phone home

April 22, 2018

John the Baptist, had a time of doubt. He was languishing in prison and he began to wonder, “If Jesus is truly the Messiah, why am I, His messenger, here in prison?” So he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Then He gently rebuked John’s doubt by adding, “And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me” (Luke 7:22, 23). Jesus went on to tell the crowd that among those born of women, there is no one greater than John. He was a godly man, but he had his time of doubt.

Maybe you never have doubts about the deity of Jesus. Maybe it’s more a feeling of unworthiness. Hey, you look in the mirror, you know your sins,, your short comings. The sermon always seems to be aimed at you, you read your bible and feel like nothing is sinking in. you hear others at bible study or Sunday school and they are talking about answered prayers and miracles and you’re trying to figure out how to stop jock itch and that weird rash you picked up at the gym.

Like John the Baptist, first reach out to Jesus, take 2 minutes more to read your bible. Set an egg timer to pray a little longer. Any feeling of lack of intimacy with God is your own fault. Nobody likes to hear that. Joel Osteen isn’t going to tell you that, neither will any of the “I have the secret to victory” books at the bible book store.

Stud up, man up, step up, grow up, it’s easier to talk to God than you think. Feeling guilty, that’s what your prayer is going to start with; “God, I feel guilty”. Feel worse than the dog poop you can’t get off your best shoes, yep, that’s your prayer. Angry, yell at God he can take it. I once was so frustrated with the trial I was going through that I was picking up rocks and throwing them at God. I didn’t get struck with lightning, the rocks did come flying back at me. The trial didn’t end. But my prayer life changed.

Make a list of what you are doing wrong, put it in your bible and pray about fixing one thing. Stop waiting for a miracle or thinking that it will suddenly get better because you put more money in the offering plate. It doesn’t work like that.

Read the story of the prodigal son in the NASB, (new American standard bible). It says ‘when he came to his senses’ then he saw the mess he was in and surrendered, swallowed his pride and went home.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

God isn’t Walt Disney and you’re not Pinocchio, although you may be a block head.

Seriously, you need to talk to God more.

  That ye may be blameless and harmless, children of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

  There should be neither undergrowth, nor overgrowth, but balanced growth. Spiritual equilibrium alone will bring forth much fruit both in us and in others.

A popular notion that the first obligation of the Church is to spread the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. The first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it. . . to spread a weak or worn out and degenerate brand of Christianity to pagan lands is not to fulfil the Great Commission.

 We were created for more than our own spiritual development; reproduction, not mere development, is the goal to mature being—reproduction in other lives. There is a tendency in some characters, running parallel to the high cultivation that spends its whole energy on the production of bloom at the expense of seed.

 The flowers (Christians) that are bent on perfecting themselves, by becoming double, (carbon copies, like a cult) end in barrenness, and a like barrenness comes to the soul whose interests are all concentrated upon its own spiritual well-being, heedless of the needs around. The true, ideal flower, (saint) is the one that uses its gifts as means to an end; their experiences are not for their own glory; but a godly, spiritual attractiveness, that draws others to the Lord, like a bee to a flower. That holy flame burning inside, lit by the Holy Spirit, draws strength from the Lord and produces a holy, sweet aroma, a life pleasing to God.

  “Holding forth the word of life, that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain” (Phil. 2:16).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Ann and her battle with abusing prescriptions.

Pray for Sharon as she fight vertigo, pray for a swift healing.

Bread Crumbs

April 20, 2018

Every thinking person has struggled with the problem of doubt. C. S. Lewis, who was an atheist before he was converted to Christianity, acknowledged that just as the Christian has his moments of doubt, so does the atheist. He wrote, “Believe in God, and you will have to face hours when it seems obvious that this material world is the only reality; disbelieve in Him, and you must face hours when this material world seems to shout at you that it is not all. No conviction religious or irreligious will, of itself, end once and for all this fifth-columnist in the soul. Only the practice of faith resulting in the habit of faith will gradually do that.” (Cited in “Focal Point,” July-September, 1989.)

Doubt comes in varying degrees. There is the doubt of the proud skeptic, who delights in his own intellect. He pits himself against God as if he is a match for the Almighty. He delights in upsetting the faith of weak believers. He sets forth his arguments against God’s existence or the Christian faith as if he is the first brilliant thinker in history to come up with such insights. Such doubters often find jobs teaching at American universities! The Bible dismisses such scoffers with the word, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 14:1).

It’s natural to have doubts. The Christian cannot have a mountaintop  experience without the valley experience. And it’s not always in that order. Often the new believer will experience a plethora of panoramic vistas of extreme wonder. Only to be followed by Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones. This to is normal and a good sign. The mature believer must depend more on faith and the promises of the bible versus the experiences of rapture and seemingly every prayer answered, to ‘Knock, Knock, where the heck did God go’ moments.

So if you are going through a ‘dry spell’ never doubt your salvation or sanity. You are now at a moment where God trusts you and your faith to a deeper, and yes, harder walk.

And if you happened to be a child of the 60’s you may remember the comic strip that featured the iconic keep on trucking image.

r crumb

God bless all the old hippies, you made it (with more or less of your brains intact)

Prayer requests, questions and comments to our email.

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

The Pre-Incarnate Preview

April 19, 2018

Ever read all the works of an author and wished they’d written more? What if you discovered they’d written other books, but under another name? We find something similar in Scripture. The Gospels tell us about Jesus. What would you say if I told you that I knew of some bonus material about Him? (don’t freak out we are not talking about ‘some other weird, mystery books’.)

The Old Testament, specifically the preincarnate appearances of Jesus. To become more like Christ, we can closely examine this “bonus material” to learn how Jesus engaged with people. In this devotion, we’ll focus on Jesus’ appearances as the angel of the Lord.

The Bible never clearly states Jesus was the angel of the Lord, but it does suggest it was him. Here are some aspects of his appearances for you to consider:

➤ Jesus came in preincarnate human form—The angel of the Lord took human form, but not human flesh. Jesus did not become incarnate (the word incarnation means “the act of being made flesh”) until his appearance in the New Testament.

➤ Jesus appeared frequently—The term “angel of the Lord” occurs more than 50 times in the Old Testament; “angel of God” occurs nine times. We also find the angel of the Lord appearing as a “glory cloud of God” (e.g., see Ex 16:10).

➤ Jesus revealed his character—As the angel of the Lord, Jesus revealed his character through his actions. Here’s a list of nine ways the appearances teach us about Christ. We see that

  1. He leads (see Ex 13:21)

    2. He defends (see Ex 23:20–23)

    3. He communes (see Ex 24:10–11)

    4. He speaks (see Ex 33:9–11)

    5. He sympathizes (see Isa 63:8–9)

    6. He commands (see Ac 7:38)

    7. He anticipates (see Ex 40:34–38)

    8. He reveals (see Ex 33:18)

    9. He communicates grace (see Ge 16:7–9).

Just as the angel of the Lord prepared the way for the Israelites (see Ex 23:20), these passages prepare us to see Jesus more clearly and more fully.

The better we know Him, the better we can follow and become more like Him. God’s chief desire for us is that we become more Christ like.

God bless you on your spiritual journey, an odyssey of exploration into the majesty and mysteries of Christ, as Ephesians’ says; “the unsearchable riches of Christ”.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

SHOUT

April 13, 2018

The opening remarks by President Ronald Reagan at the Jewish Memorial day, April 11th 1983.

“In the early days of our country, our first President, George Washington, visited a Hebrew congregation in Newport, Rhode Island. In response to their address, he wrote them a now rather famous letter reflecting on the meaning of America’s newly won freedom. He wrote, “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

Well, certainly our country doesn’t have a spotless record, but our fundamental beliefs, the ones that inspired Washington when he penned that letter, are sound. Our whole way of life is based on a compact between good and decent people, a voluntary agreement to live here together in freedom, respecting the rights of others and expecting that our rights in return will be respected….”

Read those paragraphs over a few times and realize that today in 2018, white, conservative, Christian, heterosexuals are being marginalized and silenced. Our universities are the capitals of inclusion and diversity. I spoke at a private college last month and was booed off the stage at a diversity commencement. They wanted me to talk about the role of immigration in America. And I did. The largest wave of immigration to America were the people of Ireland. So if you are Irish then you are part of the largest immigrant group in this country.

That isn’t what they wanted to hear. We have a congress woman from Missouri calling for the assassination of President Trump. No Secret Service agents showed up at her door.

A minority, a militant minority is spewing its doctrine of hate, and if we keep silent like the Jews did, the white conservative Christian will be silenced and chained.

Jesus called us to love one another, all people of all races, and walks of life, sexual preferences, to love and be light and preach a message of love and hope and redemption.

I’ve never wrote a devotion of this tone or subject, but I cannot remain silent and watch our country, led by a media of hate and obsession turn us against one another. Loyalty and patriotism should still count for something, love of God and country should still be taught. Young people today are not being taught about the holocaust, only the mistakes this country has made.

Stand up, speak out, be brothers and sisters of Christ, of love and hope, but do not be silent. I’m a veteran, a Republican, a Christian, male heterosexual, bible believing, praying, miracle believing, proud of America and will not be silent.

Protest, march, pray, be loud, be proud to be a Christian. I’m not a racist or a hater, but I am Irish.

And no, I’m not running for office.

God bless America.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

DEAD MAN WALKING

April 11, 2018

  “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin” (Rom. 6:11a).

  All of the cults, from TM to ST to SDA, to Joel Osteen, to hypnosis, are simply self-improvement aberrations. The Cross alone provides death to self and life in the Lord Jesus Christ. “God forbid that I should glory, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

 What becomes us now is to have the Lord Jesus before us, and not the correction of the old man. The snare of trying to improve oneself is very common, and it is important to see, that however well-meaning it may be, it is really a denial that our old man has been crucified, and a revival of that which has been judged in the death of the Cross.

 It is plain that if you are clear of the domination of the old man you can have no man before you but the Lord Jesus, and the more sensible you are of how ready the flesh is to intrude.

  God never means me to be able, with the Pharisee, to thank Him for the goodness that I find in myself. If I will be at it, He leaves me to find in this irreparable flesh, which cannot be mended, what I may break my heart over, but never alter.

 It is a quicksand which spoils all my building—a morass impracticable to cultivation; and God uses this, in His sovereignty over evil, to wean me from self-confidence and self-complacency, and self-improvement and to cast me upon Himself.

  “Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be. . . alive unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Rom. 6:11b).

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Lauren, so far her commitment to celibacy has been strong and much has improved in her life.

Pray for students on college campuses that are being expelled, harassed and silenced, to their commitment to Christ and a conservative agenda.

Pray for sanity for our Country, that the insanity of diversity and inclusiveness is outed for the lie it represents.

Pray for Courtney, married, 2 kids, late 30’s, she has been walking on the edge of her marriage vows, a flirt, a tease, up to now she’s never crossed the line. But last night only a chanced friend (the Lord) crossed her path and in embarrassment, she bailed on stepping out.

 

Our last post of the Jesus Narrative Series, God Bless for being so patient with this long, very long series, individually and collectively.

Everyone wants our money. Letters come from every charity, political and religious organization, pleading for our money to continue their work. We give to some, we feel guilty about not giving to others, and some letters we just throw away without a second thought. Our motives for giving are mixed. We think about whether or not we can take a tax deduction. We respond to emotional appeals that are prepared by professional fund raisers and often ignore the smaller, more effective works that do not make such a big splash but really need us more. Extracting our money from us is a big time business.

So it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back when you come to church and the sermon or the lesson is about giving. Should not the church be more spiritual than to ask us to give money?

Interestingly, the Bible has a great deal to say about money. For instance, one verse out of seven in the book of Luke is about money. Money is God’s greatest rival for our worship. That is why Jesus said, Luke 16:13. “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Paul gave a serious warning when he wrote to Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:6-10

We all know people who have wandered from the faith and brought upon themselves many sorrows because acquisition of money became their god. Maybe it is something you are struggling with even now. The first impressive church discipline recorded in Acts 5 involved money. Ananias and Sapphira both died because they pretended to give more than they did. Since money represents so much danger to our lives the Scripture also tells us how to be free from bondage to it.

The solution: Honor God with your money and trust Him to meet your needs.

It was the middle of the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, just before Passover. He had entered Jerusalem on the back of a colt the previous Sunday to the tumultuous welcome of the common people. He went to the temple daily to teach and had engaged almost immediately in constant confrontations from all the different factions who hated and feared HimCthe Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, priests and teachers of the law. They tried again and again to trap Him into taking positions which would either alienate Him from the people or get Him in trouble with the Romans. Each time He skillfully evaded their traps and revealed their ignorance of God’s Word and God’s ways.

After one such exchange He warned the people:

Mark 12:38-40

These teachers and preachers loved the honor and privileges they received because of their position. They did not get paid a regular salary for their work, but were supposed to be supported by tithes and offerings brought to the temple. Jesus accused them of exploiting widows, pressuring the very people they should have protected, women with the most limited means, to give them their property. He accused them of just making a show of spirituality by long prayers, but they were really con men. They loved money and were unscrupulous in getting it. These religious leaders today who preach a prosperity theology which they prove by living in multi-million dollar houses are not just at 21th century phenomena. Notice also that He said they would be severely punished.

When He finished speaking He sat down on a bench opposite the temple treasury. In the women’s court of the temple enclosure, the only place where women could come, there were 13 trumpet shaped receptacles for people to drop their offerings.

Mark 12:41

Picture the scene. The city was crowded for the Passover celebration. People came from all over to give their tithes and offerings to the Lord. Many rich people threw in large amounts. Can you not hear the sound of their coins clanging against the receptacles? Not only that but Matt 6:2 tells us that some wealthy people even had a trumpet fanfare announce their offering. Unnoticed among these proud and prominent men was a little widow.

Mark 12:42

She quietly slipped in and put her two tiny coins in the treasury. They hardly made a sound. They were only worth 1/3 of a cent, 1/64th of a day’s wage. This humble widow, poorly dressed, sorry that she could give no more, gave her tiny gift and slipped away hoping that she had not been noticed. But she was!

Mark 12:43-44

Jesus saw her and was so impressed by her offering that he called his disciples to him to use her as an object lesson for the kind of giving that pleases God. He said, “She gave more than all the others.”

God has an altogether different way of judging the value of our gifts. We look at the actual amount and are impressed or not impressed by it.

GOD MEASURES OUR GIFT BY WHAT WE HAVE LEFT FOR OURSELVES.

It is not a sacrifice to give 1 million dollars when you have 100 million left. It is not a sacrifice to give $1000 when you are earning $100,000 a year. But it is a total sacrifice to empty your purse into the collection plate when there is nothing in the bank. That is what this widow did. Was not it a little unrealistic for her to do that? After all, does not God expect us to use our common sense?

What was she really saying when she gave all she had to live on? She was demonstrating her faith in God to supply her needs. She loved the Lord and was grateful to Him. She was not embittered by self-pity, she was not expecting any handouts. She was simply entrusting herself to God. He was her Husband, her Provider, her Security. (Is. 54:5.)

She was a living example of Matt. 6:31-34

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father KNOWS THAT YOU NEED THEM. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

By her giving she acknowledged God as the Source of all she needed, that He knew her needs and she was willing to trust Him to provide one day at a time. That is really great faith.

No wonder Jesus commended her. Talk is cheap. Actions are costly. God did not need her money, but she needed to give. Do you honestly think that God was going to let her down after such an expression of faith? I am sure there was bread on her table that day.

1000 years earlier King David had the same perspective about wealth. He gave his personal fortune to buy the materials for Solomon to build a temple for the Lord that David would never see. His example stimulated the generosity of this people and they had a great day of dedication of the gifts for the temple.

1 Chronicles 29:10-16

God is the One who gives us what we have in the first place. It all belongs to Him. When we give to Him we honor Him by acknowledging that He is the Source of all our blessings.

GOD DOES NOT NEED OUR MONEY. WE NEED TO GIVE AS PART OF WORSHIP.

While the whole Bible has much to say about money and giving there are 2 chapters that especially concentrate on the subject and give us some important principles to govern our attitude about money.

The Corinthian Christians had a lot of problems. Some of them were that they were impulsive, changeable and fickle. The previous year they had committed themselves to giving to support the ministry of the Gospel and sharing with the needy and they had started with enthusiasm. But they had not continued and Paul speaks very frankly to them.

He used 3 examples of sacrificial giving to admonish and encourage the Corinthians.

Three examples of sacrificial giving

1.THE MACEDONIAN CHRISTIANS

2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-3

If any people had excuses not to give, they did. They were suffering many hardships. Some had lost their means of earning a living because they were Christians. Some had been rejected by their families. They were in extreme poverty. But they were so joyful in their faith that they gave more than they were able to give. In fact they pleaded to give. No one had to urge them to sign pledges or faith/promise card.

Why were they so generous? They had first given themselves to the Lord. When we give ourselves, it includes our pocketbooks. Paul then says, “Follow their example, finish what you started.” Giving is a grace. God will enable you to give.

  1. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

2 CORINTHIANS 8:9

What a paradox. Jesus left the riches of heaven to become a human being. To live on earth in a humble carpenter’s home. To earn His living with His own hands. He was a poor man. He never owned any property. Then He suffered the humiliation of a criminal’s death for us. But he rose victoriously from the dead. When we put our faith in Him we become heirs of God, all the riches of heaven is promised us in the future and the rich blessings of a right relationship with God is ours now. Jesus gave Himself for us so that we, who were poor, might be rich.

2 CORINTHIANS 8:11-12

Notice how God evaluates our gifts. By our eager willingness and according to our means. Our giving must be voluntary. Notice that God never asks us to give what we do not have, but from what we do have. That is why it is so good to have a percentage as a guide. When you have a little, you give accordingly, when you have a lot, you give accordingly. The O.T. had the tithe, 10% as a guide. But there were 3 tithes taken. (2 yearly and 1 every 3rd year)

Dr. Charles Ryrie estimates that the tithes actually came to about 22%. And beyond that they gave freewill offerings. Whatever amount you decide on, giving a percentage of your income is a good start. Then as you get used to the blessings that come from giving you can increase your percentage. You see giving is not a one-way street. You do all the giving and someone else gets all the benefits. Giving blesses the giver. It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Giving is a good measure of your spiritual maturity. Giving is not an option; it is a command. Your love for the Lord is measured by obedience. Generous giving pays wonderful returns.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:6

Action Steps: First, the law of sowing and reaping applies to your giving. If you plant a just a few seeds you get a little crop. If you plant a lot of seed you get a large crop. If you invest generously in God’s program, the returns will be far beyond your imagination. People will be saved in countries you will never go to because you supported a missionary, a radio program, a literature campaign. These people will meet you in heaven and thank you for helping to make it possible for them to be there, too. That is what Jesus meant when He said,

Luke 16:9 (NIV) I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:7

Attitude: The decision about how much to give is yours to make. Just be sure that you are not giving because someone is pressuring you, but because you are willing. God loves a cheerful giver, a hilarious giver. And God knows exactly the attitudes and motives for our giving.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:8-11

Ability: Do you see what this is saying? God will continue to supply all that you need personally, so that you can continue to give generously on every occasion. He is really saying,

“Put my interests first and I will take care of yours. Trust me with your material needs. I will give you the ability to give abundantly.” Two ways to meet our needs: get more money or spend less.

Accomplishments: What does this kind of giving accomplish here and now?

2 CORINTHIANS 9:12-15

Your giving is a ministry, a service to God. (Priestly service, diakonia, liturgeia) Credited to you. Your giving will supply the needs of God’s people. They will praise and thank God for your ministry.

Your giving is proof of your obedience and a good testimony to others.

People will pray for you and care for you because you have cared for them in your giving.

  1. GOD THE FATHER

2 CORINTHIANS 9:15

He gave His Son for us. Anything we give is in gratitude for this gift which is beyond description.

That leads to the question, where should we give?

How should we distribute the Lord’s money?

Your local church should have priority in your giving. The salaries, building maintenance, and materials all cost money and you are the beneficiaries. The folks at the Christian Science Church are not going to give to this church.

Family members in need.

Give to those in need in your own family, e.g. aged parents.

Ministries that personally bless you.

Missions.

Diversify: foreign, home, children, education, evangelism, church planting, etc.

The poor.

First in God’s family, Gal. 6:10. Then to others. We are responsible to care for needy believers. Samaritan’s Purse, Voices of the Martyrs, etc.

Charities

Those who are fighting battles for morality in the public square.

Give purposefully, intelligently and obediently as God lays it on your heart to give. But give.

2 Cor. 9:11 says that God will supply abundantly so that we can be generous on every occasion.

If you are having financial problems, the solution may not be to get more, but to give more.

Giving to the Lord from what He has given you will break the stranglehold that money and things have on our lives. It is a great step of faith, but God can handle it. He has not broken a promise yet. Are you willing to be obedient to Him in this important area? I am sure Jim Elliot’s famous statement included our money as well as our lives.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Jesus used this poor widow’s act of devotion and faith to teach us many things about our money and our God.

What does Jesus reveal about God, our heavenly Father?

Our Father is the Source of all we have. It belongs to Him.

Our Father does not measure the worth of our gifts by their size, but by what we have left.

Our Father looks at the heart, our motive for giving. He does not reward ostentatious generosity for purpose of impressing people.

Our Father does not expect us to give what we do not have. We are to give from what we have and everyone has something. No gift is too small.

Our Father will not compel us to give, just as He will not compel us to love Him. Giving is a personal matter.

Our Father wants us to give voluntarily and generously with faith that God will supply our needs and enable us to keep on giving. Not acceptable if reluctant.

Our Father will give generously to us so we can continue to give generously.

Our Father gives eternal returns on our investments. We will leave all our bank accounts, investments and real estate here when we die. But we will be welcomed in heaven by those we have reached through our giving. These are eternal returns.

Our Father uses our giving as a testimony to cause others to thank and praise God, and to pray for us.

Our Father Himself is the most generous Giver.

If giving to the Lord has been a problem for you, confess it as selfishness, unbelief, or greed. Then tell the Lord you want to believe Him for this area which has such a stranglehold on our affections. You want to be free from bondage to money. Then decide what percentage you will faithfully give. Do it and see how God will bless you.

When we started this series I said we would emphasize what the Lord Jesus would reveal about our invisible Father in heaven. We have seen Him to be our omniscient, omnipotent Creator, a Father who is compassionate, loving, strong, generous, welcoming, interested in every detail of our lives. He initiates a relationship with sinners and makes them His children by faith. He delivers us from sin. He is patient with ignorance and hates arrogance and hypocrisy. He gives us forgiveness, peace, and joy. He sent Jesus so we could be with Him forever in heaven. Let me remind you of what J.I. Packer said.

“You sum up the whole of New Testament teaching in a single phrase if you speak of it as a revelation of the Fatherhood of the holy Creator. In the same way, you sum up the whole of the New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all. For everything that Christ taught, everything that makes the New Testament new, and better than the Old, everything that is distinctively Christian as opposed to merely Jewish, is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. Father’ is the Christian name for God.”

God bless, as this concludes the series we’ve called the Jesus Narrative.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Have you ever sat in church, listening to the soaring music or the impressive sermon, and your thoughts were all turned inward?

Thoughts like: No one here cares that I am hurting desperately. When I first was widowed or divorced or when this illness first was diagnosed, or when my child became a problem, people prayed for me, called me on the phone, visited me, sent me notes. But now that time has passed and everyone is used to me, I guess they expect that I do not need anyone, that I am coping with my problem and that I not really hurting anymore. Maybe they even think that if I were really depending on the Lord, I would be able to handle my situation without any difficulty. But I am in pain and I do not think anyone cares. I sometimes wonder if even God cares!

There was a woman in the synagogue one Sabbath morning when Jesus was teaching there that might have been feeling just like that.

Luke 13:10-11

Think about her a little. She was probably middle-aged. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. She had been crippled like this for 18 years! Can you imagine what her life was like? She could not stand at all, could not sit comfortably, could not lie down except on her side. Walking was difficult. Eating could not have been pleasant. Her appearance was pitiful, her face etched with pain. But what had caused her illness? She was crippled by a spirit? This was not a form of arthritis. This was a Satanic attack that affected her body. But do not you think that she also suffered emotionally and spiritually as well? She must have often felt discouraged, depressed, and even abandoned by God. Yet she still worshipped, she still was there in the synagogue on the Sabbath. She still listened to Gods Word. She still had faith. I have to give her credit for just being there.

It is interesting that her condition was caused by a demon. There are many different symptoms mentioned in the Bible that were caused by demon activity: Matthew 9:32-33, dumbness; Matthew 12:22, blindness; Matthew 17:14-18, seizures; Luke 4:33, 8:26, mental disorders, insanity, and abnormal strength. This of course does NOT mean that these conditions are ALWAYS demonic in source. But the Bible clearly says that this condition was. This should teach us that Satan is a real and very busy enemy. Over and over it is recorded that Jesus cast out demons of all kinds. He came to defeat Satan and to make him powerless against believers, and he clearly demonstrated his ability to do this while here on earth. We have to realize that His power and authority over the spirit world has not diminished one iota.

Ephesians 1:19b and 21

That is why we can have confidence that Jesus will protect us. He has authority over everything in heaven and earth. But we must be alert and armored, because Satan does not play fair or come out in the open. He masquerades, sets traps, hides behind fun games, self, development philosophies, even religion. He actively works to fragment our families, to destroy relationships, to cultivate selfishness and independence from God, to make us doubt God’s Word and distrust God’s character.

Peter warns us of that: 1 Peter 5:8. Likewise, Paul tells us about our armor—our protection— in Ephesians 6:10-14.

This woman had been the target of demonic attack for 18 years but it had not destroyed her faith. She was still worshipping God on the Sabbath. As she stood there, bent over, with her head lifted as far as she could, listening to Jesus, and looking at Him, suddenly he noticed

Luke 13:12-13

He stopped in the middle of His teaching, pointed to her and called to her to come forward. She shuffled up to Him, surely wondering what He wanted her for. Then He spoke: “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”

He spoke these few words, He touched her and she straightened up instantly. She was totally healed and she immediately praised God. Did you notice the word Jesus used? He did not say healed. He used a word that is translated in other places, “loosed, put away, let go, set at liberty and released.” She had been bound by Satan and Jesus set her free.

Can you not imagine the joy she felt and the excitement that ran through the spectators as they realized what had happened? The noise level must have risen as the people turned to each other in their enthusiasm. Suddenly a stern cold voice broke through the furor.

Luke 13:14

The chairman of the board of elders was very displeased and scolded the people. I think he was just a little afraid of openly attacking Jesus directly after such a display of supernatural power. God had made the Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week, our Saturday, a holy day, set apart to worship Him. There were 3 major reasons given for Israel to keep the Sabbath.

Exodus 20:8-11 (10 Commandments)— It followed God’s example of doing the work of creation in 6 days and resting on the seventh.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15— It commemorated their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Egypt— where they never had a day off and could not worship their own God. God gave them the Sabbath to show them that they were a free people, free to rest from their labor and free to worship their God.

Exodus 31:13— It was a sign of the covenant given from Sinai between God and Israel. God had given them a day off a week for worship, joy, freedom and rest. 1500 years later it had evolved, by the addition of hundreds of restrictions, into a legalistic bondage that was more concerned with external behavior than with human need. The religious leaders watched Jesus like a hawk because He was always violating their manmade rules about the Sabbath. They had had several sharp confrontations with Him and had always come out the losers. In one incident when He healed a man with a withered arm, He reminded them that they would rescue a sheep who had fallen into a pit and a man was more valuable. Then He said: “Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:11-12, NIV)

Another time He reminded them that, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27, NIV)

God gave the day of rest because people need time to relax, regroup, Change their routine, worship and serve God without the pressure of other responsibilities.

Jesus claimed authority over even the interpretation and observation of the Sabbath. Why not? Was not He the One who had established it in the first place? His restoration of the true spirit of the Sabbath had enraged these men so much that they plotted to kill Him because of it. (Mark 3:6)

Now here He was doing it again! The ruler had rebuked Jesus by scolding the people and Jesus answered him. He is a wonderful Defender. Have you ever been unjustly accused or misunderstood and the only thing you could do was to say to Him, Lord, You must be my Defender. You must reveal the truth. There is nothing I can do but trust You. HYPOCRITES! (Originally, a “hypocrite” was an actor who wore masks in amphitheatre plays.) They pretended to be zealous for God, to be righteous. But they were not interested in what God could do in their lives. Their hearts were cold in the face of human need. They had more compassion on their oxen and donkeys than on this poor woman. They released their animals so they could drink but objected when Jesus released this woman, a Jewess, from the bondage of the enemy on the day that commemorated their freedom from bondage. How wrong these men were! They claimed to represent God but they were completely the opposite. Jesus revealed the true heart of God. Jesus exposed their hypocrisy by His true revelation of the invisible God. He hated their pretense and they hated Him for exposing it.

Earlier in Luke He gave a stinging analysis of the Pharisees and experts in the law where He accused them of being only concerned with being externally clean, but inwardly they were full of wickedness. He accused them of injustice and pride. Then He said,

“Woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. …you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering. (Luke 11:46-53, NIV)

Do not you have to wonder what He must think of the greed, lust, and crimes that have been done and are being done in His name today? He still hates hypocrisy. Yet closer to home. Do we make a distinction between what the Bible actually says and what other people say it means? Do we make our application as binding as God’s? That is how legalism flourishes. Always check to see if our applications are consistent and Biblical. When we have a lot of rules about what we can or cannot do in order to make little loopholes that violates the very spirit of God. The religious rulers did that. For instance, they had a rule that you could not journey farther from home than 3000 feet (1/2 mile) on the Sabbath. So the day before, they would go ahead and deposit some food by a stone a half-mile away. That would then become their home temporarily and they could go another half mile, where they had deposited another sandwich, so they could travel another half mile. In this way they found ways around God’s law about the Sabbath, and violated the spirit of this holy day. This is just one example. They had 60 columns of regulations about the Sabbath.

Maybe you are wondering at this point if we should keep the Sabbath today. The Sabbath was given to Israel. It is the ONLY ONE of the Ten Commandments that is NOT repeated in the New Testament. The disciples and the early church worshiped on Sunday, the first day of the week to commemorate the Lord’s resurrection. Sunday is the Lord’s day.

We do not have rules about it in the New Testament. But we do know what they did on the Lord’s Day. They met together, studied God’s word, prayed, celebrated communion, and gave their offerings. Surely the Lord’s Day should have some special meaning for us. It should be a day of worship, learning God’s Word, service, praise and thanksgiving, giving our offerings, joy and rest and a time with family and friends. It should be different from the other six days of the week. After all, we have so much more to commemorate than Israel did: the resurrection of our Savior from the dead.

Look at the effect Jesus had on the people in the synagogue.

Luke 13:17

Can you imagine what His power and His authority meant to the common people who were under the burden of religious oppression as well as political oppression.

What Did He Reveal About God?

Jesus revealed the compassionate heart of God in this story. He initiated this woman’s healing.

He demonstrated that God knows everything, the cause and the cure!

He revealed some of God purposes for the Sabbath. It was not a day for misery and bondage, but a day for praise and freedom.

He revealed that God knows the motives of the heart and is not impressed with external behavior that masks unbelief, jealousy, and hatred. GOD HATES HYPOCRISY.

He revealed that God is greater than Satan and has authority over him.

But now I want to go back to verse 12. Woman, you are set free from your infirmity. The word for “infirmity” is translated in other places as “diseases, sickness, weakness.” It means literally, “without strength.” Very few of us are sick all the time, but all of us know what it is to be without strength.

We ALL have weaknesses. Do not you have things that fill you with dread when you have to face them? Fear of flying, fear of anything. Do not you have areas where you have consistently failed? Are there not relationships that you just cannot handle, people that rub you the wrong way? Maybe your weakness is a sense of worth that you have let someone else impose on you. Maybe your weakness is a habit you have not been able to break. Maybe your weakness is a disposition that always sees the bad side of everything.

Maybe your weakness is a crippling sin that keeps you from going on to maturity in your Christian life. Is it love of money and the things money can buy? Is it a desire to please people more than God? Is it a thought life that you would be ashamed to have projected on a screen for all to see? Is it a selfishness that keeps you from making a commitment to anything that will interfere with your own plans? Is it self-pity, pride, hypocrisy, a violent temper? I have suggested a lot of things to stimulate your thinking, and I may have missed your issue. But you just thought of it, did you not? Jesus came to set us free from our weaknesses. How does He do it?

First, we must come to Him for help.

Hebrews 4:14-16

We come to one who can sympathize with our weaknesses. He was a human being living on this earth, subject to all the temptations we face and He did not sin. He will give mercy and grace to overcome.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

He may not remove our weakness, because then we would be independent. My weakness is given me to teach me to depend moment by moment on His power. His power is demonstrated where I am powerless. This changes my attitude towards my weakness.

Instead of hating myself for failing, I can see this as God’s opportunity to work in my life. God becomes real. Jesus really does live out His life in me. But it is only when I admit my weakness and depend on Him that I will experience His strength.

The Lord Jesus Christ wants to say to each of us today, “Woman, you are set free from your weakness.” He calls you to come to Him for freedom and strength. Will you come?

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Workers United

April 6, 2018

I’ve lost count how many times this has been my sermon text, I know at least over 100 times in 45 years of preaching.

So, 101 here we go.

  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:10).

  The Holy Spirit creates within us a hatred for the old nature, and a hunger for the new nature. Without a rejection of the old, there cannot be a projection of the new.

  “I want a testimony that delivers me from the things I am occupied about in myself when I am suffering from them. I get it from God’s gift that is perfect. I am ‘accepted in the Beloved’ (Eph. 1:6). You say, There is something about myself I cannot get over. Remember, the testimony of the Spirit in us is the contrary of the testimony of the Spirit to us. In me, He takes notice of every fault that is not righteousness; but the testimony to us is, ‘Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more’ (Heb. 8:12).”

  “If we make morality our standard, we will be sure to fall below what we purpose. Whatever we put before us as our criterion, there will be always a falling short. If we have the Lord Jesus Christ risen and in heaven as our Object, we shall prove the power of His resurrection, not only in lifting us up when we are conscious of our exceeding short-comings, but in strengthening us to ‘press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus’ (Phil. 3:14).”

  “The Word of God teaches me union, but the Person of Christ brings out all that I derive from union with Him. The Word is always my authority for my position, but acquaintance with the Person confirms and manifests my position.”

  “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord” (Eph 6:10)

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Pray for Hank, a 6 year German Shepherd, who’s been abandoned and needs a good farm home.

Pray for Sarah S. second year of marriage, they’re both having employment problems in the Christian market (ministry) turns out it’s harder than they thought.

Pray for Jennifer, needs strengthening of body and soul and spirit.

Pray for Ronnie, 66 years old and is a day laborer, plumber and A/c and he’s still doing the grunt work.

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The Jesus Narrative (part four)

Ok, I know these are long, but if I did them it parts it loses some rhythm and style. Just bear with me this week.

How do you classify people? Do you think of some people as more “worthy” of hearing the Gospel? Are there some people you think are such terrible sinners that they are sort of hopeless cases? Sometimes, when you read the paper about a person that has committed a terrible crime, do you almost hope that he never has a chance to be forgiven, because he really deserves to suffer eternal punishment? We human beings have such a different way of looking at each other than God does. I think that there is a little of the attitude the Pharisee in our story displayed in all of us, if we are honest.

Jesus was becoming very popular. And why not? When had there ever been anyone like Him? He healed every kind of disease, He cast out demons, he made the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear and the dead live again. But as His popularity increased, so did the opposition against Him. The Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes or Teachers of the Law had for many years been in the driver’s seat. They were the arbiters of what was right and wrong. They considered the common people ignorant rabble. They were very particular about whom they associated with and judged others the same way.

The Pharisees were a strict religious sect that was based on separation. In fact, that is the meaning of their name, to separate. There were about 6000 of them spread throughout the country. They were teachers in the synagogues and appointed themselves guardians of the proper observance of the law. They added hundreds of rules to interpret the Mosaic Law in order to attain a legal righteousness. They had great influence and even the Roman rulers did not want to antagonize them. The major distinction of the Pharisees was that they gave equal authority to the oral lawCall the additions to the Mosaic LawCas they gave to the Scriptures. They considered their tradition as binding as God’s Word, and many times it directly contradicted God’s Word. We have similar things today. We must always make a distinction between what God’s Word says and the way it is interpreted and applied by men. That is why it is so important to check what anyone tells you with the Scripture.

For instance, the Pharisees despised sinners. And they felt that they reflected accurately God’s attitude towards sinners. By “sinners”, of course, they meant tax collectors, prostitutes, thieves and murderers. They considered themselves righteous because they obeyed the hundreds of rules they had made. They actually taught that there is joy before God “when those who provoke him perish from the world.” In their thinking, God hated sinners and withdrew Himself from the. Since Christ welcomed sinners and even ate with them the Pharisees generally concluded He could not be from God.

Luke 5:29-32

This is just one place where we hear their complaint. Of course, Jesus did not mean that there was anyone so righteous that they did not need His salvation. But only a person who admits that he is a sinner is open to the Gospel. The last thing a Pharisee thought himself to be was a sinner.

Luke 7:29-30

They had not repented when John the Baptist preached and consequently rejected God’s purpose for themselves. Jesus exposed their closed minds and contradictory standards by His comments in

Luke 7:33-34

Purpose: Not Faith, But Judgment

Keep this in mind as we read about their invitation to dinner from a Pharisee named Simon.

Luke 7:36

Why did Simon invite Him? Was it because he believed in him? Was it because he sincerely wanted to observe Him and check Him out? Or was it because he had already made up his mind and wanted to get more evidence to support his presupposition?

In those days, people did not sit around the table in chairs as we do. They reclined on couches with their heads near the table and their fee extending away from it. It was permissible in that day for uninvited guests to come and listen when an important person was a guest in someone’s home. The needy could also come to receive some of the leftovers. In that town was a woman, a sinful woman, most likely a prostitute. She must have heard Jesus speak on previous occasions. Maybe she even witnessed some of His miracles. In any event, she had believed in Him. When she heard that He was right there in town at Simon’s house, she wanted to show her love and gratitude and did the only thing she knew how to do.

Luke 7:37-38

Can you not imagine the scene? Jesus is eating and conversing at the table. Suddenly he feels something on His feet. There is a woman, weeping. Her tears are falling on his feet. She came to anoint Him with an expensive perfume, but before she could even open the jar, she is overwhelmed with emotion. These are tears that expressed repentance and gratitude. Then she stoops and in an act of deepest intimacy and humility, she kneels, takes her unbound hair and wipes his fee. Then she kisses His feet over and over and pours perfume on them. Jesus, who knew her heart and her motives, calmly stays as he is and lets her express in her own way her love for Him. He is not embarrassed nor uncomfortable. He is not annoyed by a crying woman. He accepts us as we are. He knows our motives. He accepts our worship. He knows just what each of us is offering in sacrifice to Him. This woman came with an expensive perfume and poured it all out on Him. The fragrance of her devotion filled the room. No one could miss what was happening.

Can you not see Simon, the host? He is observing the scene wit icy disapproval. What is this notorious woman doing in HIS house? And why has Jesus let her do this to Him? Does not he know what kind of woman she is?

(You’ll have to google this, there is a woman who wrote a book called; “The Bad Girls of the Bible.” You can get the book or the DVD. I recommend the DVD. When you hear this story told it will make you weep, if you don’t you need a spiritual heart check up).

Back to our narrative.

Luke 7:39

You see, this just gave him the evidence he needed to support his foregone conclusion. His reasoning was that if Jesus were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman was anointing His feet. If He knew what she was He would not let her do it. Since He did let her do it He was no true prophet. This of course was based on his presupposition that God HATES sinners and will not accept them. He did not have to say anything. Jesus knew what he was thinking and spoke to him.

Luke 7:40-43

Such a simple story. Two debtors. One owed about $50,000 and one owed $5000 by today’s standards. But neither could pay their debt. Instead of throwing them into prison, or making them work as slaves to pay it off, the creditor just canceled the debts. Both of the debtors were now free of obligation and could go on with their lives. But Jesus’ question was not dealing with the law, but with the heart. Who would love the most? Simon reluctantly gave the obvious answer. Now Jesus makes a very relevant application.

Luke 7:44-47

Simon’s polite reception of Jesus into his home had had no warmth of real welcome. His deficiencies as a host showed what he really though of Jesus. Simon did not consider himself a sinner, therefore he had no need of forgiveness and consequently felt no love for Jesus. But what sins does he display in jus this episode?

Pride, hypocrisy, harsh, judgmental attitude, self-righteousness, coldness, lack of generosity as a host, lack of compassion and unbelief in Jesus Christ. These are just the sins we see demonstrated HERE! Jesus in no way implied that Simon’s sins were little, but that Simon did not consider himself in need of forgiveness because he did not believe he was a sinner.

Simon did what you and I usually do. We compare ourselves with other people whose sins are blatant and offensive: the prostitute, the homosexual, the thief, the rapist, the murderer, the pornographer, the drug dealer and of course we come out looking very good. But that is because we are comparing on a horizontal basis.

If we are walking down Main Street, we would see people who are shorter or taller, thinner or heavier, younger or older than we are. But if we went to the top of one of those new buildings and looked down, everyone would look like bugs about the same size.

When God looks down from heaven, he knows that we are ALL sinners. That is why He says:

Romans 3:10-12, 22b-23

There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no on who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one… There is no difference, for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (NIV)

We are sinners by nature. The ways we choose to express that nature differ. But that gives us no reason to assume that we have a better chance with God because we are not as bad as other people. In fact, it is often harder for the moral unbeliever to admit that he is a sinner and must come to God the same way as the worst sinner in the world.

Jesus freely acknowledged that her sins were many. And they were ALL forgiven. Why were the forgiven? Because she loved Jesus? No, her love was the RESULT of being forgiven, not the BASIS for forgiveness.

Luke 7:48-50

Then Jesus said to her, Your sins are forgiven. (NIV)

Your immorality, your greed, your impurity, your infidelity, your breaking of all the laws of God are ALL forgiven. Can you not see the other guest turning to each other and saying, “Who is this that even forgives sins?” They knew that God alone could forgive sins. Luke 5:21. But they refused to acknowledge that Jesus was God in spite of all the miraculous evidence they had seen.

Why was this woman forgiven?

Your faith has saved you. Go in peace. (NIV)

It is faith alone that saves. Faith in who Jesus Christ is God. And faith in what He has done died in our place on the cross and rose again.

She believed in the Lord Jesus and she was forgiven and saved from a sordid life which had no escape hatch. He could say, “Go in peace,” because He not only forgave her many sins, but gave her a clear conscience as well.

Hebrews 9:14

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished dot God cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (NIV)

I think many of us carry the guilt of past sins which God has forgiven because of our faith in Jesus Christ. This guilt eats away at our sense of worth and keeps us from serving God freely. Let us see what God does when we put our faith in Christ, our Substitute, the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sin of the world.

OUT OF SIGHT, Is. 38:17.

OUT OF MIND, Jer. 31:34, Heb. 8:12

OUT OF REACH, Mic. 7:19; Ps. 103:12

OUT OF EXISTENCE, Ps. 51:1, 2; Is. 43:25; 44:22

This is what happens to your past sins when you trust Christ. If you have never done this, I invite you to trust Him as your Savior today. He is God’s gift. The only way o get a gift is to reach out and take it. That is FAITH.

But how about the sins we BELIEVERS commit each day? Impatience, bad temper, selfishness, self-pity, disobedience, bitterness, malice, criticism, promotion disunity, gossip, greed, materialism, bad use of money, impurity or immorality in thought or deed. How about the person you just cannot forgive? Do you think that a true Christian does not commit sins like these?

1 John 1:7-10

God has provided a way for us to continue to have close fellowship with Him. Our relationship is not broken when we sin; we still are His children. But we do not feel close. We do not feel like reading our Bible or praying. Even coming to church gets to be a drag. God wants fellowship with Him restored because he loves us.

“Confess” means to agree with God that what you have done is sin. As long as we keep calling “sins” mistakes and sicknesses; as long as we keep blaming everything on our background, on what someone else has done to us, we will never take responsibility for our own action s and responses. That is why God requires that we agree with Him that our PROBLEM is sin.

You see, He can forgive sin because the penalty is paid. That is why He is JUST. And He WILL forgive because He has promised to. That is why He is faithful.

But even when we confess, we often do not FEEL forgiven, do we? That is why I believe we ought to always tell the Lord.

“With an act of my will I accept your forgiveness. Now you have to handle my emotions.”

Do you have something you cannot seem to forgive yourself for? Does a little voice inside say to you, “If people ever knew what I did!” Or “How could I ever have done that?”

Satan is called the “accuser of believers.” He is the one who wants you to be crippled by guilt, not Jesus. Jesus shed His blood to give you a clear conscience so that you may “go in peace,” just as He told this woman to. Tell the Lord you accept His forgiveness and you will never bring that past sin up to Him again because, He has blotted it out from your record!

What Did Jesus Reveal To Us About God In This Incident?

That God wants to reach the moral, upright sinner as well as the flagrantly immoral sinner. He associated with both. He ate with tax collectors and Pharisees.

That there are no hopeless cases with God. He extends His grace to everyone!

That God loves and forgives women equally with men.

There are no second class members of His family.

That God knows our hearts and motives even when we do not say anything.

That God will never stay in the box we put Him in.

That God hates hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

That God fully forgives ALL our sins and gives us peace.

That God accepts us individually.

He accepts our love and worship and the manner in which we express it.

This woman showed her love for the Lord by her weeping, her kissing His feet, and her anointing them with a precious perfume. She loved much because she had been forgiven much.

Do We Really Love The Lord Jesus Christ?

How do we show our love? Or do we show it at all? We have all been forgiven much. The Lord gave His life for us. All he wants from us is that we live for Him day by day.