Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hurricanes, Prayer and Fait

Hurricane’s Harvey, Irma and Jose. Many Christians believe they were God’s judgment on the US for sin. And, predictably, the sins most often identified were same sex marriage, the homosexual lifestyle and abortion. In fact, one well-known Hollywood actress said “Mother Nature” was reacting to our voting in Mr. Trump as president. (Yes, she said that.)
Same sex marriage, the homosexual lifestyle, abortion on demand and voting Mr. Trump into the office of president had nothing to do with these horrific hurricanes. We will not truly understand why hurricanes like these occur until we come back to scripture. Our thinking and understanding must be grounded in the Bible and nothing else.

I still remember the mayor of New Orleans blaming the city’s sinful lifestyle, like the Marti Gras, for Hurricane Katrina. “It was God’s judgment on the city for sin,” he declared in his press conference. And sadly, many Christian leaders echoed his view. Do you know what’s even sadder? Many in the Body of Christ still believe such disasters are God’s punishment for sin.

Is God to blame?

Was God behind Harvey, Irma and Jose? Did He send them as punishment for sin? If He did, why did He single out Texas and Florida? Are they more sinful than California, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Idaho, New Mexico or Utah? I don’t think so.

Before we search the scriptures for the answer, let’s look at one more issue. The Bible says if we (Christians) have faith we can speak to any mountain and it has to obey (Mark 11:23, 24).

Many Christians, including myself, spoke to the “mountains” – Harvey, Irma and Jose. We prayed, declared and confessed that they would dissipate before doing any damage or bodily harm. Our prayers were not answered. Did we not have faith? Or, did we not have enough faith? Or, was there something else at play?

God is Light.

Let’s go back to my first question. “Is God behind Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose? Did He send them as punishment on the US for sin?”

We’re going to begin in 1 John 1.

(1)     That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
(2)     (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
(3)     That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
(4)     And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
(5)     This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

The Amplified Bible renders verse five this way: “And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way].”

How would you characterize Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Jose? Would you say they were light (good)? Or would you say they were darkness (not good)? The answer is obvious.

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” The word “no” in the Greek expresses a full and direct negation, independently and absolutely. Simply, there is absolutely no possible way that God has darkness as part of His character. And just because we attribute dark behavior to Him does not make it so. That’s what “independently and absolutely” mean. God is light. Period.

So where does this leave us?

If God is not involved then that means He did not send Harvey, Irma and Jose and the devastation that accompanied them. It means God is not punishing us. Do you see this?

If God is not responsible for the hurricanes, then who is?

Many Christians will immediately point the finger at Satan. After all, he is darkness personified, right? Hold on now. Slow your roll. Don’t jump to that conclusion just yet. The Bible does tell us who is responsible for these horrible hurricanes.

Turn to Romans chapter five. We’re going to read verse 12.

Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.

Now turn to Genesis 3. We’re going to read verse 17 and the first part of verse 18.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee...

Romans says Adam opens door for sin to come into the world and sin brings along its running buddy, death. Genesis shows us that sin and death literally change the molecular structure of everything in God’s original creation.

Ouch! That hurt!

For the first time, we see thorns and thistles. Would you say thorns and thistles are good things to have around? Or, would you say they are not good to have around? Thorns. Bad. Thistles. Bad. Fingers pricked. Ouch!

That is what Adam’s sin, rebellion, against God produced – things that we don’t like having around us[BJ1] . When Adam sins, the sin nature affects all of creation, leading to devastating effects on the weather such as Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose.

Now turn to Romans 8.

(19) For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
(20) For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
(21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
(22) For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

The word “vanity” in verse 20 means frailty. Because of Adam’s sin, all of natural creation was weakened and became subject to conditions that previously did not exist. Extreme heat. Extreme cold. Extreme winds. Extreme flooding. Thorns. Thistles.

Creation is in slavery.

We see in verse 21 that creation is in “bondage” or slavery in the Greek. What is creation a slave to? It’s a slave to corruption – decay, ruin, destruction – which is the result of the sin and death we read about earlier in Romans 5:12.

We also see in this verse that the slavery to corruption was forced upon creation. The earth experienced Harvey, Irma and Jose for only one reason: sin and death which Adam released in Genesis 3 when he rebelled against God.

There is one more phrase we need to see that drives this point home. “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (verse 22).

The phrase presents the image of a woman in pain during childbirth. The pain, which is nearly unbearable, ceases when the mother brings forth a new life. The Bible says a new earth – one that is not a slave to corruption – will replace the earth that is now groaning and in travail.

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (not sin, not death, and not corruption). (2 Peter 3:13)

Many of us prayed against Harvey, Irma and Jose. We prayed that the damage would be minimal and there would be no loss of human life. The property damage is estimated to reach upwards of $50 billion and the death toll is in double digits.

Our prayers were not answered.

Do you remember my second set of questions? Did we not have faith? Or, did we not have enough faith? Or, was there something else at play?

Scripture tells us that something else is at play.

First, turn with me to Matthew 24.

(3) And as he sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the signs of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
(4) And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
(5) For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ and shall deceive many.
(6) And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
(7) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
(8) All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Now let’s look at the same incident in Mark 13.

(3) And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
(4) Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?
(5) And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you.
(6) For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
(7) And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.
(8) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginning of sorrows.

Jesus says in Matthew that the signs of His return will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. He also says these things must come to pass and that these are the beginning of sorrows.

In Mark, Jesus adds “troubles” as one of the signs of His return. In the Greek, “troubles” means disturbance that is (of water) or a great and powerful troubling of water.

I want you to see the synonyms for “trouble” in the New Testament:
  • A surge of the sea, raging wave
  • Wind, storm, tempest
  • A whirlwind, storm, tempest
  • A billow, wave
Jesus is telling us in Matthew and Mark that prayer and faith, two critical components in a maturing Christian walk, are not going to stop the famines, pestilences, earthquakes or powerful troubling waters like Harvey. Irma. Jose. You need to see this.

Prayer and faith, which are critical as we mature in our Christian walk, will not change what Jesus says is going to happen.

What does this mean for us? Should we stop praying? Should we stop declaring and confessing what the Bible says? No. We must continue to pray. We must continue to mature our faith. We must continue to conform to the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Now, allow me to make some observations.

(1)   We can’t allow ourselves to look in the mirror and see “faith failures” because it’s not true. We can’t let Satan convince us that we don’t have any faith at all. We had enough faith to get born again, didn’t we? Don’t let him lie to you.

(2)   What we see in Matthew and Mark: Jesus is telling us what is going to come to pass as we get closer to His return. He’s pulling back the curtain, if you will, and giving us a sneak peek. What great love our savior has for us! I can just hear him: “Barry, when you see these signs, get ready, I’m coming for you!”

(3)   Most importantly, we must remember the encouragement Jesus gives us – “see that ye be not troubled” or afraid or frightened. Although we cannot stop these “signs” from happening, we can pray and speak protection over ourselves and over the ones we love.

Never stop praying. Never stop developing and maturing your faith. There are too many lost souls who don’t know Jesus and are heading for the lake of fire. If they are to have any shot at eternal life with our Father, they will need our prayers and they will need our faith. Let’s make sure we give them both – in abundance!

Barry O Johnson is a Teacher of the gospel. I live in Beavercreek, OH with Doris, my wife of 40 years. We have two grown sons. I write a monthly teaching letter that focuses on the foundational beliefs found in scripture (Bjteachingltr@gmail.com).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

"If it be thy will" prayers

Religion has taught us that God decides whether or not He will answer our prayers. And because we believe that teaching we often end our prayers with “if it be thy will”. In other words, “God, I’m not really sure what your will is in this situation, but I’m going to pray and if my prayer is not answered, it’s because you chose not to answer it.”

Sadly, many Christians believe God picks and chooses the prayers He will or will not answer. Contrast this with what Jesus believed when he prayed just before raising Lazarus in John 11.

(41) Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou has heard me. (42) And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

When Jesus prayed, he expected his Father to hear his prayers and, not only that, he expected his Father to answer them. No doubting. No “what if.” No “if it be thy will.” Jesus had absolute and unwavering faith that God would answer his prayers. Always. Why? Jesus knew His Father’s heart for people. He had a relationship with the Father that went beyond the weekly and mid-week church services.

Do we truly know our Father’s heart for people?

Are we expecting our Father to answer our prayers the same way Jesus knew He would answer his?

Be honest. Be brutally honest.

The Bible says in I John 5:14, 15:

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Now look at 2 Corinthians 1:20.

For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
When the promises of God manifest, He gets the glory. Wouldn’t the same be true of answered prayer? Why wouldn’t God want to answer our prayers? He wants the world to know His love, mercy and grace.
Do you see the words in green? God is establishing a very simple yet powerful truth: if we are not in him then His promises to us are not “yes” and “amen” (done).
What does it mean to be “in him”?
The word “in” paints the picture of someone being in a fixed, stable, or consistent position. It’s a relationship word. Remember when Jesus said “I and my father are one” (John 10:30) and “he that hath seen me hath seen the father” (John 14:9)? You see relationship. Jesus said what the Father would say. Jesus did what the Father would do.
Jesus agreed with the Father on everything.
We could read 2 Corinthians 1:20 this way and maintain the integrity of scripture: “When we have an intimate relationship with God (when we are in him) and pray for the things He would pray for if He were here (because we are in him), then we will know what Jesus knew (as we walk in him) – He always answers our prayers yea and amen.”
When we approach God with a prayer that is according to His will – a prayer that agrees with what He has said in the Bible – not only does He hear our prayer but He gives us what we ask for. Is that not how you read these verses?
Remember I John 5:15 says “And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
Are you seeing what I’m seeing in this verse? When we know, without any doubts, that our Father hears us, then we know that He will grant us our prayer request.
Now it’s time to ask the hard questions.
  • If this is true, why do we not receive what we “desire of him”? If we pray and our Father hears us, why isn’t our prayer answered?
  • Is it possible that God has already decided the outcome of the situation before we pray?
  • If so, was our prayers nothing more than something to make us feel better even though we did not receive the answer we desired?
Now here are the really hard questions.
§  If God has already predetermined the outcomes of our unanswered prayers, isn’t praying for a different outcome against His will?
§  Doesn’t that mean our unanswered prayers are already destined for failure? (There are Christians who truly believe God is in control and He will have His way. “Whatever happens,” they say, “is God’s will.”)
§  If our prayers have no impact – other than to make us feel like we’ve done something positive in the situation – then why pray at all? Why waste the time? Why not just pray “God, whatever you decide, I may not like it but I will learn to live with it?”
When I pray to the Father and my prayer goes unanswered, telling me that “the outcome was the one that God knew was best” provides no comfort. If First John 5:14-15 is true, then my prayers have a say in the outcome.
Say it with me: “The Bible says my prayers have a say in the outcome. My prayers are not just words to make me feel better. The Bible says they have a say in the outcome!”
This is nullified if you believe that God is in control.
When God created Adam, He form, made and created a being just like Himself (without deity) and gave him authority and dominion over His creation (Genesis 1:26).
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
The authority and dominion Adam lost in Genesis 3, Christ regained for us through his death and resurrection.
For if by one man’s offense (Adam) death reigned (ruled) by one: much more they (people who have been born again) which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign (rule) in life by one, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)
Ladies and gentlemen...
...when you have dominion and authority – when you rule – you have a say in the place where you have dominion and authority!
If we have a say in what happens to us in this life, why do we blame God when our prayers are not answered? Yes, you heard me. We say “I prayed but God has the last word; He’s in control.” We blame God when our unanswered prayers. When you read the gospels, do you see this in the life of Jesus?
What does God control in our lives?
Absolutely nothing unless we submit our lives to Him.
Do we honestly believe our Father is okay with us not getting prayers answered, especially when we are praying for loved ones or for others?
Now I may make some of you angry, if I haven’t already.
When we say things like “God has the last word” or “God’s in control” we are making excuses for our lack of faith. There is nothing in scripture that says “having faith sometimes means you still don’t get what you are having faith for.”
I have admitted to coming face to face with having more unbelief working in me in some situations than faith (see my December teaching letter). I’m not proud of it but at least I know it’s my issue and not my Father’s. Faith pleases my Father (Hebrews 11:6).
When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he prayed “Father, I thank thee that thou heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always...” (John 11:41, 42a) Sounds a lot like I John 5:14, 15 doesn’t it? “And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
Jesus was God’s son. We are God’s sons and daughters. Did our Father “hear” Jesus when he prayed but not us? He heard Jesus and He heard us. Let that sink in. Here’s the difference:
Jesus had the faith our Father needed in order to move on his prayers.
In the past, I didn’t have the faith God needed to move on my prayers. Could it be that, in the past, you also didn’t have the faith God needed to answer your prayers? (It’s okay to say “yes”.) It’s really that simple and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Increasing our faith is a process (Mark 4:28). Now we know that we have work to do!
The enemy of the soul wants us to believe our Father is behind everything that happens or does not happen in our prayer lives. This is what Satan doesn’t want us to know and believe: our Father has given us authority and dominion over our prayer lives and over him.
Every good gift and every perfect gift (for this teaching, Godly authority and dominion), is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17)
I want you to see something before we move on. The phrase “no variableness” is unchangeable. We will always get the same response from God. Always. In this case, we will always receive good and perfect gifts. Answered prayers are good and perfect gifts. Wouldn’t you agree?
Let’s end with I John 5:4.
For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world (That’s you! That’s me!): and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Now I want you to see something that’s very important. What is it that overcomes the world? Faith. Whose faith? Our faith!
What gives us victory in this life? Our faith!
What enables God to answer our prayers? Our faith!
It is our faith that makes the difference when we pray. Our faith!
We can clearly see that it is our faith that pleases our Father and that it is our faith that gives Him the authority to respond – in the affirmative – to our prayers. Let’s read I John 5:14-15 again but this time from the Amplified Bible.
And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), he listens to and hears us. And if (since) we [positively] know that he listens to us in whatever we ask, we also know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted us as our present possessions] the requests made of him.

Ladies and gentlemen, our Heavenly Father always hears our prayers and it is His heart’s desire to always answer them. We have to be like Jesus. We have to give Him the faith He needs to answer those prayers.

Never forget – you are blessed and highly favored.

Barry O Johnson is a Teacher of the Gospel. He attends and ministers at Grace Christian Center in Beavercreek, OH. He and his wife, Doris, recently celebrated their 40th anniversary and have two grown sons. He can be reached at Barry101937@gmail.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

We are the Watchman

By now I’m sure most of you have heard about the tragedy in Orlando where 53 homosexuals, lesbians and transgender individuals were killed. And, as you also know, some of the responses were pretty typical of what you would expect to hear. When it comes to this one issue – the gay and lesbian community – there is a divide in the body of Christ.

You have Christians who say and believe that everyone has a right to choose how he or she will live – even if how they live is not in agreement with the will of God. Then you have Christians who say and believe that if the Bible says something is wrong, then you don't have the right to live that way and will condemn you to hell unless you repent.

Neither one of these positions work for God.

After hearing about the shooting, I sent out a tweet from my twitter account, which is also linked to my Facebook page. I said “Orlando was not God's punishment” with the hashtag “heart aching for Orlando”. 

Later that day I tweeted “Orlando did not make God's day. It broke his heart.” Again my hashtag was “heart aching for Orlando.” 

My last tweet of the day was “You need to understand there was no joy in heaven early Sunday morning.” My hashtags were “heart aching for Orlando” and “Don't blame God”.

After my first tweet, my cousin from Tennessee posted on my Facebook feed “You will not believe the ridicule that I'm seeing on my page.” By the tone I knew he was referring to the things Christians were saying.

I also received a post from a young lady in Texas and what she said really broke my heart. Her Facebook feed disturbed her so much that she said “I'm almost finished with being a Christian. Shaking my head.” 

My response: “one of the things I've said repeatedly over the past three or four years is that you can't judge Christianity by looking at Christians today. Jesus did not like the behavior of most of the people he dealt with but he dealt with them with love and compassion. Sadly missing in most of the body of Christ today.”

I added that instead of calling myself a Christian, I'm thinking about referring to myself as a “disciple of my master, Jesus”. She replied “anything is better. I'm ashamed to be named among many. So much hate. Christianity seems to be no different than any of any other religion. I’m out.”

Christianity is supposed to be a family.

It really bothered me to hear her say that because our father sees us as a family. He doesn't see a group of people who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. She’s not seeing what our Father sees and, in a way, I can understand her feelings. Truly I can. Sometimes our emotions can really get the best of us.

So I said “Sweetie, I understand but let us be the ones to show the world what it really means to be Christ-like. Let us be the ones who respond to the hatred and the judging by opening our arms wide to those who need to experience His love from people they thought didn't care.”

Ladies and gentlemen, if we don't reach out to those who are not part of the family they will never have an opportunity to be part of the family. That’s what we're supposed to do as sons and daughters.

Her last post: “I will not from this day forward be labeled as a Christian. I’m filled with love of God and I refuse to be named among those who hate.” I continue to pray for her because I know she's hurting.

Satan is dividing Christians.

Remember in Matthew where Jesus said that a house divided against itself cannot stand? Right now, we are witnessing how Satan is causing schism in the body of Christ. One of the primary ways he's doing that is through politics. We, the body of Christ, have allowed ourselves to be given political labels in this country. You are either a liberal Democrat or a conservative Christian. Neither one of these labels are in the Bible.

Jesus never says He wants “Christians”.

Jesus says He wants “disciples”. He does not want Christians. He wants disciples. Anyone can attach to themselves the label of Christian. If you are a disciple people are going to know it. A disciple is one who tells the world that I am not above my master. What my master says is what I do. And people are not going to like it.

My prayer is that you are neither "far left" nor "far right" but that you are trying to walk the Word the way Jesus desires it to be walked. If you are, then we will have an opportunity to show the world who Jesus really is and His heart’s desire.

Most of the people who are living the homosexual, lesbian or transgender lifestyle don't think Christians love them. We have no one to blame but ourselves for allowing the enemy of the soul to get us to respond in certain ways when we hear about anything related to the homosexual community.

Recently I asked for prayer because sometimes when I hear things related to this behavior, I can feel a wall rising up in me. When I feel the wall rising up what it is doing is preventing me from showing the love of God. When you read the Gospels Jesus never criticized or marginalized those who were in sin. He always treated them with love and compassion. He saved his anger for the religious leaders who were leading the people astray.

It broke my heart when I heard that one pastor, after the Orlando tragedy, said that it was nothing more than what they had earned. It was God's judgment released upon them. Another pastor said the only thing that he regretted was that there were not more homosexuals in the night club. If they are saying these things, what do you think their congregations are saying?

These pastors told their people that the men and women deserved what happened to them in and that it was God’s judgment against them. And we wonder why the gay and lesbian community think Christians don't care about them.

Let’s be clear: "God and Son Corporation" has one mission: to seek and save the lost. I don't believe the body of Christ understands its mission. There doesn't seem to be enough love flowing out of us to override our emotions.

A life of faith is a life lived in love.

The Bible says in Galatians 5:6: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncirumcision; but faith which worketh (is activated) by love.”  If the reaction to Orlando is any indication, there is very little faith at work in the body of Christ and it goes back to those of us who are not walking in love toward those who need to experience it the most.

Hebrews 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please him (God)...” Since faith is activated by love and faith is what pleases God, then what is the issue? Love is the issue. That’s lacking in the body of Christ today.

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:1. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” Notice the verse doesn’t say we should do these things for the body of Christ. It says we need to them for all men. In other words, the saved and the unsaved. All men (and women) are not just the people you like. All means all! If you cannot make intercession for the homosexual person, you are in sin.

Let’s continue reading with verses 2-4. “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour – and verse 4 tells us why we are to pray this way: “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Our Heavenly Father's heart cries out for the lost.

After hearing of the shooting, I could see God on His throne weeping. His tears were for the men and women who died in that tragedy and had not repented of their sin or accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. God wept because they went to hell.

There was absolutely nothing but sadness in Heaven early Sunday morning. We know people who are living this lifestyle. We grew up with them. They were, and in many instances, are our friends. If we don’t show them the love of God, they might not see it from anyone else and be lost for all eternity.

It’s really about how much we love our Heavenly Father.

In First Thessalonians 3:12 the Apostle Paul writes “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” What does the Lord want us to do? He wants us to show love to those who are not yet part of the family.

In chapter 5, verse 14 we read: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” We are to be patient, not just with those who are in the family, but all men – including those who are not in the family. We are to treat them with love and compassion. If we don’t, there may not be anyone else who will.

Let’s look at an example from the Gospels. In Matthew 9:10 we read “And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eatest your Master with publicans and sinners?” The religious leaders couldn’t understand why Jesus would break bread with tax collectors and sinners.

Let’s bring this passage to 2016.

“And it came to pass, as Jesus sat down at meat in the house, behold, many homosexuals and lesbians came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when some of the pastors and leaders saw it, they said unto his disciples, “Why does your master eat with homosexuals and lesbians? Doesn’t he know that they are sinners of the worst kind?”

Jesus’ response would have been the same today as it was 2000 years ago. Look at verses 12 and 13: “But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them (the Pharisees), They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: (notice what He says next) for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

In John 14:12 Jesus tells us that He wants us to duplicate the works He did when He was here on Earth. One of those “works” was reaching out to people to get them to repent. If we don’t do it ladies and gentlemen it is not going to happen.

We are the watchman.

We’re going to finish up in Ezekiel 33 where the prophet is talking about the house of Israel. There is a spiritual application for us today. In verses one and two we read: “Again the word of the Lord came unto me saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman:”

The “sword” represents the judgment that is to come. What “sword” – judgment – has been released upon the land today? Jesus tells us in John 12:46-48: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejected me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.”

Ezekiel 33:3 says “If when he (the watchman) seeth the sword (judgment) come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people...” The watchman is to warn the people that the judgment is coming. Why? The Lord wants those sin to have an opportunity to repent.

Verses 4 and 5: “Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.” The watchman’s job is to warn the people, not judge them and not be condescending. The word “warning” means “to teach and caution.” The watchman is to help the people understand what will happen if they continue to live in sin and don’t repent.

The problem with the body of Christ

We haven’t learned how to deliver the warning with love and compassion. We have not done a good job of helping those who need to repent understand why they need to do so and why they need to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. If you want someone to change, you have to help them see what needs to change and then show them how to change.

But look at what happens if the watchman does not sound the warning. “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” Let that sink in ladies and gentlemen.

Now verse 7: “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel (unto your community); therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me (What I tell you to say, say it with love and compassion because it’s coming from my heart.). Do you see this? You are the watchman! If we are not the ones teaching those living the homosexual lifestyle why they need to change, God is going to hold us responsible.

Ezekiel’s job as watchman was to the house of Israel. At that time everyone was spiritually lost. Today, there are some pastors and leaders who need a watchman in their lives to show them that what they are teaching people about how to view and respond to the homosexual community is not right according to the Word of God.

God wants the wicked to repent and live, not perish.

Jump down to verse 11. “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live...” Do you see this ladies and gentlemen? When the wicked repents – that brings our Heavenly Father pleasure.

Jump again. This time to verse 16. “None of his sins (the wicked, in this case the homosexual, lesbian or transgender person) that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right (heard the warning and repented); he shall surely live.” I think this is so neat. Once a person repents, the Lord never mention their sins again!

The body of Christ needs watchmen – men and women who allow the love of God to develop in them to the point they see things the way God sees them, hears things the way God hears them and loves the way God loves. This is what the world needs and God has given us the honor and the privilege and the grace to do it. The decision point is ours.

How much do we love the lost?

Do we love the lost enough that we want to be watchmen? Do we want to have the responsibility of teaching the homosexuals, lesbians and transgenders that there is another life to be lived – either with our Heavenly Father or without Him? Do we love them enough not to scream at them or condemn them but simply tell them what will happen if they continue to live the way they’re living?

The watchman’s job is to sound the warning.

There will be some who will not want to hear what we have to say, and that's okay. You see, the watchman’s job is to sound the warning. That’s our job. Three words: sound the warning. We are not responsible for the person’s response. Our responsibility is very simple: deliver the warning – deliver the teaching – as to why they need to make a change.

I know that some of those who died in that tragedy, if they had had a watchmen, there’s a possibility they would have repented. A watchmen cares enough to treat people right and with respect. You can’t be a watchman for someone you’re judging and condemning. Ladies and gentlemen, never forget about all the things you have laid at the Lord’s feet and received forgiveness. Never forget.

Love people. Respect people.

You are the watchmen and some of you have children that you can train up to be watchmen. Trained them to love people first. Train them to respect people first. Train them to always treat people with love.

When I get to heaven I want my father to say “Barry, you didn’t do everything and you made a few mistakes but I'm proud of you son.” That's what I want to hear ladies and gentlemen. Please be watchmen for the body of Christ and for those who are not yet part of the family. Be watchmen. Don’t let people die on your watch!