Friday, January 17, 2020

CHOOSING TO CHECK OUT


I Was Just Thinking About – CHOOSING TO CHECK OUT.

Life and death must never be viewed as human determination. The Psalmist made two vital points about life and death. First, Psalm 139:13-16 and God’s role in the origin of life: “You formed my inmost being;  You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise You,  for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works…My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret…Your eyes saw my unformed body; all my days were written in Your book and ordained for me before one of them came to be.” Second, Psalm 90:10-12 and God’s determination of one’s lifespan: “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away…So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Verse 12 in The Message:Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!”

There have been a growing number of incidents where one makes a determination that their life is no longer worth living. In the 1990s, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a Pathologist, emerged as a proponent of Euthanasia. He publicly championed a terminal patient’s right to die by physician-assisted suicide. He often stated and quoted: “Dying is not a crime.” He claimed to have assisted at least 130 patients to end their lives. The media portrayed him as Dr. Death. He was ultimately arrested and found guilty of second-degree murder and given a 10 to 25 year prison sentence.

Currently, Euthanasia is available in Canada for people suffering a terminal illness, but a Quebec court has now abolished the near death requirement. By removing the terminal illness requirement, that means you can have euthanasia for physical or psychological suffering, The Euthanasia numbers have been skyrocketing. So as much as we have seen this huge increase in euthanasia, they're only going to be opening the doors more.

In the United States, unassisted suicide is taking place. Within the past six months, ministers of the Gospel have chosen to end their lives. Others who had church affiliations with churches have chosen to end their lives, In a book: The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have To Preach, there is a Chapter titled: Thinking Biblically About The Tragedy of Suicide. The question is: Is Suicide a sin? The answer given is: Yes! The author goes on to say that it is not an unforgivable sin. An additional question asked is: What happens to the person who commits suicide? The answer given is: “If the person is an unbeliever, that person goes to hell. If a person is a believer, that person goes to heaven.”

The broader issue is that regardless of how one’s life has been lived, the family and relatives all conclude that their loved one or friend has gone to heaven. Jesus was very clear in His sermon about heaven – the way and gate is narrow and few find that way and enter that gate. Jesus also added that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter His heaven but only the one(s) who are doing the will of the Father in Heaven. First John 5:12-13 is as clear and simply stated about who will and will not enter God’s heaven: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

UPS AND DOWNS


I Was Just Thinking About – UPS AND DOWNS.

The experiences of life can affect one in a variety of ways. Usually, the big events that are challenging for one can be handled fairly well. The smaller challenges can become similar to roadblocks causing one to stumble and sometimes fall. There are a couple of verses that often come to mind when such challenges present themselves - -
Psalm 42:5,11 (NIV) – A question posed by the Psalmist: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” The NASB wording: “Why are you in despair…so disturbed?” The Message paraphrase is: “Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues?” The answer is clearly stated inwardly: “Fix my eyes on God -  soon I’ll be praising again.”

When stumbling or faltering, maybe even falling, the truth that comes to mind is Isaiah 40:30-31 (NKJV), “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall; but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” The word that stands out for one’s life is “shall”. “Those who wait for/upon the Lord SHALL renew their strength; SHALL mount up with wings as eagles; SHALL run and not be weary; SHALL walk and not faint.”

Words of the Hymn - How Firm A Foundation - also come to mind:
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My Grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.

It is sad that some professing Christians can become judgmental when one is facing various “trials” and “challenging times.” A word used several times in Second Corinthians 1:3-7 is COMFORT. It is similar to the Holy Spirit’s designation as the Paraclete – “The one who comes alongside.” It is sad to realize that many who count on the “Christian” and “Church” for that encouragement and support will too often find a void and absence of such “comfort.”

I was listening on You-Tube to a sermon by a dear servant of the Lord who was going through a personal and family struggle. He isolated himself in his office and posted a sign on the door – Do NOT Disturb. An artist friend, who knew the situation, drew a picture of a Monk who struggled with personal needs in his day. The artist inscribed his drawing for his Pastor with the words penned by Martin Luther:
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

The words ministered like the Paraclete who came alongside and uplifted the downcast servant of the Lord. I can personally relate to these words – perhaps you can as well!

Prayerfully – Consider these things with me.

Monday, December 30, 2019

GRASSHOPPERS


Just A Thought To Think About – GRASSHOPPERS.

Grasshoppers are interestingly referenced in Scripture. Sometimes they are referenced as locusts. What needs to be understood is that they are pesky creatures that can easily become a nuisance. They are described in Encyclopedia Britannica as: “any of a group of jumping insects that are found in a variety of habitats. They occur in greatest numbers in lowland tropical forests, semi-arid regions, and grass-lands…One lone grasshopper can't do too much harm, although it eats about half its body weight in plants each day—but when locusts swarm, their combined feeding habits can completely defoliate a landscape, leaving farmers without crops and people without food. In the U.S. alone, grasshoppers cause about $1.5 billion in damage to grazing lands each year.” 

The Biblical reference about the grasshopper is in Numbers 13:26-33. When the spies were sent out by Moses to assess and  explore The Promised Land, they return with a mixed report. All of the spies concur that it is a fruitful and prosperous land. That being reported, ten of the spies share a negative concern. They said: “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are. And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored.” To reinforce their presentation, they tell the people about walled and fortified cities. Additionally they said: The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size.”

It is at this point that they place emphasis upon the large size of the inhabitants by adding: “We seemed like GRASSHOPPERS in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” They have returned with A Grasshopper Mentality. The Grasshopper Mentality impacts the hearers negatively: (1) It will cause the people to underestimate their potential; (2) It will cause them to disregard the Power of God and forgetting their impetus: ‘I can’t - - but – God can and will’; (3) It will paralyze an entire generation – becoming wholly incapable of forward movement; (4) The ten willingly lead the people astray and to disbelieve God: and (5)  All of the people will miss out on the available blessings of God IF ONLY they had followed the Lord Wholeheartedly - only two men (Joshua and Caleb) will ultimately realize those blessings in The Promised Land.

Many church ministries are thwarted and hindered by leadership that is governed and exhibited by two non-Biblical characteristics: (1) Obviously, church officers and people with The Grasshopper Mentality, and (2) church officers and people who lack commitment to and confidence in the Lord and following Him wholeheartedly. It is the half-heartedness that has been crippling the church and hindering effective ministry. There has been a failure to align the local church with The Church of which Jesus spoke – Matthew 16:18 (MSG), “This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.”

What has become of that church that is “so expansive with energy”? Is the Church of which Jesus was speaking in need of a refresher course from Revelation 2 and 3 and comparing what they have become with that which The Head of the Church requires of His Church? Consider His first observation and questions about one of the seven churches referenced – Revelation 2:4-5 (MSG) – “You walked away from your first love—why? What’s going on with you, anyway? Do you have any idea how far you’ve fallen? A Lucifer fall!” This is where The Grasshopper Mentality will bring one – namely – confrontation with The Head of the Church, Jesus Christ – and his assessment, recommendation and/or condemnation. Will the church leaders and people in the local context listen to The Head – or – will they be content with their demise as they cherish  and cling to their Grasshopper Mentality?

Prayerfully – consider these things with me.