The next time a public figure is exposed for something shameful, before you jump on the bandwagon of pointing a self-righteous finger, think of how thankful you are that God allowed your shameful moment(s) to be secret. Continue reading
Most cake recipes call for a little salt. Many of us like to satisfy our sweet tooth with a good slice of cake. In fact, when it’s really good, one bite just makes you want another. The right amount of salt makes cakes taste just right…making you want more with each bite. However, too much salt will make us quickly spit it out of our mouth.
Colossians 4:6 tells us to let our speech be full of grace and seasoned with salt. Ecclesiastes 7:16 says, “Do not be overly righteous,” Nor be overly wise:..”
It’s good to have passion for the Kingdom of God, but when we are over-zealous, arrogant, mean-spirited self-righteous, we can turn people away rather than attract them to Christ. All things in moderation. If we are trying to talk about the Lord in EVERY conversation, claim we never do anything wrong, or down people who are unbelievers, we can make people avoid us, dread seeing us coming and destroy any influence we may have. But, if we cleverly chose the right moments to ‘sprinkle the salt of the word’ when it’s applicable, people are more likely to listen, receive it, and even soften hardened hearts.
We need to ‘love out loud’ and ‘live out loud’ to let people see God in our character rather than beating them with the bible, making every conversation about God, or punctuating every sentence with a spiritual cliché. Wisely ‘sprinkling the salt’ of God’s word in conversations can make people hungry for more, and establish you as the go-to person on your job, your team, your school, your family when people want to know more about God. Being over zealous makes us seem crazy, and people can conclude, “I don’t want what they have.” God expects us to use wisdom and do everyone His Spirit of excellence. Notice how Paul reasoned with the Epicureans, Stoics, and people of Athens with respect and wisdom in Acts 17. He didn’t ‘beat them over the head’ or talk down to them. He wetted their appetite so that some wanted to hear more.
Psalm 19:10 proclaims God’s word is sweeter than honey in the comb. Yes it is! I love it. But if we don’t handle it wisely, people will spit it out, and we can do more harm than good.
Be careful of what’s in your heart when you decide to “KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS”.
That IS NOT what God told us to do. He told us to love our enemies.
Love’s intention is to give life, not kill.
Love’s intention is to build up, not tear down.
God says don’t seek revenge, that belongs to Him. God says don’t repay evil for evil, but instead to help your enemy.
The problem is, that many of us choose to ‘kill them with kindness’, ONLY to “heap coals of fire on their heads“. Many of us are only being kind because we see heaping coals of fire on their head as just another way to get even.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we may just be showing kindness to show them up, to annoy them, to make them feel bad…if that’s the intention then we’ve totally missed God’s meaning.
Helping your enemy is an exercise in developing God’s character. It is planting seeds of love for the enemy and those who witness. It’s allowing everyone to see the power of God. The goal is overcoming evil with good. Well, what about the coals of fire on their head? That’s just the end result of how acts of kindness affect an enemy…it’s a result, not an intent.
The goal is REPENTANCE AND RECONCILIATION. Remember, ‘kill them with kindness’ is catchy, but not of God.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”[a] says the Lord. 20 Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
“Nobody’s perfect! Even though we are Christians, we can never be without fault. We were born in sin and shaped iniquity (Psalm 51:5). No matter how hard we try we will make mistakes, we will fall short of God’s expectations. We will have weak moments. We will commit sins both unknowingly and willingly (sins of commission), and of course there will always be some things that we should be doing, that we aren’t (sins of omission). James 4:17 even explains that it’s a sin when we know to do good but don’t. Yet, God tells in His word that He expects us to be perfect. Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Colossians 1:28, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
If we are born in sin, if our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak, then how can we ever be perfect before Jesus returns? Why even try?
Let me tell you that YES, you can be perfect, but we have to understand what God means when He tells us to be perfect. The Greek word used here is teleios, which according to Strong’s Concordance implies mature, complete, consummated by going through the necessary stages to reach a goal. If a child is completes the 4th grade, and has mastered the expectations for the 4th grade, then that child is considered perfect for his or her particular level of learning, but not yet perfect by 5th grade standards.
If you are a new convert in Christ, God doesn’t expect you to be as mature as a more seasoned Christian. God expects us to always be growing faith, wisdom, knowledge, virtue and grace. If you have been walking with Christ for years, you shouldn’t have the same struggles that you did in the beginning. That’s why people who have been married for years drift apart. If a couple married in their early twenties…neither of them are the same people when they reach their thirties, forties, fifties and so on. People grow and mature at different levels. That’s why God told us to avoid being unevenly yoked, to promote growing and maturing together, because growing apart isn’t an excuse for divorce.
God encourages us to grow and mature…
1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
We as Christians need to strive for spiritual maturity (perfection). The book of Hebrews Chapter 5:12-14 teaches that some should be teachers, but instead need to be taught the first principles of God. That some should have matured to solid food, but instead, still require milk. Hebrews 6:1-3 goes on to say that God expects us to move beyond the elementary teachings in Christ to maturity. Please read these powerful scriptures in context for yourself. When we are growing…WE ARE NEVER WHO WE WERE, AND SHOULD NEVER BE WHO WE WILL BE. Are you satisfied with your level of spiritual maturity? Are you still struggling with the same issues from years ago? Are you making disciples or still a babe in Christ? We all have some growing up to do. Remember, it’s a life long process for all of us. Just make sure your are always in your correct spiritual ‘grade’.
People love clichés.
A well-placed cliché makes conversations, speeches and even sermons more interesting. One very popular cliché used when people have misfortune is or difficulty is, “When life gives you lemons make lemonade”.
BUT WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ANY SUGAR?
What if you have a health condition that doesn’t allow you to have sugar?
Sometimes in life we have to faith our way through some difficult days…
Sometimes we have to take some medicine that just doesn’t taste good…
Sometimes you have to swallow a really big pill that’s hard to get down…
Some people can’t have sugar in their diet…
Sometimes your healing comes from something bitter.
AREN’T YOU GLAD THAT JESUS DIDN’T MAKE LEMONADE ON THE CROSS?
2 Timothy 2:3 tells us to endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 12:2 teaches us to look to Jesus, who endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him.
People love quoting Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me” when they are trying to make their dreams come true, but this verse is most powerful when we are enduring life’s most difficult situations.
God wants us to always be able to make something good out of difficult situations, and to always see His will in them. As good soldiers of Jesus Christ, sometimes there’s nothing to make some situations feel ‘or taste’ better.
We just have to faith our way through and learn to sometimes drink lemonade without sugar.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM (OR CHURCH)
It’s impossible to ignore the presence of slavery in the bible. Many people wonder if slavery is evil, then why is it in the bible, both Old and Testaments. To fully explain this concept would take a series of lessons, which I do intend to publish soon, as I get time to responsibly put them together. I will however give you a brief answer for general understanding.
First and foremost, we in the 21st Century have the tendency to view things only from a 21st Century perspective, but God exists outside of time and relates to us holistically throughout time, beyond time and the cultures we have created. God deals with us from and through the lens of HIS prospective. We must look at the many aspects of servitude throughout history.
IT’S CLEAR AMERICAN SLAVERY WAS EVIL
Slavery and servitude have existed in numerous cultures, in many forms throughout history. Yes, slavery as it was in America was evil. In fact, God strictly forbade kidnapping people and selling them into slavery…(Exodus 21:16)… 16 “He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death). It’s clear God forbade this and it was punishable by death. So, how do you explain Exodus 21 that outlines regulations for Hebrews who choose to buy a slave? Or how do you explain Ephesians 6:5-9? (5 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, 8 knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. 9 Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him)
As for Exodus 21, these were not SLAVES; the word is more properly translated servants. These people were not enslaved for life. They were indentured servants, who served a period of seven years and were then to be set free, unless he or she chose to stay with his or her ‘master’. Now, as crazy as this may seem to us in the 21st Century, in ancient times there was no government support as we have in the recent past. Social structure and societal roles were strictly set in many cultures. If a family was poor or destitute, then it would most likely stay that way for generations. To some, servitude was a means of supporting families and sometimes preventing homelessness and starvation. If you read Exodus 21, there was no separation of families as took place in the southern United States. You will also notice in Deuteronomy 15:12-18 that God commanded that servants were not to be sent away empty-handed. This was a means for families to be lifted up from poverty and being destitute, unless they CHOSE to stay. This was not the equivalent to American slavery. (Deuteronomy 15:12-18) 12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.13 And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed.14 You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. 16 But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And to your female slave you shall do the same. 18 It shall not seem hard to you when you let him go free from you, for at half the cost of a hired worker he has served you six years. So the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do.
There is however another aspect of slavery, the evil aspect. Sometimes during war, people would be captured and subjugated. And, yes sometimes people were and are kidnapped and sold into slavery. Remember, God allowed His own chosen people to be slaves in Egypt for 400 years. Remember in Exodus God said He hardened Pharaoh’s heart so He wouldn’t listen to Moses? (Exodus 9:12 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had spoken to Moses.) This was for the purpose that God could show His power to the Egyptians and for our example. In Isaiah 10:5-6 God tells how He used Assyria, a heathen nation, to punish His own people. (5 Ah, Assyria, the rod of my anger; the staff in their hands is my fury!) 6 Against a godless nation I send him, and against the people of my wrath I command him, to take spoil and seize plunder,). Remember that God allowed His people to be taken captive by the Babylonians, that at the time of Jesus Israel was under Roman rule and in A.D. 70 they destroyed Jerusalem. Remember also that God used the Romans, a pagan, non-believing nation, to crucify His only Son. Throughout the Old Testament, even though war is evil, God used to discipline His people, and as judgment on unbelievers…for our example.
GOD USES GOOD AND EVIL FOR HIS PURPOSE
My point is this…both good and evil exists in this world, and God used both good and evil for His ultimate purpose. It’s obvious God won’t use good people to do evil, so He even uses evil people to discipline, and execute judgment on both His people and unbelievers. Afterward, the evil people will be judged. It’s not that they’re cursed, as Jesus said in John 3:18 says they are already condemned due to they’re own unbelief. Notice in Isaiah 10 that God says even though He used Assyria as a rod of correction against His people, he will still punish them for their evil that were predisposed to do anyway.
The fact is that God often used the existence and reality of something as evil as slavery to discipline His people or judge unbelievers. In regard to Ephesians 6:5-9, God made provision for His people’s behavior if they happened to be servants. His Godly character and holiness must be maintained in all situations…good and bad.
Notice this, any group enslaved never remained enslaved. God always heard their cry and set them free…hopefully to show His power to the oppressor and love to the oppressed.
Also notice in the book of Philemon, that God encouraged his friend Onesimus to return to his ‘master’, but He also encouraged Philemon to do the right thing and set him free upon his return.
SO WHY DID MOSES INCLUDE IT IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?
One more thing is worth your consideration. In Matthew 19, the Pharisees confronted Jesus, asking Him is it lawful for a man to divorce His wife. Notice Jesus’ response in the NKJV… “4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
7 “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Isn’t interesting that even though the book of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 permits divorce, Jesus makes it clear that just because Moses put it in the law during that dispensation of history, that it was never God’s will. Malachi 2:16 confirms this in saying that God hates divorce. This slight departure from the topic is to prove that just like slavery, just because there was provision made in the law, doesn’t mean that God condones it in it’s most evil form. Remember the ‘servants’ in the New Testament were indentured, and Paul urged Philemon to release Onisemus was he returned. It’s possible that Onisemus decided to stay beyond his seven years…no one knows.
THERE’S MUCH MORE TO SAY…
This is definitely not an exhaustive summary of all the verses concerning slavery, and there’s still much more to be said, but I think it will give you an idea of the concept in the bible. I know there are many who will not agree with this analysis, which acknowledges the reality, of servitude, as well as harmonizes, Old and New Testaments. I welcome comments and thoughts. You may expand upon the content of this article, or express why you disagree. I only ask that all comments are positive and respectful.
You’ve seen it happen before. Anger always comes back…usually harder.
Words and actions released in anger always come back, but rarely return in peace. Only love can cool anger’s searing heat.
Put your anger in check before it turns into wrath, because even though love conquers wrath, sometimes the damage remains.
Wrath kills…both figuratively and literally.
Anger is a seed, if it is used wisely, it can ignite passion that allows love to diffuse the anger and plant seeds that lead to good fruit…
Such as being angry enough at wrong to do something about it…
Such as not returning an insult, can end an argument and lead to a lifelong friendship.
If anger is NOT put in check, it ignites emotions that allow wrath to plant weeds instead of good seeds…
Such as returning an insult can lead to a fight, and animosity that lasts for years and spreads to others…anger is a seed.
The next time you’re angry, stop, think…let your anger cease before you speak or act, if you don’t, not only will come back, but it can come back harder…JUST LIKE A BOOMERANG.
“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret—it only causes harm.”
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
1 Peter 4:8.”
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
2 Chronicles 20:15 (ESV)
15 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.
ARE YOU IN A STRUGGLE? ARE YOU IN A BATTLE?
Whether your battle be physical, financial, relational, emotional, or social it’s also SPIRITUAL….”For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12 (ESV). All battles are spiritual. And many times as we dig in we proclaim what Jahaziel proclaimed through the Spirit of God, “The battle isn’t mine, it’s the Lord”. It’s good to put that level of faith and confidence in God, but that statement isn’t true for every battle.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DAVID AND SAUL
Saul and David provide the perfect example of this point. God anointed Saul after Israel asked for a king, rejecting God in 1 Samuel 8. In 1 Samuel 15, Saul was rejected by God because of his disobedience. He was only partially obedient…he went, and fought and delivered the people from their enemy, but spared the best of the spoil after God had told him to destroy everything. Saul was seeking His own glory rather than God’s, proven by the fact that he set up a monument for himself in Chapter 15:12. Now notice that when David confronted the Philistines and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, he told them that they have come not against him, but the armies of the Lord. David’s passion was not to bring glory to himself, but to honor the Lord God of Israel (1 Samuel 17:45).
David’s battle was for the Lord…Saul’s battle was for himself. Read 1 Samuel 15 for context and to see the scope of Saul’s sin that led him to be rejected as King, even after being anointed.
Saul was rejected…
David was accepted as a man after God’s on heart (Acts 13:22).
WHO ARE YOU FIGHTING FOR?
The same is true for us today. When we walk in God’s Spirit, His character, His will…our battles are His.
But when we’ve stepped out on our own…
When we go into situations without consulting God in prayer…
When we enter ungodly relationships… When we take jobs that force us to compromise our values…
When we put our own will before God’s… When we’re seeking our own glory rather than God’s (Psalm 115:1)…
When we defile our bodies through sex, bad diet, alcohol or substance abuse… When we’re narcissistic…those battles aren’t God’s – those battles are only ours.
Remember Saul, God never promised to fight the battles that exclude Him UNLESS we truly repent. When we repent, our motives change, we regret our bad decisions…then our battles become the Lords.
BRING GOD BACK INTO THE FIGHT!
Many people respect those who manage millions, but I salute those who are holding things together with ‘a little’. May God establish the works of your hands…
17 And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,
And establish the work of our hands for us;
Yes, establish the work of our hands.
So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do?”
The Pharisees, Scribes, and skeptics continually asked Jesus for a sign, when totally ignoring all of the miracles that He performed.
The fact is that they had signs all around them and refused to see them, in fact they couldn’t see them because their hearts were hard.
The story is the same today.
People say that they don’t believe in God because they can’t see Him. People want an EXPLANATION FOR GOD. They want physical evidence of God.
Jesus told Nicodemus…
“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
People feel they don’t need an explanation for the wind because even though they can’t see it, we see evidence of the world reacting to its presence (trees swaying etc.) and we can feel it.
No one has to EXPLAIN THE WIND.
Wow…then why can’t they accept the same for God? Unbelievers want an EXPLANATION.
Well, Romans 1:20…
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse…”.
God proves Himself not only through everything He created, but the remarkable order of His creation. Nature…life…the universe in all its splendor is evidence of God, but man wants to attribute it to some random act.
In fact, it takes the same amount of faith in the wisdom of man to believe that the sun is 93 million miles away, with no way to actually measure or prove it, as it does to believe that God is real based on the bible.
Just as the Pharisees, some people can’t believe because their hearts are hard, as implied by…
1 Corinthians 2:13
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
The internet is everywhere, and transmits enormous amounts of information and knowledge. You can be on your laptop, smart phone, tablet, television… and it’s the same internet. You can be at home, work, Tennessee, Europe or orbit…and it’s the same internet. The internet is everywhere at the same time and accessible – when you’re connected. Sounds like God doesn’t it? If people can believe in an ‘omnipresent’ internet, created by man, they should be able to believe in an omnipresent, omniscient (all-knowing) God who created man.
Can you see the internet? No.
Can you feel the internet? No.
Can you touch the internet? No.
Can you smell the internet? No.
Can you hear the internet? No.
Be bold in your belief in God the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, because atheists and agnostics are bold in their stance. When someone asks you to EXPLAIN HOW GOD IS REAL, respond…WITH ALL THE EVIDENCE AROUND US, EXPLAIN TO ME THAT HE’S NOT.