Oh the irony…

So in my reading tonight I came across the term ex cathedra, referring to the “infallibility” of the pope.

Following the link from the Catholic Encyclopedia to the Vatican Counsel in which the ex cathedra was affirmed as doctrine, one will find the following explanation:

“Faithfully adhering, therefore, to the tradition inherited from the beginning of the Christian Faith, we, with the approbation of the sacred council, for the glory of God our Saviour, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and the salvation of Christian peoples, teach and define, as a Divinely revealed dogma, that the Roman pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is, when he, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, decides that a doctrine concerning faith or morals is to be held by the entire Church he possesses, in consequence of the Divine aid promised him in St. Peter, that infallibility with which the Divine Saviour wished to have His Church furnished for the definition of doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions of the Roman pontiff are of themselves, and not in consequence of the Church’s consent, irreformable.”

Now bearing that in mind, let’s turn to the scripture that is always cited as being the basis for the line of popes and the authority of Rome

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Matthew 16:18

In order to understand the true meaning of this verse, however, we need to take a look at the original Greek for “this” which was ταύτῃ.

5026. taute tow’-tay, and tauten tow’-tane, and tautes tow’-tace dative case, accusative case and genitive case respectively of the feminine singular of 3778; (towards or of) this:–her, + hereof, it, that, + thereby, the (same), this (same).

Last I checked, Peter was not a female.  So what possibly, would “this” in that statement refer to?  Let’s look back two verses.

Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 16:16-17

That which is being referred to and is feminine?  Peter’s confession that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God.  This is the stone upon which the entirety of the church has been built for without that fact, there is no church.

 

CPB

No harm in making nice…

First off: in this context, YES, there is.  There is eternal harm in this kind of “making nice.”

By this time, we’ve all see the headlines splashed across all kinds of media outlets: “Pope says atheists can go to heaven.”  If you happen to have somehow missed it, here are a few links:

Pope Francis assures atheists:You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven  (The Independent)

Pope Francis tells atheists to abide by their own consciences   (The Guardian)

Don’t feel like clicking and reading?  Here are two quotes:

Responding to a list of questions published in the paper by Mr Scalfari, who is not a Roman Catholic, Francis wrote: “You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”
-The Independent

Expressing the belief that it was important for Christians to engage in “a sincere and rigorous dialogue” with atheists, Francis recalled Scalfari had asked him whether God forgave those “who do not believe and do not seek to believe”.
“Given – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits, if He is approached with a sincere and repentant heart,” the pope wrote, “the question for those who do not believe in God is to abide by their own conscience. There is sin, also for those who have no faith, in going against one’s conscience. Listening to it and abiding by it means making up one’s mind about what is good and evil.”
-The Guardian

Now, this isn’t the first time that Pope Francis has spoken out about the redemption of atheists, either.  Earlier this year, in May, there was some backlash over a homily that he gave.  NPR covered the story:

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class. We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all. And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: We need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: We will meet one another there.”

If this is not your first time skimming through my blog, I am sure you already know where this is going.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.  This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:8-12

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:18

He who is not with Me is against me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
Luke 11:32

If you try to be a “good person” apart from the salvation offered by Christ, it’s not good enough.  Sorry, no passing go and collecting $200.

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.
Proverbs 14:12, 16:25

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

But we are all like an unclean thing,
All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
Isaiah 64:6a

The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked,
Who can know it?
Jeremiah 17:9

So pretty clearly, we can do what seems to be right, and give it our best effort, but even that is nothing more than a filthy rag.  It’s a pretty desperate situation, this human condition.  Thankfully:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16-17

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:5-6

Now one thing that Francis said, I do agree with, based on Scripture.

For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge this: that if One died for all, then all died;and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15

But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
Romans 5:15-16

So yes, I do agree that Jesus did die for everyone; those that were alive, those that are alive, and all that are to come in the future.  BUT- if we accept that, then we accept that fact that we were bought with a price and that we no longer live for ourselves, but for Him.

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:20

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.
Luke 9:23-24

“But why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?
Luke 6:45

But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

So clearly, apart from Christ, there is no salvation; no justification.  Yes, it is a free gift to all, but as with any gift, it must be accepted and then you are to respond accordingly.  With gifts from friends and family do you not respond with an attitude of gratitude?  Why would you give any less to God who offers you a gift that you could never hope to earn on your own, freely?

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul,
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
Psalm 19:7-8

So why do I cite these two verses?  Because of something that I recently became aware of; the belief by Catholics that the Pope is infallible, that he speaks for God.  That truly scared me.  Let me say this plainly: he is human.  Those verses about hearts being desperately wicked and the very best a person can muster being nothing more than filthy rags?  Guess what- they apply to the Pope as well!

O my soul, you have said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart form You.”
Psalm 16:2

“Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you aide in Me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

The only good in me is the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Even with His presence, however, I am still a fallible human.  It doesn’t matter how much time I spend in prayer, at church, or singing worship songs.  I will still screw up.  Are we then to take the word of a man that is supposed to be infallible, speaking in what appears to be opposition to a list of Scriptures within the Bible?

Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar.
Romans 3:4a

When all these comments hit the news outlets and it seemed as though the media was taking Francis out of context, a Vatican spokesman, Thomas Rosica, quickly made a statement to try and clarify things.

“People who know the Catholic Church cannot be saved if they refuse to enter or remain in her.”

Now at this point, I will raise my hand to say that I know the Catholic Church.  I will never “enter or remain in her” because I know that my salvation is granted by the blood of Jesus Christ not a church of man.

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
2 Peter 2:1-3

So what I feel needs to be taken to heart here is that either God or man can be infallible.  Not both.  Compare anything you hear to the Bible to find the truth.

 

CPB

Attention to detail

Last night was Bible study.  For the last few months, we’ve been making our way through Exodus and last night, we finally got to chapter 30.

Until yesterday, the last time I had read this particular chapter was some time back in the first part of the year with the “Bible in a year” plan I have been working through.  Before the study itself though, I skimmed through the chapter so that I could figure out a fitting verse to upload on the church’s social media page.  I remember when I was skimming that my eyes danced over the portion of verse 3 where Moses was directed that they should “make for it a molding of gold all around.”  “It” in this chapter, of course, referring to the altar of incense for the Tabernacle.

At the time, however, my attention focused in on the fact that Aaron was to burn incense and morning and evening when the lampstand was tended.  Which after a short time lead me to Psalm 55:16-17

As for me, I will call upon God.
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.

So hours passed and eventually it came time to sit down and get back into Exodus chapter 30.  Again, the molding jumped out at me.  I thought for a moment and quickly flipped back, skimming over the other items of the Tabernacle until I got back to the Ark of the Covenant, or the ark of Testimony.  From my skimming, it seemed as though the altar of incense and the ark were the only two items with molding.  I knew at that time, that there was something to that similarity, but then was not the time to try and figure it out as I was already starting to fall behind the discussion.  So I highlighted molding in both chapter 30 and 25 (where it’s in reference to the ark,) and made a mental note to look into it later when time, (and proximity of the Interlinear and Concordance) allowed.

So the first thing that I did this morning was pull up Bible Gateway and search for “molding.”  The results cam quickly as there are only ten instances of that word appearing in the entirety of the Bible, all of which are in the Old Testament, and all of which are within Exodus.

Reading through the ten verses showed me that I was close, but not quite in my first through.  I was missing one item for the Tabernacle that had molding on it; the table of Showbread with it’s frame.

So what’s the big deal?

The big deal is the fact that of all the items made for the Tabernacle, only three of them were directed to have molding.  Now, everything in the Old Testament foreshadows things to come in the New.  In order to make sure that this post doesn’t turn into a tome of its own, however, I will be as brief as I can in going through these three items.

Now we all know about the ark of the Covenant, or the ark of the Testimony.  What bears mentioning here is that the cover on it was called the mercy seat.  This was constructed of pure gold (symbolizing not only purity obviously, but deity,) and had two cherubs on it, each at one end of the mercy seat.

And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
John 20:12

So there is a clear relationship between what was seen by Mary and what the Israelis had been directed to build.  And to make the point even clearer:

And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony  about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.
Exodus 25:22

So yes, essentially, the mercy seat was a representation of the Throne of God

So then, what’s the deal with the table of Showbread?  This was a table that was constructed to hold 12 loaves of bread (think of any reason 12 would stand out?) which would be replaced every Sabbath, but were to constantly be present within the Tabernacle.

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Matthew 26:26

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:32-33

Shouldn’t have to say anything more about that one.  So, onto the altar of incense.

Throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testament, incense represents prayers of the saints, the believers.

Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Psalm 141:2

Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lam, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
Revelation 5:8

So here’s where the Interlinear Bible comes into play.  I went through and looked up the original Hebrew word for each of the ten occurrences of molding.  Each of them were the same original word, zer.  (The e is supposed to have a tilde above it, but without swapping to the international keyboard, it doesn’t seem that I can get that specific accent.)  Anyway, by looking up the number associated with it in the concordance, you get this bit of information:

a chaplet (as spread around the top), i.e. specifically a border moulding:- crown.

It’s that last part that really got me.  Crown.

Of course God and Jesus have crowns.  They are οὗτος. But for the altar of incense to have a crown as well when it has a direct correlation to the believers themselves? Well-

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Romans 8:14-17

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
Revelation 3:10-11

But wait! It’s the holy trinity… not just two and us feeble humans. Aah, but the Holy Spirit is there also-

“Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight he shall burn incense on it; a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.
Exodus 30:7-8

How do you burn incense, but with fire. It’s the fire that represents the presence of the Holy Spirit within these three items. As the Holy Spirit dwells within us, it also is pivotal in our prayer life.

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
Romans 8:26

So there you have it. One little word, but with so much impact.

 

CPB

♫♪♫ Jesus Christ is on your side ♫♪♫

I realized earlier today that fits perfectly with the Nationwide jingle, which I find rather ironic because well, that’s what it seems many treat Him as; an insurance policy.

We all know those that when put on the spot and asked, will say, “Sure, I know Jesus, and He’s my savior,” but the remainder of the time, act as they always have, showing no outward signs of an inward change having taken place.  Could very well be that I am speaking of you.  (I know I myself was guilty of the above in my life.)

It’s as though they feel protected by having taken a single moment to pray for forgiveness but feel no need to really be changed and instead, continue as they had before, believing that because they told God they’re a sinner and need help, that they’re good.

What shall we say then?  Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?  Certainly not!  How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Romans 6:1-2

You know the ones.  When life is good, you never hear them utter a word about prayer or church, but once they scrape along rock bottom for an inch or two, turn back to God and ask for guidance and help.

He’s not an insurance policy that you purchase, set aside, and only call on in case of emergency, and He is most certainly not a life insurance policy that you purchase while alive and only see the benefit of once you die.

“But why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
Luke 6:46

See that?  It’s pretty simple, really.  If He is truly Lord in your life, you do the things He says, follow His example, and have a regular relationship with Him, thereby showing your love of the Lord.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
John 14:15

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.  And His commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3

But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James 1:22

“You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”
John 13:13-17

The blessings don’t come merely by knowing of Jesus.  Even Richard Dawkins has heard of him.  The blessings come by following His example and living for Him.  By taking the steps necessary to move from being a sedentary hearer into the realm of actively doing.  Sure, if I stay inside, out of traffic, away from obnoxious drivers, I am most certainly not hating people (thereby committing murder in my heart because of the mere thought, Matthew 5:28) but I am far from showing God’s love for people.  After all, we were not charged with abstaining from becoming aggravated with others, but rather, to love others.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
Luke 9:23-24

So yes, it is a daily choice that each must make as to which master will be served each and every morning; the world or the Lord.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammom.
Matthew 6:24

Pretty cut and dried.  Not to be taken lightly as one does when they get an insurance policy.  Once the coverages and deductibles are set, the premium is oftentimes set up on a direct payment method, (just for the additional discount that grants,) and then not given a second thought.

Rather similar to those that realize at one point that they need God and willingly accept the gift of His salvation through the blood of Christ.  They will even confess their transgressions to God and, for a time, attempt to reconcile themselves not only with the Almighty, but also with others.  Soon, however, the premiums of regular fellowship with other believers, reading of the Bible, and prayer seem to be too expensive a price to pay.

What happens when you don’t pay your insurance premium?

Your policy lapses and no longer has effect.

“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place- unless you repent.”
Revelation 2:4-5

If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
Psalm 66:18

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
Isaiah 59:1-2

It’s a daily choice to follow Christ.  We are called children of God, and as with earthly children and their parents, there is regular communication and fellowship.  It is not to be any different between us and our Heavenly Father.

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Matthew 22:37

The reality of the situation is that once you fully grasp what Jesus did for you on the cross, it is completely life altering and there is no way you can, (or certainly even wish,) to go back to the way things were before God.  Being on fire for God comes naturally.

You begin to see fellowship, both with other believers, and with your Savior as something that you look forward to actively participating in instead of something that you view more as a job that you are required to check into and punch a time clock at.  It’s the life altering difference between “have to” and “get to.”

“Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Matthew 7:14

“So the last will be first, and the first last.  For many are called, but few chosen.”
Matthew 20:16

“For many are called, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

“For God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
John 3:16-17

So again, it’s pretty clear.  God desires for all to be saved through His Son, Jesus, but clearly expresses that while He calls to everyone, not everyone will heed His call and find the narrow path to salvation.  One of the reasons not many make it to the narrow path is that they treat God as an insurance policy instead of as Abba, Father.

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
Matthew 12:30

“I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

This is not a situation where you are able to sit on the edge of the pool dangling just your feet into the water to obtain the best of both worlds.  This is either all or nothing.  Either you are fully committed to God, or you are still a slave to sin living in the world.  What happens when you try to mix a fresh pot of coffee and ice cubes?  You get melted ice and coffee that is cold in spots, but still hot in others; overall, a beverage that is neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm.

“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:16

Sitting on the edge of the pool is not going to cut it.  You’re either sunning yourselves on the lounge chairs, or cannon balling into the deep end shouting for joy all the way in.

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.  Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as the lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Philippians 2:9-16

See that?  God loved you, the broken sinner that you are, so much that He became sin for you and died so that you may now turn to Him and choose to live.  You do not work to earn your salvation.  It’s already been given freely, the moment that you accept that gift from God.  Instead, you now go out and work because of the gift of grace you have been given.  Paying a monthly premium does not cut it, and God will not be treated as an insurance policy.

 

CPB

 

Two months and counting

Two months ago, I had dinner with a long time friend.  While she thought it would just be two friends getting together to enjoy food and small talk, I freely admit I had ulterior motives going into this.

There were some things that had been eating away at me for a while and I had finally worked up the courage to follow the prodding of that little voice in the back of my mind telling me that something needed to be said.  Whereas I will generally run away from any kind of confrontation, (especially any that does not directly involve me,) this time I was walking right towards it.

I’ve known her since elementary school.  We used to be in the same Girl Scout troop, and went to the same schools all the way through High School.  While we were not always the closest of friends, we were always able to talk to each other.  After High School, as oftentimes happens, we lost track of each other for a number of years.

Over a year ago, she tracked me down on social media and we started talking again.  Messages soon turned into texting which soon turned into regular phone conversations.  We caught up on what we’d done in our lives since High School and where we were now, what was going on in our daily lives, and all the small stuff in between.

It wasn’t too long before she mentioned that in the intervening years she had come to be a follower of Jesus, sometimes went to a good Bible teaching church locally to her, and when she was in my city, attended a church that my husband and I had been attending for a while before falling away from it for, (among other reasons,) a lack of content.

Awesome!  Someone else that I could talk Bible with and get a female’s perspective of different things on.

Several months ago, she ended up relocating to my city.  It took a while, but I was finally able to get her to come out to check out the church that my husband and I had found in the interim; an honest to goodness Bible teaching church with some amazing people to boot.  She was all smiles after as the three of us had lunch together, saying that she had enjoyed it and would “definitely come back again.”

Then she and a guy that she had been on-again off-again with, started talking again and soon, were ‘dating but not going to talk about it because that creates issues.’

Without going into all of the gory details, they were soon involved in a very dangerous relationship and soon essentially living together despite them both possessing their own apartment leases.  Not surprisingly, she suddenly had no time for church.  The amount we communicated dropped dramatically and it became clear that, in her mind, since she had a guy, everything was perfect and she neither needed anyone else, nor especially, God.

Therein lies where the feeling that came over me sprouted from concerning the need to talk to her.

As I mentioned before, I have been working my way through the Self-Confrontation course compiled by the Biblical Counseling Foundation for a while now.  During the few weeks leading up to the eventful dinner, verses kept jumping out at me and bringing to my mind my friend.  Eventually, I started writing these verses down on a note card.  Before long, I had a list of more than twenty verses and could not shake the feeling that something had to be said.  She professed to be a believer.  She was currently living in a very un-biblical way, and I felt as though I would be remiss to allow her to continue down this path without trying to help her turn back to God and do things His way.

And before you cite the core verses of the course, Matthew 7:1-5 asking who am I to say anything about how she lives her life, let me assure you that I have been there, done that, bought and then burnt the shirt.  I am not proud to admit it, but I have been where she is, and know too well the damage that comes from it.  Thankfully, God was strong when I was weak and has helped me past it.  Once I finally accepted that my attempts to run my life were in fact just ruining it and surrendered completely to His will, things began to fall into place.  I soon realized that I may think I know what I want, but He has better than I could ever dream planned.

So anyway, I continually prayed about this impending dinner and studied the verses I had on my note card.  It was clear there was a theme.

“But why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” and not do the things which I say?
Luke 6:46

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We dwell come to him and make Our home with him.  He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
John 14:23-24

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:3-4

And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 3:22

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.
Titus 1:16

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:5-8

And the list goes on.

I had over 20 verses that I kept seeing over and over that did nothing more than bring her to mind.

So I tried as best I could to discuss with her that I was not judging either her or her boyfriend, but rather, doing my best to be a fruit inspector and that I felt there were several things that she should take a look at, pray about, and seriously consider.  I started by mentioning to her the fruit of the spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

I explained the importance of the fact that the word is fruit, singular, not plural.  That when the Spirit is present, all of those are as well.  Not just one or two.  And then I mentioned what she had told me about her relationship and how nothing pointed to any of the qualities of the fruit of the Spirit.  What she had told me about were lusts, strife, arguments, self-seeking, and the list goes on.

I told her that I had been where she was.  That I had thought I was doing fine running my life on my own, finding my own happiness, but that eventually I came to realize I wasn’t running it, but rather ruining it.  I pointed out to her that it’s not always that you immediately get what you want, but that by following God’s commandments and serving Him, He does provide what you seek.

And whatever we ask we receive from Him because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
1 John 3:22

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Matthew 6:33

But of course, she didn’t want to hear any of this.  So far as she was concerned, they were going to continue their relationship as they were regardless of what anyone else had to say about it.

I conceded that in the end, it was ultimately her choice and I could not change anything, but that I would have been remiss had I not spoken up, and that I would continue to pray for her.

She stated that they were going to proceed with their intents to purchase a house, (all on her credit,) and would likely at some point get married.  She said that she was perfectly fine with her and her boyfriend seeking out their religious paths together and attempting to find their own way; that they didn’t need help.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

But by this point, it had become abundantly clear to me that she wanted nothing of what I had to say.  I will, however, give her credit for at least attempting to make it look as though she was listening and containing her eye-rolling for the most part.

As we parted, she said several times that she was not mad at me, and that the way I had addressed her was okay because I had not come off as “preachy and judgmental” as she alleges someone else had done with her when addressing the same things.  But I could see the truth.  She was pissed.  Maybe even livid with me.  But walking in, I knew that this was the likely response.  At one point, I had even addressed that with her stating that I knew what she was hearing was upsetting her but that in reality, she wasn’t mad at me but rather, mad at God.

So a few days ago was her birthday.  I hadn’t spoken to her in any depth since that dinner, and part of me wanted to reach out to he and offer to take her out to dinner for her birthday.

But I didn’t.

The lesson that I began, just days before her birthday, (which curbed my desire to reach out to her to take her out,) was on biblical responses to the sin of another.  Yeah, pretty directed, huh?

But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner- not even to eat with such a person.
1 Corinthians 15:11

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6

And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15

So needless to say, I left it at a message wishing her a happy birthday and nothing more.  I know that when this relationship inevitably combusts I will hear from her again, but until then, I can only sit and pray.

 

CPB

 

Ouch

My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor detest His correction;
For whom the Lord loves He corrects,
Just as a father the son in whom he delights.
Proverbs 3:11-12

So during my daily devotional this morning, (been working my way through a Biblical Counseling Foundation course,) I was the recipient of a not so subtle smack upside the head.

See, the more you spend time in the Bible and draw near to God, the harder it becomes to write much of anything off as coincidence.  Instead, everything seems to become clear and you are able to discern more of the why behind just about the smallest occurrence in your life.

This morning’s reading was all about whom to speak to and when to speak, (how to speak is tomorrow.)  I lost count of the number of verses I read today that basically got me to sink down in my chair, hang my head, and think, “guess I really screwed up, huh?”

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
For he will despise the wisdom in your words.
Proverbs 23:9

“He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
Proverbs 9:7-8

It is honorable for a man to stop striving,
Since any fool can start a quarrel.
Proverbs 20:3

I could post more, but I think that gets the point across fairly well.

I failed.

I sinned.

Despite my attempts to seek out the best verse with which to make my point, (the one time I did respond by verse to an antagonizing post,) I should not have done so and should have walked away.

Rather than allowing him to feed off of my posts and thereby justify to himself posting more lies on his page, I should have stopped it long ago.  Justifying my continuing to post by the fact that mine were public and his were not was wrong.

While attempting to show him what a true believer thinks and does, I may have done nothing more than give him reason to harden his heart even more, driving him further from the Lord instead of bringing him closer.

With today’s post, I remedied that.  I once again altered my posting methods.  No longer will he see any verses that I post as they are now set to be blocked to him.  I will not be dissuaded from posting verses that speak to me, but I will no longer feed into his justification for spreading lies which could place stumbling blocks in the path of others.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:24-26

One time in the Bible that “if” nearly leapt off the page at me.

So yes, while I am quite aware of the fact that I can be rather dense at times, (not something I am proud of when it comes to hearing the Lord,) I got today’s message loud and clear.  Yes, every verse here, save for the very top one, was in my reading today.  Hard not to miss the correction taking place there.

Another day studying His word, another day growing.  Even when it stings, I am thankful for it.

 

CPB

 

Of grace and salt

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:2

It’s easy to give in to the social pull to become just another face in the crowd, to blend in and essentially disappear.  But as a follower of Jesus, we are called to stand apart from the world.  From the moment one surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus, we are sealed for the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit and the slow, sometimes painful process of being transformed begins.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
2 Corinthians 3:18

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30

For whom He foreknew, he also predestined to be confirmed to the image of His Son, that He may be the first born among many brethren.
Romans 8:29

That transformation is all encompassing and is not something that can be hidden.  As Jesus is the light of the world, we are therefore becoming His lights in the world by following His example for us.

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
John 8:12

“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
John 9:5

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

That means not hiding.  That means accepting the fact that as a follower of Jesus you will get attention, both for good and bad.  Being confirmed, slowly, to the image of Him means that it will both draw people to you and turn them strongly against you.  But when you see that happening, rather than pulling away for fear of alienating people and offending them, take heart that there is a change taking place, and have faith that He will continue the good work that He has begun.

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
Philippians 1:6

The reason all this is forefront in my mind tonight?  It’s been confirmed by others that every time I post a verse to social media, someone responds with either an atheist post, or one that is just anti-Christianity.  This has brought several things to my attention.

Namely, it shows me that someone that God has been trying to reach is getting a daily dose of the word of God whether it is being looked for or not.  Before one can believe, they must first hear the Gospel.

What it has also brought to mind, though, is that I must regularly check myself in this situation.  In order to properly serve the Lord, I am to show love to all, especially those that He is trying to reach.  While there are numerous verses that come to mind that I could post to my wall, being forceful about his need for salvation isn’t a way to show kindness to him, and certainly not God’s love.  My goal is not to make other believers that see the exchange wince at the verbal smack-down given by verse, but rather to make clear to even them, patience, strength and most of all love and caring.

If my response to his critical posts are not seen as attacking but rather standing my ground and defending, than I have chosen my verses well.  The moment, however, that I chose a verse with the intention of stinging him, I fail to shine the light of Jesus into the world and have sinned, not only against him, but most importantly, sinned against God.

Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Ephesians 4:29

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each one esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interest of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Colossians 4:6

 

CPB