THE CHURCH UNITED


church1Corinthians 1: 10 – 12
10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters,[a] in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas[b]”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
I was blessed recently by the addition of Daystar Television to the “free” lineup of antenna stations available in my area. As I perused the programming, I began to realize that nothing has really changed since Paul’s time. Even with all of the information available to us in this modern, techno age, we still cling to whatever teaching tickles our fancy and run in the direction of the “spirit-led wisdom” of whoever agrees with us the most. The more persuasive and dynamic the speaker, the more believable they appear to us to be.
Let’s first take a look at the subject of the Blood Moon.
One teacher from a large church in San Antonio says that the Blood Moons represent the beginning of the tribulation and the rapture of the church. Another teacher, with a worldwide ministry based in Ohio, says that the Blood Moons represent the year of jubilee in which all who are faithful will prosper beyond their wildest dreams. So who is right? If we Christians are to be raptured before the tribulation (immediately following the fourth Blood Moon in 2015) then how can we possibly enjoy the bounty of financial prosperity?
Every weekday morning, a former (and once again restored) tele-evangelist has a variety of guests on his program touting the importance of disaster preparedness. The entire program seems to be a gimmick to sell generators and freeze dried foods. Every Sunday morning a well-known tele-theologian and his wife tell us how our government is turning against the Christian population and ushering in the end of the age. Both men have countless scriptures and news reports to validate their views. The former seems to be appealing to the Christian community to be prepared, while the latter appears to be reaching out to the non-believers in an attempt to bring them into the fold. Both are very dynamic in their approach and knowledgeable in scripture and prophecy, yet they rely on fear to spread the “good news” of the Gospel.
On any given Saturday or Sunday, throughout the world, you can find church doors opened and people worshiping the same God. (In this I mean those who are in keeping with the Christian faith.) The variety of doctrines is almost as numerous as the stars in the sky. Each “Fellowship” feels that they are the only ones who have rightly divided the scriptures and the others have either missed something or added too much.
You can attend a somber, liturgical ceremony, or a raucous and lively worship service with fog and lasers designed to usher you into the throne room of God. You can be a part of a group who holds to the Old Testament dietary laws and Sabbath regulations, believes in Salvation through Jesus Christ, and teaches strongly on the end time prophetical interpretation of Ellen G. White. You can find a group who believes that the New Covenant does away with the Old Testament entirely and adheres strictly to teachings from the New Testament. You can hear teaching that God is all love and no judgment. You can give all you have expecting a 100 fold return. You can look for signs and wonders or perform them yourself (with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course) or you can discount the Holy Spirit all together, as being something that was only meant for the early church. In other words, nothing has changed since Paul’s time.
Even after this letter to the Corinthians, the church suffered divisions in teachings with the rise of the Gnostics and the teachings of Marcion. In the late second century, a consensus was reached concerning the teachings and the Canon of scripture. This brought us the term “catholic” which means “according to the whole” so that all people who held to the group doctrine could be included, and to dispel the heretical teachings of the others. This name (catholic) was not a separate sect within the ecumenical community, but the final word on what was truth. Unfortunately, even this was corrupted by man for political and financial gain, until the Lutheran Reformation caused another division in the church. It would almost seem that church unity was destined to fail from the beginning. The farther we have gotten from the source (date and individuals directly responsible for the scriptures) the more confusing the message has become to those we are trying to reach. And where does this leave us?
Maybe it is time to get back to the basics. Back to the simplicity of the three questions asked of all who were baptized in the early church:
Do you believe that God is the Father Almighty?
Do you believe in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was born of a virgin through the Holy Spirit, who was crucified, and died, and rose again on the third day, living from among the dead, who ascended unto heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, and will come to judge the quick and the dead?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit and the resurrection of the flesh?
These are the questions that need to be answered for the unbeliever. These are the answers that they must come to terms with. This is the basis of our faith. If we cannot answer these questions ourselves, how can we ever expect anyone to make a decision? Yes, there are a lot of other teachings in the Word of God. There are guidelines for healthy and productive living. There are guidelines for financial and relationship management. All of these teachings are helpful in daily life, but some teachers get so caught up in the side issues that they forget about the basics.  It all comes down to these three questions in one. Do you believe in God the Father, Jesus the Son of God and the reality of the Holy Spirit?
1Corinthians 1: 20 – 25
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
© Simply Consider This, 2014.

THE SACRIFICE


sacrificeHe came to give his sacrifice. But he had nothing to offer.

“Lord,” he said, “I have nothing to offer you.  Not even a sparrow.  How can I be forgiven without a sacrifice?”  He  sat at the temple gates weeping. With no grain, meal, wine or not even a quadran– a quarter of a farthing– to buy even a half a sparrow to offer to his Lord.

“Lord,” he cried out once more in his anguish, “ I am a peasant.  I have nothing to offer you.  My life is meaningless. I barely have enough to keep me from starving from day to day. I am not a beggar but I am not a rich man.  What  can I give you, Lord, that would be worthy of your love?”

“Do you think I need bulls, or rams, or even sparrows to prove your love for me?  Those things are mine anyway.  That was just my way of having the people atone for their sins because they don’t really understand my love for them.  Ask and it will be given. Seek and you will find.”

“Ask what , Lord.  Seek after what? I just don’t understand.  What am I to do to please you?”

“You just have to give of yourself.  Give yourself to me and I will pour out my love on you so much you cannot contain it. Seek me and righteousness and all these things will be added unto you. Trust in me. You have already shown your willingness to please me and your humility in your attitude. Go and your sins are forgiven.”

The man looked around.  He was  physically alone and knew that he heard from God himself. He left the temple area not laughing at the others for their lack  of faith and understanding, but smiling knowing that his God was pleased with him and that he was loved for who he was.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

THE QUANDARY


questionsWhat does it matter?
Does anyone really care?
Are there any real answers?

Why do I have to read a history book?
Why do I have to talk to an unseen spirit?
How can I be sure the answers are not just my imagination?

If only I could believe in the unseen.
If only I could learn to trust the voice I hear.
If only I could understand that this is real.

He is The Way, The Truth and The Life.
I must believe it all The Way.
I must trust that what I believe is Truth.
I must understand that His Way is The Truth for my Life.

Do I want to continue on with what I am doing?
Do I want to continue on with unanswered questions?
Do I want to continue on with the helplessness I am feeling?

Am I willing to accept the forgiveness?
Am I willing to accept the acceptance?
Am I willing to accept the freedom?

Am I willing to listen to, understand, accept, believe in, trust in, and follow His direction?

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

HOPE, ACCEPTANCE, COMPLACENCY, AND PEACE


 

perfect worldHOPE:
Io expect with confidence

ACCEPTANCE:
Belief in something

COMPLACENCY:
A feeling of contentment or self-satisfaction, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger, trouble, or controversy.

PEACE:
A state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations:

When we hope, we have the expectation that what we hope for will come to pass.

If we follow the doctrine that God has everything under control, then we must accept the outcome of our hope when the results are in.

When we accept the outcome of our hope as God’s will, we live our lives within the comfort of complacency.

Living within the comfort of complacency affords us a peace beyond understanding.

We must accept the fact that all that happens, happens for a reason, is according to God’s will,  and there is nothing that we can do to change it.  After all, who are we to question God?   He is omniscient.  If God doesn’t know what is going on, then who does?
Once we accept the fact that all that happens is God’s will, we must be content with the outcome.  We may not agree with the outcome, but it is what it is, and we must accept it.
Hope relies on faith and faith relies on trust.  If we do not place our trust in God, then we have no hope.  If the hope we claim is not based on trust, then we have no relationship with the God we call our Father.
How, then, can we have Hope in the Father?
Trust that what He tells us is Truth,  Accept the outcome as His will and be Complacent with that outcome.
Then, and only then, will we have Peace in our lives.

MILK AND HONEY


beecowOur journey today begins in the book of Exodus when God told Moses that He was going to free the Israelites from the hand of Pharaoh. God said that He was going to take them to the promised land.  A land flowing with milk and honey.
God did not instruct Moses to tell Pharaoh to free His people because they were slaves and slavery was wrong.  God had heard the cries of His people due to their oppression, but this was not the prime objective.  He wanted the Israelites freed so they could worship Him. This was what Moses told Pharaoh over and over when he presented his case.  “This is what the Lord says, ‘Let my people go, so they may worship me’.”   God desired, and still desires, the worship of His people.  So, after Moses bugged Pharaoh (he used real bugs), and a few other plagues were inflicted on Egypt for not listening to God, Pharaoh let God’s people go.
After three months, they arrived at Sinai where God gave them the law, they rebelled and built an idol, were forgiven after punishment and proceeded to Kadesh, where they were supposed to go into the promised land, but got scared off by the “giants.”  So they wandered around another forty years until they were ready to receive the promise (very abridged version).
When they were entering the promised land, God told them to destroy all the people in the land, not to make any treaties with any of the inhabitants, and definitely do not inter-marry.  Of course they didn’t listen, and they had nothing but trouble from then on.  God knew that if they did not eradicate all the inhabitants, soon they would be adopting their ways, accepting their cultural differences, and worshiping their gods. This brings us to the milk and honey.
I have often wondered why God would tell them that the promised land  was flowing with milk and honey.  They had milk and honey in Egypt.  Why would that be such an enticement for an oppressed people?  Cows and goats give more milk when they are well fed and bees make honey from the plants that they pollinate.  It stands to reason that if the promised land was a lush vegetative haven that there would be an abundance of milk and honey. That would be a sharp contrast to the deserts of Egypt where they had been enslaved for 400 years.  But was there more to the “milk and honey” than just provision?  Lets take a brief look at milk and honey.
Honey is sweet.  It contains nutrients which can combat illnesses.  A spoonful of local honey a day can help with allergies and the comb  can help with digestive disorders.  You can cook with it, use the wax for all sorts of things, and even use honey on your skin for irritations, according to the old timers.  It is all natural and God given with no artificial preservatives.  But if you get too much it can have an adverse reaction on your digestive tract and is strongly advised against for babies.  Honey, like any good thing, has its limitations.  It may be sweet, but must be used in moderation.
Milk has made a lot of changes over the years.  In the days of Moses, a cow or goat would have been milked, then the liquid strained for any substances like unprocessed grass or seed remnants. As they let the raw milk set, the cream floated to the top and was usually skimmed off to make butter or whipping cream.  Pasteurization is now required for milk to be sold in the U.S., which is basically a heating process to kill any contaminates.  This is done now to purify the milk.  Then there is the homogenization.
Homogenization is the blending of the milk fat into the rest until it is virtually undetectable.  I remember going to the dairy and buying milk in a glass, gallon jug.  It was always a treat to be the first one to peel the paper top off the jug and lick the cream from it.  It stuck to the roof of your mouth and was what could only be described as sweet.  Now, everything is blended together so much that you can’t tell if there really is any cream left in the milk at all. We buy milk in plastic jugs in varying degrees of milk fat content which is pasteurized and homogenized and sometimes even in the skim variety which tastes, to me, like white, colored water.
Now that you have had a brief lesson in milk and honey, lets get back to Israel. God knew that if the people were to intermingle with the local populace, their worship would turn from Him to other gods.  The only way for the Israelites to remain spiritually pure and true to Him would be to get rid of all remnants of  other gods and their worshipers.  God did not really want genocide but he knew that after 400 years of being around the Egyptians, it would be very easy for them to fall into worshiping false gods.  The milk and honey of the land would lead them to the watered down religion and the false security of plenty, and soon they would be worshiping the provision and not the provider.  They had already proved that with the manna and quail in the desert.
Lets put this into perspective for today.  First, I am in no way advocating genocide for non Christians.  That would go against everything that Jesus taught and would be utterly absurd.  But lets look at the facts.  We, as Christians, are being told that we are to accept and embrace any kind of lifestyle, or belief, that agrees with, or goes against,  all that we hold as truth.  Our government is embracing military advisers who firmly believe that Christians are a threat to our national security and should be deemed traitors to our government. (See  “”http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2013/04/28/Pentagon-Consults-Extremist-Who-Calls-Christians-Monsters-and-Enemies-of-the-Constitution-to-Develop-Religious-Tolerance-Policy )

Our society would rather that Christians are silent.  We are to keep our faith to ourselves and do not try to share the Gospel.  We are to be homogenized into the mainstream and accept all that is happening in society.  Christians are never to be outspoken about their faith or moral values if they go against the public opinion which is propagandized by the liberal media.  We are not even to be seen, much less heard.  Isn’t the fact that there is a church on every block (no matter how empty) enough for us?  All of our Christian “holidays” have been stripped of their original meaning in the mainstream.  Of course, these were homogenized into pagan holidays back in the 4th century.  Christmas=winter solstice/ Easter=bunnies and eggs honoring the sun god and moon goddess on the day of Ishtar.
Wake up, Christians.  We are being integrated or exterminated.  We must either stand for God or fall with Satan.  The milk and honey of American prosperity has lulled too many to sleep and it is time to honor God with our hearts and lives, not just with our lips.  A little Radical, yes. Extremist, maybe. Unrealistic. Psychotic.  Paranoid.  I think not.
Matthew 24 read and heed.

SING, LAUGH, DANCE


dance 2Sing my soul for the Lord has come
Laugh aloud, let gladness be
Dance with joy around your King
Happiness is now found
Within His presence peace abounds

No worries are there for the morrow
Nor any strife or woeful sorrow
Before Him all creation sings
Praises to the King of Kings

Oh the glory that fills my soul
Beholding my King upon His throne
Explosion of colors fill the air
Angelic beings now declare
Almighty God Holy is He
King of Kings for eternity!

Sing, Laugh, Dance for the Lord has come!!
Celebrate! Celebrate the Holy One!
With fearless abandon I will bring
All I am to the King of Kings
For freedom now forever reigns
In the Presence of the King

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

WHAT ARE WE SPREADING?


manaiseAs I was making a sandwich the other day, spreading the white stuff on my bread, a thought occurred to me.  The white stuff is salad dressing.  What is it made of and do we really know what’s in it?  Really?  Mayonnaise  is a few simple ingredients, but salad dressing, no matter what brand, is a conglomerate of ingredients, most of which are not found in the natural world. It tastes good, but what are we really getting out of it? And what are we putting in our bodies?  This isn’t about the hazards of eating processed foods, nor the benefits of a holistic approach to healthy living.  Its more about what we take in and what we are made of.

Mayonnaise is made of a few simple ingredients such as egg yolks, oil, vinegar, and other seasonings in the right combination to produce that creamy condiment we nearly all appreciate.  The gospel is made up of simply truth, faith, love and you, in the right combination to produce the fruits of the spirit which will draw others to Him through us. Let’s continue this analogy and see where it takes us.

Egg yolks.

The Egg of Truth:
Eggs are the basis of all live with a brain.  Whether it is human, animal, reptile, fish, or insect. Every living being (for the sake of this excluding amoeba, single  cells, and plants) begins with an egg.
As humans, our life starts with an egg and, as it grows, we become the human form others see.  The same goes for truth.  The TRUTH we are given develops our character.  If we never hear the Truth of the Gospel we become humanistic and rely only on our own truths as they develop, leading to the increasingly common misconception that there are no absolute truths.  Alternatively, those in cultures where the Gospel is not found or accepted will seek to find some kind of god to worship.  That “egg” is embedded in our DNA from creation and cannot be removed.  Even atheists worship a god, even if it is the god of disbelief,
Once the truth of the Gospel is introduced to us, it begins to incubate.  If left alone it may never give birth to anything more than an idea, or just be “cracked” and used as food for some other means. But, if it is allowed to grow, to incubate in a person, fed and nourished daily, it will give birth to understanding and, eventually, depending on the willingness of the person to accept the Truth, will develop into a living part of that individual. It will help to shape their character and change their life.
The truth of the Gospel boils down to this:  John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
There or four truths in that statement: (1)God loves you. (2) He gave His son Jesus. (3) You must believe He is who the Bible says He is and everything it says about Him. (4) If you don’t accept those truths you will perish.–The last truth is often overlooked because it doesn’t sell.  No one really wants to talk about the alternative as a  possibility.  Yes, God loves you and doesn’t want anyone to perish, but there are consequences for actions, or the lack thereof. If the whole truth is not presented clearly, the consequences are minimized and the importance of the decision is somewhat lost in the translation. Then you wind up with something like Eggbeaters. You have colored egg whites (something that holds the truth) without the substance and consistency of the yolk where the life is held.

Olive Oil

The Oil of Faith:
Olive oil is produced when the olives are pressed by some outside force to release the oil.  In ancient times, this was done by hand, but now it is done by a mechanical press. Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
When you look at an olive, it doesn’t seem to hold any potential for oil.  Because we have been told there is oil inside we can believe it will come out given the proper coaxing.  This is done under pressure. If all we had to do is gently squeeze the olive between our fingers and out poured the olive oil, there would be no real value in it. We wouldn’t have to hope for anything to happen, it just would.  Faith is a lot like pressing olives.  Even though we cannot see the oil from the beginning, if we continue to press in, continue to believe that what we hope for will come to fruition, then the oil will begin to trickle out.  The more olives we are willing to press, the more faith we have. Soon our faith is “pressed down, shaken together and running over” (taken slightly out of context Luke 6:38).
Faith is not only believing.  Faith takes action.  If you are in a financial difficulty and you believe that God will give you a miracle, but you continue to spend like there is no tomorrow, things will only get worse.  It will require some action on your part. Start with prayer.  Pray in faith believing.  Cut your expenses wherever possible, especially the Starbucks and McDonald’s on a daily basis.  Do all that you can to try to make it work.  There is an old adage that says. : “The Lord helps those who help themselves,” but more importantly is James 2:20 “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”  Faith, like olive oil, takes work on your part.  You must be willing to do all you can do then let God do the rest.vinegar

The Vinegar of Love:
Most would not think of vinegar and love as being in the same category. Vinegar is an amazing substance.  It is an environmentally friendly cleaner, it is an astringent used for treating sunburn and jelly fish stings, and it can be used in cooking.  It is made through a fermentation and distillation process from any sweet liquid, usually, nowadays that is ethanol, or corn liquor.  I’m sure nearly everyone has bought some apple cider in the fall and left it in the back of the refrigerator until it became “hard,” or fermented.  If it was left longer it would have turned to a crude vinegar. Vinegar is made through not only fermentation but distillation. It has to be taken down to its purest form to be useful. Love takes time.
A scripture often used in weddings comes to mind.  1Corinthians 13:4  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
Like vinegar, love is a project in patience.  Vinegar doesn’t happen over night and neither does love.  Whether it is love between a man and a woman (not physical), or the love we show others, it is not just a one time thing.  God’s love is everlasting, but humans cannot really fathom that kind of love.  We are His representatives on earth, so we must be able to show His love continually, patiently, kindly. It is through our consistency in showing that love that the cleansing power of Jesus Christ is understood and accepted to allow the healing process of a lost, tormented soul to begin.spice

You Are The Spice:
As with anything else, you have a part to play in this.  Each individual is different and will present their eggs, oil, and vinegar in their own unique way.  Jesus said we are to be salt and light.  Without salt, this mixture would be pretty bland.  Then you through in whatever other spices you might bring to the mixture.  Some may use paprika or cayenne pepper to give it the zing of their passion.   This is where you make a difference.  Without you, others may as well be reading a dry, factual textbook. YOU can make it as mild, or as spicy as your personality permits.  Not everyone out there has the same taste.  You may be just the right flavor for someone out there to relate to.  You don’t have to try to be like anyone else. Look at examples from the Bible. Noah was old when he started, Moses stuttered,  Peter was impetuous, Thomas doubted, and later Paul was analytical and forceful in his beliefs. God can use anyone willing to give Him their all and it takes all kinds of people to reach all kinds of people.  Someone wrote a phrase on the board at work.  “You are unique, just like everybody else.”

Many people are looking for the “Miracle Whip” of Christianity to suddenly make everything all right. They are willing to listen to, and spread, a whole lot of “stuff” that really isn’t anything valuable when you take it down to the basics.  Lets just stick to mayonnaise.  Its natural, its healthier, and,  when mixed properly, it tastes great.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.