Tag Archives: love

Memory and Anger

Why did Paul say in Ephesians 4:26: In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,…”

Studies of memory indicate that memory changes over time. Memory does not include all of the details of a given situation. The emotional state of the body helps determine what is remembered. If the person experiences anger or a negative attitude, then the details they remembered will tend to be negative. On the other hand if the person experiences positive feelings, the memory will tend to recall the positive details of the experience.

In just a short period of time, the details that are in memory begin to change. If people hear of similar situation or are exposed to other accounts of the same incident, part of their details will be added to your memory, embellishing your idea of what happened.

The mood that you are in when you recall the memory will also determine what details you pull from your memory later. If you are in a negative mood, you tend to recall negative details. Once the details are stored in the memory, it is difficult to correct the memory because the owner of the details is determined that the details are still accurate.

When we become angry about an event, we tend to seek out people who have experience the same event or a similar event. It seems this is especially true if the event happened in a church and you hear other church people talk. In other words, we want to talk to people who are on ‘our side’. As we listen to their situation, we have a tendency to adopt parts of the other persons experience and it becomes part of our memory and our anger about the situation becomes even stronger.

In addition, the mood of the person asking about the situation, will also determine how the memory responds. If a questions is asked of you about the situation indicate the person is on “your side” or if the person is on “their side”. In other words you can recall the memory asked on what you think the other person wants and how it will best serve you.

Memory over time becomes inaccurate!

In my recent study about memory, I was reminded of the following experiment regarding memory. The article is titled “How Flawed Memories Can Sabotage Your Marriage” by Jason Whiting, downloaded January 28, 2017 from http://family-studies.org/how-flawed-memories-can-sabotage-your-marriage/
 
Professor Ulrick Neisser did an impromptu experiment after the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. The day after the disaster, he asked his class of 106 students to write down where they were when they heard about it. Three years later he asked these students the same thing. Over 90 percent of the accounts changed, and about half of them were inaccurate in at least two-thirds of the details. The revised memories had supplanted the earlier, more accurate ones, but the new ones still felt true. One student was shown her first description, written three years earlier, and said, “I know that’s my handwriting, but I couldn’t possibly have written that.”

The longer you harbor anger, the more inaccurate the memories become and the intensity of our anger also increases. This is why you have to take care of anger before sunset. You need to take care of it while your memories are still accurate and while we can still control your anger.

Revenge affects our memories

In addition to our memories becoming inaccurate, we also have the revenge factor to deal with. As we think through the event that has caused us to get angry, we think about things we can do to get even. We want revenge! “If I have to suffer for this then I will give you something to suffer for.”

Just the act of vengeance is sinful. Romans 12:9 reads: Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. The speaker in this passage was quoting from Deuteronomy 32, verses 34-35 where God says:

“Have I not kept this in reserve  and sealed it in my vaults? It is mine to avenge; I will repay.  In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Deuteronomy 32:34-25(NIV)

Not only will God take vengeance, but he can do a better job than we can. At the right time, God will cause ‘their foot to slip’ and their day of disaster happens.

Why does the anger start in the first place?

Anger usually begins when we think we need to know why something that affects your life has happened. We have difficulty finding out the details about the incident because of a policy or a legal liability. However, I have found that even if we knew the cause, we may still get angry. The real cause of the anger is usually selfishness. We want things to happen our way. We do not want to wait for God to show us His ways.

Here are some steps for overcoming anger:

  1. Humbly search your own heart and seek God’s wisdom.
  • Why is this happening to me?
  • Is this happening because of something I have done?
  • What is God trying to teach me through this experience?
  1. Seek forgiveness from God for any wrong that you have done to cause the experience.

“AND WHENEVER YOU STAND PRAYING, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25(NIV)

  1. Seek forgiveness from the person(s) who have caused the experience that makes you become angry.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)

NOTE: Forgiveness does not mean you forget. Forgiveness means that you refuse to bring up the offense again. In other words, “The case is closed”. We surrender our right to use that offense against that person again.

  1. Love the person who offended you.

 

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48

 

All Scripture has been downloaded from http://Biblegateway.com

Christmas Thoughts

As a person gets up in years, Christmas seems to take on a different meaning as I set back to reminisce my dreams and aspirations of my youth. Some of my dreams are fading because of my physical ability to do them. I tend to look back at my past dreams and how they have been affected by various trials and difficulties that have happened along the way. The dreams of a large family with lots of children and grandchildren gives way to the fact that the  children have grown and become parts of other families with their own dreams.

As I ponder the dreams of my past and my family’s present, I wonder if I have given them the right instructions for reaching their dreams. Have I laid the foundation that they build on? Will they trust God as their Savior? Do they know that God as given them the gift of Salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ? Do they know there is a place in Heaven for all of God’s children? Will they teach these values to their children and grandchildren?

In the Book of Genesis, God lays out the foundation of His dreams and aspirations. In six days, God created all the essential parts of His dream. He even made mankind in God’s own image, and it was good. He also made a special place where mankind could enjoy the beauty of his creation. God was able to go to Adam and Eve and have a great evening of fellowship. God wanted that relationship and he still wants a relationship with all his children, not just at Christmas, but every day of the year.

God had given Adam and Eve one important instruction: Do not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden, or you will die. It was not long before that was changed. Eve was tempted and ate of the forbidden tree. In the cool of the day God was looking for Adam and eve, but they were hiding. God had to banish them from the Garden because they disobeyed Him.

It wasn’t long until Cain killed his brother Abel and people continue to disobey God. God sent a flood to wipe out the sinfulness of mankind; He confused their language; He made them walk in the wilderness for years, He made them become slaves to foreigners, He gave them a Kings because they wanted one. And so it goes throughout the Bible. But God still wanted that relationship with man.

In fact, God wanted that relationship so badly that He sent his only Son to die for the sins of man, God wanted to restore eternal life to those who love him. It is a Christmas time that we celebrate the beginning of this dream; the birth of His Son, Jesus. God’s primary reason for sending his only son was to forgive sins and restore eternal life to mankind.

However, the religious leaders were so upset with God that they did everything they could do to get Jesus out of the picture. Finally on Good Friday they made good on their threats. They nail Jesus to a cross. What they did not understand was that Jesus had become the perfect sacrifice. It was the only sacrifice that would take the past, present, and future sins of man to their eternal destination. Man could now be perfect in God’s eyes.

The second purpose for Jesus death took place Easter morning. God reached down and raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus became victorious over death.

Things are different this time around. This time God is letting man choose who he will follow. God wants everyone to accept the gift of salvation, but he is not going to force it on mankind. In fact, for those people who accept the gift of salvation and are willing to follow Christ will be given a home in heaven. Revelation 21 tells about this heaven:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:1-5(NIV)

The new heaven and the new earth are better than the current heaven and earth. There is no separation between the new heaven and the new earth. God dwelling place will be with the people. We will be able to have eternal, uninterrupted fellowship with God. God’ ultimate dream will become reality. Sin and sinful behavior will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, never to be released on earth again. There will be unity at last. We will be restored to the perfect condition in which God made us originally and sin will never separate use from God again.

 

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

How Can I Get Salvation?

You may be driving around the car dealerships one day when you notice a brand new Rolls-Royce at the dealership. It is your favorite color; has all the features you would ever want in a car; and if you owned it, people would really think you were somebody. However there is one problem, the price tag is more than you would earn in a few years.

Since you cannot afford the car, there are two options you could consider: You could steal the car or you could convince someone to buy it for you as a gift. If you stole the car people would think that you owned it. They would really think you were important. For a short time you would be able to drive it around and enjoy all of the features the car had to offer. However, the enjoyment of having the car will be only temporary. It would only last until the cops catch you with the stolen car. If you accidently damaged the car, it would not really matter since it really is not your car.

On the other hand, suppose someone would agree to buy the car for you. You would first of all have to accept the offer then you would have to acknowledge who paid for the car. You would also make sure that your name on the car title. If the person buying the car for you was a very special person, he may even offer to pay for the maintenance of the car and for any damage that may happen to it in the event you had an accident.

The gift of salvation is like the car. God has a custom plan just for your life. It will include every feature that you would ever need.  

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

In addition to your gift of salvation, you would be able to experience love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Salvation, just like the Rolls Royce, cannot be bought with your own resources.

Since you cannot buy God’s gift of salvation, you would have two options. First, you could try to steal your salvation. You could make people think that you were a Christian. You may tell everyone that you are going to heaven when you die. You could give large sums of money to charity. You may enjoy some of the benefits but they will be only temporary. There will come a day when you must answer to God about your stolen salvation. Matthew 22:11-13 describes the person that tries to steal his salvation.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.

 “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 22:11-13(NIV)

If you stole your salvation or tried to buy it with your own resources, you would not experience true love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The most you enjoy would be fake love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. However if you ever found yourself wanting to do something that was not Christ-like behavior, you could tell those people involved that you really weren’t a Christian. You could enjoy your sin for a short period of time until you needed to answer to God.

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. Luke 9:25-26(NIV)

Worst of all, a stolen salvation leads to eternity in the Lake of Fire with the Devil.

And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10(NIV))

The good news is that Jesus paid the price for you salvation. But just like the Rolls Royce, you need to accept the gift and acknowledge that Jesus paid the price.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:35-36(NIV)

When you accept God’s gift of salvation, God records your name in the book of life. This assures you that Jesus paid the price for your salvation and that God’s grace was sufficient for your salvation. You will also be spared from going to the lake of fire.

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15.(NIV)

Because your name was written in the book of life, you will spend eternity in heaven with God.

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Revelation 21:22-27(NIV)

Many people believe they can earn their own way to heaven. They believe they can do whatever they please and God will still accept them in heaven. It is true that Jesus died for everyone but only those who accept the gift of salvation will be accepted.

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.  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)

Are you going to steal your salvation or are you going to accept the gift of salvation that has been made available to you through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection? The choice is yours. If you accept God’s gift of salvation, you will bear the ‘fruit of the Spirit’.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  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 5:22-26(NIV)

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

Biblical Guidelines for ‘Hate Talk’

Does it bother you when people accuse you of ‘hate talk’?

In the news we hear a lot about ‘hate talk’. This usually happens to Christians when they talk about what God has told us to talk about. It usually comes from a person who refuses to believe what the Bible teaches.

What is ‘hate talk’? We usually consider hate talk as any talk that opposes the ideals of the person to whom we are talking. God was the first one to talk about ‘hate talk’. This is what the writer of Proverbs says in the Proverbs 6:16-19:

There are six things the Lord hates,seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. Proverbs 6:16-19(NIV)

Did you get that? God hates six actions:

  1. haughty eyes,
  2. a lying tongue,
  3. hands that shed innocent blood,
  4. a heart that devises wicked schemes,
  5. feet that are quick to rush into evil,
  6. a false witness who pours out lies

In addition, God also detests the person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Two important aspects of God’s ‘hate talk’:

  1. The six things that God hates are ‘actions’, not people.
  2. People can be detestable to God, but God still loves them.

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. John 3:16(NIV)

We are to love people just as Jesus loved them.

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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 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 7-12(NIV)

Being accused of ‘hate talk’ should be an encouragement to Christians if we are following God example. However, if we are talking about outsiders (non-believers), we need to repent because we are not showing them God’s love.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6(NIV)

 

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

Reasons You Cannot Forgive

When a parent, a spouse, a child, a co-worker, or a fellow Christian does something that is contrary to what the Bible teaches, they need to be forgiven. Our ability to forgive demonstrates love for the person we are forgiving, just as God’s forgiveness demonstrates His love for us.

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. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 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 4:9-12(NIV)

The real reason(s) you cannot forgive:

  1. You choose not to forgive
  2. You will not be able to throw it back in their face every time you want to participate in your sin of preference.
  3. You need the divorce, or difficult relationship to look like it was their fault
  4. People may perceive you as being weak
  5. You have a great way to get revenge
  6. You may have to help them deal with their sin or addiction
  7. You can no longer use their sin to control them?
  8. You can no longer make them squirm by reminding them of their faults
  9. You want to control their remorse rather than letting the Holy Spirit convict them
  10. Your gossip may not be as juicy as that of your friends.
  11. They do not deserve to be forgiven
  12. You will not have a good reason to have a “pity party”

In Acts 8:9-25, Paul tells of the event that occurred in Samaria, where Simon the Sorcerer had been practicing sorcery in the city. He had been boasting about how great he was. But when he saw Philip proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ, he began to listen to Philip as did many of the people; they believed the good news and were baptized. Simon the Sorcerer then began following Philip.

God sent Peter and John to Samaria where Philip had been proclaiming the good news. When Peter and John got to Samaria, they asked the people if they had received the Holy Spirit. The people said that they had only been baptized. So Peter and John laid their hands on the people and they received the Holy Spirit.

When Simon the Sorcerer saw what happened, he wanted the same power Peter and John had so he could benefit from laying his hands on people. Peter replied:

“May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” Acts 8:20-23(NIV)

When we as Christians fail to forgive, we are actually using God’s forgiveness for our benefit. When we hang onto the sin that someone has committed against us, we become full of bitterness and captive to sin”.

When you accepted Christ as your Savior, God gave you the Holy Spirit to become your source of power to forgive others. God wants you to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to forgive those who sin against us. When we fail to trust the Holy Spirit to forgive, we are in essence saying God is not strong enough to forgive the sin committed against you. As a result, we will become bitter and yield to sin’s temptations.

Both Matthew and Mark record Jesus as saying:

And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:31-32(NIV)

When Jesus gave the disciples the model prayer he included forgiveness of others. (Matthew 6:9-13) At the end of the model prayer, Jesus gave these instructions to His followers:

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 6:14-15(NIV)

Forgiving a person who has sinned against you, is not an option, it is a requirement! There are several different scripture references that indicate the importance of forgiving others.

James 5:15-16(NIV)

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

2 Corinthians 2:10-11(NIV)

Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.  

Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)

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.

Often when someone sins against us, we want to take revenge. We frequently want them to pay for what they have done to us; we are determined to ‘even the score’. However, we are actually instructed not to take revenges.

 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”        Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:17-21(NIV)

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

Jonah and the Modern Christian

But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” Jonah 4:1-12(NIV)

This is an illustration of the modern Christian. God tells Christians “to go into the world and make disciples.” Man says “It would be better if the people would just come to us, then we can make them disciples.”

  • Man builds a shelter (church) so they can watch people come to know the Lord.
  • God provides a vine to protect the church.
  • The church grows the church into a big plant.
  • God sends a worm to destroy the plant. (The finance company forecloses because the church cannot meet the mortgage payment)
  • Man becomes angry with God because He closed their church.

Do we have the right to be angry when church does not go our way? Or when the music is not to our liking? Or the preacher talks about sin in the sermon? Are we like Jonah?

We have become so concerned ourselves and our church operation that we tend to ignore the thousands of people who do not know the love of God; people who feel so hopeless; or people living in fear of the future. That was Jonah’s problem. He was so concerned about himself and his personal comfort that he did not want God to spare the city of Nineveh. Jonah did not want to share God’s love.

What are your concerns? Are you more concerned about your own desires that you are about those lost in sin and despair? Are you more concerned about your church or your country than you are about the spiritual condition of the people living around you? Show someone today that God loves them.

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)

NOTE: All scripture used in this blog was 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

 

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

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

Forgive as God Forgave

Paul in 2 Corinthians 1-11, is talking about a person that has offended the church at Corinth.   Paul tells them that they have punished him enough so that Paul did not need to punish him. However, Paul does say that once the punishment has been delivered, the person needs to be forgiven.

“The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:6-11(NIV)

In Colossians 3, Paul also says this about the Christian and their responsibility to forgive.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)

God has given us the perfect example of forgiveness when he forgave our sins. Paul did not say “forgive as the Lord forgave you, BUT…” There is only one sin that God does not forgive. That sin occurs when someone blasphemes the Holy Spirit.

 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.Matthew 12:30-32(NIV)

If God forgives anyone who sins against him, then we can forgive anyone who sins against us.

Jesus also talked about forgiving others when he taught his disciples to pray. In fact immediately after he gave them the prayer in Matthew 6, he said:

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

The choice to forgive is ours. However, if we chose not to forgive others, God will not forgive us.

Struggling with forgiveness has been shown in the Bible from the very beginning. In Matthew 28, Peter is struggling with forgiveness. He asked Jesus how many times he was to forgive a brother or sister who sins against him. Jesus replied seventy-seven times!

Then Jesus told a story of a servant who owed his master a large sum of money that he could not pay. After the servant begged his master to forgive his debt, the master agreed and forgave his debt.

Having his debt forgiven, the servant then went to another man who owed him money and demanded his money. Even though the man begged for forgiveness, the servant had him put into jail until he could pay the debt, which was the accepted penalty for failure to pay a debt.

When the master heard that the servant had not forgiven the man’s debt, he called the servant in and demanded immediate payment for his debt.

32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart. Matthew 18:32-36(NIV)

God expects us to forgive others in the same way he forgave us. Jesus paid the price for all of our sins not just a few small ones.

When God forgives us, he no longer holds those sins against us. He does not hold them in our face and remind us of those sins. He does however; continue to love us and to treat us as though we have not sinned against him.

When we forgive others, do we keep a list of the thing that we have forgiven “just in case” we need them later?

One of the greatest problems in relationships today is the failure to forgive as God forgives. We are more concerned about ourselves than we are about forgiving others. We are concerned about being ‘used’ by someone. We are concerned that they may commit the same sin again. In fact, we may even attempt to catch them committing the same sin against us.

Have you ever asked God to forgive a sin, and then you repeat the same sin a few days later? Did God go back and reinstate the first sin because you failed again? No, when he forgives you, he does not hold that sin against you. God continues to love you and to encourage you to do what is right. Do we love and encourage those who’s sins we have forgiven?

We have often heard the expression: Forgive and forget. Forgiveness does not require forgetting. God doesn’t forget, he just refuses to look at that sin again. Sin has consequences that sometimes cannot be forgotten, but they can be still be forgiven. Forgiveness needs to come from the heart and not from our emotions.

Love does not dwell on the sins committed against us, it dwells on the forgiveness given for those sins. The good news of the gospel is not that we do not sin anymore. The good news of the gospel is that there is forgiveness when we do sin. When someone sins against you, they do not need to feel guilty, but they do need to feel forgiven and loved.

When we sin against God, does He hold us hostage until we pay the price of that sin? No, God has already paid the price for sin. Are you holding someone hostage because of a sin they have committed? When you see that person, do you rehearse in your mind the sin they committed against you or do you remember the good that they have done? God still loves them and has forgiven them. You can also forgive them with the help of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you. Release your hostages and forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.

Note: All scripture used in this article were downloaded from www.biblegateway.com, January 7, 2016