Truth in easy to chew bites.


God is more concerned about  your holiness than your happiness.

I don’t remember God making any promises to believers about being happy. That is unless suffering and persecution make you happy. God’s purpose for his children is not to make us comfortable but to make us Christlike.

God is just as concerned about how you live Monday through Saturday as how you worship on Sunday.

Many people live as practical atheists except on Sunday when they go do some religious rituals, give a bit of spare change, listen to a homily, and then rush out to a local restaurant and soon forget about God until next week. Some people who are God conscious every day still live under the illusion that Sunday “worship” is more important than going to work on Monday in their walk with God. When God calls his people to deny self, to present their bodies as living sacrifices, and to bring glory to him alone, he does not say what day of the week to do it. If you are a great worshiper on Sunday, doing it all right, but are a jerk at work or a poor sport at the ball field, sorry but you just canceled out Sunday’s activities for all practical purposes.  Spiritual worship is done with complete openness and transparency, it is not a costume party.

Churches should not be in competition like businesses are.

Some people seem to believe that God’s will for their community or town is that their church, the one they attend, should be the largest, get the most attention, receive the most accolades from the media, and be the church in town. Nope, not so. God only has one people. There is only one body of Christ and likely some of them attend almost every church in your town and you are just not that special. It just might be that God, if he is able to favor one congregation over another, might just give the nod to the little group on the wrong side of the tracks that is more humble than the loudest bunch in town. Until we learn that every group of Christ followers are our brothers and sisters, and are just as valuable as we are, we have a lot to learn.

If we don’t love our forever family members we don’t love God.

Now we can pretend it an’t so, but it is. We can look down our self-righteous noses at people who claim Jesus as Lord because they have a different view of theology than we do, or because they have different worship styles, or God forbid because of their skin color…and when we do we have proven that we really don’t love God. We are in fact pretenders. Oh, we might be saved, but we are far from mature believers with those sorts of attitudes. Any group that makes the claim they are the only true church, an’t (that’s isn’t to those of you with earned degrees).

Living a life that pleases God is easy easier said than done.

When I give up God shows up. When I trust more than I try I just might be a disciple of Jesus. But oh how I want some credit! I don’t want the glory that is only due God. I just want you to think about what a good man I am, how devout, how humble, etc. to the point of nausea… What God has always wanted is people who just take him at his word and obey instantly, every time. That should be easy. But there is a part of me that rebels against that idea with a fury born of hell and the war in constantly on. That is except when I am in willing retreat, on leave, allowing my flesh to rule me. Have you ever been there? Are you now?

I am in no better position with God than the lowest, most rotten sinner, except for the worth and work of Jesus, and you are not either.

Jesus came to life a life I couldn’t live, die a death I should have died, pay a price I owed, and take the punishment I deserved. He met all of God’s demands for me, took all of God’s wrath against me, died for me freeing me from the law and its penalty, was raised for me so I can live a new life, and made me an adopted son of God with heirship, sonship, and relationship with the Creator God. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Will I ever do everything right? No. Will I ever stop doing some things wrong? No, not on this side of the grave. Without Jesus Christ I am completely lost, alone, helpless and hopeless. But in Him I am a victor! I am destined to immortality and not to wrath and the second death. And though safe and secure I can only say with the song writer “Nothing in my hand I bring, only to the cross I cling”.

This is the way I see it, what about you?

Royce

Are you a good lover?


The most well-known New Testament verse in the Bible begins with the words “God so loved the world…” It does not say simply that God loved, it says He “so loved“. That is He loved in such a way that the expression of His love is the apex of time and eternity. He “so loved” less than lovable people so that He would come to earth leaving the splendor of the heavenlies, meeting all of His own just demands, living up to His own standard for righteousness, taking upon Himself the short comings of every person, then becoming an accursed one dying outside the city as a common criminal.

God “so loved”…. What about you? What about me?

The great love chapter, a favorite reading at weddings, begins as it ends, with the superiority of being a lover. In the first part of the chapter (1 Corinthians 13) the great Apostle says if he becomes the best orator ever, without being a lover he is only making irritating noise. And, he said if he knew everything, past, present, and future and yet was not a good lover he would be zero, nothing. Then before he explains the God/love he says that if he had enough faith to move a mountain, gave everything he had to the poor, and became a martyr burned at the stake he would have gained nothing.

Wow, doesn’t this pretty much wipe out much of what modern religion is? I mean, isn’t the things he mentions what we strive for to a large degree?

We better start Loving!

Jesus, when asked “What is the greatest commandment?” answered this.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:37-40)

Do you love theology? I do. Have you spent many years learning the Bible, exploring the richness of its treasures? I have. It’s a waste of time without being a good lover. The Law and the Prophets have no meaning without love.

Paul ends the great chapter on love with these words.

“Love never ends”

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:8a, 13)

You and I have a lot of loving to do don’t we? Where is the next object of your love? Someone at work, a neighbor, a relative, a friend?

Remember God “so loved“. Unless love is a verb it is nothing more than a sham, some warm emotion that is fleeting and will never make any sacrifice for another, including God. We too, you and I, must “so love” that others can tell it. And when we do we will have in that act loved God.

Be a somebody, go love someone!

Because God so loved,

Royce


The Secret of Christian Unity


You are probably asking, “What! Another article on unity? Why?” Yes, because I think most of the articles, blog posts, and even books miss the core meaning of Christian unity.

Parts of Ephesians 4 are usually quoted where Paul instructed the Ephesian believers to “maintain” the unity of the Spirit in verse 4 and in verse 13 he spoke of the goal of Christian ministry being to “attain” unity.

I think this definition of the English word is very accurate, and in the context of this brief study.

“Unity is defined as the state of being undivided or unbroken completeness or totality with nothing wanting. It is the smallest whole numeral representation. It has the quality of being united into one. Unity can denote a combining of all the parts, elements and individuals into an effective whole.” (Wikipedia)

I appreciate most this statement, “It is the smallest whole numeral representation”. That would be the word “one” used to describe the many.

So then how you worship, what church you attend, or even your conclusions on a particular Bible doctrine are not causes, or even clues of Christian unity. Many of us have a list of beliefs and practices that others must comply with before we can unify with them. That is not “unity”, that is “uniformity”. Saying the same things and doing the same things doesn’t even come close to making  believers “one”.

A careful and thoughtful reading of Jesus’ prayer for his own in John 17 shines the light on true Christian unity as well as any place in the Bible. Hear his words…

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20–24)

Here it is! Just as the Father and the Son are “one” those of us who have Christ are “one”. Unity begins and has its source in our individual relationships with Jesus Christ. If you are not one with God, through Christ, you can’t have unity with another Christian. It is this supernatural love relationship that results in “unity”, not the observable expressions of our faith like which church we attend, how we worship, what we approve or disapprove, etc., etc.

Every true Christian is one with God the Father, one with Jesus, and because of that infinite oneness, one with every other person who is in Christ. This is why Jesus would say these astonishing words about God’s love for us.

“…and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:23b)

When I first understood what Jesus had said in his great prayer I could hardly take it in. God loves me like he loves Jesus! God loves you dear believer with the same unpolluted divine love he has for his Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Wow! That is the bedrock of Christian unity. “God so loved the world…” It is that God-love that brings us together and binds us and creates the lowest number to describe God and his people, “One!”

Unity is a love gift, it is the ultimate expression of God’s matchless grace. God was in Christ who with one hand holding on to God the Father and with the other hand holding on to wicked, ungodly sinners he brought the two together making them “one”. We have been “reconciled”, “set right” with God by the doing and dying of our Lord Jesus Christ. All of this happened outside of us without our schemes and abilities.

So you see, you don’t have the latitude to decide who you will have fellowship with, who you will love. Any place on earth where you find a person who is rightly related to Jesus, who is at peace with God, you by family relationship are united to that person.

If  you are in the family of God, rejoice and give thanks for God’s amazing grace. If you are not in the family, come on in. You will be welcome at the table.

Agape’

Royce

Which came first, Sin or the Sinner?


I have had the pleasure of meeting all kinds of people from almost every walk of life and from many countries of the world. And, I have meet and had discussions with thousands of who call themselves Christians as well as several adherents to eastern religions and a sprinkling of people who proudly claimed to be either atheist or agnostic. Of all those tens of thousands of people in my experience I have never met one with this problem, “I am to good!”

Have you ever met anyone who complained that he or she was to loving, to forgiving, to patient, to kind, to loyal, to truthful, just to good? Why is that? If, as many believe, that we are sinners only because we chose to sin, why wouldn’t at least a few of the teeming millions who live or have lived on planet earth have chosen not to sin?

It is our nature to sin.

Having observed children all of my life, and especially those who are my grand children, I have learned a truth that cannot be denied. Every child is born with a nature that causes them to want to do wrong. Now you might deny the doctrine of original sin but tell me, which mom and dad do you know who have to lecture and threaten with time out or even a spanking because their kids are just to dog- gone good? You will never hear “I just can’t get this child to be selfish, or to lie, and she insists on sharing everything she has with others. What am I going to do?”

No, the reverse is true. Parents must begin at once to start teaching little ones to do right, doing wrong is original equipment. Kids must be taught to be truthful, to be unselfish, to obey parents, to share, and to be kind to others. Little ones do not know what is right and what is wrong and must be taught, but if left to their own devices they will do wrong.

Everyone who knows right from wrong will choose to do wrong.

It happens at different ages, some children mature faster than others and become aware of what is right and what is wrong. It might be 5 years old for some and preteen ages for others. One thing you can count on, as soon as they know right and wrong they will do what is wrong on purpose. There is no exception to this law. This is why the Bible gives blanket condemnation, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.

Not every person who sins is held accountable to God.

I recently heard a story about a couple who had a son who never matured mentally but lived until he was 45 years of age. I have personally known unfortunate adults who had the mental capacity of infants. They were unable to know the difference between right and wrong. And, I am convinced that small children, too immature to know lying is wrong and not under the condemnation of the wrath of God until such time as they know they are doing wrong.

When is telling a lie sin? When is stealing a sin? Is it at age 5, age 8, or age 13? The correct answer is that sin (lying and stealing, etc.) are sins all the time. When Christ died he bore the sins of the whole of humankind and paid if full the debt the offenders owed. That atonement covers those who come to faith in Christ and those who because of immaturity or infirmity do not have the ability to come in faith.

Our responsibility is to teach our children early and often about Christ and his love for them.

The reason we must teach our children the gospel in age appropriate ways is that they are little sinners. It is not that they might become sinners. It is true that little ones are not guilty before God but we know they will be soon enough. I know of no higher duty of a parent than to make sure their children understand that they are loved by the Saviour and that they need him. Each of them must encounter Christ on his or her own. Don’t make the mistake of  trusting a Sunday school teacher or someone else to share the gospel story with your child!