Who Am I? – V

May 29, 2015

Exodus 20:4-6

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

For the next installment to answer the question:  Who Am I? I have chosen Exodus 20:4-6:

      You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of any
      thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in
      the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. 
      For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the
      fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who
      hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep
      My commandments.

●      I am a grandfather.  Actually I am also a great grandfather with a three year old great grandson, Noah.  At 69 I am too young to be a great grandfather, but life happens!  The point is, what is our responsibility according to the Bible toward our future generations?

This is a good time to point something out:  God’s Word speaks to every situation that life can present to us.  It may be a direct command, an example – positive or negative, a parable, a comparison or just an inference.  In most cases to best understand the situation, we should not just take one verse or section on the subject at hand, but we should pull all the scriptures together that are relevant to get the clearest picture possible.  A good study Bible and a concordance are invaluable, as are other study aids.

○      Back to I am a grandfather.  In our scripture from Exodus 20 God says He is “…a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me…” (verse 5).  The same thinking about generations should be carried over into verse 6 also:  “…but showing mercy to thousands [of generations], to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”  The result of loving and obeying God has a more powerful effect on generations following than does idolatry and sin (verse 4)!

Consider idolatry – God is speaking about bowing down in worship to carved images and serving them in Exodus 20:4.  But Saint Paul greatly widens our view of idolatry in Colossians 3:5 where he says, “…covetousness…is idolatry.”  What does it mean to covet ?  Webster gives this definition:  “to desire ardently (especially, something that another person has).”  The tenth of the Ten Commandments deals with this in Exodus 20:17:  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor is manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.  If we are to…love the Lord…our God with all…our heart, with all…our soul, with all…our strength, and with all…our mind…” (Luke 10:27), then anything we put before God – whatever it is we are coveting – is idolatry!  God is to be first in our lives!  And His Word, the Bible, is to be first in our minds!  And His will is to be first in our obedience!

…and that kind of living will radically affect untold future generations!

○      There is another scripture that comes to mind when I think of my grandchildren – Psalm 71:17 and 18:

      O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your
      wondrous works.  Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not
      forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation.

I imagine the Psalm writer watching his grandchildren at play as this prayer comes to his mind.  So too, I do not want to pass from this earth until my grandchildren know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and are living for Him!  As a matter of fact, lately my prayer for my five local grandboys and my great grandson has been, “Lord, raise up six preachers of righteousness from these six little boys, whether they chose preaching for a vocation or they do it as their avocation!

Share the gospel with your grandchildren, by word and deed – that Jesus died for them, to pay for their sins, and that He lives forever to rescue them from hell and a wasted life here and now, and give them heaven and fulness of life.

○      Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 5:17, “…pray without ceasing….”  Pray for your progeny every day – even many times a day!  For as it says in James 5:16, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

No, you are not done ‘parenting’ when your children are raised.  There are grandchildren and great grandchildren – and a thousand generations to come after that – if the Lord waits concerning His second coming.  Set the example by your life, tell them about Jesus, and pray for them often!  May it be your greatest desire to have them forever with you in heaven someday!

Who Am I? – IV

May 27, 2015

Ephesians 5:1-4

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Who Am I? First, I am a child of God. Second, I am a sinner saved by grace. Third, I am a husband. Now let’s consider the next installment:

●      I am a father. Consider Ephesians 6:1-4:

      Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your
      father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that
      it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” And you,
      fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the
      training and admonition of the Lord.

○      I included the first three verses of this scripture even though it refers to children more than fathers. But notice in verse 2, where it says, “Honor your father and mother….” While this is directed towards children, a parent – if he or she is to be honored by their children – ought to live honorably! Being honorable, according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, means “worthy of being honored; specifically…of good reputation; respectable….[a life] bringing honor to the owner or doer….” It is as that old adage says, “If you are going to talk the talk, then walk the walk!” Another old saying: “The nut does not fall far from the tree! If you want your children to be productive Christian adults, then model that life before them consistently!

○      Verse 4 of our scripture first gives fathers a command in the negative: “…do not provoke your children to wrath….Provoking your children to wrath can be done aggressively or passively. A child who is disciplined with severity – or a child who is beaten for no apparent reason – out of anger and rage is likely to learn and apply such behavior to their children. Hence the fulfillment of the warning in the second of the Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:5: “For I the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me.” Such generationally learned iniquity is hard to break.

Passive provoking is what developed anger and wrath in me. My father left his family – my mother and three boys, I being the youngest – when I was ten years old. My mother was in her mid fifties and not in good health. In the spring of the next year she was forced to sell the family dairy farm in northwestern Connecticut. That 200 plus acre farm was the most stable and permanent thing in my life! All I wanted to do when I grew up was to take over the family farm! But it was gone. I don’t even remember my feelings at that time. I learned much later that apparently they were so painful that I shoved them down deep inside so I would not have to deal with them. Just a year or so after the farm was sold, I began medicating myself with alcohol, which led to other addictions later in my life. I was angry, and I did not know where that wrath came from! Thank God, I did not strike out and hurt people. I would pick inanimate objects such as doors and walls to pound with my fists. But I got tired of repairing holes in our walls! Thirty years later, through psychological testing and counseling, I discovered the reasons for my anger and compulsive living – I had lost the wholeness of my family, the family farm and my future! With God’s help, more counseling, and the patience of my wonderful wife, most of the explosive anger has quieted down.

○      The alternative to provoking your children to wrath is to “…bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4). In the King James it says, “…bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” To nurture means in the Greek to educate, train and correct. To admonish, according to Webster, is “to warn; caution against specific faults….to reprove mildly….to advise….to inform or remind, by way of a warning.” Certainly (and with lots of love), this is how God would have us to train and guide our children.

○      To what degree are we to “…bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord…”? This may sound extreme, but it is God’s instruction from Deuteronomy 11:18 through 20 (Good News Bible):

      Remember these commands and cherish them. Tie them on your arms and
      wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children.
      Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you
      are resting and when you are working. Write them on the doorposts of your
      houses and on your gates.

Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working. That’s all! You don’t have to do it at any other time! But what’s left? You are either at home or away; resting or working! There is no other time! In other words, instill the Word of God and its principles into the lives of your children all the time! And do it, not just by talking, but by living the Bible and its principles out before your children constantly! Let me give you a challenge here in the form of a question: How many times have your children ‘caught’ you reading your Bible or in prayer?  How can you expect them to learn to read the Bible and pray?

We all fail to reach God’s perfect standards – even as parents. That’s why Jesus Christ died for us, to redeem us from our failings and sins. But since I am a father, I have tried – and will continue to try – to instill the way of the Lord into my children.

Who Am I? – III

May 25, 2015

Ephesians 5:22-33

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Who Am I?  First, I am a child of God.  Second, I am a sinner saved by grace.  For this third installment, let’s consider the next priority in my life:

●      I am a husband.  The scripture I have chosen for this topic is Ephesians 6:21, 25 through 28, 31 and 33:

      …submitting to one another in the fear of God….Husbands, love your wives,
      just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it, that He might
      sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might
      present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any
      such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So husbands
      ought to love their wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves
      himself….For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be
      joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh….Nevertheless let
      each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the
      wife see that she respects her husband.

○      As a husband, I am to love my wife!  And what kind of love is that supposed to be?  Agape love!  It is the kind of love that seeks the highest and the best for the person so loved.  And it is a commitment – not based on feelings – to love that one no matter what!

I Corinthians 13:4 through 8 (Good News Bible) describes the characteristics of agape love:

      Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not
      ill-mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs;
      love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth.  Love never gives up;
      and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.  Love is eternal.

○      There is too much emphasis on verses 22 through 24 that excludes the rest of the passage:

      Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is
      head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church….Therefore, just as
      the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their husbands in

The wife is too often pictured to be meekly under the lordly dominance of the husband!  But husbands are exhorted to “…love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it….”  How did Jesus give Himself for the church?  He gave Himself completely, even dying to establish the church.  So if a husband would be willing to lay down his life for his wife, then anything else he might do to make her happy would be a lesser sacrifice.  And if he so laid down his life for her and she did not submit, then she would walk all over him.  And if she submitted to a husband who was not willing to sacrifice for her, then he would walk all over her!  It is no wonder then that Paul starts this passage with verse 22:  “…submitting to one another in the fear of God.”  When both submit to each other, then both are lifted up!

I must be willing to sacrifice for my wife – to do what I can to bless her.  She is told to respect her husband in verse 33.  If my wife is to respect me, I must be worthy of that respect – as a sacrificing husband who will do what he can to bring blessing to her!

○      Notice also the result that Christ has in mind for His Bride, the Church:  “…that He might sanctify and cleanse it…[and] present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.”  I, as a husband, should seek my wife’s Christian growth and maturity, and do what I can to facilitate it!

○      I am to love myself according to the Great Commandment of Luke 10:27:  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  My closest neighbor is my wife, and I am to love and care for her as much as I love and care for myself!

○      Paul in verse 31 is quoting Genesis 2:24: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  One flesh refers to the physical union of husband and wife. n I am to be mindful of my wife’s physical/sexual needs as she is of mine.  And if addressed properly, fulfilling these needs necessitates keeping romance in marriage.

○      In verse 33 Paul writes, “…let each one of you in particular…love his own wife….”  This emphasizes the sacred and exclusive bond of marriage.  This is how Proverbs 5:15 through 20 puts it:

      Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. 
      Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? 
      Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you.  Let your foun-
      tain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth.  As a loving deer
      and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be
      enraptured with her love.  For why should you, my son, be enraptured by
      an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?

○      Finally, I lift up Proverbs 31:28 and 29 (speaking of the wife): “Her husband… praises her:  ‘Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.’   I am to praise my wife often, letting her know how wonderful, appreciated and loved she is!

May this blog encourage you to be a better husband.

Who Am I? – II

May 22, 2015

I John 1:7-10

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The next installment of Who Am I? perhaps might have been presented first, after I am a child of God.  But I hope you will see my logic in putting it in second place.  Here is the main scripture from I John 1:7 through 10 that we will be considering:

      …if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one
      another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 
      If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in
      us.  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
      and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  If we say that we have not
      sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

●      Who Am I?  I am a sinner!  Yes, I was a sinner before I became a child of God, “…and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses…[me] from all sin.”  So I am a saved sinner!  And by God’s grace three things have happened since I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior – three things that are related to the fact that I am a sinner:

○      I have been saved from the penalty of sin.  God set that penalty in Genesis 2:17:  “…of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  Our first parents disobeyed God and died – not physically right away, that took place many years later.  But they died spiritually – and that happened immediately.  Spiritual death is being separated from God! And if that condition is not rectified, it will become an eternal separation where the sinner will suffer forever in hell! (See Mark 9:44, 46, 48; Revelation 1411; 21:8).  It is summed up in Ezekiel 18:4:  “…the soul who sins shall die.

Jesus Christ took our sins upon Himself and died in our place.  By that sacrifice of God’s love and grace, I have been stripped of my sinful rags and clothed with the robe of righteousness – God’s own goodness! (See Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:1-5; II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 2:24).  According to John 5:24, I have…everlasting life, and [I] shall not come into condemnation but…[I am] passed from death into life.

○      I am being saved from the power of sin.  The first thing mentioned above was God’s own doing, and was accomplished when I received Christ into my heart and life.  But this is a cooperative effort and an ongoing process!  It is written in II Peter 1:3 and 4:

      …His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life
      and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by
      glory and virtue:  by which have been given to us exceedingly
      great and precious promises, that through these you may be
      partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption
      that is in the world through lust.

God has supplied everything we need to escape the power on sin in this old world!  My job is to take in that transforming knowledge – His Word!

You see, I still have the old sinful pre-Christian nature in me that is controlled by Satan and runs to sin.  That’s why it says in I John 1:8 and 10:  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us….If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”  But we also have a new godly nature (see II Corinthians 5:17; I John 3:9; 5:18).  If we do not feed the new nature with knowledge of God from the Bible, we will allow the sinful world to force-feed the old nature – and that old nature will then dominate our lives!  That’s why I say that to escape the power of sin it is a cooperative effort and an ongoing process!

○      I will one day be saved from the presence of sin!  In heaven there is no sin.  For speaking of the new, heavenly Jerusalem that descended out of heaven from God (see Revelation 21:1-27) it says in Revelation 21:27:  “…there shall by no means enter into it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination ar a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”  Not only will the influence of sin be banished from our environment in heaven, but I will bring no sin there in my own person.  John wrote in I John 3:1:  “…we know that when He [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  He is sinless, and we shall be also!

The penalty, the power and the presence of sin – I have, am or will experience complete victory over this deadly force!  I am a sinner saved by God’s grace!

Who Am I? — I

May 20, 2015

John 1:12, 13

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I am beginning a series on Who Am I? – using myself as the example of the many titles we carry that can be an answer to that question – Who Am I?  You will probably have some other answers because we are called to different vocations, avocations and ministries.  But my answers will apply to you in many areas.

•      First of all, I am a child of God.  John 1:12 and 13 says so:

      …as many as received Him [Jesus Christ], to them He gave the right to be-
      come children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born,
      not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

I have been born again by the Holy Spirit entering my heart and life and giving life to my dead spirit, reconnecting me to God.

This means I have certain privileges, a few of which I list below:

      I have eternal life – And I possess it right now!  For Jesus said in John 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (See also Colossians 1:12-14; I John 5:11-13).

      I am never alone! For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you…..I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ ” (Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20).

      I can call upon my “Daddy” anytime, day or night, for the smallest request, and He welcomes me into His presence and gives me His undivided attention!  How can I call the Lord God Almighty “Daddy”?  Jesus set the example in Mark 14:36 as He prayed in the garden:  “And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.  Take this cup from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’ ”  “Abba” is roughly the Aramaic equivalent of “Daddy.”  Paul wrote in Romans 8:15:  “…you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ ”  And like a caring and attentive human daddy, God welcomes our ‘intrusions’, even when our needs are like those of an immature toddler.  He especially delights when we come to Him just to climb up in His lap, put our arms around His neck, give Him a kiss on the cheek, and tell Him, “I love you Daddy.”  Is it any wonder that we are encouraged in Hebrews 4:16 to “…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need…”?

      I can depend of my Father’s provision for all my needs.  It is written in Philippians 4:19:  “…my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”  His resources are limitless (see Psalm 50:10-12).  God will not necessarily supply our wants, but He will supply our needs!

      I am protected by God, for “…for He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” (Psalm 91:11).  Yes, guardian angels are a Biblical truth upon which we can depend.

      I can also expect the best from God, even if from my perspective it does not seem to me like the best at that time.  But remember, God has given us Romans 8:28:  “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  But what is His purpose? Romans 8:29 tells us:  “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  So God’s purpose it to make us more and more like Jesus Christ (see also II Corinthians 3:18).  And the things He has to allow in our lives to accomplish this great and noble task sometimes hurt!  They may not seem good to us at the time.  But remember,…all things work together for good…” – and it is His concept of what is good, not ours!

      God has provided peace for me, even in the toughest of situations.  Paul wrote in Philippians 4:7:  “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (See also Isaiah 26:3, 4; Galatians 5:22, 23).  Now such supernatural peace is not automatic.  The verse preceding what is quoted above, Philippians 4:6 tells us our part:  “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be make known to God….”  So too in the suggested Isaiah passage – we are to stay our minds on God!  But if we do our part, God will do His!  One more thing about God’s supernatural peace:  to have His peace in any situation – no matter how difficult that situation (trial, testing, temptation) may be – is actually more important than having that hard thing removed from our lives!

There are many more privileges and benefits that come with being God’s son or daughter through faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary’s cross on our behalf.  May these few mentioned whet your appetite to delve more deeply into His Word and discover all the blessings God has for His children!

Spiritually Bipolar

May 18, 2015




Romans 7:14, 15, 17-19

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

I found the following brief description of Bipolar disorder on the website of WebMD:

      Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental illness that
      brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking,
      and behavior. People who have bipolar disorder can have periods in which
      they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad,
      hopeless, and sluggish. In between those periods, they usually feel normal.
      You can think of the highs and the lows as two “poles” of mood, which is
      why it’s called “bipolar” disorder.

Although I have personally dealt all my adult life with severe clinical depression, I was mis-diagnosed as bipolar and given medication that did more harm than helped. But with faith in my great God, lots of prayer, a wonderful wife, good doctors, proper meds, a compassionate counselor, and an understanding internet support group, I came through the ordeal of dark depression and I am doing much better for several years now.

In the midst of this episode, I became acquainted with several people in my support group who were dealing with bipolar disorder. As an ‘outsider,’ I think I have a pretty good understanding of this disease. And being an American Baptist Churches USA pastor for 43 years, I have also known many people – especially those like me who have/are struggling with compulsive/ addictive personalities – who manifest what I call Spiritual Bipolar Disorder! Saint Paul was one, and he describes his behavior in Romans 7:14, 15 and 17 through 19:

      …I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand.
      For what I will do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do….But
      now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that
      in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with
      me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will
      to do, I do not do; but the evil that I will not to do, that I practice.

Some say this was in Paul’s pre-Christian days. Others say that Paul was a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ at this time, but this describes his early Christian experience – before he came to live consistently in the truth of Romans 7:24, 25 and 8:2:

      Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God — through
      Jesus Christ our Lord!…For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
      has made me free from the law of sin and death.

Why do I call this being Spiritually Bipolar? Because Paul is describing great highs and lows in Romans 7. It is that way with a compulsive/addictive nature. The thought of what I might do, if it was available – “…the evil that [under normal circumstances] I will not do…” (Romans 7:19) becomes an obsession that energized me and drives me to the point that I must do it at all costs! This is the manic part of being Spiritually Bipolar! And the costs might be very high – reputation damaged or destroyed, financial ruin (gambling, drugs, alcohol), behavior that puts relationships and health at risk (drugs, alcohol, sexual pursuits such as prostitutes), and a lot of other damaging compulsions. But the drive for the thrill is so strong that it is like you become another person – the one who thrives on the evil!

But then comes the depressive part of being Spiritually Bipolar! The pursuit is over, the deed is done, the thrill has quickly left. In its place come the guilt and shame that brings you down! And I have found that I did not stop falling into that depressive hole until I bounced off the bottom of a deep, deep pit of guilt, shame and feeling useless to God and man! And it seemed to take me a week or more – sometimes a lot more – of confession and repentance to climb out of that pit!

How did I overcome that horrible compulsive/addictive cycle of being Spiritually Bipolar? I did not! God did it in and through me! You see, the problem is also included in our scripture, the first six words above: “…I am carnal, sold under sin. We are sold as slaves might be – bought and owned by the master – Satan! And the devil’s purpose is to enslave us throughout our life, and all the way into hell! But Jesus came to break the bondage! He said in John 8:32, 34, and 36: “Whoever commits sin is the slave of sin…[but] you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free….Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Free, but how? I had certainly been struggling with being Spiritually Bipolar! But Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12 and 13, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you to will and to do for His good pleasure.

So I began to concentrate more and more on just relying on God – in His Word, developing a more intense prayer life, thanking and praising Him for the blessings He has so generously poured out upon me and my family – things spiritually related. And, guess what? My obsessive/compulsive mannerisms began to disappear – without my struggling! And this has continued over the last several years!

Oh, what a blessing it is to live without struggling in so many areas – just resting in my God! I am still learning, but God is working in me…to will and to do for His good pleasure.

I hope this personal testimony helps you to overcome being Spiritually Bipolar!

The Blessing Of Following The One

 May 15, 2015

I John 2:26-29

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

As we have pointed out in the last two blogs, there are dangers in following just one individual – his or her person and teachings.  Yes, that one can have a very winning personality.  But no one person – except the Lord God Himself – has a corner on the truth!  We have to be as were the Berean believers with Paul:  “…they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11).

Who has a corner on the truth?  As stated above, the Lord God Himself!  Here is what is written in I John 2:26 through 29:

      These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you.  But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.  And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.  If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone that practices righteousness is born of Him.


It says in Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus is “…the brightness of His [God’s] glory and the express image of His person….”  He told His disciple Philip in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father….”  And in John 14:16 and 17 Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to be with and in His followers – that One being exactly like Himself, yet in spirit-form, according to the correct meaning of the Greek word for “another” in verse 16.

So, if Jesus is …the truth…” (John 14:6), then so is the Holy Spirit!  Is it any wonder then that John has such confidence in the leading and teaching of the Spirit – called “the anointing” in verse 27 of our featured scripture?  His leading and teaching is what we are to follow, for He teaches the truth of God!

But what about where is says in verse 17 that “…you do not need that anyone teach you…“?  This must be taken in the context of the whole of what scripture says.  For instance Paul discussed in Ephesians 4:7 through 16 God’s gift to the Church of special offices and their purpose.  In verses 11 and 12 he wrote:

      And He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equiping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ….

God gave us teachers, to build up the Body of Christ, the Church!  Paul also told Timothy in II Timothy 2:24, “…a servant of the Lord must…be…able to teach….”  In II Timothy 2:2, this is what Paul admonished his protege according to the New English Bible:  “You heard my teaching in the presence of many witnesses; put that teaching into the charge of men you can trust, such men as will be competent to teach others.”  Teach, teach, teach!

Just make sure any teaching you receive or give is in line with God’s Word, the Bible!  For Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  And John wrote in I John 2:10 and 11 concerning the one who…

      …abides in the light…there is no cause of stumbling in him.  But he who…is in darkness and walks in darkness…does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

So if you want to live your life in the light, if you want to know where you are going, and not stumble getting there Follow Jesus!

What are some of The Blessings Of Following The One?  They are too numerous to list in this brief blog. But the chief blessings are:

  • having our sins forgiven by the blood of the Lord’s sacrifice on the cross (see II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 1:18, 19; 2:24).
  • escaping hell, gaining eternal life and heaven (see John 5:24; 6:47; Ephesians 2:12, 13; I John 5:11-13)
  • and the opportunity for living abunant life here and now (see John 1:10; Galatians 5:22, 23).

David wrote this in Psalm 68:19:  “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation.

Jesus’ very first command recorded in the gospels is this:  Follow Me… (Matthew 4:19).  Follow Him closely!  Follow Him every moment!  And you will find The Blessing Of Following The One!


The Danger Of Following One – II

May 13, 2015

II Peter 2:1, 15

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

We saw in the last blog why Peter focused on Balaam as the prime example of a false prophet and a false teacher.  He deviously led Israel into such gross sin that God punished His people with a plague that killed 24,000!  He certainly proved false, but he obviously was famous and had a loyal following!

Let’s continue with our study of II Peter 2:1 and 15 and see how it applies to us today — The Danger Of Following One:

      …there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be
      false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies,
      even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift
      destruction….They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following
      the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteous-

First, why am I calling this blog The Danger Of Following One?  It is because one person never has all the answers!  He or she and may be so off the truth they will lead people astray – even into eternal hell!

Perhaps the most grievous example in modern times was James Warren Jones – Reverand Jim Jones, pastor and leader of Peoples Temple, first in Indianna in 1956 and then moving in 1964 to California, eventually making the Temple headquarters in San Francisco.  Jones was a charismatic individual who championed civil rights.  But his “Christianity” had a lot of holes in it, including his denial of the authority of the Bible and preaching that he was the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi and Father Divine, as well as Jesus of Nazareth, Gautama Buddha and Vladimir Lenin.  By the testimony of many members of Peoples Temple, Jones sexually, physically and mentally abused his flock, and forbid them to defect from under his authority.

In 1978, Marshall Kilduff, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, published and expose of Jones and the Peoples Temple in New West magazine.  In the summer of 1977, Jones learned of the publishing plans as well as the content of the expose which included member testimony of the above-named abuse.  In August that summer, Jones and hundreds of Temple members fled to Jonestown, Guyana (in South America, east of Venezuela and north of Brazil) to escape the coming negative publicity and investigations.  Jonestown had been carved out of the jungle in the early 1960’s as the “Peoples Temple Agricultural Project,” with plans to become a “socialist paradise.”

With pressure from former Temple members, Congressman Leo Ryan led a fact-finding delegation to Jonestown in November, 1978.  The delegation included relatives of Temple members, an NBC camera crew, and reporters for various newspapers.  But Ryan and the delegation hurriedly left, on November 18th after a thwarted knife attack on the congressman by a Temple member.  They took with them fifteen Temple members who expressed a desire to leave.  At the airstrip as the they were boarding planes, Temple armed guards – Jones’ Red Brigade – arrived and opened fire, killing Ryan and four others.

Later that same day, Jones instructed 909 Temple members (304 of them children) to commit mass suicide by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid.  Nine hundred and nine people dead – and many more led astray by blindly following one person!

I have friends, a couple who have recently become very excited concerning their faith and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.  They are even studying for the ministry, and waiting for direction on how they will use their training.  But they are concentrating on only Following One!  All their books and study guides for the first two years of training, which was at their home, are authored by that one person!  And now they are attending further training at a school he founded and runs!  I do not know all the facts about this person, whether he is sound in the faith or not.  But I see The Danger Of Following One in that one charismatic personality can instill such a hold upon a person’s life, that that leader can be blindly followed even if he or she is wrong!

What does the Bible say on this matter?  In Proverbs 11:14 it says, “…in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”  So it is with teachers and mentors.  To be taught by several people helps bring balance to the teaching.  There is no one person who has a monopoly on the truth!

Besides the wisdom from Proverbs, there is this from I John 2:27:

      But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and
      you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches
      you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has
      taught you, you will abide in Him.

The anointing is the Holy Spirit whom you have received from God (see John 14:16, 17, 26; 15:26; 16:13-15; II Corinthians 1:22; 5:5).  It is not that we will not benefit from human teachers.  After all, according to Romans 12:7, Ephesians 4:11 through 16 and other scriptures, God has given us inspired teachers to help us grow in our faith. But the Holy Spirit will take what we receive and – if we are closely listening to Him – He will weed out the false and approve and apply that which is true to our lives!

So do not blindly follow just one person, no matter how charismatic or right he or she seems. Remember, there is a real danger there – The Danger Of Following One!

The Danger Of Following One – I

May 11, 2015

II Peter 2:1, 15

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

II Peter, chapter 2 is a 22-verse warning against false teachers and leaders.  Verses 1 and 15 summarize the whole chapter:

      …there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be
      false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies,
      even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift
      destruction….  They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following
      the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteous-

In Israel’s history, there certainly were false prophets who led the people astray.  Balaam the son of Beor is selected by Peter as a prime example.  His story is told mainly in Numbers, chapters 22 through 24.  Here are some of the highlights (or lowlights) of the story:

•      Balaam lived in Pethor, a city on the Euphrates River in northern Mesopotamia, south of the city of Carchemish.  Pethor was about 400 miles north of Moab, so when Balak, king of Moab sent his ambassadors to fetch Balaam, it was an 800 mile journey there and back – perhaps a month and a half travel time.

•      King Balak sent for Balaam to come and curse the people of Israel who were camped in the plains of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho.  Israel had just defeated two powerful kings and their armies, “…Sihon king of the Amorites…” (Numbers 21:21) and “…Og king of Bashan…” (Numbers 21:33).  It says in Numbers 22:2 and 3: “Now Balak…saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was exceedingly afraid…” of being wiped out also.

•      Balaam had quite a reputation as a prophet.  Balak had heard about his reputation and requested of the prophet in Numbers 22:6:

      …come…curse this people for me.  Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and
      drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and
      he whom you curse is cursed.

•      It seems from the record at first glance that Balaam was a godly prophet, for he himself confessed to the Moabite ambassadors in Numbers 22:18, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.”  So the first request was refused because God had told him in a dream, “You shall not go with them [the Moabite ambassadors]; you shall not curse the people [of Israel], for they are blessed.” (Numbers 22:12).

•      Balaam did not then come to Moab.  But it says in Numbers 22:15 through 17, “Balak again sent princes, more numerous and honorable than [the first time]…and said to him, ‘…I will certainly honor you greatly, and will do whatever you say….’ ”  So he went the second time because, as it is written in Jude 1:11:  “…Balaam…ran greedily after…reward….

•      Again it seems like Balaam was only following God’s direction, for three times Balak asked the prophet to curse Israel, and he blessed them three times instead! (See Numbers 22:31-24:10).

•      But it does not end there.  In Revelation 2:14 it says, “…Balaam…taught Balak to put a stumbling block before Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.”  This incident is recorded in Numbers 25:1 through 18.  The men of Israel “…began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab.  They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.”  Apparently, Balaam would not directly curse Israel, but he told the king how to subtly bring God’s judgment upon that nation!  The result – God plagued Israel.And those who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.” (Numbers 25:9).

•      What was the fate of Balaam?  Apparently he stuck around to counsel other enemies of Israel also.  For it is written in Numbers 31:7 and 8:  “And they warred against the Midianites…and they killed…the five kings of Midian.  Balaam, the son of Beor they also killed with the sword.

You can see that, as a Christian, you would never want to follow the likes of Balaam!  In our next blog, let’s apply this to following a false prophet today!

Jesus Christ, Creator And Sustainer

May 8, 2015

Colossians 1:16, 17

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord – a very true and often-heard statement of the orthodox Christian faith.  But He is more – much more!  And our scripture from Colossians 1:16 and 17 succinctly shows forth two of the roles He plays:

      …by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth,
      visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or
      powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.  And He is
      before all things, and in Him all things consist.

Jesus Christ is Creator and Sustainer of all things!

By what means?  God’s spoken word is very powerful.  The Bible opens in Genesis 1:1 with the statement, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  But in Genesis 1:3 He tells us how:  “And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”  He spoke, and it happened!  As it says in Psalm 33:9, “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, an it stood fast.

But who spoke?  Jesus is identified as “the Word ” in John 1:1 and 14:  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us….”  And in Revelation 19:13 it is written, “…and His name is called The Word of God.”  Jesus was (and is) the exact expression of the mind, the person of God!  Paul wrote in Colossians 2:9, “For in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”  And Jesus told His disciple Philip in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father….

So when God spoke in Genesis 1:3, it was the Son, as the creative Word of God, who brought light into being – and all else that was created!  As it says in our featured Colossians scripture, “All things were created through Him.

Just what was created? Again, from Colossians 1:16:  “…all things…in heaven and…on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.”  Obviously, there is the diverse beauty of creation that we can see – the visible.  But there is also the invisible – “…throne…dominions…principalities…powers.”  I believe the Apostle Paul is referring to the same spiritual powers he designated in Ephesians 6:12:  “…principalities…powers…the rulers of darkness of this world…spiritual wickedness in high places.”  This Ephesian scripture is a description of Satan’s demonic army, strategically placed to oversee this world system and keep it under the devil’s control (see Luke 4:5-7).

So does that make God the Creator – the Author – of evil? No!  All creation was pronounced good in the record of Genesis 1 (see Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25).  And in Genesis 1:31 it is emphasized, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”  But God gave His highest creations, angels and human beings, free will – and both chose to rebel against His rule and authority! (See Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:6; Isaiah 14:13, 14).  It is our fault, not His!  The amazing thing is that only human beings are offered eternal life by Jesus’ work on the cross – not angels!  No wonder it says in I Peter 1:12 concerning “…the gospel…which angels desired to look into.”  The implication is that angels cannot fully understand God’s redemption because they will not experience it!  “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (II Corinthians 9:15).

But it also says in Colossians 1:16, “All things were created…for Him.”  All creation is to bring glory to Jesus Christ!  Paul wrote in Philippians 2:9-11:

      …God…has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above
      every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those
      in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that
      every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God
      the Father.

Are you, by your life, bringing glory to the Lord Jesus Christ?

And then there is what is said in Colossians 1:17:  “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”  “…He is before all things…” speaks of the Son’s eternal being.  But it is the second part of the verse that I want to emphasize:  “…in Him all things consist.”  The writer of Hebrews puts it this way in Hebrews 1:3:  Jesus Christ “…is upholding upholding all things by the word of His power….”  He holds all creation together because He has the power to do it, and He chooses to do it!

It is like the words that the old spiritual expresses:  “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”  But it is far more than the whole worldIt is the whole of creation – “…all things…that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers.”  And if He would ever choose to open His hand – to follow the metaphor of the old spiritual – and just let things go, all creation would cease to exist, including you and me!  But He won’t, the Bible says so!

How powerful is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?  Much more powerful than we can even imagine!  Think of this the next time you come to Him with your needs!