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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!



By Beth, Aug 19 2015 07:28PM

This post is in response to a dear friend who has inquired as to my methods of studying and interpreting the Scriptures. Rather than just respond to him personally, I thought that many people reading this site may have the same question, so I made a post out of it. Thanks for the inspiration, my friend!


So this post is going to be a little different from my other ones. I want to address, point by point, the methodology for accurately interpreting Scripture that is currently being taught widely among Christian scholarly institutions, including modern seminaries. I have some personal insight into the theological teachings being taught to ministry students today, as my husband is just about to graduate with his Christian ministry degree.


Why is it important to address this? Because what we are going to look at is THE modern methodology for studying the Scriptures. It is largely uncontested in Christian scholarly circles, and, because it is being taught in Christian academia, it is filtering down to Christian church congregations (and has been for some time.) This is the method, that (according to Bible scholars) YOU are supposed to use to accurately study and interpret the Bible, so this relates to YOU.


There is a scholarly term (which you may or may not know) I want to introduce you to before we begin:


Hermeneutics: the scholarly term for Biblical interpretation. Biblical hermeneutics is defined as “the study of the principles of interpretation concerning the books of the Bible.” Note that hermeneutics is not so much the study of the Bible itself as the study of the “principles of interpretation” of the Bible. Much of modern seminary study is spent in study of these “principles.”


Now, let’s examine this term in more depth. This is going to be a fairly long post, so you may want to grab a cup o’ joe and settle in for the ride. *wink*


(I want to note that the following explanations of Biblical hermeneutics are quotes from the reputable Christian website www.gotquestions.org. Gotquestions.org provides some great information about Christianity and the Bible and I’m grateful that they have the heart to minister the Gospel to folks online. I’m going to take these widespread teachings to task right now, but I do not by any means disagree with all that they promote.)


Here we go:


Quote 1: “The most important law of biblical hermeneutics is that the Bible should be interpreted literally. Literal Bible interpretation means we understand the Bible in its normal/plain meaning. The Bible says what it means and means what it says. Many make the mistake of trying to read between the lines and come up with meanings for Scriptures that are not truly in the text. Yes, of course, there are some spiritual truths behind the plain meanings of Scripture. That does not mean that every Scripture has a hidden spiritual truth, or that it should be our goal to find all such spiritual truths. Biblical hermeneutics keeps us faithful to the intended meaning of Scripture and away from allegorizing and symbolizing Bible verses and passages that should be understood literally.”


Are you serious? Totally disagree. In fact, this is Scripturally incorrect.


Let’s see what the Bible says about hidden spiritual truths:


1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.


The wisdom of God is “in a mystery.” God has intentionally shrouded His truth in symbolism and parables.


Isaiah 44:18 They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.


Why has He done this? So that those who are not willing to humbly and passionately search out the deep truths, the hidden manna (see Rev. 2:17,) will not gain great wisdom and understanding and then attempt to use the power of Truth for evil.


I would contend to you that EVERY Scripture has a hidden spiritual truth, and that it should ALWAYS be our goal to find out such spiritual truths. Scriptures have both a physical meaning, and a spiritual meaning. EVERY TIME. Invest yourself in this principle, and the Bible will be so much more fun and exciting to study, I promise you. When my friend first asked me how, exactly, I read my Bible, my answer, though simple, was complete. I said “Expectantly.” That is how I study my Bible! Expectantly. Every time I open it, I fully expect that God is going to graciously and generously give me deep spiritual truths to chew on and eventually digest and incorporate into my whole self. That is why I cite James 1:5 on the home page of this website:


James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.


I genuinely believe it!!! Ask Him for wisdom and He will give it to you LIBERALLY! Praise GOD!


Folks, there is so much more intricacy and complexity and resplendence to the Bible than you or I can possibly imagine. Woven within the Scriptures are such magnificent illustrations of Truth that you could never have enough time in this life (or even eternity) to discover it all. Seriously, that’s how remarkable it is. To diminish it to the notion that “all Scripture should be interpreted literally and not expected to have a deeper spiritual meaning” is to diminish God. (One of the first posts I ever did on this website was examining how even John the Baptist’s food was prophetic. Talk about deep spiritual truths in even the smallest details of the Bible.)


Let’s take a look at the next principle of Biblical hermeneutics:


Quote 2: “A second crucial law of biblical hermeneutics is that a verse or passage must be interpreted historically, grammatically, and contextually. Historical interpretation refers to understanding the culture, background, and situation which prompted the text. Grammatical interpretation is recognizing the rules of grammar and nuances of the Hebrew and Greek languages and applying those principles to the understanding of a passage. Contextual interpretation involves always taking the surrounding context of a verse/passage into consideration when trying to determine the meaning.”


A verse or passage must be interpreted historically, grammatically, and contextually. Really. Wow. (Well, part of that is correct; reading the verse contextually by examining passages surrounding the verse will help immensely with grasping the true meaning.) But I guess some country bumpkin just reading the Bible on his own cannot possibly even begin to understand what God is trying to say to us. Poor common peasant. He doesn’t even stand a chance. He’ll never comprehend the Truth. Never mind Paul’s exhortation:


2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.


The simplicity that is in Christ. Despite the magnificence and intricacy of His Word, the Lord has deemed it fit for it to have a simplicity that anyone can understand. You know who was one of the greatest Bible teachers of all time?? A fisherman by trade. Peter, who brought three thousand people to Christ in one sermon, was just a common fisherman when he was called to be an apostle.


Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.


Unlearned and ignorant men. But men who had spent time with Jesus. And because of that, they knew the truth.


This second principle of hermeneutics is what my husband likes to call “Ivory Tower Christianity.” It’s the same old trick the devil has been using for time immemorial. Think back to the time when the Scriptures were published only in Latin. The Bible was taught only by Roman Catholic priests; this prevented laymen from reading and applying the Word for themselves. They had little choice but to be “spoon fed” by those who were “in the know.”


Pope Innocent III declared in 1099 that the Scriptures “cannot be understood by everyone, but only by those who are qualified to understand them with informed intelligence.


Let’s go even further back: the Jewish leaders taught -- and continue to teach -- that “no one but the accepted Rabbis have the right to interpret Torah law.” (Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim, mesora.org).


The following quote is taken from Simpletoremember.com, a website dedicated to assisting people in understanding modern Judaism:


"Now when the Sages come to understand a verse, they do so as scientists using clear tools of interpretation. They look at the exact words that are used, they identify apparent redundancies and they see whether any one of the 13 Hermeneutic Principles are applicable. They identify any apparent ambiguities and line up all the different possible ways in which a verse may be interpreted. They then interpret the verse at all four levels of interpretation, checking that the levels are consistent and checking that this interpretation is consistent with everything else that is said in the Torah. Interpreting the Torah is then not an open-ended exercise in creativity. It is a result of laborious analysis, with the intended meaning of the verse emerging, per force, from the information that unfolds."


Looks an awful lot like the earlier quotes on Christian hermeneutics principles, doesn’t it? Funny how there is so much intense “scientific” study by these Sages (Rabbis,) and yet they entirely miss the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ.


What we’re seeing here is a bunch of theologians, both Christian and Jewish, who sit in their Ivory Towers and declare to the masses what is required to truly understand the Truth of God: extensive higher education, and the use of various technical resources, including Greek and Hebrew lexicons, history books, concordances, maps, multiple translations, etc.


Pish Posh.


Fiddlesticks.


Stuff and nonsense.


Here’s what the Bible actually says on this issue:


John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.


Funny, but I heard NOT ONE WORD about the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit in all that intellectual talk on hermeneutics.


That’ why I called this post The Horse’s Mouth. There is an expression “straight from the horse’s mouth,” which means “I got this information straight from the original source.”


Would you prefer to hear a commentary and interpretation of something someone said, or would you prefer to hear him say it for yourself?


I want you to understand this fundamental spiritual truth: YOU CAN UNDERSTAND GOD FOR YOURSELF BY GOING STRAIGHT TO THE SOURCE -- THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD.


But how will you know if it’s the Holy Spirit leading you, rather than your own mind or an evil spirit guiding you into lies and confusion?


By Scripture.


The Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) will never teach you something that is against the Word of God. It is a witness to the truth of God’s Word, that “in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established,” (Matthew 18:16.)


That’s why it’s so important that we study our Bible. The Spirit of God will lead you into understanding and wisdom by bringing to mind Scriptures that you have read in the past and with which you have familiarized yourself. Jesus explains this in the gospel of John:


John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.


Here’s the thing: you have to truly have faith in God in order to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you. In a way, it’s easier to just trust what some other dude said about a particular Bible verse or subject, because then it’s not your fault if it’s mistaken. And it’s so easy to doubt ourselves, isn’t it? And it’s so easy to doubt God!


But I want to tell you a secret (and it’s a personal one.) I have believed and zealously shared some wrong doctrines over the years. And you know what? God, seeing my heart and my love for Him and genuine thirst for truth, was faithful to correct me and set me on the straight path!


For instance, when the Lord first led me to see that the King James Bible was the closest interpretation of Scriptural truth, I zealously got involved in a church that taught exclusively from the King James Bible. Unfortunately, they (and consequently, I, myself) also taught the false doctrine called “Once Saved, Always Saved” that erroneously teaches that once a person has been saved and delivered from their sins, they are basically absolved from any responsibility to maintain their walk with Christ (walk worthy – Eph. 4:1; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:12.) This doctrine teaches that they will be freely received into Heaven at the judgment regardless of what their life subsequent to their salvation demonstrated about their true heart for God.


Regardless of how they treated God’s children from that point on.


Regardless of whether or not they kept the Ten Commandments.


Regardless of whether or not they treated others as they would want to be treated.


But Jesus said this about those who subscribe to that false doctrine:


Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?


Matthew 25:41-46 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:


For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:


I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.


Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?


Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.


And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.


In any case, God was faithful to correct me using a willing teacher and the multiple Scriptures which directly contradict this false notion.


He saw that I really wanted to know the truth, and not just for myself, but that I might enthusiastically share with others the Goodness of God! And if you desire to do the same, you can trust Him. He will not lead you astray….and if someone or something does, He will be faithful to correct you!


But the thing is, if you genuinely ask God for wisdom, you have to be willing to receive what He gives you, even if it calls into question well-established dogmas or doctrines you have been taught and have earnestly believed for years. Here’s how God explains it in James:


James 1:5-8 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.


But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.


For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.


A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.


In other words, don’t ask God for the truth if you can’t handle it. Because if you only want to hear what you think is right, rather than the truth of God, and you ignore His counsel, then don’t count on Him wasting His breath on you next time you ask.


Sometimes, the truth hurts; but in the end, only the truth has the power to heal.


So we see that there are many deep, hidden spiritual truths that the Lord would love to liberally expound upon to us if we have the true desire and heart to receive that knowledge.


But does God have some requirements of us before He disseminates His wisdom to us?


Absolutely. And they have little to do with scholarly and intellectual pursuits.


Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?


Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with God. That’s it. That is walking worthy. Worthy of receiving great wisdom and understanding from the Lord, regardless of your higher education or access to other “scholarly” (human, and therefore, fallible) resources.


What we have going on in our seminaries and theological schools today is the teaching of insidious, elite doctrines that categorically deny the truth of such Scriptures as this:


1 Corinthians 1:26-27 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:


But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.


I am grateful that I was generously provided with a good human education; but I am more grateful that laymen, country bumpkins, and small children (often moreso than anyone!! See Psalm 8:2) can also accurately discern the truth of God’s Word if they seek the Spirit of God.


After all, Abraham did it with NO resources save the Spirit of God Himself! (Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.)


And the whole idea of us understanding Scripture and interpreting it correctly is that we might implement it; that we be DOERS of the Word, and not HEARERS only (James 1:22.)


Want to be a spiritual giant? Here's James' advice (as per God's leading):


James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.


To sit around in our “ivory towers” declaring who can understand Scripture and who cannot is to usurp the authority of God Himself to examine the hearts of men and determine who is worthy of His Pearls of Wisdom.


If we want to truly follow God, if we want to truly know Him, all we really need is the simplicity that is in Christ.


And Christ, God Himself in the flesh, said this:


Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.


This is the first and great commandment.


And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.


On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matt 22:37-40.)


And there it is – straight from “the horse’s mouth.”




By Beth, Jun 18 2015 06:04PM


Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.


People sometimes comment to me how well I seem to know my Bible, that I must just love studying it all the time. And they’re right – I truly do love studying my Bible. What they don’t realize is that I don’t just love studying my Bible – I have to study my Bible.


It’s difficult and painful to admit, but “the narrow way” doesn’t come easily to me. Unfortunately, when you have been exposed to and have participated in a past full of destructive thinking patterns and behaviors, you develop negative self-talk and negative habits that are difficult to reign in and master.


Some people think staying on “the narrow way” means you can’t have a drop of alcohol or play poker with friends or accidentally let a swear word slip if you stub your toe.


I don’t interpret it that way, though. . . (unless you are an alcoholic, a chronic gambler, or have a nasty swearing habit.)


Actually, Jesus very precisely identifies the way (or “the gate”) in Matthew 7:12-14 when He says:


Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.


Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:


Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.


The key to the strait gate can be found in Matthew 7:12. The Golden Rule. That is the Strait Gate, the Narrow Way that leads to life. Jesus says that the Golden Rule is equivalent to all the law and the prophets. If the law and the prophets were the big orange cones marking each side of the Narrow Way, the Golden Rule is the internal GPS.


But if the Narrow Way is so very basic, then why are there so few that find it?


Because, put simply, if you do not see that you have value, you will not be able to find the value in others.

This is not well understood in general, but it’s pretty simple if you think about it: people who really understand their own personal value do not participate in destructive thinking and behaviors.


Restoring to humanity the fundamental understanding that they are valuable (which was lost through the Fall of Man...more on that in a later post...) is truly the essence of the Gospel.


The GOOD NEWS:


Guess what?


What?


You have value to God.


(Silence. . .) Nuh-uh!!


Yes! That is the Good News! I promise! (Re-read John 3:16 if you’re not sure of this.)


We tend to make it a lot more complicated, because we very nearly cannot fathom it, really.


Everyone inherently understands that destructive thoughts and deeds are wrong, and every grown human has participated in sin at some level. So, at some point, we begin to judge ourselves as shameful and condemned, as unworthy creatures who cannot be useful or have gone too far to ever be valuable again.


Since we have acted as judge and jury and condemned ourselves, we then give ourselves license to continue in our sins (as we determine it doesn’t matter much anymore, anyway.)


For God to contend that He sees value in us even as we are living in and with our destructive behaviors ( Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us) sounds outrageous to us!


For the Creator of the Universe to be willing to lower Himself to suffer as a flesh-and-blood human being and to be willing to personally DIE, taking responsibility for unrighteous things WE have done, seems preposterous and utterly astonishing!


And all because He sees value…potential…in us??


Then how come we cannot see potential in ourselves?


Because that’s what it takes to walk the Narrow Way. To have faith in God to help you do what you were designed to do, and to have faith in yourself that you are, in fact, capable of doing it. That you ARE still made in the image of GOD. That you are still made in the image of GOOD. That, if God can find that little light still shining deep inside your heart and clear away the cobwebs and strengthen it, you are able to help cultivate and tend to the light, that it might shine brighter with each passing day.


That if God can have compassion on you despite your shortcomings (Psalms 103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust,) you can have compassion for yourself, and then extend that compassion to others.


The only way that I, personally, can do this is by remaining consistently in the Word of God.


When I go too long without His encouragement and admonishment found in His Word, my light begins to dim… my sword begins to dull… my seedling begins to wilt. I begin to regress into old (yucky) thinking habits; I begin to sink into hyper-criticism of myself and others. My outlook on life becomes more negative; my enthusiasm for life begins to slow down to a grinding halt. I lapse into a cycle of negative thoughts and behaviors that leads to depression, anxiety, and anger.


When I am not actively seeking God’s Word and allowing His Spirit to gently guide me, I find myself falling into being judgmental – spending too much time judging both myself, and, consequently, others.

To clarify, being judgmental and being discerning are two very different things. If, for example, I see that a person does not adequately protect or care for their own children, I can discern that I should not trust them with the care of my children. If I observe someone being cold, cruel, or dismissive to those that they believe to be “inferior” to them (to those from whom they perceive they cannot gain something,) I can discern that they are hypocritical and potentially opportunistic. (You can discern this, too! But people are so afraid of believing what they see in a man’s actions, rather than what they hear in a man’s appeasing words… Proverbs 6:12-14 teaches us to look at what a person is doing with their hands and feet, rather than believing their winking eyes or swelling words.)


But being judgmental is a very different kind of “animal” (and one of the unclean variety.) For me, judging others unfairly begins at home in my own heart with judging myself too harshly. If, at the end of a day where I’ve said or done things I’ve regretted, I stand back and review my thoughts, I can often see where the problem began. Most of the time (or maybe even all of the time,) my bad day (or bad moments) have been a product of my bad thoughts toward myself. When I wallow in shame, I tend to shame or condemn others. When I have little patience with my mistakes and follies, I have very little patience for others’ mistakes. I am snippy and snappy. I am harsh and unforgiving. When I am judging others unfairly, I am also riddled with insecurities, hurt and angry and suspicious that others are judging me.


The most painful thing for me is when this harshness is directed toward those I love most. When my kids do something I see as unacceptable, I am quick to get on their case (and I oftentimes overreact.) When I think about Jesus saying “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them,” it really puts things in perspective. I, myself, act foolishly or unacceptably at times; how would I want to be corrected? I know I would want someone to lovingly (yet earnestly) correct me – but not to overreact, as if my whole character was questionable because of my folly in this one situation.


That’s how I want to respond to my children, and to others in whom I am invested. I want to always keep in mind how I would want to be treated in any given situation. Unfortunately, I often react before I review this truth in my mind!! Like the Apostle Paul, I find myself doing the very things that I intended NOT to do!


Romans 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.


Romans 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.


Paul knew that it was not him (the new creature in Christ) doing it, but the sin that dwelt in him from the past.


He was not saying that he was not culpable for his behavior, but rather that sometimes his behavior did not reflect the new person he was in the Lord. Sometimes, he would be led by old troublesome modes of thinking, destructive patterns that did not reveal his true heart after his salvation. Undoubtedly, he repented regularly for these things, dying to his own flesh and being renewed in the Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.)


And I do the same. And I have to remind myself constantly to leave alone the things which I have laid at the foot of the cross – to not try to take them back again and examine them some more. To trust God at a fundamental level that believes that He can handle even my most shameful habits and behaviors. To comfort myself in the Lord, as did David (1 Samuel 30:6 . . .but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.) To remember to “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee,” (Psalm 55:22.)


The more time we spend on the road that leads to destruction, the more “Herculean” effort it takes on God’s part to help us back to the Narrow Way. I thank the Almighty God that He was willing to put in the effort for me. For the rest of my life, I will seek to honor His love and commitment by holding myself accountable to remain on that path. And where I fail despite my earnest and diligent seeking, I know the Holy Spirit will bear me up and set me on the right path again.


After “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee,” Psalm 55:22 closes with these words:


“He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”


If we seek to walk in righteousness, He will keep us on The Narrow Way.


Oh, my LORD and Savior. . .you are too good and faithful.




By Beth, May 28 2015 10:08PM


Psalms 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.


I’m no expert on building a house. Not physically, anyway. I don't know very much about carpentry, masonry, plumbing or wiring (but, boy, do I admire very much those people who do!)


Still, even we who lack in skilled labor expertise can recognize some basic truths about the process:


1. A house must be built on a solid foundation. (Obviously.) The wisdom of this principle is fleshed out in Matthew 7 when Jesus explains:


Matthew 7:24-25 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.


As Christians, we recognize that Jesus was likening a home’s physical foundation to our life’s spiritual foundation. And we understand that Jesus is that Rock -- the solid spiritual foundation for our lives. We know that our spiritual foundation is established through:


A. Recognition that Jesus is God (and we are not);

B. Admission that we have strayed from our original creation in His image by our choosing to engage in destructive behavior patterns known as “sin;”

C. Confession of our sin to God;

D. Genuine, deep personal repentance;

E. Baptism (as an expression of our decision to accept Christ and our public declaration that we may be held accountable for the responsibilities of that decision,) and;

F. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, gently guiding us to choosing productive and creative behavior patterns known as “righteousness.”


Okay. So we’ve got that. But now what?


Well…


2. Once the foundation is laid…the house must actually be built on it.


I know, I know – brilliant epiphany, right?!


But I wonder… without a house, what was the purpose of the foundation in the first place?


And the truly great puzzlement is:


WHY ISN’T THE CHURCH BUILDING HER HOUSE?


Why does she continue to lay the foundation, over and over and over again?


How many times have we gone to church (various places, various denominations) hoping to find encouragement, admonishment, and inspiration…only to be preached a salvation message (yet again??)


Is this really what God intended for His church?


Let’s take a look at these verses, written by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Hebrews:


Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.


Hebrews 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit.


Have you EVER heard that taught before? Ever?? And yet, there it is!


How about this one?


Romans 15:20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation.


Wait a minute…wait a minute.


Do you see that? He strived to preach the gospel…but not where Christ was already named??


WOW.


I’m pretty sure Christ has been named and publicly acknowledged by the Church as a whole.


So what should we be teaching in our churches??


Well, Paul tells us just a few verses later:


Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.


Aha! We ought to be learning about the things that accompany salvation!


So what are those things?


Peter explains them to us in his second letter:


2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;


2 Peter 1:6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;


2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.


2 Peter 1:8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


2 Peter 1:9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.


So once we have the foundation of faith, we are to add to it:


1. Virtue

2. Knowledge

3. Temperance

4. Patience

5. Godliness

6. Brotherly kindness

7. Charity


(As an aside note, isn’t it interesting how, if you flip the whole thing and see faith as the foundation and the good fruits growing upward, charity ends up on the very top? It reminds me of that verse: 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.)


So, really, THIS is what we’re supposed to be learning about and discussing in church. The teaching of, as Paul puts it, “better things” and “things that accompany salvation” ought to be our focus.

In fact, in Chapter 12 of his letter to the Romans, Paul gives a remarkably helpful and detailed list of what it looks like to be a Christian:


Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.


Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;


Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;


Romans 12:12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;


Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.


Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.


Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.


Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.


Romans 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.


Romans 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.


Romans 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.


Romans 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.


Romans 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.


Pretty comprehensive, isn’t it? Can you imagine how different things would be if Christians were actually taught to live by these principles?

Instead, we’re taught week after week that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins. Praise God that He did!!


Now tell us what to do next!


(How about going ahead and building the house now?)


And what is the importance of having a house actually built on the foundation that was laid?


Well, what benefits does a house offer? Shelter…safety...comfort… just to mention a few.


It’s a place where we seek nourishment; where we rest, and regain our strength; where we grow and nurture our children into strong healthy adults.


And speaking of children, what would you think of parents who sought to feed all the hungry people outside their home and neglected feeding their own children?


How about parents who sought to discipline all the neighborhood children and failed to discipline their own?


What about parents who seek to protect other children from death, but leave their own to wander into its icy grip?


How effective is this tactic??


Our churches must be places of learning and growing and nourishing; protecting, admonishing, and inspiring the saints – not just reaching out to the lost!!


Many churches are focused almost exclusively on “winning the lost”-- and they are teaching us to focus on the same, rather than helping us to grow in our understanding of God and His Goodness, and rather than teaching us to live Godly lives full of temperance and patience and charity.


Our leaders have become blind to what it really means to be a Christian, believing and teaching that it is defined as someone who goes out and tells people (who, incidentally, oftentimes already know) about Jesus.


Remember what Jesus had to say about this scenario:


Luke 6:39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?


Alas, both our churches and their parishioners are being led straight into a ditch of sin and stagnation.


Because the truth is, if you are not committed to growing and learning, renewing your mind daily, leaving your old sin behind you, taking responsibility and repenting when you slip up now, listening for and obeying that still small voice of the Spirit within, and exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit more and more as a whole, then you have no business evangelizing.


Why? Because you do not really honor God with your life.


God certainly does not expect us to be perfect, but we ought to be changing, moving toward perfection.


Psalm 55:19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.


We need to be equipped to live our lives in such a way that others are moved by our example and the evidence of our spiritual growth more than our words!


A life well-lived is a far greater evangelism tool than simply “telling people about Jesus.”


(You can quote that and you can take it to the bank.)


How come the churches don’t know that?


The saints need to be nurtured, admonished, and encouraged to grow in the direction of God!


And though I don’t know much about physically building a house, I am called upon by God to spiritually build my home, and to build it well:


Proverbs 14:1 Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.


How much more, then, are the spiritual leaders called upon to build a proper house for the children of God?


When we ignore the needs of the members of our own household, we pluck down our house with our own hands.


Are you a CHRIST-ian?


Live your life in such a way that truly honors God and His Goodness.


Minister to your own family.


And make it a point in your own life to exhort and strengthen the saints to the best of your ability, just as Peter was directed to do when Jesus told him:


Luke 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.


Oh yes. . .and pray, pray, pray for the Church.




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