Archive for November, 2010

Doing Good, or avoiding Evil


                “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the law and the prophets.” (Mathew 7: 12.)


                This verse has commonly become known as ‘The Golden Rule.’  There were a number of philosophers and spiritual guru’s throughout history who stated something similar to this rule, but with a fundamental difference; all of them phrased it in the negative; for example, “Do not do to others, what you would not want others to do to you.”  Because of their negative phrasing, they were all in opposition to the rule Jesus stated in this verse.  He phrased it in the positive, meaning, “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them.”  Those philosophers had made the avoidance of evil their main focus.  Jesus placed the focus on the good actions to be done, rather than the evil to be avoided; instead of trying to not steal from others, he would have everyone give to others (a spirit of generosity automatically negates the spirit that moves a man to steal.)  Instead of trying to avoid speaking negatively about others, or gossiping, the disciples of the Lord were to say good things about people (a person can remain silent all day and avoid speaking evil, but their silence would also make it impossible for them to say anything good.)  Instead of trying not to lie, Jesus required that the lies be replaced with active attempts to speak the truth. 

I have had a number of opportunities to interact with Buddhists.  The most enlightened ones are the ones that spend a great deal of time in meditation.  Some even become monks, who live in monasteries and sit alone in silence and meditate for days on end.  These monks make sure to not step on any bugs, or living things, because they believe this to be evil.  They believe the avoidance of evil makes them good.  In essence, they become ‘shut-ins’ who avoid doing evil, but in their isolation they become incapable of doing the most good.  Jesus made it clear that to not do good was to do evil.  The monks who spend ten hours a day in meditation might be wasting time they could have used to love others, reach out to others, and give to others; and in turn, those ten hours they were not doing good, might become ten hours of evil (the very means by which they attempt to avoid evil (going in to seclusion), can become the very thing that creates evil in their lives.  (We are all guilty refusing to do good, not just Buddhist monks; if we are all guilty, we are all called to change.)

                Today, examine the areas of your life where you are not doing good, and there you will find the presence of evil.  When God gives you the opportunity to be kind, if you are not kind you have transgressed against God.  If you are focused on not sinning, remember that you are sinning if you are not doing good.  You might make it through the whole day without lusting, swearing, or even thinking a bad thought, but if you have done nothing good for another person you have fallen short of the glory of God.  Jesus said, “Let your good deeds so shine before men, that others look at you and glorify your Father in heaven.”  How long does it take to smile at another person; how long does it take to ask about their day?  How long does it take to buy a meal for someone, or give to the needy?  How many minutes does it take to say a prayer for someone while you are driving?  How long does it take to text message a scripture or loving message to a friend, or enemy?  How long does it take to care for your family, or give to a stranger?  How much effort does it take to buy a gift for someone, or visit a person who is sick?  Is it difficult to pick up a piece of trash, or to hold a door open for someone?  There are more good acts that can be done daily than can be numbered.  The key is, stop focusing on not missing the mark, and start trying to hit it!  Begin to love others with the kind of love that crosses boundaries and disarms the strong.  Let’s show others the love of God; the love that God himself has shown us.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask and pray that You would please help us to remain proactive in our faith, and to focus on actions we can take to love others, and to show others Your love.  If we are trying to avoid evil without focusing on doing good, please help us to change.  Open our hearts and our minds to new possibilities and help us to not be afraid to cross the boundaries you have not set.  Give us discernment and hearts eager to do good.  Help us to minister to others, and to show Your love to a world full of people who need to see it.  We love You Father, we thank You and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God Bless all of you.

Misjudging the Heart of God


             Now it came to pass, when the time had come for him to be received up, that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face.  And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for him.  But they did not receive him, because his face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.  And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them just as Elijah did?”  But he turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.  For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”  And they went to another village.  (Luke 9: 51-56.)


                As Jesus made his way through the cities and towns he sent his disciples ahead of him to prepare the people for his arrival.  Most Jews and Samaritans greatly disliked one another.  Hundreds of years before Christ arrived, the Babylonians conquered the Jews.  They took the Jews from that area as slaves and gave the property to their own people.  When the Jews returned from captivity, they discovered a population of foreigners settled right in the middle of their country; these foreigners came to be known as the Samaritans (the hatred was so bad that the Jews would often go out of their way to travel around Samaria to get where they were going.  The Jews thought Samaritans to be so dirty that if they traveled through Samaria many Jews would take the time to dust off their sandals before entering another town so that the dirt from Samaria wouldn’t mix with the dirt in Israel.)  This single village of Samaritans had rejected Jesus.  James and John felt so insulted and dishonored by the rejection (perhaps because they were Samaritans) that they asked Jesus if they should destroy the village with fire from the sky as Elijah had done in an earlier time.  [Elijah was a powerful Old Testament prophet who was hated by an Evil King of Israel.  The king sent out fifty men to take Elijah; when they arrived Elijah called down fire upon them and they were all burned up.  The king sent another fifty men to take Elijah; as they approached Elijah called down fire from heaven and consumed the men.  Finally, another fifty men were sent to take Elijah, but the captain of the men immediately dropped down before Elijah and begged and pleaded with him not to kill them.  Elijah was merciful and went with them.]  The disciples no doubt believed those deaths were pleasing to God; so they strongly desired to bring down a fiery destruction upon the Samaritan village.  Jesus identified their evil desire as being from the Spirit of Satan.  [All of their actions were motivated by either the Spirit of God (love), or the Spirit of Satan (hate.)]  The Disciples desire came from a hatred for those who had just rejected them.  Jesus reminded them that he did not come to destroy sinners, but to save them.  Those closest to Jesus misunderstood his message, and his purpose, and even what he desired. 

                Prior to Nelson Mandela (a black man) taking office, the government of South Africa was run by Caucasians.  [to the best of my knowledge]  When the day came for him to take office, all of the white political employees were boxing up their things and leaving the building out of fear, and out of a belief that he was going to fire them and bring in a staff of all black individuals.  Much to their shock, he called a meeting and asked the white employees to stay; they were shocked, and so were his black supporters who expected him to take revenge on those who had imprisoned him in a one room jail cell for nearly 27 years.  (He chose to work with the white leaders who had put him in prison, instead of overthrowing them.)  Those closest to him had misjudged him; they had allowed their hatred and evil desires toward the whites to blind them as to the true intentions and purpose of their leader.

                Many people today have grossly misjudged God’s intentions and desires.  Some believe that God’s desire is to hurt them and to make them suffer.  Many see God as a creator who is just waiting to cast them in to hell if they screw up.  However, God is a God who loves all of his children.  He chases after those who are living lives full of sin instead of condemning them.  He sees every person as irreplaceable, and His heart is grieved when his children do harm to themselves and reject Him.  God is not some unfeeling, unemotional being; He is loving, compassionate, and He feels emotional pain.  Just as a Father who loses a child feels a continual sadness and grief, so God feels sadness and grief for the lost.  Many of us have misjudged our God’s heart, and his intentions.  We may see sinners as enemies, as evil, or even as dirty.  But God sees them precious children he desires to return to Him.  As believers we have an obligation to reflect God’s heart accurately to others; they need to know that God loves them and seeks reconciliation.  The first step toward this goal is becoming familiar with the heart of God.  You cannot accurately share about something you don’t know or understand; as you grow closer to God, your desire to share his message of love will flow out of you naturally.  People need to here that God does not desire to destroy them, but to give them life.  When know God you can tell others with confidence, “God loves you, and I love you too.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we come before You and we ask that You would help us to share Your heart.  Help us to look upon others as opportunities to love with the heart that You have give us.  Father, give us confidence and boldness to speak on Your behalf.  Please help us to refrain from doing anything in the Spirit of Satan; rather, help us to do all things in the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Fill us to overflowing with Your love, with Your life, and with Your truth.  Give us opportunities to share with others what we have learned from You.  Most of all Father, help us to resemble Your Son in all that we do.  If there are any areas of our hearts that still seek selfish ends we pray that You would heal them now, and bring them in to submission to Your heart and to Your will.  We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you and have a happy Thanks Giving.

Don’t be afraid of a new life!


                “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put in to new wineskins and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5: 37-39.) 


                In the ancient world, skins were used to store and carry liquids.  When an animal was slaughtered the stomach and the bladder were taken out and fashioned in to pliable liquid holders.  The skins would dry out and become rigid.  When these skins were used to hold wine, they needed to be flexible because as the wine fermented it would expand, and if the wineskin was not flexible, it would break.  No one would take unfermented (new) wine and put it in to an old wineskin, but instead they would make sure to put it in to a newly fashioned skin.  This is an illustration was used to show the incompatibility between the ‘old covenant’ and the ‘new covenant.’  The ‘old covenant’ (Old Testament) and ‘new covenant’ (New Testament) were two different contracts between God and man.  In the Old Testament, gave guidelines for the removal of sin; everyone had to sacrifice animals to receive forgiveness from God (this was tedious and time consuming and was a burden on the people.)  This covenant began with Abraham (approximately 2000 years before Christ); God promised him that through his descendents a permanent solution would be provided in the form of the messiah (Jesus Christ: approximately 33 A.D.)  Jesus was presenting himself as the solution, or the promised one, and with him came a completely new message; one that should have been accepted readily, but was rejected outright by the religious leaders.  Many of them had gotten so used to sacrificing animals (the old way), that even after Christ was crucified they still refused to accept his blood for the forgiveness of their sins (the new way.)  In the upper room at the last supper Jesus made a new agreement with mankind; he took a cup of wine and said, “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.”  God’s provision would come in the form of the blood that he shed on the cross.  2000 years had passed, and God had finally fulfilled his promise the day of the crucifixion.  The majority of the Jewish people rejected this sacrifice.  He spoke of those who rejected him when he said, “And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, ‘The old is better.’”

                As a newborn Christian I very much enjoyed listening to secular music.  I liked heavy metal and rap; it was usually filled with fowl language and ugly beats.  I decided to move forward and listen only to worship music, which was uplifting, and clean, and edifying to my mind and spirit.  My appetite for the old music was strong, and at first the new music wasn’t appealing to me.  Slowly I began to enjoy the new music.  Soon I was singing along with the tunes.  Occasionally I will hear an old song and it no longer appealing to me; in fact it repulses me.  God has made similar changes in every area of my life.  He has healed me, and made life new, and fulfilling, and completely different.

                Today, many people are incapable of receiving Jesus Christ because they are afraid of the changes that will occur in their lives.  The religious leaders denied Christ because they were afraid; are you afraid today?  Are you afraid of letting go of the old life?  Don’t be frightened, accept the Lord, partake in the cup he has asked you to drink of.  Have you put your faith in Christ?  Have you allowed him in to your life and in to your heart?  If you have never accepted him and his sacrifice, I want to give you that opportunity now.  What you are about to read is a prayer of acceptance?  Take a moment to think about what this commitment means…You are turning away from all that this world has taught, and you are making a commitment to listen to Jesus Christ; you are committing to doing all that he has taught you to do.  You will be a member of the body of Christ, and you will need to find a local church and begin to attend that church.  You will need to make prayer a daily habit.  You will also need to get a bible and begin reading it daily.  Your first mission will be to tell someone else about your decision….Take another moment to consider the new life that awaits you……………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..If you still wish to accept God’s promise and His Son, and are willing to go forward, then let’s begin….What you are about to read, read out loud,  or within your own heart, but mean what you read.

“Lord Heavenly Father, I’m sorry for all of the things that I have done in my past; for the people I’ve harmed and for all of the times that I have sinned against you.  I don’t deserve your love Father.  I come before you now and I want to receive the Holy Spirit, and I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that all the things that I have done have been forgiven because he has made me clean.  I ask you to come in to my heart, and to come in to my life now and to guide me and direct me in all that I do.  I give you my whole heart, and my whole life, right now.  I love you Father, I thank you, and I ask and I pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.” If you prayed that prayer, you have an eternal life with God, in a kingdom that will never end.  God bless you all.

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