Thursday, November 30, 2006

Taking Offense

We are in a culture where taking offense has become a cottage industry. In every village and every church there are people who have become professionals at taking offense. By some quirk of manipulation they have convinced themselves and many others that being offended is a virtue. The more I am offended the more virtuous I am. Consequently, those who give offense are the ones in sin. The results are shown in people apologizing and explaining that they really did not mean it to the offended person. The offended person rarely forgives.

Giving offense may be sin if it is intentional. Taking offense is always sin. Not forgiving is another awful sin.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Matthew 18:35

Monday, November 27, 2006

Eternal Questions

In the past few years I have found myself asking basic questions several times a day. These questions are always asked when I am driving my car.

They are: Where am I?
Why am I here?
Where am I going?
How do I get there?

The questions are asked because I do not know the answers. The answers come to me quickly. Looking at my surroundings, I find where I am. A little reflection tells me I am there because I am going some place. A little more remembering tells me why I got into the car and where I intended to go. The last question is harder to answer. Why? I find out that I have already passed up my destination or the car decided I was going someplace else. This is inconvenient, but I do figure it out and I do get where I am going. It is not deadly.

In my teenage years I knew where I was, but I did know why. It took me several years to find out where I was going and how to get there. I had been 20 years old for about two weeks when I received Christ. Since than I have been sure I am going to Heaven and Jesus is the way.

If you would like to know the answers to these eternal questions please send me an e-mail.

Friday, November 24, 2006

God is Not a Party Pooper

There is Joy in Heaven and there are eternal pleasures in Heaven.

Let’s look at the pleasures on earth. Most of them have to do with our senses, sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound.

God in His goodness has given us color and form and eyes and brains to appreciate what we see. We can also see things that cause fear, nausea and other awful effects.

The same can be said about all of the other senses. God is good.

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” 1 Timothy 6:17

God is not a party pooper.

“Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” 1 Timothy 6:18, 19

It sounds that there is a better life, “a life that is truly life.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Prostitution of the Senses

These pleasures of the senses that God in His goodness has given us here on earth can be easily prostituted and have been.

Here are a few Biblical examples.

“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” Titus 3:3

“He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.” Hebrews 11:25

“They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.” 2 Peter 2:13

“A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom.” Proverbs 10:23

“Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment. Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” Proverbs 9:16, 17

Monday, November 20, 2006

Heaven Anticipated

Recently, I have been thinking about Heaven. I anticipate the next several posts will be comparing life here and life there.

I will start with Jesus.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

We are to look at Jesus who in turn was looking beyond the cross to the right hand of the Father. He anticipated joy.

Psalm 16:10 is quoted in Peter’s message at Pentecost in Acts 2:25-28.

“Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.You have made [a] known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:10, 11

“David said about him: "I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” Acts 2:25-28

This is clearly speaking of Jesus.

However, Peter left out the last line in Psalm 16:11. “With eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

We see that joy was set before Jesus. We also see that He will be filled with joy in the presence of the Father. In addition to joy there will be eternal pleasures.

We are to look to Jesus with the same anticipation.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Christ's Character

“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him." Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD." So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” Exodus 32:1-6

This was a violation of the first three commands that the people heard in person, not long before and which Moses was bringing down from the mountain carved in stone.

I want to draw your attention to this sentence “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.”

About five hundred years later Jereboam did the same thing.

“After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 1 Kings 12:28

No one could deny the Exodus from Egypt. Many miracles happened during this time. People couldn’t say it did not happen. They could and did attribute the miracle to golden calves. In the second instance every single king in Israel for two hundred more years worshipped these golden calves.

It is the same today. People have not been successful in denying Jesus so they change his character or attribute his work to something that is false. And people follow the lies eagerly.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

From the Heart

“The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

“The Lord says:
"These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is made up only of rules taught by men.” Isaiah 29:13

Jesus quotes this in Matthew 15:8, 9

There are God given escape valves in people that keep people from exploding. They are instantaneous reactions. They include laughter and tears. Another is the mouth. “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” The cure of a bad mouth is to keep good stored up in the heart.

However, not everything that comes out of the mouth comes from the heart. Some of it comes from the heart. Some of it comes from things they have been taught by men whether true or false. In Isaiah 29:13, it is rules taught by men.

This is why people can recite sound doctrine and soon after lose their temper at home. The second event was the overflow of the heart.

The real person is the heart person, not the head person. We should not deceive ourselves or be deceived by others. That does not say we or they are lying. It says that we are two persons, the one taught by men and the person of the heart. Can they be the same? Yes, but it is not automatic.

We can teach children that it is wrong to lie. That is not the same as teaching children not to lie. The second is teaching the heart. The first is teaching the head.

Everything out of the mouth does not come from the heart.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

People's Eyes

In my 79 years, solitude has not been one of my vocations or vacations. I suppose if I figured up my time outside of eating and sleeping it would be made up of people and books, mostly people. Besides listening and talking I look at people. If I am in a conversation I focus on the persons face, eyes and mouth, mostly eyes. This is to say that I have spent a lot of time looking at people’s eyes. When this happens, of course I see the color of their eyes (that’s my subject) but I see more. This may sound crazy, but I look into the person. That’s not my subject.

The rest of the time is spent with books; History, Biography, Spiritual and many kinds of fiction. History supposedly deals with facts. Historical fiction is facts with added color.

One of the ways you can tell you are reading fiction is the description of the eyes of people. This is a means of describing the good guys and the bad guys. I don’t mind reading about “cozy brown” or “jet black’ or “bright blue” or weak “pale blue” or tiger “green” or hazel. We have all seen these colors in real life. So those colors do not make the book fiction. In many books, mystery, romance, cowboy, or adventure there is always someone in the book with “gray” eyes. Apparently, it is a good color. This color generally goes to the hero or heroine or some other positive character.

Back to the people, in the thousands of eyes I have looked into, or at, I have yet to encounter one person with “grey” eyes. Can we tell the character of a person by his eyes? Sometimes, but never because of the color and then never “gray” eyes. The same goes for lavender or violet eyes, also found in fiction.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Atheism

It is difficult for a Christian to prove scientifically or rationally that there is a God. The wonderful thing is that the Christian does not have to prove and should not be tempted to prove. God is his premise, not his conclusion.

But for the atheist he may not start with a premise that there is no God. That is not scientific. He must prove it, make his case. As I see it there are three types of atheists. At least these are the three that I have encountered.

1.“I do not believe in God!” This fellow is not really an atheist. What he is really saying is this, “There is a God in whom I do not believe.”

2.“I believe there is no God!” The “no” in this sentence modifies God instead of “believe” as in the first atheist’s sentence. However, the statement is a faith statement. This atheist has a great positive faith in nothing. That is more faith than I have in God.

3.“There is no God!” This is a dogmatic statement. It cannot be a premise. It has to be a conclusion. This person has to find the origin of everything. Philosophically, it is impossible to prove a negative. He must know absolutely everything to make his case. However, if he did know everything he would be God. He might respond that he could know a lot and deduce the rest. Sorry that is not good science.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Hebrews 11:1-3

Faith is right for Christians; it is not right for atheists.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Humble Yourself

The Bible tells how we should treat ourselves. Please don’t be surprised.

“Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5, 6

“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:14

There are many gifts that God gives us like the fruit of the Spirit. Humility does not seem to be one of them. We are to learn from and imitate Jesus.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:3-5

If God humbled us it would not be humility: it would be devastation.

In each case, the scripture says “humbles himself”.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Humility: The Greatest Virtue

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Romans 12:3

It does not look like God is worried about low self esteem, low self worth or low self love.

We have grown up in generations where pride is a virtue.

Whereas the Bible teaches:

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him:” Proverbs 6:16

“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” 1 Timothy 3:6

Pride is an evil.

Humility is the greatest virtue.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Unity: Reconciliation

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:23, 24

How is your memory? Do you remember this problem that your brother has with you? If yes, then what have you done about it? Your offering in church is to stay there until reconciliation is accomplished.

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” Matthew 18:15

In this case, your brother does not have something against you, you have something against your brother. The object is reconciliation, to win your brother over.

In either, you are the one to go to your brother. This is in context with the last verse in Matthew 18.

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:35

When you go to your brother you are to have forgiveness in your heart, not with accusation in your heart.