Challenge

Tonight, I challenged the Jr. High kids.  I also challenged my daughters.  The challenge to my girls was a more difficult challenge then to the Jr. High kids at AWANA.

For the TREK (Jr. High) kids, I challenged them over the next two weeks to take one person that they don’t get along with, dislike, etc., to smile and say hello to them.  They don’t have to engage in a conversation, just say hello with a smile.  And yes, they were to mean it.

For my girls?  When someone is mean to them, to say thank you and walk away.  If it is their sister that is getting to them, say thank you and give them a huge hug saying that they loved the person.

Why did I offer up this challenge?  Because the Bible tells us to love all.  We are to have brotherly love for all, no matter what our differences.  This is not an easy task.  Specially when you feel that you’ve been wronged.  It is difficult when another person has done wrong and it impacts you.  It is even more difficult when that person doesn’t realize they have done wrong.  So, what do you do?  How could I possibly propose that you ‘love’ that person that was so horrible to you?  Because that is what Jesus instructed us to do.  To paraphrase, Jesus stated that if you hate a person, you have already committed murder in your heart.  So, we need to get past that hatred and love.  This is not an easy task.  I know first hand.  I went for years hating a particular person for what they did to me.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that I was wasting my energy and putting myself in a bad position with that hate.  It was so much easier to be complacent about the situation.  I no longer hate the person.  I also don’t have a need to shower this person with love.  And honestly, should I come across this person, I would fear my safety.  But I would do my best to be civil with this person.  So, yes, I know it’s a difficult thing, and one that I struggle with as well.  But I will continue to do my best.

 

Will you?

Beatitudes

These come up often for me.  For good reason at that.  A couple years ago, our pastor did a series on the Sermon on the Mount, which contains the Beatitudes.  They are now stenciled on the walls of the sanctuary of the church.  The girls, last year I believe, were taught them in Chapel.  This month, their memory verses are The Sermon on the Mount.  And today, ok, yesterday since I’m a day behind in my daily readings, is, what else, but the Sermon on the mount.

I’m not going to analyze it tonight.  I’m too tired.  And work has fried my brain too much today to properly discuss it.  But I do want to put it out here, for the purposes of remembering it.

Matthew 5

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,2 and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

 

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Salt and Light

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Honestly, if you read through it, truly read it and appreciate the beauty of the metaphors and poetry, it’s a masterpiece.  And says so much about what a true Christian should be.

God bless!!

Hatred

Yesterday, I discussed love and how we are to love one another.  Even if we don’t agree with the person, we are to still love them.  Today, I’m going to the opposite side of it, hatred.  Believe it or not, that’s what follows the instruction to Love one another.

John 15:18-25

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

These are still the words of Jesus himself.  He’s reminding us to remember that the world hated him before they hated us.

19 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. That is why the world hates you.

If we belonged to the world, and followed the world’s beliefs, the world would love us.  However, we, as Christians, don’t belong to the world.  Jesus, God, chose us, and removed us from the world, and therefore, the world hates us.

20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

I do feel it’s important to remember that a servant is no greater, better, than his master.  Those people that persecuted Jesus, will also persecute his followers.  If they obey Jesus’ teachings, they will also obey other Christian’s teachings.  Be wary of the teachings you follow though.  Search it out, make sure it’s accurate to the bible.  Not all are and actually leads to false teachings, and well, just not good.

21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.

Christians will be treated harshly because of Jesus, for those that treat us harshly do not know God, and in my experience, most do not care to know him.  They don’t want to have to give up their sin.

22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.

Here’s the kicker though – they KNOW that they are guilty of the sin, they don’t care.  But they have no excuse for it in God’s eyes.  They’ve been told, they are aware.

23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well.

This one is fairly obvious: they hate Jesus, so they hate God.

24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father.

If Jesus had not come to us, and lived among us, teaching us, then those people would not be guilty of sin.  Instead, he did come to us, he lived among us, taught us the way, was persecuted, killed, buried, and then defeated death and rose again, walked the earth again for 40 days and it was witnessed by 500 people, and then ascended to heaven.  Yet, people will not believe, and still persecute him, thereby hating Jesus, and God.

25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.

This, however, fulfills the Law, the prophecy.  Those that persecute Jesus, hate him without reason.  You see, what the final ‘judgement’ on Jesus was, to crucify him, was that he committed blasphemy.  A trumped up charge as he never actually committed that act.  And for false blasphemy, he was nailed to a cross to die.

It’s amazing what a friend will do for you, isn’t it? Due to their hatred, he was killed.  He was killed for our sins, as he was the sacrifice that God offered to us.  We really should respect that and live as we’ve been commanded.  We should be right with God, and not ourselves.

Love and Joy

People believe that perfecting love and joy is easy.  After all, you love someone, right?  And you have things or people in your life that bring you joy, right?  Don’t forget, there is also the matter of accepting the love and joy from elsewhere.

John 15:9-17:

   9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

These are Jesus’ words.  He is saying that as the Father, God, has loved him, he has loved others.  I believe specifically here he is talking about the disciples.   Because of this, we are to continue in His love.

   10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

If we keep His commandments, we’ll abide in His love.  Jesus did this himself, so he’s not asking us to do anything that he hasn’t already done.

   11These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Jesus was full of joy.  All the works he did were in joy and love for others, not for recognition.  So, he tells us these things that HIS joy will be with us and that we will be filled with joy ourselves.

   12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

So, what is His first commandment?  To love one another, as He has loved us.  Remember that Jesus didn’t hang on the cross for just the believers, he hung on the cross for EVERYONE.  Yes, even the criminals and not so nice people (which is generally speaking the rest of us.)

   13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

This verse happens to be my oldest daughter’s favorite verse.  And think about it, would you lay down your life for your friends?  How much love does that take?  Quite a bit.  And Jesus laid down his life for the entire world, willingly.  What a remarkable statement about his character.

   14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

We are his friends, IF we do what he has commanded.  By following his commands, we are who he died for.

   15Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

I found this verse interesting.  We are to have a servants heart. Yet, Jesus won’t call us servants, but friends.  Why?  Because a servant doesn’t know what their master (boss) does, but Jesus has made it known the what God has instructed.

   16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

We don’t choose Him, he chooses us.  He’s ordained us to go out and bear fruit, bring people to Christ.  I have one caveat to that.  I refuse to force someone to Christ.  I make it known my beliefs.  I don’t hide them.  I present the truth, and when someone is moved by the spirit, they will come to Christ.  But I will not lecture someone about it and push them when they are not ready.  A person will let you know when they are ready.  But it is not up to me to convert someone, that’s God’s job.  The end of the verse reminds us that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name, we will be given.  Bear in mind that if what we ask is against God’s plan, it just won’t happen. 😀

   17These things I command you, that ye love one another.

And the most important thing to remember of it all?  Not just that this is what he has commanded of us, but that WE LOVE ONE ANOTHER.  That doesn’t mean just a few people, that means everyone.  That, is the part that is not so easy.  I know I struggle with it on a regular basis, though it is easier and easier to do as I let the spirit work within me.

I challenge you, to look at things a little differently.  You don’t have to agree with the person’s views, politics, or way of life.  You can still love them.  Trust me, it is possible.  Oh, and this would be what most people would refer to as tolerance.

The power of prayer

Most know that my husband has had one migraine for 7 months now.  Please note that that is not migraines, as in it comes and goes; one constant migraine for 7 months.  His good days, the pain is about a 6-7.  Most days, it’s an 8 or more.  He’s been to doctors, specialist, etc. Nothing has helped.  Because it’s been keeping him for church, he started going to the Men’s Bible Study at our church that meets very early in the morning, once a week.  It has helped his spirit, but obviously, not his migraine.  A few weeks ago, he started meeting with our pastor after the study and the breakfast that the men go to afterwards, to discuss the spiritual warfare he is under.  Last week, during one of these meetings, pastor asked my husband to come to church today to have the congregation pray over him.

Growing up, this was not something I was used to participating in.  But this is my new church and after attending this morning, I understood more of why pastor wanted to do this.  Pastor started out this morning, explaining that as a church, we have been praying for him individually.  He firmly believes that as a church, we need to be praying as the body of Christ, as a whole.  This isn’t about anyone there healing my husband, it’s about God healing him and the body of Christ asking for him to do so.  This is the same idea from the NT where the apostles healed in Jesus’ name.  I do believe that this will work.  Maybe not the first time, but by faith, I do believe that it will.

While our church family was coming up to us and praying over us, yes, on occasion, both of us were being prayed over, I couldn’t help the  emotion that was flowing out of me.  I was a blubbering mess.  I haven’t cried so much in a long time.  It was not a bad cry.  All these wonderful people were showing such love and care for us.  It was so touching.  I’m tearing up just thinking about it.   It was a very interesting experience, to say the least.

I am very thankful to all that were there, and especially thankful to those that felt the Lord speak to them to come lay hands on my husband and me, and extremely thankful to all that fought the snow today to do this, and didn’t even know it was going to happen.  I love all of you and you will always hold a special place in my heart.

Declaration

I’m going to focus again.  And I mean really focus on my intent to focus more on God.  To do this, I’m going to go ahead and read through a Psalm, well, part of one.  Psalm 19 to be exact.

Psalm 19

   1The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

   2Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

   3There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

   4Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

The heavens, meaning the sky, universe, declare the glory of God.  Really, if you just look up into the sky, specifically at night, how can you not just love the beauty that is there.  I watched a video once of Louis Giglio ‘playing’ the songs of the skies.  You can watch it here. It’s really a fun video, though a little long at 14 minutes.  Now, along the lines of the skies declaring the glory and appreciate the beauty that is out there…. the next part of the verse says that the firmament.  Let’s stop there, the word firmament is not used often, so, I’ll provide the definition:

fir·ma·ment

http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [fur-muh-muhnt]  Show IPA

noun

the vault of heaven; sky.
So, the firmament sheweth, or shows his handywork.  Who’s?  God’s of course.  Looking at the heavens, the sky, you can’t help but see and appreciate His work.
 2Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
Day unto day, meaning day after day, they uttereth, or expresses audibly, and night after night, shows knowledge.  So really, look at it, truly look at what He’s created.  It’s all around you.  Just look and you’ll see it.  How can you not appreciate all that is around you, all the beauty.
3There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
This verse is saying that there is no where that their voice is not heard.  If you think about it, you see a bird flying, and it’s just amazing that this animal is able fly.  This was done by design.  Look at a tree, realize that trees defy gravity and bring the water up from the ground to the tips of its branches.  Amazing, just amazing.
 4Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Their line, and I believe that this refers to lineage.  So, their line as it goes through the generations, through all the earth, meaning EVERYWHERE.  Their words go to the end of the world.  Again, everywhere.  In them, in his creations, he set a tabernacle for the sun.
What does tabernacle mean?

tab·er·nac·le

[tab-er-nak-uhl]  Show IPA noun,verb, -led, -ling.

noun

1. any place or house of worship, especially one designed for a large congregation.
So, in his creation, he has provided a place of worship, for the sun.  The sun is often considered the center of our universe (yes, I understand that there is dispute on that), but if you think about it, the sun is our primary source of light.  For a Christian, Jesus and God are to be the center of our universe, and the bible tells us that he is the light.  I think it’s a great comparison, and really keeps true to the words of life, the bible.  Love it when that happens.

The unpardonable sin

Growing up, I had never heard about this.  Let me correct that, I don’t remember hearing about this.  It may have been taught, but I just don’t remember it.  We discussed this in Sunday School once, recently (in the last year or so), but again, I didn’t really delve into it.  So, tonight, I am going to examine it a little closer.

Matthew 12:30-32

30He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

   31Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

   32And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

The first part of this passage, I’ve heard many times in reference to military and such.  Usually saying “If you aren’t for us, you’re against us” or something similar.  Interesting that it comes from the bible, and many don’t even realize it.  So, what is it saying?  Well, first off, these are Jesus’ words, and he makes it clear that ‘he,’ meaning anyone who is not with Him, being Jesus, is against Him.  He goes on to state that he that does not gather, or to come together around a central point, with/around Him, is scattered, or goes in a different direction, than Him.  This is pretty obvious, specifically if you happen to be a Christian and talking to one that is against Christianity, you find out real quick that they are in a completely different direction than you are.

Verse 31, “Wherefore.”  As my husband would say, watchout for the wherefores and therefores.  So, I wanted to make sure the definition was right…

where·fore

[hwair-fawr, -fohr, wair-]  Show IPA

adverb

1. Archaic . for  what? why?
2. for  that cause or reason:
It is my belief that the second definition is the accurate one.  So, wherefore, or for that reason, He says to us, ALL matter of sin and blasphemy.  What is blasphemy?

blas·phe·my

[blas-fuh-mee]  Show IPA

noun, plural -mies.

1. impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things.
2. Judaism .

     a. an act of cursing or reviling God.
     b. pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton (YHVH) in the original, now forbidden manner instead of using asubstitute pronunciation such as Adonai.
3. Theology . the crime of assuming to oneself the rights or qualities of God.
4.  irreverent behavior toward anything held sacred, priceless,etc.: He uttered blasphemies against life itself.
What is sin?

sin

[sin]  Show IPA noun, verb, sinned, sin·ning.

noun

1. transgression of divine law: the sin of Adam.
2. any act regarded as such a transgression, especially a willful or deliberate violation of some religious or moral principle.
3. any reprehensible or regrettable action, behavior, lapse,etc.; great fault or offense: It’s a sin to waste time.
So, all manner of sin or blasphemy shall/will be forgiven unto men.  Nice to know, isn’t it?  All manner, or method, of sin or blasphemy will be forgiven. BUT, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which is denial, or reviling, of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. There’s no coming back from that.
Verse 32, “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man.” The bible refers to the Son of man as Jesus. This states that whoever speaks a word against Jesus.  So what is next?  “it shall be forgiven him”  So, even speaking against Jesus, shall be forgiven.  Spoken by Jesus himself.  But the important part comes next:
but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
So, whoever speaks against the Holy Ghost/Spirit, will NOT be forgiven, either in this world, or the world to come.  This world being here, on earth, and the world to come refers to heaven.  This, my friends, is the unpardonable sin.
I then checked the next verse:
Matthew 12:33
33Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the bible, specifically Jesus, likes to talk in parable, simile, and metaphor. I see this verse as the tree sprouts from the seed of the spirit, and when you make the tree/us, good, we produce good fruit.  I’m not just talking our own children, but those that we encourage and love around us.  But is we are corrupt, the fruit be produce is corrupt.  And we are known by what we produce.  So, we need to be careful in what we say and do, and insuring that we don’t commit the unpardonable sin is part of that, but only a part.