Fear, or Freedom

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.
Matthew 10:26 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/mat.10.26.NASB1995

In a 1956 sermon on Matthew 10:34, Martin Luther King Jr. explained, “Peace is not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.”

Though the wicked is shown favor, He does not learn righteousness; He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, And does not perceive the majesty of the LORD.”
Isaiah 26:10 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/isa.26.10.NASB1995

Pray, people. Pray for each other. Pray for people you don’t like. Pray for that person who is determined to be a thorn in your side. Pray for our nation, and pray for the world. That’s it. Just pray.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”Proverbs 15:1

There’s a whole lot of bitterness and anger, sarcasm, and spiteful speaking in the world today. Mask or don’t mask. Vax or don’t vax. Guns or no guns. Illegal aliens or migrants. Woke or not woke. Two sexes or multiple sexes. One God, or no god. Stand for the flag or kneel. Freedom or submission.

I don’t mask. I’m not anti-vaccine in general, but I choose not to get the covid vax. I believe strongly in the First and Second Amendments, and I think that every American should be trained in handling firearms. I am not Woke. Life begins at conception, and abortion is murder. If someone wants to come to the United States, they should come through legal channels – otherwise, they should be sent back. I believe that God created man and woman. Period. I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus died for me. I proudly stand for the flag, and in the (famous) words of my ancestor, “Give me Liberty or give me death.”

I try really hard to be respectful of other people. It can be difficult, especially when they are disrespectful of the things, and the people, I hold dear to my heart. It’s really hard when they disrespect my Saviour. The following is from my devotional today, and it struck me right where it needed to: in my heart.

Words can be used in many ways. They can be meaningful and healing, offer optimism and encouragement to someone in despair, and resolve disputes. A kind, compassionate, thoughtful, or caring word can calm troubled waters, give hope to the hopeless, heal a broken heart, and be a light to those around us. However, hateful, cruel, harsh, or careless words can be used to wound, discourage, or create disagreements by being a disgusting odor that echoes what is in our minds while stirring up strife. When someone provokes anger, their words feel like a sharp knife that leads to pain, and even in some cases, revenge. When you provoke someone to anger with words or actions, at that moment, you are unconcerned with their well-being, the condition of your soul, or the glory of the Kingdom of God. If you love God, why would you want to provoke anger in someone who is also made in His image? Those who love God are careful of their words, so their tongue does not lead to sin by provoking others to anger (Psalm 39:1). 

“Let Love Turn Us Away from Our Wicked Ways” 
By: Dante Bowe & Andrea Fisher

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
Ephesians 4:31‭-‬32 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/eph.4.31-32.NASB1995

LORD, help me today, tomorrow, and each subsequent day to put all the bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander in this world away from me, along with all malice. Help me, LORD, to be kind to others, tender-hearted and forgiving, especially to those who try to get under my skin and trigger me, just as You have forgiven me. Amen.

Peace On Earth

I read this statement this morning: “The New Testament does not say that the angels prophesied peace: they proclaimed peace—peace to men of goodwill toward God.” (Emphasis mine) It’s funny how you can know a thing, and yet read it again and suddenly it hits you. The angels weren’t saying that peace would come to the world, but that peace would be among those with whom He is well pleased. Compare these two versions of Luke 2:14.

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, good will toward men.

“Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;”
Ephesians 5:15‭-‬20 NASB1995

“From the least to the greatest, their lives are ruled by greed. From prophets to priests, they are all frauds. They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace. Are they ashamed of their disgusting actions? Not at all—they don’t even know how to blush! Therefore, they will lie among the slaughtered. They will be brought down when I punish them,” says the Lord. Jeremiah 6:13‭-‬15 NLT

I want to be among those people with whom He is pleased, careful of how I walk, filled with the Spirit, and always giving thanks for all things in the name of the LORD. I don’t like being ruled by greed, and it’s easy to fall into it with the materialism of the world so loud and pushy around us. I see so much of it around me, and the longing of wanting what I perceive as my right…. but is it, really? If I should receive what I truly deserve – if anyone got what they truly deserve, I don’t think we would like it very much!

Give thanks for all things. That’s the ticket to a true and happy, full, and rewarding life.

Are You A Murderer?

The sixth Commandment of the Ten says “No MURDER“, or “No MURDERING“. It was inaccurately translated in early translations from the Greek to say “no killing“. For centuries, there have been people who have used that to mean that any taking of a human life is wrong, but God was very clear on this if you study Scriptures.

There are things that the the sixth Commandment does not prohibit or forbid. One thing that is not prohibited is the killing of animals, because God gave them to use. In Genesis, God provides all animals for us to use, and in Leviticus, cruelty to animals is prohibited.

The LORD GOD made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.
Genesis 3:21 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/gen.3.21.NASB1995

GOD blessed Noah and his sons: He said, “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill the Earth! Every living creature—birds, animals, fish—will fall under your spell and be afraid of you. You’re responsible for them. All living creatures are yours for food; just as I gave you the plants, now I give you everything else. Except for meat with its lifeblood still in it—don’t eat that.”
Genesis 9:1‭-‬4 MSG

https://bible.com/bible/97/gen.9.1-4.MSG

A just war is not prohibited, nor is defending our faith and families, self defense, or administering justice – such as in capital punishment. Remember, our God is a Warrior GOD. Individual vengeance is not allowed, but a legitimate government. In Romans 13, Jesus tells us to be subject to our government. We are to respect and love the lives of others; to seek out and cherish the “neighbors” in our lives, because they are the image of GOD.

The sixth Commandment prohibits killing an innocent person, i.e. homicide. All HUMAN life is sacred, but animal lives are not sacred. There are marred and mangled people who do abhorrent, ugly things, but they are still in God’s image. The first murder is documented in Genesis, when Cain became angry at his brother Abel, and killed him. (Read Genesis 4) Negligent homicide is included in this, such as an accident caused by drunk driving, or an avoidable situation where someone is fatally injured. You can imagine other instances as well. By this Commandment, suicide and abortion are prohibited. Life has been cheapened in our society. Suicide doesn’t “end it” for family or for the person whose life is ended. There is a judgment for every person, no matter how they die. However, it is important to note that suicide is not a mortal sin. It is a sin but it is not unforgivable.

If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
Romans 8:10 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.8.10.NASB1995

EVERY life is precious to God. I suggest reading Psalm 139:13-17. Also, follow the science. Life begins at conception; it has been established that a human being is in the process of being formed at that point. Genetics are established at fertilization; it is a human life. Beethoven’s mother had TB, and his father had syphilis. Of his four siblings, one was deaf, one blind, one had dead, and one had TB – if his had an abortion, Beethoven wouldn’t have been born and the world would have missed out on a genius. But today, his mother would most likely have been advised to abort him. Think on that.

Abortion and euthanasia are murder. They are all the same. Even so, they are forgivable. Jesus came to forgive. Euthanasia is the direct and intentional taking of life – it is just doctor assisted suicide. Please understand that this is not the same as allowing a terminally ill person to die. It doesn’t mean to withhold palliative treatment, or needed pain medications. In Matthew 5, Jesus is talking about Commandments, and makes clear it is the SPIRIT of the law that we need to obey. When we have unjust or unrighteous anger, that personal anger is incipient murder, or murder in our hearts and with our mouth. 1 John 3:15 says that when we hate, we murder in our heart. When we call or think of someone as empty headed, stupid, a fool, dull, a moron, undeserving to live, or contemptible, we murder them in our heart. Instead, when we find ourselves feeling these things about someone, respond in KINDNESS. Don’t let the sun set on your malice or anger. It only hurts you.

“For GOD so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jhn.3.16.NASB1995

Jesus was MURDERED for us, to save our lives, and for murderers. We did that. We murdered Him….. and GOD allowed us to murder Him. Jesus allowed us to murder Him. Without that, we wouldn’t have the Good News of the Gospel, which is that Jesus died to pardon murderers, which includes every single one of us, every human who ever or will ever live. That’s pretty amazing. I’m a murderer, but I am forgiven. Thank GOD. Can you say the same?

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My GOD, in whom I trust!”
Psalms 91:1‭-‬2 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/psa.91.1-2.NASB1995

Thank you to Pastor Mark Hitchcock of Faith Bible Church, Edmond OK, for your preaching, inspiration, and insight.

To Politicians Everywhere

“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.

For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness.

No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly.

They trust in confusion and speak lies; They conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity.

They hatch adders’ eggs and weave the spider’s web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth.

Their webs will not become clothing, Nor will they cover themselves with their works;

Their works are works of iniquity, And an act of violence is in their hands.

Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood;

Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways.

They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks;

They have made their paths crooked, Whoever treads on them does not know peace.

Therefore justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us;

We hope for light, but behold, darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom.

We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes;

We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men.

All of us growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves;

We hope for justice, but there is none, For salvation, but it is far from us.

For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And our sins testify against us;

For our transgressions are with us, And we know our iniquities:

Transgressing and denying the Lord, And turning away from our God,

Speaking oppression and revolt,

Conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words.

Justice is turned back,

And righteousness stands far away;

For truth has stumbled in the street,

And uprightness cannot enter.

Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey.

Now the Lord saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice.”


Isaiah 59:1‭-‬15 NASB1995

http://www.bible.com

Are You Assembling With Like Minded Christians?

“…. and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25 NASB1995

Our walk with Christ is personal; it is not private or individual, and it is critical for our spiritual health to come together with fellow believers. Are you too lazy to get up and get ready to attend a service? I have been, too many times. We can be conceited or arrogant, and think we don’t need the church. It’s possible to worship when out in nature, and as uplifting as it can be, it can never replace meeting with others of God’s people. Worldliness will also cause us to abandon Christ. When sports or shopping keeps away from church, we are hurting not only ourselves, but others who rely on us to be an example of Christianity. Willful sin cuts us off from the lifeline of the church.

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26 NASB1995

A passion for Christ, Who is the head of the church, is a passion for the church. Just as it was the custom of Jesus to attend services (Luke 4:16), it should be our custom, our desire, to attend church and be with God’s people. Gather together in God’s Presence, His “church”. Christ promises to be with us, when 2 or more gather…. it is a time of renewal; a reference point that helps us define where we are in our lives. Being together helps us to consider and encourage others. When we are active and participating, we help the church to be all that it can be by encouraging others through our attendance, and through praying for each other.

We are preparing for the end of the world as we know it: there is wide spread apostasy (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4), a move toward a one world government, and the pandemic. We need to gather today in preparation of the ultimate gathering at the Rapture. We aren’t going to live here on earth forever, but know this: everyone will live SOMEWHERE for eternity. Will you live in Glory with Christ, or will you be stuck for eternity in agony with the enemy of Christ? Only you can decide.

Now to Him

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NASB

It is so easy to be judgmental based on how a person looks. We can look at someone on a street corner & think “Get a job! Quit begging!” But do you know their circumstances? Personally, I find it difficult to understand how – and why – anyone is homeless with all of the resources available now… And yet, I spent several months living on the street years ago because of my own bad choices. I was too proud to reach out for help, so God used others to help me out of that pit. Not with money, because He knew that wouldn’t help me, but with a place to stay and food to eat until I got my health back, and I could get a job and my own place. We look at the outside, but thank God that He looks at the heart!

“I thank Him who has given me strength, CHRIST JESUS our LORD, because He judged me Faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received Mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief*, and the Grace of our LORD overflowed for me with the Faith and Love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received Mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:12‭-‬17 ESV

*Unlike Paul, I was not ignorant of God, nor was I an unbeliever. Still, in His infinite Mercy and Grace, the LORD of the Universe forgave me and took me back into His arms. How thankful I am for His Mercy and my wholly undeserved forgiveness! I remain convinced that of those people who helped lift me out of the muck, some had to be angels in disguise. Take time today to thank God for what you have, and do something good for someone. We never know when we might be entertaining angels!

“Now to Him Who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21 NASB

False Teachers

Peter warns us of the people who want to take advantage of us:

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3 NASB

Jesus warns us in His Sermon on the Mount:

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15 NASB

The Apostle and Physician Luke traveled with Paul, and is believed to have written the book of Acts. He also warns us of false teachers.

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Acts 20:29‭-‬30 NASB

We receive ample warning, but do we really listen? We know that people will emerge from among the church; subversive traitors who secretly introduce false ideas and concepts with conviction, to cause people to choose error over truth. The enemy is insidious in his quest to destroy us. Heresy is the view of ultimate reality that is wrong and therefore bad for you. By nature, heresy is destructive. It is distorting the truth.

We identify false teachers by asking questions. Do they believe (and teach) there is definitive right and wrong? Do they teach that you should believe in yourself and ask God to help you reach your goals. Is God real? What is their view of eternity? Is Christ Divine; is He their LORD and King? Ask: Who is Jesus Christ?

Nothing is more foundational than how you believe the Bible. It is not from man but from God, the ultimate authority. Denial of God’s Laws leads to seductive activity that cater to the flesh. These are lies, because impure living is heresy for anyone claiming Christianity. False teachers feed on people’s desires. They are greedy and in ministry for the benefits they receive, instead of of bringing people to Christ. They use false words, plastic theology, that is molded to deceive, and stretched and twisted to mean anything. These are lies from the father of lies.

Listen to them. Are they teaching the Triune God? Is their behavior Christ like – is it pointing to themselves or to Christ? Look at their actions; hear what they are saying, and compare it only to the Word. They are pervasive, destructive, seductive, and manipulative.

“I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2‭-‬6 NASB

Testify!

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God! Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” John 20:28‭-‬29 NASB

When I was 5 years old, I knelt with my daddy and prayed for Jesus to come into my heart. Yes, I was rather a precocious child. Strong willed. Over the years and into my teens, we had numerous missionaries in our home and church, teaching and preaching and discipling. Active in all aspects of church life, going to camp in the summer and lots of activities revolving around Jesus, it was easy for me to believe. As a teen, I knew I was called to serve God as a missionary. At 18, I left home to attend college, determined to follow my LORD. I attended a Christian college where I would be surrounded by by my peers, and I would be supported on my journey.

Life; the world, intervened. Let me assure you, Satan is alive and well at Christian colleges, looking for any cracks and openings in our shields of faith. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

He found my weakness, and I fell to his tempations. I strayed from my Lord and stayed away, running from God, for many years. Like Moses, I spent 40 years in the wilderness, only mine was a wilderness of sin. God gave me many opportunities to see His Mercy and His Grace. I mostly ignored Him, and chose to blame Him for my circumstances. I even fell back on that Mercy when I found myself in dire circumstances, but I wasn’t ready to let go of my worldly ways, so I would plunge back into that life.

I have compared my lost years to the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the dessert. I started out trusting God, then I slipped away from Him. The Israelites received His Mercy many times throughout their journey – manna and quail when they were hungry and had no food; water where there was none; deliverance from the Egyptians. His Mercy fed and clothed me at times, and He delivered me from certain death more than once. God didn’t destroy the Israelites because of the prayers of the righteous, and He didn’t destroy me – or allow the enemy to destroy me – because of the prayers of my family.

Some of us have to hit our “bottom” before we can see Jesus. We don’t take anyone’s word that He is real, He loves us, and He wants to forgive us. Sometimes we are like Thomas, Doubting Thomas, and we think we have to “put {our} fingers into His wounds” before we believe.

“One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the LORD!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in His Hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in His side.” Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” He said. Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at My Hands. Put your hand into the wound in My side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” “My LORD and my GOD!” Thomas exclaimed. Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO BELIEVE WITHOUT SEEING ME.” John 20:24‭-‬29 NLT

I’m so far from perfect, it can’t be measured, but the LORD GOD of the Universe thinks I’m worthy of His pursuit. What a humbling thought! I continue to sin and to stumble. I have doubts and I worry. But…..

I am so grateful that He doesn’t give up on us; on me!