Posted in forgiveness, Humility, joseph

Am I in the place of God?

When someone wrongs us, and they know it and you know it, the temptation is to lord it over them. The flesh seeks power in a relationship, to be the one on top. However, Jesus said that we are to seek the other’s good, to humble ourselves, to be the last, and to think more highly of the other person- in all our relationships.

If anyone had a reason to lord it over anyone, it was Joseph. The brothers could hardly believe the turn of events when they found Joseph in Egypt as second-in-command over the entire nation. Joseph loved his brothers and held no account against them for their plot to kill Joseph and sell him into slavery.

This attitude of Joseph’s was born of a Godly spirit, certainly. In the flesh we would hold all sorts of grudges against a person, but in the LORD Joseph had developed a forgiving and a truly loving spirit. He forgave the brothers’ sins against him. Overjoyed, the brothers held their peace. When their father Jacob died, however, the brothers began to worry again.

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” (Genesis 50:15)

It was not so.

But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? (Genesis 50:19). Joseph went on,

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:20-21)

Oh, how often we put ourselves in the place of God! We withhold forgiveness, we lord it over people, we pridefully forget we are sinners too! We put ourselves in the place of God. At least, I do sometimes!

Matthew Henry Commentary explains:

Judging of Joseph from the general temper of human nature, they thought he would now avenge himself on those who hated and injured him without cause. Not being able to resist, or to flee away, they attempted to soften him by humbling themselves. They pleaded with him as the servants of Jacob’s God. Joseph was much affected at seeing this complete fulfillment of his dreams. He directs them not to fear him, but to fear God; to humble themselves before the Lord, and to seek the Divine forgiveness. He assures them of his own kindness to them. See what an excellent spirit Joseph was of, and learn of him to render good for evil. He comforted them, and, to banish all their fears, he spake kindly to them. Broken spirits must be bound up and encouraged. Those we love and forgive, we must not only do well for, but speak kindly to.

Lording it over a person puts ourselves in the place of God. Forgiving those who transgressed against us includes a full spirit of gentleness. How much more would a kind word to those who sinned against us help bind a broken spirit.

Not that we lord it over your faith, but we are fellow workers with you for your joy, because it is by faith that you stand firm. (2 Corinthians 1:24)

Seek others’ joy. Lord, help me not give in to temptation to lord it over, but to fully forgive, seek others’ joy, and bind a broken spirit with a kind word.

Posted in bible, forgiveness, God, joseph, sovereign

Blame Game

Do you blame others? Try to dodge responsibility for your actions by blaming others? Are you full of excuses? I spent four decades on the planet as an unsaved person, I had honed blame-shifting to near perfection. I could rationalize away the worst sins. “What you did caused me to…” or “Despite what YOU did, I rose above…”

The mark of a spiritually mature person is one who not only accepts responsibility without excuses but seeks to give God glory and thinks of the other person first. Let’s look at three examples from the Bible.

The immediate blame-game that comes to mind are Adam and Eve. It’s disappointing that their first response was one of blaming each other. So much for Adam being a leader, he threw Eve under the bus at the first obstacle. God is asking Adam and Eve what they have done, since they knew they were naked and were hiding from God.

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11-13)

Neither of them were spiritually mature. But perhaps we can give them a slight break, neither of them had encountered sin before.

Let’s look at Cain and Abel. Cain worked the ground, and Abel was a shepherd (the first one in the Bible?). We know that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s.

In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. (Genesis 4:4-5)

Cain killed his brother Abel. When God asked Cain about it, Cain deflected his responsibility and denied knowing anything of Abel’s whereabouts. Eve had to be talking into her sin, but Cain couldn’t be talked out of it. Not even by God. Cain remained angry and surly towards God. (Genesis 4:9).

Joseph is the third example. You remember, he was the youngest at the time of Jacob’s sons, and the firstborn of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. Joseph’s older brothers were jealous of Joseph, and conspired to kill Joseph, but then at the last minute decided to profit from their scheme and sold Joseph into slavery in Egypt. That was the last the brothers saw of Joseph until they were facing death in a very severe famine, and traveled to Egypt to buy grain. After a period of time and testing, Joseph revealed who he was to his brothers.

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:4-5).

Of anyone who had reason to blame, it was Joseph. He had been an innocent party of his brother’s sins, and Joseph had suffered terribly for it. Adam, Eve, and Cain were overtly choosing wrong, and blamed others for their acts. Joseph chose right, and ever blamed anyone. Abandoned by his brothers, betrayed by them at a horrific level, (conspiracy of fratricide), falsely accused, being put in jail, attempted rape by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph had reason more than practically anyone in the Bible to blame his brothers.

He could have said,

“Look what you did, and God is repaying you, but I will forgive you!”
“You mocked me when I dreamed of you bowing down to me, and yet here you are, bowing down to me!”
“Don’t you know I hold your life in my hands?”

But Joseph didn’t. First of all Joseph praised God for His providential hand. Recognizing God’s sovereignty is always the best place to start. Then Joseph reassured the brothers, saying they should not be distressed by their act. Joseph sought their good, and removed opportunity for self-blame by emphatically showing he did not blame them. He was seeking the brothers’ good.

That’s what spiritually mature people do. They seek the good of the other person and ignore opportunities to lord it over them.

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26″It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, (Matthew 20:25)

In this great text, Jesus was teaching the disciples that the style of greatness and leadership for believers is different. Gentile leaders dominate in dictatorial fashion, using carnal power and authority, Believers are to do the opposite, they lead by being servants and giving themselves away for others, as Jesus did.

A mark of spiritual authority is to accept responsibility for our sins, and if we are the innocent party, to love the sinner and seek their good without lording it over.

I pray the Lord continues His work of reforming me from the inside out, growing me in maturity and to have the strength to humbly repent when I’m wrong; and to love others with a servant attitude who may have harmed me, always pointing to Christ as the one who is sovereign over all.

Posted in encouragement, forgiveness, good shepherd, sheep

Our Great Shepherd: His care and love are everlasting

‎In biblical times, a shepherd’s main concern was the welfare of the flock. Providing the sheep with food and waters as well as guarding them from predators and thieves were primary responsibilities. Highlighting this relationship, Jesus says in the scripture, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11). [from Logos Bible Software]

EPrata photo

But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness. (Psalm 78:52).

Since moving to this county nearly ten years ago, I have never ceased to enjoy the sight of numerous animals dotting the landscape. Here is a quick-facts graphic showing the importance of agriculture in our county-

There are many pastures. I regularly see cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, chickens, and sometimes emus, buffalo, hawks, foxes, and even coyotes.

Reading about the animals in the Bible is wonderful and interesting. However, being among the animals mentioned in the Bible and observing them is another layer of understanding entirely. The neighbor on the other side of the house (I’m in the in-law apartment adjacent) is a shepherdess. I love watching the pastured sheep next door. Their life cycle, cavorting lambs, the nursing, the hay, grass, and stubble that they eat, the wool, their grazing, their recent escapes from the field lol, all interesting.

The Bible refers to the body of Christ as sheep. Am I a sheep? Yes, says Jesus, metaphorically. He is my Shepherd. What a glorious metaphor. I love to think of The Perfect herding me, caring for me, leading me, protecting me. Everything He does is perfect so His care of the sheep will also be perfect, and I can and do rest in that knowledge.

It’s a good metaphor. He could have likened us to badgers, angry and contentious. He could have called us after the evil one who is god of the earth- a lion, a prowling predator seeking after sin and devouring others. He could have called us a spider, an insect nobody likes. I mean, really. A sheep is good.

In my Logos 6 software one can research by topic. I found these biblical facts about sheep:

The sheep is the first animal specified by name in the sacred writings. Abel, himself a shepherd, offered the firstlings of his flock to the Lord (Gen. 4:4). Abraham was very rich in sheep, and Job at one time had 14,000 amongst his herds. In 2 Kings 3:4 we read of a Moabitish shepherd-king who gave a tribute of a hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand rams; and this country is still inhabited by owners of vast herds of sheep, the Beni Sakkr sheikhs. Solomon celebrated the dedication of the temple by the sacrifice of 120,000 sheep. 

The Sheep is perhaps the most important of all the animals in the Scriptures. It formed the chief portion of the wealth of the patriarchs, and it is not merely as an article of food that its value is to be estimated. The clothing of those days was almost entirely made of wool; cotton, silk and flax being hardly known or quite out of reach until a later period. The number of flocks was the chief measure of property. Tillage was, comparatively speaking, but little resorted to in Palestine, and there was only very local or in most places no possession in land. Hence sheep were of primary value; and from its nature the country was, and is still, better adapted to the rearing and feeding of sheep than other domestic animals.

Source- Hart, H. C. (1888). The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (pp. 193–194). London: The Religious Tract Society.

Interesting! How about the beloved 23rd Psalm-

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

EPrata photo

Here is Matthew Henry Commentary on the famous first line of the Psalm, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.’

Confidence in God’s grace and care. – “The Lord is my shepherd.” In these words, the believer is taught to express his satisfaction in the care of the great Pastor of the universe, the Redeemer and Preserver of men. With joy he reflects that he has a shepherd, and that shepherd is Jehovah.  

A flock of sheep, gentle and harmless, feeding in verdant pastures, under the care of a skilful, watchful, and tender shepherd, forms an emblem of believers brought back to the Shepherd of their souls. The greatest abundance is but a dry pasture to a wicked man, who relishes in it only what pleases the senses; but to a godly man, who by faith tastes the goodness of God in all his enjoyments, though he has but little of the world, it is a green pasture.  

The Lord gives quiet and contentment in the mind, whatever the lot is. Are we blessed with the green pastures of the ordinances, let us not think it enough to pass through them, but let us abide in them. The consolations of the Holy Spirit are the still waters by which the saints are led; the streams which flow from the Fountain of living waters. Those only are led by the still waters of comfort, who walk in the paths of righteousness.

Do you have confidence in God’s grace and care? Do you have quiet contentment of the mind, knowing the Great Shepherd would not only lay down His life for the sheep, but He has done it? Are you consoled by the knowledge that His protection is mighty and everlasting? That His pastures remain green? That the waters are always living and fresh?

We are blessed with good care. Though we stray, the Good Shepherd brings the lost sheep home. This is the ultimate blessing, forgiveness of our many sins, and promise of eternal joy.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

Thank You Lord. Thank You.

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (John 10:3)

As Jonathan Edwards said in his “Farewell Sermon“,

Whoever may hereafter stand related to you as your spiritual guide, my desire and prayer is that the great Shepherd of the sheep would have a special respect to you, and be your guide (for there is none teacheth like him), and that he who is the infinite fountain of light, would “open your eyes, and turn you from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that you may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified, through faith that is in Christ;” that so in that great day, when I shall meet you again before your Judge and mine, we may meet in joyful and glorious circumstances, never to be separated any more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Exposition of The Lord is My Shepherd

Posted in forgiveness, free grace, irresistible grace, justification, robe of righteousness, salvation, witness, wrath

Mr Lamb’s Robe Store

Scene, busy shopping mall. It’s so large that many people are lost. They look at the map in the central courtyard with the dot “you are here,” but many still don’t know which way to go. Others become distracted by the many choices. Still others sit in the courtyard just lazing away the day.

In a nearby clothing shop, two people browse the racks of robes on a rounder. They are called Sinner and Saved. Saved is a salesperson, trained and ready to explain any aspect of anything about the robes on display.

Saved: May I help you?
I think I would like one of these robes, they’re so white and beautiful. Are they silk?
They’re fine flax, plus other threads extremely rare and unique because they’re imported from a remote location.
It looks shimmery…
That’s because the Light reflects on it, through it, and off it. Some call this garment “Woven Moonlight” from the Grace line. It comes with a lifetime guarantee. It will never wear out.
That would be something, I hate going to the store to buy robe after robe. No robe I buy ever seems to last and I always end up cold and chilly in my house.
So, would you like one?
I don’t think I can afford it.
You can. It’s free.
No way! You mean just get one, put it on and walk out of here?
Yes, but there is something you need to do first before it can be put on.
I knew there would be a catch. You’re probably going to tell me I have to work for you for fifty years or something, like an indentured servant.
No, there’s no works involved.
Where are the lawyers, you’ll have me arrested if I take one for free.
The owner of this store has plenty of robes and is perfectly willing to give them away. There is no Legalism here.
I’ll get back to the robe in a minute, but I want to know this. Who in his right mind would give away his inventory? How does he stay in business? This is crazy!
I agree, it is unusual. There is no other store in the world which does this. This is certainly an exclusive shop.
But how can the owner stay in business?
He is extremely wealthy. And he wants to share his wealth. Again this is unusual. No other store owner in the world gives freely and doesn’t take.
Wait, I thought you said there was a catch. What is it?
No catch, but you do have to say you’re sorry before you can put on one of these exclusive robes.
Say I’m sorry for what???
For all your crimes against the owner of this store.
Whatchoo you talking about? I never done nothing to this guy!
Well, you have. If you ever even took a paperclip home from work, you’ve been stealing.
What does that have to do with the owner of this store?
He owns the paper clip. He owns everything. I told you he is very wealthy.
I knew this was too good to be true, I’m leaving.

Sinner leaves and walks to the next store. He is gone for hours. Eventually, he returns.

Ah, sir, so glad to see you again. What brings you back into our exclusive store?
I looked at every other robe in the mall. None are as good as this one. Once I saw the white gossamer shimmering threads, so delicate but so strong, I knew that no other could compare. Tell me more about this garment being free but having to be sorry first…
Well, you have committed crimes against the owner of this store, Mr Lamb, who owns the inventory of White Robes. Every time you stole, cheated, lied, even unknowingly, you sinned against Him. He owns all that is on the earth.
I’ve gotta know, who is this man?
He’s God.
God?! Like the Man Upstairs?
He is not a man, and though he is in heaven he is also on earth, in the form of His Spirit.
I think this God talk is kind of crazy but I admit His robes look different from all the others.
I’m wearing one.
You? You’re wearing regular clothes.
Yes but have you ever heard of layaway? My robe is on deposit, the Spirit is the deposit of the guarantee of being given one when we get to heaven. You will inherit His wealth, and the robe comes with it. (Ephesians 1:14)
Doesn’t a dad have to die in order for the kids to inherit?
He already died. He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, paying the debt you racked up, and the debt of all mankind. (John 3:16). In addition, He endured all the Father’s wrath for these sins, poured out onto the Son. I mean didn’t your dad get angry when you messed up? (Romans 1:18)
LOL, he sure did. When I was a kid I took his keys and drove the car, and I crashed it. Cost him a lot of money. He was so mad he used his belt on me for the first and only time. It hurt. I still have the scar from one of the welts.
Well, imagine how angry the Father is over your crimes against Him, and though His anger is controlled, it is there and poured out on the Son on behalf of you. He bore your stripes so you can live right. (1 Peter 2:24). The Son died. He sure did. However the good news is, He didn’t stay dead. Satisfied with His Son’s sacrifice, God resurrected the Son to eternal life.
Who is the Son?
Jesus.
I knew it, you’re a Jesus freak!
That I am, proclaiming His excellencies to call you from darkness to his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9).
When I was looking at all the other robes I was thinking about the paper clip. You know, um, I have done worse than taking a paper clip. A lot worse. When I committed them I didn’t know he was the owner of all the earth. (Psalm 24:1).
Well, you did. Just looking at the creation makes you know He created it. (Romans 1:19)
OK, you got me. I guess I lied again just then. I am surely without excuse. (Romans 1:20). What a miserable human being I am. I thought I felt bad before looking at the other robes, which suddenly looked like filthy rags next to this one, (Isaiah 64:6) but now I feel terrible seeing myself next to it. (Isaiah 6:5). I’m hopeless.
Yes, you are- out there. (Amos 5:20). In here, you have the deposit guaranteed, the robe of righteousness, the Spirit in you to strengthen you, Jesus to look forward to, and all hope and all wealth. As a matter of fact, all things will be yours, including eternal life. (Romans 8:24).

A rotten tomato splats against the store window, dripping down, with some youth running away shouting, “Your store is stupid and so are you!”

A few women wander in, but they stop only inches inside the threshold. One says, “This place smells horrible! Like garbage! And the clothes are all weird and shiny. Let’s go, Myrtle. We can check out the store that has grey robes. I hear they’ve got 50 shades of them!” They hustle out.

Sinner says,
Why’d they do that? You’re just standing here, minding your own business!

That happens a lot. Pay no mind. We don’t bother to fight against flesh and blood, but fight against what drives them. It’s their conscience. “For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” (Romans 2:14-16). With you, your thoughts are accusing. With them, they are trying to defend themselves and so they lash out.
Accuse is a good word. I feel a great heaviness on me because of all the wrong I’ve done. The more I look at the robe the more I see myself as a sinful man. (Luke 5:8). I couldn’t get it out of my mind these past few hours. (Romans 2:15). As much as I didn’t want to come back in here, I felt like I had to. (Ephesians 2:1–10).
You’re almost ready for a robe, I think. I’ll go get one in your size. While I’m gone, why don’t you speak with the Owner, and tell Him how you feel?
You mean on the phone? Or an intercom?
Just speak with your mouth, He will hear you. (Romans 10:9).

A few minutes go by. When the salesman returns, the Sinner is beaming.
I talked with Mr Lamb! He heard me, I know He did. He said He forgives me of my crimes against Him. There were a lot. Once I got going I hadn’t realized how many times I broke Mr Lamb’s law. But He said He would throw my sins away as far as the east is from the west. He said I’d receive a robe when I get there. He said I might have to pay for my past sins, endure the consequences you know, but He would always be with me and never forsake me. I believe Him I believe it down to my bones.
That’s wonderful! I’m so pleased!
You know, this is so weird. This place is right in the mall but I’d never seen it before today. I come here every week but I never saw it. And the owner is rich but wiling to give it all to us. He doesn’t make money, he gives it. He covers us with his garment which was made at great expense and gives it away free. All we have to do is be sorry for our sins and believe in His death, burial and resurrection. I can’t believe my whole life I thought Mr Lamb as a jerk.
That’s because you’re a new creation now. The Spirit is already inside you, helping you. He is the Helper. He’ll strengthen you in faith, change you from the woeful man you were into the righteous man you are now and will become. (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Hey I’ve got to tell this news to my family. I’ll come back and we’ll talk more, OK?
Sure, Godspeed!

Sinner Child of God knew exactly what to do and exactly where to go before he headed home. The bible store …

Posted in confess, encouragement, forgiveness, sanctification, sins

Oliver Cromwell, "Warts and all"

BBC History describes Oliver Cromwell as:

an English soldier and statesman who helped make England a republic and then ruled as lord protector from 1653 to 1658. After overthrowing Charles I and then successfully defending the republic from his son Charles II, Lord Protector Cromwell reorganised the national church, established Puritanism, readmitted Jews into Britain and presided over a certain degree of religious tolerance. Abroad, he ended the war with Portugal (1653) and Holland (1654) and allied with France against Spain, defeating the Spanish at the Battle of the Dunes (1658). Cromwell died on 3 September 1658 in London.

Such an august person would naturally sit for a portrait, and in the Puritan days, Flemish painter Peter Lely was the go-to court painter. Wikipedia says,

Lely was of Dutch origin, whose career was nearly all spent in England, where he became the dominant portrait painter to the court. … His talent ensured that his career was not interrupted by Charles’s execution, and he served Oliver Cromwell, whom he painted …

In the days before photography and social media, controlling one’s personal image was easy to do, and common. Leaders commanded idealized portraits, paintings, or statues, as opposed to realistic depictions. As this blogger opined about idealized portraiture,

It goes back as long as portraiture itself, of course; early classical portraits of emperors and such tended to cycle through emphasis on either a rugged, realistic appearance (as would befit a warrior and statesman) or an angelic, unblemished appearance (as would befit a god). In the same way, later emperors (such as Constantine) saw value in associating themselves in the public eye with prior, well-regarded emperors.

In modern times, photographic airbrushing was common as well. See the official photograph of Mikhail Gorbachev, last Secretary General of the old Communist Party of the USSR (it was to Gorbachev that President Reagan urged, “Tear down this wall!”)

Where is Mr Gorbachev’s birthmark?

Oliver Cromwell was a not too attractive man whose ruddy complexion and wrinkles was studded with pimples and warts. Cromwell commissioned Peter Lely for the official portrait. Lely sketched Cromwell and then presented the proofs for perusal. There were no warts.

For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:20)

In one of those 100-years-later (mis)quotes, Horace Walpole allegedly captured Cromwell’s reaction,

“Mr Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me; otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.”—Anecdotes of Painting in England (1763) by Horace Walpole>

It seems that the quote is likely somewhat accurate, since the final portrait did indeed to have been controversially painted in realistic and not idealistic fashion. Whatever Cromwell actually said, it is generally accepted that this incident is where the phrase, “warts and all” comes from.

I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:10)

We’re all vain to some degree. We all want to put forward ‘our best face’ as it were. Just think of Facebook. We all put out our best sayings and our most cordial attitudes but our warts still show.

He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You’ (John 21:17). Peter did not conclude from Jesus’ knowledge of his heart that he knew all things; rather he concluded from the omniscience of Jesus that he knew his heart.
See, that’s the thing. There is no point in hiding our warts. Cromwell’s were on the outside but ours are on the inside. It makes no difference to Jesus, He sees all of them. Nothing is hidden from Christ. He knows all our sins, all our flaws, all our foibles, all our proclivities. Our Father loves His children anyway. That is really the miracle. Our Holy Savior loves His sinful children.

There is no point in hiding from Him. There is no point to airbrushing away our flaws. We really are like little children when we fail to go to the throne and confess our sins. It’s like we’re toddlers who scurry to the bed and pull the covers up to hide from mom, thinking if we can’t see mom, then mom can’t see us.

Source, CC

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)

Since He sees us as we are, and He has already forgiven us, it glorifies Him to approach Him and confess our sins. This is our part in participating in our sanctification, where He is conforming us to His likeness.

Live humbly before Jesus, with no pride or vanity. Live before Him warts and all. I believe we will find in the end, that the more we do this, the more beautiful our face will become, because it will be like His.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading:

John Piper: Nothing is Hidden from Christ

GraceGems, Arthur Pink: “Nothing Is Hidden

Posted in forgiveness, gay, homosexuality, lesbian, sin

It’s 2012 and homosexuality is still a sin

Culture and Godliness are anathema. We do not belong to the world. “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. (John 15:19). What God wants for His people and what the World wants for its people are distinct opposites. Just remember the scene from the Garden in Genesis 2 between the serpent, Eve, and Adam. So as we approach the end, we are reminded of Jesus’ words about the state of the culture at the time He calls an end to sin and He intervenes personally and visibly. These are known as the Days of Noah and the Days of Lot:

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” Luke 17:26

The Days of Noah were described in Genesis 6:5: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.”

Jesus also went on in Luke to say that despite the wickedness people would still be doing normal things and thinking these were normal times, just as those in Sodom did when Lot was called out if the city by the angel. “People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.” Luke 17:27-28.

As for Days of Lot, you remember that Lot hailed from Sodom, a most wicked city. That city was destroyed because of its sins, homosexuality being chief. Homosexuality is a judgment upon a progressively disobedient culture. (Romans 1:18-26 describes the effects of unbelief and its consequences)

Matthew 10:15 reminds us that the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah are still to come. ” tell you the truth, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” The cities themselves have been erased from earthly physicality but their sins have not been dealt with. They will be. And this is a reminder that they serve as an example to any nation who promotes, tolerates, accepts homosexuality (and any sin) to the degree that those two cities did. (Jude 1:7- “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”). In other words, Sodom is gone but not forgotten by God. And Sodom is gone but should not be forgotten by us.

Please keep those verses in mind as you read the following news excerpts from this week…

Why gay people make the best parents
“But research on families headed by gays and lesbians doesn’t back up these dire assertions. In fact, in some ways, gay parents may bring talents to the table that straight parents don’t. Gay parents “tend to be more motivated, more committed than heterosexual parents on average, because they chose to be parents,” said Abbie Goldberg, a psychologist at Clark University in Massachusetts who researches gay and lesbian parenting. Gays and lesbians rarely become parents by accident, compared with an almost 50 percent accidental pregnancy rate among heterosexuals, Goldberg said. “That translates to greater commitment on average and more involvement.” And while research indicates that kids of gay parents show few differences in achievement, mental health, social functioning and other measures, these kids may have the advantage of open-mindedness, tolerance and role models for equitable relationships, according to some research. Not only that, but gays and lesbians are likely to provide homes for difficult-to-place children in the foster system, studies show.”

Indiana unveils its first license plate for gay youths
“Indiana’s first specialty license plate that benefits gay causes is now available for purchase. Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokesman Graig Lubsen said the Indiana Youth Group plate has been available since Dec. 28. The plate bears a logo with hands in rainbow colors reaching up. Some $25 from sales of each $40 plate goes to the group serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. The Indianapolis-based organization operates an activity center, helps develop Gay Straight Alliances in high schools and assists communities in forming youth services. The group serves about 1,400 youths and young adults ages 12 to 21, The Indianapolis Star reports in a Wednesday story. She said Indiana is the second state in the nation with a specialty plate benefiting gay youths. Maryland was the first, she said.”

Gay marriage gaining momentum in WA Legislature
“The last time same-sex marriage was debated in the Washington state Legislature, lawmakers voted to ban it. Fourteen years later, the issue is before the Legislature once again after a multiyear effort that has incrementally increased rights to gay and lesbian couples in the state. And this time around, it looks like Washington could very well become the seventh state plus the District of Columbia to legalize same-sex marriage.”

Rumor of the day: Obama to endorse gay marriage in State of the Union Address this week
White House won’t rule it out
“White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Friday he wouldn’t rule “in or out” the possibility of President Obama endorsing same-sex marriage in the upcoming State of the Union address. Carney made the remarks on whether Obama would announce support for marriage equality during the State of the Union address, which is set to take place Tuesday before a joint session of Congress, in response to a question from the Washington Blade.”

I’ve said before that governmental promotion of homosexuality will bring judgment upon the nation.

Whenever the Bible mentions marriage, it is between a male and a female. The first mention of marriage is in Genesis 2:22-24 shows the God-ordained model for marriage:

“The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

In passages that contain instructions regarding marriage, such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-16 and Ephesians 5:23-33, the Bible clearly identifies marriage as being between a man and a woman. Biblically speaking, marriage is the lifetime union of a man and a woman, primarily for the purpose of building a family and providing a stable environment for that family. (more here).

That we are seeing such acceptance of homosexuality, transgenderism, lesbianism, and perverted lifestyles, is not just a symptom of the state of our culture, it is a judgment.

God in His mercy will forgive any penitent person when they appeal to God. If you are in a lifestyle that you know deep down is harming you, failing to bring fulfillment, and you want out, then throw yourself on the mercy of Jesus, who forgave your sins at the cross. He will forgive, then He will send the Spirit to help you resist the devil, and the devil will flee from you. (James 4:7).

If you are in one of these lifestyles and you do NOT feel it is harming you, if you think it IS bringing you fulfillment, then I submit that you are in deep danger of missing out on the universe’s greatest blessing, the blessing that comes after repentance and forgiveness by Jesus, His bringing you into the very family of God. Stop now and pray to Him before your heart becomes even more hardened to the soft influence of conscience, which is the Spirit telling you Jesus is near. Because once He gives you over to your desires, that’s it. (Romans 1:24)

If you are in a family where you are devastated to have a beloved family member involved in one of these lifestyles, then keep praying, pray! Jesus is bigger than any sin, and He hears the prayers of the righteous.
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Posted in end of days. prophecy, end time, famine, forgiveness, love, revelation

Looking at the coming famine

Earlier today I wrote about a terrible drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. It is truly saddening to see these things happening because although I glory in His promises coming true it also means suffering and death for many. And death for the unsaved means an eternity away from God, in hell. In that essay I quoted a news article that said, “The striking images of the landscape seem to represent a deceptively simple assessment of the drought: the dirty work of Mother Nature.”

It is the LORD who sends the rain in preparation for the crops. (Psalms 147:8). It is the LORD who sends it to the obedient. (Leviticus 26:4). He appoints seasons in His own authority. (Acts 1:7). “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17) He sends the crops, the seasons and the weather for our benefit, to His glory. He can, and will reverse the process when we fail to thank Him and refuse to acknowledge His authority. That is the spiritual fact.

On a practical level, famine is both biological and social. It occurs to a person individually while it is happening to all others around the sufferer. And unlike pestilence, where sick people are quarantined, privately sequestered, or are too insentient to socially connect, famine leaves the individual able to share in it with others.

“When starvation becomes a mass experience, the phenomenon is no longer purely biological.” (Dirks).

Famine is sneaky because the population has no clue that this crop failure will lead to a continual shortage, or that this lack of monsoon rains will lead to a permanent drying-out. It is only after successive storms or failures or absence of expected weather that it become apparent that food will not be coming. By then malnourishment or early stages of starvation may have already set in.

The biological consequences of famine begin with scarcity, move to malnourishment, elevate to starvation and finish with famine. Starvation happens when the energy demands of the biological unit exceed supply. Technically, starvation begins 4-6 hours after the last meal, when the body has broken down all that will be or is able to be used, and no new food is forthcoming. However since a person living in a healthy culture will then consume more within a reasonable time period after the last meal, the negative effects are not really felt. After a day or so, though, dehydration, hypoglycemia, and ketosis begin. After 24 hours, there are impacts to the tissues as loss outpaces fat. As starvation continues, exhaustion sets in and there is decreased tolerance for work. People move more slowly and adopt an energy saving posture. “In mobilizing its reserves, the body progressively selects fat over muscle as fuel, allowing life to be sustained for one to three months in acute starvation.” (Dirks). Things go rapidly downhill from there, with all sorts of nasty things happen to the individual’s biology. And that’s just starvation, not famine. But you can see, it happens quickly. Though drought and famine take a long time to set up, when it hits, the body, mind, and soul shrivel pretty quickly.

In the earlier essay about the African famine, I wrote that in the first few sentences mother nature was blamed, and in addition, war also precipitates famine. In this UK Independent article, they said, “The problem is that droughts which once came every decade now come every couple of years. A recent study suggests that dry conditions in East Africa are set to continue because of climate change. The cold weather phase known as La Niña, the counterpart to the warming El Niño, is likely to dominate now. That will make the region’s rain fall over the sea, bringing drought. Yet if climate change is unreservedly the fault of the rich world, Africans must take the blame for the other major contributory factor – armed conflict. Somalia is riven with civil strife, from warlords to Kalashnikov-toting cattle-raiders.”

War does have a devastating connection with famine. In Revelation 6, first there is war, then there is scarcity, then there is death. Those are Seal Judgments two, three, and four. In history, famine has almost always followed war. As the Red Cross says in discussing humanitarian aid, “the fact must be faced that food aid alone will never eliminate famines nor the suffering they cause. It still falls short of meeting the victims’ needs and appears essentially inadequate to solve their problems.” That’s because there are complex reasons for it that also include war, conflict, and strife.

The Red Cross again, “It might at first sight seem difficult to prevent certain conflict situations from resulting in disastrous famines. However, a closer scrutiny of war/famine situations shows that in most cases famine is linked to disrupted access to sources of food that are usually available, rather than to their absence.” This would seem to be borne out because the Tribulation’s wars spark famines but access to good food and to transport of that food is available and continues throughout the 7 years. It is only at the end, Revelation 18, when it all comes down.

Famine is destructive to those societies where malnourishment is always present, and soon after initial starvation sets in, financial ruin and disease take over. For some societies, they may at first adapt to conditions that in many cases don’t affect them. There is such a thing as “class famine.” We see in Revelation 6:6 that millions starve, unable to afford more than a loaf of bread even though they worked all day, while in Rev 18:13 we see that all the while, a hefty trade in food luxuries had been ongoing. (“and cinnamon and incense, fragrant oil and frankincense, wine and oil, fine flour and wheat, cattle and sheep…”) There are the very rich and the very poor, and you can bet the very rich will not be affected by famine. The Tribulation’s predicted scarcities will be characterized by class famine.

When famine conditions deepen, the ‘Law of Diversification and Polarization’ comes into play. As Dirks quoted Sorokin, “simply put, this means that catastrophe brings out the best and the worst in people. It exaggerates what is already there.” Sociological studies show that at first, people share when disaster strikes. As the disaster continues, and/or as supplies run short, sharing ceases. Starvation’s biological effects are that people become exhausted and irritable. Volatile situations erupt. Populations tend to migrate, looking for better conditions. The 1901 Indian Famine Commission called it “unusual wandering.” When adding to that the prophecy that love grows cold (Matthew 24:12), people are unthankful, (2 Timothy 3:2-4) and their thoughts are only evil continuously, (Matthew 24:37, Genesis 6:5) then you can see that violence will soon become the norm just at the time when people are physiologically least able to handle it.

So let me sum up the ivory tower talk: famine will occur, followed by the worst brought out in people who are marauding hither and yon, looking for anything they can steal so they can stay alive. Violence breaks out and a true Darwinian human ‘survivial of the fittest’ is played out in front of atheists everywhere, with the starving exhausted falling where they lay in irritable convulsions, dying bye degrees while no neighbor cares.

Oh, but Jesus cares. His famines may be one of His sore judgments, yes, but it is to alert rebellious people that He is still in control and He is still holy. His control includes an eternal and infinite love for all His children. He wants you to turn from your carnal thoughts and lifting up of Mother Nature and replace those with perfect thoughts and spiritual infinity in His love. As long as you have not rejected him and slammed the door shut, you can enter the door to heaven by repenting of sins. He is the door and he stands ready to allow all who would believe to enter. (John 10:9)

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7) What is beyond that door? Certainly not war or famine or exhaustion or violence. See what is there:

“Then he said to me: “This water flows toward the eastern region, goes down into the valley, and enters the sea. When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. It shall be that fishermen will stand by it from En Gedi to En Eglaim; they will be places for spreading their nets. Their fish will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many. But its swamps and marshes will not be healed; they will be given over to salt. Along the bank of the river, on this side and that, will grow all kinds of trees used for food; their leaves will not wither, and their fruit will not fail. They will bear fruit every month, because their water flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for medicine.” (Ez 47:8-12, millennium kingdom)

“All the way around shall be eighteen thousand cubits; and the name of the city from that day shall be: THE LORD IS THERE.”” (Ez 48:35)

Waters flow and heal, fruit grows and restores. The LORD is there. Any person can partake of this scene. Any person can walk on the grass and sit under trees beside restorative waters. The Gospel is exclusive: Jesus is the only way. The Gospel is inclusive: any person can accept Jesus as their savior and forgiver of sins. I hope you make the choice to enter in to His rest, escaping all the Tribulation things and choosing to partake of the Eternal things. All it takes is a prayer to Jesus that you know and understand you’re a sinner, unworthy to enter His realm, and ask Him to forgive those sins. Since He is sinless and died as the sacrifice for your sins, your debt is paid. But you have to ask. Do it soon, my beloved friend. Soon.
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Posted in forgiveness, resign, sexting, sin, weiner

Weiner to resign, but go easy on the chortles

NY Congressman Anthony Weiner is resigning today. I am glad for this.

Weiner has spent the last three weeks battling for his job, which is representing the people of his constituency. It might be said that he definitely failed the moral standard of proper representation. On May 27th, he posted a prurient photo of himself on his Twitter timeline, apparently making the mistake of publishing it to all 47,000 of his followers instead of to the young woman to whom it was intended privately. Oops.

Weiner’s first response was that his account had been hacked. Then attempts were made to shift the blame to “conservative bloggers.” Two days later, when reporters were pressing Weiner on the point, he refused to answer, even calling one reporter a ‘jackass.’ On June 1, Weiner went on national television and said that the photo was not of him. The boom was lowered on June 6th when Breitbart published more photos of Weiner sent to different women. He finally admitted that he did the deeds being reported. It turns out that he had contacted an underage girl, many times, and police investigated. A photo of his naked genitalia surfaced he’d sent to someone and was published on the web. He had sexted a porn star and then asked her to lie. Other women were coming forward to say that he sexted them also, one from the local area.

He said he had an “addiction.” His colleagues said he needed “help.”

The country was transfixed, giggling like junior high school boys and pointing fingers. An ethics investigation was ordered by the Speaker of the House. Allegations were made amid growing calls for a resignation.

Finally, three weeks after it began, it was over. Weiner quit today. Now he will return to the home that he shares with his pregnant wife, and try to pick up the pieces. All he ever knew was politics. No one knows what fallback plan Weiner has. I dare say, no one cares.

Let’s list the sins: adultery, lying, lewdness, profanity, abuse of power, child endangerment, dereliction of duty. Wow. That’s, that’s…just like a sinner. The default condition of all unsaved people is a sinful heart, mind, and soul. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. “[T]he mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God” (Romans 8:6) and ““But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Corinthians 2:14).”

What are we to expect from one who is dead in his sins? It is struggle enough when we have the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit to avoid sin, as Paul well knew. (Romans 7:14-25). Without the Holy Spirit there is no hope to avoid the ever deepening descent into the pit of sin.

One wonders about the coming tortured silences inside the Weiner home tonight, as his embarrassed wife, pregnant and bulging with their child, considers her options. Without Christ, there will be almost 100% certainty of a divorce, adding another sin to the pile. With Christ, it will be hard enough for that couple…and their child.

We know the famous line in the bible, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7). Even those of us who have the Spirit in us because we repented and were forgiven, are sinners. I don’t like what he did, not one bit. I was disgusted personally and embarrassed nationally. But there is a cure for the sin nature, we can be cleansed and made a new creature in His likeness. Having so recently been on the side of the reprobate mind, at open hostilities with the Lord, I remember well the perplexing and unwanted draw of sin for a season, so sweet at first then so bitter. Yes, Weiner needs help. Yes, he has an addiction. His addiction is to sin and satan, and the help he needs is Jesus. I pray that many will pray for him and not mock him. Let he and his wife be bathed in prayer and let those Gospel seeds take root in them for a magnificent regeneration.

As John Bradford sat in his Tower of London jail cell in 1553, a reformer against the Pope, he looked down at the courtyard and saw a prisoner going to his execution. He famously uttered, “There, but for the grace of God, goeth John Bradford.” That phrase is an idiom now, shortened to “There but for the grace of God, go I.” At one time we Christians were all in chains, all being led to the execution and death of our spirit. But for the Grace of God we all go. But it is His grace that saves us. I pray that the grace of God shines on Anthony Weiner, a flawed, sinning, reprobate person in need of Jesus’ intervention as much as we all do, and did. So go easy on the chortles, and pray for the man instead.






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Posted in cross, end of days, forgiveness, prophecy, sins

Jesus did not die for you

I am working on a couple of other blog entries, plus the weekly newsletter, but this comes to mind now and I felt compelled to write it. I hear all the time, “Aww, Jesus died for me. He died for my sins. Just for me.” Actually, He didn’t.

Jesus died because God required a punishment for sin, and that punishment was a spotless sacrifice. Jesus obeyed God to become that sacrifice. He chose to become God incarnate and He chose to die. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” (John 10:18) and also John 6:37-40: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all … “. In this way, Jesus died for GOD. We are beneficiaries of His obedience.

I don’t know why God has it set up that a blood sacrifice is required to satisfy a sin-debt. We get a glimpse in Genesis and Leviticus, “But you shall not eat flesh with its life – its blood”. (Gen 9:4) “For the life of the flesh is in the blood…for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev 17:11)

Jesus kind of did die for us. I was being provocative above 😉 If Adam and Eve had not fallen from grace then Jesus never would have had to incarnate to die on the cross, shedding His blood for OUR sin. But first and foremost Jesus died to satisfy His father, in the universe’s ultimate act of obedience and love. It is why Jesus deserves all the glory and all the praise.

I find it helpful to keep this perspective, because it keeps the spotlight off me, my sins, and my decision to accept the benefit of His work on the cross. I am sinner, yes. But it was His choice to do this for us that I praise and I am eternally grateful for. It keeps the spotlight on Him. Which is as it should be!
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