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Showing posts from October, 2020

Forgiven & Forgiving: What God Expects from Us

  God tells us why we are to forgive others, and He tells us how to forgive them: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you ” (Ephesians 4:32).   “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you ” (Colossians 3:13). These are commands, and they are unconditional. God forgave us in Christ, and He expects us to do the same for those who sin against us. He expects the forgiven to forgive . Here is what Jesus told Peter when he asked Him how many times he should forgive his brother: “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. T

How Jesus Tells Us to Forgive

  So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, “I repent,” forgive him. (Luke 17:3-4) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” (Matthew 18:21-22) Peter wanted Jesus to commend him for forgiving his brother seven times in one day. Instead, Jesus expanded the requirement to seventy-seven times. Some translations render this “seventy times seven,” that is, 490 times. Is there a difference between the two numbers? No! They are intended to represent an infinite amount of times. Jesus did not want Peter to keep count. Although these numbers are figurative, let’s take them literally for a moment. Forgiving someone seven times in a day is hard enough. To get to seventy-seven sins, we would need eleve

Picking Up Ungodly Habits

  Jude 15 uses the word “ungodly” four times. Verse sixteen gives the characteristics of ungodly people. The difficulty is that they sound like the Christians we know:   These men are grumblers and faultfinders ; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. (Jude 16) Grumbling and faultfinding is stock-in-trade for the world. However, Christians can find it an easy habit to take up. Instead of providing light for the world, we spread some of the darkness. Jude says it is an ungodly practice.

How Big Sins Sneak Up On Us

Have you ever wondered how men who have been Christians a long time fall into sexual immorality, divorce their wives, or are dishonest or unethical? Christians tell me these leaders are special targets of the Enemy because they are so greatly used. Although that is a possibility, I have difficulty with it because of what 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 says: "So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." If a man sins, it is not caused by the greatness of temptation, or by God’s unfaithfulness. Man thinks he is strong, so he is not careful. He is caught off guard and sins. As in everything, the little precedes the big. In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe , Peter and Susan sought out the wise professor’s help whe

Shouts & Sinners: The November Election

“The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good” (Ecclesiastes 9:17-18). It seems that we are heavy in this world with shouts and sinners , and light in quiet words of wisdom. May the Lord clearly lead this nation in the election this November. We are ready for revival or for judgment. Let us pray for revival.

Something to Meditate On

“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” (Jude 20-23). There are six imperatives in these verses: build, pray, keep, be merciful, snatch, and show mercy. This is the kind of text we should read and reread, meditate on, and begin to practice. I put the emphasis on the verbs. Now let’s put the emphasis on the objects of the prepositions: most holy faith, Holy Spirit, God’s love, eternal life, those who doubt, the fire, and corrupted flesh. These are all very strong words. This is heavy! This post coordinates with tomorrow's reading in the To the Word! Bible Reading Challenge . If you are not in a daily reading plan, please jump on in. We would love

Persecution: What It Means & How to Respond

Psalm sing in Moscow, Idaho, September 2020. There are two types of suffering which are directly related to our Christianity. They are chastening and persecution. God chastens us because we are His children and are being bad. It is a cause for lack of joy. "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God d

Godliness & Trials

Me in uniform a few years after becoming a Christian. In October of my sophomore year at the Naval Academy, I passed from death to life. I had just turned twenty years old. Eighteen months later my life began to have an effect on my classmates and those both junior and senior to me. This continued for the next seven years while I was on active duty in the Navy and ever since in civilian life. During my seventy-three years as a Christian, I have seen men turn to Christ and experience the joy of having their sins forgiven. I have also seen the harassment they get because of Jesus Christ. Some of them came through the persecution, and some of them caved. What happened in the cities in the Book of Acts happens to every new Christian. It is “revival and riot” on an individual level all over the world. Jesus prepared us for this beforehand. "All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who

How to Be Godly

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that" (1 Timothy 6:6-8). This is a very sweet formula for godliness and contentment. The contentment is provided by God, who also gives us our food and clothing: "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:31-33). What is godly religion? "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27). However, being godly is not the same as being religious. Most religion

"I've Been Struggling"

I would like to talk about two “Christian” expressions which are not Christian. The first is “I’ve been struggling.” This expression would be a fine one if it were used biblically: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). We are in a struggle. That is a fact. However, when people use the phrase today, what they mean is, “I am losing the struggle, and there is no way to win it.” They have fallen into sin, and they are trying to make a “spiritual” excuse for their defeat. The second expression is similar: “It was a real learning experience.” That also sounds spiritual, but it really means, “The whole thing was a spiritual loss.” We come out of both situations discouraged because both the “struggle” and the “learning experience” were sins that needed to be confessed. We give them spiritual n

Appearing Clean vs. Being Clean

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness" (Matthew 23:25-28). "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell

The Word of Authority

To what or whom does the Christian look as his ultimate authority? First, authority always resides in some one , not some thing . The highest law of our land is the Constitution of the United States. We mistakenly speak of it as the final authority, but it is actually only an expression of the authority of the people . Similarly, God, not the Bible, is the final authority for Christians. The Bible is the primary expression of God’s authority, but it is not the only expression. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe" (Hebrews 1:1-2). Jesus Christ is the other main way God expresses His authority to us. However, since Jesus is a person, He is more than just an expression of God’s authority—He possesses that authority Himself. How do we know this? He made the worlds, and they are sustain

In the World or of the World?

Photo of Christians being arrested while singing Psalms in public, Moscow, Idaho. "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified" (John 17:14-19). Not “of” the world but “in” it. “Sent” and “sanctified.” Although we are not of the world, we can handle being in it because we have already been sanctified, set apart. Because we are not of the world, the world hates us. Jesus prayed that the Father would protect us from the evil one, and we are to also pray that He would “deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). We have a problem. We do not want to be hated by the world. H

Love Each Other Deeply

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). I’m quite sure that this is not saying that love overlooks sin. Love sees sin, and then covers it. In this case, it covers lots of them: “a multitude of sins.” We know that this is true of the love of God, but is it true of us? The command is directed toward us: “Love each other deeply.” It must be true of us if we are going to obey God. 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that “love keeps no record of wrongs.” (The opposite of covering sins may be keeping a record of them.) “Love each other deeply.” Deeply has to do with the quality of the cover. Perhaps deep love provides deep cover, as in, “Thou will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). However, this cover is not speaking of our own sins, but of others’ sins, for two reasons: l) “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). 2) “Love each

Your Mouth & Your Heart: Are They on the Same Page?

"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). People have God-given escape valves to keep them from exploding. Laughter and tears are two of them. The mouth is another. The cure for a bad mouth is to keep good stored up in your heart. However, not everything that comes out of the mouth is from the heart. Some of what comes out of people’s mouths is just what they have been taught, whether true or false, like in Isaiah 29:13. This is why people can recite sound doctrine but lose their temper at home. The real person is the heart person, not the head person. We are two persons—the person