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Truth in Palmyra

By Wally Fry

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love

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.

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Just a Thought

Ephesians 4_32.JPG

Beloved, sometimes we just need to cut a brother or sister a little slack

Love – Just Do It!

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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?

Let’s Talk About Love-Laying Down Your Life

love-like-jesus1

John 15:13

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.


Of course, when He made that statement, Jesus was directly referring the the fact that He was about to literally lay down His life for His friends. Jesus was about to literally lay down His life for the entire world and its sins. Is that necessarily the application for all of us? In certain circumstances, it might be. Any one of us could encounter a situation where literally laying down one’s life might be an appropriate expression of ultimate love. What about the rest of us? What if we are never asked to literally sacrifice our lives for a friend? Are we just off the hook? Hardly! What, then, might it mean to lay down one’s life for a friend?

We live in a culture today where people won’t even lay down their thoughts, ideas and opinions for their fellow man, much less their lives. The United States, particularly, is a “me” culture. “Looking out for number 1,” “If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody will.” These are all reflections of the way we are. Yet, Jesus’ still said to lay down one’s life for friends is the ultimate expression of love.

We can do this by making others needs more important than our own. Jesus did that for us; He gave up his rightful place in Heaven to come here, live as a man, suffer and die just because our need for a savior was so great. Next time you have a situation where two needs are presented and only one can be met, meet your brother or sister’s need and let yours go unmet.

We can do this by forgiving. People wrong us; that is simply a fact. Scripture teaches us over and over that we are to forgive. Jesus asked His father to forgive the very people killing him on the cross in Luke 23:34.  We simply have to learn to forgive the same way; we need to forgive no matter the seriousness of the offense that is committed against us

We can do this by sacrificing for others. Not only might we be required to meet another person’s need and leave ours unmet, but we might actually have to give up something our our own to meet their need. Maybe you have plans but a brother or sister has a need; give up your plans and be there for them.

We can do this by meeting the needs of people who don’t deserve it and cannot or will not do a thing for us. Some folks don’t deserve help. Some are not capable of doing anything for us in return. Some are capable, but in our hearts we know they wouldn’t give us a fire extinguisher if we burst into flames. Help them anyway.

Laying down one’s life for friends is similar to Jesus mandate that we pick up our cross and follow Him. He didn’t mean for us to literally pick up a cross, and He probably didn’t mean, in most cases, for us to literally die for or friends. Jesus was setting a pattern for us here, and in our efforts to be Christlike, we should follow that pattern.

Who have we laid our lives down for today? If the day is just starting, who will we lay down or lives for today?

Let’s Talk About Love-To Love Is NOT a Suggestion

love-like-jesus1

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.


We have already covered in a previous devotional where Jesus informed the lawyer trying to trick Him what the two greatest commandments are: Love God with everything you have, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

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

Got all that? Seems pretty clear. In later devotionals we will discus just what it means to love our fellow man, and some ways in which we can do it.

 

Let’s Talk About Love-What Is Love Anyway?

love-like-jesus1

John 21:15-17

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.


Read John Chapter 21 here

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 to 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!

Let’s Talk About Love-It All Hangs on Love

love-like-jesus1

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.


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 it’s 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.

Let’s Talk About Love-Love-It Matters to God

love-like-jesus1

Well, since our conversation about love reading through “The Love Chapter” seemed to go well, I thought continuing onward talking about love might be a good idea. All of this material has appeared before as had the previous discussion. So, off we go!

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.


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 face of Almighty God! That is really not a good idea.

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

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