Tempted? Ah, This Isn’t Anything Bad….

“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” James 1:13 NASB

Sin. What is it, anyway? I’m good. I haven’t done anything horrible. It’s just a white lie. Everybody else is going…. doing it. It’s not so bad. It’s nothing compared to so-and-so.

We are so good at justifying our thoughts and behaviors and actions! Mention sin and see how people around you respond. It doesn’t exist. That’s an old fashioned idea; an antiquated thought. Nobody believes in sin anymore. Just be a good person and you’ll be okay. I’m okay, you’re okay, we’re all okay!

Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.” Deuteronomy 11:16 NASB

Oh people, we have allowed ourselves to be fooled by the enemy. There’s an alphabet soup of aberrant behavior that is not just tolerated, but condoned and celebrated. Whether it is murdering unborn babies, or accepting pedophilia as ‘normal’ behavior; selling your body, living together outside of marriage…. these should be easy for Christians to identify as sin. But what about these? Overeating and gluttony? Abusing the prescription your doctor gave you by not following the instructions? Watching and listening to things that exploit the bodies of young men and/or women; of children. Discrimination, both covert and overt.

Well! I’m certainly not guilty of any of those things!

Oh, but you are. I am. We all are.

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” Proverbs 28:13 NASB

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8‭-‬9 NASB

Thank God for the gift of the LORD Jesus Christ!

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long.” Psalms 32:1‭-‬3 NASB

“I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.” Psalms 32:5 NASB

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” John 5:24 NASB

“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, JESUS the SON OF GOD, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the Throne of Grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:13‭-‬16 NASB

Friends, draw near to the Throne of Grace! We, the children of the Most High GOD need to be on our knees, praying for our country, our leaders, our communities. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or a Democrat or an Independent; man, woman, or child; Baptist, Catholic, Church of whatever. As Christians we are called to prayer. It’s the only way to save our home here.

The LORD said this to Solomon. I believe it is relevant to us, today, too.

“…… and [if] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

LOVE IS / IS NOT:

1 Corinthians 13: What is Love?

Love is not jealousy; a burning desire to have what someone else has, or resentment. Those things are an absence of love. When I have to win, and the other person has to lose, is jealousy. Resentment shows in how we respond to other’s success, just as much as how we handle our own.

Love is not bragging, boasting, or publicizing our own success/accomplishments. When we are full of arrogance and puffed up with self importance, we aren’t able to love others because all of our focus is on ourselves. Have you ever known someone who is truly humble? When someone is humble, you cannot humiliate them.

Love is not acting unbecomingly, it is not rude, or discourteous. It is kind and considerate, it is polite. Love is tactful, saying Please, thank you, excuse me. Do the little things.

Love is not self-seeking; it is not selfish. It is self sacrificing. The root of all problems is selfishness, so love is to be empty of ourselves and to look out for others over ourselves. When we allow ourselves to be provoked (i.e. irritable, sharp, prickly, touchy, grumpy, and quick to take offense), these show our failure to love. They are triggers to anger and a temperamental “blast off”, as opposed to a righteous anger or irritability (remember Jesus running the money changers and those turning His Father’s House into a place of business out of the Temple?) We must be at peace with God to prevent this.

Love does not take into account a wrong suffered. Don’t keep track of grudges and resentments! Love lets the past die, it absorbs the wrong. Good friends are good forgivers. Let it go. Choose to forgive. “I distinctly remember forgetting it.” – Sarah Barton, founder of the American Red Cross Ultimate forgiveness is shown by Jesus and His sacrifice. Knowing we were yet sinners, He left Heaven to die on the cross for our sins. For your sins. For my sins!

Love is not happy with sins or lies. It doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness. Love has boundaries. It is based in God’s Truth. Love doesn’t rejoice in it’s own sins. What of our entertainment choices? Our relationship choices? Are we leading other people into sin through those choices? Love supports the truth, and the TRUTH doesn’t change. It is the same today as it was yesterday or 2000 years ago, and it will be the same tomorrow, and it will still be the same in 20,000 years.

“When love is present, nothing else is needed.” Love is essential to anything I do. Without love, I’m just making noise. Remember this truth – No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. There is no real sacrifice without real love, true love, which is Agape love. This Love is produced ONLY by the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ, Who the church is based on. LOVE personified, the Cornerstone of the church.

Love rejoices with the truth; Love bears/carries, protects, supports, covers or shelters all. Love is everything both for us AND for others. In Genesis 9, when Noah’s sons realized their father was naked and they covered his nakedness without looking at him, that is Love. Real Love offers shelter and protection for our shortcomings and our faults without focusing on them.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NASB

Love believes – not in a gullible way, and not overly suspicious or cynical. Love is encouraging. It takes the best view of people and holds on to it, for as long as it is possible. Love believes in second chances. Love remembers that God isn’t finished with us yet!

Love hopes and doesn’t give up. It has desire with expectancy and it is realistic, but in the dark days it holds hands with Hope. When you get discouraged because life is overwhelming and everything seems to be falling apart, read the end of the Book. I love reading Revelations, because we win!

Love endures and will hold on until there is absolutely no hope left. It is patient and persevering in all circumstances. Love perseveres, it holds on, it endures.

Paul is saying to the Corinthians: “What LOVE is, you are not.” Will we be like the Corinthians, without Love, or will we search Scriptures and study to be more Christ-like and loving outside of ourselves and our own selfishness?

LORD, be with us, Your people during this unprecedented time. Help us all to not just hold on to Your promises, but give us the courage to live your Love and the Truth. Amen.

References: 1 Corinthians 1:26, 29; 4:7, 4:18-19, 8:1; Philippians 2:3, 5-8; Acts 17:16; Romans 4:8; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Hebrew 10:17; Matthew 18; Romans 5:8; 1 John 5:9; Proverbs 10:12; James 5:20; 1 Peter 7; 1 Peter 2:24; Romans 15:13; John 13:1

The New Earth

“But the Day of the LORD will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the Day of GOD, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3:10‭-‬13 NASB

What an intense passage! This is the only passage where the end of the world is described. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief: after the Tribulation and the 1000 year reign, the earth and heavens will be remade. Read chapters 21-22 of Revelations. This will not be an “edit” of the earth, but a total re-make. In the above passage Peter says “the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat.” Literally, the atoms, the building blocks of the Universe, will become a cosmic conflagration, causing complete destruction of the earth and the heavens. God made it, He will destroy it, and He will re-make it all perfectly.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” Revelation 20:11 NASB

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.” Revelation 21:1 NASB

The earth will be new in quality and nature. What a thought! (Read all of chapter 21.)

The Day : it’s on God’s calendar; it will happen. In history, “the day of the Lord” refers to when an entire military campaign took place in one day, so any time God intervenes directly and decisively is a day of the LORD. The day referred to here by Peter is THE Day, like D-Day, only amplified at least a million times! In 1 Thessalonians 5, we are told that the Day of the LORD will come like a thief in the night, and in Matthew 24 “…..even so, the Son of Man is coming like a thief in the night…..” This means any day, any moment. No one knows or can predict the exact time.

So what should we be doing while waiting? I like the way our pastor says it: Clean up, Look up, Speak up. Living holiness and godliness in plural, living them over and over. When you fail, and we all will fail, because we are sinful humans, confess it and move on. MARANATHA; “our LORD comes. We can speed up the coming of the day of the LORD by speaking up through preaching, teaching, evangelism, mission, prayer, and godly living. Live for the Eternal. When Jesus returns, let us be found doing our job; our duty.

“I have not written to you because you do not know the Truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the Truth. Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is Righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.” 1 John 2:21‭, ‬28‭-‬29 NASB AMEN.

Every Good Thing; It’s Simple

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from Above, coming down from the Father of Lights, with Whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27‭-‬30 NASB

“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:7‭, ‬9‭-‬10 ESV

“But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “Do not say in your heart , ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), or ‘Who will descend into the abyss ?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” But what does it say? “The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart ” – that is, the Word of Faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as LORD, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same LORD is LORD of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “Whoever will call on the Name of the LORD will be saved.” So Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Romans 10:6‭-‬13‭, ‬17 NASB

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NASB

Is there a simpler, more easily understood way to say it?

Good Friday

“When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.” They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?” “It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Mark 14:17‭-‬26 NIV

I grew up celebrating communion, or as we called it, the Lord’s Supper, and it was a solemn occasion. Not sad or upsetting, but serious. We always ended with a prayer and my Dad (the pastor) telling us all to go in peace and without speaking, but as we would leave we sang (a capella) Blest Be the Tie That Binds.

  1. Blest be the tie that binds
    Our hearts in Christian love;
    The fellowship of kindred minds
    Is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne,
    We pour our ardent prayers;
    Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
    Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. We share our mutual woes,
    Our mutual burdens bear;
    And often for each other flows
    The sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part,
    It gives us inward pain;
    But we shall still be joined in heart,
    And hope to meet again.

Today, as we prepare for Easter Sunday and the joyous day that it is/should be, is a great day for families to gather and participate in the Lord’s Supper, just as Jesus did with His friends. I lift my cup and my bread to Him, and thank Him that I have the freedom to do so. I miss my family and friends during this period of social distancing, but I thank God for “the Tie that binds”!

Courageous

I wrote this on March 26, 2014, and it popped up in my ‘memories’ on Facebook, and it is completely appropriate for the crisis we are facing today!

From Billy Graham:

Courage to Stand

“A great problem in America is that we have an anemic and watered-down Christianity that has produced an anemic, watered-down, and spineless Christian who is not willing to stand up and be counted on every issue. We must have a virile, dynamic, aggressive Christian who lives Christ seven days a week, who is ready to die, if necessary, for his faith. We need Christians who are ethical, honest, gracious, bold, strong, and devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I realize how spineless and pampered my Christian walk is. Give me Your courage, Lord Jesus, to follow You more devotedly.”

“But suppose you suffer for being a Christian. Then don’t be ashamed. Instead, PRAISE GOD because you are known by that name!” 1 Peter 4:16

Quarantines and Social Distancing

“When the supreme being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. For as God, when he created matter, and endued it with a principle of mobility, established certain rules for the perpetual direction of that motion; so, when he created man, and endued him with free will to conduct himself in all parts of life, he laid down certain immutable laws of human nature, whereby that free will is in some degree regulated and restrained, and gave him also the faculty of reason to discover the purport of those laws.” – William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England

In his letter to the Roman church, Paul said “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” Romans 13:1‭-‬2 NASB

Honestly, I struggle with this. As a young adult, two of my favorite quotes were “Resist Authority!” and “Why Be Normal?” My “normal” is still very different from people’s around me, and that’s okay with me. I confess that I still struggle with the whole authority situation, too. How many people do you know who can claim that they were introduced to the Commander of a military base that was involved with nuclear weapons, while wearing a shirt proclaiming “You Can’t Hug A Child With NUCLEAR ARMS” …..? (Yes, that actually happened, and I think I made an impression on him.)

While I think that this situation with the current health issue has gone to an extreme, I don’t wholly disagree with the amount of care being taken. Of course I don’t want people sick. For the already sick, and for those most susceptible to a virus, by all means they should be protecting themselves. I wouldn’t want my 93 year old Mom out in public right now, simply because her immune system probably wouldn’t be (isn’t) very efficient at fighting off infections. I don’t want my brand new baby great niece around people for the same reasons. I agree that taking precautions is a good thing for all of us. I mean, who hasn’t had a cold or other virus at some time?

We have to be watchful with the chaos around us of people who are fearful and apparently think the Zombie Apocalypse is on us. Hoarding supplies, fighting over toilet paper, afraid to touch anyone or anything; I believe these are from the enemy.

The saddest part of all this? The healthy among us, and those of us who are cautious and have already been diligent about hand washing and cleanliness, are caught in the same restrictions as the susceptible. I’m an introvert, so “having” to stay home isn’t a real imposition…… as long as it’s my choice. My rebellious self says “How dare you tell me I can’t go out and eat or shop or meet up with friends?” My Christian self says to listen to the LORD, and He says to do what is right and proper, and to obey the authorities. I don’t have to like it, I just have to do it. (However, know this: if the authorities overstep their own boundaries as laid out in the Constitution of the United States, I will not sit by and passively allow it. Just sayin’.)

And the LORD said to Joshua “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NASB

The Bible is….

The Bible is not fiction or fantasy or fairytales. The Bible is “…… men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (verse 21b)

“For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 NIV
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” 2 Peter 1:19-21 NASB [compare ESV v21]

We know Scripture has Authority (19a), and Peter writes about the Transfiguration to bolster what the Old Testament prophesies say. There are over 300 prophecies about Jesus Christ – He would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, of the tribe of Judah, He would enter Jerusalem as a King, riding on the back of a donkey colt, soldiers would cast lots for His clothing, and He would be crucified. Just to start: Micah 5:2; Zechariah 9:9, 13:6, 11:13; Isaiah 53:7.

Peter W. Stoner wrote a fascinating book titled Science Speaks. To read it, especially chapter 3, The Christ of Prophesy, go to http://sciencespeaks.dstoner.net

Because the world is dark and dingy, and JESUS is the Light (19b); it is through His illumination that we can see.

“And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” John 9:39 NASB

We think we are autonomous, but this is the truth: We are bound to society’s boundaries through our minds, because our minds are fallen and dark; our hearts, because our emotions, our feelings, are deceptive; and because of our traditions that bind us into place. We are only Protestants because of the people who broke away from tradition. All of these traits must be subordinate to the teachings and authority of the Bible. The Holy Spirit, the Triune God gives Scripture its Authority (20-21). God inspired Scripture; He did not force the writers to write the words by moving their hands across the paper.

Obedience to God’s Word is comparable to parents telling toddlers to do or not doing a thing. We resist God in the same ways as they resist doing what they are told. Since we know God’s wisdom far exceeds that of a parent compared to a 3 year old, why do we resist Him? Because we know that it will cost us to live His way, just as it is often painful for a toddler to live the way their parents tell them to. Our heart compares to sealing wax and the seal… without FIRE to soften the wax/heart, it will only be scratched or crushed. When the wax is softened from the flame, and indelible impression can be made. Even Jesus, Son of GOD and part of the Triune God, submitted to the Father.

Remember – Be reminded of God’s inspired, authoritative teachings through the study and reading of His Word. He created it to be our guidebook, our instruction manual, our map, and our inspiration.

“Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder….” 2 Peter 1:12‭-‬13 NASB

Is It Time?

“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.” John 12:25‭-‬26 NIV

There’s a lot of selfish love today. Selfies dominate photos being taken. Our culture promotes an attitude of entitlement. Keeping up with the “popular” people. Being accepted by everyone. It’s exhausting. When we stand for Jesus and what is right, we won’t make the “Best Loved” list. We’ll probably make the “Most Hated” list!

I don’t particularly care about what the world thinks about me. Politically, I’m very conservative. I say what I think, and I’m not always very tactful when I say it. Socially, I mix with a wide range of socioeconomic, political, and diverse group. Personally, I pray that people see a tiny bit of Jesus in me, and if someone doesn’t like me or what I say…… that’s their problem. Jesus said “Whoever serves Me must follow Me….”

I’m trying, LORD. Thank You for loving me just the way I am!