Search

My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith

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).

Featured post

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.

Featured post

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??

Featured post

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?

Featured post

DOES GOD DWELL IN A MAN-MADE DWELLING?

My Thoughts . . .

Monday, January 21, 2019

The word “sanctuary” first appears in Exodus 15:17. It is from the Hebrew word miqdash which means “a consecrated thing or place. . .chapel, hallowed part, holy place, or sanctuary.”  God commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle tent.  This tent would be special because of God’s presence.  A room within this tent was called “the most holy place” (Exodus 26:33-34) or “sanctuary” (Exodus 25:8).  This “most holy place” or “sanctuary” was later transferred to the Temple.  This is where God’s presence would be, and their sins would be removed (Exodus 23:27-28).  There were certain rules connected with the Tabernacle and/or Temple and what could and could not be done therein.  Prior to Jesus’ arrest he told his apostles that the Temple would be destroyed (Matthew 24; Luke 21; and Mark 13).  It would no longer be needed because God would change the location and rules of His new temple.  Some have missed this biblical fact as demonstrated by our speech and thoughts.

The first recorded case of a church building was in the fourth century.  With time and use this building became known as the Christian’s Temple.  The assembly room was where Christians contacted God to worship Him.  This assembly room was referred to as “the sanctuary.”  Did God destroy the Temple in 70 A.D. so a church building could take its place?  Is worshiped restricted to a specific holy place?  Didn’t Jesus make it possible for us to worship God anywhere with or without walls (John 4:21-26)?  Did early Christians meet in the Temple courtyards because it was God’s special place to receive their worship?  When persecution robbed them of that location, did God switch His presence to specific houses?  If so, which ones appear in holy writ as those specific places?  They aren’t there, are they?  When Rome’s persecution began and saints assembled in the catacombs, did those putrid places become God’s sanctuary?  Does God dwell in man-made constructions or did Jesus make that place the hearts of believers?  Where is God’s house?  Is it a man-made habitat or the heart?

When Paul wrote to the assembly in Corinth, he reminded them that THEY were “the temple of God” and “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 3:16-16; 6:19).  THEY were and are God’s dwelling place!  Christians are God’s sanctuary!  They are God’s holy place!   He referred to the Corinthians as “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27).  Purchasing a meeting place and occupying it four hours each week does not convert it into God’s house, temple, or sanctuary.  Under the second covenant, saints are the unique dwelling place of God.  They are God’s house (Hebrews 3:6).  Christians are the “body of Christ.”  Christ is the head of his body which is the church (Ephesians 1:22-23).  The biblical expressions “body of Christ,” “church,” “temple of God,” “temple of the Holy Spirit,” and “sanctuary” refer to those people God has added to the saved.

Some recognized this biblical truth and refer to Christians as God’s sanctuary, holy place, or temple.  If the heart of the Christian is God’s 24/7 dwelling place.  This understanding produced a name change, replacing the term “sanctuary” with the word “auditorium.”  However, changing descriptive names doesn’t necessarily change one’s view.  The mouth may vocalize “auditorium” but the heart may continue to think “sanctuary.”  Problems are not always solved by a name change.

Some continue to honor the auditorium as the Jews respected the Temple.  Jesus, speaking of “in spirit and in truth” worship, did not locate it in a specific geographical site (John 4:21, 23-24).  That worship is produced in the heart.  Your heart and mine are that temple!

Christians, as God’s temple are “holy” (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:15-16).  Our presence does not make the building nor grounds “holy,” neither are they a “holy place” when we leave.  Holiness is in the heart of the saint not in the ground the building sits on (Romans 12:1).  We are not God’s temple, holy place, or sanctuary only four hours each week.  We are his sanctuary 24/7.  Where does God’s word limit “in spirit and in truth” worship to a few hours in a specific geographical location?  The Bible doesn’t, but we do!  Why?

Perhaps the reason some identify a man-made structure as God’s “sanctuary,” is because such a view excuses them, giving them time off from being godly?  Is that New Testament Christianity?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

Are we a four-hour Christian, four-hour temple, or four-hour house of God each week?  Wouldn’t that mean we are godless temples more than we are God’s dwelling place?  Do we “present our bodies a living sacrifice” only four hours each week?  Are we “holy” and “acceptable to God” only four hours each week?  Is that what “reasonable service” or “worship” means?  Does that view not teach that God dwells in us only part time?  If during the 164 hours he is not dwelling in us, would that not make us god-less?

It’s our choice.  Either the Christian is God’s dwelling place, sanctuary, or temple, or a man-made building is.  If the Christian is, then he is in God’s presence 24/7.  That’s a good time to worship Him!

QUESTIONABLE VIEWS?

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Can you imagine joining a family, either by birth or marriage, whose goal is to make your life miserable?  Some feel this is true of God’s family.  Sometimes churches have unrealistic goals placed upon their membership that makes the average individual miserable.  Such requirements weaken faith rather than building assurance.  God is pictured as a tyrant who is happier with your failure than rejoicing in your salvation.  Jesus is depicted as a judge expecting perfection, leaving you with no guarantee of gaining it.  Hope becomes a fool’s game.  Man has an insatiable need to be in control of his destiny, causing him to replace God’s leadership with his own sacred traditions. The Pharisees did it, and every church, even some in the New Testament, followed that footprint.  Man continues to accepts his ability as his guarantee to open heaven’s door.

Man has replaced God’s grace with rules and regulations that burden him with misery, insecurity, hopelessness, and God’s portrait that only Satan can paint.  Jesus came, not with more burdens, but the gift of life in abundance.  He came to give us a peace that passes all understanding, not more misery and turmoil.  He came to give love, not aggravation.  He replaced a law system with grace and faith.  He came to free, not burden us with guilt.  He came to make us family, not fatherless orphans.  He came to save, not torment.  He came to be our friend, not our judge. Yet Satan deceives today just as well as he did in the garden.  We share Eve’s welcome by ignoring God’s.

God loves us, and Jesus has the nail prints to prove it. Jesus is a friend, not a Freddy Krueger!  He did not weigh us down with more laws and demand our faultless compliance.  His law is love without condemnation.  He demonstrated love, not shallow promises.  That love invites us to spend eternity with him.  That fellowship begins with our trusting Him.   We begin as newborns but grow toward maturity.  Love is the spark that burns off Satan’s lies and elevates our freedom.

There are false Messiahs everywhere.  They didn’t disappear in the first century.  They encourage self-righteousness, a holier than thou attitude, a follow-me-or-else demand, and even outdo the devil in quoting scripture.  They want you to promote yourself as a co-equal savior.  They desire that you ignore that Jesus paid it all and replace it with your assistance in reducing that debt.  Your obedience is your payment book.  They look and sound like Jesus, but lack his authority, friendship, love, and salvation.

Who is your Savior?  Jesus or you?  Does Jesus who is our Savior excuse you from obedience?  No, but that obedience doesn’t assist Jesus in paying off your sin debt.  Why do you obey if it doesn’t count toward that debt being reduced?  Satan doesn’t want you entertaining that question because he will not give you a truthful answer.   He desires your commitment to the idea that you are a co-Savior with Jesus.  Are you?

WHY ADD THE IMPERFECT?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Nicodemus “was a Jewish leader, one of the Pharisees.”  He “came to Jesus at night.”  He “said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know you’re a teacher who has come from God.  No one could do these miracles which you are performing, if God were not with him.”

The Pharisee Party began during the period between the close of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New.  The word “Pharisee” comes from the Hebrew idea of “one who is separated for a life of purity.”  Almost two centuries before the establishment of Jesus’ assembly, Greeks occupied Jerusalem and defiled the Temple with their paganism.  Judas Maccabeus and family opposed this blasphemy and liberated Jerusalem in 165 B.C.  In 63 B.C. the Romans captured Jerusalem and occupied that region.  During this period, the two main religious parties were the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Each attempted to gain control of the Temple and priesthood through their influence and connections.  Phariseeism respected Moses and the prophets and considered themselves biblically conservative.  Some Pharisees wore their belief on their sleeves while others held it in their heart.  Both have their place in the Good News.

Some have the idea that the Pharisee Party was completely against Jesus.  This wasn’t the case.  Nicodemus was not only a Pharisee, but a leader in the Party.  Prior to Jesus’ birth there was an expectation among the Jews that the prophesies concerning the Messiah was close to fulfillment.  Jesus was not the first in Palestine to be announced as “the anointed one.”  Others would follow who would make that claim (Matthew 24:5).  Those Messiahs were more like the kind envisioned by the general population.  They wanted a modern David to drive the foreigners out and re-establish the Jewish State.  Even the apostles had this vision (Matthew 20:21; Mark 10:37; Acts 1:6).  Perhaps Pilate thought the same thing, but Jesus attempted to correct his view (John 18:36).  Even today, some base their hope on Jesus soon validating his kingship with an earthly realm.

Nicodemus went to Jesus “at night” (John 3:1-21).  Why?  John mentions it three times but doesn’t say (John 3:1; 7:50 and 19:39).  Some believe he visited at that hour in secret because if known, it might have imperiled his leadership position in the Party.  Did curiosity drive Nicodemus to Jesus’ door despite such a danger?  Perhaps.  Didn’t it drive Zacchaeus up a tree?  However, that night time visit may have been the only opportunity Nicodemus had in talking one on one with Jesus.  Wasn’t the Lord usually surrounded with a multitude who sought healing or another meal?

Nicodemus told Jesus, “we know you’re a teacher who has come from God.”   “We”?  Was he being generic or specific with his “we”?  Would that “we” not also cover the Pharisees?  Wasn’t the Pharisee Party the religious police of that day?  They certainly investigated Jesus.  Since Jesus did not come to drive Gentile pagans out of Palestine, he could not be the Messiah they needed.  They had to interpret his miracles and teaching negatively to justify that denial.  Don’t some have that disposition today?  Nicodemus was not of that number.

Nicodemus allowed Jesus’ miracles and teaching to convince him that this Galilean was the prophetic Messiah.  Later, he spoke out in defense of Jesus (John 7:50).  He helped Joseph of Arimathea with Jesus’ burial (John 19:39.

Nicodemus wasn’t the only Pharisee who followed Jesus (Philippians 3:5).  In Acts 11:2-3 and 15:5 we see that other Pharisees had been added to the saved by God.  Why would God add someone to the saved that would later cause problems?  Wouldn’t the question be answered by asking why He added you and me?  Did he add us because we would never think or act contrary to His will?  Are we head and shoulders above all others due to our Bible knowledge or pure lives?  Didn’t Jesus die for Nicodemus, the Pharisee Party members, you, me, and all others!

Nicodemus went by night to see a miracle worker.  He not only found the prophetic Messiah, but also the Son of God.  You too can find him.  You and I just need to get up and go (Matthew 11:28-30).  About three thousand did on Pentecost (Acts 2:40-41).  Later five thousand men followed (Acts 4:4).  It didn’t take long before others did the same (Acts 5:14).  Levitical priest also believed (Acts 6:7).  Jesus’ invitation spread with the same results (Acts 8:12).  That message found smaller audiences too (Acts 8:35-38).  That invitation continues to be valid today.  It is called the Good News?

BURDENS BRING BLESSINGS

Thursday, January 10, 2019

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name! “Zacchaeus!” he said. ‘Quick! Come down! For I am going to be a guest in your home today!’” Luke 19:5

When we were working with the church in Paris, France back in the early sixties, we had been to Brussels and were on our way home.  We knew a military couple stationed between those two points, so we dropped in for an unannounced visit.  They shared a meal with us, probably due to our unexpected visit rather than it being an invitation.  Different cultures have different ways of showing hospitality.  Luke 19:5 shows a first century Jew who woke up without “hospitality” on his mind.

Does a small statured man take a job that alienates him from his countrymen, but makes him rich, so he can show his peers that he is better than them?  Would such an individual bring attention to his condition by climbing a tree?  Wouldn’t that be humiliating to do that just to see someone who probably would not give him the time of day?  Yet, curiosity drove him up that tree!

Was Zacchaeus expecting Jesus to look up and notice him?  Hardly.  Did he believe his lofty perch would motivate Jesus to speak to him in a positive way?  Why should it?  Would someone make fun of him when he descended from his lofty lookout?  Probably.  Would his wealth and job position impress this traveling evangelist?  Should it?  Would his lofty position impress Jesus and produce respect in those beneath him?  Respect for a tax collector?  Never.

Notice, Zacchaeus did not invite Jesus to be his house guest.  Why would he?  He was not expecting a guest.  He didn’t expect Jesus to desire to be his guest.  He was just curious and wanted to see the man as someone today would look at a new model car but not wish to buy.  This curiosity made this “shorty,” who probably had been ribbed by friends and ridiculed by his foes, climb that well located tree.  Although the text doesn’t say it, he may have heard both negative and positive reports on this teacher.  He was a spectator much like children seeing their first circus parade coming down the street.

Can you imagine his shock when Jesus looked up and made eye contact with him?  Being short of stature, did Zacchaeus expect a snide remark from this Galilean preacher?  Why not?  He had heard such from so many others.  When Jesus spoke his name, did this wealthy tax collector almost lose his grip and fall from the limb that was supporting him?  Imagine the shock?  This traveling speaker did not mouth his name in contempt, but with respect.  Although this preacher was giving him a command, it was NOT a loathing one, but one connected to an unexpected statement.  “I’m going to be a guest in your home today.”  Wow!  Did Zacchaeus use his little finger to clear his ears to make sure he heard correctly?  How long did it take him to climb that tree and find a proper branch as a seat?  Was his descent any faster than his climb?  Did awe cause him to stumble as he approached Jesus?  What thoughts rushed through his mind during those moments?

As one reads these ten verses the implications of “hospitality” may slip by unnoticed.  When Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ home, he was also inviting his traveling companions.  That would be the twelve (Luke 18:31).  What some do not realize is that numerous women also followed Jesus and the apostles (Mark 15:40-41; Luke 8:1-3; 23:55-56).  If they were following at that time, they too would have been invited to be guests.  When Zacchaeus’ feet touched solid ground, inspiration tells us that he “welcomed” Jesus “gladly” (19:6).  This means he gladly welcomed Jesus’ entourage!

Sometimes the actions of our decisions collect the wrong responses.  When Jesus and company announced they were going to accept a tax collectors’ hospitality, the crowd’s response changed.  Even criticism can bath the righteous.  The crowd knew God loved them but thought He could not like Zacchaeus, much less love him.  Why would an itinerant preacher and his disciples want to eat with a “SINNER”?  Jesus with his command to Zacchaeus exposed the crowd’s pseudo righteousness.  They were offended by that revelation!  Before arriving at that Sycamore tree, had anyone in the crowd opened their doors to Jesus and his companions?  None.  The pre-offer had not been vocalized so Jesus invited himself and students to the tax collector’s table.  His announcement was hard for the crowd to swallow.  They thought that no self-respecting Rabbi would entertain such thoughts.  Can’t you hear their pious objections?  If you had been in that crowd, would Jesus’ command to that tax collector have disappointed you and changed your attitude toward him?

While the crowd was “grumbling,” Zacchaeus was making restitution (v.7, 8).  Zacchaeus fed Jesus and the apostles with a table full of food, but Jesus rewarded him with, “salvation” for his soul (V.9).  A short man grew up that day.  His day began with curiosity and ended with an eternal gift.   He went to view a man but fellowshipped with the Son of God.  If Zacchaeus grumbled because the crowd blocked his view, and made it necessary to climb that tree, surely the next day he thanked God for those obstacles that led him to the Savior.

Sometimes things viewed as obstacles, burdens, aggravations, or persecution can be used by God to bless you and me.  They did for a wee little man who lived in Jericho and climbed a Sycamore tree!

DEALING WITH SOCIETY’S VALUES?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Forty-eight years ago, while I was preaching, there was a four-year-old boy in the back of the auditorium, sitting with his parents, deeply engrossed in his coloring book.  During the sermon I used the word “hell.”  When I did, this four-year-old, without looking up or ceasing to color his page said, “Mmm, he said a bad word!”

Words and objects can be used correctly or in an opposite way.  When our boys were 14 and 16 years old, we were cut off by a fellow driver and I hit my brakes.  The youngest son announced, “Dad, that fellow shot you a bird.”  I had no idea what he meant.  Later that son asked his mother, “Why did God give us a ‘dirty’ finger?”  “Shooting a bird” and the “dirty finger” go together for those who are as uninformed as I was.  My wife’s reply was, “Man makes one of your fingers dirty, not God.”  Man, often takes something that is good and converts it into the ugly or vulgar.

There is a seasonal song that includes the words “gay apparel.”  The phase is found in the song “Deck the Halls” first introduced in the 16th century with English lyrics by Thomas Oliphant in the 19th.  It was first published in 1862.  When that song was written, the word “gay” meant “festive, colorful, or bright.”  The word “apparel” referred to clothing.  However, in the sixties it was coined as a word to mean the homosexual lifestyle.  That creation was successful.  The expression in the song seems out of place due to the new definition of “gay.”  There is nothing wrong with the word itself.

Sometimes a “bad word” receives another word as it’s substitute to soften its original meaning.  It seems that the word “frickin” falls into that category.  Have you ever studied the origin of the word to see what it substitutes?  Of course, both the speaker and the hearer may not attach the original meaning to the word.   interpretation can make the expression good or bad.  For this reason, a “new” definition may become the norm and its original purpose lost or unknown to speaker or listener.  The word “awful” originally mean inspiring or something that produced “wonder.”  “Bimbo” originally meant a “fellow” or “one of the boys.”  “Bully” used to mean “darling” or “sweetheart.”  It goes both ways.  “Fond” used to mean “a weak minded” person.  “Terrific” originally meant “terror.”  “Sad” meant “satisfied.”  The difficult part in all this is when a word is in the process of changing.  How does a Christian react when he hears it and what is the intent of the speaker?

We can see this “change” happening in the movies.  I was not allowed, until after I left home, to see the movie “Gone With The Wind,” produced in 1939.  The male star, Clark Gable, violated the taboo barrier when he spoke one four letter word to his co-star, Vivien Leigh, in that classic Civil War tale.  When I viewed it nineteen years later, the word was still in the “No, No” category!

The rating of movies began around 1970.  G = General Audience, PG = Parental Guidance, PG13 = A parent had to accompany the young person, R = Restricted to 17 and older.  X = No one under 17.  If those rating had started prior to 1939, “Gone With The Wind” would have received an “X” rating!  Today, it merits the lowly “G” classification.  That means it may be viewed by babies to adulthood.  As a 1968 Virginia Slims commercial stated, “You’ve come a long way baby.”  That slogan now applies to all of society rather than a few women who lit up a cigarette fifty years ago.  That illustrates what small children are being fed today as “safe” or decent!  If a movie with one curse word may receive a “G” rating, at what number of such words would be allowable until the rating was moved to “PG13.” “R,” or “X”?  “G” used to mean no profanity or suggestive scenes.  “Gone” is a historical type cinema.  Movie goers who do not include such words in their vocabulary block them out.  Those who do use such aren’t bothered by one or several dozen utterances.  But, what do Christians do in a society where one’s boss and co-workers uses that kind of language?  Do you quit and stay at home?  I’m not condoning nor condemning, just pointing out a problem that saints live with every day.

Since 1973 there have been over sixty-one million abortions in the United States.  It may be true that some medical abortions are necessary, but not the majority.  Abortion clinics are making a profit by selling body parts from aborted babies.  You don’t hear many objections from politicians, businesses, the Courts, nor even churches on this subject.  “When is it too late to perform an abortion”?  With some, a baby may be aborted just before birth!  How often must the issue be spoken from the pulpit?  It is a teacher or preacher’s discretion on when and how often the issue should be preached or taught.  Not everyone has the same opinion on this schedule.  Students may hold deep convictions on how often the subject should be dealt with.  Their number may exceed the teacher’s.  When this happens, their discontent is accepted by them as being God’s!  This difference of opinion may lead to a “holier than thou” climax.  What students of the Bible must keep in mind is that abortions were a practice long before the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973.  It was practiced in the first century by the Gentile world.  It was unlawful only if a dying husband was not provided an heir because of an abortion.  This topic is not openly discussed as an issue in our Bible.  Neither Jesus, the apostles, prophets, or Holy Spirit brought up the practice as an issue.  It does seem strange that inspiration does not openly identify or deal with it, although we feel compelled to do so today.  Since 1973 we have had to learn to live in a society that decided it is lawful.

In the first century slavery was openly practiced.  Even the New Testament does not address it as a sin or inhumane.  Inspiration regulated but did not condemn it.  Did slavery disappear when the Acts 2 Pentecost took place?  No.  Didn’t God add slave owners to the body of Christ as well as slaves owned by those masters?  Yes.  Did God demand that slave owners free their slaves before they were immersed?  No.  Philemon is an example of a Christian slave owner that God added to the saved.  There is no command from God about slaves being released by Christian slave owners.  Would we?  Yes.  Yet, there is no information in the New Testament requiring that action.  There is no passage condemning an individual who owned and rightly treats his slaves.  Reading pre-Civil War discussions on the topic reveals it as a heart-breaking issue that led to a war that took 620,000 lives.  It was not until the Vietnam engagement, from November 1955 until April 1975 that war casualties passed the number that died during the 1861 to 1865 conflict.

Can you imagine the turmoil when each of these new views were introduced and an old way of life and ethics was questioned or died out?  No wonder Pharisee Party members were zealous in demanding that Gentile converts be circumcised to become valid Christians (Acts 15:1,5).  Is it surprising that Jesus’ brother and the elders at Jerusalem wanted Paul to prove he was zealous for the Law of Moses by going to worship at the Temple with others (Acts 21:18ff)?  Isn’t Paul’s fourteenth chapter in Romans needed to help Jewish brethren understand the Gentile family members and vise-versa?

Is this a problem experienced only by Old and New Testament saints, but something we don’t have to be concerned with today?  Or, is this an ongoing problem which we have just as much trouble with as our forefathers?  When does a bad thing become good, and when does a good thing become bad?

SAVE YOURSELF?

Thursday, January 3, 2018

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation(Acts 2:40).

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

Peter commanded, “Save yourselves” and Paul’s agreement is, “Work out your own salvation.”  Based upon those two commands, we are told that, “Jesus has done his part by dying upon the cross.  We have been given the final responsibility of saving ourselves.”  This responsibility is bound 1) individually and 2) collectively.  Our salvation is twofold.  Both the Christian and the congregation he is identified with must maintain perfection in doctrine and practice.  Without that double perfection we have not fulfilled those passages and are in danger of missing heaven!

We are told that my personal salvation cannot be obtained if I am guilty of just one sin when I close my eyes in death, or that last trumpet sounds.  Even if it was possible for us to live without committing a single sin, if the congregation we are identified with is guilty of one infraction, either in doctrine or practice, we are still lost!  This standard of double perfection is the so-called Good News that Jesus places upon our shoulders.  God made the way, the truth, and the life so impossible to obtain that Satan ends up with the prize.  Although Jesus suffered and died to save us, that salvation is out of reach for those who cannot maintain perfection.  Heaven is for the sinless only.  Its population will be very, very small!

Satan convinces those who were baptized “for the remission of their sins” that their salvation disappears quicker than the baptismal water can dry upon from their body.  He convinces members with a whisper that sin comes in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes.  He influences members by telling them that their sins and the ones committed by the assembly he attends are small when compared to another person or congregation.  He lulls them into a satisfaction that since others are greater in their sins than his, God will grant him a special pass and consider him faithful due to that difference.  Sinners are suckers for Satan’s devilish sayings.  We blind ourselves just as easily as Eve did in the garden!

Satan tickles our ears by suggesting that our failure in being perfect isn’t so bad because God might, maybe, or will perhaps supply enough grace to make up the difference and as the lucky few, we will be allowed into heaven.  So, blindly we grope through Satan’s darkness, possessing a false hope that “lady luck” will provide our passage on judgment day.  Satan wins when we trade trust in Jesus’ blood for his pseudo sweet talking hope.

Satan is the master of deception.  He convinces the saved that Jesus’ blood isn’t enough to buy or release us from sin nor put us into a state of “no condemnation” (Romans 8:1).   He deceives the saved into believing that our sins are too great for Jesus’ blood to sufficiently cover.  His lie is that our obedience must ring with perfection or we will be banished forever from God’s kingdom.  He delights in robbing the saint of all assurance, leaving each believer in a state of uncertainty, depression, guilt, joylessness, and questioning our future.  He convinces the saved to fortify themselves with a false sense of “truth” which feels comfortable.

If one had to posses a passport and have a page stamped each time as he entered each kingdom, it would soon increase in size and weight.  It would require an eighteen-wheeler to transport it back and forth.  For some, that is their Good News.  For them, being a Christian is a life of travel between two kingdoms hoping to die while visiting the good one!  Such a life is based upon luck rather than the blood of Jesus.

That kind of gospel is not the Gospel of Christ.  Joy is not limited by our imperfections, it is upheld by Jesus’ blood.  His blood removes all our sins and he clothe us in his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Satan wants to keep that a secret by selling us on his false news.  He wants you to believe your righteousness is adequate!

Save yourselves” or “Work out your own salvation.”  Do either of these statements mean our obedience pays part of the price to remove our sins?  It does if you believe the devil’s lie.  One saves himself or works out his own salvation by putting his trust in the saving power of Jesus’ blood.

Which “Good News” are you trusting your eternity to?

FORGIVENESS

Monday, December 31, 2018

During Jesus personal ministry prior to 30 A.D., he told his disciples to pray by stating,

Forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.  Your heavenly Father will forgive you if you forgive those who sin against you; but if you refuse to forgive them, he will not forgive you(Matthew 6:12-15).

On July 10, 2012 Matthew West introduce the following song titled “Forgiveness” which contained these lyrics.

It’s the hardest thing to give away

And the last thing on your mind today

It always goes to those who don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel

When the pain they caused is just too real

Takes everything you have just to say the word…

 

Forgiveness, Forgiveness.

 

It flies in the face of all your pride

It moves away the mad inside

It’s always angers own worst enemy

Even when the jury and the judge

Say you gotta right to hold a grudge

It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

 

Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Forgiveness.

 

Show me how to love the unlovable

Show me how to reach the unreachable

Help me now to do the impossible

 

Forgiveness, Forgiveness.

Help me now to do the impossible,

Forgiveness

 

It’ll clear the bitterness away

It can even set a prisoner free

There is no end to what its power can do

So, let it go and be amazed

By what you see through eyes of grace

The prisoner that it really frees is you

 

Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Forgiveness.

Show me how to love the unlovable

Show me how to reach the unreachable

Help me now to do the impossible

Forgiveness

 

I want finally to set it free

So, show me how to see what Your mercy sees

Help me now to give what You gave to me

Forgiveness, Forgiveness.

Forgiveness!  Forgiveness is something most folks seek consciously or unconsciously all their lives.  For some it is hard to receive.  Yet, it is a subject that is also difficult to impart.  Simply put, we want to be forgiven, but we don’t want to forgive.  We are hurt when others will not forgive us, but we are too hurt by what others have done to forgive them.  Yet Jesus placed a stipulation before forgiveness will be granted by God to us (Matthew 6:14,15).  You must forgive to be forgiven!  Too often we feel the offense we have suffered is too great for our offender to be forgiven.  We feel that the offender does not deserve it.  Yet, each of us is guilty, by our sins, for the cruel death of God’s Son.  Gentiles blamed Jews for Jesus’ crucifixion, but forget that they climaxed the deed.  Paul announced that “all have sinned,” not just Jews but also Gentiles (Romans 3:10, 23).  He is willing to put away his hurt and humiliation if we will do the same.  Do you feel what others have done to you is greater than what you and I have done to Him?  I hope not.  God wants to forgive you.

But God, following his prearranged plan, let you use the Roman government to nail him to the cross and murder him. . . Therefore, I clearly state to everyone in Israel that God has made this Jesus you crucified to be the Lord, the Messiah!  These words of Peter’s moved them deeply, and they said to him and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’   And Peter replied, ‘Each one of you must turn from sin, return to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; then you also shall receive this gift, the Holy Spirit.  For Christ promised him to each one of you who has been called by the Lord our God, and to your children and even to those in distant lands!’  Then Peter preached a long sermon, telling about Jesus and strongly urging all his listeners to save themselves from the evils of their nation.  And those who believed Peter were baptized—about three thousand in all!”  (Acts 2:23, 36-41).

 

Are you a FORGIVER?  If not, how can you be forgiven?

____________________________

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1Lu5udXEZI  Matthew West singing “Forgivness.”

A CHOICE!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

God took his Word and gave Him flesh (John 1:1-5, 14).  His name was Emmanuel, meaning “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).  The angel said his name would be “Jesus” which means the salvation of Jehovah or Yahweh.  He was sent to live among first century Israel. Isaiah prophesied about him saying, “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).  Isaiah also told us about his birth.  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

John tell us, “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).    Just as their fathers failed to appreciate Jehovah in the cloud and pillar of fire, so some refused to recognize Deity in the flesh. They were so busy attempting to do the impossible, that they failed to understand that in Jesus all things are possible. They could not see God’s grace, love, or mercy. They disregarded faith and attempted to save themselves through Law keeping.  Failure was their reward.  Even today men continue to choose that failure rather than accept salvation by faith.

Some foolishly embraced a Barabbas rather than choose the Immanuel.  Some sold their souls to the Father of Lies, rather than receive freedom from the Father of Truth.   Yet Jesus came to die for all sinners because He loves us.  Sadly, some reject that love.  God made it possible to be reconciled to Him through Jesus.  Yet, many chose to reject His love, ridicule His mercy, ignore his grace, and make themselves their god.

We all have a choice.  The choice you make has eternal consequences!

THE HERE AND NOW!

Monday, December 24, 2018

When I went to Russia for the first time in 1992, we visited the first McDonald’s to be established in Moscow. The square was filled with young people. At first I thought they were all Americans because they wore what our youth do. Yet, they were Russians. They looked like us, but they weren’t. Have you noticed how often Christians do that. We dress like the world. We talk like the world. We even think like the world. Why? Because we put Jesus on the back burner. Why? Because this is the “here and now.” For some, heaven seems so far away. Religion becomes an emergency cell phone, to keep nearby in case we need to call 911 for God’s help. However, until faith in Jesus becomes our daily garment, we will be nothing more than a flashlight with dead batteries. How far away is heaven to you?

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑