The SELF-Designated ‘Tripadvisor’

The SELF-Designated ‘Tripadvisor’

SCRIPTURE PASSAGE:  Jeremiah 10:23-24

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This next week, my wife and I our taking a trip to Lake Chelan, Washington to celebrate our 52nd wedding anniversary.  

We have never visited Lake Chelan, so this year, we decided to take the 4+ hour trip as an exciting romantic adventure.  And as always, when planning vacation trips, I appointed myself as the designated ‘trip advisor.’  

You know, the person who plans the car stops for photos, picnics, coffee breaks, hotels, lunches and dinner venues, etc.  Of course, I always inform my wife of my [our] plans, and mostly she agrees.

In my studying this week of the passage of Scripture, I came upon this joke a couple relating their vacation experiences to a friend:

“It sounds as if you had a great trip in Texas,”  he observed.  “But didn’t you tell me you were planning a trip to Colorado?”

“Well,: the husband said, “we changed our plans because, uh…”  His wife cut in, Oh, tell the truth, Fred!”

Fred was completely silent.  After a long pause, the wife continued,  “You know, it’s just ridiculous!  Fred simply will not ask for directions!”

I think my wife can show empathy with Fred’s wife.

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Proverbs 14:12 puts it another way:  “There is a way which seems right to a man and appears straight before him, BUT at the end of it is the way of death.”

This is so critically important to drink in, in our journey through life.  And at the age of 74, I  can tell you that it is a definite journey!

Mathew 7:13-14 also tells us of the broad way and a narrow way to take on the journey:

[13] “Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it.”

[14] “But the gate is narrow and the way is straightened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it.” 

The BROAD WAY is in yourself–depending on your own efforts to direct your life. The way is considered “broad” because of man’s EGO makes room for it and many walk on this same road.

BUT the Bible tells us that man’s way leads to destruction because we have a disease called SIN.  Notice the middle letter in the word SIN is “I”.

SIN is a mighty opponent because it deceives and distorts our view of direction on the roadway of life.  It makes us think we know where we;re going when we are really LOST!

The Bible gives some great examples of men–Being the Self-designatedTripAdvisors.” while trying to find the way on their own:

Samson found he couldn’t out muscle SIN to find his way.  Solomon found he couldn’t outwit SIN to find his way.  Jonah found he couldn’t out run SIN to find his way.  David found he couldn’t out maneuver SIN to find his way and Saul of Tarsus found he couldn’t out pious SIN to find his way.

But here’s some GOOD NEWS for the Directionally Impaired, who are willing to acknowledge their need for direction concerning the way of life.

The psalmist says:  “He leads the humble in what is right,  and the humble He teaches His way”  (Psalm 25:19).

The prophet Jeremiah knew his condition of directional impairment as he prayerfully understood and acknowledged his need before the LORD and confessed.

JEREMIAH says in VERSE 23:  “O LORD, I know” – the Hebrew word is “yada”.

The same word is used in Jeremiah 1:5:  “Before I formed you in the womb I KNEW [and] approved of you…”  It’s deeper than intellectual knowledge–it’s a personal commitment and intimate experience, a UNION–it’s the same word used in Genesis 4:1: “And Adam knew Eve as his wife…”

JESUS speaks of a similar union in John 15:16 (NIV):  “You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last…”

The focus on FRUIT BEARING seems to me an important emphasis in Scripture.

Notice Jeremiah’s FEAR in VERSE 24:  “O LORD, correct, instruct, and chastise me, but with judgment and in just measure–not in Your anger, lest You diminish me and bring me to nothing.”

The FEAR displayed could be rendered fruitless as I meditated on the verse and thought about the impact on my own journey’s end.  Wouldn’t it be horrifying to come to the end of your life and finding you been on the wrong road–that your life had taken a wrong turn and you’re heading in the wrong direction, from God’s perspective?  Would you have the same look on your face demonstrated in this movie clip:  PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES?

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Jeremiah understood without the LORD in and directing his life, that he could do nothing–that he would be brought to the end of his days with nothing to show from his union–that he would face a DEAD END SIGN and be fruitless.

dead-end-signJESUS also reminded His followers in John 15:5 (AMP):  “I AM the vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.”

GIVE PRAISE TO GOD, that Jeremiah believed this truth and acted in FAITH upon it!

He recognized man’s need and acknowledged and understood a life of OBEDIENCE; to a way which was outside of himself or his life would be brought to nothing!

On a deeper level, SUBMISSIVENESS to God’s will mean I acknowledge I’m Directionally Impaired (a sinner) and I need the Lord’s CORRECTION with on-going direction in my life to be FRUIT PRODUCING.

The word “Correct” in VERSE 24 MEANS, “to set right, penalize, discipline, admonish, instruct (The New Roget’s Thesaurus In Dictionary Form) — “but with judgment” or “with justice.” — which implies that which is proper, fitting, measure to mold and shape your life to be a fruit producer.

To me it’s significant JEREMIAH, perhaps the most religious person of his day, asks the LORD first…for CORRECTION.

Upon realizing and understanding his condition, Jeremiah’s first request is  “O Lord, correct, instruct, and chastise me,” NOT correct the other person, NOT change the circumstance I’m in right now, BUT “Correct me, O Lord.”  

This is up close and personal.  Are you up close and personal with the Lord today? Or, are you just playing games; just going through the motions or living on past accomplishments?  I asked myself the same questions several years ago, so I know your answers.

Are you then willing to SUBMIT to the Lord’s chastening, discipline, instructions, and admonishment as He determines it to be proper and fitting, or…are you overriding His direction?

Global Positioning System (GPS) – For a few hundred dollars, you can purchase a device that allows the directionally impaired to cover up or hide their need to be shown the way.  Even when we have a GPS, we often override the directions from that annoying voice because… we think there’s a better way, ignoring the “recalculating” cry of the device getting you back on the right path.

So do you have God’s GPS device?  It’s called “Christ in you, the hope of Glory!”

If you do have Christ in you, are you submissive to His directions–His will?  Are you experiencing CONFIDENCE in the present and do you have PEACE for the future?

If not, the Lord says to you,  “Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do extinguish and recognize; have knowledge of and understand)”  [Jeremiah 33:3 AMP].

The wisest thing is to take ALL MATTERS to the LORD and ask Him to direct you.  

The Scripture says it best:

proverb-3

 


CREDITS –

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

Your Association to the Greatest Nation

Your Association to the Greatest Nation

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I was glued to my TV this Summer watching the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. I couldn’t help form  rooting for and cheering on the athletes from the United States while listening to the chants “USA, USA, USA!”

121 medals were handed out to America’s athletes, more than any other country in the world!  The results seemed obvious: “WE ARE THE GREATEST”!

Those four words have been used and recognized by another athlete, whose slogan was “I AM THE the-greatest-coverGREATEST.”

In a recent Newsweek article, it was said that “Muhammad Ali was not only a boxing champion, he was a championship talker.”

The following are some quotations from Ali who died this year, at the age of 74:

  • “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”
  • “It’s just a job.  Grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand.  I beat up people.”
  • “At home I am a nice guy but I don’t want the world to know.  Humble people, I’ve found, don’t get very far.”   [Footnote [i] ]

So are we really the “Greatest” nation, is your country the “Greatest,” or are we like Ali, just talkers?

WHAT’S IN A NATION? – SCRIPTURE READING –  Jeremiah 8:20:

“The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.”  (NIV Bible)

What NATION then, do you consider to be the greatest IN YOUR LIFE today?

You may say USA or Israel or even China.  Whatever your answer, I would say that you’re mistaken.  Why?  Because there are “nations” that have a much greater effect on our everyday lives.

ProcrastiNATION –

Dictionary.com defines the Noun as “the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.”procrastination-doitnow-570x350

This is dangerous ground!  How many victories have been lost…due to dangerous DELAYS.

I think it’s ironic that we wouldn’t think twice missing our own graduation, our wedding, a banquet in our honor, a meeting where we are to get a promotion. BUT so many keep questioning the idea of getting SAVED!

I’m not talking about a temporary thrill, one fleeting moment, or a highlight in life.  I’m talking about a CHANGE in our ETERNAL destination.

We are creatures of habit–whether for good or bad.  Too many times, our HABIT is to keep putting off things until it’s too late–leading to lost opportunities.

LOST OPPORTUNITIES in Scripture –

  • Hebrews 12:15-17 – Esau sought repentance too late!
  • Matthew 25:10 – The Foolish Virgins waited too late to acquire the oil!
  • Matthew 26:40-46 – The Disciples missed the prayer meeting in Gethsemane because of sleepiness and unconcern!
  • John 20:19, 24 – Thomas doubted all the more because he didn’t make it to the meeting to personally see the resurrected Christ.

Then there’s the story of, good ol’e Felix.  Felix is an example of one who procrastinated too long.  

Acts 24:25 (Amplified Bible):

But as he [Paul] continued to argue about uprightness, purity of life (the control of passions), and the judgment to come,  FELIX became alarmed and terrified and said, “Go away for the present; when I have a convenient opportunity, I will send for you.”

As far as we know, Felix never found that place of REPENTANCE, and most likely, resides in the pits of hell to this day because of one lost opportunity.

The next nation to look at, is ImagiNATION –

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I love the way the New American Standard and the King James Version of the Bible reads in 2 Corinthians 10:5: 

[5] “Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

The English Standard Version (ESV) says, “lofty opinions” and the New English Translation (NET). “arrogant obstacles.”  In either caseI think you get the idea.

Our IMAGINATIONS can run wild at times, so much so, that some people lose touch with reality.

Mark 7:21 puts it this way:  For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base and wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery.”

The devil wants you to live in a make believe world where he can control you, causing you to believe things that are not always true.

Schools of higher learning in many nations are the centers for spiritual warfare: theory of evolution, secular humanism, existentialism, false religions that capture young men and women’s thoughts and imagiNATIONS.

And here’s another “nation” to think about: DetermiNATION –

Here is a “nation” we should all want to visit, the stand up and root for kind!

Life can throw us a lot of curve balls and a lot of hardballs.  I played a lot of organized baseball growing up, so I had to use the metaphor.

Sometimes, we just want to throw in the towel and give up when things get tough. We feel that it is too hard and we are too weak to carry on.

So many times over the years I have faced those “tough” times.  Most of my working years were spent in the construction industry.  When things were “booming”, employment was a surety.  When Union Strikes came into play…unemployment usually followed.

I remember the first year of marriage and my wife and I saying to each other,  “You know, I don’t understand why people say the first year of marriage can be so tough financially. We’ve got plenty!” Although at the time, I was working nights at a large grocery chain and didn’t have a clue that a “hardball” was about to hit me between the eyes.  Six months after the wedding ceremony and with a baby on the way, we found ourselves UNEMPLOYED.

In the 60’s, being unemployed meant standing in line to get your unemployment check every week.  I felt ashamed, embarrassed, disheartened, that I was in this situation.  The head of the household responsibility was almost more than I could handle.

But I was DETERMINED!

So many times it just requires hanging in there a little longer or trying just a little harder.  When I found myself without a job…finding employment became my new job!

Matthew 10:22 (MSG):

“…But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end.  It’s not success you are after in such times but survival.  Be survivors!”

Although the verse in Matthew pertains to the persecution for being a Christian, the principle still applies when life situations get tough.

James 1:12 (AMP):

[12] Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who is patient under trial and stands up under temptation, for when he has stood the test and been approved, he will receive [the victor’s] crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.”

Many a WAR has been won due to the ties with this country.  We must be DETERMINED to make HEAVEN our home.

“IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE”   

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MONK (TV Series) was an American comedy-drama detective mystery television series that ran from 2002-2009.  It’s lead character, was an eponymous character by the name of Adrian Monk.  [ footnote [ii] ]

The theme song, “It’s A Jungle Out There,” I and my wife would sing along with every week.  It was written by Randy Newman and the lyrics started out with…

“It’s a jungle out there

Disorder and confusion everywhere

No one seems to care

WELL I DO…”

There are real enemies out there in the “jungle” that want to rob you of your SALVATION, but 90 percent of the battle is in that DETERMINATION!!

In my viewpoint, procrastiNATION, imagiNATION, and determiNATION, these three are the Greatest ‘NATIONS” that exist in our lives today.  Being able to deal with each of them will determine our Spiritual Victory.

 


Footnotes & Credits –

Footnote [i]:  “I am the greatest”: Muhammad Ali in his own words by Reuters on 6/4/16 at 10:31 AM.

Footnote [ii] :  MONK- Wikipedia.

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

You Better Turn Your Radio On!

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I’m old enough to remember the “Good old days,” when the radio at our house was always on.  From listening to radio serials every night at specific times: Tom Mix, Captain Midnight, Gabriel Heatter and the News (my parents’ choice), just to mention a few.  And of course, there was the music.  I grew up listening to my parents love of music: Guy Lombardo on New Year’s Eve, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, the Big Band sounds.

In my teenage years, the radio continued to influence my taste.  Although the styles had changed, my desire to listen had not: Rock & Roll, Folk music, Surfer music, Motown.  Whatever was popular in the music world, I had turned the radio on to listen where ever I was–in the car, at home, or at the beach.

And remembering how the RADIO effected my life growing up, coincidentally, I was watching a documentary on TV recently, regarding air traffic over our country today.  It pointed out in detail, that if there wasn’t an Emergency FREQUENCY (also known as GUARD) available to pilots and air traffic controllers, it would be a disaster waiting to happen.  By turning on the TRANSPONDER to 7700–locator frequency, the device automatically receives the radio signal.

GUARD is a frequency used on the aircraft band that is reserved for EMERGENCY communications for aircraft in distress or an emergency, and in addition used by air traffic control to warn aircraft flying into restricted or prohibited airspace.  The frequency is 121.5 MHz for civilian aircraft  [*See Footnote [i] ].

As Christians, we have access to the emergency frequency that responds to our concerns in PRAYER.  Being not tuned in may lead you into an unplanned nosedive in your circumstance–a crash landing, so to speak.

Turn Your RADIO on!

The prophet Jeremiah shows us that God gives incredible directions when we call upon Him.

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JEREMIAH 33:1-3 (Amplified Bible):

[1]  MOREOVER, THE word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard, saying,

[2]  Thus says the Lord Who made [the earth], the Lord Who formed it to establish it–the Lord is His name:

[3]  Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand).

Jeremiah wrote these words as a prisoner (v. 1).  So much wickedness in the land existed among the people and God said, destruction was on the horizon!

Neither Jeremiah nor the kingdom of Judah could stop the Babylonian army.  Yet God says to call Him, and He will answer and do incredible things.  It was His PROMISE in the middle of their trouble and despair.

The Bible is full with PROMISES of prayer:

Psalm 50:15 – “And call on Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.”

Matthew 21:22 – “And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.”

John 16:24 – “Up to this time you have not asked a [single] thing in My Name [as representing all that I AM]; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy (gladness, delight) may be full and complete.”

So why have so many given up on asking in PRAYING?

“Oh, I haven’t really given up on prayer. I just don’t pray unless someone ask me to pray for them or somebody else.  You know, like at church.”

Just maybe, we need a better understanding on how we can use the emergency FREQUENCY on our radios before we give up on PRAYER.

If you don’t know how to dial in the FREQUENCY, nothing will happen!

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If you don’t push the POWER button on your car radio, nothing will happen!

Jeremiah 33:3 provides us with a KNEEBOARD (pilot’s accessory) synopsis of PRAYER:

Pilot's KNEEBOARD
Pilot’s KNEEBOARD
  • CALL to Him.
  • He will answer
  • He will tell us of things we do not know.

“CALL” to the Lord sounds easy enough.

The Hebrew root word for “CALL” means to call out after you encounter someone.  Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words says,  “Calling” in this sense constitutes a PRAYER prompted by recognize need and directed to One who is able and willing to respond (Psalm 145:18; Isaiah 55:6).”

When using 121.5 MHz on the radio,the pilot is expected to state the nature of the problem.  The pilot will also be asked if he wants to declare an emergency.  The declaration ranges from stating you have a “problem”, not to serious, to “mayday-mayday-mayday”, life threatening.

The Lord wants us to CALL, regardless of how serious the need.

  • When lacking something–CALL on Jehovah-Jireh; the LORD provides (Gen. 22:13).
  • When hurting–CALL on Jehovah-Rapha; the LORD our healer (Exodus 15:26).
  • When in the valley of the shadow of death–CALL on Jehovah-Rohi; the LORD is our Shepherd (Psalm 23:1).
  • When troubled or distressed–CALL on Jehovah-Shalom; the LORD is peace (Judges 6:24).

Did you know, Jesus’ disciples never asked Him to teach them to SING, to PREACH, or how to WITNESS.  Rather, they asked Him:  “Lord, teach us to PRAY” (Luke 11:1).

When we CALL, we must be sincere in our requests–not as hypocrites.  We can’t pray “Hallowed be Thy Name”–then cuss at our neighbor.

Nor can we say piously, “Thy will be done”–then continue to live as we please.

“Give us daily bread”–cannot be followed by hoarding & selfish gain.

“Forgive our sins”–will not work if we then carry grudges to bed at night.

The hypocrite prays “Lead us not into temptation”–but not until the party is over.

Don’t CALL on God’s EMERGENCY frequency on your radio UNLESS…you EXPECT an answer!

Let me give you an ILLUSTRATION:

A tavern owner was being built in a previously dry town (No alcohol here!).  Christians began an all-night prayer vigil, asking God to intervene.  A bolt of lightning suddenly struck the tavern, burning it to the ground.  The owner of the Bar sued the local church for destruction of his establishment.  So, the church lawyered up and claimed they were not responsible.  The judge said, “It appears the tavern owner believes in prayer & Christians do not.”

Praying with EXPECTATION–God does indeed “ANSWER” Prayer.

Could it possibly be, that when we think that God doesn’t answer OUR prayers, we aren’t praying with EXPECTATION?

How often I’ve heard when people pray, “If it be your will. God.”  Do we sometimes need an escape clause when we our praying, especially in group prayer, perhaps covering our EXPECTATION that God probably won’t answer?  At least, with an answer that meets our expectation.

psalm-4-11

Yet, what we ask for is often not as reasonable as we think.

A young school boy was saying his nightly prayer:  “Please make Lynden (where I reside) the capital of Washington State.”

His mother asked,  “Why did you ask for that?”

The boy replied,  “Because that’s what I put down on my test today at school.”

When we ask & then don’t receive, perhaps we’ve asked with the wrong motives.  Proverbs 15:29 (AMP):

“The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the [consistently] righteous (the upright, in right standing with Him).”

There is faulty logic to conclude when the Lord hears our prayers that it means He will answer to OUR EXPECTATIONS!  We don’t make request, petitions, because we are righteous. but because of the Lord’s MERCY!!

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We can be assured that GOD answers EVERY PRAYER in a merciful manner.

ANSWERS can come in 4-Ways:  No, Slow, Grow, Go.

Say your daughter asks you if she can have some CANDY.  You might say “No” because there’s a reason for not giving her the candy.

I have two daughters that contracted Type I, Diabetes when they were quite young. Many times when other children were receiving candy, they would ask my wife and I for just one piece, not knowing the consequences of their requests.

A “Slow” may be the response if you say, just “one piece.”  A “Grow” answer is allowing a piece of candy AFTER she cleans her bedroom.  The “Go” reply means help yourself, you’re READY to eat the candy!

Greedy girl with pile of sweets laying on the table and with troubled expression on the face
Greedy girl with pile of sweets laying on the table and with troubled expression on the face

In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ tells us,  “Ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your JOY (gladness, delight) may be full and complete”  

JOY then, can come when we see God’s hand in the ANSWER; when we realize how breathtaking His ANSWER really is!

And not only will God “ANSWER” us, He will answer us of the things we do not know or can imagine (Jeremiah 33:3).

Philip, a disciple, asked Jesus if 8 months wages (about $40) would feed 5000 folks (Mark 6:37).  The only answer the disciples saw was 3 barley loaves and 2 small fish.  Then Jesus showed them a great and unsearchable thing:  5,000 were fed!

In 1973, a young couple accepted Christ as their Savior a year earlier when they were confronted with a dilemma presented by their pastor’s message one Sunday morning:  “To Tithe or Not to Tithe”.  With three children, a car payment, a mortgage, and barely getting by financially, there was no way they could take 10% out of the budget and give it to the Lord.  “PRAY about it,” they were told.  “How do we do that?” the husband asked.  “Just simply ask the LORD for help in making the decision, then trust Him in His answer.”  Well, the decision was made, or so they thought.  “We just can do this right now.”  But several months later, a “spiritual light bulb” came on.  “We can do this!”  And with their faithfulness and trust, they’ve been BLESSED ever since with “things they did not know or could imagine.”  

That young family was my family, over 43 years ago, and God is still answering our PRAYERS!

The Lord can answer in bigger and better ways than you can pray.  But, you need to turn your radio to the EMERGENCY frequency in times of spiritual failure.

If you need direction and purpose in your life–He will answer you.  After all, Jesus says “I came that they [you] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance to the full, till it overflows”  (John 10:10 AMP).

If you’re feeling more burdens than you can bear–let Him tell you the answer.  Our awesome, omnipotent, loving God will ANSWER Prayers, if you CALL!

 


Credit & Sources –

Footnote [1]:  Wikipedia – Aircraft emergency frequency.

Commentary:  Sermon Notes on Jeremiah 33:3 by Tom Doubt. Baptist/Minister.

Photo Credits:  Photo Pin/Shutterstock; Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); King James Bible (KJV).

“Poor Johnny One-Note”

Singing Church

SINGING has been a part of my make-up since I was a young boy in elementary school choirs, back in the early *#’s (never mind).  I’ve been involved in music, of some sort, ever since: Church Praise Teams, Adult Choirs, Musical Ensembles, a men’s gospel trio, etc.  However today, I find myself SINGING–but in a different way.  Not as an “up-fronter”,  but accepting my role by raising my voice as a congregational singer on Sunday mornings.

But has congregational singing become just a “filler” until the pastor begins his message?  Or is there more to it than that?

“But I can’t sing!”

Most reading this blog probably never heard the song, “Poor Johnny One Note”.  Originally, it was a 1937 show tune from 1937 Rodgers and Hart musical, Babe in Arms.  You can listen to the tune by several different artists on YouTube–everyone from Carol Burnett to Barbra Streisand.  The most notable recordings were by Ella Fitzgerald and Judy Garland.  The lyrics went something like this:

Johnny could only sing one note

And the note he sang was this:

Ah!

Poor Johnny one-note sang out with “gusto”

And just overloaded the place.

A few years ago, I was attending a small church in a nearby community.  Every Sunday morning, during Praise and Worship singing, a young man (I’ll just call him “Johnny”), sang out with “gusto”, and it was but one note–and believe me, it wasn’t “Ah!”  

Now maybe you are reading this and thinking, I can identify with Johnny.  I sing terribly, and you’re not going to get me to sing.”

So, why do we sing at all, especially in a group atmosphere at church?  “What if I can’t carry a tune in a wet paper sack and sing like “Poor Johnny one-note”?”

Did you know that SINGING isn’t an option in the Bible?  It’S A COMMAND!

colossians-3_16

God’s people are more than just invited to SING–we are commanded to sing. And when we SING, we’re doing what God asks.

One of my hobbies, is GARDENING.  Every year, as I prepare the garden beds for planting, the deeper I dig in the soil, the deeper the plant’s roots will grow and flourish.

When we SING, the same efforts apply as you dig deep roots in the Word.

Colossians 3:16 (MSG):

Let the WORD of Christ–the Message–have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God.

The Apostle Paul lays out this encouragement; to let God’s WORD dwell in us richly, and then he tells us to live out that command.

The FIRST of course, is TEACHING. But the SECOND, is SINGING.

SINGING is one of the ways that the Word of God, richly living on the inside of us, can be released.

God’s command for us to sing comes with a PROMISE–we are promised that the Word of Christ will dwell inside of us–which is what we should crave as believers.

C. J. Mahoney calls church singing “Take Home Theology,” because the best songs we sing together end up serving you with a 3 minute, easily memorable, deeply biblical summary of important truths found in Scripture.  At least they should be!

Here’s what I’m getting at in example:

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There, in a memorable form, you’ve got a thorough theology of the Cross of Jesus with clear and practical applications that you can use for your life this week.

And when we SING, we build up others around us.

Ephesians 5:19 (NIV):

[19]  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…

In obedience to SING out, doing what the Bible says about singing together as a church family, we are hearing confessions of FAITH all around us.  We are hearing hundreds joining in with song, saying “In Christ alone, my HOPE is found…”

Also, try to remember as you SING, you are helping unbelievers.  In Psalm 105:1-2, the Lord is calling the Israelites to be a LIGHT to the nations, and to do this He tells them (us too!)…

[1]  O GIVE thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, make known His doings among the peoples!

[2]  SING to Him, sing praises to Him; meditate on and talk of all His marvelous deeds and devoutly praise them.

I once attended a church where the senior pastor would stand up on the platform with the Praise Team, and begin singing the words to a Psalm.  The singers and instruments would follow his lead and God’s Spirit was felt among all the attendees.  Maybe today’s Worship and Song leaders need to try this on Sunday mornings in lieu of the favorite spiritual songs of Praise Radio–“Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…”

Think of the impact on someone who doesn’t know Jesus, hearing hundreds giving testimony with confessions of FAITH while singing together.

When you SING, you are SPIRITUALLY STRENGTHENED for trials.

I love singing a favorite recording on the car’s CD player on the way to church every week.  For one, it clears the ‘cobwebs’ from my throat, strengthening my voice, and at the same time, it gives me an attitude of JOY!

Often times, we think only of singing when we’re happy and when times are good. But SINGING bringing strength for trials we’re going through, comes really out in the bible in the Book of Acts.

Paul and Silas are unjustly beaten and imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel.  I don’t know about you, but if I was in their sandals, I would be moaning, complaining about how unfair and mistreated I was.  Look at what they did.

Acts 16:25 (AMP):

[25]  But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and SINGING hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them.

SINGING strengthens you and helps you persevere when facing trials.

When you SING, a God-designed path of JOY opens up before you.

Here are but a few examples I found in the Psalms concerning our SINGING.

  • PSALMS 5:11:  “Let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.”
  • PSALM 9:2:  “I will rejoice in You and be in high spirits; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High!”
  • PSALM 51:14:  Deliver me from bloodguiltiness and death, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.”
  • PSALM 59:16:  “But I will sing of Your mighty strength and power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy and loving kindness in the morning; for You have been to me a defense and a refuge in the day of my distress.”

I love Donnie McClurkin’s song and lyrics to I Will Sing.  It’s been in our car CD player of late as we drive to church on Sunday mornings.  It really fits with Psalm 59:16.

Sing His praises in the morning

Brand new mercy every dawning

Melody, harmony

I WILL SING!

If you are still not convinced about your singing on Sunday mornings, or anywhere else, for that matter, here’s a Scriptural clincher:

“If anyone among you afflicted (ill-treated, suffering evil)? He should pray.  Is anyone glad at heart?  He should SING PRAISE to God”  (James 5:13 AMP).

While studying Scripture on this point, I noticed that sometimes JOY (“glad at heart”) gives birth to SINGING.

But persistently in the Bible, JOY & SINGING are bound together.  You can’t study one of those two biblical themes without running into the other.

When you SING, you glorify God.

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, defines “GLORIFY”,  “to magnify, extol, praise; ascribing honor to Him, acknowledging Him as to Him being, attributes and acts.”

Each believer’s chief goal and chief purpose in life, should be to GLORIFY GOD! No pretending in this folks.  No excuses!  In our obedience, deep roots in the Word, building up others, making war against Satan and sin, persevering, ALL OF THESE THINGS in bring GLORY to His name.

In Revelation 7:9-10, the Apostle John describes a glimpse of eternity with a great multitude of people from every tribe, peoples, and languages SINGING before the Lamb.

“Our salvation is due to our God Who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Eternity waits.

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Will you on that day be one of the great multitude singing the song of the Lamb and singing His praises?

SINGING matters.  Even for “Johnny one-notes”.  And it matters that we do it together.

 


 CREDITS and BLOG SOURCES:

Credit to: unlockingthebible.org. – Seven Biblical Reasons Why Singing Matters.

Bible translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 Photo Credits:  Google Image search.

Unconditional Election

Unconditional Election

 

Well, here I sit at my laptop computer, television cable news on low volume in my ear, and trying to focus on the message coming from Scripture, all at the same time.

imagesIt is season of ELECTION here in the United States, and between the robocalls, car bumper stickers, political signs placed in front yards, and every television and radio station broadcasting partisan campaign rhetoric…it’s still over two months from election day.

It is hard to accept all the hype of the campaign’s politicians.  But at the same time, the outcome of the election can’t change one’s acceptance of the results–positive or negative.

Accepting God’s Unconditional Election – A Study in Romans 9

My hesitancy, even my personal objections to this topic fell apart as I studied and meditated on God’s Word.  I could no longer explain away Romans 9.

What is UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION?

John Piper, Founder and Teacher of desiringGod.org states the definition as…

“God’s free choice before creation, not based on foreseen faith, to which traitors He will grant faith and repentance, pardoning them and adopting them into His everlasting family of joy.”

My public Prayer:

Father, I need your Spirit to enlighten me in explaining Your word on this sometimes difficult topic.  May I be clear in explanation and stay out of the “rabbit holes.”  Thank You in advance, Amen.

GRACE & ELECTION –

The real question is NOT “Why are only some saved?”, but “Why are any saved?”

Without God’s ELECTION, none could, would or even should be SAVED from His judgment.

The true children of God, God’s election of His family, is not determined by the will of mankind, but by the eternal decree and divine counsel of Almighty God Himself!

Let me state right up front, that there are some hard things to understand in the Bible–like Unconditional Election or the Calvinist approach to predestination.

Here are three passages of Scripture to read and meditate on:  Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:11.

Romans 8:29 (KJV):  For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Ephesians 1:5 (NAS):  He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.

Ephesians 1:11 (AMP):  In Him we also were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance; for we had been foreordained  (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose, Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will.

If election is true, what happens to human responsibility?  And, If some are “predestined” to heaven, then why bother with evangelism in the church?  How can people be guilty of sin, since they are doing what they were predestined to do?

This topic of conversation can–has, caused friendships to fracture, churches to split and divide Christians into different doctrinal groups.

Let me give you my understanding, and you can agree or disagree.  I have a simple mind, so this might not be satisfactory to everyone reading this.

God is supremely SOVEREIGN and we are responsible to our response to His calling.

The word “sovereign”, “Sovereignty of God”, is the biblical teaching that ALL THINGS are under God’s rule and control, His authority, and nothing happens without His direction or permission.  [See footnote [i] ]

Romans 9 emphasizes the SOVEREIGNTY of God while Chapter 10 emphasizes man’s foundational response (I’m sticking with Chapter 9 for this blog).

The apostle Paul doesn’t seek to relieve the tension, nor does he fully explain the working out of election and responsibility of his listeners in this chapter.  He seems to be more interested in pointing out the pompous hearts that dares to question the Creator.

Election and Responsibility as taught by Jesus in John 6:37:  

“All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me” [divine election]; “and the one who comes to Me” [human response] “I will most certainly not cast out {I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me]” (Amplified Bible in italics).

THIS BLOG’S BIBLE TEXT:  ROMANS 9:19-29

In my study this week on the above passage, I found 7 different questions in regards to UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION.  While Paul doesn’t specifically answer each of these questions, there’s at least 3 answers that are given.

God DESIGNS with purpose (vv. 19-21)

[19] You will say to me,  Why then does He still find fault and blame us [for sinning]? For who can resist and withstand His will?”

Paul has given reference to Moses as an example, where he states that God will have MERCY on whom He will have MERCY and COMPASSION on whom He will have COMPASSION (v.15).  Paul further states that the MERCY is God’s gift (v. 16) and not on one’s own willingness nor works.

Paul then contrasts MERCY with STUBBORNNESS, as with Pharaoh’s condition of an unyielding heart (vv. 17-18):

[17] For Scripture says to Pharaoh, I have raised you up for this very purpose of displaying My power in [dealing with] you, so that My name may be proclaimed the whole world over.

[18] So then He has mercy on whomever He wills (chooses) and He hardens whomever He wills.

Paul’s not concerned with the person’s question in verse 19, as much as his concern for the “attitude” behind the question.

Paul’s seemingly agitated response in verse 20 is to the point:

[20] But who are you, a mere man, to criticize and contradict and answer back to God? 

In the New International Version of the bible, it reads “talk back”.  Paul was putting the person’s attitude in his place for “talking back” to God.

It’s not wrong to ask questions of our Father God, but we cannot presume to correct Him.

We should be reminded of what God said in Job 38:2-3:

[2] Who is this that darkens council by words without knowledge?  [3] Gird up now your loins like a man, and I will demand of you, and you declare to Me.

Job is put in his place in 40:2:

“Shall he who would find fault with the Almighty contend with Him? He who disputes with God, let him answer it.”

I love the way Job responds in verses 4-5:

[4] Behold, I am of small account and vile! What shall I answer You? I lay my hand upon my mouth.  [5] I have spoken once, but I will not reply again–indeed, twice (have I answered), but I will proceed no further.

It is hard for us at times, just to be still when God declares His will.  Many of us want to have the last word with God.

God has the absolute rights of ownership.

By putting together passages from Isaiah 28:16, Isaiah 64:8 and Jeremiah 18:1-6, Paul shows that as Creator, God has the absolute rights of ownership (v. 20 b.):

“…Will what is formed say to him that formed it,  Why have you made me thus?”

He then expands the analogy of the Potter and the clay (v. 21)

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[21] Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same mass (lump) one vessel for beauty and distinction and honorable use, and another for menial or ignoble and dishonorable use?

God Delays punishment (verse 22-23)

God DESIGNS with a purpose and He also DELAYS punishment to some, in order to show His MERCY to others.

[22]  What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction?

[23]  What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–  (NIV).

Notice the two uses of the phrase “What if…”

Paul states 2 categories of people here.  The Bible often uses extreme terms to separate people into two groups.

  • The SAVED and the LOST,
  • Children of God and children of Satan,
  • Light and darkness.

The last words in Verse 22 make it a tough passage to deal with–“prepared for destruction”.  It is written in the “passive voice” for grammatical correctness.

It shows that people prepare themselves for DESTRUCTION by their sins.  It’s not that God makes people sinful, but that He leaves them in their sin unless they REPENT and receive Jesus.  If people resist and reject God, they end up preparing their own destruction.  If, during the time of “divine delay,” any individual repents and receives Jesus, he or she becomes an “object of His mercy.”

EZEKIEL 18:30-32 SAYS,

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So, who then, are the OBJECTS (“vessels”) of MERCY?

God gets the GLORY either way!  He even uses Israel’s unbelief to further His purposes.  Actually, He uses ALL CIRCUMSTANCES to promote His Glory.

VERSE 23 (AMP):  And [what if] He thus proposes to make known and show the wealth of His glory in [dealing with] the vessels (objects) of His mercy which He has prepared beforehand for glory.

There’s the grammatical construction in verse 23, that’s different–we don’t prepare ourselves for glory because we are “prepared beforehand for glory” by God.

God is delaying His JUDGMENT so that you will repent and receive Jesus.  But He won’t wait forever.

At the beginning of this POST, I made the comment that God is supremely sovereign and that we are responsible for our response to His call.

So SALVATION starts with God and ends with God.  If UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION is true, then it means that we can never claim any credit for our SALVATION, or anyone else’s SALVATION.

We don’t even get points for seeking the Lord, because He sought us before we sought Him.

Someone may say “Why should I bother responding?  If I’m “predestined”, God will save me when He’s ready.”

The Bible says that God SAVES those who place their FAITH in Jesus Christ.

Henry Ward Beecher, a Congregationalist clergyman during the 1800’s, used to say the ELECT were the “Whosoever wills” and the non-elect were the “Whosoever won’ts.”

If you are wondering whether God has chosen you to SALVATION, just answer this question.  Have you ever placed your FAITH, your TRUST, in Jesus Christ–and in Him alone for your SALVATION?  If you answered “Yes,” then you have been “Unconditionally Elected” (“chosen”) to enter Heaven.  But what if the answer is “No”?

One reason God has delayed His punishment is to give you more time to be SAVED. If you go to hell, it won’t be God’s fault.  He’s done everything necessary to make sure you go to heaven.

UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION simply put…God chose you first and if He didn’t choose you first, you would never have chosen Him.

In other words, God so arranged the circumstances, when the moment was right, I had no other choice but to freely choose Jesus.  That occurred in the evening, August 15, 1972.  I was 30 years old, and God had been calling me for an unknown period of time but I was stiff necked in responding to His call.

Our CHOICE is a FREE CHOICE, but it is made possible only by God’s Spirit enabling us to BELIEVE and be SAVED.

 


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i]:  Definition of God’s Sovereignty from Theopedia.

Bible Translations:  King James Version (KJV); New International Version (NIV); New American Standard (NAS); Amplified Bible (AMP).

Photos:  Google Image Search. 

ABIDING In The DOCTRINE of Christ

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THE SECOND LETTER OF JOHN – (With an Emphasis on verses 7-11)

When John wrote this letter, there were many false teachers as there are today.

These men and women argue that Jesus was not always the Son of God.  They didn’t think that Jesus was both God and man through his whole life.  So, they taught that Jesus became the Christ only for a short time.

The FALSE TEACHERS thought they had a new knowledge (“Gnosticism”).

The word “Gnostic” comes from the Greek word, “Gnosis” meaning to know. Gnosticism taught that man’s body, which is composed of matter, is evil and that God, who is spirit, is totally good.  Also, that SALVATION is attained not by faith in Christ but by special knowledge.

This new knowledge, GNOSTICISM, had replaced what the apostles taught.  The false teachers said that their MESSAGE was new and different, a really new idea. But it was the wrong idea.  They had added their own ideas to the TRUTH, and thus, the CULT beliefs began and our flourishing today.

In the Gospel of John 14:6, Jesus says He is the personification of the TRUTH:

[16]  “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.”  (Amplified Bible)

Jesus is “the TRUTH” incarnate.

And yet “the TRUTH” is under fire today.  The current fad led by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code is nothing new.  His false information comes from the cultic beliefs that were rejected by the true church long ago.

The same is true regarding the so-called Gospel of Judas.  Those false Gospels written long after the fact were quickly rejected by the church.  So contrary to what Mr. Brown wrote, the church overwhelmingly rejected the Gnostic teachings.

Many of the New Testament letters were written to combat false teachings that threatened the church.  The Epistles of John are no exception.

The letter of 2 John is the shortest letter in the New Testament.  Yet, this little letter speaks powerfully to our generation, especially concerning our relationship to the TRUTH as it is in Jesus.

John begins his 2 letter by telling his readers, 

[1] “…not only I but also all who are [progressively] learning to recognize and know and understand the TRUTH– [2] Because of the TRUTH which lives and stays on in our hearts and will be with us forever” (AMP).

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VERSES 7-11 dealt with the basic Gnostic heresy that was beginning to put a negative influence on the early church.

BELIEVERS in Christ Jesus are to possess the TRUTH (vv 1-3) and practice the TRUTH (vv 4-6) and we are to protect the TRUTH (vv 7-11) as our responsibility.

I have been engrossed in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro this year.  I particularly enjoy hearing  the backstories of the athletes from the nations gathered for one purpose in mind.  To be victorious in representing their country.

Stories of sacrifice, of vigorous and sometimes painful exercise of their sport.  If we, as believers in the TRUTH, can also apply the same unbending dedication to being victorious, not for medals around our necks, but out of LOVE for our God and Savior.  That my friends, is LIVING IN THE TRUTH!

IN VERSE 7, John calls those who follow the Gnostic movement DECEIVERS, or as the Amplified Bible calls as “IMPOSTERS” and the antichrist.

[7]  For many imposters (seducers, deceivers, and false leaders) have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge (confess, admit) the coming of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) in bodily form.  Such a one is the imposter and the antichrist.

Peter Jones is the author of the book,  “The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back” movement, calling today’s church to spiritual warfare.  Mr. Jones points out how gay rights are promoted in popular magazines, public radio and Hollywood.  Feminist spirituality is making inroads into Christianity.  Christian students are being silenced in the name of religious tolerance.  Mystical techniques for achieving well-being and self-knowledge are being adopted in the business world and in the military.

Merely coincidental trends?  No, this is spiritual warfare and are expressions of an ancient heresy reasserting itself today.

IN VERSE 9 John encourages his readers, and that includes us, to “ABIDE” in the Doctrine of Christ.  Don’t panic, when you read or hear the word “doctrine.”

DOCTRINE simply means “the teachings of Christ.”

[9]  Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son.

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In other words, those who follow the teachings of the antichrist spirit and denies the person and the deity of Christ, is separated from God.  They are lost and destined for destruction in hell, according to God’s Word.

The word “abide” means, “to continue,” “to remain,” “to dwell” in the teaching, or doctrine of Christ.

READ the words of Jesus  (John 15:4-8 NIV translation):

[4] “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  [5] I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  [6] If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  [7] If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  [8] This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Looking at 2 JOHN, verses 10 and 11 for a moment, John writes [10] “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine [is disloyal to what Jesus Christ taught], do not receive him [do not accept him, do not welcome or admit him] into [your] house or bid him Godspeed or give him any encouragement.  [11] For he who wishes him success [who encourages him, wishing him Godspeed] is a partaker in his evil doings.”

John isn’t saying that we are to refuse hospitality to the lost–unsaved people.  In fact one of the best ways of sharing Jesus to others is to invite lost people into our homes.  John is saying that we are not to show hospitality to false teachers who can, and will, DECEIVE the church.

During the first two centuries and beyond, the gospel message was carried from place to place by traveling evangelists.

Looking back into my family history, I found in the records, on my mother’s side of the Family Tree, a Circuit Rider.  A clergyman who travel on horseback in early America from church to church, especially within a rural Methodist circuit. Believers by the way, were to show them hospitality and allow them to stay in their homes.

The FALSE TEACHERS also had this practice.  They would often visit a believer’s home in pretense of being a Christian.  The believer would unwittingly show them hospitality.  Yet to willingly show hospitality to false teachers was to participate in their actions.  I always remember my parents’ warning growing up:  “Hang around in a bad crowd, and people will believe you’re part of that ‘bad crowd.’

CHRISTIANITY is about TRUTH.

imagesJesus says. “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.”  There is God’s TRUTH and an eternal TRUTH.  We must possess the Truth in receiving Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior of our lives.

WAIT, there’s more!

We also must practice daily the TRUTH by exercising Christian LOVE.  And, we must protect the TRUTH by “abiding”- in the Doctrine of Christ.

What about you?  Have you made your commitment to Jesus as Lord of your life?  Or, are you following after the false teachings so prevalent today?

As for me and my house, we have made our choice!

 


SOURCES & CREDITS:

Bible Translations Used:  The Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

Photo Credits:  Google Image Search.

Credits:  The Gnostic Empire Strikes Back on the Truth XChange. Preface published by P & R Publishing.

Commentary:  2 John – Free Bible Commentary in Easy English.

Our CONSCIENCE: The Good, the Bad, and the Uncomfortable

LIFE is full of decision-making, whether we are young in life or old.  

I can look back today at my childhood and often wondered in making decisions,

“Should I do this or do that?”  

My mother would say, “Always listen to your CONSCIENCE Mel.”

At the time, I had no idea what a “conscience” was, so mom would explain “It’s that little voice you hear inside of you coming from your heart.”  Now that was confusing at my young age.

Dictionary.com DEFINES Conscience as “The inner sense of what is right or wrong in our conduct or motives, impelling one toward right actions.”

If my mother were alive today and heard this definition of Conscience, she would chime in…”that’s what I said!”

And now, in the twilight of my years, I still have trouble keeping my CONSCIENCE under control.

Managing your conscience is somewhat like keeping Chayote Squash under control in the garden

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My wife tells the story of her distaste for the squash growing up in Southern, California.  She says that her dad loved it so much, that he grew it in their backyard against a wooden fence.  The vines grew uncontrolled and the squash was so prolific, they had Chayote every night for dinner during the Summer months.  Now I like squash, but every night for dinner?

Managing your CONSCIENCE is somewhat like keeping Chayote Squash under control by continually struggling to keep the vines under management.  

Our CONSCIENCES are also a struggle to manage.

THE GOOD CONSCIENCE:

Our CONSCIENCE can uphold us when we struggle spiritually.  

The apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to fight the good fight; to keep a clear conscience when facing struggles.

1 Timothy 1:19 (AMP):

“Holding fast to faith (that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence) and having a good (clear) CONSCIENCE. By rejecting and thrusting from them [their conscience], some individuals have made shipwreck of their faith.”

Our CONSCIENCE can also protect us from TEMPTATION.

In Genesis 39:7-12. Joseph was sexually tempted by his bosses wife.  Joseph followed his CONSCIENCE and resisted the temptation.  Because of his decision, he developed a stronger testimony for God.

THE BAD & THE UNCOMFORTABLE CONSCIENCE:

Our CONSCIENCE can also display a bad side which can fuel PARANOIA

Proverbs 28:1 (The Message bible):

“The wicked are edgy with guilt, ready to run off even when no one’s after them;”

Let me give you a few more bible examples of “bad consciences”:

1 Timothy 4:1-2 says,  [1] “But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach,[2] Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose CONSCIENCES are seared (cauterized)  (AMP).

That folks, is an example of a hardened conscience!

Another example I found in Scripture, was a CONSCIENCE of self-destruction in a disciple, a follower of Jesus (Matthew 27:3-5 NIV): 

[3] When JUDAS, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.  [4] “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”  “What is that to us?” they replied.  “That’s your responsibility.”  [5] So Judas threw the money into the temple and left.  Then he went away and hanged himself.

So by EXAMPLE, our CONSCIENCES are not altogether GOOD or BAD.

Billy Graham said “Most of us follow our CONSCIENCE as we follow a wheelbarrow. We push it in front of us in the direction we want to go.”  So the issue is managing our consciences properly.  And how do we do that?

God has given each one of us the resources needed in managing our CONSCIENCES…which brings me to the BIBLE TEXT FOR THIS BLOG-STUDY, where God’s RESOURCES are revealed to help us manage our conscience.

God’s RESOURCES found in 1 John 3:18-23:

 

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Whatever you do, let your ACTIONS be motivated out of LOVE (3:18)

A good illustration of this Resource can be found in 1 Corinthians 8, where Paul discusses eating food that has been offered [sacrificed] to idols.  The question had been raised:  ‘Is it proper–the right thing to do–to eat meat that was left after the blood was used in sacrificing to an idol?’  Paul’s instruction was that it was okay. There was nothing morally wrong with it.  However, if this practice causes someone else to stumble, then avoid such practices.

LET LOVE BE THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE!

Using this RESOURCE as our guide, we should then apply this principle concerning our actions–

  • Speaking rudely to another person.
  • Social drinking.
  • Cursing.
  • Being critical of another person.

Our words, actions and thoughts should communicate LOVE to the other person.

Paul says in Acts 24:16,  “So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Another RESOURCE noticed in John’s letter was to submit to the TRUTH.

SUBMIT TO THE TRUTH
SUBMIT TO THE TRUTH

Sometimes a GUILTY CONSCIENCE is inappropriate.  That said, there are times when I personally feel guilty because…I AM GUILTY!

The best guide in determining TRUE GUILT isn’t other people.  They may not give you very sound advice.

The BEST GUIDE is God’s Word!  It is always consistent, unlike opinions from others.  It is unchanging.

BUT there is a challenge here in becoming submitted to the TRUTH, God’s Word and accepting what it teaches.

I once read somewhere,  “The TRUTH will set you free but it will make you uncomfortable in the process.”

Here’s but one example to apply:  Maybe you are having trouble forgiving someone.

“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in heaven may also forgive your [own] shortcomings and let them drop”  (Mark 11:25 AMP).

As we submit to God’s Word in the Bible, we will make right decisions in following a consistent pattern that is pleasing to God.

The 3rd RESOURCE John lays before us is to Accept the GRACE of God (3:20):

[20] “Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation makes us feel guilty and condemn us.  [For we are in God’s hands.]  For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him].”  (Amplified Bible)

The Bible instructs us to throw your sin into the deepest ocean and leave it there. In addition, God has put up a no fishing sign:

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If you have confessed your sin and asked God’s forgiveness, then REJOICE in the GRACE OF GOD!

GRACE isn’t a pacifier for those who want to continue living in their SIN.  However, if you truly REPENT–change your direction–God’s GRACE will heal your wounds.

Finally, in verse 23, we find the RESOURCE of Putting Your Trust in Jesus.

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“Now, what does JESUS have to do with managing our conscience?”

Good question.

JESUS forgives us when JESUS FORGIVES us when we SIN, thus giving us a CLEAN HEART (clear conscience).

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins…”  (1 John 1:9).

BUT there’s more!

Besides forgiving you and I for our sins, He will also give you a fresh start!

A lady by the name of Louise Fletcher Tarkington wrote a poem entitled “The Lord of Beginning Again” [See Footnote [i] ].  This poem reflects the desires of many.

I wish that there were some wonderful place

Called the Land of Beginning Again.

Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,

And all of our poor selfish grief

Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at 

the door And never put on again.

In Jesus this is possible.

We can gain victory over our CONSCIENCE.

We must follow the internal leadings of LOVE, submit to God’s TRUTH, accept the GRACE of God and put our TRUST in Jesus.

Is God speaking to you about your CONSCIENCE right now?  He wants to give you VICTORY.  Will you accept it today?


CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i]:  http://fromtroublesofthisworld.wordpress.com/…/the-land-of-beginning-by-lau…

Photos:  Google Image Search

Bible Translations Used:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.