The Four Gates Of Christian Conduct – II

February 28, 2018

Image result for photo garden gateRomans 14:12, 16, 21, 23

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

The Four Gates Of Christian Conduct is a progression of checks from Romans 14 to see if what you are about to say or do is acceptable to the Lord.  Even if you are a new Christian without much Bible knowledge, these Four Gates are easy to use and will help you live in a way that pleases Jesus Christ.

      The First Gate Of Christian Conduct is from Romans 14:12 – “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”  At the Judgment of Believers (see I Corinth-ians 3:10-15), Jesus will review our lives – how we have lived as Christians, for God’s glory or pursuing our own agenda – and we will be eternally rewarded (or lack thereof) as we enter the kingdom.

      The Second Gate Of Christian Conduct is in Romans 14:16 – “Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil.”  Sometimes we can say or do something from pure and Godly motives, but it can be interpreted by others as being ungodly.  Jesus Himself ran into this problem more than once!  One example is in Luke 5:27 when the Lord called Levi (also known as Matthewsee Matthew 9:9), a tax collector, to be His disciple…

      And he left all, rose up, and followed Him.  Then Levi gave Him a great
      feast in his own house.  And there were a great number of tax collectors
      and others who sat down with them. (Luke 5:28 and 29).

       ✞      Now tax collectors, being Jewish, were despised by other Jews.  They worked for the hated Romans to collect empirical and local taxes.  Often they were allowed to extort more than the amount of the taxes owed.  And many tax collectors were rich! (See, for instance, the example of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:2-10).  So tax collectors were despised and classified in the minds of pious Jews as sinners! (See Luke 18:11).

       ✞     And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.’ ” (Luke 5:31).

But the incident seems like it goes against this Second Gate Of Christian Conduct!  Didn’t Jesus care that His good would be spoken of as evil ?  There are times when we have to be more concerned with what God wants rather than human opinion.  As Peter and John told the Jewish leaders in Acts 4:19 and 20:  “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”  Just make sure that you are led by God’s Holy Spirit before you say or do something that might offend someone else!

A case in point was Cecilia in the early 1970’s.  She was a 60’s hippy into the party and drug scene.  But she also had training as a nurse.  Somewhere out West she was converted to Christianity – really converted!  She came bopping barefoot back into the small Pennsylvania town where I was pastoring my first church.  Ceil rented the gas shack outside of town – a tiny dwelling with no running water or electricity – and she rented it for next to nothing.  She then proceeded to go back to the local party scene and even was known to bring young men back to live with her at the gas shack!  What a time the church gossips had with that!  What they did not know was that Ceil actually rescued overdosed druggies from the parties, and nursed them back to health!  She would also witness to them and lead them to accept Jesus Christ as Savior!  A controversial ministry?  Yes!  But she rescued more than one life both here and now and for eternity!  I spent some time getting to know Ceil, a dedicated follower of her Lord!  I also explained her ministry to some of the church people who were horrified by her perceived behavior.

Again, this sounds like it goes against The Second Gate Of Christian Conduct – “Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil.”  So how do we reconcile Romans 14:16 with our words and actions?  Generally we will not be faced with suchout thereministries!  But we are called to be careful concerning our Christian testimony – what we say and do!

       ✞      Although I do not believe drinking a glass of wine or beer is something Christians should never do, I will be careful not to let my freedom become…a stumbling block…” (Romans 14:13) to a brother or sister who does not have that conviction!   Many times you can find the best food in a place that also sells alcoholic beverages.  In the churches where we have served, Hope and I would find such a place and order a good pizza or sandwich.  The beverage of choice? – a soft drink!  But we always chose ‘our getaway place’ quite a distance from our church – so our good would not be spoken of as evil !

       ✞      When I was in Bible college at a very conservative school, there were prohibitions against drinking, smoking, dancing, movies, and a few other things!  Are these things wrong?  Paul writes in Romans 14:14, “I know and am convinced that there is nothing unclean of itself….”  My beautiful wife Hope and I would dance together in our apartment, and even sneak in a movie once in awhile.  While we saw nothing wrong with our actions, we were careful not to broadcast what we were doing to those who would frown on these activities!

       ✞      My pastor, Ken, has a policy that he never counsels a woman with just him and her present!  Another person, often his wife, is always either in the same room or just outside an open door to the counseling room!  Speaking of counseling, my dear friend, Mitch, a professional Christian counselor, will not counsel anyone unless they agree to have the session visually recorded!

…do not let your good be spoken of as evil.” (Romans 14:16).  If, after careful consideration, what you are planning to say or do will not pass this Second Gate Of Christian Conduct, don’t proceed!  If you pass the Romans 14:16 test, go on to The Third Gate Of Christian Conduct!

The Four Gates Of Christian Conduct – I

February 26, 2018

Image result for photo garden gateRomans 14:12, 16, 21, 23

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

When I first became a Christian, I knew very little about the Bible!  I was 19 years old, had just joined the Air Force a few months before.  I was in Radar Repair training at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi.  A friend had converted to Roman Catholicism from some fundamental denomination (I don’t remember which one), and I asked him, “Why? ”  As Jerry explained his reasons and experience, I thought, “Maybe I will become a Catholic!”  I didn’t have much Christian training growing up, and was I drawn by Jerry’s testimony.  I don’t remember when it happened, but I became saved!  I put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!  But I could not explain it like I can now, after 52 years of being a Christian, 45 years as a pastor, lots of studying in formal education, and especially reading and studying the Bible daily for so many years!  But back then, I only knew three things:

                          Jesus was real!

                                         He was alive!

                                                        He loved me!

                          And I fell head over heels in love with Him!

I had a lot to learn about being a Christian!  I knew very little of what the Bible said.  You see, it is our guide book – telling us of our great God revealed in His Son Jesus Christ, and instructing us how we should then live because of His great love toward us.  He loves us so much that He sent His own Son to die for us, so we might live eternally and fully through Him! (See John 3:16; Romans 5:8; I John 4:10).

There are a lot of dos and don’ts in the Bible.  Jewish tradition holds that there are 613 commandments in the Old Testament!  As Christians, we are not under the Jewish law, but under grace. (see Romans 6:14).  But there are still many commandments in the Bible which followers of Jesus are to obey!  In reading through the three chapters of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7), I found about 50 commands we are to heed!  And there are many more in the rest of the New Testament!  Now we are not saved by obedience to commands.  But, as Jesus said in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My Commandments.

As I said, I knew next to nothing about what the Bible teaches when I first put my faith in Christ.  According to Luke 12:47 and 48, the more we know of God’s will, the more responsible we will be held!

      …that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself
      or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.  But he
      who did not know, yet committed things worthy of stripes, shall be
      beaten with few.

We are to grow in our knowledge of the Bible! (See II Peter 3:18).  But I learned early on there are some general guideline Scriptures that will help us as we increase in knowledge.  Romans 14 contains four of these guidelines that I call The Four Gates Of Christian Conduct!  The truths in just these four verses will guide you a great deal in the living out of your faith – until you learn more and more specifics from the Word!

      Romans 14:12 (the First Gate Of Christian Conduct) – “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.

       ✞      Many people have a vague idea that we will stand before God in judgment someday!  At that last judgment (in their opinion) the person’s works are weigh, good against the bad.  And if the good works outweigh the bad, that one is invited into heaven and eternal life.  If the evil works outweigh the good, then that one is condemned to hell.  This is the false theology of salvation by works!  And it plainly says in Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…” (See also Ephesians 2:8-10).  The only work that procures heaven for anyone is the work Jesus accomplished on the cross, dying for our sins and rising again!  And the only work left for us to do to acquire that salvation is what He taught in John 6:29:  “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him [Jesus Christ] whom He sent.

       ✞      But what of Romans 14:12?  When will the Christian give account of himself to God?  And what account is Paul talking about?  There is another judgment called “…the judgment seat of Christ…” in II Corinthians 5:10.  It is also known as the Bema Seat Judgment, but that phrase is not found in Scripture.  The Bema was a raised dias upon which a magistrate sat to hear and decide cases brought before him (see for example Acts 18:12-17).  The term was used also for the stand from which judges observed and determined winners and losers in contests such as athletic games.

The judgment seat of Christ is described in I Corinthians 3:11 through 15:

      For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is
      Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver,
      precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work with become manifest,
      for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire
      will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.  If anyone’s work which he has
      built on it endures, he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned,
      he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

All who stand before this judgment will be saved !  It is a judgment of the Christian’s works – what he or she has built upon this foundation which is Jesus Christafter he or she has been saved!

               ▸      We can live our lives for the glory of God – using as it were gold, silver, precious stones – and build a beautiful structure of our lives on the foundation of Christ.  We then will receive a reward – not heaven, but rewards in heaven!

               ▸      Or we can chose to live our Christian lives for our own pleasure, ignoring what God wants of us.  Although a person looking at such a life cannot often tell is that one is a true believer or not, if he or she has genuinely accepted Christ as Savior, that one has eternal life!  But what rewards will he or she gain for eternity?  None!  All potential heavenly rewards will be lost!

So this is the First Gate Of Christian Conduct:  Am I doing this for myself or the glory of God?  If what you are about to do cannot pass this test, don’t do it!  If it will be done for God’s glory, go on to the Second Gate Of Christian Conduct………in the next blog.

Little Acceptable Sins – XV

February 23, 2018

Image result for photo Roman soldierEphesians 4:22 – 24

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

This is the final offering of our series, Little Acceptable SinsSins that too often seem as insignificant (and so Acceptable) to remain unchallenged in our own lives, and in the lives of brothers and sisters around us!  We have based the whole series on Ephesians 4:22 through 24 – Paul’s declaration that since we have been made new creatures in Christ (see II Corinthians 5:17), and since our old sinful nature still manifests itself and tries to take precedence our lives, we are to…

      …put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
      rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
      mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
      righteousness and true holiness.

Paul, in chapter 6, finally comes to the teaching of how we are to fight the war between our two natures (see Romans 8:6-8; Galatians 5:15, 17) and win the battle!  As the apostle says in Ephesians 6:13, “…that you may be able to withstand in that evil day, and having done all, [you may be found ] to stand.

The enemy forces, led by the devil himself – “…principalities…powers…the rulers of darkness of this age…[and] spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places…” (Ephesians 6:12) – attack in every area of life!  In the verses following our featured Scripture, Paul deals with lying (4:25), anger (4:26, 27), stealing (4:28), evil speaking (4:29, 31; 5:4), forgiving one another (4:32), loving each other (5:1, 2), fornication and uncleanness (5:3, 5), covetousness (5:3, 5), things that should not come out of your mouth (5:4), exposing sin in ourselves and others (5:11, 12), how we spend our time (5:15, 16), drinking to excess (5:15, 16), being filled with the Spirit (5:17-20), submission (5:21), marriage and church relationships (5:21-33), children and parents (6:1-4), and employer/employee relationships (6:6-9)!  That’s a lot!  And how are we to accomplish all this?

      Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His
      might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand
      against the wiles of the devil….Therefore take up the whole armor of
      God….(Ephesians 6:10, 11, and 13).

I am not going to go into all the explanations of how we are to make use of the armor of God.  Between May 6th and June 21st of 2013, we explored that very subject in the second longest series – 21 blogs – in the five-year history of Gems For Living!  You would do well to study this series, Know Your Enemy!  Too many Christians have little or no idea of Spiritual warfare, a war in which we are called to be active participants!

But let me emphasize a few major points the Apostle Paul makes in this closing section of his epistle to the Ephesian Christians:

      The whole armor of God is composed of seven parts:

       ✞      Five defensive armor pieces:

               ▸      Ephesians 6:14 – “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth….”  This piece of the armor protects the abdomen and private (very vulnerable) parts of the body.  Spiritual truth is vitally important! And Jesus is truth! (See John 14:6).  And His Word is truth! (See John 17:17).

               ▸      Ephesians 6:14 – “…having put on the breastplate of righteousness….Protection of the chest area (heart, lungs, stomach, etc.) is extremely important!  And remember, we are to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart…soul…mind, and…strength.” (Mark 12:30).  We are clothed with Jesus’ imputed righteousness (see II Corinthians 5:21), and are to grow in our own practical righteousness (see II Corinthians 3:18).

               ▸      Ephesians 6:15 – “…and having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace….”  Foot protection!  Perhaps we should call it foot preparation!  For it says in I Peter 3:15 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible):  “…always be ready to give an answer to everyone asking you a reason concerning the hope in you, with meekness and fear….

               ▸      Ephesians 6:16 – “…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”  Faith in God and His Word is a large shield that you can hide behind as the flaming arrows of Satan come in to destroy you (see Psalm 3:3; 18:35; 33:20; 91:4).

               ▸      Ephesians 6:17 – “And take the helmet of salvation….”  Obviously, this is protection for the head, the brain, the mind!  Saturate your mind with God’s Word, and you will not be shaken in your salvation! (See Colossians 3:16; II Timothy 1:12).

       ✞      Two offensive weapons:

               ▸      Ephesians 6:17 – “…take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God….”  We are told in Hebrews 4:12 that “…the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword….”  You can use that sword to drive away the devil and his minions, even as did Jesus (see Luke 4:1-13; James 4:7).  The Bible is indispensable in the Christian life!

               ▸      Ephesians 6:18 – “…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit….”  Prayer is not always listed in the armor of God as an offensive weapon, but it is powerful!  And we are commanded to pray! (See Luke 18:1; I Thessalonians 5:17)

      There is no armor listed to protect the back!  We must stand against the devil facing him!

      While Satan and his demons are powerful, remember I John 4:4:  “…He who is in you [Jesus Christ in the person of the Holy Spirit] is greater than he who is in the world [Satan and his demon forces]!

So do not allow Sins, Little or otherwise, to remain in and dominate your life!  No Sin is Acceptable to God, and it should not be to us either!

Little Acceptable Sins – XIV

February 21, 2018

Image result for photo factory workersEphesians 4:22 – 24

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

There are too many Little Acceptable Sins in the lives of Christian that go unchallenged – be they in our own lives or in the lives of believers around us.  Paul writes in Ephesians 4:22 through 24 (our featured Scripture for this series) that a change should and must take place if we are seriously going to follow Jesus Christ!

      …put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
      rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
      mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
      righteousness and true holiness.

We are into Ephesians chapter 6, where in verses 5 through 9 the apostle addresses the subject of servants (slaves in some translations) and masters.  We can apply what is written here to employees and employers!  It is in the workplace where many Little Acceptable Sins occur!

Ephesians 6:5 through 8 – “Servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice as men-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.

      In modern western culture, verse 5 could be translated, “Employees, do what your employers tell you to do…”  After all, what the boss says goes!

       ✞      But let’s qualify that statement, what the boss says goes, with some Scriptural directives…

               ▸      …from the Ten Commandments:

                         ➨      “You shall not steal.” (Exodus 20:15).

                         ➨      “[Tell] No lies about your neighbor [or coworker, supervisor, etc].                                   (Exodus 20:17 – The Message Bible).

                         ➨      “You shall not covet…anything that is your neighbor’s [any                                    position or advancement of another worker].

               ▸      Perhaps the overriding directive is what Peter and John told the Jewish rulers in Acts 4:19:  “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.

I remember a situation in the Christian movie, ‘Courageous’.  Javier Martinez, a Mexican immigrant (played by Robert Amaya), has a job in a cloth factory.  He is called to a conference with his two bosses and given the opportunity to be promoted to a supervisory position – if he will falsify inventory documents!  After a day praying with his wife about the situation, he refuses the promotion because of his Christian standards.  But it was a test!  His bosses wanted to see if his integrity was real!  And he receives the promotion!  Not always does it work out positively when our Christian standards are tested in the workplace.  But do I want the approval of God or of man?

      Do your job…not with eyeservice…but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart…” (Ephesians 6:6).  We are to labor as if we are working for Jesus Christ Himself – which, in reality, we are!  Eyeservice means that when someone is watching, that’s when we appear to be working diligently at our jobs!  If no one is watching, then we slack off!

Bobby, a childhood friend, had a job in a factory making metal parts.  He sometimes had to spend long hours at a grinding wheel, taking the rough edges off the metal pieces to make them acceptable to ship out to customers.  He was slow and inefficient at his position – unless someone in authority was watching him!  And as he often did, Bobby complained aloud to himself as he worked!  As he worked at the grinding wheel, he was grumbling, “This job stinks!  They ought to pay me what I am worth!”  But Bobby was unaware the company owner was standing behind him listening!  Finally, having heard enough, he said, “Bob, we would pay you what you are worth, but there are laws against paying below minimum wage!

Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…. ”  And Paul tells us in Colossians 3:17, “…whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”  So whether you are working around the home, in kitchen or shop, whether working in a factory or executive suite, whether flipping hamburgers or studying in school preparing for the future, work to please the Lord Jesus Christ!

Ephesians 6:9 – “And you masters, do the same things to them [the slaves], giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

      You might interpret this to say, “Bosses [owners, supervisors, etc.] treat your employees with the Golden Rule in mind! ”  What is the Golden Rule?  “Do to others what you want them to do to you.”  It comes from Matthew 7:12:  “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also for them, for this is the law and the prophets.” (See also Luke 6:31).

      Paul wrote to Philemon (a one-chapter letter just before the book of Hebrews).  In this short epistle he tells his wealthy friend about Philemon’s run-away slave, Onesimus, whom Paul had influenced to become a Christian while the apostle was a prisoner in Rome.  Onesimus had apparently stolen some valuables from his master, but he was now coming back in repentance.  Here, in verses 15 and 16, is the apostles plea to the slave’s master:  “…receive him…no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.”  Treat those in your employ as the Lord would have you!

Applying this to employers and employees – seek the best for them!  Treat them as you would like to be treated!  This means giving them a fair wage and good and safe working conditions.

We might sum it up with this:  Apply God’s Word and will to all you think, say, and do – and apply this in the workplace whether you are an employer or an employee!  God will be honored and bless you!

Little Acceptable Sins – XIII

February 19, 2018

Image result for photo family out of controlEphesians 4:22 – 24

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

When we invite Christ to be our Savior, the change that is to occur in our lives is recorded in Ephesians chapters 4, 5, and 6.  Here is our featured Scripture – Ephesians 4:22 through 24:

      …put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
      rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
      mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
      righteousness and true holiness.

Paul begins this section with Ephesians 5:21:  “…submitting to one another in the fear of God.”  Then the apostle shows us how that submission is to be manifest in the nuclear family in Ephesians 5:22 through 6:4.  We will break down this section where Paul deals with the parts that make up so many families – husbands, wives, parents, and children.

How does this all apply to our series theme – Little Acceptable Sin?  It is in the nuclear family that we so often fail to manifest the person of God and His will!  And we excuse ourselves by saying,That’s just the way it is!  I can’t help the way I am!  I am just reacting to the terrible things my wife (or husband) says and does!  And my children are out of control! ”  So we count as Acceptable these so-calledLittleSins as…just the way things are going to be! ”  Our Scripture says something else!

Ephesians 5:22 through 24 – “Wives, submit to your own husbands….

      The first reaction of a wife might be, “I can’t submit to that #*&@% man!  He’s a no-good so-and-so!  He would take advantage of such submission and walk all over me!

      But let’s look ahead to Ephesians 5:25:  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.

       ✞      How do we know that Christ loved the church?  He gave Himself for it !  We are told in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  And in Romans 5:8 it is written:  “…God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  How did Jesus Christ give Himself for the church?  He founded it and continues to build it at the cost of His own life!

       ✞      The husband is to love his wife to the extent that he must be willing to give his life for her!  This is the ultimate sacrifice one could ever give!  Anything else you are called to do for another is a lesser sacrifice!  So, if you are willing to lay down your life for her, then it is no big deal to take out the garbage or wash the dishes – right?

      Would it be difficult to submit to a husband who would lay down his life for you?  And would it be hard to serve (even giving your life for) a woman who was in submission to you?  If she didn’t so submit to him and he was laying down his life for her, she would walk all over him!  And if he was unwilling to lay down his life for her and she was submitting to him, he would walk all over her!  But if we follow God’s instruction concerning the husband and wife – “…submitting to one another in the fear of God…” (Ephesians 5:21) – then both will humbly serve one another, and both will lift each other up!

What is the ultimate reason for such submission and service between a husband and wife?  According to Ephesians 5:25 through 27, the reason concerns “…Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32).  We are told…

      …He gave Himself for…the church…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.

This ought also to be the goal of a Christian husband and wife – to help build each other up in the Lord, to grow and mature in Christ, and to be stronger Christians, more like Jesus, every day!  My dear wife Hope has told me more than once that I have helped her grow in her faith over the years – and I can say the same thing concerning her helping me!

One more thing about this subject of husbands and wives:

•     Only husbands are told to love their mates! (See verse 25).  Paul does not say here that the wife is to love her husband !  But the wife is called to submit to her husband (see verse 22), and to respect him! (See verse 33).  That puts quite a challenge before the husbandis he worthy of such submission and respect ?

In Ephesians 6:1 the children of the family are addressed:  “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

      The penalty administered to disobedient children could be very harsh under the Old Testament law.  Exodus 21:17 says, “…he who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” (See also Deuteronomy 21:18-21).

      But Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:2 and 3 that the blessings for obedient children are great!  Then he quotes Exodus 20:12 (the fifth of the Ten Commandments):  “‘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.’ ”  I believe God’s blessing upon our children still rests with them being obedient to and honoring their parents!

Paul conclude his discussion of the immediate family with Ephesians 6:4:  “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”  As with husbands and wives relating to each other – respect and submission must be earned!  So it is with children!  Yes, we are to properly discipline our children (see for instance Proverbs 3:12; 6:20; 19:18; Hebrews 12:7-10).  But wrath provoked in a child is not the temporary anger a son or daughter can express when punished.  The idea is that severe punishment will produce lasting rage in the life of that child, even into adulthood – and this is to be avoided!

Often, sins within the immediate family are hidden!  But they are seen by God!  And they will eventually be exposed!  It is better now to heed our Lord and strive to have a family that is pleasing to Him!  For any Sin within the nuclear family is neitherLittlenorAcceptable!

Little Acceptable Sins – XII

February 16, 2018

Image result for photo loving one anotherEphesians 4:22 – 24

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

Put off the corrupt sinful nature, and put on the new Godly nature!  That’s what we are instructed to do in Ephesians 4:22 through 24:

      …put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
      rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
      mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
      righteousness and true holiness.

What follows through the end of the epistle to the church at Ephesus is what a Godly life should look like (or not look like)!  The problem is, too many who call themselves Christians do not take seriously the Lordship of Christ! And they excuse such disobedience in their own lives and in the lives of believers around them as Little and/or Acceptable Sins!

It all comes down to God’s will (what He wants) verses ours! Paul challenges us in Ephesians 5:17 to “…understand what the will of the Lord is.”  And then he spells out that will of the Lord in what he writes following:

Ephesians 5:18 – “…do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation….

      The apostle says that drunkeness leads to dissipation!  The Greek word is ἀσωτία (pronounced as-o-tee’ -ah), means, “…an abandoned, dissolute life.” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions).

      I looked up on the web concerning statistics about addiction in America today:,, and /story/news/nation-now/2016/11/17/surgeon-general-1-7-us-face-substance-addiction.  These are just a few of the facts that I found:

       ✞      21 million people, age 12 and older, are addicted to alcohol and/or drugs! (Alcohol is considered a depressant drug).

       ✞      Every 19 minutes a death occurs from opioid or heroin overdose!

       ✞      241 people die every day in alcohol-related incidents!

       ✞      The annual national cost of addiction (tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs) is 700 billion dollars!

      Apparently, addiction (in this case drunkenness) was also a problem in first century society!

The Christian alternative to being drunk with wine is to “…be filled with the Spirit…” (Ephesians 5:18).  To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by God’s Holy Spirit!  What is then to flow out of such a filled life is the subject of the next three verses – Ephesians 5:19 through 21:

      …speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
      singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks
      always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus
      Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.

      Paul mentions two directions of communication here, and three things we ought to be doing:

       ✞      Speaking to one another – I think the mention of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs means the kind of communication to one another that lifts up and edifies each other!  Paul has mentioned before in this epistle (see Ephesians 4:25, 29; 5:4).  Too often we give excuses for someone with a sharp and degrading tongue as one who “…just always speaks their mind!  At least you know where they stand.

       ✞      Singing and making melody in your heart to the LordThere ought to be a song within our heart if we keep in mind that we have…Christ within [us]…the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27).  Sometimes that melody is a mournful song sung through tears when sorrowful trials come into our lives.  But even then, James tells us in James 1:2, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.”  Not that a severe trial feels good, but we count it all joy because God is doing a good work in us through that trial! (See the September 11, 2013 blogIs It OK To Ask Why?).

       ✞      Giving thanks always for all things to God – For the same reasons express just above, we can thank God for all things and in everything! (See Romans 8:28, 29; I Thessalonians 5:18; also the blog from November 11, 2013…In And For All Things).

      Submitting to one another in the fear of God How often do we hear others in our churches say,He’s not telling me what to do!” or “Where does she get off trying to give me advice!”  And we tolerate such ungodly independence as Acceptable!

       ✞      We have discussed Hebrews 10:24 before:  “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.”  The idea behind the word consider is “…to observe fully…” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary), “…to consider attentively, fix one’s eyes or mind upon…” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions).  This might be thought of as poking your nose where it doesn’t belong – into other people’s lives!  But, as Christian brothers and sisters in Christ (as members of the one Body of Christsee I Corinthians 12:12-27) we, in love, are called to examine closely each other in order to stir up love and good works!  It is quite alright to ask one another, “How are you doing?

               ▸     Are you reading your Bible every day?

               ▸      “Do you spend time in prayer every day?

               ▸     Are you regularly attending worship services?

               ▸     Are you sharing the gospel with others?

               ▸     Are you tithing as you should be?

                                                   …And so on.

       ✞      Remember what it says in Galatians 6:1 and 2 (International Standard Version):

      Brothers [and sisters], if a person is caught doing something wrong, those
      of you who are spiritual should restore that person gently.  Watch out for
      yourself so that you are not tempted as well.  Practice carrying each other’s
      burdens.  In this way you will fulfill the law of the Messiah [which is to love
      one anothersee John 13:34, 35].

To do this, we must keep a close and loving eye upon each another!

Little Acceptable Sins – XI

February 14, 2018

Image result for photo foolishnessEphesians 4:22 – 24

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

Here, again, is Ephesians 4:22 through 24 – the Scripture on which this series is based:

      …put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
      rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
      mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
      righteousness and true holiness.

Let’s go on to Ephesians 5:15 through 17:

      See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeem-
      ing the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be unwise,
      but understand what the will of the Lord is.

There is a lot in these three short verses – a lot that too many Christians don’t heed, allowing in their lives (and in the lives of others) what might be consideredLittle Acceptable Sinsof not fully obeying Jesus’ directions (which, in their thinking, such disobedience is not of much consequence).  However, when one does not heed His leading, it is never a Little Sin!

Ephesians 5:15 – “See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise….

      CircumspectlyThayer’s Greek Definitions tells us the word means, “…exactly, accurately, diligently…following what God leads us to do!  There are two mind sets displayed here concerning this directive – approaching this…

       ✞      …as fools – Psalm 14:1 pulls no punches when it tells us, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ”  This one, called a fool, acts like there is no God, even if he does not give voice to it!

       ✞      …as wise – Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  The very last verse of Hosea caps off the main message the prophet is giving to the eighth-century kingdom of Judah.  That message:  “God abhors the sins of His people; judgment is certain; but God’s loyal love stands firm.” (Introduction to the book of Hosea in The New Open Bible).  Here is Hosea 14:9:

      Who is wise?  Let him understand these things.  Who is prudent?  Let him
      know them.  For the ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in
      them, but transgressors stumble in them.

      This truth does not change!  When Paul writes centuries later – “…walk not as fools but as wise…,” he is thinking of these Old Testament definitions of the fool and the wise one.  Christian, be wise!  And let your life reflect wisdom, not foolishness!

Ephesians 5:16 – “…redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”  Strong’s Greek Dictionary says redeeming means, “…to buy up, that is, ransom; figuratively to rescue from loss (improve opportunity)….”  God’s Word to the Nations translates it, “Make the most of your opportunities….”  Why?  Because the days are evilAnd, according to II Timothy 3:1 and 13:  “…in the last days perilous times will come…[and] will grow worse and worse….”  Time is short!  And many people still need to be introduced to, and trained up in, the Truth of Jesus Christ the Lord! (See John 14:6).

Ephesians 5:17– “Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

      “Therefore….”  I have been taught in seminary that whenever I see therefore, I should always ask, “What is that therefore there for? ”  That therefore is there for a very good reason!  Go back to the Scripture that is the basis of this series, Ephesians 4:22 through 24:  “…put off the…corrupt…old man…and put on the…righteous…new man….”  And our lives must reflect that ongoing work!Therefore…

      “…do not be unwise….”  Remember Proverbs 9:10 above:

       ✞      “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom….”  Old Testament fear is often used the same way as faith is used in the New Testament.  So, it can be said, faith in the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! (See John 1:1; 5:39; John 14:16; Colossians 2:9).  Why?  Because the Holy Spirit, who resides in us when we accept Jesus as our Savior (see I Corinthians 6:19), makes the wisdom of God available to us! (See Psalm 119:98; I Timothy 3:15).

       ✞     …and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  How do we get the knowledge of the Holy One and so get understanding?  By His Word! (See Psalm 119:99, 104).

      “…but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  God has revealed His will through Scripture! (See John 6:29; 40).  If you want to know the mind of God (see Philippians 2:5), read, study, and even memorize the Bible!

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of God’s Word in the believer’s life!  And we shall see in the next blog just how vital it is.

Little Acceptable Sins – X

February 12, 2018

Image result for photo following JesusEphesians 4:22 – 24

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

This series, Little Acceptable Sins, is based on Ephesians 4:22 through 24:

      …put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
      rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
      mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
      righteousness and true holiness.

In the following verses, and well into chapter 6, Paul spells out how a Christian’s life should be – and how it should not be!  You see, too often we allow Little Sinssometimes not so Little! – to maintain an ongoing place in our lives and in the lives of other believers.  In this tenth blog, let’s go on to Ephesians 5:10 through 13.  Our lives should show forth the proof of…

      …what is acceptable to the Lord.  And have no fellowship with the unfruit-
      ful works of darkness, but rather expose them.  For it is shameful even to
      speak of those things which are done by them in secret.  But all things that
      are exposed are made manifest by the light….

We will concentrate on verses 10 and 11. Verse 10 – For the Christian, what is acceptable to the Lord?

      Negatively considered (not acceptable) – anything that will…fall short of the glory of God…! (Romans 3:23), in thought, word, and/or deed! (See, for example, Matthew 5:28; Ephesians 5:4; Matthew 23:13-33).

      Positively considered (acceptable) –

       ✞      Loving and obeying God! (Compare Matthew 22:37 with John 14:15).

       ✞      Dwelling richly in His Word, and…the word of Christ dwell[ing] in you richly…” (Colossians 3:16).

       ✞     …continuing steadfastly in prayer…” (Romans 12:12 – see also Luke 18, 1; I Thessalonians 5:17).

       ✞     …not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:25).

       ✞      Sharing the gospel with others! (See Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 1:8; II Timothy 4:2; I Peter 3:15).

Next, in Ephesians 5:11, Paul tells us that it is not enough to personally stay away from sin:  “…have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness….”  The apostle goes on to say, “…but rather expose them.”  We are to expose sin where we find it!

      Such sin could be hiding in our own lives – sins so secret that not even we are aware of them!  This is why I believe it is very important to pray the last two verses of Psalm 139, verses 23 and 24 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible), and to pray this prayer often:  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if any wicked way is in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.

•      We are also to expose sin in others!  We are admonished to do just that in Leviticus 19:17 (Bible in Basic English):  “…make a protest to your neighbor, so that he may be stopped from doing evil.” (See the example of Paul exposing sin in I Corinthians 5:1-5).

      This requires wisdom!  God would not have us expose a brother or sister’s struggles to just anyone!  There are too many who use such information to spread gossip (see Leviticus 19:16; Proverbs 18:8).  We are to only expose sins when, where, and to whom, the Holy Spirit leads us! (See Paul’s rebuke of Peter in Galatians 2:11-14).

      Keep in mind the following Scriptures as you undertake exposing sin in other Christians:

       ✞      Galatians 6:1 and 2 – “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ….”  The law of Christ is to love one another as He has loved us! (See John 13:34, 35; I John 3:23; II John 1:6).

       ✞      Ephesians 4:13, 15, and 16 – God has gifted us by the Holy Spirit so that…we all come to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God… speaking the truth in love, [we] may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together…[causing] growth of the body [of Christ, the Church] for the edifying of itself in love.

       ✞      Hebrews 10:24 (KJV) – We are called to…consider [look closely upon and examine] one another to provoke [prod]…one another…unto love and good works.

       ✞      I Peter 1:22 – “…in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.

How many who say they are followers of Jesus Christ neglect to obey what is emphasized in Ephesians 5:10 and 11?

      …showing forth in their lives what is acceptable (or avoiding what is unacceptable) to the Lord – even the basic things named above!

      …exposing sin where it is found – in ourselves and (lovingly) in others!

Let us be serious about fulfilling all that Jesus has called us to do!

Little Acceptable Sins – IX

February 9, 2018

Image result for photo thanksgiving and praiseEphesians 4:22 – 24

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

We are into Ephesians 5, looking at Little Acceptable Sinssins that too many believers tolerate, and even encourage, in their own lives and the lives of other Christians!  One more time, here is our featured Scripture – Ephesians 4:22 through 24, upon which this series is based:

      …put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
      rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
      mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
      righteousness and true holiness.

Paul is putting forth the argument that followers of Jesus Christ ought to show forth their new nature implanted by God through the Holy Spirit when they are born again (see John 3:3-8).  This nature is Godly!  It does not and cannot sin! (See I John 3:9; 5:18).  It is only the sinful human nature out of which flows sin!  And to show forth the new nature of…Christ in you, the hope of glory…” (Colossians 1:27), it entails putting off or putting to death the old sinful nature with which every mother’s child is born! (See Mark 8:34; Romans 3:10, 23; 6:11).  But what does the manifestation of the new nature – the new man – look like?  In the verses following our featured Scripture, Paul lists many of the traits we are to both manifest (the new man) and avoid (the old man)!

      In Ephesians 5:5 through 7, the apostle tells us what should not be in a believers life!  He is expanding on what he has written in verses 3 and 4 (see our previous blog).  Here are verses 5 through 7:

      For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man,
      who is an idolator, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 
      Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the
      wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be
      partakers with them.

This does not mean that the Christian who falls into sin will lose his or her salvation and be kicked out of the kingdom!  For it is evident that we are still plagued by our sinful nature!  It is as John writes to believers 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.

As Christians, we will sin because we still have the old man, the sinful nature, within!  But here is the good news in I John 2:1:  “…if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Apparently, there were, then as now, people who claimed to be followers of Christ, but lived like the heathen!  The cult of the Gnostics taught that the material world was evil, and through special knowledge (Greek gno’-sis) one could escape the material world and attain high spirituality.  But since the human material body is already evil in Gnostic thinking, then some taught one can do whatever one physically desires, and this will not affect one’s spirit!  So anenlightenedperson supposedly could sin continually, and still be in God’s favor!  Not so!!!  As Paul wrote in Romans 6:1:  “What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!

So Paul’s warning in verses 5 though 7 focuses on those who habitually practice fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, and idolatry!  But concerning God’s true children (see John 1:12, 13):  “…do not be partakers with them.  For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:7 and 8).  Thank God for His provision of continuing forgiveness for Christians – ongoing cleansing – through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ! (See I John 1:7, 9).

Fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, idolatryare these Little Sins (as in our series title, Little Acceptable Sins)?  Hardly!  But it is surprising that such sins are often overlooked and even accepted in our churches.  (In my 45 years of being a pastor, I have seen a notorious womanizer be asked to serve as a deacon!  In another case, a child molester was elected to the deaconate!  More than once I witnessed a vulgar and unclean man voted in to be a trustee!  And a covetous personan idolater in Paul’s words [see verse 5, also Colossians 3:5] – continue to be a church leader!)  It seems that when Little Sins are accepted, they can lead to bigger and bigger sins also being accepted! (Compare Revelation 2:6 with 2:15, and see the progression from deeds to doctine).

      Ephesians 5:8 – “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light.”  This reminds me of what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:13:  God…has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.”  Two kingdoms:

       ✞      The power of darknessSatan’s kingdom!  This encompasses not only a vast spiritual (demonic) army (see Ephesians 6:12), but also “…the kingdoms of the world…and their glory…” (Luke 4:5, 6), with unsaved humanity populating the devil’s dominion!

       ✞      The kingdom of the Son of His [God’s] love.  This kingdom is now within us (see Luke 17:21), and not yet manifested to the world (see John 18:36).  But someday, perhaps soon,The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15).

The moment we open our hearts to invite the Savior in our lives to be ours, we are translated from one kingdom to the other – without ever changing places physically!

      Ephesians 5:9 – “For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.”  Instead of manifesting fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, and idolatry; the life of the Christian is to show forth…the fruit of the Spirit…” – such “…fruit…is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth…”  And we learn the nine manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22 and 23 (International Standard Version):  “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  There are no Little Acceptable Sins – no wickedness at all! – in anything we manifest of Christ and His kingdom and the new life He has implanted within us!

By your Christian life, determine to show forth Him! (See John 3:30).

Little Acceptable Sins – VIII

February 7, 2018

Image result for photo thanksgiving and praiseEphesians 4:22 – 24

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

Little Acceptable Sins – what many Christians allow in their own lives and in the lives of others around them!  Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:22 through 24 (and following) concerning the way a believer’s life should be lived out – positive aspects that should be evident, and negatives that must be avoided!  Here is the main admonition in verses 22 through 24:

      …put off concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows cor-
      rupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your
      mind, and…put on the new man which was created according to God, in
      righteousness and true holiness.

Two natures are mentioned here, with which the Christian must contend, because they war one against the other! (See Galatians 5:16, 17):

      The old man (or sinful nature).  Paul calls it the carnal mind in Romans 8:7:  “…the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.

      The new man.  This is the Godly nature implanted within us when we put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior! (See Ezekiel 36:26, 27; II Corinthians 5:17).

We left off on Monday with Ephesians 5:1 and 2.  We jumped ahead to briefly consider Ephesians 5:3 and 4 in Little Acceptable Sins – III.  Here is some of that study:  In this verse Paul expands on one aspect of “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth…” (Ephesians 4:29):  “…neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting…let it not even be named among you….

      filthiness – “…shamefulness, that is, obscenity…” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).

      foolish talking – “…silly talk, that is, buffoonery…” (Ibid.)

      coarse jesting – “…well-turned, that is, ready at repartee, jocosewitticism, that is, (in a vulgar sense) ribaldry…” (Ibid.)

But much more is said in Ephesians 5:3 and 4 concerning…

      …godless actions, not just speech!  “But fornication and all uncleanness or coveteousness let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints.” (Ephesians 5:3).  Three things the apostle mentions:

       ✞      fornication – the word in Greek is πορνεία (pronounced por-ni’-ah).  According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary it means, “…harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively idolatry…”  It is the same root word from which we get the word pornography.  Related words are:

               ▸    πόρνη (pronounced por’-nay) meaning, “…strumpet…” (Ibid.) and translated as harlot or whore in the KJV.

               ▸      πόρνος (pronounced por’-nos) meaning, “…a (male) prostitute…that is, (by analogy) a debauchee (libertine)…”(Ibid.) and translated in the KJV as fornicator or whoremonger.

       ✞      uncleanness – the Greek word is ἀκαθαρσία (pronounced ak-ath-ar-see’-ah) meaning, “…impurity (the quality), physically or morally…” (Ibid.)

       ✞      coveteousness – the Greek word is πλεονεξία (pronounced pleh-on-ex-ee’-ah) meaning “…avarice, that is, (by implication) fraudulency, extortion…” (Ibid.)  It is translated in the KJV as both coveteousness and being greedy.

               ▸      Coveteousness is dealt with in the tenth of the Ten Commandments:  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house…your neighbor’s wife…his manservant…his maidservant…his ox…his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17).  But Paul tells us in Colossians 3:5, “…coveteousness…is idolatry.”  So if one covets, he or she not only breaks the tenth of the Ten Commandments, that one also breaks the first:  “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3).  Idolatry is preferencing anything else before God! (See Mark 12:30; also the blog from October 31st, 2014The Circular Ten Commandments).

               ▸      As seen in the definition of fornication above, πορνεία can figuratively mean idolatry.  If nothing else, it is certainly putting our sexual desires and lusts before what the Heavenly Father wants for us!

•     …fornication…all uncleanness or coveteousness…neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting …let it not even be named among you….” (Ephesians 5:3, 4).  What does it mean that such actions, such speech should not even be named among you?  I like what it says about this in Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible:

      That is, let it not exist; let there be no occasion for mentioning such a thing
      among you; let it be wholly unknown.  This cannot mean that it is wrong to
      “mention” these vices for the purpose of rebuking them, or cautioning those
      in danger of committing them – for Paul himself in this manner mentions
      them here, and frequently elsewhere – but that they should not “exist” among

•      Such actions and words…are not fitting…” (Ephesians 5:4) – not proper…for saints [believers in Christ]” (Ephesians 5:3).

The alternative to such negative actions and speech is at the end of Ephesians 5:4:  “…but rather giving of thanks.”  According to Ephesians 5:20 and I Thessalonians 5:18, we are to…give thanks…in everything…[and] for all thngs….

      It is verbal thanksgiving and praise to God! (see for example Psalms 69:30 and 100:4).

      It is also as Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback in California, says, we should be…living life as a thank you gift to God.

Where are you in all this, dear one?  Where does God want you to be?