Search

Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Category

Christian Living

Play Nice Part Four

Luke 6: 27-38

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

In my personal Bible, I have this passage highlighted, underlined, boxed out with an outline, and even have stars up at the top and down at the bottom.I do my best to read it every single day at some point. If I fail to actually read it, I try to think about it and meditate on it some. Why you ask? Well, because left unattended and unminded I frankly tend to be a jerk. I tend strongly towards grumpiness, extreme seriousness, being overbearing, and being quite insistent that my way is the only acceptable way.

I am not, however, alone it this matter. In fact, my inspiration to do this came after attending the funeral of one of my favorite Uncles, my Uncle Billy. Now, my Uncle Billy and I were very fond of each other, and he always seemed especially fond of me. The Uncle Billy I know was the kindest, gentlest, and sweetest guy on the planet. Apparently, according to family lore, this was not always the case. According to family lore, provided by his siblings, Billy was just not that nice as a young man. It is reported that this was just not general run of the mill not niceness, but genuine meanness gravitating towards semi cruelty.

But, if you were to ask any person who knew him what they thought about my uncle, the answers would across the board be such: kind, gentle, always willing to lend a helping hand, loves everybody, and on and on.

What happened? First and foremost, I suspect Jesus happened. My uncle was, like everybody in his town, raised in the church. At some point, however, he became very serious about his faith. More than that occurred; what we have here is a man who not only believed in God, loved His Word, but took actual measure to implement that Word into his life as a real force.

Like many believers, Uncle Billy had a favorite Bible, one that he had had for years. It was noted up, scribbled in, and underlined in many many places. This passage was one of those places, along with some other notes to himself about the passage in question. Apparently, this scripture changed a man’s life in this case. Of course, God’s word will do that to anybody willing to place it in their hearts, into their lives, and into action.

For the next few days, we will spend some time in this passage, break it down some, and maybe even chase some rabbits. Okay, for sure we will chase some rabbits because I love to chase rabbits!

See you next time!

Advertisements

Play Nice Part Three

Being kind is NOT a Suggestion

Jesus had some things to say about being kind. Actually, Jesus had some things to say about loving one another, and being kind to each other would certainly fall under that umbrella. The point here is that kindness is not something we have the right to make a choice about. It is a commandment, period. Jesus said so. Enough said, right?

Matthew 22: 37-40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one an other.

Love matters to God: a lot. How much does it matter to Him? Well, just read the above passage. Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to love God with everything we have. And the second greatest commandment is like it: we are to love our neighbor like we love ourselves.

Jesus didn’t say these two were the biggest suggestions; He said they are the biggest commandments! These aren’t things Jesus would have us do if we don’t mind, or if we agree or if we like it.

We are to love our neighbor just as we love ourselves, which for most of us is fairly complete. God says so. If we choose to NOT love our neighbor, we are basically thumbing our noses in the face of Almighty God! That is really not a good idea.

That was not the only instance where Jesus made it crystal clear that to love our fellow man is not something He would really, really like us to do, but is a commandment. Jesus feels strongly about the things He has commanded us to do. In John 14:15 Jesus said, If you love me, keep my commandments.” If we love Jesus, if we are one of His, we will strive to do as he says; in our devotional verse, we learn that He commands us to love one another.

Isn’t that fairly simple? If we love Jesus, we will love one another.

How did God love us? John 3:16 tells us that:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

“The world” is from an obscure Greek word which means “everybody in the world.” Okay, it’s not really obscure; it simply means what it says. The point is, we are to love the world as well. Before anyone gets excited and starts telling me that The Bible says not to love the world, let me define. Loving the world means loving the people of the world, not the things of the world.

Just in case the point was not clear, let’s recap what Jesus had to say about His commandment to love.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

1 John 4:21And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

Got all that? Seems pretty clear.

Play Nice Part Two

What does it mean to be kind as taught in the Bible? In the English translations of the Bible, there are many words used that might be considered synonyms for “kind.” So, pinning down exactly what we mean by kindness may take some effort. Here are just some of the words used to describe what we might see as included in the topic of “kindness”: kindness, goodness, mercy, pity, love, grace, favor , compassion, gentleness, tenderness.

One definition I found read as following

The quality of compassion and generosity, characteristic of God’s dealings towards the weak and poor, and demanded of believers. The kindness is also shown in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ.

Be nice; be kind; show compassion and generosity. We could go deeper into many meanings of this, and maybe we will. I never really know where these series are going until I get there. For now, however, we are going to keep it simple and just deal with kindness by believers as simply being…nice to each other.

So, over the next little bit(who knows how long?) we will take various Bible passages that address this subject and break them down some and talk about them. Enjoy the ride!

Here are some thoughts and questions to ponder as we tackle this subject. Feel free to add your thoughts and perhaps they will become topics for posting.

Who are we to be kind to?
That’s easy. Everybody.
So, I have to be kind to even people I don’t like?
Yes
What if they aren’t kind to me?
Too bad.
What if I am just not kind by nature?
Silly Christian, you have a NEW nature.
Can I just do it if I want to? What if I don’t want to?
Well, it’s not a suggestion, it is a commandment.
Does being kind mean I have to get walked on?
No, not really.
Does being kind mean I never tell the truth? Do I just have to do and say what makes people happy?
Not at all.
Is it okay for me to ever get mad at anybody?
Maybe, depends.
How do I know what I need to do to be kind?
Read the instruction manual. (That’s The Bible)
Who is my best example of kindness to follow?
Duh. Jesus.

Well, that’s a start and I hope the brain wheels are turning. Thoughts? Suggestions? Arguments(Arguments are ok…just be….kind)

Play Nice Part One

The upcoming series has been posted before. Let’s just say I needed a refresher course on this key Christian concept. I think maybe sometimes we all do.


I have no great lesson today, merely some nuggets from God’s Word. This is homework! Read, study and meditate on these verses. The homework is: if you find more, feel free to add them in the comments section!

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

 

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.

Colossians 3:12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Proverbs 3:3 Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Acts 28:2 The natives showed us extraordinary kindness; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all.
That’s only a few, as God’s Word has a lot to say about being kind to one another. What’s your favorite verse on kindness?
That’s only a few, as God’s Word has a lot to say about being kind to one another. What’s your favorite verse on kindness?

 

Wait On the Lord

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. “ Isaiah 40:29-31

Life just stinks, sometimes. We make plans, and they fall apart. We get sick, we lose jobs, we wake up one day and realize we are way too old to be starting over in life. I can attest to this because I just described my own life at the moment. Please don’t be overly concerned about it all, because I am not. Huh you say? Yes, it’s crazy. In the midst of what seems like complete turmoil, I have felt more peaceful and at ease than I have in years. How can this be?

Friends, I will tell you how this can be. I am not saying I am all that, super Christian, or that I have the entirety of Christian life nailed. No, that is not true. But one thing I do know for sure is that God has a plan, God is working a plan, and that if I just get with that plan I will not only be okay but I will be blessed.

Things in the day of Isaiah were not looking good for God’s chosen people. Both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms were going to be overrun and carried off into captivity eventually. Things would get very ugly.

As always with His people, God made some promises. If His people would only return to Him, follow His plan and get with His program then despite what they were going to face would not only be overcome it; they would come out of it stronger than they were before.

I had this passage in my mind years ago as one of my “favorite” verses. That in itself shows the providence of God at work. I just liked it, but had no real reason in my own life to be particularly fond of it. Hmm. Yet, when I needed it, there it was already in my mind and my heart.

God’s got this, friends.

Was Doubting Thomas Really Doubting Thomas?

Doubting Thomas. We have serious doubts about that guy, don’t we? Poor Thomas really gets a bad rap from Christians sometimes. I mean, the resurrected Jesus walks in a room, and Thomas doesn’t even believe that; he demands that he be able to touch the wounds in our Lord’s side before he will believe. That big dummy!

Friends, are we being fair to poor Thomas? I challenge any Christian who has never had doubt about anything in their own Christian walks to step forward and enlighten the rest of us as to what makes them such super Christians. We all doubt, and that is fact. We may not doubt God’s existence, His grace or His salvation; yet, we doubt something. Did you worry today about anything? Boom…you have doubted God. I say we cut Thomas some slack, here.

I do it too; it makes me feel like super Christian to cast aspersion on the solidness of another’s faith. If their faith is wobbly, then by comparison mine must be really strong, right? A while back I wrote a series of devotionals on the story of Jesus and Lazarus, and Thomas came up in the course of it. Read this from John 11: 

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

I sort of mocked Thomas myself, paraphrasing Thomas’ works something like this: “Okay, Lord, let’s go to Bethany. Even though we are going to just get killed, let’s go. Sigh.” Clyde over at Clydherrin.com made a really good point that maybe I had been too hard on Thomas. It was a great point.

The text never actually presented Thomas as saying what he said in the way I said he said it. In fact, it was all the other disciples who were naysaying Jesus when He said they were  out to Bethany, and Thomas who stepped up and said, “Hey, let’s go!” I think what we see there is a statement of resolve and support rather than doubt.

Doubt is normal, my friends. We all have it. What matters, in the end, is not that we have it, but that we act despite it. Once we go in a God called direction despite our fleshly doubts, what has just happened? We have ceased to doubt!

Let’s cut Thomas some slack. He was willing to go, despite himself. Are we?

Would We Be Called Christians?

Acts 11:26

And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch


In the latter part of part of Acts Chapter 11, we see that Paul and Barnabas had spent a year in Antioch preaching and teaching the Gospel with great effect. In fact, they were so notable in their presence that, as the text says, believers were first referred to as Christians: literally, “followers of Christ.” In the beginning, being called Christian was not necessarily a word of praise, but that’s not really the point. The point is, really, that the believers in Antioch were so closely identified with the Lord they served that they were given His name as their own. Are we called Christians? Let me clarify: Do others see us as Christians? We may call ourselves whatever we want without making it true. If we each asked ten people we knew to write down the five most notable things about us, would each list include a word about our faith? Is our life different enough that it becomes how people see us? That is what happened in Antioch, and it was important enough for God to mention in His Word. How do we achieve identity as a Christian? We don’t. Not of ourselves, but through the power and filling of the Holy Spirit. But there is one thing we must make a conscious decision to do in our Christian lives. We do have to surrender to Jesus as Lord and to the power of the Holy Spirit. Once we surrender, the Spirit will begin to mold us into a new, different person. Because different is the key to being identified as “A follower of Christ.” Are we the person who “Goes to church,” or are we the person whose entire life is so different that people see it and link that difference to who we are so tightly that we should be called “Christian?”

Are We Really Too Busy?

How does God feel about Bible reading? Well, here are a few verses which place it pretty high on God’s priority list for Christian lives:

2 Timothy 3:16,17 God Himself literally “breathed out” every single word of Scripture and it is the only guide to faith we need.

Psalm 119:160 God’s Word is true and will last forever.

Matthew 4:4 God’s word is necessary for life, more so than literal bread.

Joshua 1:8 One of the greatest men of the Bible teaches us that if we meditate on God’s Word day and night, we will be rewarded.

2 Timothy 2:15 Here we are simply commanded to study God’s Word and why.

There are many, many more; in combination they clearly prove that God considers the daily reading, studying and meditating on His Word as something He wants Christians to do. To even try to debate that point would be beyond ludicrous, to tell the truth. So, everything in this post is written from that perspective. Why do I say that? Well, because some of what I say might seem to be inflexible to some readers; however, God’s own word teaches that He is pretty inflexible on that point Himself. Agreeing with God on areas He considers important is good policy, frankly.

So, then, just what is our problem? Here is some interesting data:

A couple of years ago, LifeWay Research released a study with some interesting findings.

The survey found 90 percent of churchgoers agree “I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do,” and 59 percent agree with the statement: “Throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths.” While the majority agree with both statements, there is a significant difference in the strength of agreement. Nearly two-thirds of churchgoers (64 percent) strongly agree with the first statement, but only 20 percent strongly agree with the second.

However, when asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible, a similar number respond “Every Day” (19 percent) as respond “Rarely/Never” (18 percent). A quarter indicate they read the Bible a few times a week. Fourteen percent say they read the Bible “Once a Week” and another 22 percent say “Once a Month” or “A Few Times a Month.” See the article here.

Here is some date from the American Bible Society:

If they do read it, the majority (57 percent) only read their Bibles four times a year or less. Only 26 percent of Americans said they read their Bible on a regular basis (four or more times a week). Read the article here.

So, again I ask, what’s our problem? We know what the problem is; I should have asked: What’s our excuse? Today, we are only talking about the, “I don’t have time” excuse. Here are some strategies that might be of some use for those readers really interested in getting with God’s program of daily time in His Word. For those NOT really interested, just move along I guess, as this won’t apply to you.

Commit to it. Our walk of faith is not accidental; it must be intentional. Remember Daniel? Early in his life Daniel and some friends were faced with a test of their faith. Most Christians know the story of Daniel and his friends refusing to eat the King’s meat. Daniel 1:8 tells us that Daniel “purposed in his heart” not to eat the meat offered by The King. The application here is that, for anything we want to accomplish for and through God, we still have to make an intentional decision to actually do it. Any talk of some daily study plan is irrelevant if we aren’t committed to doing it.

Make choices. The truth is, there are only 24 hours in a day; that is just a fact and a reality. We all make choices daily about the things we get to do or do not get to do. In some cases, it may be as simple as deciding which TV show to watch. We can’t watch two at once, so we choose. Do we go to this party or that party? The list goes on and on. We choose to not do things because of time every single day.

How do we decide? We decide based on what is important to us; we decide on based on what matters to us; we decide based on what will bring us the most payoff and once again the list goes on and on. Because we have committed to some things, choosing them becomes quite easy. The same is true for daily Bible study; if we commit to it, then we have to make the choice of what NOT to do to make room for it.

Pick a time; make it a habit. How many things do we have a time assigned at which we do it? Once again, television comes to mind. I know people who would no more miss Monday Night Football than they would skip eating for a week. What about work? Most of us have a particular time we have to report in. The point is, we have a time at which we do those things. That time belongs to those things, and because of that we do them. They are habits.

The time doesn’t matter; pick what works. But do pick, and assign that time and don’t allow another thing to infringe or take that time. I like really early in the morning. It’s all mine, as nobody else is awake then. It’s quiet, as nobody else is awake then. It also happens to be the time of day when I am freshest and most able to concentrate. It is my most effective time of the day, and I feel God deserves my best time. And that’s not just my opinion, I got it from God, who has made many references to us giving Him our firstfruits in His Word. Get a Concordance and check out firstfruits if you don’t believe me.

Now, let’s sum up. The sign said, “If you’re too busy to read the Bible, you’re too busy.” That is simply true and non-negotiable. I say non-negotiable because that is how God sees it, and that seals it. I can cook up justification otherwise until the day ends, and I would simply be wrong. And guess what? If you do that, you are wrong as well.

So, commit to it, make choices, pick your time and begin a new habit that I promise will transform your Christian walk.

The Top 5 Reasons We Should Be in Church Sunday(And the Top 5 Lousy Excuses Why We Won’t)

This is one that has run on Sunday mornings before, and probably will again.

To say that the act of worshiping God in church on Sundays has become less popular over the years would be an understatement. On any given Sunday, on a good day, perhaps half of the people who claim membership in any given church will be present for Sunday morning worship. If you happen to be around Sunday night or Wednesday night, the number is even more drastically reduced.

Where is everybody? It seems that everyone has a million good reasons why they don’t attend church, so we cannot even begin to list them all here. For today’s article, we are going to cover some really good reasons why we should be in Church Sunday morning, and then we will cover and rebut some of our lousy excuses for not going.

Reasons to Come To Church Sunday

  1. Because God said so. That’s pretty simple, right? Rather like your parents telling you “Because I said so!” when you questioned them. Only in this case, it is the Creator of the Universe saying so, which carries a lot of weight. In fact, ignoring what God clearly tells us to do is a very risky proposition to be honest. Hebrews 10:25 is the clearest, most up front message from God concerning how He feels about us meeting for worship. There, Paul was inspired to tell us about “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.” In other words, don’t skip church, like some people do!
  2. It’s what Jesus did. We talk often about becoming Christlike, which means we are to strive to be like Jesus. Well, Jesus attended church regularly. In Luke 4:16 we are taught that Jesus attended worship regularly in the Synagogue.  The believers in the early church certainly followed Jesus’ example, as we see in Acts 2:42: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers
  3. We need to go to church and bring our lost family and friends with us. Primarily here I am speaking to saved persons who have unsaved family members around who would go to church if they did. What I am about to say may sound harsh, but it is true.  If we are saved, how can we stand idly by while our children, husbands or wives drift off into an eternity separated from God in Hell? If we understand what salvation did for us, and the consequences of not being saved, one would think we would literally drag those people to church with us. An observer might question our love for our unsaved family members when we allow this to happen. It might even be a sign that we might do a salvation check of our own if we so lack understanding of what salvation means that we don’t bring our unsaved family to hear the Gospel.
  4. It helps us grow. Of course, we can read, study and meditate on God’s word outside of church, and we should.  But there is nowhere we can get as much good Bible study poured on us in so short a time as we can at Sunday School and Church.  There, we are given the gift of Preachers and Teachers who have spent substantial time preparing just to provide the rest of us maximum learning and growth in the minimum amount of time.  What they give us in perhaps a half hour would take us hours to study ourselves.
  5. We can fellowship with other believers. Really, fellow Christians are the people we should have the closest relationships with. God actually tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Not that we should turn our backs on non believing friends, but our primary relationships should be with fellow believers. And, obviously, the best place to be with other believers is in Church. Why would we make a conscious decision to NOT be with people who will love, encourage and support us?

Our Lousy Reasons for Not Going to Church

Okay, let me just say all reasons for not going to Church are lousy; that is just how I feel and what I believe God’s Word teaches.

  1. “I can worship God just fine in my fishing boat.” (or golf course, ball game or even my Sunday drive. No, actually, you can’t. To be cliche, we can’t truly worship God in a fishing boat anymore than we can fish in a Church house. Church is primarily for worship of our God. And worship is not worship if it is shared with anything else.  Trying to worship in a fishing boat would only be a lot of fishing with some vague thoughts about God tossed in.  The Bible teaches us that God is a jealous God; He wants all of us, not just a leftover. How are we to love God? Matthew 22:37 tells us to”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind
  2. “The church if full of hypocrites.” Yes it is and there is room for one more.  That’s between them and God, not you and them. That’s like saying, “I’m not going to the gym because there are too many out of shape people there,” or “I won’t go to a doctor, there are too many sick people there!”
  3. “Those people are worse than me anyway!” See the last point. That is between them and God, not them and you. We are judged by God’s standard only for ourselves. We are not judged in comparison to any other person.
  4. “They just want my money!”. Who doesn’t?. Not to be flip, but anything we involve ourselves in is trying to get in our wallets; why don’t we stop doing all of those things? God doesn’t need our money; actually it’s all His anyway. If we have it, it is only because He gave it to us. We are merely His stewards of what He gives us. God’s work, however, does take financial support. So, yes, occasionally we may be reminded about what the Bible says about giving to support the work of the Lord. Sadly, some greedy TV preachers have made all churches appear corrupt. Your giving, however, is between you and God; it is not between you and where you go to church. If that’s not true,  find a church where it is true.
  5. “Sunday is my day off and I like to sleep in and just rest.” You know, Jesus got up early one Sunday morning about 2000 years ago. Only, He didn’t wake up from bed, HE WOKE UP FROM BEING DEAD! Had that not happened, where would we all either be or headed? Without the Resurrection, our salvation would be incomplete and eternity in Hell would be our only option. I can promise you from personal experience, if you give God His day even on your day off, He will give you all the rest you need.

We could go on and on for pages with many more good reasons we should attend church regularly; we could do the same with the myriad reasons we do not attend church regularly.  These are just some of the bigger reasons for going and bigger excuses for not going.

It’s very early Sunday morning; what are you doing today? Do you belong to a church somewhere? They would love to see you there; God would love to see you there. Feeling stressed and need encouragement? There is plenty to be found through those doors. Lay aside all your reasons and we’ll see you in the morning!

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: