Monday, July 25, 2016

PROMISES

I Was Just Thinking About - - PROMISES.

Quotes regarding promises attributed to notable people include:  (1) Abraham Lincoln, “We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot.” (2) Napoleon Bonaparte: “The best way to keep one's word is not to give it.” (3) Norman Vincent Peale, “Promises are like crying babies in a theater, they should be carried out at once.” (4) Edmund Burke, “Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.”

What is a Promise? It communicates a “pledge, vow, a guarantee, and an assurance.” In a Court Room, one who was called upon to give testimony about an event or deed would “swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, so help me God.” When couples are married, there is a marriage vow that indicates one will, “love, honor and cherish until death us do part.” The number of marriages ending in divorce would indicate it is a sacred vow and promise not kept. Politicians seeking public office fill their speeches with a variety of promises they will keep and enact IF you elect them to a particular office. How has that worked out so far?

Is there a source one can turn to and find assurance that a promise made will be a promise kept? Several years ago, a Children’s Chorus was published by Bill and Gloria Gaither that declared: “I am a Promise; I am a Possibility; I am a Promise with a capital “P”; I’m a great big bundle of Potentiality.” These words correspond to the Scriptural promises given by God.  Someone set out to determine how many promises are contained in the Holy Scriptures. Depending on the translation being used, the estimated range is from approximately 3,000 to 8,000 promises made. One unnamed person who used the King James Version of the Bible determined there were 3,573 promises in the Holy Scriptures. The range of promises noted pertain to Eternal Life, Forgiveness, One’s Needs, Wisdom and Guidance, Peace, Overcoming Temptation, Protection, Resurrection, etc. The total number of promises should not concern us too greatly because we are given this assurance in II Corinthians 1:20, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.”

You should find consolation in the words of II Peter 1:3-4, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” Is your faith and hope based upon the very great and precious promises of God?

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS

I Was Just Thinking About - - -Hope for the Hopeless.

is Hope possible for everyone? Does it occur easily? Is it a process that includes pain and disappointment?

Our Daily Bread for July 14, 2016 contains the following thoughts:
“Though we live in a fallen world where we experience pain and disappointment, the Lord can move us from despair to rejoicing, as we see in Isaiah’s prophecy about the coming of Jesus (Isaiah 61:1–3). The Lord gives us hope when we feel hopeless; He helps us to forgive when we think we can’t; He teaches us that our identity is in Him and not in what we do. He gives us courage to face an unknown future. When we wear the rags of “ashes,” He gently gives us a coat of praise.
"God can bring times of growth out of our times of heartache. When we face loss, we shouldn’t run from the sadness, but neither do we want to become bitter or hardened. When we think about God’s faithfulness over the years, we know that He’s willing and able to turn our grief to dancing once again—to give us sufficient grace in this life and full joy in heaven.”

Some Hymns express the source and possibility of Hope for the Hopeless - - - Such as:
My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less than Jesus blood and righteousness
My Hope Is In The Lord Who Gave Himself For Me

There is a place of refuge for the hopeless as stated in Romans 4:16-22. It uses Abraham as an example of Hope for the Hopeless…
“It depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, I have made you the father of many nations - in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.  In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told: So shall your offspring be. He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.  No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness.”

There is no need or requirement for any of us to know HOW God will do what He has promised to do. Our need and requirement is  to believe that HE IS ABLE to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

We also have an obligation regarding those who are without hope. Some people struggle with pain, rejection, experiences that have impacted their lives, those who see no light at the end of their tunnel of despair and hopelessness. We can come alongside and encourage. We can walk with them to help them to focus upon God who is the source and foundation for one’s hope.


Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.

Monday, July 11, 2016

PRINCIPLE AND PRAGMATISM

I Was Just Thinking About - - -

There should be basic norms for behavior that are both known and practiced. These norms are principles for life that will result in greater harmony within the culture. Principles are the general laws of truth upon which all other laws are derived. They serve as a guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct. If embraced, they become the core values of morality for a society and culture. Pragmatism seeks to determine meaning, truth and value of presuppositions. Philosophy embraces the ideas of rationalism where the determination has previously been made that reason is the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief and conduct. This same school of thought, when it enters the realm of Theology, decides that human reason, apart from any notion or belief in divine revelation, is sufficient as the sole guide that will lead one to all attainable religious or spiritual truth. Unwittingly, or with reckless disregard, it chooses to ignore the consequences of such a belief system, not the least of which are hopelessness and despair.

As I thought of this distinction between Principle and Pragmatism, I read the statistics published by the Department of Veterans Affairs that was posted in USA Today and other media this past week. The statistics revealed that twenty veterans per day commit suicide. It would appear that the prevailing pragmatism of this day is part of the reason. If the concept of an Eternal God ruling the universe and desiring relationship in individual lives is removed or eliminated within a culture, despair and hopelessness will occupy the vacuum that has evolved. When core values are diminished within a culture or society and foundational principles have been disregarded, a person is left without spiritual verities by which one can cope with the issues of life in a sustainable manner. The media, both news and social, have become an ongoing source of varying reports, concepts and opinions. The society that has accepted Pragmatism as the summum bonum is left with the unintended consequences of such a choice.

In His day, Jesus Christ clarified the principles of life that were intended for anyone who followed him. In The Sermon On The Mount, Jesus made use of the phrase, “You have heard it said.” He then proceeds to emphasize and amplify the intent for that which had been heard. This was done to clarify the understanding of those who heard in order that principles for life would be embraced and implemented. A partial list includes:

  • Matthew 5:21-22 (NIV), You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment. But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, Raca (an expression of contempt to indicate that someone is worthless), is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, You fool! will be in danger of the fire of hell.
  • Matthew 5:27-28 (NIV), You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 
  • Matthew 5:33-35 (NIV), You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.  But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 
  • Matthew 5:38-41 (NIV), You have heard that it was said, Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
  • Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV) You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. 
Where is your comfort zone within the society and culture of this day? Are you a committed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and obedient to His word and teaching? What is the level of your seriousness when it comes to God, His Standards and His Values? What value and priority do you attach to your Bible, the Holy Scriptures? They are inspired by God and are without error. They enable any serious seeker and follower to know what one is to believe about God and what duties God requires of him/her in an interactional manner within the culture and society. How do you measure up to His Word and Standards? Prayerfully – Consider these things with me!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

WITH JUSTICE FOR ALL, UNLESS...

I Was Just Thinking About - - -

During the 1960s-70s, there were places in this nation where equal justice under the law was non-functional. A man who experienced this first-hand has John Perkins from Mendenhall, MS. He wrote a book about his experiences in Mississippi titled, Let Justice Roll Down. The book title is based on Amos 5:7 and 24, “There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” The promo for the book states: “His brother died in his arms, shot by a Deputy Marshall. He was beaten and tortured by the Sheriff and State Police. But through it all he returned good for evil, love for hate, progress for prejudice, and brought hope to black and white alike. The story of John Perkins is no ordinary story. Rather, it is a gripping portrayal of what happens when faith thrusts a person into the midst of a struggle against racism, oppression, and injustice. It is about the costs of discipleship--the jailings, the floggings, the despair, the sacrifice. And it is about the transforming work of faith that allowed John to respond to such overwhelming indignities with miraculous compassion, vision, and hope.”

One of my favorite devotionals is Strength For The Journey by Joseph Stowell. The entry for today (July 6, 2016) includes the following: A wise king wrote: “As a person thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV). What you think about is a wide-open window to what you really believe, trust in, worry about, and even worship. And not everybody has programmed their minds to think alike. Some think truth is relative. Which means that for them there are no absolute truths, so whatever works is just fine—nothing is ever always right or always wrong. Others think that there is no real truth and that truth comes in many shapes and colors. That’s pluralism—many truths exist, and as long as you don’t make me choke on your truth, I won’t force you to swallow mine. If there is no truth and there are no absolutes, then everybody can do whatever they want to do—welcome to the party with no rules! But you and I know that, ultimately, thoughts managed by relativistic, pluralistic software lead to a zigzagging, crazy, self-seeking, dead-end life where everybody loses, including you.”

Almost 50 years after the John Perkin’s experiences, has truth and justice surfaced in any dramatic way or has the nation drifted into a cultural malaise and ultimate maze? There has been much fanfare about the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the practices of Hillary Clinton while she served the nation as Secretary of State. A World Magazine release posted today raises the following thought and question: “Lords Over Laws? National Security | Does the FBI director call for one law for Hillary Clinton and a different one for others? by Marvin Olasky, Posted on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.” Olasky wrote: In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense: In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. Question: What was FBI Director James Comey saying 240 years later, concerning a Hillary Clinton prosecution, when he stated today: We cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges. This is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. Does that mean one law for Clinton and a different law for others in similar circumstances? Or did Comey mean he couldn’t find a case that would support bringing criminal charges, but a person in a similar position would get into trouble—administrative or security sanctions—but not face jail time or fines?”

The only place where equitable justice for all can be found is recorded in Romans 3:22-26, “There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as an atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand.  He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and to justify the one who has faith in Jesus.” Do you know this Just/Righteous One and His Justification? Prayerfully - Consider these things with me!

WITH JUSTICE FOR ALL, UNLESS...

I Was Just Thinking About - - -

During the 1960s-70s, there were places in this nation where equal justice under the law was non-functional. A man who experienced this first-hand has John Perkins from Mendenhall, MS. He wrote a book about his experiences in Mississippi titled, Let Justice Roll Down. The book title is based on Amos 5:7 and 24, “There are those who turn justice into bitterness and cast righteousness to the ground. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” The promo for the book states: “His brother died in his arms, shot by a Deputy Marshall. He was beaten and tortured by the Sheriff and State Police. But through it all he returned good for evil, love for hate, progress for prejudice, and brought hope to black and white alike. The story of John Perkins is no ordinary story. Rather, it is a gripping portrayal of what happens when faith thrusts a person into the midst of a struggle against racism, oppression, and injustice. It is about the costs of discipleship--the jailings, the floggings, the despair, the sacrifice. And it is about the transforming work of faith that allowed John to respond to such overwhelming indignities with miraculous compassion, vision, and hope.”

One of my favorite devotionals is Strength For The Journey by Joseph Stowell. The entry for today (July 6, 2016) includes the following: A wise king wrote: “As a person thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV). What you think about is a wide-open window to what you really believe, trust in, worry about, and even worship. And not everybody has programmed their minds to think alike. Some think truth is relative. Which means that for them there are no absolute truths, so whatever works is just fine—nothing is ever always right or always wrong. Others think that there is no real truth and that truth comes in many shapes and colors. That’s pluralism—many truths exist, and as long as you don’t make me choke on your truth, I won’t force you to swallow mine. If there is no truth and there are no absolutes, then everybody can do whatever they want to do—welcome to the party with no rules! But you and I know that, ultimately, thoughts managed by relativistic, pluralistic software lead to a zigzagging, crazy, self-seeking, dead-end life where everybody loses, including you.”

Almost 50 years after John Perkin’s experiences, has truth and justice surfaced in any dramatic way or has the nation drifted into a cultural malaise and ultimate maze? There has been much fanfare about the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the practices of Hillary Clinton while she served the nation as Secretary of State. A World Magazine release posted today raises the following thought and question: “Lords Over Laws? National Security | Does the FBI director call for one law for Hillary Clinton and a different one for others? by Marvin Olasky, Posted on Tuesday, July 5, 2016.” Olasky wrote: In 1776, Thomas Paine wrote in Common Sense: In America, the law is king. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. 
Question: What was FBI Director James Comey saying 240 years later, concerning a Hillary Clinton prosecution, when he stated today: We cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges. This is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. 
Does that mean one law for Clinton and a different law for others in similar circumstances? Or did Comey mean he couldn’t find a case that would support bringing criminal charges, but a person in a similar position would get into trouble—administrative or security sanctions—but not face jail time or fines?”

The only place where equitable justice for all can be found is recorded in Romans 3:23-26, “There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as an atoning sacrifice through faith in His blood, in order to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had passed over the sins committed beforehand.  He did this to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and to justify the one who has faith in Jesus.” Do you know this Just/Righteous One and His Justification? Prayerfully - Consider these things with me!