Returning to One’s Own Vomit [Part One]

PROVERBS 26:11 (NIV)  

“AS A DOG RETURNS TO ITS VOMIT, SO A FOOL REPEATS HIS FOLLY.”


History Repeats Itself  [See Ecclesiastes 1:9].

I was reading an article the other day which prompted me to begin this study in Hebrews 6, believe it or not.  The article was entitled “Reasons why millennials are walking away from their faith,” by Stacia Hall.

The statistics show that 65% of them would not consider themselves to be religious.  This is a huge number, but when you’re talking about a cause-driven generation, who is very focused on community and are actually finding it both online and in person, you can see how the purpose of the church and God’s Word would be less necessary.  Being a grandparent, trust me, I’ve noticed.

But the statistics don’t end there. 

32% of them say they actually don’t believe in God’s existence.  1/3 of people between the ages of 18-30 don’t believe that God is, that He exists, that He started it all.  [See footnote [i] ]

Worse, many who at one time said they believed, and now don’t.  And let’s not just point fingers at the “millennials”.  Many people today from all generations are walking away from Christ.

Many are compliant but unconverted.  Some may come to Christ later.

Many of those are not denying that Jesus is the Son of God, they just don’t care!  Some have become enemies of the Gospel or embraced false religions.

Others just numb, deliberate rejection. 

That was the question the Messianic Jews had when they saw and heard their peers trashing Jesus and returning to mainstream Judaism.  We call this APOSTASY and shouldn’t be confused with falling into sin.  A lot of evangelical Christians, as many of us like to call ourselves, based on group dynamics, are a lot like the ancient Hebrews who followed Moses.  It was the thing to do.

Most of us agree I think, that someone whose FAITH & TRUST are not in Jesus is lost.

But what if they once professed the faith that they now deny?  What happened?  Were they SAVED then lost their salvation, or were they never really SAVED?  I believe the later.

In one sense, it doesn’t matter they are lost.  In another sense, it does matter, because if God ELECTS people to salvation, is God really in control here?  Is His SOVEREIGNTY broken?

We can anticipate knowing people who once claimed to be followers of Christ but later in life decided to disavow Him.

I’ve asked myself the question regarding a few members of my own family.  How could this have happened?

THE HISTORY LESSON ~

The lesson I’ve chosen for this study is built upon  The Rejection of the Promised Land (Numbers 13-14).

Most of the Hebrews were skeptics, even though they were ENLIGHTENED by God’s Word.  However, their commitment to Yahweh was flimsy, with reservation, not final, unreserved, and genuine.  It could have been a case of group dynamics and being overwhelmed.  Sound familiar?

They had seen God’s Power in miracle after miracle on their journey to the Promised Land.  Yet, in their hearts, they wanted to return to Egypt and worship the gods of Egypt.

The twelve spies were sent out to preview Canaan and then sorted out its challenges in two opposite ways.

They tasted the amazing produce of Canaan, including the giant grapes.

The people refused to believe God and honor His Word.

They couldn’t backtrack: too late.  So because of their ‘stiff-necks’ and their unbelief, they suffered God’s judgment [Numbers 14:32-37]:  Wandering 40 years in the wilderness until they dropped dead.

And their problem?

They didn’t actually Trust God’s character?

The same principle applies to those who have professed faith in Jesus to later reject Him.

Hebrews 6:4-12 (NIV Bible)

[4] If it is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,  [5] who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the [powers of the coming age,  [6] if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.  

[7] Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.  [8] But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed.  In the end, it will be burned.  

[9] Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case–things that accommodate salvation.  [10] God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  [11] We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.  [12] We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Applying this passage of Scripture to the people who professed their FAITH in Christ Jesus only to later REJECT Him is drawing parallels in some sense.

If you spend some time in the Book of Numbers account, it’s obvious that many or most of the Hebrews were not right with God, at least that first generation.  It’s not like they were ‘godly’ and then fell away.  They went along with Moses (sometimes), but did they take ownership of their relationship with the Lord?  No, they didn’t!  And this understanding is crucial.

Why has REPENTANCE become impossible?

It’s not that God won’t accept repentance, it’s, rather, that it’s impossible for these mentioned here to repent; they have crossed a boundary.  An expression I love to use in this regard is “You cannot put an impression on concrete once it’s dry.”

They had been ENLIGHTENED with the Gospel.

  • The Hebrews were enlightened by a pillar of fire/the Torah.
  • The Hebrews sampled the grapes, this sampled SALVATION.
  • They have tasted the produce of the HEAVENLY Canaan.  They haven’t entered the land and the rest that goes with it.

They have seen God’s POWER through the Holy Spirit in their lives and yet they desired to return to their previous religious status forsaking their inheritance that God had promised.  It’s one thing to doubt and it’s another thing to backslide.  And yet another to deny and reject Jesus!

They changed their INTERPRETATION of the Cross in unbelief and in their unbelief they’re agreeing with those who nailed Jesus to the cross.  If Jesus was a false teacher and a fake, then death was the appropriate penalty.

They cannot BACKTRACK and now accept the Messiah; too late!

Look closely at Peter’s words:

“wallowing in the mire” – Def. deep mud; wet, spongy earth.  To soil with mud or foul matter; to stick in a mire.

I was about 16 months in this old photo, but looking at my expression, I didn’t seem to be enjoying the “mire”.

At this point in the study, to correctly interpret any Scripture, we must know the basic rules of interpretation.

The FIRST RULE is to interpret Scripture in the context of the Entire Bible.

Secondly, we are to interpret in context with the Immediate Passage; we need to know the purpose of the letter or book that the text is written by looking at the verses immediately around our text, then interpret with the things as a backdrop for our interpretation.

And THIRDLY, we need to interpret Scripture using other Scripture.  Scripture isn’t going to contradict itself!

Finally, we want to interpret Scripture that is less clear with Scripture that is more clear.  So in this study, I have tried to use these principles in interpretation.

The verses in the first part of our passage of Scripture have been some of the most challenging for Christians throughout the centuries to interpret and taken by themselves, can seem to indicate that if you are a Christian and turn away from Christ, you can lose your salvation and there’s no hope of you ever being saved again.

THAT’S NOT WHAT IT’S SAYING AT ALL.

Verse 4 and 5 says it is impossible for those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become a sharer of the Holy Spirit, and have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come [AMP].

That certainly could be a Christian, but then the author goes on to say if they fall away, it would be impossible for them to be brought back to a place of repentance.

So, when trying to understand this in light of the context of the Bible, it would seem to contradict other Scriptures that say otherwise, because the Bible as a whole, teaches that Salvation is by Grace and Guaranteed to believers by God.

It teaches that a TRUE BELIEVER is eternally secure in their SALVATION when they have truly believed.  We’ll explore this in greater detail in Part Two of this study.

Ephesians 1:13-14

When a person has truly believed they are given the Holy Spirit–and God says through Paul that the indwelling Holy Spirit in a person’s life becomes a deposit that guarantees our salvation.

And other Bible verses give testimony to the same:  2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Ephesians 2:8-9.

Additionally, I want us to be aware of what the author of Hebrews doesn’t say, that other writers of Scripture say when they are talking about someone who is actually saved.

He doesn’t say that the people he’s talking about have been sealed with the Spirit (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13, 4:30), or…

  • born again (John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:23), or…
  • chosen (Eph. 1:11; 1 Peter 1:12), or…
  • predestined (Roman. 8:29-32; Eph. 1:5, 11). or…
  • reconciled (Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18; Col. 1:11), or…
  • forgiven (Luke 5:20, 7:48; 1 Jn. 2:12), or…
  • that they had never believed at all! (John 1:12; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9-10; Eph. 1:13).

Those phrases are each used in multiple places to describe a person who is SAVED.

Here is what the author does say about those he’s talking about:

  • They’ve been enlightened.
  • tasted the heavenly gift.
  • shared in the Holy Spirit.
  • tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age.

Now while those things would certainly be true of a Christian, the QUESTION is…

“could they be true of a person who hasn’t received Christ as Savior”?

To answer that question you will have to continue the study in Part Two, Returning to One’s Own Vomit

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CREDITS:

Footnote [i] – everything.church, Jan. 5, 2016.

Photo Images:  Google Image Search.

Personal Photo:  “Muddy Mel” – Family Photo Album.  1943.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); or as noted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Late, Yet Still On Time!

SCRIPTURE – JOHN 11:1-40

Please, if you have the time, watch this YouTube Video of a scene from the movie Son of God.  This four-minute plus scene sets up my Bible study in John 11.

BEING LATE IS A BAD THING!

I’m a person who always believes in being punctual.  Being late is a bad thing.  My dad was the same way: “Better an hour early than 5 minutes late” he used to say.

TRAINS and PLANES leave at appointed times and connecting flights are dependant on the earlier flights being on time.  Delays or cancellations can cause big problems for people.

But by far the most punctual person in the universe is God!  He set up the galaxies and our solar system like giant timepieces, run with precision.  The timing of the sunrise–a thousand years from now–can be calculated to a millisecond.

So, how strange it is then, to find God being late!  God–all-knowing and all-powerful–how can He not be on time?

And yet, we find God being so late to heal a man that he even missed his funeral by 4 days!  We’ll look together at the Scripture in this blog-study and find out, how God “Being Late, Yet Still On Time!” will give some perspective and understanding.

SCRIPTURE – John 11:1-7, 11-15, 39-40 (New International Version)

(Verses 1-7)

[1] Now a man named Lazarus was sick.  He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  [2] (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and washed his feet with her hair.)  [3] So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”  [4] When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  [5] Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,  [6] So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,  [7] and said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

(Verses 11-15)

(Verses 39-40)

[39]  “Take away the stone,” he said.  “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

[40]  Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

“Lord, the one you love is sick”  (11:3)

Note that Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary, didn’t say, “Lord, the one who loves You, but the one You love.”

(1 John 4:10)

“This is LOVE: not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Our LOVE to Him is not worth speaking of but His to us can never be enough spoken of.

Jesus has the POWER to alter the forces of nature; calm the winds and waves; to suspend the movement of the universe in answer to the prayer of one man.  Jesus did miracles with many elements–He made arms grow out, made bread and fish multiply, turned water into wine.  He didn’t have to be present to work a miracle.  He told the Centurion “Go your way, your servant will be made whole.”  Another long-distance healing was the Syro-Phoenician woman’s daughter.

No circumstances could stop Him.

No limit of time was a factor.

QUESTION:  Then, why does Jesus wait until a man, who He dearly loves, is dead, before setting out to help him?

Even the disciples knew there was a special bond between Lazarus and Jesus.  Imagine if you will, you or I call our best friend and say, “I think I’m going to die!”  And our friends’ response, “Well, I’m pretty busy right now.  It’s Sunday, I’m in church, I’ll try to make it by Friday.  Do you think you can hang on that long?”

Doug Greenwold, with Lamb & Lion Ministries, gives us a deeper look into the events that occurred:

“A messenger is commanded to go and find Jesus, to tell Him that Lazarus was about to die.  The messenger traveled by foot for two days, then faithfully informed Jesus about Lazarus’ condition.”

Here’s what I found fascinating.  When Jesus heard the message, He replied (verse 4), “This sickness will not end in death.  No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”  Notice the very first thing that Jesus did.  He gave the messenger a PROMISE.  Jesus often does this when He’s going to stretch our FAITH.

He provides a PROMISE, and then He gives the reason why what’s about to happen was going to happen.

Lazarus’ sickness was not to end in death, rather it would be used for God’s GLORY so that God’s Son would be glorified through it!

Jesus stayed two more days.

Jesus didn’t leave right away.  So something puzzling was going on there.  We’re talking about God incarnate here, so everything Jesus does here is strategic and for a reason.

In Mr. Greenwold”s article, he points out something I never knew before, so I wanted to share this in the blog-study:

“The Hebrew view of death believed that when a person died during the first three days their NEPHESH, which is the Hebrew word for soul, hovered over their body.  In fact, by the beginning of the fourth day, the body would already be fallen into such a rapid state of decomposition, it would stink to high heavens, and then the NEPHESH flees.”

The upshot is for the first three days you’re just dead, but from the fourth day on, you’re totally dead-dead.

Why does this matter in the grand scheme of things?

Because the rabbis and the religious leaders had been teaching when the Messiah finally arrived, he would be able to achieve something so amazing they would easily know he was the prophesied one.  It’s so impossible to bring someone back from the dead.  Only the Messiah or his prophets could bring people back from death.

From the Religious Leaders’ Point of View –

If Jesus was really the Messiah as some had claimed, then the religious leaders, in order to keep their positions of wealth and power, would have to kill him.  They’d attempt creating some uncertainty.  They’d claim that bringing a person back from the dead during the FIRST DAY didn’t count.  The nephesh (the SOUL) hadn’t left yet.  Doesn’t count!  For Jesus to truly be THE MESSIAH, in the people’s eyes, Jesus needed to overcome this obstacle.

A Sign Of A Much Greater Love –

By Jesus delaying to answer the sister’s prayer and letting the situation to become seemingly hopeless and impossible…He showed more LOVE than anyone else!

NOTE:  GOD’S GREATEST INTENTIONS MAY BE SIGNALED BY HIS LONGEST DELAYS!

Look at the words found in Ezekiel 37:11, 13 (AMP)

[11]  Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.  Behold, they say, Our bones are dried up and our hope is lost; we are completely cut off.”

[13]  And you shall know that I am the Lord [your Sovereign Ruler],  when I have opened your graves and caused you to come up out of your graves, O My people.

Jesus’ DECISION was for His Disciples too!

VERSE 15 says,  “…and for your sake, I am glad I was not there. so that you may believe.  But let us go to him.”

God may be delaying because DELAYING is good for us!  He may be testing our faith or developing perseverance in us.  It may actually be dangerous to give us something at the moment we first ask.

Another idea is that God is setting up an impossible situation, in order that He may perform a MIRACLE or an even bigger miracle!

So the question may come up in your mind, “How long will God wait?”

And the answer?  TILL IT STINKS!

Sometimes Jesus waits until the situation you find yourself in really “stinks”.  When it “stinks,” God will get complete GLORY!

Another REASON God Waits So Long…RESURRECTION LIFE is not for the living, it’s for the dead!

You don’t get resurrected while you’re alive, you get resurrected when you’re dead!

THE PRINCIPLE IS LIFE OUT OF DEATH!

We must grow in our handling a bumper crop –

You don’t see a young apple tree bearing 150 apples; if it did, it would collapse under the weight.  Over time, God strengthens and prepares the tree so it can handle the weight for what it can bear in maturity.

It’s the same way with us.  We want everything NOW!  But God knows we can’t bear it, so He only gives us an apple or two until we grow stronger.

Jesus said to Martha,  “I AM the resurrection…”  That’s present tense.

PATIENCE!

The word “patience,” doesn’t occur in the Old Testament, but we have “patiently” in Psalm 40:1; meaning to “wait,”to expect,” or waiting on God.

In the New Testament, the Greek word “hypomone” carries in it the ideas of endurance, continuance (Luke 8:15; 21:19; Romans 5:3-4).  [Bible Study Tools – International Standard Bible Encycolopedia]

PATIENCE is often hard to give and maintain, but in Romans 15:5, God is called “the God of Patience” (ARV – “steadfastness”) as being able to grant that GRACE to those who look to Him and depend on Him for it.

NEVER CLOSE THE BOOK OF YOUR LIFE WHEN GOD HASN’T FINISHED WRITING YOUR STORY!

Hebrews 10:35-36 (NIV Bible) –

[35]  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

[36]  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.

Never hang up–throw in the towel–when God is still on the line with you.  Hang in there!  God is still working in your life!!

God wants us to know that even if we don’t see Him, He’s always there and He will be on time!

THE CALL!

Many teachers have asked the question and attempted to explain why JESUS WEPT.

Jesus knew at the time that in a matter of minutes He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, yet He still wept, because He felt the hurt of Mary & Martha’s pain so deeply that He grieved for their hurt.  HE WEPT!

Jesus is touched by feelings of our own infirmities, our pain, our grief. 

Let us then turn EVERYTHING over to Him in prayer.

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~CREDITS~

Movie Clip:  YouTube video – Lazarus Raised scene from The Son Of God movie.

IMAGES:  Google Image Search – Advance settings.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); American Revised Version (ARV); Amplified Bible (AMP), or where noted.

Credit and courtesy of LAMB & LION MINISTRIES Deeper Insights Into the Resurrection of Lazarus by Doug Greenwold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIVING In An Anti-Christian Culture

VERSES 1 thru 8 –

[1]  I lift up my eyes to the mountains–where does my help come from?

[2]  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

[3]  He will not let your foot slip–He who watches over you will not slumber; [4] indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

[5]  The LORD watches over you– the LORD is your shade at your right hand;  [6] the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

[7]  The LORD will keep you from all harm–He will watch over your life;

[8] the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.                    (The NIV Translation).

We live in scary times, to say the least.  During my lifetime I remember a time when America was what might be called “Christianized.”  When Evangelism was prominent in churches and ‘going out to witness’, beginning the conversation with statements like, “You believe in the Bible, don’t you?” or “Where have you been going to church?”

Then in the 80’s and 90’s our country moved in the direction of being “Post-Christian.”  No longer could you assume that people accepted the BIBLE was inspired or that they believed in God or were familiar with the basic teachings of Christianity.

Now that we’ve moved into the 21st century, I’ve seen our country become increasingly “Anti-Christian”.

In “The Supreme Court With Hobby Lobby, But Your Neighbor Probably Doesn’t” book, Trevin Wax writes, “A generation ago, a person’s religious observance was a public matter, a defining characteristic of one’s identity, while a person’s sexual activity was something private.  Today, the situation is reversed.”  [See footnote [i].]

According to research done recently in our country by a group called the First Amendment Center, 1 in 3 Americans says the first amendment to the Constitution (which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech) goes too far.  Additionally, their research shows the group most likely to believe that the First Amendment goes too far are Americans under 30 years of age.

All this points to difficult days ahead for God’s people in the United States.  But we shouldn’t be surprised.  Jesus said, “In this world, you will have tribulation.”  But He also said, “Take heart!  I have overcome the world”  (John 16:33).

Psalm 121 begins with: “Where does my help come from?”  – (Vs. 1)

But the Psalmist expands upon the answer in verses 3-8, as he tells us about the kind of help God gives to enable His children…that’s us, born-again believers, living victoriously in this SCARY WORLD.

A Description – verses. 3-8

The Psalmist describes the help God makes available to us.

He will help me with the problem of WEARINESS – (vs. 3-4).

In an anti-Christian culture, sometimes it’s difficult to “not become weary in doing good.” (Gal. 6:9)

Admittedly, I do grow weary in my walk through this world with all the barricades, bombshells exploding all around my ministry.

God never does!

He’s watchful over His children.

He will help me with the problem of WEAKNESS – (vs. 5-6).

[5]  “The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield]”  (Amplified Bible).

Referring to our susceptibility to faint, dropping our sword of God’s Word to shield our eyes. 

The Psalmist speaks of God’s help with our weaknesses in battling in a godless culture.

God will provide the help we need to compensate for our weakness.  In fact, God tells us with His Word that “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

He will help me with the problem of WICKEDNESS – (vs. 7).

This is a wicked world we live in, ruled by a wicked adversary (1 Peter 5:8-9).

The devil roams around like a lion, seeking our downfall.  But God promises His help so that we might overcome and not be overwhelmed in our doing (1 John 4:4).

He will help me with the problem of WANDERING – (vs. 8).  [Read Proverbs 2:8; 3:6]

If we are not careful in our “going out and coming in,” we can have said of us what Paul said of Demas: “because he loved this world, has deserted me…” (2 Timothy 4:10).

Today, devout Jews keep a metal cylinder fixed to the right-hand doorpost of their homes.  The cylinder contains a parchment inscribed with the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-20.  As they go in and out of the house, they touch the cylinder and recite the last verse of Psalm 121.  Through this, they seek to lift up the prayer to God that they might be kept from wandering from Him.

Obviously, this ritual hasn’t produced the desired results, for the Jewish people of today have wandered from God in their rejection of Christ.

So how do we, as the children of God, take advantage of the help God offers?

A PRESCRIPTION – verses 1-2  “A Psalm of ascents” Psalm 121

I must look to the LORD – vs. 1 (a).

One of 14 “psalms 0f ascents” (Psalm 120-134),  is a PSALM recited by pilgrims journeying to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem where the temple of God was, where the ark of the COVENANT was a symbol of God’s presence.

In other words, in SEEKING GOD’S HELP, I must SEEK His presence and preeminence.

“SEEK”:  “to try to obtain; to go to; to ask for; to ‘plea’.

“PREEMINENCE”:  “excellence”; “to be first place”…“That in all things, He (Christ) might have preeminence” (Colossians 1:18).

If I DESIRE to see God’s hand, I must SEEK His face if I’m concerned about saving my face!

As John, the Baptist declared, “He must increase and I must decrease!” (John 3:30)

In seeking God’s help for us, we must focus our lives on Him!

I must learn to lean on the Lord (vs. 2).

An old gospel song from the past that I used to love to sing in a men’s trio was Learning to Lean On Jesus.  Here is the music and lyrics to the song that illustrates the process of “leaning” on the LORD:

The One who offers to help us deal with life in this world is the creator of the universe.

Knowing this absolutely, I must trust in His POWER & PROVISION.

Depending on our influence or resources leads to discouragement, BUT TRUSTING in the POWER and PROVISION of our creator God brings VICTORY!  When we try to work things out on our own, we are helpless and foolish.

Instead, let’s TRUST in the POWER &PROVISION of the One who made it all.  And as we do, we’ll be able to testify with the Apostle Paul, who said:

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong. –                          [2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ] – (NIV).

I must LIVE for the Lord – (verse 2)

[2]  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

God has a PURPOSE for all creation including you and me!  And as the Maker of heaven and earth, God is providentially at work.

What does that mean, “providentially at work”?

He is keeping the universe in motion.  In other words, God has a definite PURPOSE and PLAN in each of our lives for attaining that end.

He’s also providentially at work on our behalf to fulfill His purpose in our lives.

Therefore, I must surrender to His purpose and providence.  This is really important, as we think about this day we’re living in.  To remember that God’s PURPOSE is not to provide for our comfort, but to develop our character to use us to bring others to Christ Jesus.

In an article that appeared in the Christian Post, written by Delores Liesner, “Growing Intolerance For Christianity in the U.S.” [see footnote [ii]], the writer conducts an interview with Brannon Howse, author, anfounder of Worldview Weekend.

Mr. Howse speaks in the interview how American Christians have largely been sheltered from persecution.  Consequently, he says, “too many are only committed to a cotton candy Christianity, and that many American (believers) are wimps who don’t want to suffer and don’t want to be uncomfortable, while elsewhere in the world during the 20th century, 45.5 million Christians were martyred for their faith.  “Our CULTURE,” he says, “is doing what Scripture said – getting worse and worse.  The books of James and 1 Peter tells us not to be surprised at fiery ordeals [when they come – not if] as though some strange (or foreign) thing were happening to you.  Suffering, intolerance and persecution are building us.”  It’s though having our FAITH refined and we get our PRIORITIES straight to make sure our WITNESS draws others to Christ.

I, like others, personally believe God is allowing things to change in our country so that His CHURCH might be moved to embrace the same kind of PRIORITIES and give the same kind of response to the opposition as did the early church (read Acts 2:23-31).

One thing is for sure, we cannot do anything effectively without the LORD’S help.  So for our sake, for our church’s sake, let’s look to the LORD in our coming in and going; LEAN on the Lord, and let’s LIVE for the LORD!

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FOOTNOTES & CREDITS

Footnote [i]:  Trevin Wax (June 30, 2014) https://www.thegospelcoalition.or/…/trevin-wax/the-supremecourt-agrees-with-hobby…

Footnote [ii]: Article by Delores Liesner, Christian Post:  https://www.christianpost.com/news/growing-indifference-for-christianity-in-us-49588/

Dictionary:  Bible Study Tools; PROVIDENCE.

Video:  Youtube, Learning to Lean, by the Nightingales

Photos:  Google Image search

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), or where noted in the text.

 

 

Who Are The Teachers?

ezra

Before answering the question in this blog title, I felt needed to identify–find out who the teachers are in the body of Christ.  So let’s look at the Book of Ezra together to observe some distinguishing qualities.

EZRA’S RESUME: 

First of all, Ezra wasn’t the one who had the Temple rebuilt.  That was Zerubbabel.  He wasn’t the one who had the wall built around Jerusalem to protect the inhabitants.  That was Nehemiah.  Ezra wasn’t responsible for the things made from stone.

Then who was he?

Ezra was a PRIEST, a direct descendent of the line of Aaron.  Because of his lineage, he could have functioned as a HIGH PRIEST.  Yet we probably better know him as a “SCRIBE”, a teacher of God’s Word (Ezra 7:6).

Ezra is often called the “father of Judaism” and ancient rabbis said, “If Moses hadn’t received the Law of God, Ezra would have.”

He was the author of the following books:  1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and some scholars have suggested he may have written Ester as well.

Ezra was responsible for the establishment of the SYNAGOGUE.  This was a system to help the people learn the Law of Moses in a setting near their homes on a weekly basis, rather than just going to Jerusalem three times a year.  This would become the basis for Christians of having church each week.

We actually don’t get to meet the man named EZRA until Ezra 7–where we see one of the unique characteristics of a teacher’s life.

“For the hand of the Lord his God 

was upon him.”

(Ezra 7:6-b.)

“THE HAND OF GOD” –

Psalm 63:1-8 Amplified Bible:

[1] O GOD, You are my God, earnestly will I seek You; my inner self thirsts for You, my flesh longs and is faint for You, in a dry and weary land where no water is.  [2] So I have looked upon You in the sanctuary to see Your power and Your glory. [3] Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You.  [4] So will I bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.  [5] My whole being shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.  [6] When I remember You upon my bed and meditate on You in the night watches.  [7] For You have been my help, and in the shadow of Your wings will I rejoice.  [8] My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You;  Your right hand upholds me.” 

Psalm 63 is a song of David.  But it could have very well been a Psalm of Ezra, or what that matter, yours and mine too.

WHAT IS THE “HAND OF GOD”?article-1169776-046ECDC9000005DC-372_634x475

It is another way of displaying the POWER OF GOD; it is how God gets His work done in our lives.

So what moves the ‘hand of God”?

I noticed an interesting thing about God’s hand being on Ezra.  Ezra didn’t just think this was some sovereign move of God which he had no part in. He realized there were certain things that moved God’s hand–

Ezra 7:9-10:

[9] On the first of the first month he started out from Babylon, and on the first of the fifth month he arrived in Jerusalem, for upon him was the good hand of his God.

[10] For Ezra had prepared and set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord [to inquire for it and of it, to require and yearn for it], and to do and teach in Israel its statutes and its ordinances.

A “prepared heart”–

PREPARED  kuwn, Hebrew word. (hipul); to establish, to set up, accomplish, do, make firm; to fix, make ready, prepare, to direct toward (moral sense); to arrange, order.

HEART – lebab, Hebrew word; inner man, mind, will, heart, soul, understanding.

Ezra 7:10 NASB –  “set his heart”

Ezra 7:10 NLT –  “determined to” 

Ezra 7:10 NIV –  “devoted himself”

It all starts right here my friends–with YOUR HEART.  If you don’t want God to work in your life. He won’t.

BECOMING A DEVOTED STUDENT–

When I was a student in school, my concept of success in  study was to “just get by.”  I would do the minimum amount required to gain approval from my parents.  In High School, this idea worked fairly well maintaining a “B” average.  But when I went to college…the “just getting by” plan didn’t work.  After 3 1/2 years of stumbling around academic target practice, trying to decide what my future profession would be–with little help from parents, friends, and school counselors–I dropped out of school.  I came to the general conclusion–I just wasn’t going to be a STUDENT.

The Change that Occurred in My Life…

After becoming a born-again believer in Jesus at age 30, and as I matured in Christ over the years, God’s hand wasn’t in my life and I had become frustrated in being a servant in His service.

As I grew in spiritual maturity, I began to become a student of God’s Word as Ezra became and as a result of God’s POWER, His hand, I became a TEACHER of God’s truth.

Ezra became a TEACHER of God’s truth and restored a nation of believers in a right relationship with God.

COMMUNICATING GOD’S WORD EFFECTIVELY IN THE WORLD TODAY–

Much like in Ezra’s day, as he thirsted after God’s holiness and insights and then communicated it effectively to others should be all of our goals.  Our reputation as TEACHERS is at stake as was Ezra’s.  How did he get that reputation?  “having God’s hand on him” (Ezra 7:6).  

We LEARN by the words given…

Ezra was a TEACHER who was well-studied and diligent in knowing God’s teachings.  Ezra’s REPUTATION was one of being known [and not to just the “religious” ] as a STUDENT of God’s law and because of his studious mindset, God’s hand was on him.

You might be thinking right now, “I’m not a teacher.  It’s just not my spiritual gift.  I didn’t go to bible school or seminary or have I taken an online bible college class.  There isn’t a teaching certificate on the wall. 

Let me counsel and guide your thoughts here, taking you to the apostle Paul’s instruction to  a young man by the name of Timothy:

“Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth”  (2 Timothy 2:15 AMP).

**Note:  “The best teacher is one who is always a student and always learning.” ~ Dr. Howard Hendricks’ “Learning Professor”.

A TEACHER’S RESPONSIBILITY:

Dr. Hendricks felt it was the RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TEACHER to teach people to learn, not the students.

Hendricks tells of a professor who made a great impact in his life.  He passed the teacher’s home many times–early mornings or late at night, and often saw him pouring over his books.  One day Hendricks asked him, “Doctor, I would like to know what is it that keeps you studying?  It seems you never cease to learn.”  His answer:  “Son, I would rather have my students drink from a running stream than from a stagnant pool.”

“STUDYING” GOD’S WORD wasn’t enough for Ezra–

EZRA devoted himself–prepared himself–set his heart to–STUDYING.  He was zealous, relentless in his study of God’s Word. Nothing superseded his study time.  He digested it in his heart and in doing so, it changed him so much that he became DEVOTED to observing what he learned.  He LEARNED and then put it into practice in his own life.

I’ve often thought to myself over the years, wouldn’t it be nice to see the results of my effort before committing the effort.  But take a moment to look at EZRA’s success–

THE RESULT FROM STUDYING–

Others noticed his effort and because of his passion he earned a reputation; his REPUTATION to those who would listen.

EZRA was not only studious but a TRAINER, TEACHER of people who probably followed these principles.

The RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF AMERICA gives us a list of requirements for those who train–teach others.  I keep this list in a notebook on my desk for reference and reminders for my own teaching: (by Donald Kirkpatrick)

#1.  DESIRE TO TEACH.

#2.  KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUBJECT.

#3.  ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE.

#4.  PATIENCE.

#5.  SENSE OF HUMOR.

#6.  TIME TO DO A THOROUGH JOB.

WE ALL HAVE A GOD-GIVEN RESPONSIBILITY TO TEACH:

No, sorry. It is NOT just the responsibility for the pastor.  After JESUS’ resurrection and exaltation, He sends his disciples out with the mandate to perpetuate His teaching:

“Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  TEACHING them everything that I have commanded you…”  (Matthew 28:19-20).

THE SALVATION MESSAGE:

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the word that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN (trusts in, clings to, relies on)  Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life”  (John 3:16).

OBEDIENCE IN TEACHING–

EZRA 7:10 says a teacher is to PREPARE, SEEK, and to coin a phrase from Madison Avenue,  “…and (‘just’) do it!”

Ezra knew enough that it wasn’t enough just to KNOW God’s Word, yet we don’t let it affect our behavior, fooling ourselves.  We need to LEARN to OBEY what God says:

“Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you TEACH and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts”  (Colossians 3:16).

“BUT [as for] you, TEACH what is fitting and becoming to sound (wholesome) doctrine.  URGE the older men…  Bid the older women…  So that they will wisely train (teach) the young women…”  (Titus 2:1-4).

 SHARING IN OBEDIENCE–

EZRA 7:10 further gives us our responsibility as God’s disciples:

“…and to teach in Israel statutes and its ordinances.”

TO TEACH – Hebrew word lamad – to learn, teach, exercise in, train.

STATUTES – choqstatute, ordinance, limit something, prescribed, due.

JUDGEMENTS – mishpat – judgements, justice, ordinance.

Ezra’s RELATIONSHIP with the Word wasn’t just about living a better life for himself.  He knew he needed to share–COMPELLED–to share, to communicate God’s Word with those around him.

“So we are Christ’s ambassadors, God making His appeal as it were through us. We [as Christ’s personal representatives] beg you for His sake to lay hold of divine favor…”  (2 Corinthians 5:20).

We are PLENIPOTENTIARIES (Ambassadors) and as God’s representatives we have a responsibility–

According to Dictionary.com, the definition given for the noun AMBASSADOR reads:

A diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative (ambassador extraordinary) an authorized messenger or representative.

“But I’m not a teacher in any stretch of the imagination!”

By your definition, perhaps not.  But with God’s hand on your shoulder, you have entered the priesthood and by His definition…you are teachers.

If you are a Christian father, God’s Word says you are a TEACHER:

“Fathers don’t over-correct your children or make it difficult for them to obey the commandment. Bring them up with Christian teaching in Christian discipline”  (Ephesians 6:4 – J.B. Phillips New Testament).

LIVING THE EZRA EXAMPLE IN OUR FAMILY AND THE COMMUNITY:

We as Christians need to practice daily Ezra’s example–

#1.  We need to have a REPUTATION like Ezra’s as God’s hand was on him.

#2.  We need to STUDY God’s word with diligence and have a Godly reputation with those around us.

#3.  We need to be DEVOTED to God’s teachings and have a Godly reputation.

#4.  We need to have a reputation so Godly that earthly rulers see and testify about our example.

#5.  We need to be walking sermons and not just talking sermons with no action.  “DO IT”

#6.  We need to be PRIESTS that trust God with all of our heart, mind and soul.  A reputation of being confident in God 100%.

WHO ARE THE TEACHERS TODAY?  The responsibility has been given to you and I.  So, let us all…

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CREDITS:

Photo Images:  Google Images and Photo Pin.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible except where noted.

English/Hebrew translation and definitions:  Expository Dictionary of Bible Words – Stephen D. Renn, Editor.

  

The ‘god-shaped’ Heart in Every Person

TEXT – Acts 14:11-17  (NIV Bible):

Statue of ZEUS
Statue of ZEUS

[11] When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language,  “The gods have come down to us in human form!”   [12] Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.  [13] The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them.  [14] But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting:  [15] “Men, why are you doing this?  We too are only men, human like you.  We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.  [16] In the past, He let all nations go their own way.  [17] Yet He has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

LIVING IN AN ILLUSION:

wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show/
wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show/

There was a movie a few years ago, with the actor/comedian Jim Carey as the lead, The Truman Show.  The storyline was about a man named Truman Burbank who was adopted as a newborn by a large Corporation.

The corporation created an entire city on the movie set with 5000 cameras, then placing Truman in the artificial city without Truman knowing it was all a fake.

Of course Truman goes through life in Seahaven (the artificial city), thinking everything and everyone around him are real.  Truman was perfectly happy and content for 30 years, with a perfect sky, a computer controlled climate, and a wife and friend who are really actors, and so forth.  I think you get the picture.  It is the only REALITY Truman knows!

At least until a series of accidents start and Truman’s questioning of this “REALITY”, and he finally begins figuring it out for himself and walks off the set into the REAL WORLD.

“Is belief in God like Truman in The Truman Show?”  Some people think so.  Critics claim it’s all because… it is the only reality that “religious” people have been presented.

The movie set experience of “organized religion” has meticulously manufactured and manipulated circumstances, causing people to live in the ILLUSION of God.

These same critics point out, there’s no denying that people who say they BELIEVE IN GOD are real, are happy, and content…even as Truman was happy and content in his world.

However, behind the set, there are merely human directors who are pulling the strings, orchestrating all the right circumstances to make BELIEF in God appear real.  Whether that’s true or not, I’m only pointing out what some people are saying about Christianity.

TRUE LIBERATION…

True liberation comes as it did for Truman; to turn our back on our make-believe world and venture into the real world…a world without organized religion pulling the strings.

CHURCHES shouldn’t be an ORGANIZATION in the first place.  They should be considered an ORGANISM–a living, breathing, GOD creative entity.

The American Population Believes that God Exists!

At least 95% do (Gallup and Lindsay 25).  According to George Gallup’s 1999 poll, interest in God and spirituality is on the rise, not declining (10). Yet when we begin to ask what kind of God is that exists, people are less sure.

Some people envisions of God is impersonal, like the FORCE in the movie Star Wars.  Or view God as a benevolent Santa Claus, a God that has no higher goal than our happiness and success.

THE STRAIGHT TALK PRESENTED IN THE BIBLE’S TEACHING:

The Bile clearly teaches that knowing God is for real; that He’s NOT our fulfillment as an elaborate scheme orchestrated by people, like myself.

God’s Calling Cards (Acts 14:15-17):

LystraMap0302In the city of LYSTRA, which was basically an isolated, unimportant, backwoods area of the Roman Empire.  People living there were all illiterate, superstitious, and accustomed to a rural way of life.

When Paul and his friend Barnabas arrive, God enables Paul through the power of the Holy Spirit, to perform a MIRACLE, where a disabled man was suddenly able to walk.  People were so amazed, their superstition takes over and they try to WORSHIP Paul and Barnabas as Greek gods Zeus and Hermes.

Paul and Barnabas are only messengers…ordinary guys bringing the message of the GOOD NEWS (the Gospel) of God.

Now the citizens of Lystra weren’t JEWISH, they didn’t know the Old Testament story of God creating the heavens and earth, of God choosing Abraham in establishing the nation of Israel.

The Challenge…

Instead, they were PAGANS…worshipping the traditional Greek and Roman gods.

Paul’s challenge to the populace was to turn from their “worthless” superstitions, to the LIVING GOD.   In case you’re wondering, the word “worthless” here means: EMPTY, UNPROFITABLE, VAIN , AIMLESS , HOLLOW- the “absences of purpose or ground or failure to attain any true purpose.[See Footnotes [i]].

Their WORSHIP was empty, hollow, because it was just words– Zeus and Hermes and the other gods didn’t exist in reality.  BUT, the LIVING GOD is the God who is SELF-EXISTENT; the God who depends on no one!  All because He is the LIVING GOD; He created ALL life, whether it’s life in the air, life on earth, or the life in the sea.

Lystra, Turkey in today's setting
Lystra, Turkey in today’s setting

God had been working through the nation of Israel up to this point.  He allowed the rest of the nations to go their own way.  God was preparing the way of the birth of His Messiah, His Son, to bring God’s blessing to the rest of the nations.  But until then, God wasn’t directly reaching out to other nations.

Take Heart…God Hadn’t Abandoned the other Nations!

God left a WITNESS of Himself among ALL PEOPLE everywhere.  God had left the nations evidence, “CALLING CARDS” about His existence.

So how can we know GOD is for real?  Where is the EVIDENCE?

Because of His “calling cards” He left us to see.  God’s fingerprints are all over the world we live in…IF, we take the time to investigate.  No one clue is inclusive in itself.  It becomes the cumulative effect of these clues that builds a strong case that GOD IS FOR REAL!

If God made the EVIDENCE His existence so conclusive, every rational person had to BELIEVE.  But God wants people to BELIEVE in Him freely, out of LOVE, so He leaves enough evidence for the seeker to know He’s there.

The EVIDENCE Can be easily Overlooked…

If you’re not looking, not seeking and you don’t want to see it…the EVIDENCE can be easily overlooked.

GOD’S REVELATION:

“For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them.  For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made–His handiworks.  So [men] are without excuse–altogether without any defense or justification”  (Romans 1:19-20 AMP).

THE PEOPLE OF ROME:

In many ways the people of Rome were similar to the people of Lystra, except the people of Rome were educated, civilized pagans.

In the context, Paul is describing why God’s wrath against sin was being revealed against ALL PEOPLE everywhere, religious and irreligious alike.

In the verses above, Paul tells us that certain things about God can be known once for all.  Even though God’s WHOLENESS might not be known because human minds are limited and confined–a MYSTERY (Romans 16:25-27).

But there are certain things we can know about God; these things include God’s eternal POWER and the invisible characteristics that make God who He is!

God makes these things “PLAIN” TO ALL PEOPLE!

The word “plain” means obvious, evident, clear and well-known.  God’s attributes aren’t only for the “spiritually” endowed Christian, but according to Paul, they’re evident to everyone.

God is invisible and unknowable, yet God made Himself both visible and knowable through the created world.  [See Footnote [ii]]

Because of this, no one can say, “But I didn’t know.”  So this passage of Scripture in Romans 1:19-20, is taking us a step further than the previous verses given in Acts.

Paul’s not just saying the universe contains the EVIDENCE, but we can know God is real because He reveals Himself …THROUGH THE UNIVERSE. In other words, God is actively speaking through His creation, making His invisible attributes visible and clear.

HOW FOCUSING ON THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD:

The BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD’S POWER–

10676205_10152749633038426_3880646600123989561_nAll physicists today believe in the “BIG BANG”–that the universe spontaneously came into being by an enormous explosion.  Beyond the “big bang”, physicists are speechless, because that’s delving into an unknown world of MYSTERY.  Yet it makes perfect sense the big bang was generated by a God of ETERNAL POWER in the verses of Romans 1.

The COMPLEXITY OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD’S WISDOM–

The more we learn about the physical world around us, the more complex we realize it is.  One strand of DNA contains enough information to fill all the textbooks available.  But the COMPLEXITY is so finely tuned…perfectly designed for life to exist.

This REVEALS GOD’S WISDOM designing such a complex world in such a way, enabling LIFE to flourish.

Finally, THE MORAL ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE REVEALS GOD’S JUSTICE–

Our internal sense of right and wrong, that inner moral compass, reveals the fact that we live in a moral universe with the sense of right and wrong.  Growing up as a child, my parents would say “just follow your conscience Mel.”

Since some things are MORALLY right and some things are MORALLY wrong, it points to a LAWGIVER, a morally JUST Being who created right and wrong (Genesis 3).

Now the question immediately arose when I was doing my investigation, if God makes Himself clear that He is the Creator of the Universe, why are there atheists and agnostics everywhere I turn these days?

ATHEISM is a form of denial.  Just like alcoholics who become more and more blind to their problem the more they drink, we become more and more blind to God’s Light the more we sin against God.  Eventually, we reach the point we truly believe God’s not real just like the alcoholic reaches the point he truly believes he doesn’t have a drinking problem.

BEING A SEEKER (Acts 17:26-28):

“From one man He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that man would SEEK Him and perhaps REACH out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.”

Paul is saying to the Athenians, we ALL come from a common ancestor.

Now the Athenians were defensive and believed that their race was superior to all others.  They didn’t need another god–they already had plenty to bow down to as it was!

But Paul claims we all share an ancestry that God Himself was responsible in arranging the basic circumstances of our lives.  God did this so we would SEEK Him.

God’s PURPOSE in placing you and I in this time, and this place, this part of the world we reside, and as you are reading this blog-POST, was for you to SEEK HIM!

God designed us to not only SEEK, but to REACH for Him.  The word “REACH” describes the groping and fumbling of a blind person.  Left to our own resources, we are not equipped to actually find God.  But like blind people, we’re trying to hike an unknown mountain trail without a guide and we’ll get lost along the way.  So we if we SEEK without a guide, we are unable to find God.

But the good news is, God is never distant:  “We are His offspring.”

WE KNOW GOD IS REAL BECAUSE we were made to SEEK HIM–

There’s a “god-shaped vacuum” in the heart of every person.  God designed each and everyone to SEEK HIM.

Doing things your way…

IF GOD IS REAL, then the parallel to The Truman Show is correct, except it’s those who reject God’s existence that are living in a manufactured world.

It is those who are in REBELLION against God, who are avoiding Him because they want to live their lives, using a lyric from an old song…“My way” and where they are hiding in a make-believe world of DENIAL.

The Calling as a Church…?

Our calling isn’t to DEFEND God–He is perfectly able to do that Himself–we are to introduce people to a relationship with JESUS so they, like Truman Burbank, walk off their Seahaven set and venture into the REAL WORLD, the world God created and designed to live in.  GOD’S KINGDOM.

 

 

Footnotes:  

[i]  Strong’s Concordance #3152

Photos:

The Truman Show – Wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Truman_Show/

Photo MAPS – Bible History Maps/Lystra-Derbe @ biblehistory.com/Lystra

UNIVERSE – hublesite.org/telescope/