The only free handout needed for life is most frequently neglected

Many people today are looking for a handout. We want free food, free education, free housing, free health, free transportation, etc. We have become a people proud of what we can get for free. We have decided that we should have everything for free. The person who can get the most from society is now being considered our hero. Our favorite political presidential candidate is the one who can give use the most “stuff” for free. In fact, we even think we should have “free love.”

To meet our selfish desires, we commit acts that we believe will bring us satisfaction. We get so involved in sexual impurity, and we begin to worship the created rather than the creator. We commit shameful acts, and expect the government to protect our actions. Even our minds become filled with “every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.” (Romans 1:29)

There is however, one gift that can bring love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In fact, it also includes an eternal home with the greatest family in the entire universe, yet we tend to ignore it. We are too busy enjoying our freebies that bring us only temporary satisfaction. We just want to live for the day… Eternity can take care of itself.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10(NIV)

The two most common reasons we most frequently neglect God’s gift of salvation are:

  1. We do not know who Jesus is. In John chapter 4, John is telling about a time in Jesus stopped by Samaria to rest while the disciples continued walking ahead to buy food. While Jesus was at the well in Samaria, a Samaritan woman came to draw water from the well where Jesus was resting. Jesus, being thirsty asks the woman to draw some water for him.

The problem was that Jews and Samaritans did not associate with each other. But Jesus, a Jew had asked the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. The woman questioned Jesus about drawing him water.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10(NIV)

You see, it was not politically correct for the woman to draw water for Jesus. But Jesus explained who he was and that He could provide the woman with living water. The reason we do not ask for the gift of salvation is because we do not know who Jesus is.

  1. We are only concerned about today. We just want to have a good time and enjoy life having our own way and doing our own thing. We are concerned about having money and the temporary pleasure that it brings. When we do not have enough we just try harder to find it even if we have to take what does not belong to us.

In Romans 1:18-32, Paul describes people who do not know God. The condition that he is referring to is much like the condition of our society today. The people in Rome were concerned about living for the day without God interfering with their temporary satisfaction. However, when we live for ourselves we will become spiritually dead. There is no future. There is no hope.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23(NIV)

The gift of salvation is not only for today, the gift on salvation is for eternity. We are so busy doing our daily activities that we fail to prepare for eternity. We cannot earn our salvation by working for it. There is only one way to salvation and that is through knowing who Jesus is and what he has done for us. We only need to accept the gift.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7(NIV)

Learn who Jesus is and accept the gift of salvation that he made available to you through the death and resurrection of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

 

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from https://www.biblegateway.com

Is Same Sex Marriages the Real Problem in our Churches?

Same sex marriages are only a symptom of the real problem. When you read Romans 1:18-32, you will see the real problem. In verse 21 it states the real problem:

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

As a church, we have become deficient in glorifying God and in giving Him thanks. We often come to church and leave our spiritual armor at home. In our minds we say: “Why would you have to worry about the enemy in church?”

Where is the best place to attack an enemy? Is it not in the headquarters or the place where soldiers are encourage and supported? We have allowed Satan to enter the church and to lead us away from God. We are encouraged to glorify ourselves more that to glorify God. We fail to give God thanks for the things that he has provided. We are caught up in programs and facilities and have missed the real purpose for the programs and facilities.

Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Romans 1:22-23(NIV)

We have allowed state-of-the-art buildings, state-of-the-art sound and video equipment, and state-of-the-art programs to replace God. We no longer go to church to worship God but to worship our man-made monuments that have consumed our church budgets and our dependency on God. The same-sex marriage has become the center point of many denominations agenda. We are caught up in catering to the sin rather than delivering people from the slavery of sin. Being politically correct has replaced our witness for God. Rather than a hospital for sinners, we have become a cemetery for sinners.

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32(NIV)

In Jesus time, the Pharisees were so caught up in their translation of the Law that they were missing the whole point of the Law. The church today is falling into that same trap as we dispute and argue about the church membership that includes people who have committed certain types of sin but welcome other who are caught up in other types of sinful behavior.

How does God show his wrath against all sinful humanity?

Romans 1:18-32 tells how God shows his wrath. God turns people who do not glorify God or thank him over to their sinful desires and shameful lusts. He gives them over to their depraved minds and lets them do whatever they want to do.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:18-32(NIV)

In Revelation 3:14-22, John writes this about the Church of Laodicea.

 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm —neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

21 To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

To church members and leaders I ask: “What are we going to do about sin?” Are we going to continue to be lukewarm and cave in to sin, or are we going to get back to preaching the truth and giving God the glory? Time is running out. God is about to “spit us out of (his) mouth.”

NOTE: Scripture used in this blog were downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

Is your church “pre-screening” people for heaven?

How many times have you heard in church that people who do … or if people do not do … will not go the heaven? This is not a new Phenomenon for the church. It has been happening since the beginning of the church.

In the 10th chapter of Acts, we read about how Peter (a devote Jew) has a vision about God sending a sheet filled with animals that were considered unclean food and tells Peter to kill and eat. But Peter responds that he has never let any unclean thing enter his body. God had to tell him two more times before God took the sheet of food away.

About the same time, Cornelius (a believing Gentile) has as vision about going to find Peter.

As Peter was thinking about the meaning of his vision, Cornelius comes to the house and asks for Peter. So Peter goes to the house of Cornelius.

Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.  You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. Acts 10:33-48(NIV)

Did this end the debate between the Christian Gentiles and the Jews? No. Later, the Jews were telling the Christian Gentiles that they needed to be circumcised to become a believer because this is what was required in the covenant God made with the children of Israel.

The church today has problems trying to pre-screen Christians. It may not be circumcision or eating certain foods, but we have several others: Type of worship, translation of the Bible, baptism, place of worship, instruments used in worship, pastor’s salary, church membership, etc.

We need to give the same message that Peter gave in Acts 10. Peter told them that God was not show favoritism. He also told them what God had done for him. He told them about the Holy Spirit that was given to the believers and that Jesus died on the cross for everyone. God loves everyone. Christ died to redeem people from their sins, not to condemn them.

Rather than separating ourselves from the nonbeliever, we need to witnesses to them about what God had done in our lives. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit so we will speak only what the Holy Spirit tells us to speak.

God did not plan for the church to ‘pre-screen’ people for heaven. God wants us to tell unbelievers about the love of God and what He did for them on the cross. The assignment to the church is to make disciples, not judges and critics.

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

How to you remember other people?

In a lifetime, an individual will meet hundreds of people. Some of them you see for only a moment and others you see for longer periods of time. When people get older, they look back at their life and think about the people they have encountered. Someone will mention a name and they will say something like “I remember that person; he was the one who …”

What will you put in the blank? When people have hurt you, you will probably remember them for the hurt that they caused. You may think of every negative thing that you can think about that person.

On the other hand, when a person has helped you achieve something, you will remember that person by the good they did to you. You will think about all the positive things that the person did.

How do you want people to remember you? Do you want them to remember you as a judgmental person who criticized everything and everyone you come in contact with, or do you want them to remember you as forgiving individual, who was always trying to help someone?

Remember Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ? Do you remember him as the person who betrayed Jesus? Or perhaps you remember him as the person who Jesus called Satan? Or perhaps you remember him as the disciple who sank into the water because he took his eyes of Jesus? We may criticize Peter for taking his eyes off Jesus and sinking into the water or we can praise him for having the courage to go to Jesus even when it was humanly impossible.

Even though Peter made several mistakes in his life, He learned from his mistakes. He later wrote two Epistles that are recorded in our Bible today: 1 Peter and 2 Peter. Because Peter seemed to make a lot of mistakes, he has some excellent advice for Christians. In 1 Peter 2:11-12 Peter wrote these words:

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 1 Peter 2:11-12(NIV)

Peter is telling us that everything we do should glorify God. Even when people falsely accuse us, we should continue to live Godly lives rather than seeking vengeance because of their false accusations.

Often the reason we remember the negative things that people have done to us, is because we have never forgiven them for the wrong they did to us. We tend to hang onto all the wrongs that have been done to us, rather than forgive them.

The Apostle Luke, in chapter 6 record Jesus telling this to the followers of Jesus:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:37-38(NIV)

Jesus is telling his followers, not to judge or condemn people but rather forgive them.

Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things for people to do. Forgiveness requires the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God is the only one that can forgive, but he will not force us to forgive. We must surrender it to God and let him seek vengeance.

Paul in his letter to the Colossians says:

 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)

When we forgive someone as Christ did, we will remember the offence no more. We surrender our right to ever bring up this offense again. Regardless of the severity of the offence against us, we are still instructed to forgive.

How are people going to remember you? Are you going to remind them of Christ and His forgiveness or are we going to remind them of a judge who never forgive?

NOTE: All scripture in the blog were downloaded from: www.biblegateway.com

Recognizing the Gift of the Empty Tomb

Have you ever opened a gift or something that needed to be assembled, but when you open it you think there is something missing?

When we celebrate Easter, we often overlook what is really taking place on in the tomb. We get so excited about the events leading up to the crucifixion but spend little time regarding the tomb. Both are equally important.

Jesus blood shed on the cross was to pay for our sins. It was to redeem us from the sins that we have committed or will ever commit. It was for everyone including Adam and Eve. God’s purpose was to restore our relationship with Him.

Beginning with Adam and Eve, God illustrated the importance of the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin. In Genesis 3:20, the writer tells about God killing an animal to make a covering for Adam and Eve. Their knowledge told them they were naked and they were ashamed of their nakedness. They tried covering themselves with leaves. But the leaves were unacceptable for covering their nakedness; it required the shedding of blood.

Throughout the Old Testament the principle of shedding blood for sin was practiced in what they called the sin offering of the people.

 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22(NIV)

On the cross, Jesus took the sin of the whole world on his shoulders. His blood was shed for the atonement of our sins. In other words, His blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins past, present, and future. This in itself would have been a great gift, but it is not the complete gift God intended.

Today we are looking at the second part of the gift, the ‘missing’ part. In Luke 24, Luke is telling us of the events of the early morning of the third day after the crucifixion.

The women went to the tomb very early because they wanted to give Jesus the correct ceremonial preparation for burial. At this time, the women were expecting to find Jesus in the tomb. However, they had some concern about how they would get into the tomb. But when they got there, the stone had been rolled away. The gift was unwrapped.

When the women arrived at the tomb, God had already un-wrapped the gift. The large stone that secured the tomb had been rolled away. The gift had been exposed but the women still did not recognize what the gift was. All they saw was an empty tomb. They were deeply concerned, wondering what had happened to Jesus. They wanted the gift to match their expectations.

It was then that two men in gleaming clothes appeared to the women and said:

Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Luke 24:5b-7(NIV)

Jesus was not there. God had raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus was victorious over death. The sin of Adam and Eve that caused a spiritual separation between man and God had been overcome by Jesus. Jesus was alive. We can now enjoy a renewed relationship with God. We can now have the gift of eternal life with God our Father.

When Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, there were two trees in the garden: The ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ and the’ tree of life’.

When Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the ‘tree of good and evil’, God removed them from the Garden so they would not eat of the ‘tree of life’.

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22-24(NIV)

When Jesus shed his blood for the forgiveness of our sins, He forgave all the sins of men, including the sins of Adam and Eve. Jesus was victorious over death. The death that resulted from Adam and Eve eating of the’ tree of good and evil’, no longer has control of our lives. We now have access to the second tree, the ‘tree of life’. If we accept his gift, ‘the tree of life’, we will live forever with Him.

Prior to Jesus death, He told his disciples these words in John 14:1-3(NIV):

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Because the tomb was empty, we also have the gift of an eternal home with Christ. Jesus had gone to prepare us a place, not just any place but a mansion.

Throughout the Old Testament, God promised his people that he was going to give them a Messiah. He was going to take care of his children. He promised to make the Children of Israel like the sands of the sea. Through the Prophets, God told what would happen in the future. He predicted that Jesus would be crucified and that he would prepare a place for those who believed in Him. Jesus kept all His promises mentioned in the Bible.

The women were so excited when they learned that Jesus was alive that they went to tell their friends the good news of salvation. They wanted to share their gift of the empty tomb.

“When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.” John 14:9(NIV)

The other believers were still uncertain about the gift. They were confused. In fact Peter even ran back to the tomb to see for himself what had happened. Even though Jesus told them what would happen, they still were not ready for the gift that Jesus gave them

The women went to the tomb expecting to find Jesus’s body. It was not there.

Peter ran to the tomb hoping to see Jesus’s body. It was not there. Jesus was alive. He was victorious over death!

What would have happened if Jesus was still in the tomb? Where would you and I be today if the women would have found what they were expecting and Jesus was still in the tomb? Would they have had anything to tell the others? Would there be any hope for a future with God? If Jesus was still in the tomb, would you and I still be burdened with our past sin?

If Jesus were still in the tomb, we would have no hope for the future. Our life on earth would be futile. We would have nothing to live for and nothing to tell other that would allow them to get rid of their burden of sin and to enjoy the hope of eternal life with God. Jesus is our only hope.

If Jesus were still in the tomb, everything that God has promised in the Bible would be of no value, because we would not be able to believe any of the promises He made. But the good news is that Jesus was not there! He had been raised from the dead just as God had promised.

  • God does keep his promises.
  • God has forgiven our sin.
  • God is preparing a place for us. And
  • God is going to return to take us home with him.

Are you going to tell others about the gift in the empty tomb? The women were so excited about the gift that they hurried back to tell the others about the gift. Jesus is alive.

Jesus died on the cross to take care of our sinful past, but He was raised from the dead to prepare our future with Him. Have you accepted the ‘gift of the empty tomb’ or do you believe that Jesus is still in the tomb?

God wants to have a relationship with you.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9(NIV)

God had a relationship with Adam and Eve and was looking for them in the cool of the evening. God is looking for you too. He wants a relationship with you too. He was willing to send Jesus to the cross and raise him from the dead so that He can have a relationship with you. He wants to have an eternal relationship with you.

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog were from: www.biblegateway.com

 

Religion versus Politics

In recent weeks, the people in the Unites States have been bombarded with political statements. We have watched grown men ridicule each other about insignificant issues unrelated to running a country. Many people have hung their heads in disbelief as the debate monitors have allowed personal attacks against their fellow statesman.

The public really wants to know how each candidate will deal with the crises of our economy, our morality and the invasion of our country with terrorist. We want to know how they are going to change the country to make it a better place to live.

Have you ever wondered why the politicians behave the way they do?

If you are a follower of God, listen closely! Is it possible that politicians learned that behavior in church?

For years churches have been arguing about what the church should be doing and how we should be living. Here are some things they argue about.

  • You should attend this or that church.
  • You should be baptized this way or that way.
  • You only need to be baptized once v. every time you change churches
  • You should say, or not say, “The Lord’s Prayer”, the Apostle’s Creed, if you are going to worship the way God wants you to.
  • You should only use the …version of the Bible because it is the only one that is inspired.
  • You should always use traditional music not contemporary music (or only use contemporary music not traditional music) in worship.
  • If you are a Christian, you cannot….and still go to heaven.
  • We should not use guitars in worship or we should not use the organ in worship.
  • The thermostat needs to be turned up, or turned down so I can worship.
  • We should have a Wednesday night service if we are going to worship the way God wants us to.
  • (And the list goes on)

The world has been watching the church argue for year while never addressing what we should be doing to tell of God’s love to the people without hope. If your hope is built on the church you attend, perhaps you have been serving the wrong God. God has never told us to have large church congregation. What He told us to do was to “make disciples”.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20(NIV)

It is not a certain denomination that was told to make disciples; it was each and every person that has accepted God’s gift of salvation. Make disciples, and then bring them to church. Do not bring them to church and hope they will become disciples. Jesus called his disciple individually; he did not have a large meeting and pick them from those that attended. Jesus wants a personal relationship with you not a gang relationship.

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Acts 2:46-47(NIV)

The numbers of people committing suicide is drastically increasing because people do not have any hope for the future. Many of them have been told they were losers. The use of illegal drugs has increased because people are unable to deal with their situation. But God says:

 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:9-10(NIV)

God is the only hope available to people. Are you telling them about it? or Is it possible that the politicians learned their behavior in your church?

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:11-12(NIV)

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog were downloaded from www.Biblegateway.com

Forgiveness – The Key to Love

Before love can be either given or received, there must be forgiveness. Through His son Jesus, God forgave our sins when Jesus died on the cross. This was love. We cannot truly love someone unless we are willing to forgive them.

Matthew 12:31 says: And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Even though every kind of sin can be forgiven, we still put limits on God forgiveness. The ability to forgive comes from God and not from our abilities.

What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is when we refuse to look at, or focus on the sins of others. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12(NIV) Here Jesus is quoting a passage in Jeremiah 31 as God was explaining to Jeremiah what would happen when God established His Covenant of Grace.

Many people have the idea that if we forgive someone, we forget what happened. However, forgiveness is when we ‘refuse to remember’ the wrong that was done against us. In other words, we do not keep reminding ourselves of the wrong done against us. Forgiveness is when we no longer ‘keep score’.

Many relationships are destroyed when someone in the relationship begins making a mental list of all the wrongs done against them. We want to use those sins to ‘protect’ our pride. We want to look better than the other person in the relationship.

“How can I forgive them when they have done…?” Forgiveness comes from God. When Jesus was dying on the cross, he did not say I forgive you. But he did say: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34(NIV) You see, only God can forgive sin. When someone sins against us, we ask God to do the forgiving because we are unable to do it in our own strength. Forgiveness requires God sized strength.

Throughout the Old Testament, the emphasis seems to be on looking at sin. The law was put into place so we would know what sin is. In Romans 7:7 Paul says:

What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” Romans 7:7(NIV)

In the New Testament however, the focus is on the forgiveness of sins made available when God caused Jesus to be victorious over death. In the Gospels, Jesus is frequently telling people ‘their sins were forgiven’. This would get the religious leaders all in an uproar because only God could forgive sins. The leaders were focused on the sin, but Jesus was focused on the forgiveness of the Father. Jesus was doing what the God had instructed him to do.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.1 John 4:7-12(NIV)

When we experience God’s forgiveness, we can experience love. When we forgive others through the God’s strength, we can experience love. Love and un-forgiveness cannot co-exist. In other words, when we hang onto the sins of other, God cannot show us love because he cannot look at sin. Let go of the sins of others so God’s love can be seen in you.

When we exercise forgiveness of our spouse, we will begin experiencing love. When we exercise forgiveness our children or our parents, we begin to experience love. When we exercise forgiveness in a work or business relationship, we begin experiencing love. When we exercise forgiveness of our neighbor, we begin to experience love.

The most important thing in a person’s life is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:13(NIV) Paul is telling the church at Corinth that the greatest gift is “love”. When you exercise forgiveness, you are showing love. People will see love; they will know that Christ dwells within you. They will want what you have.

Forgiveness brings love, but un-forgiveness brings bitterness. (Acts 8:22-23)

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

What Makes a Marriage Bloom?

Every young person has dreams about their future. They have certain goals that they hope to accomplish; they want to be valued by the society in which they live.

The young lady will dream of weddings with all the frills and a wedding dress that will be better and prettier than any other wedding dress. She dreams of living in a beautiful home where everything is perfect. Somehow in the dreams the house always stays well kept. It never needs cleaning or dusting. There are never dirty clothes on the floor. Somehow the clothes never need washing, ironing, or being hung on hangers.

The young lady dreams about her wonderful husband that loves her so much that she gets every desire of her heart. He earns enough money that there is always money for dining out or attending a cultural event. There is always enough money to take a cruise or a vacation to the mountains, lake, or beach. In her dreams, there is nothing but love and protection. Her husband will never make a mistake.

The young man on the other hand dreams of having this important job as an executive or an indispensable employee. He dreams of the money he will make and how he will always drive the nicest car in the neighborhood, he will own the nicest house on the block. He may also dream of this beautiful boat that he can take to the lake and impress everyone with the beauty and size of his boat. He may dream of playing golf every week-end or going to the gym. Or he may dream of having a workshop where he can work on cars or boats; or perhaps work on various wood working projects that he makes to improve the decor of his house or make it more organized.

The young man may even dream about this beautiful woman that will treat him like a king. She will prepare his meals at just the right time; the meals will always be done to perfection; and there will never be a dirty dish in the sink. His clothes will always be washed, iron, and hung in the closet. Life will be wonderful. This woman will always be ready for intimacy at the snap of his fingers. Life will be so wonderful. His wife will never do anything that would displease him.

Then the day comes along when the lady and the man decided they have met their wonderful spouse. They date for a while with each person putting the other person into their own dreams. The day comes when they decide to get married. They may experience a little trouble in their intended mate but it will go away after they are married.

The couple gets married and reality sets in. The wife tried to make her husband fit the dreams that she had. She realizes that he does not have an unlimited income; he wants to have home prepared meals; his clothes get dirty and are always lying around. He has different ideas about what the home should look like; he gets tired after working all day long; and he is not the ‘knight in shining armor’ that she was dating. She just cannot make her husband into the man she dreamed would be her husband.

The husband begins to realize that she is not intimate at the snap of his fingers; she sometimes burns the food; she wakes up looking a mess and may even be a little grouchy; and she always seems to need money for something. There is not enough money to buy the car of their dreams or the house with the nice workshop. The wife sometimes gets tired after cleaning the house all day or running errands for him. She does not seem to be interested in becoming the girl of his dreams.

And they both think: “What have I done?” The marriage begins spiraling down and divorce begins to enter their minds. Their spouse has ruined their dreams. Rather than looking at the good things about their spouse, they begin looking for all the bad they have done. They start keeping score. They use the mistakes of their spouse like ammunition in the attempt to recover that dream they had before they were married.

But God has something much better for them if they willing to trust Him.

1 Corinthians 13 is considered the love chapter of the Bible. It is frequently used in Christian weddings but is not often understood. People tend to think the love just happens. Love is a choice we make. It is an emotion that requires action on our part. Here is what it says:

 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

  • Love is patient,
  • love is kind.
  • It does not envy,
  • it does not boast,
  • it is not proud.
  • It does not dishonor others,
  • it is not self-seeking,
  • it is not easily angered,
  • it keeps no record of wrongs.
  • Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
  • It always protects,
  • always trusts,
  • always hopes,
  • always perseveres.

Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:3-8a.(NIV)

This passage was not intended to be a definition of love but rather it is what happens to make love develop. It is the prescription for love. When we are self-centered and hoard everything for ourselves, we are not showing love because love cannot exist in these conditions. For love to exist, this is what you need to do:

  • Be patient,
  • Be kind.
  • Do not envy,
  • Do not boast,
  • Do not become proud.
  • Do not dishonor others,
  • Do not become self-seeking,
  • Do not easily become angry,
  • Do no keep record of wrongs.
  • Do not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
  • Always protects,
  • Always trusts,
  • Always hopes,
  • Always perseveres.

Then you will begin to experience love. It is then that you once again to see ‘the girl of your dreams’ or ‘your knight in shining armor’ because these actions are probably what you did before you were married.

Just as plants need the right fertilizer to produce beautiful blooms, love also needs the right fertilizer to produce. Doing the right things serves as the fertilizer needed for love to bloom. So rather than slinging mud at your partner because they are not what you expected, start sprinkling them with the proper balance of ‘fertilizer’ and they will become the person they should be; the person you wanted in your dreams. Your marriage will begin bloom again.

NOTE: Scripture used in this blog was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

 

Is Your Spiritual Life in a Rut?

Because of a recent, week-end snow, many churches in the area canceled their Sunday activities. In our church, the decision was made Saturday to have one worship service at 1:00 pm Sunday, for those who could safely come to church.

That Sunday morning, the sun was shining and the snow glistened from the morning sun. It was a beautiful day. But the day was different from anything I had experienced for years. On a normal Sunday, my wife and I would attend the 10:50 am service. Since it would be lunch time when we got out of church, my wife and I would usually eat out after church.

The first thing we had to decide was what to do about lunch? Do we eat at home or go out and hope we are done eating in time for church? Most of the churches had cancelled services, so we really did not have to ‘beat the Baptists’ to the restaurant.

After we ate, we arrived at church a few minutes before the service was to start. We greeted our friends with “Good Morning” before realizing it was afternoon. We had the usual “congregation upset” where you greet the people around you. Again everyone was saying “good morning”.

We normally have two services on Sunday morning. We also have a lot of congregation participation in the service, so in some cases we had two different people to do the same thing, or we did not have anyone to do a given part of the service. But it was amazing. Everyone seemed to just step in and the service went smoothly.

The sequence of the service was the same as usual. However, I found myself a bit confused because it was afternoon and not morning. I had to think about what each part of the service meant to my worship that day. I realized that so many things we do have become so routine, that we miss the blessing God has for us.

As a society, we are moving at such a fast pace that our lives become routine. We do many things while we are thinking about the next thing we are going to do or say.

I ask you this question: “Is your spiritual life in a rut?” Are you going through the worship service thinking about what is next? Or, are you basking in an intimate relationship with God?

Hopefully your spiritual life is not bound up in just a church service. It should be obvious every minute of the day. Are we so wound up in following ‘our routine’ that we are unaware of God’s presence every moment of the day? Are we also unaware of the people around us that need a savior?

God made mankind so He would have someone with which to have a loving relationship. God loved us so much that he gave his only son so we could have a restored relationship with him. But we are so concerned about ourselves and what we are doing that we forget God.

The Apostle Peter says it best:

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:11-17(NIV)

Enjoy the life that God gave you and do not let your routine activity destroy the relationship God wants with you.

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

Are you Being Controlled?

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? Romans 6:16(NIV)

The Bible tells us a lot about control. However it is usually referring to ‘self-control’. We answer to God regarding our actions. We  are instructed to control our own behavior and not the behavior of others.

The difference between being controlled and being obedient is an act of the will. Obedience results when we willingly accept the instruction of the person we are serving. With obedience, we do what we are expected to do to meet the obligation of a contractual agreement, whether the agreement is written or spoken.

Obedience brings benefits to the person who is obedient. It may be a salary, vacation, bonus, health insurance, retirement income, etc. However when you are being controlled by another person, the benefits go to the person that is doing the controlling.

Being controlled by someone else is when you are coerced into a given behavior. Frequently we think of this as ‘being manipulated’. In Romans 6, Paul is referring to this as slavery. When someone controls our behavior, we become slaves to the person who is controlling us.

Why do people allow themselves to be controlled by others? It is usually because of fear.

For instance, in the marriage relationship, when one spouse attempts to control the other spouse, it usually results from the fear of losing the relationship. There is fear for both spouses. One spouse feels that if they do not their spouse, they will lose the marriage while the other spouse acts out of the same fear. In other words, they want the marriage to be the way they dreamed it would be and not the way their spouse dreamed it would be.

Another example is the parent that instills fear in their children by always threatening them with negative consequences every time they behave differently that the parent wants want it to be. Frequently, the parents are fearful that their children will act in a way that will cause the parents embarrassment or make them look less important than they want people to believe. The child fears the consequences of not doing what the parent wants them to do. The parents fears that people will find out that they are not as good as they want people to think. It is a fear that their deceptions will be uncovered.

Sometime we allow ourselves to be controlled because we are fearful of making a wrong decision. We do not have the confidence we need to make those decisions. We are afraid of what people will think of us if we make a mistake.

In our daily lives, we often hear about some type of bullying taking place. Bullying is a form of controlling another person’s behavior. Bullying is using a form of fear for coercing the bullied person to behave in a way acceptable to the bully. If that person failed to comply with the bully’s request, they will experience some type of pain or death.

What Paul is saying in his letter to the Romans is this: If we comply with a controller’s demands, we are a slave to that controller.

 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:16-18(NIV)

If you are allowing someone to control your life you are living in fear and not in love.

“But you, Israel, my servant Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:8-10(NIV)

God was telling Jacob not to fear because God had chosen him. God would be with him, strengthen him and help him. If you have accepted God’s gift of salvation, God has chosen you. He wants you to be filled with love, not fear. He wants you to be obedient to him and to follow him out of love.

When someone else wants you to become their slave turn your situation over to God. He will supply all of your needs and do it with love, not fear.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19(NIV)

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog has been downloaded from www.biblegateway.com

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