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I FEAR!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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A COMPLETE BIBLE; A BLESSING!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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WHAT’S YOUR ASSURANCE?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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MISINTERPRETATION CAN PRODUCE HYPOCRISY!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Some would refer to them as “compassionate hearts.”  One can appreciate their honest and sincere concerns for others and a desire to do what is right.  Yet, the good they wish to do is misplaced and sometimes based upon poor interpretation of scripture.

One of the leading stories in the news is on illegal immigrants.  Those who wish to allow them into the USA, void of all “vetting,” feel those who disagree are unchristian in their attitude.  Some have gone as far as demanding that ICE be disbanded, and all illegals allowed in and their needs supplied.  They believe “this is the Christian thing to do”!  In their minds, to refuse this care reveals “an unchristian spirit.”

To justify this generosity, the fact that these immigrants are breaking the law, is dismissed.  This law breaking is justified by some with scripture to prove that our generosity trumps the law!!  Acts 5:29 is cited, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”  The apostles were not defending illegal immigration, only their right to preach the gospel.  This mass of illegals is not entering the USA to preach the gospel.  Among them are gang members who are vicious in their actions.  There are also terrorists who wish to murder the very individuals who wish to aid them.  These terrorists consider their benefactors to be pagan heathen.  A number of those illegals are demanding the same rights which legal immigrants worked hard to receive.  In fact, some illegals are demanding much, much more.  They believe they have a right to receive what our veterans and the poor cannot receive!

It is interesting that those Christians who dismiss the term “illegal” want the US government to provide the immigrants with free housing, medical services, schooling, transportation, food stamps, and other desires.  They believe our government “owes” those illegals the care which cost the USA billions of dollars each year.

Excerpts of scripture are quoted to justify this invasion and expense that burdens the US government.  Part of Luke 6:30 is quoted, “Give to everyone who asks of you.”  Jesus speech in Matthew 25:35-36, 40, 45 is used to show Christians must supply the needs of all these illegal immigrants.  We are told, “It is the Christian thing to do”!

The problem in using those and other passages is that the supplier being referred to is not the government, but the individual follower of Christ!  This biblical fact is ignored!  The ones being judged in Matthew 25 are individual believers, not the government.  It is hypocritical to substitute the responsibilities given to individual Christians and place it on the government’s pocketbook!  God does not hold the government accountable in these passages!  Yet, some Christians who feel the government is being “unchristian” in refusing to shell out billions of dollars in care, are pointing an accusing finger in the wrong direction!  At the judgment, Jesus will not ask the US government the questions of Matthew 25.  The questions will be directed at those who mistakenly claim the responsibility of that passage is directed to the US government!

How many illegal immigrant families have you as a Christian taken into your home to feed, clothe, school, and supply them with medical care?  None?  If so, won’t you hear Jesus say, “Depart” rather than “Come” (Matthew 25:34, 41)?  Isn’t it hypocritical to believe the US government is responsible for what Jesus puts on your shoulders, rather than in the government’s lap?  After all, the slogan, “It is the Christian thing to do” puts the responsibility upon the individual Christian, not the US government!  Again, this substitution of government paying the bill rather than the individual Christian, makes the disciple of Christ guilty of rewriting God’s word (Matthew 15:9)!  Such individuals are producing another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).  It keeps the Christian’s pocketbook intact while emptying Uncle Sam’s!

Misinterpretation can produce hypocrisy!  If those saints desire to be consistent, who wish to open Uncle Sam’s pocket to do “the Christian thing,” they must be required to document their claim with scripture.  Jesus fed 9,000 people, not Pilate or Rome!  Isn’t that the Christian thing to do?  Christians doing it?  Reaching deep into the Christian’s purse will reveal who is or is not practicing what is being preached!  Why should the protesting Christian expect others to do what he refuses to practice himself?  Isn’t that hypocritical?

What if five, ten or fifty families show up on your doorstep?  What is the Christian thing to do?  What if it is a thousand families?  If you turn away just one, wouldn’t that reveal an unchristian spirit?  Did Jesus say the following or not?

For I was hungry, and the government fed me. I was thirsty, and the government gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and the government invited me into government housing.  I was naked, and the government gave me clothing. I was sick, and the government cared for me. I was in prison, and the government visited me.’  Then these government officials will reply, ‘Lord, when did we the government ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did the government ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when the government did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, the government was doing it to me!’”  Book, chapter, and verse?

When the Christian takes himself out of Matthew 25:35-40 and substitutes the government, he takes that passage out of its context and steps on dangerous ground!

Who made government responsible for what Jesus commanded the Christian to do?  God didn’t.

CLEANSES US FROM ALL SINS

Thursday, July 12, 2018

But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  1 John 1:7 (NKJV)

Have you ever been snorkel swimming in a crystal-clear river or lake?  You are surrounded by water on all sides.  When one surrenders to the teachings of God’s word and is immersed into Jesus, God adds that person to the saved (Acts 2:42, 47).  One is in the body of Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).  He is “in the light,” has “fellowship” with others who are saved, and “the blood of Jesus . . . cleanses” him “from all sins.”  That blood surrounds him as water does a diver!

Is that “in Christ” individual perfect because he never sins?  John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  (V.8).   John informs us that we do sin “in Christ.”  Because we do, we need to “confess our sins.”  Are we still “in Christ” when that confessing becomes necessary?  Some say, “Yes,” while others firmly say “No.”

Allow me to return to that snorkeling adventure where you are surrounded by water.  When one is in the body of Jesus, he is surrounded by Jesus’ saving blood just as the swimmer is surrounded by water.  Some seem to overlook that important detail!

John stated, “If we walk in the light.”  When is a person “in the light”?  When God adds him to the saved!  That individual was a lost sinner.  Now he is a saved one.  He lies to himself, others, and God if he claims that as a Christian, he does not sin.  Those sins mentioned by John are committed by one who is “in the light.”  Yet, despite our imperfections, that cleansing blood that embraces us continually removes those sins.  That’s why the saved sinner needs to remain “in the light.”  He remains where he is continually cleansed.  Some chose to not remain (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:25-29).  We are not in that group (Hebrews 10:39).  Therefore, I am not referring to one who chooses to leave the light with no desire to return.  I am referring to that group that is imperfect but relies upon Jesus sacrificial blood to keep them in fellowship with the Father!  Our perfection is ingrained in Jesus and what he did for us at the cross!

“In Christ” we have fellowship with other saved sinners.  We rejoice together in the fact that Jesus’ blood keeps us cleansed.  God’s grace has provided this cleansing place for all sinners who will come to Jesus.  This is not a license to sin but is God’s cleansing power to keep us in fellowship with one another and with Him (Romans 6:1-23)!  Without that cleansing, we would no longer be saved.

Some believe that their imperfections are mightier than Jesus’ blood.  They believe that with each act of sin, mental or physical, one is cast outside the body of Jesus and returned to the kingdom of darkness!  Hell holds the lost sinner captive until he repents and asks God for His forgiveness.  He remains in the kingdom of darkness until the very last syllable of confession exits his mouth.  Once the sinner’s prayer is completed, he is returned to the saved until the next slip up!  Sin being what it is, and flesh being as weak as it is, the salvation of this sinner is always in question!  With each new failure in perfection, the individual is rewarded with hopelessness and fear.  If he is to be assured of salvation, his actions must be quicker than that speeding bullet which Superman outruns!

John’s message dispels that lack of faith.  “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”  The blood of Jesus surrounds us like that swimmer’s water.  If the swimmer makes a mistake, he is still surrounded by water.  Jesus’ blood not only keeps us cleansed but keeps us from losing our salvation in Christ Jesus.

Are you bathing in Jesus’ blood?

WORSHIP IN HEAVEN?

Monday, July 9, 2018

People have all kinds of ideas about heaven.  What will it be like?  Will we float around on eternal clouds pulling on the strings of our literal harps?  Will we all wear white robes, have halos, and be barefooted?  Will we see loved ones who were believers, but not remember those who weren’t?  Will it be a big homecoming event?  Will we walk and talk with the apostles and Jesus, receiving answers to all our questions?  Will we have literal mansions to reside in?  Will it be a new Garden of Eden for us to work and live in and this time happiness will keep us from disobedience?  Will it be an everlasting, continuous worship service where we sing non-stop praises to Yahweh?

Would you be shocked if the description of heaven is only symbolic?  The streets of gold may be described in physical terms, but the spiritual reality may present that metal as rust in comparison.  Will we make our worship in heaven a mirror of our Sunday assemblies to be practiced throughout eternity?  If so, what will that heavenly worship look like?

If our worship in heaven is exactly like what we do on Sunday morning, there would be no Cracker Barrel to beat the Baptist to!  Worship would never end!  It would make our impatience with the preacher’s “and in closing” promise look heavenly!  If our worship was one where we were on our feet, we would be in an eternal standing mode.  If it was one where we remained seated, let us hope that bed sores don’t migrate to heaven!  Fidgeting would be out of the question since discomfort would be no more!   For the very young, as well as those in advanced age, such a condition is incomprehensible.  Bathroom breaks would no longer be needed!

Will there be any emotions displayed in heaven?  Would “joy” or “rejoicing” be a foreign activity?  Would that emotion be exhibited with shouting, clapping, or other human movements?  Or, would that excitement be strictly stifled because it mirrors activities we believe are unscriptural in our earthly worship?  Would we sit or stand without visible movement beyond what it takes to get up or sit down?  Would we be shocked that the harps mentioned in the book of Revelation were figurative and our voices were all that God desired?  Would we wish we weren’t there if the harps were literal?  Would we be shocked if the adoration for Yahweh was exuberant and exciting rather than repressed because such would be “too emotional”?  Would the host of heaven express their love and joy to God in whispers to display their reverence void of all such emotions?

Inspiration depicts our relationship with Jesus as a marriage (Romans 7:4; Revelation 21:2).  What were marriage ceremonies like in first century Judaism?  Was there an absence of emotionalism?  When Jesus and the apostles observed the Passover meal, was reverence revealed as silence?  What about that moment when he introduced the Lord’s supper from the Passover bread and wine?  Was it without emotions?  Was joy repressed?  Was it an activity of silence?  Is there any difference in the way Jesus introduced and partook of it with the apostles and our habitual way of doing so today?  How would we work foot washing into our activities since it was part of Jesus’ assembly?  Perhaps it would not be needed since dirt under foot or from the mouth would be no more!

When the Philippian saints received Paul’s letter, what were their thoughts when they read “Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again, I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4)?  Was he talking about rejoicing” before the opening prayer or wait to do so after the closing one?  How was reverence expressed by the host in the presence of Yahweh in Revelation 4:8-11?  Was it stoic?  When the Lamb appeared, how was their reverence expressed (Revelation 5:1-14)?  Was it without emotions?  Was the atmosphere subdued and without conversation?

Even if these Revelation passages contain symbolism, do we see any correlation between that worship and what we call worship today?  The only time the word “worship” is used in God’s word with an assembly, it isn’t the worship we describe as being “in spirit and in truth.”  In fact, most would be horrified if such worship took place in our assemblies (1 Corinthians 14:24-25).  Would our modern worship fall under the heading of “Silence is prohibitive” because it isn’t described as we phrase it?  Would the glories of heaven shock our sight when we behold it for the first time?  Will we rejoice?  If so, how will that rejoicing translate into actions?  Will we have tears of joy, or shouts of rejoicing?  Will anyone be silent and explain that silence as the only emotion lawful to display?

One of the older songs, “No Tears in Heaven,” has the following lyrics,

No tears in heaven, no sorrows given.

All will be glory in that land;

There’ll be no sadness, all will be gladness,

When we shall join that happy band (Emphasis mine, RH).

What will heaven be like?  How will “gladness” be displayed?  What will “that happy band” look like?  Will our visions of heaven’s activities be shocking or satisfying?  Is our understanding and practice of “worship” what we can expect in heaven?

Yes, dear friends, we are already God’s children, right now, and we can’t even imagine what it is going to be like later on.  But we do know this, that when he comes we will be like him, as a result of seeing him as he really is.(1 John 3:2-3).

APPRECIATION!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

When employees were asked what they would like to have most on the job, the reply was, “Appreciation.”  Appreciation!  When a person is a good worker, he would like to be told that the company appreciates his efforts.  Solomon speaks several times about a lazy person.  There are too many in the work force who allow the conscientious to do their work while they loaf.  I once asked a foreman of an electrical company, “How many people work here.”  His reply was, “About half of them.”  He was serious.  To this day I wonder if the half that was working were informed that they were appreciated?

A good worker will do more than 5 lazy people.  The lazy ones allow it and then take credit for the labor the good worker does.  Some businesses have tried encouraging the lazy by rewarding them with the title, “Best Worker of the Month.”  The result only validates the lazy person’s slothfulness.  It creates dissatisfaction among those who do their work and take up the slack caused by the lazy person.  The real workers feel unappreciated.

When someone does his and the lazy person’s work, he should be paid for it.  That would be one way of showing appreciation.  Another would be to verbalize it.  Naming the real worker as the true “Best Worker of the Month” would give credit where it is due.  Even in the Bible, Jesus talked about the master who rewarded his working servants by not only saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant” but rewarding them (Matthew 25)!   When is the last time you expressed your appreciation to another for a job well done?  Expressing appreciation begins with you and me.

There are some who refer to themselves as “Christians” who have never thanked Jesus directly for what he did for them on Golgotha!  Think about it!  Jesus is our King (1 Timothy 6:15).  He is our Savior (Luke 2:11).  He shed his blood to remove our sins (Matthew 26:28).  He is called “God” (Matthew 1:23; John 1:1).  He made all things (John 1:2-3).  He is our head (Ephesians 1:22-23).  He is our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).  In Him we are redeemed and forgiven (Ephesians 1:7).  Despite these truths, some believe it is a sin to say, “Thank you Jesus”!  If one does not wish to be verbally thankful that is his business.  If I’m told that I cannot show my appreciation by doing such, I refuse to be intimidated by that person’s lack of appreciation.  Some believe it is okay to mentally thank Jesus, but wrong to verbalize it.  Where is that silent thanks given as a substitute?

If a husband refused to directly tell his wife he loved and appreciated her, what kind of marriage would it be?   We are married to Jesus (Romans 7:4)!  If a husband asked his father to pass on his love and appreciation to his daughter-in-law, what sage advice should that father offer??  Guess what?  The Father has told us to show our appreciation!  He did it through Paul who said, “Be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15).  Notice, this is before he instructs us to “sing”!  What good is our singing if we are not “thankful” to the one who is our King, Savior, Redeemer, Head, Husband, Mediator, and Friend?

Appreciation!  If you may express it to your earthly friends, why not to your heavenly one?  Just a thought.

NEITHER DO I!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery.  And when they had set her in the midst, . . .  ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act.’” John 8:3-4 (NKJV).

Caught . . . in the very act.”  How embarrassing.  Her companion?  Fleet footed, or party to a setup?  Your guess is as good as mine.  One thing is clear.  The righteous did apprehend her.  The Law of Moses stated that both parties in an adulterous affair must be stoned (Leviticus 20:10).  Setup or not, she was sufficient for their purpose to put before Jesus.  The carpenter chose to address their unspoken sins rather than deal with the woman’s present one.  Their shame scattered them.  What followed has motivated some to claim John 8:3-11 is a scribe’s addition rather than God’s inclusion.  There are objections to this passage being an actual event.  Was it?  What may be bothersome to some is that Jesus’ doesn’t march to our tune?

She was charged with adultery.  Jesus does not question the charge’s veracity.  There is no denial from her.  No questions from the crowd.  The Law of Moses was correctly quoted.  The guilty and all present knew her punishment.  Jesus did not suggest that the Law be ignored, nor the consequences diminished!   The woman did not ask for mercy.  Grace was not discussed.  All knew the outcome.  All Jesus had to do was acknowledge the quote and step away from the accused.  He surprised all.  The earth became his iPad.  At first the righteous thought he was deaf.  What he scribbled was deleted with that day’s breeze.  The righteous accusers faded into history with their private thoughts!

Jesus asked, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours!  Has no one condemned you?” (V.10).  Her reply was, “No one, Lord.” (V.11).  What follows is the “hook” which some reject as false.  Jesus stated, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (V.11).  That is why modern scribes want to mentally add to Jesus’ statement because what he said does not fit present theology!  It needs something, and modern believers feel a “scriptural” need to add to it!

What did Jesus NOT say which he should have stated when addressing that adulterous woman?  He said, “Neither do I condemn you” (V.11).  Does the passage say she asked him for forgiveness?  Did anyone in the passage use the word “repent”?  Is there a prayer offered asking God to forgive her?  Someone may believe that the words “repent,” “forgiveness,” and “prayer” are included in the five words “Go and sin no more.”  Try that some Sunday morning when a person who needs to respond to the invitation, doesn’t, but you tell the audience, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”  You will be fortunate if your work as the preacher isn’t jeopardized by such a response.  Good luck if no one questions your “blunder”!  Wouldn’t you be asked, “Who repented?  Who confessed their wrongdoings?  Who asked for prayers?  Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.”  Did she repent prior to Jesus’ statement?  Silence is our answer!  Did she ask for forgiveness?  Silence again!  Did she ask for prayer?  Nothing but silence!  Jesus did not mention repentance, much less demand it.  His reply was, “Neither do I condemn you.”  What kind of reply is that coming from the Son of God?  Is he condoning her adultery?  Is he ignoring the teaching of God’s word?  Why didn’t his apostles correct him?  Would you, if you had been there?

Why did Jesus not use the word “repent” in conversation with that guilty woman?  At least on the cross he said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:43)!  That dialogue was not needed, or Jesus would have used it.  The woman’s accusers were no longer there to carry out the Law’s punishment.  Jesus, nor anyone in his crowd was an eye witness.  Neither Jesus nor they were charging the woman with adultery.  Since they did not see the “crime” they had no authority by the Law of Moses to carry out the punishment without the presence of her accusers!  Something in Jesus’ statement, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first,” sent those righteous men on more important duties elsewhere (John 8:7).

It is interesting that Jesus also stated to the woman, “Go and sin no more.”  He did not witness her adultery, so why does he tell her, “Don’t do it again”?  He is not negating the testimony that has been brought against her.  But, since her eye witnesses are no longer present to carry out the punishment, Jesus nor anyone else can do what those eye witnesses have failed to do.  Jesus and his audience complied to the Law and dropped the matter.

Sometimes grace is demonstrated rather than Law!  Jesus used the imperfection of those righteous accusers to make that grace happen!  The Law was trumped by grace!  Isn’t that what the Good News (gospel) is all about?

You and I are sinners (Romans 3:10, 23).  Our sins deserve the payment of death.  That means eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23).  We don’t have the righteousness needed to pay that sin debt!  But, Jesus came to take our place and die for our past, present, and future sins.  He provided a way for our sins to be continually cleansed so we don’t lose fellowship with the him or the Father through our fleshly weakness (Romans 7:24)!  Law says you are guilty and must die!  Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you.”  Why?  He knows we are without perfection.  We are experts at stumbling!  So, God made it possible for us to be redeemed and His payment for us is called “GRACE”!  That grace provides Jesus’ blood, like a river, it surrounds us and keeps us cleansed.

Good News folks!  Good News!

ARE YOU FOLLOWING JESUS?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.  For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

Guess what?  No matter what you think about that passage, Jesus said it!  Okay, you’ve read it.  Do you judge?  Sure, you do.  Be honest with yourself.  Once you read this passage, you formulate a judgment.  Do you excuse your judgments but condemn those of others?  If so, isn’t this passage directed to you?  We all make good and bad judgments in life.  Every day is full of such.  Do we end up doing what Jesus said “do not” do?  If so, are we following Jesus?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?(Matthew 6:31).

When it is supper time, if you are told, “We don’t have a thing in the house to eat,” does your empty stomach mournfully ask, “What will we eat?”  We may not want what is available, but there is food that may be prepared.  We don’t live in a country where everyone is thankful because he gets one meal each day.  Have you ever heard someone, with a full closet of clothes say, “I don’t have a thing to wear”?  Jesus said, “don’t worry.”  Why do we do what he said to not do?  If so, are we following Jesus?

If we read something Jesus said and then excuse ourselves with, “He didn’t mean it,” are we being honest?  Isn’t that a judgment?  If so, is it right or wrong?  Do we convince ourselves that our disobedience isn’t as bad as another’s disobedience?  Isn’t that a judgment?  We can be very convincing in matters that affect us, but so hard on the disobedience impacting others.  Would Jesus’ parable in Matthew 18:21-33 fit?  Whoops!  Another judgment to be made.

Paul tells Christians that all have sinned.  The includes us.  We sin because we don’t obey.  Since we all disobey, to whom must we go to have our sins remitted?  Isn’t it Jesus?  Are we following Jesus?  Do you have a judgment?

THE WORLD’S ETHICS!

Monday, June 25, 2018

If you must choose, take a good name rather than great riches; for to be held in loving esteem is better than silver and gold.”  Proverbs 22:1 (TLB).

Her name became a household word.  It was known, but not universally admired.  In 1963 she won the landmark lawsuit filed on behalf of her son, William, effectively banning prayer in public schools.  She expressed atheism in the following lofty terms,

“An atheist loves his fellow man instead of a God.  An atheist wants man to understand and love man: he wants an ethical way of life.”

I’m not sure what her definition of “ethical” was, but it proved to be different from my understanding of the word.

She tried to get her son to poison her father.  Just before he died of a heart attack, she screamed at him, “I hope you drop dead.”  Upon learning of his death, she told her son, “Bill, call up some undertaker and find the cheapest one.  Then have them pick up the stiff from Memorial (Hospital).”  So much for love.  I guess loving her fellow man did not include her father?

She had children out of wedlock, endorsed perverse sex, encouraged homosexual activity, and debated for atheism.   So was the life of Madalyn Murray O’Hare.  Apparently, her kind of ethics or morality was repugnant to her son William.  He decided Christianity was a better path to follow than the one taken by his mother.

It amazes me that someone who doesn’t believe in God spends a lot of time trying to convince himself that God doesn’t exist!  Not everyone who chooses an alternative life style denies God’s existence.  While living in Alabama, I picked up what was touted as “Satan’s Bible.”  The author claimed he was a disciple of Satan.  Satan was an angel created by God who decided he would depose his Creator.  He failed to influence Yahweh but was successful in deceiving man.  He had to settle with being “the god of this world” rather than the god of all creation (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Eve may have been deceived first, but Madalyn Murray O’Hare wasn’t the last!

The atheist and the secularist share a world view.  Each person can establish his own right and wrong code.  No absolutes.  No God.  No payday someday.  No judgment.  No hell.  No heaven unless you create it for yourself here on earth.  What is wrong for you may not be wrong for another.  What is right for another, may not be right for you.  Love everyone and peace will follow.  The only absolute is to silence those who have a moral code that limits one’s selfish desires.  Those who must be silenced are those who follow the Bible!

Without acknowledging it, both parties borrow from the Bible!  They establish their “absolutes” to protect themselves and their loved ones.  If the next-door neighbor wanted your wife for himself, or your husband for herself, an absolute is created that says, “No!”  The word “absolute” must be redefined to accommodate what is best for me and mine!    In such “free” societies the rule becomes “might makes right.”  The one with the most “might” will be the one who is always “right”!  Every dictatorship rests upon that foundation.  Evolution is also based upon the survival of the fittest!   What is yours is mine if I can take it from you.  In doing the taking, I am doing the loving thing for me and mine!

Madalyn Murray O’Hare was successful in turning our classrooms into secular, godless areas to reshape the thinking of our youth.  Her success is seen when a student, former student, or person with a killer’s desire, enters a school to create his own kind of love and ethics.  With each new decade, we are introduced more and more to “the World’s Ethics”!

History has a way of repeating itself.  Today’s world view is no different from that which was held by Israel 2,900 years ago when Isaiah said of his society,

Doom to you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness in place of light and light in place of darkness, Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!  Doom to you who think you’re so smart, who hold such a high opinion of yourselves!Isaiah 5:20-21 (MSG)

ONE OF THOSE DAYS?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Have you ever had one of those days when you wondered why you ever got out of bed?  You reached for the jelly and immerse your toast with spilled coffee?  You put your car keys down and cannot remember where? That hide and seek game devoured too many minutes, making you late to work!  Have you ever sat down at work and noticed you had a black shoe on one foot and a brown one on the other?  Some days scream out, “Stay in bed, it’s not worth it”!

When Baruch was being interviewed for the job as Jeremiah’s stenographer, did he inform his wife that he had landed a “cushy” job?  Did the prophet inform him of that job’s “side-effects”?  Perhaps such information wasn’t required then as it is today.

Perhaps Baruch thought his life insurance was guaranteed if he was in the company of God’s prophet.  Such a position would not only provide a reasonable living, but generate popularity, respect, and gratitude from others because he was working for a God man!  His work as a scribe would one day encourage and edify millions.  He was part of history itself!  Each copied word had the imprint of God’s hand!

What an honor it was when Jeremiah told him to take the finished scroll to the king and read it aloud.  He would be the center of attention.  He would be informing the king and all his entourage what God wanted them to know.  It must have been a huge surprise when the king made mince-meat out of his hard work.  If the king didn’t hold Jeremiah or his inspired work in high esteem, wouldn’t that hint at be the fate of the scribe too!  When the one who dictated the message ended up in a muddy well, maybe the scribe who wrote it down wouldn’t smell like roses either!

It must have dawned on Baruch that if his employer and his inspired material were not respected, neither would he be?  The moment came when that realization struck him completely and he cried out, “Woe is me!”

Are you a fair-weather Christian who believes God is wonderful if life is good for you?  When everything is going South, do you believe God went AWOL?  God promised to protect Jeremiah and Baruch’s life.  He did.  Jesus promises us everlasting life, not a free get out of jail card!  James lost his life.  John lived to be elderly, but most apostles met horrible deaths.  Jesus promised persecution and Paul reiterated it (Matthew 5:11; 2 Timothy 3:12).  Neither Jesus nor Paul promised you an additional vacation house, two cars, a pickup truck, a bass boat, two or three vacations each year, and a salary to live a wonderful life style.  Being a Christian isn’t a guarantee of a life without problems.

Baruch cried out, “Woe is me.”  One day, we may mimic his groaning?  With free will comes responsibilities.  Some don’t take theirs seriously.  Sin affects us all.  It has its consequences.  Sometimes those results spill over into our lives.  Like Eve, something appears more attractive than walking with God.  Troubles plagued the first century church.  Pressures were put upon Jewish Christians to renounce their new-found faith and return to their parent’s belief.  Some did (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:25-29).  Yet, some knew there was a greater prize in following Jesus (Hebrews 11:37-40)

We are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul(Hebrews 10:39).

One of those days . . . are you ready?

ONE THING MISSING?

Monday, June 18, 2018

For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Romans 14:10 (KJV)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 (NKJV).

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 (NKJV).

No one will misunderstand that last trumpet sound.  Suddenly, without warning, our location will change.  No one will ask who that magnificent person is, nor why he is here.  Each heart will increase its beating.  Some will immediately drop to their knees, sobbing loudly.  A day has arrived that some refused to believe.  The thought of many will be, “Too late.”  It will be.

A preacher is called and steps forward.  He begins telling Jesus when he became a Christian.  How many sermons he has preached.  The many locations where he has presented the good news.  He will give a “preacher’s count of the multitudes that responded to the invitation he offered.   He will detail the many local congregations he has established in his 65-year ministry.  He has been faithful in the proclamation of the gospel.  He has memorized and quoted huge portions of scripture.  He has defended God’s truth against all who opposed it.  Jesus compliments him in all the things he has mentioned.  Then he asks the preacher to stand to one side.  He informs him that he has done well in many things but is remiss in one.

Another person is called forward.  He tells Jesus that since he became a follower he has never missed a meeting the church has called.  He has worked with the youth director, with the older adults, taught a Sunday School class, was ordained as a deacon and served twenty years until appointed as an elder.  For the past ten years he has served honorably and with integrity in that work.  He has been a personal worker for 45 years and seen multiple individuals respond to the gospel like those folks in Acts 2.  Due to his business, he has been capable of giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the cause of Christ.  He has worked in mission efforts in Central and South American as well as in Africa.  He has been honored not only by his church, but also his community.  He feels that his way of life counts for something.  Jesus also compliments him upon his activities and works, but asks him to stand with the preacher, because like the preacher, he is missing one thing.

A third person’s name is called, and he stands before Jesus with his head held low.  He confesses that he is a sinner.  That anything he has done that was considered good and sacrificial by others, is still like filthy rags.  His Savior is Jesus.   His faith is in Jesus.  His hope is in Jesus.  His trust is in Jesus.  His assurance of salvation has been and remains in Jesus.  Nothing nor anyone can remove his sins except Jesus.  So, he comes before his Lord and Savior with nothing to offer in his defense other than Jesus.  Jesus stands and commends him because he is not missing that one thing but has expressed it!  Jesus paid it all.  All to him I owe!  Like the tax collector, Jesus blesses him as justified because he puts his faith in Jesus, not in himself!

Jesus states to the man, “Well done my good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joys of your Lord.”  His announcement is a shock to the preacher and elder.  They ask in unison, “Why didn’t you grant us entrance as you did that person.  Look at all that we have done in your kingdom!”

Jesus replied, “Yes, you both have a long list of accomplishments.  You have put your trust in what you have done and not once mentioned what I did for you upon the cross.  Your faith has been centered in your works rather than in my blood.  You have believed that your works have put me in debt to you rather than you being in debt to me.  You have sidelined my accomplishments for yours and neglected what I did in your desire to prove to me what yours have earned for you.  You have bypassed me, so you could present yourselves as saviors.”

Who went from the Temple to his house justified (Luke 18:9-14)?

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