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.
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.
Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged bargain, deal, God, Jesus, Job, prayer, soldier by rextrulove with 2 comments.
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 christian attitude, God, Jesus, love, showing love by rextrulove with 9 comments.
Have you ever really thought about the Sabbath? I don’t mean about what day of the week it actually falls on or anything like that. That is something that scholars argue about to this day. In the scheme of things, it doesn’t make much difference whether a person thinks of Saturday as the Sabbath or believes that it is supposed to be on Sunday. The principle is the same, either way.
The idea is easy to grasp. One day out of seven, we are supposed to rest. Some people take that to mean that no labor at all is to be done on the sabbath, but that isn’t quite what the bible teaches. The bible isn’t that extreme. It merely says that we should rest and some people do rest and relax by doing what other people would think of as ‘work’.
For example, I find it quite relaxing to sit in my garden, pulling weeds. There are plenty of other people who would consider that to be back-breaking work. This is actually important, though it is different from one person to another and even though the idea of no labor at all on the Sabbath is old testament teaching, before Jesus gave us the new covenant.
First, it is important to understand that the Sabbath wasn’t meant for God, it was meant for man. Jesus said it plainly in Mark 2:27:
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”
Put in a different way, the Sabbath was created for us, for play. It wasn’t created for God, who does not rest. The part about ‘…keep it holy’ also makes sense. We are to rest, play, relax, but we are not to do anything that is sinful while we rest and relax.
This means that there is nothing in the bible that would prohibit me from ‘working’ in my garden on the Sabbath, since I don’t see it as work. I see it as play. It is relaxing to me.
What is even more important is the realization that God really does want to take care of us and He really does care about our welfare. He knows perfectly well that working day after day with no rest is a bad thing. People need to rest and He shows his understanding and love by making it a command that we are to rest one day out of every seven.
Wow! God really loves us and cares about us. He wants us to be healthy and happy. He wants us to make sure that we have play time!
Christians often think of the sabbath as the day of worship, and many would be shocked to learn that it has nothing to do with that. We should be worshipping God every day, not just one day a week, for a couple of hours. The sabbath is a day that is actually one that is set aside for you and me.
Mind you, in no way am I suggesting that you shouldn’t go to church on Sunday (or Saturday). Fellowship is important. Learning about God and the bible is enormously important. However, it means that we should take care of ourselves as he intended by working hard and playing just as hard.
Have you really ever given thought to the Sabbath?
What do you usually do on the Sabbath?
Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged Christian, commandment, God, meaning, play, sabbath by rextrulove with 13 comments.
Have you ever had something bad happen to you through no action or fault of your own? Of course you have. That is part of life in this world. There are natural disasters, murders, illnesses, thefts, financial problems and any number of things that happen on a daily basis. It makes no difference if a person is a Christian or a non-believer, bad things happen to every one of us. Why does God let bad things happen to good people? Many Christians ask this question and, sadly, some even lose faith because of it. They may also think that they must have done something wrong, though they haven’t done anything to ‘deserve’ the troubles.
If you ask devout Christians if the bad things in life come from God, most will say that they don’t. And yet many Christians still blame God for those terrible things. If you have ever found yourself saying, “God, what did I do to deserve this?”, you have been blaming God for the trouble. Could God have prevented it? Of course he could. Nothing is impossible for God. So why does God allow evil to exist in the world, if He is a loving, just and merciful God? Believe it or not, there is an answer to this question.
It is all because of the original sin of disobedience, which resulted in man and woman being cast out of Eden. Man was given free will and since man originally turned away from God, the world has become a place of our own making. We are flawed and the world is broken. Thus, bad things happen to good people, because even good people are flawed.
Solomon explained this very well. Remember that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. He was rich, powerful, had a thousand wives and any material thing he desired, beautiful homes, wonderful food and he was doubtlessly the wealthiest king Israel ever had or will have. Yet, pay attention to how he starts Ecclesiastes, which is the wisdom of God through Solomon:
1 The words of the Teacher,[a] son of David, king in Jerusalem [this is Solomon]:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
If you keep reading, you will quickly see that Solomon is talking about this world and everything we do in it. Everything you do or say in this world, everything you own, every accomplishment; it is all worthless. That sounds really negative, doesn’t it? It really isn’t, though. Solomon was talking about everything you do in this world and being so wealthy, he was examining himself as well. He basically concluded that nothing he’d done in the world amounted to a hill of beans.
You might have noticed the key that turns this from an overwhelming negative to an astounding positive. The key was mentioned twice in the last paragraph; “in the world”. When we rely on the world, nothing we do or say makes a difference. As Solomon later puts it, it is like trying to catch the wind. Also keep in mind that he wasn’t saying that we shouldn’t pursue happiness. There is nothing wrong with trying to be happy, as long as people realize that if it is based in this broken world, any happiness will be fleeting. If you got a $100 in the mail, you’d probably be happy about it. However, once it is spent, nothing really changes and you probably won’t be happy about it any longer.
Again, this is all in reference to ‘in the world’. In 1 Peter 2:11, we are called foreigners, strangers, exiles. Why would God’s people be called this? Again, it goes back to the original sin. Men and women were never designed to live in this world. We will always be strangers here. Where we belong is in Eden. God even made it possible for us to one day return home, though the ultimate sacrifice of his beloved son, if we believe in Him. This is the astounding positive. We already know that all Joy comes from Jesus. The world will cause us nothing but grief. The world is meaningless, as Solomon said. However, if we live our lives for God and follow the Lord with all our hearts, we can receive lasting joy and happiness. It isn’t based in the world, but in the Lord.
Something astonishing happens when we come to realize this and to begin to devote our lives to our King and Savior. Since our joy and happiness isn’t based in the world, we start finding that we can be joyful and happy regardless of where we are and what the circumstances are.
People sometimes think that I must be daft, because day after day, I’ve been working on the church flowerbeds; moving rocks, cleaning up debris and planting, despite having a bad hip and thrombosis. I derive happiness by doing it. That is the part they often don’t understand, though our pastor does. You see, I’m not doing the work for the church or the members of the church. I’m not even doing it for the community. I’m doing it for the Lord! This is His house of worship and His temple. My happiness comes from doing something for the Lord in a way that glorifies his name.
I haven’t been dismayed over the snow we’ve received the last two days, either, because taking a pause in doing the work refreshes me and allows me to keep from pushing myself too hard. It is happiness in the face of adversity. God loves me enough to give me time to rest.
Naturally, like anyone else, I need to work on my appreciation of God. However, I know that He gives us lasting joy and happiness if we trust in Him and dedicate our lives to him. I will continue to have troubles throughout my life, but those troubles don’t come from God and he has given me a treasure that will make my journey as a stranger in this world a little better, until I am once again able to return home.
Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged anguish, God, happiness, Jesus, joy, trouble, trust by rextrulove with 2 comments.
One thing that non-believers are often confused about is what is meant when we are told that we should be God fearing. After all, the bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). This would seem to be a contradiction, if we are to fear a loving Father who is love. We don’t fear love, right? Also, there are passages that indicate that we should fear him and others that say that love of God abolishes fear.
There isn’t a contradiction, though, because there are two different kinds of fear. One is the negative, mind-numbing fear that promotes lack of thought and reason. It is an irrational fear like the kind a person might feel if they see a spider and are terrified of spiders. This is obviously not the kind of fear we should have for God.
The other kind of fear is a positive fear. Most of us won’t intentionally put our hand on a hot burner, because we fear the consequences. This is positive because it is reasoned and is a means of self-protection. When this kind of fear is applied to a person, it is a fear borne out of respect or the recognition of power. For example, you might fear that your boss might find out that you did something you aren’t supposed to do. Why? Because he or she has the power to fire you. This sort of fear should actually help you to keep from doing things you aren’t supposed to do.
Likewise, many children are brought up with this sort of fear of their earthly fathers, even really good ones, because that individual is in a position of authority and has the capability of punishing the child.
Applied to the Lord, it is again a positive fear, but it should transcend the fear we have for any boss, father or other individual. This is because God’s power is supreme. There is literally nothing that a person can do to you that God can’t undo. The greatest works of man are as nothing to the power of God.
Jesus put it very clearly in Matthew 10:28 when he said:
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
In fact, the word ‘fear’ can be found 300 times in the bible. In Hebrew, the word used is ‘yare‘, which means “to fear, to respect, to reverence”. This is what is meant when we are told to fear God. This is also why there is no contradiction. ‘Reverential fear’ is an interesting thought, isn’t it?
In Exodus 9:29-31, the Pharaoh caused great problems to occur to his people and his nation because he didn’t fear God. That is, he didn’t respect the ultimate power that God has. This isn’t at odds with passages that tell us that God is love and that we should not fear Him (Romans 3:18) We should not feel terror for God, though we should understand and accept that the power is His to wield.
Again, thinking of children, kids learn proper behavior by first fearing the punishment they will receive if they don’t act right. This doesn’t stop the kids from loving their dad. Indeed, it causes a condition where the respect and love can grow, particularly when there are also rewards for proper behavior. The same is true of our Heavenly Father. He has the power to do a lot more than merely punish, and yet his love is so great that he gave us all the means to live forever, by allowing his own son’s life to be taken, to pay for our misbehavior.
So fear God deeply and love Him even more. That is the beginning of wisdom. As it happens, wisdom is one of the gifts of God.
Posted in Deeper meanings, misunderstanding and tagged Epistle to the Hebrews, fear god, First Epistle of John, God the Father, Gospel of Matthew, Jesus, meaning, understanding by rextrulove with 2 comments.
Ellen was a sweet old Christian lady. She was kind and would help anyone who needed it, even though she had no wealth and her house was in need of repairs. The needs of others were more important to her than her own needs. Everyone loved her and she loved everyone. Ellen praised Jesus every time she was able to help someone and she thanked Jesus on a continual basis for all she had.
The only person she had difficulties with was Hank, the old man who lived next door. Hank was always trying to prove to Ellen that there was no God. It irritated him that she’d have none of it and would simply smile at him, as ready to help him or encourage him as she was for anyone else.
Hank hated anyone who believed in God and had spent his life doing his best to make life difficult for Christians. He openly cursed at Christians and said how stupid they were.
One day, Hank went over to Ellen’s house with the intent of once again ‘proving’ that God didn’t exist. As he approached the door, he looked through the living room window and saw Ellen, kneeling and praying. He crept closer to see if he could hear what she was saying, through the partly open window.
“Lord, you’ve always been there when I’ve needed you and you’ve taken care of me. You’ve even let me do something to help others,” Ellen prayed.
“I need you now, Jesus. You know that I have no money and I’m out of food. I have nothing to eat and my social security check won’t arrive for another week. Jesus, somehow, can you get me some groceries?”
Hank thought to himself, “Aha! I’ve got her now!”
He went down to the corner grocery and bought some milk, bread and other food. He even bought some coffee and a box of doughnuts. Then rushed back to Ellen’s house. He put the sack of groceries on the porch, rang the doorbell, then hid behind some bushes.
Ellen opened the door and saw the sack on the porch. She looked inside and immediately said, “Thank you, Jesus. I was out of food and you provided for me.”
Hank came out of hiding, laughed and said, “Now I have you. There is no God. Jesus didn’t get you those groceries, I did.”
Ellen looked at him, smiled and said, “No, Jesus got that food for me and he made Satan pay for them. Would you care for a cup of coffee and a doughnut?”
Ellen lived her life as a Christian, letting her actions speak volumes. People would have instantly recognized her as being a Christian, not because of what she said, but because of what she did. She had the right attitude.
We should all ask if we have the right attitude as we go through our day. Here is a challenge for you. Today, you are going to come across someone who needs some help and a kind word. How you respond will demonstrate what kind of attitude you have.
Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged action, christian attitude, help, Jesus, kindness, words by rextrulove with no comments yet.
To truly appreciate the depth of God’s love, grace and mercy toward every one of us, and His glory, it is helpful to get a notion of just how big God is. Keep in mind that we are going to be talking about a size that is beyond our ability to fully grasp. The inspiration for this article came from a man named Louie Giglio and I’m going to talk about a little science. That isn’t to bore anyone or to put anyone off, but because that is our best hope of understanding just how big God is.
As vast as our world seems to us, it is a small planet in our solar system. Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system, is over 1,300 times bigger than the earth. That is to say that more than 1,300 earth’s would fit inside of Jupiter. Four of the planets are much bigger than the earth, in fact. Yet, if you added together mercury, venus, earth, mars, jupiter, saturn, uranus and neptune, plus all the asteroids, moons and comets, this wouldn’t make up a single percent of the mass of the solar system. Over 99 percent of the solar system’s mass is the sun. About 1,300,000 earth’s would fit inside of the sun.
The sun is enormous in comparison to earth, which is huge in comparison to us, and yet it isn’t a particularly large star. Most stars are bigger. Some are far bigger. One star, known as NML Cygni, is so big that about 1,650 of our suns would fit inside of it. That means that 21,450,000,000 earths would fit inside of NML Cygni. That is almost 21 1/2 trillion suns! Put into perspective, a million seconds ago was about 13 days ago. A billion seconds ago was about 31 years ago; roughly the year 1985. A trillion seconds ago was long before the last ice age started; over 31,600 years ago. We all have a fair idea of how brief a second is, so this might give us an inkling of the size of the number we are talking about.
What is the point? Please bear with me, because I’m not finished, even though this number is hard to imagine.
In the Milky Way galaxy, to which our solar system belongs, there are between 200 and 300 billion stars. The milky way is a small to medium-sized galaxy. The best guess that we have is that there are about 300 billion galaxies in our universe. Let that sink in for a minute, thinking of the aspect of how insignificant the earth is in comparison to all of those stars and how insignificant we are in comparison to the earth.
If your mind is reeling a little bit over the sheer immensity of all of that, you are in the right state of mind to begin to understand how big our God is.
Psalms 33:6 (NIV) says:
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
This means that the heavens and all the stars issued from God’s breath, from His mouth. This is truly staggering. We have a hard time grasping the size of NML Cygni, rightly so, and in comparison, we aren’t even a tiny mote. And yet, all of the stars came from God’s breath. How much bigger than anything we can possibly imagine must He be? It reduces our insignificance to nothingness. And yet, His promises to us have been, are and will be kept.
Clearly, what is significant to Him isn’t the same thing as what we think of as significant. This should be a humbling thought and at the same time it should make every one of us feel buoyed and ready to yell “Hallelujah!” It gives us hope and tells us that there isn’t anything that is impossible to our living God.
Pause for a moment now. At this point, I hope that you took the time to notice the beautiful NASA picture of the Whirlpool galaxy at the top of this article. This is going to knock your socks off…the Hubble Space Telescope took a picture of the black hole at the center of this galaxy. Astonishingly, this is what they found and this is not a photoshopped image, it is the real thing. You can see it on the Hubble website.
Is God amazing or what? Amen!
I’ll leave you with this, from Louie Giglio. I urge you to watch it. It is very well worth the watch.
Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged Galaxy, God's size, Hubble Space Telescope, Milky Way, NASA, psalms 33:6 by rextrulove with 2 comments.
Most Christians and a lot of people who aren’t Christians know the story of David and Goliath (1 Samuel chapter 17). In a nutshell, the much larger Philistine army was facing the smaller army of King Saul of Israel. The Philistines were taunting Saul’s army with their champion, named Goliath of Gath. Goliath wasn’t just big, he was huge. Accounts placed him at nine and a half feet tall. (Six cubits and a span) Saul’s warriors were intimidated and afraid, however a boy by the name of David, armed with only a sling and five rocks, faced Goliath and killed him with a single shot from that sling. David was destined to become the greatest of the Kings of Israel.
This is a good story that shows the power of God, working through someone most people at the time would have considered to be insignificant. Have you ever stopped to wonder who Goliath was and where he came from, though? This is really quite interesting.
There are a couple of clues about who Goliath was. One of those clues was his size. He was literally a giant. He also had the unusual trait of having six fingers on each hand and six toes on both feet. By looking farther back in time (and the bible), we see where a group of angels came to lust after human women. In defiance of God, those angels, who were ‘cast out’ because of their defiance, had intimate relations with the human women, impregnating them. (Beginning at Genesis 6:4.) The offspring, whom God saw as an abomination, were called the Nephilim. They were creatures of huge stature that possessed six fingers on both hands and six toes on both feet.
The description is very pointed and exact so we could understand that Goliath and his four brothers were descended from the Nephilim. Since the Nephilim were abominations, so too was Goliath and all the other descendants of the Nephilim. It should be noted that while the great flood of Noah destroyed almost everything living on land, God allowed some of the Nephilim to survive the event. He did this to allow Satan to tempt man so that there would be no doubt at all of God’s supremacy.
This means that Goliath was a Nephilim and since David killed only Goliath and not his brothers, it would be logical that the Nephilim bloodline continued and it is also reasonable to assume that Goliath and his brothers weren’t the only Nephilim that were living at the time. In fact, the bloodline has continued to this very day. The bloodline has become so diluted that the people today who carry Nephilim genes are no longer giants. They still have extra fingers and toes, though. There are a number of well-known people of more recent times who have clearly had Nephilim blood; for instance Anne Boleyn, Queen Consort of England and one of the wives of King Henry VIII.
Today, most people born with extra digits have the extra digits removed at an early age, so it isn’t always easy to see who has the Nephilim genes, however the abomination still continues.
Modern medical science has tried to explain it all away as a random mutation, but scientifically their explanations don’t hold up. For one thing, random mutations of this sort normally don’t carry on from generation to generation as a dominant gene as the Nephilim traits tend to do. Despite the efforts that have been waged to disprove God, and which have never succeeded, there is little doubt that the ancestors of Goliath still live among us.
Your thoughts on the Nephilim?
Posted in Deeper meanings and tagged abomination, Anne Boleyn, David, Goliath, Israel, Nephilim, Philistines, six fingers by rextrulove with 2 comments.