Monday, July 6, 2020

JUDGE RIGHTLY


JUDGING RIGHTLY
Monday, July 6, 2020

  Psalm 25:4-5; 51-13 Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. … Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
  Luke [GW] 7:36-49 One of the Pharisees invited Jesus to eat with him. Jesus went to the Pharisee's house and was eating at the table. A woman who lived a sinful life in that city found out that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee's house. So she took a bottle of perfume and knelt at his feet. She was crying and washed his feet with her tears. Then she dried his feet with her hair, kissed them over and over again, and poured the perfume on them. The Pharisee who had invited Jesus saw this and thought, "If this man really were a prophet, he would know what sort of woman is touching him. She's a sinner." Jesus spoke up, "Simon, I have something to say to you." Simon replied, "Teacher, you're free to speak." So Jesus said, "Two men owed a moneylender some money. One owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other owed him fifty. When they couldn't pay it back, he was kind enough to cancel their debts. Now, who do you think will love him the most?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one who had the largest debt canceled." Jesus said to him, "You're right. Then, turning to the woman, he said to Simon, "You see this woman, don't you? I came into your house. You didn't wash my feet. But she has washed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You didn't give me a kiss. But ever since I came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You didn't put any olive oil on my head. But she has poured perfume on my feet. That's why I'm telling you that her many sins have been forgiven. Her great love proves that. But whoever receives little forgiveness loves very little." Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins have been forgiven." The other guests thought, "Who is this man who even forgives sins?"

  We are responsible to consider life’s issues.
  Many are hoodwinked by wolves in sheep’s clothing, wicked lambs promising spiritual, physical, financial, political prosperity and security. And then there’s fooling oneself with the blindness that sometimes comes with affection; not wanting to believe and accept the truth about self or those we love and admire.
  Exercising Biblical judgment is not for the faint-hearted or emotionally discombobulated, and especially not for those proudly grounded in self; eyes filled with ego-centric woodwork. Please understand that judgmentalism is not a Holy Spirit ministry gift; this sin easily identified by gleeful feelings, joyfulness in criticizing others.
  What is required when it is necessary to judge?
·         Clear vision! Mt.7:5; 1Cor.2:14; & chapter 13
·         Knowing The Truth so as to discern untruth; equipping to recognize good or bad trees, fruit, wolves and sheep. 1Cor.2:14; 2Tim.2:15-16; 3:16-17; Heb.4:12.
·         Understanding and graciously functioning within our ambassadorial position. Eccl.12:9-14; Prov.1:1-7; 2Cor. chapter 5.
·         A compassionate attitude. Jonah chapters 3 & 4; Rom.12:9; Jam.3:17.
·         Understanding the end hope is always redemption, reconciliation, and edification. 2Cor.5:18-19; Eph.5:14-21.
  In light of rereading the above points and reviewing references from God’s Word, I recognize I have more to learn and appropriate in order to maintain facility of proper Biblically balanced judgment. Ego, prejudice, and embedded culture and party lines lurk nearby at all times . . . and readily creep in during incautious moments. Consequently, as a matter of personal need, I’ve decided to embrace the words of a psalmist as my prayer. I invite you to join me … “Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees. I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.” (NLT Ps.119:124-125) 
EBB4

Sunday, July 5, 2020

INDEPENDENCE DAY


INDEPENDENCE DAY
Sunday, July 5, 2020

  Job chapters 32 thru 41; 36:11-12 … obey not the Lord … die without knowledge
  Hosea chapter 4; verse 6, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
  John_8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

  Typed “Independence Day” into Wikipedia and discovered listing of nearly 140 nations, islands et al under that heading (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day ), ours, the USA celebration, of course being listed under July 4, 1776 when some of our forefathers declared independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. I say “some of our forefathers” in order to be more accurate than the usual inclusive sounding unity presenting “our forefathers”.
  As I continue reading USA history, I see that our colonial forefathers were no more united than we politically today. How humorous it is to believe that our colonial ancestors were all pro-independence patriots! Or that those that were, was all stout honorable Christians of lofty Biblical character. (One founder is said to have spent more time hot tubbing and sleeping with French women than negotiating with French leaders.)
  As in all wars of independence there were patriot loyalists to the Crown, patriot secessionists, political opportunists on both sides, mercenary “for profit” soldiers and merchants, along with the usual quislings. Then there were the outright vandals, robbers, rapists, murderers, local clan and territory fighters, conveniently operating under the guise and cover of the chaos of war.
  There is today increasing number suffering paucity of knowledge beyond 4th of July as a time of barbecues, water balloon fights, ball games, and fireworks.
  But is this not also typical of Christianity, with the lack of balanced comprehensive life-applicable knowledge and wisdom from The Word that alone may provide authentic freedom?
EBB4

Friday, July 3, 2020

REMEMBRANCE


REMEMBRANCE
Friday, July 3, 2020

Luke 22:19-20 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

  When we think of someone we love, we reverence that person. In my present view are numerous reminders, photos and items. Every time I look out the windows at the Stars & Stripes fluttering in the breeze, it reminds me of many things. On the sills of the windows rests old fashioned forked wooden clothes pins that Mother held many times in all seasons. (Even after a dryer that she refused to use “As long as I can stand I will …”) I remember her love, and discipline. Leaning in one frame is decorated WWI combat veteran Uncle Jim McGee’s WWII Air Raid Warden’s baton, I remember, including walking the darkened neighborhood streets with him looking for carelessness allowing slivers of light that I just knew that Nazi or Jap bombers could use to blast our homes. Go to a graveside or a once-shared place, a wonderful dynamic of remembrance occurs.
  Remembrance of Christ, who He is, what He has done and is doing, is necessary for worship; we consider and attend to that which we think about, whether person, place, or thing. Hence Jesus establishing the uncomplicated practice of communion; the physical objects, cup, bread, and wine, reminding us of Him and all that He is, especially His finished work.
  With Christ, remembrance is worship, but also edifying; considering Him and His love for us, we are strengthened and built up, and God is pleased. 
  Let us now remember and say with the Psalmist: Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul. (Ps.103) 
EBB4


Thursday, July 2, 2020

EXTREMELY ALIVE


EXTREMELY ALIVE
Thursday, July 2, 2020

  Ephesians 2:1-10 And you hath he quickened [MKJV “He has made you alive”], who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
  1Peter 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

  The word “quickened” is in KJV 7 times; Ps.119:50, 93; 1Cor.15:36; Eph.2:1, 5; Col.2:13; 1Pet.3:18. All believers would do well to read and seriously consider in context.
  Eat, drink, procreate, laugh, cry, despair or be passionate about life . . . and yet, without trusting Lord Jesus Christ unto His redemption, the power of His resurrection . . . people are but walking as dead. (Jn.3:14-18)
  But even as Christian “made alive” we may dwell mediocre though Christ’ liberation provides for uncommon extremely alive existence for all our days. Dwelling thusly is grim life, especially considering Jesus saying “If you are not on my side, you are against me. If you don't gather in the harvest with me, you scatter it.” (CEV Mt.12:30) “scatter” meaning to waste and dissipate.
  Pondering further, Matthew 6:33 comes to mind; put God’s work first – not at all a closing thought, but one that in every event we should begin with. 
EBB4

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

HAPPINESS


HAPPINESS
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

  Job 5:17-18 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. 
  Proverbs 29:18, 20 Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him. 

  There was a time when I pursued happiness. Can’t say exactly when, but somewhere along my timeline I decided it not a good goal for me as God’s son. (Jn.1:12) In my ongoing personal Romans 12:2 transition I found that only pursuing godliness provides authentic happiness as a byproduct.
  Consider these truths:
·         Love is a basic need. God loves above all others. His love is unequivocal. Only by resting in His love I can truly love others. Resting in His 1John 4:8 love I am exceedingly happy.
·         Security and peace are a basic need. If I don’t trust Him with my concerns (1Pet.5:7) and guilt (1Jn.1:8-9), I am insecure without peace; not happy. (Ps.103:12, Jn.14:27; 16:33)
·         Properly understanding self is a basic need. Accepting the Isaiah 53:6 / Romans 3:10, 23 truth that I’m not inherently of myself a good person, I can be happy. Rejecting this vital fact is a prideful hindrance to Biblical joy.
·         The need to belong is basic. (Gen.2:18) Focus on pursuing belonging in being a fan, entertainment (this includes “Christian entertainment”), clubs, fraternities, sororities, marriage, church et al . . . will never provide Biblical joy, but leave one ever striving for the goal of happiness.
·         Life with authentic purpose is a basic need. Reject the truth of Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Matthew 6:1-33, Romans 12:1-3 . . . and all is a perplexing disillusioned race for happiness.
·         If I make decisions other than according to God’s wisdom, His Word, I have no hope of authentic Biblical happiness. When Scripture doesn’t precisely spell out direction for decision, Matthew 6:33 is viable guide.
  Who doesn’t want to be happy? I’ve yet to meet the person.
  Dear fellow travelers, please understand that God loves you and wants you to be happy. But without His Way, there is no hope of valid happiness. (Jn.14:6)
  How is it that you are seeking happiness, in the games of this world apart from His wise provision?
  Dear Christian, are you unhappy but reject taking time to look up Bible verses providing His answers? If this is your chosen way, then you shall continue in the fickle wearying pursuit of happiness. 
EBB4

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

DEFEATING EVIL SANS BLM INVOLVEMENT


Christianity steeped in neighborly love ended slavery and defeated Jim Crow. The gospel, not the BLM movement, already has what we need to heal the nation.
JUNE 24, 2020
  As churches across America restart in-person services, Christians and their pastors are feeling the heat. The “heat,” however, is not from the lack of air conditioning in the sanctuary as things get hot and humid — it’s the pressure to “say something” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
  Yet just as Christians shouldn’t feel obligated to issue “official church statements” every time sin is committed (there would be little time for anything else), they should oppose demands from Black Lives Matter activists to “take their Christianity further.” Why? The gospel is already sufficient.
  Believers living out Christ’s commands to love God and love their neighbors as themselves led the West’s push to abolish slavery. Christians acting out a sincere application of the gospel were at the forefront of the civil rights movement, a movement steeped in the biblical message of neighborly love. We’re already in possession of the ultimate “user’s manual” to bring peace to our nation and defeat evil wherever it lurks — it’s called the Bible.
The Dangerous Retreat from The Word
  One of the most emblematic summations of the insidious “say something, the gospel isn’t enough” line of thinking was expressed by author and blogger Kristen Howerton. On Twitter, Howerton implored her fellow believers, “Do not treat the protests as a new mission field. Do not go to ‘love on people’ or to lead people in prayer. Do not go to ‘be a Christian voice in the crowd’ or to share God’s love or to witness to people. Go to fight systemic racism and racial violence. The end.”
  This sort of belief is omnipresent right now among American Christians of all ages. I see it in my social media feeds. If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve likely seen it too. What we need to do is live out the teachings of Jesus Christ to the best of our flawed human ability every day. Yet the idea that Christians need to “do more” than this has permeated the highest, most prominent echelons of Christian ministry.
  Brian Houston, a founder of Hillsong Church, called for “radical” and “permanent” change to combat the “systemic issues” facing black Americans, then tweeted his disappointment when a pastor of a U.K. Hillsong Church did not express what Houston considered sufficient solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Houston’s apology on behalf of his British colleague ended with “#BlackLivesMatter” and the three raised fists emoji that symbolizes BLM activism.
  It would be disheartening enough if it were just simply that Christians felt pressured to support a dangerous, manifestly anti-Christian movement based on neo-Marxist ideology. It’s worse, however, that by related words and deeds, many of these same Christians appear to insinuate that the BLM movement can provide something that the gospel cannot.
Christians Led the Modern Charge to Peacefully End Injustice
  The idea that the gospel is not enough to defeat evil is a belief that could severely hamper the work of the Kingdom. Thankfully, the history of the last two centuries is enough to prove otherwise.
  Many of the most influential and successful abolitionists were Christians who used the Bible to soften the hearts of men and win the fight to end the horrible practice of slavery in the West. Picking up where Christian Quaker abolitionists left off, evangelical Anglican William Wilberforce was the driving force behind the British Empire’s ban on the slave trade in 1807. Ultimately, the efforts of Wilberforce and the movement he spearheaded with fellow Anglican Thomas Clarkson led to the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, ending slavery throughout the British Empire.
  Deep Christian faith was also at the heart of the work done by John G. Fee, one of the leading Southern abolitionists. In 1855, Fee founded Berea College “in the midst of many privations and persecutions to preach and apply a gospel of impartial love.” Berea was the first non-segregated college in the South to admit black and Caucasian students, and its motto — “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth” — was lifted directly from the Bible’s Acts 17:26.
  In his autobiography, Fee writes the biblical command to “love thy neighbor as thyself” was “pressed upon his conscience.” Throughout his life, he strived to wholly embrace that principle and live it “in honest practice.”
  Led by Martin Luther King, Jr. several Christian ministers including Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, and Hosea Williams joined to found the influential Southern Christian Leadership Conference that served as the spiritual and ideological backbone of the civil rights movement in the 1960s and beyond. The gospel’s message of neighborly love was the forefront of their purpose and the centerpiece of their advocacy for non-violence as embodied by Matthew 5:38-40.
  Methodist preacher James Lawson was called “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world” by MLK, Jr. and “the architect” of the civil rights movement by Rep. John Lewis. Lawson helped organize the Freedom Rides and saw the civil rights struggle as much of a spiritual struggle as it was a political one. “The Christian favors the breaking down of racial barriers,” said Lawson, “because the redeemed community of which he is already a citizen recognizes no barriers dividing humanity.”
  For both Christian abolitionists and civil rights leaders, the words of the Bible and abiding faith in the Almighty were all they needed to achieve victory and justice for members of God’s family being denied their natural rights as endowed by their Creator. If slavery and government-sponsored Jim Crow legislation could be defeated by the irresistible love the gospel promotes, Christians should take heart that the power of the Word can work the same wonders again and unite a fractious nation.
The Bible Provides All the Guidance We Need
  Those who practice authentic Christianity do not need any pointers on how to defeat evil. They especially don’t need to borrow ideas from the Black Lives Matter movement, which, since the tragic death of George Floyd has led to at least 24 new deaths as a result of violent rioting, looting, and chaos. While the true cost of the vandalism and destruction unleashed by the movement may not be fully known for years to come, the latest estimates place property damages at more than $500 million in Minnesota alone.
  Of course, much of this could likely have been avoided if instead of encouraging and standing with the BLM movement and other radical leftist neo-Marxists, the more than 210 million self-professed Christians living in America took the text of the New Testament to heart.
  Christians don’t need to adopt the positions of BLM movement to spread a message of equality. The instructions on how to live in harmony with our fellow brothers and sisters are right before us. Besides the well-known words of Galatians 3:28-29, in Ephesians 2:14 the Apostle Paul proclaims, “For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us.”
  Throughout the New Testament, Christians are reminded that “sin is lawlessness” as written in 1 John 3:4; similarly, in 1 Peter 4:15, “If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people’s affairs.” We also see in the New Testament that the misinformed nature of many found at riots and scenes of chaos has not changed for thousands of years.
Just as recent rioters destroyed black-owned businesses, while others vandalize statues of abolitionists and rock stars they mistakenly suspect of being Indian hunters or slave traders, Luke relays a similar scene in Acts 19. When angry Ephesians felt Christians slighted their pagan god Artemis, a riot broke out. Anger boiled, “the whole city was filled with confusion,” and, lo and behold, “most of them didn’t even know why they were there.”
  The local mayor ordered the rioters to calm down, and — in this case — they listened. Instead of stoking their rage, the mayor appealed to the rule of law. He tells the angry Ephesians to take up the matter with official courts “to be settled in a legal assembly.”
  Paul shows the choice is neither to dismiss the cries of the angry nor to condone mob violence or vigilante justice. The Christian solution is to empathize with those who are hurting and then to have faith in the fixtures of civilized society to discharge justice as best as possible, knowing God will deliver the final justice in the end.
The Way to Healing
  As stated in James 1:16-20, “the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Indeed, James warns against being carried away by earthly movements. The only cause we should be following whole-heartedly is the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
Don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. … You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.
  All Christians can, with confidence, emphatically say the words “black lives matter,” a statement that is resoundingly true. What they should not condone, however, is the BLM movement that removes the forgiveness, hope, and peace of the gospel and replaces those core values with continual protest, fear, and anger. As Paul reminds us in Romans 12:19, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.”
The God-inspired words of the New Testament are already sufficient. The words and deeds of Jesus Christ are already sufficient. When before His last breath Christ proclaimed, “it is finished,” His mission was complete.
  We’ll never know perfect human equality here on earth. But until our Lord returns, Christians can take comfort that the Bible app on their phone, the Holy Scripture resting on the shelf, and the Word in front of them in the church pew all contain the only guide needed to heal our broken world.
Joshua Lawson is managing editor of The Federalist. He is a graduate of Queen's University as well as Hillsdale College where he received a master's degree in American politics and political philosophy. Follow him on Twitter @JoshuaMLawson.

Monday, June 29, 2020

APPLICATION IS REQUIRED


APPLICATION IS REQUIRED
Monday, June 29, 2020

  John [MKJV] 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. 
  Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. 
  2Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work. 
  2Peter 1:16-21 For not having followed fables having been cunningly devised, but becoming eyewitnesses of the majesty of Jesus Christ, we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord. 
For He received honor and glory from God the Father, when was borne to Him a voice from the excellent glory, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice being borne from Heaven, being with Him in the holy mountain. We also have a more sure Word of prophecy, to which you do well to take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the Daystar arises in your hearts, knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture came into being of its own private interpretation. For prophecy was not borne at any time by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke being borne along by the Holy Spirit. 

  I asked Doctor Barry Mayberry “What is your biggest problem with patients?” Frowning, he quickly replied “Not taking their medications and self-medicating.” And so it is with too many that profess following Lord Jesus Christ; they getting on and off the pilgrim path paved solidly by the Word living (Jesus) and written (the Bible).
  Since Adam and Eve’s disobedience life is a naked chaotic mass of issues even when we’re enjoying moments of ambient happiness and peace. God’s Word provides walking direction in dealing with issues. However, the Word must be known, understood, and applied by John 1:12 family. (Rom.6:4) As with all issues, this a matter of individual free will choice and action; living for God a life of Romans 12:1-3 repentance. Choices that may result in emotions, but never to be decided by emotions.
  Tomorrow I am sharing a Word lesson with application on a current issue very much in the news.
EBB4