Thursday, February 6, 2014

What's in Your Eye? I Can't See!

The other morning I was distracted.  I could not stay focused on the bible study I was trying to work on.  I could not look at the book or read for more than a few seconds.  Why?  There was something in my right eye.  At first, it was a slight annoyance.  I kept rubbing at my eye, even pulling at my eyelashes.  Eventually, I had to get up, go to a mirror, and look into my eye to see what was bothering me.  Sure, enough it was an eyelash lying on my eyeball, right next to my iris.  Once I extracted it I could see clearly again.  The interesting thing is that the more my right eye was agitated, the less I was able to use my left eye.  It was better than my right, but it was hard to keep it open.  This foreign object was affecting my sight.  

When we get a foreign object in our eyes, like an eyelash or a speck it bothers the cornea.  The cornea is the clear covering of the eye, it is what allows light to come through, and it focuses that light into the retina.  It also can annoy the conjunctiva, the thin mucus membrane that covers the white of your eye.  Your bodies natural defense against foreign objects is to coat them and push them out of the eye.  In the mean time, your eye is bugging you like crazy.  You rub, pull and tug.  Trying to make it stop.

All of this brought to mind the scripture in Matthew chapter 7.  Jesus is teaching on judging others.  He begins by saying very simply, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Matt 7:1 (NIV)

He continues, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matt 7:2 (NIV)

Now for the eyes - "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of you eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Matt 7:3-5 (NIV)

This makes sense.  My sin, which blocks my ability to see clearly because like the foreign object in my eye it keeps the light from coming through my cornea. Sin in our lives is like a plank, a large stumbling block that keeps us from following the path that God has set before us.  We believe we are seeing the sin of another person, the speck in their eye.  However, how can we possibly see it our spiritual eyes have the foreign object of sin in them.  

Even if it is just one eye that the sin is in, it will affect the other.  What do I mean by that?  Let's call both eyes presumptuous sin, and one eye the rest of the stuff we are doing that we don't realize we are in error about.  

For example, I have a bad habit of correcting people.  When they say something that I know to be in error, regardless of what it is.  Whether it is important or not.  I will speak up and correct them.  These are times that are not led by the Holy Spirit.  I can tell myself this is my desire to exercise my gift of teaching, which was given to me by God.  However, in reality when I am doing this by my own power it is not about teaching, but showing people how much I know.  It is pride.  It is a form of boasting.  It is something I have to repent of when I catch myself doing it, and turn over to the Holy Spirit.  When the Holy Spirit leads me to teach, as with this blog, than it is coming from Him.  His words to His people.  I have no part in them, I decrease and He increases.  As it should be.

When we are looking at the faults of others, we are not coming from the Holy Spirit, but from our own spirit.  From our flesh.  Some versions of this same scripture refer to the plank as a log.  Essentially, this piece of wood is large and cumbersome.  It blocks the light, Jesus from working effectively in our life.  Just like the sin it represents.  

What is your sin, what do you have in your eye that is keeping you from seeing clearly?   The plank not only blocks you from seeing what is around you, it blocks your view of God.  Sin keeps us from seeing Him, it also keeps us from being able to move.  We are stuck in one spot, if we try we would start running into things making a huge mess of all we encounter.  

Only the Holy Spirit, through the Word of God allows us to look into the spiritual mirror and see into our spiritual eyes and remove the plank from our eye.  This is not a one time removal however, we may have to do it weekly, daily, or even hourly.  We have to push ourselves to the point of being sensitive enough to His Spirit that we are aware every time the offending foreign object tries to reinsert itself into our eye.  Once we have learned to systematically keep it out of our eye, we can start helping other remove the "speck" from their own eyes.  We actually will see that what we thought was such a big deal, was in reality, a problem with our personal perspective due to the inability to see clearly.

Take the time to get the plank from your eye.  Spend time in His Word.  Reading, meditating, and ingesting all He has for you.  His Holy Spirit will open your eyes to the areas you need to work on.  This will not be easy, but it will be worth it.  Let Him remove the plank.  Then one day, you can hold the hand of someone else while He helps them, removing what is a speck for you, but a plank for them.  Eventually, they too will do the same for someone as well.  It is how His Kingdom works, perpetually paying forward what is received.  Aren't you ready to receive clear sight?

Heavenly Father, help us to not be so caught up with the speck in our neighbor's eyes that we trip over the plank in our own.  Let us be sensitive to the darkness the plank of sin causes.  Sensitive to Your Holy Spirit and His guidance into complete healing of all sin which we indulge in.  Let us be open to Your correction.  Let us heed Your advise.  Give us the fortitude to become all You created us to be, which can only be done once we allow You to remove the plank from our own eye, so we can see clearly to help our fellow man.  We praise and thank You for Your love and devotion to us, and the fact that You never give up on us.  We praise and glorify Your name and seek Your face in all we do.
In Jesus name, Amen.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How is Your Faith's Pulse?

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Heb 13:7-8 (NLT)

"The combined wealth of the world's richest 85 people is now equivalent to that owned by half of the world's population – or 3.5 billion of the poorest people – according to a new report from Oxfam," (, 2013).

I read this today and shuddered.  I have recently been studying the minor prophets of the Old Testament.  Time and again they were warning the people of Judah and Israel that they could not continue to mistreat or oppress the poor among them. 

This is what the Lord says:
“For ·the many [Lthree, even four; 2:1] ·crimes [sins; transgressions] of Israel,
    I will ·punish them [Lnot turn back/grant a reprieve].
For silver, they sell ·people who have done nothing wrong [the innocent/righteous];
    they sell the ·poor [needy] to buy a pair of sandals.
    They ·walk [trample] on ·poor people [Lthe heads of the poor] as if they were ·dirt [Lthe dust of the ground/earth],
    and they ·refuse to be fair to [deny justice to; or push away] those who are ·suffering [afflicted].
Fathers and sons ·have sexual relations with [Lgo in to]the same woman,
    and so they ·ruin [defile; profane] my holy name.
  ·As they worship at their altars [LBeside every altar],
    they lie down on clothes taken ·from the poor [Lin pledge; Cas collateral for a debt; Deut. 24:12–13].
They fine people,
    and with that money they buy wine to drink in the house of their god. Amos 2:6-8 (EXB)

God is very clear, He will not continue to allow this wrong attitude.  If it did not stop, He would pour out judgment upon them.  They did not stop and were taken captive by the Babylonians.  Not before they went into starvation and complete desolation.

We, Americans especially since we are a Christian Nation, are under the same rules.  God has not changed.  However, we are oppressing the poor to make money. 

"A survey in six countries (Spain, Brazil, India, South Africa, the UK and the U.S.) showed that a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich," the report said," (NBCnews.Com, 2013).

Let's look at that portion of the scripture again that addresses this very thing, "…and they ·refuse to be fair to [deny justice to; or push away] those who are ·suffering [afflicted]."  By passing laws that favor the rich we are guilty of this sin.  Now, many may state, I am not in a place of power, I have no control.  What do you want me to do about it?"  Edmund Burke, a British politician, orator, and philosopher put it quite succinctly, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," (The Quotations Page, 1994-2013). 

What makes this a sin?  Why should this be our concern?  James has much to say on the subject.  In Chapter 4 he states,
"Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money.
Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air].
You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing].
But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit. All such boasting is wrong.
So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin." James 4:13-17 (AMP)

This sin perpetuates the evil that is committed.  On this day, Martin Luther King's Birthday is commemorated.  He was a man who stood up and did something when he saw others being oppressed.  He understood it was a sin for him to stand down and do nothing. 

Our society today has too many idols causing too many of us to rationalize being idle.  So, let me leave you with these words from James to ponder for yourself how you will proceed in the face of such wanton disregard of the poor and suffering of our world:

James Chapter 2

My brethren, pay no servile regard to people [show no prejudice, no partiality]. Do not [attempt to] hold and practice the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ [the Lord] of glory [together with snobbery]!
For if a person comes into your congregation whose hands are adorned with gold rings and who is wearing splendid apparel, and also a poor [man] in shabby clothes comes in,
And you pay special attention to the one who wears the splendid clothes and say to him, Sit here in this preferable seat! While you tell the poor [man], Stand there! Or, Sit there on the floor at my feet!
Are you not discriminating among your own and becoming critics and judges with wrong motives?
Listen, my beloved brethren: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and in their position as believers and to inherit the kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him?
But you [in contrast] have insulted (humiliated, dishonored, and shown your contempt for) the poor. Is it not the rich who domineer over you? Is it not they who drag you into the law courts?
Is it not they who slander and blaspheme that precious name by which you are distinguished andcalled [the name of Christ invoked in baptism]?
If indeed you [really] fulfill the royal Law in accordance with the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as [you love] yourself, you do well.
But if you show servile regard (prejudice, favoritism) for people, you commit sin and are rebuked andconvicted by the Law as violators and offenders.
10 For whosoever keeps the Law [as a] whole but stumbles and offends in one [single instance] has become guilty of [breaking] all of it.
11 For He Who said, You shall not commit adultery, also said, You shall not kill. If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become guilty of transgressing the [whole] Law.
12 So speak and so act as [people should] who are to be judged under the law of liberty [the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love].
13 For to him who has shown no mercy the judgment [will be] merciless, but mercy [full of glad confidence] exults victoriously over judgment.
14 What is the use (profit), my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works [to show for it]? Can [such] faith save [his soul]?
15 If a brother or sister is poorly clad and lacks food for each day,
16 And one of you says to him, Good-bye! Keep [yourself] warm and well fed, without giving him the necessities for the body, what good does that do?
17 So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).
18 But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith.
19 You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as [a]make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]!
20 Are you willing to be shown [proof], you foolish (unproductive, spiritually deficient) fellow, that faith apart from [good] works is inactive and ineffective and worthless?
21 Was not our forefather Abraham [shown to be] justified (made acceptable to God) by [his] works when he brought to the altar as an offering his [own] son Isaac?
22 You see that [his] faith was cooperating with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works.
23 And [so] the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed in (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on) God, and this was accounted to him as righteousness (as conformity to God’s will in thought and deed), and he was called God’s friend.
24 You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes].
25 So also with Rahab the harlot—was she not shown to be justified (pronounced righteous before God) by [good] deeds when she took in the scouts (spies) and sent them away by a different route?
26 For as the human body apart from the spirit is lifeless, so faith apart from [its] works of obedience is also dead.

How is your faith's pulse?

Moncur, Michael. "Quotations by Author." 
Edmund Burke Quotes., 2013. Web. 20 Jan. 2014

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We Are Perpetually Saved, Not Sin Free

Recently, I have had an online debate with a group about Christians being forgiven from all past, present and future sins.  I am quite confused on their premise for this belief because I cannot find anywhere in scripture that states we are perpetually forgiven of any sin we commit.

This doctrine is one of the worst types of man-made confusion.  This is a get out of jail free card for anyone who professes to be a Christian.  Our Father in Heaven, who is just and fair, would never create such an environment.  Those who accept Christ can do whatever they want and not worry about consequences, while those who don't are doomed for their very existence.  Wrong.

 I believe where they are getting confused is the difference between salvation and forgiveness of sins.  We are saved from eternal separation from God the Father because we have accepted Christ.  However, our actions will be judged and those we have not repented of will be dealt with.  The Bible is very explicit about our "past" sins being forgiven, just read 1 Peter 1:3-11,

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
 10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[a] make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.   (emphasis mine)

To sin is to stumble.  If we are incapable of being guilty of sin any longer because we are perpetually forgiven, than why would Peter warn us to do these things so we won't stumble? 

One must be very careful of following doctrine over the Bible.  Doctrine is manmade, and should be based on the Bible.  I say should be, because often it is not.  A prime example is the doctrine that Christians are not allowed to drink alcohol.  It does NOT say that anywhere in the Bible.  It says we are not to get drunk.  In fact, Paul tells Timothy to drink some wine instead of all the water to help with his stomach problems.  Why would Paul say such a thing if it was a sin for Timothy to do so?  Which brings us back to the whole "all future sins are forgiven" nonsense.  Time and again Paul, Peter, and James warn about keeping ourselves in check and not  "falling or stumbling", which is to sin.  If we are automatically forgiven of every future sin there would be no reason to warn anyone, it would be a moot point.

The point here is do NOT follow what man says without comparing it to the scriptures.  If the theology and the scriptures do not line up drop the theology because only the scriptures are correct.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our God is ALWAYS with Us

Let's always remember no matter what is coming at us, no matter how the world may seem to be pounding at our doors, God is right there with us through every step.  "Turn your eyes on Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace."


Friday, July 15, 2011

Words Have Power

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce righteousness that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. (James 1:19-21)

When we are angry with someone we so often just speak what we are "feeling".  We do not think about the words coming out of our mouths.  In fact, when we listen we tend to hear with a kind of filter attached.  What gets through has our personal experience whitewashed over the top of it.  Old scars, often are reopened as word that are not meant to harm but express are used by the enemy, at times, to get us to feel we are right back in that old situation again.

If we have been  mistreated or abused as a child, it often is not the person we are interacting with at the moment that is getting the brunt of our response, it is the memory of the authority figure who subjected the defenseless child that you are shooting the word bullets at.  Unfortunately, the person, often your spouse, that you are having the disagreement with is not privy to the past circumstance that you are trying to continually rectify.  Even if they are, they may be going through the same situation themselves.  This can just add fuel to the word sparing fire.

When we want to truly communicate, even in secular circles, the first rule is we must listen without any thought of what we are to say in return.  To do this we must not think about ourselves.  All defenses must be turned off.  We must die to ourselves and put the other person's welfare first.  Jesus showed us first hand that nothing is more important than sacrificing all we are for the sake of benefiting others. 

When we take our vows, traditional vows during the marriage ceremony one of the statements is "forsaking all others".  That means we are to put our spouse even before ourselves.  When we have those "arguments" how are we putting them before our personal agenda, if we are willing to hurt them to "win". 

To maintain our composure during these times we must rely on the Holy Spirit to download into us all the fruits of the Spirit as spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Everything it speaks of is what God is; He is love.  So He is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, does not dishonor us, He is never self-seeking, is not easily angered, He keeps no records of wrong.  He does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.  He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  He never fails....  This requires that our self-control be maintained by God-control, not our own power. 

Know that in all of this we will make mistakes, we will slip, but we can repent and know that we can be forgiven.  If we are the one who has been hit with the words, then be ready to accept that repentance.  For as we forgive we will be forgiven.  According to Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus was very clear about this, For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  He said this right after giving us the Lord's prayer which states, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us", Matthew 6:12.  The dictionary defines trespass as "to commit an offense or a sin; transgress or err."

Pray for the Lord to give you full use of His spiritual gifts so that you may have power over your words, instead of letting words having power over you.  Words have power to build up or tear down.  It is why Proverbs tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue, see Proverbs 18:21.   This can mean the difference between restored relationships and destroyed families.