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Psalm 1:3 - "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Water is used as a symbol of the word of God. The tree is "planted by streams of water." It is healthy and yields fruit because it is near the water and can draw the water by its roots.
IN THE SAME WAY I AM CONNECTED TO THE WORD OF GOD SO IT CAN FLOW CONTINUOUSLY INTO MY LIFE. THEN I WILL BEAR MY FRUIT IN ITS SEASON.
Revelation 2:6 - "But you have this in your favor; You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate."
THE DOCTRINE OF THE NICOLAITANS IS COMPROMISE WITH THE WORLD.
I CONFESS THAT I AM FREE FROM THE WORLD!
I DO NOT WALK IN COMPROMISE! AS A RESULT OF MY FIRM DETERMINATION TO WALK WITH GOD, I HAVE POWER OVER SIN, POWER OVER SATAN, AND POWER WHEN I PRAY.
I AM CONFIDENT THAT HIS PRESENCE IN MY LIFE IS GETTING STRONGER TOO!
Song of Solomon 2:8 - "The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills."
YOU HEAR AND RECOGNIZE HIS VOICE AT ONCE. THE BRIDEGROOM (JESUS) BOTH EMBRACES YOU AND DWELLS WITHIN YOU. HE DOES NOT MERELY WALK UPON THE HILLS (WHICH ARE THE MORE EXTERNAL PARTS OF YOUR SOUL), BUT UPON THE MOUNTAINS (THE DEEPEST PART OF YOUR SPIRIT). YOU ARE IN UNION WITH GOD WHICH DEEPLY CHANGES YOU WITHIN.
ALBERT FINCH MINISTRY
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Charles R. Stanley
November 25, 2016
As He Is
Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and
honor and power and might, be to our God forever.
There is absolutely nothing so wonderful as simply abiding in the
presence of holy, almighty God-learning about Him and getting
to know Him better. Of course, if you have no idea who His is, it
will be difficult for you to be still and worship Him. But when you
see Him as He really is, you won't be able to keep quiet about Him.
You'll want to praise Him with everything in you.
So right now, clear your mind of troubles and concerns. Imagine
yourself before His immense and glorious heavenly throne. Think
of His astounding beauty, His unfailing power, His magnificent
wisdom, His overwhelming love.
Not only do you serve the gracious and sovereign King of kings,
but He has invited you to be with Him for eternity and you have
constant access to His mighty throne.
So thank Him. Gratefully recall all the ways He's shown you
His love and provision. Worship Him and sing His praise. Know
Him deeply, friend. And catch a glimpse of the joy of heaven.
Lord, You are worthy, powerful, and magnificent! Help
me know You in the fullness of Your glory! amen
THE ETERNAL PURPOSES
`God.... purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him,...` (Eph. 1: 9 & 10)
The Godhead - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
`Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God...` (Deut. 10: 14)
`God...raised Him (Christ) from the dead & seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come,..` (Eph. 1: 20 & 21)
The 3rd Heaven
Into this angelic realm where Lucifer was king, there will come the only one `worthy` to be the Supreme Ruler.
`a throne was set up......who is worthy..... to receive power, glory, riches, blessing...` (Rev. 4: 2, 5: 2, 12)
The Lord Jesus Christ will be invested with all power and authority over every ruler in every realm. The Body of Christ will share this throne with the Head – Christ.
`To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.` (Rev. 3: 21)
The Universal Heavens
Out of the third heaven into the Universal realm will come the city, the New Jerusalem, with its residents, the just men & women. These are the ones who `looked for a city whose Builder & Maker is God.` They believed for more than just an earthly inheritance. (Heb. 11: 10 & 39, 12: 23)
The Atmospheric Heavens
There will be nations that continue upon the earth into eternity.
`And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour into it.` (Rev. 21: 24)
Israel was promised by God that they would rule over these nations. (Gen. 12: 2, Isa. 66: 22)
All things, all people, all rulership, all under Christ, restored and renewed, throughout eternity in every realm, functioning to His glory. What a wonderful plan & purpose by God the Father, executed through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.
`For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.....that in all things He may have the pre-eminence.` (Col. 1: 16 – 18)
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Since its’ writing, the Scriptures have been amongst the most talked about (and contested) writings that have ever graced the earth. But especially in recent times, more and more have criticized the Bible as being “written only by men” and “being stacked with some books while others were ignored”. While this is not the case, the accusations against Scripture have been astounding in scope and breathtaking in their vitriol.
With that in mind, I thought a short “primer” (for lack of a better term) was in order, to show how these books were recognized and selected:
The Old Testament:
With the OT, when God authorized the writing of a manuscript, the people of God recognized it as being such and preserved it. To draw an example, Moses wrote "all the words of the Lord" (Exodus 24:4), and these writings were laid in the Ark of the Covenant (Deuteronomy 31:26), as were Joshua's (Joshua 24:26), Samuel's (1 Samuel 10:25), Jeremiah's and Daniel (Daniel 9:2). As time went on, the number of books grew and people honored them as the Word of God. Example: Ezra possessed a copy of the law of Moses and and the prophets (Nehemiah 9:14, 26-30). This law was read and considered the Word of God.
Not all Jewish religious writings were considered Scripture though. Some examples are the Book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13), Books of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14) and other books (1 Kings 11:41). Were these books inspired Scripture, the Lord would have insured that they were to be included in the Bible.
The canonicity (authenticity) of these books were not questioned largely by the Jewish scholars; the books were regarded as canonical as soon as they were written, and when properly interpreted are in complete harmony with the other books of the OT. The centuries have demonstrated that keeping these books in the biblical canon was a wise move.
As of 400 BC, the canon of the OT was considered closed by the Jewish with the prophecy of Malachi. We know this because 1) our OT is based on the Hebrew Old Testament canon accepted by the Jews, and 2) it's the same canon that Jesus Christ ratified by His continual references to the OT as the unbreakable Word of God. (note: Jesus never quoted any of the books of the "Apocrypha" such as Maccabees).
Keep in mind: the OT books were selected without the benefit of any "council" such as Nicaea to debate the merits or detractors of any of the books. They leaders who were responsible for the spiritual life of the nation recognized the books and selected them. That said, it was never a "select committee" that did so. And while a council in Jamnia in 90 AD met on the canon of the OT, all it did was to ratify what was already selected.
The New Testament:
The authority given to those who penned the books of the OT on the Lord's command was ascribed to the writers of the New Testament. This authority is not found in human intellect, brilliance or any type of speculation, but is rooted in God's character. Paul cited to the congregation that he was writing per the Lord's command, and could legitimately tell them that he was doing so (1 Corinthians 14:37).
The books of the OT were written around the last half of the First century. With the books, some of them were letters to individuals (such as the letter to Philemon), and others being letters to the local churches. Then there were the books that had been were written to larger audiences (such as Europe and East Asia). Because of this, we need to understand that not all the books were immediately available as copies to all the churches due to travel being as fast as one could walk, ride a horse or sail; communication was also limited as well during this time and depended on travel as opposed to today's technology. So, it took some time before the final number of NT books were ratified and the canon was set.
Selecting and verifying Scripture was important to the early believers, and as long as the Apostles were alive they could verify everything (Luke 1:2, Acts 1:21-22). Had Paul or Luke been fakes or unreliable, they would have quickly been decried by Peter, John, James and those who had been there for Jesus' miracles and heard His teaching during His ministry on Earth. For example, John said:
"What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. " (1 John 2-3 NASB, emphasis mine).
Peter was able to assure us that he had personally seen the Lord at the Transfiguration, his testimony being an eyewitness account (2 Peter 1:16-18) Apostolic authority was a final "court of appeal"; as they were the Lord's representatives on Earth and were commissioned to pass on the truth Jesus had taught them:
"“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you."" (John 14:25-26, NASB, emphasis mine)
The fact that some books were accepted as Scripture is demonstrated in Peter's own words in Scripture: he possessed a collection of Paul's letters and regarded them as Scripture. Peter soundly confirms Paul's authority on writing Scripture:
"Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction." (2 Peter 3:14-16, NASB, emphasis mine)
Other books in the Bible confirm the authority of each other: Paul confirms Luke's writing as Scripture (1 Timothy 5:18 quoting Luke 10:7) and Jude quoted Peter (Jude 1:17-18 quoting 2 Peter 3;3) are examples. By the end of the 1st Century, more than 2/3 of our present NT was deemed inspired, with the remaining books deemed as authoritative even though they had not been fully circulated yet. When a heretic named Marcion in 135 AD decided to "publish" his own version of Scripture that completely omitted the OT and only selected a few books from the NT (Marcion was fiercely anti-Semitic), the Church was forced to respond and declare which books were authoritative. A document called the Muratorian Fragment, dating back to 175 AD, evaluates the various canonical books alongside those that were not deemed canonical. Although the document is mutilated by age, scholars have been able to identify a list of book that contain 23 of the present 27 books of the NT. It also listed some spurious (fake) writings ascribed to Paul that the author noted could not be accepted into the church. These books that were fake were not "banned"; they were brushed aside because they were fakes.
What about the Councils?
There is contention that the canon of the OT was not finalized until 40 years after the Council of Nicaea (convened in 325 AD). While it's true that the full list of 27 NT books first appeared in the Easter letter of Athanasius in 367 AD, the 27 books of the NT (along with 39 books of the OT), had been functioning as the rule of the church for 250 years.
As for the Council of Nicaea, the topic of canon did not even come up at it; Constantine did not decide what canon was. What was discussed at the Council was whether Jesus Christ (The Son) was fully God or not (a man by the name of Arius was spreading the heresy that Jesus was not). This, along with other doctrinal disputes that were tearing apart society, forced Constantine to convene the council. Constantine had no agenda as to what creed or doctrine was selected; he let the delegates decide that.
Arius was given the opportunity to voice his views. But the council decided overwhelmingly that Jesus was fully God and fully man, and that Arius' views on Jesus not being so were heresy (John chapter 1 pretty much blows Arius' views out of the water). The delegates recognized that if Jesus was not fully God, then He could not be the redeemer of Mankind; to say Jesus was created was to violate Scripture in a number of areas (Colossians 1:16, Romans 9:5, Hebrews 1:8, etc.). Once the divinity of Jesus was addressed and confirmed, they then determined that Christ could be fully God only if He had the very same nature as God (This was expressed by Marcellus, a bishop from Asia Minor and representative of Athanasius, who was present but not invited to the proceedings).
That said, what Constantine did do was commission Eusebius to make 50 Bibles on good parchment by trained scribes to be given to the churches of Constantinople for use. But while we presently don't have any copies of these Bibles to see which books were in the NT, scholar F.F. Bruce (Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at the University of Manchester for 27 years), "the answer is not seriously in doubt. The copies contained all the books which Eusebius lists as universally acknowledged...in short, the same twenty-seven books as appear in our copies of the New Testament today". (F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, InterVarsity Press, 1988)
in short: all the early church could do was recognize which books were inspired and which were not. It did not have the power to imbue a non-canonical book with any sort of authority, nor remove authority from a book that was authentic and had authority. They could only determine which books were legitimate; only the Holy Spirit, inspiring the book from the beginning, could make it authoritative. No council could do this either, and the process was not a "selective, deliberate committee with an agenda".
Now, how were these books determined to have inspiration and authority? These were the criteria:
1) Apostolic Writing/ Sanction: The books were either written by an apostle or sanctioned by one. Mark was not an apostle, but his words reflect his association with Peter; meantime, Luke traveled with Paul.
2) Tying in to the Rule of Faith: the book had to be consistent with both the teachings of the Old Testament prophets and the writings of the New Testament Apostles.
3) Acceptance: The book had to have continuous acceptance to remain in the canon. While times may change, the truth does not. Any book can be "true" in it's time, but does that book remain true and in harmony with established Scripture?
On that specific note: the Church is headed by Christ, and made up of fallible humans. And while humans do make mistakes, it is an infallible God who inspired a fallible Church to compile an infallible list of books that comprise our New Testament. And God is not so weak that he cannot ensure that man doesn't have His Word; if God is truly Almighty, He is capable of making sure the books of Scripture correspond to what He wants in there. It then stands to reason that the lord is more than able to ensure that man would receive a Bible that was not “corrupted” or “slanted” towards a particular viewpoint or theology.
So, with that said: when compared to other historical manuscripts of the times, Scripture emerges with flying colors. And with the selection process, there was no “hidden agenda” (despite the prognostications of critics to the contrary). Scripture as we have it today in its major versions can be trusted…
…as can the God who loved us enough to not only give it to us, but who loved us enough to die for us.
I bid you all peace.
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Recently a young man asked me how one knows when one is mature enough for marriage. I responded to him, with some thoughts that went beyond his specific question. I am about to include my reply here. I should add though that some of these principles are for men and women both, and can also be considered in other aspect of life in addition to marriage.
Also, I would like to add, that before getting married, I think it is wise (in terms of human wisdom, not Biblical revelation) for people to consider carefully the idea of being established as individuals before starting life in marriage. Finances, careers, education, and other skill in living, can go a long way to reducing the stresses that marriages can encounter. When considering marriage, good, Christian, pre-marital counseling can be a very good thing.
Try not to start off a marriage with financial problems. Learn about another before learning about them in marriage. Be aware that people often put their best foot forward during courtship, and then become lazy in marriage, revealing their true character. Be careful people, this is a life long commitment,and you do not want to make mistakes here.
In my country (U.S.A.), it has become common practice to engage in a ritual we call dating. Unfortuneatly, dating often interferes with learning about one another. We have a tendency to make dating about being entertained in each other's presense. We go to a movie, or a theme park, or a restaurant, things like that. That can be enjoyable, but it typically prevents us from having meaningful communication about things we need to know about each other.
I think it would be better, to meet with other people, more often than going out on a date. I suggest that being around people who are more experienced in life, especially people who already have long term, sucessful marriages. It is not the most enjoyable way to spend time perhaps, but it is a better way to learn about each other, and focus on important things, than watching the latest Fast and Furious movie. Group Bible studies and prayer meetings, even getting together with others for fellowship, are better ways to get to know each other.
Group situations are better, being together as only a man and a woman, is giving opportunity to temptation. Any time spent kissing, is time spent NOT getting to know one another, and you know, once you start down a path, it is hard to turn around. Stay on the true path, do not get side-tracked.
Anyway, what I wrote in answer to the question of know when one is mature enough for marriage, was this:
That is an excellent question, and I am not sure that I am wise enough to provide a good answer, but I will offer some thoughts.
First, if marriage is something you seek to do, as in something you are persuing as a priotiry in your life, you may have your priotites wrong. Pleasing God, pursuing His will should be your priority.
When I say pursuing His will, I do not mean things, like "where should I live", "where should I work or go to school" or questions like that. One can pursue God's will no matter where one lives or where one works. Paul, as an example, pursued God's will from a Roman jail. Jesus did the will of the Father by dieing on the cross. Paul instructs us to expect troubles and persecution and learn to be content in our circumstances. Jesus tells us to take up our cross daily, and to count persecution as something to be joyful about and count as a blessing.
So, I think that much of what we are called to, as Christians, has to do with our attitude, and our willingness to serve, both God and others. If we pursue worldly pleasures as a priority, it will not be long before we go off track. This can be true even in subtle and harmless, even good things.
There is nothing from with things like good food, or entertainment, a shiney new car, a wonderful home, the latest smart phone, or even a wife and family. However, when any of these things, distracts us from God, or cause us to split our loyalty or to seek them first over the kingdom of God, they we have allowed them to become idols. Take note that niether Jesus nor Paul ever married.
Paul pointed out that there is a danger in being married, in that pleasing our wives, can distract us from our service to the Lord. When you think about it, the world was cursed, because one man, decided to listen you his wife over listening to God.
Paul also tells us that it is good stay single, but if a person lacks self-control then the should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with lust. Of course, it is better to have self control, and I suggest that since self control is part of the nine-fold fruit of the Spirit, that we really have little or no excuse to not have self control. That is part of Christian maturity.
I think one way we know that we are ready for marriage, is when we have come to a place where (instead of looking for the right person) we are concerned with being the right person.
Paul gives husbands the intruction to love our wives, as Jesus loves the church, and died for her. To translate that to human action, husband to wife, we are willing to sacrifice for her, and serve her, and most of all love her.
The problem with modern, western men, is that we have come to think of love as having warm, fuzzy, pleasurable feelings about someone. This is very distorted. Love is about serving others, sacrificing for others, seeking the well being of others.
As much as it appeals to our flesh to live with a woman and enjoy the benefits of marriage, it is more loving to seek her well being, doing what is best for her instead of cooperating with her in fulfilling mutual pleasure.
I believe grounded Christian women, and grounded Christian men, recognize that men have been assigned the role of being the spiritual leader of the couple. That is not something that we hold over our spouse, as some sort of boss or authority, it about being wise, caring, and wanting the best for her, and nurturing her realtionship with God. A functional couple is not spending all of their lives, gazing into each others eyes, it is looking outward (and upward), in the same direction.
I think also, that we not only need to seek being the right person for our spouse, we should seek a spouse that is right for us. They do not need to be perfect, and certainly things like appearance are extremely low on the priotity list. People who are of good character, who both love the Lord first over all, are great candidates for each other. That can take a lot of patience, but to settle for too little, will lead to the people in a relationship, dragging each other down when they should be pulling in the same direction.
A couple like that can accomplish a lot for the kingdom of God, and will have a very fulfilling relationship if they can manage to maintain that focus.
Take some time to familiarize yourself with 1 Cor, chapter 7, and 1 Cor, chapter 13. Meanwhile, I shall pray for you, and suggest that you not be to shy, to ask others to do so as well.
Another blog entry that was lost and is now resurrected.
1 Timothy 4:7 But refuse profane and old-womanish tales, and exercise yourself to godliness.
I saw an inspirational story posted on a Christian forum that talked about a soldier hiding from the enemy in World War II. This soldier took refuge in a cave. He prayed to God and was hidden by a spider web.
This seems like a nice story, but it turns out to be a story from another religion, from their religious texts. That troubled me. To see a mythological event from a false religion find its way into the culture of English speaking Christians. Can a Christian find morality within a false religion? I don’t think one can. All other religions, if they have morals, are a pale shadow of Christ’s way, and those other religions lead to eternal death. Why bother getting moral stories from false religions when we have the perfect and true religion of following Jesus?
As the bible tells us, 1 Timothy 1:4 nor to give heed to fables and endless genealogies (which provide doubts rather than the nurture of God in faith). We should instead keep our eye on the Lord. To do as it says in Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things. Do those things which you have also learned and received and heard and seen in me. And the God of peace shall be with you.
The King is coming,are you ready?
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. 36No one knowsabout that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man.…Matt.24:36
“For now we see through a glass, darkly…”
It is my belief that we gain insights not only from a structured classroom but also from the vast wonderful creation that the Lord places before us. We simply have to ask, “Father, open my eyes that I might see.”
A few years back I happened to look out my kitchen window and there sat a small, scraggly puppy. He was a cute little thing, but, could we take on another dog? We already had two large Rhodesian Ridgebacks. This little guy looked like a small border collie. It’s not all that uncommon for a stray to show up out here in the country, but seldom do we see young puppies. Normally it’s the older guys that have started to chew on furniture or dig holes in the yard. People just don’t consider all the factors involved when becoming dog owners. Cute little puppies grow up to be dogs. Like children, without the correct training and discipline, they can grow up to have serious problems.
- Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Anyway – here was this pup and I had to check him out. Before I even got close to him I could tell that he was in trouble. He was too weak to run from me. I knelt down and slowly reached for him, thinking he would sniff my hand. He didn’t. Instead he laid his head in my hand and closed his eyes. I caressed him for a short while and then fetched him food and water. I doubted that he had the strength to eat. I went back into the house to give him privacy, and when I went outside a short while later, he had disappeared. I searched but couldn’t find him anywhere. I thought he went off somewhere to die.
The next morning he was back by the front porch. I got more food and water and again went back into the house. Again, he disappeared. This pattern continued for a few days until I discovered that he was hiding underneath the bushes that lined the house. The next time I fed him I sat on the porch steps, but didn’t reach out to him when he came out to eat. The days passed and with patience and kindness I slowly gained his trust, me sitting on my porch steps and he watching me with one eye while he ate. He didn’t allow me to handle him until the trust was firmly established. Once he submitted to me, I discovered that he had been severely mistreated. I later thought of how I was before finding my Savior. The world is a hard place in which to live, especially for a non-believer. It can beat us down, strip us of a desire to live –leave us in a condition just like this little broken pup.
- 1Pe 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
I named him Cabo and he lived in the front yard for a few weeks while gaining in strength and health. The two big dogs lived in the backyard, separated from the world by an electric fence that was never “hot.” Eventually, Cabo became healthy and self assured and one day boldly ducked under the wire and braved the back yard. The female Ridgeback immediately claimed the pup as her own.
One day, after being a part of the family for a couple of months, hubby and I took some treats out to the dogs. Pigs ears, I think they’re called, and our dogs loved them. The two big brown dogs would gobble them up in minutes. This particular day we handed them out, first to the Ridgebacks, who were aggressive to have them, and then to the little guy. He smelled it, but wasn’t sure what to do with it. He was more interested in getting a pet than he was a treat. I kept holding it out for him and he finally took it, realizing that it was all for him.
What happened next was a sheer pleasure for me to watch. Cabo wasn’t sure what to do with the treat, so he played with it. And, as he did, his whole demeanor turned to joy. He would toss the treat and then fetch it. He rolled, ran, jumped. He enjoyed this treat to the fullest. It was the funniest thing to watch. I believe, if given the vocal ability, he would have declared this “the best day ever.”
- Ne 8:10 Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Eventually, the big dogs noticed that the pup still hadn’t eaten his treat. I watched them approach Cabo, slowly and deliberately. Their purpose was clear. The little guy, however, didn’t’ even notice them. He was too busy embracing this newfound joy. The big dogs found a spot to lie down, never taking their eyes off the pig ear. After stern words to the Ridgebacks, I went back inside the house but continued to watch from the windows.
For the better part of the day Cabo played with his treat. The big dogs stalked him, drooling as they lusted after the pig ear. Of course, they had their own earlier but consumed it so fast they didn’t even enjoy it. Now they wanted his.
As Christians, do we ever do this? Do we carelessly consume the blessings the Lord gives to each of us, only to envy those of another? How many times do we desire what our brother has, thinking it’s a better treat?
Unfortunately all puppies grow out of that cute, playful stage. Cabo did as well. His back right leg never fully recovered from the injuries he received before finding his way to our house, but that didn’t slow him down any. Utilizing three legs he could still outrun the other dogs. Had he been placed in a pound I doubt he would have been adopted. The world had left its scars on him and would have rejected him because of it. I found great value, however, in this little dog, simply because he loved me. He never went to his food dish before first coming to me for affection. When I went into the back yard he was always the first to greet me and stayed the longest. If I stayed outside all day, he would have been by my side the entire time. He lived to please me.
- Ps 40:7-8 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me. I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Cabo learned discipline well and loved the words of approval afterwards. As he aged he matured into a calmer dog and one that still looked to his master for attention. The more diligently I worked with him, the deeper the understanding became between us and the stronger the bond. He left behind the playful antics of a pup, but if anything, the joy that he had as a puppy only deepened as he learned that to obey meant more time spent with me.
- Joh 15:10-11 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Cabo became a seasoned backyard warrior. He patrolled the perimeters of his half acre yard, knowing that it was but a small portion of a much larger kingdom. He valiantly ran off the evil truck that regularly attempted to steal his masters’ trash. Every week he fiercely fought to make the steel demon set the dumpster back down, and leave in defeat. There was an alfalfa farm north of a tree line through which he could not see, but he was aware that his master worked there often and that made it important. He didn’t understand about the house either, but he knew it was the dwelling place of the master. Even though he couldn’t see it all, or understand most of it, he knew that he belonged there and that he had ownership.
My broken puppy lived a good long life. He crawled up to my porch, looking for a place to die, and ended up inheriting a place to live. Certainly the teaching process didn’t always come easy for either of us, but the sacrifice given from both sides enabled a relationship that was enriched far beyond simply “owning a dog.”
There were times when I felt like Cabo. Broken, lost, nowhere to really belong and call home. But Just like Cabo I found a wealth of joy when I realized that I too was found by my Master. I clearly recall the joy that flooded my heart in my early days with the gifts of mercy and grace that He freely gave. Now, after many years of knowing the greatest gift is Himself, I’ve learned to listen for His voice so I too can walk with Him and have a fullness of joy that is only found in Him and not merely His gifts. Now, like Cabo looking towards the alfalfa field, I too look for the return of my Master, when I will finally see Him face to face.
- 1Cr 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
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Recently, Ive been reading a lot of western novels (I know, me, read westerns) And I got to thinking, you know, there are a lot of different "characters" or types of people, in these novels, that all go together, to make the story real, and then I thought, I wondered what would happen, if I made a comparison of these different types of people, to people in the church today, and if it would be relevant. And keep in mind, many of these types, intermix, and share characteristics, and many people change from one to another. They all have strengths, and weaknesses, and when combined can make for a well oiled church. I am going to start a series, discussing these different types of people, their strengths, their weaknesses, and how they can help others, and how to help them.
The one I'm going to discuss today is "the loner". The loner, is someone who tends to avoid other people, to avoid hurt. In the novels, hes often a hermit, or someone who sticks to himself, often because of some past hurt, loss of a loved one, a fortune, or just burned by to many people. The person is often quiet, stays out of the way and no one thinks twice about them, but usually ends up playing some vital part in the story. Often, this person comes to the realization that they cant hide from all their problems, and there are more important things and people need help, and they come out and save the day.
The modern day loner, like the ones in the books, tend to carry around a lot of pain, and a lot of baggage, and like the ones in the books, their answer to dealing with it, is basically to retreat inside themselves. They may attend church for awhile, but usually, end up forsaking the church. The pain comes from many sources, personal life, loss of a loved one, sometimes mental issues, and often, even from the church, and their answer is to retreat within themselves. If they are in church they are hiding alone in a back pew, or at home listening to a TV preacher. They have a hard time seeing past the pain and the hurt, and they have grown to not see any good in others.
Now, they also, usually have big hearts and can be very caring people, they have often been through tough things, and can relate to others, and really be a great person to have in the church family, just for that very reason, but reaching them can be tough. They need to know that they are not alone, and that they are loved, and encouraged to reach out for help, that even though the church isnt perfect it is there for them. It often takes a lot of patience, and prayer, to reach this kind of person, but once you get them on your side, just like in the novels, they can play a instrumental role in your church, and can literally, move mountains. They often work behind the scenes, helping others that feel alone. Their experience with pain, can be both their greatest weakness-but also their greatest strength.
Each "loner" is different, about the best advice that can be applied all around, is to pray for them, and love on them, and listen to them, and be very encouraging. Beyond that, each ones different, but will take patience, and a lot of love to earn their trust. Once you do, you will not regret it. And if you are a loner reading this, please, remember, that God does love you, and promises to be there for you-if you let him. And please, I realize the church maybe hurtful, but it does need you, and the talents you alone can provide. Its tough, but try to look for the good in people, remember, God loves you!
Here are some comforting verses, that may come as comfort to "the loner" in your life. All verses are taken out of the KJV
6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.
18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.
43 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.
2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
3 For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.
4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.
5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west;
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you
1 Timothy 4:16-17
16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of
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Posted by Omegaman 2.0 on the September 4th, 2007
Why are there so many denominations? Why is the church divided?
I see these questions occasionally in chat. They are good questions. It is a question Christians have, especially new believers trying to choose their first church. It is a question non-believers have too. For them, it is evidence that Christians cannot even agree on what the Bible says. Truthfully, they are right. In the chatroom, we see this frequently. We have debates over doctrines and understandings, thankfully most of it is good natured, though often passionate. It is also stimulating intellectually, it drives people to the pages of scripture to see what the bible does indeed say about things, so, these differences can have a positive effect. Imagine if we all agreed! Would that necessarily guarantee we were correct, or could we all agree on the same misunderstandings?
Jude 17-1917 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
Notice that in the passage above, divisions are not a good thing. Notice though, that Jude says that these people who cause divisions, are mockers who follow their unGodly lusts, and do not have the Spirit. These people, if we were to follow after them, would lead us away from the things of God. If you separate from your brethren to hang instead with your buddies at a bar, that is real division, not to be compared with denominations at all.
1 Cor 11:18-20
18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part, I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, in order that those who are approved may have become evident among you.
In the above passage, Paul speaks of another kind of division. This one is also not a denominational division, he is addressing division among those gathered together at one place. The passage has a negative feel to it, as though Paul is disapproving of it. You see that in his statement “and in part, I believe it”. Then he goes on to say that these factions have to exist! The reason: So you can distinguish between those who are sound in the faith, and those who do not have approval. Again, in this case, division is a good thing, not a bad thing.
So, what is a denomination anyway?
Look at the following definitions from Mirriam-Webster Dictionary:
4. A religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices.
Didn’t see that one coming did you? Notice that a denomination is a uniting factor, not a dividing factor! There is a running joke between on of the other chat administrators and I, about Calvary Chapels. Calvary Chapels are a group of churches, who are self described as non-denominational. In the definitions above, denomination has to do with the name of something. Calvary Chapels have the name Calvary Chapel - obviously. As far as I know, they are united in their beliefs and practices. Do some CCs sprinkle while others dunk? No. Are there any CCs that teach the Jesus will not return for His church until after the great tribulation? I haven’t heard of one. Are their CC’s that do not believe in the perpetuity of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? I don’t think so. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, chances are it is a duck.
So what is going one here? Why would a group of churches, who are united in belief, practice, and name, claim to be non-denominational? I have a theory. I believe that it is about marketing. Denominationalism, has a bad reputation. It smacks of stodgy old ways, inflexibility, to some, it is judgmental, rigid, organized religion. To be non-denominational, is hip. It sounds like you stand apart. It is similar to what we have in the states politically, when you register as a non partisan. It sounds like you are independent - have your own thoughts and views. It makes you different. Of course, in the real world, you are unique, just like everybody else.
We have a church near were I live. It used to be called the First Baptist Church, or something like that (I always wondered where the second Baptist church is, but that is another story). Lately, they took done the familiar name plaque, and put up a very colorful one, now it is called Sonlight Christian Center, or some such thing. Marketing again, I suspect, who wants to hang out with Baptists? Of course, they still are Baptists, but they ‘needed’ a hipper name.
So, am I against denominations? Am I against independent churches? Am I against churches that say they are but are not? I am not against any of those things. Let’s look at another passage:
1 Cor 1:10-1310 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. 12 Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
That is a type of denominationalism that is not good. We do what these people are doing when we start gathering around a personality, like an author of a series of books, a famous preacher, or even the teachings of a great theologian from church history. Paul is pointing out, that there is only one church. All those who have been forgiven their sins through Jesus’ sacrifice, are the one church. It matter not what you call the church, who pastors it, who founded it, where it is, what language they speak, which bible version they prefer, what worship style they employ, or whether they meet in a beautiful building with hardwoods and stained glass, or an old factory, storefront, or even a home. If Christ is preached and they believe the bible, I am united with them, not divided from them. How can there not be denominations? When their are different countries and languages, customs and tastes, there will be denominations. When everybody belongs to one denomination, all agreeing, you can be sure that something evil or something wonderful has happened. If Jesus has returned for us, then it is something wonderful, until that day, their will be divisions based on preferences, understandings, languages customs, and sadly, even skin color.
When you are a mature Christian, you will recognize the oneness of the church and stop focusing on petty differences. Do you give offerings only at your church? If so, why? Are there not other churches that have needs greater than yours? When Paul traveled in the first century, the offering he gathered where for other churches, those who were able, helped those who were needy. That is unity. Giving of your substance to other brothers and sisters, because you recognize that they are family.
I am honored to be a part of Worthychat. Here, we come together from around the world. We are of different denominations, yet here, we are united. Do we squabble? Of course we do, what family doesn’t? Most husbands and wives squabble at times, yet, they remain one flesh, a unity. Differences do not mean you are divided, they just mean there are differences. We are human, God made us as individuals, not clones, celebrate the differences.
1 Cor 12:12-2712 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body, which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our unseemly members come to have more abundant seemliness, 24 whereas our seemly members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 that there should be no division in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.
I would like to end with one final thought (I could go on and on, but I am feeling merciful tonight). People like to gather with others who are like them, the feel comfortable and part of something. Try to be accommodating in that way toward others, make them feel welcomed. But when you go out to look for a church to be part of, you will be tempted to find one, that suits your tastes and your beliefs. I am all for that, but I would like to caution you to keep things in perspective. Sound doctrine is more important that the style of worship or how nice the facilities are. If you try a new church, give it a chance, attend it three times at least, unless in is plainly scripturally unsound. If you have a personal belief about something, and you want to be around others who share that belief, don’t make it the central thing if it is a peripheral issue or not even a scriptural one, find a church that teaches the Bible, as it is, not with massaged meanings to make it fit what you wish it said. It is O.K. to be uncomfortable too, it can stretch and grow you. O.K., so that was two final thoughts, sue me.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy life to read this, now go into the chatroom and join the one body, your brothers and sisters in Christ. Omegaman