My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Solomon stated, “Righteousness exaulteth a nation.” (Prov.14:34). If the nation I am a citizen in does righteous things, does that guarantee my salvation? No. When citizens of a nation do what is morally right, the individuals and nation as a whole enjoy the results. However, salvation is granted by God to individuals, not nations. Salvation takes place in the mind of God. Therefore, man cannot create his own way to be saved. A prophet stated, “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6). God gave us the way through His Son. Jesus died in our place for the sins you and I committed. When we place our trust in and follow Him, he takes away all our sins.

In Romans 4:7,8 we read, “Blessed and to be envied, are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight. Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.” When a Christian stands before Jesus in the judgment, guess how many sins he will have to answer for? None. That’s right. None. Why? Because all his sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten. That person will stand before God as though he had never sinned. He will be perfect because he is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why we must put our trust in Jesus rather than in our accomplishments. Not our works, but his blood puts us in right standing with God.

We often ask in song, “What can wash away my sins?” The answer is also given, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” That song is correct. We sing God’s truth which is called gospel or “Good News.” How can I bath myself in the blood of Jesus? He died 2,000 years ago. By faith I can die to sin and be buried with Christ into his death. Inspiration tells me that I get into this burial by immersion. What a beautiful picture Paul paints in Romans 6 of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I can be blessed by what he did by being involved in his sacrifice through that immersion. As a sinner, I must die to the body of sin. I bury that body through a burial with Jesus in water and I am raised from that watery grave as a new or saved person because I became a partner with Jesus in his death. Free at last from the old creature and now revealed as the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:3-4).

Regardless of which path my country takes, I can be right with God. When I am right with God, He removes all my sins. All of them. My trust is in Jesus whose blood keeps me in good standing with the Father. God has provided the way, the truth, and the life for us if we will accept it. God saves. Since He does, we can be saved by following his guide lines rather than ours.

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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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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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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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My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 03-04-2021

I was always smaller than most of the boys in my class at school.  I remember when I was in the third grade, I was asked to play tag football that boys and girls were engaged in.  The ball was pitched to me.  I caught it and started my run.  Suddenly a girl on the opposing team picked me up and carried me and the ball for a touchdown.   When I graduated from high school, I was six feet tall, but weighed one hundred and thirty-eight pounds.   My wife’s excellent cooking changed all that by increasing my scale numbers!

As one grows older, age presents several challenges.  Each person faces that dilemma differently.  When I would grow a beard or mustache, it would be black.  So was my hair.  However, as my forties introduced me to the fifties, I noticed streaks of gray highlighting my hair and beard.  I bought that shampoo that is supposed to return one’s youthful colors with a few rinses.  It did.  Yet, gray hair grows faster than the dyeing of the natural ones.  It became a hassle trying to keep up and have hair that conformed to one color or shade.  I gave in and the gray took my surrender as a signal to spread like wildfire.  The facial hair joined the battle that I was losing.

The older one gets, the novelty of learning something new every day is demanded. Sometimes that presentation is a surprise!  Rather than jump out of bed, it is more of a “roll.”  All of those suits in the closet have shrunk several sizes.  Some medications are now double strength.  The preregistration at the clinic now asks how often I have fallen in the past week.  So far, no unintentional falls.  I have noticed now-a-days that I do not turn my head quickly.  I shift my entire body to face the direction I am supposed to travel.  For some reason I am no longer allowed to climb a ladder.  Going down steps is carefully planned and executed.  One day it occurred to me that I was getting old.  As the years pass, one begins to understand David’s statement, “I have been young, and now am old” (Psalm 37:25).  However, age just means that we are closer to going home (John 14:1-3). 


My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 03-01-2021

Prior to Jesus being arrested, he and the apostles observed the Passover Feast.  At the end of that observance Jesus used the Passover bread and wine to institute his remembrance.  What was this participation called?  Most would usually reply, “the Lord’s supper,” “communion,” or “The Eucharist.”  Is that the common usage in the New Testament? 

Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, and Luke 22:19 mention that Jesus “took bread” and “the cup” without Jesus giving it a “proper name.”    

When the church began, Luke informs the reader that the saved “continued steadfastly . . . in breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42 KJV).  Scholars inform us that this phrase refers to what Jesus instituted in that upper room.  One will notice how that “remembrance” is described by Luke in Acts.  He refers to it as “breaking of bread.”  Luke describes the assembly in Troas which took place about twenty-five years after Acts 2.  He writes, “the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7 KJV).  The reader will notice that so far, time wise, the majority of inspired writer have not referred to this bread or cup as “the Lord’s supper.”  Paul uses the expression around AD 55 in correcting Corinth’s error.  Matthew, Mark, and Luke wrote their Gospel accounts and Acts between 59 to 62.  This indicates the Gospel accounts and Acts were written four to seven years after Paul names this “bread” and “cup” meal “the Lord’s supper.”  Yet no other inspired writer refers to it using Paul’s expression.  We may assume that they did, but assumption is little more than guessing.   

When Paul wrote to Corinth, he including their error showing how their way of partaking was wrong. (1 Corinthians 10:16).  The apostle begins by mentioning the “bread which we break” and refers to it as “the communion of the body of Christ.”  The word translated “communion” is from the Greek word koinonia, which may be translated as fellowship, contribution, to share, partnership, or communion.  English translations rightly render it as “communion,” “participation,” or “sharing.”  Paul refers to it as a “sharing” which Corinth was not practicing due to their four-way division.  They would not wait on one another which left some out of that sharing, participation, fellowship, contributing, partnership, or communion.  Today some accept the word “communion” as a special proper name of Jesus’ memorial.  It should be understood as a sharing of the bread and fruit of the vine, which reminds the participants of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  Scripture does not use the expression as a proper identifying names.  It is an action by the participants.         

Paul refers to it as “the Lord’s supper.”  This has become the usual descriptive name for that event.  However, there is no biblical instruction which limits that specific expression to that shared supper.  Inspiration uses the term only once in a sentence showing what the Corinthian church was supposed to be sharing but was not.  In that same space Paul refers to it as “took bread,” “eat this bread,” and “drink this cup” (1 Corinthians 11:23, 26).  Paul is correcting the brethren because they have eaten the bread and consumed the wine in an unholy way.  Their attitude and participation became so corrupt that Paul informed them that it would be better for them to stay at home because they were not partaking of the Lord’s supper (vv. 20, 34).

The expression “the Lord’s supper” is excellent in identifying it.  However, let us remember that Scripture does not demand that we use that expression when referring to that meal.  If we mistakenly require that expression as if it is the only and proper name, we require something which God never did.  Just because a congregation partakes of the bread and drinks from the cup each first day of the week, does not guarantee the remembrance supper has been engaged in.  They may have observed it at Corinth on the right day, eaten “unleavened bread,” and consumed the fruit of the vine, yet they were guilty of eating and drinking “damnation to” themselves (v. 29).  Let us not be following the Corinthians assembly in their error and end up eating and drinking a meal that God does not recognize as “the Lord’s supper.”    


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 02-25-2021

John 4:23-24 is the passage quoted by most to answer the question concerning “worship.”  It is true that Jesus is explaining the topic to a Samaritan women, but scripture NEVER reduces “worship” to five acts done primarily upon Sunday morning at a specific location and time.  That woman knew where the location of worship was for a Jew.  Jesus’ female audience knew that worship for her people was on Samaria’s mountain (John 4:20-21).  The worship being introduced by Jesus is identified as “NOW.”  The “now” applied to that event when Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman!  Neither one was involved in the five acts which we perform on Sunday morning.

Although the Old Testament has numerous passages giving details of how, who, what, and where sacrifices were to be made, the New Testament does not fall into that mode.  Claims are made that the New Testament describes five specific acts as worship.  The claim is that all five were performed in an assembly on the first day of every week.   Proof for that claim in missing from scripture itself.  One such act, much less all five, is never referred to as “worship.”  They are included as New Testament worship by those who did not write the New Testament.

Articles written on the subject have the tendency to limit us to those five acts in the one-hour Sunday morning assembly.  Should we give reverence to God?  Certainly.  Should this be done in that one-hour assembly on Sunday morning?  Yes!  However, is our reverence to God limited to that one-hour span?  When attendees exit church property, should that reverence not continue or do we drop it off at the church door and redress ourselves in it the following Sunday?  Some believe a certain attitude should be embodied when we worship.  This attitude shows honor to God.  Does that mean we did not have that honoring attitude prior to entering the church’s portals?  Doesn’t God dwell in us 24/7?  If so, should we not have that honor or respect for Him 24/7 rather than limit it to one hour in a specific location once each week?

Although believers are honest and sincere in such claims, proof is needed to show that limiting those attitudes is biblical.  I have heard brethren say that we should wear our Sunday best to show respect for God.  Why do we not make that same claim 24/7 and dress just as nice on Monday as we did on Sunday?  If we take that “respectful Sunday best” off when we arrive at the house, would that not indicate we are removing our respect for God?  Sayings that appear to sound noble soon expose our inconsistencies.

Sometimes Old Testament passages are quoted to bolster New Testament teachings.  Unintentionally we may be guilty of destroying our own foundations.  Quoting Psalm 95:6 may seem supportive if we actually do what the passage upholds.  The Psalmist states if you worship, you are to “bow down.”  If you worship, “Kneel down.”  That practice dwindled and disappeared around the 1940’s.  Like the “holy kiss” being replaced, substitutions were made and justified.  Consistency would demand that if you may scripturally substitute for one biblical topic, you may do so for another.  Look at the substitutions made by different churches on the mode of baptism.  If one church has the authority to make substitutions, another church is granted that same privilege.

Paul wrote the Roman assembly and told them to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).  If one wants to worship God in spirit and in truth, do it 24/7.  If we want to give God respect and honor, do it on our way to the church building, while in the auditorium, and on our way home.  Give it the rest of that day as well as Monday through Saturday!  It is a 24/7 kind of worship which includes the limited actions of singing, praying, communion, giving, and studying God’s word.  If it is not the kind of worship that is the 24/7 kind, one’s worship may be limited so much that God is bypassed!

Fatal Error and Non-Fatal Error

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 02-22-2021

A fellow minister once told me that there were two types of error.  One was fatal, which would send the individual to hell unless he repented before death.  The other was non-fatal.  One could believe and teach that kind without losing his soul.  I asked him for a list of both fatal and non-fatal error.  He agreed to do so.  That was almost forty years ago. 

Some have the idea that one sin will send an individual to hell if he does not repent of it quick enough.  In fact, the quicker one repents and prays, the better off he is.  According to that view, mankind cannot know whether he is saved or lost until Jesus passes judgment on him.  This produces a life of uncertainty and fear that a last-minute disobedient act might happen, causing the Christian to lose his soul.

Paul wrote two letters to the church in Corinth.  Those who have read both know that Corinth was engaged in a lot of ungodly actions.  There sins were so outlandish that if a congregation today were in the same condition, no man would desire to be their preacher, serve as one of their elders or deacons, be a Bible class teacher, nor even be a member.  Today’s church would have no desire to fellowship Corinth until they knew they had completely repented and corrected every error.  If the “one sin without repentance” teaching is true, all members of the Corinthian church were in multiple errors which none had repented of.  This condition had been going on for over a year.

Despite their false teaching, their denial of Paul’s apostleship, their bad treatment of one another, their terrible reputation in the city, their refusal to discipline, and their in-church divisions, God was still in fellowship with them.  He dwelt in them as His Holy Temple.  God continued to empowered them with miraculous gifts.  Since God had not withdrawn from them, it must have been because they were practicing non-fatal error!  If they had been practicing fatal error, God would have stopped dwelling in them, withdrawn the miraculous gifts, and considered them apostate and proper candidates for hell.

Paul did not know of Corinth’s condition until the Chloe family informed him by letter.  For months, those practices had gone on with God continuing to dwell in them.  God would not dwell in them if they were engaged in fatal error.  This would leave only the non-fatal kind of error for them to be practicing.  If their actions were considered as non-fatal error, then we have a pattern of what non-fatal error is.  Keep in mind, according to my preacher friend, that “non-fatal error may be taught, believed, and practiced without one being in danger of losing his soul.  Since God wanted them to withdraw from the member who was living with his father’s wife, that individual was the only one guilty of fatal error!  The Chloe family overreacted by contacting Paul.  Since non-fatal error does not condemn, Corinth could have continued in such error without any fear of losing their salvation.

One important item missing from this discussion is “the saving power of Jesus’ blood.”  Those who have sinless perfection as their goal are in a continual state of failure.  Obedience is preached, but perfection is never an accomplished goal.  Today’s congregations may tout their faithfulness, but bragging will never develop the perfection they believe they have attained or are close to accomplishing.  In Jesus’ day there were religious individuals who thought they had attained that faithfulness or obedience.  Jesus proved them wrong (Matthew 23).  Some came to their senses and found what they lacked, and it was their need for Jesus.  Jesus is our faithfulness.  He takes our failures and bestows upon us his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  God added Pharisees to the saved, not because they were perfect, but because they turned to Jesus who was.  Even then they misunderstood about circumcision and attempted to force it upon Gentile believers (Acts 15).  This eventually turned into a serious problem (Galatians 1:6-9; 6:12-16).

Fatal error?  What is fatal error?  Inspiration states, “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39; Cf. 6:4-6; 10:25-31 ESV).

Today one may not be in an error-ridden congregation equal to Corinth, but our shortcomings need the same patience, love, grace, and fellowship which God granted to His first century children in that Greek city.  Our divisions would disappear as instructed by Paul and the oneness Jesus prayed for would be a reality and blessing to the world (John 17:20-21).

Too bad that preacher did not send that list.  It would have been very helpful for today’s church.


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 02-18-2021

In rereading the New Testament, you will find some gold nugget of truth which you missed previously.  Luke authored the book of Acts and he was a traveling companion of Paul when he used the expression “we.”  For example, in Acts 21:3 Luke writes, “We sailed to the country of Syria.  We stopped at the city of Tyre (v. 4).  Paul, Luke, and company stayed in that city seven days with the disciples” (v. 4).  Those believers warned Paul to not go to Jerusalem because the Holy Spirit told them to warn Paul.  Sometimes in reading scripture we miss a tidbit given by the Holy Spirit.

Paul and company traveled to Caesarea and they stayed many days with the evangelist Philip.  He had four virgin daughters who possessed the miraculous gift of prophesy.  Luke quickly introduces us to a male prophet named Agabus.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit had revealed Paul’s location to him?  The prophet’s message is the same as the warning given by the brethren in Tyre.  Perhaps this tidbit is overlooked by the reader, but twice the Holy Spirit warns Paul to avoid Jerusalem.  Once Agabus delivered the Holy Spirit’s warning, everyone present attempted to persuade Paul to stay away from that Jewish city.  Paul rejected the Holy Spirit’s warnings and ignored the brethren’s tears.  He justified his rejection with “I am ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  The Holy Spirit did not want Paul to go to the city, but Paul thought his desires topped God’s warnings.  When we read this passage, do we recognize how much we are like Paul?  Paul was a great apostle, but Luke shows his human and inconsistent side.

Yes, Paul was “ready to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.”  However, when God gives a warning TWICE, is it wise to trash God’s will because your thinking is superior?  If one does what he wants to do and justifies it with words that sound commendable, does that make it right?  Are God’s instructions inadequate and secondhand suggestions that one may ignore in order to chart his own “better” course in life?  I am not picking on Paul, just pointing out a human weakness and inconsistency which we share with him.  Most would never think about being a serial killer, but think nothing of assassinating another’s character with suggestive words?  Justification is gained by convincing oneself that such actions are either necessary or just “nice sins.”

We are all sinners (Romans 3:10).  We need to recognize that truth.  We fail miserably in our attempts to be perfect.  Our shortcomings should cause us to realize how much we need God’s forgiveness and cleansing.  God did not fellowship nor cleanse you because you deserve it.  Corinth needed to correct their error and practices and yet God did not withdraw from them.  Was that because God was in debt to them?  Hardly.  The woman caught in the adulterous act deserved death, but Jesus admonished “Go and sin no more.”  Peter denied Jesus but the Lord did not remind him of that failure, but desired that he “feed my sheep.”  We all fall short and need to recognize that Jesus is the only solution to our sin problems.  He was Paul’s answer, and he is the answer to ours.  Becoming a Christian does not make us immune to temptation.  We live in an imperfect world and are part of the problem.  Each day we need to recognize that the blood of Jesus continues to cleanse up and we have received his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Like the sinner Paul, we can say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 7:24-8:2).  Are you free?


My Thoughts. . .
Monday, 02-15-2021

Am I good enough to expect the Pearly gates to swing wide open for me? An honest answer? Hear me because I’m shouting it as loud as possible and it is “No!” On my best day, I am lagging so far behind on being perfect that I often want to step outside myself to see if I’m moving. I’m not alone. I have plenty of company. It is frustrating. Although Paul has been dead for about one thousand and fifty-one year, he had the same problem.

“I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. . . . I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway” (Romans 7:15-19).

That is my story! I want to be perfect by crossing every “t” and dotting every “i.” Wil E. Coyote would be more successful in catching the wily Road Runner than I would be in my attempts to be perfect. I am just like Paul. But, what he says above isn’t comforting either because that’s my story too!

Paul recognized his failure and so do I. Paul gives the solution to our problem, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death” (Romans 8:1-2, Emphasis mine).

Do you know the difference between Paul and many of us? He put his trust in the one he belonged to. There is a “false trust” which we may saddle ourselves with. That kind of trust is inflated with doubts and fears. That measurement always short-sheets. What is “short-sheeting”? Your doubts and fears trust in the limited causing you to miss out on the eternal blessings. By our own actions we cheat ourselves which keeps us from enjoying what God freely offers.

Am I good enough to walk through the Pearly Gates in my own strength? The answer remains the same. NO. Is that not a contradiction? No. My trust is in Jesus and his cleansing blood, rather than in my ability to save self without divine intervention. Does that mean I can sit in a proverbial rocking chair and twiddle my thumbs? Is your faith alive or dead? How much must my faith move in order for God to be obligated to save me? Is my faith trusting in my numerical works or in his cleaning power? I am not perfect in obedience, nor in faith. That is the reason I put my trust in Him to save, rather than depending upon my goodness (Psalm 14:3; 53:3).

Paul dealt with similar questions. He kept the Law of Moses, but not perfectly. He was a worker for Christ, but not to obligate God. At the end of his life he wrote, “God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16).

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Do you belong to Christ? If you belong, you are free!


My Thoughts. . .
Thursday, 02-11-2021

My mother and grandmother taught me to always tell the truth. I was told, “That is what God always wants you to do.”

From 1933 until 1945 Germany was controlled by the Nazi Party and their leader, Hitler. Under his leadership some six million Jews were slaughtered. Such action was not considered criminal by German law. Some German Christians hid Jews from Hitler’s Secret Police. They had to lie to the police to keep their unlawful hide-away from being discovered. Was it right for those German citizens to lie? Is lying allowed and not sinful if it protects life? Someone breaks into your home and asks, “Is there anyone else here?” You reply “No.” You are lying. You have hidden the children. You lose your life, but they live because you lied, and they were not discovered. Is there an example in the Bible where a person lied but did not sin? Did they sin by doing so?

In the Old Testament two spies were sent by Joshua to Jericho to collect information. We are told that they “went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab” (Joshua 2:1). Perhaps two men going into a house of prostitution would not attract attention? If so, their maneuver failed. Jericho’s king knew they had arrived in his city. He knew they were Jewish spies. He also knew where they had gone and sent men to arrest them (v. 2, 3). Rahab hid them. When the King’s men asked her about the spies, she lied. They were on the roof. She told the soldiers they had left. When the soldiers departed, the spies decided to spend the night (v. 8). Rahab did lie to those soldiers so the Jews would spare her father, mother, brothers, sisters, and all in her house when they marched against Jericho (vv. 12-14). Is it right to lie when family members are threatened? James informs us that she was “justified” (James 2:25). The Hebrew writer praises her for her “faith” and she is numbered with the faithful (Hebrews 11:31). It would seem despite her lie, she finds her way in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith. Scripture is not negative against her due to the lie she told to the King’s men. What is your judgment?

The next time you feel you need to lie about something, you need to ask yourself if you are mimicking Rahab or partnering with the father of lies (John 8:44).


My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 02-08-2021

The angel is writing to the assembly in Smyrna.  They are under tribulation and in poverty.  They are not to be afraid even though suffering is coming.  Some will be put in prison.  These persecutions will try their faith.  Ten days of tribulation will soon be upon them.  Then the angel states, “Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

Today, Christians are being burned out, beaten, and murdered in several countries.  Their female children are being sold in slave markets or forced to marry men fifteen to twenty years older.  They are being re-educated to accept the religion of their persecutors.  Slurs are being cast at Christians even in this country.  Since the sixties, humanism has made tremendous advances in American education and culture.  Christianity is not as popular as it once was, and faith is being tested to expose and punish the real believers.

What does the phrase “be faithful until death” mean?  The words roll off the golden tongue of some pulpiteers, entering the ears of welcoming hearers.  But how much do those words influence people in the pew once they exit the building?  If the environment outside our church buildings is full of profanity and suggestive language, how popular is “Jesus talk”?

If those being written to did not continue to be faithful, then Christianity would have died a sad death.  Apparently, some were steadfast and passed their faith on to others so we would have Revelation’s record.  Six churches received short messages from God.  Only one was threatened harshly (Revelation 3:14-22).  Yet, a letter was sent to each congregation that still enjoyed fellowship with God.  Were they being warned?  Yes.  Yet, they were still in fellowship.  Neither an individual nor an assembly is perfect.  The Corinthian letters as well as Revelation 2 and 3 confirms that truth.  Yet, those needing correction remained in fellowship with God.

So, what does “Be faithful until death” mean to the 2021 assemblies of the Anointed One?  If it means sinless perfection, then all we will hear is “Depart from me.”  The Corinthian assembly was still in fellowship with God.  So, what would “be faithful until death” mean to them?  Despite their need for correction, they remained in fellowship with God who told them to withdraw only from one member.  That member was not guilty of rejecting Paul’s apostleship and some were.  He was not guilty of dividing the church over personalities like four groups.  He was not browbeating those who continued to believe gods existed but were lesser than God the Father.  He was not disciplined because he did not believe in the resurrection.  He was not guilty of failing to wait on others during the communion.  His sin was committing fornication with his father’s wife.  That man lost fellowship with God, but not the rest of the congregation.  So, what did “Be faithful until death” mean to the Corinthian assembly?

God was not licensing them to continue in their error, but neither had He withdrawn from them.  God did not condone their actions, but He did not withdraw from them.  If anyone needed correction, it was the church of God in Corinth.  Yet, they were still God’s children.  How could God continue to dwell in them and not withdraw Himself or His miraculous gifts from them?  If the blood of Jesus did not continue to cleanse them, how could God continue to dwell in and recognize them as His Holy Temple?

With all the division being practiced today, are those who divide better than God?  He continued to dwell in an error ridden congregation which he continued to described as “the church of God.”  Perhaps there is a lesson in 1 and 2 Corinthians which we have missed?


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 02-04-2021

Sometimes there are individuals listening to Jesus who never realized the honor bestowed upon them.  They usually manufacture the negative rather than learning the positive lesson being given.

Luke mentions tax collectors and “sinners” crowding closer to listen to Jesus.  Can you imagine going downtown and the homeless, the alcoholics, druggies, and prostitutes surround you to hear what you are going to say?  Off to one side are the rich, the famous, the elite, the socially accepted, the respectable clergy, and other noteworthy citizens.  They are complaining because Jesus (or you) is welcoming and sharing food with those sinners (Luke 15:1-2).  Like Jesus, you are treating those “nobodies” as if they are “somebody and ignoring “the acceptable” as if they are “the untouchables.”

Those tax paying people are upset with Jesus’ insane attention being given to the leaches of society.  Even his illustrations seem to glorify a depreciation of personal responsibility.  The first story has a man abandoning 99 of his sheep to go off hunting for one.  It probably will be supper for a hungry wolf.  Off he goes leaving 99 sheep without protection (Luke 15:3-7).  Anyone with a lick of sense knows wolves travel in packs.  99 sheep will provide a bigger meal than will the one.  Who would hire a shepherd that would think more of one than of the 99? 

Then he adds to irresponsibility by talking about a woman who loses one of her ten silver coins.  Lucky for her she finds it.  At least she now has a clean house!  However, she foolishly tells everyone she has wealth.  Thieves in the crowd are happy to mark her treasure as their next job.  Everyone needs sleep, and thieves work better in the dark!  Foolish woman.  She will get a good night’s sleep, but she will be minus 10 silver coins!

Ah, but Jesus does not stop.  He adds another story of irresponsibility.  It is about two brothers and their father!  The youngest son does not want to work like his older brother.  He wants to travel to see the world.  He does not have the finances, so he expects dad to pay for his “happy-go-lucky” lifestyle.  Dad, who always favored the younger one, like an idiot, gives the boy half his bank account.  No responsibility is tied to that gift.  Off the boy goes without so much as a “Thank you,” “Goodbye” or “Love you, I’ll write.”  That money has a burning desire to be foolishly spent.  Easy come.  Easier to go!  Foolish spending leads straight to the hog’s pen.  The young man may be penniless and hungry, but he deviously plans his next move.  He will go home, act repentant, and dad will gladly and blindly finance his next scheme.  The older brother sees through this charade, but dad remains blind due to the youngest son’s deceptive charm.  Sure enough, dad ends up sermonizing to the older brother.  The irresponsible son is home to again leach off dad’s money!  No more pig pen for him (Luke 15:25-32)! The societal crowd feels justified in their complaint and view of Jesus and his stories.  They know they are right.  Only a sinner would eat with sinners!  No self-respecting Rabbi would do what Jesus is doing.  They are the cream of societies crop!  Anyone knows that if you spend time with “sinners” you take on their nature.  Jesus spends time with them, so he is either hoodwinked, or a partaker.  That is how some people view Luke’s account in chapter 15.  

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