I Quit

November 30, 2015

the old pine box

I quit, I’m leaving my wife, I’m leaving the church, no more, I’m sick and tired of playing the good guy, always putting other people first, it sucks, screw everybody.

That’s how my morning started at 630am this morning when I picked up the phone, it was a pastor about my own age, pastoring for the same amount of time, we both have very similar backgrounds, same education. But the big difference he let himself get burned out.

Did you know that pastors have a really high rate of suicide? We do put others first, often over our marriage, our family, even over our own health.

So to all the pastors, exercise, eat right, tame the tiger called your calendar, slow down, expand your staff, learn to delegate, conquer doubt.

I can’t tell you how many pastors fear getting in the pulpit and speaking, what if my sermon stinks, what if they’re bored, am I going to offend some one, they all leave after the service and don’t look any different. There are pastors that won’t stand at the door after the service because they are to afraid of what someone might say, that they might get called a fraud or not complemented.

In one church I pastored one of the deacons after every sermon would hand me a 3×5 card with a score and usually negative comments. It never bothered me because I wasn’t preaching for him, I was preaching because of my call from God to do so.

The pastor that called this morning he knew exactly what I was going to say to him, (because we’ve had this talk before) “did you talk to God this week?” did you wait on God, did you hear from God, do you still believe in your calling, your vocation?

Then suck it up, stop whining and do your job! He always complains that I’m to hard on him, I always tell him if he was standing in front of me I’d punch him.

I always tell preachers there is one rule while in the pulpit, fear God, not man. It may take a while to sink in for some but eventually they get it. The other thing I always tell them is read the biography of George Whitfield. He hid in a field on the day of his ordination because he was afraid of the awesomeness of being ordained and responsible for feeding the flock.

Get the fear, the awe back, the holy burden of a sacred duty.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

THE SKELETON

November 28, 2015

squelette

YOUR SKELETON

Learn to defend the faith by the following dozen philosophical truths and you can argue, defend, support, be a bulwark of Christianity and not a bumbling illiterate doubting Christian, unable to converse and persuade the loudest atheist. The Big Twelve are points you can never falter, not support or deny or you have lost before you began.  If number one is not immediately agreed upon with whomever you are conversing walk away and shake the dust off your feet as you are dealing with a fool; and fool’s gift to himself is the sound of his own voice braying like the jackass he is.

 

 

  1. Truth about reality is knowable.

 

  1. The opposite of true is false.

 

  1. It is true that the theistic God exists.

 

  1. If God exists, then miracles are possible.

 

  1. Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God

(i.e., as an act of God to confirm a word from God).

 

  1. The New Testament is historically reliable.

 

  1. The New Testament says Jesus claimed to be God.

 

  1. Jesus’ claim to be God was miraculously confirmed by:
  2. His fulfillment of many prophecies about Himself;
  3. His sinless and miraculous life;
  4. His prediction and accomplishment of His resurrection.

 

  1. Therefore, Jesus is God.

 

  1. Whatever Jesus (who is God) teaches is true.

 

  1. Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God.

 

  1. Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God

(and anything opposed to it is false).

 

All nontheistic worldviews are directly or indirectly unaffirmable, and only theism is affirmable and undeniable. All world views that do not include God are wrong; all of them fail the test for truth. For example, deism is a self-defeating position because it acknowledges the miracle of an ex nihilo creation but denies that other miracles are possible. Pantheism is self-defeating because it involves a person (the pantheist) claiming that individual finite selves (such as the pantheist) are less than real. Dogmatic atheism, in its insistence that God must not exist because of the reality of evil, must assume God (as the ground of morality) in order to disprove God.

Since something exists, nothing comes from nothing that leads inescapably to the existence of an infinitely perfect and powerful Being beyond this world who is the current sustaining cause of all finite, changing, and contingent beings. The idea of a faith in chance, a cosmic roll of the dice created a patterned existence is by very definition the essence of one’s own personal hell. The concept that I am a random spermatic happenstance is the birth of hopelessness and the only by-product of such a belief system is despair.

Given the truth of theism, one must acknowledge the possibility of miracles Furthermore, the existence of God guarantees that history has meaning and that it is possible for human beings to know historical events. This means that God could use miracles in history to confirm his message.

(Again I want to mention a book that every Christian should have in your library, The book of Evangelism Explosion (EE), there is a great chapter in there about all the Old Testament Prophecies and how Christ fulfilled each and every one of them, an impossible task for a mere human being. This is also a great resource in witnessing to Jews). If you’ve read before, read it again.

“How do I know Christianity is true?” The key to answering this question is “to distinguish between knowing Christianity to be true and showing Christianity to be true”. “We know Christianity is true primarily by the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit. We show Christianity is true by demonstrating that it is systematically consistent”. In other words, Christian apologetics does not pretend to create the grounds for knowing that Christianity is true, but rather points to or presents Christianity as rational as a means of encouraging unbelievers to receive the witness of the Spirit. A solvent point that we tend to easily to forget, you have to truly believe that each person you come into dialogue with has been drawn to that point in time to either be converted or condemned (not everyone is going to heaven) and that the Holy Spirit led both of you to that point. It is and always will be the Spirit of God that produces a moment of believing faith. We must always be ready to give answer and also believe that the Holy Spirit will help us speak, He’s more interested in what happens than we are.

Given that God’s existence would give meaning to life, we do not believe in God in an irrational attempt to convince ourselves that life has meaning. We believe in God because there is proof that he exists. “Thus, people are without excuse for not believing in God’s existence, not only because of the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, but also because of the external witness of nature”. Arguments in support of belief in God “provide an intellectual, cultural context in which the gospel cannot be dismissed simply as a logical absurdity and is therefore given an honest chance to be heard”

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Elisa, cosmetic surgery gone horribly wrong

Bob, eye surgery gone wrong

Sara K, kicked by a rescue horse she picked up today, broke her hip

Daniel M, just accepted the Lord

Dan S, his daughter is a missionary and has contracted some kind of lung disease, not sure she’ll even survive the trip back to America.

******Pray for those in authority over us, so that we would know peace. (give me the bible verse for that statement and we will ship to you completely free an NIV study bible.*****

 

 

defender of the faith

November 28, 2015

boxing

Fundamental to apologetics is answering questions commonly raised by non-Christians about the truth of Christianity. While many such questions are broached in this book, we will concentrate on those that are basic and crucial to the validity of the Christian faith. These questions are part of the unbelieving stance typified by the agnostic or atheist today. Those questions are the following:

 

  1. Why should we believe in the Bible?

 

  1. Don’t all religions lead to God?

 

  1. How do we know that God exists?

 

  1. If God does exist, why does he permit evil?

 

  1. Aren’t the miracles of the Bible spiritual myths or legends and not literal fact?

 

  1. Why should I believe what Christians claim about Jesus?

we will be analyzing four basic approaches to apologetics. Again, these are idealized types; when we consider the apologetic work of actual Christian apologists we find that there are actually many more than four approaches. However, most of the methods that Christians use in apologetics are closely related to one of these four basic approaches. We might think of them as ‘families’ of apologetic approaches, with those classified in the same type as sharing certain ‘family resemblances’ with one another. Membership in one family does not preclude some resemblances to another family. Our analysis of apologetic approaches into these four types closely parallels that found in other surveys of major types of apologetics, though with some minor differences (see the Appendix.)

 

What distinguishes these four basic approaches to apologetics? To put the matter as simply as possible, each places a distinctive priority on reason, fact, revelation, and faith respectively. In our illustrations with Sarah and Murali, we will also present four Christians utilizing the four approaches in an astute, representative manner. For reasons that will become clear by the end of Part One, we call these four apologists Tom (after Thomas Aquinas, a thirteenth-century theologian), Joe (after Joseph Butler, an eighteenth-century Anglican bishop), Cal (after John Calvin, the sixteenth-century French Reformer), and Martina (after Martin Luther, the sixteenth-century German Reformer). Tom’s apologetic approach places a strong emphasis on logic, and is called classical apologetics. Joe’s approach emphasizes facts or evidences, and is called evidentialism. Cal’s approach emphasizes the authority of God’s revelation in Scripture; because of its close identification with Calvinist or Reformed theology, this approach is here called Reformed apologetics. Finally, Martina’s approach emphasizes the need for personal faith and is referred to here as fideism (from the Latin fide, “faith”). These are differences in emphasis or priority, since apologists favoring one approach over another generally allow some role for reason, facts, revelation, and faith. (Even fideism, which is typically suspicious of apologetic argument, offers a kind of apologetics that uses reason and fact.)

 

The four approaches diverge on apologetic method or theory regarding the following six questions, all of which will be discussed in this book in relation to each of the four views:

 

  1. 1. On what basis do we claim that Christianity is the truth?

 

  1. 2. What is the relationship between apologetics and theology?

 

  1. 3. Should apologetics engage in a philosophical defense of the Christian faith?

 

  1. 4. Can science be used to defend the Christian faith?

 

  1. 5. Can the Christian faith be supported by historical inquiry?

 

  1. 6. How is our knowledge of Christian truth related to our experience?

 

Although each approach answers these questions in different ways, those answers are not necessarily mutually exclusive. In practice, many apologists do not fit neatly into one of the four categories because they draw somewhat from two or even more approaches to answer these questions about apologetics. We see this as a healthy tendency. In fact, we will argue that all four approaches have value and should be integrated together as much as possible.

The Plan of this devotion ( I may deviate or shorten some of the material as I don’t want anyone to suffer burn out from so much information.)

  1. On what basis do we argue that Christianity is the truth?

 

On the basis of what understanding of knowledge and truth should the Christian apologist seek to lead non-Christians to the knowledge of Christianity as the truth? As we have seen, this question is at the core of what distinguishes the four approaches discussed in this book. The classical apologist sees reason as the ground of apologetic argument. The evidentialist seeks to build a case for Christianity from the facts. The Reformed apologist contends that God’s revelation of himself in Jesus Christ and in Scripture is the proper ground for all thinking about reason, fact, and human experience. The fideist presents experience of God in Jesus Christ as self-justifying apart from argument. These varying approaches are based on different epistemologies, or theories of knowledge. (Epistemology is concerned with the nature and ground of knowledge—what knowledge is, and how we know what we know—and especially with the justification of knowledge claims.) Thus the classical apologist adheres to a broadly rationalist epistemology, the evidentialist to an empirical or fact-based epistemology, the Reformed apologist to an authoritarian epistemology (with Christ and Scripture the supreme authorities), and the fideist to a subjectivist, experience-based epistemology. Tied up with these epistemologies are varying beliefs about the kind of certainty that can be afforded through apologetic argumentation, the existence and identity of “common ground” or relevant shared truth between Christians and non-Christians, and the relation between faith and reason.

 

This metapologetic question also relates directly to an apologetic question. Non-Christians object to the absolute truth-claim made by Christians on behalf of the gospel. Most people in our society today do not believe in absolute truth and consider any absolute religious claims particularly onerous. The rise of postmodernism represents the newest wave of assaults on the belief in absolute truth. The responses to this question from the four apologetic approaches will naturally parallel their answers to the question in its metapologetic form. Thus the classical apologist will argue that denials of absolute truth are irrational. The evidentialist will typically argue that while absolute rational certainty for the claims of Christ is unavailable, those claims can be supported by the facts, perhaps beyond reasonable doubt. The Reformed apologist will commonly contend that all people at bottom do believe in absolute truth and even presuppose that belief at every turn. The fideist will generally respond that absolute truth is not a matter of propositional knowledge or factual information anyway, but is a Person who is known in relationship, not in mere words. Fideists are more likely than advocates of other apologetic approaches to find value or points of contact in postmodernism, since that movement eschews the modernist assumption of scientific and rational objectivity and views belief systems primarily as functions of the individual and the community.

  1. What is the relationship between apologetics and theology?

 

This relationship is a primary issue in metapologetics, though its importance is often overlooked. This question is important in two ways.

 

First, there is significant debate concerning the theological foundation of apologetics. To some extent apologetical methods are related to the way one understands and interprets Christian theology. The close relationship between theology and apologetics is especially evident in Reformed apologetics, because it originated from and is almost completely tied into the Reformed tradition in systematic theology. On the other hand, some Reformed theologians engage in rational and evidential apologetics, although those we are calling Reformed apologists regard these thinkers as inconsistent Calvinists who have slipped into a Thomistic or Arminian apologetic methodology. Thus one cannot avoid theology when considering how to do apologetics. Apologists disagree, for example, about whether God’s revelation in nature can be sufficiently understood by non-Christians to arrive at belief in God. This disagreement is closely tied to a debate over the effects of sin on human reasoning.

 

Second, apologists hold different views about the relationship of apologetics as a discipline to the discipline of theology (particularly systematic theology). Some apologists view apologetics as a branch of theology (whether major or minor), while others regard it as a preparation for theology. The debate is significant because it affects our understanding of the rules or methods followed in apologetics as well as the purpose and scope of apologetics.

  1. Should apologetics engage in a philosophical defense of the Christian faith?

 

Apologetics is often viewed and practiced almost as if it were synonymous with philosophy of religion—as a discipline that seeks to apply the tools of philosophy to defining and proving certain key beliefs of Christianity. On the other hand, some apologists show great disdain for philosophy, regarding it as the enemy of Christian faith. Historically, some apologists have sought to defend Christianity in terms drawn from the non-Christian philosophies of such thinkers as Plato or Aristotle or Kant. Meanwhile other apologists have regarded such efforts as inevitably compromising the Christian message that is supposedly being defended. This issue must be considered in developing an approach to apologetics.

  1. Can science be used to defend the Christian faith?

 

For many non-Christians today, science poses the most formidable intellectual objections to Christian faith. Yet Christian apologists differ markedly in their view of the proper stance to be taken toward science. Some embrace the findings of science enthusiastically, claiming to find in them direct confirmation of the Christian faith. Others take the opposite position, viewing science in general with suspicion and regarding certain prevailing theories of science as inimical to the Christian faith. Still other apologists view science as irrelevant, since to them the Christian faith deals with issues that transcend the physical world that is the field of scientific inquiry.

  1. Can the Christian faith be supported by historical inquiry?

 

The diversity of views on science among apologists is paralleled by a similar diversity concerning history. Some apologists stake the truth of the Christian message on its historical verifiability. Others, while agreeing that the faith is based on historical events, place little emphasis on historical inquiry or warn against believing that the central events of redemption can be verified “objectively” according to the canons of historical study. Still others regard the faith as in principle not subject to historical inquiry because it deals with the eternal, not the temporal.

  1. How is our knowledge of Christian truth related to our experience?

 

All human beings process new information and ideas by relating them in some fashion to their own experiences in life. This fact necessitates giving some consideration to how apologetics should relate to experience. Some apologists seek to analyze human experience in terms of universal truths in which the Christian message can be grounded. Others eschew argumentation about experience and instead call on non-Christians to experience God’s love in Christ. Still others view all experience as untrustworthy and argue that it needs to be tested and interpreted in light of the authoritative teaching of Scripture. Some answer to the question of experience must be given, or at least assumed, by every apologist.

 

Apologetic Questions

 

In the preface we introduced six common questions or objections to the Christian faith that are commonly brought up by non-Christians. We will comment briefly on each.

  1. Why should we believe in the Bible?

 

All Christian apologists have as part of their “job description” the task of persuading people to accept the Bible as God’s word—as inspired Scripture. Apologists take different approaches to accomplishing this task. Some see the question of the Bible as the conclusion or end point of their apologetic. Typically they seek to demonstrate logically the truth of the biblical worldview, then to defend the truth of the central biblical claims on behalf of Jesus Christ, and only then to present the Bible as God’s word. Other apologists defend the truth and inspiration of the Bible inductively, by treating the Bible as a source and defending the authenticity and accuracy of that source in every major aspect. In contrast to these approaches, some apologists insist that the divine authority of the Bible must be presented as the only viable foundation for all knowledge; for them the inspiration of Scripture is the beginning, not the end, of the argument. Still other apologists focus not on defending the doctrine of biblical inspiration but on leading non-Christians to encounter Jesus Christ personally through the reading of Scripture.

  1. Don’t all religions lead to God?

 

On the assumption that (absolute) truth claims in religion are unjustifiable, many people today argue that all religions are adequate to meet the needs that Christianity does. Apologists employing different methods tend to respond to this belief in different ways. Some try to show that all non-Christian religions are illogical. Others present evidence to support Christianity’s unique status among the religions of the world. Still others cut through the objection by responding that Christianity isn’t a religion at all.

  1. How do we know that God exists?

 

All Christian apologists, of course, are concerned to bring non-Christians to the knowledge of God. However, they differ markedly in what sorts of arguments they regard as viable means of convincing non-Christians that God even exists. Some apologists employ arguments designed to prove conclusively that God exists, while others use arguments claiming only to show that it is not unreasonable to believe that God exists. Still others are critical of traditional arguments for God’s existence, preferring either an indirect argument or no argument at all. Some apologists, in fact, assert that arguments for God’s existence can actually interfere with or impede genuine faith.

  1. If God does exist, why does he permit evil?

 

Ask ten non-Christians at random to give two objections to the Christian faith, and very likely nine of them will mention what is known as the problem of evil: How is it that there is evil in the world created by an all-powerful and all-loving God? Christian apologists respond to this challenge with different argumentative strategies. Some argue for the coherence of the Christian worldview as inclusive of evil and suffering. Others contend that the question is impudent and cannot be rationally answered. As this is probably the number one objection to the Christian faith, apologists must wrestle seriously with this question.

  1. Aren’t the miracles of the Bible spiritual myths or legends and not literal fact?

 

Modern criticism of the Bible has resulted in the widespread belief that the books of the Bible were in general not written when or by whom they have traditionally been understood to have been written. Worse, it is commonly believed that the narratives of the Bible are not historical accounts but later myths or legends that have only tenuous roots in fact. In particular, many people today view the biblical accounts of such foundational miraculous events as the crossing of the Red Sea in the Exodus or the resurrection of Jesus from the dead as symbolic myths teaching perennial spiritual truths rather than as miraculous historical events. Christian apologists approach the biblical miracles in different ways. Some seek to make them credible by first proving the existence of God. Others appeal directly to the historical evidence to show that these events occurred, and actually cite the biblical miracles as evidence of God’s existence. Others, though, view miracles as God’s activity in the world in response to faith and criticize traditional apologetic arguments as seeking to base faith on miracles. Once again, apologists who agree that the biblical miracles occurred have markedly different approaches to defending belief in those miracles.

  1. Why should I believe what Christians claim about Jesus?

 

Most non-Christians are willing to grant that belief in Jesus can be helpful or meaningful to Christians, but balk at the claim that belief in Jesus is necessary for all people because what Christians believe about Jesus is the truth. In addition, many non-Christians today believe that biblical scholarship has called into question the traditional Christian view of Jesus as the supernatural, risen Savior and Lord. Apologists employ a variety of arguments designed to lead non-Christians to see and accept the truth claims of Jesus. Some reason that Jesus must be what the Bible says he is because no other explanation makes sense. Others present factual evidence for the life, the death, and especially the resurrection of Jesus, maintaining that it is sufficient to refute modern antibiblical theories about Jesus and to establish the Christian truth claims about him. Still other apologists argue, in effect, that Jesus himself is his own best argument: that non-Christians need simply to be confronted with the person of Jesus in the Gospels. They recognize that biblical scholarship does not deliver to us the traditional, biblical Christ, but contend that it could not and indeed should not do so: the Christ of faith transcends the “Jesus of history” and must be found by faith, not by historical inquiry. Thus, on so basic a question as why non-Christians should believe in Jesus, Christian apologists have offered some strikingly different answers.

Part Three tomorrow.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

YOU ARE A SPONGE

November 27, 2015

Exploding head

Well this is going to be an annual event I guess, my Thanksgiving Day Rant.

 

Let me start at the beginning, so Tuesday I go to my kids house and borrow a 36 inch flat screen tv, Wednesday I go to the cable company and tell them I want two months of cable, they make me sign up for three. So the deal is my wife wants to watch the thanksgiving parade, the Christmas parade and the new year’s eve ball drop, that’s it.

 

So Wednesday hook up the tv, Thursday we watch the parade and the dog show.

 

So maybe because I don’t watch tv at all I’m more sensitive, or less numb or not brain rotted, but again I am shocked at what is on tv.

 

5 minutes before the parade the nbc news announces that during the holiday season there will be a great, moving, touching, revealing, heart tugging movie coming out or on tv about a true story of a transgender person and their courageous struggle. Really, 5 minutes before the Macy Day parade, all these families are getting to watch a parade and now you have to answer your 7 year old what a transgender is and no it isn’t related to the movie “the Transformers” (well maybe it is).

 

Then during the parade, you have to explain why men are wearing women’s cheer leading dresses, or how almost every single solo performer while surrounded by kids is singing about sex, more sex, low morals, bad affairs, cheating, more sex, still surrounded by kids under 12.

 

And as a bonus to the parade, Avery, (not his real name) who is an old friend of mine, who lives in N.Y. and works for NBC, calls with a spoiler alert, (not that I care, but it shows how bankrupt the tv people are), “hey, are you watching the parade?”, yep, I am, “watch when the float comes by with Mariah Carey on it, they won’t zoom in on her like all the other singers because it’ not her.” It’s a stand in, cause she never shows up, and yet the parade hosts are going to tell you it’s her. (oh my, tv people are lying to me, how shocking).

 

So how often do you sit in a coma, in front of the tv and let all this malarkey just soak into your brain; are you a passive parasite parade watcher or do you look for everything, in media for that which corrupts, corrodes, and conceals the truth about fallen humanity. Can you even still be shocked?

 

I’m no Don Wildmon, (look him up if you don’t know who he is) by any stretch of the imagination but wow, the three times a year I turn on the tv just floors me.

 

So how often do you watch tv, and how many lies, and how much corruption, impurity and filth do you let into your home?

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 for all those praying for Kim and her battle with cancer, she has gone on to be with the Lord. Pray for the family.

 

 

 

block the punch

November 26, 2015

boxing

APOLOGETICS

Just like the word “theology” everyone has a theology, whether they want to call it that or acknowledge it, the same with “apologetics” if you have ever talked to someone about why you believe in something from the bible you were involved in apologetics. So here is a good intro to the subject of apologetics, (see once you start saying it you can’t quit).

The theological discipline of defending the Christian faith against the attacks of unbelief is called apologetics. The terms apologist and apologetics are from the Greek term apologia, meaning to make a defense or reply to an accusation or judgment. See Walter Bauer, “apologia,” in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 4th ed., trans. and ed. William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 96. The term is often translated defense, as in Acts 22: 1: “Hear the defense I now make,” or 1 Corinthians 9: 3: “My defense to those who examine me is this.” See also Acts 25: 16 and 2 Timothy 4: 16.

Perhaps the most important verse of the New Testament concerning apologetics is 1 Peter 3: 15: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer [defense] to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” From this short verse we might define apologetics as follows: The defense and proclamation of the gospel and all of God’s revealed truth in a gentle and reverent method and manner that properly honors Christ as Lord of all.

A more comprehensive definition of apologetics might include the study of God’s attributes and activity as the only basis of a true and God-honoring comprehensive biblical worldview, including the study of and response to the irrational assumptions of all systems of unbelief; the study of the rational and defensible assumptions of Christian faith, assurance of the authority, accuracy, and trustworthiness of Scripture, and the presentation of the glory of God and Christ in the Gospel. While apologetics does address important philosophical issues, it is primarily a biblical and theological discipline, touching all aspects of theology. Regardless, as God is the source and basis of all reasoning, philosophy and apologetics are ultimately aspects of theology.

One of our goals in this study will be to help you answer;

    Why is belief in God rational despite the prevalence of evil in the world?

    What facts support the church’s testimony that Jesus rose from the dead?

    Can we be certain Christianity is true?

    How can our faith in Christ be based on something more secure than our own understanding without descending into an irrational emotionalism?

I hope this blesses you and equips you to defend your faith.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Lisa R, just lost her dad

  1. R. Reynolds, just diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

Jim W, trying to walk the straight and narrow after losing his wife to cancer, blamed God, went a little crazy and now has to get his head back in the game.

marshmallow

(1)  Thanksgiving is important because it establishes the proper orientation between the One bestowing the blessing and the one giving thanks for that blessing.  To ignore or reject giving thanks to God has serious consequences.

“For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.   For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20-21; see also Hebrews 7:1-10).

(2)  Thanksgiving is an act of worship.  It is directed to God, for it is He to whom we express our thanks.  Often we will find the word “praise” associated with thanksgiving.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good and his loyal love endures.  Say this prayer: “Deliver us, O God who delivers us! Gather us! Rescue us from the nations! Then we will give thanks to your holy name, and boast about your praiseworthy deeds” (1 Chronicles 16:34-35, NET; see also 2 Chronicles 31:2; Nehemiah 12:24, 46; Psalm 7:17; 30:4, 12; 111:1).

(3)  Because Thanksgiving is worship, it is frequently a corporate experience. Worship is expressed publicly, before fellow Israelites (Psalm 35:18; 111:1), and sometimes before the nations (Gentiles – Psalm 18:49; 57:9).  Thus, we could say that thanksgiving is evangelistic (see Acts 8:4; 11:19-21; 16:1-34; see also 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10).

(4)  Thanksgiving is worship that is often expressed through poetry (psalms) and music (Psalm 69:30; 147:7; Colossians 3:16-17).

(5)  Public thanksgiving, declared as worship, is not spontaneous, but requires forethought and preparation.  (Psalms, with their intricate poetry, don’t come about instantly, but are composed over time, and with considerable effort.)

(6)  Thanksgiving is God-centered, rather than self-centered.  Most often thanksgiving focuses on God’s actions and on His attributes (lovingkindness, goodness, mercy, love, etc.), both on what He does, and on what this reveals of His character and attributes.

“Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us and we belong to him; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give him thanks! Praise his name! For the LORD is good. His loyal love endures, and he is faithful through all generations” (Psalm 100:3-5, NET).

(7)  Thanksgiving focuses on our spiritual blessings as much or more than on material blessings (see Colossians 1:3-8, 12-14).  Foremost among these blessings is our salvation which God has accomplished for us through the work of Jesus Christ in our place (Ephesians 1:3-14; 1 Timothy 1:12-14).

(8)  Thanksgiving also rejoices and gives thanks for what God does in the lives of others.

God’s deliverance of the Israelites in the past (Psalm 107).

God’s current work in the lives of others:

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:15-16; see also 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10; 2 Thessalonians 1:3ff.; 2:13-14).

(9)  Thanksgiving is continual and ongoing — a lifestyle, not just a singular event (Psalm 86:12; 79:13).  One might say that thanksgiving is an attitude, which manifests itself in action.   When we give thanks we are rehearsing for heaven (see Revelation 4:9-11; 5:8-14; 7:11-12; 11:16-18).

(10) Thanksgiving should accompany our petitions.  Thanksgiving partners with petition:

“Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6; see also Psalm 13; Ephesians 1:15-19).

(11) Christian thanksgiving is not to be restricted to the “good times,” but is also to be offered in times of great trials, difficulties, and distress (Psalm 13; 119:67, 71; Philippians 1:29-30; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; see Psalm 73; Acts 4:23-31; 16:16-34).

(12) Thanksgiving is an exercise of faith (“whatever is not of faith is sin” – Romans 14:23).

    Faith recognizes that the source of our blessings is God, and not us (James 1:17).

    Faith believes that whatever our circumstance, God has purposed it for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).

    Faith looks ahead with confidence, based upon the blessings God has already bestowed (Exodus 15:11-18).

    Faith trusts God when our troubles are still with us, and when what we have asked for has not yet been granted (Hebrews 11:1-2, 13-31).

A Challenge

Given these biblical principles regarding thanksgiving, we at Bible.org would like to challenge you to grow in your expressions of thanksgiving during this season, as well as in your daily walk.

(1)  Consider the ways in which the prosperity preaching of our day opposes and discourages thanksgiving as the Bible teaches it.

(2)  Give serious thought as to how you should give thanks to God for the setbacks, suffering, and difficulties in your life (“in everything give thanks”).

(3)  Purpose to practice thanksgiving when you don’t feel like it, especially in times of adversity and sorrow (when there seems to be no basis for thanksgiving).

(4)  Purpose to give thanks in ways that are public, and not just private.  (A special Thanksgiving Service may be a way for churches to encourage this.)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Please pray for Danny f, just lost his mom at 89 year of age

Roxanne, wants to lead a godly life, and be celibate until marriage

Pray for Kim and her battle against cancer

Pray for Fred s, going into hospital tomorrow for MRI for a brain tumor

Pray for Bill, having knee surgery on thanksgiving day and hoping his doctor has his head in the game.

Pray for Steve L, and healing for his heart.

Pray for all those that struggle with the holidays

DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER

November 24, 2015

sugar coating

So just because supposedly 50% of marriages end in divorce (that’s not a true figure, it’s down to 43% and you have to take into consideration that 20% are the same persons divorcing over and over).

And yes almost everybody you know is divorced or seems like it, we have to do two things in this devotion, 1, not lower God’s standards and 2, not make the divorced feel guilty or ashamed.

Divorce, the legal dissolution of marriage, is a departure from what God intended and is not endorsed by Scripture except under limited conditions.  Divorce is the result of sin in the lives of one or both of the partners.  More often than not, both are to blame to some degree.  Pride and selfishness often contribute to the conditions that lead to divorce.

Divorce is often the product of inflexible wills.  “Jesus replied, Moses permitted you to divorce  your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning” (Matthew 19:8, NIV). It was not God’s original design for marriage.

No manipulation of Scripture or rationalization makes divorce right.  Scripture states:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, NIV).

The Apostle Paul wrote: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): a wife must not separate form her husband . .  And a husband must not divorce his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10, NIV).

“Has not the Lord mad them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. . . So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. ‘I hate divorce,’ says the Lord God of Israel” (Malachi 2:15,16, NIV).

Limited Conditions Under Which Divorce May be Permitted:

  1. When a spouse is guilty of sexual immorality such as adultery or homosexuality and has no intention of repenting or seeking God’s forgiveness, or forsaking his or her sin and living in faithfulness to his or her spouse. (See Matthew 19:9.)

  2. When one partner deserts the other, especially when an unbelieving partner deserts a Christian spouse. (See 1 Corinthians 7:15.)

If someone is married and divorced before coming to Christ, he should continue on as he is.  If the person has remarried, he should attempt to make a successful second marriage.  Leaving the second spouse to return to the first would be wrong.  Two wrongs never make a right!

Having an unbelieving spouse in not ground for divorce.  To the contrary, the Christian spouse is encourage to “live in peace” with the unbelieving partner, with the goal of winning him to faith in Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 7:12-16.)

Count the Cost of Such Action:

  1. Is it displeasing to God? (See Malachi 2:15,16.)

  2. Will it disrupt the continuity of life and adversely affect other people: Children, parents, extended families?

  3. Will really solve any problems, or will it rather create a whole range of new ones? Divorce is an emotionally traumatic experience.

Exhaust Every Option in Search for Solutions:

  1. Attempt to work things out on a personal level in all humility and with a forgiving spirit. (See Matthew 18:21, 22.)

  1. Submit to serious counseling with a Christian marriage counselor or a qualified pastor.

  2. If necessary, experiment with a trail separation while searching for a redemptive solution. In a case of physical or psychological abuse, homosexuality, drunkenness, drugs, etc., a separation might be advisable.

No problems are solved by lowering God’s standards of lifelong marital fidelity (James 1:25). Satan, ever the destroyer, liar, thief, and deceiver, tries to convince some that problems will be resolved through marriage breakup (John 8:44; 1 Pet. 5:8).

Matthew 193b-9

“Do you permit divorce?” they asked,

“Don’t you read the Scriptures?” he replied. “In them it is written that at the beginning God created man and woman, and that a man should leave his father and mother, and be forever united to his wife.  The two shall become one-no longer two, but one! And no man may divorce what God has joined together.”

“Then, why,” they asked, “did Moses say a man may divorce his wife by merely writing her a letter of dismissal?”

Jesus replied, “Moses did that in recognition of your hard and evil hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.  And I tell you this, that anyone who divorces his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery.”

1 Corinthians 7:10-15

Now for those who are married I have a command, not just a suggestion. And it is not a command from me, for this is what the Lord himself has said: A wife must not leave her husband. But if she is separated from him, let her remain single or else go back to him.  And the husband must not divorce his wife.

Here I want to add some suggestions of my own. These are not direct commands from the Lord, but they seem right to me: if a Christian has a wife who is not a Christian, but she wants to stay with him anyway, he must not leave her or divorce her.  And if a Christian woman has a husband who isn’t Christian, and he wants her to stay with him, she must not leave him.  For perhaps the husband who isn’t a Christian may become a Christian with the help of her Christian wife.  And the wife who isn’t a Christian may become a Christian with the help of her Christian husband.  Otherwise, if the family separates, the children might never come to know the Lord; whereas a united family may, in God’s plan, result in the children’s salvation.

But if the husband or wife who isn’t a Christian is eager to leave, it is permitted. In such cases the Christian husband or wife should not insist that the other stay, for God wants his children to live in peace and harmony.

Seems pretty tough doesn’t it, yet we’ve said it before, being a Christian is not for sissies. When Jesus came he said beforehand it was sinful to commit adultery, now that I’m here I want to tell you just thinking about it is a sin.

Having performed hundreds of marriages and the majority have stayed married, making sure the love and commitment is real goes a long way in lowering the divorce rate, plus knowing your pastor will kick you’re a$$ for fooling around does have merit. We double date with engaged couples, we ask them to stop having sex, the young man must attend sessions and hang out with successfully married men, the same for the young women. Six months (not weeks) of premarital counseling. The church works as hard as the couple.

In a marriage of a believer and an unbeliever, the choice of divorce should be left up to the unbeliever. (which we won’t marry folks in that case, we don’t marry unbelievers, nor do we marry unequally yoked believers ) If the unbeliever is the one who has asked for help, share Jesus.  Remember that in some cases a believer may be helping to drive away the unbeliever, and thus committing sin.  For either person asking whether divorce should be sought: it should be discouraged. Stress that the far-reaching consequences of divorce are too great to consider only oneself. Urge partners to consider their children: their futures and their present needs. Emphasize that sacrifices must be made.  Stress belief that God will provide the love which can overrule all obstacles to one-ness- including pride, self-seeking, self-serving provoking one another.  Urge both to forgive and learn to love one another.  Pray with both parties.  Encourage partners to seek fellowship and counsel in a local church that is Christ-centered and clearly teaches the Bible

  1. God rebuked the Isarleites for the sin of divorce and commanded them to be faithful to their covenant vows.

Mal. 2:13-16.

  1. Mal. 2:16. “I hate divorce,” says the LORD GOD of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.

  2. Jesus says: No divorce, except in the case of adultery.

Matt. 5:31-32. It has been said, “Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.” But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to commit adultery, and anyone who marries a woman so divorced commits adultery.

Matt. 19:3-9.

Matt. 19:4-6. “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

  1. Husband and wife are bound together until death separates them.

Rom. 7:1-3. Do you know, brothers – for I am speaking to men who know the law- that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, she is called and adulteress.  But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress,  even though she marries another man.

  1. Mosaic law speaks of a bill of divorcement.

Deut. 24:1-4.

  1. A believer may not initiate a divorce from an unbelieving spouse.

1 Cor. 7:10-16.

  1. If the unbelieving spouse wants to depart, he or she may do so.

1 Cor. 7:15. If the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances.

  1. The believing spouse must seek reconciliation when trouble arises.

Rom 12:18. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Matt. 5:23-24. If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

Matt. 18:15-18. If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you.  If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

We do understand that divorce happens and the church wants to help provide healing and acceptance, the divorced person church is not a second class person, but we will not compromise the plan God has for marriage.

It is difficult to describe the sense of shock, hurt, bewilderment, emptiness, anger, rejection, isolation, and loss of self-worth felt when someone has been deserted or divorced after many years of marriage.  The person wonders:

Can this really be happening to me? How could he do this to me? Where did I fail? What could I have done differently? The most important question is what do I do now?

In spite of the trauma, the person must be helped to realize that life goes on.  The fact of the divorce must be accepted; he is now single and must face the future as such.  It is futile to continually dredge up the past, reliving it.  Fact will not change by self-torturing questions. It is entirely possible that he couldn’t have done anything differently to save the marriage.

An emotionally healthy person will go on and grow with the present.  The Apostle Paul gives the example: “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto (toward) those things which are before. . .” (Philippians 3:13, KJV). He must look at the experience as transitional, as a time to make adjustments, of expanding personality through reading, reflection and building or re-building friendships which will help him expand and grow.

If the person needs professional counseling during the transition, he should look for a qualified pastor or a Christian psychiatrist or psychologist who can deal with the problems in the light of Scripture.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.”    Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake, I am still with you.”

Psalm 139:17,18, NIV

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

Psalm 16:11, NIV

“Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint,  and I know I will not be put to shame.”            Isaiah 50:7, NIV

Will you?

November 23, 2015

christ on cross

A question I frequently ask people is, “If you were to die and stand before God and He said, ‘Why should I let you into heaven?’ what would you say?” Most people recognize that it’s a crucial question!

The answer I most frequently hear goes like this: “I’ve tried to do the best I could. I’ve never hurt anyone intentionally. I’ve been a pretty good person.” In other words, basically decent people will get into heaven. Only really bad people—thieves, prostitutes, and murderers—will go to hell.

There’s a “slight” problem with this common notion: It is totally opposed to what Jesus taught! In Matthew 9:12-13 Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Jesus spoke these words to the religious crowd—to the “good” people of His day. These folks were at “church” every time the door opened. You could set your watch by their prayer times. They tithed not only their money, but even their table spices. We’re talking outwardly good people!

What sparked the confrontation between them and Jesus was that Jesus had attended a dinner party thrown by a crook and attended by the crook’s unsavory friends. These people never darkened the door of a church. They didn’t even pretend to be good people. To make matters even worse, Jesus had just invited the crook to be one of His disciples, and the guy had accepted the offer! The religious folks thought that it was wrong for Jesus to offer God’s forgiveness to such riffraff. Let them clean up their act first!

When Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” He was not implying that the religious crowd were acceptable before God and didn’t need the forgiveness of sins He came to provide. Rather, He was getting at the point that there’s one thing worse than being sick, namely, being sick and thinking you’re well! Then you won’t go to the doctor for the cure. At least the crooks knew they were spiritually terminal. By confessing their sinfulness and by accepting God’s cure (His undeserved mercy through Jesus), they were made well. But those who thought they were spiritually well were terminal without knowing it.

Some years ago in a church in England, the pastor noticed that a former burglar was kneeling at the communion rail beside a judge of the Supreme Court of England, the very judge who, years before, had sentenced the burglar to seven years in prison. After his release the burglar had been converted to Christ and had become a Christian worker.

After the service, as the judge and the pastor walked home together, the judge asked, “Did you see who was kneeling beside me at the communion rail?” “Yes,” replied the pastor, “but I didn’t know that you noticed.” The two men walked on in silence for a few moments, and then the judge said, “What a miracle of grace!” The pastor nodded in agreement, “Yes, what a marvelous miracle of grace!”

Then the judge said, “But to whom do you refer?” The pastor replied, “Why to the conversion of that convict.” The judge said, “But I was not referring to him. I was thinking of myself.” “What do you mean?” the pastor asked.

The judge replied, “That burglar knew how much he needed Christ to save him from his sins. But look at me. I was taught from childhood to live as a gentleman, to keep my word, to say my prayers, to go to church. I went through Oxford, took y degrees, was called to the bar and eventually became a judge. Pastor, nothing but the grace of God could have caused me to admit that I was sinner on a level with that burglar. It took much more grace to forgive me for all my pride and self-righteousness, to get me to admit that I was not better in the eyes of God than that convict whom I had sent to prison.”

Jesus taught that good people don’t go to heaven because their pride keeps them from admitting their need for a Savior. The only ones who go to heaven are those who see their sinfulness before a holy God and cry out to Him for mercy. What will you say when you stand before God? Are you hoping to get into heaven by your goodness? Jesus didn’t call “the righteous”! Is your hope in God’s grace toward sinners through Jesus Christ? You’re in!

You may want to express your trust in Christ in prayer to God. A suggested prayer is, “Heavenly Father, I acknowledge my sin, rebellion, and self-centeredness to you. I rightly deserve your holy judgment. But I put my trust in your Son, Jesus, and His death on the cross, as the just payment for my sings. Thank you for giving me eternal life according to your promise.”

If you have just put your trust in Jesus Christ, you have been born into God’s family. As a spiritual baby, you need to grow by feeding on God’s Word (1 r 2:2). Purchase a good modern translation Bible and begin prayerfully reading it. I suggest you start in the New Testament, such as the Gospel of John or Paul’s letters to the Ephesians. As you read, ask two questions: “What are You, Lord?” “What do You want me to do?”

Also, you need to join a church where the Bible is taught and where God is truly worshiped. God bless you as you begin your new life with Him!

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

BE THERE

November 22, 2015

footsteps

The fellowship in Heaven will surpass anything that we have known on earth. Up there “God is with men; He will dwell with them, and God Himself shall be with them.” We shall enter into a fellowship with the triune God that is utterly unknown on earth. Men dwelling with “God Himself!” Could anything be higher and more glorious? Then we will know the blessed reality of the words of Christ, where He said: “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). In addition to having fellowship with “God Himself,” Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we will commune with the “innumerable company of angels, the general assembly and church of the firstborn, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:22-24). What a fellowship! What a joy divine!

 

 

Heaven will bring permanent relief from all of the ills of earth. It is written of the redeemed that in Heaven “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” I have dried the tears of my own children many times, but I have discovered my inability to stop the tears. When I feel that I have succeeded, I find that more tears begin to flow. The fountain of grief has been flowing perennially on earth since the dawn of the human race, and every earthly power has been limited in binding up broken hearts and assuaging the sorrows of man. But God is able. And how our hearts yearn for that glad occasion when the loving and almighty hand of our heavenly Father shall wipe away, once for all, every tear. The tears that flow from “sorrow,” “crying,” and “pain” shall be dried forever, for these things are not known in the land of pure delight. Earth’s grief is forever gone and along with it is the extirpation of every cause.

 

 

In Heaven there will be “no more death.” One cannot read the newspaper at home or walk the city streets without seeing our common enemy death. The hearse, the crepe, the undertaker, the graveyard, and the stonecutter all seek to remind us that we are on the waiting list for death and the grave. But believe along with me the divine record that God has arranged a time when death itself shall die. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

 

 

Heaven is revealed as a place of activity. John saw how that in the New Jerusalem “His servants shall serve Him” (Revelation 22:3). While it is true that Heaven is a place of rest, “a rest for the people of God,” it will not be the rest of inactivity or idleness. We will not merely lounge within the pearly gates to gaze forever on the eternal beauty of our heavenly home. It is not the unwarranted view inscribed on a grave: “Don’t weep for me now, don’t weep for me ever; For I’m going to do nothing forever and ever.”

 

 

Heaven would soon become monotonous if such were true. The saints “shall serve Him day and night in His temple” (Revelation 7:15), says John. When the Bible records the work of God in creation, it says: “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all the work which He had made” (Genesis 2:2). Does this mean that God has been inactive and idle since creation? Most assuredly not! Jesus said: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). By no means does the “rest” of the redeemed mean idleness. In Heaven we shall serve Him unhampered by earth’s enemies and limitations, without painful stress and strain and sweat. “And what will we be doing?” someone asks. David said: “In Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11). For one thing, we will enjoy to the full our blessed relationship with God. On earth we are hampered by so many things. The Apostle John realized that believers were enjoying merely a measure of that which God had for them. He wrote: “These things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4). In Heaven the joys and pleasures of our union with Jesus Christ will be appreciated and apprehended to the full, unhindered by the disturbing and distracting things on earth.

 

 

In Revelation 4:10-11 we are clearly shown that in Heaven, we will worship our Lord and cast our crowns before His throne. On earth He is not worshipped and adored as He should be. Our so-called worship is sometimes no worship at all. How often we have gone through the motions when our hearts were not right! We enthrone self and steal the crowns to the boast of what we have done. But yonder in the land of pure delight, in our glorified state, we shall give Him our all. How these thoughts of our future home and its varied spheres of activity should encourage us to more zealous and diligent service during earth’s pilgrimage! There is much about our heavenly activity that we do not know in detail now, but in that day we shall know even as we are known. But we know that we shall be engaged with Him who has redeemed us and brought us to our eternal dwelling place.

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Pray for Danny, going through a divorce during the holidays is rough

Pray for Teresa and her pregnancy, no more complications

Praise report from Candace, she has been completely healed of/from grand mall seizures, after having them for 9 years, she has not had one this year, and was told she could never be pregnant, well guess again.

going home

November 21, 2015

Enterprise_5_hr

Charles Spurgeon, on death: “To come to Thee is to come home from exile, to come to land out of the raging storm, to come to rest after long labour, to come to the goal of my desires and the summit of my wishes.” Sad to say, most people have the wrong idea of heaven, the wrong concept about death and no idea that the bible speaks more about heaven than we realize.

Heaven! A comforting word is this! But who among us mortal creatures can envision its blessed reality? Neither the artist’s brush, the sculptor’s chisel, nor the theologian’s exegesis can depict the things which God hath prepared for them who love Him. The wonder, the glory, and the effulgence of the home of the redeemed will be seen only through the eyes of our glorified bodies when we awake in Christ’s likeness. “Now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Still we are not left alone to grope in dark ignorance. A foretaste of glory divine has been preserved for us upon the pages of God’s eternal and unerring Word.

The late great preacher D. L. Moody told of an acquaintance whose only child had died. The accompanying sorrow was so great that his heart was almost broken by it. Before he suffered this loss, he had never given serious thought to life after death. Shortly after the child had been buried the friends and relatives of the man were surprised to see the deep interest he was showing in the Bible. He read it continually. When someone asked him about his sudden interest in the sacred Book, he answered that he was trying to find out something about the place where his boy had gone. He had come to the only source of satisfaction and reliable information. An instant after death the departed saint will know more about Heaven than all of the saints here on earth. But until we are called Home to be with the Lord, our knowledge is confined to what the Holy Spirit has revealed to us in the Bible.

And it is to the bible that we must turn, not to movies, or books by people that died and came back, EVERY SINGLE BOOK OF THAT TYPE IS WRONG.

Some general ideas that are held about Heaven are not found in the Word of God. Because Heaven is beyond the limits of our vision many people regard it as merely a sphere of life, or a state independent of locality. But Heaven is a place. It was the dwelling place of Christ before His Incarnation. He said: “I came down from Heaven” (John 6:38). Heaven was also the place to which He ascended after His resurrection. Luke says: “While He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into Heaven” (Luke 24:51). It is the place where the glory and power of God are set forth. Jesus is there now, “Set (or seated) on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Hebrews 8:1). Our Lord said: “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). When Jesus went away He must have gone somewhere to a place. Therefore, we are not flattering ourselves with an unfounded hope that makes dying easier but that deceives us at the last. Some scientists have concluded that because Heaven could not be found, there is no such place. But the great expanse of the Almighty God is not within the measuring lines of man. True, the astronomer has located the North Star over 400,000,000,000 miles away, but neither is that far when one reckons distance with God. We believe in the Biblical idea of Heaven as a definite, tangible place.

The Bible mentions three heavens: the aerial, the sidereal, and the celestial. First there is the atmospheric or aerial heavens where the birds fly. This is visible to the naked eye and is mentioned by Jeremiah where he said: “The birds of the heavens have fled” (Jeremiah 4:25). Next, there are the stellar or sidereal heavens from which shine the stars and constellations. Isaiah speaks of the Day of the Lord when “the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light” (Isaiah 13:10). Finally, there is the third Heaven, the celestial or “the Heaven of heavens” (2 Chronicles 6:18). “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into Heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24). Jesus said “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Here our Lord was referring to the third Heaven, and He says the Father is there. When the believer dies he is “absent from the body, and present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). He enters immediately into Heaven itself and is at home with the Lord.

But do we know the location of the third Heaven (called Paradise) where God, Christ, the unfallen angels, and the disembodied spirits of the believing dead are? In other words, exactly where is Heaven? If this question were asked of a small child, the answer doubtless would come back in the form of a finger pointing up, and perhaps the accompanying words, “Up there.” Heaven to almost everyone is “up.” Karl G. Sabiers asks: “Which way is ‘up’? If we say it is in the direction at right angles with the earth’s surface wherever we may happen to be, then it would be in a different direction from every point on earth. From North America and from China it would be in exactly the opposite directions. According to this, ‘up’ would be everywhere in general and nowhere in particular.” When Satan rebelled against God, he said: “I will ascend into Heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will set upon the mount of congregation in the uttermost parts of the north” (Isaiah 14:13 R.V.). No matter on what part of the earth one is standing, north will always be “up.” When the prophet Ezekiel got his vision from the Lord, he wrote: “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north” (Ezekiel 1:4). It would seem reasonable to conclude that Heaven is somewhere in the northern heavens beyond the reach of the astronomer’s powerful telescope.

 

Part Two tomorrow, God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com