Amazing Patience

In first Corinthians 13, God described love. The first characteristic listed is patience. Why is patience so important? We often equate waiting with patience, but there is more to it.  God is where patience originates. God is love.    

Proverbs 14:2 says: He that is slow to wrath is of great understanding: but he that is hasty of spirit.

To have great understanding is to have the wisdom of God. When we pray, rest should cover our soul no matter what the timetable involved.

5 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
2  By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations (mental pressures) also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;
4 And patience, experience and experience, hope (expectation): 5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:4

We get excited when we see God work in our lives and it does something to the heart. Believing God builds believing. God has given us The Word and his spirit to remind us of his promises to those who love him

4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue (goodness); and to virtue moral knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (love of God) . 2 Peter 1:4-7

 The love of God is shed abroad

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Don’t Let Others Define You

Most of the great men and women of the bible weren’t flawless people. Paul is such a great example to study. Prior to his real conversion to Jesus Christ, was heavily involved in religion. He was a Hebrew of the Hebrews and had all the right credentials of the culture to be a religious heavy weight. He enforced religious law and persecuted people who did not practice the law and he was ruthless. Yet one day on the road to Damascus he had an encounter with the risen Christ in a vision and his whole life changed..

He had allowed the religion of the culture define him, but somewhere in his heart of hearts he thought he was doing it for God. His education and prestige meant nothing in comparison to who he was to become.

Acts 9:4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

When he heard the voice of Jesus, I think it is interesting that Paul responded to to Jesus’s question by saying “Who art thou LORD?” and further along in the conversion he asked,”LORD, what would you have me to do?”

When Jesus used the phrase, “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”, he was was using and illustration of the goad that farmers used to keep their animals in line when plowing the fields. The goad wad a stick with a pointed piece of iron on the end of it. The farmer used it to poke an animal in the right direction. When the animal kicked or rebelled against the goad it drove the metal piece into the flesh of the animal. This how evil works.

When a person rebells against God, life gets harder and harder because that person has decided to live without God. The world is full of hardship and problems because of the evil influence that exists since Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve chose to follow another voice in the garden of Eden.

God allows freedom of choice. Man can choose good or evil. Paul had a lot he could feel guilty for. Once Jesus Christ entered the scene he was pulled up and out of the quicksand and was redeemed. His past life could no longer define him. He had something that could really help people. He wrote some of the most important books of the Bible explaining the reality of having Jesus Christ as his Lord.

God wanted Paul to move forward from his past. Evidently God knew his heart and knew he would be the one he wanted to explain grace. When the Christians of that time saw the big change in Paul and heard him teach, they knew something big had happened in his life. He made Jesus Christ his Lord and understood the meaning of the the resurrection of Christ. He tossed aside his great credentials and religious authority as a law-abiding Hebrew to become a new Paul defined by God.  

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Strength in the Challenges of the Times

 The most recent election in Virginia proved that something very important is going on in this country.  The election wasn’t really about Republicans or Democrats. The real heroes of this election are parents who regardless of their political affiliation or lack there of made their voices known with a righteousness that reverberated across the country. Parents are responsible of their children! The government has no right to determine what is right curriculum for children.  Developing curriculum is an educator’s job but it’s has its boundaries. Teachers should be aware of what their boundaries are. Teachers are not to force students to accept their ideologies. 

God expects both father and mother to teach their children how to live a godly life and encourages children to listen to them:

My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Proverbs 1:8

6 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.Ephesians 6:1-3

Raising children is especially difficult today in light of the culture we live in.  Anti-God  propaganda  pops up in school curriculum, throughout media programs, and TV shows. How often do TV shows display virtue and morality or give us the answers we need in life.  No entity or  person should take the place of a God-respecting parent who loves God in teaching their children. Sadly  friends or relatives may even disagree. The individual family unit is bombarded with well-meaning advice from many directions.

It is pure joy to see parents standing up and declaring their rights, because they are God-given rights. There is a very strong group in the state I live in and these people may be just what the state has needed for a long long time. One candidate for governor is standing up for parent rights and individual freedoms.  The existing governor just repealed a bill making it ok for minors to keep their parents in the dark about an impending abortion. Such legislation is so wrong on so many levels. It hurts children, disrespects parental care rights, and displays the hubris of government officials who think this is the right thing to do.

It is so great to me that God makes the gift of holy spirit available to every believer in the New Testament era we live in.  In the Old Testament, spirit was give to certain men and women who led God’s people. During this wonderful age of grace, men, women, children, dads, moms and people in all walks of life have the ability to hear from God about whatever the situation they are presented with. The whole purpose of God sending his son was to destroy the works of the adversary.The holy spirit is our connection to both God and his son and each other to continue this purpose!

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Luther and Justification

October 31 is Reformation Day commemorating the day in 1517  when Martin Luther tacked up his ’95 Theses’ on the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany. In this document was strong denunciation of the sale of indulgences purported to release people from the penalties of sin. This activity was nothing more than a greedy guise for gain on the part of the corrupt church at that time. The love of money produces all sorts of evil even in ecclesiastical environments. 

Luther took a stand on the principle of justification by faith (Romans 1:17) alone. All the money, indulgences, works, adherence to the law or religious piety in the world could not provide salvation for even one soul. 

We are made whole by believing in God’s finished work in Christ. Luther wrote:  
“Sin is not canceled by lawful living, for no person is able to live up to the Law. The Law reveals guilt, fills the conscience with terror, and drives men to despair. Much less is sin taken away by man-invented endeavors. The fact is, the more a person seeks credit for himself by his own efforts, the deeper he goes into debt. Nothing can take away sin except the grace of God. In actual living, however, it is not so easy to persuade oneself that by grace alone, in opposition to every other means, we obtain the forgiveness of our sins and peace with God.” (Commentary on Galatians)

Romans 7:4-6 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

There is such freedom as we walk in the newness of life God has provided. We live ‘exceedingly abundant’ as Ephesians 3:20 relates and we become a breath of fresh air to others when they see our excitement  and confidence in knowing the one true God.

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A Deeper Look into the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Recently I have seen a many articles relating the parable of the good samaritan to some of the cultural issues going on in our country. The border crisis, Afghanistan, Covid 19 mandates, masks, vaccines all seem be topics of many of these articles.

The Good Samaritan parable is actually about the religious law and religious attitudes. The context in which this parable is written is a significant framework for this parable. Chapter 10 in the book of Luke starts out with Jesus sending out the 70 to speak the word and heal people. There are some great instructions about helping and healing people that are interesting to read. The 70 saw great success applying the instructions they were given. Jesus taught them about their attitude in light of what they saw:

19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:19-20

Next in Chapter 10, Jesus was questioned by a lawyer who, in that theocratic culture, was a religious leader. Jesus knew that the man was challenging him and responded by putting a question to the lawyer. The Hebrew culture had developed a whole system of laws to hold God’s people to the law. This lawyer was fully aware of the Hebrew law. Jesus shared  the parable of the good Samaritan with him and in it, he included a priest and a levite (both religious positions) that had passed by a man who had beaten by robbers. Finally a Samaritan came by and immediately helped the man.

Samaritans were looked down upon in the culture. During the time of the captivity, they had married pagan wives and that was frowned upon of the legalistic religious leaders. Jesus made the point in getting the lawyer to admit who the real neighbor was. The lawyer had wanted some rule to justify himself as to who his neighbor was. Jesus brought out the truth. The good samaritan parable focus is on the lawyer and what Jesus was saying about attitude.

Our attitude is important in everything we do. In the last section of chapter 10 following the samaritan parable, is the story of Martha and Mary which is one of my favorite records (having been at times a Martha and at other times a Mary myself:

38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:38-42

Mary wanted to hear Jesus and what he had to say because she knew what it meant for her life and others with whom she came into contact with. Sometimes we work too hard at doing the right things.  We obscure where the greatest treasure lies and is what the greatest reason is for why we do things. Our service to others is very often about what we think we should do for others and then using rules and regs to govern actions. It is really about what God wants us to do for others according to his Word. If you really want to be given the opportunity to genuinely and in a godly way help others, this is the mindset to have! It is a thread that runs through the chapter.

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