Tag Archives: God

Why Go To Church?

I am writing today from beautiful Tulsa Oklahoma (Boston Avenue Methodist Church)

“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”  Hebrews 10:25

Over the years, I have heard many people tell me they don’t need a church. They can just study the Bible for themselves. They don’t need to go to a church that is filled with hypocrites, even if there is always room for one more. However, you can’t have a “one-person” church and fulfill the counsel in Hebrews 10:25. By setting up His church, God does more than command us to study and worship. He commands us to do more than spread the gospel by ourselves. Hebrews 10:25 is a command to be social. Paul does not merely say, “Do not give up hope and do not stop studying the Scriptures. He says, “Do not stop meeting together in a social setting.”

Paul, of all people, knew the importance of a church. Once he was converted in Acts 9, God directed him to the city where he met Ananias and Barnabas and the rest of the church. Even though Paul had a one-on-one encounter with God, he still needed to understand the importance of living and growing in a church setting.

Paul counseled us to keep being social, because he knew it was not good for man to be alone. Now think about this for a moment. God creates Adam. Adam has God and God has Adam. Yet God does not say, “Adam has Me, and I am all that he needs.” No, God Himself says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Genesis 2:18

Now let this soak in. God Himself is saying, “I am not all Adam needs! He needs a community.”

If you believe God is all you need and that you don’t need anyone else in your life, then you are contradicting the God you serve! He Himself says He is not all you need. You need a community of believers. God created a mate for Adam, and thus fulfilled some other obvious needs of Adam, but ultimately they fulfill God’s purpose of creating a community. God knew Adam needed more than just to be able to worship God alone. He needed to be able to worship and serve God with a community of believers.

If you ever date someone who tries to isolate you from your family and friends, be very concerned about that. If their love is a Godly love, they will love like God and encourage you to be social and active in your family and community. If God Himself realizes we need more in our lives than just Him, how dare a mere mortal human being tell us they are all we need!  If their love is from God they will not be egotistical and tell us we don’t need anyone but them. God’s love is a healthy love which does not isolate. A love that tries to isolate is very unhealthy.

Worshiping in a social setting such as a church, means we will meet hypocrites, and they will meet hypocrites when they meet us. Hypocrites are just people who do not live up to all of their ideals, and that is all of us. But by God’s grace, He is getting us there and will get us there. In the meantime we need each other to get there.

I have a community Bible study where people of all faiths are invited to our church on Wednesday mornings. One morning an elderly lady said something that has always stayed with me. She said, “If someone in the church keeps rubbing you the wrong way, maybe God is just using them to polish your character.” I think she is right. God says it is not good for us to be alone. We need a community of believers. Some will encourage us, and even those we don’t get along the best with, will help polish our characters.

We need each other!

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

The Ten Commandments In Light Of The Cross Part 1

 

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

 

Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people. Exodus 19:4-5

Just as the Israelites did not save themselves from the Egyptians, but God saved them; so we will not save ourselves from the power of sin, but He will. He goes on and tells us to obey His voice. My Strong’s Concordance tells me that word “obey” (shama) means to listen and be attentive. God is not demanding a legalistic obedience of works. He is asking us to listen and be attentive to His promises to save and deliver from bondage.

Many have the idea that the Old Testament is about being saved by law while the New Testament is about being saved by grace. But grace is just as real in the Old Testament as it is in the New Testament. God wants us to listen to His voice of promises! The Lawgiver goes on and says “keep my covenant.” Again, according to my Strong’s concordance, that word “keep” (shamar) means to guard or protect. Shamar is the same word used in Genesis 2:15 when Adam was told to keep the garden. Did God mean for him to obey the garden? No, He meant for him to cherish the garden. Care for it. Protect it. The word “covenant” is also a promise. So in Exodus 19:3-5 the Lawgiver is telling us that just as He delivered the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage, He will also deliver us from spiritual bondage, if we will only cherish His promises!

In Exodus 20:2, God begins the Ten Commandments by repeating “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. “ The idea expressed is, I delivered you from bondage and if you continue trusting my promises, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” In other words, if you trust in God and His promises you will have no other gods, because you will never feel like you need another god. He will be your all in all.

Revelation 3; Why Are We Lukewarm?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.     Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  Revelation 3:14-21

This is the last of the seven churches, and represents the last church of the Christian era. In every letter to every church, Jesus asks them to overcome, but in His letter to His last day church, He asks them to overcome, “even as also I overcame.” He is asking His last day church to do something beyond what He has ever asked any church to do before. He is asking them to perfectly reflect His character to a world dying for the hope only He can bring. This can only be done by casting away our so called righteousness for His true righteousness. That is what makes us so lukewarm, we are trying to be like God while still trying to be filled with self. We buy God’s gold and white raiment, by trading in our pride and self-righteousness.

We see in this letter, that there is hope! While Jesus does not paint a pretty picture of our condition, He implies that through His grace He expects to see us overcome! I remember when working at UPS once as a part time supervisor, my full time supervisor was rebuking me for a mistake I made. He seemed to be a little rough on me, but he ended the conversation by saying, “When you become a full time supervisor you will understand what I am talking about.” So while my boss did not paint a pretty picture of my current situation, he also implied he expected me to perform better and get promoted! If we study this letter to Laodicea carefully, we can see all the things Jesus can do for  and through us once we put self away.

God’s ideal for His children is higher than the highest human thought can reach. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This command is a promise. The plan of redemption contemplates our complete recovery from the power of Satan. Christ always separates the contrite soul from sin. He came to destroy the works of the devil, and He has made provision that the Holy Spirit shall be imparted to every repentant soul, to keep him from sinning.  {Desire of Ages, p. 311}  

Acts 9-12; Pride and Humility

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Acts of the Apostles Chapters 14 and 15.

These chapters are based on Acts 9-12

As I read these two chapters here is what jumped out at me. First we see a man who has come to Peter to learn more about Jesus. Here is what happens, “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped [him]. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.”  Acts 10:25-26 While the pope and many other religious leaders for that matter will accept worship and homage from others, not Peter! He realizes he is just a man and refuses to let anyone worship him. According to Catholic church tradition Peter was the first pope but Peter would never assume the title Vicar of Christ and would never allow himself to be worshiped. Peter realized worshiping humans in the place of God is blasphemy.

Later in Acts 12 let’s look at what happened, “And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, [saying, It is] the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. But the word of God grew and multiplied.  Acts 12:21-24.

 

Unlike Peter, Herod accepts being worshiped as a god and we see what happened. Here is the thing that is so ironic to me. Peter was a lot closer to being like God than Herod was and yet, Peter refused to be put on that pedestal while Herod who was nothing like God at all accepts the praises of the people. My point is, the closer we are to being like Christ the less boastful we will be. Pride is a sure sign that we are nowhere close to Jesus.

I have seen this contrast between Peter and Herod many times, on a much smaller scale of course. One such incident really amuses me to this day. My father had been the church treasure for many years and people loved the job that he did. One year though a long long time ago, my dad decides to take a break and made them pick someone else. When they asked this someone else of course they had no idea they were only being asked because my dad refused the position for that year. This someone then goes to my parents and tells them the reason they were picked instead of my dad (which they weren’t my dad was asked first and turned it down) was because they had formal training and a degree. Before the year was up this someone had made such a mess of the books that my dad had to take back over to straighten everything out. My dad is not one to brag but I will. My dad was the humble one in this story but doing the better job, while this someone had all the pride but could not do the job. That is just human nature though, and so much like all of us. On an magnificantly larger scale, we have Herod who was proud for no reason, while Peter who was very close to Jesus practiced humility. Reminds you of Lucifer who wanted to exalt himself above God, and then God who became a man and a servant to die for us all.

You may find more studies and devotionals at In Light of The Cross.

A New Look at Life

Sunsets St.Pete 011

I am writing from the beautiful Tampa Bay area today.

 

After spending the weekend in the Emergency Room I am feeling much better! I was not sure what I had, but my muscles were very weak and extremely painful. It took me five minutes to get the tab off a new orange juice carton. I about never got dressed for church, but had to since I have not missed a service in 20 twenty years.

 

The ER said my CPK count got up to over 1400 and is suppose to be less than 300. CPK is a chemical your body puts out when the muscles are shutting down. Thanks to much prayer my count is down to 700 and I feel great! My hand is writing a lot better too. I have been back to work the last three days now. I see the doctor again on Monday. We are still not sure what happened but need to find out. I love mysteries but not when they involve my health!

 

I want to thank those who have brought over food, visited, called and most of all prayed for me. While this has been a very painful ordeal it has also been very eye opening to see all the love that is out there. I appreciate it very much.

 

Friday night and Saturday night were very rough nights for me. Very painful and wondering what is wrong? Times like these call for much prayer and even some deep soul searching. Here are some conclusions I have made in the middle of those painful, prayerful nights.

 

It is foolish to ask God why bad things happen to good people for the simple fact that there are no good people for bad things to happen to. Psalms 14:3 When I wake up in the morning feeling good I praise my God who makes good things happen to bad people just like me! Romans 2:4, Ephesians 2:8-9.

 

I am going to take my health much more seriously. I thought it was frustrating when my computer or cell phone was not working right. Now I could care less how those things work or don’t work. I just want my body to work right and I need to take care of it!

 

I used to think that some people thought I over did the sunset and Florida scenery pictures. I don’t think God’s beauty in nature can be over appreciated now. If someone thought I was crazy for taking so many pictures I have news for them, I think you are crazy for not being out there taking pictures with me. I may have taken a million pictures and I plan on taking millions more.

 

Again, while some wonders get old to some people they never get old to me. I used to think I was silly when the airplane would be taking off and everyone was relaxing with their head sets on and eyes closed or their nose buried in a book, while I was looking out the window thinking “This is so cool!” even though its my 50th plane ride. Well guess what? On my next plane ride I will have a window seat and will be looking out the window thinking “This is so cool!” even though it will be my 51st plane ride. Life is too wonderful and precious and I don’t think I can over appreciate it.

 

I am going to let people know I love them no matter how corny it makes me look or how awkward it makes them feel. I am not going to worry if they love me back or not. Life is short and I only have time to love!

 

Love ya!

Thoughts on Loved and Loving: John’s Epistles Lesson 6

Small group Spring Break 033

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s SS lesson asks the question, “What are ways that we can manifest the spirit of antichrist toward others?”  

I think there are several ways, all of which boils down to pride. For example, many understand Paul is speaking of the anti Christ in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”  

 Do we take God’s place in the temple when we sit in condemnation of our brother? Jesus Himself says in John 5:22, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:” If we decide to condemn a brother are we not trying to sit in Christ’s judgment seat? Are we not making ourselves a “Christ”? 

 It is pride and the spirit of anti-christ that makes us think we can condemn a brother. It is the same foolish pride that makes us think we can save ourselves, or that others must be saved by our standards. In Revelation John writes about the anit-christ and Babylon. Many Adventists recognize the anti-christ as the leader of Babylon. We recognize Babylon as a false system of worship. This is true, but Babylon is more than a system of worship, it is an attitude. 

The attitude of Babylon and the anit-christ is, “I can save myself by my works.” It all started at the tower of Babel when man decided not to trust God anymore and relied on their own efforts to build a tower of salvation. They did not trust God to not destroy them and thought they could work their own way to heaven. Later in the book of Daniel we read where God gave the kingdom into the king of Babylon’s hands. Instead of recognizing this as a free gift, he looks out over his dominion and says, “is this not great Babylon that I have built.” The king of Babylon had to learn that all he had was a gift of grace and not the efforts of his works. In Revelation 14 we read about the fall of Babylon in the second angel’s message. The first angel tells us about the everlasting gospel of grace and uses language which reminds us of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a sign of rest. We rest our faith in God as our creator and redeemer. By giving our allegiance to the gospel and the Sabbath we humble ourselves in recognizing that we did not make ourselves nor redeem ourselves. The Sabbath truth destroys our pride, works, and anti-christ attitudes. Thus Babylon falls, as we realize no man made system of worship is going to save us. Nothing man made can save us whether it is a tower or a day of worship. 

Cain had the attitude of Babylon when he presented the works of his field as a sacrifice. God could not accept any form of worship that had the print of self on it. He could only accept the sacrifice and worship Abel presented which pointed to the Lamb of God, our only hope of salvation.  

 In Galatians 2:20 Paul shows us the pure gospel is “not I but Christ”. Anytime pride tries to make it a combination of our ideas with Christ’s ideas or our works with Christ’s works, we have the spirit of anit-christ and Babylon.

 

You can find more studies and devotionals on my personal website, In Light of The Cross.

Thoughts on Loved and Loving: John’s Epistles Lesson 5

Conner Baptism 002

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.  Matthew 5:13

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  John 17:5-17. 

In Friday’s section of this week’s SS lesson it states: “Some people, heeding the call against loving the world, isolate themselves from the world as much as they can, moving into monasteries or communities that are radically separate from the norm. Is this a good idea?” 

Some people try to take themselves out of the world to become “godly”. However Titus 2:11-12 promises us holiness in this present world. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”  

Fact is Jesus says we are the salt of the earth. In order for the salt to save or preserve the food it must be mixed with it. Here are some passages I have found in the Spirit of Prophecy that may help us be a blessing to the world without becoming “worldly”. 

Hearts that respond to the influence of the Holy Spirit are the channels through which God’s blessing flows. Were those who served God removed from the earth, and His Spirit withdrawn from among men, this world would be left to desolation and destruction, the fruit of Satan’s dominion. Though the wicked know it not, they owe even the blessings of this life to the presence, in the world, of God’s people whom they despise and oppress. But if Christians are such in name only, they are like the salt that has lost its savor. They have no influence for good in the world. Through their misrepresentation of God they are worse than unbelievers.–The Desire of Ages, p. 306. 

 

  And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land. 2 Kings 2:21 

     In casting salt into the bitter spring, Elisha taught the same spiritual lesson imparted centuries later by the Saviour to His disciples when He declared, “Ye are the salt of the earth.” The salt mingling with the polluted spring purified its waters and brought life and blessing where before had been blighting and death. When God compares His children to salt, He would teach them that His purpose in making them the subjects of His grace is that they may become agents in saving others. . . . 

     Salt must be mingled with the substance to which it is added; it must penetrate, infuse it, that it may be preserved. So it is through personal contact and association that men are reached by the saving power of the gospel. They are not saved as masses, but as individuals. Personal influence is a power. It is to work with the influence of Christ, . . . and to stay the progress of the world’s corruption. . . . It is to uplift, to sweeten the lives and characters of others by the power of a pure example united with earnest faith and love. . . . 

     The polluted stream represents the soul that is separate from God. . . . Through sin, the whole human organism is deranged, the mind is perverted, the imagination corrupted; the faculties of the soul are degraded. There is an absence of pure religion, of heart holiness. The converting power of God has not wrought in transforming the character. . . .       The heart that receives the word of God is not as a pool that evaporates. . . . It is like a river constantly flowing and, as it advances, becoming deeper and wider, until its life-giving waters are spread over all the earth. . . . So it is with the true child of God. The religion of Christ reveals itself as a vitalizing, pervading principle, a living, working, spiritual energy. When the heart is opened to the heavenly influence of truth and love, these principles will flow forth again like streams in the desert, causing fruitfulness to appear where now are barrenness and dearth.  – Conflict and Courage, p. 224 

  “We as a people do not believe it our duty to go out of the world to be out of the fashion. If we have a neat, plain, modest, and comfortable plan of dress, and worldlings choose to dress as we do, shall we change this mode of dress in order to be different from the world? No, we should not be odd or singular in our dress for the sake of differing from the world, lest they despise us for so doing. Christians are the light of the world, the salt of the earth. Their dress should be neat and modest, their conversation chaste and heavenly, and their deportment blameless.  – Testimonies for the Church Vol. 1, p.424 

Now I would just like to share a thought of my own. While serving as a lay pastor in Texas I was always troubled by the several dark counties that we had there. I often prayed for opportunities to enter those dark counties and evangelize them. However, I  had so much to do in my own county I could never do that. Then a thought occurred to me. Maybe it is not my responsibility. Maybe rather than having thousands of Adventists congregate into one little Adventist community like Keene or Collegedale, God would rather have those people move out into these dark counties and plant new churches. Just a thought I would like to throw out before I go back to minding my own business now.