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Are You Following God or Man?

Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. (Genesis 12:4)

Abram followed God. Lot followed Abram. Abram went where God said to go. Lot went where Abram went.

There is a big difference in following God and following a godly leader who is following God. Are you following God or are you following godly people as they follow God?

Abram ended up in the Promise Land. Lot ended up in Sodom. You don't have to be an Old  Testament scholar to know that the Promise Land is better than Sodom.

If Lot started out following Abram, how did he end up in Sodom?

Lot's first step in the wrong direction was to pitch his tents NEAR Sodom even though he knew the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord. (Genesis 13:12,13)

After living near Sodom for a while, it was only a matter of time before Lot was living IN Sodom (Genesis 14:12).

I guess following godly people is better than following ungodly people, but it falls short of God's best.

Are you following God's will for your life, or are you simply following godly people? Are you comfortably living near wickedness? Or are you following God to your Promise Land?

What is the Source of Corruption and Evil in Society?

Our modern victim culture teaches that people are corrupt because society is corrupt. In other words, people are products of their surroundings. Good societies produce good people. Evil societies produce evil people. We are not at fault. We are basically good people in bad environments. We are victims.

While that idea makes us feel good about ourselves, it is the polar opposite of what God's word teaches. Consider Genesis 6.

Verse 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God's sight and was full of violence (Why was the earth corrupt and violent? Read the next verse…)

Verse 12 God saw how corrupt the earth had become, FOR ALL THE PEOPLE on earth HAD CORRUPTED THEIR WAYS.

Did you get that? The earth became corrupt because the "people had corrupted their ways." Societies are corrupted by corrupt people, not the other way around. We are not victims of corruption; we are perpetrators of corruption. We are the root cause.

If God wanted to put an instant end to evil and corruption in the world all He would have to do is kill every man, woman, boy and girl. Get rid of the source and the corruption problem is solved.

We are the reason for all corruption.

We are also the reason He came to earth in human flesh, lived a sinless life, died a sacrificial death, rose from the grave and now offers the free gift of eternal life.

Thank God for the gospel that frees us from the temporal chains and eternal consequences of our own corruption.

7 Truths About the Gospel

After decades of being ignored and/or distorted, the gospel seems to be making a come-back in the Western Church, and that is a good trend. Pulpits that used to feature anemic man-centered self-help sermons are again aflame with powerful Christ-honoring gospel-centered preaching. This new generation of church planters, pastors and preachers are not ashamed of the gospel. Like Paul, they preach it over and over and over. They never get tired of it. Neither did Paul. He mentioned the word "gospel" six times in the first chapter of Romans, revealing seven truths about the gospel we are supposed to preach:

1. Paul was set apart for the gospel. (Rom 1:1) Paul was not primarily called to social justice, political reform or Christian education. While those are important, the gospel is central and essential. All the good that has been accomplished through our church in terms of social justice and helping the poor has been rooted in and empowered by the preaching of the gospel.

2. The gospel was promised beforehand by the prophets. (Rom 1:2) Paul did not create the gospel. His message was not new. He faithfully preached what the prophets of old had promised – a seamless continuity of God's message.  

3. Paul served God by preaching the gospel. (Rom 1:9) In some circles it is popular to question the validity of preaching the gospel unless it is rooted in relationship and preceded by improving social conditions. To Paul, preaching the gospel was serving God.

4. Paul was eager to preach the gospel. (Rom 1:15) Eager, enthusiastic, motivated, dedicated, committed. To the wise and the foolish, to the Greeks and non-Greeks, to those in Judea and in Rome. The gospel was central to Paul's calling and to his lifestyle. It was also the central cause of his persecution, but let's not dwell on that for now. 

5. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. (Rom 1:16) Paul was ashamed of sin, but not the gospel. Today many Christians seem ashamed of the gospel, but comfortable with sin.

6. The gospel is the power of God for salvation. (Rom 1:16) Salvation requires the power of God, not the effort of man. Self-righteous good deeds are powerless. Life-changing power is only found in the gospel.

7. The gospel is about the righteousness of God. (Rom 1:17) God's righteousness is not earned or deserved. It is revealed, in the gospel.

Note to pastors and all believers who are making disciples in small groups: Be like Paul and PREACH THE GOSPEL, OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

How to Experience the Nearness of God

Christmas morning. Sure is quit around here. Not like the joyful noisy early morning chaos when we had three small sons and way too many gifts under the tree. Those days are long gone. We now have three adult sons who are sleeping late today. And we have a grand total of five gifts under the tree.

On this peacefully silent Christmas morning I’m reading Acts and thinking about “Immanuel… GOD WITH US” (Matthew 1:23)

Do you ever feel far from God, like Emmanuel is not particularly close? We all do at times.

Acts 23:11 says, “The following night THE LORD STOOD NEAR Paul…”

Why did He STAND NEAR Paul and often seems to stand so far from us?

Maybe because we live such safe and comfortable lives that we don’t think we need Him all that close all the time. Paul’s life was so unsafe and uncomfortable that he needed God close in order to survive each day.

Here’s what prompted the Lord to stand near Paul, this time…

“The dispute (between the Pharisees & Sadducees) became SO VIOLENT THAT THE COMMANDER WAS AFRAID PAUL WOULD BE TORN TO PIECES by them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring him into the barracks. (Acts 23:10)

You want God near? Want to feel His presence?

Simple. Get out of your comfort zone, get on mission, take a step of faith and watch what happens – religious people will get mad and the Lord will stand near.

Top 7 in 2011: Victory Year-End Video Report

A couple of weeks ago I posted a blog called, "Church Growth: Are You Playing the Numbers Game?" Turns out some of my numbers were not accurate. Victory actually baptized 4613 people in 2011, not 4183 as reported in my blog. My apologies to the 430 new believers who were left off the original count.

Numbers do matter. To God and to us.

Here's Victory's 2011 Year-End video with some numbers that matter. Enjoy.

 

Promise Fulfilled

© 2012 Steve Murrell

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