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Friday, July 26, 2013

Despite what people say Godís forgiveness is NOT unconditional


 Grumble_Happy_cats.jpg I know, the fact that I have stated

Despite what people say, God’s forgiveness is not unconditional”

and it seems to be out of alignment with statements like

   “God is willing to forgive anyone” and

   “Nobody can do anything that takes them to the point that God will not forgive them”,

but the statement is true and I can prove it :)

Jesus said clearly

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14&15

We have to be willing to forgive other people if we are to be forgiven.

That means harbouring NO grudges. We cannot hold things against others and expect God to release us. That is a significant condition of forgiveness.

In fact those words come directly after Jesus taught the Our Father prayer to people and it says...

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

Or in a more modern translation

   “Forgive us our sins, just as we also have forgiven those who sin against us.”

God wants us Christians to be people who love others and not to keep count of wrongs done against us!

The more we forgive the more like God we become and amazingly the better we feel about life.

Now, remember that forgiving others doesn’t mean they will forgive us. They could be all stuck up, nasty, hate us, berate us, and sneer and ignore us, but if we have forgiven them that just does not matter. God will forgive us as well. They will have their own time to answer to God.

Paul says to us...

Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32  ESV

Now this is tough!

I even find walking down a city street with all those long serious faces avoiding my eyes or looking back at me with semi scowling or blank expressions a bit depressing, and I have to remind myself that their impact on me is less important than my impact on them.

Being open, smiling and caring is one way I can lift the hearts of others on a day when their world seems to be closing in.

Do I always want to do it?

No!


Yet, if I force myself to do so, in a short time my day is better and someone else’s day is as well. We can change our days with a little perseverance and plenty forgiveness.

Jesus went as far as saying “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,” Luke 6:27

Corrie Ten Boom’s biography describes how she was sent to concentration camp’s by people actions during the last world war and the huge release that came when she shook the hand of one of those who did this and forgave them. She is an amazing lady and the book “The Hiding place” well worth reading. Forgiveness is a light, power and strength of God that flows from its pages in circumstances none of us would consider forgivable. She knew something really important. God looks after and protects those who forgive others and love them with His love.

So, let’s adopt the Christian approach of Luke 17

If your brother sins, tell him he is wrong. Then if he turns away from his sins, forgive him. Suppose he sins against you seven times in one day. And suppose he comes back to you each time and says, ‘I’m sorry.’ Forgive him.”This is hard, difficult and I am sure we will cry out to God as his disciples did when he said this...

“Give us more faith!”

Yet, we need such small faith to do this. Jesus replied...

 Suppose you have faith as small as a mustard seed. Then you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up. Be planted in the sea.’ And it will obey you.”

Let’s apply our faith. Let’s know there are two conditions to forgiveness from God, the first is acknowledging Jesus is God and the second is forgiving others.

Hey, let’s have a great day, smile, forgive, and enjoy God’s glorious presence!
Fri, July 26, 2013 | link          Comments

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The unforgiving squirrel and the chipmunk
SquirrelAndChipmunk.jpg Here is the story....

Once upon a time in the kingdom of the great fox, there was a squirrel that owed the fox a debt of ten thousand acorns. Time went by and the squirrel’s debt increased but he never paid up.

Finally the fox who also owed others acorns and decided to settle his debts. So he asked for what was owing to him so he could pay others.

The squirrel was brought to the fox and quivering with fear, told the fox that he didn’t have the acorns yet, and so he couldn’t pay.

Angry, the Fox ordered that the squirrel and all his family be locked up in a hollow tree trunk, and the hole plugged with Mr. Owl placed on guard until the debt was repaid and all the squirrels possessions were to be sold to help pay for the debt.

The squirrel cried and pleaded with the fox to be forgiven promising that if he was given some time he would pay back the debt. “I need a few good summers to get the acorns for you” he pleaded.

The fox took pity on him and forgave him, saying “forget it, the debt is forgiven!” and let him go to return to his family.

Happy and free the squirrel went home.

The next day the squirrel found one of the chipmunks who owed him acorns and flipping him over onto his back the squirrel pinning the chipmunk to the ground, threatening to bite him to death if he didn’t pay up the hundred acorns that the chipmunk owed the squirrel.

The chipmunk squeaked “I need a few good summers to get the acorns for you, and then I will pay you everything”

The squirrel rejected this plea for forgiveness, took the chipmunk, and pushing him into a hollow tree, the squirrel plugged the hole, locking the chipmunk in until the chipmunk’s friends had paid the debt to the squirrel.

The fox got to hear what the squirrel had done as other squirrels and chipmunks angrily complained at how the squirrel had treated the chipmunk.

The fox had the squirrel brought to him. “You nasty, evil Squirrel,” he said, “I forgave you and let you off paying acorns to me because you pleaded for forgiveness with me. Should you not have done the same for the chipmunk?

Angry, he had the squirrel tied up and hung upside down by his feet from a high branch until the debt was fully paid.

....

And the lesson to be learned is as Jesus said...

“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Matthew 18:35

Thu, July 25, 2013 | link          Comments

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How much does food and drink control our lives?
GluttonyOrGrace.jpgWholesome food and drink are cheaper than doctors and hospitals. ~ Dr. Carl C. Wahl

Enjoying a great meal together is an early and well-practiced trait of Christians.

It is also the one we take care to keep on doing.

I guess we have Jesus to thank for that. That last supper that he had with his disciples was a momentous occasion, one where the joy of God was evident. As is usual at large gatherings where we dine together, there is always the party pooper, and in this case it was Judas Iscariot. A thorn among roses! Ready to kill the host!

I hope we don’t have that type of character at out get together, our potluck lunches and dinners, or barbeques.

Yet today the party pooper is perhaps a little bit more subtle.

It comes in the food and drink! In our first world society here in the western part of our world, we more often eat and drink more than we should. We love to have full bellies, and then we love to sit behind computers and in offices doing very little manual labour and in fact very little exercise.

The excess food and drink widens our waistline and drags us down into despondent reviews of our weight, but often we do very little about it don’t we?

Then there is the alcoholic input! If we are with non-Christian friends, that can be excessive. A beer is about equivalent to a donut in calories that needs to be removed to balance the weight budget later.

To remove that beer we would have to run for about quarter of an hour or swim for twenty minutes to remove that input. It lowers blood sugar when we consume it, and makes you want more. Lager and cider have even bigger calorific factors.

If our waistline is expanding, there is a reason. It’s simple! We are putting more into our mouth than we are using in our exercising daily.

Yet, God expects us to enjoy our food, just not all the time and to the extent we have almost come to worship it.

Now Paul clearly removes restrictions to what people could eat and drink, however there is always a restriction on excess, on drunkenness and gluttony!

Luke warns us

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. Luke 21:34

Excess is warned against in the list of items to be avoided in Galatians 5

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Then that wise writer of proverb’s advises...

Listen, my son, and be wise,
    and set your heart on the right path:
20 Do not join those who drink too much wine
    or gorge themselves on meat,
21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
    and drowsiness clothes them in rags.

We are not to focus on food and drink.

Enjoying our food is okay, eating in excess is not.

Enjoying our drink is okay, drinking in excess is not.

Today I think they would also warn us against stuff in our food and drinks that are chemicals that when we read the we almost cannot even pronounce .

There is so much junk added to food that our tastebuds lie to us sublimely about what we are consuming.

MSG supposedly makes food taste better, but it also is used in labs to induce obesity in mice. Yet almost all foods in America have it in it. I know since my wife is allergic to it and we have to find out about it as we travel. One hotel actually had NOTHING on the menu she could eat. All the food produced and purchased by that hotel had this unhealthy substance in it.

Then we complain we are getting obese. Why?

Even MSG cannot be blamed.

It is ourselves that need to change.

We need to consume less and do more exercise. If we focus on God, we will get to the point where we realize that as Paul suggests...

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12: 1

We should be careful of offering an overweight and unhealthy sacrifice to God. Perhaps we should look at consuming what we use and not over indulging?

Perhaps we need to take Luke’s words to heart...

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Luke 12:29-31

Let’s consider this today as we look at those donuts, those candies, those extra treats, which are not really treats to us but rather a daily abuse of our bodies.

Let’s eat wholesome food, and speak wholesome words today.

That’s my plan anyhow!  :)
Wed, July 24, 2013 | link          Comments

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

myths and endless genealogies
geneologicalClimber.jpg MONKEY, n. An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees.” ~ Ambrose Bierce

 Ancestry.ca provides an ability to trace family trees. This may be an interesting pastime, but for some it is a all encompassing task.

Why?

Is it perhaps that some people can only define who they are by means of their past?

I think the joy of Christian living is that history is of negligible impact on the potential to move ahead with joy and peace in directions that profit us and those around us. We are no longer held down by the chains of our past but freed by Christ’s sacrifice to rise above it and stride out in power and strength.

This does not mean we reject our past, only that it has no great influence on our future.

It is for that reason I find those religions that focus on past generations as a means of “linking” ourselves to others in eternity rather inept.

How silly!

We are linked on earth by DNA and family relationships.

Christ himself said “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” Matt 22:30

Luke 20 re-itereates this “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.”

So genealogies have little value in current living.

Paul says...” As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.”

Paul knew of Philo a Greek philosopher ,who was a bit before Paul’s time, and who had suggested that names in genealogies represented conditions of the soul. He may also have been referring to the Jewish habit of going back to roots to determine the tribe and who was a priest or not.

Yet Paul points out this is worthless to Christians. We are not people of past encumbrances but children of the future. Let’s act that way. Let’s throw off the chains of the past that weigh us down and limit our movement and growth and instead embrace the forgiveness and love Jesus makes possible.

The world is full of false religions and weird twists to bible truths.

Let’s not indulge in these fantasies, but rather engage in the joy of true love, substantial faith, and active support of others. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize of heavenly joy with Jesus.

Today as we direct our life, let’s not let our history be the weight, even if it is heavy and painful. Let’s forgive, release ourselves and move forward, surging into life with the power of Holy Spirit lifting us so that we crest over problems and ride the wave of successful living.

Then we will be able to say we are able to “love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”

Have a great day!
Tue, July 23, 2013 | link          Comments

Monday, July 22, 2013

Stumbling steps of faith...
mexico1.jpg And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 NIV

Reading this quote from Hebrews and having been out on the mission field of Mexico last week in among the poor people in the broken down homes that are simmering in the heat of the Mexican sun, the words take a deeper relevance than they would normally would in the hustle and bustle of the first world cities.

The Mexican area of Tijuana in which we undertook to build a home for a family who could not afford one for themselves was underprivileged and poor.

People work hard to scrape a living and some fail in life, falling of into alcoholism or drugs, and their families undergo great pain.

We came in to spread a little of God’s light around, build a home, help those around us, tell them a bit about Jesus, and entertain many children while their parents are away from home.

I learned new meaning to the words...”Fixing our eyes on Jesus”

Asking myself how Jesus is the perfecter of our faith and what it means to lock our eyes on him, led me to look at the Jesus of the bible.

Who is he?


The initial look is superficial, but as we read and see the man we can focus in deeper past the stories of a man into the realization that he is more that a man.

So, how do we then look at Jesus?

We see him as God and the creator. This gives impetus to his words and we understand them more fully and learn to have his compassion and love.

Then, as we focus on this, his love points us into seeing those around us and knowing his love for them. A selfless love then grips our hearts and in those eyes of those around us we see the needs, and behind the needs we realize we are seeing through eyes that Jesus is focusing in a spiritual way.

We do work, and help, and as the eyes of others look back at us, we look outwards and see Jesus.

Looking into their eyes, we must not look away, we must lock onto what we see.

Their pain becomes ours, their needs ours. In God’s universal plan of redemption, it is our bodies that are at work doing things for him. Holy Spirit wells up inside us overflowing from our hearts through our eyes to those Jesus loves and in a strange way to Jesus himself.

This focus causes us to align with God’s will, seeing God in this world and building up our confidence in our actions as part of God’s plan.

This confidence grows as God is faithful.

A  deaf, mute five year old starts to speak her first words due to prayer. As a mother cry’s with joy when she for the first time hears her name spoke.

That happened this week!

Our walk may be tentative initially, but stumbling steps soon stabilize.

Confidence and skill grows until the confidence becomes a conviction that God’s way is supremely right. The confidence becomes a submerged conviction and tentative steps drive us towards stability and synchronisation with God. This feeds deeper understanding and finally we reach the point we recognise and know God’s influence on our life.

God somehow writes into our brains and hearts a depth of understanding that changes confidence into a deep knowledge of God’s power security and love.

We start to worship God and faith replaces mild confidence with a deep knowledge.

With this faith we embrace God’s work in our life. We reach towards the author of our faith with heart and mind, seeing Jesus in others, half-formed awaiting the same author to write into their lives with ourselves as the pen that will scribe the first stuttering words.

Jesus writes life’s lessons into our hearts and minds and we start to strip away worthless thoughts and feelings to make room for the more important experiences and utilize the little time of our lives more fully.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus, our lives become more full, more alive, more full of joy, more perfect.

Jesus perfects us!

Why? Why would God care? Is there something in this for him?

Consider walking in the woods beside a cool stream that bubbles and crashes down it’s course over rocks into still calm pools unfolding a trail of beauty.

Consider doing this alone with no one to share it with.

Now consider the same with someone near who we love and loves us. This exchange of joy in simple things increases our joy doesn’t it? We more easily can return to the experience with the other and enjoy it again at a later time. Instead of a lonely walk, we have years of wonderful experiences with friends.

The second is a more powerful experience isn’t it?

Joy is increased when we join with others in God’s presence. This joy of millions who love and enjoy their lives more fully as they fix their eyes on Jesus, and in so doing, see the world more fully, is a the combination of the Father, Jesus and Holy Spirit with us exploding the joy into the universe.

This joy lasts past time.

To rescue us into this Joy Jesus endures the pain of the cross.

God permits himself to become fully man to accept this foul murderous death. Steel nails crashing into his body, crushing skin, muscles, severing nerves and causing excruciating pain.

Why?

Jesus could have stopped it all in a millisecond.

But he didn’t!

Why?

The joy would have been lost!

Fixing his eyes on our joy and His, submitting to the Fathers purpose he knew the pain, horrible as it was to endure would come to an end.

It did!

He dies!

Yet he comes alive supernaturally three days later and the joy is released eternally!

Through keeping our eyes on Jesus, we can perfect our faith and move through our pain. Looking into Jesus eyes, we see those who we will have eternal joy with.

We align our hearts with the God of eternity; allow worship to rise within our experience, fixing our eyes on him.

This way our day becomes a lighter load, others who make our lives apparently difficult, less troublesome, and our step a little quicker and lighter than before.

If God is with us, who can take us down, and who can we lift up?

Mon, July 22, 2013 | link          Comments


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