Is It Really Just a Lie?

The story of Ananias and Sapphira is an interesting one.  Many people hear their story and gasp at the thought that they died just for lying.  In the story, Ananias and Sapphria were among a group of people that the scripture says were of one heart and one soul.  The scripture also says that great grace was upon the people. All that anyone owned belonged to everyone and no one lacked anything.  The things they owed were sold and the proceeds were brought to the apostles and distributed as anyone had need. Ananias and Sapphira sold a plot of land but held back some of the proceeds for themselves.  This, in itself, wasn’t the problem.  The issue was that when asked if they were giving the entire amount, they lied and said it was.  Upon lying about it, they were struck dead.  Many people are so focused on the horror of their deaths for lying that the bigger picture is often missed.  Ananias and Sapphira were part of the church.  They were representatives of the Lord Jesus and His followers.  God takes His church seriously.  Pretense, hypocrisy and deceit are not to be tolerated in His church. When they lied, they evidently didn’t realize the standard to which God holds His church.  God will purge His church of anything that is not holy and pure.  He is waiting for a church without spot or wrinkle. He gives us plenty of opportunity and even instructs us to examine our lives to see where we measure up on the holy and pure scale.  It’s good to remember, they didn’t lie to Peter, they lied to God.

4 The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” Acts 5:4 (NLT)

28 That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. 29 For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. 31 But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. 1 Corinthians 11:28-31 (NLT)

What Am I Reflecting?

Our children are a reflection of us, like it or not.  Often our children will repeat things that they’ve heard us say.  And once in a while they repeat things that make us cringe.  They use a word that is not exactly “Christian” or they repeat something they heard us say about someone else.  And often our reaction is more embarrassment that they repeated it rather than on the fact that they heard us say it in the first place.  If we want them to reflect love and kindness, then that is what they should be exposed to in the home.  Just like our children are a reflection of us, we are also a reflection of our Heavenly Father.  How often do you think that God “cringes” at some of the things we say or do? But His reaction is probably not embarrassment as ours would be.  His reaction is sorrow. Sorrow that, through us, the world is getting a poor and inaccurate reflection of who He is.  If we want the world to not just see, but to know a loving and kind God, then that’s what should be reflected from us.  So we must ask ourselves “Is my life an accurate reflection of who He truly is?”

10 Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. Colossians 3:10 (NLT)

24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:24 (NLT)

27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (NLT)

Pray For Our Leaders

 

There is a lot of contention in our nation over our current president.  Half the people love and support him and the other half are rooting for, if not encouraging his failure.  We have never seen the likes of it, how one man can cause such polar opposite reaction from people. But no matter which side of the political aisle we are on, as a Christian we are commanded to pray for our leaders.  We should pray that God’s will be done in and through our leaders.  We should pray that our leaders would not just seek God, but listen to and obey Him.  We should pray for our president to surround himself with people who will give him Godly counsel. The scripture tells us that God can turn the hearts of kings.  And our prayers can be the catalyst to turn the heads of our leaders toward Him.  If you are not praying daily for our president and all of our leaders, then start today.  By praying for and thanking God for our leaders, we will be on the path to peace.

1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NLT)

1 The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, Like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes. Proverbs 21:1 (NKJV)

Endure To The End!

Have you recently asked yourself “What in the world is going on?”  If so, you are not alone.  It seems when you watch the news, crazy things are happening. Division is not only rampant in our society, it is even being encouraged by some.  It would seem that turning to lawlessness is gaining momentum. Calls for eliminating a major law enforcement agency so that our laws won’t have to be enforced seems unimaginable but yet we see it happening today. But should this surprise us?  We are told in Matthew that, in the last days, lawlessness would abound. Lawlessness is where people pay no heed to the laws and they do as they please. Some Bible versions use the word wickedness or iniquity in place of lawlessness.  The original Greek word is anomia which translates to unrighteousness or transgression of the law.  We certainly see this happening in our society today. Along with lawlessness, deception will explode.  False teachers will rise up to deceive people. On the outside they will display Christian appeal and charisma, but they will use the oldest trick in the book and inject just enough scripture into their lies to cause weak Christians to second guess their beliefs.  BUT, have no fear!  Because the scripture goes on to say “but he who endures to the end shall be saved”! Who are those “who endure to the end?”  What empowers you to endure to the end is the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and God’s love abiding in you.  You must have a good grasp on God’s Word because the only way to recognize a lie is to know the truth. And the Holy Spirit will prick your heart each time you are confronted with lies so that you can stand firm only on God’s Word. And last but not least, is the abiding love of God which endures all things!  Don’t let these times we live in scare you!  You have been equipped to endure!

10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Matthew 24:10-13 (NKJV)

24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Matthew 7:24 (NLT)

27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:27 (NKJV)

7 love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7 (NKJV)

Where Are You?

The story of Adam and Eve is one of the first Bible stories that we learn, most of us since childhood. God had planted a beautiful garden to be their home.  The Bible tells us in Genesis 2:25 – “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”  But a few verses later we read that after Adam and Eve had sinned by disobeying God, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings”.  Also, the Bible goes on to say that Adam told God he heard God’s voice and was afraid because he was naked.  So what changed?   Why was a covering necessary after they sinned but not before? For the answer, we must go to Psalms.  We find in Psalm 8:5 that when God created man, He crowned him with glory and honor. The original Hebrew for crowned here means to encircle or surround for protection.  So man was literally clothed with God’s glory!  Now we know from many references in the Bible that no one can see God’s glory and live.  Before sin entered the world through Adam, God not only walked along side Adam in the garden, but God’s glory was his covering. The difference before and after was sin.  After Adam sinned, everything changed.  Through sin, Adam lost his covering so God had to sacrifice an innocent animal to provide a covering for him.  When God first asked Adam “Where are you?”, perhaps He wasn’t referencing the physical, but rather the spiritual separation between them. And it continues today that man is born with that sin nature that separates him from God.  But now, instead of sacrificing an animal, God has provided His son Jesus as the final sacrifice for sin to end that separation.  So that leaves us with God’s original question – “Where are you?”

5 Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. Psalm 8:5 (NLT)

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”…… 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Exodus 33:18 & 20 (NIV)

15 which God will bring about in his own time–God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see…  1 Timothy 6:15-16 (NIV)

Doing Right or Not Doing Wrong – Is it the same thing?

Here is a hypothetical scenario (although sadly, all too often very real):  A girl at school witnesses a fellow student being bullied by a large group of students.  She knows that it is wrong so she does not participate and continues on to class.  Did she do the right thing?  After thinking that over, my next question to you is this:  Is not doing the wrong thing the same as doing the right thing? Clearly we can give this girl kudos for not joining in with the bullies and tormenting this student.  Some might define this as morality or the distinction between right and wrong.  We all have our set of morals, most of which include not doing things we consider wrong.  So morality is good, but is it enough?  In James, it tells us that when we know the right thing to do but don’t do it, it is sin.  Let’s look at what is commonly accepted as The Golden Rule: ” Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  Notice this doesn’t say “Don’t do things to others that you wouldn’t want others to do to you.”  For this would require absolutely no action.  It only requires refraining from action.  The Golden Rule (which by the way is found in Luke 6:31) says “DO unto others”, which of course, requires doing something. This girl knew that bullying was wrong so she didn’t do it.  But she could and probably should have gone a step further and gone to this student’s aid, to defend and support her(him), as she most certainly would have wanted someone to do for her.  So clearly, refraining from doing the wrong thing is not the same as doing the right thing.  Doing the right thing is not always easy, convenient or popular and, it may very well end up costing you something.  But know, it is always the correct thing.

31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31 (NLT)

17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. James 4:17 (NLT)

14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 1 Peter 3:14 (NLT)

8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. James 2:8 (NIV)

Don’t Take One Without The Other

Chapter 2 of Mark opens with a story about great faith.  Four men ripped a hole in the roof of a house to lower their paralyzed friend down to Jesus because the crowd prevented them from getting into the house any other way. You’d have to be pretty sure of the outcome to go to those extremes to get what you need.  What they were seeking was healing for their lame friend.  But Jesus, upon seeing this man, said “Your sins are forgiven.”  Why would Jesus tell him his sins were forgiven when it was rather obvious he was in need of a physical healing?   And, of course, upon saying this, the religious teachers that were there thought this was blasphemy, because, after all, only God can forgive sins.  These were their thoughts, but the Bible says they didn’t actually verbalize them.  So the fact that Jesus addressed their “thoughts” should have given them a clue to who He was.  Jesus was very clever. He went on to ask them which was easier to do – to tell a paralyzed man his sins are forgiven or to tell him to stand up and walk.  In other words, to forgive him of his sins or heal him.  Jesus knew that these men knew that only God could do either but in forgiving sins, who would really ever know.  The physical healing, however, required evidence, so that would be the more difficult of the two. So if Jesus could heal him, then He could also forgive him of his sins.  Jesus then told them He would prove that the Son of Man (referring to Himself) had the authority on earth to forgive sins.  And, we all know that Jesus did heal the paralyzed man, thus proving His point. Do you believe that God forgives us when we sin.  Most people have no problem believing that He does.  But, for some reason, we struggle with healing.  Your forgiveness and your healing were both bought and paid for together on the cross.  Don’t receive one without the other!

5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6  Isaiah 53:5 (NLT)

13 As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 (NLT)

Blessings of Liberty!

This year will be 241 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  But the Constitution of the United States did not go into operation until 1789 and it was the Constitution which created our federal government. The Preamble lays out the purpose of the Constitution which was (and still is):  to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, to insure domestic tranquility, to provide for the common defense, to promote the general welfare and to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. And it’s those blessings of liberty which separate us from many nations of the world.  As was earlier stated in the Declaration of Independence, we were endowed by our Creator with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It’s so very sad to think that not everyone in the world can do this.  And it’s sad to think there are those in our own government who speak about changing our Constitution, which was divinely inspired by God into the hearts of godly men.  Let’s not forget one of the most important parts of the Preamble which is found right at the start – We the people!  We must remember that it’s not the government nor the people elected to run it that make America tick. Because of the God-given blessing of liberty, America has hard working, self-sacrificing, imaginative, insightful, risk-taking, humble but at the same time so very proud people – on the backs of whom America was built.  God has blessed this nation because we have acknowledged Him since our humble beginnings.  It has been God’s hand over our nation and His blessing over our people that have made America the place where so many want to live.

1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. 2 Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.  3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 1 Timothy 2:1-3 (NLT)

20 He said, “Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. 21 He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. Daniel 2:20-21 (NLT)

Are You a Reflector?

The ceiling in our daughter’s former  bedroom has glow-in-the-dark star stickers stuck all over it.  She put them there when she was a young girl.  These stickers continue to absorb the light that comes into the room during the daytime, and then at night, when the lights are turned off, they reflect that light. I just haven’t had the desire to take them down because they remind me of wonderful times.  But they also remind me of something else – when we spend time in the presence of God, we soak in His light and His glory.  And over time spent absorbing God’s glory, it is reflected, out of us.  It can actually be seen!  After Moses spent 40 days and nights with God receiving the ten commandments for the second time, his face radiated God’s glory and he wasn’t even aware of it!  But Aaron and the people saw it.  We become a reflection of God’s light, His love and His glory in a tangible way when we spend good quality time with God. After all, God made us for His Glory!

29 When Moses came down Mount Sinai carrying the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, he wasn’t aware that his face had become radiant because he had spoken to the LORD. 30 So when Aaron and the people of Israel saw the radiance of Moses’ face, they were afraid to come near him.  Exodus 34:29-30 (NLT)

7 Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.’”  Isaiah 43:7 (NLT)

2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. Isaiah 60:2 (NKJV)

Hats Off To The Dads!

Today, our hats are off to all you fathers out there.  For each of us, our experiences and memories of our fathers are all very different because fatherhood may take on many forms.  There are, of course, our birth fathers, without whom we wouldn’t be here. Then there are adopted fathers and step-fathers who made the selfless decision to be a dad.  And when dad is absent from the scene, there are grandfathers and uncles who step up to the plate to fill the role of dad. Then there are those who didn’t really know a father until they had a father-in-law. And there may be nothing tougher than the single father who has to fill the roles of both mom and dad.  No matter what the circumstance though, fatherhood is a tough thing.  The pressures can be immense.  But, at the very same time, it is the most rewarding and important role a man will ever take on. God has given us the awesome responsibility to mold and shape the life of another person.  He has entrusted man to be the provider for and caretaker  of one (or several) of His precious creations.  Our Heavenly Father is there to help because He is the ultimate Father of us all.  Our prayer for all the dads out there would be for our Father God to lead and guide you each day in your role as father, to celebrate with you your successes, to encourage you when you struggle, and to speak to you when you don’t have the answers.  He is our example of what unconditional love is so we can impart it to our children.  No matter in what capacity you fill the role of father, allow your Heavenly Father to help you!

6 Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6 (NLT)

6 And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NLT)