Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Follow Me

And it happened that while He was praying alone,

the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them,
saying,“Who do the people say that I am?” They answered and said, “John the Baptist,
and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.”

And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”
But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying,

“The Son of Man must suffer many things
and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes,
and be killed and be raised up on the third day.”

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me,
he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. Luke 9:18-24

What prompted Jesus who was praying alone, to ask the disciples: “Who do the people say that I am?” Maybe he was only opening the conversation to ask the next question. Once Peter answered correctly, Jesus then instructed them to be silent on this fact, and then for perhaps the first time explained to them what was about to happen to Him. He was to be murdered and resurrected on the third day. Surely this was a sad moment in their lives that without a doubt left all of them stunned and discouraged. Their Messiah crucified?

How could it be that the Holy Christ was to be crucified?

A thousand different thoughts must have been going through their minds. If we had been there, Peter’s reaction is one that most of us would have had much sympathy for. I cannot imagine the idea of Peter rebuking Christ, but he was obviously beside himself, and ready to defend Christ at any cost. “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying; “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Matthew 16:22-23 We must always remember that what appears most logical, loyal, loving, and encouraging to us can often be the opposite of God’s will and purpose ... and a stumbling block to his plans for you and others. We must consider this truth daily and apply it to everything that we do and say, each of our remaining days on earth. Consider everything in the context of this question: “Is this my will; or Christ’s will?”

Jesus has given us three things we must do daily in this teaching that will transform our lives as we choose to live our remaining days on earth for Christ. They are clearly outlined in this most familiar verse.

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

If we as Christians are serious about our commitment to Christ, we must take these words seriously.

First each believer must: “Deny Himself.” I know … you didn’t really want to do that … did you? Me neither! But of course Christianity is not about us deciding what is best for us ... is it? This is so hard for us alone; but not for us, with Him. We are talking about considering the needs of others as more important than our needs. You are to be sanctified by the blood of Christ, putting your old self on the cross daily. And actually caring about their salvation is more than you being embarrassed; or rejected, when you share the good news with them. Your lust and pride needs to be humbled to the things that would be most important to Jesus. It is as if He here, inside of you ... what would he do? This is so hard because it goes against the grain of your old nature, against everything that is in us of the world, and our old ways … and we can be sure the enemy will attempt to cause us to stumble daily. “What would Jesus do” really is a good question to ask the Holy Spirit daily as you meditate on your Lord, and set out to live for Him. "For the love of Christ controls (compels) us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

We can have victory over our old self … as long as we daily have our mind, thoughts, vision, goals, plans, and priorities focused on Jesus, and those things that are eternal rather than temporal. Temporal pleasure is of diminished value to Christ, and so it must be for us also. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 New priorities, ideas and challenges, people to see, and new goals and plans will require new things to do each and every day. And you will be transformed as your mind is renewed and you abide above; here and now. There is no place for “me, myself, and I” … when we choose to stand on this ground. It is time to consider your hobbies, habits, relationship, friends, your career, in the context of being on a mission for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Those things that are not God’s best for you, will become apparent. Listen to the Holy Spirit … He will guide you in all wisdom and truth.

Next, you are told you must “Take Up your Cross Daily.” What is your cross today? Every day, Christ will give you something new that you need to die to. This is how he builds your character. You will want to resist and run from these challenges. This is how God helps us to become strong. This is the ground where we will have victory over the priorities of the world. Those things that are more important from a worldly point of view will now lose importance to you. We must put Him first in everything. In every choice, and every decision, we must place Christ first.

“The unique authority of Christianity rests not on great teaching, or feelings, or philosophies, or charismatic leaders, or the elevation of its followers to higher moral values, or any other temporal results. If it did, Christianity would have no more claims to authority than any other religion, cult, or philosophy. Christianity rests on historical proof: Jesus lived, died, and rose from the dead to be our Lord for eternity.”
Chuck Colson … “Loving God”

This is the ground of Christian growth.

Third Christ says: you must “Follow Me” Memorize this verse and apply these words over and over all day long to that which is in front of you. He will transform your Life. These three instructions are not optional if you choose to come after Christ … all three are must dos. What is different about this third command? Well it is critical because so many are playing Christianity. They say they believe and will follow Him but in actuality ... they do the exact opposite, and then they pretend and play make believe Christianity. They profess Christ and then proceed to follow themselves, their feelings, wants, logic, plans lusts and pride; as well as other religions, and worldly teachings; and then they call it Christianity. When you are following Jesus, the Holy Spirit will set your agenda, and your things to do list. Wrong decisions will be a thing of the past. Think about it … Jesus never made a mistake. You can abide Above Now … here and now, every day. You can have His power and the Love of Christ will control you. "Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it."
Luke 9:18-24

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:1-3

God Bless you my friend, Bob

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Father ... Forgive Them

Pilate summoned the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me as one who incites the people to rebellion, and behold, having examined Him before you, I have found no guilt in this man regarding the charges which you make against Him. “No, nor has Herod, for he sent Him back to us; and behold, nothing deserving death has been done by Him. “Therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”

Now he was obliged to release to them at the feast one prisoner. But they cried out all together, saying, “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again, but they kept on calling out, saying, “Crucify, crucify Him!”

And he said to them the third time, “Why, what evil has this man done? I have found in Him no guilt demanding death; therefore I will punish Him and release Him.”

But they were insistent, with loud voices asking that He be crucified. And their voices began to prevail. And Pilate pronounced sentence that their demand be granted. And he released the man they were asking for who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, but he delivered Jesus to their will.
Luke 23:1-49

Father ... Forgive them.

The dialogue that Friday morning was bitter.

From the onlookers, “Come down from the cross if you are the Son of God!”

From the religious leaders, “He saved others but he can’t save himself.”

From the soldiers, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

Bitter words. Acidic with sarcasm. Hateful. Irreverent. Wasn’t it enough that he was being crucified? Wasn’t it enough that he was being shamed as a criminal? Were the nails insufficient? Was the crown of thorns too soft? Had the flogging been too short?

For some, apparently so...

Of all the scenes around the cross, this one angers me the most. What kind of people, I ask myself, would mock a dying man? Who would be so base as to pour the salt of scorn upon open wounds? How low and perverted to sneer at one who is laced with pain ...

The words thrown that day were meant to wound. And there is nothing more painful than words meant to hurt ...

If you have suffered or are suffering because of someone else’s words, you’ll be glad to know that there is a balm for this laceration. Meditate on these words:
"When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:23-25

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

Did you see what Jesus did not do? He did not retaliate. He did not bite back. He did not say, “I’ll get you!” “Come on up here and say that to my face!” “Just wait until after the resurrection, buddy!” No, these statements were not found on Christ’s lips.

Did you see what Jesus did do? He “entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” Or said more simply, he left the judging to God. He did not take on the task of seeking revenge. He demanded no apology. He hired no bounty hunters and sent out no posse. He, to the astounding contrary, spoke on their defense. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”? Luke 23:34

“they don’t know what they are doing.”

And when you think about it, they didn’t. They hadn’t the faintest idea what they were doing. They were a stir-crazy mob, mad at something they couldn’t see so they took it out on, of all people, God. But they didn’t know what they were doing.

Yes, the dialogue that Friday morning was bitter. The verbal stones were meant to sting. How Jesus, with a body wracked with pain, eyes blinded by his own blood, and lungs yearning for air, could speak on behalf of some heartless thugs is beyond my comprehension. Never, never have I seen such love. If ever a person deserved a shot at revenge, Jesus did. But he didn’t take it. Instead he died for them. How could he do it? I don’t know. But I do know that all of a sudden my wounds seem very painless. My grudges and hard feelings are suddenly childish.

Sometimes I wonder if we don’t see Christ’s love as much in the people he tolerated as in the pain he endured.

Amazing Grace ... Father Forgive Them by Max Lucado


Now is a good time to meditate on what Jesus did for you; and to consider what you need to do for Him.

When they led Him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, coming in from the country, and placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus. And following Him was a large crowd of the people, and of women who were mourning and lamenting Him. But Jesus turning to them said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, stop weeping for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. “For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ “Then they will begin TO SAY TO THE MOUNTAINS, ‘FALL ON US,’ AND TO THE HILLS, ‘COVER US.’ “For if they do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Two others also, who were criminals, were being led away to be put to death with Him. When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. 35And the people stood by, looking on. And even the rulers were sneering at Him, saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up to Him, offering Him sour wine, and saying, “If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself!” 38Now there was also an inscription above Him, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.” One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? “And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Luke 23:1-49

My Thoughts ...

As I meditate on the final days of our Lord’s life; walking here amongst us, in the form of a man. The word that keeps coming to me is sacrifice. Every day of His walk here on earth was an enormous sacrifice. And He never once wavered. His purpose was always the same: loving others sacrificially. His last supper with the disciples, Jesus got down, and humbly washed their feet. He then went on to teach them all that they still needed to know, before He offered Himself up, to be crucified. He never wavered from the truth, even when they tortured Him mercilessly. Then He prayed first for us, and then for strength from the father in Heaven. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus being one with the Father still prayed to Him; He sweats drops of blood; He had all of the power in the universe; but He willingly humbled Himself to the point of the most humiliating, horrific, and painful death possible.

It is interesting that a huge crowd of the Jews brought Jesus to Pilate. And that they made false accusations about Him. Jesus' only sin was that told the truth, which they viewed as blasphemy. Pilate pleaded with the Jews three times, that he found no guilt in Jesus. But the religious leaders had stirred up the crowd and demanded Jesus be crucified. None of them had any idea of what they were about to do. The guards mocked him; crowned Him with a crown of thorns; then they gave Jesus the most merciless beating imaginable; they released a murderer in His place … now that is hate. His followers mourned for Him. None of them understood that this was the fulfillment of God’s plan from the beginning of time. They nailed his hands and feet; they crucified Jesus in place of you and me. They continued to mock Him. They bartered for His clothing; they gave Him sour wine to drink; and even on the cross answered the pleas of the man next to Him, forgave his sins and comforted Him and shared His future in Paradise; God turned the sky black; Jesus died for us. Think about it, meditate on what He did for you, and determine to make the changes in your life that will allow Him to fully transform your remaining life on earth so that He can draw those who are still lost to Him through you.

This is my mission …

For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. … Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

One final thought: All of this was planned from the beginning. There was not one thing that happened that Jesus did not know ahead of time. He knows your name. He knew you in your mothers womb. He already knows all of the tomorrows of your life. He knows your every thought ... He has a plan for you. Are you living that plan? What is your mission ... He wrote it down for you ... and he hears you when you call.

What is your Mission?

Abide Above. His victory over death is our victory. We can rest in His peace, joy, love, and forgiveness. We have nothing to fear in this world. "But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" 1 Peter 2:9

God Bless you my friends, Bob

To Know The Truth 2

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Revelation 3:15-16

And Jesus said; “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.” Matthew 7:22-23

Are you now seeing why the scripture teaches that in the end times there will be an apostate church? Apostasy can be defined as “the departure from the truth that one professed to have.” We will look deeper into the subject of apostasy in the near future. The prince of darkness has confused and divided Christians with the teachings of the world so that their vision is blurred and some are even denying the Word of God.

So ... what are we to do?

Like I said previously; “In the Biblical context of spiritual matters, there are only two ways to believe: God’s Truth; or doctrines of demons. This thinking is viewed as arrogant, prideful, and fanatical by those who reject Christ. I also thought that way before I received Christ ... I was blinded by the enemy. I now have put on blinders that protect me from the darkness. "Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Jesus predicted this reaction. All of the teachings of men, apart from God’s word are most likely tainted by doctrines of demons, and therefore lead all away from the truth, in one way or another. This is true for both Christians and unbelievers. We have only one correct path to follow: to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, in Biblical context.

Is this view legalistic? Legalism is a religious system that teaches that a person can do something to earn or merit salvation from God. Understanding the truth of Gospel of Jesus Christ does not lead us to believe that salvation comes by the works of men; but rather that salvation is by the Grace of God alone, through faith in Jesus Christ, and that His sacrifice is atonement for our sins ... for each of us at Calvary. Many with views that take Christianity out of context will conclude that you are trying to force them to follow your beliefs, and are judging them and their views and religion. That is clearly done by God's Word ... not us. We can judge no man. Our role as Christians is to help others be reconciled to God through Christ. The Oxford English Dictionary helps clarify legalism: The principles of those who hold a theological position of adhering to the Law as opposed to the Gospel; the doctrine of Justification by Works, or teaching which savours of that doctrine. Christians can become legalistic ... but typically that is a result of taking God's Truth out of context and judging; rather than sharing the love of Christ which is forgiving and full of Grace. The call for Christians to be transformed is from God and His Word, not you. That is each persons personal decision; judgment and the consequences are theirs alone, and between them and God only. A common response is to point at you and make a claim of judgmental ... to divert attention.

Properly viewed, God's truth will result in Love, Peace, Joy, and the Righteousness of Christ in Him ... not a judgmental and legalistic spirit.

But how should we relate to others? We are to be ambassadors to Christ with a ministry of reconciliation. We must rightly understand God’s Truth; so that we can help other believers, and unbelievers as well; know the Truth of God. The goal is that they will reject worldly teachings which are all tainted like sour milk, by “doctrines of demons." It does not matter how well meaning, or sincere, or how much good worldly beliefs might do for others, or mankind in general; if they are tainted, they will lead men away from Christ. When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 We do no need to be viewed as religious fanatics that are judging others. We should always turn others back to God's Word. The issue is between them and God ... not you. But if that is the conclusion they come to in their decision to reject the Truth, and follow the teachings of the world or other religions or philosophies, do not be surprised. Jesus clearly predicts this will happen here. John 15:11-19 On the other hand, when the love of Christ controls and consumes us, we can become at peace with those who have been deceived and help them be freed from the prince of darkness.

When a verse is taken out of its context, it is often presented as meaning something that it cannot mean within the context. A good example of a verse clarified by the immediate context is Matthew 3:11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. "Those who are pleading with God for a baptism with fire might reconsider if they connect this verse with the one following it. "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into his barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." Baptism with fire is hell. Matthew 3:12

Also, “one cannot properly handle context until he has a good grasp of Biblical content. The interpreter must know the content of the book from which the particular passage he is interpreting comes. He needs to know the content of books in which there are passages devoted to the same theme which he is interpreting...Biblical content is essential for the much-needed grasp of context. The book of James, for instance, was written for the purpose of showing that we are justified in the eyes of other people by our actions. Other people cannot know of our faith unless they see it in action. The book of Galatians, on the other hand, sets forth the doctrine that we are justified before God by our faith, not our actions.”

Jesus also warns of false teachers who will lead us astray with doctrines of demons. Apart from God’s Word we cannot know the truth. But the Lord tells us that we can know the truth, and the truth will set us free … He and the Word are the truth, and that He will disclose Himself to Us. We know men lie. Why would a Christian ever believe anything other than the clearly revealed Truth of God … especially not from mere men; or even themselves; or their feelings which are subject to lust, pride, and the influence of the doctrines of demons? Wouldn’t we all rather be blessed with this: “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship” Exodus 31:3

Contrary to what some have been deceived into believing, we can know God’s Truth. Men, Satan, persuasive speech or any other contrary religion, philosophy, or teaching will never, and can never change or alter the Truth of God, or His plans. Apart from His word; my opinion, or your opinion is at best temporary; and any spiritual conclusions that we might come to, apart from God’s Word, whether they come in a vision; or by any other means are highly suspect, and should always be tested against the revealed Truth of the Creator of all things. “For, all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. And this is the word that was preached to you.” 1 Peter 1:24. “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11
This is the model ... Biblical Christians must follow.

You cannot trust your own conclusions; or the teachings of men. They must be tested to be sure that they are in accord with God’s eternal words of Truth. There are clear differences between God’s Truth, and the lies of the world. God wants us to have wisdom … it does not come from the teachings of men. The Truth of God is clearly spoken in these Proverbs. Pro 16:2-7 the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives. 3 Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established. 4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil. 5 Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; assuredly, he will not be unpunished. 6 By loving-kindness and truth iniquity is atoned for, And by the fear of the LORD one keeps away from evil. 7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

These Proverbs need no interpretation; the meanings are clear, and not easily misunderstood. The context is: they are God’s Truth. They encourage Godly lives, and help us to gain His wisdom from above. When one meditates on these truths, the Holy Spirit will provide knowledge, Wisdom and understanding and application to one’s daily life.

So what are we to do with the prophetic scriptures, proverbs, parables, and allegories that have symbolism and appear to refer to more than one event? What if the scriptures appear to contradict itself; or supposed proven science? Then the Bible is either not true, and that is not possible; or God lies, not possible; or someone is out of context. Obviously, when we come to these conclusions, it only means that one dimensional worldly thinking has misunderstood the omniscient all knowing Truth. I am working on those future posts.

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:12-17

God Bless you my friends, Bob

Reference: The Footsteps of the Messiah by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum Ariel Ministries
additional Reference: CRI

To Know The Truth

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said,
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants
and have never been slaves of anyone.
How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth,
everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
Now a slave has no permanent place in the family,
but a son belongs to it forever.
So if the Son sets you free,
you will be free indeed.
John 8:32-36

Is it possible for Christians to know the absolute Truth?

How can it be that two sincere Christians can read the same text and come up with totally different understandings?

Can they come to opposite conclusions, and both have found the Truth?

Today, we will answer these questions, and the answer to all three is found in one word: CONTEXT.

Recently, a very sincere but confused Christian said to me: “I believe that anyone, however well intentioned, who says that they know the will of God is in danger of leading people astray. None of us is perfect; we all make mistakes ... so for anyone to say they know the truth is, to me, opening the door to leading someone astray or driving them away.”

I responded as follows: God's truth will never lead people astray. To the contrary, God’s Word will lead them to the Savior. On the other hand, the Bible out of context, can be used to lead many sincere, but unsuspecting ... astray. That is God’s truth: “But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:3-12 We know that God’s truth will turn away those who do not want to hear it. That is to be expected ... Jesus warned us of this; “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:18-20.

We also know that those with a worldly point of view will be drawn to teachings that are consistent with what they want to be true; or believe to be true; or that are logical to them; and will often believe false doctrine, regardless of the Truth. The fact that these ideas are appealing does not have anything to do with God's Truth. We can be sure that Satan always appeals to men in three distinct ways; this is taught from the beginning: Gen. 3:1-6; in the middle: Mat. 4:1-11; and at end of the Bible: 1 John 2:16-17 "For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. “The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” All sin can be categorized under one of these three headings. God’s Truth is absolute and never changing, and it is not hard to understand the difference between God’s truth, and the lies of the enemy.

I asked my friend, if he understood and applied the basic Rules of Biblical Interpretation when trying to understand God’s Word. The answer came back as follows: “no ... I could speculate to their meanings but that would simply be hyperbole.” The challenge is that if Christians do not know how to interpret what they are reading, it can often mean to them ... whatever they wish it to mean. So I ask you: do you understand the Rule of Context and apply it when you are reading and studying scripture? God expects no less of you. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

In this post, we will discuss the Rule of Context. It is one of the first disciplines everyone should practice when seeking God’s Truth.. Context is a key to all interaction. When statements are taken out of context, people can easily get confused and start a chain reaction of wrong decisions.

Not long ago, I was sitting at home with guests and the phone rang. My wife answered; and walked into the room and said; It’s Dan. She then handed the phone to the person sitting next to me, who thought it was a different Dan and said; to him loudly and jokingly, and with an angry voice; “What do you want.” He was then surprised by the caller’s reply; and soon learned that it was a totally different person, someone I had not talked to in years; a relative he had never even met, on the line. The phone was immediately handed to me, and I attempted to explain the mistake ... and that it was not me, but apparently I did not explain it well enough; because a week later another person related the story to me; as if it was actually me who had lost my temper on the phone. The truth, my explanation and (the context) was completely missing. The false rumor going around was that I was in the midst of a heated confrontation with someone ... when in actuality; I was just calmly watching football, and having a pleasant afternoon with my family.

The same thing happens with pretty much any conversation that is passed from one person to the next. By the time it gets to several others and then back to the original person, it is a totally different story. How many of you have written a letter or an email, and had someone totally miss-read and misunderstand what you were saying. For me, sometimes people knowing I am a conservative, automatically assume that I am a promoter of the Republican Party. As a Conservative Christian, some assume that I fit the negative, judgmental, fundamentalist, false stereotype that they have created in their mind: this picture is surely not of anyone who is a true ambassador for Christ. They then frame what I say in the context of this false stereotype, resulting in false conclusions. In reality, all I want to do is help them find and understand God’s Truth, as it applies to their life, and to be reconciled to Him. “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh" or from a worldly point of view.
2 Corinthians 5:14-21.

So why is all of this so much more important, when we are searching for the Truth of God’s Word? Because we need for the foundation we believe in to be God’s truth … and not some false conclusions believed to be true, that have been filtered through our personal or political worldview, causes,beliefs, feelings or desires. We can’t even have an intelligent Biblical discussion unless we are all looking into God’s Word in its proper context.

What is the rule of context? It states that “a text apart from its context is pretext.” And, what is pretext? “A reason given in justification, of a course of action that is not the real reason.” And; “An effort or strategy intended to conceal something.” In other words, Interpreting the Bible; out of context, inevitably leads to false conclusions. And a verse can only mean what it means in its context, and must not be taken out of its context. A lack of understanding and applying the law of context leads sincere people to false understandings, and wrong conclusions. This is why you often hear people say “you can make the Bible say anything you want.” That is true if you do not understand and apply the rules of context.

One might ask; “Won’t the Holy Spirit keep me in the Truth, and guard my heart and mind? Yes, but we still have free will, and our old nature is still present ... lust, and pride have a way of rationalizing what we want to be true, and then finding a verse out of context to support that belief. We are all potentially guilty of following our feelings or human logic, personal wants and desires. “All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the LORD weighs the motives.” Some teachers, leaders, and pastors are continually teaching others: out of context, and the result can be “leading someone astray” An innocent misleading has the same end result as a deliberate one: doctrines of demons prevail. That is why we are told to: “be like the Bereans and examine the Scriptures every day to see if what was said is true.” Acts 17:11

Combined with the leading of the Holy Spirit … then, and only then, can we know the Truth. Think about it for a moment. In the Biblical context of spiritual matters, there are only two ways to believe: God’s Truth; and doctrines of demons. Don’t you think it is a good idea to test everything you believe by the Truth of God’s Word … in the proper context? “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 Many false understandings are innocent, but if they are leading us away from God’s Truth; or misinterpreting God’s Truth; or taking God’s Truth, and presenting it as men’s wisdom … who’s cause is being served? Christ or Satan?

Therein lies the problem; even the Words of Jesus taken out of context can easily be untruthfully presented. The context of Jesus’ coming is explained and foretold throughout the Old Testament. So apart from understanding the overall context of Jesus, we can easily come to wrong conclusions. In other words, if we look at Jesus, in the context of the truth that: “He and the Father and the Holy Spirit are One; and that He was in the beginning with God.” John 1:2. One can hardly consider Jesus to be; an elevated man, who happened to be a good teacher, or a prophet … He either is God, or He is a liar; as C.S. Lewis rightly pointed out. I say Jesus and the Creator are One, and His Word confirms that this is the Truth. Therefore, I know the Truth, and my statement stands the test of His revealed Truth; and is in context with His revealed Truth. Without the proper context, people can conclude whatever they wish, and that is exactly what they do. Entire religions have been formed on false teachings such as this, and then they call it a Christian religion … as they follow one verse after another, out of context, leading sincere, committed followers in the wrong direction.


God bless you my friends, Bob

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Connecting The Dots ...

And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
Mark 13: 5-8

These are most perilous times.

But the question for Christians is: “Is this the beginning of the end times?
And then, If you really believed the answer might be YES … what would you do differently?
What changes would you make? Who would you be compelled to witness to?
Who would you be burdened to pray for?

Talking to Newsmax TV, Rev. Franklin Graham confirmed that, indeed, these recent natural disasters could signal the Second Coming of Jesus: “Opening with a quick recap of this century’s disasters– Hurricane Katrina, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, the tsunami in Indonesia– the host asked Graham just how worried the world should be that these are the end times. Graham replied that the signs are clearly there, that wars and famine and earthquakes are precisely what would indicate the end of the world. “It would be like labor pains,” he explained, “and as a woman gives birth to a child, those labor pains start intensifying with more frequency.” While he clarified that he didn’t know for sure if this was the end of the world, he saw a good argument for it.” Is this the beginning of the end times? Only God knows for sure but the evidence consistent with Biblical prophecies is much too overwhelming to be mere coincidence ... or to be ignored.

Connecting The Dots ... Let’s Just briefly consider earthquakes and wars as mentioned in the words of Jesus above; and as explained by Dr. Harold Sala, a Friend and Bible teacher of mine. “There is no doubting the fact that earthquakes are increasing in both frequency and in severity. In his book Re-Entry, author John Wesley White quotes a historian of seismology. The earthquake authority says that in the 14th century there were 137 major earthquakes. In the 15th century there were 174. In the 16th century there were 253. In the 17th century there were 2,119. The 1974 World Almanac says, "There have been more earthquakes in this century [meaning the 20th century], than in all recorded history."

One Harvard University seismologist says that earthquakes have increased by a frequency of 2000 percent in the last six centuries. In 1964 Alaska was shaken by an earthquake measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale. The decade of the 70's saw nine major quakes. Here's the record, in part: Peru, 1970--66,000 dead. Southern Iran, 1972--5,000 dead. Then came a big one: China, July 28, 1976--T'ang-shan, a city of 4 million people living nearly 100 miles from Peking, was hit with a massive quake measuring 8.2 on the Richter scale. Intelligence sources estimated as many as 1 million people died in the homes that collapsed in indescribable piles of rubble and fire. Sixteen hours later a jolt of 7.9 intensity shook the area again. Now the 8.9 quake followed by a tsunami of major proportions refocuses on the importance Jesus' words.” By Dr. Harold Sala Guidelines 3/30/2011.

As horrible as these earthquakes are and the devastation, havoc, and misery they have caused, it is nothing compared to what is in store for those who face the future without the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Once again, if you really believed the end times have begun … what would you do differently? What changes would you make? Who would you be compelled to witness to? Who would you be burdened to pray for?

CONNECT THE DOTS ... Now let’s talk about wars, and rumors of wars. Question number one is the most compelling question; What is the rumor of war that will never go away? The answer is the inevitable impending war between Israel and its neighboring enemies.

Beyond mentioning it, I won’t go into depth here about the prophetic miracle that Israel even has continued to exist these past sixty three years, but the re-establishment of the nation of Israel is truly a miraculous act of God. I don’t want to wish ill towards all of these Middle Eastern nations that are currently experiencing political turmoil right now, but isn’t anyone else going to connect the dots here? Let’s see now: Iran, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Oman, Tunisia, Lebanon, Mauritauna, Sudan, Djibouti, Morocco, Kuwait, Western Sahara ... DID I MISS ANY? THAT IS TWENTY COUNTRIES ... ALL CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING TURMOIL AND UPRISING, RIGHT NOW! Go here For Complete Details.

My question for you is this: “What political/religious movement is most likely to eventually rule in most if not all of these countries? Surprise: Radical Political Islam. And which nation is Radical Political Islam’s number one stated enemy? Israel. When will the UN, America and other peaceful nations in the west come to realize that there is no reasoning with these crazed maniacs?

This war in Libya, that Obama has thrown us into; has positioned America in a no win situation. Should Kadafi resign, the people that we have aligned with, will replace Kadafi with Islamic leadership that hates America and everything America stands for. The same will ultimately prove to be true in Egypt and almost any of these other countries. The current uprising in Libya is a war between two of our enemies. Of the countries listed above, America does not have a single peace loving ally. They all hate Israel, America, its values, and its western allies. The supposed friendly allies such as Saudi Arabia are only our friend because we buy their oil; and we will protect our interests there when they are in danger of attack from within, or from other Islamists. Israel is our only friend and ally in the middle east ... PERIOD. We should support Israel and only Israel in the middle east.

Here is a great example of the reality of supposedly peace loving Islam that happened just yesterday:
“Seven UN employees were killed, including four Gurkha guards and three international officials. One police chief said two of the victims had been beheaded, while other reports said some had had their throats slit with knives or been shot in the head. The protests had been called over the burning of a Koran by a controversial and idiotic American pastor in Florida last month, and violence related to the incident flared again yesterday when nine protesters were killed and 77 injured in clashes in Kandahar. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday condemned the attack as "outrageous and cowardly" while the UN Security Council said those killed were "dedicated to the cause of peace in Afghanistan and to a better life for all Afghans." In Mazar-i-Sharif, leading Shia and Sunni Muslim scholars from local mosques and Balkh University discussed their plans for a 'Day of Rage' to voice their anger. On Friday, at least six supossed Islamic scholars began preaching at 1pm at the city's famous blue-domed Rauza Sharif mosque. When they emerged an hour later they roused a growing crowd of demonstrators from a sound system as they marched towards the UN compound. A number of protesters said they had warned the police to back off and threatened to attack them if they did not. "We told the police that this fight between us and the infidels. "When they protesters arrived here, they were already very emotional and throwing stones." As the threat increased, the UN's local head of mission, Russian diplomat Pavel Ershov came out of the compound to speak to protest leaders to diffuse the tension. But according to one police officer stationed by the UN gate, he was attacked by angry protesters who punched and kicked him. "He had instructed the security forces guarding the compound not to open fire because firing would provoke the protesters to storm the office," he said, but when the protesters attacked him he had said, in Arabic, "the Holy words, there is no God but Allah, and that's why his life was spared." He was rushed to hospital by police. On all sides of the compound protesters scaled the security walls on ladders, threw stones, attacked armed police and seized their guns before shooting the UN's ex-Gurkha guards. Among those working their weekend was Swedish human rights worker Joakim Dungel, a 27-year-old legal specialist who is believed to have been posted to Mazar-i-Sharif earlier this year to prepare him for a stint at a more dangerous mission in Afghanistan. Lieutenant-Colonel Siri Skare, a 53-year-old female pilot from Norway, and an unnamed Romanian official were also killed as the mob, many of them armed according to the UN, ran wild, setting fire to the building and attacking staff. "Hundreds of millions are being poured into building up the security forces, but this will add force to concerns that the failure to deal with the internal, structural problems of the police, to provide quality as well as quantity, threatens to undermine the rest of the investment." Last night the UN was still in a state of shock and grief, painfully aware of the issues at stake, and who is paying the price for the Pastor's freedom of speech.” Read full article here

Do you notice how the UN is blaming and focusing on the misguided pastor in Florida? How can they not focus on the crazed killers and the Islamic political religious leaders who incited the murderous scum to do their evil work. Why are we spending money to build up anything, or defend anything, for these animals? Not one person killed here had anything to do with the problem these mentally challenged men were demonstrating against … some nutcase pastor in Florida, or his twisted religious ideas. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya … they are all a big waste of time, effort, resources and lives. Are there innocent people there? Of course, there are. Can we save them from themselves? Never, never, never! … only the blood of Christ can save them from themselves and political Islam … not America and certainly not the UN.

My recent mention online of the earthquakes and wars; and the fact that without Christ, the victims of these calamities face far worse consequences than physical death; resulted in me being accused of being judgmental and insensitive, by another Christian. For the record, we are not being judgmental for pointing out what the Bible says is about to happen, or as I believe; what is in the process of happening. We have each been positioned where we are by Christ with the responsibility and mission to point out the truth to the unbelieving world. To not do that is rejecting the purpose Christ has given to each of us. Also it is potentially condemning to not warn the unknowing. We must expect though, that we will come under persecution when we point these things out to others.

I realize that this is the age of Political Corectness, inclusion and tolerance; but there is a big difference between respecting freedom of religion and giving validity to false teachings, philosophies and religions (Christians should never do that). In the later days, the Truth will be unpopular; and false doctrines will be everywhere; but we are called to stand against false teachings, and doctrines of demons: "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons … in pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" 1 Timothy 4:1-8

“But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Mark 13:9-13


God Bless you my friends, Bob