Posts Tagged ‘faith’

Murders, violence plaguing our schools and cities, physical, emotional and sexual abuse of millions of children, corruption in businesses and politics, human trafficking and genocide. What causes these things? And how do we put and end to it?

The solution is simple, but not so easy. 

The Bible teaches us that if we repent of our wickedness, return to God and obey His commandments, He will bless every aspect of our lives, but if we continue in our wickedness and follow after other gods, all we can expect is more evil in our lives and in the end, destruction. 

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. “ (Deuteronomy 28: 1-6) 

“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.” (vs 15-19)

Although many Christians place the blame for all the trouble in the world on unbelievers and the devil, these words were directed at God’s people. They were never directed to those who rejected God and worshipped idols. Read what God told Solomon after he finished building the Temple for God: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

You see, all the problems we see in the world can all be solved if only Christians would repent and turn back to God and obey Him. Even the apostle Paul wrote, “What business of mine is it to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13) So the Bible makes clear that Christians are not to judge unbelievers, but those who claim to be Christians inside the Church. But to do that we must first understand what it means to be a true Christian.

True Christianity—What is it? 

The basic definition of a Christian is a person who professes belief in Jesus as the Messiah based on the teachings of the Bible. People often consider themselves Christians if they were brought up in a religious family or if they go to church. But does this make someone a true Christian? Keith Green once said, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger.”

The Bible has a lot to say about being a true Christian. The word “Christian” is only used three times in the Bible. In Acts 11:26, the believers of Jesus were first called Christians because their actions resembled Jesus’ behavior. The word is also used in Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16. 

The Bible teaches that a follower of Christ is one who has been born again. In John 3:3 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” The term “born again” has been used (and abused) by many in our generations. But it was considered nonsense by the man Jesus was talking to in this passage. Nicodemus asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old?”  What Nicodemus couldn’t know until later on, was that the phrase “born again” literally means born from above. It indicates a change in one’s heart—a spiritual transformation of someone’s life. 

What is the Result? 

A realization of one’s sin. Romans 3:23 says, “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This sin results in death according to Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The death that the apostle Paul is speaking of is not an earthly death but the second death after the Resurrection. The term “second death” appears only in the book of Revelation. It appears four times: Revelation 2:11; 20:6; 20:14-15; and 21:8. Revelation mentions that there is no second death for those who have repented of their sins and surrendered their lives to God. Only those who have rejected God and His gift of salvation through His son, Jesus.

A true Christian has faith in only Jesus

Having faith in Jesus’ death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins and accepting that salvation is a free gift of God—acknowledging that we can’t do enough good deeds to work our way into heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” We cannot become holy by doing things, helping people, giving money, being kind or polite. We can only become holy by believing in Jesus Christ and letting him take control of our lives.

What are the characteristics of a true Christian? 

A true Christian is a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The “old” refers to everything that was part of our old nature—pride, love of sin, negative habits and evil passions. We do not inherit the new nature from our parents, nor can we re-create a new nature for ourselves, no matter how good and moral of a person we are. And it doesn’t mean that God simply cleans up our old nature. He creates in us an entirely new and unique person! 

A true Christian is dead to sin. 

Romans 6:11-12 says, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” A Christian may still struggle with temptation to sin, but they repent to God and are forgiven because of the sacrifice that Jesus made. Repentance is not parroting a prayer and asking Jesus to come into your life. And it doesn’t mean that you’re sorry you got caught in the sin. Repentance means that you’re sorry for the sin itself—that your sin hurt God and damaged your relationship with Him. Repentance means that you turn from your old life of sin and surrender every aspect of your life to God—A life no longer ruled by sin. 

A true Christian is conformed to God’s Spirit.

A true Christian allows God’s Holy Spirit to conform them to the image of Christ. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.The fruit of the Spirit has nothing to do with soul winning, or preaching, or being successful financially, or even discipling others. The fruit of the Spirit has to do with how one lives their life. I have met many who are homeless, who struggle with health issues and have never won anyone to Jesus, and yet lived their lives according to God’s word. And we have all witnessed so-called successful Christian preachers and evangelists who have never displayed any of the fruit of the Spirit in their personal, private and/ or public life. 

A true Christian is called to live a holy life. 

That means not being conformed to the ways of the world. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT) In Ephesians 4:17-32 Paul gives us instructions on how to live our new life in Christ: “…put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be renewed in the spirit of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness…Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” I believe this would apply to our social media posts and Twitter feeds as well.

 A true Christian is to read and obey God’s Word. 

James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” There are many professing Christians today who say, “Because we are now under grace we don’t need to  obey the Old Testament law.”  And, “It’s impossible for us to obey God’s commandments. That’s why Jesus had to die on the cross.” 

But why would God give us commandments that He knew were impossible for us to obey? He wouldn’t. In 1 John 5:3 we read, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome…” And again in 1 John 2:3: “By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.” When God gave His commandments of blessing and cursing to Moses and to the Hebrew people he said, “…For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off…But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that YOU CAN DO IT.” – Deuteronomy 30:11-14 (Emphasis mine) 

A New Commandment or just the same old one?

Many Christians believe that because Jesus gave us a “new commandment” in John 13:34-35 that he replaced the Old Testament Law. They even give proof by pointing to what Jesus said in Luke 10:27: One day an expert in the law stood up to test Him. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” Jesus replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus said. “Do this and you will live.” 

So what was this expert in the Law referring to? Possibly the commandment from Deuteronomy 6:5? “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” And Leviticus 19:18? “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against any of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” 

Anyone who thinks that the Old Testament is only about strictly obeying the Law and lacks God’s grace, has not studied the Old Testament. It was out of God’s love for His people that He continued to pour out His grace on them—time and time again. The people would rebel against God and serve idols, then they would bring trouble and destruction on themselves. Then they repented and cried out to God, and God saved them—time and time again. And that is exactly how God expects us to love each other. The same way He loves us.

God’s Laws and His Holy festivals that He commands us to obey are not to keep us under His thumb or hold them over our heads. His commandments are for our own safety. When my children were young they obeyed my rules. Not because they thought I would love them more if they obeyed me, or afraid that if they disobeyed I would love them less. But BECAUSE they loved me they obeyed me. And they knew that my rules would keep them safe. We do not obey God’s commandments because we think God will love us more if we obey, or we’re afraid that God will love us less if we don’t. But BECAUSE we love God we obey His commandments. (1 John 5:3)

Now there will always be sin in the world until Jesus returns and rules on the earth. But the problems plaguing our world today would be greatly reduced if only God’s people would repent of their wickedness and turn again to God and obey only Him. It’s all up to us. 

Listen to what God said: “I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. So choose life, so that you and your descendants may live, and that you may love the LORD your God, obey Him, and hold fast to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the LORD swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20) 

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I have noticed that there are many people on Face Book who post memes with Bible verses telling people to, “Like and share if you’re not ashamed of Jesus”. Then on the same page this same person shares some off color joke or obscene post.    

I try not to be judgmental, but it got me wondering, do people who profess to be Christians actually know what that means? Do they even know what they believe? 

If you asked them, “Well, why do you believe that?” Or, “Can you show me that in the word of God?” Some may reply with, “I heard my pastor say that and it seems right to me.” The problem with this answer is that feelings change and as a consequence, a hunch or a feeling, or “My pastor said” or “It seems right to me” will not hold up under cross examination. 

We have all heard the saying, “If you were accused of being a Christian would there be evidence to convict you?” But if a Christian stands to defend his beliefs in an actual court room, their testimony becomes quite critical. Because the court has said that a person cannot hold to their beliefs if they cannot describe them. Their belief cannot be a hunch or a feeling. In a court of law, a defendant must be able to state their beliefs from the Bible orally.

The court does not expect eloquence, but it does expect the defendant to be able to explain his or her beliefs in a simple and concise manner. This becomes important because often we like to hide behind a title. We may claim to be a “Fundamentalist” a “Messianic” or an “Evangelical Christian,” which are descriptive of what group you belong to, but not what you believe personally. In the matter of beliefs, the court realized there must be a test to determine which beliefs are upheld and protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 

Below are excerpts from his book, Conviction vs. Preference, by Attorney David C. Gibbs Jr., Christian Law Association, Conneaut, Ohio. These are actual incidents that have occurred during court proceedings. 

In 1972, the court came down with such a test. (Wisconsin v. Jonas Yoder, 406 U.S. 205) Ironically, that test case involved Christian education. An Amish man who lived in the state of Wisconsin by the name of Jonas Yoder told the state that he would no longer send his children to the state school. The state of Wisconsin advised him that he must, to which he replied, “I don’t think you hear me. I am not going to send my children to your school.” Mr. Yoder was threatened with being sued if he refused to comply but still he refused. He was warned that if he was sued and if the state won the case, he could go to jail. His only response was that he would not send his children to the school. Even under the threat of losing his children, he refused to change his mind, explaining that his religious beliefs prohibited him from complying with the demand.

Mr. Yoder did not fare very well in court. He lost the case and was told that now that he had had his day in court, he must comply with the ruling. He still refused, never altering his position and he found out something very interesting. After losing his appeal, his case went to the U. S. Supreme Court, where Mr. Jonas Yoder was told that the First Amendment protected him and he was not required to send his children to the state school. This case laid down the test that was to be used for all subsequent cases to determine which beliefs are to be protected by the First Amendment and which are not.

The first definition the court made was, “Every religious belief is one of two types. It is either a conviction or a preference.”

Most Christians carelessly use the word conviction. In reality, the test of whether or not a matter is a conviction is a very severe one and not to be taken lightly. It will be seen here that most of us possess only preferences. 

WHAT IS A PREFERENCE?

A preference is a belief that is held with such intensity that a person can go into full time service in the name of that belief. He can be a minister of the gospel, a Christian schoolteacher or a missionary. He might even give all of his wealth to it and the court decides he still has only a preference. His belief may energize him to stand on a street corner and witness and proselytize, but it would still only be a preference. If a belief can change under some circumstances, the court calls it a preference. True conviction cannot be changed! When a man knows what he believes is right and allows the pressure of others to cause him to bend, the court calls the belief a preference. 

Lawsuit pressure causes many people to change their beliefs. There have been many men who say, “I am for this, but I am not going to get sued over it because the news media makes us into villains.” If you avoid taking a stand that will cause you to get sued because you do not want to see your church membership drop and that causes you to change your beliefs, then your belief was a preference. 

Jail pressure causes many people to change their beliefs. The incarcerated are isolated from their Christian influence, friends and family. And they are thrown into the middle of often-brutal men who normally relish the thought of breaking a Bible-toter. The court says if you change your beliefs for fear of going to jail, then your beliefs are preferences. 

Death pressure causes most people to change their beliefs. The court will ask if you are prepared to die for your belief. The court says that for a belief to be a conviction it will not change, even in the face of death. Why? Only a belief that is God-ordered is a conviction. Therefore the court must first decide if your belief is a conviction or a preference. Only a conviction is protected by the Constitution. 

WHAT IS A CONVICTION?

A conviction is something that you purpose in your heart, as a fabric of your belief system. It is one that you will not change due to any circumstance—It says, “When you believe that your God has required something of you, you will withstand all of the tests put to you.” It has been said that a man is never made by a crisis. The crisis exposes the man for what he already is. 

A conviction is a personal belief. The court says that if you require others to stand with you to maintain your beliefs, then your beliefs are preferences and not convictions. There have been preachers willing to stand on their belief only if they have the backing of a certain college or group to stand with them. That doesn’t go over in a court, for your belief must be a personal conviction regardless of what anyone else thinks or does. 

A conviction is non-negotiable. The court says if you can discuss the negotiation of your faith, it is a matter of preference. Why? How do you negotiate what is God ordered? Recall what the three Hebrews said because it illustrates the last point the court chose. “King, we believe that our God can deliver us, but even if you throw us into that furnace and God does not deliver us, we are not going to bow” (Daniel 3:16–18). In the case of Jonas Yoder and others the Supreme Court has ruled that the test of conviction is if there is a consistent lifestyle of one’s beliefs. A good part of every court case is about whether what you say with your mouth is consistently being practiced with your life. (End of excerpts)

A conviction can also be misinterpreted and misguided. Many of the suicide bombers had such a strong conviction of their beliefs that they were willing to give their lives for it. And yet, even among terrorists there has been instances of their beliefs being a preference rather than a conviction.

Take for example, Hoda Muthana, a young woman from Hoover, Alabama who traveled to Syria to join ISIS. Five years and three husbands later, she says she regrets what she did and is now begging to return to the US. In a recent handwritten note obtained by CNN from a family representative, she writes, “When I left to go to Syria I was a naive, angry, and arrogant young woman. I thought that I understood my religious beliefs.”  As it turns out those religious convictions were actually her preference at the time. And those preferences changed when pressured by outside influences. 

On the other hand, Christians in Nigeria and other countries have given up their lives rather than deny their Lord and convert to Islam or some other religion not grounded in the Word of God—even when it would be much easier and safer to comply with their torturers. Their beliefs were obviously a conviction.  

So are your beliefs a conviction or a preference? 

When Jonas Yoder went to trial and lost, he still won. When he appealed and lost, he won. And when he went to the Supreme Court and the judges unanimously said he was right, he knew he was right all along. He stood in this country when no one else stood with him. But when all the tests of preference and conviction were applied, he passed.

 Pressure from friends and family members, threat of lawsuits, jail or death will decide if your beliefs are a conviction or a preference. It is a conviction of Christians that pornography should not be viewed, that obscenity should not be spoken, that nudity should not be viewed. It is a conviction that unrighteous themes should not be exalted or promoted. Most would agree that these are the convictions of a Christian because the Bible requires it. Is it a sin to do otherwise? I believe that the answer is a resounding yes.

So how is it that so many who profess to be Bible believing, God loving, Jesus following Christians show no consistent lifestyle? Perhaps it is time to place ourselves on trial to see if we really believe what we say we believe. Are we really living consistently by the things that we say are convictions? It is unlikely that we will ever be put on trial for our beliefs, but whether or not you are ever brought into a courtroom and put on trial by men, you are on trial every day before your God. He demands holy living and consistency of life, not just in words. Anyone can say they believe in certain things, but as a child of God we ought to live a life consistent with what we say we believe. God help us to make it so.

What does the word ‘Christian’ mean to you?

Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wujVMIYzYXg

Jesus said that a house divided can not stand. But Christians are sometimes divided over issues that are not central to the Bible’s teachings. The Body of Christ should not be divided against itself, yet many times we are attacking each other over any belief that differs from our own. Jesus told us that the world would know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another—not how well we argue our point toward one another other. (John 13:35) 

When Christians insult other Christians

Whenever Christians use any political figure, party, or ideology as an excuse to objectify, insult, humiliate or dehumanize another brother or sister in Christ, we fail to live up to our discipleship. Remember, the world is watching (And reading our posts). How then can they know that as Christians we are different from their worldly mindset if we act the same way as the world does? That is exactly what Satan delights in. What do you think Jesus thinks of us when he sees us fighting over issues that are not essential to our own salvation—and then tell others about how we were changed by the love of Christ?

The Apostle John spelled it out clearly, leaving no room for doubt about who are Christ’s: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (I John 4:20 NLT) If we are constantly insulting other believers, then the love of God is not indwelling in us. And if anyone uses hateful language against their brother or sister because of their beliefs, then the love God is not in them. In I John 1:6, John is saying that we are being a hypocrite if we say that we are in fellowship with God and yet treat our fellow Christians like enemies: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”  

Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies. How much more then should we be praying for other believers and loving one another instead of arguing and insulting one another?

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Colossians 3:5-8) 

Don’t just tell people you’re a Christian—Live like one

“…But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:22-27) 

If we went before a congregation and repeated a “sinner’s prayer” and listened to a sermon every day of the week by an angel from heaven, yet relied on hearing the word only, it would never bring us to heaven. Hearers of the word only are self-deceivers; and in the end, self-deceit will be the worst deceit of all. It is not what we hear, but how we live before men, that will bring us into heaven. And then Jesus will become even more precious to our soul and make us more fitted for the inheritance that awaits us in paradise.

Remember: Judgment is to begin with the household of God. And, if the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners? (1 Peter 4:17-18)

I write this in the hope that God’s people will repent of their wickedness, turn back to God and obey His word. I pray that I will see it in my lifetime.

 

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.”  – Senator John McCain (2018)

Wiser words were never spoken in our modern time. And yet, this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen in our world. The question is, Why? 

The answer lies within the pages of the Bible:

“…because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them. For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, in order that judgment will come upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness…” – 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 –

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion”… In the Last Days many will be deceived by their own sin, and the strong delusion is their punishment. They did not receive the truth or love it, which was their sin; and therefore are given up to believe a lie. Had they received the truth, they might be saved; but not receiving it, they are lost. So that although God is not the author of sin or falsehood, yet he may in justice give them over to their sin, which the apostle calls God’s sending them a strong delusion. It is their punishment; a making of their own, not of God. (See Romans 1: 23-25) 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 warns: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Sound familiar?

These verses are mainly describing unbelievers in the last days before Jesus returns, but sadly, today they could also apply to those who claim to be Bible believing followers of Jesus. More and more of these so-called believers are demeaning others on Face Book and other social media who happen to disagree with them—Even promoting violence on those who happen to have different views. So many are complaining and arguing over political views—some even coming to blows simply because of their political affiliation.

The Bible teaches us that we will reap whatever we sow. (Galatians 6:7-8; Proverbs 22:8; Jeremiah 17:10)  We’ve replaced the Bible and prayer in our public schools with metal detectors and police security. Those who were designed and appointed to help us and be examples for us—from our teachers and coaches, to our legislators, to the local priest and pastor, on up to the President, have fallen and have led us to the brink of destruction. And no one seems to realize that God may have placed those very people in their positions in order to lead His people to repent of their wickedness and turn once again to Him. (See Psalm 75;4-8; Daniel 2:21)

When people in positions of authority do something stupid and unethical, all of us who are under their authority suffer. But God’s plan cannot be stopped or even slowed by the feeble efforts of wicked men.

Throughout history God has always used wicked leaders to bring repentance unto righteousness in His people. The prophet Habakkuk wrote during the troubled times before Judah’s captivity. During this period, foreign powers invaded Israel again and again, and inside the nation known as God’s people, evil and immorality raged. (Habakkuk 1:5-11) The prophet Jeremiah, a contemporary of Habakkuk, also warned of God’s coming judgment. Many Israelites were confused. Why would a holy God allow such evil to continue? Are we not God’s chosen people?

Is not that the same thing that many Christians today would say? Our nation has been blessed because our country’s beginnings were based on Biblical principals. But because we are so blessed, we have become complacent. Like Israel of old, we fail to seek God; to defend His Word, and to declare His Gospel, because our lives are so comfortable. Rather than making disciples of all nations, we gradually have become just like the world. So God will use our suffering under wicked leadership to try to wake us from our slumber and lead us to repentance. 

We just celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood up for the poor and the downtrodden of his day. He believed with all his heart that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God. Sadly, Dr. King would cringe if he could see what’s happening in America today and what has happened to his dream.

It has passed the time for Christians to stop blindly following the ways of the world like a bunch of unthinking zombies and return to the ways of God!

 

Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear, but your sins have separated you from your God and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59: 1-2)

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn away from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sins and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7: 13,14)

 

Over the past few months I have noticed how many people have been taking to social media to voice their displeasure with the recent presidential campaign and the ultimate election of Donald Trump.

The most disheartening aspect of this has been the hateful language from professing Christians from both sides and their slanderous postings. (Many from fake news sights)

The Bible makes it clear that followers of Christ should not be involved in this type of thing:

Exodus 23:1You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.

Psalm 34:13Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.

Proverbs 20:19Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.

Proverbs 26:20For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

When we repeat such reports from one to another (whether true or false) they provoke us to mutual anger, enmity, and contention; but where there is no whispering of rumors and slander, the quarreling ceases. Animosity, hatred, and quarrels will die away—Just as burning coals eventually die out and are no more than cold ashes under our feet.

But at the same time, dead coals laid on burning coals, or wood on fire, increases the heat and flames of contention. All contentions, whether between private persons, families, churches, or nations, are begun and carried forward by pride. And pride can often lead to unkind tempers and provoking words that produce quarrels and enmities, which destroys all peace and embroil people in endless hostilities against one another.

This should not be happening within the body of Christ.

I realize that this election has left many with great fear—fear of the unknown, fear of what will transpire in the next four years and beyond, and fear that our greatest fear will come upon us. (Job 3:25) But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

In Isaiah 41:10 God reassures us to, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

As I was writing this, a heavy wind storm caused some things to crash around outside. When I went out to survey the damage, I discovered that it was just a ladder that had fallen onto my deck. But I was suddenly amazed that my next door neighbors’ trees were being violently tossed to and fro in the wind, but the tree in my back yard was completely still, unaffected by the wind in my neighbor’s yard! Standing there I was reminded of  the verse in Ecclesiastes 11:5 that says, “Just as you do not know the path of the wind and how bones are formed in the womb of the pregnant woman, so you do not know the activity of God who makes all things.”

Wherever we are, whatever is happening in our lives, we can always trust that God is in control—if we choose to do it. But if we magnify every little difficulty and start objections and quarrels, we will never be able to fully trust God. Winds and clouds of tribulation are in God’s hands, designed to test us. And God’s work will always agree with his word, whether we see it or not. So we need to trust God to provide for us and protect us, without our anxious, disquieting cares. For in due season, in God’s time, you shall reap—if you do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)

Sadly, American Christians have become fat and soft over the years. We have become more dependent on our own strengths and on our political system than we are on God and his system of government.

We claim that our religious rights are being attacked because of some states’ decision to remove monuments of the Ten Commandments on the Capitol grounds, or schools disallowing religious displays, or praying at public meetings, or changing the greeting of “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays”.

But right now, Christians and religious minorities around the world are literally facing death, simply for maintaining their faith.

In Northern Nigeria, Boko Haram has waged a years-long campaign of violence, mass abductions, rapes and village raids against local communities. In many cases, they’ve targeted Christians, as well as more moderate Muslims. Schoolgirls who have been captured have been forced to convert to Islam before being made to become child brides and even suicide bombers. Videos of public executions of Christians have been posted on the Internet to strike fear in the hearts of other believers. There have been reports of Christian aid workers being publicly beaten and even made to watch their own children being tortured in an effort to get them to renounce their faith, before being publicly crucified.

Do you think that our Christian brothers and sisters in these countries argue amongst each other about their political choices?

Our world is changing. What we see happening in other countries will eventually happen here as well. The apostle Paul writing to Timothy said, “In the last days terrible times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, without love of good, traitorous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

He related his own persecutions and said, “What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (See 2 Timothy 3:1-16)

Even Jesus himself said: “…They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.” (John 16:1-3)

So instead of fighting amongst ourselves, we should be strengthening each other and preparing ourselves spiritually for what is to come.

Because, “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses? If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in the thickets near the Jordan? (Jeremiah 12:5) In other words, if issues like the banning of public prayer and  Christmas greetings weary you, what will you do when real persecution comes?

As a child of God, we no longer have to fear…Anything!

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV)

I have heard many Christians quote that verse in 2 Timothy when discussing if the Bible is true. Some modern versions even translate that verse as, “All scripture is God breathed…” And yet most Christians today rarely (if ever) have read anything other than the New Testament writings.

We must remember that when the apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, the only Scripture that was available at the time was the Tanakh; the first Hebrew letter of each of the Masoretic Text’s three traditional subdivisions: Torah (“Teaching”, also known as the Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (“Prophets”) and Ketuvim (“Writings”) hence the name, TaNaKh. It is also known that the majority of the things that Paul wrote in his letters were taken from the Tanakh, or the Old Testament.

So am I saying that the New Testament writings are not inspired by God? Certainly not. But I don’t believe that the New Testament writings are any more inspired by God than say, the writings of John Bunyan, George Whitfield, Charles Finney, Andrew Murray and so many others.

But for someone to read only the New Testament writings is like reading a Bible commentary without studying the verses themselves. And yet, so many do exactly that when they only rely on pastors to explain snippets of Bible verses from the pulpit on Sunday mornings.

If you ask anyone who knows the story of the great flood, “Did Noah warn the people?” Most people would answer something like, “Yes, he warned them that a flood was coming and preached for them to repent for 100 years but the people didn’t believe him and even laughed at him.” But after searching the Scriptures I could not find anything conclusive which indicates that Noah said anything to anyone about the impending judgement to come. And there’s a good reason why.

In Genesis 6: 2-8 we read: “When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose…”

It goes on to say that the Nephilim (the offspring of the sons of God i.e.; fallen angels) were on the earth in those days and because of this, the wickedness of man became so great that every intention of the thoughts of people’s heart was only evil continually. So much so that God regretted that he had even created man on the earth. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But verse 9 states that, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation.”

Many have been taught that Noah was the only person on earth at that time who was without sin, but the Bible states that there in no one who is righteous. (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Psalm 143:2, Romans 3:10) So what could this mean for Noah? Strong’s translates the Hebrew word  for “blameless” (H8549) as: without blemish, perfect, without spot.

The Nephilim were doing such a good job of breeding with humans and creating more Nephilim that the human bloodline was almost completely destroyed. God saw the corruption and knew that the only way to get rid of it was to destroy the earth and everything on it. But then God noticed Noah; a blameless man—a man whose bloodline had not been corrupted by the Nephilim—i.e.; without blemish.

When the door to the Ark was shut, there was probably room for more people. But if everyone else on earth were corrupted by the Nephillim, why would God want Noah to warn them so that they could storm the ark at the last minute? Both 1 Peter 3:20 and Genesis 6:3 indicate that God waited a period of time before judgement, but not that they were warned of the coming judgement. Why? Perhaps God wanted to protect Noah and his family from the wicked people and Nephillim who would no doubt pollute their bloodline. Notice that there was only one door—which was not closed by Noah, but by God. (Genesis 7:16)

Often when preachers teach things about Scripture they make unbiblical assumptions when they try to fill in some gaps and we end up repeating them as truth. I am amazed at how most people today get their ideas about the Bible from movies, TV specials and greeting cards and how little is said about the the importance of the deep study of Scripture.

Some may say, “But I don’t understand a lot of the Bible; so I have to rely on my pastor or other more experienced Bible scholars to explain it to me.” Then you need to repent of your laziness, go out and buy yourself a Strong’s Concordance (or go to one of the many online Bible sites) and set aside some time to really study the Bible.

Noah heard God and believed and obeyed him by faith.The Apostle Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8–9)

This is exactly how Noah was saved. Not because he more righteous spiritually than anyone else, but because he had faith in God. Noah realized that he could only be saved by God’s grace, through faith. Genesis 6:8 tells us that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Noah’s salvation, like ours, was by grace. Had Noah not listened and obeyed God through faith, he and his family would have been destroyed with all the rest.

I discovered a great truth in studying the story of Noah and the great flood in Scripture.

Included in God’s instructions for building the ark, God told Noah, “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.” (Gen. 6:14) Strong’s translates the Hebrew word for “pitch” as atonement. (H3722)

You see, pitch was used on the ark to prevent anything on the outside (water) from getting into the inside. So Noah and his family were literally protected by the atonement God directed Noah to apply to the ark! And just like Noah and his family were protected by the atonement covering the ark, we too, by faith, are protected by Jesus’ atonement. And by grace through faith in Jesus, when we repent and turn from our sins, Jesus’ atonement prevents anything on the outside (sin, and worldliness) from getting into the inside of us.

We read in Matthew 24:36-39 that Jesus said, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. Just as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

As we see what is happening in the world today, can there be any doubt that we are living “as the days of Noah”? But unlike the days of Noah, you don’t have to be left unaware until tit’s too late. Repent, turn from your wickedness and be cleansed and transformed by God’s atonement through his son, Jesus.

This is true for Christians as well as unbelievers. God wants more from you than just your belief in him. He wants you to act on your faith by living it out in every part of your life. That’s the only way you can grow closer to God and let others know that your faith is real, so they’ll be inspired to seek God themselves.

Casting Crowns – Jesus, Friend of Sinners

The Church today needs to follow the advice of this song. Love first and stop judging others who don’t yet know God and the salvation that is available to them through His son, Jesus. We get so caught up in trying to change a person that we sometimes forget why we are here—to show others His love.

It is very important for every student of the Bible, in fact, it is absolutely necessary for every Christian, to see the distinction the Bible makes between the Jews (The House of Judah) and the other Tribes of Israel. (The House of Israel)

Many people today suppose that where Israel is mentioned in the Bible, it means the Jews. We read articles and hear sermons today in which the writers and speakers refer to Abraham as a Jew. Isaac and Jacob are often called Jews. But that is an impossible thing as we shall see from the Scriptures.

Thousands of Christians use the terms Israel, Jew, The House of Israel, and The House of Judah, as if the Bible always refers to the same people. But according to Biblical history, there were no people known as Jews until about 15 centuries AFTER Abraham was born, and until 600 years after the death of Moses!

Most Hebrews are not Jews

Beginning with Adam, we have not only the chronology, but the genealogical tables of the Bible. There are ten generations from Adam to Noah, and ten generations from Shem, Noah’s son, to Abraham. Eber or Heber (or descendants of Heber) was the fourth in the generation from Shem. All of the descendants of Heber were Hebrews. Abraham wasn’t born until six generations later. He, therefore, was a Hebrew. The Hebrews were not Jews, because Judah, from whom the Jews descended, was not yet born! When that time came, there were a very small portion of Jews on the earth. And the great mass of Hebrews were not Jews then, and are not today. Let us closely follow the facts.

Sons of Abraham

Abraham had eight sons. One son was Ishmael whose mother was Hagar. One son was Isaac, whose mother was Sarah. After Sarah’s death, Abraham married Keturah, and she bore unto him six sons. Abraham, being a Hebrew, his descendants would of course be Hebrews; and their descendants would also be Hebrews. But their descendants are not Jews. If they were, that would make the Arabs Jews!

Now Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. If Isaac was a Jew, then both Esau and Jacob would be Jews. This would make the descendants of Esau also Jews, but the descendants of Esau became the Edomites, and later the Turks. Also the Pharaohs who oppressed the Hebrews were of the line of Esau, but none of these people were Jews.

To call Abraham a Jew would make him a descendant of Isaac’s yet unborn grandson Judah! The Tribe of Judah had no existence on earth during the time of Abraham and Isaac. If Isaac was a Jew, then surely his twin sons, Jacob and Esau would be Jews. We all know that Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, became the father of the Arab nations as they are known today. If Jacob was a Jew, how could it be that his twin brother would not also be a Jew, since they were both born of the same father and mother?

Descendants do not name their ancestors 

Jacob, one of these twin brothers had 12 sons, which came from four different mothers. None of these 12 sons were Jews. One of his 12 sons was Judah, but this racial type or remnant we know as the Jews is only a small portion of the descendants of Judah. There are no Jews among any of the descendants of Jacob’s other 11 sons.

Now Judah had three sons. The descendants of one son, Zarah, peopled the shores of the Mediterranean, leaving Egypt before the exodus of the children of Israel. Pharez, the twin brother of Zarah, became the father of the tribe of Judah. The tribe of Judah descending from Pharez was divided by the Lord into two Houses—the “House of David” and the “House of Judah.”

Abraham was the father of Isaac; Isaac was the father of Jacob; Jacob, who was later named “Israel,” and became the father of Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin. The 12 sons each became the head of a Tribe called after his own personal name. From Judah, the fourth son of Jacob, are descended the Jews. The word “Jew” being simply an abbreviation of the name “Judah.” A glance at the genealogy will show that it is impossible for Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob to have been Jews.

Only the descendants of Judah—those coming after him—could be called by his name, not his ancestors. No one had ever been named Judah until more than 200 years after Abraham was named! Many parents give their sons the same name as a great grandfather or other ancestors. Your ancestor who lived two hundred years before you would not be named after you, but you would be named after your ancestor. So naming Jacob’s fourth son Judah would not make Abraham, his great grandfather, a Jew.

Israel and Judah are separate nations

The 12 Tribes of Israel became two nations, with widely different destinies, until the time when they will be united in the coming age. (Ezekiel 37:22) The distinction or separation between Judah and Israel was foreshadowed at an early date. We read in Psalm 114:1, 2 “When Israel went out of Egypt…Judah became His sanctuary and Israel His dominion.” In Samuel’s day, the two Houses, Judah and Israel, were numbered separately. In I Samuel 11:8 we read “And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousands and the men of Judah thirty thousand.” Notice that Israel and Judah were numbered separately. And even at this early date, Israel numbered ten times more than Judah. The contrast today is even greater. The Bible tells us that the Jews would be “few in number,” (Jeremiah 44:28) but it tells us that Israel would become a multitude as the sands of the sea. (Hosea 1:10)

The Scriptures tell us that David reigned seven years over Judah before he was made King over Israel. If Judah and Israel are the same, how could David be king for seven years over Judah before he was made King over Israel? Until the year 975 B.C. the descendants of Jacob formed one nation. But they are spoken of as “the two families which the Lord hath chosen”. (Jeremiah 33:24)

In the year 975 B.C. at the death of King Solomon, the nation was divided into two nations. In I Samuel 18:16 Israel and Judah are separated in this passage: “But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.” In II Chronicles 10:12-14 we are told that when Solomon died, and his son Rehoboam came to the throne, the ten tribes rebelled, and under Jereboam, formed the Northern Nation; while Judah, along with Benjamin and certain Levites, formed the Southern Nation.

The ten tribes of Israel are never called Jews

The Northern Nation, which consisted of the Ten Tribes of Israel were not Jews and nothing can be more unscriptural than to call all Israelites Jews; it is as absurd as calling all Americans Californians! Most Israelites are not Jews because they are the descendants of the other tribes of Israel. The term “Jew” is never used until more than a thousand years after Abraham. It appears for the first time in II Kings 16:6, where we are told that the King of Israel, together with the King of Assyria, made war against the King of Judah. Now if the Israelites and the Jews are one and the same, how could it wage war against itself? The Scriptures never once refer to the Ten-Tribed House of Israel as “The Jews;” neither past, present, nor future.

The ten lost tribes of Israel

The subject of the lost tribes of Israel is a study of great interest. Yet it is remarkable to me that there is little or no serious enquiry in Christian circles regarding the fate of the ten tribes. Two perplexing questions continue to captivate Bible scholars and students alike: How is it that so little is known of the ten tribes of Israel, and why has so little enquiry taken place concerning them? This may well be because the devil has succeeded in frustrating any serious research into the matter.

The distinction between the two nations of Judah and Israel began before their final separation under Jeroboam, and Rehoboam. You will find in 2 Samuel 2, that David was anointed king over Judah only, while Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was made king over all Israel. Immediately after the death of Solomon, and from that time to the present Judah and Israel have remained absolutely distinct. They were carried into captivity separately, at different times and by different nations: Israel was taken in captivity by the Assyrians B.C. 721 (2 Kings 17:6), while Judah was carried into captivity by the Babylonians B.C. 588 (2 Kings 25:21). A portion of Judah was permitted to return after seventy years, as had been predicted (Ezra 2:1), but Israel never returned nor was there any prediction that they should return until the final glorious restoration at the return of Messiah.

The descendants of the tribes of Israel certainly exist, the question is, Where? The Jews we know, but where is Israel? Some people assert that God has cut Israel out of His divine program, and replaced Israel with the Church. But in Jeremiah 31:35-36 we read:

“Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar: The Lord of Hosts is His name: If those ordinances (that is the sun and moon and stars) depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.”

This passage distinctly declares that while sun and moon and stars exist the nation of Israel will remain before God. Where are the ten tribes? Where is the nation of Israel? Which nation on earth today represents them? I have learned that if we really want to know about God’s people, the Bible is the book in which to look; let us, therefore, go to the Bible for the history of God’s chosen people Israel. Unless God’s promises have failed, Israel must still be in existence today.

It is perfectly clear that Israel, who had been dispersed for more than 700 years, was much in Jesus’ mind during His three years’ ministry upon earth. Because many references to Israel were made by Him. Christ Himself declared in Matthew 15:24 regarding His own mission: “He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Again our Lord says in Matthew 21:43: “Therefore say I unto you (He was speaking to the Jews), the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation (the Jews had long since ceased to be a nation) bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

The Jews themselves evidently understood His statements, for in John 7:35 we read: “Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? Will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?” (The word “Gentile” is derived from the Hebrew word “Goyim” and means non-Jew i.e.; not from the tribe of Judah)

Israel was evidently in the minds of the apostles themselves. On the day of the ascension they asked Him: “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

Scripture appears to me to furnish strong evidence that the Anglo-Saxon race today are the physical descendants of the house of Israel. If this be true, it adds tremendously to our responsibilities—spiritual responsibilities as well as temporal responsibilities, and will open to us possibilities that no human tongue can describe.

Let none of us, however, be so taken up with the literal fulfillment of prophecy that we forget the spiritual interpretation of it. For this reason it is extremely important that those who study this subject should be filled with the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fullness of spiritual blessings that goes with it.

Remember what the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 11:16-18: “…if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you…”

Therefore, as we learn day by day to see more evidences of the fulfillment of these prophecies, may God possess in us individually and collectively, and in the thousands of others who in one body of men and women, the ability to yield to Him in heart and life and learn to do His will, proclaim His truth, and glorify His name.

“These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL in mount Sinai.” (Leviticus 27:34)

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that YOU CAN DO IT!” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14)   (Emphasis mine)