The Apple Of God's Eye

October 20, 2009

Fruits Of the Spirit Lead To Real Abundant Living

thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

thisfragiletent.wordpress.com

Why do some religious people feel that their religious life must be one of giving up all the fun and enjoyment of living — that in order to please God, they must endure a life of morbid gloom? For that matter why do some nonreligious people feel that to become a Christian would mean a life of living painful penance?

Much of traditional Christianity traditionally has preached the many don’ts — don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t play cards, don’t go to the theater, don’t drink a drop of wine, don’t do this, don’t do that!  Where do people get all these distorted ideas about the religion of Jesus Christ? Certainly not out of the Bible.

They know nothing of the Jesus of the Bible, who said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Somehow a lot of people have received a lot of weird and false ideas about Jesus Christ — I mean the Jesus of  your Bible. Actually, I think almost no one knows what the Bible says about him.

It seems most people think sin is the thing that is best for us, but which a stern, wrathful God denies us. Why don’t people know that God our Creator has never forbidden us a single thing that is good for us — never said “don’t” about a single thing except that which is going to harm us to our own hurt. What God does command us not to do are the very things that bring on unhappiness, frustration, pain, suffering and a life of morbid gloom.

Let’s get this matter straight. The real Jesus Christ said he came to bring us happiness and joy! Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). And he came that we might enjoy full, abundant life eternally. God Almighty intended the real Christian life to be happy. Jesus said, “My joy I leave with you” (John 15:11).

There is a way of life that causes peace, happiness and joy. God the great Creator set that way as an inexorable law — an invisible spiritual law — to produce peace, happiness, joy, abundance! There is a cause for every effect. In this unhappy confused world we have discontentment, unhappiness, wretchedness, suffering. The world is full of that. It should be full of peace, happiness and joy. There’s a cause. People don’t like God’s law. That law is the cause of peace and everything desirable and good. People want everything that is good and desirable. They just don’t want to obey that which would cause it! They want to be right, but they don’t want to do right.

Christ came to call people to repent. Repent of what? Repent of causing unhappiness, strife war and pain — and then to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And what kind of results will the Spirit of God produce in you?

I’ll tell you first what it won’t produce. It won’t produce the morbid, unhappy, painful, gloomy life that many think is the Christian life. Let the Bible tell you what “fruit” it will produce in you. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal.5:22-23)

Look at that more closely: “the fruit of the Spirit”– this is the Spirit of God. This is the Holy Spirit that God imparts only to those who have repented — that is, turned from that which has caused unhappiness, morbid gloom. discouragement, frustration, emptiness. On the contrary, that fruit of the Spirit is first of all LOVE. And the second fruit is JOY! Joy is happiness, brimful and running over. That doesn’t sound like an unhappy, empty, gloomy life, does it? And God’s Spirit is not static. It flows spontaneously from God into and through His people, and out from them, making others happy and joyful.

The very first result produced in your life by God’s Spirit is love. Love is a righteous love of and for others. It will mean your face is beaming. It’s an outgoing concern for the good and welfare of others. It will mean that you are really giving out — that you are radiant and happy. And love results in joy — that’s the second of these fruits. The third is PEACE. Instead of an attitude of hostility, instead of going around quarreling, being resentful and bitter, angry and arguing, you’ll be in an attitude of peace — peace in your mind and with your neighbor and with your God.

Next comes longsuffering. That means patience. How much has impatience made you unhappy? Probably impatience makes more people unhappy than almost anything else! If you can really come to have patience, you’ll be acquiring one of the things that will allow you to be happy and make life worth living.

Then next is gentleness. That makes others happy and automatically adds to your happiness. And then goodness and faith! Faith is confidence — not self-confidence, but reliance on the supreme power. It means that the supreme power of God is working for you. It means reassurance. It means assured hope instead of doubt, fear, discouragement.

Now this is not to say that there are never troubles in the Christian life. Far from it. There will be persecutions. Jesus Christ was persecuted. He said, “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you.” That comes from without. But unhappiness is something that springs from within. Happiness is a state of mind; happiness is within. And the person who does have this inward peace — this joy, this patience and love, and absence of resentment and bitterness isn’t going to be anywhere near as disturbed and unhappy as when he didn’t have them. You’ll always face problems — but you’ll have faith and God’s help in solving them. But problems and tests of faith are good for us — the very building blocks of perfect spiritual character.

I know that the Bible says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous,” but the same scripture adds, “but the [Eternal] delivereth him out of them all” (Ps. 34:19).

It’s true Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.” It’s true he suffered — he knew what suffering is. But his suffering and grief were not caused by pain others inflicted on him — not from resentment, or being hurt by others — but by his love for others. He suffered because they were bringing so much suffering on themselves. But he also was a man of boundless joy, and he said, “My joy I leave with you.”

Yes, he said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Source: Plain Truth, 1983

August 27, 2009

Why Does God Get The Blame, But Never The Credit?

claimdynamics.com

claimdynamics.com

We live in a funny world. When things go wrong, God is to blame, but when they go right, we will not give due credit. Take for example the innocent deaths of children dying the world over: It must the fault of God, because he created us and now has deserted mankind, right?

Or what about when a devastating tornado or hurricane hits a small town and wipes it off the map, or the 9-11 disaster: “Where is He when we need Him,” is the oft repeated cry, or “it’s an act of God,” putting God in the position of being accused. Airlines also invoke God when weather causes flight delays or accidents – it’s not the fault of the airline – blame God.

Then there’s insurance policy clauses, contracts or wildfire’s, earthquakes, floods and avalanches. Some people scream at the heavens, or bury their head in their hands and cry, “Why, God?”  Others seek to cast blame, even for those things which are not of human origin.  In legal and insurance realms the reference is made to Acts of God, which may or may not be insurable. Someone’s got to be blamed, even if no fault is found!

Conversely though, when we find ourselves in a life threatening bind, a big financial constraint or when we are emotionally distressed, we invoke God’s name for help. At this time, we may have no other recourse – no one is watching so what harm can a small prayer do, right. If He exists, then perhaps he will help us, because we’re essentially good aren’t we?

Process theology to the rescue

Now comes the school of religious thought called process theology. These modern theologians say that the question of why God allows these tragedies, or why God is not apparently powerful enough to stop them, has vexed religious counselors for centuries. And well it may. Because people simply do not understand that question!

If God is all good, if God is love, he wouldn’t want humanity to suffer, would he? And if God is all powerful, as the Bible says he is, why doesn’t he stop suffering? Why doesn’t he prevent it?

The credibility of God is now at stake, say the theologians. The world, they contend, has grown weary of religious spokesmen trying to defend God and explain why God allows these things – and at the same time saying that God is all love, God is all good, God is all powerful and he could stop it, yet he doesn’t. So modern theologians now have come up with this new theology called process theology in an attempt to explain this apparent paradox.  God, they say, is entirely loving, but is lacking in power.

They say nothing of the real purpose of life. They say nothing about the restoration of the kingdom of God, the only gospel that Jesus Christ preached.

The Origin and Purpose of Life

But what is the real trouble with this question? What is the reason that God has not stopped all this violence, all this human suffering?

In all the religions of this world – the many different religions we call non-Christian, and even the religion of Christianity – not one religion knows who and what God is. What is God? Is he a trinity? Is God one person? They just don’t understand.  Not one religion on earth fully knows what and why man is. Why are we here? What is the purpose, if any?

Notice what God says about all this in Isaiah chapter 40, beginning with verse 17:

“All nations before him are as nothing; and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?… It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers [that is to God]; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:

“… To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might [there it speaks of God’s might, his power], for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (verses 17, 22, 25-26).

The earth turns on its axis. The different seasons regularly come. It is the power of God that is causing all of that. And that is mighty power.

And God formed man after the God kind, not after an animal kind, but in form and likeness of God. There is a very special purpose for man on earth and when you understand that, you begin to understand why God is allowing all the suffering on the earth today.

Notice, now, Genesis 2:7: “And the Lord God [Lord there is the name of the one that became Christ] formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man [made of the dust of the ground] became a living soul.”

Man Must Choose

The man that God created now had to make a choice.

Character is the ability of some separately created entity to come to a knowledge of right as from wrong, of truth as from error, of good as from evil. To choose the right, or the good, and to reject the evil – even though he might want to do the evil – to have the will to do the good, that is character.

God is the supreme, holy, righteous, perfect, spiritual character. And He is reproducing that character in man. How is that divine character going to get into something made out of the ground? God placed a human spirit in the first man. That human spirit could have a relationship with God, who is spirit.

But God placed before that man two choices, symbolized by two trees in the garden of Eden. The one tree was the tree of life. How does God give that life? It comes through the Holy Spirit. The person that has the Spirit of God has life, and he that has not the Spirit of God does not have life. If the Spirit of Christ is in you, you are his (I John 5:11-12).

If the Spirit of God is not in you, you are “none of his” (Rom. 8:9, last part). And, verse 11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken [make immortal] your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

God made us mortal, but he made us to become immortal. And God required that the man had to make a choice, because character had to be built in the man! Character is built through choice.

The other tree, the other choice before man, symbolized the way of man’s taking to himself – deciding altogether by himself – the knowledge of good and evil. How do we come to know the truth of God? In I Corinthians 2:9 we read, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart [mind] of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” – in other words, spiritual knowledge.

God reveals these things to us only by his Spirit. The Spirit of God reveals God’s knowledge – spiritual knowledge and spiritual character. But man decided to take the basis of that kind of character to himself, to decide right from wrong, truth from error, by himself.

So, in punishment, God at that time closed up the tree of life. In other words, he shut up the Holy Spirit from man.

God had set out a 7,000-year plan and purpose in which to develop the godlike character in man, made from the dust of the ground. God’s purpose is to make us immortal like God, until we become God as he is God. That has got to come through human experience, but it has to come from God, with our consent, our desire, our decision and our wills.

I John 3:1-2 says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us [here is the fact that God loves us], that we should be called the sons of God [ultimately to be born of God, though now begotten of God; for God is reproducing himself, and we’re called the sons of God]:… now [even right now] are we the sons of God [but only begotten, not yet born], and it doth not yet appear what we shall be [in other words, what we shall be one can’t see yet]: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

Man is clay to be molded

The purpose of God is character building. That is why he made man of matter. We could be molded spiritually, in a body of earthly clay, into divine character. We read in Isaiah 64:8, “But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

Even Job asked, “If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait [meaning in the grave], till my change come. Thou [God] shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands” (Job 14:14-15).

Job knew he was the work of God’s hands. We all are the clay. God is the potter. A potter molds and fashions clay into the form and shape he wants. Now God will – if we put ourselves in his hands, if we surrender to him, and to his will – take us and mold and shape us into the godlike character of love.

God is love. God will put his divine love in us, a love with which we were not born. It is a gift of God through his Holy Spirit.

We sow what we reap

Notice Isaiah 45:9, “Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker!… Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?… ”

What about the theologians reasoning that today’s divided Christianity is God’s religion, that this is God’s world, and God isn’t powerful enough to stop all of evil?

God is allowing man to make his own decisions. And if man makes the wrong decision, God has said whatever we sow we shall reap. God has told his people that ever since the beginning. He told Adam that. He told ancient Israel that. And Jesus Christ told us that. If we sin we will have to reap the consequences. God allows it. He allows suffering and the pain of sin for a good purpose.

God has given man a mind to think with. He gives man revealed knowledge in the Bible. Man can take that knowledge and learn to go God’s way. That is necessary for the development of character so we can become like God.

In Matthew 24:4-5 Jesus said, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name [Jesus said], saying, [that] I am [the] Christ; and shall deceive many.”

How can they do that? Jesus said in Matthew 15:9, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” They make the commandments of God of no effect by their tradition (verse 3).

The commandments of God are the right way to live; they reveal God’s way of life. Human beings have not kept the commandments of God. They have said, and many preachers are saying today, that the commandments of God are done away.

The commandments of God are the way of love, of love to God and love to neighbor. The first four of the Ten Commandments tell you how to love God, the last six how to love your neighbor. That is the way God lives and the way Christ lived while on earth.

But in Jeremiah 50:6 God says that the shepherds, the ministers of this world, lead his people astray and deceive them. That is exactly what has happened. The world has been deceived, and the deceived theologians can’t seem to understand why God allows all this suffering from disobedience till we learn our ways are wrong.

God allows it to teach us lessons. God allows it because we ourselves have brought it on ourselves, and because we have failed to develop the kind of character needed to become his children, to be glorified, to be given the gift of eternal life so as to live in happiness and peace and joy. There’s no other way for peace.

Man has brought all this on himself, in defiance of God! Man has been shaking his fist at God, telling God he won’t obey God and going his own way, the way that has seemed right to a man. It’s all a matter of cause and effect. It’s the way we have lived that has brought all these troubles on us, not God.

But God will show man whether he has power. God will finally deliver man from the evils of today’s civilization by his divine powers and establish his kingdom of peace over all the earth.

March 14, 2009

Are Birthday Celebrations Biblical?

17Only two birthday celebrations are referred to in the Bible. Interestingly, each one is associated with a tragic event (see Genesis 40:20-22 and Mark 6:21-27). Equally interesting is the fact that there are no examples in the Bible of any man or woman of God having participated in a celebration of his or her own birthday. Not once do we find that Jesus marked the anniversary of His birth in any fashion.

The Bible reveals that celebrating our physical birth is not an issue of primary importance to God. He is far more concerned with the development of spiritual character within us and our being born into His Kingdom (Eccl. 7:1; Rev. 21:7; Rom. 2:7; John 12:24-25). It is evident that God does not want His people to mimic the world in a self-serving and greedy approach. This certainly includes what one thinks about and how one treats the anniversary of one’s birth.

It is good to consider, however, that there is a vast difference between a simple acknowledgment that someone is a year older and observing the fact with a celebration. The date of one’s birth is not pagan. The fact that someone is a year older is not pagan.

Certainly, there are a number of milestones in life which are significant. A person’s reaching teenage or becoming old enough to drive or becoming of age or becoming seventy or eighty are all events which are perfectly proper for family members and friends to acknowledge. Simple recognition of an achievement is not wrong.

On the other hand, a birthday celebration with its usual trappings, inviting guests, giving elaborate gifts, baking and decorating a cake, lighting candles, and so forth, is an entirely different matter. This kind of festivity tends to accentuate flattery and vanity — the I-me-my attitude — and the GET rather than the GIVE way of life. Vanity and glorifying the self, of course, are condemned in God’s Word (see Galatians 5:26; II Peter 2:18; Colossians 2:18; I Corinthians 5:6; and Psalm 24:3-4).

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