I would like to offer a bit of explanation for my two-week layoff from writing. On early Tuesday, April 15, my mother-in-law passed on to her eternal reward. I have literally known her my entire life as my parents moved to Dothan when I was two and we started going to church here in Dothan. My father-in-law had started the church a little over a year prior to our arrival. In that little home missions setting the Lord was at work but also His grace was at work in my own life too. I married Teresa, the Patterson’s oldest daughter, in August ’86 and my life was entwined even more in the Patterson family. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer about four years ago and despite surgery it came back with a vengeance in January 2013. A little over two weeks ago, her condition rapidly deteriorated and she required around the clock care. I preached her funeral this past Friday and it was one of the most challenging ones that I have had to do. However, it has made heaven all the more real to me and her illness caused me to dig into the Word and really look at what it has to say about heaven and where saints go when they pass from this life. I would tell you this, I have done a great disservice to myself and to our church for not preaching more about heaven and the resurrection. I specifically did something special when I realized that her condition was not going to improve outside of a miracle, I got a leather-bound journal and started writing in it massive amounts of Scripture on what heaven was to be like. There are old hymns that have fallen out of our worship services that I wrote in that journal. Furthermore, I read sermons from the old masters of the past and found that they preached about heaven from a whole different angle than what is preached today. Suffice it to say this. . . you must make it to heaven!!!!! No matter the cost, it has to be a priority in your life.
So on this day, I pick back up with where I left off two weeks ago. I am sure that if you have been following along that you are perhaps ahead but maybe you can backtrack a bit and review some of your own work as you read my own. What follows are my ramblings pretty much as I wrote them in this journal I have devoted to this devotional guide.
-The study guide, Lord, Is It Warfare?, begins Week Four with a letter that Kay Arthur received from someone who fancied himself as a satanist. Someone within their group had started attending a Bible study group that Kay Arthur was involved in and the power of Scripture had caused this person to pull away from the group. The letter is filled with threats and intimidation toward Kay Arthur and a pastor of the church that sponsored the Bible study.
-The reality of the matter is that the man had no idea what a slave to sin that he had become. Although he accused the girl who had left them of being in a form of bondage, he was clueless to the fact that he fully represented what Paul described as a slave of sin (Romans 1 & 6).
-The Ephesian epistle really homes in on this idea of ownership and where a saint of God is seated. We can also know that the person who is lost and in bondage is described for us in Ephesians 2:1-3. Here is this passage in a couple of translations. First is the ESV and secondly is the Amplified.
Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience--  among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.
Ephesians 2:1-3 AMP And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins.  In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God].  Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.
-What do people look like who are not under the ownership of God according to this passage?
· Dead in trespasses and sin.
· Walk according to the trails and paths this world has laid out for them. (NOTE: This is another reason that we are to fight ferociously against the prevailing spirit of worldliness in our lives. See addendum below.)
· This path of sin and rebelliousness was a deep ingrained habitual one.
· The man in sinful bondage is wooed by the fashion of this world. (NOTE: This is the exact description that Bunyan gives when he notes Christian and Faithful walking through Vanity Fair. The vast number of voices were all making their appeal to these men to incorporate the fashions of this world into their lives. It is important to understand that fashion of this world is not limited to the clothing industry but the entire appeal of the world.)
· Following the prince of the power of the air.
· There is an evil spirit that is literally at work in the sons of disobedience. (NOTE: This phrase “sons of disobedience ESV and the AMP adds a description that includes careless, rebellious, unbelieving, those actively working against the purposes of God.)
· Those who have been converted used to live among them. (NOTE: This is another emphasis that all who have been born again must be “called out ones.”)
· Lived in the passions of their flesh.
· Carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. (NOTE: It is clear from Scripture [2 Cor. 7:1] that there are sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit. It would serve us well to look into this at a later point.)
· By nature were the children of wrath.
-The brief addendum to add is a reference to a book written by Jeremiah Burroughs entitled ATreatise on Earthly-Mindedness. The sub-title is Showing the Great Sin of Thinking as the World Thinks Rather Than Thinking God’s Thoughts After Him. He presents what he calls a doctrine in this book which is basically a theme of the book. Actually this was a series of sermons that Burroughs preached to his church. The sermon notes were published posthumously in 1649, three years after this death. They include eight sermons and I am certain that it took him more than an hour to preach each one of them. How we need this kind of preaching in our generation! Here are the sermons:
· Earthly-Mindedness Discovered in Nine Particulars
· Six Evils of Earthly-Mindedness
· Eight Additional Evils of Earthly-Mindedness
· Five Things may be Wrought in an Earthly-Minded Man
· Seven Reasons of Men’s Earthly-Mindedness
· Eleven Considerations to Take the Hearts of Men off of Earthly-Mindedness
· Five Directions How to Get Our Hearts Free From Earthly-Mindedness
-I would say with a great degree of accuracy that you are going to have look far and wide to find this kind of preaching going on anywhere in our land today. If it is found, it probably is being preached by some poor pastor who is doing his best to stay afloat amidst the gnashing sheep who are trying to bite. It should be the other way around wherein we value and treasure such men with a huge regard who are willing to tell us the truth of God’s Word. The best form of preaching always is that which comes in the form of a warning. I have a feeling that the great cloud of witnesses on the other side would affirm to us that it was the uncomfortable preaching that was the most helpful.
-To all of my fellow brothers who labor in the Word on a weekly basis, I pray that God gives you the grace, the power, and the anointing to preach against worldliness, lukewarmness, and spiritual apathy. But I also pray that God jerks out of some who think that this kind of preaching has to rally around a mean streak that can sometimes soil the beautiful message of holiness. I also pray for those spineless fellows who have allowed a salaried position to get you by the throat and you have become afraid to be a mouthpiece for God. In fact you are like the dogs who can’t bark that Isaiah spoke about. We all will answer for what we have preached!
Thanks for reading. . .
More tomorrow. . .