DON’T DRIVE IN THE DITCH

One of my friends had parents who were legalistic in their thinking, it was trendy to call unwise behavior, “sin.”

The problem was that not everything they chose to label as sin was sin.

Read more…

HOW TO HATE

Pondering the Principles of Proverbs

01-Anthony-good evilI’m sure that many would assume that we need no instruction on how to hate. It seems that hate is all around us. People hate the government. People hate politics. People hate religion. People hate each other. People hate getting cut off in traffic. People hate to wait. People hate the way they look. People hate not having any money.Hate seems to come easy. It seems to be the way of life in this hour.

Read more…

Sin in the Camp

Romans 14:23b  For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

How big is that “whatever?” Seems to me that it includes anything without limitation–no exclusion. Any action, any thought, any deed, any spoken word, anything at all must come from faith or it falls into the category of sin. That’s heavy duty, and can become kind of scary.

However, the Lord is merciful and will not hold things against us for which we have no light. But, as light is given, we become accountable.

I am now accountable for something in which I failed significantly last night.

I was asked by an unbeliever whom I have known for a few decades how we were doing financially.

This particular person lives in fear, is very negative in his outlook, and despises most things about the government. He is promoting the need to find alternative means for living in the coming crisis, such as storing food, investing in precious metals, and living beneath the radar of the government’s watching eye.

Our income was cut in half last September, just after we moved to PA. We have managed okay, but it has been thin, and is getting thinner. The winter months are especially hard here with heating costs being what they are. Our meager savings are now gone. But, we are not destitute.

The Lord has been faithful to provide in various ways. I will occasionally get a call to go preach somewhere, and there is usually a monetary gift with that. Sometimes, someone will visit my website and make a donation through that. So, the reality is that the Lord watches over us.

But, that is not the reality I presented to the person on the phone last night. I painted the picture as gloomily as I possibly could without lying. I spoke the truth insofar as the natural phenomena are concerned.

I did not speak faith. Not once. Not once did I say the Lord is providing, or the Lord will make a way.

But, that is what He has been teaching me the last few months. He has been showing me that I am to speak faith, to call those things that are not as though they already were. (Romans 4:17)

Even though I am not yet at that level of faith, I could have at least spoken about the Lord’s provision and how He has provided and will continue to provide.

I was presented with a perfect opportunity to magnify the Lord when I was told to seek alternative means of income. I missed the opportunity.

In that place, I did not come from faith, so all my speech was sin. I missed it big time.

Will I recognize the opportunity the next time? Will I be bold for the Lord in a similar situation?

What about you? Have you ever had occasion to speak your faith and let it slide?

Challenging Forgiveness

Colossians 3:13    bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others. (NET)

Could it be that the reason we have such difficulty with forgiving others is that we are not totally aware of what we have been forgiven?

“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven–for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” – {Luke 7:47 ESV}
Was she forgiven because she loved? Or, did she love because she was forgiven?

Forgiveness is a challenge for many. We demand justice; whether that be in the form of an apology or retribution, something must be done.

Does it? Why?

Why do we not rather suffer the injury, bear with the slight, forgive the offense? Why do we choose to nurture the hurt?

I have yet to completely deal with this problem in myself, though I have made much progress. It is the one problem I continue to encounter in others as I listen to their complaints (about whatever) in their life.

What is your experience of dealing with the offense from another–especially a loved one?

Sin is NOT The Problem

1 John 1:9    But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. (NET)

Sin seems to be a problem for most Christians.

Now that I have overstated the obvious, let’s look a little more deeply into the apostle’s teaching about sin.

John’s epistle is sort of circular in that he returns more than once to a particular thought or theme. His two main emphases are sin and love, both of which he discusses from various aspects more than once.

Many evangelical Christians claim to be “a sinner saved by grace.” Their focus is on their sin. Their testimony is about their sin. Their prayer request is for strength to stand strong against sin. They will remind anyone who will listen that we all sin on a regular basis.

That’s too bad. It certainly is not my experience.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that I am a new creature. The old creature was a sinner. The new creature is a saint.

1 John 2:1 says that he wrote those things so that I might not sin. John thought it possible to not sin.

Are you sinning this very moment? Probably not. What about the next moment? Can you not sin for the next five minutes? If so, then why not for the next 10? 30? An hour? A day? Will you stretch with me for a week? A month?

If it is possible for one minute to not sin, then it is possible for more than one minute. Take the focus off sin and put it on grace and love.

BUT…if you DO fail…confess, and the Lord cleanses from all unrighteousness. (1 John. 1:9)

BUT…if you DO fail…we have an advocate with the Father who will plead our case and cause (1 John 2:1).

Just because John wrote, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8), does not mean that we must continually say that we have sin.

We should confess our sin and move on, never to mention it again, but totally trusting in the cleansing blood of Jesus and testifying to His love and forgiveness.

It’s So Easy!!

Galatians 5:16       But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.

Here we have the formula for success in the Christian life and walk: Live by the Spirit and you won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Nothing could be more simply stated than this; yet the struggles to not sin in the Christian life are tremendous–and for some, seemingly insurmountable.

The problem is that too many of us spend our time trying to NOT sin. This will only yield weak and temporary results at best. Following this method usually ends as an exercise in futility.

One of the main reasons this occurs is called the Law of Focus: what you focus on is what you get.

When you go on a diet, and you decide (for instance) that you will not eat banana splits anymore, it seems that the opportunity for a banana split is everywhere more accessible than ever. Just like when you buy a new car–all of a sudden, you see the same car on the highway in numbers you had never noticed before. It’s the Law of Focus. You will eventually cave in and eat that banana split you were so determined to avoid.

Safety courses in driving teach the same thing, especially when in dangerous situations. Do not look at the thing you want to avoid, because you will most likely hit it. Look, rather at where you want to go. (Does that not remind you of Hebrews 12:2—Looking unto Jesus?)

The exact same thing is true with sin–whatever its particular appearance may be in our life. Trying to not sin, to avoid committing that particular sin, almost always ends in failure at some point. Then we must throw ourselves on the mercy of God yet again.

Thank God for His mercy. Without it, we would all be totally lost and undone without remedy.

But, there is a better way. And Paul tells us what it is in this verse from Galatians.

Utilizing the Law of Focus, let us decide to live by the Spirit. Make that your ambition, your matter of prayer for help in time of need.

The one whose focus is on living in, with, by, through, and for the Spirit will find himself doing the will of God more easily and readily than the one who is trying to avoid offending the Lord.

Ephesians 5:10 tells us that we should be trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord–not trying to learn what offends Him.

If you can see this Law of Focus as it applies to pleasing the Lord, and begin to apply it on a moment-by-moment basis, your life will change dramatically for the better.

Try it. You’ll like it.

No Debt

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

There have been times when certain people have not paid me what they owed for the work I did for them. Many have had that type of experience.

But, SIN never skips a payment!!

When you work for sin, you get paid. Death in all its forms is your wage. That is your paycheck. That is the amount you agreed for.

When we sin (miss the mark) we can be sure that there is a payday someday. The death spoken of here is not only spiritual death of hell–separation from God. It is also physical death.

But, physical death occurs long before the spirit leaves the body and you breathe your last. Sickness is a part of death. Disease is a part of death. Poverty is a part of death. Confusion is a part of death. Dysfunctionality in any form is a part of death.

Any or all of these or similar things is a part of death and dying. They are the wages that we agree to earn when we sin.

Would you like to skip that payday? Would you like to hear that sin forgot to make a payment into your account?

It’s possible.

The paymaster is standing before you today, holding out two different pay envelopes. One is marked “Yours” and the other is marked “His.”

You can take what you have earned. Or, you can take what He has given.

Inside the envelope marked “His,” you will find a paystub marked ‘death paid.’ He has taken the wages of sin and, sin has been satisfied.

It is up to you which envelope you will choose. “His” is a gift. “Yours” is a debt from which you will not be released.