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Monday, August 29, 2016

Whate'er My God Ordains Is Right - A Childlike Trust

On Sunday night I heard a song which had some solid lyrics that those of us who may be suffering would well attend to.

Sometimes our feelings rebel and resent increased pain and trials even as Christians.
Yet we don't want to be rebellious against God and His Sovereign purposes.
God does care about us, and we must look to Him for endurance, strength, and rescue.
I know that God is not unjust, and that one day sorrow and pain will depart for the believer in Heaven.
So, I must patiently endure, realizing the hope of  the joy of Heaven, and recognizing God's care of me on earth as well.
Even the hard times are meant to turn me to trust Him.

Christians, please pray that I will have true joy and a childlike trust in Christ in my trials with no sinful resentment, and if you would like prayer, please comment and let me know.
I know that some of my friends also are going through very difficult days.

 The last words of the four verses of the song "Whate'er My God Ordains Is Right" go like this:

 "He holds me that I shall not fall" 

 "His hand can turn my griefs away." 

 "...sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart." 

 And again:
"He holds me that I shall not fall."


 

Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.
Psalm 131:2 NASB

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Should A Woman Agree To Submit To Private Bible Studies With A Man?

Since this post could be considered instructive, I want to start out by letting people know that I am a woman.  

Should women or teen girls have private one on one Bible studies with a married man who is not their husband?   

For a married woman whose husband is a Christian, this should be a no-brainer.  You are subject to your own husband, and Ephesians 5:22-24 makes it plain that  a wife is directly under her husband (not someone else's).   Verses 26-27 shows that the husband's love must be a type that desires purification for his wife.   Christian men need to take responsibility for their own wives.   Surely women can learn from public instruction in the church, but men are the special leaders in the home.
So, of course, if a married woman has a Christian husband to lead her in Bible study that is super and desirable.
Older women also are to instruct younger women how to behave, and to love and be subject to their husbands (Titus 2:3-5).
The Bible seems to lead back to men being over their wives, and parents being over their children.

What about wives of non-believers or single women?  
Again, older women can instruct other women.
I believe this could include wives of unbelieving husbands.
The unbelieving husband is still head over the wife (1 Peter 3:1-6), but clearly the unbeliever won't be able to lead in Bible study.
We all should be willing to be disciple makers, but certainly there is a huge danger of temptation in crossing gender lines.
Women tend to form emotional attachments with those that they look up to and admire.   Men are not immune either when they meet alone with vulnerable women.   People shouldn't think that someone's being married will keep them from coveting or lusting which can lead to adultery.

Single women are very vulnerable, so as a single woman I would not want to have a private Bible study or a private in person meeting with a married man who isn't my father leading me.
I try to limit private communication to infrequent with married men, and if I ever cross over a line, I hope that I will be warned by someone and heed the warning!

Christians are to flee youthful lusts and to pursue righteousness (2 Timothy 2:22).

In Proverbs 5, there is warning for men to avoid an adulteress.
Women should also show discretion to keep from those who could lead them into temptation and sin.
Age isn't the issue.  I'm not young, but that doesn't take away danger.

In the disciples' prayer,  Jesus gave an example of praying to God the Father, and the prayer includes "lead us not into temptation."
Why would we pray for God to not lead us into temptation and then intentionally put ourselves in situations that bring it about?

Some Biblical accounts where people went into dangerous situations that did not turn out so well:
David outside looking at the roof where a woman was bathing - and then having her come to him to be intimate,  Amnon with his half sister Tamar (2 Samuel 13)- inviting her into his room alone and then violating her,  etc.  We don't even always know that someone is a danger to us.  I don't know if Bathsheba knew David's plans, and certainly Tamar didn't.  I'm not blaming them at all.  Sometimes we know the danger, and other times we can't.
David knew & Amnon knew.

Nobody is immune to temptation.  

If you think that you can intentionally put yourself into a dangerous situation and not get burned, that is not wisdom.  That is pride.
Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
Christians can fall into sin too.

David was a man after God's own heart, but he sinned.
Abraham had an immoral relationship with Hagar, but he was a man of faith.
He also threw his wife into danger by only calling her his sister in Genesis 12 & 20.
While a person whose life pattern is sin is not a believer, that doesn't mean that a true Christian will never sin or is immune to temptation.
Sin has temporal consequences even for believers.
The hyper-grace movement is a dangerous one.
Christians should never sin that grace may abound.

1 Corinthians 10:8-13 is a warning not to indulge in immorality, and again, lest we think Christians are immune, it warns those who think they stand to be careful lest they fall.
God will provide a way of escape in situations of undesired temptation (like He did for Joseph with Potiphar's wife), but that is not an invitation to intentionally put ourselves into temptation's path! Proverbs is full of warnings to avoid temptation.

Christians need to also avoid intentionally being a temptation to others.

Just as a father shouldn't provoke his children to anger, and one Christian shouldn't tempt another to go against their weaker conscience, so we should show discretion in our own behavior toward each other.

My Application Thoughts: 

For a godly woman, an example of not tempting or provoking someone to lust, would be not wearing provocative, skimpy, peek-a-boo, or tight clothing, and not to have private or flirtatious meetings with men.

It could also mean limiting the amount of private communication with married men who aren't a spouse (also making sure that others can have access to what is said).
If you are a married woman, that would also include single men.
Even what might seem spiritual, evangelistic, or harmless could become a stumbling block and a temptation (which is true for both men and women).

When there are two single people, being alone in a room or building is a great danger.
That is why when I see a movie where a single person goes into another single person's home alone the mental alarm goes off in my mind.
That is so unwise, and it is putting both people into the path of temptation.

Avoiding and fleeing temptation is good, but I need to also pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
Philippians 4:8 NASB

I would appreciate kind Biblical feedback.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Help Louisiana

Most of you probably know about the major flooding that happened recently in Louisiana, but perhaps not everyone knows how to help.
There are a couple of churches in that area that are helping out that you can donate through:

1.Community Bible Church,
   8354 Jefferson Hwy. Baton Rouge, La. 70809
   Memo: Flood Relief Fund

2. New Covenant Church
   Blog Updates Here: http://newcovenantds.com/

So much has been going on with our family that I am probably a little late with this, but they still will need assistance down there.
The church my family has been visiting is planning to send some things down there too.
People often give initially when disasters happen, but then as time goes by assistance fizzles out.
Please pray for Louisiana.  Many people are affected.   I read about a pastor's family that was evacuated during the flooding (but the pastor stayed to help), as well as I read about many in a church that were both affected and helping out.  It's wonderful to see God's people caring for others in spite of their own problems.
Also, Christians, please pray for the Gospel to shine forth!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dear Pastors

This week I was watching parts of a 9 Marks conference called the "First Five Years." It was directed at newer pastors, and this was one of the messages that especially stood out to me.
Jonathan Worsley is a pastor in England at a church called Kew Baptist.

This message is really worth your time:




Don't Throw Out The Hymn Books
The following is an interesting article about hymns (though one of the songs mentioned in this article I take some issue with...as we don't crown the Lord...as "All Hail The Power of Jesus' Name" says).
I actually like a mix of hymns & other spiritual songs with good lyrics, but people shouldn't write off the tried and true.
Hymns are still good 

Expository Preaching
A lot of pastors claim to do expository preaching, but do they?
Evangelicalism's Got Talent Part 2

Church Clothes Matter
What a pastor wears can affect how people approach the Word of God:
Q & A: Pastor Jayson Explains Why A Pastor's Wardrobe Matters

Monday, August 15, 2016

Giving REAL Courage - Encouragement Part 2 by Jim Wine

All of us need encouragement to navigate distresses and difficulties. We can’t do it alone. But, PLEASE don't give someone false encouragement. Give them the REAL thing!

Merriam Webster defines encouragement as “something that makes someone more determined, hopeful, or confident.”  Sounds good, right?  But let’s face it, the “something” that makes someone more hopeful could be the result of, say, deception or drugs.  This might provide short-term encouragement, but the long-term consequences might be devastating. So, Yes! We need encouragement, but it needs to be based on truth.

And that, my friend, is “the rub.”  TRUTH.  Encouragement is based on hope. And the definition of "hope" is the expectation of future good.  Or, as Webster says: “to expect with confidence.” How can we give true, confident  hope to people if we don’t know the future?

This is important.  I want you “get this”. Knowledge about the future can ONLY come from someone who knows the future.

And there is only One who truly knows the future: God.  If you understand this, then you will readily realize: True, reliable hope only comes from what God says.

And there is only ONE RELIABLE PLACE to know what God says: the Bible.

The issue must be clearly stated:

People are so hungry for encouragement and hope that they are automatically predisposed to receive it – even if it is based on mere opinion, deception, wishful thinking or mythology.  And, for some people, who have seen this form of false hope dished out so often, even in churches, they have become inoculated against even REAL encouragement. How sad for someone to reject REAL, living hope because they have been conditioned to distrust the encouragement that others offer. So let’s “get to it!”  What, actually, does God say that would encourage us, or give us hope?

What a question! The Bible is a literal gold mine of hope and encouragement!  You can almost poke it in any location and it will bleed with hope, encouragement, offers of life, renewal and grace. Consider these amazing, certain, and unambiguous statements by God for those who believe in Jesus:

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,Heb 13:5.
Please listen to what God says to His followers: “I will NEVER leave you or forsake you.” Do you feel forsaken? Do you feel alone? You are not!  “Forsake” means to abandon and leave someone without help or resources. As a believer in Jesus, you are never forsaken by Him. Never!  He is right there. Knowing you. Praying for you. Watching over you. God never forsakes His children. But that is not all…Jesus is preparing a place for your future:

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also,” John 14:1-3.
This clear statement about the future indicates without doubt that Jesus is preparing a place for those who believe in Him. And He WILL come again to receive His people. He also promises relationship: “Where I am, you may be also.” Imagine it: you will walk and talk with Jesus as a personal friend. Yes, He is your Lord and King, but He is your friend as well. Consider this amazing statement by Jesus regarding His return:

“Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.” Luke 12:37.

What?! Are you kidding me?!  Is Jesus, the Lord of the universe going to serve those He loves when He comes?  Yes, He is.  These words are directly from His mouth, and He never lies. Have you considered recently the kindness and humility of the Master whom you love and serve? Have you considered how intimately aware He is of your current suffering?  Please remember that this Jesus who loves you has not forsaken you. He is with you. And not only that, He is preparing a future dwelling place so that you can be with Him forever.  And not only that, but He is determined to serve those “alert” servants who never stop watching and waiting. Look at the words underlined below:

“Be dressed in readiness, and keep your lamps lit. Be like men who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door to him when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.

Listen. These verses make clear the connection between future HOPE and current ACTION.  Without hope, your action will not be appropriate. Why are the servants ready? Why will they be able to open the door “immediately?”  Because they know something about the future. They have hope: a confident expectation about the future. And so what do they do? They watch. They are ready. They keep their lamps lit. They don’t give up. They keep going against all odds. They persevere. They don’t lose heart. They are focused. They believe what God has said.

So…

My question for you: Do you believe what God says? If you do, your hope will be strengthened and you will have courage to continue. Please be encouraged. Your fight for hope really matters. Oh that you would meditate on God’s promises. There are so many! God bless you dear friend.

For further study. Here are some other wonderful statements in the Bible that I love. How wonderful is the future for those who trust in Jesus.

(Verses are from the NASB)
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 2 Cor 4:16-17.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us, Rom 8:31-34.

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,  Heb 6:17-19.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Rom 8:28.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, John 11:25.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 8:35-39.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor 15:58.
Psalms 37:1-11 (words that indicate the future are underlined)
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.
For evildoers will be cut off,
But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.
Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more;
And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there.
But the humble will inherit the land
And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

All encouragement not based on God’s Word is an unsure foundation for the future.
On the other hand, God can never lie, and He knows every detail about the future.
If God said it, we can be confident that it will happen exactly as He has described.
He is watching. May we keep our hearts firmly rooted in biblical hope, and pass along REAL courage to others.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

To All Law Enforcement

I care about your life. Thank you for your service. I don't want you to die, but there are no guarantees any of us will live to see another day on earth. 
I care enough that I have been praying for many of you, and I want you to know the most important thing of all.

All of us will one day die and face God. He created mankind in His image, but you know better than most how depraved mankind is. The first human beings sinned, & we all sin.

Lying, lusting, coveting, stealing, adultery, hatred towards each other, gossiping, & not honoring God for Who He is are all sins that deserve eternal punishment in Hell. 
No matter how moral we try to be or how much we do to serve others, it can't save us from Hell.  
We could never be good enough.
This is because God is infinitely holy and perfect and just, and we are not. 
He will judge the world, and the standard by which He will judge is His own character, and the only way to be saved from the wrath we deserve is to trust in Jesus alone.

Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, and He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect sinless life, performed miracles as signs of Who He is, and then He intentionally died on a cross even though innocent.
He did this as the final perfect sacrifice Lamb to take away the sin of the world (having sins placed on Him), so that everyone who repents & trusts in His substitutionary death will be declared righteous as though they had lived Christ's life.

Christ Jesus traded His life for those who at the time were enemies, so that all those who believe will not only be forgiven, but have eternal life in a place of eternal joy with Him in Heaven.

Jesus rose from the grave and conquered death, so that all who trust in Him will be justified before God....set free of eternal punishment and made to be adopted children of God!  Those who are His will also have bodies resurrected one day.

I hope and pray someone will read this, and I know God is Sovereign over that, as He is Sovereign to call and bring people to faith in Himself.
He is trustworthy.

Please read the Bible, as it is God's Word, and it is where you will find the truth.
If you want to start with John or Romans, go ahead.  Then I would encourage people to read the whole Book!

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Godly Thinking, Unity In Essentials, & Men Who Rocked The World

Last Sunday night we heard a really good message about the things Christians should be thinking & dwelling on.  
Now, putting it more into practice can be tough.
I encourage those who missed it to find time to listen!

Godly Thinking, Godly Living by Mike Riccardi

"Godliness doesn’t always guarantee godly discernment."  - Cameron Buettel
Sometimes godly men made bad decisions or alliances.  We don't understand, and it really disappoints us.  We need to not make the same decisions they do:

Jehoshaphat & Dangerous Naiveté by Cameron Buettel

On the other hand, we need to have unity with true brothers & sisters in Christ:

1. Unity Across Denominational Lines - GTY

2. Maturity in Essentials and Non-Essentials by Pastor John Samson


Next month, Stephen Lawson is scheduled to speak on some historical men God used.
It does cost a little, but it includes breakfast for one of the days.
Men Who Rocked The World Conference 
September 23-24th, 2016 

Men Who Rocked The World 2016 from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Muslim Dreams & The Closed Canon

I recently had discussions online about dreams that people claim led them to seek Christ, and about whether the canon of Scripture is closed.

Muslim dreams - If someone claims they were led to seek Christ by dreams, should we be concerned?
Is it nitpicking to question it?

An Evaluation of Muslim Dreams...

My additional thoughts:
When people claim to see Biblical characters (even though not Jesus) in their dreams, we should not give it weight.
What leads to Christ is the Spirit at work, and faith comes when people actually hear or read the truth of the Bible.
Believe me, if I followed my dreams, I'd be in deep trouble, so I don't put stock in them.
Dreams may reflect your anxieties, lusts, or even positive desires in your subconscious, but I am very concerned about people giving any weight to dreams & visions in their testimonies when the canon of Scripture is closed.

The canon of Scripture closed:

Part 1  Prophecy And The Closed Canon

Part 2  Prophecy And The Closed Canon

Part 3  Prophecy And The Closed Canon
"Attempts to add to the Bible, and claims of further revelation from God have always been characteristic of heretics and cultists, not the true people of God."

This is something Christians should also consider:

Why do we recognize only 66 books of Scripture?