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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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love

Justice? Wait, I thought God Loved Me!

This is a slight reworking of something I posted  a long time ago. Blessings and enjoy!

justice-love-scales

All powerful

All Knowing

All present

Grace

Longsuffering

Love

Mercy

Creator

Sustainer

What is all that you ask? Well, those would be just some of the many characteristics, roles, or attributes of God. He is all of those things. He is all of those things, all of the time. He is all of those things in equal measure(that measure being infinite, of course). But that is not all. God is also the following:

Lawgiver

Judge

Jury

Administrator of Justice

We don’t like the idea of justice so much. We love love. We love grace. We love mercy. We don’t so much love law, judgment, or justice. Well, that is not really true. We do love justice, just not applied to us. Don’t we all scream for justice constantly?

That’s not fair!

Someday THEY will get what they deserve!

I deserve better than that!

They are going to pay for that some day!

Hey, where’s mine?

And on and on and on it goes.

So, we all have an innate, and generally very well developed sense of justice. After all, we spend big parts of our lives demanding it. Did we evolve into this almost universal sense of justice? Well, of course not. We were given our sense of justice. When? Back in the Garden of Eden when God scooped up the dirt of the Earth, created a man, breathed life into his nostrils, and man became a living soul.

We were created in God’s image; we have a sense of justice because the One who created us also has a sense of justice

I have taken a sort of round about trip to answer a common question:

If God loves us, why can’t He just forgive us and move on? Why doesn’t He just “Let us all go” so to speak?

 I don’t really want to over complicate the answer to that question, so will answer it with some short scenarios and questions of my own. If any reader decided to pay a visit to the local court day in their town and saw the following occur, what would the reaction be?

What if before court even started, the presiding judge stood up and proclaimed the following:

I really, really, really love you all! I know you are all guilty as charged, but I really, really love you all. So, even though you all did your particular crimes you won’t be punished for them. Everybody go home!

What if the local auto thief came before the judge:

Thief: Yeah, Judge I stole that car, but I am really, really sorry!

Judge: Ok, great. Thanks for the apology. You may go home.

What about the guy who stole the radio from that car?

Thief: Yeah judge, I stole the radio. But at least I didn’t steal the whole car like that other guy!

Judge: Ok. Hmm. Good point. You may go home.

The armed robber?

Robber: I did it judge sure I did. You know all the charity stuff I do, right? How am I gonna do all that in jail?

Judge: Good point. Go home

If any of that actually occurred, what would our reaction be? At the bare minimum, we would quit electing that Judge, or work to have such a judge removed from the Bench. Why is that? Well, obviously the conduct described above violates any sense of justice any normal, rational person has.

We believe in Justice

We are in God’s image

God gave us our sense of justice

God is just Himself

Why do we demand He behaves differently?

Remember earlier when we talked about God’s attributes? He is all the things listed, all of the time,  in full measure of each. Since being unchanging is also one of God’s attributes, He can not stop being any of those things. This is just simple fact as He has revealed to us in His Word, the Bible. We know these things because He has told us.

Another attribute of God is perfection and Holiness. Simply put, our transgressions large or small, are less than perfection and separate us from Him.

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.

Big, or small. Shoplifter to a mass murderer.

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

So in the eyes of a perfect and Holy God, we are all guilty as charged. If this was our local courtroom, we would demand justice. Well, so does God.

Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death………

That’s right, the penalty prescribed in God’s Law for violation of that law is the death penalty. The penalty is not penance, or purgatory, or a monetary fine or any sort of good works to make up for what we have done. The penalty for our sin is death. What does this mean? Well, after the first sin, it meant physical death. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have lived forever in their physical forms, in harmony with God. Their sin brought into the world all the sickness and death as we know it today. Death also means spiritual death.  Even though we all eventually die physically, we are are all eternal in our spirits. Our spirit or soul will exist for all eternity.  So, again, what is it to spiritually die? Spiritual death is eternal separation from God in a place called Hell. It’s really that simple. When God says the wages of sin is death, that is the death of which He speaks.

Justice demands this. So, now what? Well, there is more!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God has given us a gift. Even though we owed the penalty of death for our sin, He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ as a way for that debt to be satisfied. God became flesh, in the form of Jesus Christ and became incarnate on this Earth for that very reason. Jesus Christ was fully human so He could pay the price humans owed for their sin; He was also fully God so He could pay the infinite price of the sin of all humanity past, present and future. Despite how He hates sin, God loves us deeply and completely.

John 3:16 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.

It is a gift, we do not pay a thing for it; Jesus paid it all. We do not deserve it and we do not earn it.  All we have to do is accept it. How do we do this? Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about this:

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

It’s the meeting of the attributes

Justice

God demands it

Love

God has it

Mercy and grace

God offers it

Will you accept it today?

Love Walk the Talk

1 John 3 17.18

1 John 3:14-18

John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, asked a very pointed question in that passage: He basically is asking how, if one person has sufficiency to help a brother in need but does not, he or she can even claim to be Christian?

That passage is all about “Walking the talk.” We can talk all day about how we love; we can even make claims about how we feel about another person. But until we put legs on that love, John is saying we cannot make a legitimate claim to belonging to Jesus.

John’s guidance to us is that we stop just talking about who we love; the Holy Spirit is guiding us to put our love into action. We have already covered the fact that Christlike love is much more than a feeling; it is actions.

Specifically, this passage is talking about helping others when you have resources and they do not. It doesn’t necessarily mean just financial resources, either. We all have something in abundance that another does not. It might be money; it might be time; it might be a skill. Whatever it is that we have an abundance of, God tells us that we should share that abundance with someone in need.

What can we do today to actually show somebody we love them? Is there someone you can think of? If you can think of someone today, take the opportunity to actually do something for them!

This Is How They Know

John 13_35

John 13:34-35

In this simple verse, Jesus gave the world the authority to evaluate the quality of our Christianity by how we, as believers, love one another. He didn’t say they would know we are Christians if we go to church, read our Bibles, not drink beer or cuss or anything else. Jesus said the world would know we are His if we love each other.

The world cannot know that we love each other unless we show the world that love. As we have previously discussed, love has to become an action and an act of the will much more than just a feeling. People cannot see our feelings; they can only see the evidence of our feelings, whether bad or good.

What do people see when they come to our church? Do they see a group of people who rejoice in the opportunity to be with one another worshiping God? Or do they see a bunch of sullen people glued to pews? Are they themselves welcomed as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (unless we find out otherwise, and that’s another love topic), or do we ignore them at best or make them feel like intruders at worst?

What do people hear when they hear about our church? Do people report it as a place known for love and getting along? Or are we the church that always has some drama going on? What do we ourselves say about our church and the people in it? Are we kind and supportive of them in public or are we running around stabbing them in the back?

Are we ourselves showing every person we encounter the kind of love we are supposed to show to a brother or sister in Christ? We can’t go wrong treating everyone that way, really. Even if they aren’t, that might be the beginning of them becoming one.

Love is the key. We already know that everything God expects of us as believers flows from love, first from our love for Him, then our love for each other. And love is how we show the world who we are. Just ask Jesus.

What Is Love Anyway?

John 21.15

First of all, this devotional is not going to be a deep theological dissertation on all the various meanings in the passage above. Someday perhaps we will do that, but not today. I am only using it to illustrate what love means.

Both of the types of love mentioned in the Bible can be found in the above passage. The Bible commonly uses two different Greek words, with quite different meanings. The two words from the Greek which are translated love are, “agape” and “phileo.

The above passage goes something like this:

  • Peter, do you agape me? Yes Lord, you know I phileo you.
  • Peter, do you agape me? Yes, Lord, I phileo you.
  • Peter, do you phileo me? Peter, mildly put out, replies, Lord you know I phileo you.

As I said, here we are not going to analyze that passage; it just works well for what we are going to do briefly, which is explain just what love is.

  • Agape love is the kind of unconditional, sacrificial love which God the Father has for us. It is not based on feelings or based on if the recipient deserves it or not. It is the kind of love that is willing act and sacrifice even when another is totally undeserving. It is the kind of love both God the Father and Jesus Christ displayed when God sacrificed His Son for us, even though we did not deserve it. Agape love is the kind of love we are commanded to practice towards our fellow humans.
  • Phileo love is the kind of love we might have for a friend, or brother or anyone who we are fond of. This love is feeling based; in other words, this is based on whether we actually like a person or not. It might be sacrificial in some circumstances, but only insofar as it meets the needs of the person sacrificing.

Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The kind of love He commanded was not phileo love, but agape love. Because we are not commanded to love just those we actually feel something positive for; we are commanded to love our neighbor. Who is our neighbor? Stay tuned for a future post on that very subject!

It All Hangs On Love

Matthew 22 37_40

Yesterday we discussed the same passage as we will briefly discuss today. Today our focus will be on the last sentence of the passage. What does it mean that all the law and the prophets hang on those two greatest commandments?

It’s a pretty visual and simple illustration Jesus used, really. Just picture a rack entitled, “love.” On the rack there are two pegs, “The Law” and “The Prophets.” Now picture what happens if there is not a rack entitled “love.” Got that? The pegs fall to the ground if they are not attached to a rack. Jesus was just illustrating that all of God’s expectations concerning His moral law can be met if we just do two things: Love God and love each other.

We can take a look at the Ten Commandments to illustrate how loving God and loving one another roll everything up within them. These are paraphrased in a short form, incidentally.

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make idols.
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy
  5. Honor your Father and Mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet.

If we love God with everything we have, then the first four Commandments will be the natural result. If we love our neighbor, then the last six will be the natural result.  If you carry this to its ultimate conclusion, there is really nothing God expects of us which could not be found in one of the Ten Commandments; we could say they have many unspecified subcategories. And The Commandments can be further reduced to two: Love God and love each other. Love.

All of God’s moral law does hang on Love. If we really do love God with our all, and each other with our all, then the natural outflow of keeping those two commandments will be doing the things God wants us to do. If we fail in either of those two areas, then we will be unable to meet any expectations God might have of us.

Love It Matters To God

Matthew 22 37_40.JPG

Apparently, I still need some teaching on the subject of love. Since I have already written on that some, I thought perhaps re running these were appropriate. I suppose I must be slow, because I have actually re run this particular series more than once.

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.

Today begins a devotional series on some of the things God’s Word has to say about the topic of love. The Bible has many, many things to say about love; there are so many that if we discussed them all this would become simply the Daily Love Devotional. So, we are just going to look at some of them.

The key take away for today is going to be to take note of the fact that 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 completely. God says so. If we choose to NOT love our neighbor, we are basically thumbing our noses in the fact of Almighty God! That is really not a good idea.

Stay posted for more about love over the next few days!

An Eye For an Eye?

Matthew 5_38

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.

Kindness matters to God. Our behaving in a loving way to others matters to God. Forgiving others matters to God. If it did not matter, He would not have told us so often in His Word.

The above passage is quite complete, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, is one of my most used “go to” passages in God’s Word.

Is the description above how we are today? Well, now; we know that it is not. To get a clearer picture of how we are today, let’s take a trip back to Matthew Chapter 5, where Jesus delivers the same lesson with some additional comments.

Matthew  5:38-48

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

The two phrases I want to key in on are the following:

38 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:

43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

What makes these passages notable is Jesus’ use of the phrase it hath been said. What the really means is, “Okay, the Old Testament Scripture kind of said what you say it said, but you have taken it and twisted in around to suit your own needs.

An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth was never meant to be a code for personal revenge. This was part of the judicial code in the Mosaic Law. This was simply part of the law of the land of the day. This was official conduct and action, not personal conduct and action. It was never used in the context of interpersonal relationships, but always in the context of a civil judge presiding. It was no more than the law following the example we see even today, that the punishment should fit the crime.

The problem was, that the Pharisees had taken that snippet of Mosaic Law and used it to justify and give the okay to their concept of extracting personal revenge on their enemies.

Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. Indeed, God commanded us to love our neighbor. He commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves in fact:

Mark 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Which of course references:

Leviticus 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.

What is missing in those two passages? Yep, it’s that whole  and hate thy enemy thing.! God never said that. Again, the was just a conclusion drawn over the years by those studying and writing about the Law, and adding volumes to it I might add. “Hey, God says love your neighbor. He never mentions our enemies. That must mean it’s okay to hate our enemies!

So again, which one are we today? Clearly, in most of modern culture, we are far more like the Pharisees of that day than the actual standard God originally had, or the clarified lesson Jesus taught.

What’s in it for me?

Payback is a ______!

I’m gonna get you sucka!

It’s my money and I want it now!

I’ve got rights!

That’s us isn’t it? The problem is, that is our sinful selves; it is not the selves we should be as new creatures in Jesus Christ. As we continue on, we will look closely at what that actually means.

Love – Just Do It!

John 13_34.JPG

John 13:34-35

I don’t want to sound cliche, but we can see above that Jesus issued a new commandment. It was not a suggestion, or a recommendation; it was a commandment, a directive and an order. Another time, He referred to love of God and others as the greatest commandment, upon which all others hang. This is a very serious matter.

How do we love when some, frankly, are just difficult to love? Let’s face it, we are not all likeable or easy to love. Some folks just don’t “click.” How do we love those, and how do they love us?

Love….is not necessarily an emotion, particularly the agape love God has for us, and expects us to strive to show to others. It can certainly be emotionally based, but does not have to be. Now we are back at: how do we do this?

First, a saved soul should simply have the DESIRE to love. Even if one cannot stand the sight of another person they should desperately yearn to love them, and should be concerned vastly about their eternal state if I do not wish to do so. If a person can still relish hatred and animosity for another as a pleasure, then they need to be worried.

The second point is this: love is an action verb. Our failure to “feel” positive emotion does not release us from the commanded responsibility to act in a loving way towards them. No matter how we feel towards a brother or sister, or any other for that matter, we should do the things we do to show love towards a person.

An extra thought

Make it a point every day to do something unexpected for another

 

 

Justice? Wait, I thought God Loved Me!

This is a slight reworking of something I posted at another blog a long time ago. Blessings and enjoy!

justice-love-scales

All powerful

All Knowing

All present

Grace

Longsuffering

Love

Mercy

Creator

Sustainer

What is all that you ask? Well, those would be just some of the many characteristics, roles, or attributes of God. He is all of those things. He is all of those things, all of the time. He is all of those things in equal measure(that measure being infinite, of course). But that is not all. God is also the following:

Lawgiver

Judge

Jury

Administrator of Justice

We don’t like the idea of justice so much. We love love. We love grace. We love mercy. We don’t so much love law, judgement, or justice. Well, that is not really true. We do love justice, just not applied to us. Don’t we all scream for justice constantly?

That’s not fair!

Someday THEY will get what they deserve!

I deserve better than that!

They are going to pay for that some day!

Hey, where’s mine?

And on and on and on it goes.

So, we all have an innate, and generally very well developed sense of justice. After all, we spend big parts of our lives demanding it. Did we evolve into this almost universal sense of justice? Well, of course not. We were given our sense of justice. When? Back in the Garden of Eden when God scooped up the dirt of the Earth, created a man, breathed life into his nostrils, and man became a living soul.

We were created in God’s image; we have a sense of justice because the One who created us also has a sense of justice

I have taken a sort of round about trip to answer a common question:

If God loves us, why can’t He just forgive us and move on? Why doesn’t He just “Let us all go” so to speak?

 I don’t really want to over complicate the answer to that question, so will answer it with some short scenarios and questions of my own. If any reader decided to pay a visit to the local court day in their town and saw the following occur, what would the reaction be?

What if before court even started, the presiding judge stood up and proclaimed the following:

I really, really, really love you all! I know you are all guilty as charged, but I really, really love you all. So, even though you all did your particular crimes you won’t be punished for them. Every body go home!

What if the local auto thief came before the judge:

Thief: Yeah, Judge I stole that car, but I am really, really sorry!

Judge: Ok, great. Thanks for the apology. You may go home.

What about the guy who stole the radio from that car?

Thief: Yeah judge, I stole the radio. But at least I didn’t steal the whole car like that other guy!

Judge: Ok. Hmm. Good point. You may go home.

The armed robber?

Robber: I did it judge sure I did. You know all the charity stuff I do, right? How am I gonna do all that in jail?

Judge: Good point. Go home

If any of that actually occurred, what would our reaction be? At bare minimum we would quit electing that Judge, or work to have such a judge removed from the Bench. Why is that? Well obviously the conduct described above violates any sense of justice any normal, rational person has.

We believe in Justice

We are in God’s image

God gave us our sense of justice

God is just Himself

Why do we demand He behave differently?

Remember earlier when we talked about God’s attributes? He is all the things listed, all of the time,  in full measure of each. Since being unchanging is also one of God’s attributes, He can not stop being any of those things. This is just simple fact as He has revealed to us in His Word, the Bible. We know these things because He has told us.

Another attribute of God is perfection and Holiness. Simply put, our transgressions large or small, are less than perfection and separate us from Him.

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.

Big, or small. Shoplifter to mass murderer.

James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

So in the eyes of a perfect and Holy God we are all guilty as charged. If this was our local courtroom, we would demand justice. Well, so does God.

Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death………

That’s right, the penalty prescribed in God’s Law for violation of that law is the death penalty. The penalty is not penance, or purgatory, or a monetary fine or any sort of good works to make up for what we have done. The penalty for our sin is death. What does this mean? Well, after the first sin, it meant physical death. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have lived forever in their physical forms, in harmony with God. Their sin brought into the world all the sickness and death as we know it today. Death also means spiritual death.  Even though we all eventually die physically, we are are all eternal in our spirits. Our spirit, or soul will exist for all eternity.  So, again, what is it to spiritually die? Spiritual death is eternal separation from God in a place called Hell. It’s really that simple. When God says the wages of sin is death, that is the death of which He speaks.

Justice demands this. So, now what? Well, there is more!

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God has given us a gift. Even though we owed the penalty of death for our sin, He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ as a way for that debt to be satisfied. God became flesh, in the form of Jesus Christ and became incarnate on this Earth for that very reason. Jesus Christ was fully human, so He could pay the price humans owed for their sin; He was also fully God, so He could pay the infinite price of the sin of all humanity past, present and future. Despite how He hates sin, God loves us deeply and completely.

John 3:16 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.

It is a gift, we do not pay a thing for it; Jesus paid it all. We do not deserve it and we do not earn it.  All we have to do is accept it. How do we do this? Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about this:

Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

It’s the meeting of the attributes

Justice

God demands it

Love

God has it

Mercy and grace

God offers it

Will you accept it today?

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