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Author Archives: Gary E. Davenport

About Gary E. Davenport

Christian man, husband, father, father-in-law, and granddaddy

10 Reasons to Believe in a God who allows suffering


Suffering Comes With the Freedom to Choose.
Loving parents long to protect their children from unnecessary pain. But wise parents know the danger of over-protection. They know that the freedom to choose is at the heart of what it means to be human, and that a world without choice would be worse than a world without pain. Worse yet would be a world populated by people who could make wrong choices without feeling any pain. No one is more dangerous than the liar, thief or killer who doesn’t feel the harm he is doing to himself and to others (Genesis 2:15-17).

Pain Can Warn Us of Danger.
We hate pain, especially in those we love. Yet without discomfort, the sick wouldn’t go to a doctor. Worn-out bodies would get no rest. Criminals wouldn’t fear the law. Children would laugh at correction. Without pangs of conscience, the daily dissatisfaction of boredom or the empty longing for significance, people who are made to find satisfaction in an eternal Father would settle for far less. The example of Solomon, lured by pleasure and taught by his pain, shows us that even the wisest among us tend to drift from good and from God until arrested by the resulting pain of our own shortsighted choices (Ecclesiastes 1-12; Psalm 78:34-35; Romans 3:10-18).

Suffering Reveals What Is in Our Hearts.
Suffering often occurs at the hand of others. But it has a way of revealing what is in our own hearts. Capacities for love, mercy, anger, envy and pride can lie dormant until awakened by circumstances. Strength and weakness of heart are found not when everything is going our way but when flames of suffering and temptation test the mettle of our character. As gold and silver are refined by fire, and as coal needs time and pressure to become a diamond, the human heart is revealed and developed by enduring the pressure and heat of time and circumstance. Strength of character is shown not when all is well with our world but in the presence of human pain and suffering (Job 42:1-17; Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-5; 1 Peter 1:6-8).

Suffering Takes Us to the Edge of Eternity.
If death is the end of everything, then a life filled with suffering isn’t fair. But if the end of this life brings us to the threshold of eternity, then the most fortunate people in the universe are those who discover, through suffering, that this life is not all we have to live for. Those who find themselves and their eternal God through suffering have not wasted their pain. They have let their poverty, grief and hunger drive them to the Lord of eternity. They are the ones who will discover to their own unending joy why Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3, NIV; see also Romans 8:18-19).

Pain Loosens Our Grip on This Life.
In time, our work and our opinions are sought less and less. Our bodies become increasingly worse for the wear. Gradually they succumb to inevitable obsolescence. Joints stiffen and ache. Eyes grow dim. Digestion slows. Sleep becomes difficult. Problems loom larger and larger while options narrow. Yet, if death is not the end but the threshold of a new day, then the curse of old age is also a blessing. Each new pain makes this world less inviting and the next life more appealing. In its own way, pain paves the way for a graceful departure (Ecclesiastes 12:1-14).

 Suffering Gives Opportunity to Trust God.
The most famous sufferer of all time was a man named Job. According to the Bible, Job lost his family to war, his wealth to wind and fire, and his health to painful boils. Through it all, God never told Job why it was happening. As Job endured the accusations of his friends, heaven remained silent. When God finally did speak, He did not reveal that His archenemy Satan had challenged Job’s motives for serving God. Neither did the Lord apologize for allowing Satan to test Job’s devotion to God. Instead, God talked about mountain goats giving birth, young lions on the hunt and ravens in the nest. He cited the behavior of the ostrich, the strength of the ox and the stride of the horse. He cited the wonders of the heavens, the marvels of the sea and the cycle of the seasons. Job was left to conclude that if God had the power and wisdom to create this physical universe, there was reason to trust that same God in times of suffering (Job 1-42).

 God Suffers With Us in Our Suffering.
No one has suffered more than our Father in heaven. No one has paid more dearly for the allowance of sin into the world. No one has so continuously grieved over the pain of a race gone bad. No one has suffered like the One who paid for our sin in the crucified body of His own Son. No one has suffered more than the One who, when He stretched out His arms and died, showed us how much He loved us. It is this God who, in drawing us to Himself, asks us to trust Him when we are suffering and when our own loved ones cry out in our presence (1 Peter 2:21; 3:18; 4:1).

 God’s Comfort Is Greater Than Our Suffering.
The apostle Paul pleaded with the Lord to take away an unidentified source of suffering. But the Lord declined, saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” “Therefore,” said Paul, “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” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Paul learned that he would rather be with Christ in suffering than without Christ in good health and pleasant circumstances.

 In Times of Crisis, We Find One Another.
No one would choose pain and suffering. But when there is no choice, there remains some consolation. Natural disasters and times of crisis have a way of bringing us together. Hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, riots, illnesses and accidents all have a way of bringing us to our senses. Suddenly we remember our own mortality and that people are more important than things. We remember that we do need one another and that, above all, we need God.

Each time we discover God’s comfort in our own suffering, our capacity to help others is increased. This is what the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

 God Can Turn Suffering Around for Our Good.
This truth is best seen in the many examples of the Bible. Through Job’s suffering we see a man who not only came to a deeper understanding of God but who also became a source of encouragement for people in every generation to follow. Through the rejection, betrayal, enslavement and wrongful imprisonment of a man named Joseph, we see someone who eventually was able to say to those who had hurt him, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

When everything in us screams at the heavens for allowing suffering, we have reason to look at the eternal outcome and joy of Jesus who in His own suffering on an executioner’s cross cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

You’re not alone if the unfairness and suffering of life leaves you unconvinced that a God in heaven cares for you. But consider again the suffering of the One called by the prophet Isaiah “a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3). Think about His slashed back, His bloodied forehead, His nail-ripped hands and feet, His pierced side, His agony in the Garden and His pathetic cry of abandonment. Consider Christ’s claim that He was suffering not for His sins but for ours. To give us the freedom to choose, He lets us suffer. But He Himself bore the ultimate penalty and pain for all our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24).

When you do see the reason for His suffering, keep in mind that the Bible says Christ died to pay the price for our sins, and that those who believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). The forgiveness and eternal life Christ offers is not a reward for effort but a gift to all who, in light of the evidence, put their trust in Him.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in Doctrine

 

10 Reasons to Believe in Christ rather than religion


God never asks us to be religious; He asks us to believe in His Son. So why have human beings turned God’s simple offer into something convoluted—and despairingly difficult?

Christ Is Someone to Know and Trust. Christ is more than a system, tradition or belief. He is a Person who knows our needs, feels our pain and sympathizes with our weakness. In exchange for our trust, He offers to forgive our sins, intercede for us and bring us to His Father. He cried for us, died for us and rose from the dead to show that He was all He claimed to be. Conquering death, He showed us that He can save us from our sins, live His life through us on earth and bring us safely to heaven. He offers Himself as a gift to anyone who will trust Him (John 20:24-31).

Religion Is Something to Believe and Do. Religion is believing in God, attending religious services, tradition, ritual, ceremony, and learning the difference between right and wrong. Religion is reading and memorizing Scripture, offering prayers, and giving to the poor. Religion helping the poor and making amends for past wrongs. Religion is something that was practiced by the Pharisees, those Scripture-loving, conservative, separatist, spiritual leaders who hated Christ enough to call for His death. They hated Him not only because He broke their traditions in order to help people (Matthew 15:1-9), but also because He saw through their religion to their hearts.  

Religion Doesn’t Change Hearts. Jesus likened the religious Pharisees to a group of dishwashers who clean the outside of a cup while leaving the inside dirty. He said, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?” (Luke 11:39,40, NIV). Jesus knew that a person can change his image without changing his act (Matthew 23:1-3). He knew that religious credentials and ceremony cannot change the heart. He told one of the most religious men of His day that unless a person is “born again” by the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Yet from that day until now, many of the most religious people in the world continue to forget that while religion can give attention to outward appearance, only Christ can change the heart.  

Religion Makes Much of Little. Jesus spoke to religionists who had a passion for detail when He said, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone” (Luke 11:42). Jesus saw our tendency to make rules and to focus on “morally correct” behavior instead of keeping our eyes on the bigger issue of why we are trying to be so right. While the Pharisees were big on knowledge carried out to its logical conclusions, they forgot that God doesn’t care how much we know until He knows how much we care. It was this greater “why” that the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal…If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1,3, NIV).  

Religion Offers the Approval of Men Rather Than God. Jesus reserved His strongest criticism for religious people who used their spiritual reputation to get social attention and honors. To such religionists Jesus said, “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces” (Luke 11:43). Then, speaking to His disciples, He said of the Pharisees, “Everything they do is done for men to see” (Matthew 23:5). Jesus saw clearly into the practice of religion, which holds the opinions and attention of man to be more important and desirable than the approval of God.  

Religion Makes Hypocrites of Us. Jesus said, “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it” (Luke 11:44). What looks better than being dressed right, attending religious services and doing things that mark us as decent, God-fearing people? Yet how many religious scholars, ministers and faithful followers withhold honor and encouragement from their wives, attention from their children and love from their doctrinal enemies? Jesus knew what we often forget: What looks good may have a heart of evil.  

Religion Makes a Hard Life Harder. Because religion cannot change a heart, it tries to control people with laws and expectations that are not even kept by the religionists who interpret and apply the rules. With this “burden factor” in mind, Jesus said, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them” (Luke 11:46). Religion is good at describing high standards of right behavior and relationships, but poor at giving real and merciful help to those who realize they have not lived up to those expectations.

Religion Makes It Easy to Deceive Ourselves. It’s been jokingly said, “I love humanity. It’s people I can’t stand.” The Pharisees acted out a similar idea, but it wasn’t funny. According to Jesus, the Pharisees prided themselves in honoring and building memorials to the prophets. The irony is that when they met a real prophet they wanted to kill Him. Barclay says, “The only prophets they admired were dead prophets; when they met a living one, they tried to kill Him. They honored the dead prophets with tombs and memorials, but they dishonored the living ones with persecution and death.” This is the point Jesus made in Luke 11:47-51 and in a parallel passage in Matthew 23:29-32. The Pharisees had fooled themselves. They didn’t think of themselves as prophet-killers. Religionists don’t see themselves as the God-rejecting people they are.  

Religion Hides the Key of Knowledge. One of the greatest dangers of religion is that it causes us to be a danger not only to ourselves but also to others. To the religious biblical experts of His day Jesus said, “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering” (Luke 11:52). Religionists take away “the key of knowledge” by distracting people from the Word of God and from a “right attention of heart” by the unnecessary additions of denominationally correct traditions and expectations. Rather than leading people to God, religionists shift the focus to themselves and their own rules. Religionists are those who trust the beliefs and actions of their religion to do what only Christ can do.  

Religion Leads Its Converts Astray. In Matthew 23:15 Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” Converts of religion are in double jeopardy. They bring a double enthusiasm to their new way of life, and with zeal they blindly defend their blind teachers. They put themselves in the trust of people who have exchanged a system of rules and traditions for the life, forgiveness and relationship of an infinite Savior.

Religion is important in its place (James 1:26-27), but only when it points us to the Christ who died for our sins and who now offers to live His life through those who trust Him (Galatians 2:20; Titus 3:5). You’re not alone if you are unconvinced that Christ is all He claimed to be. But keep in mind that He promised God’s help to those who have good reasons for their questions. He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17).

Here Jesus reminds us that we see things not only as they are, but as we are. If you do see the reasonableness of faith in Christ, keep in mind that the Bible says to the family of God, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works [religious efforts and accomplishments], so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The salvation Christ offers is not a reward for religious effort but a gift to all who put their trust in Him.

 

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2019 in Jesus Christ

 

10 Reasons to Believe in Life After Death


Resurrection

What happens when we die? Down through the millennia, the pious and the pagan have believed that death is but a doorway to a new journey.

The Injustices of Life.

It would be difficult to believe that life is good if we knew there was nothing beyond the grave to compensate for problems of inequality and unfairness. While some people seem destined for happiness, others are born into terrible relationships and circumstances. If we could be sure there was nothing to offset unequal distribution of suffering, many would have reason to curse the day of their birth for the way life has treated them (Job 3:1-3). We could agree with King Solomon who at a low point in his life said, 

I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun: I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter. And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3, NIV).

 Beauty and Balance.
There is much about life that doesn’t seem to correspond with personal problems of unfairness and hardship. But for all that is hurtful and unequal, there is beauty and balance. For moments of horror and violence, there are times of harmony and peace. As age-worn bodies succumb to pain and weakness, children and young animals play with carefree joy. Human art, in all of its glory, corresponds to birds in playful flight and morning song. Each sunset and dawn provides an answer to nature’s need for rest and renewal. Dark nights and cold winters come with the awareness that “this too shall pass.” If there is nothing beyond the grave, the pattern of nature is stunningly incomplete.

 Near-Death Experiences.
The clinical evidence for life after death is subjective and arguable. It’s often hard to assess the significance of “out of body experiences,” encounters with bright lights, long tunnels or angelic guides. It’s difficult to know how to respond to those who speak of temporary near-death visions into heaven or hell. What we do know is that there are enough of these kinds of experiences to create a sizable library on the subject. Taken as a whole, this body of evidence shows that as people approach death, many sense they are coming not to the end of existence but to the beginning of another journey.

 A Place in the Heart.
The human heart hungers for more than this life offers. Each of us experiences what King Solomon called “eternity in [our] hearts” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). While it is difficult to know what Solomon meant, it is apparent that he was referring to an inescapable longing for something this world cannot satisfy. It was an emptiness of soul that Solomon could not escape. For a while, he tried to fill this inner void with work, alcohol and laughter. He tried to satisfy his longings with philosophy, music and sexual relationships. But his disillusionment grew. Only when he returned to his confidence in a final judgment and afterlife could he find something large enough to satisfy his longing for significance (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

 Universal Beliefs.
While some believe it’s impossible to know whether there is life after death, belief in immortality is a timeless phenomenon. From the pyramids of the Egyptians to the reincarnation of New Age thinking, people of all times and places in history have believed that the human soul survives death. If there is no consciousness or laughter or regret beyond the grave, then life has fooled almost everyone from the Pharaohs of Egypt to Jesus of Nazareth.

 An Eternal God.
The Bible names God as the source of immortality. It describes His nature as eternal. The same Scriptures tell us that God created us in His likeness, and that His plan is to welcome His children eventually into His eternal home. The Scriptures also teach that God introduced death into human experience when our first ancestors trespassed into the darkness of forbidden territory (Genesis 3:1-19). The implication is that if God allowed the human race to live forever in a rebellious condition, we would have unending opportunity to develop into proud, self-centered creatures. Instead, God began to unfold a plan that would ultimately result in the eternal homecoming of all who chose to be at peace with Him (Psalm 90:1; John 14:1-3).

 Old Testament Predictions.
Some have argued that immortality is a New Testament idea. But the Old Testament prophet Daniel spoke of a day when those who sleep in the dust of the earth will be resurrected, some to life and some to everlasting shame (Daniel 12:1-3). An author of the Psalms also spoke of the afterlife. In Psalm 73 a man named Asaph described how he almost lost his faith in God when he considered how evil people prospered and the godly suffered. But then he said he went into the sanctuary of God. From the perspective of worship, he suddenly saw evil men standing on the slippery ground of their mortality. With new insight he confessed, “You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:24-26).

 Quotes of Christ.
Few would accuse Jesus of being an evil man or a false teacher. Even atheists and people belonging to non-Christian religions usually refer to Jesus with deference and respect. But Jesus wasn’t vague or indefinite about the reality of a continuing personal existence after death. He said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Jesus promised Paradise to the repentant thief who was dying at His side, but He also used the Valley of Hinnom-a foul garbage dump outside of Jerusalem—as a symbol of what awaits those who insist on risking the judgment of God. According to Jesus, facing the reality of life after death is the most significant issue of life. He said, for example, that if an eye keeps you from God, you have reason to get rid of that eye. “It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell” (Mark 9:47).

 The Resurrection of Christ.
There is no greater evidence for the existence of life after death than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament predicted a Messiah who would overcome sin and death for His people (Isaiah 53; Daniel 9:26). The testimony of Jesus’ followers is that He did just that. He voluntarily died at the hands of executioners, was buried in a borrowed tomb and then three days later left that tomb empty. Witnesses said that they had seen not only an empty tomb but a resurrected Christ who appeared to hundreds of people over a period of 40 days before ascending to heaven (Acts 1:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Practical Effects.
Belief in life after death is a source of personal security, optimism and spiritual betterment (1 John 3:2). Nothing offers more courage than the confidence that there is a better life for those who use the present to prepare for eternity. Belief in the unlimited opportunities of eternity has enabled many to make the ultimate sacrifice of their own life in behalf of those they love. It was His belief in life after death that enabled Jesus to say, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). It is the same truth that prompted Christian martyr Jim Elliot, who was killed in 1956 by the Auca Indians, to say, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

You’re not alone if you find yourself honestly unconvinced about life after death. But keep in mind that Jesus promised to give divine help to those who want to know the truth so as to surrender to it. He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17).

If you see the evidence for life after death, remember that the Bible says Christ died to pay the price for our sins, and that all who believe in Him will receive the gifts of forgiveness and everlasting life. The salvation Christ offers is not a reward for effort but a gift to all who in light of the evidence put their trust in Him.

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2019 in Doctrine, Evidence

 

What Every Christian Should Know About Grace – Titus 2:11-14


Titus 2:11-14: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. {12} It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, {13} while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, {14} who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

As a Christian husband/father, I appreciate so much what’s occurring in the United States:
· advertising groups are producing catchy, appealing presentations teaching our children to ‘say no’ to drugs
· there are now bans on public smoking in most places because we’re finally admitting the harm done by secondary smoke
· there’s a constant public outcry against drunk driving and many groups are trying to enact stricter laws and pressure is being put upon the court system to see that the penalties are carried out

I thank God for the progress!…though it’s only treating the symptoms of the real problem: the worship of self.

But I’ve said that to make this statement to us today: we can’t expect society “to clean itself up.”

It is, however, a role the church ought to assume, though the method might be surprising:
· we’re to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world
· and those who become Christians must bring about dramatic lifestyle changes in their lives!

A simple question: is Christianity a “yes” religion or a “no” religion? What do I mean? Do you see the requirements put upon us by Christ as mainly negative or positive?

We say “YES:”
· to God and His authority
· to Jesus Christ, as Savior and Lord of our life
· to the Bible as our only map to eternal life
· to the purpose of the church and the need to make it important in our families’ life
· to the responsibility we have as parents “to give our children back to God”

I hope we also realize that pleasing God involves both “yes” and “no.”

Matthew 12:43-45: “”When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. {44} Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. {45} Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and
live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.””

This side of grace is powerful beyond words:
· It appears to all men
· It brought the death of Christ 
· It makes those dead in sin alive in Christ.
· leads and guides us…it doesn’t throw us into confusion
· redeemed us from all wickedness
· purifies us as His people
· inspires us to the extent that we’re eager to do what’s good and right!

It teaches us what to avoid and what to follow! 

There is another side of grace, grace as it relates to the Christian, the “us” side of grace…it teaches us some truths we all need to learn:

1. GRACE TEACHES US TO LEAVE 
Jesus said, “If any one wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24).

This is not some initial act once performed that should never be considered again. It is an ongoing act! 

We must constantly deny (say NO!) to “ungodliness and worldly lust” 
· Ungodliness is a lack of reverence for the spiritual and a lack of worship and devotion that results from not living like the Lord. 
· To deny ungodliness is to strive always to avoid that which pulls you away from God. 
· This demands ongoing evaluation. Worldly lusts are those desires which lead one further from the kingdom of God.

Salvation is not only a change of position as we’re set free from the slavery of sin…it’s also a change of attitude, ambition, and action.

And if God’s gift of grace doesn’t change us, and give us a different lifestyle, then something is eternally wrong!

Anything I do that Christ wouldn’t do…or anything I do which would bring reproach upon God and the church, I must say “NO!” to it!

1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. {16} For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. {17} And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the
one who does the will of God abides forever.”

2. GRACE TEACHES US TO LIVE
We must live “under control”…..it’s a way of life. This isn’t the idea of being “in control” but being “under control.” They key is a surrender or yielding to God in a dignified, reasonable way:

· God tell us that man cannot direct his own steps
· the key to winning is losing
· to way to be first is to be last
· the way to be great is to be least
· and if we think we can control our lives, the devil smiles in hell and God weeps in heaven!

Second, we must live righteously. This is a matter of our relationship with the Lord. It’s the concept of “clothing ourselves with Christ” We’re made righteous because of the constant cleansing in the blood of Christ.

We live according to a standard…and first and foremost, God wants us to know that that He sent us a man to follow.

Third, we are to be godly. 
The idea here is to include God in all our plans…God must not be the “third man out” with the Christian. We should have a reverence, respect, worship, and devotion that moves into daily life and causes us to live as the Lord wants us to live.

When we yield, study and follow God’s Word and God’s will, we become people-centered…which leads us to ask “what does God like?” (we answer that by looking at God incarnate):
· Jesus liked little children
· Jesus liked people who innocently and completely trusted in Him
· Jesus liked to forgive prostitutes and “sinners”
· JJesusIsLordofthisWebSiteesus liked to spend much time in small groups teaching and training people
· He loved His mother
· He was willing to die for His friends but also His enemies
· He was comfortable with His friends (He could tell Martha to get out of the kitchen and spend more time with people)
· He was involved and interested in people and spent little time worrying for material things or things which would bring Him comfort

Notice the text: we’re eager to do good!

  1. GRACE TEACHES US TO LOOK
    We look for Jesus’ return. This is our blessed hope, our fulfillment. It will be a glorious appearing. We will get to see Jesus, our great God and Savior. It is a shame that we have so preached on the second coming that even Christians do not look forward to it. We must remember who is coming. He is the One who redeemed us from the lawlessness of sin and purified us as
    His own special people. Our specialty is good works. When we live by grace, the world can see our specialty.
 
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Posted by on September 19, 2019 in Doctrine

 

Marks of a Cult


Authoritarian. There is almost always a central, charismatic, living human leader who commands total loyalty and allegiance.

Oppositional. Their beliefs, practices and values are counter to those of the dominant culture.

Exclusivistic. They are the only group that possesses the “truth.”

Legalistic. Rules and regulations abound governing spiritual matters and the details of everyday living.

Subjective. They emphasize the experiential, the feelings and the emotions. This is usually accompanied by an anti-intellectualism.

Persecution-conscious. The groups feel they are being singled out by mainstream Christians, the press, parents, and the government.

Sanction-oriented. They require conformity in practice and belief, and exercise sanctions against the wayward.

Esoteric. They promote a religion of secrecy and concealment. Truth is taught on two levels, inner truth and outer truth.

Anti-sacerdotal. There are no paid clergy or professional religious functionaries.

Signs of a cult

(1) Secrecy is employed; seldom is there full disclosure.

(2) Elite leadership does all the thinking. Others follow.

(3) Followers are the only ones who possess the whole truth.

(4) Scripture is never taken at face value.

(5) Loyalty goes to a leader or a system.

(6) The concepts lack historical roots.

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2019 in counsel

 

10 Reasons to Believe Christ Rose from the Dead


Do you find the doctrine of bodily resurrection a bit of a stretch?

A Public Execution Assured His Death.

During the Jewish Feast of Passover, Jesus was swept away by an angry crowd into a Roman hall of justice. As He stood before Pilate, the governor of Judea, religious leaders accused Jesus of claiming to be the king of the Jews. The crowd demanded His death. Jesus was beaten, whipped and sentenced to a public execution. On a hill outside of Jerusalem, He was crucified between two criminals. Brokenhearted friends and mocking enemies shared in His deathwatch. As the Sabbath neared, Roman soldiers were sent to finish the execution. To quicken death, they broke the legs of the two criminals. But when they came to Jesus they did not break His legs, because they knew He was already dead. As a final precaution, however, they thrust a spear into His side. It would take more than resuscitation for Him to ever trouble them again.

 A High Official Secured the Grave site.
The next day, religious leaders again met with Pilate. They said Jesus had predicted He would rise in three days. To assure that the disciples could not conspire in a resurrection hoax, Pilate ordered the official seal of Rome to be attached to the tomb to put grave robbers on notice. To enforce the order, soldiers stood guard. Any disciple who wanted to tamper with the body would have had to get by them, which wouldn’t have been easy. The Roman guards had good reason for staying alert-the penalty for falling asleep while on watch was death.

 In Spite of Guards, the Grave Was Found Empty.
On the morning after the Sabbath, some of Jesus’ followers went to the grave to anoint His body. But when they arrived, they were surprised at what they found. The huge stone that had been rolled into place over the entrance to the tomb had been moved, and Jesus’ body was gone. As word got out, two disciples rushed to the burial site. The tomb was empty except for Jesus’ burial wrappings, which were lying neatly in place. In the meantime, some of the guards had gone into Jerusalem to tell the Jewish officials they had fainted in the presence of a supernatural being that rolled the stone away. And when they woke up, the tomb was empty. The officials paid the guards a large sum of money to lie and say that the disciples stole the body while the soldiers slept. They assured the guards that if the report of the missing body got back to the governor, they would intercede on their behalf.

 Many People Claimed to Have Seen Him Alive.
About A.D. 55, the apostle Paul wrote that the resurrected Christ had been seen by Peter, the 12 apostles, more than 500 people (many of whom were still alive at the time of his writing), James and himself (1 Corinthians 15:5-8). By making such a public statement, he gave critics a chance to check out his claims for themselves. In addition, the New Testament begins its history of the followers of Christ by saying that “after his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3, NIV).

 His Apostles Were Dramatically Changed.
When one of Jesus’ inner circle defected and betrayed Him, the other apostles ran for their lives. Even Peter, who earlier had insisted that he was ready to die for his teacher, lost heart and denied that he even knew Jesus. But the apostles went through a dramatic change. Within a few weeks, they were standing face to face with the ones who had crucified their leader. Their spirit was like iron. They became unstoppable in their determination to sacrifice everything for the One they called Savior and Lord. Even after they were imprisoned, threatened and forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus, the apostles said to the Jewish leaders, “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). After they were beaten for disobeying the orders of the Jewish council, these once-cowardly apostles “never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 5:42).

 Witnesses Were Willing to Die for Their Claims.
History is full of martyrs. Countless men and women have died for their beliefs. For that reason, it is not that significant to point out that the first disciples were willing to suffer and die for their faith. But it is significant that while many will die for what they believe to be the truth, few if any will die for what they know to be a lie. That psychological fact is important because the disciples of Christ did not die for deeply held beliefs about which they could have been honestly mistaken. They died for their claims to have seen Jesus alive and well after His resurrection. They died for their claim that Jesus Christ had not only died for their sins but had risen bodily from the dead to show that He was like no other spiritual leader who had ever lived.

Jewish Believers Changed Their Day of Worship.
The Sabbath day of rest and worship was basic to the Jewish way of life. Any Jew who did not honor the Sabbath was guilty of breaking the law of Moses. Yet Jewish followers of Christ began worshiping with Gentile believers on a new day. The first day of the week, the day on which they believed Christ had risen from the dead, replaced the Sabbath. For a Jew, it reflected a major change of life. The new day, along with baptism, declared that those who believed Christ had risen from the dead were ready for more than a renewal of Judaism. They believed that the death and resurrection of Christ had cleared the way for a new relationship with God. The new way was based not on the law, but on the sin-bearing, life-giving help of a resurrected Savior.

 Although It Was Unexpected, It Was Clearly Predicted.
The disciples were caught off guard. They expected their Messiah to restore the kingdom to Israel. Their minds were so fixed on the coming of a messianic political kingdom that they didn’t anticipate the events essential to the salvation of their souls. They must have thought Christ was speaking in symbolic language when He kept saying over and over that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem to die and be resurrected from the dead. Coming from one who spoke in parables, they missed the obvious until after it was all over. In the process, they also overlooked the prophet Isaiah’s prediction of a suffering servant who would bear the sins of Israel, being led like a lamb to the slaughter, before God “prolong[ed] his days” (Isaiah 53:10).

 It Was a Fitting Climax to a Miraculous Life.
While Jesus hung on a Roman cross, crowds mocked Him. He helped others, but could He help Himself? Was the miracle suddenly coming to an end? It seemed like such an unexpected ending for someone who began His public life by turning water into wine. During His three-year ministry, He walked on water; healed the sick; opened blind eyes, deaf ears and tongue-tied mouths; restored crippled limbs; cast out demons; stilled a violent storm; and raised the dead. He asked questions wise men couldn’t answer. He taught profound truths with the simplest of comparisons. And He confronted hypocrites with words that exposed their cover-up. If all this was true, should we be surprised that His enemies didn’t have the last word?

 It Fits the Experience of Those Who Trust Him.
The apostle Paul wrote, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:11). This was the experience of Paul, whose heart was dramatically changed by the resurrected Christ. It is also the experience of people all over the world who have “died” to their old ways so that Christ can live His life through them. This spiritual power is not evident in those who try to add belief in Christ to their old life. It is seen only in those who are willing to “die” to their old life to make room for the rule of Christ. It is apparent only in those who respond to the overwhelming evidence for Christ’s resurrection by acknowledging His lordship in their heart.

You’re not alone if you find yourself honestly unconvinced about whether Christ rose from the dead. But keep in mind that Jesus promised God’s help to those who want to be right with God. He said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17).

If you do see the reasonableness of the Resurrection, keep in mind that the Bible says Christ died to pay the price for our sins, and those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). The salvation Christ offers is not a reward for effort, but a gift to all who in light of the evidence put their trust in Him.

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2019 in Jesus Christ

 

Quiz for Couples — How’s Your Marriage?


This quiz is based on an understanding of many key studies in the field. Following the Quiz you can add up your points and use the scale to see how you are doing. You should take the scores seriously, but realize that there is a lot that the quiz doesn’t take into account about your relationship.

While these questions are based on studies that assess such things as the likelihood of a marriage working out, we would hate for any one person to take this and assume the worst about their future. Rather, we believe that the quiz can motivate high and medium- high scoring couples to take a serious look at where their marriage is heading–and take steps to turn negative patterns around for the better.

Please answer each of the following questions to see how you are doing. We recommend that you answer these questions by yourself and not share scores with your partner.

Use the following 3 point scale to rate how often you and your mate or partner experience the following:

1 = Never or almost never  2 = Once in awhile  3 = Frequently 

1 2 3 Little arguments escalate into ugly fights with accusations, criticisms, name calling, or bringing up past hurts.

1 2 3 My partner criticizes or belittles my opinions, feelings, or desires.

1 2 3 My partner seems to view my words or actions more negatively than I mean them to be.

1 2 3 When we have a problem to solve, it is like we are on opposite teams.

1 2 3 I hold back from telling my partner what I really think and feel.

1 2 3 I think seriously about what it would be like to date or marry someone else.

1 2 3 I feel lonely in this relationship.

1 2 3 When we argue, one of us withdraws, that is, doesn’t want to talk about it anymore; or leaves the scene.

Determining Your Score:
Add up your points to determine your score. (Include only your scores, do not add to your partner’s!) The ranges we suggest for the quiz are based on results from a nationwide, random phone survey of 947 people (85% married).

8 to 12 “Green Light”
If your total points is in the 8 – 12 range, your relationship is probably in good or even great shape AT THIS TIME, but we emphasize “AT THIS TIME” because relationships don’t stand still. In the next 12 months, you’ll either have a stronger, happier relationship, or you could head in the other direction. To think about it another way, it’s like you are traveling along and have come to a green light. There is no need to stop, but it is probably a great time to work on making your relationship all it can be.

13 to 17 “Yellow Light”
If you scored in the 13-17 range, it’s like you are coming to a “yellow light.” You need to be cautious. While you may be happy now in your relationship, your score reveals warning signs of patterns you don’t want to let get worse. You’ll want to be taking action to protect and improve what you have. Spending time to strengthen your relationship now could be the best thing you could do for your future together.

18 to 24 “Red Light”
Finally, if you scored in the 18-24 range, it’s like approaching a red light. Stop, and think about where the two of you are headed. Your score indicates the presence of patterns that could put your relationship at significant risk. You may be heading for trouble–or already may be there. But there is GOOD NEWS. You can stop and learn ways to improve your relationship now!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2019 in Marriage

 
 
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