Friday, May 30, 2014

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The Body Is Sick, and Getting Sicker




  
          Due to family medical history of intestinal cancer, I am a person that has to be diligent in having a colonoscopy every couple of years.  It was that time when I was due to have one, and had already seen the doctor to have the procedure scheduled.  However, the appointment had to be canceled because I had a heart attack and had to have a stint placed in one of my main arteries to my heart. By necessity, I was placed on a blood thinner.  As a result, the time between colonoscopies stretched out to a total of four years.  Finally, when the procedure was done, it was determined that there were about seven or eight polyps that had to be removed.  There was only one problem.  One polyp had become too large for a simple removal; therefore, a more extensive surgical procedure of removal of a large section of my intestine was required.  The biopsy determined that the polyp was at stage four; stage five would have been the beginning stage of cancer.  By God’s grace, I had escaped the big C.  As a result, I have had to increase the frequency of colonoscopies.  Six month after the operation one was done, and another has to be repeated one year later.

          I have told this story to demonstrate the importance of having a frequent wellness check for our physical health and well being.  Just as important, if not more so, is a regular checkup for our spiritual health well and being.  This same principle applies not only to the individual believer, but also to the church as a body.  The spiritual well being of the church, the body of Christ, does not just affect one or two individuals, but affects the well being of the entire body.  If sin is allowed to run rampant and unchecked, the whole body will become sick.  I don’t pretend to have all the answers as to how to prevent this contamination of the “salt of the earth.”  In fact, the reason for writing this paper is my attempt to gain a godly perspective for solutions in an effort to prevent further contamination of the “salt of the earth.” Jesus is the great Physician and, if we don’t submit ourselves to a regular wellness check, what began as a little lump, could grow and metastasize, spreading throughout the whole system of the body, resulting in a terminal condition.    

          When we look at the sin that is practiced by those in the secular world, we shouldn’t be surprised when sin is being flaunted without one bit of shame.  They are only acting like sinners, people apart from the knowledge and will of God.  They know not God or His ways, so what they do or don’t do is only limited, or not limited, by their own opinions.  Neither am I of the opinion that Christians are somehow free of sin in their lives.  As long as we are in a human body, we will be subject to temptation and the struggle to resist the devil, the lusts of the flesh, and the lusts of the world.  None of us will be perfected until we see Jesus face to face, and He gives to each a glorified body.  We are commanded to resist the devil (through the power of the Holy Spirit), and he will flee.  We are urged to give no place to the devil, or any appearance of evil. 

          In order to resist temptation and remove the hold that sin has over each of us, we have to recognize the existence of sin as a problem and take measures to free ourselves from its hold over us.  Freedom from sin requires our cooperation with God in order to be set free.  A simplistic example of the battle against the corruption of the poison of sin is demonstrated in the constant struggle that some of us experience in the “battle of the bulge.”  If one goes on a diet in an attempt to resist gluttony, in an effort to become healthier by loosing weight, one must not stock up on a bunch of candy and snacks, and quantities of pasta, and pizza, etc.  That would be counter productive, setting yourself up for failure before you could even begin.  If a person has as an addiction to alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs, stocking up on the substance, or hanging around other people who do, does not help in the struggle to resist it, but only encourages further indulgence and abuse of the very thing to which one is enslaved.

          I’m speaking now to those who profess to be followers of Christ.  In the body of Christ, we have come out of similar backgrounds of sinful history as the unbeliever has experienced.  We are all at varying stages in our level of striving toward a greater maturity in Christ.  Some of us are new born babes in the faith. Others may have reached the toddler stage, while others have gone deeper into the waters of seeking the Lord and learning more and more to have the mind of Christ and applying His Word to live it out in our life.  Some of us may be doing pretty well in one area, but may find that we are still continually struggling in another area.  Each of us has to submit our will to the will of the Lord daily. We must purposefully act in cooperation with Him, choosing to do that which is pleasing unto the Lord.  God is always at work in the process of doing a good work within each of us in the same measure that we are committed to following Him. Being transformed by the ‘washing of the water of the Word’ is a daily process.

          In today’s world, it is becoming less and less popular to recognize sin as sin.  We are busily at work creating other labels for sin for the purpose of playing mind games to provide excuses for decisions to do our own thing, whether it is acceptable unto God or not.  In so doing, we think we have taken ourselves off the hook, and removed the necessity to take responsibility for our own actions.  We diminish any need for confession of sin, negate our need for forgiveness, and remove any need for our Savior and what He accomplished for us on the Cross.  Christians are less and less concerned with being melted and molted into the image of Christ.  Less time is spent in being taught of the Lord that we might be transformed by the washing of the water of the word.  Instead, we spend more and more time soaking up the beliefs and ways of the world, being conformed by the intimidation and manipulation of the world.  We are the ones that are supposed to be followers of Christ.  We are supposed to be schooled in His word that we may be equipped to follow Him and become more like Him.  Instead, we are allowing ourselves as individuals, and as a body, to become corrupted by evil, deceiving ourselves and contributing to the spread of sin by increasing the acceptance of sin throughout the whole body.  No wonder it has become so hard to discern any difference at all between the believer and the unbeliever.  The word says we will be known by our fruit.  Oh we might be outwardly doing the ‘works,’ but inwardly the fruit is rotting, and our spiritual growth and development into a more Christ like nature is stunted and practically non existent.  We are becoming Christians in name only, having little or no image of Christ to shine forth from within.  Our churches are becoming of no more significance than the local community center, populated by community organizers and activists, giving the appearance of religion but lacking the power thereof.

          Belief in Christ must be combined with obedience unto Him; otherwise, we are no different than Satan.  Satan believes in Christ.  He can spout off the scriptures as well, or better, than any believer.  Remember, at one time, he was the most beautiful and knowledgeable angel of light.   The difference is that he will never obey Christ.  Christians are becoming weak and powerless because we have become comfortable with hearing parts of the word of God that make us feel good, producing a self centered body that is only willing to listen to messages about the love nature of God and less about his judgment.  Being fearful of God’s judgment or chastisement is a good thing.  It is meant to guard us from harm. We would rather discard the part about suffering His chastisement as a result of continually practicing that which is contrary to His word.  If His word doesn’t fit in with our present way of thinking and living, we don’t want to hear it.  Have you noticed that there is less and less being taught about Hell?  In fact, there are some pastors today who preach that there is no such thing as Hell.  They have tried to allegorize the word, and say that Hell is merely a spiritual symbol. We want to concentrate only on the things that seem to promise us health and wealth; the part that seems to focus on our life in this temporal world.  Satisfied to hear all about God’s love towards us, but unwilling to hear about suffering His judgment as a result of not obeying Him.  I ask each of us to consider what kind of results that would produce in raising our children if we never disciplined them when they went astray?       Without fearing (respecting) and obeying the Lord, we can have no understanding of the fact that the Lord is both a loving and a just God.  We can not have the one without the other.  Knowledge of His right to judge and chastise us is every bit as important as our knowledge of His love for us.  As we diminish our responsibility to obey Him, He will draw back His hedge of protection around us.  As that hedge is removed, we cause His judgment to come down upon us, as individuals and as a nation. In many churches, this man centeredness instead of God centeredness has resulted in exalting the importance of the temporal instead of the eternal.  Ecclesiastes makes it clear that that which is stored up in the temporal is going to fade away.  For this reason we are to store up our treasures in heaven.  It is only those things that we do as unto the Lord that are of any lasting and eternal value.  Instead of thinking about what may seem to make us happy in the here and now, we should be concentrating on what can we do in service to the Lord that would bring glory to Him? 

          We aren’t supposed to come first; God is.  The relationship between a man and a woman in the commitment to one another in marriage helps me understand why it is for my good to put God first, and not myself.  For a marital love to truly blossom and grow, the word tell us to think more highly of our mate, than we do of ourselves.  If this principle is carried out to its fullest by both partners, there is no way that they could not feel loved and cherished by one another.  In our one on one relationship with God the Father and Son, He has already put us first.  He loved us first; God gave His Son first; Jesus left the glories of Heaven and gave His life for us first; His Holy Spirit was sent to us first.  With so great a love poured out to us, how can we possibly not respond in obedience, worship, and love towards Him?  Can you imagine what our life would be like if we always thought of Him first?  Glory Hallelujah, what greater love could we ever hope to know?  If the Church always put God first, we could not be deceived into compromising the word of the Lord.       

          AA is experiencing more success in helping those who are suffering from the effects of alcoholism than the church is in ridding itself of the corruption of sin from within.  They provide an organization through which the ‘sick’ may openly come to seek help, be diagnosed, and receive treatment in order to be healed and restored to good health.  First, the individual must recognize the source (sin) that is causing them a problem (spiritual sickness).  They can’t get any help if they are still in denial that the sickness even exists.  They have to want help and be willing to do that which will set them free; their cooperation and commitment is imperative.  They have to ‘confess’ their problem; “Hello, I’m Jane and I’m an alcoholic.”  They have to get a sponsor, one who is willing to walk along side of them to assist and give help.  They must attend meetings with others who are in different stages of fighting against the same enemy, the stronger helping the weaker.  All of this is to provide them a support group so they don’t feel like they are all alone in their struggle.  A support group is supposed to be there to provide encouragement and help even when they feel weak, to pick them up when they fall, and set there feet back upon the path to recovery.  No lying, hiding, or denying of the sickness is allowed.  No condoning of the reality of the ‘sickness’ is allowed.  No diminishing of the seriousness of ‘falling off the wagon’ is allowed.  No covering up of the damage done to themselves or others is allowed.  Refusal to take responsibility for one’s own choices and actions is not allowed.  Blaming others is not allowed.  All must be exposed and brought into the light of day before the darkness and decay of the sickness can be dispelled, and its further corruption prevented.  Know the truth and the truth shall set you free.  Depend upon your Higher Power.  You know, God’s principles do work when you put them into practice and apply them to live them out in your life, being a doer and not just a hearer.  The ultimate goal is to rid one’s life of the corrupting and debilitating factor; to rid one’s self of the chains of the past to provide the path to a greater future.

          God’s word contains within it all of these saving principles, plus far more.  Where is the church in its role of support to aid in the battle against the sickness of sin?  It seems that we have withdrawn from the battle for the mind, heart and soul of mankind.  Instead, we have delegated that fight to those who are influenced only by the ways and thoughts of the secular world.  The church is conforming to the world.  The following are just a small and select few of the changes to our society brought about by the intimidation and manipulation of an increasingly secularized world view: the secular world deemed adultery, extramarital affairs, homosexuality, pregnancy outside of the bonds of marriage, same sex marriage, and abortion on demand as being equally acceptable and not as something that is wrong and harmful.  

          The flood gates contributing to the decay of our society were opened wide.  Instead of standing strong to protect the people from the harm of practices that were contrary to the word of God, the church itself began to crumble and become more conformed to the ways of the secular world.  We now see homosexuality glorified, and practicing homosexuals accepted into the church as priests and other positions of authority.  The church sat back while Planned Parenthood took over an ever increasingly influential role resulting in making single parenthood more convenient and more acceptable; dispensing of condoms to an increasingly lower and lower age (schools can not administer an aspirin without a doctors permission, but condoms can be given without a parents knowledge or permission), abortion on demand even without parental consent, and abortion during any stage of pregnancy without concern for the viability of the baby is now totally acceptable.  Abortion is no longer strictly limited to cases where the life of the mother is truly at stake.  It is viewed as just another form of contraception and deemed as simply a right of a woman’s reproductive healthcare.  No longer is the baby called a baby.  It has been renamed as just a fetus to distract from the recognition that abortion is the taking of a human life.  The church is practically silent and has all but given up any major influence in fighting back against the onslaught of an increasingly lawless and godless world.  Some few churches are struggling to be actively influential, but for the most part our voice is silent and our actions as a unified body are few.     

          The alcoholic, who wants to be set free, has a place to go for help even in this secularized world.  Where was the church when it should have been prominent in providing the alcoholic help?  Perhaps they were made to feel as if they were horrible people and; therefore, not free to go to their church leaders for any real and devoted help.  Where was someone to walk alongside them through the difficult journey to restoration, freedom, and wholeness?  Where are the pastors, or group of church leaders, committed to helping the person who is confused about his/her sexuality?  Perhaps they too accept the lie of the secular world that there is no escape from those feelings because ‘God made them that way.’  Perhaps they too have been made to feel that there was no one to go to for help from within the church, for even mentioning that one’s struggle with such feelings may have been considered too great a sin.  True, there are those who do not feel that their homosexuality is of any harm to themselves, and do not want any help offered, much less provided.  There have been churches, though few and far between, which have developed support systems for those who wish to be set free.  It is not an easy journey, just as being set free from drugs or alcohol is not easy, and it is often a lifetime struggle to defeat such a stronghold.  The point is to endure and never give up.  The churches who have seen fit to make a commitment to offer help to the homosexual, or freedom from other such immoral behaviors, are being attacked by the secular world for even trying to offer such help to the ones that do seek it.  But then who said that standing for God and against the world was ever going to be an easy task for any Christian or any Christian Body?  This kind of help should be offered, but never coerced.  It has to be left to the choice of the individual, just like the alcoholic must make his own choice to get help or remain in the grasp of its hold.

          Let us read I Corinthians. 5 and Matthew 18: 15-17 to gain an understanding of possible solutions for how the Church is supposed to handle those who practice daily to walk in sin without remorse or repentance.  This is not focused on the treatment of unbelievers, but rather for the church to practice “tough love” towards the believer for his good and not for his harm.  Paul, in I Corinthians, is writing to the church and scolding them for allowing a person to continue as a member in their brotherhood of believers even though he is choosing to continue in the practice of the immorality of incest.  He tells them that they are just as guilty of sinning, for they have not acted in love to reprove and rebuke the one who is willfully and purposely choosing to do that which is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.  In fact, because of their inaction to deal with the problem, not only are they contributing to the harm of the one who is living out the sin, but they are also contributing towards the contamination of the entire membership of the congregation.

          Remember, the practice of sin is not a momentary act of sinning, but rather a willful practice to continue in sin.  When the trespasser is not being confronted with his deliberate wrong doing, he is allowed to sink deeper into sin, instead of being reprimanded that he might choose to turn away from sin and return to the Lord and His ways for his own good.  We are not loving such a person by ignoring his acts; thereby, giving the impression that their action, or sin, is good and acceptable.  We contribute to their harm.  We have lacked the courage to tell someone what they needed to hear instead of telling them what they wanted to hear.  Think of it this way. Do we love someone who is drunk if we tell him, “Sure, you’re just fine; go ahead and drive?”  We know full well that he could possibly crash and harm himself or others.  Ah, but we chose to tell him what he “wanted” to hear, instead of telling him what he “needed” to hear, as if we had no care for the harm he might be headed for.

           I would think that the example that was given in the scriptures as to how to deal with the open practice of sin should be considered as a first step of action. Perhaps the Pastor should go to that person to have a little heart to heart talk.  Not out of self righteousness or anger, but out of love and understanding that we all fall short of the mark and need one another to administer truth and correction when it is needed.  That doesn’t minister condemnation, but is a call of reproof to urge the person to confess the sin and turn away from it before they bring more harm to themselves and others.  Then, if that was not effective, go to him again with the pastor and a group of the elders.  Still all counsel should be administered in love, not in condemnation or by force. The response or choice to ask forgiveness and to remove one’s self from the practice of sin has to be a personal decision, sincerely submitting his will to the will of the Lord.  If this latter action of call to repent is still of no effect, the last and only choice that the church has is to expel the one that is willfully refusing to repent and change his ways.  Even this is to be done in love and not in any attitude of self righteousness.  One of the purposes of the church is to support and encourage one another to stay on the straight and narrow path. 

          None of us is exempt from being tempted to indulge in sin.  We all need a safe haven, support group, or ‘sponsor’, to whom we may go to express the problem with which we may be struggling. We should not have our sin condoned and accepted because it is now condoned and accepted in the eyes of the secular world.  The church must be willing to minister care and correction that the trespasser may be returned to the right path, not choosing to continue sinning until he is up to his neck wallowing in the muck and mire.

          One time, I got so upset, because my husband had chosen to return to smoking after being free of it for three years.  I was stooped in continual crying, throwing fits of anger, and demanding that he stop immediately.  Finally, I realized my actions were tearing me up from the inside out.  I went for counsel from my minister’s wife.  She gave me some very good advice that lifted a false burden of responsibility from my shoulders.  She told me that my problem was greater than my husband’s problem of smoking.  I was involved in the sin of trying to control him.  The spirit of control is related to the spirit of witchcraft.  Besides that, at the same time, I was trying to take on the responsibility of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the one who is capable of speaking to the heart of the believer to convict of sin unto repentance, and lead and guide him into all truth for instruction and correction for his good.  In addition, I needed to understand that I wasn’t in control of God’s agenda for him; only God knew what my husband was most in need of at that point and time in his life.  This is only one example of how someone within the body of Christ was used to bring understanding, reproof, and correction into my heart to pull me back from the edge of disaster and harm.  It might not appear like a big thing to you, but it was for me.  A false burden was lifted from my shoulders; I truly experienced what it means to have the chains of sin taken off and to gain the glorious reality of being set free.

          I Corinthians 5 states that the purpose of expelling the continual trespasser was not for his harm, but for his good.  Through experiencing the lose of fellowship with the Lord and his brethren in Christ, he might realize that being given over to Satan and his ways was no picnic.  Hopefully, he would come to realize what he was missing in following the Lord and His ways, and make the choice to repent, leave his wicked ways and sincerely seek God’s forgiveness.  If and when, this repentance was true and sincere as demonstrated in his deeds and words, the Church should be forgiving and willing to welcome that brother to return once more to the fold.

          Do we see this kind of reproof and godly discipline being exercised in the church today?  Unfortunately, it is all too often weak or none existent.  Instead, it seems the Church is finding it easier to cave into the ways of the world.  Rename, redefine, tolerate, condone, exalt, and celebrate that which is evil as good, and call that which is good evil.  Conform to the ways of the world; join the ranks of the worldly masses and forget about God and His ways.  Do that which is pleasing in the eyes of mankind instead of standing strong for God and His ways.  Compromising and perverting the word of God is the acceptable practice in the church of today.  Let a little leaven in, and the whole loaf is contaminated.  All are harmed, and few if any receive correction and help in resisting the devil.  We just join his ranks of deception.  Sin is an ‘equal opportunity master,’ and none are exempt from its invitation to enter in.  

          In conclusion, what is the church doing today?  If the church, who is supposed to know and follow God, deletes homosexuality as a sin, what other sins are we going to also deem as good and not evil.  Where and when is the church going to say, “Stop the compromising; stop the deceit, stop the perversion and twisting of the truth?” When is the church going to stop bending to the will of the world?  When are we going to choose to take a stand against the advancement of evil?  When are we going to retake the position of being that High Tower of strength to help one another in the struggle against the enemy, the one who roams too and fro seeking whom he may devour?  When is the church going to stop not only tolerating sin, but now even exalting and celebrating it as good and right in the eyes of God?  Have we backslidden to the point of no return, becoming satisfied to be neither hot nor cold in our faith in the Lord?  Have we gone so far from the Lord, the Great Physician, that we are no longer willing to go before His throne of grace to sincerely submit ourselves to a spiritual wellness check?  Is there any salt left within the Church to be God’s hand and voice in a dying and perverse world?  Can we no longer reach out to give a helping hand to one another as we are struggling with sin in our life?  Have we become so involved in the renaming game of deeming good evil and evil good, that we have now joined forces with the world to forget God and all of His ways? Have we gone so far away that we no longer even remember the benefits of submitting ourselves to the will of God, whose watchful eye and loving heart is always willing and able to forgive and remove our sin if we will only repent, ask His forgiveness, and turn from our wicked ways?           Let us return to the Lord in love and obedience.  He has promised to heal us and heal our land. O Church, we are so needed in a world that is increasingly being swallowed up by doubt and unbelief.  Awake to the voice of God; “let God arise and His enemies be scattered!”  Let us turn back to the Lord, that the Body of Christ, the Church, might be healed and once more become the salt of the earth.

"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint."  (Isaiah 1:2-5)

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7: 14)
 
 
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

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God Bless America?


          The Book of Jeremiah is a tough one to get through the first time.  Once having read it, I was left with the feeling, “Okay God, that was rough.  I’m glad that’s done and over with.”  No wonder Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet.  Can you imagine having to be the one to live his life and have his job?  He was constantly being called to prophesy to God’s people, not to unbelievers, the ones who should have known Him well.  He was directed by the power of the Holy Spirit to tell them the word of the Lord saying, “Thus saith the Lord.”  Time and again, he told the people what God expected of them.  More often than not, they would respond by doing just the opposite, as if God was a stranger and unknown to them.  You would think that, after being brought out of Egypt, being delivered from persecution and slavery, the Lord going before them preparing the way and delivering them from the hands of the enemy time and time again, that just maybe they might have gotten the message to listen and obey Him for their own good.  Israelites were a ‘special’ people, set apart by God, the Father of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He was their God, and they were His people.  He had sent His word to them by His prophets to guard, direct, and put a hedge of protection around them, IF they would only listen to and obey Him.  That sounds like a pretty good deal doesn’t it?  God isn’t like some fickle kind of governing body that promises you something one minute and takes it back the next.  Once He had made a promise or a commitment, it was signed, sealed, and delivered without any chance of being changed or revoked.  He promised them- if you obey, I will bless you; if you disobey, I will curse you.  Obedience would enable them to live at peace in the land; disobedience would bring God’s judgment.  It seems pretty forthright and reasonable.  Yet, being a stiff necked and rebellious people (as is all of mankind), they would choose, time and time again, to turn their backs on the one true God, who knew and always wanted nothing but the best for them. They would start cheating on Him, going after false gods and insisting on going their own way.  I mean to tell you, they had to be the most ignorant, stupid, rebellious, and arrogant people ever to have the nerve to walk away from the One who had loved them first and for always.  Oops, I forgot, that doesn’t just apply to them, but to all of mankind, doesn’t it?   Nations that choose to follow the Lord have the opportunity to live in peace.  It’s our choice to either obey and receive his blessings, or disobey and suffer His judgment.  Why is that so hard for us to understand and grasp?  Does He really ask too much of us?

          As a mortal and imperfect parent, I know that if I give birth to a child, it requires a commitment on my part to provide food, clothing, shelter, discipline, love, guidance, counsel, protection from harm, and hopefully to do my best to raise him up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, just to name a few of the basics.  If I truly love my child, I must do all that I can to see that he is taught and learns to live within certain boundaries and guidelines, to enable him to prosper and grow to be a healthy and productive person.  It should be my goal to equip him with knowledge and skills that would eventually give him the ability to step out and live successfully on his own.  While he lives under my care and authority, I should teach him to ‘fear’ me, which is to obey me, respect me and acknowledge me as his parent who has the right to have authority over him until he is grown. For things to go well for him, it is imperative that he learns to submit his will to mine, not insisting on having or going his own way.  If he is rebellious to my authority, then I should do what it takes as a parent to bring judgment down upon him in order to curb his rebellious ways, which can only bring harm to him. Judgment is meant to be for his good, not his harm.  The purpose of judgment is to help him see the error of his ways, and direct him that he may choose not to stay on the wrong path, but turn around and away from his rebelliousness, and get back on the right path. Hopefully, as he grows and matures, he will come to understand that obedience, and staying within the limits and boundaries that have been set forth by love, is for his own protection and good.  Eventually, he should no longer need my authority, but will choose to be self disciplined to follow the tried and true guidelines that have now become a part of his own nature.  Hopefully, all of this will have been done through the overall guidance of the Lord our God.  This is an example that we can understand even from the perspective of our imperfect ability to parent out children whom we love.

          If we can understand the reasonableness of this parent/child relationship, why is it so hard for us to understand the importance of the fear of the Lord in shaping our own lives?  Why do we choose to look on the word of God as a bunch of tyrannical rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts, instead of as the Owner’s [God’s] manual which demonstrate God’s love for us?  He has provided a plan book for His authority over us, giving us a set of instructions and corrections to follow whereby we can live, and He will keep us from harm in a dangerous world that is going to have lots of challenges- “trials and tribulations.”  Along with this book of instructions, He gives to each believer his very own special tutor, the Holy Spirit, to teach, guide, correct, and open the eyes of our understanding.  You see God’s plan book, the Bible, is not like any other book. It is not just words to be understood through the use of man’s intellect alone.  This word is of the Spirit so it can only be understood by the spirit of man through man’s dependence upon the Holy Spirit to teach him. It’s a mutual cooperation thing – man’s intellect and born again spirit yielded and submitted to the will of God and led by the Holy Spirit.  For this relationship to work properly, we must desire to seek the Lord. When we actively seek Him, He has promised that we will find Him.  Remember, the Holy Spirit is God in you.  The Holy Spirit has many jobs.  He is your Comforter for one thing, and He is the Peace of God within you, not as the world gives, but the “peace that passes understanding.”  Being your teacher is one of His most important jobs.  Along with the Holy Spirit, God has also sent teacher’s aides such as pastors, teachers, and other Holy Spirit filled believers who He has equipped with special gifts to teach and preach, etc.  But take a word of caution here.  You and I must never depend entirely upon these special teacher’s aids, for sometimes they can prove to be false teachers, not adhering to the true word of God.  That’s why God’s plan book warns us to test the spirits, be not deceived, and never neglect our own responsibility to “study [the word] to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”(II Tim. 2:15)  We can not delegate our responsibility to study and learn of the Lord for ourselves.  Otherwise, we can expect an “open mind” to be one that is an open sepulcher, ready to receive any and all trash which is able to contaminate the roots of the true Word, chocking it and keeping it from forming healthy permanent roots that would eventually enable the tree to blossom and produce good fruit.

          What has all of this got to do with God blessing America?  For us to be well equipped to be good American citizens, it is of utmost importance that we commit our lives to the authority of the Lord first.  A democratic republic can exist and prosper only as long as the citizenry are willing to be schooled and led by the Lord.  One of the most important principles to follow for all believing citizens is to vote for and elect those who believe in the Lord and hopefully follow the principles of His word.  Oh yes, I know that is not the popular thought of the present day secular world, but that is exactly the root and cause of the downward spiral of America.  The Declaration of Independence states the unique influence of the ‘Laws of Nature and Nature’s own God” are to have as a basic foundation for a nation to be free of tyranny from without or within.  Let us turn to statements made by just three of our former presidents to exemplify the importance they believed God and the Bible held if our democratic republic was to continue to exist and prosper:  “It is impossible to rightly govern without God and the Bible.”- George Washington;

“So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society.”- John Quincy Adams; “That book, sir is the rock on which our republic rests.”- Andrew Jackson; “It is the duty of nations as well as men to recognize the truth announced in Holy Scripture and proven by all history that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”-

Abraham Lincoln.  The Bible itself supports the validity of this belief. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people He has chosen for His inheritance.” (Psalm 33:12)  These are but a few remarks that have pointed out the necessity for endeavoring to elect believers to serve in positions of power and authority within our government.  Yet, in today’s atmosphere of political correctness that promotes a greater and greater degree of marginalization for Christ and the Bible, we have become increasingly secularized as a nation, choosing to forget God and His statutes and commandments.  We have chosen to turn our backs on God, dispensing with His book of instructions and corrections, and following manmade rules and laws that have less and less to do with God and His ways.            

          How can we, in all honesty, have the arrogance and audacity to ask God to bless our country?  Have we truly turned our hearts to Him to listen to Him, obey Him, and worship Him? No, for we have become a nation of spoiled rotten brats, with our greedy hands outstretched as we shout with snarling and ungrateful voices, "Give me; I want; I need; I have to have!" Always expecting our Father to dole out to us, while we refuse to listen, obey and fear (respect) Him? We grab from Him and return not one ounce of praise, respect, worship or obedience that is rightfully due Him.  Instead, we take and give no thanks back in word or deed.  We choose to act as if He owes us allegiance instead of just the opposite.  Then, when He turns His back and a deaf ear to us, do we come to our knees and humble ourselves before Him, and sincerely ask His forgiveness, and truly show by our actions (and not just empty words) that we have made a commitment to Him and changed our ways? Oh, far be it!  In continued rebellion, we stomp away with a scowl on our face, and shout, if not literally in words then by the hardness of our heart, "Forget you God! I’m doing just fine without you?"  And then, while all is falling apart around us and families are full of self centered loud voices, somehow we stand in amazement, scratch our heads, and ask "How can a loving God allow this to happen?"  If we refuse to recognize and acknowledge our sinfulness, how can we expect to see His hand which is still outstretched towards us in mercy and grace?  We bring our own destruction down upon ourselves. Don't blame God! Who is to blame? Look in the mirror. There's no one there but you and me.        

          The society that is involved in the practice of marginalizing and editing the Word of God, will be one that becomes increasingly secularized until, eventually, it forgets God altogether and becomes increasingly wicked and lawless.  At one time, the phrase, "In God we trust" meant something to most Americans. However, in recent years, it has had little or no meaning and there are many who would have it erased entirely.  Remove belief and trust in the one true God and, by doing so, we remove God's hedge of protection around our nation, making us increasingly subject to judgment from The Lord. If we choose to be obedient, then we will receive God’s favor and blessings.  If we choose to ignore and disobey Him, we have brought His judgment upon ourselves. Do we not understand that it is our own choices that bring ruin and destruction upon ourselves?  It is not God's desire for us, for He desires only that which is for our good.  We will suffer the consequences of our own actions as individuals and as a nation.  Only repentance and the choice to turn our heart back to God can save us from the consequences of choosing to be a disobedient, stiff necked and rebellious people. Apart from God, America is doomed to become the victim of our own selfish, self centered, and prideful sinful nature, thereby unleashing total decadence and destruction upon ourselves.  “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching.  They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.”(II Tim, 4:3)

          Our churches today are filled with hypocrisy- we give the appearance of religion without any personal commitment to The Lord.  Does this description fit you and me?   If so, how and where do we begin to change it?  I have an idea, let each of us start with the one person we can change. Who is that?  You start with you, and I will start with me!  America is not going to turn back to the Lord until or unless we, who are believers, turn our heart and life back to a true commitment to obey the Lord and follow His ways.  

          As I read Jeremiah, I hear the voice of God continually beckoning to His people, urging them to turn back to Him before they completely destroy themselves as individuals and as a nation.  For me, it paints a picture of what is happening to our nation today.  It’s like reading a present day newspaper, with one difference, this newspaper, the Bible, tells only truth and not lies and deception. For those who have “ears to hear,” let us listen to these words of the Lord.  Jeremiah is speaking these words to us with as much reality, truth and relevance as he did to the Israelites in ancient times, proving that God and His word are the same yesterday, today, and forever.  His truth is established in Heaven.

          For purposes of exhibiting relevance to us, believers of today and our own country, I take the liberty of inserting the name of our country from time to time in some scriptures to come.  Even before the events of 9/11/01, but especially since then, if anyone has even a smidgen of spiritual discernment within them, we have been witnesses of a steady decline and degradation of our country.  It has little to do with political parties, but everything to do with turning away from God.  “And it shall come to pass, when ye shall say, Wherefore doeth the Lord our God all these things unto us?  Then shalt thou answer them, Like as ye have forsaken me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours.” (Jer. 5: 19)  “But this people [America] hath a revolting heart; they are revolted and gone.  Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.  Your iniquities [America] have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.” (Jer. 5: 23 – 25)  “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.  But they [America] said, We will not walk therein.  Also I set a watchman over you, saying, hearken to the sound of the trumpet.  But they said, We will not hearken.  Therefore, hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them.  Hear O earth [America]: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.” (Jer. 6: 16 – 19)  You see, the Israelites were going after every strange god while at the same time putting on the fa├žade that they were still coming into His presence to worship and follow Him.  Sounds pretty familiar to us these days doesn’t it?  We may go to church on Sunday only to go out and live like the devil for the rest of the week.  Even so, God’s hand was and is still outstretched to them and to us.  God is very tolerant, but He will not be tolerant of our infidelity unto Him; He will not share our faith and loyalty to Him with other gods.  Would you willingly share your husband with a bunch of other women?  Nevertheless, never willing for any of us to perish, God continues to persevere to call us back to Himself and His ways.  Thus saith the Lord:  "If ye thoroughly mend your ways and your doings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between thee and thy neighbor; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I have given to your fathers, for ever and ever."(Jer. 7: 5-7)

          America is no different from any other peoples that have existed in the past.

Sexual and every other form of immorality and sin have always been present within our society.  It is not just the existence of sin that destroys us, rather it is when sin is exalted and even celebrated as being good and right, especially from within the church itself, that we are walking in full force away from God and into the arms of the enemy.  Look at just some of the perversion, that which is contrary to the word of God, that we are welcoming into our churches and giving it the stamp of approval: same sex marriage, homosexual preachers and leaders, living together outside the bonds of marriage, even the shedding of innocent blood (abortion on demand), and distortion and perversions of the word of God.  False teaching is allowed to run wild without any checks upon it.  These are but a few infractions against the will of God and are not an exhaustive list by any means.   

          Still, God does not give up on us, but continues to reach out to call us back to Him and away from the point of no return.  For those who have ears to hear, hear this:  “but this thing commanded I them saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people:  and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.  But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.  Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them; yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers.” (Jer. 7: 23 – 26)  “Therefore thou shalt speak all these words unto them; but they will not hearken to thee: thou shalt call also unto them, but they will not answer thee.  But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the Lord their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.” (Jer. 7: 27, 28)  America, hearken unto the word of the Lord and be not a stiff necked people who will not mend your ways.    

          You may say, but this was written to Israel.  We, believers in the Lord, are responsible for our obedience or disobedience unto the Lord, just as they were.

We are the same as adopted Jews for we have been grafted in by the blood of the Lamb of God.  Our faith is in Jesus Christ who came in the flesh through King David of the Jewish line of heritage.  If they received either blessings or cursings in their response unto the Lord, the same principles apply to us.

          Did you take note of the fact that every time Jeremiah was told to go tell the people the word of the Lord, he was also told that they would neither listen nor obey.  How that must have saddened Jeremiah’s heart, to know in advance that God’s own people were going to reject His word to them, and bring down

judgment upon themselves.  Remember the word of the Lord was brought to God’s own special people, not unbelievers who would know nothing of all the marvelous works of the one true God.   It must have been so very hard for Jeremiah, and yet he did not stop or let his voice be silenced, for it was not his job to please the people or be intimidated by their unwillingness to listen and obey.  It was not his job to consider whether what he was told to speak was going to be welcomed, accepted, or fit in with the popular beliefs of the day.  Jeremiah was successful, not because anyone gave up their own way to follow after God, but because, regardless of the response of the people, he remained obedient unto the voice of the Lord.

          I ask then, where is the voice of the church, you and I, in standing up and speaking forth the word of the Lord in thought, word, and deed?  Every time an ungodly law is passed, where have we seen or heard a strong pushback against it from our pastors, leaders, or we the people, the body of Christ?  Instead, we have allowed our voice to be silenced by manipulation and intimidation.  We have not complied with the word of God that commands; “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”(Eph. 6: 13)  Where are the Jeremiahs of today who are willing to take a stand on the word of God and pushback against the evil of today that is expanding by leaps and bounds in America?  We loose ground day by day as we become less and less of a beacon of the light of the Lord to shine into a world that is growing darker and darker?  Instead, each of us is guilty of being willing to sit on the sidelines while we wait for someone else to take up the standard.  God’s army in America today has become so silent and weak that we have become, for the most part, practically invisible, having little or no affect upon the nation at large.  In our state of apathy and lethargy, we continue to scratch our heads and twiddle our thumbs while the walls of peace and freedom in the Lord are crumbling all around us.  We continually hear the statement, “And may God bless America;” when we should be saying, and acting upon by thought, word, and deed, “May America be a blessing unto God!” Let the army of God arise that, with God’s help, we may turn back the tides of evil that are quickly overtaking us; and let it begin with me!   

 

“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:” (Deut. 6: 5)

 

One Little Candle

It is better to light just one little candle,
Than to stumble in the dark!
Better far that you light just one little candle,
All you need's a tiny spark!

If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free,
The wonderful dawn of a new day we'll see!
And, if everyone lit just one little candle,
What a bright world this would be!

Let's all light one little candle,
Why stumble on in the dark?
When the day is dark an' dreary,
And your way is hard to find,
Don't let your heart be weary,
Just keep this thought in mind!

It is better to light just one little candle,
Than to stumble in the dark!
Better far that you light just one little candle,
All you need's a tiny spark!

If we'd all say a prayer that the world would be free,
The wonderful dawn of a new day we'll see!
And, if everyone lit just one little candle,
What a bright world this would be!

Music by George Mysels
with Lyrics by Joseph Maloy Roach, Published 1952)
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Saturday, May 24, 2014

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Science and Miracles


          How do today's scientists look at biblical miracles?  Are they skeptical, trying to prove there were natural phenomenon which could account for the "miracles", or are they trying to understand them in the hope that , through gaining knowledge, they could duplicate them for the good of mankind?  Perhaps there is knowledge to be gained, by science, that would be useful.  In a book titled "None Of These Diseases", the author discusses a physician who, in the old days, decided through reading the Bible, he should wash his hands between his visits to the morgue and his living patients.  In those days, the doctors always went to the morgue first.  This doctor found that his patients had a better survival rate than before the hand washing started.  When he shared that information with the other doctors, he was scoffed at and ostracized by the other doctors.  This was before we had knowledge of bacteria.  In today's world, any doctor not sanitizing himself between patients would be ostracized.  

          God says that we can move mountains by prayer, through faith.  The Founders of all of the different disciplines of science were all believers of God and the Bible.(1)  Perhaps it takes spiritual eyes, for scientists to accumulate knowledge by the study of why God did things, to find out how God did things.  Example - We know now that by talking lovingly to our house plants, they do better than those not talked to.  We see that when Jesus cursed the fig tree, it withered and died.  Perhaps by using the information God gives us, we can determine the outcome of things, or at least affect them.  "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible."[1]

          John, the apostle, says that he gave us all the information we need, to accomplish his purpose, but that he didn't tell us everything.[2]  This reminds me of the famous race car driver who was asked if he could compete against his son.  His reply was "I taught my son everything he  knows, but not everything I know".  Perhaps when his son was ready, he taught him more.  Perhaps when we are ready, God will reveal more to us. John also wrote in chapter 21 verse 25: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.".


(1)  Below is a list of scientists, who believed in God and the Bible (both the plan of salvation and the description of creation).[3]

 Sir Isaac Newton is known as the father of modern science.

[A poll of scientists concluded that Sir Isaac Newton was the greatest scientist that ever lived.]

Francis Bacon was the inventor of the scientific method. 

Joseph Lister – Antiseptic Surgery

Louis Pasteur = bacteriology

Sir Isaac Newton – Calculus

Johann Kepler – Celestial Mechanics

Robert Boyle – Chemistry

Georges Cuvier – Comparative Anatomy

Charles Babbahe – Computer Science

Lord Rayleigh – Dimensional Analysis

Sir Isaac Newton – Dynamics

James Clark Maxwell – Electrodynamics

Michael Faraday – Electromagnetics

Ambrose Fleming – Electronics

Lord Kelvin – Energetics

Henri Fabre – Entomology of Living Insects

Michael Faraday – Field Theory

George Stokes – Fluid Mechanics

William Herschel – Galactic Astronomy

Robert Boyle – Gas Dynamics

Gregor Mendel – Genetics

Louis Agassiz – Glacial Geology

James Simpson – Gynecology

Leonardo Da Vinci – Hydrolics

Matthew Maury – Hydrography

Blaise Pascal –Hydrostatics

Louis Adassiz – Ichthyologl

William Ramsay – Isotropic Chemistry

Lord Rayleigh – Model Analysis

John Ray – Natural History

Bernhard Riemann – Non-Euclidean Geometry

Matthew Maury – Oceanography

David Brewster – Optical Mineralogy

John Woodward – Paleontology

Rudolph Vichow – Pathology

Johann Kepler – Physical Astronomy

James Joule = Reversible Thermodynamics

James Clark Maxwell – Statistical Thermodynamics

Nicholas Steno – Stratigraphy

Carolus Linnaeus – Systematic Biology

Lord Kelvin – Thermodynamics

Humphrey Davy – Thermokinetics

Georges Cuvier – Vertebrate Paleontology



[1] Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27
[2] John 20:30-31
[3] Doctor D. James Kennedy
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Friday, May 23, 2014

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Accept or Reject


          There are those who reject the first and the last books of the Bible, either because they are too hard to understand or have been influenced by other people not to be bothered.  There are others who selectively go through the Bible, deciding for themselves what is true and what is not.  There are those who completely reject any authority of the Bible.  Some of us believe that the Bible is actually the inspired Word of God, trust that He exists, and that He has the ability to relate to us the information He wants us to have. 

          The Old Testament records things that were going to happen, while the New Testament refers back to them as proof that they did.

          I can't personally prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the Bible is totally accurate in all that it presents.  I have often said that the Bible we have today may not be by every jot and tittle exactly as it was originally written, but that it is used by God to get to us the information He wants us to know.  I can relate that, because of my studies, I have come to believe it is truly the inspired Word of God..  It is up to each of us to, through earnestly seeking (study), decide what he or she is able to understand.  A hardened heart and/or a closed mind, on the other hand, has never accomplished anything of value.  Without the proper research, there is no way to give adequate judgment on any basis to establish a belief system fulfilling our needs.  Some will say, "it's just too hard to understand", and just give up the quest.  A serious loss of understanding for self development is the result of this attitude.  The Bible itself says: "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth"[1] and "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"[2]. 

          Only through study can each of us decide if God exists or not.  Not that our decisions can or cannot establish His existence, except in our own minds.  No other source available to us can establish this truth, except the Bible.

          There are many other religious works available to us, but that's what they are "religious works" and not Gods Word.  Some of these works, such as the Koran, are based on plagiarized adaptations of the scriptures contained in the Bible.  Many are so obviously made up by the mind of man, that they seem silly when looked at objectively. 

          There is no way that I can transfer the truths that I have found into your reality, so the best I can do is tell you: "as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord".

          We all know the basic story of Jesus, and what He did, to bring us into a one on one relationship with the Godhead.  He gave us free will, to be able to accept or reject Him; which is the only decision He requires us to make.  That is why the Bible says there is jubilation in Heaven, every time someone humbles himself to accept the Lord. 

          The Bible is the only source we have available to truly get to know the creator of the world.  It always amazes me, that every time I read through the Bible, He shows more and more of Himself to me. 

          To begin one's quest to know God, I suggest the Gospel of John.  It starts with what the Bible starts with: "In the Beginning"[3] and that's where we can begin.



[1] 2 Timothy 2:15
[2] 2 Timothy 3:16
[3] Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1
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