Saturday, June 11, 2016

Does Loving Forgiveness Mean Approval?

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A couple of scenarios, if you will:

A child deliberately disobeys a parent, expresses remorse, promises to do better and the parent forgives them – but the child continues to disobey. Does this mean the same error is permitted in the future?

A spouse cheats outside of marriage, is found out, apologizes, promises to maintain vows in the future and their spouse forgives them and does not file for divorce. Does that mean the cheating can continue?

Yet we all know of people and situations where errors – sin, if you will – continue. What’s our viewpoint on the repetition? Should what was forgiven as an error be repeated? How often? For how long?

Society has called for freedom to do as we please though it is shown not to be God’s will. How do we know what to do? How are we to act as Christians?

Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (Acts 11:25-26 KJV)

Do you see the cause and effect here? Barnabas and Saul went to Antioch, joined the local church and taught people what they knew about Christ. What the people saw and heard were all they knew about Christ, but they called these people by His name, acknowledging them as His followers.

When people come to Him in contrition, confession and acceptance of the grace He provides, we become His. However, if we continue in error, in willfully sinning, and He cannot be seen in us, why would anyone call us Christians? How do we show we are His followers, doing as He commanded?

Jesus taught love – God’s love. God is also judgment, tempered with mercy and grace – the grace that offered Himself as the bridge between our errors and His judgment. Love does forgive.

Consequences, however, cannot be erased. Continued sin cannot be condoned. God is the judge of our sin – and the definer of what is sin.

Many quote from Luke 6 to call Christians judgmental:

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37 KJV)

. . . while Christians – in that same chapter after instructing verses – believe Jesus’ instructions are to be of help:

Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. (Luke 6:42 KJV)

We’re instructed to first be certain our lives reflect Christ’s, not the sins that separate from Him, and then help others, perhaps with similar problems simply because we’re experienced. Christ did not preach approval of sin.

Why else would Jesus say:

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. (John 5:14 KJV)

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:11 KJV)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Alone?

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My county is making the Old Testament stories pale in comparison to what our government is requiring of its citizens. While there are men of God – maybe not quite as vocal as Elijah, but they use the same words and refer to the same God – speaking out long held biblical verses, they are being as ignored as Elijah was and expect to be as persecuted.

Elijah’s name means “My God is Yahweh.” Was it given to him as a child, as a direction to grow? Or was it given by the people who heard him as a description of his life? Either way, his very name speaks of faith and defines where that faith was grounded. Several chapters in the Bible tell of his life. Most instances find him alone, Including this one:

And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19:9-10 KJV)

The king, his wife, his court and the people of the land denied God’s existence and worshipped elsewhere. Why not? The god they chose was powerful, effective and appears to have offered them all they desired. Why not silence this man who defines his God differently?

If Elijah had his way, the people would serve Yahweh, of whom Jews used to say:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 KJV)

Which didn’t change when Jesus, the Christ, came to offer salvation to all mankind:

And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. (Mark 12:29-30 KJV)

God remains the same, first in the hearts of those who love Him. But – Elijah thought he was the only one left who did love God. As far as he could see, everyone else worshipped things on this earth. Instead of worshipping the Creator of all things, they worshipped what had been created. Paul was aware of this:

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
(Romans 1:25 KJV)


Today we may think there are very few who love Him; that we few are virtually alone in a world. We are not – neither was Elijah:

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18 KJV)

Learn more about Elijah and why he felt so alone by reading 1 Kings. And, find out who changed changed the truth of God into a lie by reading Romans’ first chapter. Then, come back and we’ll discuss.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Eschatology Fiction


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I’ve been reading The End Series by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall, four books about the end times. It’s fiction, just as the earlier Left Behind Series, which began publication in 1995. Fictional eschatology is not a new concept. Vladimir Soloviev was writing his views before the 20th century – and referred to events in the 21st. I’m not too certain he was very far off:
Humanity had outgrown that stage of philosophical infancy. On the other hand, it became equally evident that it had also outgrown the infantile capacity for naïve, unconscious faith. Such ideas as God creating the universe out of nothing were no longer taught even in elementary schools. A certain high level of ideas concerning such subjects had been evolved, and no dogmatism could risk a descent below it. And though the majority of thinking people had remained faithless, the few believers, of necessity, had become thinking, thus fulfilling the commandment of the Apostle: "Be infants in your hearts, but not in your reason."
His short story of the Anti-Christ is available is a variety of formats in English translations as well as the original Russian. I would imagine it is available in other languages, too. His story of the 20th century’s wars were a bit off. Although his reasons remain fictional, at the end of the 20th, he does describe Europe:
As a natural consequence of this fact, the old traditional organization of individual States was everywhere deprived of its former importance, and the last traces of ancient monarchal institutions gradually disappeared. Europe in the twenty-first century represented an alliance of more or less democratic nations -- the United States of Europe.
For Christians, the study of eschatology goes much further back. Jesus spoke often of the Kingdom of God and the book of Revelation is all about the end times. I met a young woman who said she was afraid to read it – it was too scary to even think about. I think it is too important to ignore – and I also think the Bible is the place to study it.

I do enjoy comparing the fiction, though, to historical reality, biblical verses and the possibilities of our unknown future. I also believe Jesus was correct (as always!) when He said:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:36 KJV)

Anything else is just as fictional as the above referenced writings. There will be signs, as Jesus said in Matthew 24, which we could recognize:

So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. (Matthew 24:33-34 KJV)

After those signs exist, it won’t take a generation for all to be fulfilled.

We are not, however, to sit around and wait for all of this to happen. We have specific instructions in the Bible that we should be doing from the time we acknowledge Christ as the savior God provided. We continue to do them until we are no longer here to do them. That’s God’s timing, not ours.

Enjoy fiction, if you will – as I do, but do the serious study in the Bible.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I Have Been Blessed!

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If you’ve read here for a while you know how much I love the lyrics written by Fanny Crosby. One of my favorites is Redeemed.

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child, and forever I am.

I also love Katherine Hankey’s story telling:

I love to tell the story Of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and his love.
I love to tell the story, Because I know its true;
It satisfies my longings As nothing else would do.
I love to tell the story, 'Twill be my theme in glory
To tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love.

And I’m blessed to know that the story continues to be told today. These lyrics, from C. T. Townsend, are also Redeemed:

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me
“Son, stop fighting a fight that's already been won”

Then comes the chorus:
I am redeemed
You set me free
So I'll shake off theses heavy chains
And wipe away every stain
Now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed
I am redeemed

With my feelings being expressed, I sing these songs unto the Lord, as have many others:

Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel. (Judges 5:3 KJV)

Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation. (1 Chronicles 16:23 KJV)

I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. (Psalms 13:6 KJV)

Which brings us to the title, I Have Been Blessed, also by C. T. Townsend, for I truly am blessed. Just this past week my husband and I received a gift. We had wanted this item for some time, but it simply did not fit into our budget.  We had not even asked the Lord for it, since the impact to our lives would be minor – and there are so many other prayers we think take precedent.

We have prayers for loved ones to come to know Christ’s love, God’s planned redemption designed from creation, that encompasses all who believe in Him. That’s all laid out in John 3:16-19, a condensed version of the Bible’s message. That, by God’s grace, is the greatest blessing.

However, He sees to our needs, thus we receive blessings daily – and this song speaks of them:

When He walks among us, all that He does,
All of His mercy and all of His love.
If the pen of a writer could write every day
even this world could never contain just how I've been blessed
The warmth in the winter, the flowers in spring,
the laughter of summer, and the changing of leaves.
Food on my table, a good place to sleep,
clothes on my back and shoes on my feet.
Oh, I have been blessed. 

Arms that will raise, a voice that can talk,
hands that can touch and legs that can walk.
Ears that can listen and eyes that can see,
oh, I've got to praise Him as long as I breathe.
'Cause I have been blessed

There’s more to the song – just as there is much more to the Bible than a single passage. However, the message remains the same. When walking with God, I have been redeemed and blessed beyond measure.

Please, walk with Him for a way – a way to live being blessed – and we can share together.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tell Me About Your God, Please.

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Oh, you have one. One that can be described with words mine asked us to do:

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV)

Something in our lives will be loved with all our of heart. It will be in our minds at all times. We will do things in service to what we have in our hearts and minds. I’d like to know more about yours.  Here are some tidbits about mine:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 KJV)

Yes, I believe in a singular creator who created everything we know today. I refer to Him because the Bible does and He appeared on the earth as a man.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

I believe this man was a sacrifice Abraham mentioned:

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:8 KJV)

I also believe this man born in Bethlehem is God:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3 KJV)

That’s just part of all the counsel of God referred to by Paul as he explained what and why he preached:

Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Acts 20:26-27 KJV)

Except for scripture, I believe no man gives us all the counsel of God – yet it would take all the scriptures to understand just a part of what God has planned for mankind.

So far, how does my God compare with yours? Mine loves:

We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4:19-20 KJV)

My God has requirements:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:17-19 KJV)

My God will divide those who believe upon Him from those who believeth not. My God lived as a perfect man, died as an ordinary man and was resurrected as proof He was more than a man.

You can learn much more about mine from the Bible. Where may I learn of yours?

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pray Without Ceasing

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Does that sound easy? There are times seems not, until we pause to think. I remember over 30 years ago listening to a motivational speaker telling about being late to a very important meeting where she would interview a Japanese gentlemen who had a very busy schedule. She began to think about what would be the worst thing that could happen – she would be fired.

But, that wasn’t the worst thing that could happen in her life.

As she entered the company parking lot, she yelled out the window with a smile that her husband and children were just fine. Losing one of them would have been much worse than losing the job she applied for and accepted.

That is exactly what we should be doing as Christians:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:19-20 KJV)

Do you believe a misled Jew wrote those words, or were they inspired by God to show us how our relationship with Him can be? I believe He loves us enough to provide guidance. Then we can give thanks always – even in a hospital emergency room Tuesday eveining with your spouse having chest pains.

Yes, we can give thanks that there is good treatments. good facilities, excellent doctors and nurses, a triage process that cuts down on waiting. Pause to think about what it was like in previous decades, centuries, and thank God for what is available now.

That’s a good process, you know – pause, listen, think, respond - to use with others. Can we be grateful for all the people that are in our life? Come one, truthfully, didn’t you think of one person as you thought? I came up with a couple – and the idea of asking God to let me know why they are in my life.  For my good, or theirs?

That’s a part of prayer, too. We are told to pray without ceasing. It’s in one verse, and not hard to understand. In fact, it would appear I was repeating:

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)

A nice standalone sentence that fits right in with the rest of the advice:

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly,
comfort the feebleminded,
support the weak,
be patient toward all men.
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 

(1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 KJV)


Do you know that if we do all of that, all of our lives, we still are not “good enough” to stand before God as His child? Yes, He asks that we do what He wants, but He does have a requirement in reaching Him that many will not accept.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

John 3:16-18 says it even better. Excuse me? I’m called judgmental? I’m condemning? Please read the chapter. God makes the judgment, I don’t. I study His word, looking to see how what He said affected others. I see those who accept as well as those who reject. I prefer believing, but I can never, ever, convince someone else. It’s not my job.

Nope, mine is to encourage the reading of His word and allow others to make up their own minds. To help me – and them – I find it much better to pray without ceasing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Missions

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I met Pastor John Tino on-line several years ago through another ministry – that one in the Philippines. This week, Pastor Tino arrived in Dallas for a four-month ministry. I never expected to be in the same country as John, and never gave thought that we’d be less than two hours away, even by plane. Yet – he is now in nearby Dallas.

This blog isn’t about Pastor Tino, though, it’s about missions.

I believe that evangelicals think of Paul as being the first missionary and we teach children – and adults – of his missionary journeys as told in the New Testament. We tend to forget that our true first missionary example is Jesus, Christ.

Jesus left His home – heaven – to come to save the lost. He said so:

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)

His mission was to all mankind. Angels said so:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

He went about preaching and teaching and calling others to follow Him. That’s what Paul did. That’s what missionaries through the years have done. That’s what we are all supposed to be doing, isn’t?

Yes, we all have differing ministries – different gifts for serving God:

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (Romans 12:6-9 KJV)

It’s a blessing for me to learn from people who are using their gifts to serve God’s and share His love with others. Through the internet I’ve met people I most likely would never have met without it. I see God’s love in action and I’m given the opportunity to pray for His work half way around the world.

Most importantly, I see the same messages that Jesus gave in His ministry being given both in words and in examples. The one that touches my heart today is:

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14 KJV)
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14 KJV)
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:16 KJV)

Pray for the children. Today I saw missions for children discussed in several places – in Kenya/Tanzania, Philippines, Myanmar and the United States. There are more, many more places where the name of Jesus is spoken with love and His work shown to children.

The best thing we can offer those who serve our Lord is prayer. That’s also the most difficult, because we can’t know their immediate needs. Fortunately, we’ve been given help:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 KJV)

Take a moment and pray for missionaries – especially ones in His service with children.