Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Thought for the Day

You cannot be guided by circumstances when
you are refusing to be guided by God's word.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How to Keep Life's Circumstances in Perspective

First, realize that God is absolutely Sovereign over all of your life’s circumstances…both good and bad.  Psalm 103:19 says “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” (NASB)  The theological term for His sovereignty over our life’s affairs is Divine Providence.  This means that whatever life throws at us has to come through the omnipotent knowledge and permission of God; and the course and direction of our life is ultimately determined by the Lord.

This is practically illustrated in the following verses:

 Proverbs 16:9 The mind of man plans His way, but the Lord directs his steps.  This verse shows us that we are part of the process, but that in the midst of our thinking, planning, strategizing and praying, God is the ultimate determiner.

Proverbs 20:24 Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way.  We never know/understand where our steps will lead, because the Lord has ordained (planned and purposed) them, and they are beyond our foreknowledge; but not His.

Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.  This verse show us the futility of thinking that we are ever in total control of our life and its destiny.  The unseen providence of God is taking us where we would never have imagined or chosen had we known all that was before us.

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in His way.  Here we see that the Lord delights (takes pleasure) in the way He has established (planned, purposed, and carried out) for us.  His ultimate goal for us is to be completely conformed to the image of His Son in preparation for eternity.  His plan for us is not a plan for this world only, but, actually uses this world to prepare us for the eternal world to come; and our final and complete conformity to the likeness of Christ, who, as the God-man, is the complete man.  (Philippians 1:6 & 2:13, Colossians 1:28, Ephesians 4:11-15, I John 3:2, Romans 8:29)

Romans 8:28 For we know that God cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  This is because that God’s plan for us is for our eternal good.  Our time here is short, and even though we are preoccupied with it, God is preoccupied with our place in eternity.

Secondly, what should our response be?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.  In our circumstances we must trust the Lord, His leading and its outcome and know that our understanding of the whys and wherefores will come in due time.

Psalm 37:3-5 Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it.  This section begins and ends with trusting the Lord; and this trusting is accompanied by doing good (being godly in our circumstances), dwelling in land (staying where He has brought us and not trying to seek our own way of escape), cultivating faithfulness (building our faithfulness to Him by being obedient to Him in our circumstances), delighting ourselves in Him (this is a by-product of the joy that comes from our faithfulness and trusting), committing our way to Him (in all our way acknowledging Him…Lord I am going to follow you no matter what).

Finally, a biblical example.

Read Genesis 12 and consider the call of God to Abraham.  God called, Abraham followed, and God led him right into the middle of a famine.  Was the Lord surprised?…NO!  He knew where He was leading and what would be there, but God had a purpose, a greater and eternal purpose for Abraham; and through all of this He taught Abraham to trust Him, to be faithful to Him; and as a result, Abraham became the father of faith for all who would come to Christ thereafter.

Remember, in God's enconomy there are no accidents or happenstances.  Whatever comes your way has been Divinely ordained for your good, your ultimate and eternal good, and for the glory of the One who has called you to Himself and blessed you with an eternal salvation that trascends your short time here on this earth. All that transpires is part of His eternal plan for you…even to your children. Thank Him for His eternal plan and its working out in both good and hard providence.  For His eye is on you, His thoughts toward you are as numerous as His wonders, and what He began in You He will complete for all eternity.  Bless His holy name! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Warning to be Heeded in the Brian Williams Debacle

What is the lesson to be learned from the Brian Williams embarrassing debacle?  It is the lust of pride can never be satifisfied, no matter how much the ego is stroked, it always hungers for more.  Proverbs 16:18 tells us this, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling."  And just in case you think this couldn't happen to you (just on a smaller scale) remember the words of Paul to the arrogant Corinthians in I Corinthians 10:12-13a, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.  No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man.

We are all pride infested creatures, and pride is pernicious and its tentacles show up in every area of our life and thoughts.  Beware that you are not seduced, deceived, and taken captive by your pride; for it will eventually make of fool of you, just like it has of Brian Williams.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Issue is not Homosexuality---

No, the issue is not homosexuality, it is sexual immorality, of which homosexuality is but one of its iterations.  Granted, homosexuality is a lower, more degraded form of sexual immorality (Romans 1:24-27); but the root issue here is one of sexual immoraltiy.  And what is sexual immorality?  It is the sexual activity outside of the marriage bond of a man and a woman.

What then would be included in sexual immorality?  Let's make a short list:

1. Fornication:  This includes casual sex, recreational sex, hooking up, one night stands, and even friends with benefits. Yes, even if you are serious about one another, in love, faithful or engaged to the one you are having sex with, all sex outside of the marriage union is immoral.  Whether you are 15 or 45, single, divorced, or never married, sex outside of marriage is a sin. The Bible calls this sin.

2. Adultery:  This sexual sin is well known, and unfortunately very common.  It is having sex with anyone other than your spouse after you have been married, or someone who is single having sexual relations with someone who is married, and it also includes those who have more than one spouse. Our culture has euphemized this term down to extra-marital sex or pre-marital sex.  It is never condoned in the Scriptures.

3. Pornography:  The root for this word is from the Greek word porneia, which means illegitimate sexual activity.  This sexual sin is a blight upon our society, and has spawned a huge internet industry.  Unfortunately, because sin can never be corralled, pornography has also extended its reach to children, and to the point of international child pornography rings.  I have heard some people say, well its just pictures, so what.  Well, that "so what" is still a sin.  Why?  Because you cannot look at pornorgraphic pictures and not be affected, and in all cases, isn't that why the pictures are viewed in the first place.  In Matthew 5:28 Jesus says, "but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."  And yes, this applies to women as well, in the narrative pornography they read.  Most R rated movies contain pornography, and many of the PG-13 movies range from sexually suggestive to soft porn.

4. Incest:  This is sexual relations between immediate family members. I should not even have to mention this, but there is a push afoot to normalize this here in our country.  I remember on a trip to Paris back in the eighties seeing a music video on public television entitled "Incest is Good," and it showed an older man with a young girl. It was not graphic, but it made its point.

5. Homosexuality:  This sexual sin is between members of the same sex, and even though its proponents have tried to reword the Bible concerning this, it is always protrayed as a sin in the Scriptures.  So, even if the same sex couple is "married" it is still a sin.  Romans 1:24-27 lists two specific judgments of God on those who commit this sin, and the sex act is called shamless/indecent. 

These are the sexual sins that are common place in our country; and they all have their genesis in sexual immorality, the abandoning of a sexual morality that prescribed that sex was to be kept and to only take place within the bounds of a marriage relationship between a man and a woman.

Homosexuality is gaining a greater place at the table of normalcy because our soceity has become accepting and condoning of sex outside of marriage.  No thought or shame occurs any more because couples live together.  No thought or shame occurs anymore because someone becomes pregnant outside of marriage.  No thought or shame occurs anymore when unmarried people talk candidly about their sex lives in any media outlet. Once the barrier of shame has been taken away concerning sex outside of marriage, then it is only a short distance to the removal of all sexual shame.

Every magazine at the cashier's stand will have some article dealing with sex, and it is almost never about sex between marriage partners.  Our culture has becomed consumed by sex, and thereby have become consumers of sex.  There is such a preoccupation with sex in our society, that many pastors have sermon series on sex so they can be considered relevant with the times.

Heterosexual sex outside of marriage has been normalized in our culture, and the logical next step of the normalization of sex outside of marriage is the acceptance and promotion of homosexuality.  In light of this, the stand that the church should take is not against homosexuality per se, but should be against any and all sexual immorality, all that the Bible lists as sexual immorality.  In a very real sense, the church has waited too long to speak out.  Because the church has been silent all these years regarding the proliferation of the acceptance of sex outside of marriage, speaking out against homosexuality now makes it appear that the church is singling out the homosexuals.

Let us as the church, as individual Christians, speak up and out against all sexual immorality.  Let us speak up and out for a biblical sexual morality.  Let us call all sexual immorality what it is, sin before a Holy God.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Prosperity Theology and Christ

The Prosperity Gospel wing of the Charismatic camp is its dominant, most popular, therefore its most visible wing.  Prosperity theology never considers God Himself in the person of His Son the Lord Jesus Christ worth knowing.  Therefore Prosperity preaching never presents God Himself, never presents Christ, as someone who is worth knowing. They never present the Lord as the pearl of great value, as the One who surpasses all else in value, as the One who surpasses all that is in this world.  Their emphasis is not on Him, but is solely on the things of the world that you can get from Him, as His only value is in what you can get from Him. 

What does the Bible tell us?  "What does it avail a man to have the whole world, yet lose His own soul?" Friends, don't forsake the Lord, don't ignore the Lord, for the mess of pottage that this world and its Prosperity preachers offer.  For the world and all that is in it is passing away, and one day will be destroyed.  We entered this world with nothing and will leave it with nothing.  All the things of this world will pass, and it is only a relationship with Christ that will last.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Being a Gay Christian (?) and Our Identity in Christ

We, as the church, must understand what has truly happened by being "in Christ."  Our identity, how we define ourselves, must be based on what God has done for us through salvation in Jesus Christ, not on who we used to be.

One thing that continues to bother me is the special status that is accorded to being gay. Now it’s gay Christian. See this article:
Why not prostitute Christian, or gluttoness Christian, or pornography Christian, or alcoholic Christian, or ex-con Christian, or wife-beating Christian? I think you get my drift.

If we as Christians are truly washed, then we are also made new; the old man has died, and the new man has arisen with Christ. We are not that old man any more as we have been made new in Christ, and as we continue to be conformed into His image we grow to be more like Christ and the person that we were is left further and further behind.

Does this mean that we have left behind particular temptations and their pull, such as gluttony, or pornography, or alcohol, or homosexuality, or immorality, or sensuality, or pride, or covetousness, or worldliness behind? No, but it does mean that we have victory over those temptations when they occur by the power of Christ in us.  We have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20, Romans 6:6-7) and it is no longer we that live, but Christ who lives and reigns in us.

One of the problems in our current church culture is that we, many times, have adopted the philosophy of the 12-step therapeutic culture. Such as once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; once a sex-addict, always a sex addict, so that we are always in a state of recovery, but never recovered. This tends to be applied to being gay as well…once gay, always gay. The result of this is that people become defined/identified by what they were/who they were, not by who they are now. Paul tells all of us this in I Corinthians 6:9-11 “ Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of God.”  Jeremiah 17:14 tells us this, “Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise.” We are now in Christ, healed in Christ and saved in Christ. In Christ the old man is dead, long live our new man and our new identity.