Wednesday, June 3, 2015

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         Criticism can become an excellent catalyst to inspire a search for understanding and truth.  At one time, it was suggested that I should concentrate more on writing about the love of Jesus if I wanted to draw others to Him.  It was asserted that my writings were of a judgmental nature, and therefore, pushing others away from Jesus, instead of drawing them nearer to God.  I reveal this point to the reader that, together we may search out the elements of God that come together to express His love towards mankind.  Is it only the blessings of God poured out towards us, or is it more a combination of His blessings, chastisement, judgments, commandments, and statutes that reveal a more complete picture of His love for us?  If I write only about God’s blessings to reveal His love for us, would I not be deceiving you and me?  Isn’t there something far more to understand about God’s love?  If there is supposed to be a personal relationship between God and each individual, then does that not assume that the individual is not just there to receive from God, but that each individual is also responsible for if this relationship is to be based upon mutual love that flows between them?   

          I took the criticism to heart, to search it out as to whether there may be some truth in it.  I have mused over this opinion at various times, and each time it seems to take me down a different path.

          I awoke this morning pondering upon the validity of the criticism once again, and wondered if it might reveal further beneficial insight.  This time it seemed to begin with a link to the following question: why do professing Christians often have difficulty in understanding what makes Christianity unique and different from all other religions?  We may go to church for years, be active in what we perceive as serving God, and yet not believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord?  Furthermore, some “think” that they have salvation without ever committing their lives to the Lord, that is receiving Jesus as their Savior and living out life in obedience unto Him.  I say “we” because I think that all of these questions could apply to any of us at one time or another, for I believe that the answer may be partially connected to spiritual immaturity or just plain ignorance and lack of biblical knowledge. 

          At the beginning of every man’s search to know God, he must first believe in the strong possibility of His existence, and then begin His journey from that starting point to seek to learn of Him, searching not just for head knowledge of Him, but for heart knowledge of Him.  God’s Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God, beckons to the heart of every man, without exception.  “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (II Peter 3: 9)  Even when God’s word is not accessible to all, He has reached out to man in various ways, even through dreams, visions, and through the wonders of creation itself, for the heavens declare the glory of God. (Psalm 19)  The word of God is our map of directions from God, and His Holy Spirit is our guide to reveal to us His truth.  When we open our heart to Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes in to be our teacher, guide, and even more. 

          I give you the following scriptures to lay a foundation for your understanding that the key to our understanding of the truth of God is the power of the Holy Spirit.  The message of the Gospel does not depend upon the speech of some great orator as some may suppose, for it is not based upon any philosophy or games of the mind, as some may think.  Rather the word is Spirit breathed and is discerned through the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Take not the word of any man, but rather let us look into the word itself, that we may put our trust in the word of God:  “Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” (I Cor. 2: 13)  “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb. 4: 12)  “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.” (John 14: 26)  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Tim. 3: 16)   “knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1: 20, 21)  “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (I Cor. 2: 14)  God’s word is different from all other written word for it is alive, spoken not just for head knowledge, but to reveal Himself to the very heart, soul, and spirit of man.  What a marvelous gift He has given unto us, and yet many will reject and turn from Him, preferring rather the limited and faulty wisdom of men.  At that very thought, such great sadness floods over my soul for those who will not hear out of the stubbornness of their own stony heart.  Out of His great love for us, He has given His all, even the very life of His only begotten Son. 

          Having based our understanding upon the solid rock of the Spirit breathed word of God, let us continue on our journey that we may understand the why and how the dilemma of lack of true life changing faith can occur, creating Christians in name only rather than true born again believers.  I’m sure the study will not be complete and thoroughly exhaustive in its content, but perhaps it can lead us at least to a partial understanding of the problem, and provide a portion of truth to help the individual towards finding a solution that truth from God may help us grow into a more mature faith in the Lord.  Remember, we are looking to try to understand what it is that demonstrates and expresses God’s love for you and me.  When we try to reach out to others to share the word of the Lord and His great love towards us, should we speak or write only about His blessings, or is there more to it than that? 

          The present status of many a Christian today has been reduced to a lukewarm state at best, or a totally putrefied state at its worse, causing God to want to spew us out of His mouth!  “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue you out of My mouth.”(Rev. 3: 16) Whoa!  I don’t know about you, but when I saw that it made we go directly to the Lord, asking Him to search my heart that He might cleanse me of such awful wickedness.  I don’t want to be found in such a state in His sight.

          Let us look further to try to discover why so many of us, considering ourselves to be Christians, are only deceiving ourselves.  How can we go to church, read our Bibles, and yet, if we were to be honest with ourselves, we may find that the following description would more aptly apply to us, instead of the description of a true born again believer?  Jesus is speaking to the people, then and now, as He says: “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [Isaiah] prophesy of you saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.   But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matt. 15: 7- 9)  Did you catch the last part of that scripture?  There it is again- the wickedness of the heart of man, as we persist, from generation to generation, in continually preferring, the knowledge and wisdom of mankind over and above the purity, holiness, and established truth of the wisdom and knowledge of God.  Unless or until we will open our hearts to receive the Lord, we will remain lost forever to the law of sin and death, instead of being saved and transformed by the life changing grace of God.  Does that not provide us a key to understanding the love of God and our own responsibility, if we are to have a personal relationship with Him?  Again is love of God expressed only through an understanding of His blessings towards us, and nothing else on His part or ours?

          In order to determine if a criticism, or opinion, has truth and merit, we must always search it out to see if it is in line with, or contrary to, the word of God.  Today’s “feel good, health, and wealth” messages being proclaimed from many pulpits, are transforming many congregations more into an image of social justice community service organizations, instead of reaching the individual souls to be transformed into the image of Christ.  How can this be?  Two scriptures in particular help us to understand how and why this is occurring: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their ears want to hear.” (II Tim. 4: 3 NIV)  “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge [of God] I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of God, I also will forget your children.” (Hosea 4: 6 NJIV)  Does not that scripture provide us with another clue and insight into another part of God’s love for us?  Does not our responsibility to acknowledge God, His law, His knowledge, His wisdom contain further insight into the love relationship that is supposed to exist between God and each person who claims to believe and trust in Him?  Doesn’t every earthly child and father (or parent) relationship depend upon the Father teaching his children to obey him, not as a tyrant, but for the good and growth of the child into maturity that he may be equipped with knowledge and self discipline to be able to go forward into life?  Why then does mankind find it hard to understand that if things are to go well for us in life, we must not forget God, our heavenly Father and all His ways?  Why do we think that we can go forth into life, ridding ourselves of all of God’s directions spelled out for us in His word, and rejecting His Son and Holy Spirit as our teacher and guide, preferring to make up our own rules for life as we go along, changing even them as it suits us to do so?  God’s ways are true, they never change, and they are always meant for our good.  Man’s ways are always changing, and may or may not lead us to live in a way that is meant for our good.  When we follow God, there is order, stability, peace, safety and the best plan to produce good in life.  When we choose to forget God, we follow the ways of man which, through constant change based upon what is determined to be convenient for him to suit his own desires at any given time, life will necessarily be filled with chaos, confusion, disorder, violence instead of peace, and total uncertainty as to what is or is not for the good of your life.  Without the Spirit of the Lord to show us the way, we choose to follow our own way instead of surrendering our will to the more perfect will of God.  We are deaf, dumb, and blind.  We will not hear, speak, or see the truth of the Lord or His ways, neither can we comprehend of His great love that He pours out towards us through, not only His blessings, but also through His law, commandments, statutes, and the totality of all of His nature and power as revealed to us through Jesus, the living Word; the Bible, His written Word, and His Holy Spirit, our guide and teacher who draws us ever closer to Him.

          Back to the assumption that speaking or writing about God’s  discipline, law, judgments, commandments, etc. (the full counsel of God) is not just as much a part of His love for us as His blessings are, but rather an assumption of hindrance to drawing others to God, I ask this question: Is not the word of God meant to be our tutor, to convince of what is sin that we might seek God’s forgiveness, that we may be cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and set free from enslavement to sin, and given therefore the liberty to choose not to sin?  “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on Him, if ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8: 31, 32)  “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.  Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (II Cor. 3: 14 – 18 NIV) “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”  (Matt. 5: 17, 18)  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1: 9)  We can not be saved by grace unless we first first acknowledge our sin nature and need of our Savior to forgive us of sin.  We believe not in Jesus Christ through head knowledge, but only when the word has pierced into our heart to transfer the head knowledge into our very heart and soul; thereby giving us a new heart and spiritual ears that we may hear and receive the things of the Spirit.  “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10: 17 NKJV)  As we read the word of God, we will see this phrase repeatedly; “For those who have ears to hear, let them hear.”  Yet, all too often, mankind is willing to learn from every source except from the word of God, which they erroneously proclaim to be written by mere men, rather than written down by men as they heard from and were directed to do so by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  They do not believe or recognize the power of the Holy Spirit to direct the thoughts of man to reveal the thought of God.  They will not even recognize the fact that the word of God prophesies the future before it has even happened; not just the coming of the Messiah, but events far into the future, such as the reestablishment of the country of Israel and the return of its people to their land, as given to them by God, and even unto the end of the age.  For emphasis I repeat the following scriptures, in order to remind us that the word of God is not by the will of man or his imaginations, but are from God Himself as He moved upon men of old to write down and reveal to mankind the very thoughts of God as revealed to man through the power of the Holy Spirit as He moved upon and in them: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.” (John 14: 26)  “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (II Tim. 3: 16)   “knowing this first, that no prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” (II Peter 1: 20, 21)   

          There are those that seem to think that as believers, to win souls for Christ, we should concentrate more on the love of Jesus, and refrain from focusing on sin, repentance, and forgiveness of sins.  The following scripture was used to support that opinion and to describe “true religion.”  “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”(James 1: 27)  The intent was to support the idea that one’s true faith is exhibited by what one does, that is by deeds or good works.  On the surface, this seems to be completely creditable.  However, I propose that it serves to demonstrate to us the dangers of considering text, without consideration of more complete context, for it can be misleading.  Is that not exactly how Satan deceived Eve in the garden, when he asked her if God had truly told her that she would surly die if she ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?  He used just enough of the text, but withheld the full context in order to make his lie appear to be truth.  Let us reexamine the scripture that was used to suggest that true religion, as a connection to  God’s love, was demonstrated through our works, or deeds: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”(James 1: 27)   Let us consider the danger of deception when the emphasis is put upon the first part of the scripture, while practically ignoring the last part of it.  Does it not make it easier for the individual to focus more upon his own achievements of “good works” to earn his own salvation, while reducing his responsibility to keep himself “unspotted” out of love for Jesus?   True obedience is submitting our own will to walk in the will of God, not because it is demanded by law, but voluntarily out of a heart that loves the Lord because He has loved us first.  I know that this is a simple and earthly example, but I use it to illustrate my point.  In my marriage relationship with my husband, we both will often submit our own will to that of the will of the other, not because either of us has to do so, but because we both voluntarily choose to do so, thereby demonstrating our mutual love for one another.  Shouldn’t our relationship with our loving God be demonstrated in like manner even more so? 

          Let me repeat the scripture, with an emphasis upon the latter part of the text for further clarification of the full context and meaning.  “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”(James 1: 27)  To keep myself unspotted, or unpolluted, from the world, requires first and foremost a personal commitment to Christ’s ethical and moral system, not the world’s.  We are not to conform to the world’s value system of money, power, and pleasure.  Changing our ways to conform to man’s ideas of right and wrong is always going to lead astray from God’s ways.  We need look no further than the increasingly immoral sexual practices of today to demonstrate how far we have fallen away from what God has directed for our good, rather than for our harm.  However, with society, and even the church, condoning and even accepting such practices, deeming them now to be good, acceptable, and right, anyone who refuses to fall in line with that train of thought is naturally going to be deemed as unloving, a hater, a bigot, and intolerant.  This is now that time when we must truly be willing to be hated for the sake of being obedient unto the Lord our God, even if it costs us our freedom or our life. We must depend upon the power of the Holy Spirit within us to direct our path that we may be kept “unspotted,” or polluted.  For that very reason, teaching about sin and repentance, and the judgment of God is not a detractor from the love of God, but rather a significant part of His love, mercy, and grace poured out towards us.  The unbeliever does not want to have the light of the Lord to shine upon and expose his sin, for he prefers the darkness that he may redefine sin as good, and not evil, giving the right to do as he pleases, instead of obeying God, and doing that which is pleasing in His sight.  The repentant sinner, saved by grace through faith, welcomes the light of the Lord to expose sin in his life that, through the mercy of God, he may confess it, ask forgiveness, and walk in liberty from enslavement to the law of sin and death.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 39: 23, 24)

          What has this got to do with a person being deceived when it concerns his own salvation?  Let us search further into the scripture James 1: 27.  The definition of religion, as related to Christianity is: the belief and worship of a supreme being, especially a personal God.  Neither the definition nor the scripture say to worship your good deeds, or that doing good deeds would earn salvation.  If we are prone to consider that the good deeds mentioned in the scripture are the priority, rather than a result of being saved, then we might as well pursue the accomplishment of good deeds through a membership in any community service organization, without worshipping God.  However, for the true born again believer, the personal relationship with Christ must come first to worship and walk in loving obedience unto Him, and the goods will be a natural outgrowth of our commitment to follow and obey Christ and His word.    

          Doing good deeds is supposed to be a characteristic of being a follower of Christ, right?  Yes, that’s true, but Christianity without a personal relationship with the resurrected Christ makes it of no effect, and thereby no different than Buddhism, Islamism, Hinduism, or any other religion.  All of founders of these are dead and in the ground; not one of them was without sin, nor could any of them have paid the price for sin, or offer forgiveness of sin through their shed blood, and not one of them arose from the dead to prove that He was the Son of God and Savior who could grant eternal salvation for all who would believe.  Yes, other religions can offer profitable teaching and preaching, but again I say, none of them offers the Savior who was slain to take away the sins of the world, that whosoever believed on Him might have eternal life through faith in HIM.  Christ alone arose from the dead.  “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 12) 

          Good deeds on earth may earn recognition for unbelievers as kind and generous people.  If that’s all you are looking for, perhaps you would find satisfaction by volunteering at the nearest club of community service or social justice activism.   But good deeds without repentance and faith in Christ, as Lord and Savior, will not earn salvation.  Instead, you will still be forever lost in your sins to face eternal damnation in Hell, just like every other nonbeliever. 

          Well, by that last blunt but truthful statement concerning people going to Hell for their sin, I suppose I have once again stepped into the realm of being judgmental in the minds of some.  Furthermore, I am probably not considered the best candidate for promoting or selling Christ and His love.  However, before that decree goes forth, may I ask you to consider this: which is more demonstrative of the love of God – should I tell you a lie that may make you “feel good,” but will send you on your way to eternal Hell; or is it more profitable for your good that I speak truth in love to you, which may not make you “feel good” for that moment, but which may serve to cause you to reconsider your need to ask Jesus, the Savior, to come into your heart that He may grant you forgiveness, salvation, and the free gift of eternal life in Heaven?  If I truly love the Lord and you, I must be obedient to Him, even if the truth may offend or upset you or me.  It is written:  “When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die.’ And you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their own sin, and I[God] will hold you accountable for their blood.  But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.” (Ezek. 3: 18, 19 NIV)  In other words, if I know the truth but I don’t speak the truth, to inform and warn of sin and its consequences, then I will be held accountable and his blood will be upon my head. 

          “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (my emphasis, Eph. 2: 8-10 NKJV)  When we believe in Christ, even our good works are planned by Him.  He leads us by His word and by His Holy Spirit, sent by Him to live in us, to be our guide that we should live according to His will.  No, we are not changed over night.  It’s a process that is worked within us as His Holy Spirit lives within us, to give us a new heart and the mind of Christ, transforming us more and more into His image.  It is not something that we can do on our own, but only as we humble ourselves before the Lord, always striving with His help to leave our old sinful nature behind.  He never promised us that it would be easy, but He did promise to be with us and in us every step of the way.

          Why are good works alone an insufficient basis by which we may profess to be Christians?  The main reason is that God’s standard is complete perfection, and no matter how hard we tried, we would always fall short of that mark.  If our works were sufficient, we would have no need of a Savior.  But man, being of a rebellious and sinful nature, is always trying to escape being responsible to any other being but himself, thinking that by doing so he will have set himself free.  Consider the following scripture which aptly describes the church of the latter days, when people have fallen away from the truth of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Remember that it is a lukewarm church that has heaped to itself teachers and preachers that are quick to teach us that which we want to hear, things that make us feel good, but are lacking in content that should teach us to discern sin in our lives that we might repent and pray for forgiveness.  The church of today is welcoming and tolerating evil of every sort.  Instead of resisting sin, we are redefining evil as good and even trying to assert that our protection of it is doing a good thing in the eyes of God.  Not wanting to be labeled as intolerant, haters, and bigots in the sight of man, we have turned away from the word of God, and become bigots in the sight of God, once again proving that the prophecies of the Bible are true.  “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!”  “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (II Tim. 3:1- 5, 7NKJV)  This is a description of those who profess to be Christians, but in truth are Christians in name only.  How do I know?  Look at the words of the scripture that I have placed in italics and bold print for emphasis.  They are not “unbelievers” for they would not care a thing about having a form of godliness.  These “religious,” or “Christians in name only”, will still seek to perform the religious traditions and customs to give the appearance of being religious.  Oh yes, they will still probably read from the Bible, but they will be of the redacted form which already exist, deleting words that proclaim the deity of Jesus, words that refer to God the Father are replaced by some form of gender neutral terms, words referring to forms of sexual immorality will either be replaced, redefined, or deleted altogether.  Oh yes, good deeds of man will be celebrated, but for the purpose of glorifying mankind, not God.  What power are they lacking? Christ, the very cornerstone upon which our faith is founded, will most likely be referred to as a great teacher, a great prophet perhaps, but His death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead, His acknowledgment as the Son of God, and the very existence of the Holy Spirit will all necessarily be denied, for therein is found the power of God.  Anything or anyone that would single out or infer that salvation through faith in the exclusive worship of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as the one true God, will be deleted and denied, for the purpose of making all religions equal, preparing the way for the one world religion, as described in the Bible.  There are false teachers busily drawing all religions together even now, encouraging the focus to be upon all of our similarities, and doing away with our differences. Many look at this as a good thing, for in their eyes, religion, especially the Judeo Christian religion has been one of the greatest hindrances to all societies in civilization being able to “join together in one accord for the good of all.”  They will even still profess to believe in bits and pieces of the Bible, thinking that by them they will have secured their salvation.  But the Bible tells us that our salvation is not found through the scriptures themselves, but rather through faith in Him who has given to us the scriptures.  Jesus has said: “Search the scriptures; for in them you think ye have eternal life: and they are they that testify of me.  And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5: 39, 40)  “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh to the Father, but by me.” (John 14: 6) How much plainer could He have put it? 

          What then is my conclusion concerning the dangers of text without context?  For one thing, the practice of using partial truth in order to distort the truth to deceive others is one of Satan’s favorite tools to destroy faith and cause believers to fall into doubt and unbelief.  The truth being explored within the confines of this particular journey is to understand what truly expresses the love of the Lord?  Is it only found in speaking of the love and blessings of the Lord?  Or is it more aptly and completely expressed through speaking truth concerning His love, blessings, judgment of sin, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and redemption which are all used together to work out His will in each of our lives.  Love without discipline produces a self centered child who walks in rebelliousness and disobedience that eventually leads to total self destruction.   Whereas a commitment to obeying the Lord and His word can only lead to our good, for He alone knows what is best for us.  We can not put our trust in our own good deeds, for without Christ our Savior, they vanish as a blade of grass does fade and wither at the end of its time.  Submit your ways to the will of God, and He will direct your paths, for it His delight to care for you.

          It is the Holy Spirit who convinces one’s heart of the need for Jesus, the one and only Savior.  Though it may make one “feel good” to be taught only about God’s love and blessings, without being taught that His judgment for sin is also a part of His love, it would be deceptive, and would not equip the believer to live by faith in God.  Concentrating primarily on God’s love for us, without an equally important recognition of our need and responsibility to express and demonstrate our love for Him, would be as if the mutual love relationship did not exist.  If we focus only upon God’s love and blessings towards us, without our willingness to submit our will to His, would more or less depict Him as some form of a genie that existed for the purpose of fulfilling our demands and desires.  God has loved us first, even when we were still dead in our sins.  All too often, we want to hear all about His love for us, but don’t want to hear about the consequences that we bring upon ourselves when we fail to accept the responsibility to believe on Him first, and to obey Him and follow His directions. 

          No, I will not proclaim that all religions are equal, or that there are many paths to God, as the popular and politically correct minds of today assert.   Neither will I shy away from portraying the love of God and the judgments of God as being of equal importance, as if His judgments were somehow not a part of His love poured out towards us.  Both are a part of the oneness of His nature that is meant to keep us from harm, and direct us to what He knows is for our best.  “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in.” (Proverbs 3: 11, 12)  How can we ever grow in maturity of faith, and be changed more into His image, if we are constantly acting like spoiled children who has no responsibility towards the giver of the blessings, and who continually think they are wiser than God? 

          With God’s help, I will not disagree with His word or attempt to delete, revise, or redefine any part of it, for doing so demonstrates the arrogance and pride of man.   To question the truth of God’s word, or His right to have authority over us, is equivalent to thinking that the finite mind of man knows more or better than our infinite God.  To walk in the full admonition of the truth of the Lord and His word, let us always remember to test the spirits, and temper any text with the counsel of the full context of the meaning of His word.  We must test all that we do or think to see if it is aligned with the actions and mind of Christ, as revealed to us in His word and taught to us by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I have this rule for myself, if there seems to be an “error” in the word of God, the error in reality is in my understanding rather than in the word itself; therefore, I turn back to Him to teach me more plainly that I may have my mind renewed by the washing of the water of His word.  You know Satan knows all about God, and he knows every word of scripture better than you and I ever will.  But He will never submit to the will of God.  As long as we have breath, we have the offer to be saved by grace, through faith in Him.  He gives us His word that we might know Him and believe on Him with our head and our heart. 

          In this mutual love relationship between God and man we must understand that God has loved us first, and that as much as we think we love Him, He always loves us more.  What does God require of us?  “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord, require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.” (Micah 6: 8)  “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51: 16, 17)  Our outward actions can never please God without a right attitude in our heart that towards Him.  God is pleased when we seek to humble ourselves before Him, turning to Him to be willing to be melted, molded, and transformed more and more each day into the image of God.  He is the Potter, and we are the clay.  Always trust the Holy Spirit to give you and I an understanding of both the text and context that we may know Him all the more, letting His word be a “lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119: 105)  “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12: 2)  

          My prayer: Be not deceived by Satan or the ways of the world.  Come to the foot of the cross, repent and receive forgiveness that you too may be born again into the family of God, through faith in Jesus Christ and His resurrection. May the word of God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, lead and guide you unto all truth.  In Jesus name.  Amen 

Not all of man’s wisdom and knowledge leads to truth, but all of God’s knowledge and wisdom leads to truth, and nothing but the truth.  Man is always looking to something to change us on the outside, thinking that it will make him/her better, prettier, richer, happier, etc.  Franklin Graham once wrote: “Changing the outside doesn’t change the inside.  No man-made modification can fix what’s wrong with the heart. Only God can fix the human heart.”     


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