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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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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.”

SPANKINGS? WHAT SAY YOU?

My Thoughts

 Thursday 6, 2016

Most of us who are older than 65 can remember getting a “spanking” when we were young.  Does anyone remember your parents telling you to cut your own switch “and it better not break until I’m finished”?  Ah, those were the days.

Which one did you dread more, 1) a spanking, or 2) “the talk”?  Personally, I figured a spanking would not last as long as “the talk.”  I cut switches!  Did I need those spankings?  They were just part of growing up.  Solomon stated,

Don’t be afraid to correct your young ones; a spanking won’t kill them.  A good spanking, in fact, might save them from something worse than death.” (Proverbs 23:13-14 The Message).

I’ve had my mother make this comment about me, “I could pinch his head off.”  Solomon never worded it like that.  However, Proverbs 19:18 is interesting as translated in the following versions.

Discipline your son in his early years while there is hope. If you don’t you will ruin his life.” (TLB).

Discipline your children while you still have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” (The Message. Also see the NKJV rendering).

Discipline your son while there is hope, And do not desire his death.” (NASV).

Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.”  (KJV).

Training includes discipline.  Discipline may include punishment.  That discipline is a deterrent to stay on the good side of the law, the teacher, and mom and dad!  No rules often lead to sad consequences.

Solomon continues with these tidbits:

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid.” (Proverbs 12:1 NASV).

A refusal to correct is a refusal to love; love your children by disciplining them.” (Proverbs 13:24 The Message).

A youngster’s heart is filled with rebellion, but punishment will drive it out of him.” (Proverbs 22:15 TLB).

Wise discipline imparts wisdom; spoiled adolescents embarrass their parents.”  (Proverbs 29:15 The Message).

Probably the most misunderstood passage on this subject is Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  (KJV).

Some believe that passage states the following:

If your child leaves home and abandons the Lord, that means you did not train him as you should have. If he becomes a delinquent, it is because you as a parent were one.

This view fails to recognize that a child, when he becomes an adult, is no longer under the control of the parent. Everyone is a sinner.  Everyone has his weakness and those can become his desires.  He decided that, not the parent.  Does he know he is going contrary to what he was taught?  Certainly.  He isn’t a dummy.

If Solomon’s statement is true for Christian parents, wouldn’t the principle also apply to parents who are atheists? Yet, in spite of that training, the child abandons it and follows Jesus. Was his conversion a failure on the part of the parents to teach him properly, or was it due to the individual making that decision in spite of that early training?

That view fails to recognize that Solomon is giving wise statements that are general in nature. One may have four children and train each the same way. Yet three of the four may reject that training as adults.  The three have a foundation to return to but having such a foundation does not guarantee their return.  If so, a person raised by atheistic parents would in his old age deny Jesus and return to atheism!  Children are not zombies.  They make decisions just like parents did when they were growing up.  Jesus didn’t tell his audience to go home and ask mamma and daddy if it would be OK to follow him.  They made that decision even if their parents didn’t raise them to obey a carpenter from Nazareth!

GROWING OLD?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, June 3, 2019

I’m not sure, but I believe there is a song, about a husband and wife’s love “growing old together”?  We do “grow old,” don’t we?  David spoke on the subject by penning, “ I have been young, and now am old” (Psalm 37:25 NKJV).  Moses, in the one Psalm he penned stated, “Seventy years are given us! And some may even live to eighty. But even the best of these years are often emptiness and pain; soon they disappear, and we are gone.”  (Psalm 90:10 TLB).  “Soon they disappear, and we are gone.”  Those words have more meaning as one passes that 80th summer.

Most of us can remember when we were in grade school and thought teenagers were old.  What about parents and grandparents?  We probably thought they had one foot on a banana peel and the other in the grave?  One thing was sure, we never imagined ourselves arriving at their age.  But here we are!  Once we asked, “Who are those old people?” Now we don’t ask, we know!

Age rewards us with new insights every day.  I still have my hair but some of my peers don’t remember where or when they lost theirs.  Even those who still retain some covering on their head have seen it change colors without getting it out of a bottle.  One reaches that time in life when getting down on the floor to play with the grandchildren is just as difficult as getting up.  “Snap, crackle, and pop” is heard before we arrive at the breakfast table.  Each day is a new adventure.  Doctor visits bore you with the same information being given, “At your age you can expect this”!  “This” happens to be whatever you went in to see him about.

For some, being on the backside of fifty doesn’t motivate them to think about eternity.  Oh, they may have God in mind, but in a derogatory way.  Their idea of life and beyond is that the first is too short and the second one doesn’t exist.  For them any religious thoughts are false crutches that burden the weak of mind and spirit.  Sadly, in some degree they are correct.

Some refer to themselves as “believers,” but view God as their tormentor, fulfilling His goal by being spiteful and hateful to them each day.  Others believe He has made eternal dwelling with Him possible if we can perform the impossible task of being perfect.  So, the frightened watch their failures end one day and wait to accomplish the same results the next.  They live each day with no assurance, no hope, and no joy.  Growing old has no rewards only a hopeless insight and fear of hearing, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

I heard about a fellow who was suing his parents for “not getting his permission to be born.”  I’m not sure how that would be accomplished.  Some have heard of the atheist female who taught her son during his formative years that there was no God.  He was a disappointment to her.  He refused to follow her example and decided to become a Christian!  Someone has said that “an atheist is someone who is all dressed up with no place to go.”  The son didn’t want to live by that philosophy.  Guess which one enjoyed life more than the other?

Wisdom should come with age, but it never does for some.  David stated, “Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And with your wisdom, develop common sense and good judgment.”  (Proverbs 4:7 TLB).  The Psalmist wrote, “Happy are those whose God is Jehovah” (Psalm 144:15 TLB).

How well are you growing old?

SPEAK WHERE THE BIBLE SPEAKS!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, May 30, 2019

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11 KJV).

There is a statement often made which is, “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”  This is referred to as a “slogan” which mimics Peter’s statement.  Some would refer to it as a “creed.”  Leroy Brownloe wrote a book titled, “25 Reason Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ.”  He argues that if a statement says more than the Bible, it is a creed.  If it says less that the Bible, it is a creed.  If it says the same thing as the Bible, it is not needed since we have the Bible.  Would that not make our slogan a creed?

Using Peter’s statement, if one wished to be legalistic, any sermon would be full of creedal statements since the speaker would be giving us his thoughts on what he believes the Bible teaches!  Isn’t that what a creed attempts to do?  If we used Leroy Brownloe’s definition of a creed in critiquing any preacher’s sermon, wouldn’t Brownloe’s definition apply to it?  I’m not faulting brother Brownloe, just pointing out that we sometimes fail to see how radical our conclusions may be when carried to their final application.

Christians use phrases which give them a lot of comfort but may not be in harmony with the Bible.  Here are some that seem to fall into that category.  The reader may make his own judgment over the material.

  1. Enter to worship, leave to serve.
  2. To show respect for God, one needs to wear his best on Sunday morning.
  3. Enter into God’s presence quietly and reverently.
  4. We have assembled in the presence of God.
  5. We are here to worship God in spirit and in truth.
  6. We worship God each Sunday morning and evening.

Each person God has added to the saved, is a Christian (Acts 2:41,47; 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16).  Yet, we are not stand-alone disciples/members/saints/or Christians.  Each one of us is a temple.  Not just “a” temple, but more definable, we are “the” temple of God or the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  (1 Corinthians 3:16 NKJV).

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?”  (1 Corinthians 6:15 NKJV).

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV).

Since God is IN you and you are IN Jesus, why do you have to wait to “enter” a specific building to worship, or leave it to serve?  Can’t you worship the One who is dwelling in you 24/7?  Can’t you also “serve” Him 24/7?  If not, are you on vacation from God and an empty temple 164 hours each week?  What does Jesus say about a dwelling that is empty?

Since God is IN you and you are IN Jesus, are you supposed to show Him respect only when you are in a specific location?  Don’t you realize God is in His Holy Temple 24/7?  If you show God respect ONLY when you are at the church building, what KIND of temple would that make you the rest of the week?

Since God is IN you and you are IN Jesus, why are you supposed to be quiet and    reverent in a specific location, but not quiet and reverent in all other places?  Do you dismiss God from His temple, whose temple you are, once the last “Amen” is said at the church building and “worship” is now over?  The rest of the week is yours so you can be as loud and irreverent as you desire?  Maybe that’s the reason some do?

Since God is IN you and you are IN Jesus, is God’s presence only in a physical    locality?  If so, did God vacate you, move to the church building so you could be with Him when you arrived?  If He is there and you haven’t arrived, does that mean God is not with you until you enter the church building?

Since God is IN you and you are IN Jesus, why do you have to wait until you go    somewhere else to worship Him in spirit and in truth?  Same answer as No. 4.

Since God is IN you and you are IN Jesus, why do you have to wait until Sunday to    worship Him since He lives IN you?  Is worship restricted only to the church building?  If so, then maybe the auditorium is the sanctuary!?

Modern worship has a lot of old traditional material in it, going all the way back to the second and third century.  The further one gets from the first century, the more he will see worship with cultural and traditional add-ons sewn in.  When Campbell and Stone came out of the Presbyterian Church, they accepted a lot of those non-biblical add-ons because they did not recognize them for what they were.  Much of it continues to be accepted today.

Traditions once accepted are usually identified as biblical doctrine.  This presents an ongoing problem.  If one tradition can rise to the level of sainthood, it opens the door for other traditions to seek that same status.

Since God is IN you and you are IN Jesus, and God dwells in a holy, righteous place, what does that information say about you?  Aren’t you God’s dwelling place 24/7?

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11 KJV).

DEACON = SERVANT OR MINISTER

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, May 27, 2019

Deacons (diakonos/διακονος) likewise must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for gain(1 Timothy 3:8 RSV) . . . “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess (diakonon/διακονον) of the church at Cen’chre-ae(Romans 16:1 RSV).

Timothy is with the church in Ephesus and Phoebe (Phebe) is with the one in Cenchreae.  Were there men and women “deacons” in the Cenchreae congregation?  Since Phebe is in Rome and Paul is addressing her “business,” the Roman church is familiar with her work and capable of supplying that assistance.  The RSV and NRSV are the only major English translations that render diakonon as “deaconess” or “deacon.”  All others primarily translate it as “servant.”  Some have accused these two versions of heresy due to that translation.

The Greek words diakonos/diakoneo/diakonon are translated as “servant, minister, or deacon.”  The word “deacons” is found 3 times, servant 8, and minister 20.  The singular word “deacon” is found twice.  All forms of “deacon/deacons” are in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 with the exception of another plural form located in Philippians 1:1. The word “deacon” in its singular and plural form are not translated.  They are transliterated.  This means the King James translation committee did not translate those three similar words but gave them an English spelling and ending.  They also did this with the Greek word baptizo.  They did not translate the Greek word baptizo because the Anglican Church primarily practiced sprinkling and pouring.  The words diakonos/diakoneo/diakonon are correctly translated as “servant” or “minister.”

Why did the King James committee transliterate rather than translate and create this special word “deacon”?  A deacon in the Anglican Church was an official position occupied by men who were ordained to work as assistants to the priests. This “official” position was recognized not as a “servant” but as a special church position with this special title.  This ecclesiastical title was continued in all major English translations that followed.  If the King James and following versions had been consistent, the word “deacon(s)” would not appear.  1 Timothy 3:8-13 would have the word “servant(s)” or “minister(s).”  If the word “deacon(s)” is a valid translation of those three Greek words, each time those words appeared in Greek, all such passages could have been translated as “deacon(s).”  Then we would read of those men in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 being called deacon(s), but so would Timothy, Paul, Jesus, Phebe, and a host of others be referred to as deacons.  No one would fault either the RSV nor the NRSV and charge both with heresy if that consistency had prevailed.

The King James committee wasn’t satisfied with transliterating, they also ADDED the word “office” to 1 Timothy 3’s qualifications.  It is a man-made rather than an inspired one.  The men mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 and Philippians 1:1 were men who were assigned different works.  The King James Version is responsible for substituting an ecclesiastical title and honor for the work of those specific servants in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.  That has cause future generations to continue to be misled with that historical mistake.  Traditions can embed themselves so deeply into our psyche, that it is almost impossible for truth to penetrate that barrier.

Were Timothy, Paul, Jesus, or Phebe the same kind of servants as those described in 1 Timothy 3:8-13?  No.  There are two qualifications that would eliminate Jesus, Timothy, Paul, and Phebe from being appointed to that specific work.  The qualifications are 1) “the husband of one wife” and they must have “children” (1 Timothy 3:11-12).  That being the case, is the RSV and NRSV correct in translating the Greek word diakonon as deaconess or deacon?  The answer is, “Yes.”  Why?  Because the word simply means “servant” or “minister.”  In fact, every Christian is a “servant,” “minister,” or “deacon.’  Yet, every Christian is not the same kind of servant, minister, or deacon as those described in 1 Timothy 3:8-13!

Timothy worked with the church in Ephesus.  He and Titus were given instructions concerning certain men that needed to be ordained in Ephesus and in Crete as elders.  This too is a special kind of work.  Titus did not receive the qualifications of those who would be appointed as 1 Timothy 3:8-13 servants.  Only Timothy did.  Just as the qualifications for these male servants is missing from Titus’ letter, the qualifications for women servants is missing from both.   That absence does not exclude women as servants of the church, anymore that Paul’s silence to Titus excluded the 1 Timothy 3:8-13 servants from the work in Crete.

Much discussion has surfaced over whether a congregation may appoint women to be female servants in their congregation.  One thing is certain, Phebe was a servant in the church in Cenchreae.  When she was in Rome, the church there did not go into a mad frenzy over her being a female servant nor rebuke Paul for saying she was one.  From those few statements, we may conclude that there were both male and female servants in some congregations.  No females occupied the work described in 1 Timothy 3:8-13.  We see three kinds of “servant(s) or minister(s)” in the first century congregations.  1). Men who qualified as 1 Timothy 3:8-13 servants.  2). Other male members who were servants or ministers, like Timothy, Paul, and other men.  3). Women like Phebe.

The entire problem originated from the KJV adding a “special” definition to the Greek word diakonos/diakonon, diakoneo.  We’ve had female servants in the church in our lifetime, but do not usually refer to them as “female servants or ministers.”  That is our shortcoming.  We use modern de-scripts, such as Bible class teachers, secretaries, and youth directors for primary and middle school children.  If we continued to use the 1611 King James jargon, we would refer to those working women as deaconesses.

Tradition is a monster which continues to roam among us today  (1 Peter 5:8).

A MASTER MEMORY WITHOUT CONTEXT!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Gus Nichols told about a game he and other preachers of his generation engaged in.  He would begin quoting a passage, from either the Old or New Testament, and the other preacher would finish it.  Then the other preacher would do the same and Gus would finish it.  This continued until one of them made a mistake in his quote.  That’s very impressive.  However, even more impressive is that I know of a preacher who can quote from any version you can name and never miss!

That preacher?  If you are a student of the Bible, you will know him immediately when I tell you that he even quoted scripture to Jesus (Matthew 4:6).  It is easy for him.  However, context is not his forte.  That doesn’t matter to him.  He has mastered using scripture with deception to trouble the hearts of Bible students!

Several years ago a godly man had cancer.  He did not have long to live.  He told me that his imperfections troubled him and he would soon stand before Jesus in all his failures.  Satan had been quoting scripture out of context, causing him to look at his faults rather than to Jesus who had already paid for every one of them (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Revelation 1:5)!

Some folks have been mesmerized by Satan’s quoting than influenced by Jesus’ gift.  Who are these people?

  • They are the saints who have been convinced that their sins are bigger than Jesus’ blood is capable of cleansing.
  • They are the saints who believe God left them the second covenant and it is their responsibility to keep it without violation.  One slip and Satan will own them again!
  • They are the saints who believe they must live perfect lives so when they stand before Jesus with one more good work than the bad ones, their accomplishments are responsible for their salvation.
  • They are the saints who are depending upon their righteousness to save them rather than trusting in the righteousness of God.
  • They are the saints who are void of assurance and their hope is in their efforts being good enough that God will feel obligated to reward them for their efforts.
  • They are the saints who have more assurance in their efforts than they do in the blood of Jesus to keep them right in God’s sight.
  • They are the saints who read Romans 8:1 or 2 Corinthians 5:21 and ignore what God has done through Jesus but interpret those passages to mean everything depends upon their efforts and their righteousness.
  • They are the saints who hope they are going to heaven but are not sure.
  • They are the saints who can quote fifty passage to prove their lack of assurance is gospel and your assurance in Christ isn’t.
  • They are the saints who believe they are saved, more by their perfection rather than the blood of Jesus.

Yes, Satan can quote every passage in any version you have and deceive you with it!

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8 KJV).

Put your trust in Jesus, not yourself.  “Because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”  (1 John 4:4 NKJV).

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