Friday, January 30, 2009
We will begin this week’s topical discussion by looking at the blessing believers receives from being in God’s house. Believers who go to God’s house are seeking His presence, answered prayers (v. 8), a renewed spiritual strength (vv5-7) as well as His grace, glory and goodness (v. 11).
Let’s take a closer look at the word “blessing” as it relates to God’s blessing His people receives as recorded in Luke 24:50, which are:
1. Blessing has the meaning of: (a) a divine gift which causes our work for the Lord to succeed (Deuteronomy 28:12). (b) God’s presence is with the believer (Genesis 26:3). (c) God gives the believer strength, power and help in doing His work and will (Ephesians 3:16). (d) God is working in and through the believer to produce good (Philippians 2:13) for the entire world to see.
2. Genesis 1:28 records God’s blessing on humanity. Also, God sustains His work by blessing it (Ezekiel 34:26). In addition, Deuteronomy 11:26 speaks of God’s blessing and curse, meaning believers must choose whether to obey God and receive His blessing or disobey and receive a curse.
3. Referencing the NT as it relates to the work of Christ as recorded in Acts 3”26, which states “sent him to bless you.” In Mark 10:13-16 we see Jesus blessing little children as well as His followers during His departure from earth (vv.50-51). Finally, Christ’s blessing were an essential part of His apostles ministry (Romans 15:29).
If the question were raised, how do believers receive God’s blessing? To answer this question, let’s look at the essential requirements for receiving God’s blessing; they are (a) believers must always look to Jesus for His blessing in our ministries, lives, and families (Hebrews 12:2). (b) Believers must love, obey and believe in Jesus Christ, God’s Son (Matthews 5:3-11; 24:45-46; Revelation 1:3; 16:15; 22:7). (c) Believers must remove any and all weights of hindrance that prevent us from receiving God’s blessing (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 4:22; Hebrews 12:1).
In closing this discussion, we have concluded that there are blessing from being in God’s house.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Exodus 20: 2-17
Let’s begin this week’s discussion by looking at the Personhood of humans; from this we will note that mankind is the highest and most complex of God’s creation. Genesis 1:26-27 states that God created man in His image and likeness. Because Adam and Eve were created in the image and likeness of God they were able to experience and respond to God’s fellowship, His love, and holiness. Therefore, they possessed a moral likeness to God with hearts capable of loving and wanting to do what was right. This means man possess’ a mind, spirit and a soul; thus authenticating man in the likeness of God as a triunity (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 4:12). From this picture, we see complete harmony between God and man; something happened. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command by eating the forbidden fruit (tree of knowledge). Their disobedience caused sin to enter the world and the whole human race. Even though sin entered the human race and caused a separation from God, the soul of man remains indestructible and survives death to live in heaven with Him or eternally separated from God. However, scripture does insists that God made humanity stewards over our bodies and we are required to keep them free from immorality and evil (Romans 6:6,12-13; 1 Corinthians 6:13-20; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4), as it is God’s Will for our bodies be dedicated for service to Him (Romans 6:13; 12:1).
With this being said, what are God’s standards on sexual morality? Let’s explore God’s standards on the issue, using King James Bible and its commentary to highlight God’s standards as follows:
· Believers are called in Christ to be morally and sexually pure (2 Corinthians 11:2; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:2), meaning free from all that is tainted with lewdness. It further suggests refraining from all acts and thoughts that incite desires not in accordance with one’s virginity before marriage or one’s marriage covenant after marriage.
· Sexual intimacy is reserved for the marriage relationship and is approved and blessed by God (Genesis 2:24; Solomon 2:7; 4:7). In the marriage relationship the wife and husband becomes one flesh according to God’s Will.
· God established the institution of marriage in the Garden of Eden as a covenant of love (Genesis 2:21-24; Ephesians 5:22-33) as He intended marriages to be monogamous, a lifelong relationship and commitment between one husband and wife (Matthew 19:5-9). However, in the context of marriage, God commanded the human race “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28; 9:7), this were to be done in the context of a godly family (between man and woman). God considers a godly family and raising children top priority.
· Adultery, sexual intercourse before marriage, forbidden sensual activity, homosexuality and degrading passions are considered grave sins in God’s sight and they are transgressions of God’s moral law (Exodus 20:14). Such acts are considered as defiling the marriage relationship; not only are they condemned in scripture (Proverbs 5:3), but it places one outside God’s kingdom (Roman 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:9-21).
· Sexual activity with persons of the same sex is an abomination to the Lord (Leviticus 18:22-23; 20:13; Genesis 19:5 note) as this act is repugnant to God (Romans 1:27). Please note that any nation that justifies homosexuality or lesbianism as an acceptable lifestyle is in an advance stage of moral corruption (Genesis 19:4-9; Leviticus 20:13; Deuteronomy 23;17; 1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; Isaiah 3:9; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:10; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 7).
· Sexual impurity includes not only forbidden intercourse or consummated acts, but also involves any act of sexual gratification with another person other than one’s marriage partner, achieved by uncovering or exploring the nakedness of that person. Contemporary teachings on sexual intimacy among “committed” or unmarried youth and adults is acceptable as long as it stops short of full sexual union, but these teachings are contrary to God’s holiness and Biblical standards of purity.
· Believers are obligated to exercise self-control with reference to all sexual matters before marriage. In other word, to justify premarital intimacy in the name of Christ merely on the grounds of a real or felt love for another blatantly compromises God’s holy standards with the world’s impure ways and justifies immorality.
· One final note on sexual misconduct is the Bible references several terms associated with sexual immorality, given the breadth of its evil and those terms are: (a) Sexual immorality, which describes a wide variety of sexual activities outside of marriage, (b) Debauchery, or sensuality, which is the absence of clear moral principles. (c) Exploiting or taking advantage of another person. (d) Lust which is having a sexual desire and if fulfilled would be in violation of God’s law and the other person’s purity.
Since we have held this lengthy discussion regarding God’s standards on sexual morality and immorality, let’s see the results of society’s free wheeling sexual activities and diminished moral conduct. For one there is an increase in sexual transmitted diseases, increased teen pregnancies, which causes a strain on the family, and our government. Also, abortions increases because of unwanted or unplanned pregnancies. What does scripture say about abortions? God in His divine wisdom thought to protect those who are least able to protect themselves, the unborn child (Exodus 21:22-25; Isaiah 44:2; Ecclesiastes 11:5, 9). God made provisions for every circumstance that may arise from and unplanned or wanted pregnancy. If this unborn life is terminated it is in violation of God’s moral law as recorded in Exodus 20:13, as life begins with conception. Furthermore, God holds all of us accountable for our sinful actions.
In closing this discussion, allow me to say our government is spending millions of dollars in an effort to combat the increased number of teen pregnancies among the 12-18 age groups and those organizations that incorporate the family is witnessing some success. What does this say for the family structure? The family is an important and God established institution, so is marriages between a man and woman and until those principles are upheld we will continue to witness the moral decline in our society. Therefore, to right society’s moral ship we must do things God’s way; according to His moral Laws—the Ten Commandmnets.
Friday, January 16, 2009
This week’s topical discussion is in response to last week’s topical discussion where the question was raised, what should Christian leaders, pastors, and parents be teaching our young regarding the issues of tithing, abortion and homosexuality. Therefore, in and effort to address Biblical teachings on the requested topics, we will begin this series of discussions with tithing and approach the subject by defining tithing, the history of tithing and the benefits of tithing. The definition of tithing is “one tenth of money or possession (2 Chronicles 31:5-6).” “To tithe is to give a tenth of one’s money to God” (The Student Bible Dictionary P.227).
Research and study has concluded that tithing is obeying and worshiping God (Deuteronomy 14:22-29; Malachi 3:10) and anyone who fails to do so is robbing God (Malachi 3:8). According to the King James Bible, “the Hebrew word for “tithe” (ma’ser) literally means “a tenth part.” It can be concluded then that tithing is giving God a tenth of our earnings or possessions. Why? Because all that we acquire or own belongs to God. The question now becomes when did tithing begin? Genesis 14:18-20 is our earliest recorded history of tithing which began with Abraham where he gave a tenth of his spoils from the war of Chedorlaomer. This was Abraham’s display of his gratitude for Melchizedek’s help and grace. The concept of tithing predates the law of giving by more than 500 years.
It was God’s laws that required the Israelites to give a tenth of their cattle (livestock), what their land produced as well as a tenth of their earnings in acknowledgment of God’s blessings. Their tithes were to be used for worship and support for the priest. Another point of view on tithing is our ability to manage God’s resources given that everything belongs to Him, even man; God created man and man owes everything to God. The air man breathes belongs to God and He commands man to return to Him what was His first before entrusting it to man’s stewardship.
Now that we have discussed tithing by definition and the history of tithing, let’s discuss the blessings received from tithing. Malachi 3:10 states “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Giving God His tenth is in obedience and faithfully trusting God’s Word that He will give an abundance of blessings both in this life and the hereafter. Another school of thought is there are more windows in any house than doors; God’s house (heaven) has an abundance of windows. Reflect on the analogy, and then count the windows and doors of your home, and then you will see the many blessings God has waiting to give as result of tithing and being obedient to His Word and laws.
The question now becomes, why is money generally associated with tithing? Money is associated with tithing because it is common in society as in the OT and NT and it contains important principles of our stewardship. The next question is what must believers know and teach regarding our stewardship? Believers must teach and know the following regarding tithing and our stewardship:
1. Everything we have belongs to God and we own nothing but what God has entrusted us with. Therefore we have no rightful ownership of what we claim to possess. It is through His grace, love and mercy that He continues to shed His blessings upon man.
2. Believers must decide within our hearts whether to serve God or money (Matthew 6:19-24; 2 Corinthians 8:1-5). The Bible clearly states that any form of greed is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). It also teaches that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Idolatry is looked upon as anything that is placed before God.
3. We are to know and teach that our giving should be in proportion to our income. Giving less is being disobedience to God’s law and in effect robbing God (Malachi 3:10).
4. We are to give generously and voluntarily. This message is taught both in the OT and NT. What is meant by giving generously and voluntarily? Consider what God done for humanity in giving His Son who willingly gave His life for man’s sins.
5. We are to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7); our model for giving cheerfully is recorded in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 for all believers. Let’s briefly look at the model for Christian giving that all believers and churches should follow. They are: (a) We belong to God and what we have is held in trust for the Lord (v.5). (b) Make a basic decision to serve God and not money (v.5; Matthew 6:24). (c) Our giving is to help the needy (v. 14; 9:12; Proverbs 19:17; Galatians 2:10). (d) We give to advance God’s kingdom (1 Corinthians 9:14; Philippians 4:15-18). (e) We give to store up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20; Luke 6:32-35). (f) We give in reverential fear of the Lord (Deuteronomy 14:22-23). (g) As stated earlier, we give in proportion of our income (vv.3. 12; 12 Corinthians 16:2). (h) We give to show proof of our love (v 24) as this is to be done sacrificially (v 3) and voluntarily (9:7). (i) We do not give just money, but our service to reap increased blessings and faith (v 5; 9:6, 10-12). (j) We give to increase our good works (9:8; Ephesians 4: 28). (k) Finally, we give to increase our commitment to God, which activates God’s work in our financial affairs (Luke 6:38).
6. Finally, God has promise to reward man according to how we give to Him (Deuteronomy 15:4; Malachi 3:10-12; Matthew 19:21; 1 Timothy 6:18-19).
In concluding this topical discussion on tithing, it is our prayer that insight has been gained. Next week’s discussion will be on abortion.
Note: There is an article on Biblical Training for Believer go to my website under articles that bring into focus last week’s discussion.
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Friday, January 9, 2009
In pondering what to write this week and after much meditation while reflecting on society as a whole and the many false doctrines I felt compelled to talk about the humanist philosophies and doctrines.
In our scripture text, Paul warned the Colossian church to be on guard against all philosophies, religions, and traditions that teaches human existences and functioning independently from God. The false teachings that was occurring during Paul’s day was those teachers wanting to replace Christ’s centrality and His supremacy in creation, revelation, redemption and the church. Also, these false teachers were attempting to refute Christ as God’s Son, and lastly these false teachers wanted to discredit the fruit of the Spirit in the believer’s life once in Christ. This leads to a question, what is one of the greatest philosophical threats to Biblically based Christianity today? The answer is “secular humanism”. It is often referred to as the theory of evolution; it’ has an “underlying philosophy and accepted religion in secular education, government and society in general” (commentary KJV).
In an effort to make clear the humanist teachings, research led me to our scripture text commentary (Quotes and partial paraphrasing commentary KJV); therefore, let’s examine these philosophical teachings in detail which are:
(a) The universe and all that exists is made of matter that happened by chance.
(b) It further teaches that humanity was not created by God but mankind is the product of evolution.
(c) It refutes the belief in God who is personal, infinite and their teachings down play the notion that the Bible was written by inspired men of God.
(d) It teaches that “knowledge come from human discovery and that human reason determines the appropriate ethics of society, therefore making humanity the ultimate authority as it relates to moral choices.
(e) It also “seeks to modify or improve human behavior through education, redistribution of wealth, modern psychology or human wisdom.”
(f) It teaches that moral standards are not absolute but relative and is determined by what makes people happy, bring them pleasure or seems good for society according to the goals set by its leaders, thereby rejecting Biblical values and morals. (KJV Commentary partial paraphrase).
(g) It considers human self-fulfillment and satisfaction to be the highest good in life.
(h) Finally, it maintains that people should learn to cope with death and difficulties in life without belief or being dependent on God.
The question now becomes when did the misrepresentation of the facts begin? The misrepresentation of the facts or lie can be traced to Satan as recorded in Genesis 3:5 when he states in part that “humans can be like God” and they will have the ability to decide for themselves what is good and evil. From that time forward, humanity has been seeking to be “as gods,” and function independently from God our creator. Jeremiah 10:10-11 states, “all those who seek to be gods “shall perish from the earth, and from these heavens.” The antichrist will suffer the same fate as recorded in 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
Closing this dialogue with this question, what should all Christian leaders, pastors and parents be teaching our young people? Biblical facts are what all Christian leaders, pastors and parents should be teaching our young people which are:
(a) There is a God who has existed from the beginning of time. He was there in the beginning and He is Alpha and Omega.
(b) Jesus Christ is His Son who gave His life on Calvary’s cross for the sins of the world and by accepting Jesus as God’s Son in faith they are assured of eternal live.
(c) The Bible is the inspired Word of God and it is infallible, “it is for reproof, it is for correction, profitable for doctrine, and instructions in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
(d) Man did not evolve from evolution as humanist teach, but he was created in the “image and likeness” of God (Genesis 1:26).
Finally, teach our children Biblically sound doctrine that is based on Jesus Christ so they will know the truth.