Tuesday, September 27, 2016

FACT-CHECKING

I Was Just Thinking About – Fact-Checking.

Politics can become an arena of viciousness and falsehood. It seems as though truth can be ignored and assertions made with little or no substantiation. It is not only in the area of politics where truthfulness is a major concern. The Christian Religion and the self-proclaimed Church of Jesus Christ also has instances where truth is fractured and trampled upon.

In Ephesians 4:11-17, there is a declaration of how the true Church of Jesus Christ is to function. The factual instruction is clear and basic:  There are apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers whose task is to equip the saints for useful and constructive ministry. A reason is given verses 14-15, “so that we may no longer be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, SPEAKING THE TRUTH in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is The Head, into Jesus Christ.”

The devotional writer, Joseph Stowell, was using the text of John 14:6, where Jesus stated: “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to The Father except through me.” He went on to write: “Recently, I read a disturbing quote from a pastor of a large church in California. He said: I used to believe that we should ask Muslims to accept Christ as their Savior. But I don’t believe that any more. I’ve sensed the presence of God with Muslims, and I’ve come to believe that it’s wrong to try to talk them into becoming Christians. I don’t know why he changed his mind, but caving in on what Jesus has clearly said, is a betrayal of Jesus Himself. Jesus came to make a way to God by removing the one barrier that blocks everyone’s path to God—the barrier of sin. This meant that He had to die in our place to pay the price of sin. Without His sacrifice, there is no other way. Let’s face it; if there were other ways to God, then He didn’t need to die. It’s ludicrous to believe that His Father would send Him through the agony of the cross if it were only another religious option. To deny that He is the way is to deny Jesus.”
Truth is so basic to who the professing Christian is that Jesus Christ prayed to the Father in their behalf (John 17:17), “Sanctify them in truth; Your Word is truth.” The Psalmist prayed (Psalm 86:11), “Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.” 
A generation ago, Francis Schaeffer warned: “Today not only in philosophy but in politics, government, and individual morality, our generation sees solutions in terms of synthesis and not absolutes. When this happens, truth, as people have always thought of truth, has died.” Is it factually possible that we have arrived at that day where and when truth has died?
Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.

Friday, September 23, 2016

GOALS AND PURPOSES

 I Was Just Thinking About – GOALS AND PURPOSES.

Abraham Maslow was a humanistic psychologist who framed his views in what he labelled, The Hierarchy of Needs. He believed people were motivated by survival and other needs. The needs he identified were physiological, security, needs of belonging, esteem, and self-actualization. In terms of esteem, he defined it as self-esteem; confidence; achievement; respect of others; and respect by others.

In the devotional with which I usually begin my day there was this convicting thought shared: “Through the course of life, we all have opportunities to take the credit for ourselves when we shouldn’t. In the spotlight of some success, it’s tempting to keep the applause focused on “me.” But when you think about it, we would have no success in our lives at all if God did not see fit to give us the opportunities to succeed, the brainpower, the education, the temperament and gifts to accomplish praiseworthy things. Even so, when people notice that we have something good going, an internal spiritual battle occurs: Do we keep the glory for ourselves, or do we turn the spotlight back to God where it belongs? The prophet Jeremiah stated it well when he said: Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight (Jeremiah 9:3-24)."

Yesterday, I received a letter soliciting special greetings and a financial gift for a well-known minister who is reaching his seventy-fifth birthday. The verse used with the letter is I Timothy 1:12 (NLT), “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him,” 

The crucial phrase is “to serve Him.” How does one go about “to serve Him” to Whom all glory, honor and praise belong? What is our Goal and Purpose in the ministry of serving Him.”
Working with God’s people can be done in one of two ways – (1) either as a shepherd who gently leads the sheep and lambs, or (2) like a cowboy who drives the herd? The picture we are given in Isaiah 40:11 (NASB) is: “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” 

Peter learned a valuable lesson from The Good Shepherd (John 21:15-19) who directed him to care for the sheep and to feed the lambs. Peter gives indication of a lesson-learned when he wrote about the goal and purpose regarding the scattered believers and the emerging leaders in I Peter 5:1-4, “Shepherd the flock of God…not under compulsion but willingly…not domineering over those in your charge, but by being an example to the flock.” A shepherd should never act like a cowboy with God’s people. He must gently lead the sheep and lambs being an example at all times.

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

DEVELOPING OR DEMOLISHING

I Was Just Thinking About – DEVELOPING OR DEMOLISHING.

I like to begin my day by reading three different Devotionals. My first choice is usually, Get More Strength For The Journey by Joseph Stowell. Today’s Post is titled, “Point Of Contention.” The text used is Galatians 5:15, “If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
He goes on to write: “You don’t have to be a sociologist to know that one of the most damaging dynamics in personal relationships is unleashed by the hurtful things that we say to each other. We all have a dragon in our dentures that is flat out hard to get under control. Itemizing the major categories of destructive speech is not a hard task. Gossip, slander, and lying always make it to the top of our “most wanted” list of speech criminals. But there are some additional troublemakers lurking in the dark corners of our wicked little hearts. One of these stealth tigers in your tongue is contentious words…Contentious words…are the meat cleaver of relationships. They have the power to tear friends and family apart until there’s not much left. I suppose that’s why someone “who stirs up dissension among brothers makes the infamous list of things the Lord hates” (Proverbs 6:19). He adds: “Contentious hearts look for things to criticize and for opportunities to tear down a person, program, or idea. They destroy the essential commodities of happy and productive relationships. When we unleash a volley of contentious verbiage, things like trust, thinking the best of each other, and loving attitudes all get buried under our contentious words.”
Ask yourself: Is my best effort that of developing relationships and viable communication within and outside the body of Christ or demolishing those basics and essentials? Over the years of observing life both inside and outside the Church, there are times when it is difficult to discern the difference between the two. Some ego-driven individuals and those who have neglected to learn the merits of Biblical humility (of going unnoticed, without recognition, and rarely receiving any acclaim) will do whatever they deem essential to get their way regardless of the ancillary costs or reproach brought upon the name of Christ.
Is there ever a pause in one’s life that allows for prayerful reflection upon Ephesians 4:30-32 and those things which grieve the Spirit of God? Things such as, “bitterness, wrath, anger, brawling, slander, evil speaking and all malice.”  The alternative is: “to be kind and  compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Questions: Are you willing to live your life God’s way or are you determined to do it your way (You may want read Isaiah 30 as you ponder your response)? What do you believe is the obvious and only Biblical choice? Will you commit to and comply to God’s Way for you?
Prayerfully – Consider these things with me!

Monday, September 19, 2016

THE GLORY OF GOD'S PRESENCE

I Was Just Thinking About – THE GLORY OF GOD'S PRESENCE

The Worship Service began yesterday with the Congregation singing beautifully and movingly the words written by Steven Lee Fry:
Oh, the glory of Your presence
We Your temple
Give You reverence.
Come and rise from Your rest
And be blessed by our praise
As we glory in Your embrace,
As Your presence
Now fills this place.

In reflection, two passages of God’s Word direct complete focus upon God and His Glory:
Psalm 24:7-8 – “Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle!”
I Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

In today’s devotional: Get More Strength For The Journey, Joseph Stowell reflects on God’s Glory:  “God’s glory is the manifestation of all that He is in His unsurpassed, stunning perfection. It is His amazing love, His wide mercy, His deep grace. His glory is seen in His truth, justice, wisdom, and power. To glorify Him means that we have the high privilege of showing Him off in a world that is totally unaware of what He is really like. Acts of mercy to the undeserving, grace to the needy, forgiveness to an offender, living wisely according to His will—all give glorious visibility to the character and quality of our God.”  This should cause us to remember that: “The chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” 

In II Corinthians 6:16, the Apostle Paul asks and answers a vital question that should impact us all: “What agreement can exist between the Temple of God and idols? For we are the Temple of the living God.”

When Solomon’s Temple was completed and the Ark of the Covenant was carried into it, I Kings 8:10-11 states: “And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.”
Question: If we are the Temple of the Living God today, shouldn’t His Glory be evident in it and radiate from it? Is that happening in the lives of professing Christians today? What is our reasonable excuse – reason – if that isn’t taking place? Could it mean that some are not taking a serious God seriously?

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

DEPLORABLE AND IRREDEEMABLE

I Was Just Thinking About – THE DEPLORABLE AND IRREDEEMABLE.

Do basic Biblical Principles apply to politicians when they are seeking a political office? One politician spoke of a political opponent in the following way: 
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of my opponent’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right?” (Crowd laughter and applause)! “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic—you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And my opponent has lifted them up…the other half…feel that the government has let them down and are desperate for change. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well…Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

Much is being said about the use of the terms “the basket of deplorables”; the “irredeemable” and “thankfully they are not America.” Inasmuch as the remarks were made at an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) gathering, it might be of value to understand a Biblical viewpoint about who is deplorable or irredeemable. The deplorable in God’s sight: 
Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to nor perform homosexual acts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Are any of these so-named irredeemable? The passage continues: “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:9)

How, then, should those who have been found redeemable live? In Colossians 3:5-10
Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. When you lived among them, you also used to walk in these ways. But now you must put aside all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.”


Are you remaining in the “basket of the deplorables and irredeemable”? Or, have you come to Jesus Christ and been “washed, sanctified and justified”? 

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Monday, September 12, 2016

BEING DOWNCAST

I Was Just Thinking About – Being Downcast

There are times when anyone can feel overwhelmed by the events of life and the tasks that need to be performed. Some people are characterized within a range from being melancholy to being depressed. The Scriptures address this in a more general way by the life experiences of different individuals. In the Old Testament, David (and other Psalmists) stand out as being very transparent in terms of their immediate feelings. The term used often is: 

  • Psalm 42:5,11-“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” 
  • Psalm 43:2,5 -“Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?”
Why does one become downcast? Usually, it is the sense that one is insufficient to cope with a particular situation or to do a task that needs to be done. In can be a result of introspection and a sense of one’s own self-worth. Or, it can be the enormity of the challenge being faced. In other cases, it is a by-product of earlier experiences within a dysfunctional home or family. Some are reared in a home or educational system where they have been viewed and told that they will never amount to anything. That is a scar that may fade in time but that is never fully eradicated. 

How did the Psalmist view his solution to his sense and feeling of being inadequate? He reminded himself in the above verses: “Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” 

In the New Testament, there is the example given by the Apostle Paul in:
  • II Corinthians 2:14-16, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.  For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing,  to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?”
His focus was on the love, mercy and grace of God for all of one’s life evaluations and choices.

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

VACILLATING VIRTUES

I Was Just Thinking About – VACILLATING VIRTUE

In a secular sense, a person who vacillates is one who is changeable, undependable (not trustworthy or reliable) and non-committed. In a spiritual sense, it is often referred to as backsliding – a relapse into bad habits, sinful behavior, indulging in vices rather than virtues, decline and abandonment. Neither of these applications, secular or spiritual, is acceptable or desirable. When these attitudes and behaviors are allowed, it contributes to cultural chaos and departure from viable core values and foundational principles.

To get an idea of how widespread backsliding and abandonment has become within particular churches, look at the Church Roll. In too many instances, the Roll contains names of people who haven’t attended Church Worship Services or the Sacrament of The Lord’s Supper for many years. Why are their names on the roll? Usually, because of the influence of a parent (or parents) or the fear that someone might be offended if their names were removed.

Within a deteriorating culture and time of persecution, the Apostle Peter had little time for embracing backsliding individuals or non-committed members. He issued that which should be embraced as the continuing guideline for those who were being scattered and becoming refugees. In II Peter 1:3-4, he focuses the people on the great and precious promises of God. Then, in II Peter 1:5-9, he adds these words: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities and continue to grow in them, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever lacks these traits is nearsighted to the point of blindness, having forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.”

Why are people backsliding and abandoning the Bride of Christ – His Church? In some cases, they have never been redeemed by the blood of The Lamb. In other instances, they need to check out whether or not they are making “every effort” to increase and enhance these virtues and to pursue those qualities that will prevent them from being or becoming “ineffective and unproductive” in their knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and His will for them and His Church. Peter bluntly states that those who fail to pursue the virtuous traits are “nearsighted to the point of blindness.” They have become part of a roadblock that limits Church growth, effectiveness and viability.

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me!