Tag Archives: forgiveness

Why does the world hate you?

Over the past several months we have seen negative comments being voice on social media relative to the presidential election. Now the election is past and we are seeing objections to the results of the election.

It is my opinion that this election was about evil versus good. One candidate seemed to representing the very thing that, according to Christians the Bible would indicate as being evil or sin. While the other candidate, the people wanted a perfect man but the candidate they chose did not fully meet their idea of ‘perfect’.

Many people spoke out about how they felt about each candidate. In most cases it was against one of the candidate. There was a great deal of information that was published in the social media that had been altered, or simply was not true.

During the election season there appeared to be many conflicts between the Christian and the non-Christian. When I refer to the ‘Christian’ I am writing about a person who has accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior and are living for Christ. In other words, they are a ‘disciple of Christ’.

When Paul was writing to the Romans, he said:

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Romans 13:1(NIV)

 In other words, God will determine who is placed in the positions of authority and He will not let someone have authority unless he allows it.

Both Christians and non-Christians became very anxious about who was going to win the election. They were trying to beat God to the punch line. They were concerned about having to change their lifestyle and following a leader that they did not believe was capable of leading this country. The candidates forgot to consult them regarding the platform that the candidate should have, according to them.

Have you ever wondered why there seemed to be so much hate between the two parties or the potential candidates within the parties?

In John chapter 15, the Apostle John recorded the instructions that Jesus was giving his disciples prior to his crucifixion. This is what Jesus told the disciples:

 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well.  If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’  “John 15:17-25(NIV)

Were voters angry with each other because of guilt? When Christians live the way God intended them to live, their very presence can make the sinner feel guilty. If we are not living the way Christ wants us to live, we become tolerant of sin; and we lose our effectiveness for showing others their sinful condition.

What is their sinful condition? Here is what the bible says is a sinful condition in Romans 1:18-32(NIV)

 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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.

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. 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.

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

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 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.

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. 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 1:18-32(NIV)

A godly life is just the opposite of what an ungodly life. A godly life is filled with:

 “… love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-28(NIV)

My question to you: “How did you behave during this election season?” Did you demonstrate an ungodly condition or a godly condition? Christians are not perfect. We sometimes are prone to wonder away from God’s leading. The good news is that God will forgive us when we ask him. He will restore our godly condition.

 

NOTE: All scriptures used in this blog were downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com

“For Better or For Worse” is a decision

When couples say their wedding vows, they will frequently include the statement “for better or for worse. What does this statement mean?

In the modern marriage, there is an expectation that everything will be done ‘my way’. So what the statement is saying is for ‘my way’ or for ‘your way’. As long as you do things my way, the marriage will get better. But if you do things ‘your way’ the marriage will get worse.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:1-3(NIV)

Could ‘for better or for worse’ refer to a decision? Suppose that your spouse does something that seems offensive to you or perhaps they have a habit or an addiction that is offensive. When that offensive condition takes place, we will continue to look for actions that will support our belief that our spouse has a ‘problem’. As we seek information to support our beliefs against our spouse, the marriage relation becomes worse. We often start looking for additional offensive actions just to prove our point.

On the other hand, when our spouse does something offensive, we can pray that God will forgive our spouse of the offense and help our spouse to change in a way that will bring glory to God. Rather than looking for more examples to show support your belief, look for examples of how God is changing your spouse. Look for the way that your spouse is glorifying God.

Too often, we pray that God will change our spouse then turn around and continue to look for ways to support the idea that God cannot change our spouse. When we pray we must also believe that we will receive what we pray for.

 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:13-18(NIV)

To have a better marriage, chose ‘the wisdom that comes from heaven’ Stopping looking for situations where you spouse may be offending you. Start praying for Godly wisdom for you and your spouse. Look for the wisdom from heaven, not to the wisdom of this world.

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

Ways to becoming a true Christian

How many ways can we become a ‘true’ Christian?

  • Being born into a Christian family? – NO
  • Saying a certain prayer as long as you know the date, time, and place? – NO
  • Going to a certain church or denomination? – NO
  • Being tolerant of other people? – NO
  • Taking care of sick and elderly? – NO
  • Be a good person? – NO
  • Try real hard to live a good life? – NO
  • Have a lot of Christian friends? – NO

We become a ‘true’ Christian only by having the faith to believe that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus paid the penalty for death and no one else can pay that price.

When we believe in Christ, we are once again united with God in the same way Adam and Eve were with God in the garden. By faith in Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. We are true followers of Christ—we are Christians.

Acts 16:30-31(NIV)

 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

 They replied, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

John 3:16-21(NIV) tells us the same thing when it says:

 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.  But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. John 3:16-21(NIV)

People have the right to believe whatever they want to believe but there is only one way to heaven. People can believe whatever they want to believe that will make them feel better about themselves, or feel that they have accomplished something but it still will not get them into heaven.

Salvation is a gift from God, made available through Jesus death and resurrection. There is nothing that we can do to deserve it. God is not going to force it on us or have us jump through all kinds of hoops to get to it. We either accept it or reject it.

Salvation is not dependent on Karma, a certain Horoscope readings, our tolerance of others, nor energy therapy. It is about believing that Christ died on the cross and rose again for you. The gift of salvation is brought about by our faith in an eternal God. There is no other way.

However, when we accept God’s gift of salvation, we also receive a bonus. We receive an advocate to help us and to be with us for eternity. We will never be lonely again.

“If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:15-21(NIV)

Salvation does not require a certain prayer be prayed or that certain words are used in a prayer, it is simply communicating with God that you accept His gift of salvation that was made available through Christ’s died and resurrection. You can do it right now, right where you are. God loves you.

 

NOTE: Scriptures used in this blog was 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

The Model Prayer: Developing a Relationship With God

Matthew 6:9-15 (NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:9-15(NIV)

In Matthew 5 and the first part of Matthew 6, Jesus has just talked to the people about sins against others: murder, adultery, divorce, promises, vengeance, loving our enemies and giving to the poor. Jesus is attempting to teach his disciples about their relationships to their ‘neighbors’.

After these instructions, the disciples ask how they are to pray. So Jesus gave them a model to use in their prayers.

In Matthew 6:9-13 Jesus gives us a model for prayer.

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.Matthew 6:9-13(NIV)

First, Jesus tells us to honor God, Our Heavenly Father for who he is, what he has done, and will do. He is talking about our relationship with God. In Christ’s ministry, He taught that the Greatest Commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37(NIV))

Second, Jesus is addressing the second greatest commandment. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39(NIV))  Just as God loved us enough to forgive our sins, we must also love our neighbor enough to forgive them of their sins against us.

It should also be noted that in the model prayer, the act of forgiving our neighbor is in the past tense. It is not something that needs to happen in the future but rather something that has already taken place prior to praying. We cannot properly worship God if we have not forgiven our neighbor.

Just prior to Jesus giving the disciples the model prayer, Jesus was talking about forgiving others, which is an act of worship, he said:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23-24(NIV)

Immediately after giving the model prayer, in verse 14 and 15, Jesus emphasizes the importance of forgiveness. It needs to be noted that in these verses when Jesus is talking about forgiveness, he is talking about the forgiveness of the sins (debts) between us and other people. If we want God to answer our prayer, we need to forgive others.

Jesus  goes on to say that if you don’t forgive others, God will not forgive your sin. In other words, He will not hear our prayer if we have not forgiven others.  We cannot expect God to forgive our sins if we are unable to forgive others of their sin against us. We cannot demonstrate our love for others until we can forgive others.

In the model prayer, we are asking God to forgive us just as we have already forgiven others. In other words, if we haven’t forgiven others, we are asking that God not forgive us. When we continue to live in sin, our relationship with God is weakened.

God also knows that we are going to be tempted not to forgive others. Therefore in the model prayer, Jesus says that we are to ask for God’s help in protecting us from those situations that cause sin; those situations where Satan would interfere with our relationship with God.

The model prayer was not given to everyone, it was given to the disciples and, followers of Jesus. It was given because the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Because they were followers they already had a relationship with God, the reference about forgiveness is not talking about a prayer of salvation but a prayer of a believer or person that is already a follower of Christ. In other words, this prayer is not about losing one’s salvation if they don’t forgive others. But rather it is a prayer about maintaining a closer relationship with God by forgiving others.

The Lord’s prayer takes us in a complete circle. The goal is to have a relationship with God. For us to have a relationship with God, we must (1) worship him. For us to worship God, we must first (2) forgive others. Because we have difficulty forgiving others, we must (3) trust God to keep us from sin. When he keeps us free from sin, we are free to worship him.

 

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.

 

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Most of us in the United States have just completed our Christmas celebrating and are now getting back to our normal routine of life.

I personally think it is a great idea to celebrate Christmas just before the new year starts. Because Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived on earth, and was victorious over death, many things have changed.  In Ephesians 3 Paul talks about the ‘mystery’. The mystery is fulfilled because of Jesus.

You ask, “What things have changed?”  Well, here are a few:

1.  Because Jesus came to earth and ministered, everyone becomes eligible for eternal life with God. Because of God’s grace, salvation is now available to everyone, not just to the Jews. We are undeserving of eternal life, but because of God’s love for us, He made it possible for us gentiles to have salvation.

 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17(NIV)

2. When I sin, I don’t have to go to the priest to have my sin forgiven. In the Old Testament, this could only take place once a year. If I committed a sin the day after the priest had sacrificed for my previous sin, I would have to wait another year with the guilt of my sin. Now Christ has become our priest and is available instantly. When I confess my sin, I am forgiven! I don’t have to wait for the right time of year to seek forgiveness. In addition, I do not have to make a blood sacrifice because God has already made that sacrifice for me.

Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the Lord.” Exodus 30:10(NIV)

3.  Also, in the Old Testament times, people had to work for their salvation. God gave the people laws that they had to observe, feasts that they were to have, they had to observe special days, they even had to marry their sister-in-law if their brother died. But now we do not have to earn our salvation. God has given us salvation through faith and not because of our works.

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)

4.  Because of Jesus ministry on earth, I have been given the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament times, the Spirit of the Lord was only given to certain people. And it could even be taken away from those people if God so chose.

When Samuel anointed David to be king, David received the Spirit of the Lord.

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.     1 Samuel 16:13(NIV)

A few verse later, we see that God had taken the Spirit of the Lord away from Saul because of Saul’s disobedience. God spoke to Samuel the prophet and told him that He regretted making Saul king.

I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. 1 Samuel 16:10 (NIV)

This was difficult for Samuel to accept. In fact he cried out to the Lord all that night.

1 Samuel 16:14-23 tells about what happened when God took the Holy Spirit away from Saul. (Please note: the Spirit of the Lord and the spirit from the Lord are not the same)

14 Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him.

15 Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. 16 Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.”

17 So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.”

18 One of the servants answered, “I have seen a son of Jesse of Bethlehem who knows how to play the lyre. He is a brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him.”

19 Then Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me your son David, who is with the sheep.” 20 So Jesse took a donkey loaded with bread, a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them with his son David to Saul.

21 David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. 22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.”

23 Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him. 1 Samuel 16:14-23(NIV)

When Jesus was preparing the disciples for His crucifixion, he told them that His Father would give them an advocate, a comforter that would continue to minister to them just as Jesus ministered to them.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you.

26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:23-27(NIV)

What more could we ask for?

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Roman s 8:32-39(NIV)

Happy New Year!