In All The World

Posted: August 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Matthew 24:12

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

With the increasing senseless violence among America’s young men, this verse couldn’t ring more true in answering the why question.

Why did one young man stab to death another young man over a senseless fight?

Why are some parts of major cities with higher death tolls and less than some active deployed military zones?

Why did three young men shoot another man because they were bored?

Why did several young men beat to death a WWII Veteran?

Jesus was clear about the cause of horrific events such as these. He taught that the 1st and great command was to love the LORD God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your soul and He followed with the second being like the first in that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. As simply as Jesus said, there is no love for God, others and ultimately according to Jesus no love for themselves in these situations.

The love we are to have is shown to us by Jesus throughout His life death and resurrection. Romans 5:8 exposes Christ’s love for us in that while we were still sinners He died for us. His love was a sacrificial love that cared more for us than it did for himself. He knows were lost, he came to find us and bring us back home. He died to exchange our sin for His righteousness.

A love like this reveals that we are valued. Something is only as valuable as who made it and how much someone is willing to pay for it. Realizing we are created by God and Jesus paid an impossible amount on the cross to redeem us to Him. He literally bought us out of our sin; even though He knew no sin He became sin so we could become His righteousness. As our creator and redeemer we are infinitely valuable to Him.

Realizing we are seen as valuable by God makes us value our own life as precious and to know that every other human on the planet is a creation of God makes us value those lives as well. Knowing Jesus sacrificed His life for us should give us this attitude in our own heart, that we would rather die ourselves than to see harm come to one of the people God created, let alone be the cause of that harm.

Times may seem dark and they are sure to get darker, maybe in our lifetime I am not sure, but I am sure that Jesus did not leave us in the dark. He goes on to say after revealing that the love of many will grow cold that the gospel of the kingdom of God would be preached in all the world.

The gospel: the good news of Jesus’ life death and resurrection for the remission of our sins.  Help spread the gospel pass this along.

 

No God No Morality

Posted: December 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

I recently had a conversation with a friend who seems to be a secular humanist. He does believe in God because he claims there is no evidence. He believes that all belief is relative and what works for me doesn’t work for someone else because of our different beliefs. However he is outraged at violence and murder toward children. This is a paradox for secular humanists and if the right questions are asked can get them thinking.
I think of it best this way. If everything is relative and based on preference then there is no morality. In other words no morality no God.
If everything is relative and based on preference then it may be someone’s preference to not harm others, but someone else may have the preference to do so.
Our God given moral compass tells us harming others is wrong. This is one of the many ways God reveals Himself to us, giving us evidence of His existence.
If we came about by natural processes apart from God we should expect to be able to look to nature to see what behavior is acceptable. One of many examples include that in nature we see a male lion who takes over a pride of lionesses kill the young cubs to establish his own offspring. We also see an eaglet bully and deny food to its sibling until it dies. Both of these realities we chalk up to survival of the fittest. In nature this is acceptable, but for humans to do this is morally wrong.
Ask your S H friends if they see the difference between the two; explain that this is the evidence of God.
Our sense that there is a difference comes from God. He created the heavens and earth, with the animals; He then created man and gave dominion of them to Adam. Man was set apart and above animals. However Adam traded that dominion when he sinned against God in the garden and was kicked out. Not only were he and Eve kicked out they were cursed with death, hard labor and difficult child bearing; in all of this the earth was cursed as well. We live in that world where bad things happen, death and cruelty are part of this world because of sin that entered when Adam sinned.
God reveals Himself to us in many ways. One way is through His reflection in us. We were created to bear His image and nature. God is a compassionate God and does not wish that any would perish. When we are sickened and saddened by horrific events in the world that target children this reflects God’s compassion and love for us.
We are able to distinguish between the natural world and human world regarding right or wrong. We know we are set apart from the animal kingdom, God has revealed this to our hearts and through the Bible.
Ask your friend if he would want to see the most heinous murderer punished. Explain that this again is God’s nature, He too wishes the same.
God is also just. God reveals Himself to us through our own sense of justice. God wishes that all who commit heinous acts are punished, and He has a plan to do so. The gospel of Jesus Christ.
However if we came about by natural means there is no morality and justice is not needed. If everything is relative and based on preference then it may be someone’s preference not to harm children or see them harmed, but someone else may have the preference to harm them.
Some will still deny God and claim morality is part of evolution. The idea here is that either morality came about through socially accepted behavior that is essentially preference, meaning that the majority of the society determines what is good or bad. The other thought is that morality came about as behaviors that benefit the group, those behaviors that benefit the group are good and those that don’t are bad. Both are subjective and prone to change due to preference of the majority, thereby imposing their will on the minority.
Not killing our weak, young and old may have been beneficial to the group in the past as a means to increase population or create a nurturing society. But as resources are diminished, if morality came about by evolution then morality could change to benefit the group and killing young old and weak would benefit the group and become culturally acceptable to preserve the overall group. We see this in nature. Natural animal populations come to a balance with the resources through survival of the fittest. Humans have compassion on young, old and weak and take care of them at great cost.
If morality came about through evolution or survival of the fittest we should recognize its changing nature and not be upset with acts we consider bad; after all it’s only a belief that works for one person and not another at a given place in time. But this is not the case, our God given sense of compassion and justice feels deeply when the most vulnerable among us are harmed. This is not subjective or prone to change. It has always been wrong to do this and will always be wrong.
Morality is God given and absolute. No morality no God. Know morality know God.

A Victory Every Day!

Posted: January 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Corinthians 15:57

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

                               By now I bet most of your New Year’s Resolutions have gone by the way side or at least you’ve had to re-commit to one or more of them. The thing is it’s very hard for us to go through short term discomfort to achieve something with lasting results. For one, the lasting results we want, never quite live up to the expectation and we find it’s easier to indulge in the moment than to change our ways.

That’s why real lasting change isn’t self generated by our willpower. The spirit is willing as Jesus said. And this is the point that within us we don’t have the capacity to change. It is only God working in our lives that we truly change. This is an inside out change that is only by the power of the Holy Spirit in us through faith, belief and following Jesus Christ. The Bible is full of promises about how though we are weak we are made strong through the power of Christ and that He who is in us is stronger that he who is in the world. Promises like we have overcome the world through Christ’s power and on and on.

It is God’s great love for us to save us from the punishment our sin brings about that allows us to partake in this victorious story. Jesus satisfying the wrath of God on the cross and His defeat of death that we share makes this possible. Much like a championship team that wins the big game with all the excitement and celebration that come with that. Much like the prizefighter who stands toe to toe with their opponent to score a knockout in the final minute of the final round. This is much like the victory that we find with Jesus Christ, only Jesus provides us with a victory daily.

With every choice made to follow Him and not the world. With every choice we made to seek Him and His wisdom. With every choice we make to adjust our worldview to the truth of who He is and not change Him to suit our ever changing thoughts. With the moments spent looking His way. With the thoughts we think of Him. With the changes that we allow and encourage to be more like Him. With every prayer we pray. With every choice. With every choice to seek Him we have victory!

Better to Receive

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

John 1:12

“As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children

of God, even to those who believe in His name”

                You may have heard Jesus said it is better to give than receive. That is true. It’s in the Bible, book of Acts to be precise; twentieth chapter thirty fifth verse to be exact. And the context is similar to the sentiment we attach to it today around this time of year.  Paul was writing to encourage the early church to serve and support the weak when he quoted Jesus. So it is noble and Biblical to consider Acts 20:35 as your verse for the Christmas season; some consider it there mission.

Jesus’ mission itself was one of giving. Jesus came out of heaven to the earth He created to give. Jesus’ birth was His gift to mankind. His gift was to become a sin offering for the world. He gave Himself for our sin. His gift was to trade places with us regarding punishment for sin essentially to exchange His righteousness for our sin. From the beginning of time God sought relationship with His creation.  Adam and Eve severed that relationship in the garden and were cursed for it and thrown out the garden. We have all lived under that curse ever since. Jesus’ gift was to take the punishment due for that and all of our other personal sin.

As with any gift it must be received to be enjoyed. I don’t know anyone who still has an unwrapped present from years past still sitting under their tree. In my house gifts don’t make it to the tree let alone sit around for any length of time. Once there bought they barely make it to get wrapped. It would seem even sillier to acknowledge the gift was there but to outright refuse to open it. You may have rejected a gift from someone you did not like or someone who had hurt you. Perhaps you were attempting to break off a relationship and thought accepting the gift would send the wrong message. A gift that is rejected sends a message that there is no want of a relationship here. It is the same for God’s gift. Jesus offers His gift to us; forgiveness of sins if we only believe that he lived died and rose from the dead all to cover our sins. That’s why it’s better to receive.

Sweet Release

Posted: November 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

Jeremiah 29:11-14a

 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity;

            Some may recognize the first part of these verses. The truth that the LORD has thoughts of peace and thoughts to give a future and hope have been often quoted and place on everything from coffee mugs to t-shirts. What I find notable here though is the verse that precedes these and those that follow. Verse 10 informs us that the LORD will visit and perform His good toward us and cause us to return to this place. This was a letter from the prophet Jeremiah to those children of Israel who had been carried off to captivity in Babylon and ‘this place’ they would return to is Jerusalem. We can apply this to our own relationship with God.

This letter gives us insight to how God interacts with His people. We are all in captivity to something that separates us from God. God promises to visit us and perform His good toward us. Our proper response is to call upon Him and pray to Him. We are to seek Him and He assures us we will find Him. In those moments when we first seek God our bonds of captivity are broken. Our captivity takes many different forms, from financial debt, striving for the next promotion or next big thing in life or simply just trying to earn enough to get by that you do not regard God for His visitation and good He has performed for us.

The details of the LORD’s visitation and His good work may be different for those returning to Jerusalem and for those of us living on this side of history but the intent and effect are the same. The LORD visits us and performs good toward us to restore our broken relationship with Him. Jesus visited the earth to perform His good work. Sin has broken our relationship with God. Jesus came to take the sin of man upon Him and satisfy the requirements to restore our relationship with God. The requirement to atone for sin is death. Jesus’ death on the cross satisfied that for those who trust and believe in Him. For those who call upon the name of Jesus and pray to Him; seeking Him for salvation, forgiveness of sin and deliverance will find they are released from captivity.

 

So Help Me God

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

 Revelation 1:9

 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

     In a court of law it is becoming less common to have the witness place their hand on a Bible and swear an oath to tell the truth. This is known as a divine oath. This symbolic gesture is meant to signify that the person taking the oath is swearing by God. In other words God is the guarantor of the truthfulness of the testimony to be given. The words ‘so help me God’ indicate that if the testimony is a lie they will have to answer to God. This is may be why so many states have discontinued the use of this practice.

The Bible not only contains the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ it is by our only source of divine objective truth. Consider what John is telling us in Revelation 1:9, that He was on the island of Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. The rest of Revelation and Church history tell us that John was actually exiled on the island as punishment for his refusal to stop preaching the gospel, or the testimony of Jesus Christ. This is notable for several reasons, first John actually walked with Jesus Christ. Many people would suffer and die for a cause they believe it surely. But to suffer and die for something you know to be false just doesn’t make sense. John witnessed Jesus life death and resurrection. If he hadn’t he simply would have discontinued saying so and he would have been free to live a normal life and not abandoned on an island.

While this argument is not new it does stand the test of time. It provides for us an assurance as to where to find truth. When we hear or read something we are not quite sure of the truth of the matter we can with confidence search the Bible to see if it matches up. We can also with assurance weigh out the many competing testimonies that we hear. When someone says to you that there is just no way to know who is right or wrong so the best thing to do is respect each other’s right to believe what you will, then we have a way to settle the matter. Granted we must respect the other person and out of love work to set them straight. But the bottom line is that Jesus Christ lived, He presented Himself as God and He backed up His claims, He left us with His testimony. We have the testimony in the word of God, the Bible. When I have to decide whose testimony to believe in, it is a simple choice. But one we must all eventually make.

Christianity is not a club

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

Ephesians 2:19

 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,

                Christianity is not a club to be joined. Clubs or social networks are sought to be joined on the basis of the mutual interest of those wishing to join. Consider a chess club, only those with interest in chess seek to join. This is the minimum requirement for those wanting to join, they must have interest. For those who do seek to join the chess club they generally find that once they have joined they have much in common than just chess. They generally have other interests and personality traits that are similar. This applies to any group club formed on the mutual interest of the members. At first glance one might say that Christians join together out of their mutual interest in Christ, however Christianity differs in many ways.

                The major difference is that Jesus seeks after us as Revelation 3:20 informs us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me”. In fact it is our resistance to God’s knocking that separates us from Him. Most of us at some point in our life simply are not interested in Jesus yet he knocks anyway. James 4:8 reinforces this idea of letting God into our lives when he declares, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”… Club members will tell you that they gather out of a love for their clubs namesake. John reminds us that, “We love Him because He first loved us.” In 1 John 4:19.

                Christianity is not a club to be joined, or given a trial period. For those who love God there is no club membership application to fill out. No card to be revoked for violating club rules and no expiration date. We are called to come into fellowship with God. Corinthians 1:9 tells us, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord”. We were called into this relationship through the redemptive work that Jesus did on our behalf on the cross of Calvary. This is His grand demonstration of His love for us. Romans 5:8 reminds us, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. Those who recognize and believe in this expression of His love for us and choose to follow Christ are brought into communion with God. Communion with God through fellowship with fellow believers and followers is our expression of love for our Savior.