Saturday, September 20, 2014

THE HARD TRUTH ABOUT: "LET NO MAN SEPARATE" - Dan Mayfield

The Scriptures show that God designed marriage. A male and female joined together, not to be separated, for life, to procreate and make a family. All of this is true.
But the sinful world has perverted, twisted, distorted, and controverted God's design. Marriage for life becomes living together until we can figure out if we like this arrangement or not. God's family founded on biological realities has become "Framilies" and "Throuples" (threesomes) and "Blended" and, "Hey, whatever you love, even an inanimate object, you can marry it." Satan is the author of this mess. No part of the perversion can be accepted.
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage? Addressing the problem of remarriage is one of the hardest, not the hardest, but one of the hardest, parts of ministry.
I wish there were no such thing as consequences when it comes to marriage. But Jesus said, "what God has joined together, let no man separate." So what's the consequence if men do separate what God has joined together? We know there's a whole lot of separating going on today. We know there's a lot of ignoring this injunction by Jesus. Do we say, "Oh well, it's separated and let's just agree to move on, sanction and give our approval to marrying again."? That seems to make nothing of the words, "Let no man separate." To "separate" what God joined together is a sin, agreed? At the very least should we agree that the judges, lawyers, preachers, and counselors who counseled "separation from what God joined together" are rebelliously shaking their fist at God's law and design for marriage? Is this not the bane on society, this cavalier attitude men have demonstrated towards "let not man separate"? Clearly there's little regard for these words of Christ that marriage is not to be separated.
I understand consequences in everything else and so why do I find this one so difficult? It's difficult because I love people. It's always hard telling someone they are lost and unless they repent, putting away the adultery, they are going to hell. I'm not the first one to feel the burden of standing for the clear teaching and implication of God's Truth. I won't be the last. So should I feel sorry for myself? No. Should I shrink back and be silent; letting God sort it all out later? No. While it is day, we have to preach the Truth.
The word of God when it goes out separates. Some men, by free will, become receptive to God's Word and then some men reject it. That's what we are to expect when we teach the Truth. In a world where there's a lot of "separating what God has joined together", we should expect that many people are going to remain separated from God.
"So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." Isa. 55:11
Like the judgement of God that will divide the wheat from the chaff, so God's word is preached and there will be many who are living in sin and have no interest in putting away the sin. From my personal vantage point, I love these people and I often sense they have some love for God, much like the rich young ruler (Lk 18), so when I tell them they have sin in their lives that must be put away if they wish to go to heaven, they often make the choice to walk away sad. From my vantage point, it's very hard. Jesus let the young man walk away even though Jesus had a love for him. God's word preached and taught faithfully is going to accomplish what God intended and that means that some people will not repent. That's reality and it hurts for everyone involved.
I'm standing for Truth first and foremost. The Gospel is preached to all but I understand most people are not going to be saved. That's the reality. The people who hear the Gospel and walk away sad are not just nameless faces. They are our moms, brothers, best friends, co-workers, spouses, and new acquaintances. Because God gave us the capacity to love and care for souls, the feelings of love and compassion, fear and dread, are going to intertwine themselves in the conversation. God's Word goes out and accomplishes it's purpose, separating the honest and closed hearts. But even the receptive hearts who accept and agree God is right find it very difficult to cut the ties and make the breaks so that the unrepentant sinner goes away sad. As hard as teaching the Truth is, I'm going to stand with the Truth.
My heart is for God, first and foremost. When this ungodly world wreaks havoc on God's plan for marriage and the family, the destruction has to be judged.
When I look at the Scriptures, I find that all marriages are not acceptable to God. If people would only ask God, and consult the Scriptures first, they would ask God, "Can I marry or can I marry this man or this woman", and the Scriptures would answer, "No, not always, not this person". John the Baptist didn't say, like the weak preachers do today, "Herod, just say you are sorry and that you won't do it again, and you can be married to Herodias." Now if that one example were the only one in the Bible, it would still be enough proof we need to show that all marriages are not acceptable to God and that the only correct thing to do is repent by putting the wife away. But that's not all the evidence. In Matthew 19, Jesus said "for any reason" you may not divorce your wife and remarry: only if she were sexually unfaithful may you do so. The teaching by Jesus was so shocking and strict that the disciples themselves said, "If it's like this, it's better not to marry." Indeed, they saw the consequences clearly meant not all remarriages are acceptable to God. And Jesus added the icing to the cake, making his point crystal clear, by suggesting lifelong abstinence from sex is the choice many must make if they wish to go to heaven. This seems harsh to modern preachers. I have a feeling it seemed just as harsh when Jesus said it.
Judgement is going to be harsh. A Eunuch was a castrated man who did not have sex. I don't believe Jesus was suggesting for us to counsel an operation any more than he intended for their to be Christians with only one eye and one hand. But stopping the sin is essential. When Jesus spoke compassionately to the woman "caught in the very act of adultery" He said to her to "go and sin no more". This meant no more of this sex thing you are doing. Abstinence is a consequence for people that must be chosen if they wish to go to heaven. Like the world today, in Jesus' day there were preachers who wanted to tell men they could divorce and remarry for any cause. But Jesus said, "No", and "what God has joined together let no man separate." Some are able to accept this and many are not able to accept it. I stand with God and with His Truth, as hard as it is to do so.
I stand with marriage so that young people I know and whom I love will make better decisions about their marriage choices while they are young and able to. If these young people heard me saying, "Don't worry if you married bad the first time, just remarry again and again until you get it right because God will forgive and accept all of your marriages." But if I teach the harsh reality of one marriage for life, they are much more likely to select their mate with greater discrimination and when in tough spots in their marriage they are much more likely to work through the problems they'll encounter. That's why I stand with God's Truth on marriage. I'm not going to compromise the reality of God's design - which young people need to see practiced and need to hear preached - just so that I can feel better about confronting all the divorced people.
I say all of this with the greatest amount of love possible. Sincerely, Dan

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

LASTING CONSEQUENCES OF DIVORCE THAT CAN'T BE FIXED

"Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage." - Anonymous

"What happens after repentance and baptism for unscriptural marriages and divorces? ( Dave Miller, Apologetics Press) First, much is accomplished at the point of biblical baptism, but baptism was never designed to change a sinful practice into an acceptable one, or to transform a sinful relationship into a righteous one. Prostitutes, homosexuals, polygamists, bisexuals, bigamists, and adulterers must sever their relationships.

Second, the biblical doctrine of forgiveness must not be confused with the equally biblical doctrine of the consequences of sin. Being forgiven never implies that all of the consequences of sin will be erased. Past sin may be blotted out, but the consequences of past sin generally remain. For example: Syphilis of the brain is a lasting consequence of a promiscuous lifestyle; Permanent removal from the garden was a lasting penalty and consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3); Being banned from Canaan was a lasting penalty of Moses’ sin (Deuteronomy 32:51-52), though he could be forgiven and one day be in heaven (Revelation 15:3); God pardoned the murmurers (Numbers 14:20)—but the negative effects of their sin were lasting and disastrous (Numbers 14:29-35); Esau’s mistake of selling his inheritance rights could not be rectified—“though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:17).

This biblical principle simply does not square with the notion that if anyone has to break up a marriage, too much is expected of them and forgiveness is not really what it’s “cracked up” to be. If biblical history teaches us anything, it teaches us that people cannot sin and then expect to have things the way they were before. More often than not, much suffering comes upon those who violate God’s will, even though they may be forgiven and have the hope of heaven.

So it is with marriage. People may reject God’s laws of marriage and fly in the face of His will. They may then be forgiven, but they may also have gotten their lives into such a fix that they will have no choice but to live single and celibate the rest of their lives. Such is not a reflection upon God’s justice or mercy. Rather, such is a reflection of man’s own stubborn disobedience and rejection of what God designed to be for man’s good. Just as a person can sin and in so doing lose his physical life without God intervening to prevent the effect of the sin (e.g., rob a bank and be killed by the police), likewise a person can so sin in the marital realm that he or she forfeits marital life without God intervening."
Be encouraged !
________________
http://www.apologeticspress.com/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1182

Monday, September 08, 2014

RESPECTING GOD'S LEADERS: REBELLION IS ONE OF THE FASTEST WAYS TO BE KILLED BY GOD

The Hebrews writers said, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." Heb. 13:17.

Korah rebelled against Moses, God's chosen leader, and God killed Korah, Numbers 16.

The rebellious teens mocked Elisha, God's prophet, and so Elisha cursed them and they were killed by two bears, 2 Kings 2:23,24.

When the ungodly world turns against God's preachers, as in when they go out two by two, it says the ungodly will be killed, Rev. 11:3-5.

So when people talk bad about the Elders, is there a consequence? Paul said to Timothy, "19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.", 1 Tim 5:19,20.

Even David of Israel, when he had what appeared to be legitimate gripes against King Saul, would not speak against or do anything against the King.

Today, the Elders are in the position they are in for a reason which is according to God's wisdom. And the church is to follow and give them respect. Let us respect their place that God has brought them to. They have a job that is not easy.

Sincerely, Dan Mayfield

YOU MUST "DO IT"

"Doing" the will of God is what is required to be saved. The time Jesus' family came to see Him but could not get close because of the crowd, Jesus told the people, "My Mother and my Brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.", Lk 8:21. 

A lot of denominational folks will talk about salvation in general terms as "accepting" or "receiving", or they may even allow the need for the sinner to believe and say a sinner's prayer. But they do not believe you must "do" anything to be saved. But it is Jesus' words that contradict them. The one that does not do the word of God will not be in His family. It is not hearers of the Gospel who are saved, but it is doers who will be saved, 2 Thess 1:8.

If a person thinks he is saved when all he has done is believe, he has been taught and believes a lie. Who is the foolish and wise man, Mt 7:24ff? Is it not the one who hears His words and acts upon them? Who is the one who loves Jesus, Jn 14:15? Is it not the one who shows his love by obeying Jesus? Is belief without works enough to save a man, Jn 14:42,43? No it is not because belief without doing what you have heard is an incomplete faith. The scriptures show clearly that faith alone is not enough to gain entrance into Jesus' family, Jas 2:14-26.

Remember that we are not justified by our works; that is, not by putting out faith in our works. But we are justified by faith in the working of God; that is, when we have an obedient faith that trust God will save, Col 2:12,13; Rom 1:5; 16:26.

Do you believe God is one and that He is to be loved with all your heart? Then show your love and He will be pleased. God is not interested in the lipservice which many give to Him, Mt 15:7-9. Do you believe you are to love your neighbor as you love yourself? If so, be careful that you don't discriminate against those God would readily accept into the church, Jas 2:1ff; Gal 2:12. Lk 15:6,7.

To be saved we must do the will of God. Our mission is to wash feet and go into the highways and byways and carry our crosses for Jesus. Do it or you cannot be Jesus Brother. I say this in love and respect. - Dan Mayfield

NEVER NEVER NEVER MAKE EXCUSES FOR YOUR SPIRITUAL FALL

Spiritual people never fall away as no amount of suffering or injustice shown them could make them leave The Lord. But weak Christians who have hidden sins they have harbored will eventually fall away. They will never blame their own doubting minds. They will never blame their lack of prayer and study of God's Word. They will never admit they just don't love The Lord or His church. When they fall, they will blame others, and will never, never, never take responsibility. Truth.

Years ago when we were young Christians we fell away. We blamed it on the boring preaching. The preacher himself admitted that 2/3rds of his preaching was negative. But the truth is that we were to blame because we put our own fleshly desires to sleep in on Sundays. We were not praying and studying God's Word as we should. We were fully to blame but at the time, true to my premise, we blamed the preacher.

Be strong in the faith and be an encouragement to the rest of the church. I say this in love, Dan Mayfield

ADVERSITY AND BECOMING A MAN OF GOD

Determination and grit are necessary ingredients to truly living the Christian life. There is nothing worthwhile in all of life that comes easy. A great family. A great name. A great commendation by Almighty God. God created us to live with gritty determination to push through the difficulties and setbacks.
"Be on the alert, 
stand firm in the faith, 
act like men, 
be strong." - 1 Cor. 16:13
Some people will turn away from you but others will stand strong by your side. And with the faith that God is working all things together for good because you love Him, how can a man help but be successful!


To all of my friends who find themselves in a challenging stage in their lives, hunker down and don't be moved. Admit faults when you have them. Learn from your mistakes. Draw strength from the beautiful woman beside you (if you have one). And rest well tonight. Tomorrow start with a prayer and then hit the ground running.

To my friend who reads this and thinks I'm talking to him, I probably am. I'm rooting for you! Sincerely, Dan

Saturday, August 30, 2014

NO GOLD CAN REMAIN

"No Gold Can Remain" is the title of a book that caught my attention. Instead of reading the book, I started thinking about losing God's blessings. When a city has been sacked by an invading enemy, as with Babylon's first invasion of Jerusalem, all of the precious things were collected and carried away, 2 Kgs 25:13-17. NO GOLD REMAINED.

It is like this in a man's life when his home and very soul is invaded by the evil world. NO "GOLD" WILL REMAIN. When a man leaves the precious things of God in favor of fleshly pursuits, NO PRECIOUS BLESSINGS OF GOD WILL REMAIN.

"36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" Mk 8:37
It is foolishness that he can't or won't see that he has traded away the jewels of a heavenly crown for the momentary pleasures of wood, hay and stubble. Loving the world and thing in the world comes with great costs of soul and much more. Family happiness and unity can be destroyed. Morals are weakened and boundaries are crossed that can cost spouse, children, jobs, health, and life. God's blessings vanish.

When a man gives away his soul to enjoy the sinful indulgences of this life, he also opens his house and home to be sacked of everything that is golden.

I'M NOT A PHARISEE; I'M JUST DOING WHAT DEVOTED FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST DO

The desire to follow the Bible, word for word, neither adding nor taking away from it, is not an attempt to establish one's own righteousness. Jesus said, "he that does the will of my Father in heaven" will have salvation, Mt 7:21ff. And he said as a final charge to the Apostles to make disciples, baptizing them, and "teaching them to observe all that I commanded." So Christians strive to do all that Jesus commanded and they consider adding or taking away from His word to be anathema.

To do God's Word to be seen by men and receive their praise IS seeking one's own righteousness, Mt 6:1ff. Making rules for men to follow that promise to help men walk in God's law is establishing one's own righteousness: this righteousness is rooted in man pleasing man by following man's teaching, Mt 15:2. When the work is done to be declared righteous by men it is Pharisaism. When the work that is done is man's doctrine and not God's, that is Pharisaism, Mt 15:7-9. To nullify God's Word and replace it with man's teaching and then assuring everyone it is right, that is Pharisaism.

Devotion to Jesus' words is not legalism, not Pharisaism, and so why is the church of Christ accused of being such? Because the accusation is coming from those who assert the rightness of their teachings and they don't get an Amen from the church. They assert,

"You can play musical instruments in worship because adding to the worship is truth as long as it is done in the right spirit. You can divorce and remarry as many times as it takes to get it right without consequence. And women can lead in worship as long as the authority appears to be delegated by men."

When they confidently assert these things and don't get an Amen from the church of Christ, it infuriates them. And so they tack right with the charge of legalism. They are wrong. To do God's will with the right spirit of faith in Him could never be wrong.

To read God's Word and strive to do "all which Jesus commanded" is very good when one's faith is not in the works but is in the saving grace of God. Stop and look at Jesus. Focus on Him and be thankful for His grace. Do you see His example? Imitate it. Do you hear the remarkable teaching from His lips? Do them? This is what people of faith who love Jesus Christ do. To call such people "Pharisees" or "Legalists" is the tactic of the father of lies.

HINDERING THE GOSPEL

There is no more grievous sin than that of hindering the Truth from being heard and spread to others.

Jesus said to his disciples, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Mk 10:14

The disciples were literally hindering parents from bringing their children to Jesus. For doing this they got a serious warning fr...om Jesus who then had the children brought to His arms for a blessing.

Men do not always value what is valuable. Children are of immeasurable value to Jesus. But there are other ways that we can fail to value what is valuable. If Christians act hypocrites in front of children, they encourage children to not follow Jesus. If Christians are selfish and uncommitted to the work of Christ, they encourage others to be half-hearted by the power of their example. If children are not disciplined, then they are like illegitimate children, without parents who love them, Heb 12:5ff.

We can hinder the Gospel by the negative influence of our lives, 1 Cor. 9:12. There are those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Rom 1:18. They will use their power to silence the Truth of the Gospel. There are those who give people encouragement to practice sin, Rom 1:32. It's a shame and a terrible sin to silence the voice of truth.

Today I heard about a young high school student from Dyer County, Tennessee who received an in-school suspension for saying "bless you" after a classmate sneezed. This isn't liberal New York or California where we've come to expect some hostility against Christianity: it's the so-called Bible Belt where a girl can't say, "bless you". Imagine if she had mentioned Jesus Christ or if she asked someone to come to church!  This is soft persecution the suppression of religious talk. Today it's an in-school suspension. Tomorrow, who knows. I tell you that a society is not practicing freedom of conscience, speech, and religion that can limit something so harmless.

As there is no sitting on the fence on such important matters. All people are either for or against God and our actions either help or hinder the spread of the Gospel. Are we helping or hindering?

When I doubt God's word, I hinder. When I act with prejudice, and make judgments that are evil, I hinder, James 2:1ff. When I suggest the Gospel is about something other than the salvation of souls, I hinder. When I spend all of my time for me, I hinder. When I'm a hypocrite, I hinder.

Paul talked to the Galatians and asked them who hindered them from obeying the truth, Gal. 5:7. False teachers hinder Christians when Christians listen to them. John warned the church about the man Diotrophes who was hindering God's preachers from coming to speak and he was hindering the Christians from embracing God's preachers, 3 John 9,10. Arrogant pride hinders the Gospel. Even the best of God's people can get off track and hinder. Peter removed himself from eating with the Gentile Christians and he hindered Barnabas and others, Gal. 2:12. This was so severe an issue that Paul publicly rebuked Peter for his error. Jesus talked about the hypocritcal Pharisees who would travel the world to make a proselyte only to make the convert twice a son of hell as themselves, Mt 23:15.

I wonder if my words here are considered a hindrance? If I speak the truth, I may hinder men from going the wrong path. And if I speak the truth, but don't have love, then I'm just a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal, 1 Cor 13. I certainly don't mean to hinder anyone from following Jesus Christ. But I write this for myself and for thoughtful and sincere people who want to aid others in coming to Christ. And let us be especially mindful of our children. Exemplify Christ to them. Be consistent and dedicated to the work of Christ. A disciple or train the children to go the right way. I say this in love. Sincerely, Dan

Friday, August 29, 2014

PURE AND UNDEFILED RELIGION, by Dan Mayfield

"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." Jas 1:27.
People say they are against religion. Why? Because they don't know the Scriptures and so when they are told "Jesus isn't about religion", well the gullible person says that makes sense and begins to parrot the same line. Just watch.

"But Dan, most religion is corrupt and that's why they say they are against 'religion'."

Let me ask you a question. If 99% of Medicine was bad and dangerous, but 1% was good as it should be, would you say you were against medicine? Certainly not! You are only against the bad medicine.

Likewise, when Jesus brought to us "pure and undefiled religion", do you think his religion should be rejected because 99% of religion is bad? I hope you know the answer.

If a baby is bathing in a wash tub. When finished, do you toss out the baby with the bath water? Of course not because you know how to distinguish between dirty water and a baby. Therefore God wants you to discern between his religion and bad.

When you hear that smart Street Preacher with his vain tattoos and belching megaphone telling how he's bringing "a relationship, not a religion", I want you to toss him out with the bath water and then go find the church Jesus built which is true religion.

Sincerely, Dan

WHEN WAS SAUL SAVED: ON THE ROAD?

The following is the introduction to answering this question "When was Paul actually saved" by "Let us Reason" website which believes Saul was saved on the road and not three days later when Ananias taught him. Notice the crafty error right from the start.
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I believe the Scripture proves Paul was saved on the Damascus Rd. not afterwards when he was baptized. Why? Because He, and the Scripture says so. We need to distinguish that one being baptized in water is not baptized in Christ by the spirit- Jesus said so in Acts 1:5 and was proven in Acts 2 when they were in the upper room. This distinction is made later by Peter who recounts what the Lord said about the difference between water baptism and spirit baptism that they witnessed with the Gentiles in Acts10. Acts 11:16-18 "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. "Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'" http://tinyurl.com/mhhxezz
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VITAL INFORMATION IS LEFT OUT
First, there's some very important information left out from the "let us reason" article which can only pretend to make its case: it does not once quote from Acts 22 which says,
"Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’"
This is Saul/Paul's own retelling of his conversion and the article never mentions it. Ananias is telling the guy that saw and heard Jesus 3 days earlier, when he was supposedly saved on the road to Damascus, to get up and be baptized so his sins will be washed away! It makes sense though. If you have a weak case, don't bring up scripture that would destroy your position. The article quotes Acts 26 and Acts 9 to show when Saul was forgiven but leaves out the verse that is most pertinent to the question. And if Saul was saved three days earlier, there would be no sins to wash away. The article chooses not to deal with that troubling information.
MISDIRECTION IS CRAFTY TOOL
Now why do I say this was a crafty error at the beginning? Instead of dealing with the text, ignoring important information about the conversion in Acts 22 and the verse where Ananias commands Saul to get up and be baptized and wash away his sins, the "let us reason" first redefines baptism into a spiritual baptism. Thus the reader is diverted into a confusing and half-truth discussion on holy spirit baptism and away from reading how Saul needed to first be taught by Ananias to get up and be baptized to wash his sins away. Holy Spirit baptism is not commanded by Jesus; water baptism is commanded (Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:16). When "let us reason" website diverts the attention to a discussion of water versus holy spirit baptism, the point is craftily diverted from the clear bible verse. Water baptism is commanded but holy spirit baptism is not commanded. Saul was commanded.
Saul was NOT saved three days earlier because Saul still had his sins.
By the way, there are other dodges, out of context references, overstatements of the facts and such that I could address but it's just too tiring to deal with these people. Read it and see if you find more errors.
Sincerely, Dan
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1. http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp215.htm

YOU BLESS IT BY GIVING THANKS FOR IT

"6 And He directed the people to sit down on the ground; and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks and broke them, and started giving them to His disciples to serve to them, and they served them to the people. 7 They also had a few small fish; and after He had blessed them, He ordered these to be served as well." - Mk 8:6,7
When we talk about prayer and eating, we hear it called "saying the blessing". Or when the Lord's Supper is being prayed over, people will ask God to "blessed this bread" or "bless this cup". What does that mean?

In the passage above we see a clue. When he first prayed, it said he gave thanks for the bread. Then he took the fish and blessed them. Is giving thanks the way to have the food blessed? And if it is blessed, what does that mean?

Paul says something in 1 Corinthians 14 that gives us some insight. "Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the 'Amen' at your giving of thanks?", v16. It sounds like the "blessing" and the "giving of thanks" are one and the same, or at least are closely related.

When we think of something being "blessed", we think of something like a gift that is given. God blesses us with salvation and we bless others by kindness and christian love. "You blessed us with your gift of love and just by being here", someone might say. So what is the gift when giving a prayer of thanks for food or over the Lord's Supper? The gift or blessing is from God which we acknowledge in a prayer of thanks.

Paul indicates this is the case when talking about food that is given to be eaten. He said to Timothy, "4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.", 1 Tim. 4.

When we sit down at the table, we stop and say "grace" or "say the blessing" by giving thanks to God for what we are about to eat. And the eating of it is holy and acceptable to God because it is received with gratitude. We ought to give thanks to God for all of our blessings, including the meals He gives to sustain our physical lives.

Whether it is Jesus, or the assembled church about to eat the Lord's Supper, or whether it is a family seated at the dinner table, we ought to give thanks for it.

If we say we are "blessing the bread", we are giving thanks for it. This corrects the idea that many have at the Lord's Supper that the bread and the cup are somehow altered in substance and supernaturally blessed to become holy substances. They remain bread and fruit of the vine. But the eating of them is sanctified and blessed by God when we give Him thanks. So at the Lord's Supper, be sure to say "thank you" for the bread and for the cup. Then they will be blessed.

Sincerely, Dan

WHEN IT COMES TO TEACHING ON MARRIAGE AND REMARRIAGE, MOST CHURCHES CLEARLY ARE NOT TEACHING THIS

"1 Getting up, He went from there to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan; crowds gathered around Him again, and, according to His custom, He once more began to teach them. 2 Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man TO WRITE A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 “But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. 7 “FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, 8 AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” 10 In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11 And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” MK 10

It does not take a PhD in Theology to understand that Jesus is teaching a very strict standard for marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Jesus' teaching is rooted in the very founding of the family at the beginning of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. While the Pharisees look for loopholes, Jesus denies them any satisfaction. For many who are married and divorced, if they marry again they are living in sin even if men say they are lawfully married.

Instead of ignoring this hard teaching, we must be teaching it for the sake of young people so they will be more careful with their choice of life partner and will work harder to keep their marriages together.

I say this with love Dan

TO MINISTER LIKE JESUS WITH CONVICTION, COURAGE AND LOVE

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is confrontational. It is the heaven's Truth confronting the lies of the sinful world. Every Christian is called to be light and salt in a dark world which puts him smack dab in the middle of the conflict. Jesus came into the world to be light and truth and He called for men to repent and turn back to God. Some heard and accepted and many rejected Him and they did so with violence. Jesus said, If they hated me, they will hate you, Mt 10:24.

In Matthew 19 Jesus ministers to a rich young ruler who wishes to inherit eternal life. Jesus not coincidentally list off several of the commandments which all have to do with one's relationship with man: don't commit murder, adultery, steal, bear false witness, honor mom and dad, all of which Jesus summarizes by quoting the second great commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself", Mt 19:19. I say I don't believe it was coincidental that Jesus listed these because they don't have to do with the young man's real problem. Money is a god and the young man had lots of it. By human appearances, the young man was pretty good in his dealings with his fellow man. But Jesus isn't done until he gets to the real problem. With conviction and courage, Jesus tells the young man he must give up all of his possessions, come and follow Him, and then he will have treasures in heaven, Mk 10:21. Jesus knew it was a "where are your treasures" thing.

Jesus had warned against laying up all of your treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy, Mt 6:19. He later said that a man can't serve God and money because his money gets all of his love and God gets what's left over. The rich young ruler was taking care of the second great commandment, being able to say that he had kept them all from his youth up, but loving God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength was neglected. He was keeping part of the commandments, but the first of the 10 commandments that included , warnings against idolatry and worshiping other Gods is where he fell short. Money was his god, and likewise it is the pursuit of money that has led many away from God and into spiritual ruin, 1 Tim 6:9.
"But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction."
Jesus knew the man had a problem with materialism and that he could never inherit eternal life as long as he continued to worship these idols. And so Jesus with conviction and courage told the man to do the unimaginable thing to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor. The man proved his love for things was stronger than his love for God when he walked away sad, Mk 10:22. Mark records that Jesus loved the young man but when he walked away Jesus said, "how hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God." Jesus was not mean or unloving to let the man walk away without salvation. We learn here that we can love the sinner while being uncompromising on the need to put away sin. We must love our neighbors as much as we love God, but we must also have the conviction that men cannot remain in their sins and we should have the courage to call for men to put them away.

To minister to people requires that we know the Truth and that we know what people's needs and problems are so that we can show them what they must do to inherit eternal life. This puts Christians smack dab into the middle of the conflict. In truth, though the answer to the rich young ruler seems extreme, it's the same answer that is given to us all. All who have made the decision to walk the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life, Mt 7:13,14, have put away their idols so that God is where He should be in their lives. The rich young ruler was unwilling to pay the price of discipleship. How about us? Jesus said to be his disciples we must deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him. Can we say with Paul, "I have been crucified with Christ and it's no longer I that lives but Christ lives in me", Gal 2:20? This would never have happened unless we had someone minister to us with conviction and courage to tell us what we truly needed to do to repent and turn from the perverse world.

The Gospel of Jesus is confrontational. There is no other way to God but by Jesus, Jn 14:6. The path is exclusive and it is not the easy path. When a Christian teaches the rich young rulers of this world that they must put away sin and make sacrifices to inherit eternal life, it is confrontational. It takes courage and conviction to tell people what they must know and do to go to heaven. And it is not a coincidence that in the same chapter the Holy Spirit records Jesus' stringent rules regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage. The part about "let no man separate" is neglected by so many who call themselves Christian. "Well, I think God would want me to be happy." This excuse is common but it ignores that you can be happy but you must also be holy. A person should not be happy while he's ignoring Matthew 5:32; 19:9-12; Mark 10:9-12; Luke 16:18.

"31 It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery", Mt 5:32; "9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery. 10 The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” 11 But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 “For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”, Mt 19:9-12; "9 What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate. 10 In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. 11 And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; 12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”, Mk 10:9-12; "18Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.", Lk 16:18.

A person should not be happy while he's putting away his wife. A person should not be happy living in a marriage that God does not approve of and you can be sure that God does not approve of all marriages. Jesus' words are so severe, not unlike the words given to the rich young ruler, that He counsels that celibacy, remaining single and without sexual relations, is the only way to have treasures in heaven, cf 1 Cor. 7:10,11. But this hard teaching is largely ignored today. Paul's words "remain in that condition in which you were called" are twisted to include an adulterous condition which they do not allow! God made marriage to be for life. It's therefore not something to be entered into lightly because unless our mate committed marital unfaithfulness, one does not have a shot at a second marriage. To tell people they are living in adulterous marriages is so hard. We must love them the way Jesus loved the rich young ruler. But we must also have the conviction and courage to tell them they must put away their marriages, that it is not lawful for them to be married, so that we are counted faithful by God and so that God's institution of marriage will not be defiled, Heb 13:4.

Yes, following Christ calls for exacting discipleship and sometimes at great costs. "Truly I saw to you, there is no one who has left house OR WIFE or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom fo God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.", Lk 19:29,30. Are we faithful ministers who call for men to leave behind their riches? Are we faithful ministers who call for men to leave adulterous marriages? To be a faithful minister, we must love souls, but love does not negate the need to teach the hard things with courage and conviction. Said in love, Dan

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

THE FOCUS ON THE GODLY: NOT THE EXTERNALS


"there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him." Mk 7:15
These are the words of Jesus He spoke to the religious Jews who took special care of washing hands, pots and pans but who were clearly defiled in their hearts and souls. 

The words of Christ remind me of something G.K. Chesterton said that, "while saints can afford to be dirty, seducers have to be clean." Chesterton, What is Wrong with the World, p.76.

Hypocrisy in a man must be concealed by outward washing and polish on the exterior. These fool the carnal man who will support the seducer. It is why many charlatans dress in the very best of clothing.

I am personally leery of preachers who wear the finest in clothing and who speak in affected and flowery speech. They use these to cover and conceal the true self which they cannot allow to be seen. But the beautiful dress does fool many men who support these hypocrites.

Jesus said, "you blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also." Mt 23:26.

It is not that the outward presentation is to be neglected, but God's people focus their efforts first on making the inside clean. Clean inside then has a way of becoming manifest on the outward appearance. The eyes are brighter. The tongue cleaner. The lifestyle purer. The appearance less offensive to the eyes, nose, and ears of the world.

So give up seducing and trying to fool people that you are something you are not. Become pure and godly on the inside. This will make you genuine and a more useful servant of Christ Jesus.

Humbly I offer this. - Dan

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