March 22, 2015

There is a lot of noise being made by a small group of people.  One part of this group claim to know how people should think and another part tells everyone else what the other part of the group thinks of how the rest of us should think.  What they are telling us is that there has been a cultural shift in attitudes towards what used to fringe behavior, behavior that used to be kept hush-hush and private now is being broadcast as normal and should be accepted as such.  A lot of the talk is calling out for people to be tolerant and acceptable, and if anyone disagrees then that person should be hung in effigy.

The church cannot be caught up in this cultural trend and the shift towards acknowledging sinful behavior as something to ignore as being what it is, sin.  This cannot happen if the church wants to be the shining city on the hill or the lamp on the pedestal.  If we conform to the way our culture thinks then we have effectively snuffed out the lamp of truth, and the walls of the shining city have been breached.  The gates of hell is not able to stand against the bastion of truth the church should be founded on, unless we give them access into the sanctum of that truth and allow for the changes to be made.

We are to be standing with open arms and open doors to the church.  We are to allow all and anyone to enter in.  And we are to be tolerant and loving towards them because they are sinners in need of Jesus, just as we are.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to do His work and pray for the truth to penetrate into the hearts of men and women.  But we cannot allow any room for what our society and culture teaches about sinful behavior to change our attitude towards sin.  We must love the sinner but hate the sin.

God loves all sinners but He hates sin.  He cannot abide with sin.  Sin cannot enter into His presence.  When Jesus took on the sins of the world on the cross His heavenly Father had to turn away and remove His eternal presence from His only Son because He could not be in the presence of sin.  His holiness cannot tolerate the corruption of sin.  If we are to be holy as He is holy then our attitude towards sin should be the same.  We must not condemn people for their sin because Jesus did not come to condemn the world.  We must embrace the person who is willing to repent of their sin.

Sin must be renounced and the sinner must repent.  And this is not just homosexuality and fornication and illicit sexual encounters or whatever else society is telling is normal.  Some people in the church do not understand that cohabitating is a sin.  We must be like Jesus love everyone, show them that He is the key to the chains that hold them and that they must leave those chains behind once He has set them free.

March 21, 2015

Since we are in an indefensible position in regards to our sin, God provided an Advocate for us.  We are found guilty before God.  We have violated His Holiness.  We have trampled on His gifts of choice and freewill.  We have wandered away, some to live as they wish and determined not to let God interfere, and some determined to earn their way back to Eden.  We have invented gods more like us so that they would be more understanding when we did something.  We made up silly ceremonies and sacrifices for these gods that mocked what God had established for us so we can remember His Holiness and that we have sinned against Him.   We were doomed because we found wanting in the scales of God’s justice.

But the Father had foreseen this.  He knew we would be hopelessly shackled in our sin, unable to defend our position against Him, desperate for someone to plead before Him on our behalf.  So He sent His Son, His only begotten Son, to be that someone.  Jesus was nailed to the cross, subjected to His Father’s wrath and judgment, our sins were buried with Him, and His Father raised Him from the dead and returned Him to the Glory He had before He was born.

Jesus has become the advocate we desperately needed.  He is before His Father, pleading for us that what accomplished on the cross has been paid for and our sins are to be remembered no more.  His righteousness has become our righteousness in His Father eyes, and we are guilty no more.

Praise God for Jesus our Advocate and provider of grace for our indefensible sin.

March 20, 2015

I sat in the seat at the church listening to the prayer of the pastor.  As he prayed and I agreed with in my seat, he thanked God for His blessings and His grace and all the things He does for us because He is generous to us.  The Pastor then prayed for those who were having health issues and for the Father’s healing blessing on them.  We all need prayer and we always need to remember God’s grace to us, patience with us and generosity towards us.  We need to remember His presence in our daily lives.

I began to consider the words of the Pastor’s prayer.  A thought struck me in that we usually pray for people who are down in their lives, either because of health reasons or related to job situations.  These are always things we need to lift up in prayer but what about those He is blessing?  What about those that God is in the process of blessing and answering their prayers?  There are always some who are being blessed and God seems to be moving in their lives, and there are some who are in pain or are in need of better circumstances, but it is usually the latter whom are remembered in prayer.

Our God is a God who helps but He is also a God who is always in the process of helping and blessing.  He is aware of those who need His blessing but He is always blessing someone.  I could be the one in need of a touch from God while the person in front of me is in the middle of a blessing from God.  Although we are in a fallen world that causes us to be in nearly constant need but there are also those who needs are being met beyond what they expected.  We need to remember God’s providence in His ability to bless and in His active blessing.

March 19, 2015

Hollywood has several occurring themes in some of their storylines.  One is the prostitute with the heart of gold.  She sells herself reluctantly so she can get by in this life.  Then she runs into some down-on-his-luck guy and helps him return to the man he was, or sometimes better.  Often they end up in a better situation than where had started.  The heart-of-gold prostitute and the broken man ride off into the sunset.  The other storyline that is portrayed is the criminal with a conscience.  This storyline is basically the same as the first except it’s a criminal who helps a helpless person, usually a woman.

The idea of these storylines is to show that mankind is basically good in their nature.  We are able to do good deeds and help others with our own ability.  We all route for these characters, even Christians at times, because deep down we want to believe we are capable of good deeds outside of the will of God.  We want to believe we are not the evil self-centered sinner portrayed by the bible.  We want to believe our good deeds will tip the balance in our day of judgment. Sadly this is a delusional scene that will play out before the Judgment Seat of Christ.

All of our actions of good deeds are still influenced by the Law of God.  He has written His Law on our hearts and this is what compels the unrepentant to do good deeds.  The Father has placed a conscience, His conscience, inside of all mankind.  C.S. Lewis points to this in Mere Christianity where he states there is an underlying understood rule of mankind that dictates there is a fair way to conduct our affairs.  We have a sense of fairness and are offended when someone else does not adhere to it.  This is the influence of the Law of God written on our hearts.

Mankind is inherently incapable of choosing to do good on their own.  If we were not influenced by the common grace and mercy of God and the Law written on our hearts, then we would choose to do all that satisfies us and our needs.  The “me first” attitude that is prevalent in our society, all of society including the church, would be destructive.  The “wars and rumors of wars, famines, floods and pestilence” that plagues us now would be immeasurably worse, even worse than the days before the Flood.

We are guilty of sin.  We had and still have need of a Redeemer.  Praise God and Jesus our Lord and Savior for standing in our place, for bearing the wrath of His Father, for enduring the separation from His Father, and rising from the dead so we can be victorious.  I am undone before because I belittle this act of sacrificial love by the way I live my life.  May my heart change from stone and be replaced by one of flesh provided by the Father.

Hollywood could never produce a film that duplicates the majestic beauty and perfect ending God has written since before the creation of the world.

March 18, 2015

Nahum 1: 7:  7The LORD is (S)good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And (T)He knows those who take refuge in Him.

The Father is a gracious and loving Father. He is the Rock where we can seek solace. He is the Rock where we can seek refuge. He is the Rock on whom we can make our stand when He calls us to stand firm against the storm. He knows our hearts. He knows our acts. He hears our words. He understands our problems. He provides for our needs. He knows who helps the needy, the naked and the downtrodden. He knows who His true children are, the true sheep of His flock. We know His voice.

He knows those who have compromised His standards to make them more appealing to this world. He knows those who have changed His gospel to be less offensive. He knows those who have blunted the edges of His Sword because His Truth cut too deep. He knows those who have left His teaching to teach their own. He knows those who seek their own glory instead of His glory. He knows those who have basked in the praise of men, swelling their pride, and did not deflect that praise to the Lord. They ignore the message God sent to King Herod when he was eaten by worms. He knows those who teach about His mercy, grace and love but neglect the teaching of His justice, judgment and eternal wrath.

He knows those who are His. He knows those who are not. They may say and do acts in His name but He does not know. We need to strip ourselves of our false pride. We gained nothing that did not come from the Father. Like Jesus told Pilate that he position as ruler in the Roman Empire was given from above. We need to turn away from the softening of truth, the fear of rejection and faithless cowering in our safe cocoons and trust in the name of the Lord.

We are bond-servants of the Living Savior. A servant seeks to do the will of the Master before serving himself. We need to live a life of servitude so we will be recognized on that day we are judged. The Lord knows who takes refuge in Him and who seeks His guidance during their storms, and those who do not honor Him and seek their own glory.

Proverbs 16: 25: 25 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Matthew 7: 21-34:  21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 25: 41-46:  41“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘(AN)Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the (AO)eternal fire which has been prepared for (AP)the devil and his angels;  42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’  45“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  46“These will go away into (AQ)eternal punishment, but the righteous into (AR)eternal life.”

March 17, 2015

We are under a constant barrage on our spirits, hearts and souls in this world.  Satan will throw an problem after situation after crisis to stress us to a breaking point.  We are pushed in one direction and then jerked back in an entirely different direction.  We are stretched, pressed, crushed, and knocked down by all that is around us.  We are pulled by financial struggles, uncooperative children and family situations until we feel our world is going to come apart.  We are pushed to our wits end and don’t know which way to turn because everywhere we look we are faced with a situation that just piles onto the pressure we are already feeling.

In all of this turmoil we build up frustration, anger and a resentment to those that cause the situations that are pressuring us.  We keep storing up this anger and resentment, and won’t let it go.  We question why am I always the one who is struggling, why does it seem that the Lord is always putting me through the fire.  When am I going to finally get some relief from all that battering against my resolve to stay loyal and committed to Christ?  When is my life going to get easier and have less worries?  Why do I have to fight every step of the way just to make ends meet?  Why do I feel like I have been abandoned by the Father?

We know the Sovereign Lord is in control of all things.  We know He created all we can see and all we cannot see.  We know He works out all things for the good of those who love Him.  We know that He who began a good work in us will see it through to its completion.  We know that the words He speaks never come back void, that it accomplishes what He will dictates.  We know all that He created is in perfect order and always will be.  What we don’t know is why our lives seem to be in some much chaos.  What we want to know is when we will sow the harvest of joy from all the seeds sown with tears.

We will not always receive an answer.  He will not explain His reasons nor answer our questions.  He is the Living, Almighty Creator of the universe.  He created us out of the dust of the earth, and to that dust He will return us.  He can do it in our next breath or wait another fifty years.  We are subject to His will whether we want to be or not.  Despite all that He is, He only asks us trust Him and believe in His promises.  He asks us lay down our lives for Him.  Not to die but to give up living for ourselves.  He wants us to lay down our lives, not just service to Him but our worries, jobs, kids, house, money, aches, sickness, sadness, frustration, anger, resentment, and complaints that life is unfair and we deserve more because we go to church and try to live a good life.

We deserve nothing but He has given us everything.  We can lay down our burdens at His feet and let Him take care of us.  We just need to loosen that white-knuckled grip we have on life’s baggage that keeps us down.

Psalm 46: 1, 10: 1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…Be still, and know that I am God

March 16, 2015

One area of dispute among the theological talk is the correct interpretation of the end times.  There are four views of the end times: amillennialism, pretribulation-premillennialism, posttribulation-premillennialism, and postmillennialism.  These views take the same sources of scripture and interpret them differently.  I am not an expert but I do have an opinion as to which is the correct view.

Amillennialists believe the 1,000 year reign of Jesus is metaphorical and spiritual in nature.  We are currently in the metaphorical reign of Jesus as He sits at the right hand of God in Heaven.  They believe Satan has been bound and is not active in this world, and all the good and evil that exists is based on man’s sin and rebellion.  We are not fighting a battle against principalities of the air but only against the flesh.  The chief proponent of this view is the tribulation period and the 1,000 year reign of Christ are a figure of speech and spiritual in nature.  The problem is this opens up other areas of the bible to be viewed as metaphorical, such as the creation sequence in the Genesis.

Post-millennialists believe there is a figurative 1,000 year reign of Christ and He will come back for His church at the end of the era.  They believe the church will overcome evil through the expansion of the Kingdom of God.  When the Kingdom has been established Christ will come back and execute the final judgment of the world.

Post-tribulation premillennialists believe the church will suffer through the tribulation period when the Antichrist and the beast will reign.  The church will suffer for all the sin they have committed while living on earth and will reign with Christ during His 1,000 year reign.  Then at the end of the reign the church will sit with Christ at the final judgment.

Pre-tribulation premillennialists believe there will be a rapture of the church.  The church will not be subject to the wrath poured out onto the world during the second half of the tribulation period.  We will then reign with Christ during the thousand year reign when Satan will be bound and then loosed at the end of the period.  At the end of that period the Satan will be defeated and sent to Hell and the creation of the New Earth and New Heaven will be revealed.

The view I hold to is the pre-tribulation dispensational view.  The reason is not entirely on the interpretation of the same relevant scripture.  The main reason I hold to this view is I do not believe God is done with His Chosen People Israel.  I believe He never abandoned them but always holds a special place for them.  The other three views believe the church has supplanted Israel as God’s Chosen People.  They cannot explain why Israel has maintained a separate people through the generations.  Why Israel is still persecuted throughout history?

The Lord promised never to leave us once we are in His Shepherd’s pen.  We are His always.  Why would the Lord abandon His Chosen People?  Why would Paul write in Roman’s that Israel will have their time when the fullness of the Gentiles has been completed?  God stayed with Israel throughout the Old Testament, through the silence before the first coming of Christ and throughout the New Testament.  He is not through with redeeming His People and they still hold a special place in His plan.  How can we be so arrogant as to think we assume the rightful place of Israel?

The Father has always kept a remnant of Israel.  During Elijah’s day there were 7,000.  In Revelation 144,000 are set aside for the service of the Lord.  If there is any doubt about God’s future plan for Israel, read Paul’s plea for the salvation of Israel in Roman’s 9 through 11.  This should leave no doubt about the special place Israel has in God’s plan, the place they have held since the beginning of time itself.

March 15, 2015

I was reading in Matthew about the Pharisees questioning Jesus about the disciples washing their hands before eating.  The Pharisees contention was the disciples were breaking the tradition of the elders.  Jesus rebuked them for breaking the commandment of God concerning the honoring of our parents and taking care of them when they are old.  Then Jesus cites Isaiah as a prophetic statement about the Pharisees, teaching as doctrine the traditions of men.  My mind almost immediately went to the modern debate of the correct style of music to be played in the worship service.

The operative word is worship.  The problem with men is we have to be right.  Our way of worship through music is the only right way.  Hymns or Psalms (Reformed Presbyterian) are the only acceptable styles.  I got to wondering if Chris Tomlin or Hillsong or any other current praise song composers were to play their music for King David, would he reject it simply because it was not his style of music?  I believe he would pick his lyre and begin to learn the music so he could join in the worship.

Worship is really intended for God to interpret, not us.  Worship is determined from the condition of one’s heart, not from music or church denomination non-essential traditions or English bible translation.  Our whole purpose through our worship is to honor God.  Sometimes that means it could be somber as we reflect on His omnipotence and holiness.  Sometimes it could be simple and easy as we reflect on His goodness and righteousness.  Sometimes it could be incredibly joyful as we reflect on His mercy and grace because of His redemption of us from His judgment.  It can structured or spontaneous (within reason.  I am still cynical about some, not all, people saying things in church as a way of saying, “look at me!”  I am asking the Spirit to enable me to determine who is genuine and who is not.).

All worship is because we love Him and because of His love for us.

March 14, 2015

From the very beginning God has lowered Himself in order to have a relationship.  In the garden Adam was created.  He had one obligation and that was to care for the garden and all that was in it.  And during that time he and Eve cared for the garden Jesus would come in His pre-incarnate form and spend time with them.  God came down to His creation in the form of person created in His image to communicate to us.  It seems from the beginning we did not seek Him out, He sought us out.  So God initiated and sustained the relationship between Him and man.

We are not sure how long this happened before Adam sinned.  I would venture that it went on for more than a few days.  The text in Genesis indicates this because when Adam hid, he hid at “the sound of the Lord walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”  That implies that the Lord had walked with Adam and Eve more than once.  And it’s probably the same conversation we would have with our kids, “How was your day?  What part of the garden did you take care of today?” that sort of thing.  He came because He enjoyed talking to His created son.  And then Adam sinned.

So now we could not talk to God anymore.  We could not find Him, even if we were looking for Him.  But He never stopped communicating to us.  He did not remain distant and aloof.  Even though we continued to move away and rebel, He continued to reach out.  Different eras of time, dispensations, God has tolerated man’s disobedience, giving man instruction and direction, and we have always turned away and chased after sin.  Time and time again He sent people called by Him to speak His words but they were mocked, beaten, jailed and killed.  Ultimately, we only proved our hopelessness and stubbornness.

So finally God the Father sent His Son, the Word incarnate.  He had the authority of God but condescended to the limitations of being a human, His creation.  He sent His Son who, through His death and resurrection, restored that relationship that Adam destroyed for all eternity.  God had once again initiated contact and provided the line of communication directly to Him.  No more sacrifices.  No more priests.  No more rituals.  No more dos and don’ts.  No more human traditions that dictated how to be one with God.  He had annihilated them all so we could become the new priesthood, the children of God.

March 13, 2015

I am always confused by this notion that people have that when a friend or family member dies that they go to heaven.  A rock star dies who spent his whole life on the “Highway to Hell” and celebrating a life full of sin, and at his funeral they are saying that he is up above, partying, watching over them right now.  Or that I can go to a medium and I can communicate with them, that I can tell them I’m sorry or tell them I love them one last time, and that is what they need to hear in order to move on from limbo.  All lies.

If anything politics, politicians, scientists and other “experts” who tend to be liberal and humanistic in their beliefs teaches us that if you tell a lie long enough and keep repeating it as often as you can to as many as you can people will start to believe it.  Some examples are evolution is fact not theory, homosexuality is passed through genes, climate change/global warming is real and we must convert to green energy to save the planet.  When I was in elementary school in the ‘70s I was taught that all crude oil would be virtually gone by now, or it would be at such low levels that we could not produce any more from the ground.  It is still coming up from the ground and hasn’t seemed to slow at all.

God only deals in truth.  Satan has been a liar from the beginning, set out to deceive the pinnacle of God’s creation of God’s existence.  He does not have to prove that God doesn’t exist.  He doesn’t have to prove anything, only cause confusion.  The most dangerous lie he tells is that people go to heaven despite the life they choose to live.  And to tell surviving family and friends otherwise is considered cruel and offensive.  Try telling someone at a funeral that the person that had died did not go to heaven because you had witnessed firsthand some of the horrible things they did, and there is no way that person knew Jesus as their Savior.  Of course we don’t always know for sure but we are able to judge by the fruit borne by their lives.

Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one gets to the Father but through me.”  That seems pretty clear to me.  And He spoke truth while here on earth and provided the way to heaven on the cross and gave us life when He was resurrected and overcame death and the grave.  We need to resist succumbing to the pressure of society to believe or tolerate Satan’s lies.  We need to stand on Christ, the solid rock of truth.