Flee from sin

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is truly an odd one. We have the twin cities standing during Abraham’s time as terrible symbols of rebellious sins against God. The Lord said “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave,”. (Genesis 18:20) He was speaking to Abraham and informed him that He was about to bring destruction on them. Abraham would plead before the Lord, who informed Abraham that He would not destroy the cities if He found at least ten righteous men. History would show that ten were not found. (Genesis 18:32)

Later the Angels would appear to Lot and his family, who lived in Sodom to warn them so that they could flee. The men of the city were so depraved that they demanded to have the Angels to satisfy their sexual hunger. (Genesis 19:5-4) Fortunately the Angels blinded the men before they could cause any harm.

When the morning came Lot and his family fled the city. They had been warned not to look back. It is a message that still speaks to us.

God desires a better life for us and demands that we flee from evil and sin. He demands that we remove them from our lives and distance ourselves as much as possible from their temptations. However evil and sin seem to have a bizarre hold on us even when we see their evil faces. Such was the case of Lot’s wife.

Lot’s wife ignored the warning and longing looked back and instantly turned into a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19:26) Perhaps she truly did not want to leave this evil city and was already thinking of all the many wonderful things she was leaving behind. In our lives we must push on, looking forward to the promises of Christ, our eternal future with Him and the many blessings of our new life with Him. We must contemplate on that which is good and resist longing for those things we left in our sinful past.

 

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Resisting sin

Jesus taught his disciple many lessons. He knew that he was going to leave them with a great mission; to go into the entire world spreading the gospel, changing lives, seeking the lost and making more disciples. (Mark 16:15-16) One important lesson was the Our Father. This was intended to be a model for them to follow. One of the lines is “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (Matthew 6:5-14) He knew the disciples and all of us were destined for failure and in need of constant forgiveness. Jesus knew he was about to leave them and that soon after they would be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:4) The Holy Spirit would give them great power and yet Jesus knew that they and all of us as well would find it difficult to remain perfect at all times. (Acts 1:8)

Paul also explained this problem. He said that sin was in us. (Romans 7:13-20) No matter how strong we are, no matter how much we try, we are still in this world and must contend with our flesh. Therefore we are still capable of falling into sin. This is a constant danger. The devil like a lion is looking for who he can devour. (1 Peter 5:8) That would be us, he is looking for.

What can we do? Our desire is to live a life that is pleasing to God. Should we wait around waiting to fail? Should we live however we please and just repeat the “Our Father” every night?

Since we are sincere Christians it is imperative that we be on the offensive. We must live our life aware of the devil’s attacks. How can we do this? First and foremost we must diligently work every day to increase our understanding of what pleases God. This happens as we study scripture. When we study scripture our faith increases as well. (Romans 10:17) We therefore become stronger Christians.

Jesus also gave us another solution. He once spoke of the power to rebuke demons and he told the disciples “This one only comes out through prayer and fasting.” (Matthew 17:21) If prayer and fasting can give a servant more power to contend with the devil then certainly it will help us in all matters. It too will draw us closer to Christ. How do relationships grow stronger? They grow stronger with communication. This is what prayer means to us. Prayer is our vehicle to communicate with God, strengthening our relationship with Him.

We also know that idle time is a dangerous time. It is when we allow the devil to tempt us and fill us with thoughts that are not pleasing to God. Idle time allows us ample opportunity to focus on what we don’t have. Consider David who casually walked about his temple with nothing to do only to be tempted by seeing the naked Bathsheba bathing. (2 Samuel 11:1-5) We should look to close the door on the devil by occupying ourselves in productive tasks, primarily serving God and the needy.

Remaining sinless is impossible. We have all fallen and will fail again. But sin certainly does not have to consume our lives. We can greatly reduce its hold on us and the likelihood of failing God, through much prayer, study of scripture and occupying ourselves in worthy endeavors.

 

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What is a christian?

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16

The history books speak of Christian armies conquering the new world and enslaving Indian tribes. The Spanish Inquisition with all its horrors depicts Christian’s torturing their victims into submission. We have early American Christians hunting down witches and killing them. Many claim Adolph Hitler to be a christian and thus another example of a violent sadistic Christian. The list, I am sure, could go on and on. There is however a consistent problem.

If we claim to be Christians we must follow Christ. I would make a very strange Christian if I were following the teachings of Buddha or Mohammed. I would also be a strange Christian if I didn’t believe that Jesus was the messiah and the bible his word. To be a true Christian means you are following Christ and are sincerely trying to submit to his teachings. Jesus declared a principle that is basically applied by all thinking logical people. He said “You shall know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-20) Till this day we rightfully and intelligently judge people by their actions, not by what they say or claim. In other words I could claim to be a rocket scientist. Does that make me one? I could claim to be the strongest man in the world, but if my neighbor beats me in arm wrestling then I am not. My claims mean nothing if my actions do not support my claim.

The teachings of Christ are clearly laid out in the gospels for the entire world to see. Christ warned his followers that if you live by the sword you die by the sword.(Matthew 26:52) He also said that we should love our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) It is difficult to claim you love your enemies if you are torturing, burning, enslaving and killing them. He also said that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. (Matthew 22:39) This needs some explaining. Jesus used the parable of the Good Samaritan to clarify His teaching. We learn from the parable that your neighbor is anyone you come in contact with, due to technology that could be anyone in the world. If we are busy loving everyone as we love ourselves how could we justify harming them in anyway. This next principle from Jesus truly makes it difficult to commit acts of violence and torture on anyone. He said do unto other as you would have them do unto you. (Luke 6:31) Now if the intention of the Crusaders was to have someone invade their home, then they would be justified. However I seriously doubt that. Nor were the crusaders desperately seeking to die by the sword. They obviously were not following the teachings of Christ of doing unto others what you would have them do to you.

Now if all of these violent men were ignoring the teachings of Christ were they really Christians? The simple answer is no. If you are following someone you live by their rules.

Jesus gave of us rules of love. If we were not clear on them, He then specifically told us how to love. Our love was to be one of sacrifice. The good Samaritan went out of his way to help the injured victim he found. On another occasion he told a rich man to sell everything he had and give it to the poor. Jesus also taught that we must feed the hungry, clothes the naked, visit the sick and the imprisoned. This command came with a warning, that if we failed to do this we would be condemned.(Matthew 25:35-46) Jesus also warned against harming children and the innocent.

How did Jesus expect his followers to treat sinners? First we are all sinners, which is why Jesus said judge not less ye be judged. (Matthew 7:1-3) However, Jesus did expect all sinners that would become his followers, to repent of their sins, and sincerely try not to sin. He on several occasions had commanded those he had forgiven to go and sin no more. However he never suggested forced conversions. Jesus was looking for sincerity, which is why He said we would know them by their fruit. It is also why He said we must worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) Jesus did give his followers directions on what to do if their message was rejected in any given town. They were to simply leave. (Luke 9:5) No swords involved.

There have been violent men in all religions, nations, cultures, races and they have existed throughout history. They have often used their nation, culture or religion to convince others to follow and assist them in their quest for blood. Some were Muslim, others Christians or atheist. A faith should be judged on it’s holy writings and teachings of its founder. We are all seeking the truth and we should not allow ourselves to be fooled by the actions of some who claim to be the adherents of a faith but then brake every commandment of that faith. I would ask that Christianity be judged on the works of Christ and His true followers. He turned fools into wise men, leaders into servants, sinners into saints and the condemned into the saved. He has changed countless lives for the better and will continue to do so until He returns.

A time of Darkness

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 

Prostitution, idols to other gods, incense burning to a multitude of  gods, priest dedicated to the worship of strange gods in the temple, the practice of witchcraft,  channeling (also known as mediumship or spiritism) and the sacrificing of children, by burning them, were among the horrific practices of Israel when Josiah became king. (2 kings 22-23)

How had Israel fallen so far from the grace of God? They had rejected God and misplaced their bible.  They had tossed out the very word of God, as if it was garbage. They no longer had any use for it.

Israel had entered a time of darkness much like our own.  We now have a society that has rejected God and the bible is treated like it’s a work of fiction.  Its rules, commandments, code for living, and guidance in all matters are no longer applicable.

Today we have prostitution, drug addiction, and in this year we’ve had almost 40 million abortions; in the United States 22% of all pregnancies end in abortion. (http://www.worldometers.info/abortions/).Slavery exist all over the world, in the form of human trafficking, where children and woman are either kidnapped or bought from poor parents and kept worst than cattle. They are sold into prostitution, used in pornography (remember pornography is protected as free speech) and when they are no longer of use resold for body parts. In our generation, with the United Nations firmly established and active throughout the world we have seen in different locations government sponsored genocide, wars and acts of aggression. We are living in a time of darkness right now.

In Josiah’s time the nation of Israel was spared complete destruction for only one reason.  They rediscovered God’s word and turned to it with all sincerity. They put away all their evil practices and obeyed God. I truly believe that God is merciful and if our nation can rediscover God it would bring down a shower of blessings that would benefit both great and small. It is still not too late for a revival.  We can begin with caring for our neighbors, sharing God’s love and preaching His word.

Try Verses on the bible

A New Baby

Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139:16

My nephew will be witnessing the birth of his first child soon. It was interesting how for a moment I struggled with how to begin this post. If I said “There will be a new life soon,” I would be wrong. My nephew’s child is already alive, just not born. Plenty of doctors can attest to this fact. If I said “we will have a new member of the family soon,” again I would be wrong. This unborn baby is already a part of our lives. There are plenty of gifts, cards and furniture to prove that.

Some might disagree with me. They would call my grand nephew or niece, a fetus and nothing more. They also claim this treasure is not alive, although the doctors, nurses, my nephew and his wife have already had the pleasure of hearing the heart beat on several occasions. The mother has also testified on more than one occasion of how much the baby actually moves. Those who are not alive usually have trouble moving and showing a heartbeat.

Others insist this is not a baby. This wonderful creation has legs, arms, lungs, toes, a mouth ready to eat and a brain capable of capturing information at greater speeds than most adults. This life that exists within my nephew’s wife is a young human, less than a year old. By definition this makes this wonderful creation a baby.

I am sure that killing a creation as just described would be a lot easier if we could just believe that it is not human, not a baby and not alive. However there is nothing biological to differentiate between this creation and the baby we can hold in our hands. The only difference is the state of where they are physically.

The bible makes it clear that it is God that forms us in our mother’s womb and knows us intimately even before we are born. (Isaiah 49:1, Psalms 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:4-5) Much of our character, likes, dislikes and physical characteristics have already been programmed by our creator. Our genetic material already has the information that will determine if we will be capable, with proper training and nutrition, of throwing a 90 mile per hour fastball, shooting a three pointer or winning a marathon. Although we may not know the inner workings of this wonderful being, God does.

What is our responsibility? To welcome this child into our lives, providing all the love and care we have. It is tragic that many children will not be received likewise. Some will literally never see the light of day.

Consider the following verses

Verses on Abortion

Verses on Children

Try a post

Baby Hope an abandoned gift

Abortion-potential-forever-lost

Stay the Course

For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. 1 kings 11:4

Staying the course, especially if it’s a long one, can be a difficult challenge. Preparing for a competition, seeking a new career, sticking to a weight loss program, starting a business or just getting a degree; there is an endless list of long term goals that can start with a fury of commitment but end with a quiet fizzle, like the air coming out of a balloon.

Solomon, one of Israel’s greatest kings, the same Solomon famous for his wisdom, was given a lifelong course. He was to remain faithful to God, so that God would bless his descendants. Solomon started out great. He asked God for wisdom and used it to make his kingdom great. He enlarged the kingdom, built a larger army and navy. Increased his wealth and gained famed throughout the world. But he also married quite a bit. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. That’s 1000 women to keep happy and listen to. In the end it was too much for even the wisest and richest man Israel ever saw. The bible relates that Solomon in his old age worshiped the gods of his foreign wives. God was angry and punished Solomon. Most of his kingdom was torn from his son, coming under the rule of another family, tarnishing the greatness of Solomon.

Our Christian life is a lifelong course as well with many challenges. There are many forces seeking to take us in different directions. Temptations that would cause us to sin and commit acts that do not please God, tops the list for sure. However quiet innocently we can relegate our walk with Christ to low priority without even knowing it. We can fill our lives with many wonderful and productive activities. Too many activities, like Solomon’s wives, can act to squeeze God out. We must be attentive to where God is fitting in our schedule. If there isn’t much time for Him we risk an even greater danger of failing God, as Solomon did.

Consider the time we spent on God, once upon a time, when we were on fire for Christ. There was time for Sunday school, prayer services and even a chorus rehearsal. Bible reading and prayer was a daily routine. Whenever a special program or service was announced we were glad to be there. No sacrifice was too great for our God.

Perhaps some of us are still on fire. We must stay the course and be aware of the forces working against our commitment. However if we are within the group that has grown a little cold don’t wait another second to seek God earnestly. Make a re-commitment to serve God fully.

It’s just a little lie

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? Acts 5:3

The church was young and the Holy Spirit was acting with great power upon the masses as thousands were being added. With great love and unity they shared what they had with each other. It was innovative and totally unheard of. People selling off what they had, to care for the needs of their brethren. Some would argue this was a good case for socialism. However it was the choice of the individual. Christians were not required to sell any of their property.

Ananias and Sapphira knew they could sell their land and give whatever they wanted. But that was not enough for them. Perhaps they sought recognition or approval. They decided to sell their land and keep some of the money for themselves, while telling the apostles that they were giving everything to the church.

Lying has often been used to gain approval and recognition. That is a sin. They were also lying to God. How serious does God take lying?

 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8

 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Revelation 21:27

You can’t get more serious than that; however just to be clear Jesus adds that it is the Devil who is the father of lies. (John 8:44)

Ananias and Sapphira are slain by God in the midst of the congregation not for the money, but for lying. God expects his people to be honest.

It can be challenging to always say the truth. Sometimes a little lie is all it takes to fix a problem or put us in good standing. Perhaps that lie can also put dinner on the table or protect the feelings of someone we care for. God however does not make exceptions and our salvation is just not worth the risk. Honesty is still the best policy.

Try these verses Verses on lying

A repentant tax collector

“Today salvation has come to this house” Luke 19:9

Zacchaeus was the most hated man in the Jewish town of Jericho. He had managed to steal from most and take from all. He provided the Romans with a bounty of wealth and property. He was of course the tax collector.

This hated tax collector had become aware of the arrival of the great prophet, some believed to be the messiah that was promised to Israel long ago. Zacchaeus was curious, perhaps even hopeful that this great man may be able to help him in some way. It is typical for those of us in need to see Jesus as an answer. But Zacchaeus most likely did not lack for anything. This seemingly materialistic man, who had cheated the poor people of Jericho, must have realized a spiritual need, a sign that he was ready for repentance.

Jesus upon seeing the tax collector hiding in a tree, immediately informs him that he would be visiting him in his house that day and that he must come down from the tree. However Jesus never makes mention of Zacchaeus’ sins until Zacchaeus does something truly wonderful.

He admits to his wrong doings and humbly tries his best to make up for all he has done wrong. He tells Jesus “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” (Luke 19:8) He is filled with guilt and understands the pain and suffering he must have caused others. This is why he does more than just offer to pay back what is rightfully owed; he offers to give them 4 times the amount. This extra amount is punishment he is placing on himself. Zacchaeus is truly repentant.

True repentance comes with a sincere recognition of wrong doings. It is absent anger, the type of anger that can follow being caught. Anger is also absent because we do not seek to blame anyone else but ourselves, and we wish to make amends as quickly as possible. We do not believe ourselves worthy of forgiveness, instead we are grateful to be forgiven. Unlike a judging crowd or a group of Pharisees, Jesus saw his heart and recognizes true repentance in Zacchaeus. He says “Today salvation has come to this house” (Luke 19:9)

Zacchaeus provides us all with a mirror to reflect ourselves in and check to see if we are truly repentant of our sins. It is wise for us to take a long look and be sure. Our salvation depends on true repentance that is absent anger and excuses. Most importantly we will receive forgiveness gratefully, knowing we never deserved it.

Apple of God’s eye

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

When did we become the center of God’s eyes? Was it when with His hands he formed Adam? Was it when he dreamed up Adam’s great love Eve? Was it when they first spoke or was it their first smile? We were the Apple of God’s eye before the creation. He had the entire Universe planned so that we could exist and prosper.

He certainly placed the stars in the heavens for us to ponder them. He set the oceans in motion that we might have adventures, placed the mountains to inspire us and filled the earth with animals to delight us.

But even before that He already had planned our future. Our purpose was always to be with Him. He knew we would fall and need redemption. He knew we would need forgiveness. Scripture reveals that since the foundation of the earth the plan of salvation had already been made. (1Peter 1:18-20, Ephesians 1:4) Jesus knew even then that his destiny was earth and to be the once and forever sacrifice, that the world could be saved. (John 3:16) The sacrifice of Jesus pays the price of our sins so that we might forever be with God, fulfilling Gods ultimate desire for us, to be with Him.

Some would have us believe that we are accidents of the cosmos. But are we to believe that while rocket ships, super computers and skyscrapers all have designers and makers, the most intelligent creative complicated being on this planet was just an accident?

Certainly we are the apple of God’s eyes and we are forever in His living hands!

Baby hope, an abandoned gift.

Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

Recently baby hope was identified. Her name is Angelica Castillo. This was a child believed to have been 4 years old when she was sexually abused and killed. The police also have evidence that she suffered from malnutrition, tied to at table and denied water as well. In truth we really don’t know the extent of the abuse. This happened over 20 years ago, but finally she was identified and the monster guilty of this heinous crime has been brought to justice.  There is much that needs to be said but the first thought that comes to mind is this precious life.

When Jesus was about the country of Judea he helped countless people and on one occasion there were several children that attempted to approach him. The disciples in their ignorance attempted to stop them. Perhaps they thought the master could not be bothered. But Jesus immediately corrected them and said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  (Matthew 19:14) These children had humility, submissiveness and a faith that is required to serve God.  Scripture also reveals that children are a great treasure. (Psalm 127:3, Proverbs 17:6)

Instead of being treated like the great gift that she was, Angelica Castillo was abandoned by her father and left in the hands of monsters.  How do we look upon our children now? Are they unwanted burdens, perhaps too costly for today’s economy? Are they a nuisance that often get in the way of our more important endeavors?

Children are beautiful creations temporarily placed in our care by God almighty. They are souls that the kingdom of heaven anxiously watches over. They must be raised with love and care that they may grow to be strong faithful men and women of God.

As for those who do not share these sentiments concerning children I leave this warning. You will meet God’s justice face to face, whether in this life or the next.

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