Friday, December 28, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Jonah

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken. Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep. So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, O sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. And they said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou? what is thy country? and of what people art thou? And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows. Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish's belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. And the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of the LORD. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey. And Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. Then said the LORD, Doest thou well to be angry? So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city. And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd. But God prepared a worm when the morning rose the next day, and it smote the gourd that it withered. And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live. And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death. Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?
{Jonah 1:1-4:11 KJV}

Needless to say: Jonah serves as a clear example of someone being led where they did not want to go{1}. For the entire Old Testament text of his story has been provided here; and to include it now marks a return unto the previous order.

No, not many think of the story of Jonah in such a way. For the intended message usually gets shoved to the side in favor of wonderment over him being swallowed by a whale.

What whale? For even unto those who have no idea of our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit being anywhere near them{2}: is it not written that it was a great FISH that He had prepared beforehand{3}???

Yes, such discussion is irksome unto many. For they would be of the opinion that none of it ever happened in the first-place.

Perhaps they would want to have a change of heart if it was better understood that there is a more important message to behold. For the story of Jonah’s mission unto Nineveh is actually more about our Heavenly Father wanting to show mercy unto even the most wicked of hearts{4}.

No, that is not just in regards unto the Assyrians of Nineveh. For with Jonah’s heart being filled with so much hatred: was it not being just as wicked as their’s?

Furthermore: it could even be argued that Jonah’s heart was being even more wicked. For in being an anointed prophet: one would naturally think that he should have known better. Whereas in the other case: “But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?”{5}

Oh yes, Jonah most definitely qualifies as a bitter/sweet. For along with all of the awfulness: our Heavenly Father’s delightful sense-of-humor is on fine display.

Alas, be assured that this is of great comfort unto me in a very personal way. For I have not thrown any hissy fits over any vines yet; but I know all too painfully well just exactly how Jonah felt: But God said to Jonah, “Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?” “I do,” he said. “I am angry enough to die.”{6}

[{1}John 21:18-19; {2}Romans 10:8; {3}Jonah 1:17; {4}Ezekiel 18:31-32; {5}Jonah 4:11 NIV; {6}Jonah 4:9 NIV]

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: The Words Of The Word (+)

This is a special post that is out of sequence with the flow of “Bitter/Sweets” on this blog; but that is nothing new unto those who get in on the action in the middle of the story (so to speak). For if one was to begin reading at the top of the page of this site and continue on reading until they got to the last bitter/sweet: that last one would actually be the one that is meant to be read first, with the others to follow in inverted order.

Therefore: it was suggested that it would be prudent to offer a “3 for 1” in the sequence that it is meant to be read. For this would help make it easier to accept what our Heavenly Father has given me to say about the matter.


But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach. {Romans 10:8 KJV}

Unto most of the currents residents of the Christian community: the meaning of Romans 10:8 is unmistakable. For they have been led to believe that the “Word Of God” is the Holy Bible; and it is upon it that their faith is based.

Some beg to differ; and counted amongst them is the true Word Of God{1}. For nothing has changed since He issued this rebuke: “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”{2}

No, this is not to say that the Bible cannot be trusted. For it truly is as it is written: Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit{3}.

Neither is this to say that what is contained in it is of little value. For it truly is as it is also written: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work{4}.

Nonetheless: it would do us all well to want to obtain a proper perspective. For our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible was never meant to be employed as a book of instruction—certainly not in the same way as an educational textbook on science, mathematics, nor even history normally would be.

How could it? For it is truly a book full of spiritual truths that only the spiritually-minded can correctly discern{5}.

No, it should not be assumed that it is the same for everyone. For it all depends upon what our Heavenly Father wants to accomplish in and through someone that determines when, and unto what extent, He will allow and enable them to come into the knowledge and understanding of His absolute truth{6}.

In other words: it should not be assumed that everyone has the ability to understand what is contained in our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible. For it still is as it is written: Then He (thoroughly) opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures{7}.

Besides: who in their right-mind would not want the Author to have anything to do with them as they read His book—especially when engaged in the study of it? For who could know more about what was meant by this or that than the One who had it written about Himself{8}???

Yes, our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible is commonly referred unto as being the written Word of God in the Christian community; and it has been also widely taught that Scripture interprets Scripture, which certainly sounds reasonable enough. For if it is indeed true that they were written for our encouragement: would there not be a means of reinforcement in place{9}?

Be assured, however, that it goes much deeper than that. For the true Word Of God is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself{10}; and He had His Holy Scriptures written to serve as written confirmation of what He wants to personally reveal unto each and every one of us, on an individual basis and without exception{11}.

Oh my, does this not change everything? For instead of Romans 10:8 being just about Scripture: it would be about the Lord Jesus Christ{12}!!!

Yes, it would be different if we really were as much “on our own” in this world as what has been so widely taught{13}. For what other source of inspiration would there be?

Therein lies a problem—does it not? For who could really be sure that the Bible is anymore true than any of the other texts that are held to be sacred by millions upon millions of others if it was not for the witness of our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit{14}???

Yes, there is something to be said for tradition. For it naturally makes a great deal of sense unto us that a belief system would not be around very long if there was not anything unto it; but do not the others also have their own venerated traditions???

Alas, woe be it unto us all if there is really not a way to be absolutely sure. For who can truly leave this world in peace without such knowledge and understanding{15}???

[{1}Revelation 19:13; {2}John 5:39-40 NIV; {3}2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV; {4}2 Timothy 3:16-17 NAS; {5}1 Corinthians 2:14; {6}Philippians 2:13; {7}Luke 24:45 AMP; {8}John 5:45-47; {9}Romans 15:4; {10}John 1:1; {11}John 16:13-15; {12}1 Corinthians 1:20-25; {13}2 Timothy 4:2-4; {14}1 Corinthians 12:3; {15}Ephesians 1:13-14]


For God [does reveal His will; He] speaks not only once, but more than once, even though men do not regard it [including you, Job]. [One may hear God’s voice] in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while slumbering upon the bed; then He opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction [terrifying them with warnings] that He may withdraw man from his purpose, and cut off pride from him [disgusting him with his own disappointing self-sufficiency]. {Job 33:14-17 AMP}
Be assured that our Heavenly Father still speaks{1}. For He truly is the same today as He always has been and will be forever and ever{2}. AMEN!!!

Be also assured that I KNOW that this is indeed true{3}. For I have heard His voice before{4}; and I still do{5}.

In fact: even now He is speaking unto me as I struggle to put into words what cannot be adequately expressed in words{6}—naturally speaking, of course. For the only thing that I am really doing is holding a pen{7}.

Alas, there are times when it flows like a river{8}; and then there are times when it does not{9}. The end result remains the same, however{10}.

No, it is not that there is this booming voice coming out of a storm{11}; nor am I hearing a whisper on the wind{12}. For it is through my thoughts that I can hear Him speaking{13}.

That is the way it usually is; but I have also been allowed and enabled to actually hear our Heavenly Father’s “audible” voice (as in: coming from outside of myself) on a number of occasions{14}. For I have had many doubts{15}.

Furthermore: I have been allowed and enabled to experience dreams that were vivid enough to be thought of as visions. For it was as if I was actually there{16}.

Yes, there is a difference between visions and dreams. For visions are experienced while awake{17}; but let us resist the temptation to get “technical” about things when it really does not matter either way{18}.

[{1}Hebrews 3:7-19; {2}Malachi 3:6; {3}Galatians 1:11-12; {4}Jeremiah 1:5-10; {5}Psalm 119:105; {6}Isaiah 55:8-9; {7}2 Peter 3:15-16; {8}John 7:38; {9}2 Corinthians 4:7; {10}2 Corinthians 4:5-6; {11}Job 38:1; {12}1 Kings 19:12; {13}John 14:16-17; {14}1 Samuel 3:4-10; {15}1 Corinthians 10:13; {16}Genesis 28:10-19; {17}Acts 10:9-16; {18}1 Corinthians 3:3]


“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” {Revelation 3:22 NAS}
Apart from some radical factions: it is generally assumed that everyone has an ear to hear; but that is about as far as it gets for most. For who wants to admit that they have never heard His voice; but if this is indeed true: how can they be so sure that they have not???

No, it should not be assumed that everyone has an ear to hear. For as it is with everything else about our Heavenly Father’s spiritual gifts: it all depends upon what He wants to accomplish in and through someone that determines when and unto what extent they are allowed and enabled to hear what He has to say{1}.

Nonetheless: are there not many references made about having a “gut feeling” about something? Perhaps you have had one yourself???

How about all that is said about one’s “inner voice”? Could it be that these are just borrowed lines from an ancient sonnet or could it be that there really is something unto it???

Scientific research has even been conducted upon the “phenomenon” of certain twins having a special “bond” between them; and are there not times when someone will have a “thought” about something at the very same time as another in their midst? Surely there is more than genetics and environmental influences at play.

No, this is not to suggest that every thought and feeling that we may have is a message from God{2}; but it has been given unto me to say that it would do us all well to want to get more “in-tune” with ourselves. For our Heavenly Father is much “nearer” unto us all than what most would dare to even consider{3}.

Utter nonsense? Perhaps; but if it is indeed true that we were all created to be His children by faith{4}: why would He not want to have a great personal interest in every aspect of our daily lives? After all: is this not what is “naturally” expected of our earthly parents; and are not our Heavenly Father’s ways much higher than their’s{5}???

Not buying it? Well, consider this: Casting the whole of your care—all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all—on Him; for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully [Ps. 55:22].{6}

No, you do not have to take “my” word for it. For it is for such a purpose as this that our Heavenly Father’s Holy Scriptures were given{7}; but where have all the Bereans gone{8}???

Yes, the points and counter-points about this matter could make for quite a ping-pong match; and to be perfectly honest about it: I would have been leading the charge against such “religious” heresy in my younger days. For I was raised to believe that all anyone ever needed was a good church where the Bible was preached without compromise; but then everything changed{9}.

Alas, maybe I have spent too many hours alone. For no one in their “right-mind”{10} would ever even consider the possibility (let alone: actually accept) that it was the Lord God Almighty who was singing unto them when Styx’s “Fooling Yourself” would come on the radio during times of great trial and tribulation; but unto those who have been given ears to hear what I have been given to say about this: For with God nothing shall be impossible{11} will never be the same as before unto them—regardless of whether they want to believe any of this “stuff” or not.

[{1}1 Corinthians 12:11; {2}1 John 4:1; {3}Romans 10:8; {4}John 1:12-13; {5}Isaiah 55:8-9; {6}1 Peter 5:7 AMP; {7}2 Timothy 3:16-17; {8}Acts 17:11; {9}2 Corinthians 5:17; {10}1 Corinthians 2:6-16; {11}Luke 1:37 KJV]


You see the world through your cynical eyes
You're a troubled young man I can tell
You've got it all in the palm of your hand
But your hand's wet with sweat and your head needs a rest
And you're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
You're kidding yourself if you don't believe it
Why must you be such an angry young man
When your future looks quite bright to me
How can there be such a sinister plan
That could hide such a lamb, such a caring young man
You're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
You're kidding yourself if you don't believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You're the one they can't beat and you know it
Come on, let's see what you've got
Just take your best shot and don't blow it
You're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
You're killing yourself if you don't believe it
Get up, get back on your feet
You're the one they can't beat and you know it
Come on, let's see what you've got
Just take your best shot and don't blow it
{Lyrics “Borrowed” From:}

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: The Sum Of Our Fears

“I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” {John 21:18-19 NIV}

Be assured that this also applies unto the kind of lives that we are to live in this world. For we are all led down paths that we would not naturally want to go down{1}.

The Prophet Jonah stands as a good example of that. For he certainly did not want to go to Nineveh{2}.

Yes, it could be argued that the wayward prophet brought all of his misery down upon himself by being disobedient; but can the same be said of the Prophet Ezekiel? Be assured that it cannot; and yet: The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes. Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. Keep your turban fastened and your sandals on your feet; do not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food of mourners.” So I spoke to the people in the morning, and in the evening my wife died. The next morning I did as I had been commanded. Then the people asked me, “Won't you tell us what these things have to do with us?” So I said to them, “The word of the LORD came to me: Say to the house of Israel, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am about to desecrate my sanctuary—the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection. The sons and daughters you left behind will fall by the sword. And you will do as I have done. You will not cover the lower part of your face or eat the customary food of mourners. You will keep your turbans on your heads and your sandals on your feet. You will not mourn or weep but will waste away because of your sins and groan among yourselves. Ezekiel will be a sign to you; you will do just as he has done. When this happens, you will know that I am the Sovereign LORD.”{3}

Special circumstances? I would think so; but if one life is just as important as another unto our Heavenly Father{4}: are we not all living under special circumstances in this world{5}?

No, it is not that I have some sort of a great desire to sully the glory of our Heavenly Father; but many do—albeit unintentionally. For by denying that He has anything to do with this or that: they portray Him to be far less than He absolutely is. Whereas what He has given me to say boldly declares: I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.{6}

Alas, is it not time to come out of the darkness of spiritual ignorance{7}. For what good can come from insisting that all of our problems are of our own making when there is absolutely nothing that we can do about them{8}?

No, that is not what most want to hear{9}. For it sounds oh so very noble to take full responsibility for our actions{10}.

Moreover: there could be no self-righteousness without personal responsibility. For when we make that vow to do better: in whom are we really depending upon to make it happen{11}?

[{1}Proverbs 16:33; {2}Jonah 1:1-4:11; {3}Ezekiel 24:15-24 NIV; {4}Ezekiel 18:32; {5}Romans 8:20; {6}Isaiah 45:7 KJV; {7}1 John 1:5-10; {8}Zechariah 4:6; {9}2 Timothy 4:2–4; {10}Proverbs 14:12; {11}Jeremiah 17:5-7]

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Crosses To Bear

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” {Luke 9:23-26 NIV}

Back in those days: following the Lord Jesus Christ was quite a cross to bear. For it meant the total abandonment of beliefs{1} that often tore families apart{2}.

It is no easier today. For it truly is as it is written: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”{3}

There is, however, more unto it than that. Much more—be assured. For there is also the cross of having to live with who we naturally are to bear{4}.

No, that does not appear to be much of a problem at first-glance. For where sin abounds: grace abounds all the more—right{5}?

Nonetheless: there are still consequences unto our actions; and after being given a glimpse of what perfection really looks like: the more imperfect even our best becomes{6} . Hence: Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.{7}

No, it is not just in regards unto the flesh of our bodies that the passage is referring unto. For it truly is as it is also written: “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”{8}

In other words: it is what is on the inside (so to speak) that is what really counts; and woe be it unto all who have not accepted our Heavenly Father’s Holy Spirit into their hearts{9}. For there is no life apart from Him{10}; but even with the measure of grace afforded me{11}: I would still like to be a lot more like Him in the meantime{12}.

Yes, I would do well to want to follow the example that was set through the Apostle Paul. For I know just how he felt: To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.{13}

No, none of this is meant to deny that changes take place when a person becomes “born-again”{14} in the Lord Jesus Christ. For it truly is as it is written: Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh {and} new has come!{15}

In my own case: most of those changes have been in regards unto knowledge and understanding{16}. For aside from having my mouth cleansed of all foul language{17} and losing my love for drunken revelry: I am still just as naturally despicable as I ever was.

Yes, there are many who would say that it is obvious that I have never been truly born-again—certainly not in Christ!!! For it is written: Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.{18}

On the other hand: was not Romans 7:14-15 also placed into written form through the Apostle Paul; and does this passage not make it abundantly clear that he was far from perfected? Therefore: have not many been woefully deceived{19}???

Yes, there are many who have missed the point. For the absolute truth of the matter truly is: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God {did:} sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and {as an offering} for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.{20}

No, there is no danger of encouraging wickedness in this. For who in their “right-mind” would want to do what is harmful unto themselves and others—regardless of whether real of imagined{21}???

Yes, there is a big difference between thinking about something and actually doing it; and it is indeed a great blessing to be prevented from acting upon natural impulses. I would still like to be a lot more like my Heavenly Father while I wait for my own time as a part of this world to come unto an end{22}.

Whoa, talk about coming full circle. For to truly be a follower of Christ involves participating in His sufferings; and that certainly includes waiting for all that He wants to accomplish to come to pass. For it truly is as it is written: Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.{23}

[{1}Romans 10:1-5; {2}Matthew 10:34-39; {3}John 15:18-19 NIV; {4}Romans 7:14-25; {5}Romans 5:20; {6}1 Corinthians 13:12; {7}2 Corinthians 5:1-5 NIV; {8}John 6:63 NIV; {9}John 14:15-29; {10}1 John 5:11-12; {11}Ephesians 4:7; {12}1 John 3:2; {13}2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV; {14}John 3:3; {15}2 Corinthians 5:17 AMP; {16}1 Corinthians 2:6-16; {17}Isaiah 6:5-6; {18}1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV; {19}1 Timothy 1:5-11; {20}Romans 8:1-4 NAS; {21}Romans 8:5-11; {22}Jeremiah 17:9; {23}Romans 8:17-19 NIV]

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Stages Of Development

Concerning him we have much to say, and {it is} hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes {only} of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.
{Hebrews 5:11-6:3 NAS}
To make it even more clear: When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things{1}. For the time has come to grow-up—again{2}.

No, this is not meant for everyone{3}. For it all depends upon what our Heavenly Father wants to accomplish in and through someone{4} that determines when, and unto what extent, He will allow and enable them to come into the knowledge and understanding of His absolute truth{5}.

It is, however, meant for a lot more than want it to be. For far too many are well content with the knowledge of already having everything that they need in Christ Jesus{6} without having any idea just what that really means{7}—nor having any desire to learn{8}.

No, this has nothing at all to do with earning our keep. For we are saved from receiving the just wages of our sins{9} by grace{10}: And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.{11}

On the other hand: it does have everything to do with the kind of relationship that our Heavenly Father wants to have with His children by faith{12}. For to think that there is nothing more unto it after accepting Christ Jesus as your own personal Lord and Savior is like a wife thinking that there is nothing more unto her marriage after the ceremony is completed!!!

Alas, have we not been given written confirmation of this? Yes, we certainly have been. For it truly is as it is written: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”{13}

No, this should be taken as a threat. For this is for the benefit of all concerned{14}.

It does involve some things that are naturally unsettling—be assured{15}; and not the least of these has to do with coming to terms with the realities of our situations in this world. For it truly is as it is written: I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long. He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones. He has besieged me and surrounded me with bitterness and hardship. He has made me dwell in darkness like those long dead. He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains. Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked. Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help. He drew his bow and made me the target for his arrows. He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver. I became the laughingstock of all my people; they mock me in song all day long. He has filled me with bitter herbs and sated me with gall. He has broken my teeth with gravel; he has trampled me in the dust. I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is. So I say, "My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.” I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust—there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men. To crush underfoot all prisoners in the land, to deny a man his rights before the Most High, to deprive a man of justice—would not the Lord see such things? Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both calamities and good things come?{16}

Yes, the rest of the passage goes on about being justly punished for sins{17}; and in many cases: this is exactly what is going on{18}. For there are times when we do bring more hardships down upon ourselves than would be absolutely necessary to accomplish our Heavenly Father’s purposes{19}.

Nonetheless: that does not discount the absolute truth of the matter truly being that there would not be any hardships unto our lives in this world if it was not for it being in accordance unto our Heavenly Father’s will. For it truly is as it is also written: I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.{20}

No, there is no way of getting around it. For what did all of those children (most being of His own chosen people{21}) who died in Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust do to deserve their plight?

Yes, many would argue that it was just a result of being born into a fallen world. Some would even go as far as to insist that it was because of being Jewish; but what choice did they have: either way{22}?

No, there is nothing to be gained by ignoring what has been made so very obvious{23}. In fact: there is actually much to be lost; and not just in regards unto integrity—neither{24}. For the more it is made clear that our Heavenly Father truly is responsible for ALL that happens: the more satisfaction He can receive. For it takes a very special kind of love to want to still be with someone who has done you much harm{25}.

Yes, it naturally sounds rather crass (to put it mildly); but when all that our Heavenly Father has endured{26} (even going as far as to experience the spiritual death of a full and equal part of Himself{27}) is added unto the mix: a much weightier issue must be considered. For why would He subject Himself unto all that He has (let alone: us) unless it was worth it{28}?

[{1}1 Corinthians 13:11NAS; {2}Ecclesiastes 1:9; {3}Matthew 13:10-12; {4}Ephesians 2:10; {5}1 Corinthians 2:6-16; {6}1 Corinthians 1:4-9; {7}1 Corinthians 3:1-3; {8}Luke 9:23-26; {9}Romans 6:23; {10}Ephesians 2:8-9; {11}Romans 11:6 NIV; {12}John 15:15; {13}John 15:1-8 NIV; {14}Jeremiah 29:11; {15}John 15:18-25; {16}Lamentations 3:1-38 NIV; {17}Lamentations 3:39-66; {18}Colossians 3:25; {19}James 1:2-4; {20}Isaiah 45:5-7 KJV; {21}Genesis 17:1-21; {22}Job 5:7; {23}Luke 12:1-3; {24}Matthew 25:14-30; {25}Job 1:21-22; {26}Genesis 6:6-7; {27}Matthew 27:46; {28}Romans 8:15-39]

Friday, November 9, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Mysterious Ways

Wives, {be subject} to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself {being} the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives {ought to be} to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also {does} the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. {Ephesians 5:22-32 NAS}
By definition: a mystery is something inexplicable; and that certainly applies unto our Heavenly Father’s ways—especially in regards unto how they look from our own very limited ground-based points-of-view. For they truly are much much higher than our own{1}.

Ephesians 5:22-32 serves as written confirmation of just how true this is. For most (from amongst us) would not really care all that much (if any at all) about the particulars involved: just as long they received what they wanted to out of a relationship. Whereas: the kind of love that our Heavenly Father wants to receive from us is one that is based upon genuine affection—not DNA{2}, nor necessity{3}.

Alas, is this not the reason for why He chose to partially{4} hide Himself from our sight{5}? For who from amongst us would be able to truly love Him as He wants to be loved if we could see Him in all of His most awesome glory as we now are{6}? After all: would not some be motivated by fear{7}; and others: by greed{8}?

No, this is not to deny that we were created to be His children by faith. For it truly is as it is written: The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God{9}.

Neither is this meant to take anything away from the kind of a relationship that should exist between a parent and their child. For to honor our parents is as to honor our Heavenly Father{10}; and parents should cherish their children as being precious gifts from Him{11}.

Nonetheless: the relationship between a husband and his wife is meant to reach a level of intimacy that goes far beyond that of a parent and their child. Hence: …but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.{12}

Yes, this is the way that it has always been meant to be{13}. After all: do you think that it is just a matter of something being lost in translation that the children of Israel are referred unto as being adulterous{14}; and if that is not enough: what about the example that was given through Hosea? For it truly is as it is written: When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.”{15}

[{1}Isaiah 55:8-9; {2}John 1:12-13; {3}Revelation 20:11-15; {4}Romans 1:18-20; {5}Isaiah 45:15; {6}1 Corinthians 13:9-12; {7}Job 40:1-7; {8}2 Corinthians 2:17; {9}Romans 8:16 NAS; {10}Ephesians 6:1-3; {11}Psalm 127:1-5; {12}Genesis 2:20-24 NAS; {13}Hebrews 13:8; {14}Ezekiel 6:8-10; {15}Hosea 1:2 NIV]

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Somewhere In Between

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him. {Hebrews 9:27-28 NAS}

No, not everyone in the Christian community{1} humbly accepts{2} that there are only two places that we can go after our own time as a part of this world comes unto an end{3}. For they have been led to believe{4} that there is also “Purgatory”, which is supposed to be where those who have not “knowingly”{5} committed a “mortal sin”{6} can go to do whatever they need to do so that they can eventually enter into our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom of Heaven{7}.

Yes, there would be good reason for us all to pay close attention unto what has been taught about Purgatory if it really was expected of us to prove ourselves as being worthy of our Heavenly Father’s favor{8}. For it truly is as it is written: The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.{9}

However, since our Heavenly Father has known since the beginning what would be in the end{10}: it should be rather obvious{11} that there has never been a need for such a place as Purgatory is supposed to be like to exist{12}. After all, how can anything be proven unto the One{13} who already knows everything about everything{14}???

Yes, it could be argued that any stopover in Purgatory would not be so much about proving oneself as it would be more about completing all of the necessary requirements{15}; but to make such an assertion is (in effect) the same as to accuse our Heavenly Father of being a liar{16}—be assured{17}!!! For He promises that: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.{18}

Alas, there are some who would still point to the verses in our Heavenly Father’s Holy Bible that refer unto souls not being left in “Hell”{19} as being sufficient proof in (and of) itself that Purgatory does indeed exist—even if only as another part of the place{20}; but in what way would a change in location really change anything??? For either the Lord Jesus Christ paid the price in full that was required to redeem all of us from having to pay for all of our own many many transgressions of His Law ourselves or He did not{21}; and if He did, then the truth about us being accepted into our Heavenly Father’s Kingdom of Heaven as heirs unto all that is His in glory{22} would have to be that: It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.{23} For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.{24}

Yes, many would argue that grace can only go so far{25}. For it is the way of this world that nothing comes for free; but if it is by grace—His unmerited favor and graciousness—it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace—it would be meaningless.{26}

[{1}Matthew 7:21; {2}2 Corinthians 5:7; {3}Revelation 20:11-15; {4}2 Timothy 2:24-26; {5}1 Timothy 1:13; {6}Proverbs 6:16-19; {7}1 Timothy 4:1-5; {8}Ecclesiastes 3:18; {9}Psalm 14:2-3 NIV; {10}Isaiah 46:10; {11}John 8:12; {12}Matthew 6:7-8; {13}1 John 5:8; {14}Matthew 6:5-8; {15}Romans 10:1-4; {16}1 John 5:9-12; {17}John 14:15-27; {18}Romans 8:1-4 NAS; {19}Psalm 16:10; {20}Deuteronomy 32:22; {21}Hebrews 10:1-18; {22}Romans 8:17; {23}Romans 9:16 NIV; {24}Ephesians 2:8-10 NAS; {25}Isaiah 55:8-9; {26}Romans 11:6 AMP]

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Some Choice

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. {Romans 8:20-21 NIV}
No, none of us are given a choice of whether or not we want to be physically born into this world as we naturally are; and if what is of this world was all that there would ever be unto our existence: outrage would be most justified. For it truly is as it is written: The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem: "Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher. "Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless." What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, "Look! This is something new"? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow. I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven. What a heavy burden God has laid on men! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted. I thought to myself, "Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me; I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge." Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind. For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief{1}.

On the other hand: we are given a choice of whether or not we want to be one of our Heavenly Father’s children by faith; and with this comes a promise of much glory. For it truly is as it is also written: I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us{2}.

Therefore: let us not tarry. For unless it is personally revealed{3}: no one knows when their own end of this world will come to pass{4}—let alone: when it will be too late{5}.

Yes, this is a choice that is needed to be made. For only those who truly want to spend all of eternity with our Heavenly Father in His Kingdom of Heaven as an heir unto all that is His in glory will be welcome to do so after their own time as a part of this world has come unto an end{6}.

No, it is not good enough just to want to escape eternal damnation. For to think in such a way as this is (in effect) the same as to think that it would be better to be a member of a family (any family) than to be alone{7}.

In other words: the choice that we are given to make is personal—both for our Heavenly Father and ourselves. For it has always been His desire for as many as will to want to be one of His children by faith{8}.

No, this world has never been about giving us opportunities to prove ourselves as being worthy of our Heavenly Father’s favor. How could it be? For aside from being a work of His hands{9}: He has known everything that there will ever be to know about each and every one of us since before we even came into existence{10}.

It is, however, about giving our Heavenly Father opportunities to receive love that is freely given from us all. Hence: the real choice that we are all given to make{11}.

[{1}Ecclesiastes 1:1-18 NIV; {2}Romans 8:20 NIV; {3}Luke 2:25-35; {4}Ecclesiastes 8:7; {5}Matthew 25:1-13; {6}Revelation 20:11-15; {7}Romans 8:15-17; {8}John 1:12-13; {9}Philippians 2:13; {10}Jeremiah 1:5; {11}1 Timothy 1:5]

Bitter/Sweets: The Wrath Of God

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. {Romans 1:18-20 NIV}
Alas, is it not any wonder that our Heavenly Father would get so angry at those who do not want to even acknowledge His existence—let alone: accept Him as truly being their own Heavenly Father. For instead of just saying that He loves them enough to die for them: our Heavenly Father went ahead and actually did it by sending a full and equal part of Himself to suffer and die upon that cruel, cruel Roman cross at Calvary in order to pay the price in full that was required to redeem all of us from having the face the penalty of our sins{1}.

No, that is not something that is taken into account; and this is something that needs to change. For it would portray our Heavenly Father in a much better light if it was much more widely taught that the absolute truth of the matter truly is that the wrath that will poured-out upon the ungodly, come Judgment Day{2}, has so much more to do with the anguish of a broken heart (His heart: to be exact{3}) than it does with righteous indignation{4}.

Yes, from our own very limited ground-based points-of-view{5}: that sounds rather petty. For who from amongst has the right to think of another: “If I cannot have them, then no one else will”???

On the other hand: it is not the same with our Heavenly Father as it is with us. For even in the case of an earthly parent and their child: they do not have the right to do away with them because they actually belong unto Him{6}; and we are all the work of His hands{7}.

In other words: we were all created by Him for Him{8}. Therefore: our Heavenly Father has the right to do with us as He wills{9}.

Nonetheless: let us not dwell upon the threat of destruction{10}. For we were all created to spend all of eternity with our Heavenly Father in His Kingdom of Heaven as heirs unto all that is His in glory{11}!!!

[{1}Romans 5:6-11; {2}Revelation 20:11-15; {3}Jeremiah 3:12-13; {4}Genesis 6:5-7; {5}Isaiah 55:8-9; {6}Psalm 139:13-16; {7}Isaiah 64:8; {8}Colossians 1:16; {9}Isaiah 29:15-16; {10}1 John 4:16-19; {11}Romans 8:15-21]

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: The Descent???

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) {Ephesians 4:8-10 KJV}
The answer unto the question proposed is a resounding yes unto many. For they have been led to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ did indeed descend into Hell during the time between His crucifixion and resurrection in order to set all of His children by faith free from shackles of death.

This is a doctrine that is based upon 1 Peter 3:18-20. For it is written: For Christ also died for sins once for all, {the} just for {the} unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits {now} in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through {the} water.{1}

Add Revelation 1:18 unto the mix; and there appears to be little that can be said unto the contrary. For how could Christ Jesus hold the keys of Hell and death{2} unless He went down there and got them???

On the other hand: is this not to look at things from a very limited point-of-view{3}? For if it can be accepted that the water that flowed from the rock in the desert for the children of Israel during their exodus from Egypt{4} came from the Lord Jesus Christ{5}: how could it be so hard to accept that He was the One who went and made proclamation unto those who are NOW in prison—albeit through His Holy Spirit in Noah???

No, it is not the intent of what I have been given to say (nor that of my own personal desires) to unfairly demean, embarrass, nor insult anyone in anyway for whatever they may have come to accept as being the truth about anything; but did He not suffer enough{6} without having to also go down into the pit of Hell{7}? For the anguish that He subjected Himself unto{8} was more than what any of us can even start to naturally comprehend—be assured{9}.

Yes, it can be argued that it was surely a joy for Him to display His power over the forces of darkness{10} by taking the keys of Hell and death from Satan; but have they not been in His hands all along{11}—albeit in the hands of our Heavenly Father? For it truly is as it is written: "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him."{12}

[{1}1Peter 3:18-20 NAS; {2}Revelation 1:18; {3}1 Corinthians 2:6-16; {4}Exodus 17:1-7; {5}1 Corinthians 10:1-5; {6}Ezekiel 18:4; {7}Mark 9:43-48; {8}John 10:18; {9}Luke 22:42-44; {10}John 14:30; {11}Revelation 13:8; {12}Luke 12:4-5 NIV]

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: The Price

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. {Romans 6:23 NAS}
It is a principle that should not be foreign unto any of us. For when someone breaks a law it is said that they owe a debt unto society.

Be assured that it is the same with our Heavenly Father’s Law. For when it is broken: a debt is owed unto Him{1}.

In fact: it is for this reason that the laws of this world were established. For they were given to prepare us for judgment{2}.

Some judgment—huh? For even the slightest indiscretion carries with it the penalty of spiritual death{3}.

Yes, it was established in our Heavenly Father’s Law that a sacrificial offering for the atonement of sins could be made; but even during those days: it was understood that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to wash away sins{4}. For it truly is as it is written: Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; {Then} my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.{5}

Therefore: any pretense of saving ourselves is pure folly. For if the price to be paid is spiritual death: then only spiritual death can pay the debt; and after you are dead: you are dead{6}!!!

Therefore: are we not all in need of a Savior; and do we not have One in our Heavenly Father’s only begotten Son{7}? For it truly is as it is also written: For the Law, since it has {only} a shadow of the good things to come {and} not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? But in those {sacrifices} there is a reminder of sins year by year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, "SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND {sacrifices} FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. "THEN I SAID, 'BEHOLD, I HAVE COME (IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.'" After saying above, "SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND {sacrifices} FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE {in them}" (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, "BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL." He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying, "THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THEM AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS UPON THEIR HEART, AND ON THEIR MIND I WILL WRITE THEM," {He then says,} "AND THEIR SINS AND THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE." Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer {any} offering for sin.{8}

In other words: our Heavenly Father’s only begotten Son, who truly is the Lord Jesus Christ{9}, paid the price in full that was required under His Law by offering Himself up to be crucified{10} upon that cruel, cruel{11} Roman cross at Calvary{12}; and all who will place their hope in Him shall never be put to shame{13}. For nothing has ever been truer than what is written: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”{14}

Yes, our Heavenly Father could have just issued a general pardon; but in doing so: He would have been (in effect) declaring that His Law was meaningless and not worth upholding. For in the case of a pardon: the penalty of the crime is set aside.

No, that was not something that our Heavenly Father was willing to do. For His Law is not meaningless{15}; and it is most certainly worth upholding{16}.

Nonetheless: let us not get caught-up in legalities{17}. For it was in order to prove just how much our Heavenly Father truly loves us that His Law was fulfilled instead of merely being set aside: For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath {of God} through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.{18}

Yes, it would be different if it was all for show; but it was not— be assured. For in order for the Lord Jesus Christ to truly pay the price that was required: He had to spiritually die; and for those few moments when He was truly separated from the love of our Heavenly Father: They{19} were all in absolute agony{20}.

[{1}Ezekiel 18:4; {2}Romans 13:1-7; {3}James 2:10; {4}Hebrews 10:4; {5}Psalm 51:14-17 AMP; {6}Psalm 49:7-9; {7}1 John 5:9-12; {8}Hebrews 10:1-18 AMP; {9}Matthew 3:13-17; {10}Hebrews 9:11-15; {11}Isaiah 52:13-53:12; {12}John 19:16-30; {13}Isaiah 45:17; {14}John 3:16-18 NAS; {15}1 Timothy 1:8-11; {16}Matthew 5:17-18; {17}Matthew 5:19-20; {18}Romans 5:6-11 NAS; {19}1 John 5:8; {20}Matthew 27:45-54]

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Bitter/Sweets: Law And Disorder

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one {point,} he has become guilty of all. {James 2:10 NAS}
No, it is not at all true that we are really nothing more than puppets on our Heavenly Father’s string. For how could we be found guilty of breaking His Law if it was not by our own actions that it was broken{1}?

Nonetheless: it would not be all that far-fetched to think of the reality of our situation in this world as having been given enough rope to hang ourselves{2}. That is: at least not from our own very limited ground-based points-of-view{3}. For our Heavenly Father could have created us just as invulnerable unto the temptations of sin as He absolutely is{4}.

On the other hand: it would be better if we did not, of course. For it is truly is as it is written: For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God {did:} sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and {as an offering} for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.{5}

Is this to say that our Heavenly Father’s Law failed to meet its objective? MAY IT NEVER BE!!! For it truly is as it is also written: So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.{6}

In other words: we (as in: all of mankind) have been in need of a Savior ever since sin entered into this world through the disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden{7}; but before the Law was given through Moses{8}: sin was not generally taken into account as being unlawful by mankind{9}. Therefore: the Law was given in order to make it easier for us to see just how desperately in need of a Savior we naturally are{10}.

Yes, much of that certainly appears to support the notion that we are all born into sin; but be assured that to believe in such a way as this is to miss the point. For being physically born into a world full of sin is not the same as to be born sinful{11}!!!

[{1}Colossians 3:25; {2}Romans 7:14-25; {3}Colossians 3:2; {4}James 1:13-15; {5}Romans 8:3-4 NAS; {6}Romans 5:18-21 NAS; {7}Genesis 3:1-15; {8}John 1:17; {9}Romans 5:12-14; {10}1 Timothy 1:8-11; {11}Ezekiel 18:20]