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An Old Discussion

I have heard so many times . . . “Why would a loving God allow people to go to hell?”    Of course, the God of  Justice is also the God of mercy.   He established the Old Law, and it could not be obeyed perfectly by sinful man.   The Law of Liberty of the cross was the victory over the Old Law and the hope for man to receive mercy by God.

I didn’t enjoy being stern with my children, but I knew it was the best thing for them at times.  They had to understand how to behave, succeed and enjoy life, so their behavior needed to be shaped.  Sometimes this was unpleasant for each of us.

Hebrews 12:5-6   ASV
(5) and ye have forgotten the exhortation which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him;
(6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

God wants us to be obedient so he can be merciful to us.

Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you,
And therefore He [b]waits on high to have compassion on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
How blessed are all those who [c]long for Him.

 

An Unlikely Evangelist

Throughout the Bible there are many individuals mentioned.  Some are discussed over many chapters and books.  Others are only mentioned once or twice in a short passage.  Imagine having a reference of you in Gods’ Word!

One of those lightly mentioned, but often discussed is the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:27-30.

John 4: 27-30

27) And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He had been speaking with a woman; yet no one said “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?”

28) So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city, and said to the men,

29) “Come, see a man who has told me all the things I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?”

30) They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.

As a summary of events, Jesus is waiting at a well for the disciples to bring food.  A woman came out to draw water.  Could be for her family, or to take back to another family for hire.  (doesn’t matter really)  This well is where life sustaining water for the community is found.

Jesus asks her to draw water for Him.  This is not something which would normally have happened.  A Jew speaking with a lowly Samaritan!   And a woman no less….. It was enough that these disciples who had seen many marvelous things marveled that He would be conversing with a woman.  She was also shocked that He would speak with her.

Note some high points:

Jesus introduced Himself as Christ  4:26) “I that speak to thee am He.”

Told her of living water 4:13,14  “shall never thirst again”

Left her water pot  She perceived He was a prophet because He tells her of her lifestyle issues. (many husbands and now living in adultery.)  There was a sense of urgency about her message.  In dropping her water pot and going back into town, she showed that she was convinced of the living water and it’s power.  Or, that she was convicted such that she went into town hastily so the opportunity of the message would not pass.  Either way, this meant an extra trip to Jacobs’ Well no matter what.

Went to her own community  Note that she went to her own.  A woman with very little credibility in the community went first to them.  She was a sinner.  She had five husbands and now was with another man.  The community knew her and many know how she lived.  She was a woman and had little to offer the men of the community.

“Come see a man who told me all things I ever did.  Can this be the Christ?”

Please see that she simply asked a question.  I doubt that if she had taken any other means, many would not have wanted to check it out.  A woman telling me what to do!?

Instead she simply told what had happened and asked a leading question….. “Can this be the Christ?” She peaked their curiosity and then stepped back.

Many of the town went to check this out and believed.

Who was this woman?

Samaritan

Woman

Knew only of prophesy of Christ

Very little, if any, credibility. (5 husbands + 1 not)

In Short…. An “unlikely evangelist”

Who are WE?  

Much better position than this woman socially

Probably more credibility, and knowledge

We have the whole Word of God in our hands

We can look at our mission to bring The Word to the lost as marching orders and our task to fulfill.  Or we can simply show the joy of what we have found in Jesus and bring people to Him. This unlikely evangelist was extremely effective.  No program, no budget, no committees, no plans…. Just…..

“Come see a man who told me all the things I ever did,  could this be the Christ? “

No reason to make it complicated…. Plant seeds.

Rapid Dose of Mortality…

The earthquakes in Nepal are a huge tragedy. The story is still unfolding as we speak. One thousand, No, three thousand dead. Tens of thousands injured, displaced, or in shock.
I’m sure that the fine people of Nepal are struggling to see any good in this event. But if we take a look from the throne of The Creator, then maybe we see that some good can come of any tragedy.
We used to call a near miss accident a “rapid dose of mortality.”
Man gets complacent in the world, and begins to feel he has all the time in the universe to get his affairs in order.
An earthquake, tornado, or car accident may jolt us back to the reality of how short life is. It reminds us to seek fervently the things which really count….. our souls, the souls of our loved ones, and even our “enemies.”

I hurt for those suffering in Nepal and their families. I hurt more for those still living who will quickly forget the value of their soul salvation, and “chill” until the next big event.
I have heard that there are no atheists in foxholes. When in harms’ way, man will often reach out, even in desperation, to a creator he is not familiar with. Then when the danger is gone…. so is the reaching out.

Don’t wait for the next great tragedy to think about your soul and its’ condition.

Reverence to the Will of God

The more I speak with the mainstream “religious” world, I see a misalignment with the intentions of God in setting His will for us to follow.  The Old Testament, (Gal 2:23) the tutor of the nature of God, shows in simple terms how God perceives His precepts and expectations for those who would be called “His.”
I saw the bumper sticker “God said it, I believe it, that settles it!”   This phrase gives man far too much credit.  Whether or not I believe it,  the Truth of Gods’ will doesn’t change.  It IS…… Maybe . .  “God said it, that settles it!” is more accurate.
Is this familiar?
“A loving God would never send people He loved to burn in Hell.”
“God left things vague in the Bible because he knew times would change.”
I heard this just yesterday. “God will never let His blessed people live in poverty.” (she never read the Old Testament)  Pharoah, Egypt, Jews, Exodus, etc.
Many want to make Gods’ will bend to our poor behavior.  We are to lose our will to Gods’ expectations. (will)
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  
Consider an example of a proper attitude about Gods’ expectations.
Psalm 119:1-8  (NASB) Bible.com
1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the Lord.
2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.
3 They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.
4 You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.
7 I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.
8 I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!
God Set HIS expectations for us to follow. (4)  This referred to the old Law, but how much more the “law of liberty.” James 1:25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
It is not for God to bend His expectations to compensate for our behavior.
His expectations are a blessing to us if we observe them.  (1,2)
They do not bring us shame. (6)
They are something to be thankful for. (7)
They are something to strive for.  Worthy of setting goals to achieve. (5)
The result is, that our way is blameless if we seek Him with all our heart. (2)
When we walk in His ways, our behavior is excellent, and aligned with His will.

Study Notes From Romans 12

The Sacrificial Life

One of the skills of a good leader is to be able to set clear expectations.  It is essential that a leader be able to explain what is expected of others and teach them how to be successful. 

If I tell my gardener to trim the hedges.  And that’s all I say.  He might go and take one leaf off of the plant and say… “I trimmed the hedges.”

If I say show him how I want them to look when finished, then he will know what to do to meet my expectations.

If he has trimmed my hedges properly in the past, then he may understand what I mean by the command because he has learned my nature in the matter.

 

When Paul says:  I beseech you (urge, exhort) bretheren, by the mercies of God

Romans 12:1 . . . to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service.

 

How wonderful it is that given such a huge directive, God takes the time to tell us how to achieve it.

The whole of the New Testament is full of commands and examples of what the living sacrifice is and how to master it.

In order to be living sacrifices we must:

1: Change The Mind / Heart

(Rom 12:2)  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

 

Phil 2:5   Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

We can’t have the selfish, lustful mind of man anymore.

 

(Rom 12:3)  For I say, through the grace that was given me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think as to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to each man a measure of faith.

2: Change Your Relationship To Those Around You

 Satan has convinced those around us that the world revolves around each of them.  He has developed a narcissistic attitude and teaches in schools, the media, and even in many churches that “It’s all about you”

It isn’t

It’s all about Jesus! 

Our Creator knows that we need one another.  The creator of my body uses it to illustrate the Church.  Jesus’ body. 

 We NEED each other:  Satan want us to think we can do it alone…. So we will fail in weakness.

 

In verses 4-8 Paul tells us that we are all members of one body.  Many different skills, talents, energy levels, experience, etc.  He urges us to work as a single unit.  A single body.

The head can’t be fighting with the feet or the lungs.  All have to work toward the same purpose to survive.

6) We should focus on and use our particular gift.  Not look down on or berate those with less talent.  (counter productive)

(Rom 12:10)  In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another;

(Gal 5:13)  For ye, brethren, were called for freedom; only use not your freedom for an occasion to the flesh, but through love be servants one to another.

(Gal 5:14)  For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

(Mar 12:30)  and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.

(Mar 12:31)  The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

 Phil 2:3  . . . let each one esteem each other better than yourselves.

Philostorge’ (tenderly affectioned) Is only here in the New Testament. It seems like a conjunction of two types of love.  It is the definition of extending your family by your actions.

A Little about Love:

 Agape’ is the love that can be commanded.  It is the “inspite of “sacrificial, unconditional love that Jesus tells us to love one another.

 John 13:34  “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another as I have loved you.

Phileo and Storge’ are types of love which would normally be naturally occurring. 

 Phileo, the brotherly love is illustrated best by David and Jonathon. It occurs among the best of friends.  Each seeking the best for the other.

1 Sam 18:3  “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. . . . And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself”
Storge’  the type of love one might have for family or a spouse.  It is also naturally occurring.  It can grow.  It is the mark of brotherhood.  It might be illustrated by the relationship of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

Philostorge becomes a commanded form of naturally occurring love.  Tenderly affectionate.   Paul is saying to take fellow Christians into your family and treat them as best friends should.

It is a blessing if a marriage contains two who can experience all four types of love.  Phileo, Storge’, eros, and Agape’

 Paul urges us to develop three types between us.  Phileo, Storge’, and Agape’

Our love to each other should be multidimensional.

3: Change your actions to complete 1 & 2

We have the power to change our behavior to comply with God’s will.  It is a decision we make and put into action.

 (Rom 12:11)  in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

I can only think of Eccl. 9:10.  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

Those who do their best often glow brilliantly at work, school, sports, etc.

If we are not slothful in Bible study, prayer, and our service to others, then that living sacrifice will shine brightly in all we do.

(Rom 12:12)  rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer;

(Rom 12:13)  communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality.

(Rom 12:14)  Bless them that persecute you; bless, and curse not.

(Rom 12:15)  Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.

(Rom 12:17)  Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men.

(Rom 12:18)  If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men.

(Rom 12:19)  Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord.

(Rom 12:20)  But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

(Rom 12:21)  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

To live the Sacrificial Life, we must:

1: Change The Mind / Heart

2: Change Your Relationship To Those Around You

3: Change your actions to complete 1 & 2

 

 

. . . What lies behind.

 

Keep moving forward

(Philippians 3:13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

I notice that when I get into high gear spiritually,  the deceiver tries to remind me of my past.  He tries to make me regret and mope over those I could have taught. He reminds me of my sinful past.  He reminds me of my failures.

I don’t think Satan would bother if this method were not effective.  The more time I spend contemplating things I can’t fix, the less time I have to focus on spiritual growth and serving others.  Thankfully, as I have matured spiritually, I can bring myself quickly to remember the blood of Jesus and the great sacrifice that was made so I can be forgiven of those “human” moments.

Paul writes to Philippi that he (who persecuted God’s people, who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen) could forget those things and could press on without the anchor chain of guilt.

(Philippians 3:14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

If we are to grow, we need to put it all behind us.   Satan will do his best to drag us down in guilt.

Trust God to forgive.    Then Press on.

dm

Blessed are they that mourn.

“For they shall be comforted”    (don’t worry, I will get to the point)

Awareness is a key to any relationship.  We need to know each other.  What pushes your button or what triggers a negative emotion.  We don’t want to walk on eggshells in a relationship, so learning these things helps us to change our behavior to be in comfort with another.

Every relationship or group dynamic goes through phases as it grows.  Form, Storm, Norm, and Perform.  A couple gets together and starts getting to know each other.  Likes, dislikes, key words that cause frowns, etc.  Sometimes the learning process has some conflict involved.  (storming)

Once you know each other and have avoided behavior which is unpleasant to the other, or polished the stuff they like, you can reach an equilibrium and even work as a couple, better than the sum of two individuals.  (performing)

Hopefully, we have reached the norming or performing stage in our relationship with our God.  We no longer have to walk on eggshells, because through study of His Word and communicating with Him (prayer) we know what pleases Him and alter our behavior to conform to His will.

Sadly, many are still and will probably remain at the “forming” stage.  Many  have begun a relationship with Him, but have not invested in our knowledge of what He desires of our relationship.  Maybe there is no communication with Him.

Some have advanced to the “storming” phase and are struggling with changing their behavior to comply with His will.

Even those who are “performing” will occasionally fail.  This is when the relationship with our God is damaged by sin.  The “performing” christian will notice the damaged relationship and lament the loss of trust, then struggle to restore the relationship.

An example is Peter during Jesus’ trial.   As soon as the rooster crowed, he knew the relationship was damaged.  He wept bitterly.   Blessed are those who mourn…. Peter mourned over his failure.  He took it personally and immediately set out to fix it.

If we are able to sin and not really worry about it, then perhaps we have never cemented the relationship.  Possibly, still “forming.”

You can only sit on the edge so long.  Every relationship takes work and sacrifice. No different is our relationship to our God.

He lamented so much the relationship broken by the sin of man, that he sent His Son to make it right.  He has done His part.  Time for us to do ours.

 

Saving Your Family

As a husband and a father, I have asked myself countlessly this question; “How can I save my family?”  I realize if you read this  and don’t currently consider yourself a “saved” soul that you might not understand the context.
Please allow me to introduce my concern.

I am a Christian.  Not how the media, Hollywood, or the government defines it, but by the example and pattern left in the Bible.  No clergy, no collars, statues, or burning incense.  But people who have heard what God has to say, seen how He chose to display it, and have decided to obey it so that I may have eternal purpose in my life and wait to receive the promise of eternal life with Him after He has used me up here.

I don’t “go to church.”  I assemble with those who believe and have obeyed like I did.  The purpose of the assembly is to worship God and encourage the other believers whom I consider family.  Brethren.

I have a job… but it is to obey the command that I take care of my family stewardship.   My real profession is to teach others The Truth and guard against error and sin with my spiritual family.

My real stewardship to my family is to make sure I provide the leadership for them to enjoy eternal life with God like I plan to.

Parts of this narrative will be to express some of the barriers to fulfilling my mission.  I have learned a lot in 36 years of marriage.  I have many experiences, failures, and victories to share.

I realize that many won’t believe as I do.  Please hear me out.  I’m not here to hate any one or put any person down.  I only want for you what I want for myself and my family… to not lose my soul in eternity to a punishment that really can’t be imagined.

Thanks for sticking around this far…..