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To Move Forward, Leave the Past Behind

Sometimes we forget that the Bible is a book for all aspects of life, not just those associated with spiritual living. 90 percent of our life is lived outside church. But the rules of success in God are identical to those for success in life, all 70 to 80 years of it.

Philippians 3:14 says this in the Phillips edition. The J. B. Phillips’ version is always very practical about daily living.

Quoting Paul. “…I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal…”

Note first there is a goal.  We all have them, but before we can realize a future goal we must release the past.  In fact the Past isn’t the Past until it is dealt with; and not someone else’s past, but ours. Constant focus on the past causes a person to atrophy, to become bitter and isolated.  Misery finds comfort with other miserable people.

There is no sadder example of this than the 18 month barrage against President Donald Trump by the media and people who are not happy with him as president. If they want real change there is always the next election but instead millions of tax dollars are spent dredging up his past; nothing seems to make any difference to the public, so the public vitriol goes no where.  One group wants me to pay “reparations” for some evils of previous generations.  I can’t pay them; I have to pay my light bill.  I am living in today not yesterday.

Living in the past of hatred, blame, accusation,  ascribing guilt, all laced with 4 letter cursing (cover the children’s ears) has an exhausted American TV viewer cutting the cable and turning on the radio.

One of the first rules of life is that you can’t make anyone do anything.  We have laws which require lawbreakers to be charged in court with crimes based on past behavior, but we have no way to make other people do right in the future –  no drug, no food, no law can force another person to act in any particular better way. All the charges, allegations, denunciations and invective have not changed the President one bit.  And it won’t affect change on your spouse, your children, or the co-workers on the job.

Expecting others to change simply won’t work.  If you want change, you start by changing yourself. And if we do not change, our lives become increasingly ineffective. How we spend our money, how we spend our time will determine whether we are living in the past or “pressing on to that high calling in Christ” that Paul refers to, a goal that is beyond ourselves and beyond the touch of others’ and their malaise.

Judgment Delayed

dna-869109__180
DNA

The local news reported that a man who had committed several rapes 30 years ago was discovered as a result of DNA tests.  His sentence – 240 years behind bars.  I’ll bet he was surprised.

Numbers 32:23 says “Be sure your sins will find you out.”  Our national forefathers called this “natural law” a term we don’t hear much today in a society bent on ignoring every form  of the law. They meant in that term that no matter what man did, either as individuals or as a group, certain behaviors and events would generate forgone conclusions,  that the murderer would suffer for his crime either at the hands of man, or nature or an angry God. Even the heathen understood this to be true although they were more likely to give spirits and demons in trees the authority to carry out justice.

These days the general public does not recognize consequences.  Life is supposed to be utopia, and they become enraged when they have even the slightest inconvenience.  For those of us who lived through wars and want it seems a rather Pollyanna-ish view of the world.  And we wonder when they’ll catch wise.

If the Millennials were in church they’d have a better chance of learning how there is a payday, and not just a negative one.  People who play by the rules anywhere on this planet will enjoy the fruit of their wise decisions, no matter their cultures.  Yes, it is hard to live under socialism/communism or oligarchies and dictators.  But confined moral and focused living always pays off in individual peace and personal joy. Some of the best movies recently have demonstrated this.  I think of The Book Thief and Life is Beautiful, both stories from World War II, terror and want and death.

You would expect me, a teacher to say this.  But to me the chief sin is unteachableness.  The Bible, Real Life, and the witness of people we know should be teaching us the message – that we should deal with sin in all its forms ASAP.

That man thought after 30 years he’d had completely escaped the consequences of his crime, his sin.  Not so. Be sure your sins will find you out.

 

Where is the Body of Christ?

Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ the religion of Christianity would be a waste of time. He promised that his physical body would be raised up. The authorities had merely to produce Jesus’ body and his followers would have immediately disbanded. But try as they might, no body could be located.

A writ of habeas corpus (literally to “produce the body”) is a court order to a person holding someone in custody to deliver the imprisoned, living or dead individual to the court issuing the order. Many state constitutions provide for writs of habeas corpus, as does the U.S. Constitution.

Of course, the body may be dead as well as alive. The Roman government could have asked the Jewish leaders to produce the body of Jesus. However, the Romans didn’t care. This was a local religious issue to them and of no concern. But the Jewish leaders needed that body to prove their rectitude in killing Jesus
in the first place. Both Romans and the Jews would have their justification – that Jesus of Nazareth was a fraud.

But without a body their case is lost, and this God-man was exactly who He said He was. It is the most startling fact of the whole gospel story; of anything ever done or said in Israel, the one fact remains that His corpse was never found, and that fact stands today.

Jesus claimed that if this temple, referring to his physical body, was destroyed it would be raised up in 3 days. (Matthew 27:40) The Bible believes the physical body is your temple, which is why it must serve only God and not be violated by sin. But people scoffed, and tried to insist he was referring to the Temple in Jerusalem.

This is not your local police here. The Roman government was an army of occupation and could do as it pleased in Israel. The soldiers had the authority to go from door to door whipping and interrogating the locals. The body, were it available, had to be in this area. No human power could have spirited it away. But the Romans did not care about this local matter, the Jewish authorities had little power to search and Pilate had turned the whole bloody mess over to the Jews in any event. They did have cash so they bribed some men to make up a story.

The seriousness of the claim of Jesus is demonstrated by the fact that they had two soldiers guarding the tomb. These men could have been hanged if the tomb and its contents had been violated. It was common enough for soldiers to lose their lives if their post had not been maintained as we see in the book of Acts 16:27. Even today in Japan public officials who fail in their job may offer to commit suicide.

This was not especially believable since the Jews had their own authority over the people. If a body were somewhere, even a fake corpse of some man recently crucified might have fulfilled their demand. The two men who were crucified with Jesus could not be substituted because they had not been shredded with thongs with metal tips; they had no crown of thorns and a bloody scalp. His body was a grisly sight; theirs was not.

But still – no body. It could not be found, reproduced, or faked. Whatever Jesus was, he was not dead.

The disciples knew this and were in hiding. Jesus meanwhile is walking around town greeting people and raising up old Jewish saints from their graves. This kind of stuff cannot be contained even by cash payments. A few of his disciples had seen him, plus another 500 or more. Of this group only 120 met in an upper room. That was the “new” born-again Body of Jesus, His disciples in our midst from that day until this one.

The Resurrection of the Body of Jesus is the foundation of our faith as well as our personal promise of everlasting ife. Many religions have powerful charismatic leaders; only Christianity has a resurrected one.

The Man who made a Cake Mix using both Eggs and Shells

eggs-mixerIn China I found some locals would eat quail eggs, shells and all, but I never saw that in the USA.  Housewives will chuckle over a young bachelor making his cake with the shells and eggs, but we applaud him for following the directions.  The box did say to add two eggs to the mix, didn’t it?

We could certainly use the same attention to details for Christians.  Built into the Bible in addition to promises, history, poetry and prophecy is Process.  There are in most cases a right way to do something.  The Bible has been called the Manufacturer’s Handbook which we pull out only after we have a crack up of some sort.  Then we learn we did things backwards or ignored the correct process entirely.

Speaking to a group of Bible study women a few years ago I told them of a young man who was surprised to learn that now that he was saved he could not have sex with anyone except a legal wife.  The ladies were in shock – but so was I, that they didn’t know this.  It’s in the Bible and it is quite clear.

The moral law is in effect no matter who you are, or your age or background.  If you are ignorant of the law, you are not spared its results.  And wishy-washy ministers who say the Law is no more are quite wrong. In Romans 3 we read “The straight edge of the Law shows us how crooked we are.” (Phillips translation)  God keeps the law around to remind us of how much we need Him to change our hearts.

Laws continue no matter.  When the policeman stops you for running a stop sign and you say “I didn’t see it” do you get out of the ticket?  Probably not.  The law is applied regardless of your knowledge or ignorance.  The $200 fine should impress on your mind the value of knowing the rules.

No one is saved by being baptized, and no one is not saved if they failed to be baptized. But more often than not, the process is ignored.  This scripture says,

Acts 2:38 Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
I was dressed in my swimsuit and preparing to be baptized with 50 other people in a giant swimming pool in Georgia.  My friend said she had already been baptized.  Then I quoted this scripture. It says to repent first.  Did you repent as a baby?
Without a word she turned around and went to put on her bathing suit. That was fast.  She saw immediately that process is important. How many people have joined a church and never repented, or been baptized and say they are saved.  Baptism comes after salvation not before. Baptism is a verification of what God has already done in your heart.
The most famous person to not be baptized is the thief on the cross.  Jesus said “today you will be in the Kingdom with me.”  Of course the thief could not leave his cross to find water?
God looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
People ask, how does God save people who never hear about Him? do they all go to hell?  That scripture is your answer.  God looks at the heart, and He alone is the judge of the whole earth.
You however are responsible for what you know. When you learn to follow the process you will be drawn into a greater level of holiness. and with that comes understanding.  You may need to eat a few nasty egg shells before you learn your lessons, but you can still learn.

 

God and the Black Cherries

The time was the late 70’s and my husband’s practice was suffering, I could not get a job because I was competing against so many unemployed males, the kids were in college and my old car was on its last piston.  Putting together meals was a challenge and my friend was bragging about the terrific sales she was finding in food.  I started grousing to God about how put upon I was. black cherries     It was summer and I wanted some black cherries which the grocery store had for about $3 or $4 a package.  Big, sweet, giant cherries from Washington State.  I figured I had enough money for maybe two packages, perhaps half a pie.

So I waited until Monday morning when I thought they’d be on sale at the store.  “Do you have any black cherries on sale,” said I.  The man said —- Sure, and he asked me to drive around back to the loading dock.

When I got there he poured a wheelbarrow load of cherries into my trunk, most of them in terrific condition.  It filled up the entire trunk.  As an experienced canner I put them up and we ate them the following winter.  I had so many in fact, I was not able to use them all.

God was making fun of me, and my lack of faith.  Did he not say, I provide for the sparrows and you are worth more than they? (Matt 10:29)

Did He say, I will never leave you or forsake you? (Hebrews 13:5)

Did he not say he would keep us alive in famine? (Psalm 33:19)

But did I believe it?  Do we really believe it.  Fuss, fuss, fuss.

Since then I’ve been in trouble a thousand times, then …….  I found a ten dollar bill on the sidewalk, or when I was deadly ill in 1989 and someone brought food to my place, totally without knowing how bad off I was, and the time I had severe dysentery and a woman I had not talked to for 10 years called with the name of a specialty doctor or the time in  2011 when I was out of coffee (and complaining) when a person I barely knew showed up with a bag of Kona Coffee, the highest price domestic coffee in America.

God is saying, See, I can do this.  And since He can and does this for me, so He can for you.

Many people buy expensive treadmills and incline trainers which sit in the corner because they are too unmotivated to exercise.  Our faith is like that.  The promises of God are there – we just need to step out on His promises for a faith exercise and watch Him do His job.

Why We Know Jesus Died on Thursday

It may seem like splitting hairs, and perhaps no one cares or needs to care, but picky scholars want everything to fit together like parts in a machine.  We are told that Jesus was in the tomb 3 full days and 3 full nights to fulfill the prophecy of Jonah.

Jonah 1:17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

If Jesus died on Friday He spent only 2 ½ days in the grave. We need to account for the additional one-half day.

Jesus Himself made a point of citing the Jonah relevance in this passage. Think of this line s being in red letters in your Bible.

 Matthew 12:40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

If Jesus was crucified on Thursday and died at 3 p.m. on that day we can account for a complete 72 hours.

First, modern readers must realize that the official day for Jews did not begin at midnight but at sunset.  This came from Genesis where God said the day began at evening and ended at 6 p.m.  The entire world clock system is based on day first and then night so one must adjust this thinking.

Genesis 1:5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

Second, Roman Law specifically said that Jewish citizens could not be prosecuted on their high holy days or on the “day of preparation” which is always a Friday. This preparation day was an opportunity for the Jew to cleanse his home and person so that individuals were clean enough to celebrate Passover.

Jewish law also stated that one would not be clean enough to celebrate a Sabbath (Saturday worship) or the Passover if an individual had been near a dead body. Nor could someone go near a tomb without becoming unclean.

If Jesus was tried by both Jewish and Roman law, crucified and died on Friday this would have been a violation of the law of Caesar Augustus as well.  Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews Book 16, Chapter 6 gives the passage of the Roman law which applies here.

“{Jews} be not obliged to go before any judge on the sabbath day, (Saturday) nor on the day of the preparation (Friday) to it, after the ninth hour.”

If local Jewish believers had been required to conduct the crucifixion and move Jesus to his grave on Friday that would have given the workers only a few minutes to prepare for the Sabbath, not a full day of preparation.

Meanwhile Roman soldiers were an army of occupation. Soldiers would not be charged with handling any dead bodies; they would delegate that to local citizens.  And after all there were three bodies to dispose of not just Jesus.

Romans were able to conquer and dominate many nations because they did not change local custom or break local religious rules.  They were not popular conquerors but they were tolerated because they were sensitive to indigenous people’s way of daily life and custom. In addition the Romans thought the whole Jewish religious thing was nonsense so they were not anticipating anything to come of either the Jewish laws or the prophecies of Jesus.

Because the Hebrew laws were so specific, Roman managers knew that the Jews would do things by the book so they did not need to post a guard at the tomb until Sunday morning.  If, as was predicted, Jesus’ disciples would move his body, they would not do it until the holy days were past.

The Bible says he was raised on the 3rd day. He went about His Father’s business, first to preach to the dead in Hades, (1 Peter 3:19) and finally the women show up at the tomb when it was still a little dark, so dark she thought Jesus was the gardener.  The last time they saw Him His body was so bloody and disfigured this man could not have been Jesus.  He said He had yet to see the Father.  Preaching in hell then counts as part of the crucifixion story and activity.  By going to heaven at this point He can say His work is officially done.

Modern church dramas often show the tomb guarded for the entire three days but this is not correct.  If that were so then when the Mary came to the tomb and found the stone rolled away the guards would have stopped her.

The body of Jesus was cremated. Old Testament Law demanded that the sacrifice was a “whole burnt offering” and  none of it should remain until morning. If any remained, indicating God had not consumed it from the altar, that would mean His sacrifice for the whole human race was not accepted by God.

One of the major proofs that Jesus was raised from the dead is the fact that for over 2,000 years no one has been able to produce a body of Jesus.  That Sunday morning an entire cohort of Roman soldiers could find only two badly damaged corpses in all of Jerusalem.

Inconsistencies in our celebration of Easter may cause some doubters to reject the whole gospel message.  It probably makes no difference otherwise in our lives; yes, it would be nice to have a 4 day weekend not 3, but as usual we find the Biblical record is right.  It makes no real difference when we celebrate Good Friday, only that indeed we do celebrate it and all that He did for us on that day.

Discussion about Once Saved, Always Saved

My book came out with a chapter on this epigram so often heard in evangelical churches, Once saved, Always saved.  I said it was over sold and I thought people should stop saying this because I had met so very many people who had no evidence of salvation.

Now I didn’t mean that they stop drinking or smoking or getting mad and mouthing off.  We are not saved by our behavior; we are not dammed by our behavior. God said it was the heart that needed help not the outside of our bodies. “The heart of man is evil above all things and desperately wicked.” God was pretty pointed in saying that!

Too many people accept Christ as their savior with only mental assent. They say in public, “I believe Jesus saved me. And now I get to go to heaven.” And they walk out and nothing at all in their lives in changed especially their attitude.  It is just as futile as you being told you have a full scholarship to Harvard and never go to Boston to start your studies.  It won’t cost you a dime but you have made no move forward with a changed life.  If your life is not changed you can hardly be much of a believer.

Jesus is not life insurance or fire insurance as evangelists like to call it.  It is an “exchanged life.”  That is, your old bad person starts to melt away and the better angels of Jesus Himself enter your person.  Your personality does not change – if you are funny or a talented singer, or a quick study or a generous person with many friends- none of that changes.  But if you harbor in your heart unforgiveness, or malice or revenge, or hidden depression or blame – then that is not Jesus because that is not the real Him.

Many times we hear people talk abut how salvation changes them; and others see it. It does not need to be dramatic, just that others can recognize that what you once were is sloughing off like a threadbare winter coat worn on the inside.

The second problem is that allowing unchanged people to claim the evidence they do not have really does them no favor.  They slip and slide through life, making bad decisions and wondering why God doesn’t help them out. The pastors make no advance to help them.  Then they become more lost.

If we are going to expect people to have changed lives we need to guide them through where we have walked, not in a condemnatory way but realizing that even in the Kingdom of God you can benefit by a Buddy System.

 

Trying to Be Something You are Not

Billy Graham is one of the top 10 most important people of the 20th century. He had a unique role and accomplished what he set out to do. And he has many copycats.

My seminary professor told us to listen to the evangelists trying to be another Billy.  They even faked his southern accent.  Maybe that is good training but it can’t substitute for what God has called you to be.  God is not looking for carbon copies of anyone or anything, a fact we can verify in our un-copy-able DNA.

Young girls want to be movie starts or famous singers, swathed in furs and diamonds. But the story of fame is a difficult burden. Boys want to be high paid sports stars with a pricey car and a gaggle of groupy-girls.

The “beautiful” people are surrounded by insincere hangers-on hoping to bask in their fame. Money buys opportunity but many famous people are never told the awful truth about their bad behavior or attitude. Just because you have a lot of money does not mean you should be buying cocaine. And erelong you are trapped, thinking the money that bought you in can also buy you out. It won’t!

The happiest people are those who know who they are and what they are supposed to be doing. Older people usually get to this point and their calm and self-confidence helps their grandchildren.

Everyone call a plan for his/her life.

Jeremiah 29:11 I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for.

Everyone has gifts and a calling.

Romans 11:29 (The Message) God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.

Your gifts match your calling. And God will train you for the work.  Maybe you thought all those music lessons would send you to an early grave, but lo and behold, hours of concentration on another language (reading music is a language unto itself) now you need that discipline even though you never touched the piano after age 15. That job you had working for an idiot and being paid next to nothing taught you patience and to keep your mouth shut, a skill you find you need very badly now. All those camping trips with Dad, hating the flies and mosquitoes and falling in the lake as a child have made your work now in forest management easier and actually, fun.

At one time children thought religious work always meant the church. Today moderns know that God uses his people in every corner of the world and in every profession and job. Coming to the realization that you are in the center of God’s will as a secular worker opens up a brand new view of yourself.  Happy people are those who are fulfilled in their own call, not in someone else’s.

God said this: I am the Lord. I change not. (Malachi 3:6)

What this means is that you change in order to come into His presence.  If you are uncomfortable in your own skin, talk to him.

Government Health Care – the High Priest of Secular Religion

About 100 years ago Progressive politics started its long climb up as the secular way to replace a morally based government with one founded on the fashionable new Darwinian, evolutionary view of man as strictly an animal with “needs.”  Those needs did not include faith in God if one could replace a morally demanding deity in public life through governmental provision and intervention.

Out of this idea came the socialist then the communist state. In spite of obvious failures in every communist system right up to the 21st century and the fall of Venezuela, and weakness in socialist governments worldwide, devotees to this godless-religious view of life continue undeterred. The coup de grace came 100 years later in 2009 when on Christmas Eve one political party and only one voted to provide government health care.  Only it wasn’t medical care; it was an insurance tax which drained money into the government without allowing anyone but the well-off citizen to pay the ensuing doctor bill.

When only one group supports something you can be sure it won’t fly – and it didn’t. Eventually the high cost sank the project and it was finally eliminated by a new president through management decisions.

But why it represents the crown on the socialist system is our reason to write this. Throughout history every society has placed the highest honor to that person or group which could heal disease or at least ameliorate its effects.  The priests were also expected to turn base metal into gold, and perform essentially magic tricks.  And they could do it – up to a point. Moses’ confrontation with the Pharaoh in Egypt demonstrated that the priests of Ra (and other Egyptian gods) could copy many of God’s demonstrations of power.

Other societies went to witch doctors or cargo cult religious teachings as a substitute for the Great Healer. Jesus  Himself received the most criticism from the Jewish priests for healing – and that on a Saturday!  And that in spite of the fact that they could not copy His successes.

Satan blamed God for treating wealthy, righteous Job with kid gloves, and asked that he (Satan) prove whether Job was a summer soldier. (from The Message.)

Job 1:6-7 One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?”

Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”

God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”

9-10 Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!

11 “But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”

12 God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of God.

Satan lost that bet, but Job also lost nearly everything in the process.  His test of faith in the end, however, was rewarded by a restoration of much, and a remarkable increase in wealth as well. In addition Job proved to himself his faith. Self-knowledge is also a valuable commodity.

Have the American voters learned anything? We can certainly hope so.

Counterfeit Truth & the Blood of Jesus

Of all things on earth only the blood of Jesus cannot be counterfeited, and much of what we call love, grace, prosperity, health, honesty, humility, you name it, can be fraudulent. Many millions are trapped in false teaching with not a clue that is where they are.

Some people are wildly offended by the idea that blood has some bearing on one’s sins. But consider what we have here.

1. God established early on the blood sacrifice was the acceptable way to reach Him. Originally the Jews were given a series of yearly steps for the sacrifice of animals and told specifically that one’s children were unacceptable as a blood sacrifice.

Gen 22 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.) God substituted a ram instead of the son, and demonstrated that eventually God Himself would provide a blood sacrifice which is Jesus.

2. There is plenty of blood available. Both animals and birds have blood, and in the Old Testament they are occasionally used as sacrifices.

3. Human beings have @10 pints of blood, but it is not acceptable to God because men and women are sinners. In this way, if not for dozens of others, we know that Islamites cannot die for their religion, receive forgiveness and heaven. Muslims are sinners too; the blood of their innocent children is unacceptable so when they strap bombs on their children they are committing murder.

4. And this is the important point – Satan himself cannot find a blood sacrifice as a substitute.

5. Jesus’ blood came from a Holy Father.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

6. The blood type comes from the father not the mother. The father of Jesus is God Himself, the holiest blood of all.

7. When Jesus shed His blood, he not only won back the universe from the devil he foiled all attempts of the devil to provide a substitute.

1 Corinthians 2:7-9 …..the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

When Satan promoted the death of Jesus he sealed his own permanent fate which God, it says in this passage, had devised from the beginning.

That is why Jesus had to die by shedding of blood – a gun, a noose, drowning, suffocation – none of these would do the job.

Click here for commentary regarding President Trump moving the US  Embassy controversy.

Click here for information linking Fascism, Islamism and Anti-semitism.

Link between Democratic Socialism and Antisemitism.

Why Americans Must Support Israel

Boycotting Israel – the Ultimate in Antisemitism

Explaining the Trinity

Yes, the word trinity does not appear in the Bible. No, it doesn’t matter. Theologians create concepts and words to explain what cannot be seen. For example, angels are spirit beings that we cannot see; demons are spirit beings we cannot see. So how do we know the difference?

We know them by what they do – the results of their being here on planet earth.

The same thing is true of the Trinity. We define God the Father, Jesus the Son and Holy Spirit not by what they are but by how we apprehend their impact on our life. The word “apprehend” is so full of meaning, and we simply do not use it enough. It means to reach out and take hold of an idea. (Sometimes an idea takes hold of us.)

People ask, How do you know you are saved? The average person says, I don’t know, I just do. This is not a very good explanation for others but the people who say this apprehend what salvation is to them. Bottom line for Christianity is that it is an act of faith based on the personal apprehension by the individual of the intervention of God ….. and a whole lot more as we grow.

So we apprehend Jesus as the Light of the World, (John 9:5) God as Light (1 John 1:5) and Holy Spirit as our personal light within. (John 15:26)

God is Father, (1 Corinthians 8:6) Jesus is His Son and a good friend to us, (John 20:31) and Holy Spirit then is the intimate knowledge that God is with us at all times. (John 16: 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.) We can expect new revelation about the future from him says this passage. Jesus didn’t save us, ascend to heaven and leave us with no tools!

God is the Judge (Psalm 50:6) sitting on the throne, Jesus is our lawyer, (1 John 2:1) and the Holy Spirit our probation officer. He’ll warn us when we are out of line. (John 16:13)

God created us, Jesus shed His blood for us, and the Holy Spirit advises us until we leave earth.

God as Trinity is not defined from what they are but how we understand them. If God can hold the whole world in His hands, explanations outside our own meager understanding beggar description. There is simply no reason to try. But the term Trinity will do. Perhaps on the other side of the grave we will learn of other dimensions, but for now, 3 is enough.

What it means to “judge not”

You will hear it often. They are quoting Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.” The word judge comes from a root meaning “to bring to light.” In my 44 years of experience I can guarantee you the people who parrot this have something in them they do not want brought to light.

The Bible has a lot more to say about judging than one verse. It also says

1 Corinthians 5:12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?

Clearly we are supposed to know those who call themselves Christians and are part of the faith. Unfortunately we see churches judging outsiders (not allowed) and giving a quick pass to fellow members.

God says He will judge those who are non-believers.

Here is what The Message says – a slangy version of verses
9-13 I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous. I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort. Or with crooks, whether blue or white-collar. Or with spiritual phonies, for that matter. You’d have to leave the world entirely to do that! But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory. You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior. I’m not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers? God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line and, if necessary, clean house. (emphasis mine)

This is why we encourage intervention. But we are cowards aren’t we. This is God’s will for church folk. And if you are guilty of telling people not to judge you, examine yourselves to see if you are walking in the light.

2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.”

It is too easy to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.

6 Hours on the Cross – The Crucifixion

Jesus was nailed to the cross at 9 a.m., which Jews called the 3rd hour of the day because the day began at 6 a.m. He gave up the ghost at 3 p.m.

Luke 23: 44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened,[b] and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

Six is the traditional number of man who was created on the 6th day. 666 is the number of the evil-incarnate man. The Star of David has 6 points, three of these represent the human spirit, soul and body; the other three represent the 3 persons of God, God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the every present Holy Spirit. Laid on top of each other they represent Jesus, the perfect man,  perfect God and Son of David.

But why six hours? Jesus did not die for His own sins but for mankind’s. The first 3 hours when the sun was shining represent the renewed work of the Spirit to create one new man, the good part of the crucifixion. It was not enough to deal with sin – Jesus had to put in place the elements by which we grow in grace with ourselves and each other. There is the Church to consider. We may be saved individually but we are also part of a body. The last blackened, stormy 3 hours represent the punishment on all forms of evil and sin.  Then Jesus cried, “It is finished.” They put Him in a tomb and really thought that was the end of the story. But it wasn’t. He still had another thing or two to take care of.

While his disciples cried and feared, He visited the Temple where He surprised some priests with His own blood (not bull’s blood) and walked through the torn curtain which separated most of the tabernacle from both the Inner Court and the Outer Court. The priests on duty must have been mightily shocked. That curtain is as thick as a Persian rug! The curtain was torn top to bottom, indicating God did this, not human hands.

Then He went to the “spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19 “preached to the spirits in prison”) presumably those persons who had died without a chance to accept the promises of Father God. They could hear the same message from Him that we hear today and head up to heaven with him.

One occasionally hears that Jesus raised Himself up – not so. GOD raised him up. Acts 2:32 “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.” What is so interesting is that the Shroud of Turin looks like a photo of a crucified man. God is Light (1 John 1:5) That great flash bulb made a print and removed (vaporized might be a good word here) the earthly body.

Jesus was cremated by God and then given a new spiritual body which could walk through doors and be seen in diverse places.

Mary thought he was the Gardener, and rightly so. Adam, the 1st man, was to tend the Garden; the last Adam, Jesus, is mistaken for one. It all fits together so nicely.

 

How You Get Your Rewards in Heaven

Most people ignore the issue of rewards in heaven, thinking being good gets them there in the first place.  Some also think that heaven is a static place where everyone is the same.  To both assumptions – Not so.

Salvation deals with your sins on this side of the grave and yes, you are rewarded by going to heaven.  But when you get there your level of obedience is the basis for your future rewards. We have a picture in the Bible of angels going up and down ladders keeping records on very single person.  What is this?

It’s a list of the obedience level.  Billy Graham was asked what is the one question God will ask you when you get to heaven?

His answer:”Did you obey my son?” You can immediately see how this poses a problem.  If you were saved at age 50 your level of understanding and accountability to God and to His Son are more limited than the person saved as a teenager. The teenager also might be limited by a screamingly bad home life; the middle aged man might be aided by a generous income or a superior training in some area.  We are also products of our generation, our nation and our parents. All these factors we cannot use as excuses – in fact heaven will be re-markedly free of excuses, but they are factors affecting how much we know or could know, and how much we were able to do.

I wonder about Christians in Syria, under terrible persecution, their children snatched and murdered, with no one to help and no place to go.  And if they have a chance to leave, will they be persecuted at the nation where they are refugees?

I have many Chinese contacts; they have very little to help them grow in grace of God where they live. They are surrounded by people who claim to be atheists and who live their beliefs. Their world is more hostile than mine.  I am free to write this post; they are not.

All these factors simply tell me this; we’d be foolish to try to guess what happens to them after they face their Maker. The older I get the less I am interested in making judgments about people as individuals.  I do feel free to make judgments about how God is working in the world.

John in Revelation 20 said this:

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

This is perhaps the best scripture describing life after death for every single person who ever lived.  Notice that they had legs; it’s nice to know I will have a spiritual body that resembles the one I am in now.

The word “works” in this passage refers to trusting in God.  And yes, it is real work. You are faced with a decision – Do you marry this person? God seems to say no.  Your heart says yes.  What do you do?  Now you can see how much work it is to say no; it costs you everything you wanted. Only time will tell if you made the right decision.

Notice that the books are opened.  They have heretofore been closed.  God doesn’t want me judging before the time. (I Corinthians 4:5)

The Bible advises us to look to our own things.  2 John 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. There are no rewards for being a busybody.

If you have not been obeying God so far – not a problem.  You can start today.

 

 

How God Answers Prayers- Devotional

The Communist rebels took over Russia in 1918, deposed a cruel and selfish Czar and then went on to amalgamate the Soviet Union of Eastern Bloc states with other communist nations at the ready to consume the USA . Had it not been for the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe they might have subsumed that as well.

There were many Christians then as now praying for the release of these nations and their trapped peoples from the mandatory atheism and materialism which is the foundational doctrine of socialist-communist political systems. For 70 long years it appeared those prayers would not be answered.  Then finally as the poverty and bankruptcy of communism demolished Russia from within they started on the path of westernization.  But what kind of government would replace this system? Would they simply replace one failure with another?

God would answer that generation of prayers with one man, a hard drinking street fighter of a leader in Boris Yeltsin and the kind of government would occur as a result of a side trip to a grocery store.

It was September 16, 1989 and Yeltsin, then newly elected to the new Soviet parliament and the Supreme Soviet, had just visited Johnson Space Center (Houston, Texas). What followed was …. an unscheduled trip inside a nearby Randall’s grocery store.

Yeltsin, then 58, roamed the aisles of Randall’s nodding his head in amazement. He told his fellow Russians in his entourage that if their people, who often must wait in line for most goods, saw the conditions of U.S. supermarkets, “there would be a revolution.”

Shoppers and employees stopped him to shake his hand and say hello. Yeltsin asked customers about what they were buying and how much it cost, later asking the store manager if one needed a special education to manage a store. He marveled at the produce section, the fresh fish market, and the checkout counter. He looked especially excited about frozen pudding pops.

“Even the Politburo doesn’t have this choice. Not even Mr. Gorbachev,” he said.

The fact that stores like these were on nearly every street corner in America amazed him. They even offered free cheese samples.  Yeltsin didn’t leave empty-handed, as he was given a small bag of goodies to enjoy on his trip.

About a year after the Russian leader left office, a Yeltsin biographer later wrote that on the plane ride to Yeltsin’s next destination, Miami, he was despondent. He couldn’t stop thinking about the plentiful food at the grocery store and what his countrymen had to subsist on in Russia.

In Yeltsin’s own autobiography, he wrote about the experience at Randall’s, which shattered his view of communism. Two years later, he left the Communist Party and began making reforms to turn the economic tide in Russia.

“When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people,” Yeltsin wrote. “That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it.”

So God took a plain man of the people to a grocery store and the future of the largest nation on earth was forever changed. Russia is by no means out of the woods today, but now Russians can worship again, buy consumer goods, and enough heat and food. They can wear jeans and play rock music, and hope for the future.  Allowing Christianity is a major change because Christians bring life to a nation: “he who has the Son has life.”

God tells us, “Watch and pray and do not faint.” Just because we don’t see God working, is no reason to not pray. He uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Expect it!

 

Reincarnation – True or false?

Quick answer: False

Long answer. There are several scriptures which address the issue of being “born again in the flesh.” King David had a baby son who died after being ill. David tells us this: 2 Samuel 12:22 “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the LORD will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”

David said he will die and go to his son, but the son will not return. If you have lost a baby, how nice to know s/he is in heaven. This would include babies that have been aborted.

Another passage is often brought up to support notions of reincarnation. John the Baptist was selected before he was born to work as Elijah did. Luke 1:16 He (John) will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” This is NOT the old Elijah in a new body. In fact Elijah shows up later in front of Jesus and the apostles, looking like himself. Matt 17:4 Peter said to Jesus ….. if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Clearly they knew exactly who Elijah was, not a combo of John and Elijah and any 3rd person either.

Finally, the concept of reincarnation makes the “person” into a bi-polar or worse, multi-personality. If you lived as Hazel, Mary, and Joanne, what are you going to be – 3 personalities? Really?!

The bottom line is that Jesus died for your sins, here and now, not in a future life. He can’t do both. And when you die, once for all, you face the judgment. Hebrews 9:27 It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment

You will need Jesus’ sacrifice then, not at some future time. We know this teaching is false because it reduces the person and work of Christ to nothing.

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