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    Do You Know Jesus?

    Friday, July 3, 2015, 8:08 AM [General]

    I believe that it would be superfluous for me to discuss more on being judged by the law that you judge by.  But I believe that more understanding on judging can be gleaned by considering the following passages.  Also, considering judging can add to understanding the following passages.

    For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  Matthew 6: 14 (Also refer to Matthew 18: 21- 35: How many times shall I forgive?  Parable of the Unmerciful Debtor.)

    The law on tablets of stone cannot allow salvation for any, because all are guilty.  “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, … “. (Acts 15: 11)  “… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, … “. (Acts 16: 31).  Simple?  Believe what and why?  Saved from what?  There is more to those verses than many modern readers readily see.

    Paul who was a Hebrew scholar originally wrote them in Hebrew or had a secretary who wrote them for him either in Hebrew or Greek.  In his times names were used to convey a valid meaning.  Many people today who may say, “Believe in Tom, Dick, or Harry,” may not associate real meaning to the terms ‘Tom,’ ‘Dick,’ or ‘Harry.’  Just believe in any or all of the people designated by those names.

    Lord is the master.  Jesus means, “Yahweh (or Jehovah, the One True Creator and God) is Salvation.”  Christ means anointed or specially designated (it is from the Greek translation of the Hebrew term transliterated as ‘Messiah.’).  To believe in (or ‘on’) the Lord Jesus Christ from its original perspective is to believe that He is to be the Master of your life and that He is God’s specially designated plan for your Salvation.  Why do we need salvation?  Because not one of us can be saved from the Law on Stone without an escape.  The law’s judgment would mean death for all who are judged by that law.  God sent His Son, Jesus, who did not break the law, and therefore was not subject to die by it.  But He chose death at the hands of our sins, to take our judgment on Himself and offer us the gift of eternal life by God’s gracious mercy.

    That study by ecclesiastical scholars is called soteriology.  Do they use these terms to make it difficult for us who are not scholars?  No, just when translating so many ancient languages as Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, it’s just only natural that they would talk that way amongst themselves and this provides them reference points in understanding one another.  But they really try to understand the ancient intentions in the wording of those languages to try to better explain it to those of us who are not schooled in those languages or customs or cultures of those times.  Their understanding of the customs and cultures helps them to better understand the terms in their languages so more meaning and understanding can be derived.  With so many changes in customs, cultures, and languages, we should all sincerely thank the Lord that there are people who are dedicated to these studies.  We should also pray that the Lord will send more people to explain these things to the world which is in so much need of understanding.

    Many may ask, “Do you know the Lord?”  Many may say, “I know the Lord.”  But do we consider what it means to “know” (K N O W) the Lord.  It could be said that Satan ‘knows’ the Lord.  Satan came before God in Job’s trials and came to Jesus in the wilderness.  The English language has a number of terms related to and meaning similar to know: understand, comprehend, recognize, see (as in, “I see.”), and others you may think of.  So it was in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  This is why sometimes there are issues in sorting out the full meaning.

    In Genesis Moses taught that “Adam ‘knew’ Eve … and she conceived …” (Gen. 4: 1)  The Hebrew (without inflections or accent marks) was ‘yada’.  This can accurately be translated “know,” but one must recognize that this does not mean simply, “have a certain knowledge of.”  It means to know in a full, encompassing sense of the word; to personally have a relational knowledge that can only be gained by having a personal experience or relationship with.

    Jesus said that on the judgment day many will be told to depart from Him because He never ‘knew’ them. (Matthew 7 22)  But could Jesus say that He never knew Satan since encountering him in the wilderness (and not only there)?  So this knowing Jesus is not simply a matter of having knowledge of Him through the Written Word, but is really more of knowing by experiencing a personal relationship with Him.

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    Sin Is Sin

    Thursday, July 2, 2015, 6:36 PM [General]

    Sin is sin, and calling sin, sin, is not judging.  Facts are facts.  But for anyone to try to hold themselves up as being better than someone else, because of that someone’s sin is judging that person to be less valuable than the one holding themselves up.

     

    Perhaps personalizing a bit may clarify some things.  My own righteousness is as filthy rags before the Lord.  So I am a low down, miserable sinner.  I have to bow down to God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness and confess my needs.  If I could not recognize the fact that I was in such need of His Salvation, then why would I ever feel a need to be saved?  So if I meet another person that I recognize to be a sinner and I fail to demonstrate to that person the love, mercy, and forgiveness that God showed me, then I am lacking in the law of LOVE that should be in my heart after discovering God’s love for me.  Having been saved, I still have to admit that I am not yet made perfect.  However, I should at least be able to demonstrate that I am trying to LOVE with God’s LOVE.

     

    People will invariably encounter a multitude of sinners guilty of a multitude of various sins.  How should I handle such encounters?  I could avoid them as being people that I’m just too good to be associated with (that would be the typical, prideful, arrogant, judgmental way).  I could preach at them (that could put on quite a show of my religiosity).  Or I could minister to them and help as best I could to meet their needs without judging them, and showing them LOVE that they may not be accustomed to encountering in this world.

     

    Christian means Christ-like.  Christ came and sinners (including me) spit on Him, beat Him, and nailed Him to a tree, yet He said, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” (Luke 23: 34).  {Now if people call themselves Christian (Christ-like) and they recognize that Christ had such LOVE for them, being the filthy rags as they are (still ‘are’ present tense, because the most righteous of the righteous are still filthy rags compared to God) then how much LOVE should they have for others in this world who are still in their filthy rags?}

     

    Christ loved and died for me, long before I asked for His mercy.  So if I am to be like Him, then shouldn’t I also LOVE those who have not yet asked for mercy?  If we took all the church pew sitters and located them on one side of the railroad track, and all the non-church pew sitters, and placed them on the opposite side of the track, then I believe the Christian ones would be the ones crossing the tracks to LOVE those who still have not come to know Christ’s LOVE.

     

    I remember a pastor (I can’t remember his name and I refuse to name the church or the city) who said that his church quit giving baskets of food to families on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  He explained that the expense became too much of a strain on the church’s budget.  I can understand that you can only do what you can afford to do, but still do what you can.  His further deliberation dumbfounded me.  They took applications for families who expressed a need for assistance and sent deacons and Sunday School teachers to investigate the families’ homes to evaluate the need.  If they saw a beer can, a dirty magazine, or a cigarette butt, then they scratched that family’s name from the list of eligible recipients.  As their investigation progressed, they determined that no one was eligible to receive a Thanksgiving or Christmas basket.  He said their budget improved and the Lord blessed them greatly for their actions.

     

    I could just picture in my mind a dirty, hungry little boy playing barefoot in his yard and a Sunday School teacher coming from his house saying, “I’m sorry little boy, but you won’t get to enjoy any Thanksgiving dinner this year because your father is a sinner.”  Read the first three chapters of Revelation.  Beware!  Let the one who has an ear to hear listen up.  Candles are already being snuffed.  Lamp-stands are already being removed from their places.  The mighty hand of the almighty God is ready to strike with force so-called churches who are swiftly leading astray the ones who would come to Him.

     

    I have been in bars where fights could break out at the drop of a hat.  I have been in churches where rumors, gossip, disputes, and back-biting were common.  I have been in bars where there was brotherly love.  If almost anyone had a need, almost everyone would jump to help.  I have been in churches where there was a great deal of brotherly love.  Some people say that these “love” churches were filled with the Holy Spirit.  I cannot say that any of the people in either church were not saved.  Even saved people may have had major roadblocks in their spiritual maturity.  However, a church that was really vibrant with the power of the Holy Spirit could be seen not just because the church was filled with brotherly love.  The real test is to go outside the church, walk around the church looking into the community.  A church that is filled with God’s LOVE will not be holding that LOVE inside its own congregation.  That LOVE would be spilling out into the community around.  That is the nature of God’s LOVE.  It goes into a world that is not even willing to receive it, that it may find any who will.

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    Law & Mercy

    Wednesday, July 1, 2015, 9:01 AM [General]

    God gave the Law on stone tablets to Moses, who was to give them to the Jewish nation, who in turn was to demonstrate them and share them with mankind.  This part on the stone tablets is referred to as the Ten Commandments.  There was much more given that were recorded in the Torah, known to the Christians as the Pentateuch or first five books of the Bible.  Part of that law was to demonstrate how men were to approach God.  Another part was given as dietary safeguards to protect the health and well-being of those who chose to worship God.  The rest dealt with ways that men were to deal with each other and settle disputes.

    Only God’s Own Son fully lived to the satisfaction of God’s intended will through the given law.  As to the rest of mankind it is said that, “… all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags …” (Isaiah 64: 6)  The most righteous on earth are in need of bowing down to God’s righteousness and seeking his love, mercy, and forgiveness.  This means that no human has any right to boast or hold his head up in pride or arrogance.

    Today we can see a world that has plenty of drunks, prostitutes, drug addicts, and crimes of stealing, wounding, and murder.  I do not believe anyone can demonstrate from Biblical studies that Satan was known for his drunkenness, sexual proclivities, or being strung out on drugs.  Satan’s downfall was that he stood in his own pride and arrogance before his Creator.  I have heard people speak of the Pharisees that they were wrong to carry God’s law to extremes that weren’t expressly written out in the law that God gave.  The sins of the Pharisees were not that they tried to keep more law than what was given.  It’s okay to obey more laws than what’s expected.  Their sins were in the facts that they 1) did not fully and perfectly obey the law they were given; 2) exercised too much pride in their own righteousness, even though that righteousness was woefully lacking; 3) expected others to live to higher standards than they themselves were capable of and unjustly judged others by those standards; and 3) they failed to recognize the signs that were in their Scriptures regarding the Messiah Who was to come and in fact, was already making Himself manifest.

    God knew that man was not going to live up to His standards.  That is why Jesus is spoken of as the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13: 8).  God knew what the world would become from its very foundation; and from that foundation made arrangements for man’s deliverance.  Jesus said that He had not come to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. (Matthew 5: 17).  Paul explained this by pointing out that what the law could not accomplish, was accomplished through Christ’s Passion (His death to offer sacrifice for man’s shortcomings).  God does not delight in death, but because man violated God’s law, and was therefore not eligible for God’s eternal life (the wages of sin is death- Romans 6: 23), God Himself, through His Son, paid the wages of death, so that the gift of eternal life could be offered to those who accepted (Romans 6:23, et. al.).

    Paul expressed that those who knew their Savior were free from the law, but that did not mean that they were lawless.  Those who know their Savior recognize the LOVE that their Savior had for them, and that LOVE is shared with them in their hearts.  This LOVE in their hearts is a new law that has higher standards.  Mankind still falls short of the law, but because of the love, mercy, and forgiveness offered through their Savior, they are expected to strive to live in that LOVE and be patient and forgiving of those who fail in that LOVE, recognizing that they themselves also often fail in that law of LOVE.

    The Pharisees in their pride and arrogance failed to recognize their own need for that love, mercy, and forgiveness.  Then they sought to judge their fellow citizens by the law that they could not perfectly live up to.  When Jesus said that the law one lived by would be the law one would be judged by, He meant that those who judge by the law on the tablets of stone would be judged by that law, and since no one has ever lived up to that law’s standards, no one could survive that law’s judgment.  However, the ones who judged by God’s law of LOVE, mercy, and forgiveness would be shown the LOVE, mercy, and forgiveness in their own judgment.  No one could truly possess the Master’s LOVE, mercy, and forgiveness unless our Creator through His Son’s sacrifice had given them it.

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    Do You Still Have Doubts?

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 9:58 AM [General]

    John 20:29, 31— Jesus saith unto him, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."  ...But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.

    2nd Timothy 1:7, 12— For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  … I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.

    Most of us are familiar with the story of Doubting Thomas.  After Jesus rose from the grave, this disciple was slow to believe until he saw Jesus with his own eyes.  Jesus said that the ones who believed without even having seen Him would be blessed.  This story is recorded near the end of John's gospel and John added that the things he had written were written "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name."  Satan wants us to doubt so that in our doubts our fears are increased and our effectiveness decreased.  Satan knows that as long as Christians go around unsure of their own salvation, then non-Christians will certainly not be inspired to listen to them about seeking the Lord and His salvation for them.  Indeed Christians who are unsure of their own salvation are not so likely to be inspired to speak to non-Christians about the need for salvation.

    Since none of us is really deserving of our salvation, it is easy to think, "Lord, why me?"  Search the Scriptures and see the number of people called by God who made excuses.  To this day people make excuses.  "Lord, my speech is not eloquent."  "Lord, I am a man of unclean lips."  "Lord, I am not good enough."  "Lord, people will laugh at me, take advantage of me, or use me."  "Lord, those people you want me to talk to are a wicked people."

    Many times Christians become troubled about their salvation experience.  It is usually not difficult to distinguish when one is counseling a non-Christian or a Christian.  (I said "usually", but of course this is not always the case.)  Non-Christians do not usually see themselves as sinners in need of salvation.  Those who do see, often do not see God as their Savior.  More often than not, when Christians are counseled because they are troubled about their salvation experience, they do not question God's power, goodness, love, or grace; rather they question themselves alone.  Troubled Christians are seldom doubters of God or Christ, but often are self-doubters.

    This is when it is important to concentrate on the repeated Biblical teaching that God is faithful to His people, even when His people are not faithful to Him.  This does not mean that all people who call themselves God's people really are God's people.  But even those people who know their own short-comings, and believe that God is faithful and willing to forgive are still subject to being extremely troubled by Satan with very serious self-doubts.  "Lord, I know I am not good enough.  I can only thank You that it is not my goodness, but Your grace that saves me."

    Jesus told His disciples in John 14:1-3, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

    Let us remember with Paul that God hath not given us a spirit of fear.  If we experience a spirit of fear, then Satan is fighting us.  If we were children of Satan, then why would he fight against us?  But Satan wishes to attack the children of God with that spirit of fear and self doubts.  But before we take this too lightly, we need to examine ourselves.  Is there something in our lives that is contrary to what God wants?  We may not reach perfection in this fleshly body, but we do need to examine our deeds and motives.  Let us put aside this spirit of fear and say with Paul, "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."

    How wonderful our God, to love me as unlovable as I am, to lift me up as much as I fall, and to prepare a place for me as undeserving as I am.  And since He prepares a place for me, I can know that He will come again and receive me unto Himself.

    Revelation 22:17— And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come."  And let him that heareth say, "Come."  And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.

    I know whom I have believed; and you can too.

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    Doubts?

    Tuesday, June 30, 2015, 9:57 AM [General]

    John 20:29, 31— Jesus saith unto him, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."  ...But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name.

    2nd Timothy 1:7, 12— For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  … I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.

    Most of us are familiar with the story of Doubting Thomas.  After Jesus rose from the grave, this disciple was slow to believe until he saw Jesus with his own eyes.  Jesus said that the ones who believed without even having seen Him would be blessed.  This story is recorded near the end of John's gospel and John added that the things he had written were written "that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name."  Satan wants us to doubt so that in our doubts our fears are increased and our effectiveness decreased.  Satan knows that as long as Christians go around unsure of their own salvation, then non-Christians will certainly not be inspired to listen to them about seeking the Lord and His salvation for them.  Indeed Christians who are unsure of their own salvation are not so likely to be inspired to speak to non-Christians about the need for salvation.

    Since none of us is really deserving of our salvation, it is easy to think, "Lord, why me?"  Search the Scriptures and see the number of people called by God who made excuses.  To this day people make excuses.  "Lord, my speech is not eloquent."  "Lord, I am a man of unclean lips."  "Lord, I am not good enough."  "Lord, people will laugh at me, take advantage of me, or use me."  "Lord, those people you want me to talk to are a wicked people."

    Many times Christians become troubled about their salvation experience.  It is usually not difficult to distinguish when one is counseling a non-Christian or a Christian.  (I said "usually", but of course this is not always the case.)  Non-Christians do not usually see themselves as sinners in need of salvation.  Those who do see, often do not see God as their Savior.  More often than not, when Christians are counseled because they are troubled about their salvation experience, they do not question God's power, goodness, love, or grace; rather they question themselves alone.  Troubled Christians are seldom doubters of God or Christ, but often are self-doubters.

    This is when it is important to concentrate on the repeated Biblical teaching that God is faithful to His people, even when His people are not faithful to Him.  This does not mean that all people who call themselves God's people really are God's people.  But even those people who know their own short-comings, and believe that God is faithful and willing to forgive are still subject to being extremely troubled by Satan with very serious self-doubts.  "Lord, I know I am not good enough.  I can only thank You that it is not my goodness, but Your grace that saves me."

    Jesus told His disciples in John 14:1-3, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."

    Let us remember with Paul that God hath not given us a spirit of fear.  If we experience a spirit of fear, then Satan is fighting us.  If we were children of Satan, then why would he fight against us?  But Satan wishes to attack the children of God with that spirit of fear and self doubts.  But before we take this too lightly, we need to examine ourselves.  Is there something in our lives that is contrary to what God wants?  We may not reach perfection in this fleshly body, but we do need to examine our deeds and motives.  Let us put aside this spirit of fear and say with Paul, "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day."

    How wonderful our God, to love me as unlovable as I am, to lift me up as much as I fall, and to prepare a place for me as undeserving as I am.  And since He prepares a place for me, I can know that He will come again and receive me unto Himself.

    Revelation 22:17— And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come."  And let him that heareth say, "Come."  And let him that is athirst come.  And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.

    I know whom I have believed; and you can too.

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    What Separates Us from God?

    Monday, June 29, 2015, 6:23 PM [General]

    I do not believe that suddenly a ball of atoms erupted into what became the universe.  I do not believe that life sparked and then evolved into what we know today.  God created the universe.  God is LOVE and His law is based on LOVE.  But with all humans (myself included), our love is primarily selfish and greedy.  We all pretty much want what we want.

    God created us to take care of the earth, to LOVE one another, and be His companions.  But to be true companions, we could not be robots.  So He gave us free will to make free choices.  Our choices are primarily selfish.  That is why "man's righteousness is like filthy rags before the Lord."  God LOVE's us in spite of our filthy rags.  That is why He sent His Son, Who is His Word, Who is God, to redeem us.

    There is man's love in companionship.  What is the motivation?  If I'm lonely, I need a companion; so that love is selfish.  Practically everything human can be traced to selfishness.  God wants us to be selfless with the faith and confidence that He will provide (even if not in this life, the next is the one that lasts for eternity).  He provides in this life in that this earth He provided for us.  It is we ourselves that have ruined this world that God provided and we have turned it over to Satan, "the Prince of the power of the air and ruler of this world."

    Even the most righteous of people are still as filthy rags when measured against God's.  That is why, when we recognize our own shortcomings, we should be more understanding and forgiving of other's shortcomings.  But since many people do not accept God's mercy, then the best those who know Him can do, is to continue to strive to live in the selfless LOVE that He offers, as opposed to the selfish love that man continues with.  But even with that recognition of His selfless LOVE, man still contends with his own selfishness, the motivations that normally drives his love, and must continually hold to the faith in God's mercy and forgiveness.

    So in the end, the people of this world, those who have not recognized and accepted God's love, do not understand those who strive to follow God's law of LOVE and they are generally thought of as gullible saps.  Jesus said that if the world had loved Him, they would have loved His followers, but we see how the world treated Jesus, so we certainly couldn't expect much better in this world.  That is why those who love this world (not the people, but the world system) are in jeopardy of losing the eternal joy that God offers; and those who hate this world (system) may experience that eternal joy.  But we must remember our own unworthiness, so that we could never hold our heads up in pride before those who have not accepted the redemption so freely and selflessly offered.

    Remember this, those who are not saved are not too likely to worry about their salvation, because they do not believe.  If we worry about our salvation, then likely as not, it is Satan attempting to destroy our peace and effectiveness.  After the Jews, God's people, fell, first to the Assyrians, then to the Babylonians, one of the most (if not the most) mournful dirges of literature ever was recorded in Lamentations.  Yet in this there is also hope (with expectation).

    Lamentations 3:19-26-- Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall, my soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.  This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him.  The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.

    Even though the faith of God's people may grow weak, and His people fall into sin, His wrath is designed to turn them from their sin.  When we are not faithful, still He remains faithful.  Even when the suffering of His wrath abound in this life, we can still wait with expectation for the salvation of the Lord.

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    A Little from Deuteronomy

    Monday, June 29, 2015, 1:03 PM [General]

    There is much to learn from the Old Testament.  Much of what applies to the Jewish nation does not necessarily apply to Christians, which is part of the New Testament teaching that the Gentiles are not held to the same regulations as the nation of Israel when they come to salvation through Jesus Christ.  Even so, very much of it does, and even when it does not directly apply, there is still much to be learned from it.

    Deuteronomy 9:26 And I prayed to the LORD, 'O Lord GOD, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  27 Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness or their sin, 28 lest the land from which you brought us say, "Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to put them to death in the wilderness."  29 For they are your people and your heritage, whom you brought out by your great power and by your outstretched arm.'

    Now there are rewards (good for good and bad for bad) that may be applied in this earthly life, and those that may be applied to our eternal existence, whether that be life in Heaven or eternal existence in torments away from the Lord.  The generation in the wilderness did not make it to the ‘promised land’ of Canaan, but the next generation did.  This did not mean that none of the generation that did not make it to the ‘promised land’ of Canaan did not make it to the ‘Promised Land’ of Heaven.  I will not presume to say who did and who did not, but Moses, Aaron, and Miriam did not make it to the ‘promised land’ of Canaan, but I’m reasonably certain they made it to the ‘Promised Land’ of Heaven.  Of the rest, I cannot begin to guess who may have made it to Heaven or not, only that the fact that they did not make it to Canaan does not necessarily mean they did not make it to Heaven.

    Now, the next, and my main thought in beginning this post, is the concept that we do not make it to Heaven because of our goodness, but because He promised that those who came to Him would not be turned away.  Following this is the statement made by Moses that God would act on the basis that ‘the nations would say that the Lord had carried the children of Israel that far, but then the Lord was not able to take them the rest of the way into that ‘promised land’ of Canaan.’  Jesus said that He went to prepare a place for us (those who came to Him by faith).  Now, God would not allow Satan to say that God had ‘saved these people, then promised them a place, but He (God/Yahweh) was not able to carry them home.’  This is what would happen for many who believe that salvation could be lost.  If a person lost his salvation, then Satan would say, “Why did You save them and You weren’t able to take them Home to that Promised Land?”  The Lord acts to reveal His Own power and glory and to demonstrate His faithfulness, even knowing that we are an unfaithful people.

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    Pray & Judge Not

    Sunday, June 28, 2015, 8:52 AM [General]

    2nd Chronicles 7:14— “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."  This notes that even though they were in sin, they were still “My people,” and that they were under a divine wrath, and their land was in need of being healed.  This in no way refers to their having lost their eternal position as God's children, but to a wrath on their earthly condition that God's children are under because of their sin.  Note how this compares with the 3rd Chapter of Genesis where God, having uncovered Adam and Eve’s wickedness said, “Cursed be the ground for your sake.”  Rather than saying Adam and Eve were cursed, He cursed the ground ‘for their sake’.  Ever since, mankind has been under a curse, but being ‘under’ a curse does not mean they themselves are cursed.

    The unsaved, unless they find salvation, are eternally damned no matter how much they sin or how much good they strive to do.  The saved are God's children ("My people") whether they continually do good, or even if they fall into sin.  If "My people" should fall into sin, then they could certainly incur a divine wrath for which they need the divine prescription above for healing.

    Matthew 7: 1- 3; Romans 2: 1- 3: (King James Version)— Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Therefore thou art inexcuseable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.  But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.  And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

    Matthew 7: 1- 3; Romans 2: 1- 3: (New International Version)— Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge other’s, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

    We all make judgments even if unconsciously.  At stores making quality evaluations against cost effectiveness is a value judgment.  Considering which directions to go, which routes to take whether on the road or in business plans is judging.  Whether in football or cutting timber, judgments are made in regards to yardage, direction, and plans of action.  Any reasonable person can “judge” that the foregoing verses are not referencing these matters.  So why did I mention them?  Because reasonable people also realize that there are many who are not so reasonable and might raise technical issues about judging.  So let’s lay this issue aside.

    The Bible teaches that the most righteous person on earth, his righteousness is like filthy rags before the Lord.  Now if the most righteous person on earth doesn’t see his own filthiness, then why would he see a need to fall on his knees and beg God for forgiveness?

    But if that righteous person sees his own filth, falls on his knees and begs God’s forgiveness, then he is open to experience God’s LOVE wrapping him up as in a security blanket.  From then on, that person would realize that if God could love him as filthy as he is, then he would be a lot less likely to go around pointing an accusing finger at the unrighteousness of others.  Instead, he would be more inclined to feel their pain, and want to share with them the LOVE that God gave him.  Then he is on his way to loving people with God’s LOVE.

    However, that does not mean he suddenly becomes perfect.  He would still be growing and learning.  But he would learn that it is the fact that he has not become perfect is the reason he must continually be humbled before the Lord and be very circumspect in his judging of others, not quick to accuse, but quick to love and forgive.  Wrong is always wrong, and calling wrong “wrong” is proper.  (Or, Scripturally speaking, sin is always sin, and calling sin “sin” is proper.)  But being honest, and calling what something is what it is, is not the same thing as judging.

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    Sexuality- Hetero-/Homo-?

    Saturday, June 27, 2015, 2:39 PM [General]

    The subject of homosexuality has preoccupied many conversations and the thoughts of many minds.  In view of this, I felt it necessary to make my position clear on this matter.  I had to give much thought to this post and it would either be two, fairly long posts or one very long post.  I decided that for the sake of continuity it would need to be one very long post.  No matter the length, any who read my posts will only read to the extent they have an interest, so I know that many will not, but that is their decision.

    From the beginning I never try to say that I am perfect or without sin.  I believe that none of us have reached perfection in this earthly life, and I admit that I am a sinner in need of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.  I have no standing to condemn anyone else as a sinner, because it is not my place to condemn, but even so, sin is sin and must be called by what it is.  Because someone sins differently from me, there is no reason for me to judge that person by my actions or by my attitude towards him/her.  I do not practice homosexuality, however I have friends that I love very dearly who do.  I do not wish to offend them, but to say that homosexuality is a sin, I must never forget that I myself sin.

    First, we need to define sin.  Many words may be synonyms, but some words may sound more serious than others may.  Often this has to do with the impact that the sin has on self or others.  Even so, sin is sin, and it only takes one (what we may call a small sin) to eternally separate a person from God (Yahweh, our Creator) who is so entirely perfect in all His ways, thoughts, and actions.  Sin is anything that is contrary from the nature that God intended in His creation.

    Sexuality is a normal development in the human make-up.  In considering homosexuality, we need to consider first what God intended from the development of sexuality in creating man and woman.  Before we get into that we need to make clear that I do not understand the psychological or biological (such as different people’s xy chromosome structure) regarding why some people seem to have this attraction for another of their own sex.  (I have often said that I could understand why girls would like girls, because I love girls, but for the life of me, I could never understand why any guy would love another guy.)

    Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  28 And God blessed them.  And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it …

    Genesis 2:23 Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."  24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

    God created man and woman and told them to multiply.  Then a man should hold fast to his wife and become one flesh.  It is fairly obvious that heterosexuality can lead to multiplication, but homosexuality will not, so then the hetero- would certainly be more in line with God’s intention, and the homo- in no way works towards God’s intention.  Now when we get to the Scriptural references that specifically address this issue, I know that there are those who say they have studied Hebrew and Greek and say the Bible does not teach against homosexuality.  Well, if one wants to see what the Old Testament teaches about the subject, then one should consider the interpretation given by those who are expert in Hebrew.  That would not be those who have ‘studied’ Hebrew as a second language, but those who naturally speak it, and the Old Testament can be studied by those who not only grew up speaking Hebrew, but also grew up interpreting the Tanach (the Jewish version of what Christians call the Old Testament).  Also, there are translations from those who study the New Testament, but they used the earliest Hebrew manuscripts (there are early Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament, apart from the Greek) of the New Testament to translate into English.  It would seem natural that the New Testament is not available from the Jewish Publication Society, as the New Testament is not part of the Jewish Tanach.

    There are groups of people, and I have heard this argument from more than one source, that say that the word ‘homosexual’ was not invented in the days that the Bible was written.  Well, it should seem obvious that these people have no business studying language translation, because none of the words in the English language were invented in the days the Bible was originally written.  There are words that have been ‘invented’ for English that mean the same as the early Bible words meant.

    Leviticus 18:22 You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Complete Jewish Bible- CJB)

    Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind; it is abomination. (Jewish Publication Society- JPS)

    Leviticus 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Word of Yahweh- WoY)

    Leviticus 20:13 If a man goes to bed with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they must be put to death; their blood is on them. (CJB)

    Leviticus 20:13 And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (JPS)

    Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (WoY)

    Romans 1:26 This is why God has given them up to degrading passions; so that their women exchange natural sexual relations for unnatural; 27 and likewise the men, giving up natural relations with the opposite sex, burn with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in their own persons the penalty appropriate to their perversion. (CJBRomans 1:26 For this cause Elohim gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was fit. (WoY)

    1st Timothy 1:10 For whoremongers, for homosexuals, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; (WoY)

    Many people will try to make the Bible say what they want it to say, or to make it appear that it does not say what they do not want it to say.

    2nd Peter 3:3 knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.

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    Good Works

    Saturday, June 27, 2015, 10:37 AM [General]

    James 2:17 & 20 teaches that faith without works is dead.  This does not say that works will in any way lead to faith.  However, when one has faith, this faith will motivate the person to works which the Lord has clearly prepared for that person (Ephesians 2:10).  Jesus, as noted earlier, described "believing" as a "work".  Here may be a good point to reconsider translation, definition, and grammatical construction.

    There are a number of Hebrew words and Greek words translated work.  This should not be too difficult to understand when we observe that even in English a number of words may be substituted for work: deed, performance, craftsmanship, toil, and labor.  "Works" as used in the Bible, as also in English, could equally apply to mental labors (i.e. thinking a problem through described as "working it out") as to physical labors.  Aside from the performance of some good deed, it could also be considered a good work to resist some strong measure of temptation.  For instance, is it very difficult to envision someone on a diet having faced a thick slice of chocolate fudge cake say, "Boy!  It took some work to avoid accepting that."?

    The Bible teaches that God puts a believer's faith to the test.  God knows the end from the beginning, so He always knows how you will fare in the test.  "So," you may ask, "If God already knows the grade, then why the test?"  There are several reasons.

    If you fail a test, you have the opportunity to learn two things: (1) an area where you need improvement; and (2) a deeper understanding of the depths of God's love when you realize His love has not diminished because of your failure.  But also do not forget that because God loves you, He will work towards correcting you.  His method of correction and how gentle or harsh that correction may be depends on how often or how seriously you fail.  But do not forget, this is also a sign of His love for you.  So even if it seems particularly severe, we must patiently wait for our deliverance.

    When we pass our tests, we see where our strengths are.  Careful!  One test that always follows our strengths is the temptation to pride.  We must always remember our own frailty and the Source of our strengths.  Other results of passing are the demonstration to others of God's faithfulness.

    So for a Christian the first "work" is believing.  Subsequent to that are the works of the tests that lie before us.  Then, as God is LOVE and Christians are to be known by their love, there are the works of love.  Because of love there is a natural desire to serve others.  Though faith without works is dead, there is only the one work of believing which leads to the gift of faith which leads to the works which arise from that faith.  There are works Christians are naturally led to "which God hath before ordained," but these works do not result in our salvation but from our salvation.

    This does not mean that Christians are to get up every morning and live every minute searching for what work is to be done next.  Some cults "work" their members to exhaustion saying that these "works" prove their faith.  In reality, they are often too tired to think clearly and thus easily deceived by the cult's false doctrines.  Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  People who work themselves to exhaustion are often chasing after their own concepts of God's works and not necessarily finding the natural good works "God hath before ordained".

    1st Corinthians 3 discusses more about the Christian's works.  Note that verses 13- 15 indicate that a Christian's works will be tested.  A Christian's good works will be a reward to him.  But even Christians are not perfect, and a Christian's bad works will be destroyed.  Even if the only works done by a Christian should all prove bad, all his works will be destroyed, but he will still be saved.  Go next to 1st Corinthians 5:1- 5.  Here a particularly wicked "professed" Christian was to be turned over to Satan to destroy his flesh (which was producing wicked works) so that his soul may be saved.  But this turning fleshly bodies over to Satan would only be rare and in the most extreme instances because God is merciful, patient, and longsuffering.  God knows man's sufferings, heartaches, and Satan's arrows piercing man's earthly bodies with temptations and confusion.  "We do not have a High Priest who is not touched with our conditions, because He shared our condition by taking on a fleshly body for Himself."

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