Is Omniscience Practical?

Almighty God has many characteristics that we as humans share such as being alive, compassion, anger, understanding, joy, sadness and others, although He never sins; let’s make that absolutely clear. But how does that pertain to knowledge? The word omniscience is comprised of two Latin parts meaning “all-knowing.” And why is this important and applicable? After all, what good is knowing anything if it is not practical in our everyday lives?
The Lord opened my eyes to this several months ago at work and it has not only given me wisdom, but has brought me a peace and understanding that has been beneficial to me time and time again. In addition, it has helped me to be more humble (less prideful), more sympathetic, more respectful both to man and to God, to be less judgmental and to appreciate the Lord more and to know him better.
I was at work one day doing something I do rather frequently in a way that made perfect sense to me, and it had always worked fine. On this particular day, my boss kindly pointed something out to me that I hadn’t considered before. In that moment, I was able to see something I was previously “blind” to. It helped me to understand why he wanted it done a little differently, and why his way was actually better and necessary. The Father instantly took the veil off my mind (which had been there because of ignorance and pride in my own ability) and gave me this illumination: “You make decisions and choices based on the knowledge you have. Your boss’ way is better because he has knowledge (in this case, operations, experience and logistics) that you don’t have. Now that you have that knowledge, you are able to see what you couldn’t see before and understand the benefits. Since you have some knowledge with which to make your choices in life, it leads to some right actions and results. Your boss has more knowledge, so his choices will lead to better actions and better results. Now, consider Me who has ALL knowledge which leads to perfect actions and perfect results!” His omniscience is practical for us.
This is an amazing revelation!!! I am so grateful to the Holy Spirit for the grace to receive, comprehend and live it. It is truly an “A-ha!” moment. It shines a whole new light on such verses as Isaiah 55:9 which says, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher (better) than your ways and My thoughts higher than your thoughts.” When I don’t understand something, don’t grasp why something happens, or don’t receive an answer to prayer when or how I think I should, I totally find peace and comfort because I now know that in His knowing of everything (and my knowledge of virtually nothing in comparison), His timing and orchestration of things is perfect and complete!
The Lord Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1-4) and the fullness of God (Colossians 1:19, Hebrews 1:3) and He reveals God to us through the Bible. He reveals His will, His power, His nature, His character- everything He chooses to share. It just makes perfect, logical sense that if we read His Word, we will have a much better knowledge of Him, and therefore have a better understanding of the way in which the world and our lives were meant to be; and still can be. There are other factors that contribute to our wrong choices (such as motives), but godly knowledge is foundational for all living, temporal and eternal.
Now can you understand why giving the Lord Jesus rightful control of your life is so important? God is good, generous, merciful, unconditionally loving. He created the universe. He is the Judge of all. His governing, authoritative, sovereign ways, statutes and laws are based upon perfection and omniscience of the very world HE designed. You are a sinful person. You were born with a sinful nature which lends itself to sinful thoughts and actions (although we bear responsibility for those things because we DO have the freedom to choose what is right). We have this nature because of our blood inheritance from Adam and Eve, the first to be in the flesh and the first to sin. Sin separates us from God because of His holiness and our unrighteousness. Death is the payment of sin. But in His infinite love, He came to the earth in the form of a man, Jesus Christ (fully God and fully man), to willingly and purposely die to take the penalty of our sin! WOW! Admission of guilt, confession of sin, repentance (turning away from sin and to God), receiving forgiveness, submitting to His Lordship—all these things we do in response to and because of His grace towards us. In faith we trust in His divinity, His death for our sin, His resurrection from the dead. We lay down our lives so that we may have life in Him. He alone gives us salvation and eternal life.
You now have more knowledge than you did when you began reading this. Will you take this heavenly knowledge, make the best choice and receive and see the best results? God bless you.

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Was I Ever Really Saved? How Can I Know?

That is the telling question and the observable fruit. If the answer is “No,” you will die in your sins as of this moment.

AM I SAVED OR UNSAVED?

There are several examples in the Bible where the Lord Jesus is telling us that a person can have a desire for God, may be trying to or thinking he is walking in His ways, might even look to others as if he/ she is a Christian and yet clearly is not yet a born-again believer (born of water AND the Spirit). If the person died today, they would not enter the kingdom of God. Their destiny is the lake of fire.

(1) Acts 13:43, “…many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas…” (First of all, the word DEVOUT denotes a certain piety and seems to convey that a person is in a state of salvation. We hear the phrase “devout Catholic,” for example. The dictionary defines it as “having or showing deep religious feeling or commitment.” We will find out that while this word carries an idea or opinion to others, it is not evidence of being assured of Heaven.)
The text says that they were converts to Judaism- not Christianity- when they decided to follow after Paul and Barnabas. So they weren’t believers yet, although they might have had a desire to eventually know God.

(2) Acts 13:50, “But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.” The text says they were devout- had deep religious commitment- and yet they were against the brothers in Christ.They looked to be religious on the outside, yet they were clearly still walking in their sins. Whatever the case, they showed by their actions that their hearts were opposed to God’s people.

3) Acts 17:4, “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks…” The Word points out here that they were not yet Christians at this point, but were persuaded by what they heard from what they previously believed. They had an interest in spiritual matters, but had not yet confessed their sins and were still following after their own ways and desires.

(4) Acts 17:16-17, “…the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons…” They were not believers, although the word devout is used. Athenians spend their time “telling or hearing something new.” Part of what is key in all of these verses and why I point out the use of the word “devout” is because if those who seem religious or seem committed to God are shown in scripture not to be in a state of grace as to enter into the kingdom of God for all of eternity, how much more so those who are obviously not following the Lord or who do not seem “devout.” They appeared to be saved as they might have had a habit of going to church or the temple, but they were participating in and living among idols. That was their culture and mindset.

AM I JUST A “BACKSLIDER”? For one thing, it can depend on what one means by the term backslider. If you are referring to someone who has become dull or ineffectual to the things of God or following after Him, that’s bad enough and should be a wake-up call. Or if you mean someone who has regressed into spiritual disobedience (from time to time, not on an ongoing basis), this needs attention also. This is still a VERY serious and dangerous matter. We have to question our commitment to the Father. We need to examine ourselves and ask just what it was we were thinking when we first professed salvation.

But, on the other hand, if you are a person who is in “a perpetual state of willful rebellion or ungodly indifference,” then this is “a sign of false profession.” (Read Matthew 7:21-23 or 1 John 3:4-10). Many people mistakenly, ignorantly or purposefully- to be seen or accepted- never truly repented and are bound for Hell. Though, while they are still alive, they may yet have a chance to be reconciled to God. The Bible sometimes speaks of or refers to backsliding (although the actual term is not used) as either the actions of an unregenerate people (Jeremiah 8:5) or when Christians go through times when they do not grow or are not set back by their sin (Jeremiah 14:7). If we are unregenerate– meaning not reforming or showing repentance; fleshly; unwilling to yield; stubborn or hard-hearted; not transformed by God—we are still in the flesh and cannot dwell with the spotless, unstained and Holy God.

(1) Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven…” The true test of a valid Christian life is whether or not they perform, do, and live out the WILL OF GOD. If not, they are condemned in their present state and will face judgment and the wrath of God.

(2) 1 John 3:4-10, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness… No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning… No one born of God makes a practice of sinning for God abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” Again, the clear outcome of evidence presented by/ in someone’s life is love and holy living- by the grace of God and if we have submitted.

(3) Jeremiah 8:5, “Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return.” In this case, God is not fooled by the hearts of people or their lips; perpetual means habitual.

(4) Jeremiah 14:7, “Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for Your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against You.” Here it shows that backsliding is equal to sinning. If it is regular and we are not asking God nor allowing Him to work this out of us, we stand in sin and are clearly unrighteous. This means we have no true relationship with Christ, His blood and sacrifice have not been applied to/ over our lives and we will die in our sins.

ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED This is an oft-quoted saying by many who are either professing that they will always be considered saved even while they have sin (Romans 6:1), or know and are conveying that God will never relinquish His hold on them, and the devil cannot snatch them away. The latter is true.

(1) Hebrews 6:4-8, “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have been enlightened, who have tasted the Heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt. For the land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.” It is possible for us to choose to walk away from God even after being saved… of our own choosing. If we do this we will die in our sins and there is NO CHANCE TO BE SAVED AGAIN! We will go to Hell. God is not sending us there; we are sending ourselves there. It is NOT possible, as far as God is concerned, to relinquish our salvation; He will not for His part- the relationship of salvation is a covenant, a binding contract. God will never breach it. His Spirit in us is a deposit or guarantee of our eternal hope (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5, Ephesians 1:14).

CONCLUSION: When we determine that we are unsaved by any of these three premises…

(a) We seem to be devout or spiritual or religious, but are not changed

(b) We have backslidden more than once or habitually

(c) We have now come to understand through God’s Word that we may never again receive true salvation or never truly had it to begin with (which is the case with MANY, I believe)…

The ONLY REMEDY is to beg our Holy and loving and merciful God Almighty for the forgiveness of our sins, COMMIT to turning away from that old or current life, to FOLLOW HIM and OBEY HIM, and to bear the fruit of repentance. This puts us in a place where we can receive the grace of God unto the gift of repentance and salvation. Otherwise, the judgment already pronounced on the evil and the wicked (all unsaved people), based on God’s observations and the testimony of our own actions, is found in John 3:19,“And this is the judgment: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.”

Yet even now, God speaks in this final hour…”Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put Me to the test and saw My works for forty years. Therefore, I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known My ways.’” (They have not taken the time and effort to listen or to learn of them.) “As I said in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My (eternal) rest.’” “Take care, brothers and sisters, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, lending you to fall away from the living God.”

Take Hold of it!

Let’s put this mercy in perspective so that we can fully appreciate it and respond to it. First of all, the Bible says in Proverbs 1:7 that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Just the beginning. What is the opposite of wisdom? Folly or, as we would call it today, foolishness. What is a person who possesses this characteristic? Yes, a fool. So, if we are not wise, we are fools. Or, we think we are wise but if we don’t take heed to the wisdom we think we have, we are fools. So, if we don’t fear- reverently and humbly acknowledge the sovereignty of Almighty God and submit to it- we are fools.

Whether we consciously think about the Ten Commandments or not, we know they are meant to be lived by and obeyed. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t murder. Don’t take God’s name in vain. Honor your father and mother. These are just some. Have you ever stolen anything? Then you’re a thief. Have you ever lied? Then you’re a liar. So we’re guilty of at least some of these, probably more- and more often than we realize, because each time we do it we become more and more desensitized to it.

If we were to come before a judge who would base our incrimination on just one of these counts of “guilty,” we would most certainly incur some sentence or fine. But to have done many, and to have done each more than once or continually, certainly bears a lengthy sentence. But if we were to find out that the Judge not only found someone to willingly and undeservedly pay the price of our cumulative sentences for us, we would be overwhelmed with amazement and dazzled with gratitude- not only to the One who took our place but also to the One who ordered Him to do it!! This is what Almighty God has done for us through Jesus Christ, mercifully, and we don’t even think of our guilt, the looming sentence or take hold of the hand who suffered in our place. God told the Israelites through Jeremiah and He tells us today,

13 “Only acknowledge your guilt,
that you rebelled against the Lord your God
and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree,
and that you have not obeyed my voice,
declares the Lord.
14 Return, O faithless children,
declares the Lord;
for I am your master;
I will take you, one from a city and two from a family,
and I will bring you to Zion.

15 “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

This offer doesn’t last forever. Take hold of it now. Fear God. Walk away from your sins. Tremble and fear before the Creator of Heaven and earth, our Judge. Accept the mercy. Give thanks!

Boston Weak, God Strong!

With no disrespect or lack of compassion towards the people, victims and families of Boston, the cry of their hearts should not be one of self-reliance, resilience and pride but one of humility and dependence…upon Almighty God.

In actuality, their feelings and determination are quite common in the face of such calamity. After all, we are America. We like to think we can solve our own problems. But, in fact, these situations we find ourselves in should show us our utter defenselessness and that the way in which we live our lives serves to bring about such trials, tribulations and disasters. Boston is NOT unique in this. It is simply the current blip on the radar that represents the condition of the United States of America; from the President all the way down to the lowliest of its citizens, including the throng who wish to be citizens- and this process is being gone about unlawfully and rebelliously by most as well.

The Father LOVES each and everyone of His creation! However, we are living our lives out of the storehouses of our hearts which reveal the wickedness deep within. This ugly human trait hasn’t changed throughout the milennia. It manifests itself differently from time to time, but God is not unaware of our human condition. Like disobedient, hard-headed, stubborn and rebellious children we want our own way, and we don’t even know what way is good for us. Jesus is the Way- the only way that the Father has provided, and we don’t even deserve any provision at all.

Is God issuing judgments today? Yes, and His purposes are always redemptive. Our country is seeing an increase in both intensity and frequency. Fires. Floods. Drought. Disease. Tornadoes. 9/11. Yet it is God’s enduring love and faithfulness that uses these drastic events and others to alert us to our state and need for Him, and to bring us to our knees before the righteous and holy God of the universe to save us despite ourselves. Does self-determination and sheer will save a man or a nation in the face of iniquity?

Again, God is MERCIFUL. We are a Christian nation and God still speaks to us today, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). This is MERCY!

Oklahoma Got it Right

I was watching the news one night after coming home from work and the weather specialist happened to be on at that time. The anchor of that program was getting updates from him in the wake of the horrible and devastating tornadoes that had just pummeled Moore, Oklahoma. In his disbelief and shock over the power of the winds that had just overtaken that state- indeed, the same area of that state- for the third time in fourteen years, he asked “What did we do wrong?”

That’s the right question and it is the proper response to what had happened. He was connecting a judgment or a consequence to an action or a series of actions, although we don’t know what they were. If you’re a parent, you’ll understand that sometimes it takes a harsh punishment to correct the ways of a rebellious child. That seems to be the only way for them to understand, ot at least to get them on the right path again. And, sometimes, the first time doesn’t do the trick. But never more than is necessary. Does that mean the mother or father doesn’t love them? Of course not. Just the opposite. But which is better for the child: to leave them alone to continue in their destructive behavior (which never ends well) or to discipline them in such a way as to extinguish the flames of that behavior and to restore them? We would all choose the latter, no matter how hard or unloving it may seem.

The question of the weatherman showed that it got his attention. In the aftermath of the tornado and talking with the residents of Moore, their hearts turned to God as well. Yes, they saw and witnessed and lived through the devastation, but they thanked God for being alive and safe, for protecting them and teachers sang “Jesus Loves Me” while sheltering their students with their bodies.

The Bible talks about in Jeremiah chapter three how bad it is for those that go through such suffering that is meant to draw them back to the Lord, and even then they are so stubborn or stuck in their sin that they ignore the warning. God uses such measures to turn us back to Him. Remember that redemption and reconciliation are at the heart of everything He does because He loves us! Moore responded. They turned. I hope this is just the beginning, that this will lead to repentance, and that they will never have to go through something like this again. Only God knows the hearts of any people and He is very patient. Let us all take heed as well so that we don’t find ourselves in need of correction, especially on that scale. There is more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine who have no need of repentance. Let’s pray for them and our nation as a whole. God Almighty is waiting with arms wide open to shower us with love, forgiveness and salvation. Let’s seek the Lord while He may be found. Yesterday is gone. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Today is the day of salvation. God Bless you. God Bless Moore.

(p.s. Did you see the image of the closet where the one teacher and seven kids were taking shelter? It was surrounded by rubble, an overturned car was within a few feet of it, and it was the only thing left standing in that area. God had shown beyond a doubt His love and protection for them. That was great and very evident!)

“HOLDING OUT HOPE”

Luke 23: 39-43, “One of the criminals who was hanged railed at Him, saying, ‘Are You not the Christ?’ Save Yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.’ And he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’”
Reading this passage is bittersweet. It is the apex of our Lord’s inexplicable sacrifice for us with the physical pain and emotional agony. It is a reminder of our depravity and shame where sin is concerned. But, for the thief it is repentance. It is acknowledgment of guilt. It is a last-minute turning.
My dad died back in 2005 one day before his 78th birthday. It is no longer painful for me, nor too sad. But during the ensuing days, months and years I have wondered- with no indication either way- where my dad’s soul resides. He became Catholic for my mom early on in their marriage and went to church ever since. And he was a “good” man in the eyes of the world. But I have felt neither confirmatory joy that he is in the Presence of Almighty God, nor grief that he is in torment. I would love to feel him come up from behind me and tap me on the shoulder while I am kneeling in awe of our God in Heaven, either moments after I die or just after experiencing the wonder of the Rapture. But I just don’t know. I have shared the Gospel with him, talked with him after I truly became born-again, and was with him while he slowly gave way to the cancer that ultimately took his life. I was even given the gift of being with him when he passed from this life.
Most people are fearful of death; some because they don’t know where they will go and others because they probably do know, and that is reason to be fearful- much more than they think for “our God is a consuming fire.” Only God, Himself, in His infinite mercy and love knows what He communicates to those in the last moments of earthly life. If we look at the fruit in one’s life we can pretty well know whether they are following the Lord’s ways or not. I feel very compassionately for those of you who have recently faced, or are facing, the impending death of someone you love dearly! It’s a wrenching thing and there’s nothing that can prepare you for it. Is it better for them to go suddenly and unexpectedly so as not to suffer? Or is it better for us to have time to say good-bye over a period of time?
This passage from Luke shows us that it is not just wishful thinking or vain praying to expect someone to repent and receive grace from Jesus even on the cusp of the end of one’s earthly existence. Sometimes this may be the only point in a person’s life where they will be “motivated” to come to terms with the reality of eternal life or death; something they have been mentally avoiding for a lifetime. For those who think mercy given at such a time is unfair– meaning the hardness of one’s heart and rebellion shown all through those years culminates in saving grace, versus another person who has given years or decades of his or her life to loving and serving the Father—I say three things. Firstly, shame on us for not truly having love in our hearts so that the dying one can have the same offer of salvation as we have. Secondly, remember that salvation is not based on works. So what does it matter, in terms of that grace, if it is given and/ or received earlier in life or later—so long as it results in redemption of that person’s eternal soul? And lastly, I point to the parable found in Matthew 20: 1-15 which says, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. 2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius[a] a day, he sent them into his vineyard. 3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, 4 and to them he said, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.’ 5 So they went. Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same. 6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing. And he said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ 7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’ 8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ 9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. 10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. 11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, 12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ 13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? 14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. 15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’”
Almighty God is generous, steadfast in love and rich in mercy! He even tells us that He is not slow in coming back but that He waits for us, not wishing that any of us should perish. Of course it would be better for the sinner and for the kingdom if one was to turn earlier in life and to bear much fruit. But later is better than never. (The Lord also strictly admonishes us to number our days. This means to be awake and aware of the time we have because we don’t know when we will die, and to take advantage of the free gift of salvation while it is still called “today”.) The desperation, loneliness and fear of a man mixed with the tender love and great mercy of Almighty God is a great combination! As the thief on the cross realized—late is not too late! Continue to pray for those you love and for those who are your enemies. Jesus died to give everyone the chance at reconciliation through the Cross. And that is where we- and the thief- find our forgiveness and redemption. Pray that the one you love will hear the comforting words, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise” before they breathe their last. Amen.

God’s Deafness & Our Blindness

The first two verses from the 59th chapter of Isaiah the prophet reveal something awful and powerful. They say, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”
It is both interesting and telling that these verses (1-2) speak of a dual, negative impact which not only affects us but God as well. We become blind to the point that we cannot see Him. He still sees us, but His face has been hidden from us and we have trouble finding or recognizing Him. And God no longer hears our prayers and petitions. This puts a horrible, frightening and almost irreparable strain or breach on our relationship. What has caused it? Sin. Disobedience. Rebellion. Desiring more to have “control” over our own lives.
Verse one implies that we pray to our Creator but that we don’t receive our reply. We are then tempted to think that He cannot do what we ask of Him, but scripture plainly explains that it is not the Father’s lack of ability or resources (His “hand is not shortened”), nor is He hard of hearing (“or His ear dull”). It is our iniquity which causes us to be unable to see Him, and makes Him unable and unwilling to hear us.
When I read this, my first question was: Then how does one in this awful situation ever get the Lord’s attention back, especially when thinking of turning? First of all, one doesn’t have to be trapped in disobedience. We can choose to begin to be obedient and submissive, and the grace of God is more than able and willing to aid us in this! But the Lord knows the heart of man and his every thought, as well as the intentions behind them. It is the love and mercy of the Father that enables the sight to be restored. God was never truly deaf, but it was His decision to “turn a deaf ear” to us in response to our repeated transgressions. Jehovah is long-suffering and patient beyond measure, but there is a limit. Our hope in this situation is when God tells us that, ultimately, “mercy is better than judgment” (James 2:13b) and “God may perhaps grant (us) repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25).
Just as Ephesians 2:8 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” herein lies the answer. Don’t be deceived or mistaken. It is 99.9% grace and 0.1% faith. It’s all about grace! But there IS a response on our part. This is not a “work,” but it is God’s requirement of us out of the freedom with which we were created. Get your sight back today while you still can. Make use of the salve that is Jesus Christ. He is the Door you must walk through; the only One provided.

MERCY: Compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm

Have you ever felt like you’ve done something that you couldn’t be forgiven for? How has that molded your thoughts, actions, character and disposition towards others or even yourself since that time? Has it made you bitter, resentful, hateful or depressed? Jesus said something wonderful once, “If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Free from what? Guilt, condemnation and the power of sin! How do you view Almighty God in your mind and heart?
Do you think of Him when you hear the word MERCY? If not, you should. Years ago before I was married, I worked with a young guy named Daryl. We became friends and I ate dinner once or twice with him, his wife and young daughter at their apartment. I had invited them to church with me for one Sunday when I knew I was off. As it turned out, Daryl had to work but his wife and daughter went with me. On the way and in my car, Tamara revealed that she felt alienated from God because of her sin of abortion years before. She was now convicted, guilty and remorseful. (Those are good and appropriate feelings, by the way. They can lead to repentance and salvation). However, somewhere along the way, she had never heard, knew of, or asked for God’s abundant mercy and the forgiveness she could receive through JESUS CHRIST.
Let me tell you of a couple of men who, when believers hear their names, they think of mighty men of God; one is even referred to in the Bible apart from his sin as “a man after God’s own heart.” You can and definitely should read for yourselves the two separate accounts of these saints of the Living Lord. King David’s story is found in 2 Samuel chapter 11, and Saul (this name means “asked for” or “prayed for”) of Tarsus’ story is in both Acts 7:54- 8:3 and chapter 9, verses 1-19. These are true, biblical, historical stories seen by witnesses which detail the horrible sins committed by two men who received unprecedented mercy from the God of the universe; the same God who is willing to show the same mercy, forgiveness and cleansing of soul to you!
The unsaved man who claimed to know God’s Word was named Saul prior to his amazing and personal encounter with the risen Christ. So zealous was he in his misguided and hardened heart, he went about persecuting the believers. He went so far of his own accord as to have the Roman authorities give him a letter which authorized him to seek out early Christians- even in their churches and homes- and have them put in prison! He also held the coats of men, supported them in their actions and stood by watching as they stoned a Holy Spirit-filled believer by the name of Stephen as he shared with them the Good News of the gospel of salvation from sins.
If God had rightly executed His sovereign judgment only, Saul would quite probably have been put in jail himself or even killed. But in His infinite mercy, Jesus Himself appeared to Saul and told him that God had intended to use him as a vessel to not only receive undeserved forgiveness, but to travel the world telling others about the truth of God, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection from the dead. The man who was renamed Paul (which means “small” and “humble”) by Jesus became God’s instrument to preach unheard of salvation by grace through faith! WOW! What wonderful mercy! This just proves to us the truth that God has created each and every one of us uniquely, in love and with an individualized purpose. We never find out what that purpose is apart from walking with God who reveals it to us bit by bit as we follow Him. The apostle Paul turned out to be the greatest preacher and evangelist (apart from Jesus) who ever lived. He even wrote- directly inspired by the Holy Spirit of God- most of the New Testament of the Holy Bible which, by the way, remains the best-selling book of all time.
Concerning the mercy of God towards a man who was sought out by an appointed prophet of God as a teenager to be anointed and to become the next King of Israel, David was living out the Lord’s plan for his life and leading God’s chosen people. Even while being a holy man, he was a man with pride and temptations as anyone else. If you read the story, you now know that David not only committed adultery against his own wife by acting on the temporary lust in his heart when he unexpectedly saw a beautiful woman bathing on her rooftop, but he committed adultery against Uriah, the woman’s husband. To make matters worse, David attempted to cover up his sin by purposely putting Uriah- who was already fighting in the King’s war at the time- in the most dangerous and deadly place on the battlefield, allowing him to be killed.
God used another prophet to reveal his sin to him by way of a similar-sounding parable. Nathan asked David afterward what he thought should be done to the man in the parable. David responded that he should most certainly be killed! When the prophet bluntly revealed that David was the man who had so wickedly sinned through both sexual sin and murder, David was overwhelmingly grieved, burdened and repentant before Almighty God for his evil. God, in His unparalleled mercy and love, forgave His servant the King. But the consequence in the here and now was that the baby who was born to him and Bathsheba (the bathing woman whom he later took to be his wife) as a result of his iniquity was killed and taken away from them. In addition, David’s oldest son Absalom later betrayed his father by attempting to kill him and take over his throne.
So, no matter what you have done and no matter what you have wrongfully heard or thought about Almighty God- He is the Lawgiver and just Judge to be sure- He tells us in the book of James 2:13, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” There can be no mercy without God’s perfect Love. Romans 6:23 should excite us as it says, “The wages of sin is death, but the FREE GIFT of God is ETERNAL LIFE in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is indeed Good News! In fact, it is the best! Not only can we escape a just death sentence in Hell for sinning willfully and repeatedly against the Holy and Mighty God who created the heavens and the earth, but the punishment that must be carried out in order for divine and righteous justice to be fulfilled was paid by God Himself- Jesus Christ the Messiah and Savior of the entire world!!! Does this hit you square in your heart? Humble yourself, cry out to God in sincere gratitude and true sorrow, and ask Him to grant you the same unbelievable MERCY He showed Paul, David and millions of others before you and me. Receive everlasting life today!

“BECAUSE OF LOVE”

While I was at work this week and performing a relatively mundane task that didn’t involve much thought, the Holy Spirit guided my mind Heavenward (Philippians 4:8, Colossians 3:1-4). Hallelujah! What He revealed seemed, at first, vague or even perhaps a bit jovial to some. But it is absolutely true and needs to be illuminated and pondered. He spoke, “When people ask you, ‘If God is loving why is there so much evil, wickedness and suffering in the world?’ Tell them plainly, ‘It is precisely because LOVE DOES NOT INSIST ON ITS OWN WAY.’”
This is straight from 1 Corinthians 13 (verse 5) and is not only powerful, but is a better answer than what we sometimes tell people when we respond that (a) this a fallen world and is not the way God intended, (b) His thoughts and ways are different than our thoughts and ways or (c) that God has given us free will; although all of these are certainly true as well.
What the Father’s wisdom is declaring here is succinctly that it is exactly and precisely because GOD IS LOVE [and His love so different from ours that it deserves having a separate word in English to set it apart from the limitations of human love] that the freedoms, choices, responsibilities and privileges we have and enjoy are given to us as His sentient (“able to feel, perceive or experience subjectively”) creations.
It is precisely because He IS love that He creates us as He does and bestows us with sentience, True love cannot operate any other way in any relationship, be it person-to-person or Creator-to-created. Ironically, it is the same attitude or characteristic of the freedom we misuse which only serves to fuel, rationalize or justify our rebellious natures to reject God that also ignorantly, arrogantly and spitefully causes us to ask that question (“Why…?”) in the first place. “Love does not insist on its own way.”

LAWLESSNESS, MERCY, GRACE AND WRATH: Michael Brown, Darren Wilson, Jesus & You

We live in such lawless times, from the President all the way down and everything in between. Most people do what they want, when they want and how they want with little or, apparently, no regard for the law (authority) or anyone else. Their main concern is themselves without question.

Sometimes it is as blatant as making choices which, oddly enough, leads to our own destruction. We say with our actions that we want to be free of boundaries, walls or any kind of authority or moral structure which, actually, is meant for our good. So what we think is freedom actually leads to imprisonment– in our hearts, our minds, in penitentiaries and jail cells.

To illustrate this point using a touchy subject, let’s take the case of Micheal Brown and Officer Darren Wilson. Both are to blame. We have heard a lot about what allegedly happened but we don’t know it all, and there are reasons to sympathize with those on both sides. Whatever Michael did, he most likely didn’t need to lose his life. He made some choices which ultimately led to his demise. Had he made different choices, he would be alive today.

He made the choice to steal something. He made the choice to intimidate the store owner. He made the choices to be unafraid, unashamed and unapologetic. He made the choice to walk down the middle of the road, calling attention to himself. And, somewhere along the way, he made the choice to approach a figure of authority in a disrespectful and confrontational posture. All or any one of these choices led the way to his death.

Darren Wilson, on the other hand, made the choices– right or wrong, provoked or not– to fire several shots at someone who was obviously lawless. He, himself, may have been prejudiced or woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. I am quite sure he is not totally guiltless, either. Even if he was part of the law in Ferguson and was given the responsibility to enforce it on a daily basis, though his life is probably more in tune with following and obeying authority, I am willing to say his obedience to God’s Law on a daily basis is almost sure to be lacking.

Back in the beginning in the Garden of Eden God, who is the universal Judge and Lawgiver, issued a simple and loving command to Adam and Eve: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” God had given them all the freedom they could ever have wanted. It was to be used in obedience which leads to blessing. Instead, they chose disobedience which leads to death– physical and temporal, spiritual and eternal.

We know what choices Michael made. They were in the news, caught on video and brought before a Grand Jury. I find it hard to believe that of all the possible options for indictment towards Officer Wilson, not even the lowest charge of manslaughter was deemed acceptable to bring this to trial. I do not know Darren at all. I don’t wish to come off as being judgmental, certainly based on my less-than-total knowledge of events in what transpired. But,if he is like most people, he doesn’t know Jesus Christ. Michael died unwillingly. Christ died totally willingly. Michael did not act in accordance with even man’s law. Jesus NEVER sinned, especially under God’s perfect Law. Even if Michael were alive today and even if Darren is, my good and biblically-educated guess is that both were/ are dead spiritually. This means that Heaven is not their eternal home.

We see people from all walks of life, from all races and skin tones, from both genders, from every tribe and nation and tongue born into sin. If they– you– don’t realize your sinful condition, acknowledge it in true godly sorrow, ask earnestly for forgiveness, turn from your current way of life and, IN FAITH, receive the free gift of eternal life that is available only through the blood Jesus shed on the Cross to pay for your sins, you are like Darren and will find yourself, in the end, like Michael. God’s love and mercy are abundant, but they are not endlessly waiting for you. We are either the recipients, by our own choice or lack thereof, of grace or due wrath. Which will it be for you? Consider your choice wisely.