Friday, 29 April 2016

Real Peace

Proverbs 16:7 When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

      Someone said, "If your inner mind is not deceived, your outer actions won't be wrong."
      There is a lot of peace talks these days and the more of these photo-ops we see as peace agreements are signed, the more skeptical we become that the peace will hold or that the one's signing have any ability to assure a positive outcome of any kind. Is peace just the absence of war? If all wars were to stop overnight, would that be real peace? That is what we have come to believe in this fractious and often tumultuous world.
      A government official stands up and declares all is well now because the war has died down and there are not as many casualties; therefore, peace looks promising. Although this type of peace is necessary to survive on this planet it is not what Jesus meant when He said He would give us His peace.
 John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 
      We know that peace is God's will for mankind because the first thing said at the birth of Jesus by the angel of the Lord was a declaration of peace toward all men on this earth. Luke 2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Everyone is looking for some kind of peace. Peace and quiet is a commodity sought after by overworked and stressed people the world over. Big amounts of money are spent daily for that peaceful getaway where peace and relaxation are guaranteed. 
      The reality of that peace package upon return from the peaceful holiday to the real word is the stressed life starts all over again. Gated communities are sold the world over as peaceful homes, settings and landscapes so that the occupants can live in a state of perpetual peace from the ugly outside world. Yet real peace is not found in the surrounding wall of an estate. Eze. 13:10 Because they lead my people astray, saying, "Peace," when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash.
      Peace is not a commodity or something possessed through purchases of endless stuff. Real peace comes through the person of Jesus, the Price of Peace. When war, gang shootouts and revenge killings stop, there is an uneasy ceasefire or détente because the skirmish can start right up again with one insult or slight. 
      When real peace is established in the hearts and minds of the people who have accepted Jesus' eternal peace, the result of using the Lord's peace as a standard brings real choices of reconciliation and forgiveness rather than revenge and another round of warfare. Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
      The Lord's peace in us will teach us to keep peace because God's peace, as the scripture says, is guarding our hearts and minds. If we have peace in our hearts and minds, then our actions will correspond with the blessed peace at work within each one of us. 
      One of God's names is Peace. Judges 6:24a Then Gideon built an altar there unto the LORD, and called it Jehovah Shalom. Why on earth would we look to politicians for peace when the God who is peace lives within us? The most man and government can provide for humanity is a precarious peace that is basically the absence of war. Is that a good thing? Yes, absolutely, we will take it. Who wants to live in a Syrian war-type of mayhem year after year? 
      Real peace from God will give us faith-filled boldness that can move mountains and extend grace to people who have lost their peace in life. It is God's desire that we live, promote and bring peace to every situation in need of God's peace so that all may know the blessed hope that is possible for everyone who desires peace in life and in their hearts. Matt. 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
      I leave you all with a blessing of the Lord's peace upon you. Num. 6:25 May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. 26 May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.' Amen and amen.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Mala In Se

Proverbs 1:16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

      Mala in se is a term that signifies crime that is considered wrong in and of itself. The phrase is Latin and literally means wrong in itself or evil in itself.
      It is baffling to me that laws have to be written for some of the most obvious heinous crimes; child slavery, prostitution, abandonment and violence. Imagine, someone actually has to be told that it is evil to beat a baby to death. They do not have the understanding that it is evil in itself to do such a thing. How tragic the human condition that is prevalent in this earth.
      I was reading some of Philip Yancey's books and he writes about some people in India who deform and cripple children on purpose for the sake of making pitiful beggars of them so that they can bring in some money. Think about it. These people who do this to children have to be instructed that this is an evil practice; therefore, it is mala in se. I like to think that I live in a better world than that, but it is not so. A world that has concentration camps, inquisitions and segregation in its history is the real world I live in.
      The world is influenced by the devil and his wish for mankind is death and destruction, no matter how horrible or tragic the end result is. Jesus said it plainly about the devil's nature. John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
       When reading some of the old testament laws I sometimes say out loud, "Really Lord, you had to write laws and explain to people that they should not have intercourse with animals or their immediate family members." Is the human condition that pathetic? It must be because God says, "Don't do what the Canaanites do as normal living." 
      A list of instructions is given in Leviticus Chapter 18 that would make commonsense shriek and wonder why this would have to be explained. However, it had to be written so that it would be obeyed. Lev. 18:3 Do not do what the people of Egypt do. You used to live there. And do not do what the people of Canaan do. I am bringing you into their land. Do not follow their practices. 
      These things I have just written about are obviously wrong to most of us. What about the small things that we do on a daily basis? Do we become dulled to the warnings of our conscience that is telling us what we are doing is not acceptable to God? The small lies at work. The stealing of time and goods from work. Shirking from doing a job right. Holding love back from your spouse and children because of a slight you felt you did not deserve. These so-called small sins can turn into adultery, larceny, embezzlement and sloth on a major scale to the point that it is odiously mala in se. Gen. 4:7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. 
      The man who is locked up in prison for embezzling the company did not set out overnight to do so. It started with small thefts that he got away with. The woman or man caught up in an adulterous affair did not set out to bring such hurtful pain to their spouse. Their original heart was not a desire to break their vows made before God and man. No, it started off by wandering eyes and feelings that were not kept under control, resulting in the lust of the eye and the craving of the soul. 
      The result of yielding to small improprieties will eventually bring in a world of hurt. James 1:15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. What seems controllable and a small indiscretion becomes uncontrolled habitual bondage ruining lives. Just ask anyone who attends Alcohol's Anonymous. It started with one small cocktail, night-cap, or one for the road until the need for a drink was the most important thing in the universe.
      Hurricanes first announce themselves on small scout clouds. Something that has become mala in se in our life most likely announced itself as a bit of sinful pleasure or just a bit of fun and relaxation. We cannot outsmart sin, because the wages of it is still death; no matter how strong and clever you think you are. Jesus is the only one who overcame sin and death. This is why He is the only way through this corrupted world system. John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." 
      Whatever it is that has control of your soul in this life, hand it over to the Lord who knows you and what you need to be healed and delivered. God has us in the palm of His hand. God loves us so much. Amen.

Friday, 15 April 2016

Everyday Fallibility

Proverbs 21:8 A man is known by his actions. An evil man lives an evil life; a good man lives a godly life.

       I had three opportunities to sin yesterday and I passed by two of them. After I repented, I was so proud of my humility. As the Apostle Paul would say, "Oh the wretched man that I am." Why is the heart of man so corrupt? No wonder only the blood of Jesus can cleanse a heart. We have too many layers of deception at work within us; therefore, we should always remember that Christ's sacrifice is the only one that can cleanse absolutely and is acceptable to God the Father. Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
      1 Tim. 1:15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. I find it interesting that the Apostle Paul, who wrote so much about being the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, claimed to be the worst sinner. He continued to understand the power of sin and its nature, also the potential of that nature rising up in our everyday living. 
      Here was a man who had been given revelatory insights into the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus and the resurrection power from the dead by the Holy Spirit, yet would not take his calling in God as a licence to sin - so to speak. 2 Cor. 12:2 I know a man in Christ, fourteen years ago--whether in the body, I do not know, or out of the body, I do not know; God knows--such a man, having been caught up to the third heaven. 
      Like Paul, I am so grateful for the cleansing blood of Christ that washes away sin and the condemnation of it. I am also so thankful to God that through the blood of Jesus we have the ability to wrestle the power of sin because we are no longer under the authority of sin. Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 
      Paul, like us, had to deal with the everyday fallibility that awaits at the doorstep of our hearts. Only the blood of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit can keep us in Christ unto eternal life. The older I get the more I see my need for the continual washing of Christ's blood and the righteous standing that comes through it. Not because I am living a life of practicing sin on a perpetual basis, but rather living the fact that only the blood of Jesus can make me whole. Eph. 1:7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
      One would think the older we get, the more skilled we would become at not sinning. Not so! The story of the woman who was caught in adultery and was about to be stoned to death shows us that the older we get does not necessarily mean we have a handle on sin and its facets. 
      Jesus says to the crowd, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." At this point, something remarkable happens. The scriptural passage says that from the oldest man to the youngest the crowd dispersed because of the conviction of conscience. John 8:9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 
      The oldest and more experienced in life did not have it all together when it came to a sinless life. The only thing that old age seemed to do for sin was the ability to cover it up with religious antics. It takes the constant covering of God's gift of Jesus' sacrifice to keep us clean in the presence of God. It is not a personal righteousness record that can be boasted about as we come to God in prayer, but it is the gift of God through Jesus that welcomes us humbly before our God. Eph. 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. 
      The older I get the happier I am that God has the whole salvation plan under His control. We only have to look around at all the world's confusions to see what man-made religions have caused. Do good, get good. Do bad, get bad. Do nothing, get nothing. Do something, still get nothing. What a mess we create for ourselves when we become our own savior. 
      Jesus, our Savior, accepts us the way we are and turns us unto a vessel for His honor because of His works. Yes, my fallibility lurks around me ready to point out my missteps in life, but more importantly, I have my Savior who walks with me clearing the land-mines that can bring harm to my soul. What a God we serve and what a love He has for us. 
      As long as we live on this earth, we will always have the opportunity to fall on our faces because of sin, but thank God that Jesus is right there beside us picking up the broken pieces of our life and turning the same pieces into victory. 1 Cor. 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you so much, Lord Jesus, for all that you do and have done for us. Amen.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Dunamis δυνάμει

Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love its use will eat its fruit.

      The Greek dunamis is used 120 times in the New Testament. Loosely, the word refers to “strength, power, or ability.” It is the root word of our English words dynamite, dynamo and dynamic. Luke 4:14a And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee.
      We often feel that we do not have the strength or ability to go forward in what God has called us to do. Yet when we asked Jesus into our heart, we were filled with dunamis power or resurrection power in our innermost being. This is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. 
      That very Holy Spirit resurrection power lives within each believer in Christ. What is holding us back from moving forward in what God has sown in our hearts? Jesus himself said we would do greater works than Jesus did. John 14:12 "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 
      Why would the Lord tell us something that was not so? We have been given the ability in Christ to do what Jesus says we can do in His name. We have been given dunamis power to be ambassadors in the Kingdom of God and to carry on the work that Jesus sent us out to do. 2 Cor. 5:20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
      Resurrection power can heal any disease or mental illness that is known and unknown to man. Jesus was full of this power and He used it to bring about the good news. Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." 
      What is good news to the poor? They will no longer be poor. What is good news to those who are bound with all types of demonic oppression? They will be set free in their bodies and minds. What is good news to the blind? They can see and see well. 
      The dunamis resurrection power will bring us the favor of the Lord and that is good news. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, but then we are blessed with resurrection power to grow and be a blessing in life within this lost world. We can be a clear, strong and confident voice for God Almighty proclaiming the good news that Jesus has been raised from the dead and has conquered death for every person who accepts His love and gift of salvation.
       When we believe and step forward in the power that God has put within each one of us, we can move mountains so to speak. We read the account of Peter and John through the power of the Holy Spirit healing the lame man who was asking for alms at the gate Beautiful in Acts 3:2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple. 
      This miracle created a chain of events that would cause Peter and John to be arrested for healing and preaching in the name of Jesus. Peter, through his boldness and dunamis power in heart, leads about five-thousand men to Jesus and causes the Sadducees and priests to lash out in anger to the point of arresting Peter and John overnight. The next day Peter and John are told and warned not to preach in Jesus name as they are released. Acts 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. 
      It is interesting that they did not go back to their group and say, "Well that's it you all, we have been shut down. It looks like we will not be able to continue to proclaim the word of the resurrection of the Savior of the world." No! That is not what happened. They got together and were overjoyed at the power of the Holy Spirit and prayed for more boldness to be able to go back out and change the world. Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word. 
      That is what resurrection power can do and will do for every one of us who believe. We do not have to shrink back in fear or anguish. We have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to go out and be the voice and hand extended for our Lord Jesus. May we all pray for boldness to proclaim that Jesus has risen and we have eternal life because of it. Blessings to us all.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Trial By Social Media

Proverbs 12:20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.

      Sam McGee's view on the negative side of social media might be said this way: "There are cruel things said on the world wide web, by the trolls who spew their souls. Tried and judged with hurtful words, that will make your heart grow old."
      How has the mob mentality who post their cruel and hateful thoughts become such a source of read information? Why do people even believe or try to reason with these trolls who post their slanderous and venomous words designed to hurt the wounded, innocent and maybe the guilty? 

      The web has attracted a tabloid type of reporting or as my friend Scott calls it, "lazy journalism." Whatever it is, it has captured the minds of people who cast judgment without knowledge, factual information, or understanding of events in people's lives. 
      Things that some people say liberally on social media sites, these same people would never have the courage to say to any one's face. So much of the things said sounds like the venting of an adolescent and yet they claim to be of mature age and understanding. 
      Rumors and misquotes are reported as truth and the consequences of this type of free-for-all activity is ignored regardless of the casualties caused. 2 Tim. 4:3 A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear.
      It seems the more technologically advanced we get, the fewer abilities we have to extend compassion or reason. We seem to use the technology to be faster at pronouncing what is in our minds at the split second of hearing a version of an event regardless of the event being true or false. A person's life can be changed in a day because of what is said about them online. 
      The victim of the millions of digital bytes that are focused on them can be devastating, especially if what is being said is not true. How do you repent or apologize to someone you destroyed online with rumor? Prov. 6:2 If you have been snared with the words of your mouth, Have been caught with the words of your mouth. 3 Do this now, my son, and deliver yourself, when you have come into the hand of your friend; go, humble yourself, and plead with your friend. How do you plead for mercy when you have destroyed your fellow man's life and reputation? It would take some real courage to fess up and become a healer of what damage you caused.
      The only true and honest man who ever walked the earth got crucified by the self-proclaimed good folk of the same earth. It is interesting that the mob who cried for Jesus to be crucified was provoked by a few envious and political savvy instigators. These rumor-mongers got the crowd riled up with rumor and lies to the point that the everyday person in the crowd was frantically screaming to kill Jesus and releasing Barabbas. John 18:40 They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!" Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. 
      Since the mob mentality had no problem killing the only innocent man ever in the history of the world, I reckon the same mob will have no mercy online where casting judgment can be done with anonymity. 
      We live in a time when mercy and compassion is needed more than ever. Surely we can abstain from spewing our mental pus on everyday people who messed up or had a tragic event happen to them that was beyond their control. Let us not be so eager to point an accusatory finger of blame because the web makes it so easy to do so. Because of that fact and ease, we should take a moment and think hard about our words we are about to express in judgment. 
      Remember the same standard of judgment will be used on each one of us who judges unrighteously. Matt. 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. If I was unfortunate to have an unforeseen event happen to me or my family that was beyond my control and then I was publicly blamed for it, I know that I would desire mercy and understanding just like every one of you. 
      When it comes to social media, I will remember the Lord's words as to what is expected of me in life. I hope you take them to heart as well. Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.