Revealing Truth Today

Standing for the truth and sharing Jesus with others!

He Can Relate…

Have you ever felt alone? Have you struggled alone? Have you been betrayed by someone you trusted? Have you ever felt like no one understands or can relate to your grief? Well – you know what? You are in good company because Jesus can relate. He understands.

Hebrews 4:15 states: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

Let’s recall a few examples of how much Jesus can relate to our griefs:

heb*Jesus’ Unfulfilled Longings – In Luke 13:34, we read of the deep yearning Jesus has for Jerusalem. He cries, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”

*Jesus’ Sorrows – sadness, wept. Man of sorrows acquainted with grief.

*Jesus’ Unpopularity – Although Jesus was well-known, he was very unpopular and hated. Isaiah 53:3 says that he was despised and rejected of men simply for teaching the truth. We also see this hatred in action when Pilate offered to release Jesus Christ or Barabbas – the robber. Not only was their cries to release Barabbas, but there were further cries to crucify Jesus Christ (see John 18 & 19). He was hated then as he is hated now – and for what? For telling the truth. But, it’s okay to be hated for the right reason.

*Jesus’ Poverty – As the old Dottie Rambo song says, “He left the splendor of Heaven, knowing his destiny was the lonely hill of Golgotha; there, to lay down his life for me.” He gave up his riches and became poor (see 2nd Cor. 8:9). He came down to our level – and sometimes he lived even lower than most. Jesus was also homeless. In Matthew 8:20, Jesus said: “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Jesus’ lack of outward “regalness” or “majesty” is also defined in Isaiah 53:2: “…he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” 

*Jesus’ Unreliable Friends – Jesus had many followers while on earth; but the ones who knew him best were his twelve disciples. He spent a lot of time with them. Nonetheless, we find that Peter denied him, Thomas doubted him, and Judas betrayed him. But before we cast any stones, let’s ask ourselves – aren’t there so many times that we fail him too? Still, he is willing to forgive as we strive to please him.

*Jesus Is Falsely Accused – Jesus was often misunderstood and falsely accused. Once, he was even accused by the scribes of being demon-possessed (see Mark 3:22). Nonetheless, God still showed love toward us in that while we were still sinners, he sent his only son to die for us (see Rom. 5:8).

*Jesus’ Deepest Griefs – “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful…” These were the words of Jesus as he prayed in the garden before his crucifixion (see Matt. 26:38). The travail of his soul so deep that he was sweating drops of blood. We have a Savior who identifies with suffering, sorrow, and grief.

But wait – there’s hope!!

Isn’t it a comfort to know that we have a Savior who can relate to our heartaches and griefs? Yet, we also know that we have an amazing source of hope and joy in Christ. In John 16:33, Jesus said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

Jesus was triumphant over death, hell, and the grave and promises eternal life for all Christians! An eternity of  pure bliss in such heavenly beauty. A place where, Revelation 21:4 says, “…God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Yes, Jesus cares.

I will close with an amazing thought by A.B. Simpson (1843-1919). He once said, “Beloved, have you ever thought that someday you will not have anything to try you, or anyone to vex you again? There will be no opportunity in heaven to show the spirit of patience, forbearance, and longsuffering. If you are to practice these things, it must be now.”

 

Sources: bible.com, biblehub.com, youtube.com

2 Comments »

The Significance of Animals in Scripture

Enter for your chance to win a $15.00 e-Gift Certificate

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast…” ~Proverbs 12:10 

Allow me to preface by saying that I hope this study brings valuable insight, as we find animals mentioned throughout the entire Bible. Although it is not a major topic of concern in regards to our salvation, I still believe that it will help us to better understand why God created animals and their significance in our lives. We will also briefly look at how animals were used for God’s purposes, and how they benefit mankind.

I’ve never really had occasion to give much thought to the significance of animals mentioned in the Bible… until recently. Sadly, a few of my aged pets have passed away in recent years. It can be very difficult to lose a family pet. Amidst my losses, my curious mind wondered if our pets go to Heaven when they die. As I began thinking about animals mentioned in scripture – a whole plethora of various animals mentioned came to mind. There are dozens and dozens of animals mentioned by name in the Bible! This led me to believe that there must be some significance to this. This blog entry is my attempt to organize my many cluttered thoughts into concise, easy-to-read sections. But really – I could write a novel on this topic alone!

Do Animals Have a Purpose?

“And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” ~Genesis 1:25

elephantDid God create animals for a purpose? Yes, most definitely! There are so many reasons beyond what I may even be able to convey. He saved the animals on Noah’s ark for a reason. Animals, indeed, point to God’s amazing creativity – just look at the variety of species in the animal kingdom; their various attributes, behaviors, and abilities! They also point to God’s unfathomable kindness in providing us with companions and helpers. For centuries, farmers worldwide have benefitted from hard-working animals which help them with their chores. Scripture also says that God provided animals, fish, birds, and even the vegetation for us to have a source of food (see Gen. 9:2-3). Additionally, we find that pets bring companionship and comfort to the lonely and sick (Luke 16:21). Animals can be a source of much happiness and laughter.

But, let’s go a bit further – Did God create animals for spiritual purposes? Absolutely! They were (and still are) utilized in ways too numerous to mention. Animals can be used by God to carry out his divine purposes. They are God’s creation so he can use them as he wills. Romans 9:21 says, “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” In like manner, we see in times past and in the future, certain creatures utilized by God. In the past (Exo. chapters 7-10), he used locusts, lice, flies, and frogs as a plague upon Egypt – and for good reason. Such oppressive plagues upon Egypt facilitated the release of Israelite slaves who were in bondage to the Egyptians. Even amidst the plagues, we also see a display of God’s supernatural powers and Godhead as he puts to shame the false gods.

At this point in history, we do not know whether or not the locust, scorpion, worm, or horse-like creatures, etc. spoke of in prophecy are literal creatures or used symbolically. Nonetheless, we find them mentioned even into the future. We also see animals, either literally or figuratively, mentioned in the prophecy of Isaiah. “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them(Is. 11:6).

It seems that animals can also see into the spiritual realm. We find this to be scripturally true when Balaam’s donkey saw the angel that Balaam could not see. When the donkey saw the angel he turned away, thus, saving Balaam’s life. (see full account in Num. 22:21-33).

On a personal note, after my Great-Grandmother’s death, my sister told me of something she experienced. My Great-Grandmother was ailing and we knew her death was imminent. As the family was sitting in the living room, just a few feet away from my Great-Grandmother’s bedroom, she passed away. At the exact time of death, my sister was sitting in the living room with her dog on her lap. She sensed an angel or a spirit pass by her but could not see anything. However, when my sister sensed this, her dog began to bark all of a sudden. He seemed to have seen something in the same direction in which my sister sensed this presence passing by. Now, I’m not insinuating that we build a doctrine upon someone else’s experience alone – but my sister’s experience seems to align with the account mentioned above; where an animal (Balaam’s donkey) could indeed see into the spiritual realm.

donkeyMuch like the donkey, in essence, saved Balaam’s life – the whale/large fish did so for Jonah. In the Book of Jonah, we read about his disobedience to God. He was running from God’s instructions for him to go to Nineveh and warn the people of their sins. As he was aboard a ship to escape, there came a terrible storm because of Jonah’s disobedience. In order to save the other people on the ship, Jonah instructed them to throw him overboard since he was the reason for the turbulent storm which was causing their ship to be tossed to and fro. Reluctantly, they did as he asked. Jonah found himself at the bottom of the sea with water churning all around him. Seaweed had wrapped around his head and he almost drowned. When his life was slipping away, he prayed and God rescued him. A whale/large fish swallowed Jonah and later spit him up on the safe shore. Of course, we know the rest of this account… how Jonah was then obedient, thus, God had mercy upon Nineveh and it was not destroyed (see Jonah chapters 1-4). But we can see how God used the creature of the sea to fulfill a divine plan.

And really, what an amazing thought that all of God’s creation, including animals, are designed to praise the Lord! We see this validated in scripture (see Ps. 148: 7, 10). “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 150:6).

What is God’s View of Animals?

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. ~Luke 12:6

God has compassion toward animals and has made provisions for them. Before he ever created animals, he created the herbs, grass, and trees so the animals would have food in place once they were created. He even established a Sabbath day of rest for animals (Exo. 20:10), food for them (Gen. 1:30, Matt. 6:26), and directions as to how to treat them fairly (Deut. 25:4, Matt. 12:11, Pro. 12:10). The Lord is even likened to a loving Shepherd who cares for the sheep of his fold (see Ps. 23:1, Matt. 18:12-14).

“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” ~Matthew 6:26

As we see in the above-cited scripture, God cares for the needs of the animals. By this, we can know that he will also care for our needs – for he asks, “Are ye not much better than they?” This also teaches us that God sees man as even more precious than the animals. We also see in scripture that we have dominion over the animals (see Gen. 1:26). This scripture is not an allowance for animal abuse, but simply to show the order of importance. We are made lower than the angels (see Heb. 2), yet we are more valuable than the animals.

lamb1One may ask, “But what about animal sacrifices which took place in Biblical times? Does this mean that God did not care about animals?” In order to answer these questions, we must know a little bit about the Old Testament practice of animal sacrifices. Without going into an exhaustive study, I would direct my readers to learn more at the link provided HERE. Bloody animal sacrifices were a picture of how sin utterly destroys – and how it hurts the innocent (animal, in this case). Also, we see that even God did not delight in animal sacrifices (Heb. 10:8, Hos. 6:6, Matt. 9:13) – yet such sacrifices were put into place as a temporary covering for sin until Jesus Christ came. Just as the innocent animal was killed for the sins of others, so Jesus, the innocent and spotless Lamb of God, was crucified for our sins. Jesus Christ put an end to all animal sacrifices once and for all (see Heb. 9:12, Heb. 10:4-8). He made a way for our sins to be eternally forgiven and washed away by his precious blood.

We could safely state that God’s view of animals is that of compassion, provision, and care. He also sees that they are good (see Gen. 1:25). They definitely have a purpose for being created.

Animals in Heaven?

“Who knoweth the spirit of man whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast whether it goeth downward to the earth?” ~Ecclesiastes 3:19

In this section, we will cover two subtopics:

1.) Do our pets go to Heaven when they die?

2.) Will animals, in general, still exist eternally in the New Heaven and New Earth?

Let’s begin with the first subtopic, do our pets go to Heaven when they die? There are various schools of thought regarding this question. Some Bible scholars say yes, others say no. Of course, we’d like to believe that our pets go to Heaven when they die, as a source of comfort to our hearts; but are we only fooling ourselves or is it true? We know for a fact that humans who are followers of Christ will be with the Lord at death; for 2nd Corinthians 5:8 states: “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” But, what about animals??

Scripture does not emphatically state whether or not our animals/pets will go to Heaven when they die; therefore, I can not emphatically state one way or the other. However, I will provide some valuable “food for thought” and let you decide for yourself.

Bible teacher, John Piper, made the following statement:

1jpq

In Old Testament times, before mankind could be sure of their eternal destination in Christ, we see Solomon asking the question in Ecclesiastes 3:19… “Who knoweth the spirit of man whether it goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast whether it goeth downward to the earth?” Does the beast simply perish at the point of death? In regards to this scripture, the Matthew Henry Commentary states, in part:

1mhq

Let us also take into account Romans 8:19-23. This scripture says, “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” 

For we see that humans, animals, the earth, and even inanimate objects of creation – the whole creation – suffers and groans in this present age. Commentator, Matthew Henry, writes: “Sin has been, and is, the guilty cause of all the suffering that exists in the creation of God.” If we hate suffering, then we should hate sin. There would be no suffering had mankind not sinned. But, we have hope – God will set all things right in the end and put an end to all suffering! Revelation 21:4 says so… “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

Now, let’s briefly cover our second subtopic question… Will animals, in general, still exist eternally in the New Heaven and New Earth?

In prophecy, we read of different creatures used for a variety of purposes. There is some debate as to whether animals spoken of in prophetic terms are literal animals or simply symbolically used – or a mixture of both; nonetheless, there is no denying that animals are mentioned. I have provided only a few examples in the following scriptures below:

horse“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.” ~Rev. 19:11

“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.” ~Isaiah 65:25

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” ~Isaiah 11:6

In the end, the most important question to ask is not whether there will be animals in heaven or not; most importantly – will WE be in Heaven? As much as we long for our animals (or animals, in general) to be there, let us long for others and ourselves to be there all the more!

Lessons From Animals in Scripture

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise… ”

~Proverbs 6:6

Throughout scripture – the Bible mentions numerous animals. The animals may be used as symbols, for divine purposes, or to teach us life lessons (ex. Matt. 6.26, Ps. 32:9). We read about the Spirit of God descending from Heaven as a dove at Jesus’ baptism (see Matt. 3:16); we see the godly compared to eagles in Isaiah 40:31; we also see the Psalmist longing for God, much like the deer who longs and pants for water (see Ps. 42:1). There are many other examples we all could think of, but one truth remains – animals are used by God to teach us very important lessons.

We see Biblical examples of Believers being likened to sheep (Matt. 10:16, John 10:14, Ps. 23:1); of God being likened, in various instances, to a lion, leopard, bear, and eagle (see Hos. 13:7-8, Deut. 32:11). And we see Jesus described as a lion and a lamb (see Rev. 5:5, John 1:29).

1abq

To summarize in basic terms, the animals were made by God and for God. He also made them for us – whether for practical use or to teach us spiritual lessons. We have learned that God cares for the animals and provides for them (ex. Ps. 147:9, Matt. 6:26) – so we can trust that he will also provide our needs. We have also seen scripture confirm God as the Creator (ex. Ps. 104:24, Job 12:7-10, Gen. 1); and we see God’s nature in that he is so gracious and caring toward his creation.

I hope this was insightful and that you have learned a bit more about our amazing God and his compassions on all of his creation. “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” Lamentatins 3:22. God bless you all.

source

2 Comments »

A Wounded Spirit

aws

Have you or someone you know been deeply wounded, spiritually-speaking? Did the wounding come about from a particular situation you encountered? Or was the wound inflicted by family, an acquaintance, a church member, or by someone that you thought you could trust? If so, you’re not alone.

Sustaining a physical wound on the body can be very painful, and sometimes, result in a physical death. But, to sustain a spiritual wound is far worse, according to scripture. Proverbs 18:14 states: “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?” In other words, a physical infirmity or physical wound will not destroy our spirit which is of utmost eternal importance. Furthermore, our resilience of spirit will carry us through such an infirmity of body or various troubles which may be encountered in life. As the Pulpit Commentary so aptly states: “The body can, as it were, fall back upon the support of the spirit, when it is distressed and weakened…” The infirmities that we endure in life are unpleasant and undesirable, still, the strength of our spirit-man within can help us to endure such hardships. However, a wounded spirit is so severe that the writer of Proverbs wonders who could even bear such a thing!

Causes of a Wounded Spirit

There are many causes for a wounded spirit; most of which will be listed in this section. There are countless scenarios that could cause such a deep wound on the soul-level; but we will briefly cover the most common:

Slander: The Psalmist writes an entire song of the slandered in Psalm 109. In the Psalm, he mentions a few reasons why his heart is wounded within him. In his prayer/song to God, he mentions that the wicked and deceitful have spoken against him with a lying tongue. They have also spoken words of hatred toward him and have fought against him without a cause. Even though he tries to show them love, in exchange, they only become his enemies. Even though he tries to show them good, in exchange, they only reward him with evil. He is a reproach to them and when they look at him, they just shake their heads.

1jDoesn’t this particular account sound very much like what we would term as verbal “bullying”? Sure, it is on an intense level; nonetheless, it seems as though their constant bullying and slander began to take its toll on his inward man. He was poor, needy, and becoming weak from fasting; then to have all of his adversaries bully him without a cause – well, his heart became wounded.

Have you ever felt bullied or slandered? Have you been lied on? Have you been hated for no reason at all? Does it seem like the more good you do for certain people, the more they hate you? This is exactly how the Psalmist felt. It hurt him so deeply. Jesus was also treated this way but far, far beyond slanderous talk only. He was hated to the point of death. Scripture says that he was hated without a cause. In John 15:18, Jesus forewarns us, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” By this, we share in the fellowship of his sufferings. But take comfort… “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (2nd Cor. 1:5).

Persecution: “A faith that can be destroyed by suffering is not faith.” These were the words of a man that knew suffering, persecution, and torture. Richard Wurmbrand was a Godly soul-winner who was imprisoned by the Communists for his faith in Christ. He was in prison and tortured (physically, mentally, and spiritually) for a total of almost 14 years. Nonetheless, he was not destroyed and was not bitter toward his persecutors; in fact, he tried to win them to Christ!

Remember, we can endure persecution and even a wounded spirit without it destroying us. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…” (2nd Cor. 4:8-9). You see, persecution is slightly different from slander alone in that persecution, oftentimes, also includes physical suffering inflicted by others. However, persecution needn’t be physical in order to cause us great pain.

But first, let’s clarify something. When we bring shame and punishment upon ourselves due to sin, well, we deserve to feel hurt when we are in the wrong. Such shame and hurt is definitely not considered “persecution” if we are being held responsible for wrong actions. Actually, to be held accountable for sin is right and just. But what about when we are serving God to the best of our ability and still endure being wounded, slandered, or persecuted? The Bible states that if we are Godly, we will be persecuted. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2nd Tim. 3:12). This may come as unwelcomed news to some; but we can take heart; for when we are persecuted, we know that we are living a good life that is pleasing to God.

1wSuch persecution may come in various forms and various degrees of severity. One common form of being wounded is enduring persecution at the hands of a family member, a Pastor, a church congregation, or a friend. The Revivalist, Leonard Ravenhill, put it like this: “All you have to do is get in a closer walk with God and you’ll find your enemies are in your own church.” Yes, this can happen – and it wounds. It shouldn’t be this way, but sadly, many find that it is.

Nonetheless, we must realize that it’s humans wounding us – and that humans are all capable of sinning. This does not excuse the deep wounds they inflict upon us, but it helps us to see that we serve God and not humans. As Charles Spurgeon once said, “God save you from a religion that depends upon other people!” When all else is stripped away, can we stand before Christ on our own two feet? Is it truly Christ that we follow? Or are we idolizing a pastor, a Christian book author, or some other figure in our lives? Remember, we serve God – not man. We can’t let the wounds inflicted by mere mankind cause us to hold a grudge against God. This is misdirected anger and it is a dangerous trick of Satan.

Being Lost: Another possible cause of a wounded spirit is living our lives without Christ. Sure, we may believe in him, but do we serve him? “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” James 2:19. It’s not enough to believe only; we must surrender our lives to the Lord.

When we live without knowing the weight of what Christ’s death on the cross means for us, we live shallow lives. Of course, many a sinner may eventually feel that their spirit is wounded – no, even worse – utterly lost and hopeless without God. In this sense, it is actually a righteous, healthy wound; for it drives us to Christ for salvation and to feel his healing administered to our tattered spirit.

Life without Christ may seem pleasurable for a season… but as Hebrews 11:25 teaches, the pleasures of sin are fleeting; there’s no true and lasting joy or stability living in such a way. This is precisely why millionaires who seem to have it all feel that they need drugs and alcohol to “numb the pain” within. This void in the spirit is why those who are “successful” by the world’s standards can so easily commit suicide. They feel hopeless and empty, and yes, their spirit feels wounded beyond repair due to the blows that sin has delivered. But fear not, Christ’s grace is greater than our sin!! (See Rom. 5:15).

Trauma: I would venture to say that many people feel spiritual implications after enduring immense trauma. We are made in the likeness of God (see Gen. 1:26) therefore, in essence, we are triune beings. Triune simply means that we are three parts making up one whole person. Our three parts are mind, body, and spirit; whereas God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (see Matt. 28:19). By this, we can see that the mind affects the body, the body affects the mind, the spirit affects the mind, etc. So, it stands to reason that when we are exceedingly sorrowful over a traumatic event, it may cause our spirit to feel downcast and/or wounded (see Ps. 42:5).

Trauma comes in many, many forms. We never know when/if trauma will strike. Of course, we always hope and pray that it doesn’t; but when/if it does, we have to heavily rely on our God and the strength he has placed into our spirit to pull us through. We must be diligent to seek God in order to keep the spirit within us strong at all times. In the good times, we cannot afford to forget about God or to leave him out of the equation. We must build ourselves up on the most holy faith (see Jude 1:20). We must guard our hearts/minds against that which would weaken our spirit (see Prov.4:23). This will help us survive should we have to endure an unforeseen trauma.

Even still, there are going to be times when we don’t feel strong. There are going to be times that we don’t even sense God’s presence. It may seem that he is a million miles away and that he doesn’t hear us. We may weep much, like the Prophet Jeremiah. We may despair of life, like the Apostle Paul. It may seem that our soul refuses to be comforted and that it is overwhelmed, like the Psalmist Asaph. We may even get so low that we wish that we were never born, like Job. Despite all of these very normal feelings that may occur in life, as long as we keep holding to God’s outstretched hand and keep trusting him; keep crying out to him – then we will not be defeated. We can’t give up – for who else do we have as mighty as God to set all things right in the end?

A Faithful Wound of a Friend: All of the causes of a wounded spirit (listed above) reference something that feels very negative to us; things that are hard to endure such as slander, persecution, being in sin, trauma, or being hated without a cause. Most of these wounds (such as slander and persecution) are inflicted upon us by those who would consider themselves our enemy. However, there is a wound which is a faithful wound of a friend. Let me explain…

You see, when someone finds themselves in such a miserable state of sin or in a state of feeling very lukewarm in their spirit, they have two choices: They can forfeit the eternal well-being of their soul and stay miserable (which, in this life, can lead to substance abuse, other harmful behaviors, or suicide). Or, they can surrender to God and cry out for mercy and forgiveness. In this latter case, God must sanctify them so that they don’t self-destruct and land up in Hell. By this, it oftentimes may feel like it’s God himself inflicting the wounds in order to purge them of their sin or something in their life that is not good in his sight. As Job 5:18 says, “For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.” But what does this mean?

Again, let me reference the Pulpit Commentary which states it far better than I. It states:

111

It is a good surgeon who successfully removes that which causes his patient great harm. Sure, the surgeon must cut and wound his patient during surgery – but it is for the purpose of health. Furthermore, he also bandages his patient and does what he can to help him/her heal. This is exactly what the scripture in Job 5:18 is referring to.

When we become as clay in the Potter’s hands (God’s hands), we may feel kneaded and stretched at times. But in the end, we trust that he is making us into a vessel fit for his use and for his glory… and that he is preparing us to spend all eternity with him. He is such a faithful friend to us and he is our Great Physician – the only one who can do a supernatural work to bring about healing to our spirit and eternal security.

Healing for the Bruised and Brokenhearted

Perhaps, the exact situation you are encountering was not specifically mentioned in the previous section. However, we can summarize all hurt and wounds of the spirit by likening them to bruised and broken heart. The Bible has much to say about those who feel bruised and broken. Take comfort in the scriptures listed below:

“The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” ~Psalm 34:18

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” ~Psalm 51:17

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised…” ~Luke 4:18

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” ~Isaiah 53:5

“A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” ~Matthew 12:20

1jpBefore closing, let’s explore a bit further on the topic of healing from a wounded spirit. As I’ve already mentioned and want to proclaim, the most important thing we can do is to keep our relationship with God alive amidst the harsh blows that we encounter in life. We must see to it that we stay close to the Shepherd! Our eternity is at stake and we can’t turn back or give up!

As the founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, once said: “The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of your heart. Anyone who has tended a fireplace fire knows that it needs to be stirred up occasionally.”

Mourn. It’s okay to take some time to mourn. There is no sin in tears. There is a time and a season for everything… “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecc. 3:4).

Pray. Ask God to restore your joy and to uphold you. “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit” (Ps. 55:12). Believe in his restorative power.

Ask Questions. In the event your spiritual wound was inflicted by something someone said about you in a slanderous way, ask yourself if what they said was, indeed, true; and if it was scriptural. If not – then don’t let a lie torment you any longer, dear Christian! I speak this from experience as one who has been the victim of slander and of falsehoods being spoken about me; as one who was hated without a cause.

Be Still. In Psalm 46:10, scripture beautifully states: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Don’t worry about getting revenge. Let God fight your battles and put them into his capable hands. Don’t reward evil for evil. I have had to learn this lesson over the years. Micah 7:8 says, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.” Be still and know that there will be justice – whether in this life or in the one to come (see Rom. 12:19). As Charles Spurgeon put it… “Every blow aimed against the godly will recoil on the persecutor; he who smites a believer drives a nail in his own coffin.”

Readjust Your Focus. Don’t stew over fears, injustices, or wounds sustained. That’s easier said than done, but try this: Try readjusting your focus. Philippians 4:8 teaches, “… whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Likewise, focus on eternity and the weight of the glory that is to come (see 2nd Cor. 4:17). I like to read the book of Revelation to infuse my spirit with hope of better things in my future. Also, it’s good to readjust our focus onto someone other than ourselves. Nazi Concentration Camp survivor, Corrie Ten Boom, learned the power of readjusting her focus. She once said:

1ctb

Psalms, Hymns & Songs. Ephesians 5:19 helps us along our journey by instructing us with wise words. It says, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” There have been many Christians who have found peace in either singing praises to him or listening to praises. Something about making a joyful noise with the music and the voice (as referenced all throughout the book of Psalms and in Psalm 98:4) is very healing to the soul. Don’t focus on the melody, don’t focus on the singer… focus on God. Welcome his presence with your song, whether sung by you or another.

Remain Hopeful. I’ll be honest, it’s not always easy to hold out a lot of hope for things to be “peachy keen” in this life; but we have amazing hope for eternity, where our best days are ahead of us. Such hope can spill over and give us joy for the journey we are still on here. Much like the Prophet Isaiah wrote… one day, we (as Christians) will have beauty for ashes, gladness instead of mourning, and praise instead of a spirit of heaviness. It’s true! Hold on, wounded soldier… help is on the way!

I close with this thought… Leonard Ravenhill and his Assistant Pastor used to sit in the church office at the end of the day and talk about the Lord. Oftentimes, the Assistant would put his feet up on the desk, lean back in his chair, smile, and say, “Well Len, another day’s march nearer home.” Never forget the hope that lies ahead, beyond all the wounds and heartache of this life.

Sources:  revival-library.com   biblehub.com   sermonindex.net   polyvore.com   thehumbledhomemaker.com
2 Comments »

Soapbox Christianity

“…speaking the truth in love, we will, in all things grow up into Christ Himself, who is the head. ~Ephesians 4:15

sbc1The truth… it can be a bitter pill to swallow or it can be sweet as honey. Sometimes, the truth hurts since it brings conviction of sin; nonetheless, in the end, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness. But, how are we, as Christians, conveying the truth?  Are we doing so out of concern or are we doing so out of a sense of self-righteousness?

The delivery of our Christian message is very important. How are we delivering our message? What is our motive? Do we do so because we get a self-esteem boost out of “winning the argument” or do we instruct others and point out biblical truths in order to be helpful?

You may have heard the phrase of someone “getting on their soapbox”. What exactly does this mean? To put it concisely, the online dictionaries describe it as someone getting on a soapbox (box) in order to elevate themselves above others – as one would step up on a podium to speak. Once on the soapbox, the speaker conveys a message that he/she feels very passionate about. It’s a way the individual would express their feelings in a forceful manner.

The reason this blog entry is titled, “Soapbox Christianity” is because of the negative connotation that comes with someone being on a soapbox. Are we witnessing in such a manner? I wish to clarify that this is, in no way, directed towards pastors or those in leadership positions who stand before a crowd to speak. It is simply a slang way to draw our attention to the way in which we deliver the message of the Bible to others. Do we, in essence, get on a soapbox and show no mercy or compassion to the lost?

 

Life-Giving Truth

“Great saints have always been dogmatic. We need to return to a gentle dogmatism that smiles while it stands stubborn and firm on the Word of God.” ~A.W. Tozer

In 2nd Corinthians 3:5-6, scripture states: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” In other words, the cold, hard truth (though it is truth) killeth withouth the spirit of our Lord bringing life into the words of truth and bringing hope for forgiveness of sin. This is why it is so important that when we try to guide a wandering soul, we must do so with the right motives and we must be fully yielded to the Holy Spirit. In reference to the aforementioned scripture, the Barnes’ Notes on the Bible so aptly states:

sbc2

Although there is forgiveness, there are also biblical standards which we must adhere to dogmatically. It is a fine balance.

“Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation, regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong. A false spirit of accommodation is sweeping the world as well as the Church, including those who claim the label of evangelical” (Quote by: Francis A. Schaeffer).

When we bring instruction to those in spiritual need, we must do so with the end result in sight – the hope that they will turn from their sin. The motive should never be for us to get a rush of pride or a boost in self-esteem for “being right” or feeling more righteous than others. Remember, we were all once lost. How can we boast? It was Christ that saved us and revealed truth to us… again I ask, how can we possibly have the audacity to boast or become prideful about our salvation, as to look down upon others?

 

When the Truth Hurts

“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” ~Galatians 4:16

sbc4Realistically, there are those instances when we speak biblical truths in love, yet, the person we are desiring to help still becomes offended. That does not mean that we didn’t try to speak the truth accurately or lovingly – sometimes, it just hurts for people to hear it. Even though the individual may lash out at us, it’s important to remain Christ-like. We must realize that Christ and his followers were/are often hated because we do speak truth. With tears in our eyes, still, we must speak hard truths with a heart of love.

For consider him that endured such hostility of sinners against himself, lest you be wearied and faint in your minds. You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:3-4).

 

We Must Speak Up

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.” ~John Calvin

Sometimes, we must speak loving words of truth which may feel unpleasant to the listener. Hebrews 12:11 echoes this thought… Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them who are trained by it.

Scripture instructs those in spiritual leadership thusly, “Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to refute the opposition” Titus 1:9. Likewise, 2nd Timothy 4:2-5 states: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (Also see Titus 2:11-15 and 1st Thessalonians 5:14). Notice how the instruction is to “exhort”, but to do so with “longsuffering”. Again, we find the common theme of speaking the truth in love.

Proverbs 12:1 is very clear: “Whosoever loves instruction loves knowledge: but he that hates reproof is senseless.” Nonetheless, there will be those who hate us for speaking truth. Many of the early Believers were persecuted and killed for their beliefs in the Messiah. Even still, we find Christian persecution worldwide. However, we must remember what Jesus said in Matthew 10:32… “Whoever, then, acknowledges me before people, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven.” Will we speak up for Jesus? Or will be cowardly hide for fear of backlash? As Martin Luther King, Jr. so truthfully spoke… “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Are we willing to speak up for the sake of the Gospel?

When we boldly speak truth, it must be spoken with no hint of self-righteousness or haughtiness. Remember, that a haughty/prideful spirit goes before a fall (see Proverbs 16:18). There is a vast difference between being judgmental and honestly correcting someone out of love and concern (see link HERE for more on this). The entire intent of this blog, Revealing Truth Today, is to accomplish the Great Commission by speaking loving truths assertively. It is my prayer that this message has been conveyed adequately.

We must never confuse love and meekness for lack of zeal. A.W. Tozer once said, “Humble yourself and cease to care what men think. A meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather, he has stopped being fooled about himself. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He has obtained a place of soul rest. The old struggle to defend himself is over.” Don’t defend yourself… defend the Gospel. Be assertive and keep your standards, yet remain tender-hearted and compassionate towards those in deep sin. Again, there is a fine balance.

Love does not tolerate sin – it warns of sin. “Tolerance is the virtue of those who don’t believe anything”, as G.K. Chesterton put it. We must not tolerate what God abominates. It’s called “tough love” for a reason. Even still, tough love from the Believer is due to a passion for truth and a love for the souls of others. This kind of love is pleasing to God. So when you witness, always remember to examine your motives and ask yourself, “Am I merely on my soapbox defending myself or wanting to appear superior in knowledge? or am I deeply concerned for a wayward soul?” And remember the words of wisdom in Proverbs 11:30… “he that winneth souls is wise.”

 

Sources: biblehub.com,urbandictionary.com, wikipedia.org, dictionary.cambridge.org
4 Comments »

Red, Yellow, Black, & White

When I was a little girl, we used to sing a song in church that I still remember to this day. The song was, “Jesus Loves the Little Children”.

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red and yellow, black and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world

Red and YellowBlack and White...They are precious in God's sight!When I was in elementary school, I remember my very first true friend was a black girl. It didn’t matter to me, whatsoever, that she was black and I was white – all that mattered was our friendship. We used to play on the playground together, talk together and braid each other’s hair. She was so much fun to be around and made me look forward to going to school, just so I could see her.

At this young age, I didn’t know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, segregation, racism, or anything of the sort. I do, however, remember one specific day when we were outside on the playground. It was a very sunny day. I remember the sun shining down on us and I noticed how differently pigmented our skin tones were under the bright sunlight. It wasn’t a bad thing, just something very different about us. I recall in my little 1st grade mind thinking, “If anybody ever tries to make fun of her for her skin being different, I will defend her and tell them that it’s just a color – that it makes no difference in her ability to be a good friend.” I thought her skin was beautiful, but I was ready to defend her if anybody teased her for being a different color than the rest of the classmates.

God Loves Color

Red and YellowBlack and White...They are precious in God's sight!(1)You see, God loves a vast array of colors. Just look at the description of Heaven given in the book of Revelation (chapter 21), and how many different colors are mentioned! Or look at nature; look at the colorful Autumn leaves and all of the flowers in the Springtime! God also loves people of all colors; after all, He made them.

Outward color has no bearing on the inward soul. With so much racial tension escalating nowadays, we must remember that Jesus died for the whole world, not just a particular color of skin. Salvation is a free gift given to whosoever will come. Romans 10:13 states: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

In the book of James (chapter 2) the Bible teaches us not to be a “respecter of persons”. In other words, we shouldn’t treat the rich person with more favor than we do the poor person. This principle can also easily apply to race; we should never treat someone with disdain and hatred based upon skin color – that is a sin. Scripture says, “If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors” (James 2:8-9). Bear in mind, one of the fruits of the Spirit is love. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

We Need Each Other

Red and YellowBlack and White...They are precious in God's sight!(2)Just last month, I had a doctor’s appointment with my Cardiologist. After years and years of fighting health issues, one gets weary. I was weary that day… my body was weary, yes, but so was my spirit. It’s crushing to feel so unable to lead a “normal” active life at such a young age; to feel that your best days may have already passed you by. It hurts deeply to have ambitions and dreams, but to have no physical strength to sustain you.

People without chronic health issues can scarcely comprehend the immense weight of bearing such an ongoing, daily burden. Though they may show compassion and even act as selfless caregivers, in many cases, there’s nothing quite as eye-opening as being the one stuck in bed, or being the one in the wheelchair.  A chronically ill person oftentimes feels buried under the weight of it all. As we cast this burden upon the Lord, He is faithful to help us not fold under the weight of it. Nonetheless, we are trapped within our own bodies, as it were. Much like the song written by the late Dottie Rambo says, in part, “This house of flesh is but a prison; bars of bone hold my soul…”

So, the day of my appointment, I was weary on so many levels and felt like crying in despair. I was being sent directly from my appointment over to the heart hospital across the street for outpatient treatment. Being so weak in body, my husband pushed me in my wheelchair to the front desk as we got details about my outpatient treatment. There were a few chairs in a waiting area near the desk. As we were leaving, I noticed an elderly black lady sitting there. She had been waiting patiently behind me in line while seated. As my husband pushed me in my wheelchair toward the elevators, I smiled at her.

As we were leaving and headed toward the elevators, I hear her urgently saying, “Ma’am, Ma’am!!” We turned around quickly, thinking I might have dropped something on the floor as I was leaving. She paused. In a very matronly, heart-felt tone, she spoke words to me that I shall never forget. She said, “Don’t ever lose your smile…” with a glisten in her beautiful eyes, she continued, “because I needed that today.” Oh! I felt her words so deeply! At that moment, we connected on a soul-level. She was as an angel sent from God Himself to encourage me on that difficult day.

I muttered out a “thank you” before I became overcome with emotion. I choked back tears as I put my hand over my heart and nodded, grinning at her and whispering “thank you”. Because as much as she needed my smile that day, I needed to hear her wise, Heaven-sent words even more. For a person that has never been through trials and tribulations with their health, her words may have just been cute and sweet – but to me, they were life-giving! She felt that I was a blessing to her, but little did she know how much of a blessing she was to me and will continue to be for the rest of my life. I will remember that little black lady for years to come and I will always cherish her words of wisdom and encouragement.  I will always remember how God sent her to me at just the right time – at a time when my smile may have, otherwise, faded.

It made absolutely no difference to me that she had black skin, and it made no difference to her that I had white skin. We needed each other at that moment. We’d both had a difficult day. We both understood what it was like to suffer in our bodies. We were both weary and in need of encouragement.  God sent us to each other, I just know it!

Had I been racist, I may have never smiled at her. Had she been racist, she may have never spoke words to encourage me. But we were both “color blind”, as it were, and only saw another precious soul for whom Christ died. Her encouragement wasn’t just a nicety, it was what I absolutely needed on that day. We needed each other.

The Remedy for Racism

Red and YellowBlack and White...They are precious in God's sight!(3)In society, it seems that race relations are never at a place of enduring peace. Throughout history, there have been times of race riots and other times of apparent calm. Nonetheless, it seems that the racial peace is never long-lived or lasting. Why is this? For starters, many are not Christ-followers; therefore, they don’t live by the Biblical principles of love and peace.

Secondly, racial tension is vastly controlled in the public by human willpower; so the evil root of bitterness and hatred is never dealt with – it is merely “willed” away. But in times of tension, the willpower fails and the evil root of hatred and division springs back up. Scripture states it very clearly: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled…” (Heb. 12:14-15).

As simple (yet profound) as it is – the obvious remedy for racism is yielding to God. He is the one who can change men’s hearts of stone, and their worldly viewpoints, as they yield to Him. He is the one who puts His love in our hearts. He is the One who can give us peace and enable us to forgive past hurts. He is the one that can lay the axe to the root of hatred as we yield to His perfect will.

Of course we know that the entire world will not yield to God; nonetheless, that shouldn’t stop us from doing what is within our power to behave in a Christ-honoring manner. Nothing should ever stop us from doing what is right and pleasing in God’s eyes. Maybe we can’t unite the whole world, but we can do something. We can show love. We can make every effort to be at peace with others, just as scripture instructs us. A vast forest fire begins with a tiny spark. And as the Bible teaches… “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Sources: Biblehub.com, Canva.com, Fotosearch.com
2 Comments »

The Hot Air Balloon

hotairballoonI was in the car casually looking out the window as we drove down the highway. Billboards, shopping centers, and road signs whizzed past my eyes as we drove. I noticed the sky was especially blue and pretty that day. As I got lost in thought while staring at the beautiful clouds, something caught my attention.

Over the distant mountain, I noticed something in the sky. I squinted my eyes but couldn’t quite figure out what it was. I locked my gaze on this mysterious object out of curiosity. As the object came closer, I could clearly see that it was a hot air balloon. It got closer and closer until I could tell that there were many people aboard its tiny basket. It was beautiful. It brought a smile to my face.

Then, to my absolute shock, the once peacefully coasting hot air balloon began to behave erratically. A plume of black smoke also confirmed to me that the fire mechanism which was used to keep the balloon afloat had, somehow, gone out. Since there was some air left in the balloon, the fall wasn’t immediate – nonetheless, it began plummeting at a decent rate of speed. I didn’t utter a word. I was in shock watching this scene unfold before my eyes. With my eyes wide open and my jaw dropped, I covered my mouth with my hand and sat there stunned.

My heart sank lower within me as I saw the passengers jumping out of the basket. All I could see were silhouettes against the bright, blue sky. Yet, I knew each vague silhouette represented a life, a soul. Each one has a story to tell, a unique journey, their own personality, talents and interests that make them who they are. Most of them have loved ones that care about them. Each falling silhouette is more than just a vague shadow – they mean the world to somebody. But now, just like that, they’re falling to their certain death.

I couldn’t bear to watch these precious souls falling! Just as I was about to look away and give up all hope, something amazing happened. All over the sky, I saw colorful, life-saving parachutes popping open! All of the passengers were prepared and equipped with parachutes! My hope which was almost gone burst open, much like the colorful parachutes. I knew everything was going to be okay. My bated breath suddenly transformed into a refreshing sigh of relief.

Later that day, the hot air balloon passengers were reunited with family members. Some of the more resilient passengers ran into their loved ones arms with a smile, as if they felt no trauma whatsoever. Other passengers, still reeling from the events that took place, reunited with family while tears were streaming down their eyes. Still others, others couldn’t even run into the arms of those they cared about – they had to walk with a slow, painful limp from the impact of their landing. Nonetheless, everyone was reunited – that’s all that really mattered.

Isn’t this account much like our life and our faith?

Just like the hot air balloon, we have times when we are coasting peacefully through life. The sky is bright and blue, bursting with happiness. Then, to our shock and dismay, life suddenly begins spiraling out of control. Our faith is shaken. Just like that, everything seems to be going wrong. The fire that kept our faith alive and our life afloat has seemingly gone out. It blindsides us. We didn’t see this coming – especially in light of how everything was so calm and peaceful moments ago.

Nonetheless, there is a small reserve of faith within us which keeps the fall from being immediate. Still, we find ourselves heading downward at a decent rate of speed. What can we do during times like these? Where can we turn when our hope and faith is plummeting? There seems to be no way out of this nightmare. The death of our faith is so real and so near that we can envision the devastation of the fall. We think it’s all over. We fear this is how it is going to end – in tragedy.

habIn this time of trouble when faith is shaken and hopes are shattered, God Almighty quickens his holy word to our remembrance. The powerful words in scripture speak of God as being a “very present help” in times of trouble; and that he “is able to keep you from falling.” The amazing hope contained in these promises causes our faith to burst open with a life-saving “parachute”, as it were.

Our God has made a way, just as the prophet Isaiah said he would. He has made a “path in the mighty waters… a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” He comforts with warm, truthful words, saying, “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.” By this amazing hope we’ve found in our Lord, we are persuaded… “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Just as the passengers of the hot air balloon were reunited with loved ones, God’s children will all be reunited in Glory. Whether walking unaided or limping, the reunions were just as sweet. ‘Twill be likewise in Glory. The main thing is, we made it… even if, proverbially, we had to limp in. We made it, and that’s all that really matters in the end. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Allow me to point out that Jacob, the Biblical patriarch, walked with a limp, due to his hip being injured during a time in his life when he wrestled with God (see Gen. 32). Although limping physically through life, he endured and was powerful. Likewise, even if we have to limp through trials of life, spiritually speaking, let’s remember that we can endure. All it takes is a mustard seed sized faith. Elbert Hubbard, American writer and philosopher, put it like this: “God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas – but for scars.”  As long as we keep getting up and moving toward our Lord, the enemy can’t keep us down.

In his song “We Fall Down”, songwriter, Kyle Matthews, writes: “The saints are just the sinners who fall down… and get up.” We will still be greeted in Glory with open arms and a smile, simply because we didn’t stay down when life plummeted out of control. Time there will heal the limp – but oh dear one, just make it through the gate!

Scripture encourages and admonishes us: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life…” We’re not in this fight alone, Christ intercedes to the Father God for us. And, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” In this life, we must have endurance. Hebrews 10:36 states: “For you have need of endurance, so that, having done the will of God, you may receive the promise.”  What victory awaits us beyond the heartaches of life! When we see the Lord, when we reunite with the saints, when pain is a thing of the past and disaster looms no more – we will be so grateful for our life-saving faith which was so mercifully given to us by our Savior. The skies will burst brightly with joy unspeakable!

 

Scripture References:
Psalm 46:1, Jude 1:24, Isaiah 43:16, 19, Isaiah 43:2, Romans 8:39, 1st Timothy 6:12, Romans 8:18, Romans 8:31
Sources:
biblehub.com, wikipedia.org, polyvore.com
2 Comments »

Are You Under a Curse?

Generational curses and curses in general – the mysterious phenomenon that is poorly understood yet widely accepted, even by well-meaning, New Covenant Christians. In this blog entry, we will be discussing the details surrounding this puzzling topic.

A Brief History Lesson

cp1In order for us to fully grasp the concept of curses, we must first have some understanding of what a curse is and how such curses originated. All of the answers to these questions can be found in scripture.

We first learn of curses in the Old Testament. Think of it like this – if a person robs a bank, there will be a negative result (“curse”) or a consequence to their bad behavior. Curses were designed to be a deterrent and punishment for bad behavior and to make the perpetrator aware of their misdeed. Adam and Eve only became cursed after they chose to sin. In the most basic terms, a curse was the result of sin and unrighteousness.

To an extent, we all (Christian or not) live under the inescapable “Adamic curse”, also known by some as the “curse of the fall – when Adam and Eve fell into sin and were, thereby, cursed. Ultimately, this is why we all will succumb to a bodily, physical death – whether we are righteous or unrighteous. Remember, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1st Cor. 15:22). Although our physical bodies die, Christ made a way of salvation for us to live again, spiritually, and to live for all eternity with Him, physically.

But let’s not confuse the Adamic “curse of the fall” with the “curse of the Law”. What is the Law? The Old Testament Law, also known as the “Mosaic Law” or the “Law of Moses” was decreed by God and given to Moses, then relayed to the people (see Deut. 28). It was given to make people conscious of sin (see Rom. 3:20). However, mere humans found that they could not keep each and every finite detail of the Mosaic Law perfectly all of the time. Although many strived to keep the Law, they soon discovered that they needed God to be merciful to them since disobeying any point of the Law resulted in punishment (see Gal. 3:10). If they didn’t keep God’s decrees, they would be overtaken by curses and even their offspring would come under great plagues (see Deut. 28:59). The children of murderers wouldn’t be put to death for the sins of their fathers (see 2nd Kings 14:6), but that didn’t mean there still weren’t plagues and hardships which would come upon them, as a result.

Of course, we now know that Christ kept the Law perfectly, in our place, since we were incapable and hopelessly lost, in our own strength. In layman’s terms, we can liken ourselves to an incapable 3-year-old child, desiring to donate blood to save his dying Mother’s life. However, the little child doesn’t have what it takes to save her life, even though the desire is there to do so. As the child despairs, in walks his big, strong, capable Father. He takes his 3-year-old child’s place and says, “Don’t worry son, I have what it takes – I will take your place and give my life’s blood to save Mommy so you don’t have to.” On a much greater scale, that is what Jesus did when He kept the Law for us, and also died for us. Although no sin was found in Him, He did the Will of the Father and took on our curse, our sin, and therefore, our punishment; the curse and punishment that should have been placed on us. Scripture says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Gal 3:13-14).

Do Curses Affect Christians?

“…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” ~Joshua 24:15

cp2Exodus 34:7 states the following: “[The Lord God] …keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”

As you can see in the above-mentioned scripture (and many other Old Testament scriptures; Job 21:19, etc.), the teaching of generational curses was a somewhat accurate teaching for a certain time span for those living under the Old Covenant/Old Testament Mosaic Law (the curse of “The Law”). But even then, it was each individual’s choice whether or not they would serve the true and living God. The curse of the Law, however, would bring plagues to offspring.

Those of us who have accepted Jesus as Lord, under the New Covenant, are no longer under the curse of the Law. Remember, scripture states: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law…” (Gal. 3:13). The transference of bondage ended when He fulfilled the Law. This New Covenant freedom from curses was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:29-33 and Ezekiel 18:1-4. Please note in the following prophetic scriptures, the keyword, “Israel”… this is referring to those who were then/are now in covenant with God.

“In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:29-33).

“The word of the LORD came unto me again, saying, What mean ye, that ye use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, ‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge?’ As I live, saith the Lord GOD, ye shall not have occasion any more to use this proverb in Israel. Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:1-4).

Again, notice the Lord God said that the proverb concerning curses should no longer be used in Israel. His covenants were being made with Israel, bearing in mind that Israel represents those who are in covenant with God and who are under His Lordship (which was also given to us, as Gentiles, who believe). I guess it is easiest to think of it like this… in scripture, there is a physical nation of Israel AND a “spiritual Israel“. As Gentiles who have been redeemed through Christ and are under His Lordship, we are grafted into “spiritual Israel” (see Rom. 11: 16-36, Rom. 2:28-29, Rom. 3:22,29) and we are heirs of Abraham (see Gal. 3:29). Therefore, those of us who are Christians are redeemed from the curse of the Law and are no longer under ANY curse, generational or otherwise! Christ’s work on the cross was potent enough, so we needn’t feel that somehow we still have lingering curses which need to be “broken off of us” or “cast out of us” – this is unbiblical. Remember, Christ is enough.

Proverbs 26:2 teaches us that curses do not come to rest upon us if they are undeserved. “As the sparrow for flitting about, as the swallow for flying, so a curse undeserved shall not come.” While this is great news for us, as Christians – what about those who are not saved and still living in sin?

Do Curses Affect Sinners?

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” ~Romans 3:28

cp3As we see in Romans 3:28, a person is only justified by faith in Christ and needn’t keep the Mosaic Law in order to find justification and favor with God; thus being freed from the curse of the Law. For we know that the Law was not put into place to justify or to save souls; rather it was put into place to show mankind right from wrong and to show us how utterly lost and hopeless we are apart from Christ. “Therefore no one will be justified in His sight by works of the Law. For the Law merely brings awareness of sin” (Rom. 3:20). By this, we find that no amount of good deeds, alone, can save us. Simply viewing oneself as being a “good person” isn’t enough. It takes one key ingredient to be justified… faith in Christ. The sinner does not have such faith in Christ and does not honor Him as Lord. From this, we can deduce that the sinner is not justified.

Likewise, John 8:36 states: “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” But, the sinner has not accepted such freedom in Christ, the Son. By this, we can deduce that the sinner is still in bondage and still condemned.

Furthermore, Colossians 2:14 states: “[Christ], blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross…”

In Elliot’s Commentary for English Readers, this verse is further explained:

“The ‘handwriting’ is the bond, exacting payment or penalty in default… The Law is a bond, ‘Do this and thou shalt live.’ ‘The soul that sinneth it shall die.’ On failure to do our part it ‘stands against us.’ But God for Christ’s sake forgives our transgressions and cancels the bond… Our Lord ‘redeemed us from the curse of the Law,’ by His death, ‘being made a curse for us’ (Galatians 3:13). St. Paul boldly speaks of that curse as a penalty standing against us, and as nailed to the cross with Himself, so to be forever cancelled in the great declaration, ‘It is finished.'”

Again, we can deduce from this passage that since the sinner has not come under Christ’s Lordship nor accepted Christ’s death as his/her death, that he/she is still under the penalties and curses associated with sin; only now, his/her punishments are far more reaching than any curses which were brought by the Law.

As written by D. Clarkson, B.D., “Sin and the curse are inseparable. Wherever sin is, the curse will be…” He continues, “The least sin requires infinite satisfaction. Such an injury is the least sin, as nothing can compensate it, but that which is of infinite value… The least sin is now punished in hell with those torments that will last forever.” He adds, “See here an impossibility for a sinner to be justified by his observance of the Law, or according to the tenor of the first covenant. The Law requires, to justification, a righteousness exactly perfect; but the best righteousness of fallen man is as a rag. It is not only torn and ragged, but spotted and defiled.”

 God gives the sinner time to repent. As scripture says, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lam. 3:22). So many sinners seem to be living an easy life with riches, fame, and popularity. But remember the Psalm… “Be not thou afraid when one is made rich, when the glory of his house is increased; For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lived he blessed his soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself. He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light. Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:16-20).

You see, under the Old Covenant, most blessings and/or cursings were immediate, outward, and evident. However, things seemed to shift a bit under the New Covenant. It’s not that we are altogether barred from seeing good or bad happen in this life; however, most things (as it stands now) are being “laid up”. The wrath that will be poured upon the unrepentant sinner is being laid up for their eternal punishment (see Rom. 2:5). The blessings for the Christian, likewise, are being laid up for their eternal joy (see Matt. 6:19-21).

But what about so-called “generational curses”… are children punished for the sins of their parents nowadays? A concise yet truthful reply to this question was written by Christian blogger and ordained minister, Ken Murray, when he wrote: “I believe we will see from the scriptures that God does not punish children for their parents’ sins, except when the children perpetuate them and when the sins committed involve certain social and physical consequences.” God is a just and fair God – we are all given the individual choice of being blessed for all eternity or of being cursed for all eternity.

On Being Blessed

cp4I, for one, have no desire to be cursed in any shape, form, or fashion. Anybody with an ounce of sanity would agree that it is far more desirous to be blessed; nobody wants to be cursed. Set before us all is life and death, blessing and cursing; eternally free from sin, or eternally bound by sin. It’s quite easy to choose life – even if that life demands us to walk a narrow road or to be persecuted; what will that matter in eternity? Choose this day, today, whom you will serve, so that you can proclaim with scripture “…sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).

God’s blessings can be earthly, tangible, intangible, heavenly, and eternal. Some blessings are evident while others may not feel like blessings at all – as in Luke 6:22, Blessed are you when men shall hate you… on account of Jesus.” Nonetheless, we are told in the next verse to rejoice and leap for joy when we’re treated such a way. Why? Because, “… your reward is great in heaven.” A great reward in heaven to look forward to? Yes, that is a blessing, indeed!

If we are walking with the Lord, we are blessed! “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…” (Ps. 1:1). In this day and age, if we are genuine Christians, then we are blessed beyond measure. Our soul is eternally secure and we are in right standing with God… oh, what peace; what bliss we can now enjoy knowing this most comforting truth and having this blessed assurance!

Sources: biblehub.com, ucg.org, polyvore.com

4 Comments »

“Don’t Judge Your Spiritual Condition By Feelings” Sermon

For this month’s blog entry, I would highly encourage all of my readers to watch this video sermon by the late David Wilkerson. It is a timely and highly encouraging sermon for the Christian who feels that they are in a rut of boredom, repetition, or discouragement.

 

Leave a comment »

%d bloggers like this: