Posts Tagged ‘Sam Shoemaker’

Many Christians today believe that this world that we now live in—with all of its rules and regulations, sin and evil, will only be changed after Jesus returns and establishes God’s Kingdom on earth.

But when the Pharisees demanded answers concerning the kingdom Jesus preached, He answered, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

So if the kingdom of God is within us, why do Christians today still desire the things of the world? Do you not know that what is deemed valuable and important in the eyes of men is meaningless in the sight of God?

Consider what the apostle John wrote: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

So what are the things that people in this world look up to or consider valuable? The number one thing is probably money. But what does the Bible say about the love of money? “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

Think also about some of the people today that are highly esteemed in man’s kingdom: Business owners, lawyers, judges, politicians, bankers and the like.

All of those occupations and more, are meaningless in the kingdom of God because in the age to come, they will cease to exist!

In Daniel 2:44-45 we read: “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

Jesus is the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands—the very stone which the rebellious builders rejected. And he will break into pieces every worldly kingdom that exists, from the gold down to the clay.

But if God has already rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins,(Col. 1:13) then together we have already become a holy nation, to show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9)

The kingdom of God has not been given to rebels who reject the chief Cornerstone, but it is given to the holy nation so that it bears spiritual fruit. (Matt. 21:43)

Consider when the authorities of the time who sought to condemn Paul and Silas (And others who listened to them) for preaching the gospel of Jesus. Some of the Jews were jealous, so they sent some “lewd fellows of the baser sort” to search for Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have turned the world upside down have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house! They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they (The unbelieving Jews) heard this, they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. (From Acts 17:1-9)

The word which has been translated “the baser sort” is the same word used in Hebrew to signify shel goyim, or judges of the Gentiles. These were probably a lowly type of lawyer, what we would call bloodsuckers, or attorneys without principle who defend criminals and bring trifle disputes and litigations among people for personal financial gain.

This is precisely the same way that persecution against the truth and followers of Christ is still carried out. Some wicked man hires a wicked attorney and hauls the minister of Christ into court in front of some wicked judge who knows as little about the minister as he does about the Gospel.The preacher is fined or imprisoned, his hearers may suffer the same fate for listening to that Gospel which has not only made them wise unto salvation, but also made them peaceable and orderly citizens, and which would have had the same effect on the judge, the the attorney, and the mob, had they heard it with the same reverence and respect. This is the case which frequently occurs where the Gospel is preached in its spirit and power.

The description of turning the world upside down, is an excellent description of what the Kingdom of God should look like as compared to the world we live in today. But how many of us have sought help from man’s kingdom rather than seeking God’s kingdom? We seek help from attorneys; from our congress; from our senators; we become active in our political process and become involved in community programs, believing it will change our world for the better.

Sam Shoemaker has written on this subject: “The rise of statism in our time is the natural result of the longing of godless, unchurched people for some kind of protection. When we lose to God we turn to what looks like the next most powerful thing, which is the state. How bad a choice that is, let Germany and Russia in recent years testify.”

Matthew 6:33 tells us to “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” AND THEN, “all these other things will be added to you.” But most Christians today have it backwards. They want “all these things” first, AND THEN they will seek the kingdom of God.

John the Baptist preached, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”  But is it now not at hand? Is not the King seated on His holy throne? Is not this why we plead with men and women to be reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of His Son?

Yet despite the obvious benefits, mankind still refuses to change and fights vigorously against the Kingdom of God. The primary reason why the world is the way it is today is because the Bible clearly shows us that Satan rules this world. (See John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11) So it should be no surprise to us that the world is becoming more and more wicked and depraved. For if Satan is ruler of this world, he will also make sure to place his followers in key positions in high places of governments. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

We do not see the world being turned upside down today because too many Christians are still in love with the world and its system. That is why the apostle Paul, quoting the prophet Isaiah said, “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. Therefore, Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

If only Christians would stop and reflect on these things, many deceptions about culture, race and class would be cast down by the knowledge of God.

In his upcoming book, “The Unknown Kingdom of God” https://universityofhardknocks.academia.edu/TimPrice my friend Tim Price writes: “We need to dig deeper and listen to God! We need to discern truth from error! We need to see that comfort, belonging and cultural acceptance are not items that Christ ever sought or promised those who follow him! We need to go back to the Bible and see God’s purposes that are planned in scripture but have become obscured because we have raised other points to such a pitch that God’s intent is drowned out! The love of theology and systems of thought have blinded us to God’s purposes! Reformers of the 17th century were mostly correct when they espoused sola scriptura [scripture only]! They should have paid attention to their own admonition and completed the work that God called them to do instead of investing in their own voluminous interpretations of scripture, and maintaining the institution calling itself “church” as a cog of the systems of the unbelieving world around them instead of the alternative God purposed: the kingdom of God.“

My intent is not to judge or diminish what you may understand of Scripture. My prayer is that this will encourage you to keep seeking God and His kingdom and add to your own knowledge so that together we may once again turn the world upside down for Christ!

I want you here with Me

But you’ve been keeping other company

You can’t sit still, it’s plain to see

You love the world and you’re avoiding Me

Keith Green (October 21, 1953 – July 28, 1982)

 

 

“Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear, but your sins have separated you from your God and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59: 1-2)

There are many Christians today that excuse their sin by claiming that because we are human, we do not have the capacity to stop sinning. Isn’t that the reason that Jesus died and was resurrected? “We are no longer under Law but under grace.” they say. There are some in AA circles who have even referred to sin as “character flaws” or “allergies”. But it is the power of Jesus in us that REMOVES our character flaws! And even when one has an allergy to something, they CHOOSE to partake of it or refuse it. It’s not that it is impossible for us to NOT sin, it’s that we CHOOSE to sin.

But to have victory over sin will involve a total daily surrender of Self, (Our own desires, will, and selfish nature) to God. Surrender to God simply means acknowledging to Him that all things you desire; personal as well as spiritual, good as well as bad, by His grace and by the power of His spirit, you agree to give up in order that He might be glorified. You also have to acknowledge that in your flesh, (that is, in your own strength) this is impossible to accomplish.

Self is an impossible force to deal with on our own. It is the foundation of all sin and all the problems that have plagued societies and civilizations since the fall of man. Everything from lust, to murder, to war are all sins derived from Self. Wars are being waged simply because someone has something that the other wants and cannot have. Neither side will compromise, so they go to war. (James 4:5-6)

Sam Shoemaker, (December 27, 1893 – October 31, 1963) is considered one of the best preachers of his era, whose sermons were syndicated for distribution by tape and radio networks for decades, Shoemaker served as the rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York City, the United States headquarters of the Oxford Group during the 1930s, and was a significant influence for the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. http://aa-history.com/samshoemaker.html Shoemaker wrote over thirty books, about half of which were circulating before A A’s 12 Steps were first published in the Big Book in 1939.

A year after his death, Shoemaker’s daughter, Helen Shoemaker-Rea, compiled a collection of Shoemaker’s writings for the book, “Sam Shoemaker-at his best EXTRAORDINARY LIVING FOR THE ORDINARY MAN”. They first appeared in, Faith At Work Magazine, New York, N.Y.

The following are excerpts from the chapter called, “Victory Over Self” of that book:

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“We are at war today as surely as we were in the ‘40s and are in the midst of making the same mistakes again… We fight with force against the enemy without because we have not learned to fight with faith against the enemy within. The real war is within. What we need today, more than anything else, more than victory in the war against aggression, are weapons, manpower, and strategy to win the war against selfishness. We need, and must have, victory over ourselves, before any outward victory will mean anything more than a temporary cessation of human conflict….”

“Let us face at the outset how many Christians are not victorious, but defeated. Defeated by circumstances, defeated by other peoples’ natures and wrong-doings, defeated by the down-drag of the flesh, defeated by loss, by pain, by suffering, by worry. Instead of saying with confidence, “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” they have to say in honesty, “This is the defeat that has been caused by the world, even our self-centeredness.” That is the opposite of faith. Unbelief is not the opposite of faith; self-centeredness is—being centered in self rather than in God.”

“Victory over sin. This victory begins in the life and death of our Lord himself—in his life, because “he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin”—in his death, because there he took upon himself the sin of the world, suffered in our stead, made redemption possible for us. We need to be redeemed from sin first, to have salvation put in its place by our Savior. Then we need to claim his power over our sins, one by one. Most of us fight a dreary battle for character, or else give it up entirely, and just give in to the desires that assail us—desires to coddle and indulge the body, to please and amuse the mind, to fritter away the life with trivial pursuits, to win out over somebody else, to “get ours.” The way to deal with sin is not to try to hate sin more, but to love Christ more.”

“All the victory of which we have been speaking is a derived victory. We can win the victory only because Christ won it long ago. We participate in his victory by faith.Faith is like a wire, along which he sends the power, the love, the guidance, that enable us to share in his victory. Faith is not just a belief of the mind; faith is the set of the whole personality God-ward. It doesn’t begin with beliefs, but obedience.”

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If only people could realize that by surrendering Self to God and living by principles taught through the Holy Scriptures wars would cease, crime rates would go down and divorce would be all but non-existent. But as long as people refuse to surrender Self to God, all of these things will continue to plague the world and will increase in its intensity over time. That’s why we must rely on God to give us the grace we need that will allow us to surrender Self to Him. God promises in his Word that if we’re honest, admit that we’re powerless in our own nature to surrender, and humble ourselves before him, he’ll give us the grace we need to do it.

There are some who will still be convinced that it is impossible for one not to sin. But listen to what God says:

“For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.“ (Deuteronomy 30:11-14) [Emphasis mine]

The apostle John wrote in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (Burdensome)

But it is only by God’s grace that we can accomplish this. To some surrendering Self to God will become as easy as shedding a winter coat in Spring, while others will struggle daily to accomplish it.

The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 how he struggled with what he calls his “thorn in the flesh”. Some have suggested that Paul struggled with some physical malady, while others are convinced that it was spiritual in nature. We may never know until the resurrection what it was, but we do know that God gave Paul the grace to endure it.

Grace is not a replacement or an excuse for sin. Paul himself said, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)

Before becoming Navy SEALs, candidates are put through some of the most mentally challenging and physically demanding training in the world, commonly referred to as “hell week.” Very few candidates successfully complete the training. I recall hearing a story about the last day of training. Just after completing a rigorous exercise, the instructor told the candidates to complete another 1000-yard swim with fins in 20 minutes or under. Two of the candidates staggered over and rang the bell, signifying that they could not physically complete the task. The remainder of the candidates immediately received their SEAL Trident, designating them as Navy SEALs. You see, the instructor wanted to see who was WILLING to go the extra mile.

We too, need to be willing to do what it takes to have victory over sin. So with the help of God’s grace, we must decide to die to self and follow Christ no matter what.

“Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do his will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.” (Isaiah 50:7)