MENDING FENCES

Good fences make good neighbors.

Robert Frost

The quote above is most famously given credit to Robert Frost, but it actually comes from an old 17th century proverb. And what is the purpose of a proverb, to teach wisdom!

This weekend I watched my human daddy go it alone wrestling with my new kennel and trying to get it finished. The weekend before he got frustrated, angry, hurried and started pulling and tugging to unroll the chain link fence to my kennel and ended up damaging it and needed to repair it to keep it functioning it properly. Fences have many functions and purposes; some are low, and some are high, some are metal and some are wood, some are decorative and some keep things in or out. And when I think about fences in the Christian life, two things come to mind.

1) Those who are Christs’, He is their protection, their fence if you will, we are His sheep and He is our great shepherd. However, there is also a great enemy lurking about, looking to snatch away the weak sheep from the flock that they may be devoured, and unfortunately it happens from time to time. It is not because the shepherd did not protect the sheep, but the sheep did not eat or like to eat sheep food. Instead it settled for the things of the world which made the weak sheep lazy and lethargic, thereby making them easy pray.

2) These fences remind me of times when neighbors although separated for whatever reason, maybe like back in the days of the Old Testament, kept the property properly divided and the animals separate one flock from another, they served a purpose. Unfortunately, over time, these fences became too divisive, and the enemy has used them to make man greedy or even more secluded from his other neighbors, so again, they are easy pickings for the enemy. This is why fences need mending.

So why is this important, and how does it pertain to the Christians life? Well, first we need to define the word mend.

To mend something, means to be free from faults or defects, such as to improve in manners or morals, to be reformed. To be corrected or set right, to be put into good shape or working order, to improve or strengthened, to restore health, to be atoned for. Do these words not describe exactly the reason why Christ came to earth, to be an atonement for man, to make right and mend the broken relationship that sin caused between God the Father and Man. That Christ came to heal and cure the sickness and sin in those who repent of their sins and put their faith and trust in him.

This is the point of what James is trying to say in his epistle. Confess your sins one to another, pray for one another that you may be healed (mended). Like we discussed yesterday, when prayer is fervent, it is effectual, when prayer is meaningful, sincere, in love for God and for His truth, done in obedience and in the Holy Spirit, it avails much, and more than we know.

For to be truly healed, truly reconciled, man does not have the power to do so for himself and needs God.

We needed God to send His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to do His Father’s will, and that was to reconcile sinful man to His His Holiness and Righteousness. Christ blood shed atoned for the sinners sins, in that He was the propitiation, the perfect sacrifice acceptable by God for man to be not only reconciled, but Christs’ Righteousness imputed to us through being adopted into the Kingdom. Let us not also forget the Holy Spirit, the one who renewed us by removing the hardness and hatred towards God, the vile enmity the separated us. He who removed the heart of stone and gave us a heart of flesh, being renewed, invigorated, new eyes to see and ears to hear, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that call that tells all who are weary, to come, and He will give us rest. That reconciliation, that mending, is the best thing that could ever happen to a sinner, and that is why we too need to be fence menders. To show grace, mercy, and love to those who we have wronged and sinned against. To forgive and learn how to forgive, and in doing so, we will love our neighbors as ourselves.

So you have some fences that need mending? Do you harbor hate towards another, a grudge you have been holding on to for far too long. Is pride keeping you from being mended by God and mended to your neighbor? If so, confess these things, let them go, give them to God, for life is too short to continue heavily in these sins. Let us truly be reconciled one to another, for if we truly are is, we will be spending an eternity together in His glory, so we might was well get used to enjoying the blessing now.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

In a time of universal deceit
- telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

George Orwell

One of the greatest wars that has been fought in the history of the world started in the beginning of creation and is still one that is well ongoing today. The battle is fierce and many have died for the cause. What is this great war?

The war of absolute truth!

The battle began when man was first created and placed in the Garden of Eden by God, and God had told them they could eat of anything in the garden with the exception of the fruit of the tree of good and evil, and if they did, they would die. This is an absolute truth because 1) It came from God, who has no other over Him or who is greater than Him. 2) God does not and cannot lie.

By a very basic definition of absolute truth, it can be defined as such: Truth is something that is true at all times and in all places. It is something that is always true no matter what the circumstances. It is a fact that cannot be changed.

So God had spoken to Adam and Eve absolute truth, and God tested them on that truth, knowing full well what was about to happen. It is no accident or something that was beyond or out of God’s control by in His Sovereignty allowing Satan to be in the Garden of Eden. This is the first time absolute truth was tested and twisted, and Satan planted the seed of a very distorted and warped version of truth known as relativism.

Relativism, which asserts that all facts are merely relative to one’s perspective, which means it also changes from person to person and situation by situation. Look how Satan deceived Eve by twisting God’s Word.

The first is God’s commandment (absolute truth) to Adam and Eve found in Genesis 2:16-17 – And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Now look how Satan twists what was said to deceive Eve by making what was commanded (absolute) to relative (what seems true and best for her).

Genesis 3:1-4 – He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

Between Eve misunderstanding what was said (AND Adam never corrected her and was right there with her!) and Satan using that to his advantage as well, almost 100% of what God said was twisted and NOT absolute truth! God never mentioned a tree in the “midst” of the garden to Adam and Eve. Genesis chapter 2 does say that in verse 9 that God planted the tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but God never told them in the midst (at least that we are aware of in His Word). See how Satan also says “Did God say..” as if almost implying, surely He did not say you could not eat.

We must ALWAYS be aware of Satan and how he still plants the seeds of relativism today.

See according to man’s finite wisdom and knowledge, over the years, this evil seed planted has taken root in many other forms labeled as truth, but they are not absolute. Remember what the definition of absolute truth is – Truth is something that is true at all times and in all places. It is something that is always true no matter what the circumstances. It is a fact that cannot be changed.

Here some examples of skewed absolute truths:


Authoritative truths – Example: A prominent economist predicts that there will be a global recession next year. (a person of authority, but using prediction to determine what they deem to be true, but it is not absolute). We are seeing this played out before our eyes today with this pandemic situation.

Personal truth – If I told you that you had to eat or you would die is an absolute truth, but I also did not specifically tell you want to eat, and you make that personal decision of what good nutrition and longevity are based upon your eating habits and food types, but ultimately we all still die some day, which is still and absolute truth. 

Empirical truths – Truth as confirmed by our experience, such as our senses, sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste. Water is wet, the sun is bright, but some would still debate they are not absolute truths. Say for example, a person who is completely blind and cannot see light at all would not know that the sun is bright, yet to others, it does not change the fact that it is bright.

Many times we argue truth just for the simple fact of wanting to be right about something. Take this example, snow is white. Well, in the world of color, there is a definitive and distinct color code for white, but there are also hundreds of varying hues and contrasts of the color white. Plus when it snows it also gathers impurities that are not seen by the human eye, thereby changing the color white.

So after all this talk about truth, this is why it is absolutely vital and of great importance that the true Christian get and understand the absolute truth from the Word of God. For if we do not tell the truth and share the truth the way God intended, we lead others astray mainly in relativism, which is what thousands believe in error today, because it is what they determine what is true for them, whereas the Christian is to following Christ.

John 6:63-65 – It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

#ToGodBeTheGlory

ARE YOU BUSY?

ARE YOU BUSY?

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. - Matthew 11:28-29

Jesus Christ

I’ll tell you probably the one thing I hate the most as a dog, is having to be on some sort of restraint much of the time. I go outside, and I am either on a leash or on my running chain, both of which seem to hold me back, you know what I mean? I mean, c’mon! I want to be free! I want to do what I want, go where I want, and answer no no one!

Unfortunately there is much truth to this for the Christian as well!

The Bible is VERY clear in that every human being will serve one of two masters, and only one of two, and will be under that masters yoke. But before we look at these two yokes, let me ask you a eye opening question and be honest with yourself. Are you busy?

Being busy in the right way and capacity can be a good thing and lead to a productive and happy life. However, it is one that also needs to be watched closely; with discernment, concern, and especially wisdom through God’s Word! Why? Because we can also become busy with the wrong things, motives, and tendencies.

Now I want to offer this disclaimer here, this is probably more so for me than it is you, but again, only you can decide for you, but be honest with yourself and with God.

Now days in many families both parents work, some 60+ hours a week, maybe even both. Then there is sports, all of this entertainment on TV, summer camp, sports camp, run here run there, juggling schedules, and them come Sunday, too tired to go to church because we are run down. We are worn out because of all of the chasing of the world instead very frequent periods of rest in God’s Word and prayer. And when when are priorities are not correct, bad things tend to happen. But this acronym really says it all!!

B.U.S.Y – Burdened (some others say Busy) Under Satan’s Yoke!

Is that really where we need to be Christian, under such a burdensome yoke?

Even Jesus Himself was tempted as such and under the great burden of no food or water for 40 days while in the wilderness and Satan tries to tempt Him and give up His Kingdom.

Matthew 4:8-10: –

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

So here Jesus gives us the great example of who and what we should be following. We should also see, Satan tempted Jesus with the whole world (which was foolish on Satan’s part for it was all Jesus’ already anyway), isn’t that what He still tries to do today. Here are some examples of what to look for to determine what Satan is not only tempting us with, but probably already controlling us with!

1) Keep the Christian busy with non-essentials
2) Tempt them to overspend and go into debt
3) Make them work long hours to maintain empty lifestyles
4) Discourage them from spending family time together
5) Overstimulate their minds with Television and computers so they cannot hear God speaking to them.
6) Make sure married couples are too exhausted for physical intimacy, so they will be tempted to look beyond their marriage for fulfillment elsewhere.
7) Make holidays features like Christmas (santa), Easter (bunny) , Halloween (yuck!) the focus for bringing people into the church and focus more on that than the real reason, Christ!
8) Keep glamour models on the covers of magazines and other advertisements so they stay focused on outward appearances. That way they will be dissatisfied with themselves and/or their mates.

In turn, these and MANY other sins that beset even the best of Christians, need to not only be watched for, but prayed against as well, and I believe that is why many Christians are nominal at best these days, because they are burdened by the enemy and the things of this world instead of the blessings under the yoke of Christ, God’s Word and direction, and a Holy Spirit filled life.

In closing today’s devotional, look at these 12 things that make up one entire problem, and that sadly is the utter DESTRUCTION of a Christian.

  1. Defiled him/her to disqualify him/her to Worship (walk) with God. By doing so, they will quench, and even grieve the Holy Spirit.
  2. Deceive their thinking.
  3. Disinterest the Christian in Spiritual things and matters.
  4. Divert the Christian (his/her) direction in holy living.
  5. Dullen (his/her) heart and mind towards the things of the Gospel of Christ
  6. Dilute the Christian (his/her sharpness and passion) towards God and His Word.
  7.  Destroy the Christian his/her effectiveness for the Gospel of Christ
  8.  Detain (make a prisoner of) the Christian (with unequal yoking to a non-Christian, job, etc.) thereby giving up his/her freedom in Christ.
  9. Depress or discourage the Christian – Rob him/her of their joy in Christ.
  10. Make the Christian doubt – Plant seeds of doubt and dismay in their minds and hearts, thereby crushing their faith
  11. Make the Christian disobey the Lord. Without following Christ they will follow their way which is the wide road that leads to destruction
  12. Destroy the Christian – Suicide, self-harm, harming others, imprisonment
My prayer and hope is that everyone will find something in here that God uses to speak to them before it is too late. Hear Christ again this day!
 
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Matthew 11:28-29
 
Turn back to God, your first love because He first loved us, so much, that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ), that whosoever repents and believe on Him (that is He paid the price for your sins) shall not die (spiritually), but have ever lasting life (eternity in heaven with Him!)
 

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHAT DOES CHRISTIAN LOVE LOOK LIKE

WHAT DOES CHRISTIAN LOVE LOOK LIKE

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The Apostle Paul

You know something… I cannot think like you do, but I can feel like you do and somewhat express things like you do. What do I mean by this? Well, like you, I know what it is to be hungry, experience pain and suffering, happiness and sorrow, and to a certain extent, love. I mean after all, I am only a dog. See, when God created creatures and man, he created us different. If left alone, I will live by instinct, but you live by reason (a story for another day perhaps).

Before we go on to love, I want to use an extremely absurd analogy to (hopefully) get my point across clearly.

Say you saw a quick glimpse of someone doing something extremely crazy silly, say smacking themselves in the head with a hammer, and you found it funny. The next day, you saw the same person doing the same thing, and still found it some what funny, but now it is starting to concern you. The next day you see the same thing, but you stop for a moment and realize that the person eventually starts to show signs of pain and bleeding. Would you think it to be funny anymore? I should hope not, but even more so, should be showing great cause for care and concern for this individual and why they would be doing such a thing. You see, you missed it the first few times because you were just passing by. Maybe you were in a hurry or concerned with just yourself.

Sadly this analogy is not far from the truth of real life and real people. Many times we see others hurting themselves in many ways that cause much pain. Many do not stop and show them love by being concerned not just with the physical being, things that are seen, but more importantly, their spiritual well-being, what is both seen and unseen. And just as sad, many of the times people don’t want to truly be loved, because they like their lifestyle of sin (which can hurt them spiritually and physically). Many have even been hurt by the church of all things and have lost faith and hope in Christians, how sad is that!

Look again at what Christian love should look like in the opening quote. Did you know that love is both a noun and a verb, in the sense of 1 Corinthians 13, it is a call to action. We are to be patient, kind, not envy or boast, be not arrogant or rude, selfish (our way), love bears others burdens. Does this describe you? If we are Christians it should, and if it does not reflect our character towards others in a Christlike manner, this should greatly concern us and grieve us. It should cause us to take as much time as needed to examine ourselves and our motives in the Christian faith. As the Apostle Paul says in the second half of verse 1 “but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

Let me boil this down real quick for us. You cannot truly love God if you do not truly love people, and your cannot truly love people if you do not love God. Clear as mud?

We are called, commanded, exhorted, even disciplined all because of God’s love. The Bible even says we love because He first loved us – 1 John 4:19

If you profess to be a Christians, please take these words to heart, examine yourself in light of the scriptures, spend time with God daily in His Word and prayer, that He would grant you tenders and love towards others, and a heart to be like Christ in their lives. As the old hymn goes “They will know that we are Christians by our love!)

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHEN YOU THINK OF LOVE

WHEN YOU THINK OF LOVE

This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12

Jesus Christ

When you think of love, what are some of the first things that come to our minds? Maybe it is our spouse, our kids, our family, our lifestyle perhaps. Maybe it is a certain food, or a vacation memory or certain event. These are all well and good when kept in their proper perspectives, unfortunately most don’t and this is what makes up their perception of love.

1 John 2:15-16 – Gives us this very stern exhortation: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world.

So why this warning and why is it so dangerous? Well, we must look back to the Garden of Eden (there is so much to learn from Genesis 3) where the fall took place.

Genesis 3:6 – So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Do you see the deep similarities compared to 1 John 2:16? Eve falling for Satan’s lure of slick rewording of God’s command not to eat… You will not surely die (exactly the same words but in a different order!)  then to set the hook of sin, Satan says “Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” Let’s be honest with ourselves and especially with God. How many times have we wanted things our way and did not like His ways? So Eve sees, and it turns into delighting desires, and ends with her pride that she is not going to have God telling her what to do! Yeah, us either!

But wait, I thought this was about love? Oh, it is alright!

So after all of this in the garden, what does God do? He curses everybody! Satan goes on his belly and eats dust all the days of his life, eve pains in giving child birth, Adam having to work for their food and provide for their families. But God also showed great mercy and the type and shadow of His Son, Jesus Christ was also their in the garden, when God slew the animal and made skins for Adam and Eve to cover their shame. So it is to this day, that Christs’ blood is still the only and perfect atonement to cover all of our sins who have been given grace and mercy to believe in Christ and why He came.

Now look John 15:13-14 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. What is it that He commands those who He has saved? Well, we again need to go back to the Old Testament for some background.

Leviticus 19:17-18 – You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 – Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

Deuteronomy 10:12 – And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

These two laws sum up the 10 Commandments, the first 4 Commandments belong to the worship of God alone, and the other 6 commandments are how to properly live in this world loving others and obeying God. However, we do not keep these commandments for ANY reason to earn or keep our Salvation, rather we use them as a mirror or God’s law and expectation on how to live for Him and bring Him glory. 

However, we fail so much and so often because we live more of our lives in the world and its flesh than we do of faith in God, trusting His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the narrow ways of this treacherous sinful world. That is why many times you see in John’s epistles the word “abide”, which means to accept or act in accordance with. 

We all need to properly use all that God has blessed us with accordingly in that He always has first place in our lives, but He also gave in abundance so that we may also love others, but do we? Do we truly love God and truly loves others, especially Christians as we are commanded, not suggested, COMMANDED to do? May this give much to think about, pray about, repent of, and seek to be more like Christ.

Be sure to come back tomorrow as we continue more deeply into loving our neighbors as ourselves.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN

THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN

If you will not have death unto sin, you shall have sin unto death. There is no alternative. If you do not die to sin, you shall die for sin. If you do not slay sin, sin will slay you.

Charles Spurgeon

Look at the image above to see what I did intentionally. Do you see it? Some may not because of many reasons; colorblindness, hard to see, have issues with contrast, and so it is with the Christian and sin. We are easily deceived! All one has to do is examine oneself in the light of the scriptures to see how true it is! So much so, we have become calloused, unconcerned, ignorant, and lacking of wisdom against it!

One of the saddest things to see in the Christian community and in the world overall, is that of sin; the lack of seriousness against it, the lack of fighting against it, the lack of doing anything against it, and the worst of all… turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to it.

Many today say that sin has been defeated by God, and therefore there is no cause for alarm. Yes, that is true, but that is still to happen in the future. My friends, sin is alive and well in the world! For Satan is still the one who has the power for a time to continue to deceive all. Before we go any further, let us define the three main words in this writing; sin, deceitfulness, and transgression.

A transgression of the law of God. A vitiated state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God. an often serious shortcoming. An offense against religious or moral law. an action that is or is felt to be highly reprehensible. Sin is normally referred to in the verb form (as it is an action that is done or performed). Can you already see and feel the seriousness of sin, just in its definitions?

Deceit (or deception) means the act of causing someone to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid, the act of deceiving.

Transgression means: infringement or violation of a law, command, or duty, in this case, God’s law(s).

1 John 3:4 puts all of this into prospective that is very easy to understand “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.”

Are you still not getting the point, that sin is serious business and very few Christians today take it seriously if at all?  Many have seared their consciences against God and His law(s) and have become His enemies without even realizing it, and yet God has allowed them to do such!

Some of the high points from Romans 1:18-32:

18-22 – For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools

24-25 – Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.

26-27 – For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28-32 – And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

One does not have to look far to see what I am clearly pointing out in God’s Word, but more importantly, in those who “profess AND confess” to be Christians! So what can be done and how can a sinful person or Christian be under grace? Hebrews 3:13 gives us a great start in the right direction.

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Let us get the whole context before we break down the main point of verse 13.

Hebrews 3:7-13 –

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

So we are to exhort one another daily. To exhort someone takes effort, it takes courage, above all, it takes love. For exhorting means to incite by argument or advice, urge strongly, to give warnings or make urgent appeals.

Here are some very common examples that many of us know, and many of us have also not listened to wisdom. “Do not text and drive”! “Just say no to drugs! These are exhortations done in concern of dangers and the outcomes that take place when warnings (exhortations) are not heeded to. Now let’s take a look at one of the greatest exhortations of the Bible that just about every Christian is (or if not, needs to be) familiar with, Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The death here referred to is far greater than just a physical death, it is an eternal death, one that without the precious blood of Jesus Christ paying for our sins, and walking in the newness of the free gift of grace, it is nothing more than sheer hypocrisy to the world, and an absolute disgrace to the Gospel!

Take time today to do a word search in your Bible on the word sin. Read the book of 1 John, for there is LOTS of spiritual truth that also speaks of our topic this morning. I will leave you with one of my favorite and very sobering quotes when it comes to sin. It comes from the puritan writer and Pastor John Owen.

“Be KILLING sin or it (sin) will be killing YOU!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

LOOK ALWAYS TO THE SCRIPTURES

LOOK ALWAYS TO THE SCRIPTURES

We must especially watch and pray against the sins to which we are inclined. The written word of God is the surest rule of a Christian’s life, and by this rule we are commanded to be holy every way. God makes those holy whom he saves.

Matthew Henry

Remember when we were kids and and the cartoons and movies we watched many times presented characters that were good and evil, and just about every time good was always victorious. Too bad in the spiritual realm it is not that way, not yet any way.

I had a difficult time trying to figure out what to call today’s devotional, so I say we “Look always to the scriptures”.

As Christians, we must be different from the way, WAY different. We are supposed to think differently, act differently, speak to others differently, etc. Why? Because if we truly are Christians, we are filled and endowed with the Spirit of God! We are commanded to put off the old man, crucify the flesh, and put on the new man. Why would God save us from our sins and then expect us to stay the same? Granted, He could easily have some way of completely transform us into glory right here and now on earth, but He wants us to grow slowly, learn to be dependent on Him, trust Him, and praise and glorify Him. That is why we always need to be in the scriptures, studying, praying, seeking, that we would be less like the world and more like Christ.

When you study God’s Word in diligence and seek Him much in prayer, you will start to see  a chasm if you will, where the good and evil start to divide, you start to understand about comparing your life and contrasting it to the Word of God. 

James the author of the book of the same name, who was the half-brother of Jesus says it in a metaphor about looking into a mirror (which is the Word of God) seeing our sin, and then goes away and immediately forget what he (gender neutral) immediately forgets what he saw. One the other hand is the Christian, who intently looks (meditates upon) the law (Word of God), and to not only hear, but do what it says. The Bible is full of compares and contrasts, especially in the book of Psalms and the book of Proverbs.

If we are reading or hearing only, and not applying and growing, one of a few things is wrong. 1) The church you attend is not teaching the Bible, rather they are teaching the opinions of man. 2) You are not preparing yourself to receive the message that God wants you to hear. 3) You are not applying what you heard. These are the 3 basic, yet major things we as Christians need to be fed every time we gather as His elected people.

So remember, always go to the Word for all of your daily life needs, for God cannot lie and will always steer you to absolute truth, which is what this world desperately needs!

#ToGodBeTheGlory

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

WHO DO YOU TRUST?

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

Corrie Ten Boom

Suffering is not fun! I know suffering, because that is what I was doing before that nice lady rescued me from my demise. I was neglected, malnourished, unloved, no one cared. All I was good for was to be raised for money for drugs and eventually be sold into slavery of being a bait dog for dog fighting.

Christians were made for suffering! Rather we like to believe that or not is between you, God, and His Word. If Christians were not made to suffer, we would have the good life with no problems whatsoever. Snap our fingers and God would give us our hearts desires. Glory be to God that He does NOT operate that way as so many false converts make Him out to be.

This mornings readings were in the books of First and Second Peter, and boy you want to talk about some suffering! We are even told beforehand that they will come in and during our lives. Now these words the Apostle Peter was writing to the persecuted Jewish, but is for our benefit as well. For we are one people under one God.

1 Peter 1:6 – In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials.

More importantly, we are not to be worried or focused upon these trials and tribulations (some say easier said than done), this is why we need to daily be dependent upon God for ALL things! We need to be in is Word, we need to be in prayer, we need to be seeking always to do His Will and honor Him, and we cannot do this if we do not fully trust God.

Many people struggle with this concept because they are trusting in who they might refer to as a “someone” or a “something” because they d not see God, they do not audibly hear God, and they may not be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. When one comes to faith, these are the things, the signs they do trust God, because they are given peace and hope by the Holy Spirit, words that comfort us that we do not have to worry anymore. We learn to trust a Savior who suffered far greater than any of us ever will. If we cannot trust in God, then there is no hope for us some day.

We need to get out of ourselves, our mindsets, our thoughts and learn God’s will, and yes, we will suffer, some greater than others. But when we think of suffering, we always think of the worst right away, but when we realize it is for our benefit and God’s glory, it is worth it. Say for a (bad) example, we quit using media. The suffering would be withdraws at first, but the benefits would be more time with God and less stress of the things going on in the broken world.

I leave this with you today. I highly encourage us all to read all of the book of 1 Peter, and ask God to show us how to live for Him, honor Him, suffer for Him, glorify Him. Ask Him to purge the things, the cares, the concerns of this world from us and that we seek to do His will and walk in the ways of holiness we are called to do in 1 Peter.


#ToGodBeTheGlory

HUMILITY AND TEACHABLE MINDS

HUMILITY AND TEACHABLE MINDS

We must yield ourselves to the word of God,
with humble and teachable minds

Matthew Henry

These past few days we have talked about hearing and obedience and how my humans, er, I mean owners, have been working with me to become obedient to their requests of living in their home and being a profitable family member. Unlike people, I am not gifted with the level of knowledge and intellect that people are, however, I too am trainable.

When we think about obedience, being trained, being disciplined, what are some of the first things that come to mind?

Well, for some of us disciple may have a negative connotation as to disciplined may have meant spanking, being put in time out, or something to that extent. But if discipline has had a positive influence on our lives, it has brought us strength and power in a certain area of our lives. Maybe we played and instrument, and by hours of practice (discipline) we grew into a proficient musician that may have gone on to become a professional musician. Or maybe we spend a lot of time in the gym, training (discipline) for a sport and went on to be a professional athlete. The point is understanding that discipline can and should be seen as both a positive and a negative in our lives.

There are quite a few of us who have either read or read the famous proverb in Proverbs 22:6 – Train (that is discipline) up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

But what about some of the ones that sound more negative (by our standards) and yet are meant for our good and a positive outcome of correction from our sins

Deuteronomy 8:4-6 Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. 6 So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.

Even worse, later in this very same book in chapter 21 verses 20-21 it says about the rebellious son (gender neutral) “20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”

Can you imagine if this was still practiced at churches in America today hoe many folks probably would not go?

But, in love, we are always to be corrected of our sinful ways, that is the whole point of properly disciplining or being disciplined. Why?

Psalm 58:3 sums it up quickly “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.” Like it or not, by default we are ALL born into sins and a sinful world because of the fall in the Garden of Eden.

Look at what Proverbs 13:24 says “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

Disciple (although not pleasant at times) is absolutely necessary to a Godly living, God honoring, Holy Spirit filled life, and there is no way that we can do it ourselves. We must humbly submit ourselves to God, crying out to Him to have mercy on us and not discipline us with His wrath, but with the correcting rod of His Word, and the only way to receive that, is by daily spending time with God in His Word and by prayer.

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Do you want the righteousness of God? Do you want to honor God? Do you want a life to the fullest they way He intended it to be? Then we are going to have to learn humbly and through the discipline from our sins, that His grace would shine upon us, and in turn give Him all the praise, honor, and glory, due Him.

#ToGodBeTheGlory

THE BLAME GAME

THE BLAME GAME

I'm not saying it's your fault, I'm just blaming you.

Anonymous

Well, today makes my first week in my new home. The one thing I don’t like is that I got nobody to blame for my faults and shortcomings. You see, I had a few potty accidents in the house this week, and I am sure they were not intentional (or were they ;). When I got here, there is this other small grey furry blob that lives here and my humans call it a cat. Me, I call it a play toy if I can every get a hold of that thing, but they try to keep our distances because they think she might not like me either. Anyway, they have no kids, and they obviously didn’t have the accidents, so I got stuck with the blame. Have you ever had that happen to you?

Hard to believe in just a little over two weeks, my wife and and have been married almost 9 years! Where has the time gone? There was a running joke when we first got married (and I guess now I think about it isn’t that funny anymore, strange how conviction works when you least expect it), I told her something similar to this mornings quote, except I said no no matter what, I’m blaming you. Just be sure you understand that before you say “I do!”. This is a terrible way to start off a life together, but by God’s grace, we have made it this far.

Reminds me of another couple, more famous than us, but not in a good way, so famous in fact, that God had man make record of it and put it in the Bible. You remember the couple and the story, don’t you? Well, let me refresh our memories just in case.

Genesis 3:12-13 –  The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Why did they not just come right out and blame God while they are at it? Oh wait, they did, just not directly! And so it was a very long line of blameshifting people that were born in this corrupt world, acting just like their federal father and mother, and eventually became one of the biggest traits of what we call narcissism. But it goes much further and deeper than that today, and this was just the seed of many tares to come that Satan had planted in God’s garden of people.

Look at how many characteristics these weeds have grown into over the years!

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Have a sense of entitlement and require constant, excessive admiration
  • Expect to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerate achievements and talents
  • Be preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate
  • Believe they are superior and can only associate with equally special people
  • Monopolize conversations and belittle or look down on people they perceive as inferior
  • Expect special favors and unquestioning compliance with their expectations
  • Take advantage of others to get what they want
  • Have an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others
  • Be envious of others and believe others envy them
  • Behave in an arrogant or haughty manner, coming across as conceited, boastful and pretentious
  • Insist on having the best of everything — for instance, the best car or office

In turn when not kept in check, it manifests even further and with serious consequences, like:

  • Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
  • Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
  • Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

Doesn’t this sound a lot like the way the world is today? Sadly it is much of the way many churches have become as well, and there is only one cure for this great ailment of the flesh, and that is repentance and the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

You see, we can continue on the wide road of destruction and mayhem, but there will be a GREAT cost! Or we can do it God’s way and let Him guide us on the narrow path, and that by the power of the Holy Spirit, He will shows us the areas of narcissism in our lives.

We can be cured individually and corporately, but the question is, do we truly want to be healed? If so, we need to become humbled much like all who Jesus has healed in His day. They knew that in order to get physically healed, they would have to seek the Great Physician. However, they were only seeking a physical healing, and yet Christ gave them even more, by telling them “Your sins are forgiven” or “Go and sin no more”.

God knows when we are serious about being healed from our sins who will come while they can, and who will not, and those who do come, He NEVER turns away!

May you spend time in prayer this day, seeking the sins that you need to be cleansed from, for daily self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5) prevails much.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Let this part of the fall humbly remind us that we are full of sin apart from God, and without His help and His healing us through the Gospel of His Son, Jesus Christ, we will have no good thing in us! Even in the garden of Eden, God was rich in mercy and the foreshadowing of His Son to come, in that He slaughtered the innocent by blood in order to cover the guilt of sin.

If you truly are born again and saved, should we not always be keeping this at the forefront of our minds and to battle against the things of this world? Be sure to thank Him and praise Him if you are blood brought, saved, and sealed by His Holy Spirit. For only HE is worthy to be praised, honored, and glorified.

#ToGodBeTheGlory