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Adventures in Faith

RIGHTEOUS, BLESSED, AND WASHED

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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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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IS CHANGE BAD?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Have you ever wondered why individuals who lived during Old and New Testament times did things which we refuse to follow today?  When is a practice of the past not wrong for that generation, but it would be foolish to continue it today?  In fact, if we did it their way, we would find ourselves in conflict with our legal system!  It might raise a few religious eyebrows too!  Practices are discontinued and a change takes place that is wise due to the passing of time.  Some biblical commands are tied in with a cultural practice predominant in the time it was written.  Culture changes.  The principle of the command may not change but cultural example used to perform it may be drastically different.

Abraham sent a slave to Nahor to find Isaac a wife.  The slave asked God to bring a virgin to the watering place to speak to him and give him and his camels water.  Keep in mind that virgin girls had social limits placed upon them in regard to such social meetings.  Our society would not be familiar with those taboos.  Isaac’s distant relative appeared.  When she finished giving water to the animals, the slave asked about lodging.  She introduced him to her parents.  When he met them, he explained the purpose of his trip and why their daughter fit the requirements his master expected him to fulfill.  Rebekah was to be given as a wife to Isaac, a man she had never met.  Several days later they left to journey about 750 miles back home to Abraham and Isaac.  Would you trust your beloved daughter to such a stranger under those circumstances today?  When Isaac saw the camels and Rebekah found out who he was, she dismounted.  Scripture states, “Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife.” (Genesis 24:67 KJV).

Isaac saw Rebekah for the first time when she dismounted.  How many camels have you ridden lately to travel to marry someone you’ve never met?  Isaac did not date Rebekah so she and he could become better acquainted with one another.  Neither knew the other’s bad habits or unusual quirks.  They did not discuss the pros and cons of marrying one another.  He had no opportunity to “fall in love” with her nor she with him.  Both married complete strangers.  Both married a distant relative.  Neither had the privilege or opportunity to decide who they wanted to marry or not marry.  They did not plan a honeymoon.  They did not speak of their future.  Isaac did not go to the nearest Court House and pay for a marriage license.  He did not summons his favorite preacher to perform the ceremony.  A wedding ceremony was never mentioned.  By-the-way, have you ever lived in a tent?  Rebekah apparently goes from living in a house to dwelling in a tent.  Wouldn’t that be backward progress?  Who today would want to exchange places with either one of them?

Ladies, if someone showed up at your parent’s house looking for a wife for his employer’s son and the employee thought you would fill that void, would you have viewed that whole scenario as being “so romantic” and your dreams coming true?  Would this be the answer to your future happiness?  Prince charming would not ride into your life on a white horse, you would hop off a camel into his!  One day you’re doing normal things a young lady does and a few days later you’re wondering if your dream is coming true or a nightmare is about to be revealed.  You find yourself riding off into the sunset on a camel on a 750-mile trip to nowhere, to marry a no body, who is related to your parents that you have never met.  They even waved goodbye to you as if this is the best thing that could happen to you.  When you arrived in your future mate’s country, he meets you for the first time, and sweeps you off your feet by taking you to his mother’s tent.  By that time, would you be thinking of giving your parents a few things to think about?  If you were Isaac, would you be rolling your eyes a lot and wanting to have a serious discussion with your folks?

Ladies, if your folk’s Romeo took you into his mother’s tent in order for you to become his partner in life, would you go without questions, complaints, or hesitation?  Would you be wondering how well you will get along with your new husband as well as your new in-laws?  Would one of your questions be, “How long is it going to take me to fall in love with this country bumpkin”?

With our twenty-first century cultural views, would this four-thousand-year-old system impress you?  Would you want dad and mom picking out a mail-order bride for you, or a distant relative as your spouse?  Without the marriage license and validating ceremony, would you feel married?  Would it cause you to think of yourself as a “common-law wife, or as a man to think of yourself as a “common-law” husband?  Would you consider yourself to be married “in the eyes of God” without the marriage license and the following ceremony conducted by a Judge, Justice of the Peace, or minister to sign off on it?

Whereas Isaac and Rebekah’s union was blessed by the laws of the land, produce happiness with each set of parents, and was in harmony with the wishes of God Almighty in that day, would their practice and joy be welcomed or experienced by most in ours?

Culture changes.  With that change substitutions may be required.  We don’t greet one another with a holy kiss today but substitute a handshake.  Women don’t wear hats into the church’s assemblies today.  Most people aren’t immersed in a lake, river, or pond anymore.  The Lord’s supper is not served in loaf form and passed among partakers with each breaking off a piece while folks are sitting around a table.  Church buildings, which are a necessary expedient today, weren’t in existence in the first and possibly second centuries.  We use the word “worship” in ways never utilized by first century saints.  Change?  It has been happening since the first century.  Being human, we don’t always identify those changes correctly nor appreciate them when they are introduced.

WHAT GOD’S INDWELLING MEANS!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, July 8, 2019

Paul cried out saying,

But there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.  So you see how it is: my new life tells me to do right, but the old nature that is still inside me loves to sin. Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in! Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?”  (Romans 7:23-24).

There are two masters that are interested in your soul.  The Christian desires to serve God.  The flesh desires slavery to fleshly whims.  The flesh or “old nature” has a love affair with our imperfections.  Our tendency to sin has the capability of robbing us of assurance, hope, joy, comfort, and peace by convincing us that heaven is a hopeless goal.  We live with those fleshly voices every day.  Only the grave will silence their call.  So, Paul lays it on the table with, “Oh, what a terrible predicament I’m in!”  Judas solved his by hanging himself.  Is that the answer?  God indwells the saint.  Yet some believe that a single sin makes one homeless and that his ownership reverts back to Satan!   It is believed that our imperfections regularly keep us visiting the devil rather than remaining with the Lord!  If so, what is our answer to Paul’s question?  How can I keep God indwelling in me when I am an imperfect individual?  Paul asked the question, so let Paul answer it.

Who will free me from my slavery to this deadly lower nature?  Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. HE HAS SET ME FREE.  So there is NOW NO CONDEMNATION awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.”  (Romans 7:24-8:1 Emphasis mine, RH).

How is that FREEDOM possible?  Isn’t it because God indwells His HOLY temple?  One that He continually cleanses by His grace through the blood of Jesus!?  Look again at several translations of 1 Corinthians 3:17.

the temple of God is holy, and SUCH ARE YE.” (ASV).

the temple of God is holy, and THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE.”  (NASV).

For God’s temple is holy, and THAT TEMPLE YOU ARE.”  (RSV).

for God’s temple is sacred, and YOU ARE THAT TEMPLE.”  (NIV).

For the temple of God is holy, WHICH TEMPLE YOU ARE.”  (NKJV).

God’s temple sanctuary is holy, and YOU ARE GOD’S TEMPLE SANCTUARY.”  (IEB).

God INDWELLS you.  God is HOLY.  He is IN His HOLY TEMPLE.  A Christian is THAT TEMPLE!  Jesus took ALL our sins upon himself on the cross.  He bestows upon us God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  God makes us RIGHT.  The HOLY dwelling place of God is kept HOLY by His HOLY presence!  God ADDS us to the body of Christ.  Jesus is the head of that body.  His body is HOLY.  His body is sinless.  That’s why Paul said Jesus has made that FREEDOM possible.  So, REJOICE!  You have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and God MADE you and me His HOLY dwelling place!

THE FUTURE OF A MISTAKE!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Every mistake you make has a future.  It may be a good or a bad one.  Despite the outcome or consequences, it is still your mistake.  Sometimes it is bad because it is accepted in the wrong way.  I’ve had people to ask me after a sermon, “What did you mean when you said. . .?”  The best reply is, “What did it mean to you?”  This allows me to compare what the person thought I said with what I actually stated.  Sometimes an apology is needed, not because something was said to hurt the individual, but because it probably could have been worded differently so it would not be misunderstood.  James talks about the tongue and how it can cause trouble (James 3:1-2 NKJV).  A mistake may be innocent, but it still has a future, and some consequences!

One’s actions may be misunderstood.  The action within itself may not be wrong, but the error is found in the interpretation placed upon that action.  When Paul returned to Jerusalem, James and the elders met with him (Acts 21:18).  They were concerned because some brethren thought he had “forsaken Moses” by teaching that Jews did not have to “circumcise their children nor walk according to the customs” (Acts 21:21).  Paul was not guilty, but some thought he was.  Their misunderstanding led them to be guilty of gossip and failing to talk with Paul personally.  This caused a problem which neither James nor the elders should have been burdened with (Matthew 18:15-17).  The consequences of their mistaken understanding forecasted Paul’s future.

To solve that problem, Paul was willing to go to the Temple with four Jewish brethren and pay for their sacrifice and service.  On the way he was recognized by the Jewish crowd.  Their mistake was in believing Paul was bringing an uncircumcised Greek into the Temple to defile it (Acts 21:29).  The commander of the Roman garrison saw the problem but made a mistake by arresting the wrong person.  The commander ordered Paul to be bound and scourged (v.24).  Paul revealed his Roman citizenship causing the commander to recognize his blundering mistake before it worsened (v.25).  This would lead to other events motivating Paul to make decisions that would weigh upon his future.

Paul’s mistake was not sinful.  The Jews requested that Paul be turned over to them to be tried by the Jewish counsel in Jerusalem.  Paul used his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:11-12 NIV).  It appeared to be the best course of action under the circumstances.  However, after making his defense before Festus, the Roman Governor, he would have been released except for one problem.  Paul had appeal to Caesar.  Luke records this appeal’s decision on Festus and Agrippa’s part.

Festus said: ‘King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man!  The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer.  I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome.”  (Acts 25:24-25 NIV).

If Paul had waited about making that appeal, he would have been a free man and walked out of that Roman Court absolved of all charges against him.  His mistake, though innocent, was in making the appeal.  Governor Festus had no other choice than to send Paul to Rome to appear before the Emperor.  Isn’t it strange how such decisions can change the entire course of our life?  Innocent mistakes that seem to be the wisest choice at that time.  Innocent decisions that may even cause problems that would not have happened if the decision had been different?  Some might judge Paul for his decision, claiming he didn’t trust in God enough to wait.  Paul may have entertained such a thought himself.

It is true that Paul had opportunities to preach the Good News in Rome that would not have been available to him otherwise.  He would not have written that small letter to Philemon about Onesimus because he would not have been in Rome when Onesimus was there.  The Jewish council in Rome would not have gone to speak with him.  The Roman guards would not have heard the gospel.  The church in Rome would not have been strengthened by his presence.  The Emperor would not have had his opportunity to hear Paul’s teachings about Jesus.  God uses our mistakes, good or bad, innocent or guilty, to have His will done.  Paul’s mistake resulted in a good number of people celebrating because they were eternally benefited by his presence.  On the other hand, we sometimes beat ourselves to death with “what if” we had not made that decision, “but” decided differently?  Yes, our life could have been entirely different, and our influence and the influences upon us would have painted a different picture.  Isn’t that the story found in the movie, “A Wonderful Life”?

We all make mistakes.  We may not understand the “Why” to the outcome of some that we made.  However, God may use those mistakes to benefit you and thousands of others.  Paul’s mistakes did.

FORGIVEN OR FAILURE?

My Thoughts. . .
Monday, July 1, 2019

And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” (1 John 3:5-6 NKJV).

Paul told the error ridden Corinthian assembly, “You are the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Prior to that statement Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). In the following letter he stated, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The Corinthian congregation was:

1. The body of Christ in Corinth.
2. It was made up of individuals that had been immersed into that body of believers.
3. It was made up of members who were God’s new creation.
4. It was made up of folks that God had added to their number.

Since there is “no sin . . . in Him (in Jesus),” in spite of the multiple errors Paul was writing to correct them about, only one individual was to be withdrawn from by that assembly (1 Corinthians 5:1-11). Since John stated that members do “not sin,” but they were involved in sin, how could the body of Jesus be without sin? Wouldn’t all their error cause the body of Jesus to be grossly tainted with it? How can they remain “in Him” when John says “Whoever abides in Him does not sin“?

Some teach that one single sin, regardless of what it is, causes that person to lose his fellowship with God and be reunited as a member of Satan’s assembly. Although he loses his “saved” fellowship status, he continues 1) to be a child of God, 2) his immersion remains intact, 3) he may call upon God in repentance, and 4) his lost membership is renewed until the next infraction. The only ones found in fellowship with Jesus and the Father are those who have yet engaged in a single sin. Since one may ignorantly sin due to not knowing the action or thought is forbidden, some may be lost when they think they are saved. This leaves one with a group that is not sure if his membership is being restored or taken away.

How can one remain in the body of Christ, which Ephesians 1:22-23 states is the church, if one imperfection causes him to lose his fellowship with God? Who among those that “abides in Him” doesn’t sin? Since one sin equals guilt of all sins, “whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.” If a single sin equals lost fellowship with God, how would his prior immersion be of any value since the sinner “has neither seen Him nor known Him“?

There are some who believe that in spite of one’s imperfections, his sins are not counted so Jesus’s body remains sinless (Romans 4:7-8). This sinless state was made possible by Jesus shedding His blood upon the cross. He paid it all! One dies to sin and is immersed into the sinless righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). The old ceases and the new prevails (2 Corinthians 5:17). Satan is defeated and Jesus is victorious!

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. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).

In Christ:

1. We are freed from the power of sin.
2. We no longer have sin controlling our destiny.
3. Our sins were paid for and removed by Jesus= sacrifice.
4. Jesus fulfilled the law and satisfied those requirements that were against us.
5. He made it possible for us to be “Spirit” followers rather than children of “the flesh.”
6. We are no longer under condemnation.
7. We are in the Spirit and He resides within us (1 Corinthians 3:16-16; 6:19-20).
8. We are still in “the flesh,” therefore we continue to recognize that condition (1 John 1:8, 10).
9. Despite the weakness of the flesh, we continue our fellowship with Jesus whose blood keeps us cleansed (1 John 1:5, 7, 9).
10. As the redeemed, we continually recognize our sins, confessing that we are sinners, but also thank God for His continual cleansing in the blood of the Lamb (1 John 1:9).

WHAT IF YOUR FAITH IS VOTED OUT?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, June 24, 2019

Perhaps because I have lived through that history, I can see things which younger folks are blind to.  I was born before World War II.  The forties were part of my youthful history.  Nazi Germany hated Jews and blamed them for problems the nation had brought upon itself.  It was believed that a Nazi German belong to the superior Aryan race and Jews were sub-human and did not fit the mold.  A good Jew was a dead one.  Germany’s “Solution” was to annihilate all of them in Europe.  They were successful in murdering over six million.  At the end of the war, General Eisenhower had movies made of the death camps so the world would see the devastation and results of that hatred and never forget it.  Sadly, we have!  Here we are, sixty-four years later and that same hatred is being reborn in Europe and the United States.  However, it did not originate with the Nazi Socialist Party of Germany.  Its roots go deeper than that.  It originated as a family feud and was later clothed in religious thought.

This hatred originated between Abraham’s two sons.  One born to Hagar a handmaiden, and the other to Sarah, Abraham’s wife.  It continues to be played out in the middle East today.  The secular world may take sides without understanding the cause of that hatred and how it immerses them in its turmoil.   God promised Abraham that he and Sarah would be parents of a great nation.  Abraham and Sarah were old, and pregnancy wasn’t happening.  They, like many believers today, thought God needed their help in keeping His promise.  Sarah gave Hagar, her slave girl, to Abraham as a wife so she could bear him a son.  Hagar obliged by getting pregnant and giving him Ishmael as his male heir.   Jealousy motivated Sarah’s attitude and she had Hagar and Ishmael banned.  The Hatfield and McCoy type of feud began between those two half-brothers and continues to grow and fester to this day.  That growth intensified when Muhammad declared himself as the last great prophet of Allah in 622.  The Qu‘ran expresses Allah’s judgment upon all Jews.  Islamic teaching is that Allah commands that Islam rule the world under Sharia Law.  All who fight against that command are infidels and seal their ultimate fate.

All religions, which includes Christianity, are seen as heretical.  Christians are thought to be misguided people who believe in three rather than One God.  So, Christians are viewed as pagans.   Everyone will be given an opportunity to convert by declaring that “Allah is One and Muhammad is His prophet.”  If that profession of faith is not declared, the individual loses all of his rights.  If a non-Muslim does not submit to Islam, death may be his reward.

The world classifies militant Muslims as “terrorists.”  Yet, they are individuals who are willing to give their lives in defense of Allah’s plan for world conquest.  They are religious zealots.  Paradise is their reward for dying in defense of Allah.  Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, and some Christians do not understand why a Muslim is willing to blow himself up and taking infidels with him.  He is justified by Allah in taking their life.  He goes to Paradise.  They don’t!  They had their opportunity.  They forfeited their right to live by not submitting to Allah.   Terrorist who die for Allah’s cause are considered martyrs and heroes of their faith!  Their families are honored and supported.  It does not matter to them that infidels misunderstand nor wrongly classify their actions.  The ignorance of the infidel often works to their good and helps advance their cause.

Most Christians misunderstand Islam.  Each demand made by a Muslim, which is conceded by the Christian, is seen as a victory over the infidel.  Islam believes Abraham, Ishmael, the prophets, and Jesus were all Muslims.  The word “Muslim” means “one who submits to Allah.”  They believe Jesus was born to a virgin and was one of Allah’s great prophets.  They do not believe he was nor is the Son of God.  They do not believe he rose from the grave.  They believe Muhammad is the last great prophet and must be recognized as such by the world.

Most modern countries, including the USA, will eventually become Muslim, not by violence, but through birthrate.  In most modern nations the birthrate of its citizens is 1 to 2 children per household.  The average birthrate of a Muslim family is 5 to 8.  Through peaceful immigration and birthrate, in 15 to 20 years there will be enough Muslims in this and other countries to fill all political offices with their candidates.  The Constitutions of those countries will be voted out and Sharia Law will become Allah’s law for the world.

The day has already come when Christians in some nations are told to publicly deny their faith in Jesus as the Son of God or die.  The beginning of this demand has now reached our shores.

What is the confession of faith you, your spouse, children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, and neighbors will be making in the future?  Will your confession of Jesus be a whisper, a shout, or a necessary silence (Romans 10:10)?  That silence is being demanded already!

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE AFTER ALL!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Every mistake you make has a future.  It may be good or bad.  Despite the outcome or consequences, it is still your mistake.  Sometimes it is bad because it is accepted in the wrong way.  I’ve had people to ask me, “What did you mean when you said. . .?”  The best reply is, “What did it mean to you?”  This allows me to compare what the person thought I said with what I actually meant by what I said.  Sometimes an apology is needed, not because something was said to hurt the individual, but because it probably could have been worded differently so it would not be misunderstood.  James talks about the tongue and how it can cause trouble (James 3:1-2 NKJV).  A mistake may be innocent, but it still has its future!

One’s actions may be misunderstood.  The action within itself may not be wrong, but the error is found in the interpretation placed upon that action.  When Paul returned to Jerusalem, James and the elders met with him (Acts 21:18).  They were concerned because some brethren thought he had “forsaken Moses” by teaching that Jews did not have to “circumcise their children nor walk according to the customs” (Acts 21:21).  Paul was not guilty, but some thought he was.  Their misinterpretation led them to be guilty of gossip and a failure to talk with Paul.  This caused a problem which neither James nor the elders should have been burdened with.  Sin was in the camp due to a mistaken misunderstanding and failing to correct it properly, which was another mistake (Matthew 18:15-17).

To help solve that problem, Paul was willing to go to the Temple with four Jewish brethren and pay for their sacrifice and the Levitical service of the priest.  On the way he was recognized by a Jewish mob.  Their mistake was in believing Paul was bringing a uncircumcised Greek into the Temple to defile it (Acts 21:29).  The commander of the Roman garrison saw the problem but made a mistake by arresting the wrong individual.  The commander ordered Paul to be bound and scourged (v.24).  Paul identified himself as a Roman citizenship causing the commander to realize his blundering mistake (v.25).  This was the beginning of a later event where Paul would make his own.

Paul’s mistake was not sinful.  The Jews demanded that Paul be turned over to the Jewish counsel in Jerusalem for judgment.  Paul used his right as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar (Acts 25:11-12 NIV).  It appeared to be the best course of action at that time and under the circumstances.  However, after making his defense before Festus, the Roman Governor, he would have been released except for one problem.  Paul had appealed to Caesar.  Luke records how this influenced Festus’ decision.

Festus said: ‘King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man!  The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer.  I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome.”  (Acts 25:24-25 NIV).

If Paul had waited (some might say, “trusted in God”), he would have been a free man and walked out of that Roman Court absolved of all charges.  His mistake was in using his citizenship as his answer rather than trusting in prayer!  Governor Festus had no choice other than to honor Paul’s decision to appeal to the Emperor.  Isn’t it strange how innocent decisions can change the entire course of one’s life?  Innocent decisions that may cause problems that would not have happened if the decision had not been made?

It is true that Paul had opportunities to preach the Good News in Rome that would not have been available to him otherwise.  He would not have written that small letter to Philemon about Onesimus.  He would not have been in Rome when Onesimus was there.  The Jewish council in Rome would not have gone to speak with him.  The Roman guards would not have heard the gospel.  The church in Rome would not have been strengthened by his presence.  The Emperor would not have had his opportunity to hear Paul’s teachings about Jesus.  God uses our mistakes, good or bad, innocent or guilty, to have His will done.  Paul’s mistake resulted in a good number of people celebrating because they were eternally benefited by his presence.  On the other hand, we sometimes beat ourselves to death with “what if” we had not made that decision, “but” decided differently?  Yes, our life would have been different, and our influence would have been experienced by someone else.  Isn’t that the story portrayed in the 1946 movie, “It’s A Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed?

We all make mistakes.  Someone is going to misunderstand your intentions.  Some mistakenly pull the rug out from under their own feet.  You may not understand the reason you made some decision that turned out bad rather than good.  Your bad mistakes aren’t so terrible that they will cause God to stop loving you.  His Son died to prove how much He does love you (John 3:16).  Besides, God uses those mistakes to benefit you and thousands of others.  Look how he used Paul’s decisions to benefit YOU!  If Jesus is in your decisions, then It’s a wonderful life after all!

IF GOD IS DWELLING IN ME!

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, June 17, 2019

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? . . . for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 KJV).

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 KJV).

If God is dwelling in me, why do I wait until the dinner table, bedtime, or Sunday to talk with Him?

If God is dwelling in me, why do I think He is too far away to hear, know, or love me?

If God is dwelling in me, why do I feel He has vacated the premises because I am not perfect?

If God is dwelling in me, why does my culture and church tradition impress me with the idea that I must wear special clothing on Sunday to honor or respect Him when I arrive at a specific geographical address?  Am I not honoring or respecting Him on Monday?

If God is dwelling in me, why am I told I will enter into His presence when I arrive at a building that contains a “sanctuary” where He is located?

If God is dwelling in me, how can I stay in fellowship with Him when I am so void of perfection?

If God is dwelling in me, why do I need to visualize Him as being far off in heaven?  Why not understand that I am His and He resides IN and WITH me?

If God is dwelling in me, because He has bought me, why do I believe my imperfections immediately and completely void that purchase price and return me to Satan’s ownership?

If God is dwelling in me, why is that fellowship not more comforting?

If God is dwelling in me, what assurance is associated with that indwelling?

If God is dwelling in me, why do I believe my imperfections kick God out and they return me to Satan’s ownership and his indwelling?

If my imperfection ends God’s indwelling in me and I am returned to Satan’s ownership, wouldn’t that mean I also lose my citizenship titles/labels/designations and blessings?

If Satan indwells me, would I not belong to the one who is in me?

How can one have two masters if God is kicked out and Satan takes His place?

If God is no longer in me, how can I still be in Christ (be in his body, the church)?

If immersion in water put me in the body of Christ, how can I bypass that action if I am no longer IN Christ and want to get back in his body?

Does Jesus’ blood only remove an alien’s sinner’s sins so he may become a member of Jesus’ sinless body, but does not cleanse those committed by one who is aa member of that body?

If Jesus’ blood is insufficient in removing imperfections while one is IN Christ, wouldn’t that mean I must be bought from my sins over and over after each infraction?  Would the conclusion not be that Jesus shed his blood for alien sinners, not for those who are redeemed and IN his saved body of believers?

Paul was concerned about his flesh serving the law of sin even though he was serving the law of God with his mind (Romans 7:25)?  He considered himself a “wretched man” and wanted to know who could deliver him out of this predicament (verse 24).  He ends the chapter by saying Jesus is the answer to his sin problem!  He then informs the Roman audience, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (8:1).  He continues by informing all who will listen that he has “been made free from the law of sin and death” (8:2).  In verse 9 Paul reveals to the Roman saints that they “are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit.”  He shows how that is possible.  The “Spirit of God dwells in you”!

God takes up his abode in each one He adds to the saved (Acts 2:41, 47.  We are His HOLY Temple.  He continues to remove all impurities and keeps us cleansed by His grace through the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:8-10; 2 Corinthians 5:21).  Rejoice!  Jesus has paid it all.

WORSHIP WITHOUT GOD!?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Listen, you leaders of Israel, you men of Sodom and Gomorrah, as I call you now. Listen to the Lord. Hear what he is telling you!  “I am sick of your sacrifices. Don’t bring me any more of them. I don’t want your fat rams; I don’t want to see the blood from your offerings.  Who wants your sacrifices when you have no sorrow for your sins? The incense you bring me is a stench in my nostrils. Your holy celebrations of the new moon and the Sabbath, and your special days for fasting—even your most pious meetings—all are frauds! I want nothing more to do with them.  I hate them all; I can’t stand the sight of them.  From now on, when you pray with your hands stretched out to heaven, I won’t look or listen. Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear, for your hands are those of murderers; they are covered with the blood of your innocent victims” (Isaiah 1:10-15 TLB).

The auditorium was full.  Singing was inspirational.  Communion comments focused on the moment.  The Lord’s supper served without spills or small children disturbing the decorum.  The minister’s sermon was precise.  His points were well made.  His memory and scriptural quotes were in context, His illustrations memorable.  Visitors and members were equally impressed.  More than one bragged on the worship.  Smiles were plentiful.  Conversations everywhere.  Hugs and handshakes in evidence.  A satisfying worship performed in spirit and in truth.  Several commented that it was just like worship as described by Luke in Acts 2 and 20.  There was one missing ingredient.  It was without God!  How could that be?

Isaiah did not address pagans.  He spoke to children of God!  They were not illiterates, but well versed in divine teaching.  They were in covenant relationship with Yahweh.  But their worship turned Him off!  Oh, they were doing everything right.  If God had required two songs and a prayer, they would have performed without hesitation.  If God had restricted their song book to a specific publishing company, they would have complied without debate.  If they had been told to stand, when to raise their hands, or when to bow to the floor, precision would prevail.  Yet, without God!

If a reporter had interviewed Isaiah’s audience, he might have worded the following questions.  “Was God in your worship?”  “Did you feel God’s presence while you were worshiping?”  All would have responded with a forceful “Yes!”  I’m positive that Isaiah’s description to their worship was met with negativism.  Their response would have been, “Not guilty.”  Their rebuttal?  “Isaiah is delusional.”  They probably thought, “How can the majority be wrong on the word of this single prophet?”  Were they guilty of offering animals for sacrifice that were sick or unacceptable?  No.   Was the incense not offered as scripture commands?  No.  Were their celebrations of the new moon, Sabbath, and fasting days incorrect?  No.  Was it a sin to stretch out their hands when they prayed?  No.  Was it unscriptural to pray?  No.  Were their prayers worded incorrectly?  No.  All those things may have been done correctly as scripture dictated.  Their daily actions voided their worship.  God hated their hypocrisy.  They may have attended their worship assembly, but God had forsaken it.  A worship without God.  We don’t have that problem today, do we?

 

GUESS WHERE GOD LIVES?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday June 10, 2019

I overheard two fellows talking.  One said he was building a $2,000,000 house on a piece of property that he stole for $3,000.  Curiosity caused my ears to join the conversation.  The listener must have felt as I did.  Either that fellow stumbled upon a prize deal or something is wrong, and he is too blind to see it.  Someone in that transaction is getting blindsided.

The listener voiced my question.  “How did you get such a low price for that lot?”  The builder’s answer triggered the same response in me and his companion.  His answer was, “I am building my house in the slums.”  My ears did not have to strain to hear the response of his friend.   We both thought and he asked, “WHAT?  Are you out of your mind”

“You’ve got to be kidding?  You are building a two-million-dollar house in a broken down, filthy, smelly side of town where stores and houses are vacant, and windows are boarded?  A place where crime is rampant, prostitutes work, garbage is not collected, and the dredges of society live?”

If you were that builder’s friend, wouldn’t you think he had lost his mind?  What would a $2,000,000 house, in that location, be worth if you attempted to sell it?  What self-respecting buyer would want to live there?  Wouldn’t you think he was pulling a practical joke?  If not, maybe he was a fool?  Would you go to the most run-down area of your city and build such an expensive house to live in?

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”  (1 Corinthians 3:16 RSV).

Haven’t you yet learned that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you? Your own body does not belong to you.  For God has bought you with a great price.  So, use every part of your body to give glory back to God because he owns it.”  (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 TLB).

Didn’t God decide to build His dwelling place in a rundown, dilapidated, cheapened neighborhood and live there (Romans 3:10, 23; Hebrews 3:6)?  Jesus made it possible.  He paid an even greater price than $3,000 (Hebrews 4:15; 9:28; 10:16-17).  God dwells within that individual 24/7 (Hebrews 10:19-23 TLB, 38-39).  In spite of outside influences to cheapen or destroy that property, God keeps it in pristine condition, making it shine like new (Ephesians 5:25-27).

God made it possible for imperfect, rundown, dilapidated, boarded up property, destined to be torn down and burned, to be made in His image and raised to His perfection.  Man’s success was in creating the slum, Jesus’ victory was in changing it.

He took his own blood, and with it he, by himself, made sure of our eternal salvation” (Hebrews 9:12 TLB).

We are saved by “faith in his blood” not faith in our accomplishments (Romans 3:25; Titus 3:5).  We are saved by “faith in Christ,” not by faith in our ourselves (Galatians 3:26; Romans 7:23-8:1).  We are not capable of reaching nor maintaining sinless perfection.  All who attempt it create themselves as their own imaginary-savior.

We are God’s house, not a dwelling with a postal address.   We are God’s sanctuary, not a room furnished for worship.   We are God’s living quarters, not something constructed by man.  We are God’s holy place, not one mis-identified by man.  We are God’s clergy or priests, not someone appointed to a prestigious office.  We are God’s ordained and sanctified people, complete without man’s ordination.  We are God’s temple, not one with a street sign to identify it.  We do not have to go to the mountain to worship God, He is dwelling in us.  Ruth told Naomi, “Where you go, I will go” (Ruth 1:16).  God isn’t an external traveling companion.  He is an insider!

Is God living in you?

___________

My thanks to Charles McLean for his statement which prompted this article.  He stated, “The fact that He (God) would desire to live in such a run-down neighborhood is beyond me, but I’m indeed grateful.”

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