Subtle Mercies

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

A question, that it is often posed, and used as an accusation of lack from God, is the question of mercy. Believers and nonbelievers alike often question if God is a merciful God. It is easy to live the blessed life when the big paycheck comes in or the loved one we have been praying for is suddenly healed and no longer at death’s door. The point is that we believe and receive the blessings and mercies of God when things are seemingly going well for us. But, what do we do when it is our season to suffer and bear our crosses? Are we able to still see the mercies of God, His justice, and unending love for us? Are we willing to even see His love and mercy in our times of trial? Many of us are not! As soon as trial comes or our season of suffering has arrived, our faith becomes shipwrecked and our belief that God is merciful and loves us is cast wayside. Why me Lord? What have I done to deserve this? Sound familiar? It should, we have all said it at one time or another! But, even still, God remains merciful and His love for us never changes!

The title of this article, “Subtle Mercies”, was chosen with purpose. It rightly suggests that at times we have to intently and with purpose look for the mercies of God. They are not hidden from us; we only have to dig for these nuggets of truth and love. Their subtlety suggests that we are required to pursue God and seek His mercy and love to find them. In our quest we do find mercy and love and a new closeness to our God. If it is worth possessing then it is worth searching for. Personally, I believe God planned it this way. Sometimes His mercies are as obvious as the smile on our face and at other times we must search for them with deliberate determination.

Allow me to share with you one occasion of these subtle mercies I refer to. It is documented in the Old Testament of our Bibles. I’m sure we all remember the story of Moses and how God used him to deliver the Israelites from the hands of slavery under the captivity of Pharaoh. But, do we see the whole story, the “big picture”, and beyond the obvious miracles, blessings, and mercies?

God began His call upon Moses by laying on his heart an unexplained love for his own people and distaste for Pharaoh and the Egyptians. In a sense, God was bringing Moses back to his “roots”. Ultimately, Moses was used of God to deliver His people Israel from the captivity of Pharaoh. These were a stiff-necked people with constant complaints and serious disbelief that Moses or God had their best interest at heart. Let us not forget that God had responded to their cries in the first place. Their prayers for deliverance were being heard and granted. Nevertheless, they remained an infantile bunch and wondered the desert for forty years with Moses in tow as God’s called leader.

During these forty years Moses faced many trials in leading his people for God. Sometimes He was pleasing to God and other times displeasing. Sounds a lot like us too don’t it? Nevertheless, God always remained faithful and merciful to Moses. Several times Moses did quite the opposite of what God had commanded him and furthermore in an angry burst, intentionally broke the tablets of stone that had God’s law inscribed by His own finger! Again, this sounds like us, huh? Foolishness in the wrath of our anger! God was still faithful to extend love and mercy to Moses and He does us too. How many times in our lives have we deserved the wrath of God? Equally, how many times has He extended the hand of grace and mercy to us even though we did not deserve it? Countless, concerning both!

Although there are many, let us note some of the mercies extended to Moses. He (Moses) asked to see God’s glory. God allowed him to see His back as He passed by from the cleft of a rock. Mercy! God allowed Moses to make two new tablets of stone like the previous ones and rewrote His commandments on them for Moses to deliver to the people of Israel. A second chance! Mercy! Although God had told Moses He could not enter the Promised Land because of his disobedience concerning the water and the rock, God did allow him (Moses) to look upon the land of promise in all its beauty. Moses saw with his own eyes what he had suffered and fought for in bringing Israel to the land flowing with milk and honey. Some say this was a cruel act of God and went along with the punishment of Moses. No, I believe it was an act of mercy by allowing Moses to see the fruit of his work and reasons for leadership, although not perfect, were not in vain. Mercy! God had taken Moses atop a mountain to see the land and when Moses had beheld it, he died. God Himself buried Moses and the location of his grave was never revealed. Mercy! Moses is the only person in history that has ever been buried at the hand of God. Burial is an act of honor and respect. Mercy!

Let us not be disillusioned or misinformed. Although God is a merciful God, there are still consequences for our actions. But, we must always remember that the punishment and chastisement of God is in itself merciful. God is many things, but above all He is loving and merciful!

The next time we tend to doubt the mercies of God, let us look upon the life of Moses and view fresh that our doubt simply isn’t true. God is not looking for perfect people, He is looking for those who will believe and receive His love and mercy. All honor, glory, and thanksgiving are to our God, for His love and mercies endure forever! Amen!

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Sympathy in Our Weaknesses: Surviving Temptation

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“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

(Hebrews 4:15)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! I pray all is going well with you and that you continue to experience the abundant blessings of God.

In this article, I will share on a subject that I believe is often overlooked in the basic teachings of Christianity. Because of this oversight, Christian’s are often left to “fend” for themselves, thus the flock scattered and seemingly left without hope or answers. This is tragic because the end result is often discouragement heaped with a healthy dose of condemnation.

The subject I refer to is “temptation” and believe it or not, it is not a dirty word. Every child of God faces, and will face, temptation numerous times while upon this earth. It is of utmost importance that believers understand that temptation in and of itself is not sin! What we do with the temptation we face determines it becoming sin or not. All temptation, regardless of form or how it is received, comes from the enemy! God never tempts anyone with evil!

Our enemy knows well the weaknesses of humankind! He is not referred to as the “most subtle” without good reason. Like any good shoulder going into battle, knowledge of the strategies of your enemy gives great advantage. Through the scriptures the Lord has prepared the Christian soldier for warfare.

First of all, the enemy always cheats, and will attack by appealing to the desires of human nature! These desires include appealing to our love of beautiful things, pride, and hunger. We can call these areas of attack, “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life”. (I John 2:16) Every temptation that comes at us will appeal to one or all three! In the Garden of Eden, Eve was tempted with all three and so was Jesus during His period of temptation in the wilderness! This brings me to the main point, the temptation of Jesus and how that relates to us.

Our enemy holds no punches and will attack from all directions. Sometimes multiple directions in one assault! He tempted Jesus from multiple directions! We find the account concerning the three ways Jesus was tempted in Matthew chapter four (4). The serpent of old hurled three vicious temptations at Jesus: “command these stones to turn to bread”, appealed to His hunger; “throw yourself down”, appealed to His pride, and “all these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me”, appealed to His like of beautiful things, all three fall under the desires of human nature, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Now, we have learned the strategy employed by our enemy in assaulting us, but what about our counterattack and weapons of war? Let us go back to Matthew chapter four (4) and see how Jesus handled the situation. In corresponding order, let’s listen to Jesus’ reply to each assault: “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”; You shall not tempt the Lord your God,” and “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”. Alas! Jesus used His Sword, the Word of God, to counterattack the enemy! What was the end result? “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him”.

Temptation is a serious matter and can bring great distress to the believer. The attacks are often very intense and always strike at our most venerable weaknesses. That said; we are not left orphaned without the care of our Shepherd. It brings us great comfort to know that “we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, was in all points tempted as we are, yet remained without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Of equal comfort are the words of the Lord in I Corinthians 10:12-13: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” This scripture does not indicate that God is the tempter, satan is, and God will not allow him to go beyond what we are able to withstand.

Beloved, God, in His mercies, has taught us the strategy of attack employed by our enemy, as well as, the weapon we use to overcome him. Remember, temptation of itself is not sin; it is how we respond that births sin. I pray that in our time of temptations, we use them as a means to strengthen our Lord’s overcoming power in us, and not allow them to merely be the exposure of our weaknesses. We are engaged in the battle, but the enemy has already lost the war! Beloved, “fight the good fight of faith”!

The Mercy of the Father: An Underserved Gift

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“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! The love and beauty of God within the scriptures never ceases to amaze and leave me awestruck! Even in the seemingly harsh encounters we read of in the Bible, I am still able to see His love and mercies abound. Oh, what a treasure He is, and a life lived without Him is certainly void.

I wish to share with you one of the greatest, if not the greatest, acts of mercy that the Father has bestowed on us. The merciful act I speak of concerns our redemption as well as one of the first major prophecies of the Bible.

Please join me on a journey back to the Garden of Eden. Here we find the creation of the heavens and the earth, the birds, animals, and more importantly the creation of mankind. Isn’t the garden wonderful, so much beauty to behold and lovely scents to smell? Do you see it? Even the birds and animals are at peace with man and all creation is in harmony! The presence of God fills the garden as sweetly as the aroma of a gardenia shrub on a summer’s eve. No wonder this place is called “paradise”!

God has demanded obedience to one major rule; “of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat”! He even provided a reason for His demand; “in the day that you eat of this tree you shall surly die”. In these scriptures alone we find that God recognized man as a free moral agent.

Now we find trouble in paradise! The serpent has deceived Eve into eating from the forbidden tree and she shares her bounty with Adam. In an instant, mankind is fallen, made aware of good and evil, inherited a sin nature, and died spiritually! The two that would have lived forever, now later experience a physical death. Although conditional on obedience or disobedience, the death of mankind was among the first major prophecies of the Bible.

The disobedient acts of Adam, Eve, and the serpent did not go unpunished and ultimately the first couple was banished from the garden. Let us look closely at the punishment given the serpent and then Adam and Eve being banished from the garden.

God pronounced a curse on the serpent more than all cattle, every beast of the field, and he was to eat dust all his days. In concluding the judgment passed on the serpent, God reveals His redemptive plan for humanity! “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”. This prophetic Word of God was fulfilled by Christ Jesus on Calvary’s cross and His resurrection from the dead was the final blow delivered!

Now, let’s consider the first couples banishment from the garden. Was this just part of the justified punishment of God, or was it one of the greatest acts of mercy given to mankind? Carefully read God’s Words: “Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”- therefore the Lord God sent them out of the garden of Eden…”

Beloved, I submit to you that this is the greatest act of mercy bestowed upon mankind from God! Why? If God had allowed Adam and Eve to remain in the garden, eventually they would have eaten from the tree of life. If they had eaten from the tree of life after having eaten the forbidden fruit, they would forever, through all eternity, live in a fallen state, subjected to all the heartaches, pains, disease, sadness, evil, and spiritual death (eternal separation from God) that frail humanity now endures for a short season! Being that Adam and Eve are the beginning of all humanity, and that we inherit our fallen nature from them, we to would have lived in this un-formidable state for all eternity.

The pains, disappointments, and despair we have in this life are only for a short season. We are not destined to live this life forever and we are promised entrance into paradise on the condition of our receiving the sacrifice of Jesus. Beloved, will you join me in raising holy hands to heaven and thanking the Father for His unbound, endless love and mercies? We have indeed received the greatest of mercies and they are new every morning!

From Weeping to Joy: There is Hope

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For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30:5)

 Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! My most recent articles were centered on confession, repentance, apostasy, and the general degrading of our world. Although these things are true, and we are living in evil and turbulent times, it is not my desire to leave you orphaned without a shepherd, or hope for a brighter tomorrow.

It is true that Jesus warned us that perilous times would come. There would be wars and rumors of wars, nation will rise against nation, and lawlessness will abound. But, He also told us not to be troubled, that these things had to come to pass! He did not predict uncertain times and leave us hopeless. No, He promised that He would send the comforter, His Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and lead us home. He promised to never leave nor forsake us and that He would always be with us.

As each day passes across the globe, it is easy to become discouraged, distraught, and loose the joy of our salvation. Another innocent life taken, another bomb detonated another massacre, and another bad governmental decision. We all face these things in our daily life and some people and countries more than others. Oh, but beloved, we have an eternal hope! An eternal promise of a life without sadness, pain, suffering, disease, war, and one of constant and eternal peace! The Lord Himself says, “Fear not for I am with you”, and “Be still and know that I am God”! What promises! In these promises He reminds us that He is control and never caught off guard!

Beloved we must keep our eyes on heaven and our focus on Jesus. He commands us to “be of good cheer as He has overcome the world”! We have nothing to overcome beloved, only to remain “in” Him! He asks us to persevere, “hang in there, I have everything under control”, as we patiently await His return. We are promised to pass from suffering into glory! Let the words of the Apostle Paul become ours: “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”. Notice the word choice, “shall” be revealed, not might, maybe, or possibly, but “shall”, a single word with a firm promise! Although we may endure weeping for a night, we are promised that joy will come in the morning!

We cannot find comfort and encouragement in the things of this world. Money, possessions, relationships, addictions, and status simply will not do. If any comfort and security is found in these at all, it is only temporary, as God alone gives eternal comfort, security, and joy. The relentless pursuit of these things only leads to a broken heart and shattered dreams. We find what we lack in the giver of the gifts and not the gifts themselves! Happiness is an earmark of Christianity, but this happiness cannot be found in the world. It is only obtained through Christ Jesus! If you find your life in turmoil and happiness has far escaped you, then maybe it is time to acknowledge your Creator and Savior.

I have found that in times of dryness and discouragement, I am brought back to peace and serenity through the hope and encouragement offered in the scriptures. The Word of God is living, needing no qualifications and speaks for itself. I am going to yield to the Holy Spirit and use the remainder of this article to share with you some scriptures of promise, hope, and encouragement. I pray that you will read each one slowly and carefully, thoroughly chewing and digesting every precious morsel. We can’t claim the promises we don’t know, and we can’t know them unless we read! Sit back, relax, and allow the Spirit of God to speak through the power and love of His Word.

Father, I pray that as every person reads these scriptures, you will speak to their heart. I ask you to reveal peace, comfort, encouragement, and reassurance as we read and meditate on Your Word. Hope can only be found in You, and we come now seeking Your face and voice. Thank You for loving us, securing our future, and delivering us from evil. With thankful hearts we pray, in Jesus’ name, ~Amen

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

(Jeremiah 29:11-13)

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;

Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!

Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!

There is no want to those who fear Him.

The young lions lack and suffer hunger;

But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.”

(Psalm 34:8-10)

 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

The righteous run to it and are safe”

(Proverbs 18:10)

 “But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.”

(Isaiah 40:31)

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends”

(John 15:13)

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

(Romans 8:28)

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

(Romans 8:31)

 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(Romans 8:38-39)

 “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

(I Corinthians 13:12-13)

 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

(II Corinthians 4:16-18)

 “…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

(Ephesians 3:17-19)

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing”

(James 1:2-4)

 “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,

And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,

But the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

(Psalm 34:18-19)

“In the multitude of my anxieties within me,

Your comforts delight my soul”

(Psalm 94:19)

 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.

When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,

Nor shall the flame scorch you.”

(Isaiah 43:2)

 “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

” Therefore I hope in Him!”

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,

To the soul who seeks Him.

It is good that one should hope and wait quietly

For the salvation of the Lord”

(Lamentations 3:22-26)

 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”

(Romans 15:4)

 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

(Romans 15:13)

“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14)

 “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.”

(II Thessalonians 2:16-17)

 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”

(I Peter 1:3)

 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away”

(Revelation 21:4)

        Beloved I pray for your continued blessings of our Lord Jesus Christ! No matter where you find yourself in this world, He knows where you are, and all His promises are for you. I hope you read the above scriptures. I promise that they contain life and are a sure cure for what ails you. ~Amen

Free Will: Blessing or Curse?

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Freedom is a peculiar word that means something different to each and every person on the planet. In the United States freedom is more or less based on constitutional law depending on the specific interpreter of the law at any given moment. Another term with equally differing opinions is “democratic society”. Although constitutional law outlines a citizens (U.S.) freedoms and liberties, they are still subject to one’s interpretation and application of the law.

In other countries freedom is unheard of and the citizens are subjected to a dictatorship. A “democratic society” is often a farfetched dream and can only be realized by relocating to a free society, and calling it home. As with most things, as pertains to life on planet earth, there are positives and negatives to contend with. A major negative in a democratic society is that often a certain “freedom” is surrounded by a certain moral ethic. One group is opposed and another group is accepting. This causes major divisions in free society that seem to somehow branch off into other smaller sub-divisions of conflict. I suppose this is the equivalent of starting several small fires until you have one huge out of control fire. We should be able to agree, that freedom and free will, are not problem free! Free will is both a blessing and a curse! In its purest form it is a love gift from God. Exercised wrongfully and it can become a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of Satan!

I have laid this small foundation concerning freedom, as freedom and free will go hand in hand. To exercise your freedom is to exercise your free will. We, as humankind, have the capacity to choose to rightfully or wrongfully exercise its use.

I believe we can all agree that we are free moral agents possessing the ability to make our own choices and decisions concerning any matter we may be confronted with. Agreed, but where do we follow the roots of our free will? Contrary to what many governments would teach us, our free will was instituted and given to us by God Himself. Although scripture doesn’t state this verbatim, it is implied, as I will show you.

Let’s journey back to the Book of Genesis into the first few chapters. These chapters teach us of the creation of the heavens, earth, and mankind. Now, let us consider Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God spoke to Adam saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God then created Eve out of Adam and she became his wife, and the two became one flesh. Therefore, as one flesh, what one chose affected the other and vice versa.

I do not know how long Adam and Eve had occupied the Garden of Eden prior to the appearing of the serpent, but he did appear on the scene and approached Eve. The serpent asked Eve if God indeed said “you shall not eat of every tree of the garden”. Listen to her reply: “And the woman said to the serpent, we may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, you shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” The serpent sealed the deal of deception by telling Eve that they would not die, and that God knew that if they ate of that tree, they would be like God, and have knowledge of good and evil.

The case for free will is hereby established: If Adam and Eve did not have free will then there would not have been any reason for God to tell them what trees they could and could not eat of. Furthermore, through deceptive tactics, the serpent presented Adam and Eve with the choice to exercise their free will and eat of the forbidden fruit. Also, Eve acknowledged to the serpent that God had told them not to eat of that particular tree. Our free will and freedom to choose originated in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve! As a result of their disobedience, Adam and Eve became aware that they had the ability to exercise their free will for good or bad. The choice they made, opened wide for us all, the knowledge of good and evil, along with the ability to exercise our free will, rightfully or wrongfully! God gave man free will, and I believe that before the “fall” Adam and Eve knew it a pleasure and something easy to do, in obeying the commands of God. Furthermore, if man was not a free moral agent, would God encourage us to choose His will?

So, Adam and Eve, influenced by Satan’s deception, chose to eat the forbidden fruit and their eyes were opened to good and evil.  The first thing they noticed was their nakedness! This should be interpreted in the literal sense, but let’s spiritualize it just a bit. I believe that not only did Adam and Eve realize their physical nakedness; they also came to a realization of their inward nakedness. They also had an epiphany of the inward man (woman) without the presence and Spirit of God. This new ability to choose wrong was overwhelming to them! Up to this point, they naturally chose right, as they just trusted and obeyed God at His Word!

What Adam and Eve do next is the fuel on the fire! They heard the voice of God in the garden and they hid from Him. God called out to Adam asking where He was, not because He didn’t know, but because He knew that Adam had sinned. Adam answered by telling God that He had heard Him and hid because of their nakedness. God in turn asked if they had eaten from the tree He had commanded them to avoid. Now, the “blame game” begins. Adam blames Eve and in a sense God and Eve blames the serpent. Adam and Eve tried to side-step their disobedience, refused to hold themselves responsible and accountable, and attempted to pass the blame forward. In the end God punished all three, Adam, Eve, and the serpent. He held each accountable for their individual actions.

The disobedience of our ancestors has had catastrophic results on humanity throughout generations past, and will continue through those to come. We have seen how humanity inherited the inability to “always” do what is right. Every one of us at one time or another has blamed someone else for our own actions.  Free will started out as a complete blessing, but as a result of the fall of mankind, it has been intermingled with curse. Now, we have what I call “hybrid” free will. Just as gold is not pure before going into the furnace! Think about this, we do not have to teach a child to be selfish and misbehave; we have to teach them to respect others and to behave. The point is that this side of mankind is what comes natural and effort has to be exerted to do differently.

In society today, it seems that accountability and responsibility are fashions of the past. The “blame game” is one of the most used tools for selfishness and the lacking of holding oneself personally accountable. We tend to blame the bad things in life on our parents, grandparents, children, employers, employees, government, police, and who or whatever else we can think of. The most hideous of blame casting is when we throw it at God! Have we forgotten that He is our creator and if He chose to, could wipe all humanity out with one stroke? We are His and He can do with us as He desires. The truth is that He means us no harm, but somehow we still find reasons to blame Him. Maybe finding reasons to “blame” Him is just another way to try and reject Him?

In the United States, and in most states throughout the country, criminal law recognizes misdemeanors, felonies, and capital felonies. This means that misdemeanors are the lowest form of crime and capital felonies are the highest. As we see, man has determined that some crimes are petty and others are heinous. How does God view the law and our behavior? Sin is sin is sin! There are no differences in the eyes of God! A crime of murder is the same as petty theft, and is the same as not doing what we know to do. God tells us in His Word that the lack of belief is sin. Now, is that a misdemeanor or felony? Neither, it is the same as murder!

Another fascinating fact concerning our free will is that God will not revoke it or interfere with our exercising it. It is a gift from Him and the “gifts and callings of God or without repentance. Now, if we have received Jesus, and are considered a child of God, then through His Holy Spirit He will encourage us to do right and guide us in making the right decisions, but will never force us. Our free will is just that, free! Every one of us is responsible and accountable for our own actions and decisions. We have no right, it is never proper, and is always sinful to blame God!

We must all understand that here on earth bad things will happen, evil will exist, and people will make senseless, neglectful, and even evil choices. Jesus never promised any of us an easy ride. In fact, He told us that “through much tribulation we will enter the kingdom of heaven”. Why? Because man has free will, God is just, and therefore He cannot revoke free will or it would make Him unjust and a breaker of His own law!

In this world there has been much tragedy since the beginning of time. There has been domestic and international wars, religious persecution, bombings, shootings, catastrophes, mass destructions, mass taking of lives, and terrorism to name a few. All nations and people of the world have been victims and none are immune. But, beloved, I must be truthful and tell you that God is not the blame for any of this! Mankind, corporately and individually, are the responsible parties! Often, when tragedy strikes, and no answers are found, God is blamed and a torrent of questions rush forth; “Why did God allow it”, and “Why didn’t God stop it” among many others. I can’t tell you the answer to either question, but I do know that a reason exists in heaven and God knows what it is. I can also assure that He is not to blame.

The next time evil and tragedy strike, take a moment to think before you raise a clinched fist to heaven and blame God. He has promised “good to those who love Him” and that He will take the bad in our life and use it for our good. You can find this promise in the Book of Romans chapter 8 verse 28. God cannot be our Savior, Deliverer, and oppressor at the same time.

As we should have been taught, and hopefully have taught our children, there are consequences to our actions. Sometimes these consequences are serious and effect many lives. One single incident can have devastating consequences upon the whole of humanity! As we learn not to blame God and to turn to Him instead, let us remember these small and simple definitions: “Obedience” is rightfully exercising our free will and “Disobedience” is wrongfully exercising our free will. Free will can be a blessing or a curse depending on how we choose to exercise it! I pray the God of peace to protect and keep evil far from you, In Jesus name, ~Amen.

“Two Broke Preachers and a Crippled Man”: A Lesson on Giving

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Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

You were most likely drawn to this article because of the title, right? And, I imagine you are thinking that I am just trying to be funny? Well, a little, but there is also a seriousness about the title as well! You will soon see that a valuable spiritual principal is also implied!

Let’s see if any of these real life scenarios apply to any of us. Have you ever been sitting in church, and the Pastor or other minister pounds heartily on the tithe and offering drum? Ever gone into a grocery or department store and someone is either at the entrance or somewhere in the parking lot soliciting “help”? What about being approached while you pump gas into the family vehicle? Another seemingly popular approach is someone standing at the exit ramp as you exit the interstate holding some sort of sign where the writing usually ends with “God bless”. Have you ever experienced that one?

What I describe above is common in the United States, among other practices to obtain a helping hand. I’m not exactly sure how this is approached in other countries, some are the same, and others similar, but I’m sure that there is no shortage of needy people. Please stay with me here, I promise this is not a badmouthing session against needy people or con artists, although they are out there. No, I have a valuable lesson to teach and some of us may even be set free from the old bags of bondage we have been carrying around!

I’m sure that each of us has experienced at least one of these scenarios in our lifetime. Now, with the above scenarios in mind, consider this: you have been confronted or asked to give whether it is in church or elsewhere and you do not have one cent in your pocket! In fact, we may even find that in actuality, our financial circumstances aren’t the greatest either, and we may be the one that is needy. What do we do? Where do we turn? And what about the need that is before us? The choices are several, but for many Christians, the choice seems to be made for us, condemnation and guilt settles in! We really want to help, but the fact is we are broke and can’t help financially.

Why do these guilty feelings rush us like a tidal wave? Do we really have anything to feel guilty or condemned about? Feelings of compassion and concern are normal, but not condemnation and guilt. Some of the reason we feel guilty, is because we have been conditioned to think that the only thing worth giving is money, and sadly we have somewhat been taught this in our churches! Have you ever heard this old secular saying, “money makes the world go around”? Well, money may make the world go around, but it should not make the church go around! There are many treasures in this life greater than money, and some things are simply priceless! What should make the church “go around”, post salvation, is our good works! God the Father has given Christians the ability to give the greatest gift second to the sacrifice of His Son Jesus, the gift of ourselves! Jesus is the only definitive example, of what it means to sacrifice out of love for humanity. Should we offer Him any less as His hands and feet?

In His life giving ministry, did Jesus walk around handing out cash as a show of His love, hopes, and healing for humanity? Not at all, He invested Himself in the lives of others.

I am the father of three children, and like any other parent who loves their children, wants to offer them the stars. Soon after I was born again, the Lord brought to my attention a Bible verse: “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

Already being a father, this verse really struck a nerve in me. I contemplated the verse a little and immediately asked myself a question. What is the greatest gift that I can give my children? One, which will all throughout life, bring them life, peace, joy, opportunities, love, and remain a constant help in times of trouble, and an ever present guide concerning the fragile and difficult walk of life. Right then, I determined that the greatest gift I could ever offer my children was an introduction to the Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Comforter of their life, Jesus Christ! I went home and shared this with my wife and children. We joined hands and the four of them received Jesus in their hearts that moment! At their request, I then baptized them in the bathtub! God has very much honored that day in our lives. Other than the typical growing pains of rearing children, I have not had one moment of trouble from them. God gifted me with them and I presented the gift back to God.

This is a lesson about giving and no one is gift less, ever! We all have Godly gifts to offer humanity and just need to look deep in our hearts and see what we possess. Money is not always the thing that is needed most. Sure, it is most often the desire of the heart to those of us who are needy, but remember, “Give a man a fish and eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime”. Sometimes what we think we need is not what we need at all!

We all have something to offer; from a kind word to a friendly smile; an encouraging hug or comforting embrace. We can offer a helping hand, or a leg up; a drink of water, or maybe a full meal; a prayer for healing, or a word of praise. We all have something to offer! There is no need to feel guilty about our giving or that we lack a certain gift. These things are priceless! Money can’t and never will outshine the love of Christ!

What did Jesus have to say concerning our giving? “…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘ Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:35-40)

Every one of the above acts of kindness can be done without having one dime in our pocket! It only requires that we purpose those things in our heart. God has given us all something to give. I’ll let you in a little spiritual nugget; when we give of ourselves, the one receiving the gift is not the only one to benefit. God instantly warms the heart of the giver with His approval, and that too is priceless! Please don’t misunderstand my message here. I’m not suggesting that money is never an appropriate gift, only that it is not the greatest gift, and is often, something we lack and can’t give this way. In all of our giving we should follow the leading of the Lord. He knows what the best gifts and greatest needs are concerning all of us! Being that He uses His people to bless others, it stands to reason that we follow His lead, agree?

“Two broke preachers and a crippled man”: I’m going to share a story with you to reinforce our lesson. A man who had been born lame was carried to the gate of certain church every day. His reason for going there was to seek monetary charity from those that passed by or were going inside the church to worship. I don’t think the man ever really made eye contact with those that passed by and he had been doing this same routine for some time. I can only imagine how many people walked by this man each day. He just sat there hoping someone would give.

One particular day two preachers approached the gate so they could enter the church. Strangely, the crippled man spoke to them and asked for alms, but did not look up at them. He definitely had the attention of the preachers as they intently starred at him. One of the preachers spoke and told the man to look at them. The man looked up at them expecting to receive some money. One of the preachers, realizing what the man wanted, and probably considering what the man really needed, spoke to him, “I do not have any money to give, but what I do have I give you; In the name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk!”

The preacher then extended the right hand to the man and helped him get up. Immediately, the man’s feet and ankle bones received strength. Leaping up, the man stood and walked and went inside the church with the two preachers! The formally crippled man praised God, as he had received exactly what he needed, which could not compare with what he thought he wanted! Everyone around that had witnessed this event or that knew that this man had sat at this gate daily, were amazed. They knew him to be a cripple and now he is not!

Wouldn’t it be wonderful is this story were true, as it could all the more prove that we all have something to give, and it doesn’t always have to be money? This story is true! You can read of this history making event in the Book of Acts, chapter 3. The two broke preachers are Peter and John, and not having money, they gave what they had. Praise God! We all have something to give! We all matter in the body of Christ and can make a difference in the lives of others. Lord Jesus, help us all look deep within our hearts and recognize those gifts we have to give. Help us reach out and give to humanity the gift of life in You. Some of our gifts are to plant and others to water, but we all reap a harvest when we invest in the lives of humankind! Jesus said that the greatest gift of all is love. If we ask Him, he will help us give some love every day!

Lord Jesus, I pray, asking that You fill Your people to overflowing with the gifts of heaven. Put those people in our paths daily that need Your help and reveal to us their needs. Saturate us in the same love You have for humanity. We are Your hands and feet, and ask that You walk and touch through us. Forgive us for our sins and release us from the bondage of thinking we have nothing to give. Remind us fresh that in You we have everything. We love you Jesus and it is with thankful hearts we pray,    ~Amen

A Call to Repentance, Church!

Tough on Sins

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Today, as I was reading over my past articles, I had another “epiphany” from the Lord. I read my own writings occasionally, so that I too may learn something from them. I have found in the course of my spiritual walk with Jesus that He often will teach me through the words I speak and the things I write. This is certainly a lovely experience, as I am assured that the words I speak or write are Holy Spirit inspired!

As I reread my latest post, “The Love Trigger: God or Emotionalism”, I had the “church” come into spiritual view. I here refer to the church of Jesus corporately and not individual denominations. After all, if you have accepted the blood of Jesus as the payment for your sins, then we are one big family sharing the same blood line and Father! Therefore the only division needed is the “believers” and the “nonbelievers”, right? “The Love Trigger” article dealt with humanity seemingly only able to come together in times of tragedy.  If you are curious, please read that article, as here I am going to apply the same observations to the “church”.

I will call this writing a “holy spanking”, or at least a little “church correction”. When the “church” was birthed in the Book of Acts, love, unity, and caring for the brothers and sisters was at the very core of its inception. Church in those days was certainly different than the churches of today! Those of yesteryear promoted equal and fair treatment among the brethren, none went without, and unity and love were the virtues of the day. The church creed was clear and understood by all. In those days they truly lived for each other.

Now, let us look at the churches of our day and see the vast differences. We are not unified, our love has waxed cold, and at best some are only “lukewarm”. Our first love (Jesus) has been replaced with works, programs, activities, love of money, coffee shops, bookstores, concerts, bake sales, bible colleges, and I could go on for a while, but I think you get my point! Jesus told us to occupy until He comes, but I’m sure He had different ideas about what we are to be doing!

Our churches have been turned into New Age country clubs and self-help programs. I assure you that you do not need “The Twelve Steps to a Better You”, you only need one step, choose Jesus Christ if you want a better you! Our churches have become banks and our Pastor’s bank presidents. More time is spent on preaching the tithe and offering message than on the meat of the gospel. Some of our churches are producing selfish and gluttonous Christians with the teaching of “sowing your seed for a large return.”  Of course the seed referred to is money. I have read and reread that scripture numerous times. I’ll let you in on some gospel meat; the seed is the word of God! Are we going to take our money and possessions with us when we leave this earth? Certainly not! Therefore, why strive so hard for the things that hold no spiritual or heavenly value? The Old Testament tithe consisted of fruits and vegetables. Take a bushel basket of these offerings to church next Sunday and watch the response. Green is what is desired, but not cabbage and beans! I’m not suggesting not giving monetarily at all, as I am well aware that it costs to keep the lights on. I do have issue with million dollar ministries not producing Godly fruit!

The house of God is not Wall Street and the only investments we should be making are in the lives of others. We have a hateful and evil world going to hell while our churches get rich and fat. What shameless nonsense! Is this the way Jesus wanted His church? The King of Kings and Lord of Lords came to this earth to serve and save dying humanity! He is the example we should be following, serving others! The very word “minister” means “servant”! The church looks just like the world! Sometimes uglier!

Our churches have become institutions of shameless wounding, and we wonder why people don’t want to go to church. Personally, I don’t blame them at all, but there are those that throw around the “do not forsake the assembling of yourselves” scripture to add salt to the wounds. Has it ever occurred to any of us leaders that these Christian non churchgoers have seen some light that we have failed to see? Have they realized that they are safer and freer to worship God in their own homes? I think this deserves some attention before we pass “judgment” on them! Furthermore, Jesus said that where two or more are gathered in His name, there He is also (or in the midst whatever your preference). Would not this be “church”? Jesus is the object of worship and edification is the goal!

We teach Christians not to entertain the “evils” and “pleasures” of the world, but truthfully, these same things have infiltrated our churches! Could it be that those who choose not to go to church are doing as they are taught, forsaking the pleasures of this world? So why do I point all this out? Plain and simple, the church is supposed to be influencing the “world” not the world influencing the church! Because of our wrong teaching, religious hypocrisy, loss of first love, being lukewarm or just plain dead, and our selfish desires, we are producing the wrong kinds of Christians! Remember church, sheep beget sheep! Our “babies” are replicas of us and their behavior is what we have taught!

If your spirit has not been quickened and thoughts of repentance are not in sight, as you read the things I write, and only anger and disagreement has rose to the occasion, then read Revelation, chapters 2 and 3. The seven churches listed there by our Lord represent the history of the church, past, present, and future, and I assure you that every church in every place all over this world falls under either, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, or Laodicea.

Why does the spiritual condition of the church cause me to reflect on humanity seemingly only able to love and come together during times of tragedy? Because presently, the world, outshines the church, in its love toward humanity, even if it is short lived in times of crisis. The church should be leading the charge in love, unity, peace, and selflessness, but has fallen short of its calling! Why do I write so brash and blunt? Because, I love the church, and those that are my brothers and sisters that make it a church, a family unified with the common will to serve and worship Jesus. It is a call to reflection and repentance before Almighty God! It has been prophesied in the Bible that the church will be in deterioration before the Lord’s return. It has been written that there will be a “great falling away”.

We can’t alter or dismiss what God has decreed, but I do ask, do you have to go down with it? Can you not repent and ask the Lord to steer you upon proper course? What say ye Christian, Pastor, Minister, Evangelist, Elder, Deacon, Prophet, and all of God’s people? It starts individually one heart at a time, and as sheep begat sheep, so one clean heart produces another. All is not lost; God is the God of second chances! I pray for our repentance and that God has mercy on His church. Help us Lord to be that salt and light you have called us to be. Help us Lord clean our own house before we clean another’s. Help us Jesus! Help us!  ~ Amen