Inspired Scripture

Inspired Scripture

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for resetting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God, and fit him fully for all branches of his work.”

~2 Timothy 3:16, 17 ~J.B. Phillips

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Am I Generous?

Am I Generous?

 

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money.  Ecc.5:10

 

Two business graduate students from an Eastern college decided to experiment with the generosity of people across the United States. They traveled as two young men who’d lost all their money and needed help getting to their destination. Their sole purpose was to see if they could determine, overall, which economic level was the most generous; poor or rich.

            Like most of us, they had been raised with the idea that rich people, for the most part, are not generous; that they tend to grab for more and don’t have time for those down on their luck. These two students were embarking on a nationwide trip to take firsthand notes.

            After three weeks and several hundred meetings, meals, handouts and job opportunities, their discovery actually fortified the idea that the rich are not as generous as the poor. They were stunned as people with barely enough to get by were the first to help them, giving freely of food, money and a place to stay the night!

            The higher up the economic ladder they went the more suspicious and less generous they found people to be. Most often these people expressed the idea that they should take care of themselves. Rarely did they meet a person of wealth who offered them lodging.

            If these two young men came across our lives what would be our response? Would they leave our lives touched with the generous love of the Lord, filled with food, clothing and a place to stay? Or would we be found on the list of those not willing to reach out with help?

            Matt. 5:7  Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

            Matt. 6:1-4  Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them. Otherwise, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So whenever you give to the poor, don’t sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be applauded by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

            Luke 6:30-31  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.

Prov. 3:27  Do not withhold good from those who deserve it
      when it’s in your power to help them.

Lining our lives up with Jesus shatters our worldly ideas and dreams. He takes us beyond the rules and liturgy of the Pharisees into a world of personal responsibility and servanthood. He led the way by showing Himself as a servant instead of the Lord of all the world. Jesus did what His Father in heaven required of Him and that is what He expects of us.

Treasures

Treasures

 

“Storing up treasure as a good foundation for the future…” 1 Tim. 6:19

The hotel conference room was filled as the anxious crowd anticipated words of financial wisdom from a well-known Christian financial advisor and he did not disappoint. He carefully explained ten of his “secrets” for investing that have proven successful over the test of time. The crowd was beaming as they imagined building their prosperity.

And then he surprised everyone with a story that seemed out of place. He told of a Bible teacher who taught a class of 25 people, all of whom were solid Christians. On this day, he passed out a questionnaire. They were to simply answer a question regarding the verses on the page: Do you think these verses are literal? Do they apply to Christians today? Are we to live by them? The verses were: *Matthew 6:19-34.

At this point he paused and said, “For those of you who may not recall those verses, here they are,” clicking his remote and splashing them across the screen. Again he paused, giving them time to absorb the Scriptures.

“I can see I’ve thrown a bit of cold water on most of you. But think about it with me. First I gave you excellent, proven methods to increase your wealth. Now I am simply reminding you what Jesus said about that wealth and where your treasures should be. Money and the accumulation of it is worthless and usually detrimental to our lives. Giving to those who need help, with the money we’ve earned is Biblical and pleasing to the Lord.”

“In this context, you will see white buckets at each door as you leave. They are there to accept contributions for the aid of widows and orphans. Allow me to give you this reminder as you leave:

“May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in Him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

*Matthew 6:19-34   “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!

24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

What is this treasure?

2 Cor. 4:1-7  This is why we don’t get discouraged, given that we received this ministry in the same way that we received God’s mercy. 2 Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God.

5 We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. 6 God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us.

Col. 2:1-3  I want you to know how much I struggle for you, for those in Laodicea, and for all who haven’t known me personally. 2 My goal is that their hearts would be encouraged and united together in love so that they might have all the riches of assurance that come with understanding, so that they might have the knowledge of the secret plan of God, namely Christ. 3 All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in him.

Can we claim not to love wealth more than our brothers and sisters in Christ when we see them hurting and do not sacrifice what should matter to us less than their need? While many of us pursue status symbols that television suggests are “necessities,” evangelical ministries to the poor claim that forty thousand people die of starvation and malnutrition daily. That means roughly twenty-seven a minute, twenty of whom are children under five years old. ~InterVarsity Press New Testament Comment

Blueprint or Metaphor?

Blueprint or Metaphor?

 

        Charles was teaching an adult Sunday School class with about 25 people. The same group had been meeting for several months and had shared many aspects of their fears and joys and challenges of walking with Christ as Savior. It was a class that seemed focused on serving the Lord, willing to make sacrifices.

        One Sunday, Charles surprised everyone with a test! Of course there were protests and grumblings. “A test? Where are we, in school again?” He smiled and passed out the papers just the same.

        The test was actually not what they thought. Rather than finding out their knowledge of what he’d been teaching, it challenged the depth of their faith, forcing every person to face their “true life” walk with Christ. At the end of the test he included Luke 6:27-38 followed by this question: “Do you think that Christians today are to take these verses literally? Are we to actually live our lives using this as our guide?”

        Luke 6:27-38 (Words of Christ):

  • Love your enemies
  • Do good to those who hate you
  • Bless those who curse you
  • Pray for those who mistreat you
  • If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also
  • If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also
  • Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back
  • Do to others as you would like them to do to you
  • “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.
  • Love your enemies! Do good to them
  • Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked
  • You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate
  • Do not judge others, and you will not be judged
  • Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you
  • Forgive others, and you will be forgiven
  • Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

What do you think? Are these verses in the Gospel of Luke an actual blueprint for living our lives today or a metaphor, meant to encourage and challenge Christians to live more sacrificially? Do you find yourself thinking that most of these statements are good as a guide but a few of them are over the top? Did God include these verses to be thought provoking but not literal? Perhaps the purpose of these verses is to provide a basic outline for Christian living but not to be taken literally.

But then, how can we pick and choose which Bible verses are literal and applicable for today’s Believers? Do we have the freedom to ignore verses that present too great a challenge for our flesh? If we believe the Bible to be God’s Word, given to its writers by the Holy Spirit then who are we to disregard those which present too great a challenge? We only have to look to the Book of Job to be reminded of who God is:

Job 38:4-7 ~“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?

  Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions

  and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations,

  and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together

  and all the angels shouted for joy?”

Finally, what does the Bible itself have to say about all the verses contained inside?:

2 Timothy 3:16 ~All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching the faith and correcting error, for re-setting the direction of a man’s life and training him in good living. The scriptures are the comprehensive equipment of the man of God and fit him fully for all branches of his work.

 

Nothing Can Separate Us!

Nothing Can Separate Us!

“Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” ~Romans 8:38

 

There are some sections in the Bible that, by themselves, are an all-encompassing assurance of God’s unchanging, unfailing love for all who call upon Jesus as Savior. The Book of Romans, chapter 8, verses 31-39 is one of those sections. Simple, yet complex; powerful yet tender; adamant yet understanding. This section of the Bible will fortify and solidify our faith in a powerful, loving God who has promised to always love and protect us…as He guides us into eternity with Him.

Romans 8:31-39 ~What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?

33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has forgiven us and given us right standing with himself.

34 Who then will condemn us? Will Christ? No! For he is the one who died for us and came back to life again for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us there in heaven.

35 Who then can ever keep Christ’s love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because he doesn’t love us anymore? And if we are hungry or penniless or in danger or threatened with death, has God deserted us?

36 No, for the Scriptures tell us that for his sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day—we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; 37 but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us. 38 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, 39 or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.

Just A Dollar

Just A Dollar

            The cries for help cascade down with unceasing frequency. Newsletters, celebrities, radio talk-show hosts and TV commentators point out unspeakable atrocities inflicted upon ordinary people around the globe. We are inundated with the verifiable cries for financial help in places we cannot even find on the map. Our hearts break. And just as we are about to send money to an organization, headlines scream of corruption and fraud. Plastered on newspaper’s front pages and TV screens are images of charitable foundation CEO’s, accused of theft. What can we do?

            We have probably all heard of or read the Bible story about the poor widow who gave a few cents in her offering box. This seemingly insignificant act may have passed unnoticed except for the watchful eyes of a nearby man. Jesus. His observation is recorded in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 12:

            Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins [worth about a penny]. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”

            And now what? How does that story help us give or determine to whom we should give? Or perhaps some of us may be thinking, how much to give.

            I believe we can glean at least two important lessons from the sacrificial giving of this legendary Biblical widow: 1.) We are without excuse when it comes to sacrificial giving, using her as our example. 2.) The smallest amount will do, as long as we give.

            Combining sacrifice with giving opens new doors of opportunity for us. Do you have a local Food Bank organization or shelter in your area? How about the Kiwanas or Lions club who both offer free services? Perhaps you’ve heard of a church who feeds the hungry and poor. Now you can help by giving the smallest amount or volunteering.

            Say you live in an area with a population of 10,000. What if everyone gave one dollar per month to a charitable organization? Yes, that would amount to $10,000! There is truly power in tiny contributions.

Time To Choose

Time To Choose

 

Do not be conformed to this world. . .be transformed ~Romans 12:2

Do you find yourself wrestling with your old nature, your sinful thoughts and selfish decisions every day? In your innermost thoughts, those no other human can know, do you often give in to behavior and thoughts that you would be horrified if everyone knew? Well, you are not alone but God reminds us that our love affair with the world is what brings us down. He alone is the answer. The more time I spend with Him the less time I spend loving the world. Perhaps God would like to hear, “I love you, Lord” more often.

James 4:4

“You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”

Romans 12:2

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

1 John 2:15

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

2 Peter 1:1-4

“This letter is from Simon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ.I am writing to you who share the same precious faith we have. This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of Jesus Christ, our God and Savior.May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”

James 1:27

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

Romans 8:28

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

1 John 4:4

“But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

 The couple had been married 35 years when the wife asked her husband, “Honey don’t you love me anymore? You never say you do.” To which he replied, “Of course I love you, I told you so when we got married. If anything had changed, I would have told you.”

Does this describe our relationship with the Lord?