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By Beth, Feb 7 2018 04:51AM


I just sent this letter to Lifeway (who is sponsoring the Together 4 the Gospel event http://t4g.org/ in April at which CJ Mahaney is scheduled to speak.)


I will let you know what/if I hear back.

————————————————————————–

Feb. 6, 2018


Hello, Lifeway.


I am a practicing Christian and currently a candidate for a Master’s degree in Ministry.


I would like to know if, after US Gymnast Rachael Denhollander’s public challenge to Sovereign Grace Ministries to hire GRACE to do a comprehensive investigation of allegations of a large-scale cover up of sexual abuse, you are planning on removing CJ Mahaney from your “Together 4 the Gospel” event if SGM does not support sexual abuse victims by allowing this investigation.


In case you are not aware of these public events, here are some websites to bring you up to date:


https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rachael-denhollander-the-church-isnt-safe-for-sexual-abuse-victims_us_5a73264ce4b06fa61b4e1574


https://www.facebook.com/OfficialDenhollander/posts/1694537600626553


https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/02/14/the-sex-abuse-scandal-that-devastated-a-suburban-megachurch-sovereign-grace-ministries/


http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/february/sovereign-grace-rachael-denhollander-sgm-abuse-ct-interview.html


http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2014/may/c-j-mahaney-joshua-harris-resign-from-gospel-coalition-sgm.html


Please advise.



By Beth, Jan 29 2018 09:17PM

(This is a homily (mini-sermon) I wrote for my ministry degree.)


In 1999, Christian author Chuck Colson published a book that asked Christians the ultimate profound and enduring question: “How now shall we live?” And indeed, that remains the fundamental question here on earth after our conversion. Today we are going to look at some verses in Exodus wherein God prepares Moses and the Hebrew people for how they should live and conduct themselves upon entering the Promise Land -- the land of their deliverance and redemption. This was the place where they were to begin a new life with a new outlook and leave a new legacy…and God had specific guidelines for how they could make that happen.


Exodus 19:3 & 4 says: And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself.


Moses was to remind the Hebrew children of the LORD’s great deeds on their behalf. God’s wrath toward the Egyptians was a reminder of His justice for the oppressed. Later, in Judges 6:9, He again reminds them: “And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drave them out from before you, and gave you their land…” Psalms 146:7 describes the character of God as one “Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners…” And truly, He did all of those things for His children in the Exodus story. And, according to the Scripture, He “bare them on eagles’ wings…” This is a metaphor; metaphors communicate concepts that cannot be expressed in literal terms. The enormity of God’s intervention on behalf of His children defies literal description, and so God uses a metaphor to indicate His sweeping deliverance of the Hebrew people from their bondage.


He established His love for them, His willingness to go to extraordinary lengths to protect and preserve them. And isn’t this the picture of a parent’s authentic love for their children?


Then, He set forth what He would (reasonably) ask of them in verse 5: (Exodus 19:5) Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine…


God wanted them to obey His voice and keep His covenant – then they should be for Him a peculiar treasure above all others. Seems simple enough, right? But what bearing does it have on us?


First, let’s begin with this: are we expected to obey His voice today? John 10:27 says: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me…” Okay, are we supposed to keep His covenant today? Well, let’s begin with the question: what is His covenant? What is He referring to here? We can find the answer later in the Scripture (keeping in mind the importance of the framework of the whole counsel of God. )


Referring to Moses, Exodus 34:28 says: And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.


Leviticus 26:15 says: And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant…


Deuteronomy 4:13 states: And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.


And Deuteronomy 9:11 reiterates: And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.


We now have clearly defined the covenant. God was preparing His children that, when they entered the Promise Land, they needed to keep the basic commandments which He was about to give to them (they come, literally, in the very next chapter.)


They are basic because they are the foundation of human decency. They are, indeed, what makes us human rather than merely a higher form of mammal. Made in the image of the Divine. Loving the Divine, and loving our neighbor in such a way that we never do them intentional harm in our daily living, nor try to gain in such a way that facilitates their demise. Jesus Christ, being at the center of our Biblical understanding, reminded us of our obligation, saying: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”


But did Christ really mean the covenant, the Ten Commandments that were given to Israel? Considering that they were written by the very “finger of God,” and that Christ declared “I and my Father are one” in John 10:30, I would say resoundingly yes! He did mean –those-- commandments!


And if Israel would have truly established her civilization on those laws governing morality, governing basic truth and goodness, in Exodus 19:6, God proclaimed: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Israel had the potential to be religious leaders for the entire planet, and if she would only follow God’s commandments – to be “a kingdom of priests.” She could demonstrate to all other cultures the abundance of blessings bestowed upon a people who treat others as they themselves want to be treated and who show gratitude and honor to their Just, Merciful, Compassionate, Powerful, Holy Creator. A holy nation. A nation lifted high above all others to be a shining light. A “treasured possession” which God has “set His heart on.” These are the words that Moses was to speak to Israel. And these are the very words that we are to speak to the Body of Christ today.


If only the Israelites had obeyed! If only they had not insisted on making an idol of continual sacrifice, but rather had set their focus on overcoming sin! If only they had truly valued and regarded these words above their flesh – what a radiant, luminescent light they could have been!


We live in a culture that values acquisition over generosity; fame over humility; brutality over gentleness; lust over sacrificial love; and violence over peace. But how now shall we live after our deliverance, forgiveness and redemption from our past in bondage to sin? We should lead our own homes to be a shining light, a rare precious gem in the midst of an ever-darkening landscape; we should heed the words of the LORD in Exodus 19:“If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people.” (“Peculiar” here means a people expressly possessed by God and particularly prized by Him.)


Jesus said it most succinctly:


Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.


Matthew 22:39 And Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


All of the Bible hangs on these simple commandments. This is the central message of Christ. This is the message repeated over and over throughout Scripture, both Old Testament and New. Live by these commandments…and experience life as a shining star in God’s kingdom: holy, peculiar, a kingdom of priests who shed God’s light in all that they do.


Thank you, God, for your Holy Commandments as guidance for our lives. Let us live to honor you in all we do. Help us to set an example by our humility and our obedience to your voice. Help those around us to truly know we are Christians by our Godly and neighborly love. Help us to shine the light of your goodness to all who encounter us, that they may see our good works and glorify you…and eventually, truly come to know you. Amen.



By Beth, Jan 8 2018 10:52PM


(This is a paper that I wrote for my graduate degree in Christian Ministry.)


Who was Pelagius?


Pelagius was an ascetic Christian from the British Isles who withstood Augustine of Hippo’s doctrines on free will, human nature, and salvation, causing a firestorm of persecution toward Pelagius by prominent Roman Catholic bishops and leaders of the time. Pelagius was eventually labeled a heretic and excommunicated from the Church.


Born circa 354 AD, Pelagius, in his twenties, “became a highly regarded spiritual director for both clergy and laymen” in Rome. The moral permissiveness he saw demonstrated by the Roman Christians around him offended his moral sensibilities, and his scrupulous standards for Christian behavior and virtue became a thorn in the side of many Roman Christians. Pelagius attributed the moral negligence he saw to doctrines propagated by Augustine at the time, including the notion that continence (or self-control) came only from the grace that was allotted to humanity by God at any given time. Pelagius believed that this way of thinking afforded humanity a means of escaping accountability for their own lack of temperance (by attributing it a grace that could be given or not given at random by God.) He “feared that people influenced by such teaching tend to dismiss any responsibility for their own actions.” Though he “agreed with Augustine that God has made us free, and that the source of evil is in the will,” he believed that “this meant human beings always have the ability to overcome their sin.”

Pelagius’ objections to Augustine’s teaching “on the grounds that it imperilled the entire moral law” attracted enough attention to gain a foothold in the city of Rome (and a follower who was an attorney named Celestius). As Pelagius’ influence grew, so, too, did his circle of critics. His most vocal and prolific opponent became Augustine of Hippo, whose own doctrinal power and sway with the Church had the potential of being undercut by Pelagius’ teachings. Jerome also had a negative opinion of Pelagius’ teachings and wrote against him in 415.


Though most of Pelagius’ writings are now strangely non-extant (whereas we have volumes of Augustine’s work,) much has been asserted about what Pelagius believed and taught. Indeed, it seems Augustine constructed an entire doctrinal empire simply out of his refutations of Pelagius’ teachings. Some scholars have even suggested that, were it not for Pelagius, Augustine may never have solidified his doctrine of Original Sin.


However, since there exists at least one document attributed to Pelagius’ “own hand,” let us examine Pelagius’ beliefs in his own words (from his “Letter to Demetrias in 413”.)


On Free Will


Pelagius addresses the free will of the “rational creature” to do good:


It was because God wished to bestow on the rational creature the gift of doing good of his own free will and the capacity to exercise free choice, by implanting in man the possibility of choosing either alternative, that he made it his peculiar right to be what he wanted to be, so that with his capacity for good and evil he could do either quite naturally and then bend his will in the other direction too. He could not claim to possess the good of his own volition, unless he were the kind of creature that could also have possessed evil. Our most excellent creator wished us to be able to do either but actually to do only one, that is, good, which he also commanded, giving us the capacity to do evil only so that we might do his will by exercising our own.


In this passage, Pelagius asserts that, in order for God to give humanity credit for doing good, humanity must also be capable of doing evil. Later, he will go on to argue that God would not have asked humans to do righteously if they were not capable of doing so.


Moreover, the Lord of Justice wished man to be free to act and not under compulsion; it was for this reason that he left him free to make his own decisions and set before him life and death, good and evil, and he shall be given whatever pleases him. Hence, we read in the Book Deuteronomy also: I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you may live (Dt.30.19).


Here, Pelagius addresses the true nature of choice: if humanity was not given free choice of the will by God, they would be acting “under compulsion” to do good. To this day, we do not “give credit” or assign accountability to a soldier who “was only following orders.” Therefore, no reward, nor any consequence, would be properly assigned to a human race that was acting under a compulsion to do either good or (as Augustine will later assert,) evil. Pelagius affirmed that “men had been endowed by God with free will, so that they should follow His law and live perfect lives” in Christ.


On Human Nature


Augustine taught that human nature was already fallen, or defiled, by the Fall of Adam and Eve. Here, Pelagius very plainly refutes that teaching:


First, then, you ought to measure the good of human nature by reference to its Creator, I mean God, of course: if it is he who, as report goes, has made all the works of and within the world good, exceeding good, how much more excellent do you suppose that he has made man himself, on whose account he has clearly made everything else? And before actually making man, he determines to fashion him in his own image and likeness and shows what kind of creature he intends to make him.


Pelagius argues that if everything else God made was good (and he emphasizes that all of it was distinctly made for humanity’s sake,) how much more would God ensure that humanity was made “excellent?”


Furthermore, he contends that even the pagans are capable of showing Godly behavior and attributes:


For how many of the pagan philosophers have we heard and read and even seen for ourselves to be chaste, tolerant, temperate, generous, abstinent and kindly, rejecters of the world's honours as well as its delights, lovers of justice no less than knowledge? Whence, I ask you, do these good qualities pleasing to God come to men who are strangers to him? Whence can these good qualities come to them, unless it be from the good of nature? …But if even men without God can show what kind of creatures they were made by God, consider what Christians are able to do whose nature and life have been instructed for the better by Christ and who are assisted by the aid of divine grace as well.


Indeed, Pelagius’ contention is supported by the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 2:14-15:


For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness…


Pelagius also recalls Old Testament individuals who were described in the Scriptures as righteous, blameless, or perfect. Noah (Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God,) Enoch, Job (Job 1:1 There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil,) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are all mentioned by Pelagius as saints who kept the Commandments of God (pre-incarnate Christ) and upheld His righteousness out of their own volition and knowledge of the good.


On Salvation


Pelagius continues on with this theme in this section:


Even before the law was given to us, as we have said, and long before the arrival of our Lord and Saviour some are reported to have lived holy and righteous lives; how much more possible must we believe that to be after the light of his coming, now that we have been instructed by the grace of Christ and reborn as better men: purified and cleansed by his blood, encouraged by his example to pursue perfect righteousness, we ought surely to be better than those who lived before the time of the law, better even than those who lived under the law, since the apostle says: For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace (Rom.6.14).


This again echoes Paul’s sentiments in Chapter 2 of Hebrews:


Hebrews 2:2-4: For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?


Perhaps this next section is the most brilliant and effective refutation of Augustine’s assertion of man’s natural inability to incline toward good (and hence, keep the Commandments of God):


Nothing impossible has been commanded by the God of justice and majesty…. Why do we indulge in pointless evasions, advancing the frailty of our own nature as an objection to the one who commands us? No one knows better the true measure of our strength than he who has given it to us nor does anyone understand better how much we are able to do than he who has given us this very capacity of ours to be able; nor has he who is just wished to command anything impossible or he who is good intended to condemn a man for doing what he could not avoid doing.


Clearly, God would not have given us commandments we couldn’t possibly keep; otherwise, Jesus, who was given all things under his feet to judge, would never have taught that “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”


Echoing James’ exhortation (James 1:22: But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves,) Pelagius charges his reader to:


Read the holy scriptures in such a way that you never forget that they are the words of God, who commands us that we should not only know his law but also fulfil it; for it is of no advantage to have learned what has to be done, if we then fail to do it.


Pelagianism


At the heart of Pelagianism is the belief that humanity can “avoid sinning, and can freely choose to obey God's commandments.”


Diane Leclerc, Ph.D. writes: “From Augustine, we get the idea that we are born depraved; we inherit a carnal nature that is completely incapable of God. Pelagius believed that the only effect of the original sin of Adam and Eve was mortality. In this, Pelagius is not saying anything different than what was understood prior to Augustine’s invention.” Author Michael Lodahl argues that:

"Pelagius did not do justice to the reality of our solidarity…the world into which we come is already a history filled with sin, manifested in war, bloodshed, slavery, abuse, torture, fear, and a thousand other nightmares. It is this reality, already there before us and into which we are thrown at birth, that Pelagius apparently failed to appreciate.”


However, in his letter, Pelagius deals with this very topic when he writes:


Noah is said to have been 'a righteous man, blameless in his generation' (Gen.6.9), and his holiness is all the more to be admired in that he alone was found to be righteous, when literally the whole world was declining from righteousness, nor did he seek a model of holiness from another but supplied it himself. And for that reason, when the destruction of the whole world was imminent, he alone of all men was found worthy to hear the words: Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation (Gen.7.1).


(One has to wonder how much worse of a world a child could be born into than the one into which Noah was born – which necessitated the flooding of the entire earth to eradicate such an entrenched evil! And yet, somehow Noah managed to maintain his righteousness before God.)


In 411, Pelagius’ friend and follower Celestius was bidden to appear in Carthage to answer for six theses attributed to his writings which were deemed heretical by the bishop Aurelius (and later condemned by the Church.) According to New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, though they were penned and defended by Celestius alone, these theses “clearly contain the quintessence of Pelagianism.” The theses are as follows:


1) Even if Adam had not sinned, he would have died.

2) Adam's sin harmed only himself, not the human race.

3) Children just born are in the same state as Adam before his fall.

4) The whole human race neither dies through Adam's sin or death, nor rises again through the resurrection of Christ.

5) The Law is as good a guide to heaven as the Gospel.

6) Even before the advent of Christ there were men who were without sin.


When Pelagius was confronted with these doctrines, he denied originating them and even refuted them in testimony at a synod of fourteen bishops held in Diospolis in December, 415: “Of other doctrines with which he had been charged, he said that, formulated as they were in the complaint, they did not originate from him, but from Caelestius, and that he also repudiated them.” He was exonerated of the charges of heresy brought against him by Orosius and others, and, at this point, “the Orient had now spoken twice and had found nothing to blame in Pelagius.”

Eventually, however, Pelagius would be ex-communicated from the Church and his doctrines condemned by the Council of Carthage (which was sanctioned by the Council of Ephesus in 431.)


The Council of Orange


Pelagianism, having already been condemned at the Council of Carthage in 418, nonetheless continued on in a form labelled as “semi-pelaginanism,” which rejected Augustine’s doctrine of predestination. “An outgrowth of the controversy between Augustine and Pelagius,” the Council of Orange convened in 529 (long after the deaths of both of its original subjects.) They argued over the degree of responsibility a person had for their own salvation and the degree to which the catalyst was the grace of God. Because the Pelagians rejected the doctrine of Original Sin, they believed that “children have no sin until they, on their own free will, decide to sin.” This belief (along with an Old Testament laden with examples of those walking uprightly according to God,) led them to conclude that sinless perfection was attainable in this life. “The Council of Orange dealt with the Semi-Pelagian doctrine that the human race, though fallen and possessed of a sinful nature, is still ‘good’ enough to able to lay hold of the grace of God through an act of unredeemed human will.” Rejecting this premise, the Council held to Augustine's view, renounced Pelagius, and was well on their way to the formation of the doctrine of Total Depravity.


Wesley on Pelagius


Through his doctrine of “entire sanctification,” Wesley echoed some Pelagian-esque sentiments of man’s ability to achieve sinless perfection. However, Wesley did hold to Augustine’s doctrine of the fallen state of humankind. Addressing this, he pioneered a doctrine of “prevenient grace,” which teaches that “it is only God’s holy, loving presence in human life that enables us to choose against the chains of sin.”


In Wesley’s own words:


I verily believe, the real heresy of Pelagius was neither more nor less than this: The holding that Christians may, by the grace of God, (not without it; that I take to be a mere slander,) ‘go on to perfection;’ or, in other words, ‘fulfill the law of Christ.'


Conclusion


Though he was persecuted, condemned, and excommunicated, clearly Pelagius had a very good sense of the “whole counsel of God” and offered Scriptural interpretations that are valuable to consider even to this day. After reading his actual letter to Demetrias, I feel certain Pelagius was unfairly maligned by the Church and its Councils. Of course, he is not the first to be persecuted and condemned by the religious leaders of his day. Perhaps -- as he charged us to do – Pelagius was just walking in the very footsteps of Christ. In his words:


You will realise that doctrines are the invention of the human mind, as it tries to penetrate the mystery of God. You will realise that scripture itself is the work of human recording the example and teaching of Jesus. Thus it is not what you believe (in your head) that matters; it is how you respond with your heart and your actions. It is not believing in Christ that matters, but becoming like him.


Indeed, from James 2:19:

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.



BIBLIOGRAPHY


Brown, Peter. The Body & Society. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.


Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics. “About the Council of Orange.”

Available at http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http://www.reformed.org/documents/canons_of_orange.html. Accessed December 20, 2017.


Eds. of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Pelagius: CHRISTIAN THEOLOGIAN.” Available

from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Pelagius-Christian-theologian. Accessed December 19, 2017.


Epistolae: Medieval Women’s Latin Letters. “A Letter from Pelagius (413).” Available

from https://epistolae.ctl.columbia.edu/letter/1296.html. Accessed December 20, 2017.


González, Justo L. The Story of Christianity. New York: HarperOne, 2010.


Leclerc, Diane. "Lecture 6: Moving West..." Lecture, CHIS 6560: History of Christianity

1, Northwest Nazarene University, December 5, 2017.


Lodahl, Michael. The Story of God. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City,

1994.


New World Encyclopedia. “Pelagius.” Available from

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Pelagius. Accessed December 19, 2017.


Rees, B.R. “The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers.” Suffolk, UK: The Boydell Press,

2004.


The Holy Bible. King James Version. Nelson Bibles, 2014.


Wesley, John. "The Wisdom of God's Counsels." Sermon #68. Available at The Wesley

Center Online: http://wesley.nnu.edu/john-wesley/the-sermons-of-john-wesley-1872-edition/sermon-68-the-wisdom-of-gods-counsels. Accessed December 20, 2017.



By Beth, Aug 7 2016 12:34AM


Hebrews 11:24-26 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;


Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;


Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.


Esteem: v. - to set a value on; appraise.


Reproach: n. - blame or censure conveyed in disapproval; a cause or occasion of disgrace or discredit.


To esteem something is to value it, to appraise it as worthy, to regard it highly.


Reproach is “censure given with an attitude of faultfinding and some intention of shaming.”


Moses had a place in the Pharaoh’s palace. He was established; he was accepted; moreover, he was in a position of honor and authority as an adopted son of the Pharaoh.


But he gave it all up. He traded it in for the shame and derision and disappointment of his family, his peers, and his kingdom.


Why?


To seek the truth.


To live the truth.


And ultimately, to guide others in the knowledge and understanding of the truth.


The Scriptures say he esteemed “the reproach of Christ” as greater riches than the treasures in Egypt (and this was generations before the physical appearing of Christ, yet Paul identifies Moses’ reproach with what Christ would suffer.)


According to the Bible, Moses valued the shame and disapproval that came with pursuing righteousness and truth (as Christ Himself faced) more than all the riches in Egypt.


This is not an easy concept!


It is so hard to face and accept others’ negative opinions of us, particularly people who we care about. And because we are accountable to each other, and we are expected to sharpen one another, it is difficult to be sure when it is the right time to dismiss the opinion of a respected peer, family member, or fellow church member (or leader.)


Yet, somehow, by faith, Moses and all the people Paul lists and describes in Hebrews Chapter 11 (commonly called the “Hall of Faith”) manage to do it. By faith, they each cast off their own doubts and the doubts and aspersions of others and followed God wholeheartedly and in the Spirit.


It says that Moses chose to suffer affliction because he had “respect unto the recompence of the reward.”


He knew it was for a greater good. He knew that the eternal reward he sought was greater than the luxury of living in the palace, and greater than the comfort of remaining somewhere that was familiar to him, and greater than the high regard he received from citizens of Egypt because of his position.


He knew that the truth that he sought was more important even than the people he called his family.


Taking a stand for truth in the face of mockery and disdain and shame from those we care about is so excruciatingly painful and lonely.


Turning our backs on all that is familiar and dear to us for the sake of righteousness causes us indescribable sorrow and mourning.


Isn't it a lonesome and weary path?


Isn't it a seemingly insurmountable wilderness of thorns and barbs and anguish?


And yet... God wants us to rejoice.


1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.


He wants us to “leap for joy!”


Luke 6:23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.


And God continually reminds us that we are blessed to be in that position:


Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.


Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.


If it seems a lot to ask that we “esteem reproach” when we make a stand for truth, may we remember that doing so numbers us with Moses and the prophets.


What a remarkable group to accompany us down our personal walk of shame.


May we remember that the shame and reproach is only for a season...and the rewards are for eternity.


Isaiah 54:4 Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.


Praise God.




By Beth, Jan 13 2016 10:37PM


Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.


Exodus 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:


Exodus 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:


Exodus 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.


My family and I had a lovely day this past Sunday. We prepared for Sunday by doing everything that needed to be done on Saturday (including tidying the house and cooking meals only needing reheated on Sunday.) Then, after worshiping God at church, we were able to enjoy His goodness and blessings the rest of the day without too much hassle. It was so refreshing for my family to spend the day focusing on good, lovely things and not on errands and bills and housework! We all agreed we felt so much more prepared to face the week ahead on Monday!


I’ve mentioned the importance of the Ten Commandments (the LORD God’s covenant with His people) on this blog in several posts. And it seems natural, doesn’t it, that if one is truly a follower of God, one wouldn’t want to kill anyone, or steal from them, or tell lies about them, etc… but one commandment that seems largely neglected and almost entirely overlooked in this day and age is the fourth:


Deuteronomy 5:12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.


Sanctify means to set apart; so we are to set the Sabbath day apart from the rest. It is to be a unique day of revisiting our gratitude for God’s many blessings; a day of rest in which we sit back and survey all that we have to be thankful for and acknowledge God in all things.


I think I haven’t really given the Sabbath the honor it was due, set it apart in the way God instructed. You see, the Sabbath is for us (Mark 2:27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath) and so, we have to ask ourselves: do we really believe God knows best? Or do we think we know best and God's commandments to us are unnecessary and irrelevant?


I wonder how many stress-related illnesses we could spare ourselves if we truly began honoring the Sabbath. I’ll tell you what: I mean to keep the Sabbath regularly and find out!


For those of you who dispute that the Sabbath could be held on a Sunday, I offer you the following Scriptural evidence:


Leviticus 23:36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.


Leviticus 23:39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.


Numbers 29:35 On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly: ye shall do no servile work therein:


Luke 1:59 And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father.


There is much prophecy in the Scriptures concerning the eighth day. Even the circumcision rite was performed on the eighth day. It was a physical symbol (and prophecy) of the removal of the spiritual barrier between man and God. Jesus Christ showed that He removed that barrier when He rose from the tomb and defeated death to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that He was, in fact, God in the flesh -- come face to face with us.


The seventh day is Saturday; therefore, the eighth is Sunday. And Sunday is also the first day of the week!


Here are some examples of the early church meeting on Sunday from the New Testament:


Acts 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.


1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.


If there is still debate over the day of Sabbath observance, let us consider this passage:


Romans 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.


Romans 14:6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.


Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.


So let us not judge our brethren, but rather keep the Sabbath as we feel led. What is truly important is the keeping of the Sabbath.


God loves us, and He wants us to be blessed – and He wants us to have much-needed rest!


Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


The Sabbath is a day when we can truly take Paul’s words to heart:


Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


And on that day, most of all, be sure that:


1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.


Give it a try -- I promise you, it will change your life!



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