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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Thoughts on the Love of God

I just read a ‘devotion’ that was all about love.  Now, I would be the very last person in the world to discount the Love of God. It is the reason I am the person I am today.  It is the reason for my eternal hope. It is the reason His Son was willing to die a horrible death to become the sacrifice for MY sin.   Those things alone are evidence of the love of God.
It represents the most all encompassing love the world has ever known. 
John 3:16 is repeated over and over as evidence of that.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  And I John 4:9-10  In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
In both of these specific references the Love of God goes far beyond the smarmy, sweetsie, gooey kind of love that is taught in much of the religious world today.  God was concerned with our eternal destiny.  It doesn’t seem related at all to being lovey-dovey and hugging homeless people or talking constantly about how we “luv” everyone. God’s Love doesn’t involve overlooking sin in our lives.  It doesn’t involve patting sinners on the back and telling them it will be okay, just go ahead and ‘do the best you can.”   God’s Love is focused on eternal issues.
God loved Mankind so much that He sent Christ to provide a path to Salvation, a path to righteousness, that Man might have access to eternal life.  That is a tremendous Love.   He created Man; He gave him free will and he watched as Man used that free will to fall away for Him.  In spite of that, God still cared enough to put His Plan of Salvation in place. 
Man has taken that all encompassing love and turned it into a mundane thing that is hardly related to the Love of God.  Modern Human Religion wants to emphasize Love and neglect the the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.”
God’s Love comes with judgment, first, and is followed by his mercy and then our faith in his love.
The ‘devotion’ that I read said, “God loves you with an extravagant and irresistible love”
That is in no way descriptive of the Love of God.   First off, God’s Love is not ‘irresistable.’  Man has been turning a cold shoulder to God’s Love for centuries.  Possibly because they don’t like the way the ‘free gift’ is presented.  To ‘unwrap’ it we must change our ways.  We must turn from sin and live for God.  
God’s love is not an extravagant love in the sense that He tosses it out with no consideration or plans for distribution.  But it does go beyond what is deserved or justifiable.  None of us are deserving of His Salvation. It goes far beyond what is our due and there is a very definite plan for its distribution.  
The “devotion’ began with the text from Luke 6:33-36    And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. But the quote stopped there and went to promote the gooey kind of love taught in modern religion.  The reality of the text has nothing to do with that we hear on every hand.   First it continues to compare God’s children to sinners:  34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But the Love of God takes us beyond that:  35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
Loving our enemies requires a much deeper kind of love that the glad-hand-Harry kind of love that slaps everyone on the back and overlooks all sorts of sin.  Doing good seems to be rather easy, until we get to the ‘lend, hoping for nothing again.’  Most of the glad-hand-Harry types have no trouble sharing their resources but they definitely don’t share it with no expectation of return.  Or if they do they have no hesitation to ‘blow a trumpet’ announcing it.  Notice this text doesn’t require that we be overly affectionate (verging on the obvious pretense and hypocritical).  It requires that we be ‘kind’ to those who are unappreciative and evil.
Those who promote the ‘extravagant and irresistible’ kind of Love are most often content to  talk about love, to pat backs and distribute hugs, to brag to others about their good deeds to the homeless and those less fortunate.  They make sure to blow their own horns and let people know how loving they are.  Christ adjoins us to not be as the Pharisees who sound a trumpet before them, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.”
Our modern love is a very flamboyant kind of love that is made very evident to all around. It forgives all evil and overlooks all things that are ungodly.  That isn’t the Love of God.
The ‘devotion’ closed with the statement: “Love must become your life-style, the habit of your life.  But it starts with a decision.
That is very true.  Love is the habit of life for the Child of God because God’s Love permeates our lives.  But it is presented backwards here.  It doesn’t “start” with a decision.  We don’t “decide’ to love people.   Love follows humbling ourselves before God in sorrow for our sins and repentance of them.  It follows turning from our sin and following Christ.  It involves deciding to accept God’s Love under the conditions with which it is offered.   Once we see ourselves as the sinful creatures we are before God we recognize the tremendous love He bestowed on us it causes us to love others as He loves us.
Repeatedly in the Old Testament God demanded that the Israelites turn from sin and evil.  They never accomplished that because they were living after the flesh. Now God in his Great Love is offering a way for us all to achieve that.  John 3:16 is a popular text, but the verses following it are overlooked completely.  Because they outline the plan God had for men to take advantage of that Love announced in verse 16.  this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
To experience the Love of God we must understand that our deeds have been evil. We must be willing to come to the love-light of God that our deeds might be reproved. And when we come to the love-light our evil deeds are manifest and we are changed. From that time on it becomes clear to all that our deeds are wrought in God.  And that includes demonstrating God’s love for the world—not by the glad-handing, overly sweet, love-all-and-sundry kind of the religious world, but by being a light to sinners and by doing  the complete will of God every day of our life, not just ‘being a Christian’ but by being ‘Christ-like.’  That is the love of God.         
   
 
 

 
 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Micromanaging God





I was recently involved in a discussion about praying for a special need.  One individual was saying how they were very specific about what they wanted God to do. It struck me then that they were trying to ‘micromanage’ God.  

I realized that I had been guilty of that very thing more than once in the past!

We talk about bosses micromanaging their employees—giving a capable employee a task, then coming by every few minutes to tell him how to do it, checking his progress, redirecting  or even taking over the task themselves for a few steps.  We are irritated when a boss does that. We all realize that the task would be accomplished much more efficiently if the boss would allow the capable employee to do his job.

How much more ridiculous would it be if the employee stuck his head in the boss’s office every few minutes to give him step by step instructions on making his latest report, to make sure there were no typos in his work, ensuring that he knew the proper format for that report or checking to be be sure the boss had replaced the ink cartridge in his printer.  

But how often do we do that exact thing with God?  We pray for healing.  Then we go step by step through the symptoms telling God what to do.  We ask for His help in a financial situation. Then explain very carefully what needs to happen for the situation to be resolved and when the funds need to arrive and who needs to wait patiently.  Or even in our spiritual burdens.  We not only ask God’s help but we also tell Him how to fix it. 

Yep.  I’ve done that.  But from now on I won’t. 

Job 23:10 tells us He knows the way we take and a little farther on we learn that (Job 28:23) God knows the way and he knows the place for making things happen.  And here I am, telling the Master of the Universe how to arrange to fix my little problem!  Before we even call on Him the Lord knows what our difficulty or burden is.  He already had the plan in mind to deal with it.  (Isa. 65:24)  We don’t need to outline the process for Him.   He has the entire situation in hand!  And here I am, telling Him what to do for me! 

And even though I have been guilty of trying to tell God, how and when and where, I’ve also relied many times on the verse in Romans that speaks of the Spirit making intercession with unutterable groanings.  If the Spirit translates our groanings, we have no need to give God step by step instruction.  So why am I just now realizing that?

Yes, we are taught to bring our burdens before the Lord.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  And yes he is a very present help in time of trouble. (Ps. 46:1)   But are we hindering our faith by trying to tell God how to supply our needs and give us help? Are we floundering in worry and heartache because God isn’t following our directions?

We all know that He will supply our needs. (But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19) And yet when it comes to asking, we seem to think we need to tell Him how to do it.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Carrots, Eggs, and Coffee

I found this little story somewhere. It has a good point to it.

 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience, hope:  And hope maketh not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. (Romans 5:3-6)

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes, she removed the pots from the stove.

She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee and beans out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs and coffee” the granddaughter replied. Her grandmother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The grandmother then asked the girl to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hardboiled egg. Finally, the grandmother asked her granddaughter to sip the coffee. The girl smiled. As she tasted its rich aroma, she asked, “What does it mean?”

Her grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its insides became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her granddaughter.

When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May we all be COFFEE!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A Cross is to Die On



I saw a post about the Cross this morning.   It spoke of hanging our problems on the cross, the worries, the obstacles, the unanswered prayers, the heartaches and loss.  It was a beautiful concept but it didn’t really represent The Cross.
We have glamorized the cross in religion today.  It is like a magic token.  We hang them in our vehicles.  We put them on poles outside. We display them on the front of our churches.  We wear them on our lapels and around our necks.   We hold them in our hands with a string of beads when we pray.  We see them made of marble, alabaster, ebony, gold, silver, granite, mahogany and all other sorts of precious materials.  And I guess, for those of us who have been born again, the cross DOES represent a beautiful concept.  Christ loved us enough to voluntarily give up his life to die on one.
But long long ago, brother Emerson Wilson preached a sermon that has stuck with me for probably fifty years.  In his sermon he said, “A cross is to die on.”
When we “take up our cross” we are to die on it. We die to our selfish desires. We die to our own goals and motives. We die to getting our own way.  We die to following worldly ways.  We die to ‘the old man.’ 
Christ died on His Cross.  He rose to an eternal life, far better than the earthly flesh.
The next time you hang that pretty cross around your neck. Or pin it to your lapel. Or hang it on the wall of your house.  Think about it.  Have YOU died on that cross? Have you died to the ‘sin that so easily besets’ us all. Have you died to ‘doing your own thing?’ Have you died to your addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex?
A cross isn’t a pretty thing of sentiment. A cross is to die on.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sinning Ignorantly


The idea that we can sin ‘ignorantly’ causes a great deal of confusion and even guilt in honest hearted Christians today.   False teachers use it to keep their followers in bondage and Satan uses it to torment innocent  saints. 
IN THE DAYS BEFORE THE COMING OF CHRIST, in the Old Testament, sinning ignorantly was possible since there was a long list of ‘dos and don’ts’ to be remembered and the priests of the latter days were constantly adding to them. So anyone could commit sins that weren't through willful disobedience, but ‘ignorantly.’  Lapses of memory and just plain not knowing of a law (sin) was completely possible.  And to unknowingly do a thing that was contrary to the law was possible.  (Lev. 4:2"... If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done..." )  And God made arrangements for it.
Paul tells the Galatians the purpose of the Law: Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”  Gal 3:19   “…Without the law sin was dead.  For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”  Romans 7:8-9  The law showed Man what sin was.   Again in Galatians 3: Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. 26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. “   So we see that God had practices in place to let the early Hebrews know what sin was.

BUT IN THE GOSPEL DAY we recognize sin through the leadership of the Holy Spirit:
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, whatsoever I have said unto you.”  John 14: 6   Some would argue that this is only referring to the teachings of Christ, but the phrase ‘all things’ eliminates this theory.  

And again,  “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”  I John 2:27 That Spirit that saved us will also teach us what sin is.  Again, the phrase ‘all things’ covers EVERYTHING necessary for our life in Christ.

So, we see that sinning without knowing we sin is not possible under the administration of the Holy Spirit.   The Holy Spirit in our lives will let us know. Before Salvation a man might be able to do all sorts of sinful things thinking they are all right.  Paul lets us know this in several places. But AFTER being born again, the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and teaches us those actions and thoughts which are sin.  Hebrews tells us, “He will write his law in our hearts.”  “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: Heb 8:10 and 10:16  His law isn’t written in books and books that we must search through, it is now in our heart and mind.  You can’t sin ignorantly if it’s written in your heart and mind. You have to consciously override it.

It requires an effort to walk close to God and listen to his still small voice that calls us to a closer walk and a life free of sin.  That’s why humans like to have a check list as to what they can and cannot do.  They like to have a check list they can point to and say, “Lookee here, sister So-n-so went here or there.  That’s a sin.”  Or ‘Brother Somebody-r-other played basketball with only a tank top on. That’s a sin.”

And we like to have a list we can point to and say, “Look, I do this and this and this. I’m a good Christian.”  And at the same time condemn others by that same list.  Christ called people like that ‘whited sepulchers.’ 

Some pastors and congregations get bogged down in providing a laundry list of sins.   Short hair, short dresses, (for women) bare arms and chest, (for all) wearing jewelry, going to fairs, movies, concerts….the list goes on and on.  And a definition of sin becomes an effort of trying to include these things under the title of ‘Sin.”

However.  There are several places in the Word  where we are given SPECIFIC lists of sins.  We often overlook these in our efforts to include a whole bunch of other things:   Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” I Cor 6:9-11  and in Rom 1:29-32:  “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Depending on our background in the Word, we may lack in understanding of God’s Word, but as we study and follow God, we will come to “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”  Eph. 4:13  As we learn more and more of what God requires of us the Word of God is written in our hearts and we bring our life into accord with His Righteousness.  There is a very definite process that leads to sin.  “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.”

We cannot sin without knowing it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

When God's Hand Moves


When Rachael and Michael were established here, I wanted more than anything for my whole family to be in church together.  Michael had always gone to church services with me when he and Rachael visited.  But in Westerville we had no good congregations to attend, Rachael’s job made her work on Sundays and the closest congregation was too far for me to ask Michael to drive.  So we hadn’t gone to church together for several years. 

Notah and Kerra have been attending a little Nazarene congregation since they moved here.  It is closer to our house than any congregation I’ve ever attended—only about ten minutes’ drive.  I hoped Rachael and Michael would go with me.  Another blessing, when Sunday rolled around, both of them were up and dressed and ready to go without my saying anything.  It blessed me because some of the Christians Michael had experience with had not been the best examples. 

The wonderful thing was that he liked Pastor Chad and enjoyed the services.  He listened to the messages and seemed to soaking it all in.   Then in October brother Arnie came to hold a revival for us.  At the end of about the last service Michael took Rachael’s hand and went forward to pray!  Thank the Lord.  It has been wonderful.  And there has been a real change in Michael.  Every once in a while he’ll make reference to the ‘old Michael’ doing something different from the way he is now!  He and Rachael have always had a good marriage, but I can see them both growing in the Lord together. 

They bought the house in Tierra Grande and from the first planned to have family and church people to visit in the big courtyard at the back.   Incidentally, and again this had to be the Lord, the house had an in-ground pool in that courtyard.  Not many houses in the desert have swimming pools and they hadn’t been looking for one.  When Rachael injured her back in the accident at Kroger’s the company had refused to pay the medical bills and compensation for it.  She has suffered with it ever since and her private doctor recommended that she swim as rehabilitation.  The swimming pool was simply God planning to take care of her!   

On January first or second, they began cleaning the house!  And it was a major job.  Two thirds of the house had to be gutted.  ALL of the floors had to be torn up; it was so urine soaked that it couldn’t be saved.  When all of the carpet, ceramic tile and wooden flooring had been ripped up, the subfloor was scrubbed with bleach and detergent but still had to be coated with a special sealer to be rid of the odor.  The central portion of the house was broken up with half walls and posts.  Those were torn out and the area turned into a beautiful great room.  The master bath had to be gutted also since the bathtub was cracked and the shower needed renovating.    

Now it is nearly complete, only the master bath needs finishing.

The landscaping looks like a different place.  The wild brush and trees have been pulled out and cut down.  The fruit trees and larger landscaping trees have been pruned.  The pool has been cleaned and Michael had the pool men out to tell him how to maintain it.  It’s like a little paradise.

This is June.  Our family have gathered several times for late dinners after church on Sundays.  Last Sunday Seth’s friend, Andrew from church, came and they spent the whole afternoon in the water! Everyone was in and out, too. 
Now I’m only waiting for this house to sell so I can move into the room they’ve designated as mine.  I was praying and meditating the other morning and the lord gave me the most wonderful assurance that when everything was complete at Marta Court this house would be sold.

He has already done so much for me.  Why should I doubt him now?

Friday, June 10, 2016

A List of Miracles


I haven’t spent much time here in the last months.  It isn’t that there haven’t been many, many blessings, but simply that my time has been taken up with so many other things.   

Looking back, I see that I’ve neglected to mention that we have moved from Ohio to New Mexico.  Rachael and Michael have had A Plan to move here from the time they were married.  They had a beautiful house in Ohio. They loved their house and its location, but it wasn’t New Mexico.  Their plan was to save their money, upgrade their house and accumulate enough money to make the move.  When Rachael and Michael set their minds to something, they DO it. 

Shortly after the first of the year in 2015, they decided the Time Had Come.  They began putting the finishing touches on their property to make it as attractive as possible.  They made a trip to NM to scope out available properties.  That provided a contact with a realtor and access to a very attractive house.  Things moved forward for the move

One of their problems was getting ME moved.  I have a lot of junk!  After a number of conversations with Notah they hatched a design to move me and some of my things first, at the end of April.  I began packing my personal things and cleaning drawers, shelves and my closet.  Some of the things I boxed and left for them to take their moving truck.  My clothes, some of my books and my plants I took with me.  My bearded dragon and Maggie were at the top of the list to go along.  Moving pets was a bigger hassle than moving myself.  In addition to them, I took Rachael’s turtle and her cat, Cole. 

Notah was in the process of purchasing a cargo van for the moving company.  He would have to pick it up at some location since it wouldn’t be shipped to them directly.  He elected to pick it up in Columbus as the least expensive way to go.  See how God works things out for his children?  His time table is NEVER wrong.

I stayed with Notah’s family while Rachael and Michael moved forward, listing their house with a realtor and arranging their move.  As soon as that was accomplished they began packing.   Their house was listed in May and sold within a month!   We have an amazing Lord!  How often does a house sell within thirty days!  Yet when God has His Hand on the timing, it happens.  There was blessing after blessing but by mid-July Rachael and Michael arrived in New Mexico!!  How can I help but praise the Lord?!

By this time I was living in Notah and Kerra’s  ‘old house’ that they were preparing for sale.  Rachael and Michael were able to store their things in the back room and live with me while they were job hunting and getting organized for a few months.  But after six months of rushing and working and organizing, they took a little time to kick back and relax.  Rachael wanted to show Michael her homeland.  He had seen the area around Albuquerque and Gallup during the times they had visited Notah and our family in Rock Springs, but there was the whole southwest that he’d never seen.  They took a week or two as a break and visited Monument Valley, Zion National Park and other.’ landmarks around the reservation before they began looking for jobs.

Now another example of how the Lord works things out for His People.  When they returned and began job hunting they both had jobs within a month.   Again, how amazing is that!!  In a time when jobs are hard to come by, especially good jobs they found good jobs almost immediately.  Michael was hired to manage an ironworks shop—the same position as he’d had in Ohio.   Rachael was hired as an assistant manager in a bank!  I could hardly believe it! 

The next issue was finding a house.  They explored the area around Albuquerque, north to Santa Fe and south to the Tijeras area.  They wanted a house ‘in the mountains.’  After they had made a few rounds viewing houses, Kerra mentioned that some friends of theirs had a house for sale in Tierra Grande.  I didn’t thing they would be at all interested; Tierra Grande is a wide flat plain lying in the bowl between the Sandia Mountains, the Manzanos, Los Pinos and the Ladrones.  I liked and still do like, having the distant mountains watching over us, but the land could by no stretch of imagination be called ‘mountainous.’

But when Rachael and Michael looked at the house they liked it immediately, in spite of many drawbacks.   The people living there were horrible housekeepers.  Their could-be beautiful house was in an awful condition. They had goats and pigs and dogs running loose.  Their granddaughter kept Rabbits and chinchillas in wire cages on the floor in her bedroom.  The property was overgrown with well-intentioned but improperly maintained vegetation.  I couldn’t believe it when Rachael and Michael began talking of buying it.   Now THAT was the Lord.

At any rate, the sale finally went through and they took possession the first of December, 2015..