Tag Archives: God

Survivor (post 2 of 3)

part two of my wifes story. Please read and feel free to follow her blog.

Under His Wings

You see there is a second side of this story.  When I was 16 my brother brought my husband, Randall to our Easter dinner.  The rest is history, we got married when I was 19 and he was 21.  As you can  imagine, there were LOT of growing pains.  We were young and immature and plus I had lot of emotional baggage from my childhood of being rapped and molested for years which started to surface after I got married and sex came into picture.

It’s kinda funny but Randall’s heart was ALWAYS in the ministry.  Sharing the gospel and helping  whoever needed it.  And this is why I REALLY FELL in love with this man.  But as life happens, bills and kids,  this is what brought a HUGE gap and resentment in my heart.  I was working full time and Randall was working part time at Shari’s and giving his…

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Being Made Perfect Through Suffering (sermon that was preached)

This is a sermon I preached a bit ago.  I wanted to share it please ignore the improper grammar I did not correct it.  I believe the message speaks to trouble we as a world, but even more pointed as THE CHURCH, are going through today.

“Today I want to speak about suffering I want to speak about grace and our need for both.  The question is how do we act in suffering?  Do we accept grace?  Are we willing to follow Christ no matter what?  If the unreasonable is asked of us are we willing to do this?

Suffering is something everyone goes through.  Some go through more than others but it seems that when we are going through suffering no one else can ever understand.  Lets be honest there is nothing new under the sun.  Sorry teenagers we are not able to understand your angst. We were never teens, we never went through hormonal changes and we were never tempted with things that are sinful.  We never had parents who could not understand. And worst of all Our parents had the gall to tell us that we would have to suffer from our own kids in the same way we made them suffer.  Now that is scary.  Teens think about that before you put your parents through anymore suffering.  I learned that lesson the hard way.

Often times we get so lost in our suffering that we are not able to see others and the suffering they are going through.   We often lose perspective.  We get lost in ourselves to the degree we actually get mad at God or even question God’s existence because we do not believe that the suffering is fair or that if God was good we would not go through this.

Lets be honest sometimes the suffering is not fair.  Bad things happen to us to no fault of our own.  It is true sometimes we do not deserve our suffering.  I know an eight year old who suffered through years of molestation by her father she did not deserve that.  BUT sometimes our suffering is fair.  Sometimes we do deserve our suffering.  Have you ever known that person who makes very unwise choices and gets themselves in all kinds of trouble?  I am sure we all have.  Once they get into trouble they go looking for someone to help them.  Someone usually steps up and helps.  Then they are okay for a bit and get right back into trouble again because they just keep making the same unwise choices.  They are suffering a lot due to their own choices.  On top of that those who are helping them are suffering a lot because of the choices they are making.

If you claim to believe that God is who He said He is then does it matter?  I say this because if He is who He says He is then He knows and has allowed the suffering to take place.  He has a purpose for that suffering.  He is trying to accomplish something and this is the only way it can be accomplished.  He needs something from you or out of you or in you and this is the only way to have it done.

Are you willing to accept unfair suffering?  Are you willing to accept a suffering that is on you because of someone else?  Are you?  Are you willing to accept suffering that you have caused yourself?  Are you willing to accept the suffering you deserve? Are you?  

Often people complain that they are suffering but they caused it themselves and they say it is not fair.  Christ suffered.  He did not deserve it.  He did not earn it.  He did  nothing in any way that would justify His suffering.

Are we not supposed to follow the example of Christ?  Are we not to desire to be like Christ?  Are we not to follow the example that Christ shared with us?  

I Peter 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps

Christ who was without sin still had to suffer to be made perfect.  So why do we think we do not need to be made perfect?

Hebrews 2:10 For it is fitting for Him, for whom all things, and through whom are all things, in

bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

I want to bring this to our minds so we can think through this.  If Jesus , who did not sin, had to suffer to be perfected how much more suffering do we need to go through to be like Christ.  Even though He was without sin He still had to be perfected for the purpose of satisfying the offering.  So think of it this way not all imperfection is sin.  I know we often think that all the imperfections in us are sin but that is not true.  Christ’s example is proof of that.  

To understand the concept of Jesus needing to be made perfect and how not all imperfection has to do with sin lets take a look at the military.  When someone joins the military they are sent to boot camp.  The purpose of boot camp is to re-educate someone on how to think how to obey.  If they goof up is that a sin. NO.  If they do not know how they are supposed to act is that a sin. NO.  They are trained this is the purpose of boot camp.  In this way Jesus had to go through training to be prepared for the cross.  Remember He was human he had to learn proper grammar, math, reading and so on.  He was not born with this information.  Was He sinning when he misspelled a word? Or got a math problem wrong?  NO of course not.  In the same way He was not sinning just because He was born not able to die on the cross it was a process.  This process He went through was tough.  It brought a lot of suffering to Him and He learned endurance.  He learned how to endure suffering by keeping in good relation with the Father.  He learned that the more suffering He had the closer to the Father He had to be.  Was it sin that He did not know this?  NO.  How would a 8 year old know this?  It took Him 33 years to be ready to die on the cross.  That was 33 years of preparation for His main purpose death on the Cross.   He suffered through out.  He was our example.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer while delivering a sermon in 1934 entitled “Our God is a suffering God” says this:

“I realize that the concept of our God being a suffering God is to many abhorrent but to me it is beautiful.  It is through suffering that we are able to be made ready for God for heaven for life and for Kingdom building.  How else do we expect to be free from sin free from bondage free from this world and wholly Christ, wholly heaven bound, wholly whole.  Suffering is the vehicle our God has chosen and He is participated in this in that He sent His only begotten Son to  suffer and die for us because of us because of our sin.  Without the suffering there would be no forgiveness no grace no mercy no joy.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man who understood suffering.  He understood what it meant to suffer unjustly.  When he stood up to the Nazis and publicly stated they were evil.  He suffered for that.  He was given the opportunity to leave Germany and escape persecution but chose to stay.  He chose the path of greatest suffering for the purpose of Christ.  In the end he died for his stances but also in the end he gave one of the strongest public examples in the 20th century of suffering for the cross.

There are two types of suffering general suffering and Christian suffering.  General suffering covers all the misery, sickness, pain and death which is part of the human condition.  To some degree we all go through this as did Jesus.   I am sure Jesus had a cold or suffered from allergies or some sort of bodily suffering. General suffering we all partake in is something addressed in:

Galatians 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

General suffering gives Christians a great opportunity to help others…. to show the love of Christ without reservation.

It is Christian suffering we must participate in if we are going to follow Christ.  I understand that to some, what I just said is diametrically opposed to what they believe.  They believe that Christians should not suffer and that if we are truly following God all suffering would go away and the only reason we suffer is because of our own sin.  I hope the fact that Jesus had to suffer did not pass you by.  If Jesus had to suffer what sin caused His suffering.  Let me restate this one more time.  We must participate in Christian suffering if we are going to truly follow Christ.  Remember we just read Hebrews and 1 Peter where it clearly states that to follow Christ we will suffer.

Now I know there are folks who hate what I just said but I also know there are folks who know and appreciate what I just said.  Folks who have suffered both of their own accord and from no fault of their own.  They understand suffering.

What is Christian suffering.  This is simple.  Christian suffering is our participation of God’s suffering at the hands of an ungodly world.  The degree we suffer because we identify with God is the degree we participate with Christ in the suffering He had to endure.

Often we ask why is there so much suffering in this world? Fair question.  Oft though we get the pat answer that it is because of sin.  This may be true but it is easy and does not struggle with the very real problem with pain.  This does not struggle with the purpose of suffering.  The answer of “it is because of sin” does not have any struggle in it at all.

We must struggle we must suffer and we must have an answer when someone ask the legitimate question of why is there so much suffering in the world.  I realize that most people will not be satisfied with the answer.  They may not understand your answer.  BUT if your answer comes from the point of being as a result of suffering then it will RING true and they will know that.  Their spirit will testify as to the validity of what you are saying and then a real conversation will be made possible.   Even though often that question is a smoke screen to the real question they have.  The real problem they struggle with and the real reason they do not want to serve God or admit God.  The real question is simple.  Why has there been so much suffering in my life?  They personalize it.   Once someone gets to the point of personalizing their problems then you have made it.  You  now have the opportunity to use that suffering that you have been through to serve someone else.  To help someone else.  To fulfill your Kingdom responsibilities.

People do not want to get to personal.  If they do they will have to address things that they have buried deep.  They will have to face sins they have done and sins that others have done to them.  They will have to come out of the darkness into the full light of day.  Where nothing can hide.  

There are things in life we want to hide from.  We place it up in the proverbial attic way in the back in a box but it is really never gone.  We always know it is there we always are aware that it has some sort of power over us.   That deep in the recesses of who we are there is some evil that has root and is trying to take over.

What do we do?  We hide.  We deny.  We run.  We pretend.  We ??

We need grace.  What is the purpose of grace? unmerited favor to put it simply.    Grace is not easy it is not  a quick prayer one says that will inturn free them from all things that are bothering them.  With grace comes suffering. With grace comes hardship.  This is why so many run from grace.  They run they hide they try their darndest to keep the status quo.   sooner or later it catches up. Grace brings to the forefront all the darkness (thankfully not all at once) and releases you from it.  This is why it is unmerited favor.  You have not earned this but God gives it to you anyways.  The problem comes when you run from it.  When the suffering comes you turn and hide.  You deny.  You pretend.  You do what you have to do so that you can protect yourself how you think you need to be protected. Eventually though it catches up.

Has it ever caught up to you?  Have you been in the deepest darkest night and there it is?  I am sure you understand what I am saying.  That thing that has power over you.  Could it be a lie you spoke?  How about a lie you live?  How about something sexual you have done or something sexual someone else has done to you?  Could it be pride?   Sin brings suffering true even if it is someones elses sin.  You can suffer for someone else’s sin.  

We come back to grace.  Grace is costly and hard.  Easy grace is cheap and has no value.

Dietrich Bonhoefffer states in his book The Cost of Discipleship:

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

From <http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/29333.Dietrich_Bonhoeffer>

When we understand that last sentence “Costly grace is the Incarnation of God” then WOW our lives are about to change.  We are not able to learn that and stay the same.  We are not able to understand that statement and stay the same we must make a decision and that will either draw us nearer God or we will have to turn our back on Him.  There is no in between with God.

When we understand that God considers grace to be costly so much so that He gave us His only begotten Son to die upon a cross.  The death of a criminal.  The death that you and I deserve not the death He deserved.  He did not deserve any death.  Death came as a result of sin the Garden.  The reason Jesus could not be held the in the grave is because He had no sin to hold Him in the grave.   Christ suffered for us so that we can have grace to be forgiven to be freed to be whole.

Grace is not cheap because God is not cheap.  The work that Jesus did is not cheap.  The cross is not cheap.  The  nails in His hands are not cheap.  The nails in His feet are not cheap.  The thorns in His brow are not cheap.  The stripes on His back are not cheap.  The blood He shed is not cheap.  The hatred that was heaped upon Him is not cheap.  The anger that was heaped upon Him is not cheap.   No friends grace is not cheap and it is not easy.  It is hard.  Hard as nails.  Hard as thorns.   Hard as whips.  Hard as flesh being torn from His back.  Grace is hard it brings suffering.  We must participate in His sufferings to find perfection.  To be made perfect we must live in grace.  The beauty is when we find grace…… we find Jesus is there with us.  He shows us the way the path the center. We were lost and He opens the way.  We were blind and He gives us site.   Suddenly the storm the hardness the suffering is not so bad.  His burden is light His yoke is easy.

Okay friends suffering is a must otherwise we would not grow.   We would not change.   We would not be able to be more like Christ.  In the end our Goal is to be more like Christ.  

Lets switch modes for a moment.  When someone has surgery there is pain and suffering involved.  We find this normally acceptable, because the point of the surgery is to fix us.  We are to be made well through this surgery even though it is painful and will often cause a lot of suffering afterwards.

My point here is that suffering is not always bad.  God uses suffering to refine us and do surgery to our lives both physically and spiritually.  God sees us for who we are and He understands the mess we really are.  In fact He understands our mess more than we do.

C.S. Lewis put it true when he said , in his book The problem with Pain, this:

“I have been trying to make the reader believe that we actually are, at present, creatures whose character must be, in some respects, a horror to God, as it is, when we really see it, a horror to ourselves. This I believe to be a fact: and I notice that the holier a man is, the more fully he is aware of that fact.”

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

From <https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2976220-the-problem-of-pain>

Yes our character is a horror to God.  Sin is a horror to God. Our character is racked in sin and needs to be cleansed thoroughly.  Needs to be completely transformed.  We need to be a new creation. The closer one gets to God the more real this is.  The more we understand the necessity to die.  That there is nothing of myself that is good.   Ouch that is hard. Nothing at all.  Nothing.

Romans 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells with in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

Romans 3:10 As it is written “There is none righteous, not even one;

Isaiah 64: 4-9  ….. for all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away……..

Is there any doubt.  We can’t be good enough.  We can’t please God by being good or by doing good or by any means that is within us.

The degree we suffer is directly proportional to the degree we fight God in this process.  There will always be suffering in our lives there will always be pain in our lives.  The more we fight God as He uses this pain and suffering to change us the more pain and suffering we feel.

I say to you today.  One simple thing.  Let go of it.  Let go of having to be right.  Let go of the pain someone else put on you.  Let go of your hidden sin.  Your shame.  Your lies.  So what if others know.  So what if you are embarrassed.  So what.  Truly they have their own shame and guilt to deal with.  They have their own embarrassments to deal with.  You have to stand before God and be judged.  You have to answer for yourself they are not going to pay your penalty for you.  They are not going to hell for you.  Be Honest, Be faithful, Be Honorable.  Let go of it.  Let it all out.  Do not hold back be FREE,

I say to you today what Joshua said to the children of Israel thousands of years ago.

Joshua 24:15 “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

God gives this to you today.  Choose make that choice.  No longer sit on the fence but choose you today whom you shall serve.  Do not allow suffering to sway you but grab on with both hands and be excited about what God is doing.

there is an Old Negro spiritual and it makes a simple and pure statement :

Free at Last

Free at Last

Thank my God I am Free at last.

 

Who wants this freedom?”

Who is God? (per the Bible)

My series, Basic Christian Beliefs, is written for those who are Christian but do not have the basic concepts down. They can learn as well as those who are not Christian but would like to know the basic concepts of Christianity.  I am trying to keep it simple and basic.  I do love it when folks ask questions or comment on something (as everyone does) but disagreements I am saving to when I am done with Basic Christian Beliefs and into Systematic Theology.  That will be fun.  This article is going to be short.  I will write one much more in depth on who God is in the Systematic Theology category.  I want to paint a picture of the basic concept of who God is.

In the Bible you will find that God has many names usually reflecting attributes of Him.  They use these different names largely because they thought His name (I Am) was to holy to use flippantly.  So they came up with a more generic name God and they added to that many descriptives.  The essence of who God is on the basic level is simple.

Gen 1.  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

We see God as Creator of everything.   John 1 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  We believe that with out God nothing was made that is.

1 John 4:8 The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

We believe that God is Love.  He is the embodiment of  what love is.  Please read 1 Corithians 13 to see how God defines what absolute love is.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5  “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

God wants a personal relationship with us in fact he wants one so much that He sent His only son Jesus the Christ to earth to die for us.  John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

In other words God has gone to great lengths to create an opportunity to have a relationship with us.

Matthew 26:28  for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.

God forgives.  In fact each time we take communion we remember His forgiveness.  We remember the sacrifice that His son did so that we are able to get forgiveness.

How we as Christians view God is He is not bound by time in fact He is outside of time and sees all of time as one piece and can interact with it as He wills (He created time).  Through prayer we are able to know God and interact with Him on a personal basis.

I know this is short please if you have any questions or comments leave them.  This topic could and has filled many a book consider this the cliff notes version.  Thanks all and God Bless.

Jesus (?) Part B

I am going to continue directly where I left off.  If you have not read part A of this article it wont make a lot of sense to you.

 

Verse 6

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To [j]fall on Him.

Even though we have all done wrong, we have all blown it, He has taken upon Himself the only option for giving us a chance to get back into a good relationship with God the Father.  Sin must be dealt with before we are able to get back into good standing with God the Father and this is what Jesus did by taking the “iniquity of us all to fall on Him”.

Verses: 7 & 8

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the [k]living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

The suffering continues.  It is very disconcerting to even read about it but it is a reality that we as humans must all face at sometime.   We are forced to eventually face the cross and deal with it either in this life or the one to come.

Jesus kept humble.  He did not complain that He was innocent and that He did not deserve this.  He allowed them to lead Him like an unknowing animal to be killed.  Even though He knew in fact He knew so well that even before the earth was made. He knew by making the earth He would have to go through this.  He did it anyways.  The punishment was ours and He took it.  This is big.  The beat down he took was horrific.  He died after someone put three very large nails through his hands and feet then raised Him off the ground so gravity continuously pulled Him towards the earth.  That alone had to make the pain intensified by the mathematical value of gravity. (not a math guy here)  What I am saying is it was bad.  Take a moment and visualize to yourself what Jesus did in order that we may have a good relationship with the Father.  He planned this from the beginning.  He knew that mankind would not last long with out sin and yet He still made us and went through all this.  This is love.

Verse 9

His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

He died with men who were rightly wrong and deserved their punishment.  In fact while all three were there on crosses the other two even stated that they deserved it.  One in fact realized Jesus did not.   Even though He died the death of a criminal He was honored by the burial of a rich man.  This happened because He was not violent nor was He a liar.  There are none of us who can say that.

Verse 10-12

But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, [l]putting Him to grief;
If [m]He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His [n]offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the [o]good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
11 As a result of the [p]anguish of His soul,
He will see [q]it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out [r]Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

This is intense.  Jesus was pleased to do this.  He knew what it meant.  His Father was also pleased to do this even though He also knew what it meant.  It meant that by doing this many will enter the kingdom of Heaven that otherwise would have no way to do so.  Jesus gave us this opportunity to get to Heaven by taking our punishment from us and putting on Himself which allows us to find true forgiveness.  The kind of forgiveness that means one day when we stand before Him on judgement and He says “Well done good and faithful servant” He will not remember our failings.  He will look on us with great love and joy.  He will show us mercy and grace and allow us to reside forever in Heaven with Him.  This is what His 33 years on earth did for us.  I like the part of this passage that states “He poured out Himself to death”  that means as already stated He did this completely voluntary.

Now I want to look at the John passage in chapter 5.

Verses 16 & 17

16 For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But He answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”

The ruling religious elite of the day did not like what He was doing.  He was healing on the Sabbath and this did not work with their rules that they put in place.  They called healing someone from a horrible disease as work.  They hated Him.

In reality they hated Him because He had true power and they did not.  He did not flaunt it nor push for a higher position in society.  He did make money from it nor did he take favors for it.  He was altogether doing it for the sole purpose of honoring the Father God in Heaven.  This irked them because they wanted people to believe they had the only way to Heaven instead He taught that He was the only way to the Father and thusly to Heaven.  This claim was backed up with power.  The kind of power that healed people, that set people free, that changed lives and made things better for the everyday person not just the elite.  In fact most of the elite would not follow Him.  This shows what is in the heart of humans more often then not if it is not in my best interest I will have nothing to do with it.

Here Jesus claims to be equal with God.  When He claimed to be working on the same level as Father God that made him equal with God.  This was unacceptable.  That being said I understand why it was.  Israel had a bad history with worshipping other gods and it cost them dearly.  They did not even come close to that any more and any one who did was either killed or ostracized.  The problem at this time is not that they were concerned with someone worshipping another god it is they were concerned that Jesus was who He said He was.  This scared them more then anything.  They did not want to lose their power and having the very Son of God in their midst would do exactly that and it did exactly that.  Within a generation their power was diminished.  They figured if they could kill off the Son then they would be good but that is the problem Jesus knew they had to kill them off.  He knew this even before He came.  So they had the wrong effect.

Verse 18

For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.

Since Jesus equated Himself with God the Father they now added another straw to the camels back.  In other words that just set them off all the more.  They had it.  How could this man do this.

I have said all I mean to say at this time.   Jesus claimed Godhood with the Father.  He claimed to be the one who fulfilled he prophecies that were given out hundreds of years earlier.  The real question is what do we as humans say to this.  We have to if we do not say something now we will have to on judgement day.   Judgement day is too late.  There is no chance then your decision must be while you are here on earth.  Please if you have any questions please ask. I will be happy to help.

Charity

This is one of those post that I think I will come up drastically short.  I am not really sure where to even start.  I guess we can start with an explanation.  When I say Charity I do  not mean giving money to the poor or giving your time to a non profit though that is part of Charity.  I mean Agape or in English Love.  I chose the title of Charity because I think it has a greater descriptive strength then the word love has in our day.  In todays modern society love is weak and valueless but in Gods society it is the ultimate strength.  Nothing can break Charity nothing can hinder Charity or even slow it down.  True Charity comes only from God and when He fills us with His Charity we have power to change the atmosphere around us and thus the lives around us.  We have the power to give that Charity to others.  Remember when we forgive people on our their sins our heavenly father is sure to forgive us ours.  Forgiveness is an act of Charity it is not Charity in and of itself.  There is one passage in Scripture that most folks know 1 Corinthians 13.  The chapter on Charity.  (A side note prior to getting into this passage I want to say my normal version of the Scripture I use is New American Standard Version.  I do use other versions when I think they are more descriptive of the original so today I will be using the old fashion King James Version.)

1 Corinthians 13

King James Version (KJV)

13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.  11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

My hope in posting the whole chapter here is that you will read it out loud in its entirety twice.  This will allow your brain to relearn it and see it from a fresh perspective.  I think if the greatest of the is Charity then we  must spend the most time on Charity.  We should dedicate ourselves to its understanding.  Remember 1 John 4:8 God is love.  If God is love and even in the King James version they would use the word love mostly in fact but here in 1Corinthians 13 God chose to use the term Charity instead of Love and that for a purpose.

We talk as if we want to be more like Christ more like God.  This is our goal but where is Charity in this.  We cant be more like God until we have His charity in us.  Remember what the scripture you just read out loud twice (really do this stop reading and go back and do this) God does not care if we practice all the spiritual gifts, if we give all we have to the poor or even if we are martyred for the Faith it all means nothing with out Charity (Agape).  Remember God is Agape.  How long are we willing to suffer?  Are we willing to be kind even to those who we do not like? Do I envy the car the house the children the spouse the life of someone else?  Am I able to happy for them with out it bugging me?  Am I selfish, easily angered, a show off?  These things are directly against Charity.  Charity requires us live different to die and be reborn anew.

Charity gives true life.  Charity allows us to live in what is real not in our own head of what is real but what is truly real.  Remember Charity never fails and who is Charity (Agape) well 1John 4:8 states “God is Agape” Charity = Agape so God = Charity.  Simple math.  If we want to be more like God (like we regularly proclaim) then we need to live 1 Corinthians 13.

The Providence of God

This is only going to be a quick note on the Providence of God.  There have been volumes written on this topic and in no way am I going to attempt to comprehensively cover this topic here.  I wont even give a theological definition to the word providence since there is large divide in that as well.  The reason I am doing this, is that I am reading in Acts.  When I read in Acts I see the providential hand of God everywhere.  I see where God moves behind the scenes and how He effects change in the world, without others even knowing that it is happening.

Lets take a look at the apostle Paul.  Starting with his standing over Stephen’s murder.  Here he was standing over and approving of Stephens murder.  Who knew that Stephen’s sacrifice would be the start of Paul’s conversion?  Even though Paul did not know it, this is the point where Paul starts on his path to conversion.  Stephen’s martyrdom and the imprisonment of christians gives Paul the credentials needed for him to get the letter from the Jewish High council to go to Damascus and arrest those who are part of the Way.  It is along this road where God intervenes directly.  While he intervened indirectly prior to this, now he directly confronts Paul.

I am not going to re-hash the story you can read it in Acts 9.  Read it, it will be worth your time.   What I am looking at today.  God’s providential hand was directing events even though most people would not have understood that.  It is rare that while we are in the midst of events someone understands that Gods providence is at play.  Hindsight is 20/20.   It is easy for us some 2000 years later to look back and see all the different things that were happening at the same time to see Gods providence taking place.  Remember the folks at the time did not know everything that is taking place nor did they see the big picture they did not have the internet with instant information at their finger tips information could take days or even weeks to travel to someone depending on that persons connections.  God created circumstances so that the big picture could take place.  Those circumstances were hard, and even cost many their lives but, in the end Gods providence was fulfilled and Christianity spread all over the world.

Lets take a look at Paul and his going to Jerusalem for the second time since his conversion.  On his way to Jerusalem he made many stops and at each stop he was told by prophetic message not to go bad things were going to happen.  He heeded them but chose to go on anyways.   Even with the warning he knew what the Spirit wanted; which was for him to go to Jerusalem.  He did not know that he was going to be beaten almost to death by a mob.  He did not know that he was going to be almost tortured by Romans, or have a plot to kill him thwarted by his nephew.  He only knew he had to go and that bad things were going to happen.  He had to be a witness for Christ and the consequences be damned.

From here he did not realize that all this would lead to him being a witness for Christ to Caesar then be freed and do yet another missionary journey possibly even into Spain.

All these circumstances were difficult and in many cases people paid the ultimate price but all were in the Providence of God. He wanted these things to happen so that the good news could spread and be most effective.  The original persecutions that happened in Jerusalem was used to move the good news past just the Jewish homeland.  This was the beginning of the spread.  Remember Jesus stated that first to Jerusalem, then to Judea, and then to Samaria and finally then to the uttermost ends of the earth.

God set it out ahead of time but, the human understanding did not see this.  They were stuck in Jerusalem and Judea.  This forced them to move forward and God’s providence was being fulfilled.

How do we apply this to our lives?  That is a great question.  I am glad you asked.  We often do not see God’s providential hand at the time we are a part of it.  We often complain, get depressed, fight what we are going through and even blame God and say that it is unfair.  When we do this we are forgetting that God’s providence has a purpose in all things.  There are no accidents in the Christian life.  All things have a purpose.  A purpose to bring this world to Christ.  What we go through even if at the time we can not see it God has a purpose in it.  He has providence.

Remember when we came to Christ we gave him ourselves.  We did not say to him here I will follow you when I want to but I will follow You. I will go where You lead.  I will suffer as You have suffered.  I will bless those whom You bless and curse those whom You curse.  Remember birds of the air have nest, the fox has a hole in the ground but the Son of Man has no where to lay His head.  That is us.  Remember the Son of Man must suffer many things.  It is through suffering that we are refined.  The refining process stinks.  It is not something we want to go through but as Christians we gave Him everything that means we no longer have providence over ourselves but Christ does.  Christ has providence now we gave Him everything and He gives everything to the Father.

The ultimate providence is in the Father and if you really want to get philosophical the only true providence is in the Father and always has been.  There is none other.

This short piece is something to chew on.

Forgiveness (where would we be without it)

forgiveness

forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

I am going to change my format a bit.  What I mean by this is that I am going to talk a bit more about the topics in hope that I can get some feed back.  So far I have had people like my stuff and read it.  I was hoping for more feed back since my end goal is to publish this work so that others can learn and know about Christ while at the same time not using jargon or Christianeze. Forgiveness.  I think the statement says a lot “Where would we be without it.”

Secular and Religious folk agree that with out forgiveness we have a very mentally (and physically) unhealthy people.  Our mental health has a very strong effect on our physical health.  As a Christian I take it even further.  I believe without forgiveness we will have a society that is trapped in anger, bitterness, revenge and justice without mercy.  How can we have a proper society with out mercy and with out forgiveness.

As a Christian we have firm beliefs that everyone (literally everyone) needs to be forgiven.  Our God Himself teaches us in our Scripture Mathew 6:12 that we are to ask for our forgiveness from God and in turn God expects us to, in the same way as we expect from him, forgive others.  Mathew 6:14 says the same thing if you forgive others their sins then our Father in heaven will forgive give us our sins.  This very concept is played out in Scripture over and over again it is a basic tenant of our faith that we need forgiveness and we need to forgive.

Romans 3:23 states that everyone has sinned so everyone needs forgiveness.  As a Christian I firmly believe there is not one person who does not need to be forgiven.   I believe that all humans understand that.

The question to ask is what is forgiveness?  How does it look?  How does it feel?  Why should I forgive someone else? (they do not deserve it).  These are all great questions and all valid.

The dictionary standard definition is simple “to pardon an offense or offender, to cancel a debt” while these are good and proper on the day to day level they are hard to do.  The Christian concept of forgiveness takes it to a whole different level.  As a Christian I will define it differently or maybe it is better to say I define it at a higher level.

When God forgives He also forgets, He also removes that sin from us and gives us real freedom from it.  I think we can all understand how things we do wrong can stay with us even if we quit doing it.  For some reason that thing we did wrong seems to have power over us.  Forgiveness takes that power away.  James 5:16 states that we need to confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed.  To obtain forgiveness we need to confess our sins and that action of verbally confessing our sins can take away the power it has over our lives and we can be free.  The reason he says confess to one another is because as Christians we can understand and sympathize with the other so that as God has forgiven us we can share that same life experience with others and they can find the healing of forgiveness from God.

From the Christian perspective when God forgives us that sin (wrong doing) is no longer there it will no longer be held against us.  Of course as Paul states in Romans 6:1 we can not continue in that sin which grace has brought forgiveness for.

I see I just introduced a new thought one of grace and how it works in tandem with forgiveness.  This can be a long topic and I think I will have a different post regarding how each one of these themes work together in synergy to bring about a whole Christian and a mature Christian.

I believe most people get the basic concept of forgiveness it is easy to understand and since there is no one who has not done something wrong we all understand that we all need it.  The problem comes with the implementation and how that works out in day to day life.  This is where it gets personal.

I will say a quick prayer before going further since this is a very difficult subject to breech and to tackle.   …….  Okay done.

The next question to tackle here is “Why should I forgive someone else?”  This is valid.  There are people that most would say do not deserve forgiveness.  They have done some very horrible things such as molesting children, raping people, murder and so on.  There are things so horrible that we can not think of forgiveness.  Why should we?  Wow the answer is not easy and many will disagree with me.

Here I go.  I think everyone should have the opportunity for forgiveness.  I remember when James Dobson interviewed Ted Bundy.  People were saying that there is no forgiveness for Ted Bundy. He does not deserve it.  I would agree that he does not deserve it.  I would also agree that I do not deserve it.  Folks this is hard to accept but I have to believe it to be true that when God says the only unforgivable sin is that of blasphemy of the Holy Spirit that is the only unforgivable sin.  I am not saying that Ted Bundy and for that matter anyone should not be held responsible for what they have done that is wrong.  As far as humans go it was correct to sentence him to death.  He earned that from his actions.  In the whole of eternity God has His own plan and if Ted Bundy was honest (I am not so sure he is able to be honest) and actually accepted Christ then he will be in heaven (or as some think maybe a type of purgatory).

Christ Himself states in the Lords prayer for me to receive the forgiveness of God that I need to also forgive.  If I hold it back then so will He.  Matthew 18:21-35 a great parable about forgiveness.  I would not want to be the servant who did not show mercy and forgiveness.

Okay all this is getting to long for one post this may not be the best place to stop but I will continue the second piece later this week.