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"Judge not, that you be not judged." Matthew 7:1 This is perhaps one of the most misused Scriptures in the Bible. When a sinner is confronted with his sin or when he is rebuked, most of the time he will answer "don't judge me," and he'll quote that verse. Are we indeed never to judge? Let's look at some other passages on the subject. "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" Galatians 4:16 If telling the truth makes me an enemy, that means there's an unpleasant truth to tell. Sinners want to hear words of love, grace, mercy, anything that will make them feel better, but a lot of the time, truth hurts. If you're my friend I won't lie to you hoping that you won't view me as an enemy when I speak the truth, the hurtful truth. Bear in mind that the hurtful truth has been spoken to me first. The beginning of anyone's walk with the Lord will be all about repentance. When I have been broken in repentance, then I will see clearly, and if you're my friend, I will urge you too to come to repentance. The Lord tells us to EXPOSE the works of darkness. To expose them, I must know them. The world has an entirely different set of values, and among them is lawlessness. What is good they call evil, and what is evil they call good and that aptly describes the world. That leaves the responsibility to believers to point out evil for what it is, and to expose it. That is not hate, as they retort. Speaking of repentance comes from love. I don't want you to go into judgment. I don't want you to miss salvation. I care about you enough to speak truth. "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather EXPOSE them." Ephesians 5:11 Preparation for right judgment has to be from a thorough knowledge of the Word of God, for that is the only authority upon which right judgment is founded. A believer who is not grounded in the Word of God will not be able to judge rightly, for he will judge according to his own set of values and that differs from person to person, so it cannot be the basis of judging. The Word of God is the ONLY rightful authority, so it necessitates that judgment be by the Word of God and by no other. "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; CORRECT, REBUKE, EXHORT with all long suffering and doctrine." 2 Timothy 4:2 In Matthew 3:7, John the Baptist called both the Pharisees and Sadducees “a generation of vipers.” Pretty hard words. And he openly rebuked Herod the king. Obviously he's making a judgment when he says those things. Today, he would be accused of being called a hater, unloving, unkind, with no respect for leaders and most of all un-Christian. Yet Jesus said that of all the prophets, John was the greatest. Brothers and sisters, we are called upon to expose the works of darkness. The world wants to keep believers "meek and mild," and any variation from that they label with all sorts of sarcastic names. You will not be loved for exposing sin. John was thrown into prison and murdered. Jesus Christ, the author of righteous judgment was crucified. Yes, there will be a penalty for speaking up, but that must not make you cower into the "meek and mild" pansy that the world insists you be. That is NOT Christianity. The world demands that believers "love," but they falsely define love. Very falsely indeed. "Love," to them, is tolerating their sin and backing off from judgment. That is the voice of the world. Reject it. And when you are rejected, brush the dust off your shoes and walk away. One of the retorts of the sinner against the believer is to point out wherever he or she sins, thus making their own sin no worse than yours in their eyes. A believer does not live in sin. The very beginning of the believer's life in the Lord is all about repentance and the believer lives a life of daily repentance. He will fall, all do, but his heart is set on continuous repentance as the Holy Spirit sheds light on the hidden things of darkness. "Abstain from all appearance of evil." 1 Thessalonians 5:22 It's a life-long process as more and more light is shed. Any believer who is not walking in repentance had better not be in the position of exposing the sins of others. In fact, any believer who is not walking in repentance is highly suspect as not being a believer at all. Repentance has to be the foundation of the believer's life. Only then can he expose the works of darkness to the world. Above all, the believer must abstain from all appearance of evil. He must remember always that he represents Christ to an evil world, and if he is walking in obvious sin then he defiles the image of Christ that he bears before the world. Believers are commanded to judge and expose evil. Just remember that we are to maintain a life of repentance ourselves.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Romans 1:16 Some keep quiet about their faith because speaking about Jesus is not "politically correct." They fear what people will think of them if they say anything about him or about their faith in him. Jesus Christ died for you publicly. He was stripped of his clothes and hung on a cross beaten and bloodied, publicly. For you. How can you be afraid to speak of him? "Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven." Matthew 10:32-33 Yes, there is a cost. Most of the people you know will not want to hear it. And some, even among your relatives and friends, will reject you because of it. The Gospel is not a Gospel of cheap grace, it is costly. The heart truly dedicated to Christ will be willing to endure whatever he must for him. After being beaten and thrown into prison, Paul and Silas were heard singing praises to God at midnight. Oh the depth of understanding that enabled them to do that! “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed." Acts 16:25-26 What did they know that many of us don't “get?” Paul had been given a glimpse of heaven, and after that no one could shut him up. Even in a dark, dank prison, he was singing praises to God. His glimpse of heaven propelled him to heartfelt praise no matter what his circumstances. Think back on the times when God intervened in your life in an obvious way, and don't forget the wonderful things he has done in your life. Appreciate them. Do not let the opinions of others cause you to deny him before men by being silent about him. You will be spending eternity with him, not with the ones who have rejected you on earth. Set your eyes on HIM. Jesus Christ has forewarned us that the world will reject us. That's something we must simply accept, and decide to follow him no matter what. "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Matthew 10:34-37 The call is to total surrender, no matter the cost. This is not a light thing - we're talking about the King of the universe, the Lord who created all that is, who calls men and women into a relationship with himself, knowing that hell will do everything in its power to prevent them. For those who are willing - no matter what -- there is this promise: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 Yes, there is a cost - but it's not even worthy to be compared to the glory to come. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time ARE NOT WORTHY TO BE COMPARED with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18 Is it worth it? Oh yes, a thousand times yes! We are investing this short life for the glories of eternity.

"Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron and said to him 'Come make us gods that shall go before us, for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.'” Exodus 32:1 This passage brings to mind a similar passage from the New Testament: "...knowing this first, that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of his coming...? '" 2 Peter 3:3-4 After Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt where they had been enslaved, God called him up to Mount Sinai. Moses stayed quite awhile on the mountain because God was giving him in-depth instructions concerning the covenant he was making with Israel. But ...the children of Israel waited a long time, a very long time, and then they got fed up with waiting. They waited some more, but no sign of Moses. Finally, they concluded that they had no idea what became of Moses and decided to forget about him and go about their lives their own way. They asked Aaron to make gods of gold for them which they would follow. Many believers have lived a very long time waiting for the Lord to come back. For many, it's been years. Especially when the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) arrives, the people have stretched their necks hoping to see some sign of his coming, but the date goes by and they're disappointed again. For many, myself included, this picture has been repeated over and over and over again, as we've waiting for the Lord to come back. How does scoffing begin, what causes it? The long wait. The long wait brings many to become scoffers. When the hope has been aroused to fever pitch and then nothing happens, many get tired of this and quit. Each time this disappointment happens, more and more fall away from the "blessed hope." It's easy to do. When I read the Bible, I try to put myself in the shoes of the persons in the story I'm reading. I try to get into what they must have been feeling. Today I stood with the people who were waiting for Moses who brought them out into the wilderness and then disappeared up a mountain. Now let's set the story right: These are people who had witnessed first hand the mighty deeds done to the people of Egypt under Moses when he turned the water into blood, brought an overwhelming storm of frogs and lice and flies, locusts and darkness to cover the land and the death of every firstborn of Egypt. These are the people who saw him part the Red Sea as the Egyptians followed hard after them as they escaped, and they saw the Sea part so they could walk across on DRY land, only to see the waters go back upon the Egyptians, drowning them all. In short, these are people who saw miracles, one after another after another. But the passage of time became a problem. They'd been sitting now in the desert for quite awhile waiting for Moses to return, but time went by and no Moses. Finally, they gave up on him and turned to follow their own lusts. An image of gold became the god they would follow. Not only that, but they even offered sacrifices and peace offerings to this image of gold. In other words, they continued doing religious things. They occupied themselves with following their lusts and justified themselves by doing religious things. vs 32:5-6 "And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.’ Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." What a picture of today. Back when I came to the Lord the subject of his return was being taught everywhere. There was a hype, an excited expectancy, a joyful watching. And it WAS joyful. What could be more joyful than the Bible's prophecy that the dead would be raised out of their graves and that we would be snatched up with them in the clouds to meet our Lord Jesus Christ in the air and be taken to heaven to be with him? (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Every Bible study, every Sunday sermon, was set in this joyful anticipation. But the Lord was gone too long. He had ascended up the mountain, he had ascended to heaven promising to return for us, and we waited, and waited and waited vain. YEARS. Until today, hardly a church, hardly a Bible study, hardly anyone even mentions it anymore ...because too much time has gone by and the fever pitch has died down in great disappointment. There have been signs in the heavens so incredibly and accurately portraying the Rapture that the hope of believers was again awakened and the fever pitch renewed ...until the expected time came and went. And now many of those who believed have let go of that hope and have actually become scoffers. The disappointment in the face of something that seemed so sure ...was too much for many. He's been up in the mountain too long. Many believers have let go of the blessed hope and become the very scoffers the Bible warns about. The point is that all faith will be tested. Many fail. When Moses finally did come - what did he find? He found that the "believers" had turned away from him. They had turned their attention to their lusts and had built this gold image to put their trust in. Moses was so angry that he threw the tablets of the ten commandments and broke them in his wrath. vs 19-20: "So it was, as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it." Waiting can be the demise of many a person when that which is expected seems delayed. The willingness to wait is one of the most difficult things in one's walk with the Lord. Abraham waited many years before Isaac, the son of promise was born. During that time of waiting he got so discouraged that he actually thought to help God by bringing a son into the world through his wife's handmaid - and we are suffering the consequences of that to this day. God's ways are as far above ours as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:9) and to God, our willingness to let go of our human desire and wait as long as it takes - is one of the most valuable virtues in the Christian walk. It's hard. It can be VERY hard. But that's what separates the seasoned believer who has been tried and proved from the carnal believer who only wants what he can get from God. Brothers and sisters, Jesus is coming for us. We had hoped he would have been here by now, but in his wisdom he has seemed to delay his coming. Let us not lose hope and turn away from him to living for our lusts and going our own ways. Let not the wait turn us into scoffers. “For yet a little while, and he who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:37-38

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