Monday, September 24, 2018

"Drifting from Grace" September 24 Readings: Galatians 1-2

Today's Reading - Galatians 1-2


Figuring out when Paul wrote his other epistles is generally easier than setting a date for Galatians, which has been much debated. The issues have to do with the identity of the Galatians and are likely not of interest to many of our readers - a basic Bible dictionary or encyclopedia would explain those issues for those who wish to go deeper. It seems best to identify the Galatians with the churches Paul visited on his first missionary journey and to place the book sometimes in about 49 AD, as he was headed back toward Jerusalem. During that journey, many Gentiles came to Christ and a great controversy was born as well. Did Gentiles need to be circumcised and observe Jewish law? In other words, does a Gentile have to become a Jew to be a Christian? Is the Jewish culture and heritage of the early church and the early Christians an essential part of the gospel or an impediment to the spread of the gospel to the nations? The backlash against Paul's ministry by those who demanded that Christianity not abandon its Jewish heritage was harsh, leading to sharp conflict and eventually to the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. But in Galatians, Paul gave a direct and uncompromising answer to those sometimes called Judaizers. NO!

Jesus came to save sinners by grace and not by the law. It is not just a minor disagreement to require the keeping of the law as a requirement of salvation, it is "another gospel." Paul uses the harshest terms for these people - calling them accursed and wishing they would be castrated! There was no middle ground for him. Either salvation was of grace or it was of the works of the law and these could not be combined.

Outline of Galatians

1:1-10 Introduction - standard to Paul's writings
1:11-2:21 Defending the gospel of grace - a harsh defense of Paul's gospel, which he says he received from the Lord, and which he warns against departing from.
3:1-5:12  Explaining the gospel of grace - "The righteous live by faith"
5:13-6:10 Life in the Spirit - The life that results from salvation by grace is life in the Spirit.
6:11-18 Conclusion - written in Paul's own hand so that they would know that this harsh, stern letter was from him and that they would heed its warnings!

Devotional - Drifting from Grace

Henry Blackaby said that all human beings, even those who have been redeemed, have a natural tendency to depart from God. We are held by God's grace and our salvation is secure in Christ, but we have that inborn tendency to drift from our walk with the Lord back into the ways of the world and into sin.

Paul recognized a similar problem among the Galatians - a tendency to drift away from the gospel of grace and return to some form of works-based, law-focused salvation.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7
There is only one gospel that saves, Paul assured them, but they were still turning aside from the grace of Christ to a false gospel, one based on human works, one that could never save.

Deep inside of each of us is the idea that we ought to do something to earn the favor of God, that we need to change to please him, do something to make him love us more, or perform some heroic act to be worthy of God's grace.

But that is why we call it grace. You can't earn it and you will never deserve it. Nothing you can do will make God love you more and your sins do not make him love you less. That is not an excuse for sin, but a great comfort. It is by grace we are saved and it is by grace that we live.

Listen, my friend, your relationship with God is based on who Christ is and what he has done, not on who you are or your merit. You need to always resist that inner voice that says you've got to earn God's love. You ought to walk in holiness because God loves you, not so that he will love you. You need to fight that inner voice that says God must not love you anymore when you have failed. You resist sin out of gratitude for God's unmerited favor not out of a desire to earn it.

Like the Galatians, we have a constant tendency to slip away from grace and fall back into a works-based mentality. Since our salvation and our lives are all of grace, we must fight that tendency every day.
Father, I thank you that you have done for me what I could not do for myself. Help me to revel in your grace and never fall back into the works of the law. 

Think and Pray

Do you tend to depart from grace and live according to works of the law, trusting in yourself rather than in Christ?
Do you often forget that your "hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness?"
In prayer, thank God for your standing in Christ's grace and renounce the flesh!

Also remember that our standing in Christ is not an excuse for spiritual sloth or careless Christian living, but a motivation for holiness. 

Sunday, September 23, 2018

"Greatest Church Ever!" September 23 Readings: Acts 13-14

Today's Reading - Acts 13-14


Acts 13-14 records Paul's first missionary journey. It is a true turning point in the life of the church. It begins in Antioch in a worship service when the Spirit called Barnabas and Saul to go out as missionaries. They did, traveling to the Galatian region.

A funny thing happened there. The process which began with Cornelius came to full fruition. Chased out of the synagogues and rejected there, they found a hearing among the Gentiles and many came to Christ. This brought to a head the growing problem in the church back in Jerusalem that was the key issue throughout Acts - just how Jewish was the church going to be?

The Council of Acts 15 would settle the issue, or at least, give a template for settling it, but Paul first answered his critics with guns blazing in a strongly worded book which we shall begin reading tomorrow, Galatians.

Several significant things happen here, among them is John Mark's cowardice, when he abandons the group and goes home. It leads to the split between Paul and Barnabas later in Acts 15, a sad moment. But in this journey we see Saul, eventually Paul, growing stronger as he ministers even through suffering to become the man God wants him to be.

Paul did not let opposition and suffering stop him from obeying God and proclaiming truth.

Devotional - The Greatest Church Ever!

It is an inherently silly question, I suppose, but I will ask it anyway. What is the greatest church in the book of Acts? The best ever? Of course, the Jerusalem church saw the day of Pentecost and it remained faithful to God in spite of suffering and persecution. They had great fellowship and Spirit-empowered generosity. It was a great church in so many ways.

But there is another church that would deserve consideration in this debate. After the persecution under Saul of Tarsus dispersed Christians, a church formed in Antioch that had some qualities that were worth emulation.

First of all, it was a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic church. The Jerusalem church was pretty much entirely Jewish, but when you look at the list of leaders in Acts 13:1, you see racial, ethnic and geographic diversity.

This diverse makeup led to their most important quality. They got hold of God's heart for the world. One day, while they were worshiping God together, the Spirit spoke to them and told them to send Barnabas and Saul on the first missionary journey. While the Jerusalem church was a great one in every way, there never seemed to be an urgency to extend the church outside of its Jewish or Israelite roots. But Antioch was the first missionary society!

The Great Commission did not tell us to seek to reach just our own people but to go into all the world. Perhaps, in their struggle and suffering (or possibly because the time was just not right), the Jerusalem church never really bought into that. In fact, some resisted when the gospel extended to the Samaritans first and later to the Gentiles. But Antioch realized the heart of God. The promise of Acts 1:8 was that the Spirit's power would bring the church not only to Jerusalem (which they did very well) and to Judea and Samaria (the ancient nation of Israel). It was Antioch through which that last part of the promise came to pass.

Too often today, we miss the Antioch heart - the desire to fellowship with those who are not like us and to carry the gospel to the world. We get comfortable with our kind of people - people who we like and who are like us. Yes, our neighbors need to be reached. Absolutely. But it can never stop there. God loves people whose skin color is different from ours, who dress different, whose culture and heritage is different, whose standard of living is different. God loves people who speak different languages, hail from different countries and are loyal to different governments.

There is much about the church at Jerusalem that we ought to emulate. But the worldwide heart of the Antioch church is something we ought to passionately imitate as well.
Father, give me as a pastor and us as a church the passion in your heart to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world; not only to those who are like us but also to those who are different in every way. 

Think and Pray

Do you allow opposition and hardship to stop you from doing what God has called you to do?
Do you have the Antioch heart, a heart for world missions and for all people, not just your own? 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

"Jealous God" September 22 Readings: James 4-5

Today's Reading - James 4-5


James did not get the memo that "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," nor did he understand that those who proclaimed God's word were to be unfailingly positive and encouraging. In James 4 he blistered his hearers for their spiritual adultery and their friendship with the world. As they got away from Jerusalem and from the center of worship they tended to adjust to the ways of the world and adopt the practices of the peoples with whom they lived.

Two other key teachings are found in chapter 4. James begins the chapter with a teaching on prayer and he ends it with an exhortation toward humility about the future.

James 5 concludes with a series of teachings that may go against some of our commonly held ideas. Verses 1-6 are a harsh condemnation of riches, one that strikes hard at a wealthy nation such as ours. He is condemning riches gained by oppression and we are reminded that the love of money is at the root of all kinds of evil.

He reiterates his teaching on the blessing of suffering from chapter 1, then teaches on the power of prayer and finishes with an admonition to restore those who struggle and fall.  

Devotional - A Jealous God

On August 27, 1978, I stood in front of a preacher (who doubled as my father) and made promises to God and to the woman standing next to me. I promised to stick with her for better and worse, richer and poorer, in sickness and in health. But along with those positive promises I also made a negative commitment.

"Forsaking all others."

Marrying one woman meant that I had to give up all the others. Saying yes to Jenni meant saying no to every other woman in the world. A positive commitment to one woman implies a negative commitment to all others.

We sometimes forget that as the "Bride of Christ" a similar commitment is required of all of us. We are to declare our love and commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He is to be the primary passion of our lives. What we sometimes forget is that our positive commitment to Christ also requires a negative commitment to all others.

James spells this out in chapter 4, verses 4-5.
Don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit who lives in us yearns jealously?
Verse 4 starts with a harsh accusation, "Adulteresses!" The Bride of Christ is cheating on the Savior, refusing to be faithful to its marriage vows. Then, verse 4 identifies the other man, the one with whom the church was committing adultery. They were engaged in a "friendship with the world" and friendship with the world is by definition hostility toward God. When you cheat on the Savior with this world - its pleasures and passions - it makes us enemies of God. In verse 5 we see that it even arouses jealousy.

There is an old saw, "we are in this world but not of this world." It is true, but it is also the greatest challenge ever. We are not called to live as hermits, to separate completely from this world. We live our lives here and are even allowed to enjoy that life. But we are never to love this world or the things in the world. Our hearts must belong to God as a husbands' must belong solely to his wife.

We must seek that balance every day as we live in this wicked world. We live, love, eat, drink, work and play in this world, but our heart must belong to Christ. He must be the one we love, the one we seek to please, and the one whose interests we serve. We must be loyal to Christ above all.

Forsaking all others, I must keep me only unto him, so long as I shall live!
Father, help me to be faithful, to keep my heart set on Christ above all things. 

Think and Pray

If you gave your husband or wife the same level of fidelity that you give to Christ, what would be the state of your marriage?
Do you struggle with being too much a friend of the world, forgetting that we must love Christ and not this sinful world?
When James says that God's Spirit is jealous, what does that mean? 

Friday, September 21, 2018

"Satan's Greatest Servant" September 21 Readings: James 3

Today's Reading - James 3


James 3 deals with two topics. First, James transitions from a warning about the high responsibility of teachers to a discussion of the power of the tongue. He then reflects on the wisdom of God and contrasts the wisdom from above and the wisdom that is from below.

Devotional - Satan's Greatest Servant

When I look back on my 5 decades of Christianity, I would surmise that the highest percentage of my sins have been sins of the tongue. I avoided most of the "big" sins that sidetrack so many in their earlier years, and I would have to confess to more that a few sins of the mind - lust, anger, pride and such. But when I've gotten into trouble it's usually been my big fat mouth that started it all. I guess that ought not to be a huge surprise. My life, my work, my ministry - it's all about words, whether written or spoken. I preach. I counsel. I discuss. I strategize.

And all too often I sin. Angry words. Gossip. Backbiting. Inappropriate jokes. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks, Jesus said, and my mouth has too often reflected the sin in my heart.

That is not unusual, though. According to James 3, the hardest part of the body to control is the tongue. Verse 2 spells it out.
For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a mature man who is also able to control his whole body.
One of the best signs of Christian maturity is when our mouths come under the control of the indwelling Spirit and we no longer say every foolish thing our hearts devise. There are many wonderful truths found in the next few verses. Permit me just to spell some of them out. 
  • Like a bit in a horse's mouth or a ship's rudder, the tongue, though small, has a huge effect on our lives, for good or ill.  The tongue steers the life. 3-4
  • The tongue is like fire, which can set an entire forest ablaze. Our tongues, out of control, are the most destructive force on earth. When a family falls apart or a church divides, out-of-control tongues are always at the root. There has yet to be a church split where gossip and waggling tongues were not at the root. 5
  • The tongue is "set on fire by hell." Satan means "the accuser." The word "devil" is the Greek word slanderer. When we let anger and bitterness flow from our lips we are doing Satan's work. The fuel of the uncontrolled tongue is hell itself! Christian friend, consider this - when your tongue is out of Christ's control it is doing Satan's work! 6
  • The tongue is the most uncontrollable force on earth. We can tame wild animals but we cannot tame the tongue. Only the power of the indwelling Spirit at work in the redeemed heart can accomplish that. 7-8
  • Too often, the tongue is like a poisonous snake bite - it injects destructive venom into the souls and minds of others, wreaking devastation in lives. 8
  • We cannot praise God and curse men with the same tongue. If my lips are used to backbite, to gossip, to slander, to inject verbal venom, all my words of praise and affirmations of my devotion to Christ are empty and hollow. 9-12
If I had a recording of every word you had spoken in the last week, what would it tell me about you? Would I know that you truly love God because the praises of the Creator are on your lips and those same lips are used to encourage others in his name? Or would I see inconsistency and duplicity? Do you try to speak both the love of God and hurtful words toward others, even though Scripture says it is not possible? Would I hear vileness, abuse, viciousness? What would your words say about you? 

Jesus told us that the tongue is a gauge of the heart. What is in your heart shows in what comes out of your mouth. What does your tongue say about you? 
Father, forgive me for my failure, too often, to control my tongue by the power of your Spirit. Give me a tongue filled with praise, with grace, with gentleness and kindness, a tongue that glorifies you with every word. 

Think and Pray

If a recording of your words over the last week was replayed, what would it say about you? Would your words demonstrate your love for Christ or would they reveal a heart of sin? 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

"The Joy of Suffering?" September 20 Readings: James 1-2

Today's Reading - James 1-2

Background - An Introduction to the Book of James

We interrupt our reading of the book of Acts to read what is often believed to be the first of the epistles of the New Testament, James.

New Testament scholars are not uniform in their opinions of the timing and setting of the book of James, but it seems likely that the book was written by James, the brother of Jesus, who became the leader of the church of Jerusalem and was a key figure in the council of Jerusalem.

He addresses his book to the "Twelve Tribes in the Dispersion." It is a Jewish book, but it is not certain whether the dispersion referred to is the general dispersion of Jews among the nations (which took place under the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires) or the dispersion of the early Christians after the persecution of Acts 8:1-3.

It was likely written after the establishment of the Antioch church and Saul's proclamation of his "salvation by grace through faith" doctrine and the missionary work of Barnabas and Saul in Acts 13 and 14, which led to the conflict and the great council of Acts 15.

Some have seen James' book as an attempt to refute Saul's teaching of grace, but that is not what is happening. He is refuting a perversion of that doctrine, one which Paul later confronted in Romans 6 and 7 as well. Salvation by grace through faith does not mean that works have no place in our lives. Paul himself said, in Ephesians 2, after the well-known verses 8-9, that we were "created to do good works (verse 10). James, in 2:14-26, is saying what Paul said, that true faith produces works. His book is not theological in nature and he did not develop his doctrine as extensively as Paul did later, probably evidence that the book was early before the doctrinal issues were well-defined, but his teachings complemented Paul's and did not conflict with them. Both believed that God's salvation was by faith and produced a changed life evidenced by a new life of good works.

James has been called a "New Testament Proverbs." It is not easy to outline, more a collection of moral teachings than an organized theological treatise. 

Devotional - The Joy of Suffering? Really? 

I'm sorry, James, but that is just plain crazy!

I believe in the absolute truth of every verse of the Bible, but some make that commitment pretty difficult. Oh, my problem isn't with believing that God created the heavens and the earth, that he parted the sea so that Israel could walk through on dry ground, that Jesus healed the sick, walked on water and fed the 5000 or that God raised Jesus from the dead. I believe those things.

But verses like James 1:2 throw me for a loop.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials.
Really? When I am experiencing pain or sorrow or frustration, I am supposed to consider this a "great joy?" It makes no sense, does it? 

On a human level, James' teaching is absurd, but on a spiritual level, it is perfectly reasonable. God's purpose in our lives goes beyond our desire for fun and comfort. He is working to make us more like Jesus Christ and sometimes hardships can be his best tool for accomplishing that purpose. 

In early 1980 I was recuperating from a serious skiing injury - I was on crutches for 2 months. I'd begun to gain weight so in late February I decided that I was going to run the Dallas White Rock Marathon the first weekend of December. I had nine months to get ready. So, I ran. And I ran. And I ran some more.

And it hurt. I spent a lot of time with sore muscles, sore feet, sore knees, sore hips. Training for that marathon was painful. But when I crossed the finish line (in 3:55) all the suffering was worth it - it had accomplished its purpose.

Suffering is never fun - that's the definition. But its outcome is such a blessing that if we are seeing things from God's perspective, we can count our sufferings as joy. Verses 3-4 expand on the idea.
...knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
When we are taken to the limit and beyond, when our faith is tested by suffering, God builds endurance in us - we get in spiritual shape! That helps us become mature and complete, becoming everything God wants us to be. 

You can have a life of ease and comfort if that is what you want. But you cannot demand that kind of life and also grow strong in Christ and become all he wants you to be. God's plan for your life involves spiritual exercise - from suffering and hardship - that is perfectly designed by him to produce spiritual maturity and to make you more like Christ. 

I hate suffering. I've not gotten to the point where I've mastered the attitude James advocates here. I am more likely to whine than to rejoice in my sufferings. But I do know this - it is the sufferings I've encountered that have caused me to grow in Christ. It is the people who have mistreated me who have helped me learn how to love like Christ. Suffering does produce endurance and spiritual maturity. 

Suffering is a tool in the hand of God and we need to remember that such is the case. 
Father, I say this by faith if not by feeling - thank you for the sufferings that have come my way that tend to make me more like you, that build spiritual endurance and character in me. I thank you that you care enough about me to give me what I need instead of what I want. 

Think and Pray

When you suffer hardship, do you rejoice?
Think and pray through the sufferings of your life from God's perspective. What might God be trying to do in your life? Why spiritual character qualities might God be trying to develop in your life? 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

"Be Like Pete" September 19 Readings: Acts 12

Today's Reading -  Acts 12


Acts 12 is about two deaths and a life. 

It begins with the martyrdom of James, the Son of Thunder, who asked to be at the right hand or left of the Savior in his kingdom but instead had the privilege of going to the presence of Christ, dying by the sword at Herod's command. The chapter ends with Herod himself dying at the hand of God's angel, struck down because of his pride. 

In the middle is the story of Peter's deliverance from the clutches of Herod. Why did God rescue Peter and allow James to die? Questions like that seldom have easy answers. God loved both and neither had displeased him. But in his sovereign plan, James' time was done and Peter had many years left. 

It is important to note that God's love and grace are seen in his presence and his power, not in success or deliverance. Both men were loved, both were faithful. One died and the other was delivered. 

Devotional - Be Like Pete

He was scheduled to die the next day. He'd seen his friend James put to the sword by Herod and it was his turn the next morning. The church was fervently praying that their leader would be spared by God's power. Peter was chained to two guards and the door was guarded by two others. You can imagine the stress that Peter felt knowing that he was about to die, right? Act 12:6 tells us exactly how anxious Peter was.

He was sleeping.

That's right. With his life hanging in the balance, with the sword about to fall on his neck, chained and guarded by soldiers all around, Peter was at rest. He had such faith in God's plan that he was free of worry and care. If he died, he would see Jesus again. If he lived he would serve him. And he was leaving the choice in God's hand.

We know the rest of the story - and it is one of the funniest in the Bible, one I used to tell my children at bedtime! God set Peter free and he returned to the church that was praying for his release and they refused to believe that he was really at the door. They were fervent in prayer but couldn't believe that their prayers were actually being answered by God. But he was free and by God's grace, Peter continued to serve God for many years to come, until he finally gave his life for the cause of Christ. 

But that is not the focus today. Today we think of Peter's faith, his absolute confidence in the power and goodness of God. Just consider it, my friends. Facing death, he was at rest in the sovereign care of the Father. He trusted the Savior so much that suffering and even death seemed small things. 

I want that kind of faith. I don't have it, but I want it.  I want to trust God so much that live or die, good or ill, victory or defeat, riches or poverty, I rest in the hands of God and trust his goodness. No worry. No stress. No falling apart. No anger. Just faith and trust. That is the kind of man I want to be. I have a long way to go, but that is the goal.

I want to be like Pete!
Father, forgive me when I have been a faithless man, worrying and stressing over every little thing. Help me to trust you not only for my eternity, but for today.

Think and Pray

Do you trust in the plan of God for your life or do you live in worry? 
When you pray, do genuinely expect God to act or are you faithless like the church that did not believe that Peter's deliverance was real? 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Cold Water Committee" September 18 Readings: Acts 11

Today's Reading - Acts 11


God did something amazing in Caesarea, but there was still some difficult work to do back in Jerusalem. Already there had formed what would become the greatest rift in the early church - how Jewish was the church going to be? Did people have to be Jews to become Christians? The "circumcision party" had already formed in Jerusalem, Christians who put Jewish law ahead of God's grace. They did not rejoice that Gentiles had been redeemed and saved from hell unless they also conformed to their ways. This conflict would become the driving force in Paul's ministry, the subject of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15, and the cause of Paul's arrest and imprisonment in the later chapters of this book.

The second half of this chapter is devoted to the establishment of the church of Antioch, which would replace the Jerusalem church as the key church in God's kingdom and would be the church from which world missions would go forward.

There is a sad verse that shows the failure of the Jewish church, verse 19. When the Jews left Jerusalem because of the persecution, they spread the gospel, as they should have, but unfortunately, they only spoke to Jews. They did not understand God's heart for the whole world. That is why there was so much conflict over this issue. The Jewish Christians were slow to understand and accept that God was not just THEIR God but that he was for all. It was the multicultural Antioch church that caught this vision, grasped the heart of God, and began to take the gospel to the world.

Devotional - The Cold Water Committee

I've met them more times than I can count, the Jewish Christians of Jerusalem. We used to call them the Cold Water Committee. Oh, the ones I mean weren't actually Jewish, nor were they from Jerusalem. But the similarity of behavior is unmistakable. In Acts 11, Peter returned to Jerusalem to regale the believers with the glories of God displayed in the salvation and Spirit-filling of the Gentiles in Caesarea. He was overjoyed with what God had done and reported that to the church.

And most of the church rejoiced with him. But not everyone. There were Jewish believers who put a high priority on Christianity remaining Jewish. They emphasized circumcision and the continued observance of all aspects of the Jewish Law. And Gentile believers who were uncircumcised and inobservant of the Law did not fit into their plan. They were not happy at all when Peter reported the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles.

Did you get that? The Spirit of God was poured out on a whole new segment of humanity and many people were saved. It was a gospel breakthrough and these people were pouting. They were angry. God did something wonderful and they were angry because it did not fit their perception of how things ought to be.

And I have met them everywhere.

God does something wonderful, but it is not through people who share their theological, ideological or strategic perspectives and they are upset. A great thing happens, but it doesn't happen under the strictures of their control and doesn't follow their rules, so they reject it, criticize it and disdain it. If it doesn't happen their way, under their control, under their guidelines, they get out the cold water and go around trying to extinguish the flames of the Spirit's work.

We have to remember that we serve the Kingdom of God and not the other way around. It is God who is in control and not me.

It is interesting how Peter responded to the Cold Water committee - much better than I ever have. He did two things. He proclaimed the truth of God to them, showing how God revealed the truth of his heart for the nations. He also shared his testimony of God's work in and through him. The Word of God displayed in the daily experience of a believer is a powerful thing.

Peter patiently but firmly instructed them about what God was doing and God's Spirit convinced the people, even those who initially resisted, that it was truly God at work.

When the Spirit of God goes to work in us, there will unfortunately often be a backlash from the Cold Water Committee. We must, like Peter, gently instruct them as to the Word of God and the work of the Spirit in us, continue to the do the work of God and trust the Spirit to empower and protect us.
Father, may I burn with a fire that no amount of cold water can extinguish. 

Think and Pray

Have you allowed yourself to be discouraged from the work of God by the "cold water committee?"
Have you (gulp) participated in the cold water committee by criticizing others?