Sunday, June 17, 2018

FATHER'S DAY AND DISCIPLINE

I Was Just Thinking About - Father's Day and Role of Discipline.
The Scriptures are clear regarding WHY Discipline serves a purpose - especially when God, our Father in Heaven carries it out in our lives.
Hebrews 12:5-11, "Have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
Also Consider - Proverbs 13:24, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently." Those who embrace or espouse  Political Correctness tenets are disobeying God's standards and values. Who should you obey? Whose guidelines should you be following? 
Prayerfully - consider these things with me.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

ABBA, FATHER


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I Was Just Thinking About – ABBA, FATHER

The term – “Abba, Father” – has been paraphrased and expressed in many different ways by commentators. The expression appears only three times in Scripture: Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6. By strict definition, Abba is the defining term for father in the Aramaic language, spoken by Jesus and Paul as an intimate term to characterize their personal relationships with God. It is also a term of reverence for bishops and patriarchs within the Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopian churches. Only two speakers utter these words in these passages: Jesus and the apostle Paul.

Mark 14:36, “He [Jesus] said, Abba Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” There are at least two lessons to be learned from these words by Jesus. First is the intimacy of relationship with the Father in heaven, and secondly, His willingness and readiness to be submissive to the Father’s will.

In Romans 8:15, Paul writes as one who was in opposition to Jesus Christ and the message of the Gospel. After he is converted on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-6). The narrative about Saul of Tarsus was: “Saul was still breathing out threats of murder against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest to ask for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women belonging to the Way, he could bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As Saul drew near to Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? Who are You, Lord? Saul asked. I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, He replied.” Saul would be now named Paul and his message would change from one of opposition to Jesus to one of intimacy with Him. He would then write to the believers in Rome: “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’.” Paul’s message is abundantly clear. He has been unchained from his bondage; he has been adopted into the family of God by grace alone; and he now shares with them the intimate relationship one has with Abba. Father through Jesus Christ alone.

Paul will make use of this expression once more in Galatians 4:6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, Abba Father!” The contextual setting is that Ceremonial Law and legalism could not achieve an intimacy with God the Father except through Jesus Christ alone. The intimacy does not allow for irreverence. Too often, there is an attempt to humanize the Godhead by referring to The Father as “Daddy” or “Papa.” That is not the intimacy being suggested or taught. It is more in terms of the Advocate and Mediator one has in Jesus Christ that allows one to come before the throne of the Father where are worship, adoration or requests can be freely offered and made known.

When Paul used the word “adoption” in Romans 8:15, there is special meaning to the term. God has adopted – chosen those to be included in His family and to be known as the children of God. This fact adoption is clearly stated in Galatians 4:4-5, “When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to redeem those under the Law, that we might receive our adoption as sons (and daughters). 

In our family, we are privileges to have two adopted children. One was a young Hungarian boy with some physical needs. He has become a very active part of a loving family. He has assimilated well and is uninhibited as a son, Grandson and Great-Grandson. The other adopted child was a teenaged girl from Ukraine. She, too, has assimilated well into the family. She arrived in this country not knowing English. She has gradually learned and it was an emotional moment when she was able to refer to her adoptive parents as Mom and Dad, and to my wife and I as Grandma and Grandpa. On a human level, this is intimacy.

In one’s relationship to the Heavenly Father, intimacy and reverence should never be severed from each other. We come before Him in and through Jesus Christ to thank Him for making us a part of His eternal family. We are never flippant, matter-of-fact or irreverent to Him or before Him. The Lord’s Prayer is a good place to learn how one is to come before Him. “Our Father in heaven; Hallowed be Your name…”

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

CO-EXISTENCE


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I Was Just Thinking About – CO-EXISTENCE.

The past week has been filled with news about Summits and how nations can co-exist amiably. The recent Summit in Quebec, Canada was focused upon tariffs and the inequity of them. The idea was to establish some degree of equality when imported and exported goods are shipped from one country to another. There was little resolve of these issues but there has been considerable posturing between the attendees and their expectations.

Thousands of miles away from Quebec, Canada, there was another Summit in Singapore where two nations (North Korea and the United States)  were seeking to lower the temperature of the long and ongoing tension between North Korea and other nations. The expectation was to arrive at a peaceful resolve. To arrive at peace, North Korea would have to completely denuclearize, along with other human rights factors. The United States would have to lift sanctions, provide protection for the North Korean government and to enable commerce to come to that nation. This was agreed upon by what was labelled as a Peace Treaty.

Peace is something more than that which can be written and signed on paper. At the very least and the best nations can hope for would be for accommodation and a form of peaceful co-existence. Time will tell whether or not this treaty will prove to be a reality. What is the only valid source and means for real and sustaining peace? Is it in the agreements of men? No! Is it based upon a document with the conflicting parties coming to an agreement? No!

When Jesus was preparing His disciples for His departure and their being alone, He calmed their anxieties by making two promises about real and lasting peace. The first is John 14:27 (NKJV), “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Jesus is stating that His peace is far different from the attempts of man to achieve it. His peace is “not as the world gives.” Jesus reiterated and expanded upon His emphasis in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Jesus is very clear. The source of real and lasting peace is in Him. The world will be subjected to tribulation. However, the peace of Jesus Christ is sustainable because of His assuring word, “I have overcome the world.”

What does all of this mean for the child of God and living one’s life from day to day? How can one know the peace of Jesus Christ when increasing chaos, uncertainties and the unpredictable is part of the culture in general and life in particular? One thing is certain, peace does not occur via osmosis. Colossians 3:15 (ESV) indicates the goal that is to be achieved in one’s life, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.” Romans 14:19, “Let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” James 3:18, “A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” Proverbs 16:7 (NIV), “When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.” The only way to know the intention and sustainability of peace is in the only true source of peace. Second Thessalonians 3:16, “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

There is one other personal and spiritual development that will enable one to have sustainable peace that exceeds and excels any coexistent effort of men and nations. The simple formulation for God’s sustaining peace for one’s life is stated in Psalm 37:1-8 (NKJV – Selected), “Do not fret...Trust in the Lord, and do good…Feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself…in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass…Rest (relax) in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because…of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret--it only causes harm.” This can and should be the minimum standard for your life and mine. Is that true in your life today? If not, will you make it your commitment before the Lord now? The sooner it is implemented in your life the sooner you will know the reality of Isaiah 26:3, The Lord will keep you in perfect peace, when your mind is stayed and focused upon Him alone.

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

DISTRACTIONS


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I Was Just Thinking About – DISTRACTIONS.

There are many distractions that can occur in an individual’s life and within one’s family structure. It has become difficult to establish priorities that each individual will embrace and implement. It has become too easy to blame all of the distractions on the culture alone. The Word of God shares this word from Jesus Christ Himself: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John15:19), And the, His prayer for His followers: “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16). Jesus clearly understood the culture and environment in which His followers would exist. Jesus knew His followers would constantly experience the challenges, confrontations and opposition because of their living in a hostile ideological environment.

The writers of Scripture would echo the idea of Jesus Christ as they instructed believers on how their lives are to be lived. When John wrote his letters, he included: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (First John 2:15). Paul wrote about one’s becoming a living sacrifice. This would necessitate: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2). James wrote about ramifications for the believer’s lifestyle and obligations: “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27).

What are some of the things “in the world” that can and have become distractions? When Edward Gibbons (1776) wrote his volume: The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire summarized some of the reasons for the decline and fall: “(1) The rapid increase of divorce; (2) the undermining of dignity and sanctity of the home, which is the basis of human society.  (3) Higher and higher taxes and the spending of public money for free bread and circuses for the populace.  (4) The mad craze for pleasure; sports becoming every year more exciting and more brutal.  (5) The building of gigantic armaments when the real enemy was within: (6) the decadence of the people. (7) The decay of religion—faith fading into mere form—losing touch with life and becoming impotent to guide the people.”

Some modern distraction that fall into these possibilities are similar: spots, pleasure-seeking; potential of travel; etc. Perhaps the more common weapon of mass DISTRACTION is the cellular phone. Pew Research published a study that indicated: “67% of cell phone owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts or calls even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating. Nearly half sleep with their phone next to their bed because they want to “make sure they didn't miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.” (Pew Research surveyed 1,954 American adult cell phone owners spread rather evenly among young adults (18-29), young-to-middle-aged adults (30-49), older adults (50-64) and senior citizens (65 and older).

There are Biblical lessons one should remember about the spiritual enemy who is at work to DISTRACT the people of God from prioritizing Jesus Christ in their life and culture. He is described in different ways: Jesus said the enemy – the devil -  is a liar, deceiver and murderer (John 8:44). Peter warned the believers that he is similar to a roaring lion who stalks about seeking to devour the people of God (First Peter 5:8). Paul wrote that one needed the whole armor of God in order to deflect all the fiery darts and subtleties of the spiritual forces of evil and wickedness; and being aware of the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Are you focused upon Jesus, the Author and Completer of your faith? Is the song of your heart: “You are my strength when I am weak; You are the treasure that I seek; You are my all in all”? Or, are you distracted by lesser things put into your mind and pathway by your spiritual enemy?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.