My Audience

This Blog is very much directed to those of us that have accepted Jesus Christ as God and have any number of questions about Him, the bible, Christianity and how these things affect (or should) our lives. This isn't really a blog for people who are already firm in their beliefs as the questions may seem very fundamental. I'm also of the belief that we are all born with an built in sense to rebel against forced conformity. Jesus Christ ask us to rebel against conformity (Romans 12:2). He wants us to be apart from the crowd. And he knows that we are going to suffer (Romans 5:3) but that it will be worth it.

Paul wrote:

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7 NIV

Friday, April 5, 2013

Freewill

 

The following is extracted from my post in a philosophy class I am taking. I thought these answers to questions might help more than just the Classroom setting. Let me know what you think.

The challenge is really, is there predestination, which is the determination of your path before hand, or freewill. If we suppose that God does know all then how can we at the same time observe free will?

The thought behind this is that if I can make changes by my choices then I have the freedom of will. However, if there is no choices because time does not affect a supernatural being and that being has seen the future then my choices are already made on some level thus reducing my freedom to not.

The way I put it to someone who believes in free will is thusly. I know my son. I know that he is inquisitive and adventurous. I know that he will eventually head towards the bathroom and try to play in the toilet the instant he realizes the door is open (my son is 14 months old). Does he cease to have freewill because I know him so well? Is it possible that my knowing what he is going to do preclude his choice in the first place? The answer is no because he will learn, I pray, that the toilet is not a playground.

This however is not the real issue it is a nice glossy coating. What we are really trying to determine as Christians is the meaning of Romans 9:17-18

17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”[b] 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Does this mean that Pharaoh and potentially others, even some born today are going to be designated to hell because God made them that way?

Believe me when I tell you this is not the case. Imagine if you will that the God of the Universe loves. He is full of compassion and just nature. He creates the world,, but not in any way we can imagine. It would be best to picture God as placing each of the grains of sand individually on the beach, knowing their purpose throughout existence and what influence they will have on the world. Each grain of sand, every atom and molecule would be so intimately known to Him on a grander scale then I know my son or even my wife knowing me.

He knows this not as a pursuit of knowledge because He created knowledge. He knows this out of love for His creations. They have meanings and purpose and love for him. He is able to see the combinations that will result in us and all the steps before and after not because he created knowledge but because as the psalmist wrote. Read Psalm 139 with these thoughts and you will see that it is not because God has taken away our freedom, for it is only love freely given that He desires, it is instead that he knows so much about you, what your dreams are and how much you hurt when you hurt and how much you love when you love. Best of all God knows our true potential and being that I know I am not living up to this, I am blessed because it was while the world was still full of sin that He sent His Son Jesus to die and take the punishment for them. Out of love.

If you look at it like a father looks on to his son (who is currently asleep and is the sweetest thing) Then I know my son, and I love him. I know what most of his day will look like because I love him. Does he have choice, of course he does. Did my mom know what choices I was going to make, most of them. Did that stop me? I made some wrong choices in my life and thought I know my sins are forgiven I refuse to believe that they were made because my God does not care. They were forgiven because He does.

Original Sin

 

The following is extracted from my post in a philosophy class I am taking. I thought these answers to questions might help more than just the Classroom setting. Let me know what you think.

People tend to gravitate towards sin, not because of the nature of the sin itself but of the sin. (Isaiah 59:2.) Sin is first a separation of us from God. We as Christians believe that God is all good all the time, I should not have to put a verse up for this but for the sake of completeness, Psalm 100:5

Therefore God is not now, nor ever going to be evil. (James 1:13) God is Just ( John 1:19, 2 Thessalonians 1:6) hence we cannot be a part of His Kingdom when we sin.

Now I am not going to go into salvation for the sake of staying on topic.

Since I have told you that we cannot be in His kingdom and that sin is not God why then do we sin.

If you think about the first sin, the apple in the garden, mind you this is true for every sin but there is a reason why this is the first sin and it is because it makes it all so very plain.

The fall (Stay with me as I break this down verse by verse.)

Genesis 3:1-6

“3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” “

The first thing the serpent does here is put a question into the mind of Eve as to the authority of God. Prior to this point Adam and Eve had been wholly and completely subservient to God much like an obedient child.

A child has free will just as much as Adam and Eve, and just like Adam and Eve, until the question of authority arises, that child will choose to follow their parents.

What I will have you notice first here is that it does not say that a force built up inside of Eve to compel her to sin, it was an external force. Something happened in her life, namely the serpent and in ours it could be peer pressure, external expectations, lust, jealousy and desire are all reasons the stem from the external. But until this point, mankind had no thought other than to please God.

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,

And as previously stated Eve is like a child who confronts wrong with what they know. A child would do the same. “I should go home. I don’t think we are supposed to be here.” Tell me you have never thought this thought.

3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Then she states her reasons. God Has told her what to do to stay alive. This is a whole ‘nether topic that I could spin for hours on but to sum it up quickly I will finish the story.

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

The Serpent introduces doubt again. And then he gives a reason that is just a little more compelling than the one God gave her.

5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

And this is the key. Up until this point there was Adam, there was Eve and they were mankind. Also there was God and He is God. Now, the serpent is saying, “You can be your own God, You can do what you want to do, you don’t need God to tell you what is right and wrong, you can know for yourself. You can be sure, you can have the power. Forget God.

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

And so, Eve, like us, did it not because it was innately evil but because she sought the same power as God.

Now as Christians we believe that we do not need sin in our lives. In fact we say that sin is an abomination. Why?

It is simple really, We know that God is good. And we know that eternal life is through Him. How do we know this? Because when you die and you are your own God, there is no one there to bring you back from the dead. But if you know God and you know that He will bring you back to an eternal life than even facing your sins in front of how well and just God really is should not frighten you. We know that He is going to forgive us because His son died on the cross in our stead when it should have been us. Jesus died the death that we owed God because of trying to make ourselves Gods, and all we had to do is accept it.

I hope this helps you see that it is not that people are innately evil. It is the serpents of our society, the wants for what other people have the desire to be the best, the gold star child. If we understand that not one of us is capable of walking on water unless God calls us (Matthew14:28) but to beware of doubt (Matthew 14:30) and know that God will never let us fall out of his reach (Matthew 14:31) then you can understand that sin was never in us, something brought it into us like a parasite that makes us doubt how real God is.

In the example I gave you, the disciple Peter walked on water until he took his eyes off of Jesus. It was at that moment that, for whatever reason, he began to doubt that Jesus was really God and that God could call him to walk on water.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

This is the day the Lord has made.

 
Ok, so not just today but every day. But I could not find the verse anywhere.
I recently started my days off with a prayer.
“Lord, I know that you have designed my day before I even open my eyes.
I know if you want me to touch someone’s life than you are going to ensure that I cannot miss the opportunity.
I know that you will place a step in front of me ready to take on my weight straight through to the end of my day.
I trust in you to provide for me all that I will need in this day and I release on to you all of my worries.
I ask that you use me today to glorify you and to set me in motion to do your will.”



This short prayer has done wonders for my stress level. I know that in whatever I do I can count on God to give me what He knows I need. If there is a challenge I trust that he will give me the tools to overcome it. I take special comfort now when I am faced with adversity knowing that He has not left me and that He is there beside me. That God has mapped out a way for me to not only overcome this problem but to glorify Him while doing it.
There have been times in my life where I felt as though I could not make it through something. But I did. There have been times where I was not sure if there was a way out. But there was. And now that I have taken so much for granted I commit to not just taking the road that God has laid out for me but to follow King David’s example when they brought the Ark into Jerusalem.
 
2 Samuel 6:21-22
“…’I was dancing[g] before the Lord... I will celebrate before the Lord, 22 and I will humble myself even more and humiliate myself….’”
Not ashamed of the GospelKing David was not gloating to his wife about how God had chosen him but saying plainly that He was prepared to make a mockery of himself to show that even the greatest among us can still be the least.
It’s this kind of behavior that we see sometimes in church when someone raises their hands in worship and we feel too ashamed to let others see us. King David made himself someone to be laughed at but instead the people worshiped God even more because of his willingness to turn over his life to glorify God.
 
How are you glorifying God in your everyday life?
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Romans Chapter 4:

Justified by works Faith
by_grace__through_faith
Paul is well versed in the Old Testament; I think that no one can possibly argue against that. I am constantly surprised by what he is able to pull out and thousands of years later we still struggle to see.
In this relatively short chapter he describes the futility of trying to be saved by works and our requirement for submission to being saved by faith.
Ephesians 2:8(HCSB)
8 For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—
God's bankPaul says that Abraham, “The father of nations” is possibly the only person, who is not God, who can boast of his works, But not before God. Abraham and all of us, regardless of how much good we can do in our lives, are still second to the ultimate good that God has done. That we should put our credit of righteousness to the discount of God account of grace and not our loan on life for we owe all to God even the time we have to do good deeds.
Paul goes further, for we can all recite that Christ is our savior, he states that the mark of circumcision and subsequent issuing of the basis of Old Testament law was not passed down before God made Abraham righteous, but instead before. It is not because Abraham was Jewish that he was saved because he was not. It was not because I had turned my life to God that he had forgiven my sins. The human mind is still simple in that I asked for forgiveness from God before I sought His path. God forgave my sins before I began my walk and in doing so I glorified Him through my walk and not walked to achieve his mercy. unworthy
I will never, nor will any one, be worthy of his forgiveness, which is why we are saved by grace through faith and not the other way around.
 
Paul does a slight berating on his Pharisee brethren when he says that those who seek only to follow the law will only achieve its purpose which is wrath. We have no laws which end with praise only laws that end with punishment, and so it we follow The Law then our return will be wrath. Instead he says something that could easily be taken as anarchy, “… And where there is no law there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15). But this is not what he meant. Paul was saying that in a world where law is not needed, there will be no punishment and that is a sensible statement. God gave the Jews a law so that they would follow his way, not to justify punishment on his children. God was not the transgressor, but to whom we have all transgressed.
Blind FaithLastly we know that God’s promise to Abraham was that he would be the father of nations, and this was in a time in which both his wife and he were well beyond the years of rearing children but God fulfilled his promise, a promise that Abraham would never see. Abraham was the father of nations, and he did it through faith in God knowing full well, in his old age, that he would never see Gods promise to him.
So in conclusion, we know that God promises us salvation, a promise that we will never see in our lives on earth, at least not fully. So we walk by grace through faith. We do well in the eyes of our Lord so that He will be glorified. We do well in the eyes of others so they will have faith to do the same.
walk by faith, not by sight

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Tale of Two Miracles.

1 Kings 18:37

37 Answer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God and that You have turned their hearts back.”

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if God answered your prayers? I know I have. I wondered if when God really did answer my prayers that I would know it was Him and not some other super natural or merely coincidental occurrence.

Over the past two weeks God has answered my prayers with 2 miracles. No kidding. And this is not the first two but certainly the most prominent in my mind as I start thinking about writing a blog.

The first was for a friend. He was deep in dark pits of despair and to which no doubt my selfish approach to council him did not help in the least. I prayed to God for forgiveness and asked of my friend the same and I prayed that he would be healed of his affliction and that beyond reasonable notion he would become closer to God because of his turmoil. You won’t understand much of what I wrote but I promised that I would not speak of it. So this is my compromise.

God came through in spades. God is working His healing hand on my friend and has brought my friend closer to Him than he had been. All inside of a week. That’s one amazing miracle. The best of the two and I am sorry that I cannot convey it in detail, for those of you who seek confidence in me I know that you will understand and respect this.

The Second and one to which I am more free to relate is also truly miraculous. In the middle of the week I was listening to KLove and I caught the latter half of a devotional message. The summary of this message was truly all I heard but enough to get the message across. It said that we should ask God to send someone into our lives to us deliver the message of His Gospel to them.

Now you need to understand that I was feeling very much NOT ready to deliver the Gospel to anyone at that time but I prayed anyways.

“God, Please send someone into my life that I might share your Gospel with them today if possible, by the end of the week at the latest. If you do not feel that I am ready to take on such a task then let Your Will be done.” Again, I was feeling very NOT ready to deliver the gospel and this came out in my prayer. “God, You know my heart and you know what I truly mean.”

Now I definitely believed that God would do whatever was in His Heart to do, and I trusted fully that He knew what He was doing. A few days later, today to be exact, God answered my prayers. This man had been one of the few I had been contemplating reaching out to but I could not frame my mind as to how I would approach him. But God knew. This man approached me.

How great and wondrous is God to know precisely how to lead his flock? God answered my prayer. This man has many worldly troubles and I now have the honor of helping him find the solution in Christ. I believe God has blessed us both.

He knows what He is doing and God does answer all our prayers. Even Elijah’s:

1 Kings 18:38

38 Then Yahweh’s fire fell and consumed the burnt offering, the wood, the stones, and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Paul’s Letter to the Romans: Chapter 3

romans1
Chapter 3
Paul opens with a question that still has meaning today does calling yourself a Christian have any sort of benefit over not? The real question is are you truly a Christian or are you just faming faith on Sundays? PonderGlobeCir
Paul reflects on whether or not there is any value to Judaism. Jews were not yet separated from the Christians in the overall view. The point he makes is direct. We have the word of the Lord. And with that we do not have to guess the will of God but we have it right here at our finger tips. Though we know that God is in all things and that His laws are absolute we have at our fingertips an account of everything that we need to know for salvation.
bible fingertips
Next Paul asks and answers if God will not hold true to His word simply because there are those who do not believe. We know that God will judge all regardless of their belief because He is the God of all nations.
Paul asks: if our sinful nature ultimately glorifies God’s grace should He still judge us the same. And of course He should, God is a just God. And as such there is a single set of rules for all of us to follow. In movies we can often see that there are villains who do evil but with the intention of an ultimate good. We still know these men are the bad guys because the way they are going about an end that does not justify the act. Our actions define our goals and there can be no good from evil deeds. When you act with good intentional pursuit your goal will be ultimately good. If your actions are malicious and destructive, it will not matter how good the overall outcome, the evil undertones will still be present. Nothing that can be built with evil can ever be fully good. We find this in ourselves. We cannot do evil for the glory of God, Instead we must reset our attempts by asking God’s forgiveness and starting anew with all our drive towards the glory of God. born again
But we are not worthy of this great gift that God has given us. Our salvation has a cost and we are not enough of a sacrifice to balance the scales. Paul underlines here that there is not a single person in the world who is without sin and though this may be common knowledge, or not, it means is that there is no one who is worthy of being the sacrifice to atone for our sins. It is because when we do not have the fear of God in our sight that we put idols in front of our views. These self serving idols are the cause of our sin. And through our sin we are made unworthy. We should be casting out these idols these things we put before God in priorities. It is a requirement to our salvation. We cannot ask for forgiveness of idol worship if we do not stop worshiping them.
In the end we will be judged by the law of God whether or not we worshiped Him with our lives. I would assume that it would be better to have worshiped God in the few days on earth over the eternal fires that await a soul who does not.
To pinnacle his point and show that we know this to be true Paul points out that God is more than just something made up in the scriptures with open promises and nothing to show for it. Instead it is through the fulfillment of His promise, Through His Son Jesus, that His grace is wonderfully seen.
Descent From the Cross by Wassilij Petrovich Wereschtschagin
Jesus died for our sins; more magnificent than that he died for all the sins that came before and those that would come after. Paul defines Gods grace by saying that since there could be no other atonement sacrifice for our sins Jesus gave Himself willingly because He loved us so deeply. Through the blood of His Son Jesus we are made righteous.
Therefore Paul says that though we are not worthy of our atonement, and so we cannot boast of our own righteousness, what we can boast of is our worship of God, for He is not the God simply of the saved but of every nation. He is the creator of the whole world. His offer of salvation goes out to everyone and anyone. That death before Jesus came is still not too much of a tax to be covered in full by His death.
But does His limitless offer of salvation mean that we can ignore the laws? On the contrary we know that His will is for us to be truly happy and the only way that will happen is to have no regrets in this world.
What we learn here is that God is not simply a Just God but also a Loving God.
loving-god-598x400

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Paul’s Letter to the Romans: Chapter 2

RE-Cross
Ref- Ps 62:12, Pr24:12, 2Thes 1:6, John 8:7 Mt 25:31-46
The Law of God is built into His creation. We are charged with following His laws to the best of our understanding.
Verse 1
When you judge others about what they do you will be judged yourself because you are guilty of the sin of judgment. Prejudice for instance is easily identified in others and we can say how narrow minded that person is for holding that view but in doing so we disregard the fact the we ourselves tend to judge others by our own first impressions.
Verse 2
Ref 2Thes 1:6, John 8:7
judging-others
Paul’s statement here is the flip side of how he addressed it to the Thessalonians in 51 AD. What he is referring to is not the Christians who are living there and making public judgments about the sinners but the Roman Jews who are trying to shift the attention of the Roman judicial system away from them and onto what is being seen as an internally Jewish revolt. The Romans did not like civil unrest, especially in the capital and they were swift to doll out punishment for perpetrators.
Paul is telling the Christians to take heart that the Jews who have the law better than anyone else are going to be doubly accountable for their acts of indiscretion. First to the standards they are holding for others and second for their failure to uphold God’s Laws.
What can be gleaned from this message is one of warning to all followers of The Way: Do not judge others. Remember that when Jesus was asked about how we as humans should lay judgment on others that his reply was well documents
7 When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Jesus_Drawing_Cast_First_Stone_
Verse 3
Simply having knowledge of the law does not make you exempt from it. All too often we see a privileged class in our society but God has no favorites. If anything we are more responsible once we have the law as can no longer claim ignorance.
Verse 4open-arms
God’s mercy is designed to bring you back from sin. This statement that Paul makes is so basic and yet how often do we talk about the sins of others in judgment and disregard the fact that we are all sinners. He will later tells us that “…There is no one righteous, not even one.” In chapter 3:10, so if we are all sinners then how can we fairly judge others. We only end up judging ourselves. God will not take our verdict of others into account so the time spent making the case against them is time we have squandered.
Verse 5
dig_your_own_graveAs the saying goes “You dig your own grave” and you will be judged by your own transgressions. The creator will have the final say in our salvation. Be concerned about your own sins and help others who fall around you. God will Judge all of us and after creating everything including wisdom and righteousness God does not need our help in identifying others’ sins. Instead of wasting time feebly attempting to do what God has been doing since before time we should place our whole efforts to living the lifestyle that will glorify Him.
Verse 6
Ref: Ps 62:12, Pr24:12
Verse 7-11

Paul outlines the basics of what awaits those who follow the path of righteousness as well as those who choose to deviate from this path. He is so clear in fact that that is all I am going to say.
Heaven-Vs-Hell
Verse 12-16
God’s law is part of His great design. His natural law can be seen in everything that we feel. It is past down from natural_lawgeneration to generation without external need. That is the reason we know He is the One True God for he wrote these truths on our heart. When you cry at a sad movie, or the funeral of a loved one, when you feel the need to help others in their time of need, even in the desire to be together through marriage we can see that He designed us with His truths. They are the feelings that compel to act when we know something is wrong, to cheer when something has been done right. He built them into us, in our emotions and feelings, our common sense and intuition. Even our love and hate is a reflection of His craftsmanship.
His will is everywhere.
However, when you know the law such as it is described in the Bible or are knowing of the law, such as knowing about the bible and believing in Christ as the Lord and Savior (or Christian but have never read the bible) you are liable for adherence to the laws contained therein. Claiming faith in God is not simply enough when you have His will written out for you. Read for yourself the laws you will be judged on. Do not let someone else tell you, as they may be misleading you for their own reasons. Trust in yourself and trust in the lord.
Verse 16
God is Justmonkimage
Ref: Mt 25:31-46)
Our responsibility to follow the Word as it is written in the bible.
Verse 17
Paul defines a Jew, but what he is really defining is the difference between people who know about the bible and people who do not and their liabilities to God in the final judgment. What we know today is that the bible is available in almost all spoken languages and to most of the population of the world. tanakh
Let me be clear, I do not have a firm understanding of who is to be judged and by what standards but what I do understand is that if we have the bible and we are aware that it contains the will of God then we are bound to adhere to it. Much like the laws of the city we live in. Only a small few of us have ever read it cover to cover but we are all still bound by its legislation. No, I have not read it cover to cover.
Jews here are to mean those who know about the Works as they have been written in the Tanakh, (the Old Testament). They are responsible for following those teachings. Just as we are, Paul was not excluding Christians. Flip to the first section of your bible and you will notice that right before the New Testament starts the Old Testament finishes. The only thing before the Old Testament is the table of contents and a page that reads “Old Testament”.
Verse 18-21
Paul goes further to say that those of us who accept His teachings, and live a life where we say we are believers and followers of God are responsible to teach ourselves. We are responsible to know the way we claim to follow. Simply calling ourselves Christians simply isn’t enough. We are bonded to know what that means. world_hands-289x300
When we teach someone by explaining that what they are doing is wrong we must be able to tell them why. As parents the “do as I say and not as I do” method has its obvious flaws. It would be better with an explanation: An understanding that what we are doing wrong is wrong and not just because we say so. We pray because Jesus prayed. We don’t judge because Jesus says we are unworthy of judging. There are reasons and we must know what they are before we can speak with authority.
Verse 21-23
Paul denounces the Roman Jews and Christians alike for preaching and not following their own teachings. A “do as I say and not as I do” philosophy is not how God teaches us, who are we to teach others in this way?
Verse 24
faithpalm-jesus-god-facepalm
Paul puts it into perspective for us saying that it is this kind of behavior that Isaiah was referring to when he wrote that we will be the blasphemers of God’s name. When we say we are His but our actions do nothing to show it.
We are responsible for showing others what it means to be a Christian with our actions. We are representatives of how God wants us to live our life. We can ill afford to be bad representatives as it could be the reason why our fellow Christians lose faith. Surely we will receive judgment on account of this.
Ref: Mt 25:31-46
Claims of faith mean nothing. They are only words. Without action they have as much value as the air they are spoken with. Further, our actions cannot be for ourselves but for the glorification of God. Having circumcision does not give you a free pass to sin. And those who follow the way and are not marked with circumcision will not be denied righteousness.
True followers of Christ are not the ones who call themselves Christians but instead can be identified by their action and attitude. (See Mt 25:31-46)
They-Will-Know-We-Are-Christians-by-Our-Love-Not-Doctrine
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