Having A DEAF, DUMB, and BLIND FAITH

“Not another message about faith?”  YES!  And during the Christmas season, especially.

FAITH definition:  “Faith is not believing that God can; it’s knowing that He will.”

Application:  Walking by faith is being prepared to trust where we are not permitted to see.  FAITH allows God to do for us and with us what we could never do alone.

This Bible study in Luke, chapter 7,  begins with a Roman soldier’s faith and takes us inside TRUE FAITH showing how and what faith does in lives.

FAITH is deaf to doubt, dumb to discouragements, blind to impossibilities and knows nothing but success in God.

Scripture study:  Luke 7:1-10

At Christmas time, especially, faith is the highpoint from the event that happened so long ago in the small town of Bethlehem.  In this story, we find a Roman centurion who, though he was a Gentile, understood who Christ was and is.  And although this story of a “Centurion” is ancient history to us today, it would have been of special interest to Theophilus, a Gentile to whom this account is addressed (Luke 1:3).

The story is a significant one being this was a Gentile who exercised this faith that even Jesus would remark that this man’s FAITH was amazing.

Only twice in all of Scripture Jesus said to “marvel” or be amazed.  The other time was when He began His public ministry in His hometown of Nazareth and He was rejected by His fellow Jews–(Mark 6:6; Luke 4:14-30)  “He marveled (“was amazed’) by their lack of faith.”

The Centurion had a FAITH that was more knowing and sensitive than anything Jesus had witnessed in Israel.

What could be more horrible than to amaze the Son of God by one’s lack of faith?  What could be more thrilling than to amaze Him by one’s faith?  This centurion had amazing faith!

“Why was Jesus so amazed?”  A question I had to investigate.

WHAT ARE CHARACTERISTIC MAKES THIS MAN’S FAITH SO AMAZING?

Luke 7:1-2 (AMP)

[1]  AFTER JESUS had finished all that He had to say in the hearing of the people [on the mountain], He entered Capernaum.  [2]  Now a centurion had a bondservant who was held in honor and highly valued by him, who was sick at the point of death.

This man had an amazing faith that caused him to love across all barriers.

Jesus had just completed the teaching known to us as “The Sermon on the Mount.”  He now enters Capernaum, a city on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.

While Jesus is in Capernaum, He is approached by representatives of the Roman Centurion.  Centurions were commonplace during the Roman Empire and equivalent in rank to a modern-day army captain, normally in command of 1000 soldiers.

This particular centurion had a servant who was ill.  Matthew (8:6),  in his account of this incident, says, “a servant boy.”   Whoever this young man was, Luke, who was a doctor, said he “was sick and ready to die.”

If you’ve ever clung to a loved one at death’s door and felt they were slowly losing the battle, you must know this centurion’s awful sense of helplessness.

We are told that this man loved Israel, though it was not the land of his birth.

It’s also obvious in reading that this man cared deeply about his young servant which is very out of the ordinary socially and the crossing of racial and ethnic barriers when as a Gentile, he appealed to a Jew for help.

This man loved people not just like himself.

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t feel particularly effective in loving folks who live outside the social barriers around me (eg. “skid row”, the homeless in tents on the city sidewalks…).

The second characteristic I noted of an Amazing Faith was that it caused this man to be excited and active in the work of God around him.  (vv. 3-4)

 

We need to understand that the Jewish elders had little love for the Romans in general and Roman soldiers in particular.  This Roman officer must have been a very unique individual for the elders to be willing to approach Jesus on his behalf.

The elders not only bring the man’s request but they vouch for their Gentile friend.  They argue that he’s a man of integrity he’s well-liked by the Jews, and worthy of Jesus’ help.

Verse 3 says,  “The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to Him, asking Him to come and heal his servant.  [4] When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with Him, This man deserves to have you do this [5] because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”

This man had given substantially to the building of a house of worship.  Gentile worshipers were barred from the Temple in Jerusalem but not so much with synagogues in the outlying areas.  The synagogue was a place that even Gentiles could come and listen to the word of God being taught.

So in that time and place, this centurion lived the major way that God was using to spread His light within the synagogue system, using his money, his reputation, and influence to build the synagogue.  The centurion consciously chose to participate enthusiastically by involving himself in what was most apparent in what God was doing.

In stark contrast, according to George Barna, a church statistician, adults who regularly attend church, 37% didn’t give a dime to a church in the last year [George Barna, How to Increase Giving in Your Church (Regal Books) p.20].

In this man’s marvelous faith, it caused him to approach Christ in great HUMILITY (vv. 6-7).

This passage reveals two essential components of the Christian FAITH–an understanding of who Christ is and an understanding of who we are in Christ Jesus.

Not only did this man display great love, but also his great humility.

In verse six we find,  “So Jesus went with him to his house.  He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to Him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  [7] That s why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you…”

Before Jesus could reach his house, the Centurion sent a second representative to Jesus, to tell Him that it wasn’t necessary for Him to come to his house.  All because he was familiar with Jewish religious customs, he didn’t wish to put Jesus in a position of having to enter the home of a Gentile.

This Roman soldier, a man of considerable influence and power, was also uniquely HUMBLE and regarded himself as undeserving of having Jesus come under his roof, even felt unworthy of meeting Jesus in the street.

This soldier, unlike the Pharisees, doesn’t ask Jesus for a sign that he was who He said, he was.  This man doesn’t even ask to meet Him.

The third characteristic of this man’s remarkable faith might be summed up in this song–his willingness to trust Christ alone even before the Cross.

How much more do we have today but to TRUST in Christ alone?

Verses 7b-8 (NIV) –  [7b]  “But say the word, and my servant will be healed.  [8] For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me.  I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes.  I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 

The centurion apparently realized the One who had the power of life and death; that could heal with a word, must be God incarnate.  And if Christ is divine, then he, as a Gentile sinner, must be unworthy to even meet Him.

All Jesus must do is say the word, and he believes that it is as good as done!

There’s no evidence that I could find in Scripture that this man ever personally heard Jesus preach, and yet he believed.  He made his request known based on what he heard of Jesus.

In verse 8, the word “myself,”–“also,” in other translations–we see that the officer saw a parallel between the way he commanded his soldiers with the way Jesus commanded diseases.

If this Roman, with very little spiritual instruction, had that kind of FAITH in God’s word, how much greater our FAITH should be!

In VERSE 9, we see the reaction of Jesus:

[9]  Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and He turned and said to the crowd that followed Him, “I tell you, not even in [all] Israel have I found such great faith [as this].”  (AMP)

This man’s remarks amaze Jesus, so much so, that they came from a Gentile.  He marveled at a Roman centurion, whose background and circumstances ought to have made it difficult for him to have faith, a man whose occupation prized being big, bad and tough, a man steeped in paganism, a man hated by the Jews because he was Roman.

Yet in spite of all the circumstances that went against him, here stood a man who was a perfect example of FAITH.

Almost as an afterthought, Luke adds verse ten,  “And when the messengers who had been sent returned to the house, they found the bondservant who had been ill quite well again.”  (AMP)

So how often have you displayed such faith?

We will never be perfect in our faith but we can be empowered by the Holy Spirit to enables us to incorporate the elements into our lives.

Back to the question:  HOW OFTEN HAVE YOU DISPLAYED SUCH FAITH?  If you’re like me, not very often.  And that’s a sin.  Because it’s God’s will that we all have amazing faith.  But all too often in our ‘business,’ we get so wrapped up in ourselves, we don’t show true care and concern for others.  Remember, true faith is “active”–not sitting around the fireplace talking about the unfortunate.  What startled and impressed Jesus were the characteristics that anyone like you and me can have in our lives.  Some think that “amazing faith,” is the ability to do the miraculous.  But miracles are something that Jesus can do anytime.

This Bible study in Luke should bring the understanding there are today those whose lives that would impress Jesus, because of their faithful godly lives.

The characteristics of a marvelous, amazing, faith!

  1. IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO LOVE ACROSS BARRIERS.
  2. IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO BE EXCITED AND ACTIVE IN THE WORK OF GOD.
  3. IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO APPROACH CHRIST IN GREAT HUMILITY.
  4. IT CAUSED THIS MAN TO BE WILLING TO TRUST IN CHRIST ALONE.

Through the POWER of God’s Word, and through our Savior Jesus, we can be people of amazing faith–someone whose FAITH is unselfish, unassuming, and unwavering, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves.  AMEN.

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CREDITS

Music Video:  YouTube video, In Christ Alone – Brian Littrell

Photo Images:  Google Image search

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

Various Commentary on Luke 7:1-10:  Sermon Central

And the Church Prayed

I think we sometimes appear to others around us as people of prayer.  After all, we attend church on a regular basis and that’s what “religious people” do.  But we’re not really.

A Sunday School teacher was struggling to open a combination lock to a supply cabinet.  She had been told the combination but couldn’t remember it.  Totally frustrated, she went to the pastor’s study and asked for help.  The pastor came into the room and began to turn the dial.  After the first two numbers, he paused and stared blankly for a moment.  Finally, he said, “You know, I can’t remember the combination either.”  Then he folded his hands and looked heavenward and his lips moved silently.  Then he looked back at the lock, quickly turned to the final number and opened the lock.  The teacher was amazed.  “Pastor, I can’t believe you prayed and God gave you the combination,” she said.  “It’s really nothing,” he answered.  “The combination is written on a piece of paper taped to the ceiling.”

As a church, we don’t know quite what to do about prayer, or how to go about prayer, or even whether we should have any expectation of prayer working in our lives.

Prayer is a major element in the Bible.

This is a strange text from the Book of Acts,  chapter 12.  It begins like a Shakespearian Tragedy.

The church is being persecuted.

King Herod puts a Christin leader, John’s brother James to death.  Herod finds that the masses like this and it helps increase his popularity, so he has Peter arrested and scheduled for execution.

Then the tragedy turns very dramatically as an angel appears by waking him from his sleep leading him out of the prison.  It’s a real mystery event as even Peter doesn’t know if it’s real, or a vision, or just a dream.

The angel and Peter walk up to the gates of the prison and the iron gates open by themselves.

But then the event turns and begins to feel like a comedy.

The whole church is praying for Peter’s release, and the church’s response when they see Peter is to think, “That can’t be Peter–he’s in jail!  We’re here praying for his freedom so he can’t be free!”

Sometimes our prayers seem to go unanswered so often, we find ourselves expecting God to do nothing when we pray.  Sometimes we don’t know what to pray for in a given situation, or how to pray. 

So looking at the Book of Acts, in particular, Chapter 12, it’s study can teach us all some important lessons about prayer.

The first lesson is, the Church should pray!

That’s simple and very logical.   Of course; you say the church should pray.  But I have to say that I wonder if we pray enough in our churches or in our own lives.  Paul says in his New Testament book, First Thessalonians,  “Pray without ceasing.”  Many of us will reverently bow our heads for a few moments and then stop.

Paul didn’t mean that we should be on our knees all the time or living like Monks in a monastery.  He meant that we should be in an attitude of prayer, so even while we’re talking with others around us, part of our mind is in communion with God.  And when we’re driving down the road, part of our mind should be in a quiet relationship with God.

But for many of us, prayer is a rare action.  It’s something we do much too infrequently.

“You are in my prayers”

We find ourselves in a conversation with others who tell us about how they are in the middle of problemed teenager situation, or they are waiting to hear back from doctors and the news might not be good, or they’re struggling to find a job and we give them what we think is comforting–but they aren’t in our prayers.  We say we’ll pray for them but we won’t.  I often will ask them right where they are if I can pray for them at the point of the request.  It helps them know they have my attention and it’s a good reminder for me to keep praying!

One of the things we see in this passage of Acts is that the Church prayed!

Praying is the most powerful thing that we can do as a church.  We need to pray as a community.

Prayer for me is often a private thing.  In the mornings when I’m reading my Bible, it becomes my prayer time as well in which I’m alone with my heavenly Father.  I like to call it ‘Father/son time’.

Hopefully, personal and private time prayer is something we all do, but we also need to pray in community.  It doesn’t have to be the entire church–it could be your small group or your Sunday School Class, or a few church members you contact via email.

The church finds strength as a praying community for one another.

Peter finds the church gathered together in prayer for him.

The strange thing is that even though the church is gathered specifically in prayer for him, a comic moment transpires as the church is caught off guard with the fact that God has heard and answered their prayers.  This brings us to another important lesson about prayer in the Book of Acts:

When we pray, we should expect God to respond!

Looking at the Bible you’ll find many times when prayers were answered.  Abraham’s servant prayed for God’s direction in finding a wife for Isaac, and God led him to Rebekah (Genesis 24:12-15).  

David prayed for strength and was able to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17).  

We tend to forget however, there are many times in the Bible that prayer seems to be left unanswered.

Paul prayed three times for the removal of that “thorn in the flesh.”  

Even Jesus prayed a prayer that was left unanswered.  Jesus cried out in the garden, “take the cup of suffering from me.”  He prayed that He wouldn’t have to suffer on the cross.  Instead, He had to suffer the pain of it.

Our own lives are full of unanswered prayers.  So much so, that we begin to live in expectation of our prayers being left unanswered.

And like Rhoda and the church in Acts 12, we reach a point where we are shocked and unbelieving when God answers prayer.  The thought process of why some prayers seem to go unanswered is a complex question.  It’s not a one size fits all sort of question to answer.

There are different reasons for different situations.

Sometimes our prayers aren’t answered because our hearts aren’t right with God:  “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).

In Proverbs 15:29, we read “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.”

Sometimes, the problem with unanswered prayer is our time isn’t God’s time.

And what we often interpret as “unanswered prayer” is simply a matter of an answer that’s delayed.

In Jeremiah 42:2-7 we read where the people asked the prophet to speak to God for providing immediate direction in their lives–“We want it right now!”

Sometimes the answer comes for longer than simply ten days later.  It might be years later.

Sometimes we misunderstand prayer.

We pray out of selfish motives. 

True prayer is God-centered.

But we often turn our prayers into a self-centered activity.  I

n the New Testament Book of James, we’re told: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3).  

The object of prayer is that God is glorified and not ourselves.  At times we think of prayer as Aladdin’s lamp to use in glorifying self.  We often think of God as a genie who is at our bidding and command.

Can we not pray for ourselves?

Of course, but we should pray for ourselves unselfishly.  Unselfish prayer for self is a prayer which seeks not self-centered comfort but Christ-centered conformity to God’s will.  Prayer isn’t an end in itself but a means to a greater end which is to glorify God!

The Bible promises us that God will hear our prayers.

The Bible never says that God will obey our orders and sometimes that’s the way we treat prayer.

In the Book of Acts, we don’t see Peter praying self-centered prayers.  He isn’t begging for his freedom.  He’s resting in the comfort of God.  He trusts God so much on the eve of his execution, he falls asleep and he sleeps so soundly that when the angel comes to wake him up, a gentle nudge won’t do.

When I was a young teenager, my mother would come into my room in the morning and wake me up for school–quietly coming to my bedside and gently rocking my shoulder she would say, “Mel, Mel, time to get up and out of bed and go.”  No–that wasn’t the way the angel woke up Peter.  The angel acted like my father.  When Dad would wake me up, he would crack the bedroom door and shout, “Mel.  Get out of bed right now and get to school!!”

Acts even says the angel had to hit Peter in the side to wake him up!  [Acts 12:7 – Interlinear Bible].

And you know, that in itself is really the best answer to prayer–not that God would do this or God would do that, but that He would give us such trust in Him that we could rest comfortably and calmly in His loving presence.

And the church should pray…

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CREDITS

Photos/Images:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), or as stated.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old and New Testament Words by W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr.

Commentary:  Drumbeat of Love by Lloyd John Ogilvie.

Contributions by Maynard Pittendreigh in researching commentary on Acts Chapter 12.

Where Has the REVERENCE and AWESOMENESS of God Gone?

 

 

I want to begin this study with a question:  Do you ever feel like something has changed in your life where maybe you used to get excited about something and then, it has just become part of the day in/day out a mundane living?

It seems the longer we are occupied with something, the more it becomes a part of our life and the more likely that we become less excited over it.

Before I retired from the mechanical contracting business, people would ask me if my job was exciting and typically I would answer that it’s a job like any other.

But it wasn’t always that way.  It always was a daily challenge with the responsibilities that came with the different positions I held, but there was the daily excitement of accomplishing and succeeding and new things.  Doing my best was always in place because of the way I was raised, but going beyond the best and succeeding was thrilling.

Looking at Marriage Relationships

Before I was married, the excitement of talking to my intended on the phone, seeing her in person, the getting ready to go on a date, putting on cologne and nice clothes, looking my best, the getting married, the wedding night and honeymoon, even the first couple of years.

Then you get into a routine and the excitement and awe seem to fade.  And even in our relationship with God, the routine can set in without notice.

When you first become a Christian you couldn’t get enough of the Bible.  You wanted to be talking to others about Jesus whenever and wherever you had a chance.

And right now you’re still enjoying being in God’s Word, but the same AWE and EXCITEMENT isn’t always there.

Hebrews 12:28-29 (AMP)

If we are truly going to worship God in Spirit and Truth–to be true worshippers, there needs to be “reverence and AWE”.

“AWE” – Definition: “Fear mingled with reverence and wonder” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia – 1996)

“AWE” –  “a very strong feeling of wonder, reverence (or fear) caused by something grand or powerful” (www.Wordsmyth.com)

I asked myself the question over the last several months: Am I worshipping on Sundays and the rest of the weekdays with AWE as it’s defined?  I have reverence for the Lord, but sometimes, I confess, I don’t have that sense of awe and wonder.

And when we lose a sense of awe of God, the scripture tells us that we fail to worship God acceptably.  I don’t know about where you are right now, but I want you, us, to return to a sense of being In AWE of God.  Maybe you’ve never experienced that sense, but it’s available for all.

To do that though. I think it’s important to ask ourselves some questions.  We know that it happens, but why does it happen? Why do we lose our sense of awe?

I believe as we become all too familiar with anything, including our own faith in God, it starts to become commonplace.

There is a balance for us to maintain.

As we grow with the Lord, our understanding and relationship with Him will grow as well and we become closer and more familiar. 

We need to recognize that when we approach our heavenly Father with confidence and with closeness, as a child approaches his daddy (Abba), but at the same time, we need to approach with a sense of awe and wonder that we have God Almighty as our Father.

We need to avoid our faith becoming common, that we look at God as we sometimes look at our earthly fathers as someone who pays the bills and lets us borrow the car.

How do we do that?  How do we maintain or get back our sense of AWE for God?

I think it originates in our heads, in our thinking, or lack of thinking.

In my marriage, if I was thinking each and every day how blessed I am to have a wife who chose me to spend her life with, who is there making our house a home, and who cares for me and about me, I know I would have a better and more grateful attitude toward her than I sometimes do.

But it all starts in our minds.

And the same is true about our Godly relationship.

Our minds need to be focused on the relationship so that we can recapture our AWE for God.

Instead of just focusing on God, we need to be focusing on specific aspects of God and it starts by recognizing who God is.

I believe there are some specific things we need to focus on about who God is if we’re going to have that sense of excitement and AWE for God.

  1. RECOGNIZE GOD AS CREATOR.

The Scriptures support this approach as well.  Often when Awe is being discussed, it’s in context with Creation.

Job 25:2 (NIV)

[2] “Dominion and awe belong to God; He establishes order in the heights of heaven”

Psalm 33:6-9 

God has made all of Creation, sustains all of Creation and if we stop to think about it, it’s absolutely unbelievable and awe-inspiring.  The problem is, we often don’t think about it because we live here and this too has become commonplace.

With that thought in mind, I want to take the time here to refocus on this place where we reside that God has made and created for our benefit.

  • The Universe–the vastness of the universe.
  • The Body–the intricacies of the design of the human body.

We have 30 to 100 trillion (with a “T”) cells in our body that work independently, yet must work in coordination with the other cells.  I’ve worked in offices for over 30 years where 10 people couldn’t work in coordination with each other. And yet, the body is self-healing; it has reproduction properties.

Beauty of Creation

So often in our world, it seems we need to give up beauty and creativity for functionality.  Not so with the world.

Our world not only functions orderly, but the BEAUTY of what God has created is amazing! And if we can keep our minds focused on the awesomeness of Who God is as Creator and recognize the awesomeness of His Creation on a daily basis, then I think we will go a long way toward having an AWE inspiring view of God.

Each day we should seek to view the Lord’s creation in a specific way that recognizes this awesomeness.

Each and every day, even on the way to church on Sunday morning…make it a point in the car to point out God’s awesomeness,  And by the way, it’s a great lesson for our children as well.

But we need to not only be AWED by God as Creator, but we also need to realize and recognize God as Judge  (Hebrews 28-29).

God is a “consuming fire” and He will JUDGE the world in regards to His Holiness.

That brings to mind, that “If one receives Jesus Christ as Savior, then they won’t be judged, right?”

You will not be judged to your salvation.  That’s a gift from God.

But each one of us is going to face the judgment seat of Christ in eternity for what we do in terms of our rewards in heaven (2 Corinthians 5:10).

For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].  (Amplified Bible)

That’s for every one of us!

And because God is a JUDGE, we should stand in Awe of Him because of His JUDGMENT & AUTHORITY over us.

Just as we enter a courtroom we’re expected to show respect for the power and authority there and if we don’t we may be held in contempt and judged accordingly for those actions.

Therefore, with that premise in mind, should we show any less respect on Sunday morning worship–coffee mug in hand, baseball hats on our heads, Smart Phones checking out the latest sports scores, etc.?

We should always stand in Awe and respect of God for the One Who will JUDGE ALL of our actions and attitudes.  And as a Christian, even more so, we should stand in Awe of God as our Judge.

In addition to recognizing Who God is as Creator and Judge, which will help us stand in reverence and Awe, there’s one more thing I think is necessary for us to understand and focus on for standing in Awe and reverence of God, and that’s…

Recognizing who We  Are.

I believe it’s imperative that we have a proper view of ourselves for us to be able to have a proper view of God.

READ what the apostle Paul’s viewpoint regarding who he was and how it gave him a proper, awe-inspiring view of God:

1 Timothy 1:15-17What Paul is saying to me, perhaps to you as well, having a realistic view of our own sinfulness and how it should help us to be in Awe of God.

Are You Standing In Awe of God?

Maybe you have lost that Awe, or maybe you’ve never experienced the Awe at all, and in either case, you’ve been going through the motions of being a Christian and haven’t been feeling the Awe of God that you should be experiencing.  Here some suggestions that I’ve found to start with for all of us:

Open your eyes to God’s Creation and really see things around you.

  • Notice the sky and the Sun.
  • Notice the number of people driving our highways at all hours of the day and recognize God is the creation of each and every one of them and knows every hair on their head.

Think about God, the great and mighty judge of ALL MANKIND that will one day stand before us.

Be on Awe that we will stand in the presence of the greatest authority in the universe, greater than the Supreme Court of the land, with the Son Himself our mediator.

Recognize your own selfishness and the fact that God’s loves you and me anyway and still desires to use us even though we don’t deserve the privilege of being used in God’s plans in such an awesome way.

I want to pray for those who may be feeling a little unconnected from the Lord, that over these next days, weeks and months, that you might be awed by the Lord, God Almighty, our Savior and Judge, and find your self, standing in Awe of Him!

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CREDITS

YouTube Video:  I Stand In Awe Of You

Photo Images:  Google Images–Settings, advance search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version; Amplified Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving Forward In Spite of the Past

Scripture Study:  HEBREWS 4:14-16

ILLUSRATION:

One man said to his friend:  “Say, you look depressed.  What are you thinking about?”  “My future,” was the quick answer.  “What makes it look so hopeless?”  “My past!”

Our past does tend to put a cloud around our future.  Good, bad, or otherwise.  Our past sometimes determines the path we take in the future.

When we look back over our lives, we all have things we’ve tucked away in our hearts and minds that we would like to delete, the Bad, the SORROWFUL, and remember and even increase the joy-filled times.

Hebrews 4:14-16 (MSG-The Message Bible)

[14-16]  Now that we know what we have–Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God–let’s not let it slip through our fingers.  We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality.  He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all–all but the sin.  So let’s walk right up to *Him and get where *He is so ready to give.  Take the mercy, accept the help.  [* Capitalized because of what He is, the spotless Son of God]

MERCY and GRACE, two great things we all need!

When it comes to the pain of the past, we must ask God for MERCY in order to get over it.  These are the same things that we find that are hard to handle,  and hard to overcome, such as:  losing a loved one in death, divorce, abuse, financial loss, etc..

We must ask God with confidence and boldness for MERCY, to put an end to our suffering over these things that are holding us back.

Sometimes we’re tormented in our spirit for years over such things.  But our God is merciful.  We must ask for Him to be merciful in that boldness and He will demonstrate it.

And next, we must ask for GRACE to keep us moving forward.

Every day when I wake up in bed, as sleepy as I may be, I know that I am here by the Grace of God.  We exist by His Grace.  Good things come our way–His FAVOR, by the GRACE of God.  We are only able to forgive by the Grace of God.  And of course, we are only FORGIVEN by God’s GRACE.

We’ll never move forward in life without the GRACE of God!

Our country is in the process of always looking back and well, it should.  We are looking back on that horrendous day of September 11, 2001.

Everything points to the Lord. 

By Him, we live and survive.  And with Him, we die.  

Without Him, we cannot live or live abundantly as He planned in our lives.

John 10:10 (Amplified Bible)

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy…”

CATCH THIS…

“I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

And we certainly don’t want to die without Him!

In light of September 11, 2001, we must remember, honor and trust.

DO YOU HAVE A PROBLEM REMEMBERING THINGS?

Who doesn’t?

And personally, the problem seems to increase with age.

The other side of the coin is this:  We are pretty good about remembering certain things.  Things that deal with our own experiences; our own likes and dislikes.

For example, my wife has expected over the years, that I should take care of servicing her car.  Several years back, I would tell her when she filled up the car with gas, that the station’s attendant would ask if he could check under the hood [ I did mention “several years back”].

“if it needed oil, remember to tell them your husband would add the oil.”

One day she mentioned her car’s oil was down by a quart and she decided that she could add the oil.  After all, how hard could that be?

I asked her if she had any problems and she answered with confidence, “No problems.  But it took a long time to add the oil.”  Scratching my head and asking, “Why did it take so long?”

She explained that after she took the dip-stick out and putting a funnel in the little hole, it took forever to drain the oil can.

After showing her why she had experienced the ‘slow draining’, with both laughing, and thanking God she hadn’t put the oil in the radiator.  Obviously, I had not been taking care of her car.  Would I do that to MY car?  Probably not.

We could apply this though in many areas of our lives.  And we’d all be guilty.

We are quick to take care of ourselves, watch out for ourselves, feed ourselves whether anyone else gets fed or not.

One of the worst things in the world is SELFISHNESS, and one of the saddest things in the world is to forget people.  And it’s extremely sad to forget them in their suffering.

Luke 10, “The Good Samaritan” story.

There was only one good Samaritan.

The priest passed by on the other side, avoiding the injured man he saw in pain.  The Levite also passes by on the other side.  The stranger, the foreigner, the Samaritan took pity on the man and had a strong compassion.  He tried to take care of the man’s wounds…actually took the man to a place where he could be cared for.

If we could be really honest, most of us are like the priest and Levite.  We’re too self-centered, too self-absorbed, or too busy with our own lives to REMEMBER others.

Hebrews 13:3

REMEMBER THOSE WHO SUFFER.  AS IF YOU YOURSELF WERE SUFFERING.

It could be US instead of THEM!

If it weren’t for the GRACE and GRACIOUSNESS of God we all could be in prison!  We all could be some of those families in New York who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center.

Romans 12:15 (NIV Bible)

[15]  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

We must REMEMBER the suffering of others.

We must not be without SYMPATHY and COMPASSION for those who hurt.

May God help us to remember others.  May God help us to have the compassion of Jesus.

The Importance of HONORING –

Romans 12:10 (AMP)  “Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another.”

Romans 13:7 (NIV)  “Give everyone what you owe him:  If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”

Philippians 2:25, 27, 29 (NASB) 

[25] “But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;  [27] For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.  [29] Therefore receive him in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard;”  [HONOR]

Some people deserve to be honored.  Not the high and mighty, the rich and the famous, but those who SERVE, those who do, those who care, those who give, those who love, those who die for others without bringing attention to themselves.

It is always right to give HONOR to who HONOR is due!

Think about those around you who deserve your HONOR, your PRAISE, your THANKS, and your BLESSING.

AND THEN GIVE IT

  • TRUSTING 

There’s an old story of a father who took his young son out and stood him on the railing on the back porch.  He then went down, stood on the lawn, and encouraged the little guy to jump into his arms.  “I’ll catch you,” the father said confidently.  After much convincing, the little boy finally made the big leap.  When he did, the father stepped back and let the child fall to the ground.  He then picked his son up, dusted him off, and dried his tears.  “Let that be a lesson,” he said sternly.  “Don’t ever trust anyone!”

That’s a heartbreaking illustration of the world’s attitude on not trusting others in our lives.  The world says, “Watch out for number one, yourself.  Don’t trust anybody, not even family members.”

Without seeming too negative, I wanted to bring awareness to a strong and powerful truth.

HERE IT IS:  Matthew 7:11 (NIV)

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

None of us like to think that we are “evil”, but in a real sense, we have an evil side, a dark side to us, and it’s called the FLESH.  If we ‘dark-sided’ people are good to our children, how much greater is God, our Father, to us!  If we can be trusted in some form, how much more He can be trusted!

2 Timothy 2:13 (NIV)  “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.”

At our very worst times of unfaithfulness, God is still FAITHFUL!

He is for us!  He loves us in spite of who we are or in what we think or do!

I realize that concept is hard to comprehend because all we know basically is human love.  And “human love” often fails.

Hebrews 13:5

God is saying to each one of us:

“Why get so engrossed in making money!  I’m here for you.  I will provide for you and your family.  There’s more to life than money!  I’ll take care of you, feed you, put a roof over your head.  Quit wanting more.  No matter how bad your situation gets, no matter how deep in debt you find yourself, I’ll take care of you!  You’re My kid.  Please let me be your Father!  Please trust Me!”

Proverbs 3:5-6

TRUSTING is a hard lesson to learn.

There’s probably not a person in my life who hasn’t failed me in some form or another:  parents, siblings, mate, children, Christian friends.  And I’ve failed them as well.  I didn’t want to fail them, but I did.  I have and I probably will again.

All I’m saying is, that we FAIL one another.

BUT WE HAVE ONE WHO NEVER FAILS US NOR FORSAKES US!

Romans 8:28 (AMP)

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.”

Romans 8:31-33

The famous preacher Dwight L. Moody once said,

“Trust in yourself and you are doomed to disappointment.  Trust in your friends and they will die and leave you.  Trust in money and you may have it taken from you.  Trust in your reputation and some slanderous tongue may blast it.  But trust in God and you are never to be confounded in time or eternity.”

The only way to live is by faith, by trusting God as our living, heavenly Father.  And by trusting in Christ as our Savior.

If we want to live as successfully as possible, as joyously as possible, we must live by FAITH.

WE MUST TRUST GOD.

Remembering, honoring, trusting and loving God.

Making these your commitments will keep you moving forward!

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS

Photo Images:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); The Message Bible (MSG); New International Version (NIV); New American Standard Bible (NASB).

Dwight L. Moody Quote:  201 Dwight L. Moody Quotes by ChristianQuotes.info

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sizing Up the REAL ESTATE Market – PART ONE

“LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION”  Why Location Matters in Real Estate.

Sizing up the HOUSING MARKET

It is the real estate agents’ mantra: Location, location, location.  You’ve certainly heard the phrase enough and may wonder what inspires agents to say the word three times. In a nutshell, the phrase means that “identical homes can increase or decrease in value due to the LOCATION of the property.  It is repeated three times for emphasis, and the number one RULE in real estate, though it is often the most overlooked.”  [See footnote [i] ].

GOD’S HOUSE is being built and we have a choice to make on whether we want that HOUSE to be established here or somewhere else.  What are the VALUES?

God isn’t obligated to live in what He hasn’t built.

And, we can GUARANTEE God will move in following His plans…We can GUARANTEE His presence in our house if we follow His blueprints.

HOUSE RULES –

This HOUSE must be established and built with the concept of AUTHORITY:

#1.  AUTHORITY is God’s Word.

#2.  AUTHORITY is our conscience.

#3.  AN AUTHORITY figure is delegated authority.

Until we understand AUTHORITY and respond correctly to AUTHORITY this HOUSE is vacant.

HOUSE MANNERS –

We’re not going to see God move into this HOUSE until we begin to operate completely with House Manners.

These MANNERS are the direct opposite of how we have been taught by our culture.

We must LEARN to regard one another in the house after the Spirit rather than after the flesh.  What if your future is wrapped up in someone you DON’T like?

We are to RESPECT one another.

That means we treat each other better than the world says we should.  We settle issues face to face–we don’t sweep them under the rug by avoiding one another.

THE BIBLE gives very clear instructions on how we deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ:  Heb. 10:25; 1 John 4:7; Prov. 17:17; Heb. 13:1; Phil. 1:3 to name just a few.

We RESTORE each other or handle each other with GRACE (‘favor’), knowing that the day will surely come when we too will need Grace extended.

MODEL HOUSE –

We must recognize that we NEED more room, that the present structure will NOT handle a habitation.

HABITATION requires a firm foundation.  There will be no expansion if the house is weak in the WORD, weak in WORSHIP, etc.

A MODEL HOME is furnished and REQUIRES…

  • A bedplace of rest.
  • A table – place of communion.
  • A lamp – illuminate of the WORD.

HIS HOUSE MUST COME FIRST!!

PARADE OF HOMES –

The parade of HOMES must stop.  We must find our assigned house.

There will be times we don’t like the smell of one particularHouse, but we must understand that we are the safest in our assigned house.

Others may laugh at our house, but if we are in our assigned house, we’re connected with FAVOR!

We must BUILD THIS HOUSE and bring attention to and keep our focus on His name!

The Housing Market “Crash”

Before 2009, most of us didn’t recognize there had already been a CRISIS in the Housing Market for the last two decades.  We had been asleep for most of it because for the most part…it didn’t affect us… personally.  I think we’re just now waking up to the fact that something went wrong,

To EXPLAIN, I need to take you to a ‘REAL ESTATE REPORT’ that I found in the Old Testament.  This REPORT demands that we must live our lives differently to get different RESULTS.

This REPORT demands a response!

TEXT:  Haggai 1:2-11 (NIV)

[2]  This is what the LORD Almighty says:  “These people say,  ‘The time has not yet come for the LORD’s house to be built.'”  [3] The the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:  [4] “It is a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains in ruin?”  [5] Now this is what the LORD Almighty says:  “Give careful thought to your ways.  [6] You have planted much, but have harvested little.  You eat but never have your fill.  You put on clothes but are not warm,  You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”  [7] This is what the LORD Almighty says:  “Give careful thought to your ways.  [8] Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD.  [9] “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little.  What you brought home, I blew away.  Why?” declares the LORD Almighty.  “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.  [10] Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.  [11] I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands.”

HAGGAI begins his message by quoting a popular expression of the people, “It’s not the time to build the Temple.”

Though surrounded by the hostile opposition of their neighbors and the lack of financial prosperity, they keep DOING what they’ve always done.

They are so SELFISHLY INDIFFERENT to the LORD that they keep devoting ALL their time, energy and attention to keeping up with the Jones and in so doing…they SURVIVE paycheck to paycheck, become CONTENT in famine, and bed down with drought in the land, never stopping once to consider why they’re in the condition they’re in.

And the Real Estate Market collapses!

HAGGAI painted a vivid picture of their ECONOMIC and SOCIAL distress with the results and repercussions of the FACT that they had left GOD out!

When we leave God out of our own lives, He may still BLESS us with the ‘STUFF’, but we won’t be able to fully enjoy it.

  • You’ll have a DEGREE, but still can’t find a job.
  • You’ll get a RAISE at work, but still, find yourself broke.
  • You’ll buy a HOUSE but can’t afford to eat.
  • You’ll get your CHILD, but that child will wear you out.

Over the years of my life, I’ve found TWO things that are directly proportional to my PRIORITY LIST on giving to the House of God:  HARVEST and LEVEL OF SATISFACTION–the ability to find a stress free life rather than a turmoil-filled life which I’ve found directly related to the place of priority of the things of God has placed in my life.

“Is it then the right time for you to live in luxurious homes when the Temple lies in ruin?”  (verse 4).

HAGGAI points to the REAL ESTATE bust and it devastated the people.

God quits working with and FOR the people and begins to work AGAINST the people.

Maybe you’re thinking it’s BAD LUCK or a downturn…so you’ve been calling on, PRAYING to God.

Well, PRAY all you want!  Cry all you want!  Claim promises all you want, but until you adjust and correct your PRIORITIES…God is working against you!!

But “if God is for us who can be against us?”  BUT if God is AGAINST us who can be for us?

I keep hearing the news that the housing market reports that the people are saying, “The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.”

We have bought into A LIE.

We have just accepted the idea that we can’t rebuild the HOUSE of the LORD in this generation.  Everyone is too busy, too lazy, too apathetic, it has to be convenient, it can’t be more than 50 minutes, don’t take nights, you can’t have revival in this generation, you can’t find committed people in this day and age, you can’t expect loyalty from this generation,,,AND, I DECLARE THE DEVIL IS A LIAR!

HAGGAI 1:12-14 –

GOD is calling to the Zerubbabel [s] and the Joshua [s] in our churches.

THE CALL IS NOW for God-fearing people to get up, wipe the sleep from your eyes, and shake off the APATHY.

Make Him more important than your job, your house, your vacation, your social status, your comfort, your clothes, and your love life.

ELEVATE HIM AGAIN!

THE CALL GOES OUT for us to find those who are TIRED of living in famine.  Find those who are TIRED of the RAT RACE and the lack of an encounter with the living GOD.  Let’s join forces as God’s people and BUILD HIS HOUSE!

WHY?

Because He is God.

But also because as we do so, He comes back within our midst and DECLARES HIS PROMISES!!

[CONTINUED IN PART TWO:  Sizing Up the Real Estate Market]

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS & FOOTNOTES =

Footnote [i] :  Home Buying – What Location, Location, Location Mean In Real Estate? by Elizabeth Weintraub – Updated January 28, 2017.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search – Advanced Setting.

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

 

The “They”[s] of Narcissistic and Entitlement Behavior

Question: WHAT IS NARCISSISTIC BEHAVIOR?

Health professionals agree that it is a lack of feeling loved, which in turn, leads to insecurities, even narcissistic attitudes.  It is also the term in psychology to describe a preoccupation with SELF (Mayo Clinic Study 2013 – Narcissistic personality disorder).

It is a Greek term taken from the mythological NARCISSUS, who fell in love with his own IMAGE; doomed to die because he wouldn’t turn away from it.

Today, the obsession for taking “selfies” could be called narcissism.

maxresdefault-1

So, in a nutshell, I’m referring to a people who display a high level of SELFISHNESS, VANITY, and PRIDE in their life.  He, or she, sees everything from a “how does this affect me?” perspective.

And when it comes to Christianity–SELFISHNESS, VANITY, AND PRIDE– can lead to a deprived mind and a counterfeit FAITH.

STUDY BIBLE TEXT:  2 Timothy 3:2-8 (NLT):

[2] For people will LOVE only themselves and their money.  They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful.  They will consider nothing sacred.

[3] They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control.  They will be cruel and hate what is good.

[4] They will betray friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

[5] They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly.  Stay away from people like that!

[6] They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires.

[7} (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.)

[8] These teachers oppose the truth just as Jammes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have deprived minds and a counterfeit faith.

 

Smoke Woman Gazes into mirror
Smoke Woman Gazes into mirror

[*NOTE:  I am not going to address every characteristic that Paul addresses in the 8 VERSES listed but will point out ones the Holy Spirit directed me to emphasize in this BLOG.]

THE “BOASTFUL” & THE “PROUD”

A reason people don’t feel they need Savior or forgiveness is because PRIDE tells them they are “good” people or have a “good” heart.

PRIDE also blinds people to their own responsibility and accountability for SIN.  

So, NARCISSISM (pride), makes SIN, whereas the GOSPEL reveals the TRUTH that leads to remorse for SIN!

AND, narcissistic traits can be dangerous because, at their worst, they lead a person to destroy others to satisfy the LUST of the flesh (2 Timothy 3:28).

“IN THE LAST DAYS…” – The Identified Characteristics of Society  

EUGENE PETERSON sums it up:

“As the end approaches, people are going to be self-absorbed, money-hungry, self-promoting, stuck-up, profane, contemptuous of parents, crude, coarse, dog-eat-dog, unbending, slanderous, impulsively wild, savage, cynical, treacherous, ruthless, bloated windbags, addictive to lust, and allergic to God.  They’ll make a show of religion, but behind the scenes they’re animals.”

OUCH!!!

The Heart of the Apostolic Charge Paul is telling Timothy that people will be “lovers of self” in the last days.

The Apostle to the gentiles had in view the growth of the apostate church which, though bearing the marks of evangelism to the surrounding community would nevertheless be spiritually DEAD.

The church which Paul foretold exalts external religion, yet denies or lacks the interest of the Word of God.  This Laodicean church is indeed coming at the end of the [Church] age! [Rev. 3:14-17]

Whenever SELF is exalted, lifted up to a position of honor, GOD is no longer worshiped.  God cannot be worshiped if we are exalting “self”.

  • SATAN loved himself more that he loved GOD; his self-love was the genesis of rebellion in heaven.
  • ADAM and EVE exalted “self” on the throne of their lives and plunging the WORLD into ruin.

SELF-LOVE ON DISPLAY:

One of the most frightening developments, in my opinion, is many contemporary churches are making enthusiastic declarations of SELF-LOVE, not only as allowable but as being the basic virtue.

SELF-LOVE has many offshoots–

  • self-esteem, self-worth, self-fulfillment, positive self-image…

The claim is made that one cannot properly LOVE God and/or other people unless he loves himself.  That is purely destructive thinking which comes from antibiblical psychology.

GOD MUST BE LOVED SUPREMELY!!!  SELF-ABSORBED people grow overly confident spiritually.

Spiritual Superior, meaning they are SELF-ABSORBED–boastful in their spiritual depth (1 Timothy 1:7):  “They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently confirm” (NIV).

As a bible teacher, I need to take heed to Paul’s words.  Confidence in God’s word is important, but not to the degree of superiority.

“Contemptuous of parents” (v. 2, “disobedient to…) –

Contemptuous of Parents
Contemptuous of Parents

Society will produce children who are “contemptuous”.  

Too many parents think that Bart Simpson is cute when he disses his parents.  But SELF-WILLED children, their “cuteness” will one day come back to the parents of teenagers, with sometimes devastating consequences.  All because you thought it was “cute” when they were small.

And this can lead to the attitude of ENTITLEMENT.

ENTITLEMENT DEFINED: The fact of having a right to something; the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

In America, people feel ENTITLED to abundance, simply because they can claim the title of being a U.S. Citizen.

502072152-parents-to-blame-1

ENTITLEMENT can be based on such things as age (The “Millenials”), seniority, credentials, family name, etc…

ENTITLEMENT is demanding something for nothing and permitting laziness.

ENTITLEMENT tells you that you deserve what others have because YOU (Self), deserve what others have because you’re just as important.

ENTITLEMENT lies to you, distracting you with GREED and feelings of JEALOUSY.

ENTITLEMENT can hide behind the guise of EQUALITY, yet they hold nothing in common.

SELF-CENTEREDNESS ABOUNDS –

Self-centered people are “ungrateful”, imagining that they but receive their due whenever a courtesy is shown toward them.  The UNGRATEFUL PERSON despises the idea of GRACE, and because of their ungratefulness, God’s wrath is on display against their behavior.  [see Romans 1:18, 21]

The Unholy…

“Ungrateful” people are “unholy” people, no matter how religious they may appear in society.  The word translated “UNHOLY” isn’t so much the idea of ‘irreligion’ as of extreme indecency.

The UNHOLY PERSON is driven by SELF-LOVE (narcissism) to gratify his/her lust and passions in different areas as fully as possible with no thought of decency.

An “Unbending” Nature, another form of NARCISSTIC BEHAVIOR

The word “unbending” speaks of an individual who cannot or will not come to terms with another.  The word literally means “without a treaty.”

Convinced that they are right, they refuse to be reconciled because they must be seen as right in every instance.  No compromise here, regardless of the consequences, even to the point of destroying their own lives and the lives of their family member.

The Apostle continues with three characteristics depicting HUMAN PRIDE and HARMFUL DEALINGS with others before summarizing their relationship with God.

VERSE 4:  “TREACHEROUS” – not dependable–here today and gone tomorrow “RECKLESS [rash] – not careful with relationships; instead of valuing them. 

The passage of Scripture concludes with the first of a long list of complaints of the wicked character:  “lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God”  (Amplified bible).

Literally, the people in view have the outward form of true religion [eg. Christianity] even while denying its HOLY SPIRIT POWER.  These people can be church “members”, but they are lost.

Camouflaged Hearts
Camouflaged Hearts

HOW SHALL WE LIVE AS WE AWAIT CHRISTS’ RETURN?

There is little in contemporary society today that deters me from the understanding that we’re living in the LAST DAYS, perhaps even the final days!

The cult of “SELF” has grown so strong and become so ingrained that many professing Christians are oblivious to the pressure towards Narcissistic Behavior except when we look into the mirror of Scripture.

As the Apostle continued his instruction to the pastor of Ephesus, Paul insisted on the way Christians MUST LIVE in the Last Days.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 (NIV):

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

The ANSWER to how we must live is found in the words at the end of this Chapter:

Paul writes,  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  ALL SCRIPTURE is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work”  [2 Timothy 3:14-17 New International Version].

Looking at modern society, it becomes obvious that the dams that hold back destruction are now cracked, now threatening society with a momentary flood.

And no matter how hard “I” try to fix the leaks, it will FAIL every time.

The California Department of Water Resources stopped the spillway flow on Thursday morning to allow engineers to evaluate the integrity of the structure after water had been released at 20,000 cubic feet per second through the night. (Courtesy of the California Department of Water Resources).
The California Department of Water Resources stopped the spillway flow on Thursday morning to allow engineers to evaluate the integrity of the structure after the water had been released at 20,000 cubic feet per second through the night. (Courtesy of the California Department of Water Resources).

INSTEAD of trying to stick fingers in the dike as crack after crack appears, we need to look to God and the POWER of His Word.

We need to realize that ALL fellowship is ultimately based upon doctrine and not upon how we feel about ourselves–how we feel about others or even about the conditions we face.

We are to SHARE our lives through sharing TRUTH; we share our lives through determining to OBEY God and to honor Him.

ECCLESIASTES 7:29 (NIV):

“This only have I found;  God created mankind upright, BUT they have gone to search of many schemes.”  [“but” not capitalized in the original text.]

Either we look to God, or we can attempt to “fix” things ourselves by putting our fingers in the dike.  But be aware that the “dike”, or the DAM in the above photo, is crumbling and springing multiple leaks.

Just as we are seeing the state of culture being overwhelmed by the cult of “me”, so it is impossible to “fix” what is dead.

What is DEAD must be abandoned.  We don’t have enough fingers.

Therefore, look to God!

IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU!

While Jesus’ popularity grew, John the Baptist friends felt a little slighted for the prophet.  John the Baptist, however, said about Jesus,  “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less”  (John 3:30 NLT).

We all may be tempted to be NARCISSTIC AND ENTITLED in some ordinary circumstances.  It has happened to me way to often and that might be the reason God’s Spirit prompted me to write on the topic.  Okay, forget that I said “might be” and replace it with “is”.

I read a story in my studies this week about a man who was flying from Tampa to Chicago every week on a work assignment.  At the end of a certain week, he was tired and ready for a quiet and relaxing flight home. It wasn’t going to happen.  That day a large group got on the plane who were having a noisy celebration of some kind.  Instead of getting angry and upset, the man who was already tired just sighed and smiled as he told himself, “Apparently today is not about me.”  [Story from William Earnhardt’s – Bible Cures for Narccism]

The CURE may just be that simple.  Remember that “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME.”

 


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES

What Does The Bible Say About Narcissistic Behaviour? The 3 Faces Of Evil by Christine Louis de Canonville.

Narcissism?  gotQuestions.org.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translation (s): The New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

 

 

 

 

 

     

 

Kissing FROGS and Hugging PORCUPINES

One of my favorite authors, Chuck Swindoll, in his book Swindoll’s Ultimate Book of Illustrations and Quotes, wrote the following regarding ourselves and other’s “frogness” in life:

Floating On A Lily Pad
Floating On A Lily Pad

“FROGS feel slow and low, ugly and putty, drooped and pooped.  I know, because one told me.  The FROG FEELING comes when you want to be bright but you’re dumb.  When you want to share, you are selfish.  When you want to be thankful, but filled with resentment.  When you want to be great…but you are small.  When you want to care, but you are indifferent; yes, at one time or another, each of us has found themselves floating down the great river of life, frightened and disgusted, but to frightened to budge.” 

Scripture Reading in John 15:12-17  [Amplified Version]:

[12] This is My commandment; that you love one another [just] as I have loved you.

[13] No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.

[14] You are My friends if you keep on doing the things which I command you to do.

[15] I do not call you servants (slaves) any longer, for the servant does not know what his master is doing (working out).  But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father.  [I have revealed to you everything that I have learned from Him.]

[16] You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed you [I have planted you], that you might go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, and that your fruit may be lasting [that it may remain, abide], so that whatever you ask the Father in My Name [as presenting all that I AM], He may give it to you.

[17] This is what I command you; that you love one another.

The Fairy Tale of Endo…

In this particular Fairy Tale (and others too), the FROG wasn’t really a frog.  He looked like one because…a wicked witch cast an evil spell on a prince.  Only a kiss from a beautiful young maiden could SAVE him.  Then one day, a beautiful young girl lays a big sloppy kiss on the frog’s slimy lips, and in a great puff of smoke…he changes back into a handsome prince.  They marry, have a ton of kids, and live happily ever after. The End.

Our Task In Our Churches Across the Land Isn’t A Fairy Tale…

“Kissing Frogs and Allowing Ourselves to Be Kissed!”

Faithful Christian LOVE has a way of rescuing kings and queens and their “frogness” [i].  I believe we must do more than “wishing” we were different in our communities.

I’ve learned by practical experience, I need to be more intentional about telling others that the church I’m a part of, is a loving community!  But it will take more than just telling…it will require me to be an active “lover”.

WHY SO?

Because of the reason for the Command of Jesus (John:12a, 17).  Not once, but twice within six short verses: “love one another”.

Our Selfishness Often Gets In the Way of Loving the Brethren…

My wife and I never told our kids when they were little how to be selfish.  And yet our youngest, even at the age of four, on any given day, would have no problem taking one of his older sister’s toys away.

Israel’s neighbors haven’t a problem finding ways to torment and mistreat them, because of their hatred.  Certain things come “naturally” to fallen man–sin and selfishness in the heart.

“Use it or Lose it!”

I believe we’re NOT intentional about creating a loving environment; an accepting community, a fellowship of mutual service and sacrifice and if we don’t use what God has made available, we might just lose it.

It often seems, too many churches leave “loving one another” to chance: “I’ll let my wife LOVE ON OTHERS. I’ll stay out-of-the-way of the crowds.”

The Apostle John’s Thinking On the Matter…

Jesus’ repeating command must have made a lasting impression.  Maybe more than any other disciple, John sought to obey these words of his Master.

How revealing then, a few years later, John would write in the Letter we call, 1 John, the following:

1 John 3:14:

We know that we have passed over out of death into Life by the fact that we love the brethren (our fellow Christians).  He who does not love abides (remains, is held and kept continually) in [spiritual] death.

“NO ROOT, NO FRUIT” –

Wow!  When I meditated on that verse (read and re-read the words), God really spoke to my spirit.  John is saying, the sure sign of being “SAVED”, is a sure internal testimony of my outward profession of my faith.  If there isn’t any fruit, there isn’t an attachment to the “Vine” JESUS (John 15:1-11).

Is Loving Our Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus Easy?

If it were easy to LOVE those of us in the church, there would be no sign of a miraculous work of God happening in OUR midst.

If LOVE for the brethren were a natural occurrence, you wouldn’t know and have the Life of Holy Spirit permeating your souls in the loving process.

If LOVING each other was something we could do apart from prayer, humbleness, and dependence of God’s grace, then LOVE would prove nothing.

But John tells us:  “Here is a sure sermon for your own soul, a testimony that you are abiding in Christ, IF…you can love Christians!”  

Even knowing this, sometimes its hard to LOVE OTHERS in the Body of Christ:  Some are crusty, prickly and painful to be around.  It’s not simply “kissing frogs”, but “hugging porcupines.”

 JESUS COMMANDS such LOVE, otherwise, we would avoid it entirely.

Hugging Porcupines
Hugging Porcupines

GOD’S STANDARDS OF PERFECT LOVE FOR US:

“LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU”  (John 15:12 b.).

JESUS loved us in giving His life.  Human relationships are strengthened when a man sacrifices for a close friend.  The Apostle Paul speaks of this LOVE in detail:

Romans 5:7-8:

[7] Now it is an extraordinary thing for one to give his life even for an upright man, though perhaps for a noble and lovable and generous benefactor someone might even dare to die.

[8] But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us.

The Family of God and their SACRIFICES:

If SACRIFICE doesn’t cost you something, then it isn’t a sacrifice.  It cost Jesus His life because of His LOVE for us.

Beginning the conversation…the Heart & Mouth Connection.

Every family has secrets–the special stories and nicknames, ways of communicating that are unique to the closest relationships you have.  In fact, one of the ways we have to bring other people into a closer relationship, is sharing with them a special aspect of our family life.  Looking for something you might have in common: family ancestry, where you’re from originally, etc.  But you are going to have to open up heart and mouth to find something in common.  Yep, we’re going to have to get off our “lily pads”.  It probably will be uncomfortable; might even feel insecure.

JESUS’ APPOINTMENT…CHOOSING US! 

“JESUS LOVES ME [“US”], THIS I KNOW.   FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO.”  

Jesus loves us by choosing and appointing us to bring God the glory in the world and through the FRUIT that we are to bear.

Everyone with young children, or in my case, grandchildren, knows frustration comes in helping them to do something; we’re tempted to say, “It’s easier to do it myself.”

I’ve thought at times, out of frustration, regarding the need for evangelism in Whatcom County.  God could have found a much easier way to communicate the message other than the local churches.  But of course, that isn’t His plan.

God’s Plan for His Church…

But JESUS loves us, appointed us to bear fruit in this place…at this time.  With this LOVE STANDARD as our active goal…not another “church program”, but an individual goal, create opportunities to develop and demonstrate LOVE to one another.

Many conservative churches preach “LOVE YOUR WIFE AS CHRIST LOVES HIS CHURCH–and that’s a clear biblical command.  But rarely do we talk about loving “fellow believers” as Christ loved the church.  Yet here in this passage of Scripture, JESUS says, “THIS IS MY COMMANDMENT”–this is My PLAN!

There is POWER available for LOVING one another…

JESUS has made known to us the church, the Word of God is His will for our lives.  It’s not complicated.  It’s NOT a family secret.  It is a crystal clear commandment in the Bible.  And the Word of God is LIVING & ACTIVE; it doesn’t simply just urge us to do something (enjoin), it EMPOWERS US!

GOD’S WORD BECAME FLESH:

“IN THE beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself” (John 1:1).

“And the Word (Jesus) became flesh (human, incarnate) and tabernacled (fixed His tent of flesh, lived awhile) among us; and we [actually] saw His glory as an only begotten son receives from his father, full of grace (favor, loving-kindness) and truth”  (John 1:14).

JESUS HIMSELF chose us to bear fruit and Jesus is God in human flesh; He doesn’t fail.

When He commands LOVE, He also guarantees its fulfillment.

Sitting On A Lily Pad As It Floats Down the River…

With JESUS on our side, we must succeed in transforming our churches into a visibly loving and caring community.  We’re going to have to get off our “Lily Pads” ; show our community we care!

Being the peruvial LIGHTHOUSE…where the building with our name on a large out-front sign…where everyone who drives by will see and want to come in to worship is sitting on a LILY PAD.  They’re “wish-in and a hope-in” the surrounding community will see the Light.

If we want to be a LIGHTHOUSE to our community, we will need to be “moving Lighthouses”, not stationary structures.  People need to see how we LOVE one another; with FRUIT-BEARING branches and God’s Light shinning on the fruit.

Last but not least…

We have our words; our prayers.  Whatever we ask the Father in Jesus’ name, He gives.  When we pray for grace (favor)  to LOVE…even some other FROGS…God will show Himself strong and powerful answering that prayer.

Now go out and Kiss A FROG, maybe even Hug A PORCUPINE or two, and know that Holy Spirit will be there to comfort you:

John 15:26, 27 AMP.:

[26] When the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) comes,  Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth  Who comes (proceeds) from the Father,  He [Himself] will testify regarding Me.

[27] But you also will testify and be My witnesses,  because you have been with Me from the beginning.

 

Footnote: [i] Glenn Durham, Pastor at Church of the Covenant.

 

Every WEB Begins with a Single Thread – (Part 1 of 2)

TEXT:  1 Corinthians 10:13:

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear].  But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature],  and He [can be trusted] not to let you be TEMPTED and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [ALWAYS] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing-place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.  (AMPLIFIED BIBLE)

The WEB of TEMPTATION
TEMPTATION’S WEB

“Why Spiders Decorate Their Webs”

Stabillmentum (singular):  The word means, “a single zigzag line or combinations of lines or even a spiral whorl in the web’s center.”

But why do spiders decorate their webs?  Well, I am certainly not an ARACHNOLOGIST (an expert on spiders), but in my detective investigation, I found that there are multi-purposes for the Spider’s Web and they begin with a single strand:

1.  STABILITY.

2.  VISIBILITY.

3.  CAMOUFLAGE.

4.  PREY ATTRACTION.

5.  MATING.

Are you beginning to see where I’m going in the Spider Web analogy of temptation?  The WEB of Temptation that lies in front of each one of us: It is often camouflaged; sometimes attractive because of the light being reflected off the “stabillmentum”; even the opposite sex being a distraction of what can’t be seen at the moment of the attraction.  Hey, it happened to King David, to Sampson and others in the Bible.  The “spider” is always waiting…and waiting…and waiting.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A TRIAL AND TEMPTATION: 

A TRIAL is different and can be sent from God in order to deepen your walk with Him or to bring about God’s plan for your life.

A TEMPTATION is never directed by God, for rather its purpose is destructive.  It is not a sin itself, for JESUS was tempted in the wilderness.

TEMPTATION can make us stronger if…successfully overcoming it.

Facts About TEMPTATION:

FIRST of all, it’s going to happen!

Luke 17:1-2:

“AND [Jesus} said to His disciples…”

Hold it right there for a moment.  Jesus is addressing ALL of His disciples, His followers…He is talking to BELIEVERS in the 21st Century.

“Temptations  (snares, traps set to entice sin) are sure to come, but woe to him by or through whom they come!”

[Verse 2] “It would be more profitable for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were hurled into a sea than that he should cause to sin or be a snare to one of these little ones [lowly in rank or influence]”  (Amplified Bible).

THE WARNING:

The warning comes to those who become a stumbling block to someone else.  Rather than being a stumbling block, we need to seek to build up–restore the one who has stumbled.

“BRETHREN, IF any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin in any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit]  should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also”  (Galatians 6:1 AMP).

TEMPTATION Comes from Within–

I was watching a news segment on the NBC’s TODAY Show last week regarding the idea of legalizing DRUGS and PROSTITUTION in America.  America seems to have the mindset, as many other countries in the world, that if you can’t defeat something…LEGALIZE IT!

Temptation comes from within, from the devil, from the worldview that the devil promotes sinful people to accept.

It is never directed by God  (James 1:13)–

“Let no one say when he is TEMPTED,  I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one.”

God is never effected by sin and doesn’t make any decisions effected by sin because of His character…WHO HE IS!  He is totally pure and Holy!

TEMPTATION is an individual matter–

“But every person is tempted when…” [ Here is where that “spider web” comes into play].  “he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions)”  (James 1:14).

Billy Graham has said, “None of us should deliberately place ourselves in a position to be tempted.”  Satan will always attack where we are the most vulnerable.

He goes on to say, “But each one of us is TEMPTED when by his own evil desire, is dragged away and enticed…”  Was Mr. Graham seeing the same Spider Web as I?  Perhaps.

Temptation will always follow the same pattern– 

A thought enters the web and we pamper it….it germinates and grows into an evil act…and that’s where the devil has a pattern of attack.

TRUTHS of 1 Corinthians 10:13:

1.  Our TEMPTATIONS are not unique.

“For no temptation, has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man…”  (v. 13).

2.  There is a way to stand up to and over temptation–

“Therefore, my dearly beloved, shun  (keep clear away from, avoid by flight if need be) any sort of idolatry  (of loving or venerating anything more than God)”  (verse 14).

3.  GOD KNOWS my limits.  He is not unaware of my situation!

John MacArthur tells a story of a friend of his that I think illustrates this point:

A friend of mine told me one time, that he had taken a new job, with a very important company–he was very excited about it.  He had only been on the job for a little while.  Everyone had left the office one night and on his desk someone had left a HUGE sum of money.  He immediately took the money, put it in his briefcase, and thought I am going to have to return this.  He wrapped it up the next morning and brought it back and when he came to work he immediately walked into the bosses’ office and put the money down on the desk and said,  “Somehow, someone left this money on my desk and I don’t know who it was or who will be missing it, but I wanted to turn it in as fast as I could, so no one would be distressed by its absence.”  The boss looked him in the face and said, “I put the money there–it was a TEST–you passed.”

How would you have reacted to the TEMPTATION?  If your answer is,  “That depends…”, then keep reading this blog-post.

We OVERCOME TEMPTATION by:

Looking for a way to avoid the temptation–

In one sense every TRIAL (or TEST) is also a temptation that affords the opportunity to FAIL!

Alexander Maclaren distinguished being TEMPTED  and being TRIED or TESTED like this:

“TEMPTATION says,  ‘Do this pleasant thing, do not be hindered by the fact that it is wrong.’  TRIAL or PROVING says,  ‘Do this right and noble thing, do not be hindered by the fact that it is painful’.

AVOIDING THE “WEB” OF TEMPTATION:

An Old Testament example is found in Genesis 39:12.  Joseph flees from Potiphar’s wife when she wanted to commit adultery.

1.  FLEE FROM THE SITUATION IF POSSIBLE.

Submit Your Thoughts to God  (James 4:7; Philippians 4:8):

We should take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5:

“[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought captive into the obedience of Christ  (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”

MOST OF OUR THOUGHTS could be characterized more as captivating us rather than being captivated.  I need to watch what my mind is dwelling on.  We aren’t so much as seized and we seize the thought.

2.  SUBMIT YOUR WILL TO GOD’S.

Most sin is grounded in selfishness.

We must commit ourselves daily to God according to Romans 12:1-2 and by daily confessions Colossians 3:2:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you;  Taking your every day, ordinary life–your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life–and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.  Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.  Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you”  (Romans 12:1-2 The Message Bible).

“And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth”  (Colossians 3:2 AMP).

BREAK  *SEE Part Two for the continuation of the The Differences Between a Trial and Temptation.

Debt Slavery or Debt Freedom? Some Answers

Is it wrong to be in debt? 

That depends on the way it’s used.  Is “fire” wrong?  That also depends on the way it’s used.  

Matthew 25:15-30 [READ] shows an intelligent use of debt.

Unwisely use of debt is “bondage”. You can’t let greed guide your borrowing or let selfishness guide your borrowing money.

Let me start you out with this experiment before continuing what I was to uncover on being in debt, getting out of debt and staying free from debt. 

List every bill you owe by writing them down on a piece of paper. To write across the paper boldly with these two words:  DEBT FREE!

Everything hangs on LOVE:

Romans 13, Verse 8  “Keep out of debt and owe no man anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor [who practices loving others] has fulfilled the Law [relating to one’s fellowmen, meeting all its requirements].” 

Verse 8 isn’t about finances; make sure you don’t owe anyone LOVE.

Debt Slavery:

“Debt is dumb. Most normal people are just plain broke because they are in debt up to their eyeballs with no hope of help.

If you’re in debt, then you’re a SLAVE because you do not have the FREEDOM to use your money to help change your family tree.”  –by Dave Ramsey

When I refer to Debt Slavery, I am referring to excessive debt; excessive debt is “surety”.  Surety is a situation of being in debt without a sure way to repay. 

Proverbs 22: 7 says it this way:  “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a servant to the lender.”  Debt limits Godly opportunity in your life.

My Personal Story–

Dianne and I were married in 1964.  I had been employed with the same company for over five years and felt that stability was in place to get married; to start a family right away. My wife had been brought up in a family where they paid for things with cash; no credit cards, no check writing, just cash.  Her folks never discussed finances openly, so she knew nothing about budgeting our income.

On the other hand, I came from a family that lived paycheck to paycheck. If we didn’t have the money to spend on a vacation, a new car or any luxury items, my mom was an expert in budgeting and knowing how to “Rob Peter to pay Paul”; and she always paid Peter back.

Shortly after we were married, my mom cornered Dianne at their house one night and asked her, “Do you know how, as anyone explained to you how to budget your household expenses?”  It caught her by surprise, because she figured if you had cash — you bought and paid for it right there! God bless my mom. 

To this day, Dianne says she will never forget the day mom sat at the kitchen table and explained how family finances work in a practical, organized system. 

Six months later, I was let go from my job and was unemployed for over six months.  We now had a baby, furniture, car payment, rent, utilities, food, etc., etc..  Here is where Budgeting 101 was put to use…everyday! 

Almost 47 years later, after raising three children, no mortgage, no car payments, etc., etc., we are still using and living by mom’s budget instruction manual and it still works.

TURN TO  the Letter of James 1:1-4  Amplified Version:

JAMES, A servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered abroad [among the Gentiles in the dispersion]: Greetings (rejoice)! 

Getting out of DEBT and KEEPING OUT OF DEBT:  “Debt Freedom” 

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations.  Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.  But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be a [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.

Psalm 37:21, 22  “The wicked borrow and pay not again [for they may be unable], BUT the [uncompromisingly] righteous deal kindly and give [for they are able].  For such as are blessed of God shall [in the end] inherit the earth, BUT they that are cursed of Him shall be cut off.”

THE “BLESSING” and a “CURSE”:

The first thing and the last thing man will hear is, “Be blessed, be fruitful and multiply”.  What is The Blessing? It’s an empowerment from God for you to succeed in your health, your longevity, your marriage, even your finances.

A Curse is an empowerment to fail in your health, your longevity, your marriage and your financial security.

Deuteronomy 28 is the chapter to re-read on “BLESSINGS” and “CURSES”.  Deuteronomy 28:58, 59 says, If you will not be watchful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book [the Word of God], that you may [reverently] fear this glorious and fearful name [and presence] — THE LORD YOUR GOD — Then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary strokes and blows…” 

Don’t block the BLESSING with your DEBT!

GOD is your SOURCE:

Proverbs 8:20, 21  “I  [Wisdom] walk in the way of righteousness (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation), in the midst of the paths of justice.  That I may cause those who love me to inherit [true] riches and that I may fill their treasuries.”

2 Corinthians 9:8  “And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnish in abundance for every good work and charitable donation].”

Philippians 4:19  “And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Remember what James 1:2, 3, says about trials and temptations, and believe me when I say, being in debt can be started by temptations that will lead to trials.  And when you give in to those various temptations, you will eventually have to “pay Peter back what you robbed him of”. 

Learning to be “Content”:

Hebrews 13:5 says,  “Let your character or moral disposition BE FREE from LOVE OF MONEY [including greed, jealousy of others, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support, [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)!  [Assuredly not!]  [Josh. 1:5]”

It is a worthwhile saying to remember “contentment” in your temptation.

To be “wholly joyful in” not be “wholly joyful FOR” your trials; to “have”, not “have not” when you’re facing a trial of “Debt Slavery”.

Contentment means to, “use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”.

Seeking Godly Counsel:

“A person needing financial advice should not go to someone who makes his living selling the very thing he’s contemplating buying.”

Psalm 1:1  “BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.”

Proverbs 15:22  “Where there is no counsel, purposes are frustrated, BUT with many counselors they are accomplished.”

The “Debt Slavery or Debt Freedom” question has an obvious answer;  “Give me Freedom from Debt”. 

I have given you just a few WORDS from God’s Word in what you can do to get free and stay free from DEBT.  I want to leave you with 10-Biblical Principles by George Fooshee and what my family has used as a practical way of staying in Debt Freedom:

1.  God is your source.

2.  Give first [Proverbs 3:9, 10; II Cor. 9:6-10].

3.  Live on a margin. (write out your income and expenses; stick to the budget!)

4.  Save money [Prov. 21:20; 22:3]. Have something, like $25.00 automatically taken out of you paycheck to savings.

5.  Keep out of debt.

6.  Be content with what you have.

7.  Keep records of your spending. (Even a small business can’t stay in business without keeping records).

8.  Don’t co-sign.

9.  Work hard.

10.  Seek Godly counsel.