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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

Category

Christianity

Are We Really Too Busy?

A repeat, of a repeat of a repeat. Blessings and enjoy!

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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.

 

In the Image of God?

This post has made an appearance or two, and yesterday was my post over at Church Set Free

What does it mean to be created in the image of God? We learn in Genesis 1:26 that God made the decision to create man “in our image, after our likeness.” So, it is important to discuss what it means, really, for us to be in the image and likeness of God. Theologians and scholars have spent years trying to discern precisely what it means to be in the image of God, and use many words and complex explanations to explain it. This explanation will hopefully be far from complex, and will be a description we can all follow and understand.

First of all, to be created in the image and likeness of God does not mean that we are formed in His physical image. God Himself does not have a physical body, as John 4:24 teaches us. There, we learn that “God is a spirit…..“, not a physical body. We also see in Luke 24:39 that “…… a spirit hath not flesh and bones….” Of course, God did become incarnate as a man in the form of Jesus Christ, but God the Father is not flesh and bones.

The idea of mankind being created in the image and likeness of God begins with the very way God created man. God, when He created all other living creatures, simply created them from nothingness. They were not there; God spoke, and they existed. Genesis 2:7  tells us something very important about the creation of man.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

When God created man, He formed us with His hands, so to speak, from the dust of the ground. God then personally breathed life into the nostrils of the first man, Adam. Adam then became a living soul, eternal in existence. When God created animals, they were just spoken into existence; when God created man, He breathed life directly into His first human creation. David recognized this difference between humanity and the animal world when he wrote Psalm 8: 4-6.

“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:”

Being created in the image and likeness of God does not mean that we possess God-like attributes. We are not omniscient, omnipresent or omnipotent. We do not possess other attributes normally associated with a Divine nature. We already covered that we are not in God’s image physically, because God is spirit and not flesh. We understand that we are not gods, and do not possess Divine natures. How, then are we in the likeness of God?

Our creation in the image and likeness of God, then, refers to the immaterial, not physical, parts of our nature. In many of these immaterial attributes we have things in common with God’s nature. In a nutshell, we are in the likeness of God mentally, morally and socially. We also share God’s image in the sense that we are eternal beings. Below, we will break those ideas down some.

We bear the image of God mentally. This is critical in understanding the one of the key differences between mankind and the animal world. Although many animals appear quite intelligent, they are not in the image of God mentally. Man possesses the ability to engage in reason and highly complex thought. Man possesses the ability to come up with ideas independent of instinctive compulsions, and then the ability to put those ideas into action through creation of things, inventions and so on. Art, language and literature are all manifestations of some of the ways we were created in the image of God mentally.

Mentally, we are in the image of God in the sense that we make volitional decisions. The animal world certainly makes decisions, but they are primarily driven by biological imperatives, not true volition.
Mentally, God clearly made man to be superior to and rule over the world and all other life in it. Genesis 1:28 teaches us God created us in His image, to then have dominion over all the earth.

“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

We see both this dominion and man’s superior mental nature when Adam named all the animals in Genesis 2:19.20.

“And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”

God created man in His image mentally in the sense that we have free will and the ability to go in whatever direction we choose, just like Him. We are not simply bound to go in whatever direction our biology and instincts drive us; we can choose to do whatever we choose to do, even if it is contrary to our biological natures. The best example of this is the fact that we were created without sin and in innocency. Adam then made the choice to disobey and rebel against God. Even though God created us sinless and perfect, the free will He had given us enabled us to make that choice.

We bear the image of God morally. Despite what many would claim, animals do not possess a moral compass of any sort. While they certainly appear to love us and even desire to please us, this not due to a moral nature of any sort. Animals will always simply act in accordance with what supplies their biologically driven need to live and propagate themselves. Man, on the other hand was created as a moral being; we all have within ourselves the moral nature that God both possesses and that He instilled in us when He created us.
God is Holy and perfect. God has certain standards which we call the Law of God. Not the law, in the sense of the Old Testament Law, but the Law of God. These are things that God clearly sees as wrong and sinful. God Himself always lives by His own standards, as He is perfect and holy. Additionally, God created us in the beginning in a state of holiness and perfection.

Adam chose to exercise the free will God had given him and disobey and rebel against God. As a result, all of us are sinners and no longer measure up to God’s standard. Romans 3:23 teaches us this; “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. “However, our free choice to rebel and reject God does not mean that our basic God instilled morality has gone away. It may be deadened by sin almost to the point that it seems as if it is gone, but it still remains. In every society and culture that has ever existed, there are seemingly universal moral standards people adhere to. Murder, stealing, and other things are considered wrong no matter where one wanders in the world. People may not adhere to these standards, but they know they are there.

We all are born with a conscience and knowledge of morality. Romans 2:14-16 shows us the concept that we all know morality, even if we do not have the specifics.

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”

Here Paul was making the point that while the Gentiles did not have the law, they still knew the law, because it is written on their consciences and hearts from birth. That passage clearly shows that we all understand moral standards. Our understanding of universal moral standards also leads to the conclusion that we each also know that there is a moral law giver, which is God. Romans 1:18-20 shows us clearly that we all know God exists, because He created us that way, to have an understanding of His existence.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

We bear the image of God socially. God Himself in His triune form, has existed since eternity past as a social being. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit have always existed in fellowship with one another. The decision to create humanity was made as a community effort by the persons of the Trinity. We can see this in Genesis 1:26 when the Triune God said He would create man in “our image, according to our likeness.”

God created us for His joy and His glory. He also created us to love and fellowship with Him. One thing to clearly understand is that God did not create us because He was somehow lonely just sitting around in eternity past with nothing to do. God is self contained and self sufficient and has no needs whatsoever. He does, however, enjoy being loved, worshipped and fellowshipped with.

A reading of Genesis 3:8 shows that in all likelihood God had a habit of walking in the Garden and fellowshipping with Adam and Eve.

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.”

Genesis 2:18 shows us that God understood that He had created man to be a social creature as well; He created Eve for Adam because He could see it was “not good” for Adam to be alone.
We bear the image of God socially in terms of the emotions we feel towards each other. God loves, God hates, and God gets angry. The most obvious reference to how God loves is, of course, found in John 3:16 where we learn just how God loved us. God hates sin; the Biblical references to God being angry, jealous or hurt are too numerous to even mention.

We are in God’s image spiritually. God is Spirit, and in an eternal sense, so are we. Obviously we are not eternal from eternity past, only God has existed forever. On the other hand, God created us to exist eternally after our creation. This was true from the very beginning when God formed us from the dust of the earth. We became a “living soul.” Some might debate the difference between soul and spirit, but for the intent of that particular verse, the implication is that we are a soul which lives forever. Scripture clearly teaches that we will all exist somewhere for eternity.

Many words have been written about how man is in the image and likeness of God, and they are well worth more study. The above few words, however, capture the essence of how we were created in the image of God.

Visit the original post here on Church Set Free

How a 35 Year Old Jewish Lawyer Finds Jesus

This post was first published almost a year ago. I was honored to be able to share this story and for some reason feel led to share it yet again.

Melissa

A….35 year old…..Jewish…lawyer…finds Jesus. If the emphasis on those three things seems a bit much, allow me to explain. We all know that the older one is, the more resistant one tends to be to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Most people, if not converted by 35 will not be. I have nothing against lawyers, but the facts are that overall, with their emphasis on proofs and logic, attorneys might not seem prime candidates to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Last, but not least; we have Jewish. As a whole, the Jewish people have rejected Jesus as the Messiah, and conversions are not that common. So, what we have here is a 35 year old Jewish Lawyer who has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Meet Melissa Zellniker Presser. Melissa is one of my online friends and dear Sister in Christ.  With that introduction behind us; I will allow Melissa to tell her own story. I hope it will inspire you as much as it inspired me.

 


Melissa’s Story

I am a Jew. I am a Jewish wife. I am a Jewish mother. I am a Jewish lawyer. And I love Jesus. And what does that make me? Complete.

How can I love Jesus, you ask? It’s easy. He’s easy to love. He’s easier for a Jew to love because he is our messiah, given to us, his chosen people by God. But we missed him. And I missed him. That was until I turned 35.

I grew up a conservative Jew. I went to temple and Hebrew school. I celebrated Rosh Hashanah and fasted on Yom Kippur. I lit the candles on Hanukkah. I would sing to God in shul. But I was empty. My parents would drop me off on Saturdays so that I could attend temple. I would chant and read and chant some more. It was static and monochromatic and I felt trapped. Where is God, where is He? I was following the tradition of my ancestors by attending shul and felt holy while I was there. Holy and empty. But how can that be? I was so busy trying to follow all of God’s commandments I never realized God even existed. What’s that you say? You were an atheist? Yes, you could call me that. For God was a concept and not a person to me. I was following along with the script that was being read to me. I never felt God. Never even questioned or thought about why I didn’t. I just accepted the fact that this is who I was and this is what was and that was that.

It wasn’t until my grandfather died that I started to have revelation. While sitting shiva, I was told by the Rabbi that I could not pray for my grandfather. That only men could pray and chant the prayers for the dead. “Thank you very much”, I said. “Well, you have two choices Rabbi. Either you let me pray or I can let you leave.” I said it with ease. It was a poignant moment for me. An innate feeling bigger than me that told me that this God that I knew would not turn me away from praying and mourning for my deceased grandfather. Why would the God who I worshipped and gave every Saturday to turn away from me? Why would He reject me? There’s no way, I thought to myself that this is God’s will. So when the Rabbi turned to answer me, I was already on my knees, chanting the mourner’s kaddish. He also joined me on His knees, but he was silent.

The more I chased after God, the further I fell. I started to turn away from anything that seemed remotely religious or connected to God. As a young Jewish girl, I felt God had put me on the marked for death hit list. That He didn’t love me. That it truly didn’t matter what I did for him or how much time I spent in his house. For I saw the so called righteous religious people pay $1,000 a seat for Yom Kippur service while I got turned away for not having money to pay for my seat. Where was the “God” in that?

I chose to leave God, and my road led to well, nowhere. It seemed to be a metaphor for a trip I took later on in my life. My husband and I went to Hawaii for our one year wedding anniversary. Being the adventurous spirits that we are, we planned a day trip on the Road to Hanna. This Road is known for the scenery along the way. Essentially it is known for the journey. My husband and I believed that at the end to this Road we would encounter paradise. So we went along on the Road to Hanna. Initially, we remarked on how beautiful it was, but eventually we grew tired of it. As the hours passed we became more anxious to arrive. We had had enough of this long winding road.

And so several hours later, tired, hungry and thirsty we saw ahead of us the end. “There it is!” we shouted. We had finally reached the end. We parked the car and began walking towards the end of this road. We both got quiet and then started laughing. This is it? There’s nothing here! Where was this beautiful paradise? It was nowhere to be found. And we named it the Road to Nada. A long and treacherous road to travel, with a disappointing ending.

This was the story of my life. I was always seeking and searching. Always trying to find the answer at the end. But every road I took lead to disappointment. Every road led to nothing.

It wasn’t until I hit the pinnacle of brokenness that I found Jesus. He was waiting for me, this I know. Had I known now that he was waiting for me on the other side, I wouldn’t have walked but would have sprinted towards him. And I would have endured every pain and then some to run into His loving arms all over again.

My life was never easy. In fact I believed I was destined to die. On the outside I had everything but on the inside I had nothing. I was the straight A Honors student. The popular one. The cheerleader. Bat mitzvah. Graduated college. Went on to law school. Became a successful attorney. Married my bsheret. Was blessed with three children. This was what the world saw. Because the world looks at the outside. God looks at our heart.

On the inside I was broken. I had been sexually abused and never told anyone. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I hated myself. I was rejected by the one place that I thought would accept me- the temple. I tried to find my satisfaction in many broken relationships- whether a boyfriend or a friend. I lived my life for others. Because if they saw the pain inside of me, surely they would not accept me. I would be an outcast. But in my mind and heart I already was. And most days I counted down the days until God would take me from this earth. And then was the moment that truly took me away from God, the day my beloved grandmother died.

There were too many things wrong and nothing that was right. I could have cared less about my law degree and in fact would have been much happier cleaning floors somewhere in the background where nobody could see me. But something kept me alive. Something deep inside me told me I was special. And that something was the quiet whispers of God calling me back to him.

You see, I am a stubborn Jewish girl. Aggressive and bold. Defensive. I married a stubborn Israeli Jewish boy. Aggressive and bold. Defensive. And you can see where that might have led us.

I have only known two true loves in my life before I had my children. The love I had for my grandmother and the love I have for my husband. God took the first one away and not long after that almost took the other. Five years after I lost my grandmother, I almost lost my marriage. How could God do this to me? Even when I renounced his name, he kept coming back for more. I slipped away from the world without the world knowing it. I tried to run away from God. It’s no use, I thought, nothing matters anymore. That was until I heard a still small voice inside of me. It was clear and resounding and would not leave me alone.

A week before Mother’s day, I heard that still small voice again. It told me to reach out to a friend’s mother and ask for help. I asked her if she went to church and she told me yes, and that I had a divine appointment that next day. I remember thinking in that moment I wanted to end it all. I started devising a way that I could end my life. And in that moment I lifted my chin up to see the faces of my three beautiful children.

The next day I walked into the church and met my mother from the Lord. She knew immediately something was wrong. She started to pray over me in a way I had never heard- with such conviction and passion. I didn’t care that I was in a church and that she was praying in the name of Jesus. In that moment, all I could do was think of the horrible emotional pain I was in and how I would survive past this day.

The sermon moved me. I was gripped. And the name of Jesus rolled easier off my tongue. I stopped caring about what the world thought and started concentrating on my three children. I don’t remember exactly what I said when I cried out to God that night but I am pretty sure it went something like this, “God I just can’t do life anymore. I cannot and will not leave these kids without a mother. But the emptiness and pain I feel in my heart is so overwhelming that I cannot live another day on this earth with it. I feel like I am going to die. If Jesus really is the answer Lord I accept him. Please take away this pain in my heart, it consumes me. Jesus heal me and let me live for the children I am a mother to.” I remember nothing else after that until the next morning.

I woke up and looked over at my husband. I clutched my chest. Where was the pain? Where had it gone? I kept touching my chest looking to find it. But it was not there. As I clutched my chest, I looked over at my husband who was sleeping next to me. All of a sudden my body started to fill with life. I could feel my heart beating and from my feet to my head, my soul started to fill with love. In my mind God showed me a picture of a pitcher filling up a tall glass with water. He had taken away the pain and replaced it with love. It was real. I was different. I was restored. It was then that I knew that He was real.

The next week I brought my husband back to church. The Lord was calling me, it was clear. At the end of the sermon when the Pastor asked for those to step forward who would accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior I knew it was my appointed time. It was Mother’s Day. And I came to accept God’s son as my personal Lord and Savior. And I was baptized in his name.

My life will never be the same. The only regret I have is that I did not accept Jesus sooner. My husband has since accepted Christ and our marriage is stronger than ever. We are more in love today than we were when we were first dating. My children have come to know and love Jesus and it shows. It shows in their kindness and their respect and their spirit of giving. It shows when they speak to Him in prayer and know that they are truly loved by God. My sisters in Christ accepted me with open arms, no questions asked. In fact, they told me of how they were all broken people at one time looking for a savior. That they were all imperfect. Welcome to the club for imperfect people.

My children know where they came from. We teach them about the Jewish holidays and festivals and show them the meaning of each one. We tell them about how we are complete now in our Messiah. It’s quite the eye opener. That I had no idea who I was before Jesus came into my life and in Him I know exactly who I am.

Every day with Him just gets better and better. My husband and I enjoy praying together, sharing the Word of God and serving a loving and merciful God who chose us as his children. Every morning I wake up in tears, overjoyed and just so thankful to be alive.

How could I not want to talk about what saved me from certain death both physically and spiritually? He is real and I am real. My family is real. And we are complete Jews in Jesus Christ. The Son of God.

I Believe…..

By: James

From: The Isaiah 53:5 Project

This is not an all inclusive list, just a few things I absolutely believe in.

image

1. I am a Young Earth Creationist, I am not afraid to admit it, and I don’t care what other people think about that.

I have tried for many years to temper this belief with the possibility that the six days in the Genesis account may not be six literal days and could actually be millions of years but have come to the belief that this is unbiblical.

2. I believe in a literal Heaven and a literal Hell.

If you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior, you will spend and eternity in the glorious presence of God in Heaven. If you do not, you will spend an eternity separated from God and all that is good in Hell.

If this offends you, fine. I will not sugar coat the truth in the interest of political correctness or to avoid offending anyone. Not offending and the approval of men is NOT what I seek or what I am the least bit interested in.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

– Galatians 1:10

3. I believe Jesus Christ was crucified, buried in a known tomb, and raised from the dead on the third day.

Like the apostle Paul, I believe that not accepting the resurrection as a historical fact is foolishness and makes the Christian faith worthless.

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

– 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

4. I believe we are ALL, me included, sinners in need of redemption that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

This is simple, biblical, and not open for debate.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

– Romans 3:23

5. I believe the Bible is the inspired, error, and contradiction free Word of God.

Modern intellectuals (as they call themselves) who strive to find fault with the Bible are no different from the proud Greeks of Paul’s day who lived in the futility of their thinking. They too were darkened in their understanding… because of the blindness of their hearts (Ephesians 4:17–18).

Long story short here, people don’t have a problem with the Bible; they have a problem with the author.

6. I believe the God of the Bible is a perfect, infinite, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent being who is a god of love, mercy, and perfect justice.

Christians MUST recognize that God is God, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. He is a faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He (Deuteronomy 32:4; see also Psalm 11:7; 90:9).

7. I believe Jesus Christ is THE ONLY way to God and Christianity is THE ONLY true religion.

Either Christianity is all true or it is not.

Either Jesus performed miracles or He did not.

Either Jesus rose from the dead or He did not.

Based solely and completely on who Jesus is and what He did, Christianity is the truth and by necessity all other religions that disagree with Jesus are wrong.

Truth is, by nature, intolerant of falsehood. If Christianity is not true, then Jesus was not God, then Jesus did not do miracles, then Jesus did not heal the sick, then Jesus did not walk on water, then Jesus did not die and rise from the dead after three days.

But, if He did do these things, then Christianity alone is true since, in all the religions in the world, only Christianity has the person of Jesus; and Jesus said that He alone was the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Read the Original Post here

Do I have to go to church?

By:  Barry Cooper
© ExploreGod.com

Posted on the Isaiah 53:5 Project

I have better things to do than go to church. Do I have to go to be a Christian?

Church attendance in the West, even among Christians, is falling. According to a recent study, attendance at church services in any given week has declined among Christians by 9 percent since 1991. Now only a minority of Christians (47 percent) can be found at church during a typical week.1

In a culture that sees independence and self-reliance as hallmarks of a truly successful person, church can feel like an imposition on our time and energy. We ask if we have to go to church in the same reluctant way we might ask, “Do I have to go to the dentist?”

But what if followers of Jesus only truly flourished when in community with other like-minded believers? What if true fulfillment could only be found in serving them rather than ourselves?

Church in the Bible

The Bible certainly makes a strong case for being at church regularly. Jesus himself assumes that his followers will gather together habitually in self-governing “churches.”2 The writer of the book of Hebrews is explicit: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.”3

According to the Bible, believers should meet together regularly so that they can

  • hear God’s Word taught faithfully;4
  • pray together;5
  • be accountable to one another;6
  • encourage one another;7
  • use God-given spiritual gifts for the benefit of fellow believers;8
  • exercise church discipline with the aim of restoring a person who is caught in a particular sin;9
  • support one another in suffering;10
  • rejoice with each other;11
  • commemorate Jesus’ death and resurrection;12
  • serve one another;13
  • bear with one another;14
  • offer hospitality to one another;15
  • love one another;16 and
  • demonstrate the power and goodness of Jesus to a watching world.17

This list is far from exhaustive. As you read the New Testament, it’s hard to miss how many commands contain the phrase “one another.”

The New Testament describes each gathered group of believers as “the body of Christ.” Just as with a human body, each part of the body of Christ needs the others.18 Each believer is a “hand” or an “eye” or a “foot,” and just as it would be self-defeating for the foot to say, “I don’t like this leg; I’m leaving,” so it is when a believer stops attending church or refuses to settle in one church. The church suffers and so does the believer.

Read the rest of this article here

A Treatise on Bapticostalism

Disclaimer

To my church family: My cheese has not slipped off of my cracker. I remain the same steadfast Baptist you all know me as. Just having some fun with a serious message.

To my Pentecostal brothers and sisters. Read above.


I am not a charismatic. I am even…gasp….a cessasionist. By the way, don’t comment trying to argue about that, because this post isn’t about that. Okay? Thanks! I am a Baptist. I am a Missionary Baptist. We are conservative. No wait…we are VERY conservative. How conservative are we? We are so conservative:

When visitors come and they say, “Bring it preacher!” instead of just “amen,” the people next to them start edging toward the outside of the pew.

One Sunday a while back, a fellow uncased his electric bass, and the entire right side of the church clutched their chests and slumped in their pews.

We have the following in our Church Covenant:

Oh pious and upright believer, when thou are tormented by that fiendish spawn of the devil, the “housefly” thou shalt solely smitest it with one hand only so as not to to be accused of the crime of “clapping” and be branded a heretic.

Okay, that’s really not in there, but you can get the point. We are very conservative.

Now, don’t misunderstand me, I am not into random, uncontrollable emotionalism as part of my worship or faith. I tend to be quite distrustful of things done in The Lord’s name that are driven by “feelings.” My faith is not a feeling, it is a rational considered thing based on available evidence. Of course feelings are part of it, but only part. I really get concerned about professions of faith coming as a result of intense emotionalism. It it occurred during a great emotional high, there is the chance it goes away during the next emotional low. But, again, not looking for a debate, just tossing my thoughts out.

On the other hand!

On the other hand, our faith should make us feel quite joyous and even happy. I personally sometimes feel a great deal of excitement when I think of the great gift I have been given in salvation and the blessings I am party to every single day. Shouldn’t we all feel that way? Why, then are so many of us in the snarled up, “bless me if you can” crowd?

Remember David, bringing the Ark of the Covenant, back to his city? How he danced before the lord? He was fairly excited as the celebrated this great blessing the Lord had provided, wasn’t he? Or course immediately someone, namely his own wife, came running out to tell him that he really ought to tone it down and act dignified. Sigh.

But, check this out:

Psalms 98:4 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises

Psalms 35:27 Let them shout for joy and rejoice, who favor my vindication; And let them say continually, “The LORD be magnified, Who delights in the prosperity of His servant.”

Psalms 66:1-2 Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious.

1 Chronicles 15:28 Thus all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouting, and with sound of the horn, with trumpets, with loud-sounding cymbals, with harps and lyres.

Psalms 47:1 O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy.

Psalms 33:3 Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.

Psalms 118:15  sound of joyful shouting and salvation is in the tents of the righteous; The right hand of the LORD does valiantly.

God inspired every word of His Word, right? Plenty of stuff in there about some joyful shouting, right?

So, would it really kill us to show a little excitement, maybe even a little joy and emotion as we gather to praise and worship our Lord?

Want some good reasons to leave Christianity? Read the Bible

God-What Are You Trying To Tell Me?

Earlier today I was engaged in a conversation with a non believer, and they had a question for me. In a nutshell, the question was basically: How do you know what God wants you to do?; How do you know the will of God? The question was not worded exactly like that; it was much more specific. The actual question had something to do with how I knew what sofa God wanted me to buy, or what He wants me to have for supper.  I really don’t know if the question was motivated by genuine curiosity, or just for the chance to pick my answer apart. Either way, however, the question is quite legitimate.

This post is my attempt to answer that question. Be forewarned, you will not find any deep theology here. Just basic Bible teaching combined with a certain amount of personal experience. At this point, I cordially invite readers to jump in with thoughts and comments on their thoughts on determining God’s will. Perhaps together we can answer this question more fully.

God’s will is not forced on us. We were created by God to possess free will. We are not God’s little puppets, with our strings being pulled by some cosmic puppeteer. Adam and Eve, and their fall in the Garden of Eden, illustrate this to us fairly clearly. They only had one restriction placed on them in that Garden. They were not to eat of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. That’s it. God had communicated this one will to Adam at some point. In Genesis Chapter 3, we can see the story of how Adam and Eve chose to violate this one restriction God had placed on them; we can see clearly that this choice was voluntary on their part.

God does have a will and a plan for each of us. God has a plan for us, before we are even born; additionally, God is in the details. No aspect of our lives is two small for God to have a plan and desire for. For instance, before he was even born, God planned and willed that Jeremiah be a prophet to Israel:

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

How into the details of our lives is God?

Luke 12:7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.

What, then is God’s will for me?

First and foremost, God’s will is that you be saved. While we are in a lost condition, God has no will for us other than we be saved. Read the following:

Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Only repentance toward God and faith in The Lord Jesus Christ for salvation can restore our broken relationship with God so that we can then do His will for the rest of our lives. This post is not primarily designed to be a discourse on the plan of Salvation; please read my Jesus Paid it All Series  for full coverage of that topic.

Too know God’s will, we must be willing. Here are a couple of passages which stress the importance of relationship and willingness in regards to God directing our lives.

Proverbs 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Psalms 37:4 Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Pray, study and meditate. It is vital to our coming to an understanding of God’s will for us that we spend time in His Word, in prayer, and in thinking and meditating on what we read in His Word.

I like to think of prayer as us talking to God, and The Bible as God talking to us.

Prayer is our time alone with God, during which we can build fellowship and closeness with Him. And I don’t mean here our before supper, or in the church prayers. Those matter, but are not what I am talking about here. I mean the time in our “prayer closet,” when it is just us and God alone.

Time spent reading and meditating on The Bible reveal vast amounts of God’s will to us. We don’t need to seek guidance in some areas, because they are right there, in The Bible. For example, we don’t need to seek God’s guidance on whether we should run off with a person not our spouse; that particular subject would be crystal clear in Scripture! The key is, to understand God’s will as revealed in Scripture, we have to be IN scripture.

Okay, now what?

Here, honestly is where it gets dicey. We are not all the same, and God does not deal with us all the same. How we each come to understand God’ will is very personal and particular to each of us.

Does God care about what sofa we buy? Well, he certainly knows the best sofa for us. Does he want us to buy a particular one? Maybe, maybe not. Not being privy to all of God’s plans, I could not give an answer to that question.

Readers must be asking…great..great..but how do I KNOW? That depends on you, and how you relate to God personally. His guidance might be a door that opens; it might be a door that closes. It might be a burning desire on your heart to do a certain thing; on the other hand that could be just you wanting to do said thing. It might be the constant, nagging feeling that there is a particular thing you should be doing; this, in my experience, is particularly true concerning things I really didn’t want to tackle in the first place.

What is the bottom line, really? It’s all about relationship and willingness. We have to have a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ; we have to have a daily relationship with Him through study and prayer; we have to be willing to listen to and execute His will for our lives.

For Readers

Readers: what do you think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this question that was asked of me.

For Non Believers

Okay..I get it. This is just so much hocus pocus and ooggity boogity. My answer will not make even a little bit of sense. Trust me, my non believing friends; it is truth. Want to know the will of God? Then accept Him. Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. There you have it. That’s His will, first and foremost. Do that, and I promise the rest will follow.

 

Just a Thought

We cannot receive what Jesus gives, salvation, and refuse what Jesus is, Lord

Adrian Rogers

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