Go to hell

August 20, 2017

Great question from Dave B, of Ithaca, New York, first a simple answer.

Question: “Where was Jesus for the three days between His death and resurrection?”

Answer: First Peter 3:18–19 says, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison” (ESV). The word spirit refers to Christ’s spirit. The contrast is between His flesh and spirit, and not between Christ’s flesh and the Holy Spirit. Christ’s flesh died, but His spirit remained alive.

First Peter 3:18–22 describes a necessary link between Christ’s suffering (verse 18) and His glorification (verse 22). Only Peter gives specific information about what happened between these two events. The KJV says that Jesus “preached” to the spirits in prison (verse 19). However, the Greek word used is not the usual New Testament word for preaching the gospel. It simply means “to herald a message”; the NIV translates it as “made proclamation.” Jesus suffered and died on the cross, His body being put to death. But His spirit was made alive, and He yielded it to the Father (Luke 23:46). According to Peter, sometime between Jesus’ death and His resurrection Jesus made a special proclamation to “the spirits in prison.”

In the New Testament, the word spirits is used to describe angels or demons, not human beings. In 1 Peter 3:20, Peter refers to people as “souls” (KJV). Also, nowhere in the Bible are we told that Jesus visited hell. Acts 2:31 says that He went to Hades (New American Standard Bible), but Hades is not hell. Hades is a term that refers, broadly, to the realm of the dead, a temporary place where the dead await resurrection. Revelation 20:11–15 in the NASB and the NIV makes a clear distinction between the Hades and the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the permanent, final place of judgment for the lost. Hades is a temporary place for both the lost and the Old Testament saints.

Our Lord yielded His spirit to the Father, died physically, and entered paradise (Luke 23:43). At some time between His death and resurrection, Jesus also visited a place where He delivered a message to spirit beings (probably fallen angels; see Jude 1:6); these beings were somehow related to the period before the flood in Noah’s time (1 Peter 3:20). Peter does not tell us what Jesus proclaimed to the imprisoned spirits, but it could not be a message of redemption since angels cannot be saved (Hebrews 2:16). It was probably a declaration of victory over Satan and his hosts (1 Peter 3:22; Colossians 2:15). Ephesians 4:8–10 also seems to give a clue regarding Jesus’ activities in the time between His death and resurrection. Quoting Psalm 68:18, Paul says about Christ, “when he ascended on high, he took many captives” (Ephesians 4:8). The ESV puts it that Christ “led a host of captives.” The reference seems to be that, in paradise, Jesus gathered all the redeemed who were there and took them to their permanent dwelling in heaven.

All this to say, the Bible isn’t entirely clear what exactly Christ did for the three days between His death and resurrection. From what we can tell, though, He comforted the departed saints and brought them to their eternal home, and He proclaimed His victory over the fallen angels who are kept in prison. What we can know for sure is that Jesus was not giving anyone a second chance for salvation; we face judgment after death (Hebrews 9:27), not a second chance. Also, He was not suffering in hell; His work of redemption was finished on the cross (John 19:30).

Now something a little more complex, if you’re fine with the first answer stop.

It not here’s part two.

The different terms used in the Bible for heaven and hell—sheol, hades, gehenna, the lake of fire, paradise, and Abraham’s bosom—are the subject of much debate and can be confusing.

The word “paradise” is used as a synonym for heaven (2 Corinthians 12:3–4; Revelation 2:7). When Jesus was dying on the cross and one of the thieves being crucified with Him asked Him for mercy, Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Jesus knew that His death was imminent and that He would soon be in heaven with His Father. Therefore, Jesus used paradise as a synonym for heaven, and the word has come to be associated with any place of ideal loveliness and delight.

Abraham’s bosom is referred to only once in the Bible—in the story of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31). It was used in the Talmud as a synonym for heaven. The image in the story is of Lazarus reclining at a table leaning on Abraham’s breast—as John leaned on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper—at the heavenly banquet. There are differences of opinion about what exactly Abraham’s bosom represents. Those who believe the setting of the story is a period after the Messiah’s death and resurrection see Abraham’s bosom as synonymous with heaven. Those who believe the setting to be prior to the crucifixion see Abraham’s bosom as another term for paradise. The setting is really irrelevant to the point of the story, which is that wicked men will see the righteous in happiness, and themselves in torment, and that a “great gulf” exists between them (Luke 16:26) which will never be spanned.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, the word used to describe the realm of the dead is sheol. It simply means “the place of the dead” or “the place of departed souls/spirits.” The New Testament Greek equivalent to sheol is hades, which is also a general reference to “the place of the dead.” The Greek word gehenna is used in the New Testament for “hell” and is derived from the Hebrew word hinnom. Other Scriptures in the New Testament indicated that sheol/hades is a temporary place where souls are kept as they await the final resurrection. The souls of the righteous, at death, go directly into the presence of God—the part of sheol called “heaven,” “paradise,” or “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23).

The lake of fire, mentioned only in Revelation 19:20 and 20:10, 14-15, is the final hell, the place of eternal punishment for all unrepentant rebels, both angelic and human (Matthew 25:41). It is described as a place of burning sulfur, and those in it experience eternal, unspeakable agony of an unrelenting nature (Luke 16:24; Mark 9:45-46). Those who have rejected Christ and are in the temporary abode of the dead in hades/sheol have the lake of fire as their final destination.

But those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life should have no fear of this terrible fate. By faith in Christ and His blood shed on the cross for our sins, we are destined to live eternally in the presence of God.

Recommended Resource: Heaven by Randy Alcorn, I highly recommend this book and especially recommend Irwin Lutzer’s book, “one minute after you die.

I don’t know if it’s only Pentecostals and Charismatic’s that preach Christ going to hell and ripping off chains and flogging demons and rebuking the devil; it makes a great sermon, to bad it’s not biblical. But hey these are the same people that preach Christians can be possessed, bloodline curses exit and Christians need delivered. BUNK.

One salvation, one act of regeneration, and an ongoing life of sanctification (it’s a process) and one Lord and Savior (not one of each).

Ok, I’ve got to calm down this week. Blessings.

For those that took my recommendation and read the free book/biography of Lucius B. Compton. It’s a great book, but the sermon at the end of the book is incorrect in theology and thus the purpose of this devotional. Still read the book, skip the sermon at the end it is riddled with theological problems typical of those who follow an Armenian/(early)Wesleyan theology.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

the woof and the warp

August 15, 2017

There’s an old phrase, if you are under 60 or not a fan of Shakespeare, you may not recognize it; or you don’t read the King James Version of the Bible, Leviticus 13:48,49 “the warp and the woof”. In weaving, the weft (sometimes woof) is the thread or yarn which is drawn through, inserted over-and-under, the lengthwise warp yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom to create cloth. Warp is the lengthwise or longitudinal thread in a roll, while weft is the transverse thread.

It is a phrase that is used to mean ‘inseparable’.

The Cross and The Holy Spirit are the warp and the woof of our salvation, you must have both.

  “But 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).

  The Lord Jesus carried out the work of the Cross as to our eternal position. The Holy Spirit carries out the work of the Cross as to our present condition. “He will take the things that are Mine and will transmit them to you” (John 16:15, Amp.).

  “We cannot separate the Cross from the Holy Spirit. We can have no Easter and no Pentecost until we have first had a Good Friday. Through the Cross alone we are prepared for life in the fullness of God; only he who is crucified with Christ can be a vessel unto honor. Our ‘old man’ must be crucified with Christ, and in His

resurrection

we find the roots of our new life. Whosoever loses his life, shall find it. We must learn the lesson of the Cross, as condemned and rejected ones, who have been crucified with Christ.

Then the door will be open for a life of power and blessing. All that belongs to death must be turned over to the death of the Cross, even as the body is laid away in the

earth,

because it belongs to the earth. The Holy Spirit, the Eternal Spirit, is unchangeable. He brought Christ our Head to the Cross, and us His children with Him. For this work in us is twofold. On the one hand, it leads us to death; and on the other hand, to that life which God has placed within us and which leads from glory to glory.

  “And all of us, with faces uncovered, because we continue to reflect like mirrors the splendor of the Lord, are being transformed into likeness to Him, from one degree of splendor to another, since it comes from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).

Pray for a dear friend of mine that has maybe a day left to live, he may even pass this night. As I made arrangements for his funeral it was hard to imagine him gone, he was a funny little guy. The sad part is that when we talked about Jesus he always said not to worry about that it was taken care of. He was always visibly moved when we talked about it, but would never talk about ‘his salvation’. And now we are at the place where it may be

to

late.

My point is evangelism must be the woof and warp of our lives.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Christian Lampoon

August 13, 2017

Chevy Chase/Billy Joel Poster

It seems there is much misunderstanding of the developing Christian life. For fear of one cause we run from another, much disinformation is abounding, and we have now developed “Box Christians”.  We read the labels and have “Christian Lite” vs. “Full Gospel” and “Dominion Christians” the “Tongue Waggers” and the “Lord, Your lucky to have me group” and let’s not forget the “Lord fill my Wallet” group (which is a twofer group) the cheats and the swindlers preachers and the dumb as a stone pew warmer that swallows it all. Then we have the “puffers and fluffers” they always have a ‘special’ word from the Lord and look down their noses at you because you’ll never reach their level. The interesting thing about them is there is a whole herd of these swine, and as they look down their noses at you as they roll in their own filth. They’ll cast the first stone, yet their computers are filled with porn, they lie and gossip and rob pastors of time and effort and make them weary and discouraged because nothing ever changes and they run off every visitor. Then there are dung heap Christians, as they lie in their own filth they claim in loud voices how excellent and shiny they are.

Is it any wonder why we have over 2000 different denominations in America, and a new church (always built on a split) on every corner.

So we choose churches like we choose cereals, we look at the cover and does something appeal to some innate sense of inner peace. Earth tones that calm or bright colors that attract us like a magpie. Or the pastor is famous and doesn’t take a salary because his sugar-coated books lull each one into a sleep coma so deep they’ll never hear the trumpet sound.

Then we read the ingredients, no tithing expected, sin never spelled out, little faith needed, padded pews or padded chairs (even better so we can move them and not sit too close to those not enlightened as we are group). There’s no counseling provided because we don’t need no stinkin counseling, the bible is the latest Jesus is homogenized version that you could substitute any one’s name in. oh and in the parking lot there is a drive through lane for communion, a happy meal and your prescriptions refilled.

Then there’s the mid week bible study, where the rich go to the rich homes and the poor stay home as they don’t have the gas to spare.

And the latest trend the social do-gooders, these are one of the fastest growing churches in America. They specialize in “threshold people” (we used to call them homeless). We don’t have any problems and can’t abide any sermon directed at us. But with enough air fresheners and we make sure we pee before we go to church so we won’t set on the same toilet and catch something or see them in the restroom peddling drugs, blowjobs and smokes. Ok, we lost all our old folks from church because they smell funny too and talk about the way it used to be and the good old days. So between the unwashed and 18 piece hyper amplified band with two drum sets, choreographed fat women in spandex and banners wiggling out with their rumps “oh how we love Jesus” 47 times. The hymnals are gone and we’re paying a worship director twice what the pastor is paid to give us a light show and colors and unicorns dancing on the walls as we sing songs that might be about Jesus or some gay guy, honestly, we can’t tell any more only somebody loves somebody a lot.

Welcome to the new, extra crunchy, won’t get soggy, varnished Clark Griswold totally non-nutritious church service.

Isn’t Jesus wonderful, just like a warm blanket just pulled from the dryer. (sorry I have to puke now)

I don’t have a migraine or a brain tumor and there is no rancor or sour grapes. Just deep sorrow as we have a religion one inch deep 3000 miles wide and the nation is going to hell in a handbasket as we have no roots and religion is like being gay, we just have to keep it private and in our bedrooms and oh wait, only Christian have to hide, the gays are out and teaching your kids in boy scouts how to camp, crochet and start a fire with a Bic.

scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com probably fighting the crowd out front with torches and pitch forks now, oh, and by the way, it’s not really Frankenstein anymore, it is really the Freudian version of a confused transgender guy. And the gospel is a hate crime.

I’m playing Jimi Hendrix’s Manic Depression right now, turn it up!

Questions, comments, prayer requests to the email address please.

DOES IT MATTER

August 10, 2017

praying mom

DOES IT MATTER

Think about all the times you’ve prayed. Think about the situations that you were in when you’ve prayed a certain way. I can remember not having enough money to take my very sick infant son to the doctor or having enough money to even purchase the prescription. Literally no food to eat, I can tell you that for 2 years every meal, every penny was prayed in. I will also tell you that most of my prayers were lying face down on the floor in what I now call “praying the carpet lint prayers.” So it does make a difference, the situation and the prayer. But it’s more about our psychological make up and personalities, to God it may make little difference or it might mean a great deal, you decide.

  1. Bowing

To bow is a physical expression of honor and allegiance. The action of bowing is associated with worship. Even just the bowing of our heads communicates to our mind that we’re addressing the One to whom we’ve pledged our complete loyalty. When the Lord came down in a cloud around Moses on Mount Sinai, “Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship” (Exod. 34:8). King David, centuries later, said, “As for me . . . I will bow down in reverence for You” (Ps. 5:7). Bowing is an appropriate posture of prayer.

  1. Kneeling

Many other biblical references speak of dropping to our knees in prayer. Solomon’s monumental prayer at the dedication of the temple was given while he “knelt down in front of the entire congregation of Israel” (2 Chron. 6:13). Daniel, even at the risk of death for defying the king’s order against praying to anyone other than the king himself, continued kneeling three times a day at the open window of his home, “praying and giving thanks before his God” (Dan. 6:10). And one day, we’re told, “every knee will bow” before Christ—”in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10)—even those who refused to kneel before Him.

  1. Lying Prostrate

Sometimes bowing our heads or bowing on our knees still doesn’t quite reflect the devotion we intend. When Ezra the priest gave an all-morning, public reading of the law to the returned exiles in Jerusalem, “they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Neh. 8:6). Jesus, agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane before His torture and death, “fell on His face and prayed” (Matt. 26:39). And when John later saw Him in His resurrected, glorified form — as described in the apostle’s Revelation on the island of Patmos — he admitted he “fell at His feet like a dead man,” totally prostrate before the power of God (Rev. 1:17).

  1. Lifted Hands

Many prayers from Scripture were made with uplifted hands. The idea of folding our hands, while meaningful, is actually more recent in history. But the Bible does talk about raising our hands—”the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering” (Ps. 141:2). Paul said, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (1 Tim. 2:8). Both Solomon and Ezra, whom we mentioned earlier, prayed while falling to their knees and lifting their hands—at the same time—a position of total physical worship and praise.

  1. Lifted Eyes

While closing our eyes is a good way of limiting distractions and maintaining focus in prayer, a common biblical expression was lifting the eyes toward heaven, like when Jesus “raised His eyes” before praying at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:41), or when “looking up to heaven” as He blessed the five loaves and two fish before multiplying them for the crowd of five thousand (Luke 9:16).

  1. Silence

Beyond physical postures, what we do with our voices in prayer is also important. Sometimes the best thing we can do in prayer is be still and know that He is God, without saying a word (Ps. 46:10). When awed and amazed, one is often in silence. When Hannah prayed in anguish for God to give her a child, “she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard” (1 Sam. 1:13). No one could hear her silent prayer, but God heard and answered.

  1. Lifted Voices

Along with lifted hands and lifted eyes, the Bible also exhorts us to lift our voices to the Lord in prayer. “Give ear to my voice when I call to You,” David prayed (Ps. 141:1). “My voice rises to God, and He will hear me” (Ps. 77:1).

  1. Crying Out

“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud” (Ps. 55:17). This crying out is a frequent descriptor of prayers spoken in the Bible. Jesus, we’re told, during His life on the earth, “offered prayers and appeals with loud cries and tears to the One who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence” (Heb. 5:7). Various translations of the original words for crying out carry the idea of shrieking in pain, or making a sound like an animal in danger or wailing with deep emotion of spirit. It’s intense and loud. Heavy and heartfelt. Nearly half of the times when John’s Revelation talks about words being spoken in heaven, they’re explicitly identified as a “loud voice”—20 times in its 22 chapters.

If you’ve never felt the need to pray in a different position, think about it, there’s nothing magical or mystical about it, but there might be a time that it seems to make a great difference to you. Just don’t make it into a lucky rabbit’s foot that will always give you the result you want.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

you believe in what?

August 8, 2017

A Peanuts cartoon depicted a conversation between Linus and Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown was confused and disillusioned by his failing beliefs when Linus comforted him with these timely words: “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.” I also recently heard a religious leader on television state that if the bones of Christ were to be discovered in Palestine today, this would not alter his Christian faith; his faith was not bound by objective truths.

Surveys are becoming emphatically more clear that the majority of our culture believes that truth is relative. It has been clear for some time now that our world is going through a major cultural shift. The illustrations stated above are all too common in today’s postmodern society. We have moved from a world of absolutes, objectivity, and dogmatism to one of relativism, subjectivism, and tolerance. The greatest commandment in this postmodern society is this, thou shalt tolerate one another. Springing forth from this relativistic epistemology, tolerance has become preeminent. As one writer has put it, “Tolerance has become so important that no exception is tolerated.” A person may have his or her religion, and may believe it, but he or she has no right to try to persuade another of his or her belief. Why? Because what you are saying is that your belief is superior to their belief. This is the supreme act of intolerance, the primary postmodern taboo.

 

 

Typical postmodernist mean when they cry for “tolerance.” They are not asking people to simply tolerate and get along with the opposing belief. The fact is that they are asking people to compromise their beliefs. They are asking me to concede that my neighbor’s beliefs are just as true as mine, to forfeit my notion of objectivity, and to surrender my view of exclusivism. The result would accomplish nothing less than to render a death blow to my belief in the Scriptures. What they are implying when they push their definition of “tolerance” is that people should never stand up for their beliefs, if standing up for them means stating that their beliefs are the only true beliefs—that they are exclusive. They are not asking people to tolerate the homosexual, but to change their belief that homosexuality is wrong for everyone. But, again, this is not asking someone to be tolerant; it is asking someone to compromise his or her beliefs and convert to the postmodern faith. This is something that the Christian cannot do.

 

 

By tolerance, the postmodern means that we compromise the objectivity of God’s Word. By tolerance, the postmodern cries for us to stop reaching out to others with the Gospel. By tolerance, the postmodern demands that we approve of their lifestyles. By tolerance, the postmodern is essentially asking us to give up our faith. This we cannot do.

The first step in understanding and reaching out to the postmodern non-Christian is for us all to be able to understand and compellingly argue that it is not tolerance that they want, but compromise.

In chapter four of his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul begins to tell his readers how they are to live the Christian life. Speaking on the importance of unity, Paul states, “Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3, emphasis added). Here Paul tells us that one of the primary ways the Church preserves unity is by showing tolerance.

 

The King James often translates it, “to suffer with.” This word is used by Christ when He cries over Israel, “how long shall I put up with you” (Matt 17:17, emphasis added). It almost always carries a negative connotation. In 2 Maccabees 9:12, it is used

of an unbearable stench; the smell was said to be intolerable. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is telling the Church that it will sometimes be necessary to tolerate the “stench” of one another. This presupposes something negative about the ones we are to tolerate. Someone may have a repulsive personality—Paul tells us to endure them! Another has a bad temper—bear with them! Someone differs with you in some non-essential doctrine—tolerate them! Let’s face it, when we all get to heaven we will all find out that we were wrong about a few things. Some more than others, but we will all have some surprises.

 

 

We’ve mentioned this before, “the short list” and the “long list” there are the basics we cannot compromise on, that the scripture is inerrant, inspired and infallible, salvation only as a propitiatory act (divine substitute) that all of mankind is fallen and sinful, that God is full of grace and mercy, yet, will punish sin. Christ is eternal, yet born of a virgin, fully God, yet

fully man, crucified, died, buried, resurrected, ascended into heaven. Salvation only through him.

 

After that list we begin the longer list, we may or may not agree but as brothers and sisters in Christ we will respect our folks in the body of Christ (the church).

As Christians we emphatically affirm the existence of objective truths. It is one of the bedrocks of Christianity. It is because of the objective truth of the atonement that you and I can have access to God. It is because of the objective truth that God created us that we exist. There is no room for relativity in these matters. It is our job to defend many of these objective truths at all costs.

 

 

  “But to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean” (Romans 14:14b). Therefore, if someone thought that it was a sin to eat ham, but did it anyway, this was a sin to him. Not because God would be angry that the person ate what was unclean, but because he consciously believed it was wrong and therefore rebelled against his conscience and God. Not only this, but Paul goes on to state that whatever is done without full conviction that it is right is sin (v. 23).

So we have to have respect

among the church, (the long list) I can work on.

Love the Brethren, be humble, kind to one another, if we put this into practice maybe more people would like to visit our church and stay.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Bridge over the river Kwai

You may not be old enough to know this movie reference, if you haven’t seen this movie I suggest you move it up to things you need to do this week.

I don’t want to ruin the plot or the ending so I will only say this “don’t give up.”

As I’m writing this devotion I am at the point of saying I quit, no more, let me off, goodbye, sayonara, adios, you get my point.

I’m tired, fed up, frustrated, worried, anxious, fearful, depressed, again you get my point, not the fruits of the spirit.

You have no idea how my brain works, I have no idea how my brain works.   But you don’t want to be in my head. One reason I keep the radio on a Christian station all day everywhere, even in the shower is so I don’t hear what I’m thinking. Because when it gets quiet it gets crazy.

So here was my idea of solving my problems today, get a big refrigerator box, put a sign on it that says “Unwanted Merchandise” put it out on the Interstate and climb in and see who picks me and maybe they’ll keep me. (grade “A” pity party today)

Except right after I think that this song pops into my head;

1 I have a song that Jesus gave me,

It was sent from heav’n above;

There never was a sweeter melody,

‘Tis a melody of love.

2 I love the Christ who died on Calv’ry,

For He washed my sins away;

He put within my heart a melody,

And I know it’s there to stay.

3 ‘Twill be my endless theme in glory,

With the angels I will sing;

‘Twill be a song with glorious harmony,

When the courts of heaven ring.

Chorus;

In my heart there rings a melody,

There rings a melody with heaven’s harmony;

In my heart there rings a melody,

There rings a melody of love.

And like Paul Harvey, (another reference for the older crowd) is the rest of the story. Yes, tomorrow will still be hard, the pain, the difficulties, the realities of life and circumstances. But I will probably still be singing this song until I fall asleep tonight and then when I wake up tomorrow.

Don’t give up, don’t give in to the dark side, the sun will come up tomorrow and it still may suck in a major way, but hey I will sing this song until the Lord rescues me.

Seriously, smile!

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

never forgetting

July 23, 2017

45 years ago Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon, what most people don’t know is that Buzz Aldrin partook of communion on the moon, he partook of real bread and real wine and read a card that had printed on it Christ’s statement; “do this in remembrance me”.

The reason we never heard about it was NASA was being sued the atheist Madeline  Murray O’Hair for Apollo 8 crew reading from Genesis as they circled the moon.

 

 

Speaking of forgetting here’s a quote from Puritan Preacher Richard Baxter.

 

It is a most lamentable thing to see how most people spend their time and their energy for trifles, while God is cast aside. He who is all seems to them as nothing, and that which is nothing seems to them as good as all. It is lamentable indeed, knowing that God has set mankind in such a race where heaven or hell is their certain end, that they should sit down and loiter, or run after the childish toys of the world, forgetting the prize they should run for. Were it but possible for one of us to see this business as the all-seeing God does, and see what most men and women in the world are interested in and what they are doing every day, it would be the saddest sight imaginable. Oh, how we should marvel at their madness and lament their self-delusion! If God had never told them what they were sent into the world to do, or what was before them in another world, then there would have been some excuse. But it is His sealed word, and they profess to believe it.

Richard Baxter (It’s impossible to measure the influence of this English Puritan over four centuries. His works remain in print and are widely read, which shouldn’t surprise us. J. I. Packer considers him “the most outstanding pastor, evangelist, and writer on practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced,” listing Baxter’s The Reformed Pastor (1656) as one of the top five books that have influenced him most.)

 

 

So let us not forget the bravery of Apollo 11 on this anniversary of that historic moment and let’s never forget our purpose here on this planet Earth to worship and bring glory to our Creator.

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

weed whacker

July 20, 2017

A Christian has an instinctive push toward righteousness because of his new nature. Just as his old nature drives him to temptation and wrong, so his new nature moves him toward goodness. I think evangelical Christians tend to give the old nature too much attention and room; they seem to expect to sin and fall, and keep on doing so. But we should also expect to succeed and be victorious over sin because that is the bent of the new man.

God’s seed is in us (1John 3:9). Seed means growth and expression and God’s expression is always holy. I am sure many believers stumble and fall, and yet  “ Better things” that “ accompany salvation” (Hebrews 6:9) are expected of us. The beautiful and yearned-for “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) is set in exact contrast to the “fruit of the
flesh”; yet, both are instinctive and, if given a chance, will abound in us. Which fruit will it be? Paul says that God “ began a good work” in us and He will keep bringing it to maturity in us until the day of Christ (Philippians 1:6).

There is a determinism in the new man that is difficult to deny!

As any gardener knows, fresh seeds dropped into the ground must be given a chance. Weeds must be removed, the ground must be prepared, and sufficient moisture and sun must be applied. Do that for the new man, the Bible cries out, and see what will happen!

The fruits of the new nature, says Peter, are many and attractive (2 Peter 1:1-9). But we have to make them “abound,” that is, allow them to multiply in us (v. 8, KJV). If we let them shrivel or “ lack” (v. 9) we are blind and forgetful.

In short, I have all the equipment I need for a triumphant, godly, fruitful life. That is God’s part. My part is to make room for it, clear the rubbish away, and let spiritual instinct take over from there.

“ For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you  neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:8)

 

 

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

more than one day

July 17, 2017

A young man with a bandaged hand approached the clerk at the post office. “Sir, could you please address this post card for me?” The clerk did so gladly, and then agreed to write a message on the card.

He then asked, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” The young man looked at the card for a moment and then said, “Yes, add a PS: ‘Please excuse the handwriting.’”

We are an ungrateful people. Writing of man in Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky says, “If he is not stupid, he is monstrously ungrateful! Phenomenally ungrateful. In fact, I believe that the best definition of man is the ungrateful biped.” Luke’s account of the cleansing of the ten lepers underscores the human tendency to expect grace as our due and to forget to thank God for His benefits. “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18).

REMEMBER: GOD’S DELIVERANCE IN THE PAST

Our calendar allocates one day to give thanks to God for His many benefits, and even that day is more consumed with gorging than with gratitude. Ancient Israel’s calendar included several annual festivals to remind the people of God’s acts of deliverance and provision so that they would renew their sense of gratitude and reliance upon the Lord.

In spite of this, they forgot: “they became disobedient and rebelled against You . . . . they did not remember Your abundant kindnesses . . . . they quickly forgot His works” (Nehemiah 9:26; Psalm 106:7, 13). The prophet Hosea captured the essence of this decline into ingratitude: “As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, and being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore, they forgot Me” (13:6). When we are doing well, we tend to think that our prosperity was self-made; this delusion leads us into the folly of pride; pride makes us forget God and prompts us to rely on ourselves in place of our Creator; this forgetfulness always leads to ingratitude.

Centuries earlier, Moses warned the children of Israel that they would be tempted to forget the Lord once they began to enjoy the blessings of the promised land. “Then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. . . . Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth’” (Deuteronomy 8:14, 17). The antidote to this spiritual poison is found in the next verse: “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth” (8:18).

Our propensity to forget is a mark of our fallenness. Because of this, we should view remembering and gratitude as a discipline, a daily and intentional act, a conscious choice. If it is limited to spontaneous moments of emotional gratitude, it will gradually erode and we will forget all that God has done for us and take His grace for granted.

REMEMBER: GOD’S BENEFITS IN THE PRESENT

“Rebellion against God does not begin with the clenched fist of atheism but with the self-satisfied heart of the one for whom ‘thank you’ is redundant” (Os Guinness, In Two Minds). The apostle Paul exposes the error of this thinking when he asks, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). Even as believers in Christ, it is quite natural to overlook the fact that all that we have and are—our health, our intelligence, our abilities, our very lives—are gifts from the hand of God, and not our own creation. We understand this, but few of us actively acknowledge our utter reliance upon the Lord throughout the course of the week. We rarely review the many benefits we enjoy in the present. And so we forget.

We tend toward two extremes when we forget to remember God’s benefits in our lives. The first extreme is presumption, and this is the error we have been discussing. When things are going “our way,” we may forget God or acknowledge Him in a shallow or mechanical manner. The other extreme is resentment and bitterness due to difficult circumstances. When we suffer setbacks or losses, we wonder why we are not doing as well as others and develop a mindset of murmuring and complaining. We may attribute it to “bad luck” or “misfortune” or not “getting the breaks,” but it really boils down to dissatisfaction with God’s provision and care. This lack of contentment and gratitude stems in part from our efforts to control the content of our lives in spite of what Christ may or may not desire for us to have. It also stems from our tendency to focus on what we do not possess rather than all the wonderful things we have already received.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). We cannot give thanks and complain at the same time. To give thanks is to remember the spiritual and material blessings we have received and to be content with what our loving Lord provides, even when it does not correspond to what we had in mind. Gratitude is a choice, not merely a feeling, and it requires effort especially in difficult times. But the more we choose to live in the discipline of conscious thanksgiving, the more natural it becomes, and the more our eyes are opened to the little things throughout the course of the day that we previously overlooked. G. K. Chesterton had a way of acknowledging these many little benefits: “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.” Henri Nouwen observed that “every gift I acknowledge reveals another and another until, finally, even the most normal, obvious, and seemingly mundane event or encounter proves to be filled with grace.”

REMEMBER: GOD’S PROMISES FOR THE FUTURE

If we are not grateful for God’s deliverance in the past and His benefits in the present, we will not be grateful for His promises for the future. Scripture exhorts us to lay hold of our hope in Christ and to renew it frequently so that we will maintain God’s perspective on our present journey. His plans for His children exceed our imagination, and it is His intention to make all things new, to wipe away every tear, and to “show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” in the ages to come (Ephesians 2:7).

Make it a daily exercise, either at the beginning or the end of the day, to review God’s benefits in your past, present, and future. This discipline will be pleasing to God, because it will cultivate a heart of gratitude and ongoing thanksgiving.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

INSIDE OUT

July 15, 2017

A BIG BITE

Ok, I’m going to assume, that if you have been following this devotional sight for any amount of time you are interested in your own spiritual growth. So, with that in mind I want to challenge you to put today’s devotion to practical use; i.e. “do it.” I mean really make an effort, print this out, make several copies and keep one with you everywhere you go and pray it into your life.

Our culture teaches us that people are basically good and that their internal problems are the result of external circumstances. But Jesus taught that no outside-in program will rectify the human condition, since our fundamental problems stem from within (Mark 7:20-23). Holiness is never achieved by acting ourselves into a new way of being. Instead, it is a gift that God graciously implants within the core of those who have trusted in Christ. All holiness is the holiness of God within us—the indwelling life of Christ. Thus, the process of sanctification is the gradual diffusion of this life from the inside (being) to the outside (doing), so that we become in action what we already are in essence. Our efforts faithfully reveal what is within us, so that when we are dominated by the flesh we will do the deeds of the flesh, and when we walk by the Spirit we will bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26).

A Process from the Inside to the Outside

Holiness is a new quality of life that progressively flows from the inside to the outside. As J. I. Packer (one of my top ten favorite authors) outlines it in Keep in Step with the Spirit, the nature of holiness is transformation through consecration; the context of holiness is justification through Jesus Christ; the root of holiness is co-crucifixion and co-resurrection with Jesus Christ; the agent of holiness is the Holy Spirit; the experience of holiness is one of conflict; the rule of holiness is God’s revealed law; and the heart of holiness is the spirit of love. When we come to know Jesus we are destined for heaven because He has already implanted His heavenly life within us. The inside-out process of the spiritual life is the gradual outworking of this kingdom righteousness. This involves a divine-human synergism of dependence and discipline so that the power of the Spirit is manifested through the formation of holy habits. As Augustine put it, “Without God we cannot; without us, He will not.” Disciplined grace and graceful discipline go together in such a way that God-given holiness is expressed through the actions of obedience. Spiritual formation is not a matter of total passivity or of unaided moral endeavor, but of increasing responsiveness to God’s gracious initiatives. The holy habits of immersion in Scripture, acknowledging God in all things, and learned obedience make us more receptive to the influx of grace and purify our aspirations and actions.

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God” (1 John 3:21). It is wise to form the habit of inviting God to search your heart and reveal “any hurtful way” (Psalm 139:23) within you. Sustained attention to the heart, the wellspring of action, is essential to the formative process. By inviting Jesus to examine our intentions and priorities, we open ourselves to His good but often painful work of exposing our manipulative and self-seeking strategies, our hardness of heart (often concealed in religious activities), our competitively-driven resentments, and our pride. “A humble understanding of yourself is a surer way to God than a profound searching after knowledge” (Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, my second favorite book). Self-examining prayer or journaling in the presence of God will enable us to descend below the surface of our emotions and actions and to discern sinful patterns that require repentance and renewal. Since spiritual formation is a process, it is a good practice to compare yourself now with where you have been. Are you progressing in Christlike qualities like love, patience, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, understanding, servanthood, and hope? To assist you, here is a prayer sequence for examination and encouragement that incorporates the ten commandments, the Lord’s prayer, the beatitudes, the seven deadly sins, the four cardinal and three theological virtues, and the fruit of the Spirit. This can serve as a kind of spiritual diagnostic tool:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way. (Psalm 139:23-24)

Watch over your heart with all diligence,

For from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

You shall have no other gods before Me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol.

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honor your father and your mother.

You shall not murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father who is in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come,

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

THE BEATITUDES

Poverty of spirit (nothing apart from God’s grace)

Mourning (contrition)

Gentleness (meekness, humility)

Hunger and thirst for righteousness

Merciful to others

Purity of heart (desiring Christ above all else)

Peacemaking

Bearing persecution for the sake of righteousness

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

Pride

Avarice

Envy

Wrath

Sloth

Lust

Gluttony

THE FOUR CARDINAL AND THREE THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES

Prudence (wisdom, discernment, clear thinking, common sense)

Temperance (moderation, self-control)

Justice (fairness, honesty, truthfulness, integrity)

Fortitude (courage, conviction)

Faith (belief and trust in God’s character and work)

Hope (anticipating God’s promises)

Love (willing the highest good for others, compassion)

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT

Love

Joy

Peace

Patience

Kindness

Goodness

Faithfulness

Gentleness

Self-control

Some of these items are in the “put off” category and some are in the “put on” category. So get the inside out.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Dan and Lee, as they move into their new home today with their two little girls and go from city dweller to country folk.