Eternal Consequences

We will be delivered but there are consequences to our sin.  Those are indefinite and are exponential.  We must repent.  Repentance requires a broken heart and a change in behavior.  It shapes the eternal consequences.  It is the turning away from sin and turning toward God.  A casual attitude toward sin is deadly.  I do not turn my back to God but turn back to God.

Throughout the Bible, God never does condone the taking of more than one women to be a wife.  Look at some of the key characters.  Jacob had more than one wife. King David!  King Solomon!  Job!  Christians believe that the mandate and infrastructure of marriage was created in the Book of Genesis.  When God created man He thought it would not be good for man to be alone so he created a women. This they believe is how marriage is structured – one man, one woman.  To have more than one wife goes outside the intended dynamic and stretches its boundaries.  Such a relationship never works as displayed in the Bible or is it good. We, as Christians, consider this type of marriage a sin.

The sin we tolerate always grows and spreads.  To tolerate sin sets me up to commit more sin.  I always tend to despise the sins in others and then the sins that are in me, I tend to hide from others.  This is true for all of us.  Look at it this way – “if God took care of the big stuff then why sweat the small stuff.”  Owning my sin is the first step in repentance.  I must be aware of my sin and grieve over it first.  This starts the process of turning toward God.  I must have an acceptance of the consequences of sin – not protest them.  A repentant heart humbly accepts its consequences. Learn from David and Psalm 51.  

Repentance leads to worship and a right heart!

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Some Good News!

There is a redeemer!
The "Book of Ruth" is a book of Love, Hope, Redemption, etc...  It is the book
that clears the way for the one true Kinsmen Redeemer.  Furthermore, it is a
book that lays out a central:  God's plan of redemption is based on unconditional
love.

There are times in my life - and maybe yours - where I feel like I am walking on 
clouds and nothing can touch me.  Then there are times where you and I maybe 
crawling along on our belly trying to stay low so we are not getting hit by what
life is throwing at us and bombarding us with.  It is not what I am going through
or the circumstances that define me or you but how we respond, how we act and what
we say.  God allows hardship.  Who do I know that needs help but I have to give of
myself to do so?

When the focus is on 'self' and what do I get out of it, this creates a barrier
to seeing God's love for us and the needs of others. God, without hesitation,
provides reliefs.  Without second thought, are we willing to protect, love and accept
others, e.g. - the marginalized?  In His plan of redemption God always rewards faith-
ful commitment to Him.  The moment I trust in God, the privileges and blessings of
Israel become ours.  What is God's plan of redemption?  Creation!
  

Coffee with Jesus!

Would Jesus go out for coffee with you?
When’s the last time you sat down with a friend for a face-to-face chat over a cup of coffee (or tea or V8 or whatever)?  When’s the last time you spent time away from family outside your home to engage with a friend? I’m asking you and me both these questions.
When you last wanted to share something special with a close friend, how’d you do it? Did you call them, or text them, or email them, or write them a letter?
All our electronic gadgetry makes sending information to others convenient, quick and easy; but do we communicate? How much time do we spend talking directly to friends or neighbors so we see their lips move and they see ours?
Is what we’re doing communicating? Or by using electronic gadgets are we further isolating ourselves from others?
Do we rush out on Facebook to catch up with friends? Do we tweet our good news to others? Do we write a blog post?
I’m just as guilty as anyone else of hiding behind a computer or cell phone screen. Doesn’t using that technology eliminate or severely hinder real communication between us and other humans? Does it build intimacy, or closeness?
Would Jesus go for coffee with you, with me?
I think He would. As we read God’s word we understand something. Jesus was a people person. All His encounters were face-to-face conversations. Even with  large crowds. Jesus loved people. He loved being around people.  Even if Jesus had an email address or a Facebook page or a Twitter account, I don’t think He’d use them. Jesus thrived on personal relationships, on intimate conversations with His disciples and listeners.
In my view, when we rely on a tweet or an email, or Facebook post, or a blog post (Yes, I’m guilty) to communicate with others, we lose that personal intimacy that only one-on-one, face-to-face encounters develop.
A good friend of mine lives in our area. I’m going to  invite him to have coffee with me on Tuesday. We’re going to spend an hour or so just sharing information, catching up on family stuff, talking football and sharing what God is doing in our lives. Our time together will bless us and encourage us. We’ll both walk away from our time together having enriched our friendship and grown just a little closer to each other as brothers in Christ.
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What Matters Most?

Dwight L. Moody, Samuel, Saul, David!
What do they all have in common?  
The heart.  It is the chosen part of the body that God looks at when choosing a leader.  He looks at the matters of the heart which becomes the heart of the matter.  I need to prepare myself for a powerful time with the Living Creator when I put my heart in God’s hands.  God chooses His servants based on their inner life rather than the outward life.  Saul was chosen to be the first king of Israel because of his heart but it went astray.  His heart turned inward or was not totally given to God.  Jealousy set in as he tried to kill David several times and turned to mediums.  He did not listen to God, through Samuel, and so the kingdom was ripped from him.  Sauls death led to Samuel’s death.
David on the otherhand was a man after God’s heart.  When the Spirit of the Lord comes, it comes powerfully.  The Holy Spirit of the Old Testament times indwelled the hearts of believers then, unlike what His Holy Spirit does today.  Goliath taunts the Israelites and King Saul so David is filled with the Holy Spirit and intervenes only to kill Goliath with a sling and a stone.
Israel and a Son are first concieved in the mind of the Living God and then are made real when the time is appropiate.  So I have to ask myself ‘what does God see in my heart as a believer?’  A heart for self pursues passive self-interests,

God’s honor

To forcibly put an end to something is to stop it in its tracks.  There are somethings that this can be done to very easily.  For example, a military project gone sour or a science project gone awry.  Then there are some issues or hot topics that seem to be very hard or difficult to get a handle on.  Things like human trafficking, the opioid crisis or immigration.  A wise king once said “For this, however, you must know, I find that God has made simple.  Mans complex problems are of his own devising.”  Eccl 7: 29.

What about sin!  As long as man, the pinnacle of God’s creation, is on this earth than sin will always be present.  God has a plan.  The time is coming when one day it will be wiped off the face of the earth and this planet will be purged and made clean.

Suppressing God’s righteousness is a key gateway to sin.  It is grating with my reality on a very personal level.  The question then becomes ‘what is my reality?’  It is the One true Living God who is second to none.  “Jesus Christ, His one and only Son, my Lord, who came down from heaven.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, was born of the virgin Mary and became man.  Judged under  Pontus Pilot, suffered, died and was buried.  On the third day He rose from the dead, in fulfillment with the Scriptures.  He ascended into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father..” He is my personal Lord and Savior.  That is my morality.  If I suppress God’s righteousness then I enter into a dead tailspin away from God. Doing so is my self-righteousness and it underminds who God is.  This leads to sin and there are consequences.  This sin does not change the heart.  It is a charged heart that changes one’s life.  When I am charged with a sin my first response might be the fight or flight response.  The first response should be to go to the Lord.  Depending on God’s righteousness means seeking His guidance – go to the Lord  first.  God provides guidance just when we need it.  Trust God’s rioghteousness puts God’s glory above personal risk.

I must be willing to put God’s honor above personal risk.

Obstacle or Opportunity

Hardships!   What are they?  Well, let us pontificate here and come up with a response to that question.

I would have to say that the definition is one that is interlaced with my personality. I see myself as an optimist.  An optimist would see a hardship as an opportunity.  An opportunity for growth and edification.  “What can I learn from this or what is the take away for me.”  A pessimist, on the otherhand, might see it as an obstacle. Something standing in the way of advancement or moving forward.  Which ever the case, it is a opportunity of a lifetime where my imperfection highlights God’s perfection.

We have all, at one time or another, benefited from the assistance of others.  One of the by-products of hardship might be anger.  Anger is a wild beast, when left untamed, can cause insurmountable damage and change one’s perspective or outlook.  Anger triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response of the body.  This response is also triggered by fear, excitement and anxiety.  Physiologically, what happens is the brain senses this brash outside stimuli and tells the adrenal glands to release the stress hormones.  Adrenaline and cortisol flood the system and the results of the anger response are in full gear.  The part of the nervous system that is dramaticly affected is the SNS or sympathetic nervous system.  Anger, like other emotions, has a physiological effect in the body and activates this system.  Its effects are quite noticable,causing the heart to pound, raise the blood-pressure, and make the muscles contract – all of which prepare the body for fight or flight or freeze responses.  Anger often requires outside influence to get relief.

Just as anger affects me and those around me, my choices do the same.  My righteous choices can bless me as well as those around me.  These choices do not come without competition.  Santification pits me in a battle against my beliefs that I espoused before my justification.  God provides a contingency or escape plan for when I enounter these experiences.  A relationship with Jesus Christ.  God is faithful and guides me in this process of santification.  God is the one who sustains life and my waivering faith leaves me short sighted in His over all grand scheme for creation.

God develops my trust to be unshakable and His presence is always there for me to be in.  To be a part of that I must welcome Him into my house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Am I – A Story from Alexandria, Virginia

I am adventurous and like to go off the beaten path.  When the way gets to risky and dangerous for my health, I get scared and stop.  Then I freeze and do not know what to do.  It is at that point I do not call upon the Lord but instead try to rectify the situation on my own but that only leads to more danger – to myself and others.  

It was on one of these occassions that I heard a voice say “Follow me, it’s okay to go off the beaten path but “Follow me”.”

Moral of the story:  don’t make things so difficult for yourself.

Praise For Abundance

                                                    Eventhough we are many miles

                                                    apart, hardly a day goes by when

                                                    we do not think of you and thank

                                                    God for you.  As we all celebrate

                                                    celebrate this day of giving thanks,

                                                    for what we have and do not have;

                                                    for the miracles and blessings we

                                                    were recipients of – we especially

                                                    count you among our many endless

                                                    blessings.  We wish you a wonderful

                                                    Thanksgiving Day how ever n’ where

                                                    you spend it.         

                                                                                                      Anon

May God bless the one who sent this!  Thank you

Free Will: Putting A Smile On God’s Face

Freewill!

What is freewill?

Dictionary.com:  made or done freely or of one’s own accord; voluntary(2)of or relating to the metaphysical doctrine of the freedom of the will.

Webster’s New World Dictionary:  freely given or done; voluntary(2)of or holding the doctrine of freewill(3)freedom of decision or choice between alternatives(4)the freedom of the will to choose a course of action without external coercion but in accordance with the ideals or moral outlook of the individual(b)the doctrine that people have such freedom – determination.

American Heritage Dictionary/New College Edition:  (1)the power or discretion to choose; free choice(2)the belief that man’s choices ultimately are or can be voluntary and not by external causes(3)done of one’s own accord; voluntary

New Comprehensive International Dictionary:  (1)the power of self-determination regarded as a special faculty(2)the doctrine that man is entirely unrestricted in his ability to choose between good and evil(3)opposed to determinism(4)made, done, or given of one’s own free choice-voluntary. 

As you can see, they vary a little bit from each other but they all talk about freedom, choice, free, or voluntary.  Only one refers to morals and only one refers to choosing between good and bad.

Freewill has nothing to do with the end game or end result.  Faith is a journey and what sustains us to the end.  The end is spending eternity with Jesus.  Freewill has everything to do with the moment by moment choices we make throughout the day. Am I going to put a smile on God’s face at the end of the day.  Am I going to accept the fact that God has already counted the cost.  Or, am I going to make things easier for myself by making that moment turn in my favor.  In so doing, I get out of the stress that moment would have brought.  It is human nature for man to not want to live with the burden of pain.  Why say to me we have freewill  if I make a choice that is out of line with God’s will?  I thought that since I have freewill, my choices would be free of external coercion.

If you think about it, one could say ‘the deck is stacked’.  Since man wants to avoid pain, and spending eternity in hell would be full of pain, then he chooses to live a good life, one that is guided by morals.  A life lived that put a smile on God’s face at the end of the day.  If a man wants to live a life free of morals and he is free from outside pressure then why can he not get into Paradise?  The answer is God abhors evil.  He cannot live with evil.  Why?  God is love eternally.  Evil comes from Satan. The status of that relationship is they are diabolically opposed for all perpetuity. Life is temporary, Jesus is eternal.

For the Christian, evil is considered the most potent and dangerous weapon used against the believer and the ability to choose God.  It makes it harder to believe that God knows all and exists.  From a Christian standpoint, God allows evil to exist because of freewill.  He allows it to exist on a temporary basis so that those who choose to love Him freely will one day dwell with Him in heaven but with their freewill intact, free from the influence of evil.  God’s intention concerning evil is to one day destroy it.  Those who do not love Him or acknowledge Him will be hard pressed to find any alternative for how things came to be.  

Let us look at moral attributes.  If my actions are calculated to help one succeed then why should one perform them.  For Christians, the fixed point of morality – what constitutes right and wrong – is a straight line that leads directly back to God. If there is no God, there is no real reason to be moral.  There would be no standard of what moral behavior is.  As a philosopher pointed out, “if God does not exist then everything is permissible.”  According to the Christian doctrine of freewill – with the ability to choose, you are actually making two decisions at once.  If you choose to follow one then you are choosing not to follow thee other.  If you choose to follow God then you are also choosing not to follow Satan and vica versa.  In the end, you are free to make a choice but there are consequences for making that choice. Morals have everything to do with freewill.  It has everything to do with the choices that we make and live out for others to see.  We chose God because He chooses us.

FOOTNOTES
Articles and other resource materials

 

Mercy

Mercy, in the face of or in the wake of a great threat.  We are facing that danger in these times and yet we were made for days such as these.  Days in which we have the opportunity to have an impact – a potential “God sized impact” – on the earth. One that would increase the members of the Body of Christ.  God’s saving and sovereign promises mentioned in the Bible convey the extent of His mercy, many of which are fulfilled.  God is faithful and merciful yet some believers and gentiles squander the opportunity and privileges this affords.  Letting sin mislead or misdirect from the straight and narrow path that God has set us on.  Despite all that God’s is unchanged by unfaithfulness.  In otherwords, unbelief is not a failure for God.  It is an opportunity for us to see the power, mercy and grace that God extends to us to create us into something masterful and unique.  God’s love for us is eternal, faithful and true.

God’s sovereign mercy is specifically directed.  It is specifically directed at our sin and His intention is to erradicate it from the body that He created in His image. How have I seen God’s sovereign mercy in my life?  That promise of mercy is referenced to Abraham by God – “and Sarah will be with child at this time, next year.”  As a child of God all believers are co-heirs but it is God’s choice to determine the heir and He did.  God chose His Son, Jesus Christ.  I cannot save a loved one from death, God can!

So what does God’s sovereign mercy and glory reveal about Him?  That He is holy, trustworthy, is in control, forgiving, a living God that is always present.  This makes it easier to face God in times of trial and great threats that come our way in our journey with God.  If  I do not believe in God’s sovereignty then life will be difficult. I will not trust God, I will go out on my own and I will fall into despair.  In the end, God’s justice is sovereign.  It is fair and just.  Our salvation does not depend on our effort but on God’s sovereign mercy.  No human effort, desires or accomplishments can trigger God’s mercy!  I can be sure of my salvation because God did it and promised it.  God desires to share His glory.  His mercy is rooted in His great love. His LOVE is the greatest expression of love in the human experience.