Promise of Blessing and Retribution, Part – 1

Wheat field

Photo by Florin Gorgan

This is a rather long post, so I have broken it up into two parts. Part one talks a bit about who we are in relation to Abraham, and some of the wonderful blessing that has brought into our lives. Part two talks about the curses that God has prophesied to happen to His people when they turn their backs on Him and decide not to obey him.

I hope you will take the time to read both posts as I believe this to be an extremely important issue for our time. Some of these scriptures may be scriptures you don’t read often, but it’s time we all did. Please let me know what you think.

If you look at our Nation from the time right after the Revolutionary War to not too long ago, you will see a great nation, that had been blessed greatly by God. Now we have always had our faults, but we were for the most part a Christian nation following Judeo-Christian law.

Most of our politicians were God fearing men, and the family unit, with God at its head, was center in our lives. We pledged allegiance to our flag as one nation under God, and most families had a father and mother to lead their children.

There have been incredible discoveries made with an amazing increase in knowledge. The light bulb was invented, along with the phone, automobile and plane. This nation has been blessed beyond any other nation that has ever existed. Does anyone believe that to be an accident?

Then we went from One Nation under God, to a nation that wanted God out of our collective lives.

We decided God wasn’t good for our schools, so we kicked Him out. Crime, violence, delinquency, pregnancy, and every other bad behavior have increased exponentially since.

We decided that in inconvenient pregnancy was unbearable and we got Roe vs Wade. It has been estimated that 50 million abortions have happened in the U.S. since Roe Vs. Wade. Can you imagine how many men and women of God that was? How many future doctors, scientists, teachers and tax payers’ lives were taken? Is it any wonder that we can no longer support Social Security, Medicare and the like?

Does anyone believe there is not a cost to be paid for that?

Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

Although there have always been people who do, and will always love and obey God; as a nation we have handed God His hat and asked Him to stay out of our business.

I believe He is beginning to do just that.

First, let us look at what God said about people of faith in Jesus Christ. Read what is says in Galatians 3 below. If we are of faith we are of the seed of Abraham, and therefore subject to the blessings and promises made by God to Abraham.

Galatians 3:5-9
5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[c] 7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.”[d] 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

Galatians 3:26-29
26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Reading the scriptures above, I hope you will see that the following promises of blessings are not for a single nation of people called the Jews. There was no such thing as a Jew when these promises were made to Abraham, than Isaac and Jacob. Jacob became Israel and the Jews came from one of his sons called Judah. So these promises were made before Judah or the Jews ever came along.

We all really need to understand this, because the following scriptures are direct to those of faith who are God’s children. That’s you and I.

As I’m sure most of you know many prophesies are duel. Some of the promises God made to Abraham were experienced by Israel but to a limited degree. Also some of the curses God prophesied to happen to Israel did happen when most of Israel was taken into captivity and scattered throughout the earth. The reason those curses came to Israel is because they turned their collective back on God. Do we think we as a nation can turn our back on God and not suffer the same thing?

What God promised Israel for their obedience was:

Exodus 19:3-6
3 And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”

Leviticus 26:1- 13
1 ‘You shall not make idols for yourselves;
neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves;
nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it;
for I am the Lord your God.
2 You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary:
I am the Lord.
3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them,
4 then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
5 Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing;
you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
6 I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid;
I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land.
7 You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you.
8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight;
your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.
9 ‘For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you.
10 You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new.
11 I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.
12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.
13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.

Please come back on Friday to read part 2.

Do The Prideful Really Go Free?

Photo by dospaz

Malachi 3:15 So now we call the proud blessed, For those who do wickedness are raised up; They even tempt God and go free.’”

It seems some things haven’t changed a lot since Malachi’s day. Many people still worship man above God.

Our society glorifies sports figures, cage fighters, movie stars and the like. Most of all, men and women worship themselves. They worship their looks, their careers, who they have as friends, and the cars they drive. Above all, they worship their ability to be self-regulating, self-sufficient, and self-determining.

Basically the attitude is, I will do what I want, when I want to. I will live like I want, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I am the most important person in my life, and accountable only to my-self.

Is that true?

Read what the scriptures say in Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall”.

Another very important scripture in this regard is:

Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

We think we’re getting away with things because there aren’t immediate consequences.

I just came back from a whirl-wind from trip to Chicago with my wife. There were several reasons for the visit which partially included visiting my wife’s aunt who was down from California for a couple of weeks. She was staying with her brother, where my wife and I stayed as well. They were all very nice, kind and happy Christian people who you just felt good being around. In all our discussions so much of the talk was about praying for people, and helping others.

Unfortunately, the other part of the visit was not so pleasent. You see, my wife’s estranged father is in a nursing home dying; and he is totally opposite of the kind of people we were staying with.

He was a fairly large and proud man at one time. He was a carpenter by trade for many years and owned a fairly successful fiberglass business. He’s had many expensive toys over time which includes muscle cars, refurbished antique cars, and race cars.

He’s a man, who as far as I can tell, has cheated on most every woman he was ever with. He was abusive to my wife’s mother and her older brother; and never had anything to do with my wife. It seems he only had enough love for himself, and the only things important to him were his fiberglass business, his possessions, and his status around people he thought important “which wasn’t his family”.

He’s been married three times, and I couldn’t say if he’s been faithful with his 3rd wife or not. His second wife was one of the women that he was cheating on my wife’s mother with. His current wife is one of the women that he was cheating on his second wife with. It kind of makes your head spin, doesn’t it?

As I understand it, he has never had much use for God, and seemed quite content with that decision.

My wife would sometimes call and try to communicate with him after our daughter was born, and he never once asked about his grandchild.

There were a couple times we saw him at funerals, and once at a race. He never once hugged her, but would shaker her hand. When my wife’s brother confronted him about some of the terrible things he’d done, he just looked him strait in the eye and denied it.

There have been a few more times in the past where my wife would make an attempt to develop some sort of relationship with him, but to no avail. Our daughter, his granddaughter, even sent him a letter and picture of her when she was 18 trying to communicate with him. No response at all.

This once big and proud man now lays in a nursing home bed frail, helpless, confused and dying. Melanoma, throat cancer, and diabetes are consuming him. He has a huge tumor on the side of his neck and face and has lost about 80 pounds. He has very few friends and has pushed almost all his family away.

We think he recognized my wife during our visit, and we’re glad we went; because it may be the last time she sees him alive. At this point all we can do is pray for him, and feel sorry for all the missed opportunities that he can never get back.

All his pride, self-reliance, money, business and possessions cannot comfort or help him now. He is going to learn the lesson we all do, you come into this world naked and without possessions, and that is how we’re all going to leave it.

Unfortunately, he will be remembered by most people for the things I described above; and that is sad.

There is nothing wrong with being proud of a child, an accomplishment, or of a job well done. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in the way you live your life, but being proud, and being prideful or two different things. One appreciates doing what’s right and good, the other appreciates self.

What is it about man that makes him want to worship him-self and his stuff? Instead of holding up people who do great things for others, most people idolize musicians, movie stars, sports figures, and other people’s stuff.

My wife’s father, like many others, felt invincible and untouchable. He, like so many others, feel like they can treat people however they wish, and look out only for them-self. They think they can live any way they wish, and because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, they can do whatever pleases them.

There’s not much pride left when you’re lying in a nursing home or hospital bed feeling weak, frail, and mostly alone; knowing your time is short.

So, let me repeat the original question, do the prideful really go free?

A Heart to Serve

Photo by stevendepolo

Mark 10:44-45 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Do you have a heart to serve? Are you willing to be a servant to all, to lead by example.

Are you willing to serve without fan-fair and accolades? Are you willing to serve for the sake of serving without thought of reward?

I’ve heard lots of messages in my time. There have been some truly great ones, and more than enough messages by people impressing themselves with their words.

I’m only asking these questions, because they are questions that we should be asking ourselves regularly, and attitudes or mind sets that are very difficult to live by.

If you’re a preacher, and you give what you felt was a powerful message, and not many seem impressed; does it make you feel bad? Can you walk away from that situation feeling good; like you did what you were supposed to, or would you walk away with your feelings hurt?

Being the imperfect person I am, I tend to feel a bit hurt and unappreciated.

But, is that how I should feel? If I put my heart into a message where I felt God was inspiring me, and no one seemed impressed, should I be offended?

It’s human nature to feel unappreciated in a situation like that, but it’s spiritual nature we should be developing.

Even Jesus wasn’t always appreciated for His messages and words to others. Look at Jesus after He had given several parables to a crowd.

Matthew 13:53-58 53 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. 54 When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,[a] Simon, and Judas? 56 And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” 57 So they were offended at Him.

But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” 58 Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Now, I’m not a profit, but I know there are times that I gave a message, or wrote something I felt was inspired by the Spirit to share; and the response was less than exciting. I felt unappreciated.

Should my feelings be hurt? If I’m doing what I feel called to do, should that not in itself be reward enough for me? I think it should.

What about you? Do you need a pat on the back every time you do what you’re called to do?

This isn’t just for those who preach or write. Any Christian that serves has to deal with these same issues. How about when you go way out of your way to help someone, and you barely get a thanks? You feel hurt, which is human nature. But are we serving for reward or are we serving because we have a heart to serve?

We all want and crave appreciation, but sometimes I think we need to look a little deeper; and realize even if others aren’t patting us on the back, God appreciates us. Every time you put yourself out there to serve; every time you give a message or write a post to edify God, He appreciates you.

We are human and will struggle with these kinds of issues while in this human state. But as we mature, we must learn to serve for the sake of serving without needing our egos stroked every time we open our mouths, put pen to paper or tickle the ivories.

I hope all who read this find it food for thought. But even if no one sends me emails, and comments telling me how brilliant this post was :), I will feel like I wrote what I was inspired to write.

I will also continue, with the help of God, to strive toward developing a true heart to serve.

Enduring Trials – Part 2

Photo by Kevin Dooley

This post is a continuation of Wednesdays, post titled “Enduring Trials – Part 1”.

Trials are a part of the Christian walk, and we must all learn from them if we are to receive that Crown of Life that’s promised in scripture. If you have not already read Enduring Trials – Part 1, I would suggest going and reading that first.

Part 2:

2 Thessalonians 1:3-5 3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer;

It seems from that scripture that patience and faith are the twin characteristics that will help us endure the trials of life that we all seem to go through. But, patience and faith not only help in trials, but are greatly developed in trials.

Hebrews 12:2-4 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.

Even the very Son of God endured terrible trails and sufferings. And the scriptures tell us that Jesus was made perfect, through the things He suffered. Hebrews 12:3 clearly states we need to consider what Jesus went through so that we don’t become weary and discouraged.

James 5:10-11 10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

He’s the same with us. God has only the very best in mind for us. So, when He allows us to go through trials, it may not seem like it at the time, but it’s for our own good.

1 Peter 2:18-20 18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

Sometimes that can make things seem even more confusing. You’re working really hard to stay on the strait and narrow, and all of a sudden some trial or ill treatment hits you. You want to react in a negative way because you’re frustrated, and you feel it’s not fair that someone is treating you badly.

It is those situations that reveal a lot about our character, by how we react to those kinds of situations.

James 1:2-3 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

We’ve all read that many times, but it doesn’t’ always make it easier to deal with in the midst of a trial.

James 1:12 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

It seems to be a consistent theme in the scriptures that we endure trials. That we don’t give up or get discouraged. That we never quit trusting God to help us through the trials that befall all of us. And for those that endure till the end, there will be a crown of life.

It makes me think of the scripture that talks about the trials of this life being nothing compared to the life we’ll have in the Kingdom of God.

1 Peter 1:3-7 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

That is so encouraging. It’s exciting to know that the trials we deal with right now are helping to develop the faith that is more precious than gold. The faith that will help us to win the race, the faith that we’ll prepare us to receive the crown of life.

Trials are part of being a Christian. Without them God would not be able to develop the character in us that is necessary to be a part of His Kingdom. Trials, as painful and sorrowful as they can be, are a blessing and help from God and therefore we must learn to count it all joy when we go through them.

Enduring Trials – Part 1

men climbing ropes

Photo by Kevin Dooley

Have you ever felt like you’ve reached the end or your rope, and just couldn’t take any more? Have you ever felt like life was just too hard and it’s not worth trying to overcome or make a difference?

Well, if you’ve ever felt that way, let me offer you an extra knot to tie to the end of your rope, so the next time you feel that way you’ll have some help holding on.

Let’s start with a scripture that offers a lot of hope to those who hold on.

Matthew 24:13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

I don’t know anyone who has not had their share of trials. I have two children who deal with an almost daily trial of Crohn’s disease. Then their mother and I have to deal with the trial of having sick adult children who spend a lot of time in pain; and whose lives are greatly complicated by the disease.

You would think that if we are walking with God, life should be a little easier, yet most of the time it isn’t. You would think that our prayers for healing would be answered, and we would no longer have to deal with this disease, but they’re not.

So, we often scratch our heads and ask, why?

Well, let’s look at some scriptures and see what the bible says about the kind of things we go through and/or have to deal with.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 13 each one’s work will become clear; 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. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

The trials we go through test our works, and who we are inside. They are either helping to refine, and develop the character needed to be in God’s Kingdom; or they are helping reveal our lack of character. Either way, it helps us to grow spiritually and draw closer to God.

1 Corinthians 4:11-13 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the off scouring of all things until now.

I think that scripture plainly shows that walking with God is not necessarily a ticket to the easy life, but the reward does far out way the struggles we go through in this present life. If you think about it, it seems those closest to God tend to go through the greatest trials.

Does that mean as a Christian that our life has to be filled with hardship and trials all the time? Not at all! It’s just those smooth times don’t seem to have the same impact on us. Plus trials are a part of life, and we develop much more character going through them than we ever do when everything is running smoothly.

So, I think it’s important we ask our self when going through trials; do we do it with the right attitude? Do we pray for and bless those that revile us or treat us badly? Do we endure trials with hope and the end goal in mind?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Did you catch those two statements in verse seven; bears all things and endures all things?

Think about the Apostle Paul, and his call to God three times for relief from a particular trial.

2 Corinthians 12:9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

It can be so hard when going through trials, and crying out to God for relief; that He tells us, in so many words, My grace is sufficient for you, you’ll just have to endure.

Of course, if we lean on Him, He will help us endure the trial, and help us to learn what we need to learn from it.

Due to the length of this post, I have broken it into two parts and invite you to come back on Friday to read “Enduring Trials – Part 2”.