Loving Laws or Loving People

Loving Laws or Loving People

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  Galatians 5:14

Do you know someone that is hyper critical?  I mean, they have a problem with everyone and everything.  “The temperature is too hot.  The music is too fast. The speaker is too loud.  The women are dressing wrong.  The bulletin was not folded right.  The deacons should have a tie on.  The people helping are not doing it the same way I would do it. The van is parked at the wrong place.  The family is too big or too small.”  You get the idea.

Hyper critical people have forgotten the “Who” they should be loving.  Instead of loving God and loving people, they love a “What.”   They love rules.  They love laws.  They love their preferences and personal expectations and project them onto other people in a way that is detrimental to relationship.

If we could learn to love people more than our preferences, programs, and personal pet peeves, then we would show more honor to the Lord.  And in turn actually live out God’s law instead of a human version of His law.

Loving our neighbor does several things:

  1. Considers others ahead of ourselves.
  2. Creates a forgiving temperament.
  3. Causes more healthy relationships.
  4. Casts aside personal preferences.
  5. Calms personal interactions with others.

Music styles in church can have great variety and still please the Lord.

Preaching and teaching styles vary greatly from person to person, and God can use each delivery style in wonderful ways.

Organizational structure, facility maintenance, the next building project, and more need not be a stumbling point for you or for others at your church.  When we love God and love others, no matter the rules we may impose on ourselves, we do not need to let those preferential things divide and hurt relationships.

One terrific example is the Church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  This church had pure doctrine.  They withstood persecution.  They even had a good work ethic.  But Jesus said “You left your first love.”  These second generation Christians, with a godly heritage, clung to laws, rules, and preferences to the neglect of loving Jesus.  They loved their “version of Christianity” more than they loved Jesus!

Don’t let rules and regulations or personal preferences stop you from loving your family (or church family) the way the Lord wants you to love them.

Love people more than laws.

 

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Defeating Discouragement

Defeating Discouragement 

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 

Number 21:4

Seasonal Affective Disorder  (SAD) otherwise known as “The Winter Blues” is probably in full force right now.  With those living in the Northern Hemisphere short on sunlight and full of snow during the Winter season, it is possible to become discouraged.

With all the recent ice and snow storms, most have not been able to get out of the house as much as they would like.  When the storms falling primarily on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s it has disrupted the faithful gathering of worshipers in the local church.  While the season has been disruptive, we can have victory over the discouraging thoughts we may face when we check the weather apps or scan the meteorologist reports.

The Israelite’s were traveling towards the Promise Land, but the path was not easy.  The walking, caravaning was no easy task.  Life was hard and they became discouraged.  Circumstances are powerful at changing our attitude and disposition.  But instead of focusing on the problems, we can discover victory over the problems.

No one is immune to the occasional negative thoughts about their circumstance.  It becomes a major problem when all we do is complain or think negative thoughts.  It affects our motivation, our interaction with others and our walk with God.   Sometimes “our way” is tough too.

If discouragement is not dealt with in a Biblical way, it is possible for it to develop into depression.  It does not have too.  Here are three ideas to help overcome discouragement.

  • But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Matthew 10:30

The Lord Jesus knows everything about you.  Even down to how many hairs you have (or don’t have) on your head.  If He knows something so minor as this, think about all the other things He knows about you.  He knows your thoughts and wants you to live in victory, claiming healthy truthful thoughts about your life and your circumstance.

  • Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:31

Jesus values you more than the beautiful birds.  Of all the creatures of creation, God values Humans the most.  We are created “in His image.”  There is something special about you.  Be encouraged with the value God places on you!  David also battled with occasional discouragement.  1 Samuel 30:6 says, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”  

  • But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  Matthew 14:27

The Lord is always available to us.  Be of good cheer.  God is with you.  Talk with Jesus in prayer.  Ask Him to help you overcome negative thoughts with Bible truth.  Learn a new Bible verse.  Recite it when the next storm comes.  Chose joy by the grace of God to not allow discouragement to control your life.

Look up – the sun will be up soon.  Spring will be here before you know it!

 

 

 

God Has a “Because”

God Has a “Because”

Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.” Nahum 3:4

Our nation is in a critical moment of history. Just like Nineveh was judged by God because of sin, we too should expect God’s judgement.

Notice the 3 specific sins that were the “because” for God to send judgment:

1. Sexual sins. Not many people like the term “whoredom” but it is a way many people live. This is speaking about sexual sins. I read recently that only about 3 percent of people who get married are virgins. Lust and impatience is a wicked combination for temptation.

2. Witchcraft. Wizards, spells, and occult activity are more popular than ever. Books, tv, and popular culture have made this more “normal.” Even the basketball team in Washington is called the Wizards.

3. Idolatry. The combination of adultery and witchcraft infers idol worship. When pagan gods were worshipped in old times, the temples included prostitutes and selfish physical pleasures. Spiritual adultery takes place anytime an idol is worshipped. In addition, witchcraft is worship of Satan. Satan’s goal when temptation Jesus was to get Him to worship him. With tarot cards, eastern healing techniques, and Wiccan increasing, it is evident that many are being drawn away from the True God to worship Satan.

BECAUSE of these sins, God says in the next verse: Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts…”

There is always a “because” when God sends judgment. What can a person do? How can these sins be made right?

1. Confess sin. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

2. Repent of sin. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 27:13

3. Restore Fellowship with God. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him. 2 Chronicles 30:9

So much more could be written or taught about this. God has a “Because.” Be sure to not be the cause of judgment in your life.

As far as the USA goes, we certainly need to confess, repent, and restore. There is no other hope- if our hope is not in Jesus.

Take it to the Bank

Take it to the Bank

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  Titus 2:13-14

One of my favorite words in all the Bible is the word “hope.”   Hope in Scriptures has a deeper meaning than what we use in our modern society today.  Instead of “I hope my team will win” or “I hope the weather is good,” hope is a conformable and happy expectation.  Not a “maybe” but a for sure.  Bible hope is certain.  I like to define hope as a confident and happy expectation.

The reason hope is confident is not because of the circumstances, our ability, the resources at hand, or the authority of someone.  The reason hope is confident is because the hope is founded upon the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.   God is constant.  God is stable.  God is everlasting and eternal.  There is nothing more powerful or greater than God.  He is above all, in all, and He can work through all.  God is all-powerful, everywhere present, and all-knowing!  When God says something – we can count on it!  Take it to the bank!

You know the old phrase” take it to the bank.”  In other words, the money at the bank is guaranteed.  You can count on the check not to bounce.  the person issuing the check, or credit is dependable and the money will be there.  The same is true for God – we can “take it to the bank” – what the Lord has said He will do.  We can place our complete hope in Him.

The “Blessed Hope” is the soon coming time when Jesus returns to the earth and suspends Himself in the clouds above the earth.  When He does appear, a trumpet will sound.  This loud and distinct trumpet is only heard by believers in Jesus.  Only individuals who have placed their faith in Jesus for their eternal salvation and forgiveness of sins will ascend into Heaven “to meet the Lord in the air.”  This event is known as the “Rapture.”

Those who have said “no” to Jesus and rejected God’s free gift of eternal life will not hear the trumpet.  In fact, they will believe a lie, a delusion as to where all those people disappeared to.  Christians are “listening for the trumpet!  This encourages and motivates us to tell people about salvation today while they can still trust in Jesus.  The Gospel needs to be shared.  God can use you to share His Word with others.

Jesus said He is coming back for Christians in the Rapture.  We can take it to the bank!

What is your hope in today?  Religion cannot get a person into Heaven.  Being a “good person” is not good enough for God.  God demands perfect for entrance into His Heaven.  We are not and cannot be perfect.  However, the Perfect God, Jesus died in our place!  Our hope is in Him and Him alone.

Are you looking for the blessed hope?  If you are not yet saved and the Rapture takes place, instead of the blessed hope, you will experience a terrible nightmare called the Tribulation.  Don’t chance it.  Don’t wait.  Place your faith in Jesus for your salvation.

Together, let’s look forward and for the blessed hope!

 

 

Is God Against the USA?

Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.  Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.   Nahum 3:4-5

Is God against you?  “You should see my problems right now…” you may exclaim, “it seems He is against me!”  Maybe, but maybe not.

Is God against the Unites States?  Perhaps a better question is – is the United States against God?  It appears that we are against God more and more each day.

When Abraham Lincoln was asked, “Which side do you think the Lord is on, the North or the South?” He gave this thoughtful reply,  “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God’s side. For God is always right!”

Notice in the verse above the words “Because” and “Behold.”  Because of the sin of Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire, the Lord was against them.   Generally speaking, the Lord is for an individual and for a nation.  He gives them a chance to know Him and to serve Him with their lives.  God loves people and Jesus gave His life for people!

The reason God would go against someone or a against a nation is because the person or nation has been against the Lord in their decisions, mindset, and actions.  Consider this:  Nineveh had received the Word of God as preached by the prophet Jonah 100 years before Nahum wrote his short book.  When Jonah preached “40 more days the Lord will overthrow” -the people repented.  They turned from their sin.  The king, the rich, the poor, everyone in Nineveh turned from violence, idolatry, adultery, witchcraft, and evil.  They turned to God and He forgave them and accepted them.

Fast forward to Nahum’s day.  Instead of living lives of repentance, they had returned to their sin.  It is because of their sin, the Lord said He was now against them.  God declares His intention to judge, punish, and humble this proud arrogant people.   Notice the vivid language in verse 5 as to how the Lord was going to humiliate them.

If it seems that God is against you, be sure to check for any unconfessed sin in your life.  He does chasten and correct those He loves.  Confess the sin.  Repent and turn from it.  The Lord will forgive and restore any person or nation who turn back to Him.   Anytime a person feels God is against them it is rooted in the fact their their personal choices have been going against Bible principles.

Any hostility starts in humanity.  Romans 8:7 teaches, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”  Enmity means “opposition, a reason for hostility.”  Our sin, sin nature, and carnal mind directs us away from the Lord.

Let’s consider this on a national scale now.  Notice what Nahum 3:1 says, “Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not…”  Nineveh was bloody.  They were full of violence.  The USA is not far behind the Assyrians of ancient history.  We are bloody and violent too.   Our entertainment is full of violence.  It is difficult to find a video game that is not violent.  Our streets, schools, and screens of any size has lots of violence in them.  Any casual viewing of the evening news reveals this.

Even many in “health care” are violent.  If you could talk just one the the millions of babies murdered each year, he/she would say – “yes abortion is violent.”

According the worldometer.info are the following staggering statistics:

“According to WHO, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day.”

“In the USA, where nearly half of pregnancies are unintended and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion [1] , there are over 3,000 abortions per day. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies in the USA (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion. [2]”

The USA is violent to the most helpless among us.  Not much compassion or love to say the least.  How could God judge Nineveh and not judge the USA?  They Assyrians were given much when Jonah preached and they repented, and the Lord held them accountable 100 years later.

Jesus said in Luke 12:48 “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”    The USA had been given much.  We have been blessed, but it is very clear we have abandoned God.   We will give an account to God.  It is possible that part of God’s judgment on a nation is when we kill our own young…

What if God is giving us one more chance?  I believe that could be the case.   The Ninevites were destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians and the Lord used these foreign nations to punish them “because” of their sin.   They chose not to repent of sin but to run full speed into their sin.  In recent weeks, many states are running straight into more easy killings of the unborn in abortion.

God would rather save you than to see you remain condemned in your sin. Romans 5:8 teaches one of the most amazing things: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  In spite of your sin and my sin, God loves you and loves me so much that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for us.

While God does judge sin, He also makes a way to escape the punishment for our sin.  Rescue is found in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Trust Jesus today.  He shed His blood, died in your place, and rose again the third day!

Christian, repent of sin, while you can.  God’s judgement could come soon.   Make sure that you are yielding your life the Lord each day.

 

 

 

An Open Door

An Open Door

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.  Revelation 3:7-8

Today as I type this post, the temperature is negative 8.  That is right -8.  Frigid!  Opening the doors for people as they came in today, I opened and shut the door very fast in an attempt to keep some cold air out and some warm air in!

I don’t think I was too successful.

The Lord Jesus is speaking of an open door He gave to the church in the Greek city of Philadelphia in the verses above.   Chapters 2-3 of Revelation are describing the “church age” in which we live.  Each of the 7 churches listed were real places with real people and are also “types” of churches that are found in the church age.  In other words, every Biblical church today is in some way like one of these 7 churches.

As Jesus gives His message to the church of brotherly love, he tells them that He is giving them an open door.  Jesus is holding a door open for them to freely move in and out of and to freely bring other people through as well.  With the Philadelphia church being very weak, they are not able to hold the door open.  It is only a door that Jesus can open.  They do not have political clout or economic power, but they have a responsibility to go through the door and take others with them.

Many Bible students believe this is an open door through which to deliver the Gospel to this lost and dying world.  God is giving His church the opportunity to freely distribute the Word of God and Gospel message.  While the church is diminished in society today and even with the political climate growing in angst against anything Christian, it is the Lord Who is holding open the door for Gospel witness.

Have you noticed how spiritually cold our society has become?  Even this week, the Governor of Virginia is talking about delivering a newborn and then killing it as “OK” in his book.  This following the Governor of New York pushing his love of abortion right up until birth.  We live in a cold, cold climate, not just in atmospheric temperature, but in spiritual temperature.  We cannot hold the door open for people, but thank the Lord, Jesus is holding it open for us!  In addition, as fast as many non-Christians would be to close the door, slamming it shut, it is something that they cannot do.  Only God can open or close it.  That is good news.  We have as much time to witness as God will give to us, but we don’t know how much time that is. Historically in the Bible, the Lord opens and closes doors based on the people’s response to Him.

Today, take a moment and pray for a friend that you can bring to church this Sunday.

Would you invite them to sit with you at church this Sunday?

The door may not be open much longer.

Go through the door with another person while you can.

3 Lessons From George Washington

Recently I have been reading about the life of George Washington.  His incredible story continues to motivate and shape the direction of many people today.  His famous speech delivered to The Continental Congress, once nominated to be the first Commander in Chief, is worth repeating today for its sincerity and humility.

He said in part:  “But, lest some unlucky event should happen, unfavourable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.”

His speech echoes what Paul wrote in Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 

So what does the newly appointed general do as he sets out to create an army and organize a rag-tag group of farmers and family men into an army to fight England?  He does three things from which we can learn from today and apply to our spiritual lives.

  1. He orders new uniforms.  Since the British uniforms are red, he chooses blue for the American “patriots.”   Identifying what side you are on is good for battles and for the spiritual battle we are in as Christians.   What team are you on?  Jesus said in Luke 11:23, He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.  Is it clear to yourself and to those around you that you are a Christian?  I think of being baptized and then being faithful in the life of your church as a sort of uniform that everyone can see.  Have you followed the Lord in believer’s baptism after you received Jesus for salvation?  And is your participation in church life a definite mark that you are on “Team Jesus?”  Do you “gather” with Jesus or scatter?
  2. The second thing Washington does is write up a will.  He ensures that his wife and other relatives know what to do in the event that he does not come back from battle.  Certainly a will is good financial advice for us and we should have wills in place today.  In a more practical way, Washington revealed by planning a will that he was ready to give his life for his country.  Truly, our lives are also on the line because we love Jesus.  in Luke 9:23, Jesus is teaching and says, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.  No matter the cost: job, finances, business, friendships, relationships, fame, athletics, art, etc. We should be willing to lay all that aside for Jesus.  Washington was “All In.”  Are you “All In” in your walk and worship of Jesus?
  3. General Washington also ordered copies of several military books.  Getting a uniform for the troops was not going to be enough to win against the British.  He needed to read about military tactics and disciplines for soldiers, etc.  He studied what he needed to know to be as successful as humanly possible in his undertaking of being the Commander in Chief.  I wonder if you and I read and study as much as we should to be successful in the Christian life?  Paul told Timothy to study the Word.  2 Timothy 2:15 commands, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

There are many good books that are Bible based to help with areas of life in which all of us need help!  Here are several examples to take to heart and consider:

  • Books for relationships; how to be a good friend, what to look for in a potential mate, what does the Bible teach about dating, etc.
  • Books for marriage; communication, commitment, intimacy, and more.
  • Books for parenting; developing your child in adolescence, spiritual formation, parenting with purpose, and gaining the heart of your teenager.
  • Books for teens; there are many good books I recommend you to have you tween and teenagers read as they begin to navigate choices, friendships, and the opposite gender!
  • Books for growth; so many good books have been written on prayer, Bible Study, and how to have  closer walk with the Lord.  Daily devotional books, Christian magazines, and other Christian books should be something that we utilize.
  • Books for finances; most people could have more money and do more good with money if they knew the best ways to manage it.  A person who is not disciplined enough to read a book about fiances is probably not going to be disciplined enough with his money to be considered by God a “good steward.”  Convicting thought.

Some people do not like to read.  Most of us fight the natural response to “study.”  Study is hard work.  Study does require reading.  If Washington took his role so serious that he ordered some books to improve his skills, certainly, we can follow his example to read a few books a year to further develop our Christianity, our home life, and the direction of our life.  After all, when you really think about it – we are in a battle too.  A Spiritual Battle.

Ultimately, the underdog Americans won against the superior forces of England because it was the will of God.  In incredible ways from the timing of travel to the delay of weather, to the involvement of other nations, and even the apathy of some of the British towards the Patriots, the Lord caused a nation to be born.  Many Americans were praying.  The leaders were seeking the Lord.  God did the impossible and He accomplished His will through George Washington and others who were willing to be in the right place at the right time.  God can use humble people.  God will continue use people who are willing to learn, grow, and take serious the Christian life – to perform His will even today.