Sun, Dec 20th - 2:34PM
What is disputable or permissible?
12"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12 (NIV)
Paul here was talking in the context of Sexual Immorality, which seemed to be a big problem with the Church at Corinth. I don’t think the focus should be completely so narrow, but if you wished back then to exclude some deviant sexual practice and say it is ok, (like many people do today) then I think you would have found Paul speaking clearly against you! So if the lesson you wish to take will be narrowed only to cover what exact problems were being addressed, you will already be into areas of great controversy! Does that make the area ‘disputable’ among God’s People, and therefore something we should allow, and not be discerning about? It only takes a casual reading of what Paul is talking about here to say, ‘No’ and realize this is something He is disputing quite clearly! If you don’t think so, please read all of chapter 6. The first part is promoting resolving disputes internally. From about verse 9 on, it is dealing head on with problems they were giving a pass to (like some of us are doing today) and telling them quite clearly to stop, that this in no way was acceptable to God!
The phrase “but I will not be mastered by anything” implies what the root problem is. This is their Ba’al, their master, their Lord. That Lord is fleshly. That Lord is Carnal. And our God is Jealous! I do think that in this case (sexual immorality) that you cannot casually be that way. It controls you. It owns you. You do not master it. It masters you!
13"No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."
Luke 16:13 (NIV)
If you think this only applies to money, you are wrong! Money is a Big Idol, but not the only one! If you are not at least trying to be obiedient, then God is not your Lord. Your actions are an outward manifestation. The inner man (or woman) is what concerns God, but the ‘symtoms’ of being mastered by something other than God can sometimes be quite clear. (it is unwise to judge too harshly, even in that case, but to do nothing is not for their benefit as much as it is for your own selfish desire to avoid conflict) Consider this passage:
22 But Samuel replied,
“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
your burnt offerings and sacrifices
or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”
1 Samuel 15:22-23 (NLT)
Bottom line: we really should be trying to do what God asks us to do. Trust me, he does not ask these things to mean. Every last one is for our good. But we need to trust that and act on that trust! If not, that trust (faith) is dead and worthless, and our actions do not confirm that we have any trust at all! We are making God out to be a liar, saying so with our very actions!
Paul, again talking to the Church at Corinth has this to say:
23"Everything is permissible"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"—but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
25Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."
27If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake— 29the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? 30If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:23-33 (NIV)
Focus on verse 24. It holds the key. The rest just explains it so that we can better understand. It says that we do this all for the good of others, not for our own good. Do you see the sacrifice you are asked to make? Does it differ so much from the sacrifice made for us that you can not recognize it? I am a Christian. I am asked to sacrifice like he did. I take up a cross and I bear it, not for my sake, but for the sake of others! Is that quite clear? (I don’t mean to imply I do it very well – I have plenty of room left to improve!)
Sometimes the response is different. We think we know what is important and fight desperately to promote this dogma or that dogma. You should not worry about dogma. Our Lord is Truth. I can be misinformed and still seek the truth. How should we respond in that situation? Can we deny the truth? I think not! However, our approach may differ depending upon the one whom we are talking to. A passage in Acts illustrates this quite clearly:
24Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. 26He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Acts 18:24-26 (NIV)
Wow! I know more than a few people would explode if they heard of that happening today. Now I think Apollos’ entire attitude may have had as much to do with the approach as anything else, but here is the point: "Priscilla and Aquila … explained to him the way of God more adequately." They took him to their home. I can see this in my minds eye, an important matter, addressed calmly and without false piety! When my knowledge puffs me up, that is what you get: False Piety. My knowledge of anything is nothing! Does that mean I should not seek to understand? Far from it, but I am always better relying upon God’s understanding than my own. It doesn’t always happen that way, but that is why I am glad for those brothers and sisters willing to set me straight again!
17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:17-25 (NIV)
As far as it depends upon me. Some people take authority upon themselves that they should not and will atttempt to be at peace with everything. Others will accept no responsibilty for making peace where they can and are constantly at war, thinking they are doing it for God, when in truth, they do it more for their own vain understanding!
I can say that Abortion can be Legal. I cannot say, nor will I allow anyone for force me to say, that Abortion is Morally Acceptable the way that we seem to want to do in America. I may not be completely understanding the truth yet, but I am willing to wrestle with this idea again if I need to. For me, if my idea is challenged, I absolutely must engage again, for ultimately, I need to understand the truth of the matter in all things. For me it can be no other way.
The matter is one of heart. Do what you truely think is best for the other person (not just what would make them feel best, mind you -- they could even hate you for it!) and you can sort through this.
Create in me a Pure Heart, Oh Lord!
Thu, Dec 17th - 9:52AM
The Law on My Heart...
Bro Larry shared this verse, and I think it might be a good place to start:
33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time," declares the LORD.
"I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
Jeremiah 31:33 (NIV)
Now the thought comes to me, reading through Proverbs in General, that there is a lot said about knowing the truth and binding it up in your heart. I firmly believe that the truth is not only known by ‘head’ knowledge, and that there is a need for us to listen to our hearts, because the truth is known there as well.
If you search on the word “Heart” and confine yourself to Proverbs, you will find this one:
33 Wisdom reposes in the heart of the discerning
and even among fools she lets herself be known.
Proverbs 14:33 (NIV)
“Even among fools she lets herself be known.” Truly, I am glad to hear that! Too often, I can be a fool, but she can make herself known. Thank You!
Now I don’t want to make too much of this, for I am sure I have seen much too often people following this idea or that idea because “It felt good in their Heart.” That could be good, but usually when I notice it, I fear it is not!
That such an outlook is generally ok, but weak if it contradicts what I see in God’s Word is the point I wish to make. They need to heed these particular verses just a little bit more at times:
9 The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
10 "I the LORD search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward a man according to his conduct,
according to what his deeds deserve."
Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NIV)
3 This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of men, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead.
Ecclesiastes 9:3 (NIV)
This is why we have so many warnings about guarding our heart! It is the “Wellspring of Life” truly, for everything without heart is without enduring value! The greatest monument is folly if it has no heart in its creation! It is worthless!
Now it was a matter of the heart that Christ Used to make known the Will of God in the simplest of terms. I am pretty sure most of us are familiar with this passage:
28One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"
29"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'There is no commandment greater than these."
32"Well said, teacher," the man replied. "You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
Mark 12:28-33 (NIV)
A similar explanation is in Matthew:
37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
Now as to Laws and Decrees, I stated back on the post I made on Nov 9th that I do believe we have a lot of lattitude as implied in Matthew 16:19, but I also said that we should temper that with the understanding that we must use that freedom as Christ would have us use it. He did not come to make us prisoners to our sins but to set us free from them. I don't think that people correctly understand this passage. This is not a carte blanche for us to say that anything should be made acceptable. If by allowing something, we tend to trap people deeper in their sins, we are completely wrong! I see all too much of that in the Religious Community these days. Truely, there are things done just to tickle itching ears and make everyone feel good as much as they can. They err greatly! And what they build will be tested by fire!
I do think it allows a lot of lattitude for mercy, however. Take it into context with the following Scripture:
21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
John 20:21-23 (NIV)
At this point, some people want to throw the Law on the Cross and say it died with Christ there. I will point out two Scriptures, and ask you to tell me what they are saying to you and I:
17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:17-19 (NIV)
8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
1 Timothy 1:8-11 (NIV)
Now it seems quite clear that some can remain under the Law in one form or another. (believers and non-believers alike) I think it is appropriate to say that it remains for when we still behave badly, as even the best of children often do. The laundry list that Paul gives to Timothy is quite inclusive, but in my heart of hearts, I do not think it means that if whatever someone might think is evil but is not specifically spelled out there, we are free to discount that feeling of what is good and what is evil and ignore it. That we are free of the ultimate consequences is correct, but the idea that what was once evil is no longer evil is not a position I am inclined to believe is at all the case! We are just held to a higher standard now, that although it does not have all the do's and don'ts explicitly spelled out, it still hangs together in roughly the same form as those do's and don'ts. We just understand how it is derived better, and knowing that, should be able to follow it better and not get tripped up by the do's and don'ts so easily. So why don't we?
Let me point back to Jeremiah 17:9-10. I know that most of us have run across that self deceipt in other Christians or had it pointed out in ourselves. I see a lot of evil getting a pass in the Church today. It may be that the people doing these things have a Faith that is Greater than mine. That is usually the response I get. I am derided from my understanding or lack, as they see it. In truth, I still have many a struggle I do not fully understand, so their accusation along those lines may be quite valid. However, if that is the case, there is another Scripture or two that is important to consider:
1Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3But the man who loves God is known by God.
4So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. 5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), 6yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
7But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.
1 Corinthians 8 (NIV)
This is not just about food. Food is an example.
Now Romans Chapter 14 has some similar advice. It also points out that I should not condemn a person for doing something that I do not have the Faith to Embrace if it is a 'disputable matter' as the scripture points out. The problem there of course is that many people will make everything a 'disputable matter' and in doing so make the rule that 'anything goes', whether it is good for us or not! So what is disputable? God has set standards. Where the standard is clear, there can be no dispute. And yet, people will wickedly turn the scriptures around and around to allow anything they desire. That is the nature of our flesh. I must seek to understand what is disputable and what is not for myself. You must do the same. In some way or another, I am likely to be wrong, and so are you. But, guided by the Spirit, there is Hope for us all.
I think I have reached a good point to pause on this, and I am getting tired, so I will stop here.
Go in Peace,
Wed, Dec 9th - 6:41PM
Reconciliation -- an outpouring of Love
To my last post, Marsha Commented that:
"Love means never having to say your Sorry"..It's from the movie "Love Story"
I am sorry, but my comment back to her was incomplete. I say that to illustrate this point further. She was correct, as far as she went, however, that assumes Perfect Love for everyone involved. When we reach that point, there will be no more tears and no more need to ever have to say you are sorry, ever again, for eternity. Now that alone boggles the mind sometimes. I won't even step on your toes accidently. I won't sneeze at the table without turning my head and gross someone out. I won't laugh at totally the wrong time and ruin a joke I have heard before for someone else. There will be nothing I will do that will make anyone cry or weep or angry. I won't have to say I am sorry ever again. In that place, Love will be perfected!
We are not there yet! (and neither was Paul, if you read him and understand him just a little bit!) So we have something yet to strive for, a goal yet to seek. We are constantly being perfected! We are constantly being renewed! It is a mysterious process that just when we think we understand, we obviously do not! Love is not proud. I mess up on that one a lot!
We have some guidelines. Here is one:
23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.
Matthew 5:23-24 (NIV)
First of all, I have heard some people say that this is only if your brother (or sister) has something they should reasonably have against you. Time and time again, I have read this and cannot agree. There are times that someone will have something against you that has not one whit of reasonable basis. You should still attempt to reconcile. What is Love? It is not self-seeking. You may be right. Reconcile or you are wrong!
Another guideline is this:
15"If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV)
This is one that can be used in a very automatic and legalistic manner. That it is being done is better than it being ignored. However, if you are doing this in a mechanical way that ignores the person in the wrong and is not done for their good or at least for the good of some others, then you cheat only yourself! The measure again is Love!
2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV)
Is there a practical limit to forgiveness? Let me see:
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"
22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Matthew 18:21-22 (NIV)
Now I am told that this seventy times seven or seventy-seven reference is to imply "without number" and although I am not able to verify that outside other advice from others, I know the measure I use is the one I should expect used against me. So I am inclined to think it is better for me to forgive too many things than not enough!
I was given a good way to look at the "seventy times seven" number and will share it with you. If I were to forgive someone that many times in one day, I would likely be forgiving them once every two minutes for the entire time I am awake, assuming they interupted my sleep just a little bit. Now do you think you could do that without divine help? I know I could not. There are times you will have to ask for a forgiving heart. Don't be foolish enough to not ask! (yes, I still make this mistake, sorry!)
Let me just say this in conclusion: I am not sure that Marsha should have anything against me for my abrupt and incomplete answer to her comment. Guess what? That does not matter. It makes it easier that I think I might have been wrong. It makes it necessary that I think she might have been harmed by my inconsiderate response. So, I am sorry, Marsha. The public appology is not required, I know, but for the sake of others, I think it has value.
Go In Peace,
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