WHY?

ISN’T IT  INTERESTING THAT IN EVERY BOOK OF THE NEW TESTAMENT THAT the Apostle Paul wrote, with the exception of Hebrews (he may have not written Hebrews), thirteen (13) in all, for his introduction he uses the words GRACE and  PEACE! Is there a subliminal message there?

The definition of GRACE is:  “a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior:”  Synonyms are: forgiveness, charity, mercifulness, lenity, leniency, reprieve.  An allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied. Cessation of or freedom from any strife or dissension, freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety, an obsession, etc.; tranquillity; serenity, a state of tranquillity.”

In Theology GRACE may mean “the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. The influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.”

The definition of PEACE is: God’s plan for your life is PEACE!  It is “a state of mutual harmony.  The end of hostilities.  a cessation from strife and dissention.”  If you don’t have it, you may justifiably ask why.  It was understandable for Jesus to cry “with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is, being interpreted, ‘My God, my God, WHY have you  forsaken me?’” (Mark 15:34 (kjv))

Jesus paid the penalty with his justifying Blood for our sin. SALVATION (1) TOOK PLACE AND (2) WAS TAKING PLACE!

Paul was the guy named Saul who went through the countryside murdering Christians.  The Lord saw fit to knock him off his horse, blinding him in order to give him GRACE and PEACE.  No wonder Paul spoke profusely of the GRACE and PEACE that Jesus gives!

“To all that be in Rome, … Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Romans 1:7 KJV

To those in Corinth he wrote: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”   1 Corinthians 1:3 KJV

“Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”   2 Corinthians 1:2

And to those in Galatia: “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,”  Galatians 1:3 KJV

Ephesus: “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 1:2 KJV

Philippi: “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:2 KJV

“ … Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Colossians 1:2 KJV

“ … Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  1 Thessalonians 1:1 KJV

“Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”             2 Thessalonians 1:2 KJV

“Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.”  1 Timothy 1:2

“To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.”   2 Timothy 1:2

“To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior.”  Titus 1:4 KJV

“Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Philemon 1:3 KJV

THEREFORE, THE GREAT GOD OF HEAVEN PLANNED FOR US TO HAVE GRACE AND PEACE THROUGH HIS JUSTIFYING BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.

 

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LOSING SOMEONE

LOSING SOMEONE FOREVER – MAKES NO DIFFERENCE IF IT IS BY DEATH OR DIVORCE – IS A HEART RENDING EXPERIENCE.  THE HURT IS ALWAYS THERE.  I think it was in 1935 when a Rabbi by the name of Harold Kushner wrote his book.  For many years, I misunderstood the title.   I thought it was “WHY Bad Things Happen To Good People.”  The correct title is “WHEN Bad Things Happen To Good People.”

Too often we misunderstand what God’s role is in the grand scheme of human existence.  There is nothing in the Bible (with proper understanding) that promises absolute, 100% camouflage in all circumstances. Jesus, God in the flesh said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:45 (niv)

Cherry picking a verse of the Bible here and there without context may leave the impression that good people will never have problems; never suffer.  Even Jesus suffered.  The Apostle Peter was crucified upside down.  Saint Paul suffered as few have and St. John was banned to the Island of Patmos.  Please carefully read the following :

“People who do what is right may have many problems, but the LORD will solve them all.”

Psalms 34:19 (ncv)

It may be that, as Elkhart Tolle wrote in A NEW EARTH:

“SUFFERING has a noble purpose: the evolution of consciousness and the burning up of the ego.”

“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”

Isaiah 66:2 (niv)

“So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you.”

Isaiah 41:10 (ncv)

THROUGH FAITH THERE IS PEACE AND STRENGTH IN THE MIDST OF DESPAIR!

Where is your faith?  It may help to read Hebrews 11 again.

SCARED MELANCHOLY

SCRIPTURE

A CHRISTIAN LADY SAID, “WOW! WHAT WAS THAT? All of a sudden for no rhyme or reason, a distressed feeling came over me; a despondent, disconsolate, doleful feeling of fright and dejection, an awful down in the dumps feeling.”

Is she needing professional counseling?  Did this strange feeling of scared melancholy arise out of physical distress, maybe mental, emotional suffering?  Is there no one to help her?  I care, but I was a pastor of a church. Is there anyone out there to care?  It still begs an answer to her why!

Is it a learned helplessness in her part?

Psychology Today magazine quotes Thomas Plante: “The American Psychological Association’s yearly Stress in America study found that stress levels have never been higher, with most people pointing to the state of our national politics being the cause of their stress; it ranked higher than personal work and family troubles.  Extreme divisiveness, incivility, verbal aggression, and so forth seem to get worse by the day.  Worries about the future of our nation and society is on the minds of all. While anxiety and stress is commonplace, perhaps despondency is now setting in.”

Continuing Plante’s thoughts, he suggests a few things:

•Connect with others of like mind and do something, anything, for positive change.

•Embrace the notion that you can work to change what you can control and accept what you just can’t control.

•Reflect upon and evaluate your own values and ethical principles carefully and be sure to express them in civil ways to others.

•Minimize media exposure and inflammatory news that tends to escalate problems and worries.

•Be sure to spend time in relaxing activities such as being in nature, getting away from computer and smart phone screens, and engaging in healthy activities such as exercise and spending time with friends. [And stay away from Facebook!]

•Engage in satisfying service and volunteer activities where you feel that you might be able to make a difference in the lives of others.

•If you are spiritually or religiously engaged, increase your involvement with your spiritual/religious tradition and community.

•Get professional help if your stress doesn’t get better.  You can start with the Help Center at the American Psychological Association if you aren’t sure what direction to go to get assistance.

So, what do you think? What can you do to cope?

(Copyright 2018, Thomas G. Plante, PhD)

It is interesting that Plante suggests engaging with your spiritual community. The Psalmist encourages God’s people –

“Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God – soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God!

“I took my troubles to the Lord; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.”

Psalms 120:1 (nlt)

“The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”

Psalms 121:7-8 (nlt)  🎼🎶🎹

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,

And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;

Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

(Charles Gabriel)

BELIEVING

BELIEVING THE FACTS ABOUT JESUS IS THE BEGINNING:

•That he was a historical figure

•That he actually lived

•That he died on the cross

•That he paid the penalty

•That he is God clothed in human

flesh

•That he exists somewhere today

Under the windows of a modern stucco house is something called a check throat. It is there, ostensibly, to prevent water from hitting the wall under the window, but usually for decorative purposes.  It looks strong and stable.  On newer homes it is made of foam with stucco plastered on it.  It has the appearance of a wooden 4X6.

In reality it is foam covered with stucco for appearances.

In many concerts today, the singer/entertainer is only lip-syncing the songs. The music is recorded somewhere backstage.

What does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ?

•First of all, He doesn’t talk to the back of your head

•Make the effort to turn around by saying, “I have sinned!”

•Talk to him and offer yourself to him by saying, “Lord, I may not understand it all, but here I am.”

•“Come into my heart and life, and take control.”

•“I believe you forgive me.”

HE WILL!  You are a newborn baby. Continue to walk in the light.

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7 (kjv)

RIGHT BUT OVERWHELMED!

YOU CAN BE DOING THE RIGHT THING, BUT STILL BE OVERWHELMED IN THE MIDST OF YOUR STORM!

I had a church member back in the early 1960’s who had a bomb shelter.  It cost him a lot of money; money he could have used to better his life. He thought he was doing the right thing, but he WASTED TIME AND MONEY ON HIS FEAR!

Many of us, if not most, have some kind of fear; fear of spiders, animals (dogs, cats), elevators, etc.  This is the human condition.

Back in the day, the disciples of Jesus were out on the lake when a huge storm arose. (The first thing to remember about this story is that Jesus wasn’t with them.) When they were near death, they saw something or someone coming near them walking on the water.

“In their fear, they cried out, ‘It’s a ghost!’”

Matthew 14:26 (nlt)

“But straightway Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer; it is I; BE NOT AFRAID.’ [Peter got the bright idea to walk on water, too.]

“But when [Peter] saw the boisterous wind, HE WAS AFRAID; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, ‘Lord, save me.’  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, ‘O thou of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, ‘Of a truth THOU ART THE SON OF GOD.’”

Matthew 14:27, 30-33 (kjv)

“HE WILL keep you in perfect peace as your mind is FIXED ON him: because you TRUST IN him.”

Isaiah 26:3 (kjv-paraphrase)

YOUR GOLIATH!

GOLIATH WAS A GIANT!  The writer of I Samuel details it this way:  “The Philistines had a champion fighter from Gath named Goliath. He was about nine feet, four inches tall. He came out of the Philistine camp with a bronze helmet on his head and a coat of bronze armor that weighed about one hundred twenty-five pounds. He wore bronze protectors on his legs, and he had a bronze spear on his back. The wooden part of his larger spear was like a weaver’s rod, and its blade weighed about fifteen pounds. The officer who carried his shield walked in front of him.”

‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17:4-7‬ ‭(ncv)

The army of God was on one hill and the enemy was on another hill with a valley in between. For 40 days Goliath came out in the open and cursed God and ridiculed the Israeli army. The entire army of Israel was intimidated and scared.

ENTER DAVID!  A kid, maybe still in his teens.  A slingshot and 5 little rock’s; oh, and El Shaddai the Great God Almighty who can!  His brothers were embarrassed that he showed up and tried to get him to leave. David’s answer was, “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?”
‭‭1 Samuel 17:29 (kjv)

Goliath came out again cursing, making fun of David, but “David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—… whom you have defied.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭17:45‬ ‭(nlt)

WHAM AND SHAZZAM!  Goliath became a crumbling piece of lifeless human flesh.

So I have a question for you: Are you facing a Goliath in your life?  It may be financial, health, emotional, marriage, children, addiction, spiritual.  Maybe you’re scared. God has a “David” waiting for you!

“Listen to the Lord who created you,  .… The one who formed you says, “DO NOT BE AFRAID, FOR I HAVE RANSOMED YOU!   I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” ‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-3‬ ‭(nlt)

BROKEN

I CAME CLOSE TO GIVING UP!

Time and again I cried out to God. Satan crushed me into the dirt, but God said to me, “This isn’t the end.  My grace is sufficient.”  But I persisted by singing,

🎼🎶🎹

“Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me stand

I’m tired, I’m weak, I’m lone

Through the storm, through the night

Lead me on to the light

Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.”

(Thomas A. Dorsey)

“Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (msg)

The best thing that ever happened to me was when God allowed me to be broken.

🎼🎶🎹

“When I am swept by the tempests of life,

Jesus is all I need.

Peace He imparts, whatsoever the strife.

Jesus is all I need.

“All that I need He will always be,

All that I need till His face I see,

All that I need thro’ eternity.

Jesus is all I need.”

(James Rowe)

TATTOO HIS NAME

NOPE! TATTOOS ARE NOT MY CUP OF TEA.  SEEMS THAT SUDDENLY, all over the place, our younger generation has tattoos. I saw an old codger – wrinkled and everything (‘bout my age) – with tattoos all over his arms and neck.  Then I read  Isaiah 49:16 (kjv)
“Behold, I have engraved thee upon the palms of my hands; ….”
‭‭Next, I was shocked how the Living Bible (paraphrase) translates it.
“See, I have “TATTOOED”‭ your name upon my palms ….”
MORE COMPLETELY THE NIV SAYS:  “Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.  “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; ….”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭49:13, 16‬
Jesus “‘said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  STOP DOUBTING AND BELIEVE.’”
‭‭John‬ ‭20:27‬ ‭(niv)

DOES GOD HAVE A ZAPPER?

LET’S GET THIS CLEAR: GOD DOES NOT “CAUSE” EVIL!  HE DOES NOT HAVE A ZAPPER THAT SHOOTS DOWN A LIGHTENING BOLT SIMPLY TO SEE HOW YOU SQUIRM.  

We live in a fallen world! To fully understand what happened in the eons of time before the earth was created is above my pay-grade … and your’s, too.  But this we know:

“when God created he “looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!”

Genesis 1:31

Human beings allowed themselves to be deceived by “wrong theology” – [so to speak]. 

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The Woman said to the serpent, ‘Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’”

Genesis 3:2-3 (msg)

“The serpent told the Woman, ‘You won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you’ll see what’s really going on. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.’”

Genesis 3:4-5 (msg)

Does anyone know how, what, when or why Satan rebelled against God?  No!  Apart from the Holy Bible we know very little, but speaking of Satan, Isaiah 14:12 says, ‘How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!’”  And Isaiah indicates in vv. 13 & 14 that this fallen angel wanted himself to be something more than an angel through pride.  “You said to yourself, ‘I’ll climb to heaven. I’ll set my throne over the stars of God. I’ll run the assembly of angels that meets on sacred Mount Zaphon. I’ll climb to the top of the clouds. I’ll take over as King of the Universe!’”  PRIDE!

Isaiah 14:13-14 (msg)

A shallow reading seems like God causes evil and makes bad things happen like an evil genius. 

IT. WAS. SIN. and DISOBEDIENCE, NOT GOD’S PLAN! 

God’s sense of justice demanded he give humans the freedom to choose.  Otherwise, he would simply be a celestial puppeteer.  So Eve chose to give in. 

“‘The serpent seduced me,” she said, ‘and I ate.’”

Genesis 3:13 (msg)

“GOD told the serpent: ‘Because you’ve done this, you’re cursed, cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals, Cursed to slink on your belly and eat dirt all your life. I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound his heel.’

He told the Woman: ‘I’ll multiply your pains in childbirth; you’ll give birth to your babies in pain. You’ll want to please your husband, but he’ll lord it over you.’ He told the Man: ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from, ‘Don’t eat from this tree,’ the very ground is cursed because of you; getting food from the ground will be as painful as having babies is for your wife; you’ll be working in pain all your life long. The ground will sprout thorns and weeds, you’ll get your food the hard way, planting and tilling and harvesting, sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk, until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried; you started out as dirt, you’ll end up dirt.’”

Genesis 3:14-19 (msg)

God didn’t cause Adam and Eve to receive bad things.  It was a volitional choice on their part. 

Therefore, in this fallen world Jesus [God in human flesh] says, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Matthew 5:45 (niv)

This world is set in motion with immutable laws of the universe; some visible and some invisible; some tangible and some spiritual. 

Does God always protect us in all circumstances?  No! 

Does God heal all diseases?  No!

Does he give us answers to everything?  No! 

Is this an exhaustive study answering all questions about the subject?  No!

But this we know: His eternal, everlasting love will be manifested in all things.  He will not always protect you from cancer, but your faith in him will bring you a joy you have never known and bless people around you, maybe to their salvation. 

As with  HORATIO G. SPAFFORD.  Successful lawyer and businessman in Chicago.  Wonderful family.   Living a beautiful life. Then, his son died with pneumonia in 1871.  Later that year,  the great Chicago fire occurred and he lost his business. In 1873, his wife and their four young daughters took an ocean liner to Europe.  Mr. Spafford was to join them later.  Four days into the crossing of the Atlantic, an accident caused the ship to sink and all four children drowned.  Mrs. Spafford was found hanging on to some debris.  Later, they had another son who also died. Through these awful tragedies and sufferings, Mr. Spafford wrote:      🎼🎶

“When peace like a river attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot, 

Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, it is well with my soul.

“Though Satan should buffet,

Tho’ trials should come,

Let this blest assurance control,

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, 

And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

“It is well (it is well) 

with my soul, (with my soul),

It is well, it is well with my soul.”

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7