Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Hope comes by giving


Hope is expecting good news for the future.  Hope is limited by our inabilities, and enabled by our Creator's unlimited power.  When we trust in ourselves, we become hopeless, as witnessed in our current younger generations, those who have been taught to trust in themselves. Hope comes from giving up self to serve a loving God.  Hope comes from giving up temporary things in pursuit of eternal values. 

Jim Elliot, who died carrying the gospel to remote people in Ecuador, said this:  "He is no fool, who gives what he cannot keep, to gain that which he cannot loose!"

Jim was speaking of temporary life compared with our hope of being God's glorified children for eternity. 

Jesus explained the importance of an eternal perspective, and his words are recorded in three of the Gospels. 

Matthew 16:26 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

26 For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will anyone give in exchange for his life?

Mark 8:36 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

36 For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life?

Luke 9:25 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

25 For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself?

King David collected treasures and offerings for the purpose of building a Temple in Jerusalem to honor the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Creator of the Universe.  His prayer acknowledges that God gives all that we have.  God has given to us whatever it is that we are able to give to others.  

David’s Prayer

1 Chron 29:10 Then David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly. David said,

May you be blessed, Lord God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity. 11 Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to you. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom, and you are exalted as head over all. 12 Riches and honor come from you, and you are the ruler of everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it is in your hand to make great and to give strength to all. 13 Now therefore, our God, we give you thanks and praise your glorious name.

14 But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? For everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your own hand.[j] 15 For we are aliens and temporary residents in your presence as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 Lord our God, all this wealth that we’ve provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand; everything belongs to you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and that you are pleased with what is right. I have willingly given all these things with an upright heart, and now I have seen your people who are present[k] here giving joyfully and[l] willingly to you. 18 Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our ancestors, keep this desire forever in the thoughts of the hearts of your people, and confirm their hearts toward you. 19 Give my son Solomon an undivided heart to keep and to carry out all your commands, your decrees, and your statutes, and to build the building for which I have made provision.

The temple at Jerusalem was a temporary thing, but a type of God's temple which is His plan for today, the house built up of all believers who are living stones in His temple, bound together by love. Yes, we are built into a holy temple for His dwelling in the Spirit. That is our hope.

Ephesians 2 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
From Death to Life

2 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you previously lived according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient.[a] 3 We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us,[b] 5 made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! 6 He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.
Unity in Christ

11 So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” which is done in the flesh by human hands. 12 At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In his flesh, 15 he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. 16 He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death.[c] 17 He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.

Built together for God's dwelling in the Spirit!!  God's spirit in us gives us the hope of eternal glory.  How do we know we have God's Spirit in us?

We take God at His word.  He has promised.  He gave His son.  He has promised that whosoever will may come to Him in faith, believing that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and repenting of our sins. Then submitting to the simple command of Jesus and the Apostles to be immersed in water in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; in the name of Jesus. Believer baptism.  Raised to walk in newness of life,  in Jesus.

But how do we know God has given us His Spirit?  Because He promised, and because we love each other.  Jesus said that people will know we are His disciples because we love each other. And the Apostle John told us how we can have confidence.  

Knowing God through Love

1 John 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 God’s love was revealed among us[b] in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice[c] for our sins. 11 Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God. If we love one another, God remains in[d] us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent his Son as the world’s Savior. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. 16 And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.

God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. 17 In this, love is made complete with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because as he is, so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.[e] So the one who fears is not complete in love. 19 We love[f] because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.[g] 21 And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister.

But love should not be confused with permissiveness.  Love involves sacrifice for the good of all.  Love requires respect for what is good and righteous.  There is more to consider than food, clothing, and health care. The eternal is of more value than the temporary.  Personal responsibility is part of a loving environment, and enabling destructive practices does not demonstrate love. 

Ephesians 4 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Unity and Diversity in the Body of Christ

4 Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to live worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope[a] at your calling— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

7 Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 For it says:

When he ascended on high,
he took the captives captive;
he gave gifts to people.[b]

9 But what does “he ascended” mean except that he[c] also descended to the lower parts of the earth?[d] 10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, to fill all things. 11 And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ. 16 From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.

Living the New Life

17 Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their thoughts. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them and because[e] of the hardness of their hearts. 19 They became callous and gave themselves over to promiscuity for the practice of every kind of impurity with a desire for more and more.[f]

20 But that is not how you came to know Christ, 21 assuming you heard about him and were taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to take off[g] your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed[h] in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on[i] the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.

25 Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor,[j] because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin.[k] Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the devil an opportunity. 28 Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need,[l] so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him[m] for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you[n] in Christ.

Therefore, encouraging each other to live fruitful and useful lives is part of encouraging each other.  Speaking the truth in love still involves speaking the truth.  The truth is a powerful thing. Truth includes the evidence of God's working through history.  And Truth is a person; Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The true way to peace and love is in Him.
Romans 5 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Faith Triumphs

5 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace[a] with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have also obtained access through him by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice[c] in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Those Declared Righteous Are Reconciled

6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. 8 But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.

Yes, we will be saved by His life.  He gave His life for us, so that we may live in Him.  From faith to faith.  He gave Himself so that we may give ourselves to Him, for our eternal glory. That is our hope.

Matthew 11:28-30 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

28 “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Radical Agenda


There was One Who was willing to die in my place
Related image

The cause of the death of Christ was my sins, and your sins, and the sins of all mankind. These sins separated us from God forever, until paid for by the death of Jesus. The wages of sin is death.  He paid the debt I could not pay.  

But the modern way of many people is to discount Jesus, and to push for a world made righteous by the deeds of our people.  Climate change, gun control, religious diversity, gender diversity, anti-Trump, economic equality, free medical care, free education, give me this and give me that, are sprouts off the the stump of an old idea, that mankind can make her/him self righteous if we just love each other and stick together politically.  

Many liberal Christian organizations have taken a lead in the make ourselves great movement.  The United Methodist Church is being divided over teaching about human sexuality. 

The United Church of Christ is unified behind a radical agenda to promote racial repentance by proclaiming white guilt and economic reparations for descendants of slaves.   

We would do well to look at the examples of believer communities who help each other. Their community is based upon faith that Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of all who will put their trust in Him.  They teach personal responsibility and community action centered in Bible teaching.  We try to be such a community at Gonce, Alabama.  And we appreciate the Amish and Mennonite communities who have worked to demonstrate Biblical moral principles while loving and caring for each other.  Family organized on the Biblical principles of man being head of the family, one man married to one woman, and emphasis on the blessings of children, show real blessings as compared to societies that place emphasis on things and selfishness and governmental control of society. 

Perhaps I am not diplomatic in confronting liberals.  Maybe I do not know how to be nice in opposing what I understand to be lies.  The word of God is pictured as a double edged sword that pierces the mind.  It is not a rose bud. Unless sin is confronted, who will understand that they are wrong?

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The bible in its original manuscripts was given by God through Prophets who were inspired by the Holy Spirit, and its instruction leads to godly lives.  The bible is not outdated.  Its teaching is proven when practiced.  

However, there is a way that seems right to mankind, and the end of that way is death.  How many have to die for us to learn that lesson?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Truth and Facts


Truth is that which is.  Truth agrees with facts, and facts prove truth.  There is no conflict between truth and facts, even though Joe Biden said "We choose truth over facts."

Maybe Joe was reflecting on the liberal perspective of truth, which promotes the concepts agreed to be politically correct. Those things which the elite thinkers believe are important, and should be reinforced by constant propaganda. 

So there is my truth and your truth, and we should not assume our truth is superior to other truth. We must be respectful of the "other", even if the other is calling for the end to my existence. 

We must define what we mean by words we use.  When I see truth, I see what is.  Truth is that which is real, that which exists. Many things are temporary, and do not establish truth.  That which exists forever is most definitive of truth.  Truth lasts, does not pass away.  

But that which is may often be confused with that which claims to be.  Claim to be is not truth, unless facts can be summoned to prove the claim.  

For example, Jesus has been credited with the horrible things done by people who called themselves "Christians" during the past one thousand years. People who called themselves Christians fought each other for thirty years in Europe.


Do the facts prove that Christians murdered each other?  Do the facts support that the murderers were truly Christians?

To answer that question, we must establish the fact of who is a Christian in reality.  Truly only those who Jesus claims as His own are really followers of Jesus. 

Jesus in His teaching established the facts of who is His disciple, who is really following him, whom can we really recognize as a believer in Jesus.

Jesus told Nicodemus that one must be born again to enter the kingdom, to belong to Jesus.  

John 3 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Jesus and Nicodemus

3 There was a man from the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to him at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God, for no one could perform these signs you do unless God were with him.”

3 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born again,[a] he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

4 “How can anyone be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked him. “Can he enter his mother’s womb a second time and be born?”

5 Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, and whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I told you that you must be born again. 8 The wind blows where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

9 “How can these things be?” asked Nicodemus.

10 “Are you a teacher[b] of Israel and don’t know these things?” Jesus replied. 11 “Truly I tell you, we speak what we know and we testify to what we have seen, but you do not accept our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven —the Son of Man.[c]

14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may[d] have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world in this way:[e] He gave[f] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 19 This is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light and avoids it,[g] so that his deeds may not be exposed. 21 But anyone who lives by[h] the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”

Jesus also said that not all who claim Him are recognized as actually having a real relationship with Him.

Mat 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’[b][c]

So our being known by Jesus is essential to our being real followers of Jesus.  Those who are of the truth listen to Jesus.

John 18:33 Then Pilate went back into the headquarters, summoned Jesus, and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

34 Jesus answered, “Are you asking this on your own, or have others told you about me?”

35 “I’m not a Jew, am I?” Pilate replied. “Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”

36 “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Jesus. “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight, so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews. But as it is,[e] my kingdom is not from here.”

37 “You are a king then?” Pilate asked.

“You say that I’m a king,” Jesus replied. “I was born for this, and I have come into the world for this: to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Of the truth!  Belonging to the truth.  We listen to His voice when we belong to Him.  He is the truth.  He is the way. He is the light.

So those who claim to follow him while refusing to listen to His voice can not establish that they are actually following Him.  What pretenders do in their claims to relationship have no validity toward truth. People who hated and murdered each other through the ages, while claiming to be Protestant or Roman Catholic, can not establish an actual connection to Jesus.  They were not following the one who said, John 13:35 "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

So condemning followers of Jesus for what non-followers did is not based upon respect for truth or facts. Condemning Christianity for what pretenders did shows a great disregard for reality. Christianity needs to be defined as those who truly love and follow Jesus.  All other that is called Christianity has no claim to being real.  Facts establish who is truly a Christian. 

And yes, it is right to condemn those who are pretenders and destroyers.  We need to see the facts.  The King of England was never the head of followers of Jesus, and the Pope in Rome was never head of the followers of Jesus.  They were usurpers and pretenders. 

In fact, freedom of conscious that permits people to establish their own faith in what is by examining the facts is essential to the well being of humankind.  No group of believers that depends upon the approval of the state for their existence has ever been truly followers of Jesus.  Take a look at those who were killed by various "Christian" states for being steadfast in their personal faith, and you will find many true followers of Jesus.  It is these martyrs who died in support of truth established by facts who are the real Christians.

And all the nefarious acts done by false "Christians" have nothing to say against Jesus, as those false actors were following Satan.  Satan is the father of liars and murderers.  

But what about those who deny Him, those who insist their way is just as good as any way?  Those who live by their feelings, thinking that their way is ok?  They have believed lies. 

Peter told us how to become real Christians on the Day of Pentecost.  

Peter’s Sermon

Acts 2:14 Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them: “Fellow Jews and all you residents of Jerusalem, let me explain this to you and pay attention to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it’s only nine in the morning.[c] 16 On the contrary, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 And it will be in the last days, says God,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all people;
then your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
18 I will even pour out my Spirit
on my servants in those days, both men and women
and they will prophesy.
19 I will display wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below:
blood and fire and a cloud of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes.
21 Then everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.[d]

22 “Fellow Israelites, listen to these words: This Jesus of Nazareth was a man attested to you by God with miracles, wonders, and signs that God did among you through him, just as you yourselves know. 23 Though he was delivered up according to God’s determined plan and foreknowledge, you used[e] lawless people to nail him to a cross and kill him. 24 God raised him up, ending the pains of death,because it was not possible for him to be held by death. 25 For David says of him:

I saw the Lord ever before me;
because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad
and my tongue rejoices.
Moreover, my flesh will rest in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me in Hades
or allow your holy one to see decay.
28 You have revealed the paths of life to me;
you will fill me with gladness
in your presence.[f]

29 “Brothers and sisters, I can confidently speak to you about the patriarch David: He is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Since he was a prophet, he knew that God had sworn an oath to him to seat one of his descendants[g] on his throne. 31 Seeing what was to come, he spoke concerning the resurrection of the Messiah: He[h] was not abandoned in Hades, and his flesh did not experience decay.[i]

32 “God has raised this Jesus; we are all witnesses of this. 33 Therefore, since he has been exalted to the right hand of God and has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, he has poured out what you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into the heavens, but he himself says:

The Lord declared to my Lord,
‘Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.’[j]

36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Call to Repentance

37 When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what should we do?”

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, “Be saved from this corrupt[k] generation!” 41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added to them.



Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Pursuit of Happiness??


Image result for world upside down
World Upside Down

Paul was in Thessaloniki teaching about Jesus in the Synagogue, and many Jews and also some God fearing Greeks believed his message.  But some of the leaders who did not believe became jealous of Paul's following, and started a riot.  They spoke of believers in Jesus as being those who have turned the world upside down.  Previously, idolatry and human wisdom had reigned, but followers of Jesus see things differently.

Riot in the City

Acts 17:5 But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some wicked men from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has welcomed them. They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus.” 8 The crowd and city officials who heard these things were upset. 9 After taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.

From there Paul made his way to Athens.  The people of Greece enjoyed philosophical debate.  Plato and Aristotle had developed methods of discussion of how things are.  Things are what they are, and what we perceive them to be may be flawed. The writings of Plato have survived until this day, and Aristolean logic has provided the platform for many religious arguments. Augustine used logical platforms to develop his ideas about faith alone (Sola Fide).

But the people of Athens did not know or understand the God who created all things. They even had a temple dedicated to the Unknown God.  

Paul reveals to them that Jesus the Jewish Messiah is the unknown God they worshiped in ignorance.  And this God is different. Instead of satisfying human desires by supplying the things needed for happiness, Jesus calls us to sacrifice. He turns the world upside down.

Take Up Your Cross

Mark 8:34 Calling the crowd along with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the gospel will save it. 36 For what does it benefit someone to gain the whole world and yet lose his life? 37 What can anyone give in exchange for his life? 38 For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Yes, to save our life we must first lose it. We must give up selfishness and become servants.  Jesus said "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  It is by giving and service that we find joy and contentment.  Doing good makes us feel good.  Help someone and enjoy the blessing.  But do not give the gift in order to receive a blessing , but give because it is God's will.  But submitting to God's will involves first knowing Him.  You must learn about Jesus from those who serve Him, and from the Bible, which is a message about Him.

But coming to Jesus in search of happiness and the good life is a wrong motive. The prosperity gospel is a big lie.  We do not come to Jesus to please ourselves, but we must come to Him at the cross. We must come to Him at a place of sorrow and pain, realizing that we are not to live life to please ourselves.  We must die with Christ in order to live with Him.  Rom 6:1-4.

False Doctrine and Human Greed

1Tim 6:2 Teach and encourage these things. 3 If anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree with the sound teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing, but has an unhealthy interest in disputes and arguments over words. From these come envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness is a way to material gain.[c] 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and[d] we can take nothing out. 8 If we have food and clothing,[e] we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root[f] of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Fight the Good Fight

11 But you, man of God, flee from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of eternal life to which you were called and about which you have made a good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all, and of Christ Jesus, who gave a good confession before Pontius Pilate, I charge you 14 to keep this command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 God will bring this about in his own time. He is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see, to him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

The pursuit of happiness by what we can get is a miss direction.  Money does not produce happiness, unless we use it for righteous deeds, for helping others.  "pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith."

The Apostle Peter, who made the good confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God, calls believers to Holy Living.  Sexual immorality, hatefulness, slander, lying, and disrespect of government officials has no place in the life of believers.  Romans 13:1-7.

A Call to Holy Living

1 Pet 1:13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be sober-minded and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the one who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.[d] 17 If you appeal to the Father who judges impartially according to each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during your time living as strangers. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb.20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was revealed in these last times for you. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 Since you have purified yourselves by your obedience to the truth,[e]so that you show sincere brotherly love for each other, from a pure[f]heart love one another constantly,[g] 23 because you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For

All flesh is like grass,
and all its glory like a flower of the grass.
The grass withers, and the flower falls,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.[h]

And this word is the gospel that was proclaimed to you.

Love one another.  Love tells the truth.  Love points to Jesus.  Life is not so much about the pursuit of happiness, but about pursuit of righteousness in Jesus Christ, by Whom we gain eternal peace and happiness. 

Monday, July 1, 2019

Back to Babel


Tower of Babel
After the flood, God told Noah and his sons to "be fruitful and multiply; spread out over the earth and multiply on it."

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

God’s Covenant with Noah

Gen 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. 2 The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority.[a] 3 Every creature that lives and moves will be food for you; as I gave the green plants, I have given you everything. 4 However, you must not eat meat with its lifeblood in it. 5 And I will require a penalty for your lifeblood;[b] I will require it from any animal and from any human; if someone murders a fellow human, I will require that person’s life.[c]

6 Whoever sheds human blood,
by humans his blood will be shed,
for God made humans in his image.

7 But you, be fruitful and multiply; spread out over the earth and multiply on it.”

The instructions were clear enough. God had just recently destroyed most of the people on earth, all but eight, with the flood, because of wickedness. We might think that the survivors of the flood would have a better memory than to disregard the direct command of God to Noah and his sons.

But instead of spreading out over the earth as commanded, they decided to build a tower into the sky to make a name for themselves, and to keep everyone together. 

Genesis 11 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
The Tower of Babylon

11:1 The whole earth had the same language and vocabulary.[a] 2 As people[b]migrated from the east,[c] they found a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 They said to each other, “Come, let us make oven-fired bricks.” (They used brick for stone and asphalt for mortar.) 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.”

5 Then the Lord came down to look over the city and the tower that the humans[d]were building. 6 The Lord said, “If they have begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let’s go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 Therefore it is called Babylon,[e][f] for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth.

The problem was not that everyone was together, and speaking the same language.   The problem was that they had decided to do the opposite of what God had commanded.  He commanded multiply and fill the earth, and their desire was to concentrate in one place and do something big to make a name for themselves.  

4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.”

Human will directly opposed to God's will!  Do we see anything like that today?  Maybe we are seeing a return to Sodom and Gomorrah as well as a return to Babel.  These Old Testament stories were written for our instruction, and able to make us wise about the salvation that is in Jesus Christ. 

2 Timothy 3 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
Difficult Times Ahead

3:1 But know this: Hard times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, demeaning, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid these people.

6 For among them are those who worm their way into households and deceive gullible women overwhelmed by sins and led astray by a variety of passions, 7 always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so these also resist the truth. They are men who are corrupt in mind and worthless in regard to the faith. 9 But they will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be clear to all, as was the foolishness of Jannes and Jambres.
Struggles in the Christian Life

10 But you have followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, and endurance, 11 along with the persecutions and sufferings that came to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured—and yet the Lord rescued me from them all. 12 In fact, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 Evil people and impostors will become worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, 15 and you know that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God[a] and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

But many who profess faith in Jesus Christ have rejected the message He approved.  Recently the United Methodist Conference rejected the traditional and biblical message about sexual relations between members of the same sex. 

Rejection of the traditional message is not about changed understanding of what the Bible actually teaches, but is about exchanging human feelings and claims of empathy for Biblical teaching.  How we feel becomes more important than what God commanded.  Return to Babel.  Return to Sodom and Gomorrah.  

But He said, "Come out from among them and be separate".  

Apostle Paul referenced Leviticus when writing to the Corinthian believers about living lives dedicated to God. 

Separation to God

2 Cor 6:14 Don’t become partners with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 What agreement does Christ have with Belial?[c] Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we[d] are the temple of the living God, as God said:

I will dwell
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.[e]
17 Therefore, come out from among them
and be separate, says the Lord;
do not touch any unclean thing,
and I will welcome you.[f]
18 And I will be a Father to you,
and you will be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.[g]

Just as physical separation from unbelievers was a requirement under the Law, spiritual separation is a necessity for believers today.  Joining ourselves to every popular spiritual fad (encouraging paganism, atheism, Islam, sexual immorality, etc.) is not how believers are taught by the Holy Spirit through the scriptures to live successful lives. Love speaks the truth.

The flood, the Tower of Babel, and the destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians and later by the Romans, teach us that there is a price to pay for disregard of what God says.  

Claiming love while teaching lies is a corruption of the very idea of what love is.  Love tells the truth.  Love died on a cross to show how terrible sin is, and to make a way for righteousness for all who will choose to have faith in Him. 

Love does not enable lawlessness  nor encourage disregard for righteousness.  Love respects law.  Love learns from Babel.

God wants each of us to be together in His Family.  But we must get there by meeting Jesus at the Cross.  

Saturday, June 22, 2019




Weeping Willow Tree

A weeping willow grew in the front yard of the cabin in Bass Hollow where I grew up for sixteen years. My mother loved us six siblings, she was well educated, and familiar with Dr. Spock's teaching on permissive child care.  But she is an ardent believer in Jesus, and she believed in discipline. The keen willow branch on bare legs was effective, I can attest.  She also washed out my mouth with soap for saying vulgar words like sh*t.

She was a great Bible student and teacher, and understood that discipline was connected with love.  I hope that more believers today can come to understand that letting people do as they please is not a demonstration of love.

It is true that God demonstrated punishment for sin, visiting the sins of people upon their offspring to the third and fourth generations.  The wages of sin is death. The Bible is filled with stories about how people were punished for sins. And one great story is how He punished His own people, Israel, for their sins, eventually leading to their being scattered into remote nations for more than 1800 years, from 135 ad to 1948.  Read Deut 28:15-68. 

The writer of Hebrews calls believers to respect discipline.

The Call to Endurance

12:1 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus,[a] the source and perfecter[b] of our faith. For the joy that lay before him,[c] he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Fatherly Discipline

3 For consider him who endured such hostility from sinners against himself, so that you won’t grow weary and give up. 4 In struggling against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons:

My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly
or lose heart when you are reproved by him,
6 for the Lord disciplines the one he loves
and punishes every son he receives.[d]

7 Endure suffering as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there that a father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline—which all receive[e]—then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had human fathers discipline us, and we respected them. Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. 11 No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated[f] but healed instead.
Warning against Rejecting God’s Grace

14 Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness—without it no one will see the Lord.15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and defiling many. 16 And make sure that there isn’t any immoral[g] or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal. 17 For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, even though he sought it with tears, because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance.

18 For you have not come to what could be touched, to a blazing fire, to darkness, gloom, and storm, 19 to the blast of a trumpet, and the sound of words. Those who heard it begged that not another word be spoken to them, 20 for they could not bear what was commanded: If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.[h] 21 The appearance was so terrifying that Moses said, I am trembling with fear.[i] 22 Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God (the heavenly Jerusalem), to myriads of angels, a festive gathering,23 to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written[j] in heaven, to a Judge, who is God of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which says better things than the blood of Abel.

25 See to it that you do not reject the one who speaks. For if they did not escape when they rejected him who warned them on earth, even less will we if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven. 26 His voice shook the earth at that time, but now he has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.[k] 27 This expression, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what is not shaken might remain. 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

This language does not sound permissive. We are to serve Him with reverence and awe.  Do not fear the one who can destroy our physical life, but reverence God, Who will punish the wicked.

And Bernie Sanders gets zero support from Apostle Paul, as the Apostle instructed the believers at Thessaloniki to work with their own hands to provide their needs and the needs of the helpless. 

Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

Pray for Us2 Thessalonians 3:1 In addition, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not all have faith.[a] 3 But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen and guard you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to God’s love and Christ’s endurance.

Warning against Irresponsible Behavior

6 Now we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother or sister who is idle and does not live according to the tradition received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you should imitate us: We were not idle among you; 8 we did not eat anyone’s food free of charge; instead, we labored and toiled,working night and day, so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 It is not that we don’t have the right to support, but we did it to make ourselves an example to you so that you would imitate us. 10 In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.” 11 For we hear that there are some among you who are idle. They are not busy but busybodies. 12 Now we command and exhort such people by the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and provide for themselves.[b] 13 But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.

14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take note of that person; don’t associate with him, so that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet don’t consider him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

Permissiveness finds no support in the Bible.  We are encouraged to live lives of disciplined goodness, so that Jesus is exalted. 

The rule of law in society is given by God so that we can live orderly and productive lives.  The modern madness that rejects Biblical moral values and fights against them is from Satan.  He is the enemy of all that is good.  Some of you need to wake up and decide what side you are on.  Permissiveness is not love.  My mother did much better than Benjamin Spock. 

Thank God for the willow branch on my bare legs.  And thank God for mother's hug that always followed my tears.