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We Should? – We Must!!

We Should? – We Must!!

 

Read Romans Chapter 6
 
Ro 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
 
My Sunday School teacher recently said something once that I had never thought about. He said that we must discontinue using the word “should” when speaking of spiritual matters. After further explanation, I realized what he was talking about. We often say sentences like this one – “We SHOULD become more like Christ.” Or, we say, “We SHOULD be striving to be done with our sinful behaviors.” There are many statements we make where we use the word should, when we must be saying we MUST.
 
Today’s passage gives us a good example of our mistaken way of saying things. Paul did not say, “We should not go on sinning so that grace may increase.” He said, “By no means can we go on sinning so that grace may increase.” I am guilty of soft-pedaling our obligation to be done with our misdeeds. We can no longer afford to give men and women an “out” when it comes to avoiding sin and living a Christ-like life. If we continue to say that we should do this or that, or that we should not do this or that, we unknowingly give ourselves an excuse for not heeding God’s instructions. I hope to change incorrect wording in any of the devotionals that have been written in the past, and hopefully avoid giving us an out in future devotions.
 
In this passage, Paul clearly pointed out that we have died to sin. When Christ died, we died with Him, along with our desires and selfishness. We followed Him in death so that we could follow Him in resurrection. Our lives were buried with Him, so that we could “live a new life” (verse 4). Because we now belong to the kingdom of God, we are children of the King, brothers in Christ and with Christ, our lives MUST be different. We have excused ourselves long enough. We have no excuse for our sinfulness. I have no excuse for my sinfulness. I can no longer say I should obey Him. I must learn to say I MUST obey Him.
 
Ro 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
 
Ro 6:19 I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.
 
We have been given a priceless gift. We have been granted eternal life through the death and resurrection of our Savior. What on earth could be so valuable that we refuse to give it up to honor and glorify our Lord? Absolutely nothing! Next time we are tempted with porn, lusts, or sexual misconduct, let’s remember that we must listen to the Spirit instead of the flesh. “Should” must have no place in our minds as we make our decision to resist temptation.
 
Prayer: Lord, we have indeed given ourselves excuses, when there were none available. Strengthen us, that we will not consider any option other than complete obedience. Thank You for the incredible patience You have shown us as we have chosen wrongly time after time. We are weak, but do not let us use that as an excuse, or anything else as an excuse, for our behaviors.
 
 
 
 

The Many Facets Of The Spirit

The Many Facets Of The Spirit

 
Read Romans Chapter 7
 
Ro 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
 
We used to hear an old chorus which contains these lines: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is love.” It sounds wonderful. Those sentences conjure up a sense that the Christian is always living a life of unhindered happiness. There is a lot of truth in the chorus. Galatians 5 lists the fruits of the Spirit, all of which fit right in to the chorus’s description of the presence of the Spirit. But that is not the full story. Yes, the Spirit is peace and love – sometimes. But that’s not always the case.
 
  1. The Spirit was present when Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden.
  2. The Spirit of the Lord was present when Jesus angrily turned over the tables of the moneychangers.
  3. The Spirit of the Lord causes deep divisions (Luke 12:51-53).
  4. The Spirit convicts mankind of sin (John 16:7-8).
  5. The Spirit brings conflict within the believer.
 
The last one of this list will be our focus today. Our scriptural reference is the one above, from Romans Chapter 7. There can be no doubt but that Paul was writing verses 7-25 because of the wrestling within that he was experiencing between the Spirit and the flesh. We rarely hear about this conflict that naturally happens when a man or woman is a follower of Christ. When we belong to Christ, we enter into warfare, a struggle which lasts a lifetime.
 
It is His Spirit which does not allow us to be complacent about sin in our lives. It is the Spirit within who urges us to resist the temptations that present themselves before us. It is His Spirit who tells us that we cannot live a gay or lesbian life. How often do we thank the Spirit because He is our constant reminder of this truth? Rarely, if ever. More than likely we find ourselves bemoaning over this idea. We must begin to look at it differently.
 
The conflict we face within us is proof that we belong to Christ. Unbelievers are happily living their gay life or lesbian life. There is no internal conflict going on. There is no tugging of the Spirit, telling that person they must repent and change their ways. I wish I had known that when I was in my period of rebelling against God’s word. All the while that I was living a gay life, this inner conflict was raging within me. It was the presence of God’s Spirit that called me to repentance, and acceptance of His truth. There was no way that I could have any peace or love, until I submitted to His will and way.
 
There is one other thought we need to ponder. In the list above, number 4 can cause us to think a little deeper. What is the difference between the Spirit’s work in the heart of the believer and the heart of the unbeliever? Write this one down as my opinion. The unbeliever will hear the Spirit’s conviction for a time, but he rejects what the Spirit says. His response is to develop an intense anger against God and against God’s message. Over time, he becomes God’s enemy, doing all he can to dismiss the message and all who dispense God’s message.
 
The believer may do the same for a time, but eventually the Spirit wins the battle of his heart. The believer will return to the Father, just as the prodigal son did. I sat in the pigpen slopping the hogs as did he, but could not resist the Spirit’s call. The believer can grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and he can quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). But the believer will eventually submit.
 
Jude 1:17 But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. 18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
 
Prayer: Lord, we thank You now, for giving us the Holy Spirit to teach us, convict us, and cause our internal turmoil when we go astray. Thank You for not allowing us to believe lies which come straight from the ruler of this world.

Being Comfortable

Being Comfortable

 
Read Ezekiel Chapter 20
 
Eze 20:42 Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your fathers. 43 There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done. 44 You will know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for My name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, O house of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD.’ ”
 
Do we know that we are not supposed to feel good about our sins? The prevailing attitude in many of our churches today is a need to make congregations feel good about themselves. The gay churches today have made that a foundation of their teachings. It doesn’t “feel good” to believe that same-sex actions are offensive to God. It doesn’t feel good to think about having to spend the rest of one’s life celibate, or married to an opposite-gender partner. None of that sounds like a feel-good life. God wants us to feel good; to be happy.
 
Well, guess what! Our churches were never designed by God to make us feel good about ourselves. There are many good reasons for the existence of church gatherings today, and some of those reasons do in fact make us feel good. But none of them involve allowing us to feel good about our sinful ways. When is the last time anyone heard “repentance” in our churches? I haven’t heard it in a long time, even though I attend a really great congregation full of super-wonderful Christian friends and a God-fearing/loving pastor. When was the last time any of us heard anything remotely resembling repentance?
 
If the world finds itself comfortable in our congregations, maybe WE shouldn’t be comfortable there. No, it even gets worse. If WE are comfortable when we hear sermons in our churches, maybe our church isn’t doing all it was supposed to do. One of the missions of the church is to spur members on to bigger and better things. If we are comfortable with our current level of righteousness, we aren’t hearing everything that the word is supposed to teach us. None of us have “arrived.” None of us have the Christian life down pat, able to coast on into eternity without any improvement in our spiritual lives.
 
One of the purposes of God’s word is to show us the error of our ways. In this passage from Ezekiel, God brought His people to a point where they loathed themselves for all the evil they had done. By no means am I suggesting that we should hate ourselves. Jesus came to show us that God loved us even while we were sinners. His death on the cross was the ultimate demonstration of that love. 
 
SSA men and women, those who have set out on a journey away from same-sex actions, have spent a lot of time loathing themselves. I believe that is a part of the journey toward Christ, holiness, purity, and righteousness. The final goal in that journey is to move beyond loathing ourselves, and replace that with loathing our sinfulness. There is a huge difference. As we accept God’s love for us, we can begin loving ourselves – all the while increasing our hatred toward our sins.
 
We can feel good because we are destined for eternity with God. We can feel good because Christ died for us. We can feel good because we are surrounded by loving, Christian friends. We have more reason to feel good living a life for Christ than any amount of feel-good that comes through living a gay lifestyle. Allowing ourselves to continue a practice which God tells us is destructive should never, ever, make us feel good about ourselves.
 
Prayer: Lord, continue to show us more of the destructiveness of same-sex actions. We have seen it, but sometimes we forget. We forget the loneliness that inevitably comes after our actions. We forget how many barriers You have set in place that we must cross in order to indulge ourselves. We forget the prevalence of disease and the almost nonexistence of monogamy within the gay community. When we are in our right minds, we do loathe our sins. Thank You, Father, for loving us too much to let us remain comfortable in our sins.
 
 
 

Satan Is Alive And Well……In Our Churches

Satan Is Alive And Well……In Our Churches

 
Read Ezekiel Chapter 13
 
Eze 13:1 The word of the LORD came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination: ‘Hear the word of the LORD! 3 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! 4 Your prophets, O Israel, are like jackals among ruins.
 
Eze 13:10 “ ‘Because they lead My people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”
 
Eze 13:19 You have profaned Me among My people for a few handfuls of barley and scraps of bread. By lying to My people, who listen to lies, you have killed those who should not have died and have spared those who should not live.
 
Eze 13:22 Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives, 23 therefore you will no longer see false visions or practice divination. I will save My people from your hands. And then you will know that I am the LORD.’ ”
 
It is a dangerous thing to try to excuse sinfulness. Most men today want to believe that everything they are engaged in is acceptable. First, they want to convince the world that something is okay. Then they try to convince the church as well. Every sin we see flaunted about in our world began that way. There was a time that pre-marital sex was a no-no, even among the unbelieving world. Society in general frowned upon that behavior. We could list some other examples where men once hid their flaws but now are widely acceptable.
 
We have seen this happen over the issue of homosexual behaviors. It began in the early 1970’s, when secular phycologists and psychiatrists decreed that same-sex attractions were no longer considered to be a mental abnormality. Slowly but surely, the world began to accept and believe that was true. As time went on, that theory began to infiltrate our churches, and now has reached the level of many church leaders.
 
In today’s scripture passage, false teaching had also infiltrated the leaders, the prophets of Israel. They had become accustomed to sinful behaviors. Therefore they failed to warn the people of their transgressions. Their teachings had become only “words out of their own imagination.” They were now “leading the people astray.” They no longer “encourage the wicked to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives.”
 
We can only imagine how many men and women today have been led to believe that God is not offended by same-sex behaviors. There are large numbers of people who have been misled – who have been told, “Peace,” when peace with God is not possible as long as they are actively living a gay life. Personally, I am thankful that when I was a child and young man, society in general had not accepted the gay lifestyle as normal and natural. I don’t know how I would have reacted to that message.
 
When our minds want to believe that our modern-day message is true – that God has finally allowed us to discover that His word was miswritten, or misinterpreted, let’s give ourselves a healthy slap in the face. Let us not live long in that fantasy world. When the messages from our church leaders begin to sound like a message which began in the world, we can be sure that it is no longer a word from God. When the world begins to feel comfortable in our churches…………….then maybe we should begin to be uncomfortable there.
 
Prayer: Father, it scares us to see what is happening in Your churches today. We would have never believed such a thing could ever be. Yet, it is clearly before our eyes today, at every turn. Prevent us from falling under the spell of false teachers in our congregations. Most of all, please, please, take the blinders off the eyes of our friends. God have mercy upon them, and send Your Spirit into their minds and hearts.

Don’t Forget To Remember

Don’t Forget To Remember

 
Read Romans Chapter 1
 
Ro 1:28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
 
Fooled you! You thought the study of this chapter would be centered on the previous verses that address homosexual behaviors. No, the topic of today will come from verse 28, which mentions “retaining the knowledge of God.” Many of these devotionals are designed for the purpose of warning ourselves against pulling away from God and His truth. This will be another one of those. We cannot remind ourselves of this danger too often. It must be continually in the corners of our minds, waiting to jump to the forefront whenever we need it most.
 
I am guessing that every SSA man and woman at one time had a picture of same-sex sexual actions as not being a good thing. From the first moment that I was enticed to engage in one of those actions, in the third grade, I inherently knew that something was amiss – that I was doing something that I shouldn’t be doing. I had no idea, at that time, that the bible had warnings against it. I simply knew by instinct, or more correctly stated, by Creator-given, implanted knowledge, that something wasn’t right about those actions. Our Creator gave mankind some natural instincts which helped him discern a measure of right and wrong. Don’t believe it?
 
Ro 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
 
1Co 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.
 
Even those who have never known and acknowledged God have an internal compass which helps them define actions that are against the natural order of things. They may suppress that instinct, as do some who have heard the truth, but at least there has been an initial understanding.
 
Now we can get back to our main thoughts. Most men today have had many encounters with the truth of God and His word. Most of mankind today has had a great deal of exposure to the truth. Among that “most of mankind,” we can be pretty sure that most of that number have failed to retain the knowledge they learned. When a man learns a truth from God’s word, he has some choices to make. He can reject it as untruth, retain it as truth and live his life according to the truth, or he can realize its validity and choose to ignore it. Paul expresses the latter option as thinking it “nor worthwhile to retain its knowledge.
 
When we learn something from God’s word, the obviously correct response is for us to not only retain that knowledge, but that we also choose to live by it. For myself, as a teenager and as an adult in my early twenties, I retained the knowledge, but I did not live by it. I was living an extremely dangerous life. It would have been easy during those years for me to decide that it was not worthwhile to retain that knowledge. Fortunately, I could not escape that truth, and eventually submitted to God’s truth. I made a decision to attempt to live out that truth. I could not continue to live a gay life. I have had to recommit to that task several times since.
 
It is a dangerous thing to decide that the knowledge of God’s truth about homosexual behaviors is not worthwhile to remember. This passage from Romans outlines several of the consequences which follow anyone who refuses to believe or refuses to live out God’s word on this issue. We must continually be on guard against falling away from what we at one time knew to be true.
 
Prayer: Do not allow us to forget!! We know, without any doubt, that living according to Your word will give us the best life that is possible for any man or woman. More than that, we know that the rewards for obedience to Your truths are enormous. Thank You for first giving us the truth through natural instincts, and securing that truth through Your word.
 

Our Greatest Blessing

Our Greatest Blessing

Read Luke Chapter 10

Lk 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19  I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

I have a tendency to want some occasional proof that I am one of God’s children. That largely stems from the lingering effects of an insecure childhood. So, whenever the Lord shows me something which affirms my relationship with Him, I rejoice. He does so quite often, even though I’ve had enough proof to last a lifetime, and He is under no obligation to satisfy my continued insecurities. Even if I didn’t have some life’s markers, in which God made Himself very real to me, I would still have the written word. He cannot deny Himself. We can always count on His word to be trustworthy.

2Ti 2:13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself

As I said earlier, each time He shows Himself to me, or even shows up in some special way in the life of someone I know, I rejoice. Those times are special times of joy and comfort. I do like to rejoice over the miracle of a changed heart. I see that occasionally in this ministry. This is quite a lengthy introduction to come to the main point. Our greatest blessing is that our names are written in Heaven! We have every right to rejoice over other events, and other blessings. It would be almost impossible to ignore them. For example, my family is a tremendous blessing. Today is my wedding anniversary, and I must thank God for placing a very special woman in my life.

I could make a long list of blessings, and rejoice over each one of them. But none of them would be as important or as special as the one mentioned in this scripture passage. If I had no other blessing but this one, it would be enough. My name is written in Heaven! You have the same promise; your name is written in Heaven. You would not be reading this if the Spirit were not alive and active in your life. No matter how strongly our enemy has tried to make you feel like a spiritual orphan, he cannot change the truth. No matter how strongly he has tried to make you feel like God doesn’t love you and accept you, and how often he may guilt you over your same-sex attractions, the fact remains. Those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior are children of God. Rejoice that your name has been written in Heaven.

Prayer: Thank You for this truth! Thank You that I, and others, have been reconciled to You through the blood and body of Your Son. We rejoice that our names are written in Heaven!!

Residents Of The Funny Farm

Residents Of The Funny Farm

 
Read Acts Chapter 26
 
Ac 26:20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” 24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.” 25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.
 
There are many good topics which could be pulled out of this passage. We could look at repentance, deeds, persecution, the good fortune we Gentiles have been given, how faith and works interlock, just to name a few. But our subject will be quite different. The question we want to study today is, “Are you crazy?” I hope you are. It pretty much takes a crazy person to believe correctly about God, Christ, and their word.
 
1Co 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
 
By the standards of worldly wisdom and intelligence, anyone who believes in an unseen God is ignorant, crazy or foolish. Not only do we believe in an unseen God, we also believe (actually, we KNOW) that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. His horrible death on a cross outside Jerusalem allowed us to have our sins forgiven and live forever in a place called Heaven. Ridiculous!! Just how misled can anyone be? Yes, we believe and know that all this is true. We have lost our minds, according to the unsaved world.
 
Also, we believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and walked around on earth for 40 days with holes in His hands, feet, and side. He appeared and disappeared at will and rose up into the clouds as He departed. Yep, we are crazy. Thank God that we are! That’s not the end of our insanity. We actually hold to the ideas that abortion, pre-marital sex, perversion, pornography, co-habiting without the benefit of marriage, babies born out of wedlock, and yes, even homosexual behaviors, are sinful. They offend the Creator of all things which exist. What? You believe there is a Creator? How stupid can you get!? Want to hear one other? God’s word indicates that a marriage between two unbelievers is unholy.
 
1Co 7:13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
 
Yep, we must be out of our gourds! Our world can never understand the things of God, unless it is revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. Whether one believes that we are chosen, or that we choose to believe in Christ, it is the Spirit who makes these truths come alive within our hearts and minds. Yes, we are the nuttiest group of people living on the earth. We are keeping good company – which includes all of the NT saints and many hundreds of thousands who have lived since that era.
 
Finally, we focus our attention to homosexual behaviors. We know that such actions are unholy events, offensive to our Lord and Savior. They are forgivable if a man or woman repents and submits their will to God. That idea is beyond the realm of reality in our modern world today. We are all crazy as loons!
 
Prayer: Father, thank You for showing us the truth in all of these things. We gladly suffer the world’s views of our insanity. But Father, once again we ask that Your Spirit perform a mighty miracle in our present day world. Lord, bring a miraculous work of the Spirit in this evil time.
 
 

An Undeniable Responsibility

An Undeniable Responsibility

 
Read Ezekiel Chapter 3
 
Eze 3:18 When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself. 20 “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”
 
As born again children of God, we have a responsibility. We were not saved so that we can sit back and watch the rest of the world go to everlasting destruction. Imagine what would have happened if the first century converts had simply gone home and lived the rest of their lives only interested in providing for themselves and their families. How would the gospel of Jesus Christ have spread across Asia, Africa, and Europe? It would not. You and I would not have been told of the Good News. How many men and women have become true believers in Christ because missionaries risked their lives in foreign lands? That is an uncountable number of people.
 
Not everyone has been called by the Lord to take the Good News to foreign lands. But all of us have been called to be witnesses where we are. Many neighbors have been redeemed because someone next door showed them the way. We must be always alert to opportunities to share the truth with anyone we meet, even if they reject that word. Today’s scripture reading shows us just how important it is to be the one who delivers truth when the opportunity presents itself.
 
By no means do I believe that each of us will be held accountable in the same manner that Ezekiel was in this passage. God gave a stern warning to him. If he was not faithful in warning men of their sinfulness, Ezekiel would be held responsible for their demise. However, I cannot discount that we bear some measure of responsibility if we do not present the truth about Christ, as well as the issue of homosexuality whenever an opportunity comes our way. Conversations often arise concerning the issue of same-sex marriage. When that happens we cannot remain silent, failing to allow the discussion to at least look at another viewpoint.
 
Few will listen. Many will deride our beliefs. But at least we will have given the SSA man or woman a chance to turn their lives around. We will have given them something to think about. Even if the conversation is with a heterosexual audience, it will present the truth to them. They will not be able to say that they had never heard the biblical truths regarding homosexuality. Many today are dismissing biblical views on just about all issues. The “remnant” of God’s people cannot keep quiet.
 
Our world is sadly slipping away from God. Even some of our churches and their leaders are sliding away from His word. Our responsibility is to remain steadfast, holding on to God’s word no matter what the world thinks. There may be one or two people within our circle of acquaintances who will heed the call of the Holy Spirit. If so, “he will surely live because he took warning.” – Verse 21.
 
Prayer: We have uttered this prayer over and over, Lord. And once again we come before You asking that You grant salvation to our friends who have been deceived. Give us many opportunities to spread Your truth to those around us. Give us the right words to say, and give us the ability to express it with an unmistakable example of Agape love.
 
 

Afraid Of What!

Afraid Of What!

 
Read Acts Chapter 24
 
Ac 24:22 Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings. “When Lysias the commander comes,” he said, “I will decide your case.” 23 He ordered the centurion to keep Paul under guard but to give him some freedom and permit his friends to take care of his needs. 24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”
 
There are numerous reasons why men do not believe in God and Christ. Today’s scripture passage provides us with one of the main reasons. Felix, according to verse 22, was familiar with the Way – the gospel message of Jesus Christ as Savior. We don’t know how familiar he was with the teachings of Christianity, but he knew enough to make him interested in hearing more. He had just heard some of Paul’s testimony, and seemingly wanted some time to consider what Paul had said.
 
When Felix reconvened the hearings, Paul spoke more deeply about Christ. He talked about faith in Jesus, but he added some things that very likely turned Felix away from following Jesus. Many men today reject Christianity because of those additions.  As Paul continued his discourse, he stated that faith in Christ was just the beginning. Beyond that first step, followers were asked to pursue righteousness and self-control. 
 
Those are not attributes and qualities that are common among most of mankind. “Righteousness? Who wants to pursue that? Doesn’t that mean that I can’t decide for myself what is right and what is wrong? Self-control? That’s really hard to do, and that would mean that I would not be allowed to do whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it! I want to be autonomous, doing my own thing. I have to be myself, go with the flow.” By the time Paul spoke of the coming judgment that was all Felix could take. It scared him, so he didn’t want to hear anything else.
 
That is a great example of what is happening today. Men are somewhat okay with faith in Christ, as long as it doesn’t mean any changes in their lifestyle. Many gay men and women today would willingly come to Christ if they did not have to accept biblical teachings about homosexuality. Others disregard that particular teaching, dismissing it as not relevant to being a “followers” of Christ. As long as self-control is not a requirement, they are on board. As long as being a Christian doesn’t require any lifestyle changes, they are in.
 
Believe me, my most difficult challenge in life has been the discipline of applying righteousness and self-control to my same-sex desires. I didn’t want to do it and didn’t believe I could do it. But that “judgment to come” prevented me from turning away from Christ. I had no choice but to continue to believe in Jesus, and part of that belief was also believing what He said about sinfulness. It hasn’t been easy. There have been many failures along the way. I have to constantly be on guard against additional failures. Our heart’s desire must be to follow Christ and obey Him. Fortunately, we have Christ’s righteousness as out guarantee of salvation, so that our failures do not doom us.
 
Let us continually remind ourselves of what Paul was trying to teach Felix. Sadly, he rejected Paul’s message, and is likely spending eternity wishing he had heeded Paul’s warning. He was more afraid of “giving up his life” than he was in “losing his life.” No matter how difficult our lives are, they are not as difficult as spending eternity without God.
 
Prayer: Father, we submit ourselves anew to You and Your word. We are weak, and we make mistakes, but our hearts are turned toward You. We want to follow You and live for You. Continue to strengthen us, sanctify us, justify us, and forgive us. Thank You for the righteousness of Christ, which overcomes all our weaknesses.

Loving The Sinner

Loving The Sinner

 
Read Luke Chapter 9
 
Lk 9:51 As the time approached for Him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And He sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for Him; 53 but the people there did not welcome Him, because He was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them, 56 and they went to another village.
 
As we see our world growing more and more evil, we often do not know what we can do about it. Actually, there is little we can do. We can only control our small corner of the world, attempting to avoid evil in our own lives and trying to live a life which reflects Christ and His values. As a result, we go through many emotional stages thinking about this issue. Our frustration and anger can at times overwhelm us. Speaking only for myself, sometimes I wish that I could do the very thing James and John desired to do. If I could only zap anyone who speaks ill of our Savior, those who hurt others, and a few other groups of people, we would live in a much better world.
 
These two disciples felt the sting of rejection from this Samaritan village. Maybe they saw it as rejection of themselves, but I imagine that they were angry because their dearly loved Christ was being disparaged. No matter what their reasoning, Christ rebuked them. There have been times when God called down destruction upon those who opposed Him and were deeply involved in sinful behavior, but God is God. Only He can make those decisions. We cannot see the whole picture.
 
So, we must endure the sinfulness of our world and patiently wait for God’s will to come to pass. There surely will come a time when God’s enemies will face the full fury of His wrath. Obviously, that time has not come, for many today live lives which dishonor Him and His precepts. How can we properly deal with our frustrations today? We have to apply biblical principles.
 
  1. Mt 5:44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. – Oh, this is so hard to do! I find it difficult to love some of our politicians who seem to have no regard for Christ and His word. Most of them are opposed to God’s views about marriage, sexual perversion, adultery, and of course homosexuality. Nevertheless, we must allow God to love them through us.
  2. Jude 1:22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. – We have a small measure of influence over a few people. We have an obligation to help our brothers and sisters find their way out of sinful behavior. Perhaps some of our friends will have receptive hearts.
  3. Col 3:12 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 whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – There are many instructions listed in this passage that we can and must do. We won’t discuss all of them, but let us mention one of them – forgiveness. This is another difficult one. It is hard for us to forgive those we believe are anti-Christ and anti-Christians. It becomes a little easier when we think of all the evils for which we have been forgiven.
 
Our main application today will naturally be in regard to homosexual behaviors. There are many SSA men and women today who openly oppose God and His word. They conduct gay pride parades, petition governments to enact laws to give them special rights, attempt to silence those who oppose them, and a few other overt actions which promote their agenda. In Canada, it is against the law for a pastor to read from the pulpit scripture passages which opposes homosexuality. Our reactions to these things often do not take the above scripture admonitions into account. Our response must always be in accordance with God’s directive. 
 
Prayer: Lord, help us to be willing to love, forgive, and be merciful to all who are straying from Your pathway. Help us to develop the fruits of the Spirit and display them at all times, so that we can perhaps persuade some to submit to Your ways. Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Amen.
 
 
 
 
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