another way—Who gets to live in heaven?

  • Over the centuries many people have staked their claim to the incredible inheritance of heaven and all the attendant blessings. To bolster their case they often present their moral standards and good lives. They sometimes even draw attention to mighty works done in the name of God and intense battles they have carried out against evil and oppression. Many have built beautiful churches, cathedrals, temples and shrines in the hope of establishing their place with God and his coming kingdom. 
  • But those people are not the ones that God identifies in our text today as the ones who receive his heritage.
  • So who are these people that God says he will come to live with and that he will dwell with them and be their God? Who is he speaking to when he says that he will wipe away every tear from their eyes and that he will forever remove the anguish of this world—the death and mourning and crying and pain of the former things?
  • Who will he welcome into his magnificent holy city Jerusalem? Just what sort of person is blessed to live in the city built by God himself—a city he built with precious jewels and pure, transparent gold; a city which has no need for the sun or moon to shine on it because it is illuminated by God himself?
  • Who are the people who inherit heaven? In today’s text they are identified in two specific ways. They are thirsty and they are conquerers.

STUDY SHEETS for Sunday – June 18

REVELATION MESSAGE 29 – Revelation 21
Welcome Thirsty Conquerors

5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart by Leslie Vernick

 

As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.

I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14; Titus 1:10; Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so (Romans 7:19–21). These things are not true of the evil heart.

Below are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart.  If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.

1. Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.

They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information. (Psalms 5:8; 10:7; 58:3; 109:2–5; 140:2; Proverbs 6:13,14; 6:18,19; 12:13; 16:20; 16:27, 28; 30:14; Job 15:35; Jeremiah 18:18; Nehemiah 6:8; Micah 2:1; Matthew 12:34,35; Acts 6:11–13; 2 Peter 3:16)

2. Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words.

But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors. (Psalms 50:19; 52:2,3; 57:4; 59:7; 101:7; Proverbs 12:5; 26:23–26; 26:28; Job 20:12; Jeremiah 12:6; Matthew 26:59; Acts 6:11–13; Romans 16:17,18; 2 Corinthians 11:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:2–5; 3:13; Titus 1:10,16).

3. Evil hearts crave and demand control, and their highest authority is their own self-reference.

They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance. (Romans 2:8; Psalms 10; 36:1–4; 50:16–22; 54:5,6; 73:6–9; Proverbs 21:24; Jude 1:8–16).

4. Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card.

They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (Proverbs 21:10; 1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).

5. Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.

They do not struggle against sin or evil—they delight in it—all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. (Proverbs 2:14–15; 10:23; 12:10; 21:27,29; Isaiah 32:6; Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 11:13–15)

If you are working with someone who exhibits these characteristics, it’s important that you confront them head on. You must name evil for what it is. The longer you try to reason with them or show mercy towards them, the more you, as the Christian counselor, will become a pawn in his or her game.

They want you to believe that:

1. Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.

When they say “I’m sorry,” they look to you as the pastor or Christian counselor to be their advocate for amnesty with the person he or she has harmed. They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply.

The Bible warns us saying, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 26:10).

The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin (see Zacchaeus’ response when he repented of his greed in Luke 19).

Tim Keller writes, “If you have been the victim of a heinous crime. If you have suffered violence, and the perpetrator (or even the judge) says, ‘Sorry, can’t we just let it go?’ You would say, ‘No, that would be an injustice.’ Your refusal would rightly have nothing to do with bitterness or vengeance. If you have been badly wronged, you know that saying sorry is never enough. Something else is required—some kind of costly payment must be made to put things right.”

As Biblical counselors let’s not collude with the evil one by turning our attention to the victim, requiring her to forgive, to forget, to trust again when there has been no evidence of inner change. Proverbs says, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips” (Proverbs. 25:19). It’s foolishness.

The evil person will also try to get you to believe

2. That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.

Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it.

The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18; Jeremiah 7:8,10; James 1:22, 26). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8).

If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.

Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).

When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop counseling with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not.

Daniel says, “[T]he wicked will continue to be wicked” (Daniel 12:10), which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?

[1] Tim Keller, Jesus the King, page 172

 

AUDIO for Sunday – June 4, 2017

REVELATION MESSAGE 28 – Planet Earth-The Epilogue
Revelation 20

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“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

  • An epilogue is a concluding section that wraps up the loose ends. It is the closing scene, the final chapter, the series finale. The epilogue tells us how things turn out as it reveals the fate or the destiny of the characters in our story.
  • And this is where we find ourselves in our Revelation study this morning. Could we find anything more final than these words? “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Today we arrive at the final chapter of the history of Earth; the very last movement of over 6,000 years of the drama of life on the planet.
  • If we were watching a movie or reading a book, this is the part where we squirm in our seats as we follow the ebb and flow in the battle of good versus evil. Who wins? Who loses? Will the hero of our story rise up against all odds and save the day? Will we even survive the great conflict and the roller coaster of our emotions?
  • Well, yes, we will survive because it is only a book or a movie. It isn’t real. Inside the theater aliens may have just blown up half the planet, or some sociopath with a chainsaw may have reduced the population of a small town in western Illinois by a third, but when we walk out of the theater, nothing has changed. It was just a story. Maybe a great story, maybe fascinating, entertaining, even enlightening, but only a story nonetheless. Fiction.
  • But one day it will no longer be fiction. One day it will no longer be merely a sci-fi thriller. The devastation will not be confined to the movie screen. The entire planet will not just resemble a war zone but will be a war zone. And one day every person who has ever lived—from Adam and Eve to the very last person born in a hospital in the middle of New York City or in the Serengeti in Africa—will stand before God and give an account of his or her life.
  • The coming judgment of God should be a keynote, a prevailing tone, a central theme of those who keep the testimony of Jesus in pulpits across our country and the world. The message itself stands on its own and is prominent throughout Scripture, from Genesis, through the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Joel and on to the New Testament with the Apostle Peter who tells us: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:10 ESV)
  • God’s message of judgment in the Bible is not some hazy, mysterious doctrine, vague and cryptic. It is not some unclear, uncertain, unknown, dubious doctrine hidden away in the pages of the minor prophets.
  • Think about it. God’s last interaction with billions of people, the last (and maybe the first) time they see God, his final involvement with those who have refused his salvation will be at this event which we have come to in our study this morning—the great white throne judgment.

“Thank You” from Pastor Dave & Kerry!

“Thank You” from Pastor Dave & Kerry!

You are so generous. Thank you for showing your love to us. Our refrigerator is stuffed with your goodies. Everything is so delicious and so personal. Our granddaughter (Mikaela) and her fiancé (Don) asked if we could pass on their thanks to you for the amazing gluten free salads, fruit tray, cookies, steaks, Monster bars, etc. Again, you overwhelm us with your love and generosity.