Month: April 2015

~Consider what great things He has don for “YOU”~

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Lord, my God, I shall remember that You have led me all the way these many years in the wilderness, to humble me and test me, to know what was in my heart, whether I would keep Your commandments or not. I should know in my heart that as a man chastens his son, so You, Lord God chasten me.

I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statures. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word. You, Lord, have chastened me severely, but You have not given me over to death. You have not dealt with me according to my sins, nor punished me according to my iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is Your mercy towards those like me who fear You. You know my frame; You remember that I am dust.

Great are the things You have done for me – even in the wilderness of my life! I praise You, heavenly Father, for Your love and faithfulness.

But God!!! can change your past into a positive future, only God can move and arrange people to assist you in your difficulties, only God can give you peace amidst a storm that has assailed your life He is a healer and protector and provider.God said, let Me teach you thankfulness. Begin by acknowledging that everything—all your possessions and all that you are—belongs to Me. The dawning of each new day is a gift from Me, not to be taken for granted. The earth is vibrantly alive with My blessings, giving vivid testimony to My Presence. If you slow down your pace of life, you can find Me anywhere.

Some of My most precious children have been laid aside in sick beds or shut away in prisons. Others have voluntarily learned the discipline of spending time alone with Me. The secret of being thankful is learning to see everything from My perspective. My world is your classroom. My Word is a lamp to your feet and a light for your path.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
—Hebrews 12:28–29

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
—Psalm 119:105

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~ Spirit-Word-Flesh-Obedience-Jesus~

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“Dear God

Please take away my pain and despair of yesterday and any unpleasant memories and replace them with Your glorious promise of new hope. Show me a fresh HS-inspired way of relating to negative things that have happened. I ask You for the mind of Christ so I can discern Your voice from the voice of my past. I pray that former rejection and deep hurts will not color what I see and hear now.

Help me to see all the choices I have ahead of me that can alter the direction of my life. I ask You to empower me to let go of the painful events and heartaches that would keep me bound. Thank You for Your forgiveness that You have offered to me at such a great price. Pour it into my heart so I can relinquish bitterness hurts and disappointments that have no place in my life. Please set me free to forgive those who have sinned against me and caused me pain and also myself. Open my heart to receive Your complete forgiveness and amazing grace. You have promised to bind up my wounds Psa 147:3 and restore my soul Psa 23:3 .

Help me to relinquish my past surrender to You my present and move to the future You have prepared for me. I ask You to come into my heart and make me who You would have me to be so that I might do Your will here on earth. I thank You Lord for all that’s happened in my past and for all I have become through those experiences. I pray You will begin to gloriously renew my present.”
Sue Augustine, When Your Past Is Hurting Your Present

“Nevertheless, should you have any doubts that we are stating sound doctrines, look up the references and see exactly what the Bible says and believe it in preference to any man. You cannot go wrong with this kind of advice. But in doing this, be sure you adhere to what is written, and that you do not let preconceived ideas cause you to be biased on any point. Do not try to make the Bible conform to your ideas. Always reconcile your ideas to the Bible. Let the plain language of the references given be read and understood in the same literal way that we would understand similar statements in any other book”
Finis Jennings Dake, God’s Plan for Man

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“There is no excuse for anyone to misunderstand God’s Word if he will, like a child, accept the Bible for what it says, and be honest enough to consecrate himself to obey it. He must accept the Bible as God’s Word. He must believe that God could not be honest if He sought to hide from man the very things He will judge him by in the end. He must accept the Bible as the final Court of Appeal on its own subjects, and forget man’s interpretations and distortion of the Word. He must believe that God knows what He is talking about; that He knows how to express Himself in human language; that He said what He meant, and meant what He said; and that what He says on a subject is more important than what any man may say about it.”
Finis Jennings Dake, God’s Plan for Man

~ The Essential Christ~

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The Bible itself reveals those doctrines that are essential to the Christian faith.  They are 1) the Deity of Christ, 2) Salvation by Grace, 3) Resurrection of Christ, 4) the gospel, and 5) monotheism.  These are the doctrines the Bible says are necessary.  Though there are many other important doctrines, these five are the ones that are declared by Scripture to be essential (I call them primary essentials since the Bible declares them as essential).  A non-regenerate person (i.e., Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness, atheist, Muslim), will deny one or more of these essential doctrines.   Please note that there are other derivative doctrines of scripture that become necessary also and the Trinity being one.

  1. The Deity of Christ
    1. Jesus is God in flesh (John 8:58 with Exodus 3:14). See also John 1:1, 14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8
      1. 1 John 4:2-3: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.  This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
        1. The above verse needs to be cross-referenced with John 1:1, 14 (also written by John) where he states that the Word was God and the Word became flesh.
        2. 1 John 4:2-3 is saying that if you deny that Jesus is God in flesh, then you are of the spirit of Antichrist.
      2. John 8:24, “I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins.  For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”
      3. Jesus said that if you do not believe “that I am,” you will die in your sins.  In Greek I am is ‘ego eimi,’ which means ‘I am.’  These are the same words used in John 8:58, where Jesus says ” . . . before Abraham was, I am.”  He was claiming the divine title by quoting Exodus 3:14.
        1. The Greek Septuagint is the Hebrew Old Testament translated into Greek and done by Jews around 250 B.C.  They translated Exodus 3:14 as ‘ego eimi’ “I AM”).
    2. Jesus is the proper object of faith
      1. It is not simply enough to have faith.  Faith is only as valid as the person in whom you put it.  You must put your faith in the proper person.  Cults have false objects of faith (false gods); therefore, their faith is useless–no matter how sincere they are.
      2. If you put your faith in a guru, a philosopher, or a past teacher (and not Jesus) to save you from your sins on Judgment Day, then you will be in a lot of trouble no matter how sincere or strong your faith is.  You might have great faith but so what?   Faith in something false has the same effect as no faith at all.
    3. The Doctrine of the deity of Christ includes:
      1. The Trinity–There is one God who exists in three persons: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are all coeternal and of the same nature.
      2. Monotheism–There is only one God in all existence (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5, 14, 18, 21, 22; 46:9; 47:8).  Mormons believe that many gods exist though they serve and worship only one.  Therefore, they are polytheists which excludes them from the camp of Christianity.
    4. The Hypostatic Union–That Jesus is both God and man.
      1. The sufficiency of the sacrifice of Christ–The sacrifice of Christ is completely sufficient to pay for the sins of the world, and it is only through Jesus’ sacrifice that anyone can be saved.
      2. As God–Only a perfect sacrifice to God is able to cleanse us from our sins.  This is why Jesus, who is God in flesh, died for us.
        1. He had to die for the sins of the world (1 John 2:2). Only God could do that.
      3. As man–Jesus must be man to be able to be a sacrifice for man.
        1. As a man, He can be the mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5).
    5. This means that the Jehovah’s Witnesses, The Way International, Islam, etc., are outside of Christianity.
  2. Salvation by Grace
    1. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9, NIV).
    2. “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Gal. 5:4).
      1. This verse and its context plainly teach that if you believe that you are saved by faith and works, then you are not saved at all. This is a common error in the cults.  Because they have a false Jesus, they have a false doctrine of salvation.  (Read Rom. 3-5 and Gal. 3-5).
      2. You cannot add to the work of God.  Gal. 2:21 says, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (NIV)
    3. “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.” (Rom. 3:20).
      1. “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness,” (Rom. 4:5).
      2. “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God?  Absolutely not!  For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.” (Gal. 3:21).
    4. Salvation is not universal resurrection as Mormonism would declare.  Rather, it is the saving from God’s righteous judgment.  Furthermore, salvation, which is the forgiveness of sins, is accomplished by faith alone (Rom. 4:1-11).
    5. Roman Catholicism denies salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone.  Therefore, Roman Catholicism is outside of Christianity.
  3. The Resurrection of Christ
    1. “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” (1 Cor. 15:14).  “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor. 15:17).
    2. To deny the physical resurrection is to deny that Jesus’ work was a satisfactory offering to God the Father.   It would mean that Jesus was corrupt and needed to stay in the grave.  But, he did not stay because his sacrifice was perfect.
    3. These verses clearly state that if you say that Jesus did not rise from the dead (in the same body He died in–John 2:19-21), then your faith is useless.
    4. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Muslims deny Jesus’ physical resurrection.  Therefore, they are outside of Christianity.
  4. The Gospel
    1. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal. 1:8-9, NIV).
      1. Verses 8 and 9 here in Galatians are a self-declarative statement that you must believe the gospel.  The gospel message which in its entirety is that Jesus is God in flesh, who died for sins, rose from the dead, and freely gives the gift of eternal life to those who believe.
      2. Furthermore, it would not be possible to present the gospel properly without declaring that Jesus is God in flesh per John 1:1, 14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8.
    2. 1 Cor. 15:1-4 defines what the gospel is: “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,” (NIV).
      1. Within these verses are the essentials: Christ is God in flesh (John 1:1, 14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9); Salvation is received by faith (John 1:12; Rom. 10:9-10); therefore it is by grace; and the resurrection is mentioned in verse 4.  Therefore, this gospel message automatically includes the essentials.
  5. Monotheism
    1. There is only one God (Exodus 20:3; Isaiah 43:10; 44:6, 8)
    2. “You shall have no other gods before Me.  4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” (Exodus 20:3-6).
      1. We can see that God will visit iniquity on the descendents of those who do not follow the true and living God.
    3. Mormonism, for example, is not monotheistic.  Mormonism teaches that there are many gods but only one is worshipped.  Therefore, Mormonism is outside of Christianity.

Secondary Essentials

Secondary essentials are necessary truths, but there is no self-declared penalty for their denial–yet they are still essential to the Christian faith.  Again, by way of example, Jesus says that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by him. (John 14:6).  I call this a secondary essential because there’s no penalty associated with its denial.  Nevertheless, it is a statement of absolute truth and is an essential Christian teaching that cannot be denied.

  1. Jesus is the only way to salvation
    1. “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.‘” (John 14:6)
      1. Jesus declared that he was the only access to God the Father.  To deny this is to deny what Jesus said.
  2. Jesus’ Virgin Birth
    1. “’Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’” (Matt. 1:23).
      1. Without the virgin birth, we cannot substantiate the doctrine of the incarnation of Jesus being God in flesh.  This would put at risk what Jesus said above in John 8:24 where he said, “I said, therefore, to you, that you will die in your sins.  For if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”
  3. Doctrine of the Trinity
    1. Matt. 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (see also, Matt. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6).
    2. This doctrine is not represented by a single verse per se though it is hinted at.  The doctrine of the Trinity is arrived at systematically by looking at the totality of Scripture.  It is, nevertheless, the proper representation of scriptural revelation concerning the nature of God.
    3. The Trinity is denied by Mormonism, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam, The Way International, etc.

~ Free Yourself and Then Others~

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As the late British scholar and writer C.S. Lewis once stated, “Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it.  It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.”  Indeed, throughout history, humanity has been blessed to explore beautiful expressions of excellent writers such as Herman Melville, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Virginia Woolf, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, George Santayana, Frantz Fanon, T.S. Eliot, Anton Chekhov, Walt Whitman and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Oftentimes, rich literary treasures are not associated with writers of African descent, but objective evidence has shown and continues to denote that some of the world’s finest books have evolved from the minds of black authors. Whether fiction or non-fiction, these writings have been important not only as poignant reflections of reality, but also as interesting opportunities for cross-cultural understanding.

Written by the founder of Negro History Week (later to be expanded and renamed as Black History Month), The Miseducation of the Negro is a classic work in which Dr. Woodson critiques an antiquated and propagandist education system that left many blacks unable to think for themselves, uplift their race and solve problems confronting their community.  Dr. Woodson strongly believed that “miseducated” African-Americans should learn to become self-reliant  and sacrifice for the progress of their people, in lieu of seeking higher paying jobs and becoming dependent on their oppressors.

I really desire to share all the pain and struggles I had to endure to free my mind from the ignorance that once had me imprisoned mentally. I read and I prayed and I stood on His promises. I found my solace in my hope that I would one day know how important being a father and a husband really is. I held on to my hope that I would one day be able to share my intelligence and journey with people of the same struggle. I desired with every fiber within me to help men of color who have abandoned their calling  to re-engage and desire to stand their post in the community and family structure.

After receiving the Oscar for Best Song for “Glory” from Selma, John Legend gave an impassioned speech calling out the present-day state of affairs for African Americans. One line stood out: “We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”

It’s become a widely cited statistic, after the publication of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow in 2011 — which helped make mass incarceration a hot topic of discussion. But is it true? Yes, the basic numbers check out — although the stat is a little misleading.

The key to this is the term “correctional control” — which doesn’t just refer to prisons, but to jails (for people who haven’t been convicted yet, or are serving short local sentences); parole (for people who’ve been released from prison but are still being supervised); and probation (supervision as an alternative to a prison sentence). In all, as of a 2009 report from the Pew Public Safety Performance Project, one in every 31 Americans is under one of these four types of “control.”

So while there are fewer black men physically in prison today than there were in slavery in 1850, the addition of probation and parole brings it over the top.

Here are the numbers:

  • In 1850, there were 872,924 black men (16 or older) who were enslaved in the US, according to the Census.
  • As of December 31, 2013, there were about 526,000 black men in state and federal prisons in the US.
  • In 2013, there were about 877,000 black men on probation, and 280,000 black men on parole (according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics source cited by Politifact).
  • The Bureau of Justice Statistics doesn’t break down jail populations by both race and gender, but 86 percent of all 730,000 jail residents in 2013 were male, and 36 percent were black. So it seems plausible that at least a couple hundred thousand black men are in jail.

The totals: 1.68 million black men are under correctional control in the US, not counting jails. That’s over three times as many black men as were enslaved in 1850.

Here’s why this is a bit misleading: there are more black men (and more people, generally) in the US now than there were a century and a half ago. In 1850, there were 3.6 million African Americans in the US (men and women), according to the Census; in 2010, there were 42 million. So a much larger share of the black male population was enslaved in 1850 than is under correctional control today.

That doesn’t keep the statistic Legend offered from being true, or alarming. What’s even more alarming is the number of other statistics he could have offered to show the impact that mass incarceration has had on black men over the past few decades.One example: a black child whose father didn’t complete high school has a 50 percent chance of seeing him incarcerated by the time she’s 14. Or check out this video:

The United States has the biggest population of prisoners in the world, both in terms of the number incarcerated and as a percentage of the total population.

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Why the frontrunner position? It’s not because the United States has more crime than other countries. In general, Americans aren’t any more likely to become victims of crime than people in other countries.

Where America appears to distinguish itself is in the length of sentences for property crimes and drug crimes. One study found that sentences in the United States for burglary are about three times longer than sentences in England for the same crime.

The disparity is even bigger for drug cases. A first-time offender convicted of possessing a kilogram of heroin could get 4 months of prison in England. In America, the federal mandatory minimum sentence is 10 years.

The United States has the biggest population of prisoners in the world, both in terms of the number incarcerated and as a percentage of the total population.

Who decides how long a prison sentence should be, and how?

While juries are in charge of determining whether a defendant is guilty, the responsibility for figuring out the length of the prison sentence lies with the judge. For federal crimes, the government currently has a couple of ways to ensure criminal sentences are consistent among all federal judges. Those systems complicate the process of setting a sentence.

The first way the federal government can control the length of a prison sentence is through what are called mandatory minimums. Those are laws passed by Congress that explicitly state someone convicted of a certain crime has to spend at least a set number of years in prison.

Not all crimes have mandatory minimums written into law. And for the ones that do, just saying “at least” doesn’t give much guidance as to how long the sentence should be. That’s where the second part of the system comes in: the federal government’s sentencing guidelines.

The sentencing guidelines are a complicated math formula that takes a bunch of factors into consideration, including whether the defendant already has a criminal record; how severe the crime was; how involved the defendant was in the crime; and whether violence was involved. The formula spits out a recommended range for the sentence and the judge picks a sentence length that seems fair within that range.

Even though the federal sentencing guidelines are called “guidelines,” judges often treat them as rules. In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that the guidelines were supposed to actually be guidelines, and that judges should be able to give defendants shorter sentences if they wanted. That’s called “downward departure.” The judge is departing from the guidelines to hand down a sentence that’s below the federal recommendation. However, in most cases — especially when there’s a mandatory minimum involved — judges tend to follow the guidelines.

~Mending Fences with My Son~

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“In spite of the six thousand manuals on child raising in the bookstores, child raising is still a dark continent and no one really knows anything. You just need a lot of love and luck – and, of course, courage.”
Bill Cosby, Fatherhood

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Fathers and Sons

Being a father is life’s fullest expression of masculinity. But for many males, life consists of a search for the lost father. My son Aaron and I have had a intricate time being together and bonding due to the complexities that once plagued my life. I was given another day that wasn’t promised to me. My morning started at 4;30 am with me screaming at the top of my voice with the words NO!!!NO!!!, sweating and shaking with thoughts that sounded like this, what if something happens to me before I get my relationship with little Aaron right? My dad died in February without our being able to reconcile our father son relationship and I know that’s why this matters so much to me.

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We know that raising children is the central experience of life, the greatest source of self-awareness, the true fountain of pride and joy, the most eternal bond with a partner. We know that being a father is life’s fullest expression of masculinity. So why did so many men forgo this for so long, and will the current crop of post-patriarchal fathers fare any better?

FOR A COUPLE OF hundred years now, each generation of fathers has passed on less and less to his sons–not just less power but less wisdom. And less love. We finally reached a point where many fathers were largely irrelevant in the lives of their sons. The baby was thrown out with the bathwater, and the pater dismissed with the patriarchy. Everyone seemed to be floundering around not knowing what to do with men or with their problematic and disoriented masculinity.

 In addition, over the same 200 years, each generation of fathers has had less authority than the last. The concept of fatherhood changed drastically after the Industrial Revolution. Economics suddenly dictated that somebody had to go out from the home to work. Men were usually chosen, since they couldn’t produce milk. Maybe they would come home at night or just on weekends.

As a result, masculinity ceased to be defined in terms of domestic involvement-that is, skills at fathering and husbanding -and began to be defined in terms of making money. Men stopped doing all the things they used to do. Instead, they became primarily Father the Provider, bringing things home to the family rather than living and working at home within the family.

This gradually led fathers to find other roles to fulfill when they visited home after working somewhere else: Father the Disciplinarian: “Wait till your father comes home!” and Father the Audience: “Tell Daddy what you did today.”

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FATHER THE PROVIDER

I always made it the excuse to why I clung to the streets and the games I played outside my home while trying to provide a higher life for my kids. I worked, I hustled and I paid the price for all of the unnecessary things I did because of greed. My kids are still somewhat distant, but most of them have forgiven mom and dad for having to leave them for a number of years.

If all father’s functions were economic, if all his status was measured by how well he provided, the rich and economically powerful father became a potential tyrant; but the father who wasn’t rich and famous was an inescapable failure, a disappointment, a buffoon. The father’s position in the family was no longer determined by how well he functioned as a father, but was scored by his status in the eyes of the world, in a set of economic contests in which there were few men winning by being the richest of them all, and most men losing.

Once a father had moved out of family life and became part of the work crew, family values ceased to be his primary definers of himself. He adopted instead the values and job descriptions of the other workers. His work ceased to be something he did for the sake of his family and became work for the sake of work.

He didn’t slow down when he’d achieved a level of sufficient comfort; instead, he strove even harder to get the approval of his fellow workers and to earn glory in their eyes. He worked because he worked; that was what he did because that was what he was. He was no longer paterfamilias, he was homolaboriosus. In the endeavors and identity dearest to his heart and heaviest on his schedule, he was a working man, and his family should understand that their claims on his time came second best.

In his mind, he had moved out. He had gone to conquer the world.

FATHER THE SUCCESS

When society decided that raising children was women’s work and that making money was the single-minded point of men’s lives, fathers became too busy for their children and boys began to grow up without fathers. That would not have been critical if there were uncles and cousins and grandfathers and older brothers around to model masculinity for boys. But our ideas of mental health and the goals of the housing industry required that families trim themselves down to the size of a married couple and their children.

Reducing the family to such a tiny, isolated, nuclear unit made it mobile enough for the purposes of industrial society. Workers were no longer rooted in the land or community. Now nothing came between a man and his job. Companies could extract the utmost loyalty from employees by making them a part of the family of work and cut them further away from the family of home. Men on the Daddy Track were severely penalized, much as women on the Mommy Track are now.

The children of this generation may grow up with the idea that a father’s life is his work, and his family should not expect anything more from him.

I recall one man, talking about the problems of his son, saying, “I don’t know what Betty could have done wrong raising that boy. I know it wasn’t anything I did, since I was busy working and left it to her. I barely saw the kid so I couldn’t have done anything wrong.”

FATHER Hunger

Life for most boys and for many grown men then is a frustrating search for the lost father who has not yet offered protection, provision, nurturing, modeling, or, especially, anointment. All those tough guys who want to scare the world into seeing them as men and who fill up the jails; all whose men who don’t know how to be a man with a woman and who fill up the divorce courts; all those corporate raiders who want more in hopes that more will make them feel better; and all those masculopathic philanderers, contenders, and controllers–all of them are suffering from Father Hunger.

They go through their adolescent rituals day after day for a lifetime, waiting for a father to anoint them and treat them as good enough to be considered a man.

They call attention to their pain, getting into trouble, getting hurt, doing things that are bad for them, as if they are calling for a father to come take them in hand and straighten them out or at least tell them how a grown man would handle the pain.

They compete with other boys who don’t get close enough to let them see their shame over not feeling like men, over not having been anointed, and so they don’t know that the other boys feel the same way.

In a scant 200 years–in some families in a scant two generations–we’ve gone from a toxic overdose of fathering to a fatal deficiency. It’s not that we have too much mother but too little father.

THE MYTHS OF MASCULINITY

Our modern mythmakers are busy tackling the relationships between fathers and sons to find connections between pre-patriarchal and post-patriarchal consciousness, between the old fear of the too-powerful father and the new longing for a father to love and teach and anoint us.

The pain and grief and shame from the failed father-son relationship seem universal, as evidenced in the popular movies of the past few decades which had father-and-son themes that overshadowed anything going on between men and women.

Father-son myths attracted huge audiences in the 1970s and ’80s. Men feared being like their fathers, but they wanted desperately to bond with them even if they could never really please them enough to feel anointed.

In 1989, the film that set the tone for the Men’s Movement was Field of Dreams. Baseball, with its clear and polite rules and all its statistics and players who are normal men and boys rather than oversize freaks, is a man’s metaphor for life.

In this magical fantasy, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) tells us his life story: how his mother died when he was two so his father gave up his efforts to play pro baseball in order to raise his son.

Costner hears a voice from his cornfield telling him “If you build it, he will come.” He understands the message to mean that if he mows his cornfield and builds a baseball diamond, his father’s hero, Joe Jackson, will appear. He does. Then Costner’s dad appears in his baseball uniform, and father and son solemnly play a belated game of catch. Father and son don’t talk much, they just play catch with total solemnity. And it is quite enough.

What goes on between the father and son-and what does not go on between them–is surely the most important determinant of whether the boy will become a man capable of giving life to others or whether he will go through life ashamed and pulling back from exposure to intimacy with men, women, and children.

A NEW GENERATION OF NURTURERS

It takes the fulfillment of all these relationships for a boy to become a man who is able to live in peace and cooperation with his community and to give something back to his family. Fathering makes a man–whatever his standing in the eyes of the world-feel strong and good and important, just as he makes his child feel loved and valued.

Mercifully, parenting is not an efficient process–the old concept of “quality time” is a cruel cop-out. A father who gets to hang out with his children is reliving the joys of his own childhood. The play is the thing.

Becoming Father the Nurturer rather than just Father the Provider enables a man to fully feet and express his humanity and masculinity. Fathering is the most masculine thing a man can do.

Will this new generation discover the healing power of fatherhood? As I look at the young men coming into manhood now, I see many who are willing to risk being hands-on fathers in a way that was rare in my generation. My son and son-in-law and nephews, for instance, are yearning for children, not just children to have but children to raise.

They are not alone. I feel optimistic about the sort of fathering these guys will do. The trend is dear: the boys who got fathered want to be fathers, and the boys who didn’t fear it.


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~Forsake the World~

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Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.

The text begins with a command—it’s the only command in the text and therefore probably the main point. Verse 15a: “Do not love the world or the things in the world.” Everything else in the text is an argument, or incentive, for why we should not love the world.

Love for the World Pushes Out Love for the Father

The first incentive John gives is that “if any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him” (verse 15b). In other words the reason you shouldn’t love the world is that you can’t love the world and God at the same time. Love for the world pushes out love for God, and love for God pushes out love for the world.

As Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24). So don’t love the world, because that would put you in the class with the God-haters whether you think you are or not. “If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.” That’s the first reason John gives not to love the world.

Then in verse 16 comes the support and explanation of that first argument. The reason love for the world pushes out love for God is that “all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” Leave out those three phrases in the middle of verse 16 and it would read like this: The reason love for the world excludes love for God is that all that is in the world is not of God. In other words it’s just empty talk to say that you love God if you love what is not of God.

John could have rested his case at the end of verse 16. Don’t love the world because love for the world can’t coexist with love for God. But he doesn’t rest his case here. He adds two more arguments—two more incentives not to love the world.

The World Is Passing Away and Its Lusts

First, in verse 17a he says, “And the world passes away, and the lust of it.” Nobody buys stock in a company that is sure to go bankrupt. Nobody sets up house in a sinking ship. No reasonable person would lay up treasure where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, would they? The world is passing away! To set your heart on it is only asking for heartache and misery in the end.

That’s not all: not only is the world passing away, but also the lusts of it. If you share the desires of the world, you will pass away. You will not only lose your treasure. You will lose your life. If you love the world, it will pass away and take you with it. “The world passes away and the lust of it.”

If You Do the Will of the Father, You Will Live Forever

Second, in verse 17b John says, “But he who does the will of God abides for ever.” The opposite of loving the world is not only loving the Father (verse 15), but also doing the will of the Father (verse 17). And that connection is not hard to understand. Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15). John said in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” So loving the Father in verse 15 and doing the will of God in verse 17 are not really separate things.

If you love God, you will love what he wills. It is empty talk to say I love God but I don’t love what God loves. So John is saying in verse 17, “If you love the world, you will perish with the world, but if you don’t love the world but love God, you will do his will and live with him for ever.”

One Commandment and Three Arguments

In summary, then, the text contains one commandment and three arguments, or incentives. The commandment is, “Don’t love the world or the things in the world.” The first incentive is that if you love the world, you don’t love God. The second incentive is that if you love the world, you will perish with the world. And the third incentive is that if you love God instead of the world, you will live with God forever.

A MEDITATION

Let’s meditate for a few moments on these final two incentives and especially how they relate to saving faith.

Saving Faith and Love for God

We have been well taught that we are saved by FAITH! “BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved!” (Acts 16:31). But we have not been as well taught what saving faith is. For example, how often do we discuss the relationship between trusting Christ and loving Christ. Can you trust him savingly and not love him? Evidently John doesn’t think so, because the issue in this text is whether you love God or love the world, and the result is whether you die with the world or have eternal life with God. But John knows that eternal life comes through faith.

John says in 5:13, “I write this to you who BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” So eternal life does depend on believing in the Christ. But what is this “believing”? If we are courteous, and let John speak for himself, his letter fills out what he means. When he says that not loving the world but loving God so much that we do his will is what leads to eternal life, we learn that saving faith and love for God are inseparable. Both are the path to eternal life because they are the same path.

In John 5:42–44 Jesus confronts the Jewish leaders who do not believe on him with these words, “I know that you have not the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name and you do not receive me . . . How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” In other words the reason they do not receive or believe on Jesus is that they do not love God. They love the world—the glory of men—not the glory of God. So Jesus taught his apostles that where there is no love for God, there can be no saving faith. (See John 3:18–19.)

One Way of Salvation

That’s why John, when he comes to write his letter, can take “love for God” and “trust in Christ”, and treat them as one way of salvation. Look how he does this in 5:3–4. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” In other words it is our love for God that overcomes the obstacles of disobedience and makes the commandments of God a joy rather than a burden. “Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her” (Genesis 29:20). Love for God makes his service a joy and overcomes the forces of disobedience.

But then look at verse 4. Here he says the same thing but speaks of faith instead of love. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.” It is FAITH that overcomes the world—it is faith that conquers disobedience and renders the commandments of God a joy rather than a burden.

What shall we say, then, concerning love for God and faith in Christ? The path of victory that overcomes the world and leads to eternal life is the one path of faith toward Christ and love for God. Saving faith is part of love for God and love for God is part of saving faith. There are not two ways to heaven. There is one narrow way—the way of faith which loves God and the way of love which trusts God.

Paul and James in Agreement

This is why not only John but also Paul and James hold out the promises of life only to those who love God:

  • Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”
  • 1 Corinthians 2:9, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived . . . God has prepared for those who love him.”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:22, “If any one has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed!”
  • James 2:5, “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?” (See 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12.)

So you can see what John is trying to do for us in verse 17 of our text. He is trying to show us that loving the Father and freeing ourselves from the love of the world is not optional. It is not icing on the cake of saving faith. It is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. It is number one on life’s agenda. Nothing in all the world is more important than experiencing love for God in your heart. This is the first and great commandment, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Matthew 22:36–40).

Two Possibilities If You Don’t Feel Much Love for God

Perhaps even as I say this, some of you are saying, “I don’t feel very much love for God right now.” There are two possible reasons for that.

1. You Are Not Born Again

One is the possibility that you are not born again. It is possible that you are a cultural Christian or a hereditary Christian. You may have developed patterns of religious talk and behavior because it is socially advantageous or because your parents or peers talked and acted this way. But you may never have experienced a deep change in your nature by the power of the Holy Spirit which gave birth to a stream of new love for God.

Henry Martyn, the brilliant missionary and translator of the last century, looked at his conversion four years afterward and said, “The work is real. I can no more doubt it than I can my own existence. The whole current of my desires is altered, I am walking quite another way, though I am incessantly stumbling in that way.”

So it could be that this has never happened to you and that your religion is all outward form and not inner experience of love for God. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:1–5, “In the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it.” In other words we may expect that there will be numerous religious church-goers who know nothing of the new birth and genuine heartfelt love for God.

If you are among that number you should direct your heart to Christ and seek him earnestly in his Word. Peter said that we are born again through the living and abiding Word of God. So if you want to be born again, you should pour over the Word of God. You should cry to Christ that he open your eyes to know the Father (Matthew 11:27). You should plead with God to take out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh that you might love God with all your heart and all your soul (Deuteronomy 30:6). You should forsake all known sins and give yourself to all the means of grace until the light dawns in your heart and Christ shines so bright in his power and love that he is irresistibly attractive and you fall in worship and love before him. And do not quit the pursuit until you have been born into new life. “You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart.”

2. Your Love Has Grown Cool and Weak

The other possibility is that you have indeed been born again, but that your love for God has simply grown cool and weak. You’ve tasted what it means to have a heart for God. You can recall how once you felt that to know him was better than anything the world could offer. But this morning the wick is smoldering and the reed is bruised.

The prescription for your ailment is not much different than the prescription for seeking new birth in the first place. The same Spirit that begets life, also nourishes life. The same Word that ignites the fire of love, also rekindles love. The same Christ who once brought you out of darkness into his marvelous light, can take away the long dark night of your soul. So yield yourself to the Holy Spirit. Immerse yourself in the Word of God. Cry out to Christ for a new vision of the glory of his grace. Don’t be content with lukewarmness. Pursue a new passion for Christ.

And whichever of these groups you are in—or if you are here full of love to God this morning—let the remaining admonitions of this text stir you up to count everything as rubbish compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ.

Love for God and Love for the World Cannot Coexist

According to verse 15 in our text, if your love for God is cool this morning it’s because love for the world has begun to take over your heart and choke your love for God. The love of the world and the love of the Father cannot coexist. And every heart loves something. The very essence of our nature is desire. There is nobody in this room who doesn’t want something. At the center of our heart is a spring of longing. But that’s an awkward image isn’t it? A longing is a craving, a desire, a want, a need. But these aren’t very well described as a spring. A spring of needs is a contradiction in terms. Springs bubble up; needs suck in. A longing is more like a drain—or a vacuum. At the center of our heart is a sucking drain—like at the bottom of a swimming pool. We are endlessly thirsty. But we can’t suck water and air at the same time.

If you try to satisfy your longing by sucking in the air of the world, you will not be able to drink the water of heaven. And eventually your motor will burn up because you were made to pump the water of God not the air of the world.

The “World” We Are Not to Love

But now what is this “world” that we are not to love? Verse 16 says it is characterized by three things: “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” The word for “life” does not refer to the state of being alive but rather to the things in the world that make life possible. For example, in 3:17 it is translated “goods”—”Any one who has this world’s GOODS and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” Jesus uses the word in Mark 12:44 when he says that the poor widow in the temple “put in everything that she had, her whole LIVING.”

So the phrase “pride of life” means pride in what you possess—the things you have. Now we can see how the three descriptions of the world relate to each other. The first two—lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes—refer to desires for what we don’t have. And the third—the pride of life—refers to the pride in what we do have. The world is driven by these two things: passion for pleasure and pride in possessions.

And the passion for pleasure is described in two ways because there are two large classes of pleasure—physical and aesthetic. There is the lust of the flesh—bodily pleasures; and the lust of the eyes—aesthetic and intellectual pleasures. John is not naïve. He knows that the world is not limited to Hennepin Avenue.

There is the lust of the gutter and the lust of the gourmet. There is the lust for hard rock and the lust for high Rachmaninoff. There is the lust of Penthouse and the lust of Picasso. There is the lust of the Orpheum and the lust of the Ordway. This book ends with the ringing command: “Little children, KEEP YOURSELVES FROM IDOLS!”—whether they are crude or whether they are cultured.

Anything in this world that is not God can rob your heart of the love of God. Anything that is not God can draw your heart away from God. If you don’t have it, it can fill you with passion to get it. If you get it, it can fill you with pride that you’ve got it.

But against the pride of life the apostle says, “What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as though it were not a gift . . . Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:7; 1:31). So let there be no boasting in possessions. They are all gods.

And against the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes the psalmist says, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is nothing upon earth that I desire besides thee.” Therefore let us desire nothing but God. Possess nothing but God; pursue nothing but God.

What Shall We Do with Our Desires?

But someone will ask, “Should I not desire dinner? Should I not desire a job? Should I not desire a spouse? Should I not desire the child in my womb? Should I not desire a healthy body or a good night’s rest or the morning sun or a great book or an evening with friends?”

And the answer is no—unless it is a desire for GOD! Do you desire dinner because you desire God? Do you want a job because in it you will discover God and love God? Do you long for a spouse because you are hungry for God and hope to see him and love him in your partner? Do you desire the child and the healthy body and the good night’s rest and the morning sun and the great book and the evening with friends for God’s sake? Do you have an eye for God in everything you desire? (See Colossians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 10:31.)

St. Augustine captured the heart of our text when he prayed to the Father and said, “He loves thee too little who loves anything together with thee which he loves not for thy sake.”

Therefore, brothers and sisters, do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. But if the love of the Father is in you, if you love God with all your heart, then every room you enter will be a temple of love to God, all your work will be a sacrifice of love to God, every meal will be a banquet of love with God, every song will be an overture of love to God.

And if there is any desire of the flesh or any desire of the eyes that is not also a desire for God, then we will put it out of our lives, so that we can say with John and with the psalmist,

Whom have I in heaven but thee,
and on earth there is nothing
that I desire besides thee.

~How Do I Press On After Being Rejected as “His” Minister~

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Have you ever walked out of a church service in a daze? You know the message was good, but you don’t know what it was about. You tried to understand what the preacher was getting at, but you’re not quite sure. You look at your Bible, look at the preacher, look back at your Bible and are a little confused. He didn’t help you understand what God was saying.

header_claritypreaching

Could any of this uncertainty be because you knew the preacher before he excepted his calling? Maybe it has everything to do with how you and the preacher willfully participated in sin together before the pastor or preacher was regenerated into a vessel of honor. Maybe it’s because of the taste morsels of gossip coming from those trusted friends that have an ought against him. I went to preach a “YOUTH” day service at such a church on Sunday and the rejection of the adults prompted me to search scripture to try and gain some leverage on this matter. I always want to improve my level of maturity in Christ.

To reject someone is to refuse to accept them. For example, if a man applied for a job with a company and they decide to not accept his application then they have rejected him.

The word rejection means that someone is either in the process of being rejected (not accepted) or has already been rejected.

Most people want to be liked so it is difficult when we are not accepted. This rejection may be because of the way we look, our personality or our behavior. To be rejected is an unpleasant thing to be cast on to you. It can be extremely hurtful.

Rejection by those close to you

Rejection from those close to you can be extremely painful because we trust these people more than others.

Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”  

Mark Ch.6:4  NIV

Jesus says in this verse that a worker for God (prophet) is never honored in his hometown. But this didn’t slow down his work for God, as this work was far more important than being respected or honored by others. If family, neighbors or friends don’t respect your work for God then don’t let this rejection stop you from serving God.

Overcoming rejection through teamwork

When the disciples travelled through the countryside, they did it in pairs. As individuals they probably could have reached more areas of the country but Christ didn’t want this. He decided that as a pair they could encourage and strengthen each other, especially when they were facing rejection. When we are facing rejection we can get strength from God but he also encourages us to meet our needs by teamwork with others.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians Ch.3: 9  NIV

Serving Christ requires us to work with others – as a team.

Overcoming rejection by drawing close to God

Christ gave an example of complete trust in God.

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to Him who judges justly.  1 Peter Ch.2:23

The example of Christ was one of absolute non-resistance to evil and complete trust in God. He could have avoided all his trials (Matthew 26:53), but he knew that the path of salvation lay through suffering and death, and like a good shepherd , he led the way. He overcame the rejection by others by putting complete trust in God.

Rejection of others

We are told by Paul to not reject others but rather accept each other.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.  Romans Ch.15:7

Accept other believers and don’t reject them on the basis of some trivial matter.

Rejection by God?

God promises never to leave or forsake us.

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews Ch.13:5  NIV

God confirmed to Israel that we had not left them:

For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.  Psalm 94:14  NIV

Paul made a similar point to the first century believers:

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel:  

Romans Ch.11:1-2  NIV

Even though Israel had rejected their Messiah and had refused to listen to Paul’s preaching, God’s promises were still relevant. If it is true for the Israelites then how much more so for the believer! God will never leave us or forsake us, providing we do not leave him.

And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”  Hebrews Ch.12:5-6

Silence – Rejection by God?

Job suffered a lot in his life. He was especially upset because God was silent and gave no reasons for his suffering. Job misinterpreted this silence as meaning that God was rejecting him. This apparent rejection by God bothered Job even more than any suffering he was going through.

“Only grant me these two things, O God, and then I will not hide from you: withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors.  Job Ch.13: 20 – 21  NIV

Job didn’t want God to “withdraw your hand far from me”, in other words, reject him. God’s silence does not mean he has rejected us. Sometimes we will intervene in our lives in unseen ways.

Rejection of God

Sometimes, through our actions and thoughts we can make the mistake of rejecting God. This can be done in a number of ways:

  1. Selfishness

Sometimes selfishness can lead us to rejecting God. The Israelites did this:

You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD. “Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’  

 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’ “

Malachi Ch.3:13-15

So here is a case showing the people’s arrogant attitude toward God. They basically rejected God saying “It is foolish to worship God and obey him. What good does it do to obey his laws, and to sorrow and mourn for our sins ? From now on, as far as we are concerned, Blessed are the arrogant, for those who do evil shall prosper, and those who dare God to punish them shall get off scot-free”.

So, we can see from these verses that selfishness is a rejection of God and all that he represents. Is that the same with us sometimes? Do we sometimes ask “what good does serving God do for me?”. If we do then our focus is selfish. Our real question should be “What good does serving God do for God?”

  1. Trusting our own judgement more than God’s judgement

There are many people in this world who ignore the evidence of God’s existence. The Bible tells us that these people are foolish.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.Psalm 14:1

There are others who are wicked because they refuse to live by God’s commandments. We become like these people when we rely more on ourself than on God.

  1. Trusting other humans more than God

Some people put church leaders or other people before God.

This has happened in the past as well. For example in the time Of Samuel. The true king of Israel was God. However, the nation of Israel wanted another king.

Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the LORD at Mizpah and said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’  But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses. And you have said, ‘No, set a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and clans.”  1 Samuel Ch.10: 17-19  NIV

Israel rejected God by asking for a human being instead of God as their guide and leader. If we look at history we can see that men and women have continually rejected God. This practice continues even today. We need to look at our lives and decide what is our highest priority. If we push God aside and treat someone or something else as being more important then we are rejecting God. There are many examples in the Bible for us to learn from and they all teach one thing – God should be foremost in our life.

  1. Not taking up God’s offer of salvation

God loved us so much they he gave us his only begotten son. Jesus perfect life, his truthful words and his sacrifice of love are designed so that we sit up and take notice and follow the example of Jesus. If we do this we are taking up God’s offer of salvation.

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

” ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone [cornerstone]; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?  Matthew Ch.21:42  NIV

However, if we ignore God’s gracious gift of his son, then we rejecting God himself.

Summary

As we might expect, the people whom God condemns are those who do not recognise their need and who are unwilling to submit to God and His word. Such were the Pharisees:

They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.  Matthew Ch.23:4

Such men are self-righteous and have lost their sense of dependence upon God. They may be divided into three classes:

  1. Those who ignore God’s word completely, who are willingly ignorant:

Like the people who lived in the days of Noah, they refuse to heed the warnings given by those who preach the way of righteousness. They deliberately choose to remain in darkness. Noah had certainly preached to his contemporaries, but when the flood came “they knew not”. They knew all right; they had heard the message, after a fashion. But inasmuch as they did not want to know, their ears had been shut to Noah’s saving message. The disciples were told to “shake the dust off their feet” when leaving the houses of such people.

  1. Those who deliberately distort it or reject God’s word:

The Lord refers to blasphemers against the Holy Spirit, for whom there is no forgiveness. These are “false prophets” who present a distorted gospel and invite men to believe in a hope founded upon the quicksand of human reasoning.

  1. Those whose lives do not sincerely attempt to reflect God’s word:

They are hypocrites, who act out a part when it serves their purposes; their piety is based upon self-interest. The Lord has a stern warning for those who hear the word of God but either ignore its directions, or manipulate its teaching to suit themselves:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.   Matthew Ch.7:21

It is evident that although God’s love for man was such that He willingly provided His Son to give his life for our sakes, the very lengths to which He went are a vivid reminder that God does not tolerate disobedience. It is not in man’s interests that He should do so: God wants us to be obedient to His commands, because He knows that this is to our eternal advantage.