Beware of the False Teachings



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There are few people, Christian and non-Christian alike, who don’t recognize that the world of today is filled with wickedness, hatred and evil. We can’t even watch or read the news without being made aware of it. It seems that we could foresee that some of this would creep into the church and indeed it has. There are unfortunately far too many churches that claim to be Christian that are spewing out false doctrine and are teaching things that lack the truth of God. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to true Christians, because the bible says that it would happen and has been happening. The bible also says what will happen to those who falsely teach and those who follow them.

2 Peter 2:1-3   

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

That God despises false prophets and their teaching is very plain in the bible. The reason is easy to understand, too. False teachings, even if they are from misguided but altruistic motives, cause people to be led away from the will of God. His feelings about this are mentioned several times in several ways, including in His own words.

Jer 23:30-32   “Therefore,” declares the Lord, “I am against the prophets who steal from one another words supposedly from me. Yes,.. I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues and yet declare, ‘The Lord declares.’ Indeed, I am against those who prophesy false dreams,.. They tell them and lead my people astray with their reckless lies, yet I did not send or appoint them. They do not benefit these people in the least,” declares the Lord.

The problem isn’t that people are gullible, though certainly some of them are. The issue is that a lot of the false doctrines might sound right and seem to make sense. Because of this, a lot of people might think that they are caught in a trap, since it can be so hard to tell the truth from fiction, especially with the master deceiver in charge of the misinformation. However, God provides a way to tell what is his will and what isn’t. Putting it simply, by learning more about Jesus and coming to love him at a deeper and deeper level, we can help prevent ourselves from being taken in by the false teachers, and perhaps from becoming one, unwittingly.

And how to we learn more about Jesus and come to love him more tomorrow than we do today? We can do this by reading the bible daily, reflecting on what we’ve read and praying to God for wisdom and understanding about it. God is quite happy to give us the wisdom and understanding, though not always in our time frame and not always in ways that we expect.

John 7:16-18

16“My teaching is not,” My own Jesus replied. “It comes from Him who sent Me. 17 If anyone desires to do His will, he will know whether My teaching is from God or whether I speak on My own. 18 He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is a man of truth; in Him there is no falsehood.…

Notice that it was Jesus who spoke these words, so we know that we are being given the truth about it. If the belief, doctrine or teaching isn’t fully supported by the Bible, it isn’t from God and isn’t His will. If it isn’t His will, it is false teaching. By getting to know Jesus better and by having him as a best friend, we can get our first insights into when we need to check the bible to see what the scriptures say. We should be reading the bible anyway, but this is just one way that we can apply the knowledge in the bible to our lives.

If I was to ask you who your very best friend is, the first thing that should instantly pop out of your mouth is, “Jesus!” If it isn’t, it means that you don’t know Him well enough and don’t love Him enough yet. This is something we can all work on to a greater degree.

Who is your very best friend?




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Humility is Much More Than Just a Word

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The bible teaches us that we should be humble and there are many passages that encourage humility. Still, it isn’t surprising that many people don’t live a humble life. This world is dominated by arrogance and pride and many people may not even understand that these are exactly the opposite of humility. I’ll confess that I often act in ways that are not humble, as they should be.

We all succumb to pride occasionally, so it is something that we need to continually work on; being humble. Mind you, some kinds of pride are good if your attitude is right and if thanks is given to God. Personally, I’m proud to have such a loving, understanding and forgiving Father. That is justified pride. I’m proud to have a healthy garden, though I acknowledge and give thanks to God for making it that way. My efforts would be nothing without his blessing.

What does the word ‘humble’ mean, anyway? According to Dictionary.com, the word comes from the Latin word “humilis”, which means “lowly, insignificant, on the ground.” Thus, when we kneel in prayer to God, we are humbling ourselves before Him, although in a very minor way. Again, this is the opposite of arrogance. An arrogant person tends not to bow down, though the time will come when they will.

Humility is important enough that it is mentioned many times in the bible and the bible gives strong indications of the advantages of being humble. Here are only a few examples:

Psalms 18:27 You [God] save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

 

Psalms 25:9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

 

Psalms 147:6 The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

 

Psalms 149:4 For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.

 

Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

 

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

This is all well and good, but many people who honestly try to be humble may not realize when they are being prideful. Here is a very common example; suppose a person tells another, “I’ll meet you there tomorrow at 10 o’clock.”

How does that person know that God doesn’t have other plans for the next day? God’s will comes first, so it is arrogant to presume that our plans will take precedent. They will not and cannot take precedence over the will of God.

Chances are good that a Christian wouldn’t mean to be arrogant. To be humble, though, the statement should be more along the lines of: “I’ll meet you there tomorrow at 10 o’clock, God willing.” Notice that the inclusion of just those two words puts the decision in the hands that it belongs in; God’s. Thus, this is a humble statement.

This is a minor example. There are many common examples of a lack of humility that are stronger and more pointed. Anytime you look at someone and think that they should be wearing something nicer or different, you are elevating yourself and are being arrogant rather than humble.

“You should learn how to drive!” is also an arrogant statement, presuming that the person making it is in a superior position that makes them qualified to judge. Bzzz…wrong! Only God is superior enough to be able to judge.

It is easy to see that many things that we say and do are not humble. This can then be considered as a work in progress. We have an excellent example of humility. The actions and words of Jesus were humble, though Jesus was the one person who would be justified in being somewhat less than humble. He taught as much by his actions as his words.

It would be very valid to put this down on our daily prayer request list; asking God to help us to be more humble than we are and to be mindful of our acts of arrogance and pride when they occur. With a greater awareness, perhaps we can walk the path of humility. I am guilty of not being humble like I should be and continually pray that my actions can show more humility. After all, everything that a Christian does is a direct reflection upon our Lord. Would we not want to be more like him, that the reflection would be an accurate one?

How often do you catch yourself lacking in humility? Do you even think about it during your day to day life?


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Gaining a Better Understanding of the Judgment

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There tends to be a great deal of confusion surrounding judgment day and the time we are judged. Even many long-time Christians are sometimes confused by it, though the bible isn’t at all unclear about the time of judgment. Part of the lack of understanding is probably due to the fact that many people don’t like to think about the day they will be judged and the world as we know it will end, to make way for something infinitely better. It is an uncomfortable topic, even though it will usher in a new, glorious time.

One point of confusion is about the judgment itself. Jesus will be the judge, which is only right since He lived a physical life as a man, with all the temptations and tribulations that all men face. He conquered death and was without sin. In fact, He was the only man who didn’t sin against God, which makes Him supremely proper for the position of judge for humanity.

A large part of the lack of understanding about judgment is because there is actually more than one judgment. Jesus will judge all people, regardless of who they are or where they live (2 Corinthians 5:9-11) and it is important to understand that the judgment will be a full evaluation of the works each person has done for God. Note that the bible is explicit in that this is a judgment of our good works, not of our bad ones.

This being the case, a person who does many good things for God and very few sinful ones may be judged favorably, even if they don’t know about God or have a personal relationship with him. This isn’t a contradiction. Every one of us was blessed by the holy spirit when we were born, and even when a person doesn’t know why they know the difference between good and evil, the spirit gives them that power. Thus, it is possible for them to do good works without ever learning about Jesus or God.

A sticking point, though, is that no person can enter the kingdom of God except through Jesus. Jesus was beaten, humiliated and died for all people, that they might be forgiven for their sins. He conquered death and arose, defeating Satan for the second time in the process, and it is only through his sacrifice that we have any hope of entering the kingdom. What about those people who don’t know Jesus?

Over-simplifying only a little, there are two groups of people and this includes those who’ve already perished, physically. One group has asked Jesus for forgiveness of their sins. They acknowledge that Jesus is their salvation and that He alone has conquered death. They have pledged their lives to Him. These are the true Christians and they are sometimes referred to as the born-again Christians, because they’ve asked for forgiveness, have truly repented and have become followers of Jesus, in their hearts, born again in his name.

The other group is comprised of everyone else. Again, remember that this doesn’t mean that only those from the first group will receive salvation, only that those of the second group have a much harder time ahead.

Their’s will be a separate judgment, though. Those in the first group must also be judged, however that judgment will be done before the Bema Seat of Christ. What is a Bema Seat?

The ancient Greeks gave awards to their athletes after athletic competitions, from a bema seat. This was also where charges were brought against people. The apostle Paul stood before a bema seat when he was charged. (Acts 18:12)

And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat

It is important to understand that in the context of being judged for the purpose of being allowed to live for eternity in the kingdom of God as heirs to the kingdom, the bema seat becomes a place where the greatest awards and rewards are given to the faithful, who’ve had works that support God.

This is why it is so important for every one of us to spread the wonderful news that is contained in the bible, that more people might have the same opportunity to be ‘awarded’ passage. The bible is extremely clear in the point that we are to love our neighbor as ourself and if that is true, we must try to explain to our neighbor, that is all people, who God and Jesus are. This gives them the opportunity we, as true Christians, have been given. If we show an honest Christ-like love for everyone, as we are instructed to do, we would want nothing less and would still feel that it is the least that we can do.

The hardest part is that we must especially focus on those people we are at odds with. This will reflect upon you when you stand before the bema seat, as an important part of your works on behalf of God. It isn’t always easy to do this with someone who rubs you the wrong way and whom you don’t especially like. You must do your best to love them and forgive them for their transgressions. Through Jesus, the Father has forgiven you despite the sins and evil you’ve done against God and now it is your turn to forgive those who have transgressed against you.

The question is, are you ready to do this? Each person must decide this for themselves.


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Church Endorsed Manifestations of Sin

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What is meant by the title: Church endorsed manifestations of sin? This is something that is happening far too often in Christian churches today. Few Christians have any doubts about the wickedness that is so profound in the world and surrounds us like a blanket, yet they often give little thought to the fact that many churches are actually condoning many sinful actions. The bible makes it plain that this is not all right.

In some churches, this is somewhat mild but never-the-less wrong. For instance, with some churches, you must dress in a certain way or display certain signs of affluence before you are even accepted into the particular church. This is quite hypocritical. That is certainly not Godly or Christ-like. Jesus ministered more to the poor than he did to the wealthy, more to the lame than the healthy and more to the common man than to those of power.

James put it in a very understandable way. In James 2:1-13, James is quite clear about how sinful this is and what the results will be:

1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

James 2:10 holds a key, too: For whoever keeps the whole law and stumbles at one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Thus, a church that demands a certain type of clothing or signs of affluence, which we know are of this world and are thus against God, are sinning, condoning sin and teaching their congregation to sin.

This scripture also shows that many other things that some churches embrace go directly against what Jesus taught and which the bible explains is the will of God. They often try to reinterpret the bible to support their position, but they are ignoring the fact that the bible is written in such a way that when they try to do this, it creates apparent contradictions. The bible is meant to be followed in its entirety and one biblical point supports another. A reinterpretation creates the contradictions because other scriptures are clearly in opposition to the new interpretation.

Since the entire bible is our guideline and is the word of God, this also means that it isn’t right to follow one part of it and not another. This is prevalent in many churches, but it is still wrong. Our goal is to be as much like Jesus as possible and he simply didn’t choose just certain parts of the word of God to follow. Again, He showed in His words and actions that He was in total agreement with James; a person following the law (the bible) and not following even one biblical principle, makes a person guilty of sinning and violating all. That also means that while there are some parts of the bible that might be uncomfortable for us to follow, we aren’t given the option to pick and choose.

Does that mean that we won’t occasionally stumble? Absolutely not; we were born into sin and will make mistakes. We must continually ask for forgiveness and try our best not to make the mistakes. We must also ask for guidance, that we can keep from doing those things God has told us not to do and to do the things He has commanded.

This doesn’t mean that we will always be successful in avoiding the transgressions, but one of the worst things we can do is follow the false teachings of so many churches. How can we know that they are false teachings? Prayer is only one part of it, though it is an exceptionally important part. Another is to actually spend time reading the bible.

I advocate reading a chapter or more every day. “I don’t have time,” is a lame excuse that is meaningless. God put 1440 minutes into every day and if you take 10 minutes per day to read a chapter of the bible, you will still have 1430 minutes left. This isn’t too much to ask. After all, how can you hope to follow the word of God if you don’t know what the word of God says? A funny thing about reading the bible daily is that there comes a time when you actually start looking forward to reading the word of God.

Put in another way, though, you aren’t responsible for the false teachings of some churches, nor are you responsible for church leadership that is misguided in those churches and apparently is leading people astray. You are responsible, however, for the path you walk, which means that it is your responsibility to know what the bible actually says.

In no way do you need to find yourself following the church endorsed manifestations of sin that are so common. Every one of us will be judged one day. Please make a conscious effort to follow the path of righteousness. It pays dividends that no man can fully fathom.

Thankfully, many more churches do follow the word of God and encourage both reading the bible and praying. This creates a loving atmosphere, which is to say that God is in attendance. After all, as we learn from 1 John 4:8, God is love.


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Have You Ever Felt Unneeded?

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With all that is going on in the world today, it is natural that most of us occasionally feel depressed. We see so many evils all around us and there is a sense of helplessness. At times, we might even feel unneeded. Have you ever felt that way? I know that I certainly have.

There are times when I think to myself that if something happened to me, it wouldn’t make a difference to anyone. Oh, I know that my wife and kids would miss me, but I occasionally ask myself if I make a difference.

What does the bible say about that, though? For sure, God is so big and so great, and we are so small and insignificant that there is a predisposition to feel that God doesn’t need any one of us. From a purely logical standpoint, that may be true, however in another way it isn’t.

If a mother or father questions whether they ‘need’ any of their children, the conclusion is likely to be that in the strictest sense, they don’t. However, without their kids, they lose a great deal of their own identity and who they are. Good parents know this instinctively, so if you actually asked them if they need their children, they’ll probably say, “Yes”, without hesitation. This feeling is true of everyone and not just those who have children, but the truth is that everyone we interact with has an impact on us. Those whom we care about have an even more profound impact than those we meet in day to day life.

Just from that aspect, it isn’t hard to see that we are important to other people, even when we don’t realize it. Our family, friends and even acquaintances need us in ways we will never totally fathom and it is likely that they won’t, either. However, it goes much deeper than this.

Does God need you? To answer this, another question might be, “What is the bible about?” Stay with me, because the questions are related.

Certainly the bible is about Jesus, but more expansively, it is about God’s plans for his kingdom and his children. It is devoted to telling us how to live and what is expected of us. It is also filled with the hope and promise of redemption and the fullness of life. The bible contains standards by which we should live and it holds truths and wisdom that are staggering. A large part of the bible deals with the good news or gospel.

In fact, there are about 807,000 words in the bible, in over 31,000 verses. All those words are for you and me, not for God. God is our father and we are heirs to his kingdom, so naturally we are loved by Him, we are important to Him and we are needed by Him. Otherwise, the bible wouldn’t be needed and wouldn’t have been written.

We are needed in another way, too. While the bible is about God’s plans, at best we only get snippets of those plans. We haven’t the capacity to grasp the fullness of what He has planned. There are some things we do know, though, and this is expressed over and over, throughout the bible; God has a plan for each of us and what we do brings other pieces of the picture into play.

Thinking of this, it isn’t hard to see that we are needed. Each of us is an important part of that plan, though we don’t know in what ways we are important. We each play our part. We also know that as a good Dad, God loves us all and He wants as many of us as possible to enjoy His kingdom. What we think, do, say; in other words our ‘works’, are the means to bring more of God’s kids to his kingdom. We can’t understand the ways, but understanding isn’t important as long as we accept and have faith. The staggering truth is that God needs every one of us.

Next time you begin to wonder if you are needed and if you make a difference, pray to our heavenly Dad, asking him for enlightenment. It doesn’t take much, but you are quite likely to get an answer that will show you that you are indeed needed and that you can and do make a difference.

Praises to our heavenly Abba!


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Have You Ever Questioned Faith?

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In today’s world, with wickedness and sin being so rampant and the works of the deceiver being obvious practically every time we step out our door or turn on the TV, it is natural that we often find our faith tested. We see bad things happening to good people and evil people seem to have a pass that gets them apparently ahead. However, have you ever stopped to question faith and consider what it is?

One of the best dictionary definitions I’ve seen for faith is that it is a strong, unshakable belief in something. Too often, though, people think of faith as an object or noun and not as an action or verb. People who struggle with their faith are often guilty of this and I personally have been.

When faith is an object, it becomes easy to lose faith. But notice that Jesus never told us to simply have faith. He put it in a different way.

Have faith in God, Jesus said to them [the apostles]. Mark 11:22

Look closely at this simple scripture. In the instruction of Jesus, He is clearly defining the object as God, not faith. In other words, we are not told to have faith for faith’s sake, but rather to have faith in God, from whom all good things come.

When we begin to feel our faith tested, the most common response for even devote Christians is to believe that they must somehow stir up their faith. By thinking this way, faith becomes the object!

Faith as the object cannot stand. When faith becomes the object, doubt can overpower the faith. Think about that for a moment.

In Matthew 14, with the disciples in the boat during a storm, Jesus walks to them over the water and Peter asks if he can walk to meet him. This was an act of faith. It was faith in Jesus and in God. When the waves picked up, though, Peter began to question his action. He began to sink. Jesus reached out, took his hand and prevented him from sinking. Jesus was restoring the object of Peter’s faith, he wasn’t restoring Peter’s faith in and of itself.

Jesus recognized how the object had changed in Peter’s heart and gently admonished him, too.

Matthew 14:31 – Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?

So what should you do when your faith is tested and you find yourself faltering? Put the object squarely back on God. Pray to Him, let him know the difficulties you are facing and what you are feeling. Then put it all in His hands and relax. Nothing is impossible for God and you already know that He’s never let you down, so there is no reason he will suddenly do so.

By doing this, God again becomes the object of your faith. Faith then becomes a positive action. There is a requirement, though. You must pray. Still, by doing so, you are doing exactly what Jesus told us to do, to have faith IN GOD.

Isn’t it wonderful to have a loving Dad we can go to in prayer, knowing that He will not forsake us? He loves us and wants to hear from us. Surely that is not to much to ask. The more we pray and the more we focus on God as the object of our faith, the easier it becomes to have a strong, unshakable belief.

Praise be to our holy Abba. Thanks for being there, Dad!


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Do You Really Know Who God Is?

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Many people, even those who aren’t Christians, know that God created everything. There isn’t much question about this. So we know that God is extremely powerful. The bible says that He created the universe with a mere breath. Considering how immense the universe is, this also means that God is huge. However, these are just attributes of God. Do you really know who He is? You most definitely should, particularly if you are a Christian. Let me explain why.

People often think of God and a king, sitting on a throne like a tyrannical judge just waiting for people to do something wrong so He can punish them. He indeed is the king. But what picture does this conjure up in your mind? The most common thought, in this context, is that God is a being that demands total obedience, at all times. The thought is that He is the punisher, the master, and that we are mere slaves to His every whim. In some ways, this might not be totally inaccurate, however what would you think or say if I said that this isn’t who God is? No, I don’t have some divine wisdom that the rest of humanity lacks, and no, I don’t have some hidden insight into who God is.

The answer to who God is can be found in the bible.

If I asked who Jesus is, most people would probably have a firmer grasp on the answer. Jesus helped those in need, corrected people when needed and always in a kind spirited way and was a servant to others. He served in every way that could be imagined. Though he is the Lord, he showed time and again that he lived to serve and was totally humble. He preached that we should all serve. His words in Mark 9:35 are representative of how he lived his human life:

35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Jesus exemplified love on a scale that should leave us all in awe. In fact, the only time he showed anger was when words and actions demeaned God and the kingdom of God. His love and kindness was not only phenomenal at all times, but he also ministered to the sinners, not just to the righteous. Many times, his focus on helping wicked people who had turned away from God left the apostles puzzled. He clearly knew that the sinners and wicked people were the most in need of salvation. Through it all, he showed love toward all people and he put others before himself, just as the bible teaches; love your neighbor as yourself.

What does all of this have to do with knowing who God is? I’ll submit to you that if you know who Jesus is, you know who God is. Why can I say that with such conviction? Jesus said it better than I ever could:

If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well. From now you do know Him and have seen Him.John 14:7

You see, in order to know who God really is, we need but to learn and study who Jesus is. He came to allow salvation, though not one of us deserves it. God didn’t have to allow his Son to die to give us salvation because we are all sinners. However, Jesus also came for the express reason of letting people know who God is. All of his words and actions were in direct accord with God’s will. Thus, God isn’t just the creator and He isn’t a tyrant. Jesus showed that God is love (1 John 4:8) and that all the good things we have and see are from God. God is goodness, kindness, a dear friend, a loving father and a servant to all.

The staggering part of all of this is that once you grasp it; that Jesus showed by example exactly who God is, there is another revelation that is as clear as glass. Just as God is everything that is good, anything that isn’t good also isn’t God or from God. That puts things in proper perspective, don’t you think? If you look at all the evil in the world, it is no wonder why lovers of the world are enemies of God, as the bible puts it. Personally, I find this all quite uplifting. God loves you, wants the best for you and wants to help you to have happiness and joy. He can and does go out of his way to help you and all you have to do is to open the door and let Jesus in. Each of us has the power to open our own door. Jesus is standing right on the other side, waiting to be let in.

Is God good, or what?


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Deals and No Deals With Our Father

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Have you ever been in a bad situation when it looked like there was no way out,  so you tried to strike a bargain with God? It is safe to say that most Christians have, or at least have thought about it. I certainly have. Despite what many people might think, the Bible doesn’t tell us that we shouldn’t or can’t attempt to make a deal with God. Even Abraham made a deal with God. For that matter, God has also made deals with Satan. Before thinking that Brother Rex has lost it all, let me explain.

Do you remember the story of Job? Job was a God-fearing man who loved the father. He had a good and comfortable life. However, Satan made the claim that the only reason he loved God was because of the things God had blessed him with. He said that if all those things were taken away, Job would turn away from the Father. God made a deal. Satan was allowed to make things hard for Job in any way, but God made the deal that Job couldn’t die through any action Satan took. Naturally Satan was proved to be wrong. Even with everything taken from him, Job still praised God and still both loved him and followed him. The point is that God made a deal. Making deals isn’t wrong, because nothing God does is wrong.

All this said, should we try to make deals with God? Well, that depends entirely on the deal and the circumstances.

You may have heard of soldiers who prayed, “Father, if you get me out of this, I promise never to swear, to read the bible every day and to go to church every Sunday, without fail.” Such a deal wouldn’t be testing God, because we know that he can and often does deliver us from the darkest circumstances. However, if you really look at the deal, you will probably see how unwise such a bargain would be.

First of all, the deal is self-centered and selfish. The focus of the deal would be on the person, not on God. Second, it is impossible to keep the deal. The soldier in this illustration is elevating himself to the position of God by saying that he will never swear, will read the bible every day and will go to church every Sunday. He doesn’t know what might happen in the future and since he took God out of the equation, he virtually dooms himself to failure. Third, he is trying to make a deal that would benefit him and in return, he’d do what he should be doing anyway.

What the soldier should do is quite a bit simpler and it is a provision our loving Father put into place. It is part of the reason he allowed his son to be killed to begin with. That is, we all have a direct line of communication to God, by praying in the name of Jesus. Instead of trying to strike a bargain, the soldier should simply say something like, “Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray that you will get me out of this mess.”

While the bible doesn’t say that we can’t make deals with God, quite often when we find ourselves in bad situations, we try to make deals that are doomed to failure, when we never had to make a deal at all. God loves us! He does things for us all the time, even when we don’t know about it. If you are in a dire position, pray for help, in the name of the Lord. In fact, Jesus instructs us to do exactly this.

John 14:13

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

I’m not saying that there will never be circumstances when it would be wise to make a deal. However, consider it carefully first. If you aren’t selfish, ask for it in the name of Jesus. God will hear the plea and he loves to help us. By doing this, you are putting the focus where it belongs; on Jesus and our heavenly Father. Isn’t it wonderful to have a Father who loves us so much?

Have you ever tried to make a deal with God that you couldn’t keep? As I’ve said, I have. I later needed deep prayer to ask for forgiveness. The failure was mine, not the Lord’s.


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Plant the Seed and God Will Make it Grow

making seeds grow

Every year, I put in a garden. I also make my own compost, because I know that it helps the fruits and vegetables to thrive by feeding them the right amount of nourishment at the right time. It lets the plants grow strong and healthy.

About a decade ago, I put in a garden and was pleased by how it was growing. Only a few plants were struggling and among those were my pumpkins. That didn’t surprise me because I lived in an area that wasn’t known for growing healthy pumpkins. I replanted the pumpkins three times, but they kept dying. In a last effort, I planted the fourth time, totally forgetting about the large compost pile I had. It shouldn’t have slipped my mind since I had to walk by the compost heap on the way to the garden. Still, it was in a very shady spot, on poor soil that had a lot of rocks in it. That ground grew plenty of weeds, but little else. That was why I put the compost pile there, since I didn’t thing the spot was good for growing anything worthwhile.

Gardeners will understand that to keep compost active, it must be kept damp. One day when I was fretting about how the last pumpkins I planted were again looking weak. While I pondered the problem, I was watering the compost pile. That’s when I saw it; a single pumpkin plant growing at the edge of the compost pile. Apparently a seed had fallen out of my pocket and was covered with the overflow of the compost. That plant wasn’t like those that kept dying, though. It was strong and very healthy, despite growing without enough sunshine and on top of rocky soil.

I didn’t expect it to grow, but kept giving it water every time I sprinkled the compost pile. It grew enormous and soon there were vines and leaves that covered an area of about 12 square feet, choking out the weeds. Only then did it occur to me that I hadn’t used any of the nutrient-rich compost on the pumpkins I’d been attempting to grow on purpose. I used some of the compost around the struggling pumpkin plants and got almost immediate results.

Of the accidental pumpkin plant, the harvest that year was astonishing. That vine grew a 98 pound, a 69 pound and two 48 pound pumpkins, despite being in about the worst spot for pumpkins that I could have come up with even if I’d planned it.

That is just the way it is with the word of God. When we plant the seed of God’s wonderful message, using our words and actions, too often we forget that our subsequent words and actions can either nourish the seed or cause it to struggle. If we proclaim the glory of God and the joy of His message, and then act in ways that are not in following with the teachings of Jesus, the seed we planted can even die.

By the grace of God, though, if we do honestly follow Jesus, sometimes a seed is planted accidentally in the most unlikely spot for it to ever bear fruit. Yet, God knows precisely how and when to nourish the seed. If we keep our actions and words in a way that continues to show the glory and joy of our heavenly Father, we are continuing to water the seed and give it a chance to grow. Even when it is on infertile soil and in a place that doesn’t get enough light, it can grow healthy and strong, at first ignoring the weeds then smothering them.

The result often exceeds expectations many fold. It is humbling, too, because we should remember that all we did was to plant the seed and continued to water it, but God is the master gardener who makes it grow. Sometimes we don’t even know that we are planting the seed, either. We need to remember to keep our words and actions in accordance with God’s will and in keeping with the example set by Jesus. We need to do this even when we don’t think that anyone else is around.

Remember that God is always around and he is always listening to our words and watching our actions. Use your words and actions to praise God regardless of who else is around. He does notice. He does make the seeds grow.


Posted in Messages by with 6 comments.

How Will They Know You Are a Christian?

brotherly love

It seems that in this world, a large number of people are only interested in what material things they can amass. For these people, it is all about themselves, not about others. Sadly, this also includes a number of people who profess to be Christians. Are they really Christians, though? How will people know that you are a Christian?

True Christians follow the teachings of Jesus and apply them in their lives. This may seem so basic that it is almost funny, but it actually answers both questions. Jesus teaches that we are to love one another and he showed it with his actions. Jesus never missed an opportunity to display the love of the Father. The bible puts it very plainly:

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:8 NIV)

This is rather explicit. If we aren’t showing love every minute of every day, even when no person is watching, we aren’t being Christian. No person may be watching, but God always is.  Indeed, that is the answer to the title question. People will know that you are a Christian by your love. If a person can’t see the love in you, it means that more work needs to be done, because you have a heart condition. If you let Jesus live within your heart and continually pray that the Spirit will fill you with love, the love becomes manifest in everything you say and do. This isn’t easy to do in all circumstances, which is the reason for the prayers to fill your heart with love.

At times, there will be a battle raging within you. It is easy to get angry, but that is because all people have a carnal nature and desires that have nothing to do with God. The Spirit is all about God, so the two can be opposites, and often are. A true Christian tries sincerely to do what God wants, not what the person wants.

I know of a person who is an emotional vampire. They obviously enjoy dwelling on the most negative aspects of other people and businesses. I honestly don’t believe that they know that they are doing it most of the time. They are convinced that most other people agree with them, even though they do not. They get very defensive when their stance is questioned, even off-hand. Thus, they show in their words and actions that they believe that everything is about them. Humility is the last thing in the world that they display.

I don’t want to love this person, frankly. I get worked up and stressed out by their words. Yet the Holy Spirit tells me that I must love them. Allowing God in my heart means that I have no choice, because God is love. What I want makes no difference. It is what God wants that is the only thing that is important. So I do my best to approach the person with love and kindness, even when the person doesn’t want to accept it. If the person tries to bait me into an argument, most often I don’t even reply. The more wicked they act, the more loving I must act. Even if that person doesn’t see the wrong they are doing, others do and others can also see the love and kindness that is extended. As a Christian, my role is to plant the seed. It is up to God to make it grow. In fact, since this is so and since no man knows the plans of God, it is quite possible that God is using this person to get through to others; how to love by example.

Again, it isn’t always easy. At times, every one of us feels any number of things other than love. If we realize this, though, we open the door for God to take control and to demonstrate his love in action. God is very willing to resolve the problems we might have with others, but it is up to us to open that door for Him. I pray that the Holy Spirit will fill be with love and that God will bless my actions that I might bring glory to Him. I know that I won’t always be successful, but recognizing my failures brings me more in line with God’s will. It is a step on the path toward righteousness.

How will they know you are a Christian? By your love. Can you show your love more strongly than you do? That is a question each of us must answer honestly, with the guidance of God.


Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged , , , , by with 9 comments.
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