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What A Strange Statement!

What A Strange Statement!

 
Read 1 Corinthians Chapter 16
 
1Co 16:19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him. Come, O Lord ! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
 
Paul’s “final greetings” to the people of Corinth is a strange mixture of thoughts. Some of the verses make perfect sense, stating some obvious remarks that one would expect to find in closing out a letter. We see greetings from the churches in Asia, from Aquila and Priscilla, from the church that meets in their house, and from “all the brothers.” He ends the passage by asking God’s grace to be upon them and sending the Corinthians his personal love. Even the encouragement to greet one another with a holy kiss was a normal thing of that culture. All of those are normal ways of expressing a goodbye. But notice something really strange.
 
In verse 22, Paul states, “If anyone does not love the Lord – a curse be on him.” During the course of Paul’s missionary journey, he encountered many people who refused his message. He stirred up a lot of hatred toward himself and toward the truth of Jesus and His word. I find it very interesting and unusual that Paul would declare a curse on anyone who doesn’t love the Lord. I also think it odd that he would include that remark in a letter to the Corinthians. Why did he do that? Here are some ideas to ponder.
 
Perhaps he knew that there were some false believers among the Corinthians. If so, that would be a pointed message to those men and women. It would give some of the congregation pause for thought. More than once in my life I have had to think about that. There are so many scriptures which require the Christian to love the Lord. Every time I run across one of those verses, I have to ask myself, “Do I love the Lord?” There was a time when that question scared me pretty severely. There were times when I could not truly say that I do. It was one of the things which caused me to seek Him more fervently than before. It very well could be that Paul was attempting to cause some of the Corinthians to give serious thought to their lack of love for God and Christ.
 
Paul may have been stating the obvious. It would seem to be a fact that anyone who passes from this earth without ever possessing some measure of love for God will not enjoy eternity. At some point in time in our lives, we must develop and cultivate a love for Him. It is the natural order of things. How can we ask God to save us and never develop any love for the One who bestowed that marvelous gift upon us? 
 
Without Him, we would spend eternity in torment. As that truth cements itself in our minds, our love for Him cannot be squelched forever. Additionally, as we get to know Him better, there is no way that our love cannot sprout and grow. To know Him is to love Him. Period. If anyone doesn’t love Him, the formula is simple; get to know Him. Learn from His word, Store away His truth in your heart. Begin recognizing how powerfully and lovingly He has worked in your personal life.
 
To the unbeliever, verse 22 is a chilling statement about his fate. There is indeed a curse upon anyone who refuses to repent and believe in Christ. There is no way around that truth. The world can try to get around it by emphasizing God’s love and ignoring His wrath, but it won’t change anything. The unbeliever, and the one who remains unwilling to abandon willful sin, will not see Heaven. 
 
There is one other idea from verse 22. Paul said, “Come, O Lord!” As he witnessed the wickedness that had surrounded him for all the time of his ministry, he surely must have been weary of it all. He also must have been grief-stricken over the uncountable number of men and women who obviously were going to perish and never come to a saving knowledge of Christ. At times, that kind of grief overwhelms me too. My response sometimes is, “O Lord, please come back soon. I cannot stand any more sadness.” Do you feel that way at times?
 
Prayer: Father, forgive us when we weary of the burdens of our lives on earth. We know that Your perfect will is being accomplished by Your delay in returning to earth. Give us strength to endure. And Lord, please open the minds and hearts of all our unsaved friends, that they may join us in eternity with You. Remove Your curse from them and fill them with Your truth and Holy Spirit. Finally, show us all how to grow our love for You. We fall way too far short of a perfect love for You.
 
 

Where Will It All End?

Where Will It All End?

 
Read 1 Kings Chapter 14
 
1Ki 14:22 Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up His jealous anger more than their fathers had done. 23 They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 24 There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.
 
Many today claim to follow Christ, yet their lives tell a different story. I wish I could say that my life and my walk with Him have never been contradictory. I cannot. But my heart’s desire at this time is to no longer allow anything to hinder my walk with Christ. In today’s passage, the Lord is jealous and angry over the misdeeds of His people. They had strayed so far away from Him that they had no problem engaging in the detestable practices of the culture of their time. 
 
Our churches today are not far from this state of affairs. We aren’t there yet, but we have taken steps in that direction. How many more steps will it take to find ourselves engaged in all the evil practices of the world around us? The Lord’s people must walk in such a way that there can be little question where their loyalty lies. It is time for Christians to wake up. Our congregations and our teachings are beginning to look like the world. Why is it so hard for us to understand? There was a time when it was easy to distinguish the difference between Christians and those who had not turned their lives over to Christ. No more. It is difficult to tell who follows Christ and who does not. 
 
The prevailing attitude among our churches today is that we must show more love toward sinners. After all, Jesus ate with sinners, tax collectors, etc. Yes, He did. But He never allowed a man to go away without giving them an opportunity to repent from their sins and turn their lives over to God. He showed an incredible amount of love to the adulterous woman. But before she left His presence, He said, “Go your way and sin no more.” Our churches should show unlimited compassion and love toward those who are living outside of God’s will. But that compassion should never allow them to walk away believing there is nothing in their lives which displeases God. Repentance is absolutely necessary for anyone who claims the name of Christ, who call themselves Christian.  
 
If that were our only problem, perhaps we could see a way of correcting it. But our churches are beginning to go far beyond that problem. We are beginning to approve of sinful behaviors, and beginning to join them in their folly. Do you not believe that? How many Christians do you see today who are living together without benefit of marriage? How many Christians are engaging in premarital sex? If you don’t know of any, you haven’t gotten out much lately. Many Christians today see nothing wrong with these actions, and as a result many of those engaged in those actions falsely believe they are in sync with Christ and His beliefs.
 
Once the church begins down that slippery slope, where will it end? Will our churches become a safe-haven for unrepentant men and women? Will they be able to attend our worship services and never hear any call to repentance? Will the church simply become a place where anyone can come and hear, “You’re okay,” and walk away unaffected? May it never be!! The silence of the Church is another step toward those ends. Where in scriptures does God or Christ allow that to take place?
 
Every time the Israelites wandered too far down the pathway of their world, God took drastic measures to discipline them. He exhibited an inordinate amount of patience before He took action, but when He did, it was severe. None of us can change entire congregations, or denominations. But we can determine that we will not be a party to the process. We can decide that we will not contribute to the demise of Christianity. Being very frustrated and heartbroken at this time, I honestly don’t know anything else I can do but spread the word in whatever venues God allows opportunity.
 
Prayer: Father, heal our broken spirits. Heal us first, that we can be sure that we are faithful to Your message. Beyond that, give us opportunity to spread Your truth to anyone who is willing to hear. Turn the hearts and minds of all who have heard, but failed to heed, Your word. God have mercy on us all!
 

There’s Power Aplenty!

There’s Power Aplenty!

 

Read Romans Chapter 5
 
Ro 5:10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life!
 
We think a lot about how Christ’s death on the cross has given us eternal life with God. His sacrifice on our behalf allowed us the privilege of becoming children of God. He reconciled us to Himself even while we were God’s enemies! That is a powerful picture! But there’s more. Now that we have been reconciled, we will be saved through His life!! We believe that the power which was unleashed on the cross, and in the resurrection, is the most powerful force which has ever been revealed. Paul stated that there is something even more powerful. That is, the power which keeps us reconciled with God. 
 
We will not debate security of the believer, or the insecurity, whichever camp you belong to. That will not be our subject. No matter which you believe, the point Paul made is applicable. I firmly believe that God exerts a lot of energy in keeping me in His stead. I have been a terrible disciple, engaging in disobedient actions time and time again. Sometimes it has been willful disobedience, and other times an “oops” moment, when I realize that what I just did or thought was offensive to my Lord. In both types of disobedience, repentance has followed, and then the power of God’s mercy and grace has to do its work, keeping me “saved.”
 
Yes, the power of our initial salvation is a monstrously large work of our Lord. But Paul states that even more dramatic is the power which follows us around for the remainder of our lives. Sometimes I think it must take a legion of angels to surround me, keep me safe, and a powerful work of the Holy Spirit to constantly remind me of my obligation to remain faithful to my Savior. Of course, it is the same power that saved us as the power which continually saves us.
 
2Ti 1:8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me His prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
 
In this passage, Paul stated that the power of God saved us. But he added that it also called us to a holy life. We cannot obtain a holy life on our own. It is only by His power that we continue to work toward that holy life to which we are destined. Again speaking personally, it has taken a lot of Godly power, Holy Spirit power, to keep my firmly fixed on the road to sanctification and holiness.
 
We must not forget. As we continue battling our same-sex desires, we are not alone in the battle. We have God’s infinite power right beside us. He is not only fighting for us, He is giving us the strength to fight. Even more, when we are weak and believe we cannot carry on, He continues the battle. For those who believe in the security of the believer, they “know” that their Lord will obtain the ultimate victory on their behalf. For those who believe they can lose their salvation, they “know” that God’s power will continue to exert His immovable power to keep them saved as long as they do not totally abandon God and His word. 
 
Please do not begin a discussion here as to which belief is correct. That would serve no purpose. Just ponder the thoughts which Paul wrote. If God’s power saved us, that same power will/can keep us in His stead.
 
Prayer: Father, we know that our only hope is in Your power to save and keep us. We learned long ago that we had no power to save ourselves or to become holy and live holy lives. We simply thank You for knowing that Your promises are true. We can completely rely on them for all we need to obtain eternal life – here on this earth and eternally in Heaven. 

How Do We Know?

How Do We Know?

 
Read John Chapter 8
 
Jn 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am └ the one I claim to be┘ , you will indeed die in your sins.” 25 “Who are You?” they asked.  “Just what I have been claiming all along,” Jesus replied. 26“I have much to say in judgment of you. But He who sent Me is reliable, and what I have heard from Him I tell the world.” 27 They did not understand that He was telling them about His Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am └ the One I claim to be┘ and that I do nothing on My own but speak just what the Father has taught Me. 29 The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” 30 Even as He spoke, many put their faith in Him. 31 To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
 
This is serious business! Every man and woman must someday come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is Lord. He is the Son of God. He is the only pathway to eternal life. Anyone who does not hear and heed this truth is doomed to spend eternity apart from God, in torment forever and ever. When a man truly believes in Christ, what else does he believe? Can he only believe in Christ, and ignore everything else Christ said? Can he believe in Christ and completely ignore God’s written word, our bibles? According to this passage, and many others, the man who believes in Jesus as Savior, who is truly a child of the King, will not only believe in Christ as Savior, he will also believe all that Jesus said and believed.
 
Verses 31 and 32 have something to say about that. Jesus said that anyone who holds on to “My teaching” is really His disciple. In other words, the man who claims to believe, but fails to “hold to His teaching,” is a false disciple. Jesus did not say, “All who never again sin are really My disciples.” The point Jesus made was that we will believe what He says, and we will hold on to His teachings to the end of our lives. The application to our SSA is this – no matter how badly we might wish to believe that same-sex sexual actions are NOT sinful, we do not go there. We remain firmly convinced that we cannot live a life of unhindered SSA actions. Even when we sin in that area of our lives, we know that we have grieved our Father.
 
Many will tell us that Jesus never condemned homosexual behaviors. What do we know that can keep us fully convinced that we cannot live gay lives? Here are a few thoughts.
 
  1. We don’t know that Jesus never condemned homosexual behaviors. There are many more things Jesus said which remain unrecorded than there are things which He said that ARE recorded.
  2. Jesus had every opportunity to correct any OT scriptures which had been written down incorrectly, or had been misinterpreted. He did not. In fact, on more than one occasion, He read from the Old Testament in the synagogues. He also said that He did not come to do away with the law, He came to fulfil it. Further, Jesus quoted OT scriptures many times, therefore confirming its validity.
  3. Most, if not all, of the teachings of Paul were taught by Jesus Himself. We can be certain that all of Paul’s teachings are Spirit-inspired. There has been little, if any, controversy in that regard among the Christian community. Check out this scripture passage:
Gal 1:11 I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ
Paul made it perfectly clear in Romans chapter 1 that homosexuality is not something of which God approves.  
  1. When we have made our SSA mistakes, have we not borne the heavy burden of conviction from the Holy Spirit? Do our hearts not burn with shame and regret after we have sinned?
  2. The world is 100% comfortable with us as long as we agree with them. The moment we attempt to say anything negative about SSA, the world attacks us full force. If the world loves us, there is something wrong with the way we are living or speaking. That same world which accepts homosexuality also approves of unbridled drinking, abortion, living together without marriage, babies born out of wedlock, pre-marital sex, and many other unholy behaviors. We are to love those of the world, but we are not to approve of their lifestyles.
 
Ps 119:31 I hold fast to Your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame.
 
Prayer: Lord, keep us firmly planted in Your truth. Do not allow us to be deceived. As usual, we also pray for all who are currently under the deception of our enemy, the god of this world.
 
 

Utopia!

Utopia!

 
Read Zephaniah Chapter 3
 
Zep 3:8 Therefore wait for me,” declares the LORD, “for the day I will stand up to testify. I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms and to pour out My wrath on them—all My fierce anger. The whole world will be consumed by the fire of My jealous anger. 9 “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the LORD and serve Him shoulder to shoulder. 10 From beyond the rivers of Cush My worshipers, My scattered people, will bring Me offerings. 11 On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to Me, because I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride. Never again will you be haughty on My holy hill. 12 But I will leave within you the meek and humble, who trust in the name of the LORD.
 
I do not claim to have a lot of knowledge concerning the end times. I’ve heard most if not all of the theories, compared them to God’s word, and find that for the most part they are just that – theories. Actually, it really doesn’t matter much to me (I may get some flack for this statement). No matter how the end comes about, one thing is sure. God’s children will be ultimately victorious. The end will be a blessing for God’s people. In this passage, we get a glimpse of how different our lives will be once God returns to gather all of us together forever. I know the writer is prophesying about the City of Jerusalem. But I firmly believe the application is equally applicable to those of us who are repentant over our misdeeds.
 
  1. We will be purified – verse 9. I can hardly wait. I have desired purity for all my life. I have yet to achieve it, except for the fact that the purity of Christ has been given to me as an undeserved gift. But in eternity, I will no longer have this raging battle within between the Spirit and my flesh.
  2. We will call upon Him – verse 9. Well, we do that now. But in eternity, it will be different. We will not have any doubts. We will not wonder if He is hearing us, or whether He will respond to our plea. We will see Him face to face. We will walk with Him in non-ending communion.
  3. We will serve Him shoulder to shoulder – verse 9. We will serve Him in complete joy and love. We will not reluctantly submit to His will. We will no longer have any desire to serve our own selfishness. Also, we will serve Him in unity, with no differences of opinion about matters of faith and truth. That will be absolutely beautiful!
  4. We will no longer be ashamed of our failings – verse 11. This one is difficult to comprehend. I can hardly conceive of the idea that I will no longer rue the days and moments when I disobeyed God in regard to the issue of homosexuality. Not only on that issue, but also in all the other ways that I have sinned against Him.
  5. We will no longer be haughty – verse 11. We display our haughtiness every time we decide to open up a porn site, cruise by an unsavory park, lust after another man or woman, or willingly choose to engage in any kind of unholy sexual act. Our haughtiness tells us that we can get away with our sinfulness. Somehow we believe that the rules do not apply to us in that particular situation.
  6. We will only be surrounded by like-minded men and women – verses 11 and 12. Can you imagine living in an environment where sin and sinful people no longer exist? The thought is mindboggling! Would we love to turn on a TV and not see sinful behavior paraded before our eyes as though it is not offensive? What would it be like if we never again heard another cuss word? How wonderful would it be to never again hear of a child who was sexually molested, or beaten, or shaken to death? Our list can go on and on.
  7. May I mention a thought which probably was not intended by the writer? In verse 11, he writes, “I will remove from this city those who rejoice in their pride.” My mind conjures up a picture where there are no more gay pride parades. Whether the writer meant it or not, there truly will be a day when there will no longer be any gay pride parades. Personally, I look forward to that day with great anticipation. Every time I see or hear of one of these events, dark sadness overwhelms me. I can hardly endure the thoughts that all those men and women will miss out on this perfect, utopian world which will be enjoyed in eternity. May God have mercy!
 
Prayer: Father, we do look forward to a time when sin will no longer be a problem in our lives. We especially rejoice over the knowledge that we will never sin again! We also look forward to living in a world where sin and sinful people cannot be found. But most of all, we eagerly await the time when our communion and companionship with You will have to barriers, no hindrances, no shame or regrets. Lord, come quickly. But we cannot end without once again pleading for the lives of those who have been deceived. Lord, have mercy, and grant them additional revelation to Your truth.

First Command, Last Command

First Command, Last Command

 
Read 1 Kings Chapter 13
 
1Ki 13:8 But the man of God answered the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. 9 For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’ ” 10 So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel. 11 Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king. 12 Their father asked them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him which road the man of God from Judah had taken.
 
1Ki 13:13 So he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it 14 and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” “I am,” he replied. 15 So the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat.” 16The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 I have been told by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.’ ” 18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’ ” (But he was lying to him.) 19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.
 
There is a great lesson for us in this chapter. There was a prophet who heard a word from God. He was given the task of relaying a dire prophecy to King Jeroboam. God also instructed the man of God to refrain from eating or drinking anything while on the mission, and not to return by the way he came. The prophet fully understood his instructions from the Lord. He obeyed God’s commands. When King Jeroboam asked him to stay a while and eat with him, the prophet refused.
 
As the man returned, using a different route as commanded, he was overtaken by another prophet who convinced him that God had given him a different instruction. Unfortunately, the prophet who had received the real word of God believed the false prophet, thereby disobeying God. The results were not good. The true prophet suffered a real disastrous end to his life. Ironically, word concerning the disastrous ending to his life was given by God to the second prophet, and his prophecy came true quickly, as the man of God was on his way back home.
 
1Ki 13:21 He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. 22 You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your fathers.’ ” 23 When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. 24 As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was thrown down on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it.
 
We have been given a true word from God about homosexuality. Both the New and Old Testaments contain dire warnings against living a life of rebellion in opposition to that truth. Just as the first prophet heard a different “truth” from the second prophet, we are hearing a different truth from many “prophets” today. When our Lord gives a clear, concise instruction to His children, it can be written down in stone, or ink, or whatever method conjures up a picture of finality within our minds. God does not change His mind about sinfulness. Yes, there are a few different instructions in the NT which override some of the OT instructions. But in the case of the sinfulness of homosexual behaviors, the NT confirms what is written in the OT.
 
We cannot afford to turn back against what we know is true. No matter how often we hear a different word from church leaders today, we must turn a deaf ear to that message. We must remain true to the words we first heard, because they are written indelibly in God’s word.
 
Prayer: Lord, we hear You. We have wanted desperately to believe what we have heard in the last two decades. Help us to remain true to Your word, and ignore what our modern churches are teaching in our time.
 
 
 
 

Listen To The Trumpet

Listen To The Trumpet

 

Read Ezekiel Chapter 33
 
Eze 33:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your countrymen and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not take warning and the sword comes and takes his life, his blood will be on his own head. 5Since he heard the sound of the trumpet but did not take warning, his blood will be on his own head. If he had taken warning, he would have saved himself.
 
We don’t hear many trumpets sounding a warning in our current days. The instruments are all around us, gathering dust on coffee tables and shelves, but few men and women pick up the trumpet to blow a warning to mankind. The trumpet is the word of God, just as the word of God given to Ezekiel to speak to the people of Israel. The bible is overflowing with warnings against the coming disaster which awaits all who ignore God and His word.
 
Ro 10:11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
 
A few are blowing the trumpet of warning against continuing living a gay lifestyle, but many are laying down the trumpet. Many, like Rob Bell, no longer believe the warning which is clearly stated in God’s word. As a result, they are like the messenger mentioned later in verse 6.
 
Eze 33:6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.’
 
May our Lord have mercy on all “Christian” leaders today who have laid down their trumpets! The words from verse 6 indicate that there will be no mercy on those who are now telling their congregations that willful homosexual acts are not offensive to our God. The watchmen have a grave responsibility to warn all men of the dangers of willful sinfulness. To lead others down a wrong pathway is worse than being one of those who are misled. The watchman will not only be held accountable for his own sinfulness, he will also bear part of the responsibility of the one who did not hear the trumpet.
 
Eze 33:11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
 
Two things we must remember. First, we must hold firmly to the truth of God’s word, which does not change. Whether we hear the trumpet or not, we know the notes exist, even though they may remain silent in the hands of the watchmen. Second, we must pick up the trumpet and blow it as loudly as we can. If we do not, we will be like the watchmen who failed to sound the warning. There perhaps will be a few who hear our music. Then those who blow the trumpet will be like those mentioned in the passage from Romans. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
 
Prayer: Lord, sometimes the burden of seeing our brothers and sisters on the wrong pathway is just too much to bear. Give us the strength to continue to sound the warning. And give those we love a heart open to hear and heed Your warning. We also plead for Your Spirit to open the hearts of all the watchmen who have quit sounding the trumpet. Lord, have mercy on all who have deserted Your truth, including Rob Bell, and all of the Exodus leaders who have laid down their trumpets.
 

A Great Example Of Repentance

A Great Example Of Repentance

 

Read Jeremiah Chapter 31
 
Jer 31:18 “I have surely heard Ephraim’s moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the LORD my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
 
We have studied the subject of repentance many times, over and over. I hope that no one is growing weary of this issue. When I ran across this passage recently, it occurred to me that this is close to the ultimate example of repentance. I’m sure that there are some ‘repentances’ which are less dramatic than this one, yet has been deemed acceptable in His eyes. But this one is an outstanding standard for us to examine.
 
Most of the desired aspects of repentance are mentioned here. Often times we refuse to repent on our own volition, and God has to resort to disciplines, sometimes severe and sometimes mild. If we are wise, we will repent without having to suffer disciplines. As the writer described Ephraim’s situation, he says that after suffering discipline, he repented. That’s the normal and expected response from those who belong to Christ. We do not remain stubborn-hearted once our offenses are called to our attention.
 
The repentant one in this passage responded with complete humility and contrition. He beat his breast. He was ashamed and humiliated over the depth of his disobedience to a loving merciful Lord. What must we do in order to have this kind of response to our transgressions?
 
1.       We must have the Holy Spirit living within us. Unless His Spirit has taken up residence in our hearts, we do not have the capability to be repentant. Even repentance is a gift to us from our Savior. The Spirit must be drawing us to repentance.
2.       We need to be ashamed of our transgressions. I cannot say that I have been ashamed of mine every time. During those times when I was not, my heart was hanging on to a bit of stubbornness. Sometimes, I just haven’t been sure that my sin was all that bad. We have to comprehend the truth that all sin is unacceptable in God’s eyes.
3.       We need to be humiliated. Oh, I’ve been there many times. But some of those times my humiliation was only because that someone else was aware of my sins. The true test of repentance is when we are humiliated before God; even when no one else on earth knows of what we have done. Such is the case in most instances of pornography. It is such a secret sin, rarely does anyone know of it other than ourselves. We should be humiliated before God, grieving because we have saddened the One who loves us more than any being who ever existed.
4.       The writer “understood.” We need to fully understand why our actions were harmful. If we can grasp the truth that what we have done is detrimental to our spiritual health, we will be much more likely to possess repentance in its purest form.
 
Ac 17:30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.
 
We know what we must do; there are no excuses for man’s failure to repent.
 
We can’t leave this passage without covering one other topic. In verse 18, the writer asks God to restore him. This could be a restoration of his right-standing with his Lord, or it could include a restoration to his standing within the community of believers. Both are needed when we have sinned. Oh, those times when I have been led to confess to my wife were difficult times. I needed restoration with God and I needed restoration with my wife, God’s precious gift to me. We need God’s help in regaining our prior lofty position with Him and with man.
 
Prayer: Father, will we ever be able to completely get this right? Help us to achieve the ultimate in repentance every time we have sinned. We thank You that You have accepted our repentance when it was not as genuine as it could be. You are so merciful and loving; You deserve our complete devotion.
 
 
 

Healing is Necessary

Healing Is Necessary

 
Reread Matthew Chapter 9
 
Mt 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him. 10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with Him and His disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
 
Most of us have seen FB postings which include these words, “God loves gays (or homosexuals).” If you are not on Facebook, you have seen or heard that phrase in other venues and situations.  Actually, it is a true statement. God does love same-sex attracted men and women. Today’s passage confirms that statement to be true. Jesus often mingled with sinners of all kinds and descriptions. However, when we see the phrase today, more often than not the writer is attempting to say that God does not condemn homosexuality – that He is perfectly okay with same-sex lusts and actions. That’s when the writer goes off-base with his thoughts.
 
If we examine this passage from Matthew closely, we will easily see why any statement which takes “God loves gays,” any further away from that basic phrase, is misleading. Included in this passage we see that Jesus called the sinners “sick.” Therefore, we can know that Christ recognized that the sinners He was associating with were sick. They were not well. They needed something to make them healthy. Jesus did not fellowship with sinners so that He could bless them in their sickness and walk away from them. His purpose was to make them well.
 
We are sinners and Jesus has “diagnosed” our illness. Same-sex lusts and actions are a sure indication that a man or woman is sick. That fact cannot be denied if we look at God’s word with a heart in tune with Him. Jesus knows that we are sick and in need of good health. We will not have good health if we continue to indulge in our fleshly desires. The tax collectors and sinners who came away from their encounter with Jesus without a willingness to give up their sickness were still sick after the encounter. By the same token, any SSA man or woman who is confronted with their “sickness” but walks away without a heart of repentance will remain sick.
 
When we are confronted with our sinfulness, we begin to “take the medicine” God has prescribed for us. A fortunate few of us may be granted instantaneous healing from our sickness. But most of us will experience a time-lapse healing. Many of us will be taking the “medicine” for a long time. Nevertheless, we are on our way toward complete healing. Jesus has not left us still ailing. Anyone who believes or teaches that God is okay with letting the sick remain sick is sadly mistaken. Jesus did not come to earth to allow the sick to remain sick.
 
Prayer: Father, thank You for giving us what and Who we need to ‘get well.’ Please go back to those who have refused Your message and walk among them once again. Give them another chance to heed Your warning, accept your diagnosis, and receive Your healing power. Lord, have mercy on our friends who remain ill.
 
 

We’re Having A Party In Our Minds

We’re Having A Party In Our Minds

 
Read Matthew Chapter 9
 
Mt 9:4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?
 
Jesus put this question to His detractors who did not believe in Him and opposed Him at every turn. Such a question should have penetrated the hearts and souls of the religious leaders who heard it, but it did not. The answer to the question is easy – the unbelievers did not have a heart turned to and in tune with God. If they had, they would have immediately repented, believed in Him, and followed Him. Their hearts were figuratively made of stone.
 
But let’s turn that question around and ask it of ourselves. “Why do WE entertain evil thoughts in our hearts?” As I read this passage today, the question from Jesus’ mouth burned deep into my mind and heart. Why have I ever entertained evil thoughts in my heart? That question, posed to believers, followers of Christ, should cause us to fall on our knees in sorrow and contrition. Of all the peoples of the world, we are the only ones who have no excuse for entertaining our evil thoughts.
 
Why do we allow lustful thoughts to stay in our heads? Why do we allow the allurement of Internet porn to linger beyond a fleeting thought? Even more pointedly, why do we allow those thoughts to give birth to actual plans to act out on those evil thoughts? That’s more than entertaining evil thoughts; that is allowing them to grow roots and find nourishment in our hearts! God forbid!! We do not have to. 
 
Note one word of Jesus’ words with special intensity – “entertain.” There is no way that evil thoughts will fail to appear in our minds for a brief moment. That handsome man or beautiful woman will appear before us, sooner or later, perhaps many times each day. That computer sits before our eyes often during the day. But those temptations do not have to reside there. If we choose to do so, we can dismiss that thought immediately, or at the least after a time of quick contemplation. We do not have to “entertain” that thought which pops into our minds.
 
We should be ashamed of ourselves! Our Savior paid a dear price for our freedom from sin. He deserves more from us than our apathetic attitude about the seriousness of our evil thoughts. He deserves from us a willingness to force evil thoughts out of our minds at their first appearance.  It that a difficult task? Yes, it is. Was Jesus’ work on earth and death on the cross difficult? Silly question! Our task is far less difficult than the one He performed on our behalf. We should gladly endure our personal suffering as we “work out our salvation” by dismissing our evil thoughts. Our minds should be happily focused on our eternal rewards rather than our temporary suffering as we choose to remove evil thoughts from our hearts and minds.
 
Let us allow Jesus’ question to penetrate, probe, and pierce our hearts. We have no excuse to entertain our evil thoughts. We have the Holy Spirit’s power to reject them and it is our duty, our obligation, to utilize that power and be done with them.
 
1Pe 4:1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
 
Prayer: Oh, Lord, we sure have spent enough time dabbling in those things which sadden Your heart. We don’t know why we entertain evil thoughts in our hearts. There is no excuse for such folly. Forgive us and remind us that You have given us the power to avoid our “entertainments.”
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