Does Love Mean Acceptance?

Does Love Mean Acceptance?

Love and acceptance – Sounds very Biblical, doesn’t it?  In fact, this is a teaching that is rapidly gaining momentum in Christian circles today.  Pulpits are proclaiming it loudly  because who doesn’t want to hear that God accepts them just the way they are, sin and all?  And it also fits nicely into mainstream thinking today, if it feels good, do it.  But is this what Jesus really taught?  Is it true that God accepts whatever you do because He loves you? Is this what unconditional love is?  For certain, God does accept us just as we are when we first come to Him.  God would never turn away anyone who turns to Him with a pure heart no matter what state they are in.  But the question is, does He expect us to stay there?  After all, the Bible says “for whom the Lord loves, He accepts,” right?  No!  The Word says “for whom the Lord loves, He chastens.” As a parent, do you accept everything your children do?  Do you overlook their disobedience, rebellion and outright defiance to your word just because you love them?  A good parent would always corrects their children when they do wrong or are heading down the wrong path.  Does this mean they don’t love their kids?  Certainly not!  In fact, it would show a complete lack of love and concern if a parent overlooked their child’s bad behavior.  God has warned us in His Word where a life of disobedience or sin leads.  The wages (your take-home pay) of sin  is death.  And that is the devil’s ultimate goal for us.  The devil wants you to embrace the teaching that God accepts your sin because he knows  it will ultimately lead to death.  Stay tuned!  More on this next week!

 for whom the Lord doth love He doth chasten, and He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth;  Hebrews 12:6 (YLT)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 (TLB)

Remember, You Reap What you Sow!

I was recently on a tour with 20 other people. And we had a guide who was absolutely wonderful. He was very knowledgeable about the area we were visiting and, with our jam-packed schedule, he did his best to allow us to get in as many sights as we could every day. Keeping on schedule, of course, required the cooperation of the group, which meant following the rules and time frames set by the guide. Everyone in the group was very cooperative – except for a few. And the surprising thing to me was that the “few”, who always seemed to push the limits, were ministers! They were ordained ministers who seemed to want to take as much time as they wanted and several times ignored the limits set by the guide. This, of course, then took away from the amount of time we had for the next stop on the itinerary. Submission sometimes is a tough pill to swallow, especially for those who are many times the ones in authority. But it is those in authority who ought to be the example setters. The “do as I say, not as I do” example is shameful. Anyone, who is usually in a position of leadership, when they are not acting in that leadership position, should be the first to submit to rules set before them. Jesus was always submitted to the Father. He only did what His Father told Him to do. These ministers would be wise to remember – you reap what you sow! ‘

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, Titus 3:1 (NIV)

“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42 (NLT)

But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” Jeremiah 17:10 (NLT)

The Holy Land

The Holy Land

I just returned from a trip to Israel, the Holy Land, where Jesus spent his days on this earth.  I was able to visit and experience a few of the areas and places where He spent three years ministering to the people there.  Although much has certainly changed since the Bible days of Jesus’ ministry, getting a sense of the terrain and landscape and locations and distances of the towns and areas mentioned in the Bible has given me a new perspective of what it must have been like, especially considering the main mode of transportation was on foot.  There was plenty of green lushness, but also plenty of dry mountain terrain. Traveling couldn’t have been easy  and Paul and others went outside the land of Israel, again on foot, to spread the Gospel of Jesus to other lands. It’s much different from evangelists today booking a flight and are at their next church in a few hours.  I am thankful for that early church, who experienced Jesus personally, and knew the world needed to know Him too.  I am also  thankful for those through history and today who take up the call, whether it be in a foreign land or in their own neighborhoods.

15 And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.  Mark 16:15 (NLT)

14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.  Matthew 24:14 (NLT)

3 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.  Psalm 96:3 (NLT)

The Way Up is Down!

The Way Up is Down!

In the Bible, when Jesus was asked by His disciples who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus answered by calling a small child to Himself.  He told them that unless they turn (turn about or turn back again) and become like little children, they would never get to heaven. He went on to say if they become humble as the child, they would be great in heaven. I have worked with children for years teaching Sunday School. The younger they are, the easier they are to teach.  And that is because when they are young, before life has had opportunity to display just how unfair, cruel, and deceptive it can be, they possess pure honesty and a willingness to trust without hesitation.  Children are humble and unpretentious, harboring no ulterior motives to their words or deeds, although that doesn’t take long to learn.  It is this life devoid of pride and self-centeredness that promotes. So if the disciples needed to turn about (toward humbleness), they must have been on the path of pride. If we demote ourselves through humility, God can then promote us. So it would seem the way to promotion is through demotion.

1 About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” 2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew 18:1-3 (NLT)

15 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15 (NLT)

Should I Care What You Think?

Should I Care What You Think?

I recently saw a sign that read “To be offended by you I’d first have to care what you think.”   I first chuckled when I read it, but then after giving it more thought, I realized the truth of the statement.  Sometimes, we just put too much importance on people’s opinions.  Oh there is a  core group of people in our lives whose opinions should matter to us. It would often do us well to seek out those opinions to possibly add clarity to any given situation or shed additional insight that we’ve missed. But it’s most often the unsolicited opinion that we can relate to this sign.  If you find yourself offended, consider the source and whether it’s worth your time and aggravation.  Now when it comes to the Word of God, if we find ourselves offended or getting agitated, then perhaps we need to figure out why.  The Word has a tendency to shed light on darkness which can be a source of agitation if that darkness is found in us.  But if all is well in your life according to the standard of the Word, then, as far as the rest of the world goes, you decide whose opinion matters to you.

1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV)

7 Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge on their lips. Proverbs 14:7 (NLT)

4 Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are. Proverbs 26:4 (NLT)

Take good counsel and accept correction— that’s the way to live wisely and well. Proverbs 19:20 (MSG)

Do You Have Ears To Hear?

Do You Have Ears To Hear?

What is the rock upon which Christ says He will build His church in Matthew 16:18?  Many people believe that Jesus was saying He will build His church upon Peter, a mere man.  But would Jesus really build the church upon a man?  It is important to go to the original text in order to translate accurately.  So, in referring to the original Greek, when Jesus said in verse 18 speaking to Peter “thou art Peter”, the original Greek word for Peter here is petros which means a piece of the rock or a small stone. Then Jesus goes on to say “upon this rock I will build my church”.  The Greek word for rock here is a different one – petra – meaning a mass of rock or a foundation boulder.  This is the same word used when Jesus taught about the rock (petra) upon which the wise man built his house. When Peter answered Jesus’ question of “who do you say I am?”, Peter gave an answer that was not taught to him by mere man, but revealed to Him by God Himself.  It would be upon this example of revelation, or God revealing His Word to His people, that Jesus would build the church. Up until now, revelation wasn’t needed because Jesus was with them.  But Jesus, the Word made flesh, would soon be gone.  And His disciples would need revelation (God’s Word revealed to them) to fulfill their great commission. Peter, John, Paul, Philip, Timothy all went on to receive revelation from God.  And that didn’t stop with the disciples and apostles of the early church. God still speaks today to those who have ears to hear!

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” 14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:13-18 (NKJV)

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25 (NKJV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (NKJV)

There Is Not Always Tomorrow

There Is Not Always Tomorrow

Pastor began our service last week by asking several people what they were thankful for.  Every answer was either family or an individual member of their family.  My family recently lost my brother very unexpectedly.  Times like these really get a person thinking about how important and precious family relationships are.  It makes you think about things that perhaps you would have done differently – things you should have done or said more often.  We don’t give much thought about how quickly life can be altered.  So, in keeping with setting goals for the new year, let’s determine to never assume that there will always be tomorrow.  Determine to never assume they “know” you love them. Determine to express appreciation and love and not just “feel” it.  Let’s give no opportunity for regrets especially when it comes to family. 

29 Exploit or abuse your family, and end up with a fistful of air; common sense tells you it’s a stupid way to live. Proverbs 11:29 (MSG)

8 But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. 1 Timothy 5:8 (NLT)

4 Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, 5 Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, 6 Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 7 Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (MSG)

Be Encouraged!

Be Encouraged!

We all go through times of discouragement and confusion.  Things don’t seem to be going the way we’d hoped or envisioned.  Or everything seems to be going against us instead of for us. It doesn’t always mean we’ve sinned or done anything wrong when we experience adversity. Just look at the life of Joseph to see that.  But what can be dangerous is to allow ourselves to remain in this place. If we don’t have people in our life to encourage us, then we must encourage ourselves. When you know you are on the course that God has set for you, the enemy will do all he can to prevent you from reaching your destination.  He will put stumbling blocks and even road blocks in your path to discourage and disable you. And nothing is more encouraging and empowering than the Word!  Food for Thought gives you some very powerful verses to help you press on through those rough times.  Remember, you can do all things through Christ!

6 So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLT)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.  Isaiah 41:10 (NLT)

17 The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. 18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.  Psalm 34:17-18 (NLT)

9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NLT)

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.  1 Peter 5:7-9 (NLT)

13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

There’s Power in Your Tongue

There’s Power in Your Tongue

The scripture says that people can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and fish, but no man can tame the tongue.  I would bet that every one of us have experienced that “me and my big mouth” feeling.  You regret saying something even before you finish saying it, yet out it comes.  Like the rudder of a great ship, the tongue is a very small part of the body, but it has immense influence over the direction you take. You don’t have to be large in stature to completely overtake someone.  All you need is a sharp tongue.  Physical harm often times is nothing compared to the harm done by the tongue.  It can beat down, minimize, deject, diminish, dishearten, deflate, discourage, depress, and demoralize in mere seconds, without landing one physical blow. So, in 2019, a good goal for us all would be to tame the tongue.  Now, you say, but the Bible says no one can!  Yes no ONE can. But with God all things are possible!  And taming the tongue is a job for God and His more than able Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives in you! And that same Spirit raised Christ from the dead.  And I think if He raised Christ from the dead, He is more than capable of assisting you in taming your tongue.  But you must acknowledge Him in you and yield to Him.  Let the power in your tongue bring life!

7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:7-8 (NLT)

10 And Christ lives within you, so even though your body will die because of sin, the Spirit gives you life because you have been made right with God. 11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. 12 Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. Romans 8:10-14 (NLT)

26 Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NLT)

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

Check Your Love Gauge

Check Your Love Gauge

When times are bad or when people are going through rough place, Romans 8:28 is often recited or used to help with the situation.  And when quoted, it is often quoted like this – “I know all things work together for my good!”  And that sounds great.  And if that was the extent of the scripture, it would be absolutely fantastic.  But, it isn’t the extent of the scripture – there is a bit more.  The whole verse says – (NKJV)28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Many of the promises of God aren’t blanket promises covering anybody and everybody. Many of His promises end with “to those who love Him” or “to those who keep His commandments”.  And, let’s be honest, not everyone does – not everybody loves Him and many who say they do, don’t keep His commandments.  God clearly says in His Word that if you love Him, you’ll keep His commandments.  So He uses obedience to His Word as a “love gauge”.  As we begin a new year, let’s all re-assess our love for God.  And we can gauge our love for God by our obedience to His Word.  And if we hit the mark on the love gauge, we can enjoy all His promises!

James 1:12 (NKJV) – 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

James 2:5 (NKJV) – 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV) – 9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Deuteronomy 7:9 (NKJV) – 9 Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;

Exodus 20:6 (NKJV) – 6 but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

Psalm 91:14-16 (NKJV) – 14 “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation.”

John 14:15, 21, 23 (NKJV) – 15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”….. 21″ He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.”…… 23″ Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word;.”