THE CONVERSATION


father and son

Daddy, why do you live here?
Because my job is here.
But, why not somewhere else?
Because what I do is important to the people here?
But, why wouldn’t you be important to other people somewhere else?
Because there are other people in other places that are just as important to the people there.

Daddy, why do I do wrong sometimes?
Because you have a choice, and sometimes you choose the wrong thing.
But, why do I choose the wrong thing?
Because you don’t know any better, or because you think it’s right at the time.
But, why don’t you stop me?
Because if you don’t make mistakes, you’ll never learn.

Daddy, why do you love me?
Because you’re my child.

Daddy, why do you know so much?
Because I’ve been around a long, long time.
Daddy, why should I believe everything you say?
Because I said so.

© Simply Consider This, 2014.

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.

LIFE


IF?

LIFE  can be iffy.
If I hadn’t wasted my younger days.  If I had made a different career choice.  If I had more money, talent, ambition, education, time.  If the economy doesn’t get any better I’m going to lose my job.  There are a lot of “ifs” in life.  If looks backward and forward and seems to be the central focal point of worry and regret.  If shapes our dreams, gives us hope, and causes governments and financial systems to collapse.  If is the center of life.
There are numerous “ifs” in the Bible.  In Leviticus, God outlines to Moses and the children of Israel what course of action should be taken if this or that happens.  If a man hit’s a pregnant woman and causes her to lose the child.  If there is a skin disease on a person or mold in the house.  These were common sense rules for healthy living.  Every one of these came with a sacrifice to be offered for the person or object to be deemed clean.
The common “if” referred to is found in 2 Chronicles, which deserves a look on two levels.
2 Chronicles 7:13-14
13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
First, is the idea that a loving God would cause all this mayhem on His people.  This is generally left out of the quote when pastors proclaim the need for prayer and repentance.  It doesn’t sell very well. If God is so loving  why would He withhold rain and send plagues and locusts?
God is a loving God, but, just like any parent, He can only take so much disobedience from His children, then the punishment must commence.  The devastation is a way for God to “spank” His unruly children all at once. He has to get their attention.  But God IS a loving God and He will stop the punishment IF.
If His people will humble themselves (quit thinking they’re all that and a bag of chips), talk to Him, get to know Him and turn away from what caused the punishment in the first place (which they are fully aware of) then the absolute promises begin.  God says, “I WILL, hear from heaven.  I WILL forgive their sins.  I WILL heal their land.”  This isn’t God requiring conditions for His love.  This is simply God saying. “I want you to know me, love me and follow my rules.  In return I will give you everything you need.  Just trust me.”
But now you say. “That was thousands of years ago.  How does that apply to me right now, today?  God isn’t going to send locusts down on me. There‘s medicines for the flu and stuff like that.”  The same rules apply today as then.  The same “rules” in the sense that we are to follow God’s commands.  We don’t live under the law of Moses, but under Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ.  Okay, what does that mean?
That means through Jesus Christ we no longer have to live by all the rules, regulations and statutes set forth in Leviticus and perverted by the Pharisees.  Jesus made it simple:
Mark 12: 28-32
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ “There is no commandment greater than these.”
Love God with everything in you and love your neighbor as yourself.  Pretty simple.  It’s a learning process.  The more you learn about God, the more you begin to realize His love for you and then that can radiate that love out to others.
But how are we supposed to get to know Jesus and God if they’re not here where we can see them and talk to them?  Jesus had an answer for that, too, and it came with a promise just like the one in 2Chronicles:
John 14: 15-17
15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another counselor to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth (the Comforter, Holy Spirit). The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
Two simple commands which baffle the mind of men. Love The Lord your God with everything in you.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  If you do that then, God WILL send the Holy Spirit to be with you FOREVER.  The Spirit of Truth to help you understand His Word.  The Comforter for you to turn to in time of need.  Not a replacement for God and not a substitute for Jesus, but a teacher to help and guide us and a conduit for Gods love, mercy and grace to flow in and through us.

Makes things a whole lot less “iffy” doesn’t it?  We have His Word on it.

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.

YOU CAN DO THIS


How to Tie Your Shoes

Driving to work this morning I was thinking about the dependence we have upon God.   We are always asking for help, granted there are times when we should, but some things we should be doing because we have already been taught.   He (Jesus) gave us everything we needed to live an overcoming life, everything.  He has already given us the knowledge to do what we need to do – His Word, the Holy Spirit and the ability.

This thought/scene played in my mind’s eye – one of a father teaching his child how to tie his shoes.  Remember teaching your child or sibling to tie their shoes?  You would show them, then take them through step by step several times until they got the hang of it, then step back and say, “Now you do it.”   Stumbling, clumsy fingers would try  until at last they would succeed.  It took several tries to get it done, but finally the shoes were tied.  The first few times it may not have looked so pretty, but practice soon took care of that.  Tying  shoes became “old hat” to them.

Wouldn’t  this same principle apply with our spiritual lives?

God has given us reason, a mind, ability and the opportunity to learn how to win against all opposition, by His Spirit, His Word and the life of Jesus that lives in us – Christ won at the cross and by His resurrection the War has been won.  All of the enemies of the soul were defeated.  The Blood of Jesus shed, the resurrection power of God that raised Him from the dead and defeated Satan for all times.  Christ Won!!!  He won!!  And that same power, the resurrection power, is in us, as was in Christ Jesus.   When we follow, obey, live for Christ…when we ask Him to come and dwell in us – that power is ours, because of Christ living in us.  He is our source of power against ALL the enemies of the soul.

Just seems to me, we ask God for things and abilities that we have already been given – maybe we should start asking for the wisdom to apply these lessons and quit asking God to do it all for us.  Wisdom is the practical application of knowledge  – right?  So as we are taught “how to tie our shoes” so to speak we should start doing it ourselves and quit asking our parent to do it all the time for us, right?

I believe that we all need and should pray for guidance, always, in our lives everyday.  That should never change.  We need to commune with our Father.  Listen and spend time learning from Him.  We need Him, we need Him involved in our lives.  He is our strength, our source of life.

However, if I kept tying my child’s shoes for them, they would:

1) never learn a simple function necessary to keep their shoes on their feet and to keep from tripping over the shoes laces.

2)  soon take for granted that I should/would be required to do something for them that they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves.

3)  not be able to teach others – when or if the occasion arrived.

Scripture verse comes to mind….it’s used, and quoted a lot,  but we really need to take it to heart and live it.

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (ability, knowledge, determination)  The first part of the verse is a statement Of I, me – not God will do it….. it’s a partnership – You and Christ. The Christ that lives in you.  I can do all things, by the power of Jesus that lives in me.

God has given us the ability – God has given us all we need –  Jesus taught his disciples then said, “Go.”

Why aren’t we putting God’s principles into practical application in our lives?  He said, “Now believe.” He taught, “Now do.”  By His Word, by His Spirit that lives in us we have the ability to live the life of the over-comer.  We need to apply the lessons He has taught us, stepping out in faith, believing in His power that lives in us to conquer and stop asking Him to do those things for us – it’ time to grow up.

Isn’t time we started tying our own shoes?

©  Simply Consider This, 2013.