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In this crazy culture that preaches the value of high self-esteem, the Bible teaches that men ought NOT to let their own pride lift them up. We live in a time when hard work is disdained in favor of “the world owes me a living” attitude. Parents are told to develop more self-esteem in their children and end up with “me-first” brats who are selfish and uncaring. Pride goeth before destruction. Self-respect is good, it it is based on a biblical view. But the self-esteem movement is destructive, because it tends to develop the attitude that we can be disobedient to the Lord, step on others to gain what is best for us, and still have the favor of God. Not good. Look where we have arrived in society today.

Rom 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

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Another point in my rolling devotional is about how God is looking for a crop in the field that the Bible calls the local church. If you are interested in the previous posts that spell out what all this fruit is in real life, just scroll down my blog. This one is ….

6. souls won to Christ (Rom. 1:13-16).

Romans 1:13-16 “Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost—the souls of men! The Great Commission to the church is to take the gospel message to every person in every corner of the earth. That means a church, and its individual members, should be praying, giving, sending missionaries, and witnessing so that the gospel is offered to everyone. Soul winning is not for just a few who have the gift of gab, but it is the job of every born again believer. Jesus has chosen all of us as His disciples to do it whether we are glad, sad, or mad about it. We must bring forth this fruit that Jesus spilled His precious blood to purchase. It is not our business to see that people get saved—that is the job of the Holy Spirit, but it IS our business to tell them what Jesus did to make salvation possible for them. When we tell the story and invite them to receive the Lord, people can come to Christ as a result and become a joyous harvest for the Lord in the local church! Stick some gospel tracts in your pocket and see if you can find someone to tell

John 15:16 “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

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I posted a devotion that set forth the premise that God sees His church as a field from which He expects a crop. Every local church is made up of individual believers who together ought to become a harvest of fruit for the Lord’s benefit. Throughout the day several follow up posts were made to demonstrate from the Word what fruit God desires in His church. I pick up there with the fifth kind of fruit that the Lord cultivates in us for a harvest in this life.

5. praise to the Lord (Heb. 13:15),

Heb 13:15 “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

Some Christians who are reserved, shy, or reluctant, simply deny the Lord what is rightfully His when they refuse to praise His name out loud. It is not good enough to say we just have praise in our hearts because the Bible says it’s to be the fruit of the “lips.” This does not mean an insincere shout, a copy cat reaction to what others may be repeating, a show-off demonstration, or obnoxious speech to those who are trying to retreat from us. But it means that we ought to be willing to give the Lord thanks, adoration, praise, and glory both to Him in prayer and in public settings.

The heart-felt “amen” during a sermon that touches the heart would be an example. A humble “praise the Lord” in response to some compliment or acknowledgment of our efforts to serve Him is another. Giving a public testimony about one’s salvation or giving of thanks for an answered prayer would be yet other ways to give this fruit of the lips to the Owner of the field. Praying at the table before a meal, even in a public setting, is giving the Lord the fruit of our lips before that food which He provided passes through our lips.

What about opening up a hymn book during the song service at church and letting your voice lift heavenward in joyous praise to the sweet Lord Jesus? It is such a sad thing for a pastor or song leader to look out at the tight-lipped ones who refuse to sing praises in the church service that is supposed to be for worship. Some make the excuse that they just can’t sing well, or that they are shy, or that they don’t know the songs well, or…a dozen other pitiful excuses that deny the precious Lord the fruit of our lips.

Well, a great number of other examples of the fruit of the lips, but I think we can see that if we have anything to be thankful for, it should, at the appropriate time and place, find an outlet through our voice. It’s the Lord’s church, His field, and even our bodies belong to Him for we are purchased with His blood. Let us praise His wonderful name without fear or shame. May we do it with the glow of Heaven on our face!

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Fourth point on my original post about God’s desire to have fruit from His field (the local church).

4. good works (Col. 1:10),

Col 1:10 “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

As a pastor, I am in the rootin’ section, cheering for those dear church members who are always looking for some way to do good for someone else. They are like a fruitful vine with clusters of plenty to offer to Lord by sacrificially supplying for His other workers needs.

(To see the other points in this rolling devotion, just scroll down thru them all.)

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Third point in the continuing posts today about the fruit God expects to see growing in His field, the local church—

This one is offensive to worldly, carnal Christians, yet God says it’s fruit that He likes and we ought to like what He likes

3. giving,

2Co 9:6 “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. 7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: 9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. 10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)”

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My earlier post was about how God is looking for a crop in his field which is the local church. This post will add one more and the future posts will keep expanding the identification of the fruit the Lord’s field.

God wants to see increase in His field.

He wants each local church to produce FRUIT:

1. the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23)
Ga 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

2. holiness (Rom. 6:22),
Rom 6:22 “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.”

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Jesus considers his church to be a field which is to bring forth a crop—fruit—and its members collectively and individually should be evidence that the fruit is producing well. Paul expressed this concept and expectation to the Corinthian church—1 Corinthians 3:5-7 “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”

Now just what kind of fruit does God expect from his local church? I will post of the verses that show just what the Lord wants growing in His field. The first one comes this morning and the others will be posted from time to time today and tomorrow. And remember, the church is made up individuals like you and me who may or may not be contributing fruitfulness to the assembly. Here’s number one in this series:

1. God wants to see the fruit of the Spirit in my life and in the church (Gal. 5:22-23)
“22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

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Do a word search in Scripture for “twitter,” and you’ll find nothing. Make it even broader to include “social media,” and you’ll get the same results.

Yet every mature Christian understands that God’s Word has much to say regarding social media. It is our responsibility to examine God’s Word and apply its timeless truths to the present reality of our daily lives. For Christians in the twenty-first century, these realities include social networking.

Early on when I began using Twitter, I listed biblical principles that I saw applied to the social media phenomenon. Later that year, I wrote a booklet, Blessings and Pitfalls of Social Media.

Reviewing this list of principles years later, I see it as just as applicable as it was when social media was relatively new—or at least newer.

Perhaps reviewing these principles in light of your social networking would be a blessing to you as it was to me. I’ve split this list into two sections:

  • Potential Blessings of Social Networking
  • Potential Pitfalls of Social Networking

Potential Blessings of Social Networking

1. Witness for Christ—When I began my blog and later my Twitter account, I vowed to the Lord that I would regularly include gospel-related truth and that Christ would be the focal point.

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.—Mark 16:15

2. Teach biblical principles—The internet has opened tremendous potential for affordably and effectively sharing biblical truths.

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.—2 Timothy 2:2

3. Encourage others—One of the greatest gifts we can give is a word of encouragement. Social media can be an instant medium through which to do this.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.—Proverbs 25:11

4. Communicate with friends and co-laborers—The Lord has allowed me to meet thousands of pastors and Christian workers around the globe with whom I can stay in contact because of modern technology.

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.—Proverbs 16:24

5. Stay connected with relatives around the world—One hundred years ago, missionaries would often wait six months between communications with family. Today we can stay in touch instantly.

As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.—Proverbs 25:25

6. Receive prayer updates—Being able to see and send prayer requests via Twitter is a blessing to me. It allows for instant backing in prayer during a time of need or special ministry opportunity.

Brethren, pray for us.—1 Thessalonians 5:25

7. Learn how God is blessing—I love reading updates from friends in ministry of God’s blessings. Social networking provides added opportunities to rejoice with those who rejoice.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice…—Romans 12:15

8. Uplift a biblical use of technology—When godly Christians actively apply biblical principles of communication to social networking, their examples teach young people and new Christians that God’s Word is timeless and applicable.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.—Ephesians 4:29

9. Strengthen godly relationships—Social networking will never be a replacement for face-to-face relationships, but it does strengthen existing relationships and can provide a greater sense of connectedness.

Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.—Proverbs 27:17

10. Exert godly influence—Social networking provides a free platform from which to exert a godly influence. It provides another context in which we can be a voice for biblical truth.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.—Mark 1:3

Potential Pitfalls of Social Networking

1. Bragging and focusing on self— People who are heavily involved in social networking are often preoccupied with what they are going to say about themselves online.

…be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.—1 Peter 5:5

2. Creation of a false identity—The Internet provides ample opportunity to pretend to be someone you’re not. It allows you to dabble in fantasy and disconnect from reality. Guard your heart, and find your identity in Jesus.

But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:—1 Corinthians 1:30

3. Time wasting and distraction—Time spent on social networking can be a terrible distraction from essential relationships and responsibilities.

Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.—Ephesians 5:16

4. Communication interruptions—Do your family or friends fear that your time together will be continually interrupted by your smart phone notifications? Give your best and greatest attention to the relationships God has given you as responsibilities.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;—Romans 12:10

5. Materialsm—It’s easy to focus on name brands and personal experiences and elevate materialism over stewardship.

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.—Hebrews 13:5

6. Lack of Christ-centered discussion—The dynamic of hiding behind a computer screen or a screen name can make a person feel comfortable saying things he would otherwise never say. Scripture instructs us that in all things Christ should have the preeminence. All things include web things!

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.—Colossians 1:18

7. The public nature of posts—Before you post something, ask yourself, “Will I wish someday I could retract this comment? Will I be embarrassed if another audience reads this?”

He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.—Proverbs 13:3

8. Gossip—Gossip and slander are just as damaging and sinful in social networking as they are on the telephone or in face-to-face conversations—if not more so!

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.—Proverbs 18:21

9. Potential for improper relationships—In many cases, social networking has pulled down the walls of safety and accountability, leaving singles and spouses alike vulnerable to improper male/female relationships. Make it your goal that your communication would clearly reflect the purity of Christ.

Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.—1 Timothy 3:9

10. Danger of sexual predators—The dangers of pedophiles tracking and taking advantage of young people is magnified through social networking. Parents absolutely must remain 100 percent involved in their children’s online activity.

…I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.—Romans 16:19

11. Associations with the wrong crowd—I wonder if some tweeters would want to be listed as a “follower” of the people they are currently following. Biblical principles concerning those who influence us are as relevant today as they were before the advent of social media.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.—Psalm 1:1

12. Online philosophy becomes reality—Young men play computer games such as Grand Theft Auto, and the results are the increase of violence in our society. Adults who follow wrong influences on the Internet will find Internet associations to be just as influential in their lives

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.—Proverbs 23:7

13. Becoming a stumbling block—This pitfall is the ripple effect of the previous ones. For if you fall into one of the previous pitfalls, the impact will surge through your life to those you influence. Be careful to avoid any activity that would cause others to stumble.

Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.—1 Corinthians 8:13

Neither the blessings nor the pitfalls listed here are new or unique to social networking; Christians have been cautiously steering clear of them in other areas of communication for centuries. They simply represent the same game on a new playing field.

But like any other area of communication, the minefield of social networking must be tackled intelligently to survive victoriously. We must wisely identify the dangers and choose to avoid them.

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If you are like me, you wake up one day and you’re thirty-five with five children, and you realize, “I am not young anymore.” I feel young. I may even look young. But I am not considered young anymore—at least not by the next generation. Can you remember when you were a teen or young adult? Someone in their mid-thirties was ancient. But here I am. I was speaking to a group of students recently and they used the term “old.” Ouch! I’ve got gray hair. How can I argue?

The Old-timers

My teen years were spent growing up in a rural community in North-Central Arkansas. A small town with traditional, American values. One of those values was listening to the “old-timers” as they called them. They were considered to be full of practical life lessons. Come to find out, they were (if you listened). In this small town there was kind of a right of passage. You earned your place of respect by gaining experience and wisdom. But most of all, you had passed down to you generations of common sense that you would, in turn, pass down.

A New Day

It seems we live in a new era, which is the same as the old. I’ll explain. Experience mixed with a little gray hair now seems to make you irrelevant. Mind you, I am not referring to myself: I don’t have enough experience or gray hair to give me credibility, just enough to make me old in the eyes of teenagers!

Now we use terms like Millennial (the twenty-somethings) as if they are the first generation to “think outside the box.” Every generation feels that they are outsmarting the past generation.

The Same Old Song

Why do we ignore the counsel of the “old men” for the young? Is it because the young men tell us what we want to hear?

And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever. But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him: And he said unto them, What counsel give ye that we may answer this people…?—1 Kings 12:7–9

I have had the privilege to be around some godly elderly men. Their hair is gray (or gone) but their wisdom is abundant. Should I tell them, “How we do things these days,” or listen to their collective experience? Rehoboam failed this lesson, and it cost him big time!

Do we need innovation? Sure. Can we be up with the times? Definitely. But why not stand on the shoulders of those who have already done it. After all, they were young men too, but they grew out of it.

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I was reading through a list of popular New Year’s resolutions. The typical “Quit smoking” and “Get out of debt” were among the most popular, along with “Losing weight” and “Exercising.” I believe there are a few resolutions that Daniel made in his day that could benefit us in the New Year.

Daniel made resolutions worth remembering. It’s easy for us to make a New Year’s resolution and forget about it before February rolls around. But Daniel was resolved to make a difference in his generation and for his generation.

1. Resolve to Restore Character

And the king spake unto Ashpenaz the master of the eunuchs, that he should bring certain of the children of Israel, and of the king’s seed, and of princes; Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.—Daniel 1:3–4

Society today is suffering from a lack of moral integrity. You can’t even turn on the sports channel without hearing about some scandal or type of cheating…in sports! Remember, these young Israelites were more than six hundred miles from home, they could have gotten away with anything and their parents would have never known—but God would have known.

2. Resolve to Resist Culture

And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego.—Daniel 1:5–7

Culture isn’t easy to resist today. With billboards, television commercials, and mainstream music constantly on the attack, resisting culture is easier said than done. Culture wasn’t easy to resist in Daniel’s day either. The Babylonian powers were forcing their gods, their diets, and their names on the Israelites. But Daniel resolved to resist culture.

Peter said, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). If we expect to do anything for God, we will have to resist culture!

3. Resolve to Refuse Conforming

But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.—Daniel 1:8

I imagine it would have been fairly easy to “give in” at this point. No parents, no pastor, no godly influences—conforming to the wicked lifestyle of the Babylonians would have been simple. Swimming against the current only makes you a stronger swimmer.

Paul was an advocate of swimming against culture’s current. He wrote, “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1–2). Will you be conformed or transformed?

What are your goals for this year? I encourage you to follow the example of Daniel as you strive to make a difference this year.