Monday, June 30, 2008

"Revelation" III

The book of Revelation (remember, not 'Revelations') is a book written like the prophets of the Old Testament when they preached to God's people. It is a book of images to make a point.
One of the greatest misapplied text in the book is found in chapter 13 and the meaning of 666. People today refuse 666 in their address or a phone number and many other things because of the misinformation of what this means. If one would carefully read the picture of the earth beast (13:11-15), you will find the earth beast has one purpose only: worship the first beast from the sea (13:12). He deceives those who dwell on the earth using signs (13:13-14). It might make us aware that not all signs are from God! That's why we follow His word, not signs! If those on the earth did not worship the first beast, they were to be killed (13:15)! Would the saints need encouragement? Would they need some strength from the Lord because of the position they would be put in? To top it all off, the earth best gives a mark on the right hand or forehead on everyone. What if one refused this mark? They could not buy or sell (13:16-17). The power behind the both beasts is the devil/Satan (ch.12) and he has one goal in mind: destroy the people of God (12:17). Would this situation make things really difficult for God's children? Would it be a real life struggle? One can either have the name of the beast or the number (13:17).
What does all this mean? The wisdom of God is always available if we will just listen (13:18). The beast is not really a beast, it is a man (13:18). John writes that one can caluculate the number! What does the word calculate mean? There must be something to adding up numbers. This was common in the first century. Today it is not common for us to do this. For instance, on the walls of Pompey, there was writing which said, "I love the woman who's number is 545!" Instead of her name, they had written the number of her name. The Greek alaphbet has numbers that correspond to each letter. We have the same in our English alaphbet. At the end of Webster's New World Dictionary, there is a mathematics chart of numerations. It shows the Greek alphabet and the corresponding number. Each letter has a number value. You add up the number of the value of each letter in one's name and it that is how you calculate the name. The name of Jesus in the Greek totals 888. That is why 13:18 starts with, "Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast..."
Whoever this beast is, and he is a king (ch. 17), they would know by calculating his name in numeric form and it would add up to 666. Just a little hint and I will list the kings later, the king will be Domitian! It is amazing that the earth beast demands marks on the forehead or right hand or one could not buy or sell. To encourage the saints, ch. 14 begins with the Lord marking His saints with His name and the name of His Father!
I am just trying to help us stay within the teaching and not jump off some end like so many do. Remember, this book is the only New Testament book that has a warning about adding to or taking away from it (22:18-19). To have this kind of warning, do you think Jesus would make it so difficult that one could not understand? Just leave it to what it says and let it reveal each step to us. You will be surprised at the simplicity!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Revelation" II

Revelation can be easily understood if one would just familiarize themselves with Old Testament prophets language. In the first century, they were accustomed to these word images to make a point. We are not and so everyone tries to make something more of the book when there is no need.
The central message of the book is that God is in control in all human affairs and He alone is worshiped and served! The Roman Empire was trying to destroy God's rightful place by oppressing His saints and exalting it's personal might on the earth. The power behind this destruction of God's saints is called the devil and Satan, who is described as a great red dragon (Rev. 12). It is this image to impress upon the readers the magnitude of the situation, not literal. He hates God and goes after anyone who holds to the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:17).
There is a a beast that rises out of the sea (Rev. 13). Using this vivid, descriptive language, the readers (and us) are told who this beast is in ch. 17. He is a king (17:11)! There is a second beast that arises out of the earth (Rev. 13). He looked as innocent as a lamb but when he spoke, he spoke as the dragon (13:11). The picture is he looks innocent but is extremely dangerous. The earth beast has only one purpose: to make all the nations worship the sea beast (13:12-15)! We find out the earth beast is a false prophet, nothing more (19:20). There is a woman who rides on the back of the beast. After great, detailed descriptions are given about her and the saints of God she is responsible for killing, we are given who she is: "The woman who you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth." (17:18) "Reigns" is present tense so you must keep in mind at the writing of the book, there was only ONE city that reigned over the kings of the earth. ROME! "Is" is present tense at the writing too! Let the words means what they say. Chapter 18 is how the fall of this ungodly empire would affect the trade of all the nations around. They depended on her commerce and trades to maintain their livelihood. When she is destroyed, the merchants and kings of the earth mourn, while the saints in heaven shout for joy (19)!
There is way too much made up and read into the book. Simply let the book give you a picture in your mind as you read and stay with it, because it will explain the characters, the dealings and on-goings as you go through. You don't have to assume and it is not some secret code. It explains itself if you will allow it without trying to put your own ideas in it! God reigns and has control over all human events, even when it might not look like it. The book is a book of comfort, hope and security that God has control and you can trust Him. That's why the chapters 2-3 come at the first in writing each of the congregations. If Rome was coming down, the brethren need to get their lives straight and hold to the teachings of Jesus so they too can be victorious in the end. One final thought, it cannot be the end of all mankind because at the end of the book, there are still kings and kingdoms on the earth. If you have a question, ask. Otherwise, read and let it reveal itself to you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


The book of Revelation is a book of controversy to so many. Many see it as a book of end time predictions. Others see it with some hidden message for us today, making all kinds of assumptions regarding the meaning of the symbols. Let me say this, the book isn't written like other books of the Bible, like the gospel accounts, Romans, Philippians and the like. Where does one begin to understanding it? If you follow commentators, they cannot even agree, so where does that leave us?
I know many will question me when I say the book is not that difficult to understand. I really mean that. For years when I first started preaching, I avoided the book like a plague, with the attitude that it really doesn't pertain to us and is not meant to be understood. What childish thinking I had! The book is rich and encouraging. It can be understood.
Here is some help for you. The book of Revelation, (not plural 'Revelations'), is rooted in Old Testament prophets speech and thoughts. You need to familiarize yourself with how many of the prophets of old spoke in images and pictures. They were not speaking literal but using descriptive pictures to make a point. For instance, Joel is a book speaking of a mighty nation invading their land and they have teeth like lions and fangs of a lioness (Joel 1:6). He explains in vivid description about their appearance like horses, the noise they make with their chariots, sounding like a crackling fire. They cause the earth to quake and the heavens tremble, the sun and moon grow dark and the stars loose their brightness (Joel 2). All through the book these descriptions are given to describe one thing: A LOCUST PLAGUE (Joel 1). There are other Old Testament prophets that write like this and because so many are unfamiliar with this kind of descriptive writings, that's why they mess up the book of Revelation.
The main question I get from many is this: Has the book of Revelation been fulfilled? I am careful when answering because many have been impressed with the worlds thinking and ideas that it is hard for them to believe otherwise. Bear in mind with this that John wrote the book over two thousand years ago. He identifies the book in the first verse of chapter one, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God have Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place;" The book is about the "things which must soon take place". Then it goes on to say in verse three, "for the time is near." What do these two phrases mean? This is how he opens the book! It was written specifically to the seven churches because whatever this book was about was going to have a direct affect upon them. John closes the book with the same identical thoughts in 22:6 and 22:10. John didn't get to the end of the book and suddenly change his mind about the time frame! It is so difficult for some to accept the words at face value without trying to put their own thinking and 'spin' on it! This is what John says, which he got directly from an angel, who came from Jesus who got all this from God! It's about the things that would shortly take place and the time was near in their day and time!
It seems everyone agrees that the words "soon" and "near" mean what they say until we get to the book of Revelation. Those thoughts get swept under the rug because everyone thinks there is some special secret code in the book. If I were to write you a letter and say I will see you soon or the time is near for me to come to you, what would you think? Two thousand years or more? The book opens with these thoughts and closes with these thoughts to give encouragement and instruction to the brethren that were going to be in the middle of all that was about to happen. Some of them would loose their lives (Rev. 6:11) and they needed assurance they would be taken care of!
The bottom line, the book is about the things that related to the Roman Empire and how the Lord God would dismantle it. Whatever the signs and images are to mean, we must understand that it related to them two thousand years ago that they would happen soon! People come back with "But with God a day is a thousand years and a thousand years is a day!" (II Pet. 3:8). Think for yourself! That verse is describing "with the Lord" not with man! Take a close look at Dan. 8:26 with Rev. 22:10 and let it say what it means. Here is what the two text say: Daniel received a vision and the Lord told him to seal of the vision because "it pertains to many days in the future." John ends his vision and the book of Revelation with do not seal up the prophecy of this book because "the time is near." They were both told to do opposite things. There was over 400 years between Daniel and Revelation. There is over 2000 years between Revelation and us. Just let common sense rule!
If you have questions, please ask. The safest approach to the book is let John tell us what the time frame is rather us telling John! I will give more on this later!

Monday, June 23, 2008

"It Must Come From Your Heart"

To pray so that people might call you holy is not to pray at all. That's a show! It is praying to promote yourself, to preach yourself. To give so people will praise your name or know how much you give is not to give at all. That is taking! To obey because "you have to" is nothing more than legalism. We hear of unity but what many really want is comformity. Sometimes people with strong wills or superior strength can force us to mouth or conform to religious acts, but that's not a servants heart. Preachers can make us feel guilty for not "doing the work of the Lord" or not giving enough, so people will give or work out of that guilt. That's not the grace of service or giving! Why am I saying all this? Because there is one thing another cannot do and that is control your heart! People can try to bully people to the knees, but you can't make them pray! You can use compulsion to get people to give, but you can't force them into the grace of giving. You can emotionally intimidate people into reading their Bibles, (let's have a daily Bible reader count each week), but you can't make them love and appreciate the truth. You can make people use all sorts of "churchy" phrases but you can't make them joyously talk about the lovely Master! You can say what you like in religion, but there is a great gulf between the heart of a person responding and a person who conforms for fear of being guilty for not following. You can pressure people to submit to certain things using God and His word as a covering for your personal wants and create a fear that they will be looked down upon if they don't follow, but you can't control their heart.

Everything Christ is trying to lead us in is calling for a heart response. "You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart!" is His calling. Wasn't it Jesus who said about those heartless worshipers, "This people honors Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me."? (Matt. 15:8) If Jesus made anything abundantly clear, it was for people to respond from their heart. You get a persons heart, you get the whole person! It was Jesus who taught, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matt. 15:18) It was Jesus who talked of the man that looked upon a woman and had lust for her had committed adultery with her in his heart.

We need to take care of our hearts. (Prov. 4:23) What goes in, what is stored in the heart makes itself known in our daily lives. That's why guilt works so well! For many, they know their own guilt in their hearts and have not found a cleansing, so it is easy to get them to conform to religious things because they want relief for their guilt. That is why so many are loveless, empty pretenders rather than a heart responding to do what is right because of faith. People can control a lot of things in others lives with different pressures and scare tatics, but one thing you cannot control in another person is their heart response and we need to stop trying.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Heart To Forgive

Jesus' words are plain and clear. "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart." (Matt. 18:34-35) To be unforgiving is not tolerated by Jesus or God. There will be severe punishment for all who refuse to forgive another from the heart. How many times have we heard this, know this, yet we still hang on to hurts, resentments, deep seated bitterness toward others who have hurt or taken advantage of us? For some, the hurt is so deep, they want to see the one "pay" for the damage they feel that has been done to them. Others seem to embrace the feelings of resentment because if they let it go, the offender will get off free! What all this reveals is how little impact the cross makes upon the mind, heart and lives of those who claim to love the Lord!
The other day, while playing with my granddaughter, she hit her head on the edge of a table. Her head began to bleed from a small cut. After getting her calmed down, holding her, she looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes. She smiled. I told her I was so sorry for her hitting her head. She laid in my arms for while, then slowly sitting up, she looked at me and said, "Grandpa, everything will be alright because you said you were sorry! I love you grandpa!" The ability of children for willingly, freely and lovingly to forgive, no strings attached!
You hear the words of Jesus, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3) Jesus expects heart changes and attitudes from us because of His sacrifice or we won't make it! Heart changes and attitudes are connected directly with His dying in our place. The effects of His death in our stead are seen in our ability to forgive and forget as easy as a child. An evil, unbelieving, hard heart is a heart that refuses to forgive. It sure isn't the heart of a child and not even close to the heart of Jesus. Read the opening verses again carefully. Jesus was using His teachings to show being moved with anger against those who are unwilling to forgive. His compassion, His love and mercy are wasted on people unwilling to let things go and forgive. It puts Jesus in one position: a position of judgment. It's not His choice but ours. He'd rather embrace and help but people that refuse His mercy by being unforgiving forfeit His mercy. Jesus is driving home a serious and eternal point. How easily do you forgive?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Breaking Things Down"

People speak of "going to Bible class" as part of loving the Lord. People talk of the worship assembly as a true and living relationship with the Lord. These two elements we refer to as "churchy" things or "churchy" settings. Have you ever given any thought that the majority of our time is spent outside these settings? What are we to do with daily living?
I know people in Christ that see what they do each and every day as just each and every day things. The real things are our studies and worship. Maybe that's what preaching has emphasised too much! Our service to the Lord is about all of our lives. Our relationship with Christ Jesus isn't broken down into different elements. Our walk with the Lord is about living, each and every day!
God's word tell us, "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." (I Tim. 5:8) Is this about our relationship with the Lord? What about someone who has the ability to work and will not work? The Lord says we are to take special note of that person and not associate with them to put them to shame (II Thes. 3:14). Is this about our relationship to the Lord? On our jobs, we are to do our work for the Lord rather than for man (Col. 3:23). Too many are complaining about their jobs or see their bosses as pathetic. With those attitudes, how much are we serving the Lord? How useful are you to the Master? What difference does Jesus make in our lives with those attitudes? We are called to be honest, not a pilferer (not taking things that belong to your work), watching our tongues, not argumentative, work harder if we work for a brother in Christ, going the extra mile and the list goes on and on. What am I trying to say? The Lord our God is at work in each and every aspect of our lives and we need to do things with the conscious awareness of His presence. He is at our assemblies and Bible studies but He is involved in each detail of our lives. Take a close look at Phil. 2:12-15. We are called to holy living in every aspect of our lives! It seems so few realize the relationship that exists with God. God is concerned about our lives and examples. Our examples reveal Him to others! Are we not called to the point that "whatever we eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God"? (I Cor. 10:31)
Staying away from sin and sinful situations brings God glory! Some never seem to get it. They walk into sinful situations thinking every thing is fine as long as they do not participate.
Our lives matter and what we involve ourselves in matters. We are the only beacon the lost world around can see the true glory of Christ. Our lives are not to be broken down into "secular" things verses "spiritual" things. Our lives are to be lived to the glory of God. As far as the assembly goes, that should be the highlight of each week. We live each and every day in the world, around the world, trying to impress upon them the teachings and life of our Savior. On the first day of the week, we come together as Christ's, away from the lost world to focus and glory in our Lord and Savior. If those in Christ cannot understand it is all part of the whole, they need to reexamine their relationship.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

His Grace Reaches Me!

Fiorello LaGuardia was the mayor on New York City during the worst days of the Great Depression and World War II. He was known as a man of colorful character. He would take orphanages to baseball games and, when the New York newspapers were on strike, he would go on the radio and read the funnies out of past newspapers to children that were listening.

It was a bitterly cold night, January 1935. Mayor LaGuardia went to a night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself. Within a few minutes, a worn out, beaten down elderly lady was brought before him, charged with the crime of stealing a loaf of bread. She spoke in a shaky voice, telling Mayor LaGuardia that her daughter's husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick and her grandchildren were starving. The storekeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop the charges! "It's a bad neighborhood, your Honor." the storekeeper spoke. "She's got to be punished to teach other people around here a lesson!"

LaGuardia turned to the woman and said, "I have to be just and punish you! The law makes no exceptions - $10 or 10 days in jail!" The mayor stood up, reached into his pocket, took out $10 and placed it into his famous worn sombrero. "Here is your fine which I now remit! Furthermore, I am going to fine everyone in the courtroom 50 cents for living in a city where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat! Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give them to the defendant!" The following day, the New York City newspaper reported $47.50 was turned over to a bewildered old lady who had stolen a loaf of bread.

Does this remind you of something? It reminds me of God's grace toward mankind. We are in debt and have chrages brought against us (Rom. 6:23). God is just and righteous and His righteousness will not allow any sins overlooked. They must be punished and we committed the sins. God reached deep within His heart and sent His Son on a death mission, our death mission and paid our sentence (I Pet. 1:18-19).

Jesus demonstrated the grace of God and His love for us (Rom. 5:8-11). We did not earn one single thing. We just responded by faith by being buried with Him in baptism and raised in newness of life (Col. 2:12).

His grace, His love should affect us to the deepest parts of our being. We should be a reflection of His grace and show thankfulness in the way we live our lives each and every day (Titus 2:11-14). His grace reaches me and our attitudes and actions show to what extent we have been touched by His grace!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Have You Ever Wondered?

Have you ever wondered why you were born at this time, in your generation? Why did you not live in the time of Noah, being swept away in the flood? Have you ever wondered why you were born into the family you have? Why were you not born into a family like Hitler or King Ahab or one of the people who had a large amount of offspring in many years past? Have you ever wondered why you were born of the nationality that you are? Why were you not born into another place across the sea? Have you ever wondered why you did not live at the time when people lived to be hundreds of years old and what that would be like? Have you ever wondered why you were put in the place you are surrounded by the friends you have? Have you wondered why you live in our day and time when medicine and health discoveries are so great and abundant? Have you ever wondered why you were placed in this United States where we have so much of everything, the ease at going where we want to go and do what we want to do and not in a third world country that struggles for the necessities of life? Have you ever wondered why you were given the opportunity to hear a saving message about Jesus Christ, while so many have heard so little, if anything at all? Have you ever wondered why were you allowed into the truth, when so many have no clue about the truth? Have you ever wondered why God granted you entrance in His eternal kingdom when so many are doomed? Have you ever wondered why God would ever give a hint of hearing toward one of your prayer requests? Have you ever wondered, after thinking about these things seriously, why we are not in prayer thanking our Lord and Father for why we are where we are, who He has surrounded us with and the thankful heart for being given the spiritual blessings in Christ? Well, what are you waiting for?

Friday, June 13, 2008

"Do I Really Believe?"

With a spoken word, this world came into existence from nothing. That's our Creator, our Father. All this large world, with the 6 billion plus people in it and the billions upon billions that have passed before us are nothing more than like a drop of water in a bucket before Him (Isa. 40:15). What a great and marvelous God we have.
This wonderful, powerful, awesome God sent His heart in His Son, to allow Him to die our death. Our weaknesses became His weaknesses. Every thing God is and has was placed in His Son for our betterment. This powerful, awesome God wants us saved! And what does this powerful, awesome God say to us? "If God is for us, who is against us?" (Rom. 8:31) You mean He is really for us? That is difficult for many to believe. We look at our bad marriages, our struggles on the job and the troubles many face each and every day in life and those things become so huge that we put so little faith in the fact the Creator and Sustainer of our lives is for us. This same God who has watched the history as we can only read about. He was there and involved! This same God who destroyed this whole world with a flood of water is for us? How can we be sure? Take serious thought and look at the cross! Go ahead, take a close look at the death of Jesus. God the powerful Creator, who has written down the day we die even before we were born (Psa. 139:16), gave up His Son to save us and we allow every thing to defeat us. Do you think you are in Christ just to struggle along with little to no help? If God did not spare His Son, how far will He go in making certain you have the help you need to make it? The giving of His Son was the "BIG" thing. Every thing else is easy for Him. He speaks and it happens! This is our Father. Why do we get taken down so easily? I am not making light of those who struggle. I am trying to get us to focus on the reality that God is for us, why do we allow every person, every situation take us into a depth of despair? When we find our lives stressed we seem to go after the lost world's mind set and take our eyes off of God. Our faith dwindles until we are finally taken down. And God sits quietly, patiently proving that He is for us and wants to help us overcome, not be overcome.
Maybe it is time we take a close look at the relationship we have with God. Are we committed to Him? If He is committed to us, why do we act and live like we are in this all alone? Not only did Christ die our death but He too intercedes for us (Rom. 8:34). Take a step back. Look at your Savior and Lord, asking yourself, "Do I really believe?" Even if you don't, it does not change the fact that God is for you! You only limit Him to what He will do because He responds to faith. Yes, this powerful, faithful and awesome God will not invade your choices. He wants to help but will only do so as we commit our lives to Him. That takes an honest and open heart.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." (Eph. 1:7) What wonderful, inspired words that came from our Lord. "We have redemption through His blood." We are not trying to be redeemed. He says we have!!! Redemption literally means "to buy back." What did the Lord have to "buy" us back from? The horrible enslavement to sin and its power. Sin was our master, it ruled our life and separated us from God. Through the death of Jesus, the shedding of His blood, our burial with Him in baptism put us under His blood and redeemed us! We belong to Him not sin.

Our redemption calls us to a holy response to God. The riches of the grace of God toward us, by redeeming us from all the flaws and headlong stumbling, should stir within our hearts a desire and want to respond to the cleansing we have received. Why should a wife submit to her husband as the head (Eph. 5:23)? Because she has been redeemed! Why is the husband called to love his wife and grant her honor (Eph. 5:25/I Pet. 3:7)? Because he has been redeemed! Why should we forgive one another who has sinned against us? Because God, through the redeeming work of Christ's blood, has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32)! Why should we accept one another, even those that seem so weak and struggling? Because of the redemption of Christ, we have been accepted in our weaknesses (Rom. 15:7)! Why are servants called to obey their master, even those who are unreasonable? Because of the suffering of Christ on our behalf has redeemed us (I Pet. 2:21-25)! Why are we to look to others as more important than ourselves? Because of Christ redeeming us, thought us as more important than Himself (Phil. 2:3-8)! Why does God ask us to live our lives in holiness? Because we have been brought into His presence through His Son's precious, redeeming blood (I Pet. 1;14-18)! Why do we need to be moving away from our selfishness? Because we have been given new life, the life of God through the redeeming blood of Jesus (Rom. 6)!

In all these things, we are not called to live with good attitudes and right behavior because we are good people. We are not called to the Lord because we are special above all others. We are called into a loving, right attitudes and blameless behavior because we have been redeemed! We have been "bought back" through the blood of Jesus and that should cause us, motivate us to live for Him. We are free from sin! We are children of God! Go ahead, sing it, shout it but above all, believe it: "Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!" Every thing we do, every thing we have been given in Christ is tied to our redemption. It's all a gift and our lives reveal the response to His precious and magnificent gift! How does redemption affect you?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Reversal of Forturne

Read Luke 16:19-31. There you will find the narrative of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus is making a point to people who are hoarders, never thinking of helping or reaching out to others. Jesus points to this rich man who "habitually" dressed in the finest while living each and every day of his life enjoying what he could buy and bring to himself. That sounds a lot like the society we live in. People concerned about their money, investments and pouring out all kinds of "stuff" for our children to enjoy and engross themselves in! Parents who will purchase item after item, no matter of the cost or debt they put themselves in because they want their kids to have it (or they want it for themselves)! Our children grow up learning to hoard more and more. (Just walk into the kids room and look at all the expense we have spent for them to have things.) I am not saying it is wrong for our children or ourselves to have things. Jesus was not saying it was wrong to possess things. The message coming from our Lord was a message of greed and covetousness. Spend for me, get for me, what is going to be left for me and how can I retire for me! In the end, it will all be burned!!!

Look at the preaching and teaching of a gospel message that will have an eternal effect on the lives of many. A countless number of people, each moment, each day are dying, walking off into a place of eternal condemnation. Look at how little we think about spending our monies to help preachers/teachers proclaim this gospel. We think nothing of gathering for ourselves but what about reaching with our funds to help others. Now listen carefully, this is not about a guilt trip. I don't do guilt trips and put people on guilt trips. I am trying to get us to slow down and look at where we put our emphasis. What do we teach out children about helping others? Are we showing them how to be givers, especially in the need of reaching the lost? Are we teaching them to be like the rich man, to hoard and live in as much enjoyment as we can with little concern for the needs of others?

Jesus said, "Look at Lazarus". He sat day after day at this rich man's gate wanting to be fed with crumbs falling from his table. Even the dogs had more than Lazarus. They at least licked his wounds! The rich man never once gave Lazarus a second look. Never once did the rich man consider helping. All that the rich man concerned himself with was his personal ease and pleasures. We find many in the church today with the same mind set, only to deceive themselves into thinking they are serving the Lord (II Tim. 3:4-5).

We need to be reminded, it is coming. Eternity is coming to us and we will see the result of our service to our Lord. The rich man found himself in pain, torment and agony while Lazarus found himself in comfort. Jesus was teaching: "Go ahead and think only of you and how comfortable you are in this life but there is a day coming when there will be a reversal of fortune!" We need to give serious thought to what we go after and what we are training our children to go after. The lost need teaching. They need to hear a saving message. As we support those who reach out, we too are sharing in this eternal gospel and there is no price we can put on it. John reminded Gaius to help those going out for the sake of the Name, how we need to support such (III John 5-8). Ignore giving and you will find yourself missing the blessings of giving and in the end, a reversal of fortune. Look around and think seriously about where you put your emphasis in this life, while teaching your children to follow in your steps. Jesus always taught it is more blessed to give than to receive. Do we believe that?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Should They Tell?

Sometime back a sister in Christ came with a burdened heart. She had committed adultery one time and her heart and conscience were screaming out. She was contrite and repentant and wanted her life to reflect that. The question came: "Do I tell my husband?"

Marital infidelity is a horrible sin and must be viewed that way. It is destructive, a betrayal and dishonors our heavenly Father. Our society accepts it! That is why our society is sick! Movies glorify it, books encourage it and too often many in Christ see it as no big deal, until it happens. But one thing we need to keep in mind, it is not unforgivable!

The question was, "Do I tell my husband?". That depends on a couple of things. First, if the husband and wife can go to God together, praying specifically about her sinful heart and the healing of that, asking God to build their marriage and love to a deeper commitment to each other, knowing that both husband and wife will respond in a godly, forgiving way that will not hesitate, yes, she should tell him! Secondly, to confess to their mate like shooting into the dark, knowing that nothing good will come of it, that it would destroy the husband, the marriage and the children and willing to live with those consequences, to be shamed by the continuing reminder of her immoral behavior and the husband rant and rave about her to others and family, then no, she should not tell him.

Think with me about God and what He does. Does the husband have a right to know who the man was who sinned against him? Does he have a right to call this man to confess to his wife and wound and shame that family? Does it matter that the wife is burdened with guilt and needs to find peace of mind? Does the wife think that God will not forgive her until she confesses her sin to her husband? There are so many questions that arise in this area but one thing needs to be above all in our minds and hearts: We need to find our lives engrossed in the love and life and Jesus Christ. If it can lead to destroy more people, confession to another is not wise. That's why the Bible teaches us to confess our sins to a righteous person because a righteous person understands the devestation and brutality of sin (Jam. 5:16). Read carefully John 8:1-11 and see how Jesus responds to the lady caught in the act of adultery. There are so many things to consider when one asks the question "Should I tell my mate?". The mate may be very weak spiritually and unable to handle such. The Lord is trying to heal and help, not destroy. Our own sinful lives destroy ourselves. We must be more committed to our Lord and Savior to grow into His likeness and stay away from sinfulness. But sometimes, in weak moments, sin rears its ugly head and we fall headlong. It might be something to consider if this person had a practice of immorality or if this is just a one time weakness of the moment. I would encourage her into serious Bible study, pray and looking to God to grow her into the likeness of Christ. I would encourage her to keep away from this weakness and situations ever again. If she is truly repentant and humble in heart, her life will reflect that. If she is just wanting to confess to her husband because she feels like she needs to get this burden off her heart, that could be a selfish expression on her part rather than a genuine, humble and contrite heart going to God who is the only One to forgive. Sometimes people really don't believe in the forgiveness of Jesus. When one is honest and humble, Jesus will work things out for His good and purpose. But if one is just playing the game, they will get caught again and then the consequences could be devastating. You think about it and listen to the word of God: "My little children, I am writing these things that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (I John 2:1) By the way, this lady today is a lovely sister in Christ who has moved well beyond what she was and is a fine example to all that know her!

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Horrible Doctrine

John Calvin is the founder of the Presbyterian Church. A while back I was reading an article about some of the things he taught. He used different Scriptures to come up with his doctrine, one of which is from Rom. 9, where Paul is showing why the Jew is lost. Calvin came up with His doctrine of "predestination" from such verses. He also uses I Pet. 2:8, "And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense; for they stumble because they were disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed."

This is a direct quote from Calvin himself: "God arranges all things by His sovereign counsel, in such a way that individuals were born, who are doomed from the womb to certain death, and are to glorify him by their destruction." (Institutes 3.23.6) Did you get that? Can you even imagine that God creates people only to doom them? Can you imagine a baby being born, dying as a baby, and being carried off into a world of fire and destruction because God 'chose' them to be lost? What all this means is man has no choice in the matter. Man is not a creation to choose but a choice is made for each of us and we have no say so in the matter! Calvin insists God cannot be resisted in the fact that He will decide who will be saved and lost and there is nothing anyone can do about it! His teachings that God eternally elects to save a small number and the rest are condemned to eternal torture and those condemned have no choice is a complete abuse and misuse of the holy Scriptures.

What Calvin seems to miss, and more and more are following his teachings, is that people are doomed because they choose to love wickedness and practice sin! Calvinism teaches people are doomed because at their birth, God arranged it beforehand that they would be born doomed and that's God's choice! What about God giving the sinful, lost world hope through Jesus Christ? God 'predestined' His Son (Acts 2:23/I Pet. 1:19-20) to save mankind. God 'predestined' a gospel message to save people (I Cor. 1:21). God 'predestined' that a way of life would be for those who received this gospel message (Eph. 2:10). What is more disturbing about Calvin's doctrine is to read places like Ezek. 18:23, where God says, "Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, rather than that he should turn from his wicked ways and live?" God wants mankind to live! He did not create us to destroy us. He did not send His Son to live and die our death because the majority were chosen to be eternally punished! Can you imagine God saying, "I created you for no other purpose than to torture you eternally?"

Listen carefully to the words of Jesus to Nicodemus and let me supply the Calvinistic idea and see what you think: "For God so loved the world (the few He chose?) that He gave His only begotten Son (only for the few elect?) that whoever (only the elect that has been chosen) believes in Him shall not perish (just a few He created not to perish?) but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Let me say this: If you want little to do with the Lord Jesus Christ and His Father, that is tragic beyond expression. That is your choice and the consequences will be your choice! But do not allow anyone following the Calvinistic doctrine tell you that you were created simply to be doomed, no matter how deeply you want a real, genuine relationship with God. Why not reach out, and believe you are one of the "whoever" in John 3:16 and love the Lord by seeking His face and righteousness. Your life will only improve. If I can help, just drop me a note!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Out Of Touch

Here it is Tuesday morning. Yes, it is Tuesday where you are too! Isn't that just amazing? I wanted to say that I will be out of pocket the rest of this week due to travel and I won't have my laptop with me. I will continue as soon as I return. Otherwise, take your time and if you so desire, go back read past posts. Think about them. Share them with others. Anything I write anyone can use for whatever they determine. I would just ask that you do not take personal credit for the writings. That should be a relief. There are not too many who wants to take credit for what I write!!!! I don't blame them.

Have a wonderful week, be prayerful and always know, God has bent heaven toward your salvation. The only question is, have we entrusted our lives into His care completely, 100%? Have you been washed in the blood of the Lamb by being baptized into His death? Are you humble and repentant? If you are, then grow. You just co-operate and He will grow you! Read II Peter 1:1-11 and see how to grow. Our Father has opened the door, will we walk in?

Monday, June 2, 2008

"Let's Be Honest About Our Sinfulness"

Too many are not honest about their sinfulness. When wrongs are committed, blame is passed to everyone but the one who sinned. It was the way I was raised, it was my parents fault, they talked me into to and the list goes on and on. We need to stop lying about our sinfulness and be honest! When one can do that, God's greatness and character come into clear focus. Jeremiah proclaimed the evil of people by saying, "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9) The answer: ONLY GOD! (Jer. 17:10) Our heart is the center of our being. It is our workshop that makes every decision and the issues of our lives flow from it. Our deeds are not because we "slipped" but they come from our heart! That why David exclaims, "Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (Psa. 51:10)

Too many in the church have such a shallow understanding of sin and how it operates within us. Many think church attendance, a few prayers, some daily bible reading and the such will defeat this issue of sin. One cannot help but read Romans 7 and see the depth of the struggle of Paul before he came into Christ and the power of sin over his life. Human efforts, human religion and human theology cannot over ride sin and its power. Paul concluded about his own sinfulness, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24) He found the answer lies in Jesus Christ alone! (Rom. 7:25)

What's the point? God wants each of us to be honest about our own sinfulness and stop trying to excuse ourselves by explaining our sins away with, "We are only human!" attitudes. Read I John 1:8-10 carefully. There we have God confronting us with our sins. If we do not admit our sinfulness and confess our sinfulness, we make God to be a liar, His word has no place within us and truth does not live in us! God expects us to confess our sins. Confession is an acknowledgement that sin exists. Confession is an open admittedness in the presence of God we have actually sinned and are responsible for our sins. Confession is a recognition that we have grieved God and dishonored His name. Confession is entrusting yourself into the His grace and mercy. Bottom line, confession is equivalent to complete repentance!

One cannot believe in the cleansing power of Jesus Christ unless they believe in confession! If there is nothing to confess, then there is nothing to forgive! If we deny the need to be honest and confess, we must deny the need for Christ's death and atoning sacrifice for our cleansing. Sin still holds us in its grip!

Stop blaming others or God for your sinfulness. Stop blaming others and God for your weaknesses and failures. If God knows our sinfulness and our deceitful hearts (and He does) and still offers us life, forgiveness and a place in His presence, that should bring us great comfort. That is the only way we can fight the good fight and allow God to create within us a new and steadfast heart. God wants a relationship with us but will not override our choices until we are honest about our own sinfulness! It seems too many are fighting hard to stay in their sins rather than confess and forsake their sins to find the embrace and help of Jesus, the only One who defeated sins power. Go ahead, be honest and approach God. People are endless at living miserable, shallow lives rather than embrace their Lord. If you do, joy will be the result. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!!!