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FEAR GROWING INTO FAITH

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 06-14-2021

Are you afraid of God?  Although the reply may come in several descriptive layers, it is usually “Yes.”  Of course, that just supplements that long list of fears some have developed over the years.  What do we expect to see when God reveals Himself to us?  The lack of knowledge about God usually strengthens misguided information wrongly developed over the years.  Although some recognize God as good, they still retain that “boogeyman” persona which may have been instilled in them when they were young.  Some parents may have thought their disciplining was noble when they reminded the child, “If you don’t be good, God is going to GET you.”

At His appearance, some believers will realize how shallow their lives have been.  Boasting will evolve into tears of confession and failure.  When souls are laid bare, and there is no place to hide, one will realize how much his need for God has been.  There will be a place for fear.  It will no longer be a condition to question, but a reality to experience.  Are you afraid of God?

Some may be as bold as Paul was when he wrote, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).  Some do not see Jesus as an indignant judge vainly searching for perfection.  They see him as the Savior who lived among men and smiled as well as laughed about life’s amusing moments.  Even in serious moments when Peter first met the risen Lord, Jesus did not brow beat him over his denials.  Those word never left Jesus’ mouth.  Instead, Peter heard Jesus ask, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15-17).  Even though Peter did not reply using the specific word Jesus gave, he told the apostle. “Feed my sheep” (vv. 15-17) and “Follow me” (v. 19). 

Jesus did not call twelve perfect men to be his apostles.  He gathered liars, hotheads, men who would curse or swear, men who would deny him, men who did not see eye-to-eye with one another, men looking for prestige and control, and men and women who were not always society’s cream-of-the-crop.  Yes, he gathered people just like you and me.  He gathered people who needed saving and each one responded to him in their imperfect way.   Daily they walked with him.  They listened to his lessons.  They saw the life he lived.  They argued with him.  They disagreed with him.  They attempted to correct him.  He did not fire anyone, nor did he attempt to replace anyone.  He was not looking for the sinless, he was looking for folks like us! You and I may fear God the Father, but He sent Jesus to show us who He is.  Do not miss His love by dwelling on your fear.  Allow Him to grow you from inside (1 Corinthians 3:16).  No, spiritual growth does not happen overnight, but it will happen.  Even as you mature, you will continue to be inconsistent due to sin in your life.  We all are guilty.  That is why you and I will always need Jesus!  Follow him and He will keep you cleansed.  Guess what?  With that growth your “fear” will turn to respect, and you will find “comfort” in your relationship with the Father. 

FOLLOW ONLY THE BIBLE?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 06-07-2021

The slogan that is sometimes stated is, “Religious division would disappear if everyone would FOLLOW ONLY THE BIBLE.”  That slogan is contradicted when one attempts to replace first century commands, based upon their culture, with twenty-first century substitutions.  Did God give commands that were integrated with the culture of the first century?

In the New Testament some of the saved were slaves.  Paul stated, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.   There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither BOND nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).  Paul gave instructions to Christian slave owners as well as Christian slaves on the kind of conduct they should practice with one another (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-4:1).  These instructions did not abolish slavery.  In fact, the New Testament does not condemn the practice, it only regulates it.  That regulation would lead to future reform.  Some have attempted to remove the negativism from that teaching by substituting “employee” for “slave” and “employer” for “master.”  Changing the Bible’s wording negates the truthfulness of the slogan’s “follow only the Bible.”

The first century church was told to deal with relationships rather than the practice.  God added to the saved those who were slave owners and slaves.  He adds folks to that same saved body today who are repulsed by that first and nineteenth century slave culture.  Rather than deny it happened, God wants us to accept it as a fact of man’s weakness and develop our faith through lessons taught about that human weakness.     

Some cultural actions are more acceptable that are included in a “thus saith the Lord.”  However we do not accept every aspect of that previous culture.  For example, Isaac=s wife was selected, not by Isaac, but by his father=s slave.  Isaac had never met her, nor did he know her.  Isaac first saw her when she and the slave arrived.  Even then she wore a veil covering her facial features.  They did not date because that cultural practice was unacceptable in that society.  There was no engagement period, no purchase of a marriage license, no clergy to say the marriage vows, and no Western style marriage ceremony.  After dismounting from her animal, scripture states that “Isaac brought her into the tent, and she became his wife” (Genesis 24:67).  Today two people are not introduced and immediately head for privacy to live happily ever after.  Yet, Isaac and Rebekah=s marriage was just as binding in their culture as our marriage is in ours.  However, can you imagine our parents choosing our lifetime mate without consulting us and one day introducing that person to us? David and Solomon had multiple wives in their culture.  However, although acceptable in their time, would any Christian woman today wish to be one among many wives sharing the same husband? 

When Paul was with Gentiles, he became a Gentile.  When he was with Jews, he became a Jew.  From one culture to another, he conformed to that culture to win his audience (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).  This caused a problem in the first century when Jewish brethren wanted to bind their scripturally commanded circumcision on Gentile converts.  When these differences appeared between Gentile and Jewish brethren it was dealt with by Paul in Romans 13 and other letters.  The Bible student will find some cultural actions followed by the first century church which today=s assemblies refuse to observe.  They are considered either antiquated or frowned upon by today=s society.  Yet they are part of scripture which our society refuses to follow.  That refusal negates the slogan, “follow only the Bible.” 

Attempting to separate the “thus saith the Lord” from cultural practices of the early church have produced some negative results.  When praying, men are commanded to lift “up holy hands.” However, today most do not do so (1 Timothy 2:8).  Is that refusal because that command is a cultural action?  If it is a biblical command, would we not be guilty of disobedience if we do not comply within that stated context?  When we refuse to practice it, what passage do we cite which gives us that specific privilege?  Was the “fruit of the vine” which was used in the Lord’s supper Welch’s Grape Juice or wine?  Would Welch’s cause anyone to get drunk by drinking too much of it?  Is enough bread consumed that no one leaves the assembly hungry (1 Corinthians 11:20-21)?  Why do we rush to Cracker Barrel when the last “Amen” is said?  Is it not because we are hungry, and Cracker Barrel will eliminate what was supposed to be supplied by the church when we partook of the Lord’s supper?

Substitutions are made and continue even though Scripture does not spell it out.  The justification for those substitutions is varied and God is expected to add our human judgments to supplement His divine will.  Humans do not always agree when offering solutions.  Man in his fallibility often produces the negative which can produce division.  Each division usually justifies its actions as scriptural. 

That slogan is contradicted when one attempts to replace first century commands based upon their culture with twenty-first century substitutions.  When those substitutions are made, we are no longer “FOLLOWING ONLY THE BIBLE.”

STRENGTHENING FAITH TO DISPEL FEAR

My Thoughts . . .
Thursday, 06-03-2021

The apostles and Jesus were on the Sea of Galilee when a storm erupted. Jesus was asleep and his fearful disciples needed a wide-awake Savior. They were not whispering “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” (Matthew 8:23-26). Fear is not timid nor silent! One might expect that plea from eight of the apostles, but it came from all twelve, even the four who worked on that body of water. Matthew refers to it as a “furious storm” (NIV). It must have been bad to cause four sailors to fear imminent drowning. Jesus’ response was, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Why, indeed?

(1). Had they not witnessed Jesus healing a leper (vv. 1-3)?
(2). Were they so blind that they could not see the Lord healing a centurion’s servant (vv. 8-13)?
(3). Had they forgotten about Peter’s mother-in-law being healed (v.14)?
(4). Surely, they were not occupied with the trivial when he freed several who were demon possessed (v.16)?

The twelve may have been with Jesus, but their fears outweighed their faith. They had observed the miraculous power of Jesus, but this storm diminished its strength. This was a test to strengthen their faith, but they allowed it to increase their fear. They could see with their eyes and hear with their ears, but faith was missing in their heart. Like the apostles, we seem to increase our fears better than we balance our faith!

As disciples, we are in a better position than were the twelve. We know what Jesus was capable of doing through our readings in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Yet, how many believe we must ADD our strength to supplement HIS BLOOD in order to GUARANTEE our salvation? Our hope is shallow, our efforts are insufficient, and our assurance is questionable which leaves us with a nagging fear. The command continues to be given, “Fear not.” Why do we continue to make excuses?

“Fear not.” Jesus said it. We read his statement to the apostles. We expected them to develop their faith and push fear out of their thinking. Yet, our faith is overshadowed by that same fear. Therefore, we also end up needing Jesus’ admonition. Fear threatened their faith, and it will attempt to rob us of ours. Make sure your faith finishes as the winner so fear will be defeated!

WHAT DO THEY SEE IN YOU?

My Thoughts . . .

Monday, 05-31-2021

There is a song which was written by Patricia J. Owens in 1883 titled, “Give me the Bible.”  The Refrain is,

“Give me the Bible–holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way.  Precept and promise, law and love combining, ‘Til night shall vanish in eternal day.”

Although the song was used by children, adults sung it too.  When I grew up, just about every home possessed a Bible.  Going to Sunday School for children was required by parents who might not attend themselves.  You did not mow your lawn on Sunday unless you wanted to receive a critical eye from the neighbors.  Movies did not have a single swear word in them.  Life changes though.  One movie was condemned because it had one curse word in it.  I was not allowed to hear Clark Gable in “Gone With The Wind” say that one specific word until I was in college and 20 years old.  That movie is now rated “G.”  In the 60’s things began to change slowly but continued to pick up speed as the years rolled by.

In a recent report it stated that 43% of Millennials do not know, do not care, nor do not believe God exists.  Millennials are those individual between the ages of 25 to 41.  The Church of Scotland General Assembly recently considered a proposal to remove the expression “husband and wife” from their official marriage ceremony.  This allows the minister to join two men or two women together in marriage.   The individuals decide for themselves who would be the male or the female in their relationship. 

Why does society seem to be moving away from the church and the teachings it provides?  Part of the reason is the church itself.  N.B. Hardeman once told a Graduate School audience in 1962 that each congregation was in one of three positions.  1) The church was going into a problem, 2) The church was in the middle of a problem, or 3) The church was coming out of a problem.   I have worked with some great congregations over the past 61 years.  Most of those that I worked with part or full-time had their mountain peaks as well as valleys.   Human imperfection causes the valleys despite the beauty of the surrounding peaks.  Problems have moved some closer together while driving others apart.  Despite being in that group which scripture calls “the saved,” we can disguise our Christianity quite well.  The problem is that non-believers see our dead-beat periods.  Our “light” burns out the good relationships rather than attracting people due to our love.  The divisions in Christianity are not very appealing.  Instead of projecting the peace of heaven, others sometimes witness the horrors of hell.

Some depart from the church due to their misunderstanding of Christianity.  They believe the Christian life will removes all the negatives and replace them with the smoothest highway which one may spiritually travel.  Sometimes even the sweetness of life can take a turn for the worst, leaving a wake of sourness behind.  Christians in the first century faced beatings, chains, imprisonment, criticism, loss of work, persecution from friends and neighbors, backbiting from fellow saints, disappointment, and even death.  Not everyone in society wants to go to heaven, and such individuals believe they are doing you a favor by taking you off that narrow highway.  “Eat, drink, and be merry” is their gospel and they are willing and enthusiastic in sharing it with you (Luke 12:19).

Gigantic buildings will not convert the non-believer.  When Paul used a non-believer to illustrate a point to the Corinthians, the outsider was not impressed with two songs and a prayer.  However, what he saw in the members cause him to fall “on his face” and “worship God and declare that God is really among you” (1 Corinthians 14:25).  He understood the Corinthian’s faith.  What do unbelievers see in us and the assembly we attempt to get them to visit?

“Give me the Bible—holy message shining, Thy light shall guide me in the narrow way.  Precept and promise, law and love combining, ‘Til night shall vanish in eternal day.” 

TITLE HAPPY

My Thoughts . . .

Thursday, 05-27-2021

When I was in college from 1954 to 1958, I made the mistake of using the expression “Mr.” to address one of my teachers.  He quickly informed me that his title was “Doctor.”  From that day forward I always addressed him with “Doctor.”  Later, in Graduate School, even though all of my professors had their doctorate, we addressed them as “brother” without being corrected.  One professor had a doctorate in the Old and another in the New Testament.  Although all of my professors were great teachers, brother Lewis was my favorite.  A student had to make a “B” or better to pass his courses.  In my last year I was sitting next to Dr. Jack Lewis eating dinner.  I remarked that in two years of study at the Graduate School, I did not have a class under him that last semester.  Without looking up he remarked, “Some come to study and some come to play.”  There was no “playing” in Graduate School!

The college professor had one doctorate while brother Lewis had two.  Both deserved to be referred to as “Doctor.” due to their accomplishment in earning their degree(s).  There was also a matter of respect which that achievement deserved resulting in a student referring to his professor by that title.  Sometimes one will cross paths with an individual who is “Title Happy.”  Although an individual may have worked diligently to earn his degree and etiquette requires the student to recognize what was earned, the achievement may produce an inflated attitude.

The apostles mistook Jesus’ “Messiahship” thinking it was an effort to throw off Roman occupation and restore the kingdom of David.  They argued over who would be his right and left-hand man.  Peter and another apostle joined him to supply their swords to support him.  If anyone attempted to stop Jesus in his quest to rule, their swords were ready to bring first blood.  They knew opposition was growing among the priesthood against Jesus when they sat down to eat the Passover meal.  Then this Messiah King did the unbelievable.  He took a towel and a container of water and lowered his status to serve them as a slave by washing their feet.  One apostle left the group on his way to finalize the arrangements to arrest Jesus.  Jesus informed the rest why that individual had left, but the understanding was so warped that they could not fathom what that apostle was doing.  Peter attempted to protect Jesus from the crowd that came to arrest him.  He continued to misunderstand Jesus’ purpose.  Plans to cast off the Roman bondage disappeared and was displaced with darkness which hid Jesus’ frightened followers.  John made his way to the Judgment Hall where Jesus had been taken.  Peter, who had been so vocal in supporting Jesus, was now more interested in separating himself from that connection.  A rooster began its morning ritual which demanded Peter’s attention.  Denial quickly turned into tears.

Jesus was God’s Messiah, but he did not become indignant when that recognition was withheld from him.  He was brought before Rome’s authority as well as Jewish, but he was not “Title Happy.”  He was beaten and ridiculed, but he did not demand that his tormentors be struck dead for their deeds.  Even today, fiery meteorites do not light up the skies to fall upon those who use his name in vain.  Some then refused to recognize Jesus as the Son of God, but heaven did not reward them with immediate death.

When judgment does come, swearing will turn to loud pleas of regret.  Disbelief will disappear with recognition that it is too late.  “Hell” will no longer be a word to swear in order to impress, but a reality to be suffered.  Man’s judgment will evaporate as the Lord’s will is revealed.  The elitists who before had asked, “Do you know who I AM?” will know who he IS.  God knows those who are His and will call them by name.  The titles that will be appreciated will be “Christian,” or “my child” rather than “Doctor.” “President,” or “I am somebody.”       

MISSING TRUTH AND BELIEVING NOTHING

My Thoughts. . .
Monday, 05-24-2021

It was the Passover Feast. The twelve and Jesus were in an upper room. Neither Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John reveals the house’s owner where they met to celebrate that meal. We are not informed on who killed the sacrifice and prepared it. Who provided the items also consumed in that meal are not revealed. The scriptures that were read during this meal and the dialogue used is not mentioned.

Matthew and Mark mention one cup of the fruit of the vine when Jews in that time frame used four during the Passover meal. Luke mentions cups number 3 and 4. Both were used as part of the Passover. Luke includes both in Jesus memorial supper with number three being limited to part of Jesus dialogue and number four being representative of his blood. John totally bypasses the communion. All who were present completely misunderstood that part of the Passover meal.

Jesus announced that one of them would betray him. He even told them how they could identify that individual (Matthew 26:24-25; Mark 24:118-20; Luke 22:21-23). The “who” was totally missed due to their misunderstanding about Jesus mission. All of the apostles had a misconception of what was about to happen. Judas made his journey to make sure that night ended with him being thirty coins richer. Perhaps Jesus would be forced to initiate the overthrow of the Roman presence and re-establish David’s kingdom? The apostles did not dream that they would spend the night making darkness their friend nor huddled for protection in a room with a closed door.

When Jesus revealed himself to them, they were not thinking about breaking bread which Paul later referred to as “the Lord’s supper.” They were not arguing over who was going to be Jesus’ right hand man. The sword which Peter and another apostle wore were not displayed by either one nor were threats made about what they would do with those weapons. Thomas would not believe Jesus’ resurrection until he could see Jesus’ hands and side.

Since Jesus had been crucified, died, was taken from the cross, and buried, no one was expecting him when he appeared. They saw but did not see. They talked but did not identify. They were blinded by their disbelief. Jesus was dead, so they did not recognize the living Messiah. Jesus was dead and this man was talking with them. Dead men do not talk. They saw a man, but the dead do not live. Imagine their surprise when their sight turned to recognition and their ears heard a familiar voice? Fear developed but soon disappeared. Jesus had risen!

Sadly, the world refuses to believe in the resurrection. For a multitude, Jesus’ name is preferred only to swear by. They believe he died, but refuse to recognize his resurrection. For them, death ends their existence. Their philosophy is summed up with “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” They refuse to believe there is an existence after death. If they are wrong, they will quicky realize that their kind of faith produces hopelessness. If they are right, no one will know!

THE FAITHLESSNESS OF PERFECTIONISM!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 05-20-2021

A person may be “holy” in character with a reputation that is spotless yet continues to be a sinner.  Why?  Peter did not mind telling others what he would or would not do, but he was a sinner.  Paul’s work-ethic was stronger than most, but he had the same fault.  John, the one who immersed, was related to Jesus, but he also came up short in law keeping.  The Philippian church received a letter from Paul, who had almost nothing negative to correct, yet they were guilty of sin.  When Paul wrote the Roman brethren, he summed it up with, “For all have sinned” (Romans 3:23).  The application of Paul’s words goes beyond the first century.  Luke in describing the Pentecost event, informs the reader that first covenant children of God (Jews) realized their short-comings and asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37).  Peter’s first “do” was “Repent” (v.38).  Peter’s command to “Repent” was immediately followed by “be immersed for the remission of sins” (v.38).  Yet, even saved sinners are not immune to shortcomings.  That is why mankind continually needs the results of Jesus shed blood.

Even though saved sinners are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, non-believers are capable of finding fault in their lives.  God forgives while non-believers find fault.  It is usually their way of dismissing Jesus.  The female gate keeper could have informed her friends how Peter was a lying, cursing disciple of Jesus (Mark 14:71).  However, she had not had the opportunity to hear or know Jesus.  Former colleagues of Saul could have reminded him about his covetousness (Romans 7:8 ASV).  They had not yet experienced the work of Jesus upon the cross.  However, even though one follows Christ he is not Lilly-White.  If Jesus had not died to remove our sins, you and I would remain lost because we do not have that ability ourselves.

We cannot erase our past history.  It is what we used to be.  Although Jesus saves, he does not mold us into a robotic individual who never stumbles again.  He not only took our past sins, but all of them to be washed away by his sacrificial blood.  Our forgiven imperfections may continue to haunt us, but we are forgiven!  Satan attempts to enslave us again by taunting us that Jesu’s blood is not sufficient to keep us clean.  If we forget the continual cleansing power of Jesus’ blood, Satan celebrates our weakness of faith.  Paul stated, “You, however, are controlled NOT by the sinful nature but by the Spirit” (Romans 8:8).  Our shortcomings should remind us that Jesus cleanses those who confess these glitches in life (1 John 1:8-10).  Satan wants you to believe you must be perfect.  Remember, you are not capable of perfection, but Jesus is sufficient in keeping you perfectly cleansed.  Keep your eyes focused on him who took ALL our sins upon himself and bestowed upon us his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  His righteousness is not feeble.  It is not negated by our lack of perfection.  It is activated by faith in his redemptive work on the cross.  The Hebrew writer reminds us “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:17, 39).

We have a choice.  Follow Jesus or accept the cost of living without him.  If you believe your perfectionism will save, you are following the wrong teacher.  Impotent cleansing is no cleansing at all.   

THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM

My Thought . . .

Monday, 05-17-2021

In 1965 there was a Broadway Musical titled “Man of La Mancha.”  A popular song from that play was “The Impossible Dream.”  Some who have sung that tune were Robert Goulet, Jim Nabors (Gomer), Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Susan Boyle.  In later editions, minor changes were made to some lyrics. The song has memorable lines that grab one’s attention.

There are some things that men strive to reach that are impossible to accomplish.  Despite that truth, men ignore the impossible and continue to disappoint themselves by reaching for that which is beyond their grasp.  According to Genesis 3, man lost perfection by exchanging it for disobedience.  Mankind continues to perpetuate that condition, but the fruit is always failure.  He has convinced himself that perfection is reachable if one tries harder.  That is man’s “Impossible Dream.”

God sent his Word to greet the world as a dependent baby, the first child of a youthful virgin, who did what was impossible in the eyes of mankind.  The Word went through the growth process to become a man.  He would do what no other human was capable of performing.  He would be without sin and offered himself up to pay for our shortcomings.  This would make us worthy recipients to receive God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Each believer would be completely cleansed so God could continue to dwell in a spotless Temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).  It was God’s way of perfecting sinful man and making the real dream of perfection possible.

Man’s “impossible dream” is his nightmare.  Man believes this impossibility is better accepted if man can reach perfection without God’s assistance.  Man clothes himself in his own righteousness refusing to see his glaring nakedness.  His goal is to keep God’s law unbroken and present his effort as his key to open heaven’s door.  As man recognizes his failures, some adapt their “how” to make their righteousness more palatable.  The human creator is enamored by his own foolishness.  It is approved by Satan, not Heaven.

Man’s answer to his sin problem is to empower Satan while weakening the strength of Jesus’ sacrifice to save.  This reduction makes Jesus’ blood save a man until the man’s first sin after being saved.  When that sin occurs, man loses his salvation and is enslaved once again to darkness.  This involves man in a merry-go-round between saved and lost with lost becoming predominant.  Man then creates a limited hope that believes God’s grace will cover his sin gap if that chasm is not too large.  This causes a person to live his life in a religious state of doubt concerning his eternal salvation.  For some, hopelessness becomes larger than one’s desire to continue, leading to a misspent life due to his belief that despite his efforts to please God, he will never go to heaven.

Man’s search for the restoration of the New Testament church also suffers this fate.  At first the Jerusalem church was the model to follow.  Around the 80s some noticed the imperfections in the Jerusalem church, so apostolic corrective teaching became the pattern to follow.  Some created an illusion of perfection believing their congregation had magically arrived and they were practicing that correction completely.  They were the model everyone should follow.  Thankfully, division and human nature exposed them to this lie.

Satan’s deception is alive and as healthy today as false doctrine was in the first century.  Pharisee members of the body of Christ insisted that Gentiles needed circumcision to become real Christians (Galatians 1:6-9).  For them, keeping the Law of Moses was primary (Galatians 5:1-6).  Paul’s warning to the Galatian church dethrones that Pharisee theory.  Despite biblical information, some today continue to seek that impossible dream of being perfect Christians in a perfect assembly.  In such a belief, Jesus has been demoted and man’s obedience is the perfection needed to crown him with Heaven’ reward. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).

LIFE IS PRECIOUS!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday 05-13-2021

Life is precious.  The brevity of life affects us all.  People respond in different ways.  For example, when the news is bad, some turn to alcohol.  Some collapse.  Some go into denial.  Some wear a fake smile and respond with nervous laughter.  Some become like zombies needing direction and stability.  Some blame God.  Some curse God.  Some believe God is punishing them.  Then the word, “Why” becomes part of the vocabulary.  Some withhold any negative news from family to eliminate grief.  Some family members resent this information being withheld from them.  Some want to know how much time they have left.  Others do not want to know.  Some feel guilt because they were not a better spouse, parent, child, sibling, or friend.  Some add up all their good points to impress God because they are hoping for an unhindered entrance into heaven.  Some recognize the huge gap between reality and their lack of perfection.  Some are fearful that God’s grace is not sufficient to cover their sins.  Some are on the verge of having a nervous breakdown due to their imperfections.

Some are putting their trust in church membership.  Hopefully, their attendance and contribution will speak in their defense.  Some see the Father as a judgmental Deity scrutinizing their every action in a negative way.  Some view God as a loving Deity who is blind to everything they did because their sinful actions had no bearing on their judgment or salvation.  Some believe they have crossed every “T” and dotted every “I” and God owes them their salvation.  Some believe God has a one hundred room mansion just waiting for their arrival.  For some, Jesus is their Savior, Lord, and friend.  They know they are not perfect but understand that the blood of Jesus keeps them continually cleansed.  God loves them, has redeemed them, and enjoys fellowship with them.  This relationship is so personal that they speak of God as “Abba Father” or “daddy, Father.”  The fellowship God had with Adam and Eve before their disobedience is now restored and believers may now enjoy walking with God through Jesus.

They are reconciled!  They are justified!  Life is precious!  Why?  Because fellowship with the Father has been restored.  We belong to God through Jesus!

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