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Here Comes De Judge!

SIH STSTA ICONRowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was a comedy sketch TV program that aired in the late 60s and early 70s.  My parents used to love that show.  One of the sketches I remember best was the “Here Comes De Judge” sketch that featured Flip Wilson and later Sammy Davis Jr.  In this sketch, you would have an innocent defendant stand before “De Judge” and receive all types of abuse.  For a sample of this sketch watch this: http://video.aol.com/video-detail/laugh-in-here-comes-the-judge/2172108200

As funny as it was to watch some poor guy get misjudged and abused at the hands of a judge, we all know, in real life, being misjudged by others isn’t funny at all.  How many times have we been falsely accused of wrongdoing, or have our motives for an action totally misunderstood.  Think of how painful it was to have to defend yourself when you know you are an innocent victim of wrong headed judgment.

For many well-meaning people, the solution to making wrong judgments is simply to make no judgments at all… This sounds like a great solution, but, unfortunately, there are times when judgments need to be made.  Would you feel comfortable leaving your child at a babysitter, without making a judgment about that sitter’s character?  Or could you marry someone without ever examining their life to be sure they are a suitable mate for you?  Can you standby idly watching a loved one take a life path that would lead to their harm or even death?

Making, or not making, judgments about others are a very complicated necessity of life.  The Lord has given us insight into this subject in His Word…

THE SCRIPTURE:

The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

(Joh 7:20-24)

THE STUDY:

In a nutshell, our text gives us the Lord’s teachings on the judgment of others… there is a righteous type of judgment and there is an unrighteous type of judgment.  Therefore, the core of our study is this… which type of judgment is righteous and what type is unrighteous.  Once again, the Lord does not leave us guessing about these things.

Here are the basic principles we are to use to help us render the proper type of “righteous” judgment:

  1. When we judge others without looking at ourselves first, we are judging unrighteously.  Matt 7:1-5, Rom 2:1-1.  Many times this type of judgment can become a stumblingblock for those being judged.  Rom 14:10-13
  2. When we judge other’s motives, by trying to guess what is in their heart, is an unrighteous judgment 1 Cor 4:1-5
  3. We should not be critical of others who choose not to keep the dictates of OT ceremonial laws, they no longer mandatory for us to keep. They were fulfilled, and ended, with the first coming of Christ to earth.  These laws were given to teach the OT believers about the first coming of Christ (a shadow of things to come). When Christ came the purpose of these laws was fulfilled and they are no longer to be observed.  Col 2:13-17, John 7:20-23
  4. Our judgments should not be influenced based upon the possibility of personal gain. James 2:1-9
  5. Our motives for judging others must ALWAYS be with the intent to help those we are judging.  We should never judge others with the intent to find fault so we can justify our own lives or look better in the eyes of others around us.  James 4:10-12  As we seek to help others it should be with a humble attitude realizing, apart from God’s grace, we would be in the same shape, or worse, than the person we are judging.  1 Thess 5:14-28, Gals 6:1-6
  6. We must judge others to choose our teachers, leaders and associates in life.  To not render this judgment is to open us up to false teachings and sinful practices in our life.  Matt 7:15-20, 2 Cor 6:14-18
  7. We must be constantly making life decisions based on the context of God’s Word.  We must judge other’s actions and teachings before we follow in their footsteps.  Roms 2:26-29, 1 Cor 2:13-16, Luke 12:56-59

(Note:  I’ve only been able to summarize the basic teachings found in the above references for the sake of this study.  I would suggest that we prayerfully study each of the above references for a much more complete understanding of the principles for Scriptural judgment making.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For followers of Christ, righteous judgments should be a daily, habitual action.  How many different decisions are we called upon that dictates a judgment be made?  How many times do we fail the Lord by making unrighteous judgments concerning our lives and the lives of others?  For the Christian, knowing, understanding and applying the above principles is of utmost importance.

For those who are not yet followers of Christ, the first and most important judgment you will ever make is to decide the truthfulness of God’s Word.  Does the Bible contain errors?  Are the historical accounts of both Old and New Testament fictional or are they factual?  Finally, and most importantly, are the Bible’s claims about Christ true; and therefore, can I trust in Christ with my soul’s eternal destiny?

By God’s grace, you will come to an acceptance of the truthfulness of Scripture and the need to trust in Christ and His work on the cross.  1 John 1:1-4

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”  “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Is God Impressed With Our Impressions?

SIH STSTA ICONI have always been “impressed” with impersonators.  The first person that I saw do impressions was Rich Little; the man is fabulous.  To this day, I think he is, perhaps, the most talented impersonator to ever live.  (You can see a small sampling of his work here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= 78sSn3E_Vvc)  Many others have tried to follow in Rich’s footsteps, and I’m impressed with most of them, but in my opinion none have excelled like Rich.

Well, there may be one exception to that, a man by the name of Frank Caliendo.  I think that, just maybe, he’s got what it takes to be the next Rich Little.  (If you have never seen Frank’s performances, here’s a sample: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uc1FBGEUGs&feature=related)

Anyhow, as entertaining as impressions can be, pretending to be someone we are not, has no place in our spiritual lives….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward…. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward…. (Mat 6:1-7)

THE STUDY:

It is only natural for us to want to receive the approval of others around us.  As children, we were naturally inclined to want to please our parents and other adults around us.  Because of this innate desire, we have a big choice to make… be ourselves or be an impersonator.

As a child I could chose honestly, and openly, to obey my parents by submitting to their desires. By doing this, I would be pleasing them.  My other choice was to do an impression of an obedient child, while disobeying them behind their back. In this case, their approval was not legitimate, but coerced by me.

I’m afraid many of us, as “religious” people, are living like the disobedient child.  We are outwardly, appearing to others as if we are “spiritual” servants of God; while, in reality, we do not have a true faith-based relationship with the Lord of the Universe.  We are leaving a “spiritual” impression on the people by being “religious”, while secretly in our hearts, we are not right with God.  [There is a tremendous difference between being “religious” (ie performing outward acts of worship) and being “spiritual” (ie having a personal relationship with God)].

The perfect examples of this are the “religious” Pharisees of the scriptures.  Note in our text, they were doing public acts of worship and prayers that made them look “spiritual”, appearing as if they have a relationship with God.  They were, probably the best impersonators of their day.

Their impersonations fooled many people into thinking they were “spiritual” giants.  But do you notice the One that was not fooled by them?  It was the Lord who searches the hearts of all men (Jer 17:10).

Note His response “ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven”; and He goes further to explain that their only reward they will receive is the earthly praise of other men.  The Lord knew exactly what the Pharisees were doing… they could fool other men, even themselves, but certainly not their God.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

All mankind will stand before their Lord someday (Hebs 9:27) … because of this, we all need to make certain that we have a valid relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  There are many individuals who are on perilous spiritual grounds; they have impersonated being a follower of Christ until they have not only fooled others, but have also fooled themselves.  Note our Lord’s account of what will take place at the final judgment to those who have deceived themselves through the performance of religious acts…

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Mat 7:22-23)

So what are we to do?  How can we avoid such an end?  The Lord makes it clear what He desires to see in each of our lives…

… what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (Deu 10:12-13)

He desires to see a person that is fully trusting and loving Him with all their heart and soul.  When this type of heart-felt love and trust is present, you will see it manifested by acts of outward obedience.  In other words, true faith and love produces acts of willful obedience in the life of true children of God. This is unlike the Pharisees whose outward acts did not spring from faith, but from deceit with a motive to mislead and impress.

Are all outward acts of worship sinful?  Of course not, the Lord is pleased with our outward acts of worship, when they are based upon love for Him and a desire to set a proper example for others.  It all comes down to the “thoughts and intents” of our hearts.  So my final question for each of us to consider today is not…. “Do we pray?” or “Do we attend church?” or “Have we walked down an aisle?” or “Have we been baptized?”  or “Do we read our Bible” or  “ Do we receive our churches’ sacraments?”  or “ Have we said the sinner’s prayer?”   My final question for us to consider is …“Is our heart right with God?”

“…as my servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in mine eyes…”  (1Ki 14:8)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Alien Sightings and Alien Abductions in the Last Days (Part 2 of 2)

(Please refer to my previous post… “Do Aliens From Other Planets Exist?… A Biblical Perspective” For Part 1 of This 2 Part Series)

Beginning in the 1950s, reports of alien sightings and abductions have been steadily increasing across the globe.  Explanations for these events range from misidentifying military/governmental flight vehicles or heavenly bodies, to drug abuse or psychological issues on the part of those making the sightings.  However, some experts believe these explanations are not sufficient.  There are still reported sightings and abductions that, according to them, cannot be rationalized using earthly explanations.  Could they be right?

In my previous blog entry, “Do Aliens From Other Planets Exist? A Biblical Prospective.”, we saw that aliens from other planets simply do not exist.  So, from a Biblical standpoint, aliens cannot be the cause of these events.  In this study, we’ll try to answer these questions… Is there another possible explanation for these “alien sightings/abductions”?  How are “alien sightings/abductions” connected with the end time teachings of Scripture?

THE SCRIPTURE:

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.  (Rev 1:7)

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Mat 24:30-31)

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.  (Rev 14:14-16)

I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.  (Luk 17:34-37)

THE STUDY:

To begin a Scriptural study of alien sightings/abductions it is important that we understand a little about Satan and his workings among men:

Satan, throughout both Old and New Testament, is clearly revealed as a Deceiver of mankind (Rev 12:9).  Beginning in the Garden of Eden with his deception of Eve (2 Cor 11:3, Gen 3:1-5) and continuing throughout history, Satan lived up to his title Deceiver, Opposer of Mankind (John 8:44, Zech 3:1-2).   One way that Satan deceives men is by performing miracles imitating the very works of God. (Ex 7:9-13, Deu 13:1-3, Matt 24:24, 2 Thes 2:7-12, Rev 13:11-15)

Satan was cast out from heaven along with other wicked angels (fallen angels, demons) (Rev 12:7-11)

These fallen angels became Satan’s followers serve him in the pursuit of the deception of mankind about the truth of God’s Word (2 Cor 11:13-15, 1 Tim 4:1-3).

The Bible does not specifically mention Satan’s use of the alien sightings/abduction phenomenon. But after examining how Satan and his demons work among mankind; I believe, it is possible, that some of the alien “events” our society is experiencing could be the workings of the powers of darkness (Satan and other fallen angels).  It is very possible they are trying to mislead mankind about Christ’s second coming and the rapture (taking of His saints to heaven)…

First, demons posing as aliens could be Satan’s way of imitating, and explaining away the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Rev 1:7 and  Matt 24:30-31 clearly teach that when the Lord Jesus comes back at the rapture the entire world will see Him.   How could Satan “explain away” Christ’s coming?  With a foundation of deception (alien visitations) already laid it would be very easy!  Satan could mislead a blinded, lost world into believing that what they saw was simply another of many alien visitations.

Secondly, what about alien abductions?  Keep in mind, when Christ comes back, He will take His followers to heaven to live with Him eternally (Rev 14:14-16, Lk 17:34-37).  You will have millions of people disappearing from off the face of the planet earth when Christ appears.  The Bible is not clear, but possibly, the lost world will actually see the saints ascending to heaven.  How can the disappearance of millions be explained?  Once again, it would be very easy (in the context of alien abductions).   When the lost world sees Christ’s return, and the saints taken to heaven, it could be explained as a mass abduction caused by the visiting alien (Christ at His coming).

What would be the result of this demonic deception?  Millions of lost men and women will totally misunderstand one of the greatest displays of God’s power and grace that will ever be exhibited to mankind.   Instead of viewing the event as a call to submit to the Lord’s authority and power, it would be viewed as a ”call to arms” preparing the nations for an “alien invasion”.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

All Christians are embattled by Satan and his demonic followers and need the spiritual armour that our Lord so graciously gives to us. (Eph 6:11-13).   As we understand more of the great ability of Satan to deceive man, we need to heighten our guard against his workings in our life (2 Cor 2:11, Matt 24:23-25)

If you have never been saved you are already under the control of Satan being blinded to the truths of God’s Word (Eph 2:1-3, 2 Cor 4:4)  You are entirely helpless to attain salvation of your own ability or works (Isa 64:6-8).  But all hope is not lost!  If you look to Christ by faith, submitting to His Lordship,  and totally relying on His working in your life you will receive the forgiveness of your sin.  (John 15:3-7)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Justification of Lebron James …

SIH STSTA ICONThis past week Lebron James made his nationally televised “decision” and left the Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat of the NBA.  As a Christian, I am abhorred by his justification for leaving.   During James’ interview on ESPN, he repeatedly stated his reason for leaving the Cavs.  There was a two-fold motive behind his decision:

A. So he would be happy

B. So that he would win multiple NBA championships  (in doing so, he will supposedly be classed with the greatest players of all time like Jordan, Russell, Bryant etc.)

(In case you missed his ESPN interview please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIw7BakUoTU to see his justification for the move.)

When I was younger, I was always told that my decisions were to be made with the following in mind…

A.  Above all else, I was to put the Lord’s will first in all my decision making

B.  Next, my immediate family’s welfare was to dictate what my decision was to be.

C.  Thirdly, the good of other people around me was to take a third place in my decisions.

D.  My own desires were to take fourth place in my decisions.

I have always thought that this was a pretty good way of making decisions and it certainly appears to support Biblical teachings… (Luke 10:27-28, Eph 5:25, 5:28-29).   Then along comes Lebron James… what example does he set for all the young people who look up to him as a role model?   His entire justification for moving to Miami is basically turning the above list of priorities on it’s head.

He is telling his followers, by his words and example, that putting themselves first, and making their happiness the number one priority in life, they are making the most of their life on earth.  This reminds me of the King in Ecclesiates that wasted his life seeking happiness and power in all the world had to offer.  (Eccl  1:-12:)

His actions and his words clearly tell us that happiness and lasting fame are the ultimate priority in James’ decision making process.  It is enough to make any Christian weep.

My question is this…. “Since happiness and fame take priority in his decisions, does this mean they are his gods?”  It is really something to think about and something to warn our children about.

Do Aliens From Other Planets Exist? A Biblical Perspective. (Part 1 of 2)

SIH STSTA ICON{A note to my readers:  This blog entry is the first of several entries answering my reader’s questions.  I trust they will be of interest to all of you. I enjoy answering your questions and reading your comments… keep them coming!   Finally, thanks to everyone who is reading my blog, you are a blessing to me. }

With the increased number of reports of UFO sightings, comes increased curiosity concerning the legitimacy of those reports.  Google “UFO sightings” and you will see a list of over half a million websites, recording multiplied thousands of UFO sighting reports.

We are constantly bombarded with the opinions of scientists and other researchers attempting to prove or disprove alien’s existence.   So let’s go to the final Authority, our God.

What does the Lord have to say about the existence of UFO’s and aliens from outer space?  I will share with you some of the Biblical teachings on this subject.

(Note for an in-depth scientific answer from a Bible believing scientist please refer to the following link Institute for Creation Research)  Dr Henry Morris is director of the Institute for Creation research.  He is a dedicated Christian scientist who has contributed to many different areas of scientific thought.  I encourage you to make use of his website for Biblically based research.

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (2Pe 3:10-13)

THE STUDY:

There are several Biblical principles that help us to understand the Lord’s teachings concerning the existence of aliens….

Principle #1 – In all the creation accounts, the Bible never describes God creating life on other planets.

Man is the jewel of God’s creation… God gave man the dominion of all creation – Gen 1:26-28; God made man exalted over all earthly creation – Psa 8:5-9.  The earth was given to man, all the rest is possessed by God – Psa 115:16.  He gave none of the other parts of creation to alien beings.  There is nothing mentioned about aliens or any role that God has given to them to fulfill in His creation scenario.

Principle #2 – Gen 6:17 – describes the flood as destroying “all flesh under heaven”…

in other words, the only flesh that exists “under heaven” (ie the third heaven see 2 Cor 12:2) is the flesh which is on the earth, that was capable of being destroyed in the flood of Noah’s day.

Principle #3 – There is no reason to believe that the Bible records any alien sighting by man.

Every supposed account of men seeing alien beings in the Bible is better interpreted as …

God revealing Himself to man in a vision (Isa 6:1 etc etc) or  God symbolically revealing creatures that live in heaven with God (the third heaven see 2 Cor 12:2) (Isa 6:2, Ezek 1:1-28, Rev 1:12-17, Rev 9:3-5  etc etc )  There is NOT ONE account that, due to context, must be interpreted as a man seeing an alien being.

Principle #4 – God’s earthly creation is the central theme of His Word and His eternal plan laid before the foundation of creation itself.

God sent His Son to die on the cross to redeem human beings from their sin.  Earth and human beings are in the center of God’s attention and workings.   It is extremely difficult to conclude God has other worlds filled with life when everything in His Word points to the earth, and the earth alone, as the cradle of life.  (John 3:16-18 – “world” is speaking of this earth, the center of His orderly creation.)

In our text, 2 Pet 3:10-13, the entire creation, including the special universe, are connected to God’s plan for man.  As a part of His second coming to earth, all the universe will be remade for His followers to dwell in.  Once again, we see how mankind is dominate in the plan and ways of God.  All creation (including the heavens) fall under that plan.

Roms 8:18-22 – When Adam fell “all creation” was affected.  The sin of one man dictated the state of the entire universe.  Once again, we see man as the dominate created being in all the universe.

Gen 1:14-15 – He made the lights in the heavens to give light to man on earth, no where is it said He made the heavens to house other beings.

All 4 of these principles point to man as being at the center of God’s attention and workings in the universe.  With no mention of aliens in God’s creative or redemptive plan for the universe.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved, understanding the central role of earth and it’s inhabitants in God’s eternal plan is very reassuring…. we can fully trust in the principle that God’s redemptive attention is on those He has chosen to save.   He physically made us, He chose to save us, He sent His Son to die for us, and He secures our salvation through His workings in our heart (Rom 8:14-39)

For those who have never accepted Christ as Lord and Savior; understanding His great love and workings on behalf of His people, magnifies the need to look to Him for salvation.  If God Himself has sacrificed so greatly for His people, how can we neglect the salvation He so graciously offers?   (Hebs 2:1-10)

And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: …(Gen 16:13)

His attention is always upon us… for the saved, it is a great comforting blessing; for the lost, it is an important reminder of the certainty of no escaping judgment apart from His forgiveness of our sins.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

I’m Saved! In Church I Walked Down The Aisle and Said A Prayer…

SIH STSTA ICONAs a Pastor of 15 years, I used to ask the question, “Have you ever been saved from your sins?”.  I have received many different responses to this question.  Here are a few of them…

“Of course, I was baptized as a baby in (church name)”;

“Yes, I am saved, I am a member of (church name)”;

“Yes, I have kept all the sacraments of my church”;

“Yes, I was born into a Christian family, we’ve been Christians for at least four generations”;

“Why yes, thank you for asking, I walked down the aisle of (church name) and said the sinners prayer back in September of 2001”;

and many, many more.

It has broken my heart to hear responses like this coming from those for whom I care.  If you notice, in every case, the above responses imply that our salvation is based on something we have done.  The Bible makes it plain that our salvation does not lie in what we have done, but what the Lord has done in us.  (John 6:44-45, 6:63-66, Eph 2:8-10, Php 2:12-13, Col 1:25-29, Titus 3:4-5)

So where did we get the idea that salvation is based on something that we have done?  Sad to say, in many cases, the churches of today must take responsibility for fostering this false belief.  Since I am a Baptist pastor, I will use Baptist churches for my example… my heart aches when I see other Baptist pastors, at the close of the service, beg and plead for people to “come down the aisle and be saved” or “repeat the sinners prayer after me and be saved”.

In many cases, this is done by well-meaning pastors who are trying to encourage those in attendance to make a commitment to Christ.   But, instead of bringing about commitment, they are encouraging others to trust in a work for their salvation.

Please remember, a person can be saved just as easily standing in the pew, or sitting in a chair, or lying in a bed etc etc.  The Lord can work in the heart at anytime and any place, not just at the altar in the front of the church.  Likewise, salvation comes through Christ creating faith into the heart of the faithless, not by us saying any prayer.

Whenever the gospel message is given out in the Bible, it is never accompanied with the instructions to walk an aisle, or say a “sinner’s prayer” (the same can be said for baptism, church membership, keeping the sacraments, or being born into a Christian family).   The gospel message, when given in the Bible, is accompanied with the instructions to trust in Christ and His work. (Acts 16:30-31, John 3:15-16 etc etc)

The only way we can be certain we are saved is by knowing the Lord has worked in our lives.  How can we know this for sure?  The Bible makes it plain….

THE SCRIPTURE:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. … For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2Co 5:17-21)

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.  (Jas 2:14-26)

THE STUDY:

In the Bible, a true salvation experience brings about change in the life of the believer.  When God intervenes in the life of a sinner and brings him to salvation, the newly saved person becomes a new creation in Christ. (2 Cor 5:17-21)  This “new creation” involves a new attitude about the Lord and sin.  (Eph  4:22-24)  The newly saved now sees Christ as their Lord and despises the sin in their life.  This new attitude then motivates the Christian to begin a life of service to their Lord and Savior.  This service is described as fruit bearing. (John 15:1-5, Gals 5:19-26)  This changed life is one of the reasons why God has saved us (Eph 2:8-10).

Also, this changed life is what gives us the ultimate assurance that the Lord has worked a work of saving grace in our lives. James clearly presented this principle in James chapter 2.  In verses 14-26, James refers to “dead” faith as opposed to a Godly saving faith.  How can we tell the difference?  James tells us the works that we perform will reveal the true nature of the faith we have within us.   The lack of a changed life shows us that the faith we possess is not of God but simply a work that we performed in and of ourselves (a dead faith).  A changed life brought about by our faith, shows us that our faith is a work of God in our heart. (Please read James 2:14-26 in it’s entirety to come to a full understanding of James’ teachings.)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

So let me rephrase my original question, “Have you ever exercised faith in Christ?  If so, has this faith produced a changed life within you?  Do you now love the Lord and seek to please Him with your life.  Do you now hate sin and strive to rid it from your life?”  These questions get to the heart of our spiritual condition.

If you can say, “yes” to all three, you can be assured that you have been forgiven of your sins and are a part of God’s family.  If you must say “no” to any, or all, of these then you must come to the realization you are yet in your sins.  If you are yet in your sins, please follow the dictates of God’s Word….

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”(1Jn 5:11-13)

If you would like more information about salvation, please refer to my blog page entitled “forgiveness”.

Also, if you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”  “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word. Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Free, Free Indeed! (Independence Day – July 4th Devotional)

SIH STSTA ICONWe, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”   http://www.earlyamerica.com/earlyamerica/freedom/doi/text.html

These famous words make up the concluding paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the document that declared our freedom from the British Kingdom.  As a country based upon freedom and civil rights we have been blessed greatly by God.  And although these freedoms are not permanent in nature (it seems as if some of these freedoms may be slipping through our fingers); I can easily declare that the United States of America is still the greatest and most blessed country in the world.  It is a privilege to live here.

The saddest part of our celebration of our Independence is that we have forgotten to thank our Lord for the freedom He has given to us!  If you notice, in the very same paragraph that declares our freedoms, the founding fathers declared the source of their strength as they stood in opposition to the British government…. “, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence”.  That’s right!  Our founding fathers made it plain that they had the courage to stand up and declare our freedom from Britain because they were trusting in the providence of Almighty God to protect them.

Even John Adams, as he wrote to his wife Abigail, referenced the need to worship and honor God on the anniversary of his signing the declaration (July 2nd)…

The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_(United_States)

As great as these freedoms are, our Lord offers us even greater, eternal freedoms that can never be lost or taken.  Why do so many of us totally disregard these freedoms, and their Giver, as well?

THE SCRIPTURE:

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (Joh 8:31-36)

THE STUDY:

Our Lord, in His Word declares that we can receive freedom from our sin in three different ways (Rom 6:7-23):

Firstly, we can receive freedom from our sin’s penalty (Rom 5:16)

Second, we can be continually made free from sin’s power in our lives (Rom 6:18)

Finally, we can be made free from sin’s presence throughout eternity (Rom 6:22)

This is true freedom which can never be taken away nor lost.  Our Lord offers this freedom from sin to anyone who will trust in Him and turn from their sin to serve Him as Lord of their life.   (Acts 26:18)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who have been liberated from their sin… we should praise and thank our Lord for all the freedoms He has so graciously given to us.  Also, we should want to share His message of truth to the world so that they might share in this freedom as well.

For those who have never been freed from sin and it’s effects in your life, look to the Lord, His word and His work, for the source of true liberty from sin.  Read John 8:12-51 for more information.

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”(Joh 8:36)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Read my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace”  “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike” http://www.squidoo.com/presenting-gods-grace

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

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I’m Late, I’m Late for a Very Important Da…errr… Discovery! (Part #2)

SIH STSTA ICONWe have previously looked at seven different scientific “discoveries” that were first revealed to man by God in His Word.  It was only after many years that the scientific community “caught up” to the Bible, and affirmed the existence of these wonders of nature.

Unfortunately for mankind, a majority of the scientific community has still not caught up to the Bible.  In particular, there are at least two scientific truths revealed in the Bible that science has not accepted, but has actually rejected.  The denials of these truths have widespread ramifications for all of mankind.

THE SCRIPTURE:

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.  (Rom 1:20-23)

For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.  (Psa 139:13-18)

THE STUDY:

Here in Rom 1:20-22, the Bible describes men who have blinded themselves to the revelation of the Creator that is found in nature (Psa 19:1-6, Isa 40:22-26, Psa 8:3-9).  By misleading themselves, they deny the very existence of a Creator God.  These verses can easily be applied to many scientists that have existed both in the past and the present day.  They have claimed much wisdom and, yet, are shown to be foolish, by denying the unquestionable evidence of God found in all of nature.

There is at least one other truth that science has yet to come to accept.  In Psa 139:13-18 – we find the truth that a child’s life begins at the child’s conception.  It is at conception that the child’s formation begins with the receipt of their genetic code (the book), before any of the child’s distinct body parts were existing (that which is unperfect).  It is this genetic code that dictates how the child’s members are fashioned and formed.     The Bible makes it a very plain truth that, at conception, a child exists with a life of their own.  This is proven by possessing a distinct genetic code (DNA) from their mother’s body.  God was actively at work in the life of this child while yet in it’s mother’s womb. (Jer 1:5, Psa 71:5-6, Isa 49:1 + 5, Gal 1:15-16, Luke 1:15, Psa 22:10)

Because most of science has actively denied the obvious facts of the existence of a Creator God and the existence of life at the conception of a child, we are forced to question every “discovery” that science comes up with.  We must compare any scientific discovery with Biblical teachings and call into question any discovery that is not supported by Biblical teachings.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Why is the recognition of a divine Creator so important for mankind?  God’s role as Creator is the very origin of His authority over all (Roms 9:20-23).  Because God created us He can do with us as He pleases. He is our ultimate lawgiver, our judge, and our King all because He made us.  To do away with His creatorship, is to do away with His authority over all mankind and mankind’s need to submit to His will and way. (Dan 4:34-37)

The truth that life begins at conception is very important for mankind to understand.  Most importantly, the murdering of the innocent life (abortion) is a heinous sin, bringing to a society God’s hottest wrath (Matt 18:3-14, Hosea 13:16).

Also, the principle of the value of HUMAN life, no matter at what stage of development, is essential to the existence of our form of society.  Our founders believed every person has a right to LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  By taking the right to life from the youngest members of our society opens the door to taking the right to life from others as well.  Older American’s right to life is now being threatened.

The “value to society” of both the youngest and the oldest of our nation is now being discussed openly.  This is leading to a belief that if a person does not contribute to society, their life is of less value. This will lead to the taking of more life as time progresses.

If we are saved, we need to be aware of the changes to our society that are taking place and the belief system that is leading to these changes.  As the Lord says “the truth shall make you free”.  Our responsibility as Christians is to stand up for the Word of God by teaching our acquaintances and family the truths about God’s creatorship and life’s value.   We should also be voting for those who believe these truths so that our government will begin to uphold these Godly, Biblical values.  Finally, we should PRAY that the Lord would intervene in our nation and bring about a spirit of repentance upon our people so that our nation would turn from its sin and God’s wrath would be withheld.

For those who have not turned from their sins and turned to Christ as Lord and Savior…  study the Bible with an open mind, and see the great truths He has revealed to man.  Believe His Word, trust His message about His Son and look to Jesus for forgiveness for your sin.  He will abundantly pardon. (Act 4:10-12)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

I’m Late I’m Late for a Very Important Da…errr… Discovery! (Part #1)

SIH STSTA ICONThe contents of the Word of God never cease to astound me.  I’ll never forget one of the first times this ever happened to me…  I was a young guy in Lexington Baptist College doing an assignment for a class.

This assignment led me to read Isaiah 40:22 – “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, …(Isa 40:22)

“Whoa, wait a minute”, I mentally said to myself.  Here, the Bible is making a very plain statement of fact that the earth is a globe and not flat.   No big deal, right?  We all know this is true.

But there was one big problem with this…. Isaiah 40 was written 2700 years ago in approximately 700 – 750 BC (give or take a few years).  The first recorded teachings (apart from the Bible) that THEORIZED the earth was round were written by Greek philosophers over 200 years later.   The roundness of the earth was not PROVEN until Magellan’s voyages in 1500 AD.   So in other words, what the Bible stated as fact in 700 BC; man did not prove until over 2000 years later.

This is one event that solidified my reliance on Holy Scripture as truly being the very Words of God.  How could any man know this long before mankind had discovered it?   The answer was very plain… no man could know this…. only God could have revealed it to mankind.   Truly, the Bible is God’s Word!!!

The following is a list of other scientific “discoveries” first stated as fact in the Bible.  Please note that in each case, science did not theorize, nor prove these truths, for many years after God had already revealed them to mankind in His Word…

  1. Job 26:7 – the earth is suspended in the heavens by gravity.  It is not resting on the back of a turtle, elephant or other animal.  This was stated 2800 years before gravity was discovered.
  2. Gen 7:1 – fountains, springs, or wells exist on the ocean’s bottom.  The first of these were discovered in 1977.
  3. Eccl 1:6 – the existence of the trade winds.  Most people believe was first discovered by mankind in 1840s
  4. Isa 45:12 – the universe is constantly being “stretched out” (expanding) – First theorized in the 1960s and 1970s
  5. 2 Sam 22:16 – there are “channels” (valleys) in the bottom of the ocean – First proven in the early to mid 1900s.
  6. Psa 8:8 there are ocean “paths” (currents) under the surface of the ocean – First discovered in the 1800’s
  7. Job 36:27-28 – the water cycle exists in nature – discovered by man 300 years ago.

These are just a few of the many different scientific truths that our great God choose to reveal to mankind.  Do a google search of “scientific discoveries in the Bible” to get much more information about the above discoveries and many, many more.

All of these discoveries are examples of science’s “coming late to the ball”.  Kinda like the white rabbit of Alice In Wonderland fame; the worldly scientists of today are always late for the discovery of important events, so they run around like chickens with their heads cut off!  (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDO5ea8MwgY).

THE SCRIPTURE:

That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Col 2:2-3)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

After looking at the different scientific truths revealed in the Bible, the truthfulness of Col 2:2-3 is clearly displayed.   Our God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge.

Just think, we have the precious Word of God that comes from a God that knows all things!!   What a wonderful blessing it is to know we have the ultimate source of wisdom and knowledge at our finger tips.   We should take His Word very seriously and spend time reading and studying it!  (Psa 40:8, Psa 19:8-11, Pro 2:1-5)

For those who are saved, His Word is a guide book for us to aid us in our daily walk of life. (Psa 119:105)

For those who have never received God’s gracious salvation, the Word is the only source of life for a sin sick soul. (John 6:62-71)

(Please note: in our next blog installment, we’ll be looking at two scientific truths the Bible reveals that many scientists still do not accept as truth. We will also study the result of their denial of these truths on all mankind.)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

The Message of Ten Cent Beer Night

SIH STSTA ICON“Ten Cent Beer Night”… June 4, 1974, is a night that will live in infamy.  For all of us who are Cleveland Indians fans, just the mention of this horrendous night still sends chills of shame through our bones.  The food that was thrown onto the field, several fans that entered the field causing game delays and, of course, the ninth inning riot; were just a few of the highlights of this unforgettable evening.  This was the lowest point in the history of the Cleveland Indians and, many believe, the lowest point in all of professional sports.  The worst that Cleveland had to offer was clearly seen that night.

By the way, to finish off the evening, the Indians were forced to forfeit the game to the Texas Rangers.  (If you happened to be born after 1974 or you have never heard of this momentous night please feel free to learn more about it at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Cent_Beer_Night)

News of this game not only rocked the Cleveland area, but hit the national news as well.  Cleveland became the laughing stock of the nation, once again.

So what could the entire nation learn from this horrible night?  What lesson could the Lord have been trying to teach us by allowing this night to take place?    I’m sure many lessons could be learned, but the most obvious is this… the need for self-control.   Just think what a difference would have been made if everyone would have kept themselves under control.   The over-indulgences of beer and the resulting inhibitions of the evening would have never taken place.  And the shame of the public indecencies would have been avoided.   All would have been different if self-restraint had ruled the night.

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  (Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

Here, in Galatians 5: the word translated “temperance” is a Greek word that means “self-control” or “the strength to overcome within ourselves”.   Temperance is the exercise of the strength necessary to control our passions and the lusts of our flesh.

In his writings, Paul made it plain that there is a war that is constantly at work within the lives of Christians.  (Rom 7:14-25)   On one side is our “old man”, desiring to find satisfaction in many sinful pursuits; on the other side, our “new man” desiring for our lives to be pleasing to God.  (Eph 4:17-32, Col 3:1-14)

It takes a tremendous amount of inward strength for the “new man” to overcome the ways of the “old man”.  By “inward strength” I’m not talking about natural, fleshly self-resolve.  I am talking about a divine strength given from our Lord through the Spirit working in our life.  This is why “temperance” is described as a “fruit of the Spirit”.

As a Christian grows in the knowledge of His Word, he should see a gradual, outward growth in his life.  This outward growth is characterized by the gradual, consistent, departure of habitual sin from the Christian’s life.   Much like an infant gradually grows to maturity, so too, a Christian “infant” as he feeds on God’s Word should grow into a mature spiritual man. This was Peter’s wish for all of those who were saved by His grace. (1 Pet 2:1-3, 2 Pet 3:18)   As we grow and mature in Christ, we too, should be seeing a greater control over the sinful desires of our flesh and mind.  This is true spiritual growth and this is of what bearing the fruit of “temperance” is speaking.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For the Christian, “temperance” should be a greatly desired commodity.  The more we possess self-control; the more we please our Lord and Savior, and the more we can glorify Him in our lives.   This is what the Christian life is all about.  In Ephesians 1:1-14, we find a listing of the Trinity’s role and motive in our salvation:

Eph 1:1-6 – God the Father’s role…. Please notice why does the Father do all of this for us?  “to the praise of the glory of His grace”…. In other words, He worked in our lives to save us so that we could be shining trophies of His grace to all the world!

Eph 1:7-12 – God the Son’s role …. What was the Son’s motive in saving us? “That we should be to the praise of His glory”…. So that we might praise Him with our lives!

Eph 1:13-14 – God the Spirit’s role… Why do He do this?  “unto the praise of His glory” … so He would be glorified by us!

In each case, all three persons of the Trinity worked to save us so that they might be honored, obeyed and praised by us!

For those who have never experienced the Lord’s saving grace in your life, your first step to living a life of self-control over your sinful desires is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.  Please remember, true spiritual temperance is a gift of God’s grace, we cannot possess temperance without Him.  By believing in Jesus (His work and His message) you will not only receive forgiveness but also the indwelling Spirit who will enable you to lead a temperate life through God’s Word.  For more information about salvation please read my recent blog entry on “Forgiveness”.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

If I Only Had The Nerve

SIH STSTA ICONWe all remember “The Wizard of OZ” from our childhood.  When I was young, I used to watch it with my family, sitting on my mom’s lap… boy was I scared!    Even though the cowardly lion is the one who said he needed “nerve,”  I needed more nerve than he did, as I watched that movie.

There were so many weird things in it to scare a fella!  For example, it had lions, scarecrows and tin men that could talk; it had munchkins, witches and that crazy wizard; but most importantly, it had those flying monkeys…. I HATED those flying monkeys!   I used to dream about those monkeys… to this day, I don’t like those monkeys!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SESI19h4wDo  I could have said, just like the lion, …“If I only had the nerve”.

Anyhow, back to my original point, In “the Wizard of Oz”, because of the lion’s lack of courage, he was pictured as weak and helpless.  It made him look downright pitiful   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98W7zg2ByKY  That helpless, pitiful condition that accompanies cowardice some people associate with not only cowardice but meekness as well.  Being meek, they say,   means they do not have the strength to stand up for themselves, but to allow others to manipulate or “walk all over” them.   The exact opposite is true.  It takes courage to lead meek life.

To be meek, as used in the Bible, is “the confidence that leads to obedience, through the release of self-pride”.  Being meek is an act of strength and courage, not an act of weakness and cowardice.

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  (Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

Noah is the perfect example of a meek man.   Noah believed that His God knew what was best for his life.  Therefore, Noah submitted himself to God’s authority by building an ark in spite of his neighbors ridicule. (Gen 6:10-Gen 9:17)   It took a great amount of courage for Noah to build that ark.  It also took a humble spirit as he withstood his neighbor’s jeers.   Noah was a bold, courageous, meek man.

The Bible mentions others who led meek (humble) lives as they served their God…

Nums 12:3 – Moses

2 Chron 34:1, 27 – Josiah

Matt 11:29, 21:5 – Our Lord Jesus Christ

Remember, Christ was God Himself, yet he was willing to humble Himself so that we might have access to salvation from our sins… Phils 2:5-11 gives us a variety of ways that Christ showed His meekness to us:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “

We have so much to thank Him for!  God becoming man, and then dying unjustly on a cross to pay the price for our sins… this is, truly, the ultimate example of meekness for all of us to follow.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

If you are like me, the pursuit of humility is an extremely difficult one.  As a matter of fact, to bear the fruit of meekness is, perhaps, the most difficult of all the fruits.  Our gracious Lord understands this and promises great benefits for living a meek life for His glory:

Psa 10:17  The Lord will hear the prayers of the meek and bless them with Godly desires for their life.

Psa 25:9 The Lord will guide and teach the humble

Psa 34:2  The Lord will bless the humble with joy as they see others serving Him.

Psa 37:11 The Lord will cause the meek to inherit the earth and live a life of inward peace

Psa 149:4  The Lord will give the meek deliverance

Prov 29:23  The Lord gives those who are humble an honorable reputation.

Isa 11:4  The Lord defends the meek

Isa 29:19  The Lord multiplies the joy of the meek

Zeph 2:3 The Lord hides the humble from His anger

Matt 18:4  The Lord gives the meek a high position in the His kingdom

James 4:6 The Lord blesses the humility with grace

Although extremely difficult, living a meek life is one of the most blessed lives that a person can live.  When we are willing to serve the Lord, by faith, putting Him first above all else, we are placing ourselves in a position of great blessings for now and eternity.  This is what leading a meek life is about.  What better way can we thank Him for all the times He humbled Himself for us!

“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”  (Luk 17:7-10)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

A Place that has to be Believed to be Seen

SIH STSTA ICONHow many times have we heard the saying…. “seeing is believing”?  In other words, experience leads to belief.  It is only when we experience something that we can then place our faith in it. This is a generally accepted attitude that has existed throughout the generations, to say otherwise is just being foolish.  Or is it?

In their song  “Walk On” the group U2 sings the following lyrics… “Walk on, walk on;   What you got, they can’t steal it;   No they can’t even feel it;   Walk on, walk on;   Stay safe tonight… You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been;   A place that has to be believed to be seen”  (http://www.macphisto.net/u2lyrics/Walk_On.html)  In the context, they point out that heaven must be believed in BEFORE it can be experienced.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wfjPmDlCB0

The need to have belief before someone can enter into heaven aligns itself with Bible teachings … “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” … “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” (Heb 11:1, 13-14) The need for faith to precede experience is not a principle limited to our experience of heaven, the Word of God makes it clear that faith is an absolute necessity in many areas of our Christian life…

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

Faith is a basic Biblical principle, going far beyond the subject of heaven.  It applies to many different aspects of Christian living… when it comes to spiritual living, belief must precede experience.   Faith is necessary for the forgiveness of sin, for the receipt of the promises of God, as well as the experience of God’s glory after our death. (Roms 5:1, Roms 4:13, Roms 5:2)   Truly the life of a Christian is a life centered on faith, which then leads to experience.

One of the most amazing things about faith is that it is not a natural part of man, it is given to us as a gift from God. (Eph 2:8-9).  This emphasizes our need for Him in all areas of our life.   At our initial salvation experience, we could not trust in Him apart from His intervention in our lives. (John 6:44)  During our Christian life on earth, we are helpless to trust His promises and receive His blessings apart from His gift of faith. (Matt 13:58)  And finally, we would all be without hope for our future without His faith being granted to us. (1 Pet 1:18-21).  Yes, the Word is so true when it says that “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. (Joh 9:33)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

In Gals 5:22-25, “faith” is described as a “fruit of the Spirit”.  In other words, like all the other fruits of the Spirit, our life should be a living testament of the faith that has been so graciously given to us.   As we live our life on earth, the choices we make exhibits our faith to others. Pastor Charles Stanley of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta Ga.; says that we should “obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.”  This is a very simple way of stating the role of faith in the life of a Christian.  By choosing to obey the Lord, we are choosing to exercise faith in Him and His promises, instead of relying on our own abilities and devices.  This is the testimony we should be living in the sight of others…ALWAYS putting the Lord first and then, by faith, trusting Him to take care of the consequences of our actions.

For those who have never received the Lord’s faith into your life…. Your most important responsibility is to look to Him for salvation, realizing apart from Christ, you can do nothing for your own salvation.  He must intervene in your life and save you from your sins.  By totally trusting on Christ for your salvation, you are fulfilling your responsibility and can be assured that He has given you spiritual life and a wonderful eternity awaiting you…

“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:5-10)

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Goodness’, Gracious’ sakes alive!

SIH STSTA ICONOne of most famous college basketball coaches of all time was John Wooden, coach of the UCLA Bruins. Coach Wooden, a devout, outspoken, Christian, set many NCAA records during his coaching career at UCLA.  He set records for number of undefeated seasons (4), number of conference championships (19) and number of NCAA championships (10).    To read more about the achievements of coach Wooden please go to http://www.sacredhoops.com/john-wooden/

Besides being known for his extraordinary spirituality, coaching skills and achievements, Coach Wooden was also known for NEVER using profanity.  Many times he would use the phrase “Goodness’, Gracious’ sakes alive!” as a replacement for profane language. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxMGcmp5t30

Unknown to many, this phrase carries with it a reference to Jehovah, the triune God who Coach Wooden served.

Both the terms Goodness and Gracious are attributes of Jehovah God of the Bible.  Exodus 34:6 makes this very clear  “… The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,”   This is how the phrase “Goodness, Gracious” began, it was used as an alternate name(s) for our God.   Because He is a good God, He is given the title “Goodness”.  Because He is the God of grace, He is given the title “Gracious”.

This being the case, what does it mean when the Bible says God is a God of goodness?  Let’s continue our study centering on “goodness”, one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

(more…)

Be Like Charmin not Sandpaper

SIH STSTA ICONMr. Whipple had it right.  Do you remember the old Charmin commercials?  Mr. Whipple had to be guarding the Charmin tissue because he recognized its outstanding softness would cause many shoppers to be attracted to it. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yG-y8poTLU)  And, once attracted, they would want to squeeze it.  Why?  When given a choice, anyone would elect to experience pampering and soothing over irritation and annoyance.

The same principle applies to our life experiences.  How often have we been put into a situation where we had to put up with someone who was just plain mean?  You know the type… it seems like everything they do is done with the intent of stirring up the most problems and hurting the most feelings.  Instead of being patient and kind to others, they choose to be harsh and aggravating.   In other words, they rub their associates like sandpaper instead of Charmin.

When given a choice, I would ALWAYS choose to spend time with the Charmins of this life.  I only spend time with the sandpapers when it is absolutely necessary.  The question we need to ask ourselves is “which type of a person do we want to be, a Charmin or a sandpaper type of person?”  The type of person that we desire to be tells us a lot about ourselves…

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

In our above verses, we find that one of the “fruits of the Spirit” is “gentleness”.  The word gentleness is speaking of a life that is kind, encouraging, and helpful; not harsh, nor harmful, nor bitter.   We all know someone with a gentle personality.  They are the ones that give us the much needed “boost” when we are discouraged.  We derive strength from them when we are weak.   It is this type of person that somehow brings out the best in all of us.  This is the type of God that we serve…

The Father showed us this “gentleness”,or “kindness”, when He sent His Son to die for us…  “That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”  (Eph 2:7)

God the Son displays His “kindness” to us through the salvation He graciously gives to us… “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; “(Tit 3:4-5)

Remember, the basic principle found in Gals 5:22-25, a “fruit of the Spirit” is something that is displayed in a Christian’s life through the enabling of the indwelling Spirit.   This is a vital key to living a gentle, kind life.

As fallen, sinful mankind, we all struggle to be kind to others.  It is much easier to be impatient and mean to others than to be patient and kind.   If we are left to ourselves we all would be short tempered to others.  But, if we look to the Spirit’s intervention in our life, He will enable us to be patient and kind when it is so very difficult to do.   Like all others areas of the Christian life, reliance on the Lord’s strength is the key to successful living.

None of us can live a Godly life without His intervention and strength…”I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. “(Joh 15:5)

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

After setting the example for us, and then, enabling us to live a gentle life, what more could we ask from Him?  All he asks from us is to live a life that displays Him to others.  By us being kind, we are showing others His kindness; by us showing mercy, we are showing others His mercy; by us forgiving others, we are showing others how He forgives sin.

Showing our Lord to others, through our lifestyle, is the greatest privilege possessed by a Christian…“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” (Col 3:12-13)

If anyone has not received Christ as their Lord and Savior, go back and review the verses about God’s kindness He has shown to man.   In both cases, the Father’s and the Son’s kindness is extended toward you.  He will not turn anyone away who comes to Him for salvation.    By coming to Him, in faith, trusting His words and His works, you will be saved.   Please read some or all of the following verses from God’s Word, they will help you to understand more about trusting in Christ and what God has done for us:

God the Father’s role in our salvation (Eph 1:1-6); God the Son’s role in our salvation (Eph 1:7-12); God the Spirit’s role in our salvation (Eph 1:13-14)

Our responsibility is to trust Christ’s words and His works for us (John 6:63-64; John 10:24-30; Acts 4:10-12; Acts 16:30-32; Roms 10:8-9)

If you have any questions, or would like more information please feel free to contact me at the email address at the end of this blog.  Or, if you would rather, contact any Bible believing church in your area.  I’m sure they will be glad to answer any questions you may have about the forgiveness of our sins or living a gentle life.

If you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

It’s not just Doctors who need patience!

SIH STSTA ICONWe’ve all heard a joke that goes something like this….  “A pediatrician was finishing up a long, busy day in his office, dealing with obnoxious parents and their unruly children.  As he walked past the front desk, he muttered to his head nurse, “I need patience, more patience.”   His nurse, with a shocked expression on her face, said… “But doctor, our schedule is full through the end of next month, how can we fit them in?”

Every one of us have days similar to this doctor’s day. A day filled with frustration and anxiety is inevitable for us all.  How do we get through such a day?  We use something called “patience.”

Patience seems to be in short supply in today’s society.  Why do I say this?  Just stand in a checkout line at a store, or sit at a railroad crossing waiting for a long train to pass, listening to the comments of others, and you will see the shortage of patience in today’s society.

What is really sad is that even though many of us see the need for more patience, the development of that patience is far easier said than done.  So what are we to do?   God’s Word addresses the need, the source, and the acquisition of patience for our lives….

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

(Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

The term “longsuffering” in Galatians 5:22 is translated “patience” thirty-three times in the New Testament.  The word comes from a Greek word that means “to bear long under”.

Picture a pack mule carrying his owner’s possessions on his back.  As his master places item after item on his back, his burden becomes increasing heavy to bear.   Instead of kicking off the burden, the mule stands there bearing the load and allowing his master to place more weight on his back.  This is the perfect picture of this Greek word translated “longsuffering” or “patience”.

This mule is “bearing long under” his burdens.  He is patiently holding them up on his back, even when there is no sign of the burden decreasing.  This is exactly what we need today.  It is the ability to bear up under the difficulties in life, without flinching or fighting, simply accepting the difficulties and continuing on.

Where do we find such a gift of patience?  Our verses tell us that longsuffering (patience) comes from the working of the Holy Spirit of God in the lives of followers of Christ.

Think of Christ’s patience that He has exercised for us…

“(Christ) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1Pe 2:22-24)

Think of the patience it took for Christ to go through with His crucifixion.   Please remember, Christ WILLINGLY partook of death for us. (John 10:17-18)  He willingly allowed His body to be bruised and His life to be taken.  And with His last breath a message of love, and patience, was declared… “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.  What an amazing Lord, setting a perfect example of patience for all of us to follow.

But how do we develop patience in our lives?  If you are like me, you won’t like the answer, but here it is…

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (Jas 1:3-4)

For the Christian, the development of patience is brought about through the trying of our faith.

As we face trials in our life, we may ask God the question “Why me, dear Lord?”    Here, we find one answer (of many) to our “Why me?” question.    The Lord allows trials in our life to help us to develop patience in our lives.   The next time we face a trial, we should stop and think… this is an opportunity for me to develop patience and, eventually, be spiritually mature and lack nothing (see James 1:4).

For those who have never trusted in Christ… the first step towards living a patient life is looking in faith to the One who is so very patient with all of us.   Our Lord is so patient, He allows us to live a life of rebellion and sin, and yet does not turn His back on us.   He promises, no matter what we have done in our life, He will not “cast us out” if we come to Him through His Father’s grace.  (John 6:37).

Paul, who was self-described as the “chief of sinners”, was saved when He came to Christ for salvation.  Salvation is available to all who come to Him without any limitation to nationality, gender, or most importantly, past history of sin.  Peter knew this when he wrote…“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”   (2Pe 3:9)   Won’t you trust in Christ to save you before it is too late?

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

All Aboard the Peace Train (Boarding at the Pearly Gates)

SIH STSTA ICONGoogle the phrase “World Peace” and you will be bombarded with website after website declaring the desire for a worldwide peace.  It is the desire of most Miss America’s, seemingly the entire 60’s generation, and probably, over 90% of the world’s population.  In my younger days, one of the more popular songs was a song entitled “Peace Train”, recorded in 1971.  This song voiced the hope for peace and was in the top ten for an extended time.  For those of you who don’t remember it please take a look here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G52Z84vF4fk&feature=related)

Certainly, world peace has been and continues to be one of the greatest wants of mankind.  It is very easy to understand why there is such a longing for peace.  Just think of the number of human lives lost in all the past wars here on earth.  I’m sure the total is staggering.  Just in my lifetime, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan has cost the lives of more than 63,000 Americans, not to mention over 380,000 Americans wounded.  These numbers do not count the civilian casualties, much less the casualties from the other countries participating in these wars.

It would seem that, with world peace being such a popular idea, and the price of war being so terribly high, we could have a permanent peace.  But we don’t.  As much as we want it, no matter how hard we try to attain it…we have no peace.

However, when it comes to world peace, all hope is not lost.  The Bible teaches us that the existence of wars and the threats of coming wars doesn’t surprise our Lord.  The Lord knew these “perilous” times would come upon the world, and He proved it by giving us advance warning (Lk 21:8-11.) He made it quite plain that in spite of all these horrible wars brought about by man, He remains in complete and absolute control (Dan 4:35).  The Lord guarantees us that, someday, He will restore a perfect peace to this earth (Isa 11:4-10).

Besides this outward, worldly peace, there is another more important inward peace that comes only from our Lord.  This is the peace of Galatians 5:22-25 …

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

The peace of Gals 5:22 is one of the “fruits of the Spirit”.  It is given to us through the Spirit of God that indwells us at salvation.  It is the assurance that both our life here on earth, and in the hereafter, are in the hands of our Lord.  It is the peace we receive when we know HE WILL CARE FOR US, PROTECT US, and ACCOMPANY US from here through eternity.  It is a peace that “passes all understanding” (Phil 4:6-7).   It is the peace that only God can give (John 14:27).

Can you imagine a peace that brings us joy in the midst of any trial we face in life?  Can you imagine being able to think about death with an assurance that we have an eternity with God awaiting us?  Have you put down the burden of your sin knowing all of your acts of disobedience have been forgiven by God?   This is what this peace is all about.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

But it doesn’t end there.  God does not give us this peace to hide within ourselves. He gives it to us that we might display it in our lives.  That is why it is called a “fruit” … it is to be given off by us, like an apple tree gives off an apple for another’s benefit.

For a Christian, peace is given to us, contained within us, and then revealed to others by us. As we exhibit this peace in our lives, others see it and are shown what they are missing.   As an act of thankfulness to God, we display our peace, glorifying Him in the eyes of a lost mankind.  This is being a fruit-bearing Christian.

For those who are not saved by God’s grace, please be honest and sense the burden you are living under.  God’s Word makes it clear that we all have sinned.  Because of this sin we are separated from our God.  (Romans 3:23 & 5:12)   Separation from God has two aspects to it: first, it includes no communion with Him and secondly, facing His eternal judgment in the lake of fire.   (Isaiah 59:2 & Rev 20:15)  If we come to the Lord, trusting Him and His work on the cross, we can be saved.  This trust involves our willingness to submit our entire lives to His leadership and rely on His work on the cross to pay the sin debt that we all owe to God.  (2 Peter 1:10-11 & Galatians 3:11-14)

It is only through this faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that salvation from our sins can be received.  It is only through this faith that we can share in the peace that all God’s people possess.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Happiness is Something We Should Be Joyful About!

SIH STSTA ICONWhen I was at home, as a youngster, I wanted to grow up and be out on my own.  You know how it was …. the folks were sticks in the mud, kill-joys, and grinches all combined.   It seemed like anything I really wanted to do they were against… like lighting the cats tail on fire, playing basketball inside the house, and of course, staying up until 3:00 AM watching my favorite horror movie.  These were the important things in life… these are the things that would give a guy real satisfaction… and all they could say was “NO”.   That’s why, at times, I wanted to be away from my folks… then I could do what I want when I want.

Well, my folks thought otherwise, they would tell me, “Rob, appreciate your life at home.  You have very few responsibilities and people who love you and look out for you.”   Believe me, I didn’t see what they meant, but I sure do now!  They were right, my time at home, growing up with a loving family, was one of the best times of my life.  I was blessed and I didn’t’ realize it, I took the blessing of a loving family for granted and only later in life (when I was out on my own) did I really begin to understand how blessed I had been.

This brings to my mind, the songs I would hear my Mom or Dad sing at home…“Count Your Many Blessings”  (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIYl6lK1c50 )    There are many songs we sing that have a practical application to them, but throughout my life, I have found that this song is one of the most needed songs for my life.   One of the most amazing things takes place in my life, when I am discouraged, and then I think of this song, I begin to apply it’s message and joy replaces my discouragement as I think of all my God has done for me.

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

In our Galatians verses, we find that “joy” is among the list of fruits that the Spirit gives to us when we are saved.  For us to understand the fruit of joy, we need to know it’s relation to happiness in the Bible. “Joy” and “happiness” are associated with one another in God’s Word, but they are not the same.   When we are “happy” … “joy” should follow.

The Greek word for happy is most times translated “blessed”.  In the New Testament, a man who is described as “happy” refers to a man who is blessed.   This is his condition in life.  In the Bible “happy” is a state of being, not an emotion.     In other words, when a man is said to be “happy”…. the New Testament is saying that this man is receiving blessings from the Lord.  This is clearly brought out in several verses, here is just one….”Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. “ Here, in James 5:11, the Bible says that when we see someone who is able to endure all this life throws at them, remaining faithful to their Lord… that is proof that they are being blessed by God.

“Joy” on the other hand, does not refer to a condition, but to an emotion.  “Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; “ (2 Tim 1:4)   Paul was saying that when he could see Timothy face to face, he would be filled with the emotion of cheerfulness or “joy””.  So to summarize, the Bible describes anyone who is “blessed” as being “happy”, whether he realizes that he is blessed or not.    The Bible describes a man as “joyful” because he recognizes he is blessed and then outwardly displays his appreciation through joy.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: (Psa 103:2)

So to put these two ideas together, the idea is this…. we are to desire and recognize the blessings we are given every day.  Then out of appreciation for all He has done for us, have a joyful attitude about us.   We are not to forget what He has done for us, but we are to allow the blessings He’s given to us be an encouragement and strength to us.

In other words, we should be joyful that He has blessed us.

For those of us who are saved, it is an absolute necessity to recognize all His blessings He has given to us.  How sad it is for us to forget what He has done after He has done so very much for us.  He came to the earth, humbled Himself as a man and then died on the cross for our sins (Phil 2:5-11).   It is through this joy that we receive the encouragement and strength to serve Him in the midst of a fallen world.  (Neh 8:10)

For those who have never received Christ as their Savior…. trust in Christ and His work today… it is only through Him that you can have a true, permanent, fullness of joy (Psa 16:11).  This joy is given to us through His death on the cross, as He died to save His people from their sins.  (Matt 1:21)  By trusting in Christ as Lord and Savior, His grace, forgiveness and presence, bring forth joy and gladness in our hearts.  He has saved us from an eternity of punishment for our sins… He has saved us from the rule of sin in our lives. What a reason to be joyful!!!

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

A Memorial Day Devotion for Christians

SIH STSTA ICONMemorial Day is a day that is set aside to remember, and honor, our brave soldiers who have given their lives to protect our land and keep us free.  It began as a day to honor our Civil War dead, but after World War I, it was expanded to include our war dead from all the wars in which America was involved.  Go to http://www.usmemorialday.org/ for more information.

According to http://www.historycentral.com/wars.html , our country has fought in 12 wars (not counting the Afghanistan War which brings the updated total to 13.)  In every one of these cases, we have asked the young people of our nation to be willing to give their lives in the name of freedom (for us and others in foreign lands.)    The sacrifices these young men and women have made can never be totally comprehended nor can they be repaid by us.

Just stop and think about a little of what these wonderful young people have given up for us.  At the very least, they have given years of their life, time away from their families, to serve their country which they love. They have given us any chance of setting down “roots”, having to move from base to base once every 3 to 4 years.   Many will be physically disabled the rest of their life, having the use of one or more of their limbs taken from them.   Scores have been mentally disabled resulting in them being unable to handle day to day living.   And thousands upon thousands have given the ultimate sacrifice, their life, so that we can continue to enjoy our lives living safely in a land of freedom.

We can never begin to understand what they went through, and are continuing to go through, all because they love their nation and the freedoms we take for granted everyday.  We can never begin to repay them and their families for the sacrifices they have made for us.  It seems as if saying “Thank You” just isn’t enough.

THE SCRIPTURE:

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

(Joh 15:12-14)

THE STUDY:

Here, we find that our Lord recognized the tremendous sacrifice involved when a person is willing to give up their life for their friend.   He describes it as an act of “great love.”   Who better to be able to understand and define the very essence of self-sacrifice and love, but our Lord Himself?

Think about what Christ has done for His people.  He willingly humbled Himself and came to the earth, God in human flesh, giving up the glories of heaven to live among us.   Then, during His life on earth, He set the ultimate example of service, teaching, feeding, praying for and healing those who were in need.   Next, He was willing to be falsely accused, mocked, physically beaten, mistreated and convicted for a set of crimes that He did not commit. Finally, submitting to a horrible death of slow suffocation while hanging on a cross, all so that His people could receive forgiveness and deliverance from their sin and its results.  This is what the love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ brought about for us.

And, now for the most amazing part of all this, He did this for us, not when we were friends with Him, but when we were His enemies…   When we were opposed to Him, He still choose to love us and die for us on the cross.  (Roms 5:10, Col 1:21)

Remember in the above verses Christ Himself said there was no greater love among man than to die for a friend?  How much greater is a love that would make Jesus, God the Son,  be willing to die for an enemy, one that wants nothing to do with Him and who rebels against Him at every turn?  It is described as “the love of God” that cannot be fully understood by man.  (Roms 8:39, Eph 3:19)    This is the ultimate example of love for another.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

On this Memorial Day weekend, let us remember the brave soldiers who have so unselfishly given of themselves for us.   Let’s not only appreciate their actions but then take steps to help these veterans and their families whenever and wherever we can.

But also this weekend, let us remember the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us so that we might be saved from the eternal punishment for our sins.  And then out of appreciation for His works, let us give ourselves for others, obeying the perfect law of Christ…

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

(1Jn 4:7-12)

May we all have a blessed Memorial Day weekend.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

Love… Biblical Style

SIH STSTA ICONThe subject of “love” has dominated the attention of mankind throughout the years.   There have been literally thousands of songs, poems, stories, fables, even scientific studies, trying to help define love and explain it more fully.  The entertainment industry uses love as a central theme in most of it’s programming.

Do you remember a TV show called “Love, American Style”? It was a show featuring a different cast of characters every week.  They would show the affects of love on many, varied, fictional relationships.  For a quick walk down memory lane watch this…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrBe09SIENA&feature=related

After all these attempts, it seems as if there still exists much confusion about love and man’s pursuit of it.  For us to look to our society for a definition of love is a futile act.  Today’s definitions can range from an innocent emotion to an immoral act and everything in between.   The more man tries to define it, the more confused man becomes.

So what is love?  We will try to answer this question from God’s Word….

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

(Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

The Bible has ALOT to say about love… within the pages of the Bible we find at least 311 times when the word “love” is used (300 times in the Old Testament, 11 times in the New Testament).  Love is a central theme of the Bible…. Both God’s love for man and man’s love for God are emphasized.  But throughout the Word, there is also many references to mankind’s love for one another.   Anyone who is willing to take the time to examine every reference to love in the Bible will see a vast storehouse of information that helps us to see the true meaning and role of love in our lives.

At the risk of over-simplifying the Biblical teaching, let me center on just one of many observations about love found in the Bible….   a scriptural, God-pleasing love is one that produces self-sacrifice in our lives.  For one example of this principle please see John 15:3; here we find love for a friend resulting in laying down our life for them.

Our God set the ultimate example of a sacrificial love for us…

God the Father loved us so much He gave His Son to die for us on the cross. (John 3:16, Roms 5:8)

God the Son loved us so much He gave His life as an offering and sacrifice to God for us, paying the price of our sins. (Eph 5:2)

Christ, in the person of God the Spirit, then indwells our hearts through faith… giving us a continual testimony of His great love for us. (Eph 3:17-19)

Finally, we can never be separated from this great love He has bestowed upon us!  What a wonderful promise, once we are placed in His love, no one can take His love off of us… in other words, His love is without limit, He will never cast us aside nor will he ever desert us, we are kept by Him eternally. (Roms 8:35-39)

Now, after setting such great examples of true love for us, He then promises to implant within us this same love when we are forgiven of our sins.   In our scripture verse, love is classified as one of the “fruits of the Spirit”…   this means that love is given off in our lives, when the Holy Spirit inhabits our hearts, at the time our salvation.  Therefore, we can begin to love Him, and others, with the same type of love that He has loved us… an unrestricted, self-surrendering love.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

What a wonderful gift we have been given…. a fruit of love that we can give off to others…. much like a tree gives off its fruit to those who need it.   We can love others sacrificially, with no thought of personal gain.  Have you ever heard of an “unconditional” love?  This is the same type of love we can give to others through the working of the Spirit in our lives.

As followers of our Lord, we can place this love upon Him, allowing us to serve Him without hesitation or reservation.   We can willingly give our all to Him, just as He gave His all for us. (1 John 4:19)

Then, we are able to love others as Christ loved us.  What a wonderful way to be a living testimony for Him.   By loving others sacrificially, with no thought of personal gain, we are displaying for all to see how our Lord has loved us and laid down His life for us on the cross. (John 15:12)

For those who have never received the love of God into their hearts…. look to the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  Trusting in Christ for his salvation, is all men’s responsibility.   Have you trusted in Christ?  Have your sins been forgiven?  Has the love of God been placed upon you?  Does His Spirit now enable you to love as He loves?  If you have answered “no” to these questions please read God’s word, it shows us the way of life and true, Godly love.   A great place to start reading is 1 John 3:23-24.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

If you have any questions or subjects you would like discussed on this blog, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.  I will answer all emails via this blog, by email, or both.

Falling Apples

SIH STSTA ICONWe’ve all seen this time and time again, a child that looks almost identical to one of their parents.  When we see this, we jokingly say “The apple doesn’t fall far from the apple tree”.   In other words, a child will share in their parent’s appearance and/or behavior. For an explanation of the origin of this saying please see http://ca.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080525203745AAKrx82.

It only makes sense that a child would mimic their parent.  They share in the parent’s DNA (explaining the physical resemblances to the parent) and, as impressionable children, they live with the parent watching their every action (explaining the child’s behavioral similarities to their parent.)

This same principle applies to the relationship a child of God has with their heavenly Father. We should represent our Father on earth by resembling Him.

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

(Gal 5:22-25 kjv)

THE STUDY:

The above verses give a listing of nine qualities that Christians should display in their daily walk of life.

A quick definition of each fruit follows:

“love” – to have the willingness to sacrifice self with no thought of gain;

“joy”- to possess calm delight displayed through actions;

“peace” – to be quietness, restful , harmonious, to be in unison with others

“longsuffering” – to bear under heavy burdens without giving into them

“gentleness” – to be kindness, merciful to others

“goodness” – to be virtuous, morally upright

“faith” – to rely upon, to place trust, to be assured of

“meekness” – to be humble

“temperance”- ability to control our power

The Lord lists the nine qualities that all men should possess in their lives adding to the quality of life around us.  Who among us would begin to say we do not desire to see these fruits in the lives of others?  Do we enjoy being around people that are hateful, always discouraged or wanting to fight all the time?  What about those that are impatient, unforgiving, or wicked?   Of course, none of us enjoy being with someone like this.  Our Lord has given us a simple listing of fruits that enhance our life of earth, as we live according to them and enjoy our life with others who live by them.

The Lord continues on by reminding us that, for the Christian, these fruits should be desired and naturally borne by those who are truly saved.   Please keep in mind, a part of the salvation experience is not only trusting in Christ and receiving forgiveness from our sins, but also an attitude of turning from our sins to serve Him as our Lord.  This turning from sin to God is called “repentance” in the Bible.  (please see Hebs 6:1, 2 Cor 7:10, 2 Tim 2:24-26)   This is what our Lord meant when He said we are to “crucify (put to death) the flesh with the affections and lusts.”

He goes further by telling us that if we have received the indwelling of His Spirit, then we should be willing to live by the leadership of that same Spirit.   The Spirit’s leadership will result in our fruit bearing as well.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

In Galatians 5:22-25, we see a listing of attributes that should accompany the lives of all members of God’s family.   These attributes are given the title “fruits of the Spirit”.  This title presents two different ideas. Firstly, these fruits are given off as a natural result of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in our lives and secondly, by bearing these “fruits” we reveal Godly attributes to the world around us.

To give an example of bearing a fruit naturally, lets look at an animal giving birth to its offspring.  It is only natural that a bear would give birth to bear cubs.   It would be a freak of nature to see that a bear gave birth to a puppy.   As a matter of fact, nature so strictly adheres to this principle that we use it to make many assumptions in nature.  For example, if we see a tree with oranges hanging on it we immediately assume it is an orange tree.   We don’t give it a second thought.  Why? Because like begats like…. that’s the way it is… in the natural world there are no exceptions to this.

And that is the way it is with God’s family members.   It is only natural that we give forth the fruits of the Spirit… why?  Because we have the Holy Spirit of God within us, His fruits should be revealed in our lives.   If a Christian finds that he is not bearing God’s fruits then something is dreadfully wrong with his relationship to His Lord.  Either he isn’t in communion with His God due to unconfessed sin, or he is not actually saved.  There can be no other answer to this dilemma.

Now, let’s look at an example of a fruit revealing attributes about the one that bore it.    Again, let’s use the bear and its cub as an example.  The cub looks like a miniature version of the mother bear.  Both have the same facial features, the same bodily features, hunger for the same types of food, the list goes on and on.    So too, should we as Christians bear the appearance of our Heavenly Father.

We are told throughout God’s Word to be a good testimony to those around us.   The best possible testimony we can have is living a life that reflects God in all we do.  This is the fruit bearing that our Lord expects from all His family.  This is the role of the Christian in the world today…. Simply show others our Lord and Savior by living our lives pleasing to Him.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”(If you have any questions about this study, or if you would like to suggest a subject for my blog please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.   I will answer all emails either by email, or by blog, or both.)