Archive for September, 2013

(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– Do not say, “I will do to him just as he has done to me; I will render to the man according to his work.” – Proverbs 24:29

Whether we are believers or not – most of us learned the Bible’s Golden Rule of  “doing unto others” (Matthew 7:12) as children, even if we weren’t attending church.  It does not tell us to do good things unto others – but only if they do the same in return, exactly when and why we want them to.  If they don’t – we don’t stop doing them.  It does not say to do bad things unto others – exactly like they have done to us.

If we don’t, though – well, aren’t they just getting away with it? No – we don’t do unto others as they have already done in the past (lead verse).  The Golden Rule is not a conditional verse.  It says we are to do unto others as we would want them to do unto us – even when they are not doing so; even if they never do. Remember, we are all unprofitable servants (Luke 17:7-10).

If our conscience is towards God, it is thank-worthy – even if we endure grief and suffer wrongfully (1 Peter 2:19).  Didn’t God endure grief when He watched His only Son suffer wrongfully on the Cross?  Remember how much grief Joseph seemingly suffered wrongfully for years?  God was setting up a future event of good all along – which only He could see (Hebrews 11:1).

What might have happened if Joseph had spent his time – in the meantime – trying to do unto others as they had done unto him? Attempting to get back and pay people back for supposedly messing up his life?  Everything bad God put Joseph through was required for later good – to save his family from famine (Genesis 45:5-47:12, Ecclesiastes 3:15, Romans 8:28).

Just because God’s sentence against an evil work is not executed as speedily as we like it sometimes – it is well with us who fear Him (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13).  We may be requited some good if we turn the other cheek (2 Samuel 16:5-12).  We are not to avenge – but to over-come evil with good.  Vengeance belongs to God alone.  It is a terrible thing to fall into His hands (Romans 12:19-21, Hebrews 10:30-31).

It may take more time than our temperament might allow – but His final punishment will be fiery and forever.  God will by no means clear the guilty – He will not at all acquit the wicked (Exodus 34:7, Nahum 1:3). Just remember, we were all born with wicked hearts – and Scripture has concluded all of us are guilty of sin (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:23, Galatians 3:22).

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– But if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? – 1 Timothy 3:5

– Judge not – that ye be not judged. – Matthew 7:1

Flipping through the channels last month, I came across an interesting episode of Sponge-Bob SquarePants titled “The Patty Caper“.  In this story, the Krusty Krab has run out of the secret ingredient for the formula put on all Krabby Patties.  Sponge-Bob is sent out to get a heavily guarded shipment arriving in an armored truck just outside the entrance.

A S.W.A.T. team member quickly hands off the briefcase with the bottle inside to Sponge-Bob, before jumping back on the truck – which then speeds away.  But – the ingredient is missing. A hole has been cut in the bottom of the briefcase.  Mr. Krabs has entrusted this to Sponge-Bob – and tells him to go find out what happened … or not to come back.

The little yellow guy enlists the investigative help of Patrick. Everywhere they go they seemingly find smoking guns – catching both Plankton and Sandy with Krabby Patties … which all have sauce on them.  Squidward is found with a briefcase which looks exactly like the one with the secret ingredient. There must have been a switch made somehow.

Although Sponge-Bob is certain about the guilt of each – all have justifiable explanations.  Nothing was how it appeared to be at first (Joshua 22:4-34).  When Sandy produces a receipt for all the Krabby Patties she bought to store up for winter, she is furious at Sponge-Bob. She says, “Next time, before you run around accusing people of things – make sure your own house is in order first.”

If we’re believers, we should be making sure our own houses and churches are in order before we start running around accusing other ones of not being so.  Especially if we’re feeling guilty about something before God – and are perhaps attempting to divert attention away from ourselves.  You see, the guilty party all along was Mr. Krabs.

Yet, he sent his best employee on what he knew would be a wild-goose chase, falsely accusing people and perhaps having them get the blame. All to divert attention away from himself. All to save the $1.99 it cost for the bottle.  Loyal and dutiful Sponge-Bob ran the risk of ruining friendships because of it. Once Sponge-Bob returned, Mr. Krabs even tried to point the finger of guilt at him.

When the woman taken in adultery was brought to before Christ, he said to the scribes and Pharisees, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast a stone  (John 8:3-7).”  If we are believers, we are to live the gospel we preach (1 Corinthians 9:14).  If we are ever pointing our fingers at others – perhaps we’re trying to redirect the finger of blame at someone else, to divert attention away from our still sinful hearts.

By doing so, perhaps we’ll miss God telling us where we should be going – and what we should be doing (Isaiah 30:21, 1 Kings 19:12-15). We are to be confident we are guides of the blind – a light to them in darkness – not just pointing out they’re still living in it (Romans 2:19-22). We are to focus on our own repentance – not the repentance of others.

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– Therefore, if any man be in Christ – he is a new creature.  Old things are passed away – behold; all things are become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

– In Christ alone my hope is found,  He is my light, my strength, my song, this Cornerstone, this solid Ground. – “In Christ Alone”, written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, copyright 2001

Billy Graham once said, “One’s identity in life is directly proportionate to one’s level of involvement with anything.”  We can slowly and subtly start to lose our true identity in life – when it becomes more wrapped up in our involvement with others – professionally, socially, even within a family.  This is not wrong by itself.

However it often might not be the reality we may so want it to be – even among Christians.  Even believers we may know and love for years – may have to move away one day.  God forbid, but they may stray from us – or betray us down the road. Others just pass away and leave this earth before we do.  

This can cause us much grief as any loss can.  It’s not just someone dying a physical death.  We can experience things like grief, pain, and confusion when a child leaves the nest – or when we retire from a career after many years.  What then? What do we with our time that’s left?  We either try to hang on to what’s already gone – or face the future with hope.

Read what Meghan O’Rourke once wrote about what can happen when we lose someone – or even something we’re close to: “When you lose someone you were close to – you have to reassess your picture of the world and your place in it.  The more your identity was wrapped up in the deceased – the more difficult the loss.”

When Saul of Tarsus first became a chosen vessel of God (Acts 9:15) to spread His gospel as the apostle Paul – he removed himself from involvement with flesh-and-blood for 3 1/2 years. With the exception of James – he didn’t confer with humans – only the Holy Spirit (Galatians 1:15-19).  Although Scripture does not say it exactly – it’ seems God desired for Paul to understand his identity was in Christ alone.

Only God has the power to raise us up from the dead – and without the Holy Ghost in us when we die – He has no power to do so (Romans 8:11).  Identifying ourselves as a Christian just by being involved with Christian things doesn’t automatically make us one (Luke 6:32-34).  We are none of God’s without the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:9).   We can’t say Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3).

We can slowly and subtly start to lose our true identity in Christ as believers – if it becomes more wrapped up in our involvement with other believers, and perhaps our Christian busy-ness, than it is in Christ.  If disagreements arise between believers causing divisiveness (Matthew 10:34) – or there are church upheavals to the point where we permanently walk away from each other, what then?

These can send us into a real crisis – and maybe make us wonder again who Christ really is – and what the Son of man’s role is going to be for the rest of our lives.  Can we put our faith back in Jesus – when others seemed to have failed us  – or fled? Referring back to Meghan O’Rourke’s words above, do we then have to reassess our perception and picture of the Word – and our place in it?

If we’re believers, our identity is in Christ first – because God has put the crucified Christ in us through the power of the Holy Ghost (Ephesians 3:16-17, Galatians 2:20).  Yes, new believers will wrestle with Scripture – and will probably struggle with their new identity to begin with (2 Peter 3:16).  There are still many old things for God to make new again (lead verse).

However, if life seems to be the same old, same old after years – shouldn’t there be cause for concern?  If we’re still angry, bitter, unforgiving – what’s been made new?  Those are parts of our former man we are to put away through the daily regeneration and renewal of our hearts and minds – through obedience by repentance (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 4:16, Ephesians 4:22-23, Titus 3:5).

If we still don’t know what it is we are truly supposed to be doing as Christians – or where we are supposed to be going as God desires it – it might be because our identity is more proportionate with Christianity than it is Christ.  This is one of the issues Paul addressed in his letters to the church leaders in Corinth.  Other believers were not baptized or crucified for us (1 Corinthians 1:13).

We are to follow Christ first – not other Christians (1 Corinthians 3:4). We are to be led by the Holy Spirit who works within us (Romans 8:1-14) – not other Christian speakers, preachers, and teachers – who work outside us.  So that if, God forbid, everyone one we knew left us – we could still be led by the Holy Ghost – and not lose our identity in Christ.

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(NKJV and KJV Scripture)

– But they knew not that evil was near them. – Judges 20:34

– The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good. – Proverbs 15:3

Nobody expected 9/11 to happen.  Who among those who went off to work that morning – were thinking they would never come home to their families again while on the ride to the office? However, every time evil happens anywhere, doesn’t God usually gets called into question like He did that day 12 years ago now? Do we call Him into question when we receive something good?

Although it’s always easy to get mad, upset, and confused when anything happens we don’t understand – we must understand evil and wickedness are part of who we are from birth.  The imagination of our hearts is evil from youth (Genesis 8:21, Jeremiah 17:9).  It’s not how we arbitrarily become over time afterwards – because of any place or environment we may or may not grow up in.

Scripture has concluded all of us under sin from day one (Galatians 3:22).  There is no good thing which dwells in our flesh (Romans 7:18). Sinning is not something we start doing at some random point along the way.  Good things the apostle Paul wanted to do – he didn’t.  The evil he did not want to do – he did (Romans 7:19).

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once wrote, “If it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were only necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them.  But the line dividing good and evil runs through the heart of every human being.  And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Every day God gives us – He sets before us blessing and curse, life and good – or death and evil (Deuteronomy 11:26, Deuteronomy 30:15). We choose which one we serve (Joshua 24:15, 1 Corinthians 10:21).  We are to never boast about tomorrow – for we never know what a single day will ever bring forth (Proverbs 27:1). We never know when evil is near (lead verse).

Christ told the disciples to take no thought of our tomorrows – for they would take thought for things of themselves. Jesus added – “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof (Matthew 6:34).  However, evil can be a very hard concept to comprehend if we see it only evolving and existing elsewhere.

If all our ways are clean and right in our own eyes – or if we walk around with a “what have I done wrong” attitude (Proverbs 16:2, Proverbs 21:2, Jeremiah 8:6) – guess who most likely gets grieved far too often when it happens (Ephesians 4:30)?  Evil will pursue sinners (Proverbs 13:21). Shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord – and shall we not receive evil as well Job 2:10)?

Especially if we are Christians who are no longer ignorant about the eternal consequences of continuing in willful sin (Acts 17:30, Hebrews 10:26).  Even when we slip up – as we will because of our failed flesh – God cannot cleanse us from all unrighteousness and evil if we don’t confess our sins as believers.  The longer we fail owning up to sin as Christians, the further we fall away (1 John 1:8-10, Hebrews 6:4-6).

God is long-suffering towards all men – He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies (2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:32).  Just because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily – the heart of the sons of men is set in them to do more.  Even though their days may be prolonged – it is well with us who fear Him (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13).  God will not at all acquit the wicked (Nahum 1:3).

Why would a loving God cause evil?  Remember, God forms the and creates darkness – He makes peace and creates evil (Isaiah 45:7).  The prophet Jeremiah gives us a very clear and concise reason why God brings evil:  “Hear, O earth – behold, I (God) will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts – because they have not hearkened to My words.  Nor to My law – but rejected it (Jeremiah 6:19).

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit – and a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7:18).  We are still corrupt as Christians if we fail to heed God’s correction from above – through His only Son dwelling in our hearts by faith by the power of the Holy Ghost (John 15:1-5, Ephesians 3:16-17), Corruption cannot inherit the incorruption of heaven (1 Corinthians 15:50).

We are to depart from evil and do good – whether something good is returned to us or not on earth – our rewards await in heaven (Psalm 34:14, Matthew 7:12).  God will repay evil and wickedness in due time – His.  Both will always exist until Chris returns bringing salvation.  Until then – we are not to avenge evil with evil – but with good (Luke 7:27-28, Romans 12:18-21).

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(Scripture from the NKJV and KJV)

– Vengeance belongs to Me – I will recompense,” says the Lord. – Hebrews 10:30

How many movies and TV shows have there been in just the past 5-10 years, where the subject matter seems to center on someone exacting revenge?  Getting even, getting back, or having people “get what’s coming to them?”  Avengers of wrong-doing – doing whatever it takes sometimes to return possessions or people to their rightful owners or places.

Old hatred can be generational.  These quests to make sure scores are settled properly can carry on for decades (Ezekiel 25:15) – but don’t they seem to be on the increase?  Are we living in the “days of vengeance” which Christ told the disciples would precede the end times – so all things written in Scripture may be fulfilled (Luke 21:22-28)?

God only knows for sure.  However, we should never ignore any warning signs He gives us; for there won’t be any more – other than what’s already in His Word (Mark 8:12).  Regardless, any ideas or notions we have about vengeance in any shape or form – (even secretly) – is a very unwise way to walk with the Lord (lead verse).  Our trying to right a wrong – could be a wrong He’s trying to right – His way; not ours.

As believers, we are to learn to be long-suffering and patient like Christ – among other things (Ephesians 4:20-32, Galatians 5:22-23). Not longing to see someone pay for anything they’ve done to us – and preferably sooner than later.  If we’re Christians – the crucified Christ dwells in our heart by faith (Ephesians 3:16-17).  We bear the same marks Jesus bore on the Cross in our bodies (Galatians 6:17).

Therefore, we are to let no man trouble us – no matter how much trouble they may be causing us, regardless of reason or season.  God didn’t put His only Son up on the Cross for us to take matters into our own hands.  Even if we perceive people to be causing us to suffer grief wrongfully – we are to be thankful for this if our conscience truly is towards God (1 Peter 2:19).

Marcus Aurelius once said, “The best revenge is to be unlike him who caused the injury.”  How can we ever esteem others better than ourselves in lowliness of mind – if we ever go around estimating exactly what someone had better get for causing us any type of anguish or trouble?  Something which would make us want to seek revenge (Philippians 2:3)?

It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). To Him alone belongs vengeance and recompense. The feet of those who wrong us will slide in due time – His; not ours. The day of their calamity is at hand – and all things to come upon them will make haste as He will have it be (Deuteronomy 32:35, Ecclesiastes 8:11-13).

Meanwhile – we are not to avenge.  If our enemies are hungry, we are to feed them. If they are thirsty – we are to give them drink.  For in doing so, we shall heap coals of fire upon their heads.  We can’t allow ourselves to be overcome with evil.  We are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19-21).  Otherwise, the days of vengeance may come sooner than we think.

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