Category Archives: Religion

Being Watched

This may come as a surprise to you, but Christians are being watched. We’re being watched very carefully all the time, especially by nonbelievers.

And they’re not exactly rooting for us. They kind of like it when we mess up because then they can say, “You see? That’s why I’m not a Christian.”

Yet when a believer goes through difficulty and gives glory to God, it’s a powerful witness to a watching world.

Not only do nonbelievers watch Christians, but younger Christians watch older Christians. They’re wondering, “How does an older believer deal with the onslaught of age or illness or the loss of a spouse? How does an older believer deal with uncertainty and unrest in our culture?”

They look to older believers for inspiration and an example. As they should.

One day those younger believers will be the older believers, and they’ll model the same thing for the next generation.

Do you think Job knew that one day we would study his life? I think he just experienced it all in real time and was honest in the way he reacted, yet here we are still talking about him today.

Therefore, would it you give you a measure of comfort to know that by the way you face your hardships, challenges, and trials, you’re giving hope to others? God uses these things in our lives for His purposes.

Freedom

We call it the Declaration of Independence. Among other things it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The framers acknowledged that all people, from all backgrounds, have dignity before their Creator.

Our forefathers believed there is a God who guides the affairs of mankind. And they clearly founded our nation on the teachings of one book. That book is the Bible.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The Bible is the cornerstone of liberty.”

And Abraham Lincoln said of the Bible in 1864, “All the good the Saviour [sic] gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man’s welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it.”

However, in our pursuit of freedom I think we’ve lost sight of the Creator who gave us clear parameters to live by. We need to turn back to God.

Although we have forgotten Him, He has not forgotten us.

Consequences

Much like what happens with individuals, a country that ignores or rejects God suffers the consequences of that choice.

If a nation has drifted from the Lord, then even when leaders consider themselves advanced and intellectual, their thinking nevertheless becomes darkened. Soon sin is commonplace and considered acceptable among the people. As occurred among the Israelites, man’s baser nature emerges in the form of immorality, greed, and violence. Injustice reaches its peak when laws permit the oppression of those who are helpless and innocent.

The church must awaken to its responsibility: Believers are to be salt and light in this world. Each generation is called to be alert and active during its appointed time on this earth. Though nations fall away from God, today’s reading assures us that He is our ultimate hope.

After all, the passage begins with “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. God is our coming King, who will reign on earth with righteousness and justice.

Government

As important as rulers are in determining a nation’s future, its citizens also play a vital role, especially in democracies where leaders arise from within the populace. Christians who share their faith and raise children in God’s ways can influence their nation’s values and choice of rulers. When both leaders and citizens align their views with God’s, the helpless are protected, the guilty are punished, and the innocent are vindicated. 

Looking at our nation today, you might feel discouraged. But you can make a difference in your circle of influence by living compassionately and sharing the good news of Christ. The more the love and freedom of Jesus is understood, the more our nation can be blessed by its citizens.

Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis (1942)!

The Screwtape Letters” by C. S. Lewis (1942)!

“And how did you manage to bring so many souls to hell at that time? -Because of fear. -Ah, yes. Excellent strategy; old and always current. But what were they afraid of? Fear of being tortured? Fear of war? Fear of hunger? -No. -Fear of getting sick. -But then, no one else got sick at that time? -No. -Yes, they were sick. -I’m sorry. -Nobody else was dying? -Yes, they died. -But there was no cure for the disease? -There was. -Then I don’t understand. – Since no one else believed and taught about eternal life and eternal death, they thought they had only that life, and they clung to it with all their strength, even if it cost them their affection (they did not hug or greet each other, they had no human contact for days and days); their money (they lost their jobs, spent all their savings, and still thought themselves lucky to be prevented from earning their bread); their intelligence (one day the press said one thing and the next day it contradicted itself, and still they believed it all); their freedom (they did not leave their house, did not walk, did not visit their relatives. …it was a big concentration camp for voluntary prisoners! They accepted everything, everything, as long as they could overcome their miserable lives one more day. They no longer had the slightest idea that He, and only He, is the one who gives life and ends it. It was like that, as easy as it had ever been.”

Promises

Though I have walked with God for several decades, I must confess I still find much about Him incomprehensible and mysterious. But this much I know: He delights in surprising us. He dots our pilgrimage from earth to heaven with amazing serendipities.

Isaiah’s words make me smile every time I read them because I have seen their truth come to pass time and again. God still stands behind this promise:

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isa. 43:19 NIV)

Your situation may be as hot and barren as a desert or as forlorn and meaningless as a wasteland. You may be tempted to think, “There’s no way!” when someone suggests things could change. All I ask is that you read that verse one more time and be on the lookout. God may very well be planning a serendipity in your life.

God has been doing “a new thing” in drab deserts and wintry wastelands for centuries.

Creation

It’s no surprise that the creation account has always been in the crosshairs of the enemy. Since the Garden of Eden, God’s Word has suffered and withstood many aggressive attacks, all driven by one scandalous purpose—to cast doubt upon God and the integrity of His Word.

Genesis in particular, has been a favorite target. Many are saying . . . Adam was not a real person, Eden was not a real place, and the talking serpent was not a real tempter. In fact, they start with the word, “day” in Genesis 1. According to the “framework hypothesis,” day doesn’t mean a real 24-hour period of time. John MacArthur goes on to explain . . .

One popular view of creation held by many old-earth advocates is known as the “framework hypothesis.” This is the belief that the “days” of creation are not even distinct eras, but overlapping stages of a long evolutionary process. According to this view, the six days described in Genesis 1 do not set forth a chronology of any kind, but rather a metaphorical “framework” by which the creative process is described for our finite human minds.

This view was apparently first set forth by liberal German theologians in the nineteenth century, and was later adopted and propagated by some leading evangelicals, most notably the late Dr. Meredith G. Kline, an Old Testament scholar who taught at Westminster theological seminary.

The framework hypothesis starts with the view that the “days” of creation in Genesis 1 are symbolic expressions that have nothing to do with time. Framework advocates note the obvious parallelism between days one and four (the creation of light and the placing of lights in the firmament), days two and five (the separation of air and water and the creation of fish and birds to inhabit air and water), and days three and six (the emergence of the dry land and the creation of land animals)—and they suggest that such parallelism is a clue that the structure of the chapter is merely poetic. Thus, according to this theory, the sequence of creation may essentially be disregarded, as if some literary form in the passage nullified its literal meaning.

Naturally, advocates of this view accept the modern scientific theory that the formation of the earth required several billion years. They claim the biblical account is nothing more than a metaphorical framework that should overlay our scientific understanding of creation. The language and details of Genesis 1 are unimportant, they say; the only truth this passage aims to teach us is that the hand of divine Providence guided the evolutionary process. The Genesis creation account is thus reduced to a literary device—an extended metaphor that is not to be accepted at face value.

But if the Lord wanted to teach us that creation took place in six literal days, how could He have stated it more plainly than Genesis does? The length of the days is defined by periods of day and night that are governed after day four by the sun and moon. The week itself defines the pattern of human labor and rest. The days are marked by the passage of morning and evening. How could these not signify the chronological progression of God’s creative work?

The problem with the framework hypothesis is that it employs a destructive method of interpretation. If the plain meaning of Genesis 1 may be written off and the language treated as nothing more than a literary device, why not do the same with Genesis 3? Indeed, most theological liberals do insist that the talking serpent in chapter 3 signals a fable or a metaphor, and therefore they reject that passage as a literal and historical record of how humanity fell into sin. Where does metaphor ultimately end and history begin? After the flood? After the tower of Babel? And why there? Why not regard all the biblical miracles as literary devices? Why could not the resurrection itself be dismissed as a mere allegory? In the words of E. J. Young, “If the ‘framework’ hypothesis were applied to the narratives of the virgin birth or the resurrection or Romans 5:12, it could as effectively serve to minimize the importance of the content of those passages as it now does the content of the first chapter of Genesis.”

In his book, Studies in Genesis One, Young points out the fallacy of the “framework” hypothesis:

OIP (8)

The question must be raised, “If a nonchronological view of the days be admitted, what is the purpose of mentioning six days?” For, once we reject the chronological sequence which Genesis gives, we are brought to the point where we can really say very little about the content of Genesis one. It is impossible to hold that there are two trios of days, each paralleling the other. Day four . . . speaks of God’s placing the light-bearers in the firmament. The firmament, however, had been made on the second day. If the fourth and the first days are two aspects of the same thing, then the second day also (which speaks of the firmament) must precede days one and four. If this procedure be allowed, with its wholesale disregard of grammar, why may we not be consistent and equate all four of these days with the first verse of Genesis? There is no defense against such a procedure, once we abandon the clear language of the text. In all seriousness it must be asked, Can we believe that the first chapter of Genesis intends to teach that day two preceded days one and four? To ask that question is to answer it.

The simple, rather obvious, fact is that no one would ever think the time-frame for creation was anything other than a normal week of seven days from reading the Bible and allowing it to interpret itself. The Fourth Commandment makes no sense whatsoever apart from an understanding that the days of God’s creative work parallel a normal human work week.

The framework hypothesis is the direct result of making modern scientific theory a hermeneutical guideline by which to interpret Scripture. The basic presupposition behind the framework hypothesis is the notion that science speaks with more authority about origins and the age of the earth than Scripture does. Those who embrace such a view have in effect made science an authority over Scripture. They are permitting scientific hypotheses—mere human opinions that have no divine authority whatsoever—to be the hermeneutical rule by which Scripture is interpreted.

There is no warrant for that. Modern scientific opinion is not a valid hermeneutic for interpreting Genesis (or any other portion of Scripture, for that matter). Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 2:16)—inspired truth from God. “[Scripture] never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). Jesus summed the point up perfectly when He said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17, KJV). The Bible is supreme truth, and therefore it is the standard by which scientific theory should be evaluated, not vice versa.

As John MacArthur wrote, proponents of the “framework hypothesis” argue the language and details of Genesis 1 are unimportant; they are only meant to show that divine Providence guided the evolutionary process.

But, if that’s really what God intended for us to take away from the first few chapters of Genesis—Providence guided evolution—then why did God provide such exact details with precise language?

The Crisis In Our Lives

Hi Kim,

A crisis hits fast, it hits hard, and it takes no prisoners. It can alter the course of your life dramatically. Pain knocks on your front door, moves in without your permission, and refuses to leave. In fact, you wouldn’t even wish it on your worst enemy, yet it’s happening to people everyday.

I do not know of many Christians who have not at some time had a crisis point in their walk with God. How we respond to such a crisis in many ways determines our future maturity as a Christ follower. The reality is there are some who once knew Jesus and walked away from their relationship with Him. This can be directly related to not properly responding to a crisis of their faith in God. If all those who have walked away were to come back to the Lord there may not be an empty seat in our churches.

This issue of responding properly to a crisis of faith becomes a paramount one for the Church. There are many outside the Church today because of it and there are many within the Church who has stunted their personal growth with God over of it. They have lost the kind of joy and zeal they once had for serving God and cannot seem to pinpoint when that happened. For many it can be traced back to a crisis time in their walk with God. When they reached a place of desperation and felt God was not there or did not provide, so they hold that against Him – even unknowingly.

What constitutes a crisis of faith? It is when we come to a pivotal point in our Christian life where events cause us to believe that we cannot go on serving God. The surface causes for such a crisis are as varied as individual experience; it could be the loss of a loved one, a financial disaster, a relationship break-up, or a job loss. But the root issues comprise several main causes. This is important to identify for it helps us to realize that we are not different from other Christians. It also helps us to weed through the particulars of our situation and see the underlying issues that have brought us to such a crisis point.

The Church

Some people don’t know how to pay compliments to others. They’re always critical, always critiquing this or that. And when they do pay a compliment, it’s more of the backhanded variety. For instance, they’ll say, “Hey! You’re on time!” or “You look great for your age!” or “You’re so pretty. Why are you still single?

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”While there is no spiritual gift of criticism, there is the spiritual gift of exhortation, or encouraging others. The Bible says, “If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging” (Romans 12:8 NLT).
The word exhort relating to the spiritual gift of exhortation means to motivate, to stimulate, to excite, and when necessary, too correct. It’s urging someone on.Someone with the gift of teaching will tell you how to do something, but someone with the gift of exhortation motivates you to want to do it.Some people are great with the details of Greek and Hebrew, historical background, and so forth. It’s fantastic. Then others give messages that make you want to go and change the world.

The church needs both gifts today. I think Jesus gives us the model of how to properly exhort in His message to the seven churches of Revelation, and specifically to the church of Ephesus. Loosely paraphrased, here’s what Jesus said to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2: I know you guys work hard, and I know you’re discerning. I know all that you do for me, and I appreciate that. But I have this issue with you. You have left your first love. So, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works quickly.img_0159

Jesus started with compliments and affirmation, followed by a word of criticism, and then the solution.The church needs teachers, but we also need people with the gift of exhortation.

If you agree please let me know. I find I need to follow in this area a whole lot better than I do.img_0165

A PARENT’S POSITIVE INFLUENCE

Just thinking, if people would follow these ideas just maybe there kids would not be destroying our country. Just saying

Relationships—Kids are more likely to avoid the wrong crowd when they see Mom and Dad carefully choosing their own friends and then treating those people with grace and love.

Money—Before our children can use money well, they need to know that everything they earn is actually a gift from God. Wise parents both teach and model that money’s true value lies in its being a means of meeting needs and blessing others.

Vocation—Boys and girls should grow up knowing God has a plan and will for their life. And if parents always strive for excellence because they’re serving God, kids will grow up knowing everything is to be done for the Lord, regardless of who the human boss is.

Despite what the world thinks, true success is not about having the most money, the best job, or the best-looking spouse. Success means keeping a God-centered attitude and letting that spill over into all areas of life.

In Whose Hand Is The Soul

Dee Keith

Job 12:10

 

Job was battling for his life. He was battling the doubts and denunciations of his friends. He was battling the disease of his flesh. Death was imminent in his opinion. Job was engaged in a war that would never end in a truce, or know of a triumph in his days. His battle with these men called friends was over his personal honor and righteousness and that he was on the receiving end of his own just deserts for personal sin in his life. His battle was a spiritual warfare fomented by ignorance of the knowledge of God.

 

Historical Christianity is under a spiritual attack by the same hostile environments from which Job’s friends came with the same antagonistic spirit that assaults the core beliefs and teachings of Scripture. It is two fronted assault: the issue of life; that is, does life begin at conception? And, secondly, is the termination of life. 

 

Job was instructing Zophar in his rebuttal that life is divinely planned. Job was reminding this friend to look at nature, the birds, the animals, the fish of the sea, and understand that inexplicable calamities occur in the creature world. And, when they do, what do we say? It was an act of nature. It is God who gives life, however, and the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind is in His hands. It is only God that can take away the soul and breath from the living. Life is the gift of God that He alone disposes. “In Him was life,” John said, “and the life was the light of men” (Jn. 1:4). Jesus said of Himself, “I am the resurrection, and the life,” (Jn. 11:25), and “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). The Apostle Paul proclaimed a similar truth in his sermon on Mars Hill, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

A husband and wife come to together with the hope and dream of beginning a family. Then to their dismay, the wife cannot conceive for some reason, or the husband has a medical issue. We have a niece that desires so much to mother a baby and cannot. She has spent thousands of dollars for medical help to conceive but to no avail. On the opposite side are those women who have no medical issues and conceives but does not want the children they bear. Some go to the extreme of aborting a life that has been divinely planned of God. This brings in to consideration many other issues that can’t be dealt with now, but my point is that of Job, it is God that divinely plans life.

 

Why was Job battling for his life? Why was Job under such severe attack by those men that had known him and his beliefs on life for so long? If Job teaches us anything it is that the value of life is decidedly prized. Job’s wife was so grieved over his condition that she preferred to see him dead rather than suffer. “Curse God and die,” she begged her husband. His three friends were convinced that there was no hope for Job. They had witnessed death many times, and Job’s condition suggested that death was imminent. Job thought the same. There was, however, a spirit of fight left in this man of God. He treasured life. It was a gift of God, and he wasn’t ready just yet to give up the ghost. He would fight the disease. He would trust in the Lord. He would battle misunderstanding. Job prized life.

 

Job reminded these men that life is divinely preserved: “In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” This was an acknowledgement and an expression of faith that his life (and all life) is the divine protection of God. Job queried his friends earlier, “Is there not an appointed time to man upon the earth” (7:1)? He would later proclaim the same truth, “If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of mine appointed time will I wait, till my change come” (14:14).

It has been the firm belief that the days of man are appointed, or that we have a determined number of days. Our birth and death is in the hands of an all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving God. The birth of a baby in according to the will of God, and the taking of the breath of life from the living is also according to the same Divine Will. There are unexplained mysteries about early death, premature death, unexplained death, that is true. But the Biblical truth is that the Lord gives and takes life. This we are reminded of in Hebrews 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die.” Before that unwanted death, however, is life; the gift of life, that only the great God of heaven and earth gives and preserves for us. May we decidedly prize, cherish, and treasure the life the Lord has given to us.

The Bible

The Bible’s first book never explains God; it simply assumes His existence: “In the beginning, God…” (1:1). Chapters 1 and 2 describe how God created the universe and everything in it simply by speaking: “God said…and it was so” (1:6–7, 9, 11, 14–15). Humans, however, received special handling, as “God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (2:7), and woman was crafted from a rib of man.

Those first two people, Adam and Eve, live in perfection but ruined paradise by disobeying God at the urging of a “subtil” (crafty, 3:1) serpent. Sin throws humans into a moral freefall as the world’s first child—Cain—murders his brother Abel. People become so bad that God decides to flood the entire planet, saving only the righteous Noah, his family, and an ark (boat) full of animals. After the earth repopulates, God chooses a man named Abram as patriarch of a specially blessed people, later called “Israel” after an alternative name of Abram’s grandson Jacob.

Genesis ends with Jacob’s son Joseph, by a miraculous chain of events, ruling in Egypt—setting up the events of the following book of Exodus. QUOTABLE God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (1:3) The LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? (4:9) Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (6:8) He [Abram] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (15:6) UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL Genesis quickly introduces the concept of one God in multiple persons, a concept later called the Trinity: “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (1:26, emphasis added).

Also early on, God gives a hint of Jesus’ future suffering and victory when He curses the serpent for deceiving Eve: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (3:15). SO WHAT? Genesis answers the great question “Where did I come from?” Knowing the answer can give us meaning in a world that’s otherwise hard to figure out.

You and Sin

If you can’t be happy in your sin, that’s a good sign. True believers are never happy when they’re out of fellowship with God.

And if you’re out of fellowship with God, if you’ve sinned against the Lord, then you’ll be an unhappy person.

When the Devil looks for a Christian to take down, he looks for the one who’s following at a distance. He looks for the person who says, “Do we have to go to church again? Didn’t we do that last week? Read the Bible? Really? Again?”

Children of God hunger for these things. Compromisers on the other hand, only do them out of duty. And if no one is encouraging them to do these things, then they don’t do them.

If you’re following the Lord at a distance, you will end up in the miserable no-man’s-land of compromise. And in that dismal place you will have too much of the Lord to be happy in the world, and too much of the world to be happy in the Lord.

Don’t be that person.

Praying

Not praying when we need to can actually be a sin. It’s the sin of omission. A sin of omission is not doing what you should do, while a sin of commission is doing what you should not do. The Bible says, Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

And neglecting to pray is a direct result of the sin of self-confidence. And instead of praying, we usually worry (as though that will help).

So, we don’t say, “I can handle this, God,” or “I’ll fix that, Lord.” Instead, we need to pray about it. We need to say, “Lord, I need your help right now. I’m at the point where I’m tired of trusting in myself, and I’m calling out to you, Lord.

A destructive sin

Selfishness is a consuming and destructive sin. The first and inevitable casualty is the person who manifests it, even if no one else is harmed. Because this sin, like every other, begins in a sinful heart, anyone can commit it—regardless of whether there is an opportunity for it to be outwardly expressed. Even when not outwardly manifested, selfishness breeds anger, resentment, and jealousy. . . .

It is an immeasurable tragedy that modern culture (including much of the church) has, largely through the influence of secular psychology, rejected the divinely commanded principles of humility and selflessness. When the supreme virtue is self-love and the supreme purpose in life is self-fulfillment, mutual respect is replaced by disrespect, mutual service by apathy and indifference, and mutual love by enmity and hatred. [1]

Christians must not succumb to such a selfish lifestyle, and the other sinful attitudes it breeds. That’s why the apostle Paul points our focus away from ourselves.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

Satisfaction

The things that bring us joy and satisfaction in our everyday lives are gifts from the Lord, given to enjoy, of course, but also to serve as important reminders of the satisfaction He promises.

In His love and mercy, God promises much: to faithfully stay with us , give us wisdom, fulfill every need we have, meet us where we are, and reveal what we’re to say in hard situations to name a few. We can look to these promises as we wait for His return, knowing that each earthly joy is but a glimpse of what is to come.

Think of something you genuinely enjoy or find satisfying. Is it easy to see this as a reminder of the joy God offers?

When Christ’s promises are realized, our souls will be satisfied. How does reflecting on His promises help you in your pursuit of righteousness and, ultimately, eternal satisfaction?

God’s Favor

God delights in granting special grace and favor to those whose hearts are set on pleasing Him. For example, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” and was spared the ravages of the Flood (Gen. 6:8). Joseph found favor in His sight and was elevated to prominence in Egypt (Gen. 39—41). God granted Moses and the children of Israel favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and they were able to plunder Egypt in the Exodus.

Today God’s favor is the special grace He grants His children in times of need. It is especially evident when their obedience brings persecution. The apostle Peter wrote, This finds favor [grace], if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. . . . If when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor [grace] with God.

Have you suffered lately because you took a stand for Christ.

Are we doomed and helpless

Unbelievers are doomed to live their lives with a sense of helplessness surrounded by anarchy. Desires for true peace, safety, and lasting prosperity are unattainable, particularly for those who subscribe to atheistic and evolutionary belief systems.

Those worldviews teach us that events are random, our origins accidental, our lives meaningless, and tragedy inevitable. Those who close their eyes to the one true God remain blind to His divine plans and purposes. As John MacArthur argues, contentment can only be found through trust in God’s providence:

So I say to you

Until we truly learn that God is sovereign, ordering everything for His own holy purposes and the ultimate good of those who love Him, we can’t help but be discontent. That’s because in taking on the responsibility of ordering our lives, we will be frustrated in repeatedly discovering that we can’t control everything. Everything already is under control, however, by Someone far greater than you or I.

A synonym for God’s providence is divine provision, but that’s a skimpy label for a complex theological reality. Providence is how God orchestrates everything to accomplish His purposes. Let me show you what that means by contrast.

There are two ways God can act in the world: by miracle and by providence. A miracle has no natural explanation. In the flow of normal life, God suddenly stems the tide and injects a miracle. Then He sets the flow back in motion, just like parting the Red Sea until His people could walk across and closing it up again. Do you think it would be easier to do that—to say, “Hold it, I want to do this miracle” and do it—or to say, “Let’s see, I’ve got 50 billion circumstances to orchestrate to accomplish this one thing”? The latter is providence. Think, for example, of how God providentially ordered the lives of Joseph, Ruth, and Esther. Today He does the same for us.

Sharing Jesus

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

The Bible clearly tells believers to proclaim the gospel to all people. Yet, while we certainly want others to know Jesus, many of us become paralyzed at the thought of engaging in spiritual conversations. If that describes you, take heart—you’re in good company. 

Many believers have fears about sharing the gospel, but Jesus calls us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). So lean on the Spirit, who gives us the mind of Christ. Then, no matter the obstacles, you will be able to proclaim the Savior’s love.

While sharing our faith, many of us have been asked questions we didn’t feel prepared to answer. The awkwardness of such moments can make us hesitant to share, but that’s why it’s important to remember we’re not on our own. 

Knowing we would need encouragement in such situations, Jesus told His followers, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). Don’t forget that the omniscient Spirit of God lives within every Christian, and He knows the best way to respond to any comment or question. But for Him to “bring to … remembrance” the truths of Scripture, we have responsibility to spend time in the Bible regularly. Then the word of Christ can “richly dwell within” us (Col. 3:16). 

When we run into questions for which we don’t have the answer, it’s fine to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll look into it.” And there may be times that others approach spiritual topics with hostility. Then, remember Paul’s wisdom: “Let your speech always be with grace … so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Col. 4:6). Gracious words and a winsome attitude reflect Christlikeness, even in those moments when you might not have an answer on the tip of your tongue.

Blind no more

John 9:25 New International Version (NIV)

If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, here’s what I know about you without even knowing you: Once you were blind, but now you see.

That’s a common phrase we use today, but it came from a New Testament story about a blind man. Jesus saw this man and healed him in an unorthodox way. He spit on the ground, stirred it around in some dirt, and then put it on the man’s eyes. Then Jesus told him to go and wash in the Pool of Siloam.

That is the power of a changed life.

I think people are often surprised that we weren’t always the way we are now. I don’t know where they think Christians come from, but they seem to put us all in one giant category. Then we mess with their narrative when we say, “Hold on. I didn’t always believe this. I used to believe this way” or “I used to live another way.”

Everyone has a story to tell. So, let’s look for opportunities to start evangelistic conversations.

Walk properly

Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy” (Romans 13:13 NKJV).

Let me put that into the modern vernacular: Don’t party and drink. Have you ever been in a place where a group of people are drinking, and they get louder and louder? Pretty soon no one even knows what they’re laughing at.

The Christian should be under the control of the Holy Spirit not alcohol or drugs. Ephesians 5:18 tells us, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” (NLT).

Then there is the word: lewdness, which comes from a Greek term that simply means “bed.” It holds the same connotation as two people going to bed together. We understand that doesn’t mean taking a nap.

The word lust in this verse doesn’t merely describe a person given over to immorality. It describes someone who is living immorally but is incapable of feeling shame. It’s shameless excess and the complete absence of restraint.

In other words, this is a person who not only lives immorally, but they proclaim it. They flaunt it. They’re proud of it.

It frightens me when I hear of Christians engaging in sexual activity outside of God’s constraints, having affairs, extramarital sex, and premarital sex.

The Bible is saying that should not be true of us. So, don’t live that way.

Strong Faith

The key to rock-solid faith is an intimate relationship with God. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Upon salvation, we are grafted into the vine of Christ, which means that His Spirit lives and works in us and provides a constant connection between Father and child. Abiding in God gets us through hard times.

However, we have to choose to tap into that power. Trying to keep things from God’s control could interfere with His plans and cause our relationship with Him to grow distant. But when we commit to knowing God through prayer, meditation, and obedience, His power flows through us, like sap through a branch, bringing new growth. 

Intimacy helps us trust the Lord when life gets difficult. And the more we abide—especially during hard times—the more we grow into unshakeable “oaks of righteousness” (Isa. 61:3).

Our Country

Now consider our country. We, too, are a nation that largely disregards the Lord, one that has turned away from Him and embraced idols. Maybe ours aren’t statues of stone, but we worship money, athletic ability, fame, politics, and reputation. Over time, we’ve removed the Lord from many aspects of public life. What was once a nation founded on godly principles has become a country that tolerates a variety of sins.

When Israel turned its back on the Lord, God’s wrath was inevitable unless the people repented and made Him Lord once again. As believers, we have responsibility to pray that God will draw our heart, and the heart of our country, back to Himself, and that He will help the gospel and truth spread through our land.

Holy Spirit

We ask our Father to fill us with His Holy Spirit. Then we ask Him to reveal to us what our gifts are. This is still a problem today. There’s a lot of ignorance about spiritual gifts.

Whether this is because we neglect our spiritual gifts or don’t understand them, we miss out on them. Maybe one reason is that we’ve seen excess in this area, causing us to recoil.

People sometimes do rather strange things in the name of the Holy Spirit. So we say, “Well, I don’t want that in my life.”

Yet, every believer has been given gifts of the Spirit if he or she is filled with the Spirit.

Jesus said, If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! (Luke 11:13 )

God goes out of His way to find the most unexpected instruments to use for His glory. That includes you. He has given you spiritual gifts. Maybe you’ve never discovered them, so you need to start praying about what they are.

Make an effort, and see what you can do for God’s glory. Because the church needs you, and you need the church. We’re a family, though not a perfect one.

So, find your place, and when you do you’ll find that church will change radically for you.

Crucifixion

The crucifixion of Christ is a central doctrine of our faith, and understanding it correctly is essential for eternal life.

It’s important for us as believers to understand what happened on the cross—then we too can be thoroughly convinced of its supreme significance. It was not simply the execution of a Jewish man. What transpired in that event was the solution to mankind’s biggest problem: sin and our resulting alienation from God.

The crucifixion is the divine transaction that saves us. Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin and reconcile us to the Father. Although the Jews and the Romans viewed the crucifixion as the execution of a criminal, God saw the death of His Son as the perfect atoning sacrifice, which allowed for the justification of sinful mankind.

Nothing else is required to pay for our salvation. To be saved, all we must do is believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for our sins.

Baptism

Baptism is a symbol of the end of the old you and the beginning of the new you. It’s an outward showing of an inward doing, because regeneration takes place when we believe in Jesus.

The Bible tells us, Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4 )

By the way, there is God’s part and our part. God sanctifies us. The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23 )

But then we need to cooperate with God. Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi, Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12–1)

Notice that Paul didn’t say, Work for your salvation. That’s impossible, because salvation is a gift of God. Rather, live it out. Experience it. Our salvation should affect us in our day-to-day choices.

Salvation is coming to Christ; sanctification is growing in Christ. Salvation happens in a moment, bringing a sinner from spiritual death to life; sanctification is an ongoing process.

Salvation is being forgiven of the past; sanctification is breaking free from the power of sin. This is something God does in our lives, and it never stops until we get to Heaven.

AMERICA IN CRISIS

The current election indicates a division in our country, and we have been hearing that repeatedly through the media – television, and radio, and in print – that our country is greatly divided. We can see how severe the division is because of the closeness of the vote. But the current election, with all of the pundits, and all of the commentators, and all of the words that have been offered toward this particular event is not really properly understood. I haven’t heard anything that really properly grasps what’s going on. And I’m going to tell you what I think is going on from a biblical perspective, and from a Christian perspective, and I’m going to point out what I think is the real division.

This is the division that is so disturbing to Christians, and it’s not about economics, and it’s not about taxes, and it’s not about deficits, and it’s not about surpluses, and it’s not about prescription drugs, and it’s not about entitlements. And the division is really not about anything that is political or that is social. The fact of the matter is both candidates, in this time in American history, are in an environment where socialized economics, reallocation of wealth, big government, excessive taxation are firmly established and can only be slightly altered by either party – if at all.

And frankly, in those areas, it doesn’t matter who is president. There just isn’t that much difference. The division that disturbs us is not about any of that. The division that disturbs us is about the Bible; it’s about morality as defined by the scripture; it’s about Christianity and its place in American society.

To be honest, the current Democratic agenda is pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, pro-lesbian, pro-feminist, anti-Christian, and exclusive of biblical standards. Essentially, no true Christian can support that agenda.

It’s a new day in America. What we have is a division about the Bible, about morality, about biblical standards. And that is what is so disturbing to us.

When Bill Clinton was elected the first time, back in 1992, most Americans – 63 percent – didn’t want him as president. It was known, at that time, that he was an immoral man; it was later confirmed time and time again. But you could see, during the eight years of his presidency, his popularity grew and his rate of acceptance and satisfaction getting higher and higher. The people, more and more, began to approve of him.

I’m convinced that by our next election, another generation of young people will have entered into voting age, and they will carry the attitudes that are pervasive in the culture today, and what was a 37-percent vote 8 years ago, and is now a 50-percent vote, could well be a 60-percent vote for the non-Christian, non-biblical, non-moral position.

This was confirmed to me in one interview I read, where a television commentator was interviewing Dick Morris, who was the White House secretary with the Clintons for a number of years before he was discredited by his own immorality. And he was asked by the commentator when Hillary Clinton won the state of New York if he could define her in one word. And he, without hesitation, answered, “Amoral.”

What we’re seeing in America is the death of morality. What we’re seeing in America is the death of biblical standards. What we’re seeing is the displacement of Christianity. Morality and biblical commitment are fading in our nation and fading before our very eyes. And Christians, frankly, I think, are disturbed not so much because we want Trump to win, but because we want the Democratic Party to lose. And it isn’t personal. We really would prefer one last hurrah for what is moral, one last hurrah for what is right and righteous and biblical. We would like to believe that we can hold on to a place in our society for God’s Word. But it’s a losing battle. I

I want you to turn to Acts chapter 14 for a moment, and I just want to make a couple of comments about a text there. In Acts 14, we get a perspective that I think is important. The apostle Paul, along with Barnabas, in this case, and anybody else who does what Paul did describes himself as a preacher of the gospel.

Verse 15 of Acts 14, about a third way into the verse, he says, “We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel. We preach the gospel to you in order that you may turn from these vain things” – that is idols, false religion – “to the living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.” Paul says, “We are preachers, and we preach about the one and only God, the true and living God, and we preach to you the good news of that true and living God, that sinners can be reconciled to Him.”

Then in verse 16, he says, “In the generations gone by, He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without a witness.” And that’s the story of human society, folks: all the nations rise and fall; all the nations come and go. And in the midst of all of that, God always has His preachers who are preaching the gospel. He is never without witness, but the cycle is always the same.

Verse 16 says that in the generations gone by – you can look at all of human history – God permits all the nations to go their own way. There is no way to stop the cycle. Someone well said, “If men have learned anything from history, it is that men never learn anything from history.” And so, you have people today working feverishly to save America. To save America. And that’s very normal, and it pains us greatly to see the declining interest in the Bible, the massive effort to get the Bible out of the public discourse, to get the Bible removed as the standard for conduct and behavior and law.

But, folks, this is history, and history inexorably repeats itself. And the cynicism of the preacher in Ecclesiastes is justified when he said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” And he went on to say that history is an endless cycle of repetition. “That which has been now; that which is to have already been,” he said. And we are now in the cycle.

Men and nations follow the same path from glory to dust, from the heights to the depths, from great achievement to destruction. The beginnings are bright, and the beginnings are hopeful and filled with promise, but there’s always the slide and the drift, the spiritual entropy that takes over in a fallen world and catapults nations downward and downward into destruction. In fact, every baby born is a living illustration of the inevitable course of men and nations. Every baby is a single illustration, beginning in the loveliness of innocence and infancy; and moving through childhood and all of its bright, shining hope; and finally to adulthood and decline through maturity to the sad reality of death.

Our own nation is on that same path. America is caught in the doomsday cycle that has caught every nation and will until the Lord comes and establishes the glory of His own kingdom. We are a dying nation in a world of dying nations, and dying people. And for us, in America, it’s hard to swallow because we had particularly bright infancy. It all began with such a primitive beauty; it all began with people coming here, to this great land, to seek out freedom – freedom to express their love to Christ in a community of people who were devoted to the Word of God.

It was in that context that we established our Constitution. It was in that context that we established our Bill of Rights. It was in that context that we designed our government with all of its wonderful freedoms. It was in that context that we established our churches and our schools and our legal system.

The Bible was held high, and the Bible was the source of all truth and authority for life, both private and public. And God was at the center of our activity, and His name is even on our coinage. Worshiping God was a way of life, and churches were the hub of communities. There were great preachers and wonderful schools for teaching Scripture, and they all had a central place in the life of this nation. There was a standard, and there was a norm, and there was an absolute, and it was the Word of God.

But that was the time of America’s infancy, and as maturity came, we began to drift into degraded adulthood; it was evident. There were some voices that tried to call us back. The Edwards and Whitfield and Moody and others. There were preachers here and there, and churches here and there were crying out to try to stem the tide. But evil has prevailed, and we face the inevitable judgment of God.

It’s like what is going on right now. This so-called Pandemic, it is not any more death threatening than most any other virus. The press and the left have got everyone so suck into their scram that it is getting easier to destroy this country and President Trump. Don’t believe me, look around, check the facts, and if you don’t want to believe me then after you get your shot from the Gates foundation and they put their chip in you, you will be a believer then. Soon you won’t be able to go anywhere till you get your shot. It will be required. Check the track record the Gates foundation has in other countries. The death toll is very sad.

But again I’m just saying what I feel and what I know. Take the way you want it….

Holy Spirit

John 14:16-18

Let me ask you this, do you realize the Holy Spirit came at the moment of salvation to live permanently within you. And some who do realize this don’t understand who the Spirit is, how He works, or why His indwelling presence is so significant.

The Holy Spirit is a person, not simply a power or force and He, along with the other two members of the Trinity, was involved in creation. We know this because when God created mankind, He said “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. The plural pronouns in this passage refer to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit.

On the night before the crucifixion, Jesus told the disciples that the Father would send them a Helper who would be with them and in them forever. Even though the Lord would no longer be physically present, He wasn’t going to leave them to fend for themselves like orphans. Instead, He promised to come to them through the presence of His Spirit.

Because of the crucifixion, today the Spirit is our leader, guide, teacher, and comforter. His presence in us means that we are God’s children and that God has upheld His promise to always be with us.

The truth does matter

I here a lot of people, not all Christians but some say, I want to here the truth. I want to know what is true. But that really isn’t what they are saying. If the real truth isn’t what they believe in, like, or how they are living, or just rubs them the wrong way it’s not true, or they won’t listen anymore. Almost reminds me of the stories in the Bible what Jesus was going through.

 

Today as a nation we are in trouble. We all know what’s going on right now, but that’s just a fraction of the problem. Our country’s political parties have all gone amuck. This sermon airs out a lot of things that have been going on for years and still is today. It sounds like he talking about the here and now. It only shows that nothing has changed. Just names and faces. If you want the truth then listen to one of my favorite Pastors that tell nothing but the truth. If you can’t handle it don’t listen

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A Nation in a crisis