You are currently browsing the monthly archive for August 2017.

The most significant aspect of the Happy Kingdom of God is LOVE.  I read in my morninglove and hate devotions Psalm 147.  Verse 11 says, “the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  It all starts with the Kings love for his subjects.  For his children.  “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).  The King is a merciful Savior.  “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:4,5).

When our spiritual eyes and hears are opened to this marvelous love, our natural inclination is to attempt to love  God back with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  We know we will be happier if we do that.  We fail at that attempt everyday, but the fact that we desire to love God with all of our being is what sets Christians apart from non-Christians.  Jesus teaches us to pray to our loving Father everyday,  “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”.  And in great love and mercy he does forgive us.

What about hate.  With our loving God is there room for hate?  Actually there is.  The Bible tells us that God hates!  What does he hate?  Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things that God hates, seven that are detestable to him:

haughty eyes

a lying tongue

hands that shed innocent blood

a heart that devises wicked schemes

feet that are quick to rush into evil

a false witness who pours out lies

and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

Also Psalm 5:4-6

“For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;

with you, evil people are not welcome.

The arrogant cannot stand in your presence.

You hate all who do wrong;

you destroy those who tell lies.

The bloodthirsty and deceitful you, LORD, detest.” 

Some people say God loves the sinner but hates the sin.  According to these passages God hates some people – A false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.  I live in a Christian community and I can understand why God would hate these two types of people.

He also seems to hate all who do wrong, according to David in Psalm 5.  Then he must hate me, because sometimes I do wrong.  But David goes on to say in verse seven, “But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple.”  He seems to be saying that what is your hearts desire is important.  In fact it makes all the difference.  If your heart desires to do wicked, evil, wrong things, then God hates you.  If your heart desires to fear and show reverence to God, then he loves you.

We should love the things God loves and hate the things God hates, if we want to be Godlike, if we want to honor and glorify Him and enjoy Life in the Happy Kingdom.

 

 

Advertisements

Please disregard Part One.  It was prematurely published by my misbehaving computer.1-Corinthians_15-55

My wife, Anita, and our daughters, Sally and Kelly, went on a road trip in July.  We live and work at a home for needy children in Oaxaca, Mexico, which is about 300 miles south of Mexico City.  We drove to visit my parents who live in northeastern Colorado.  It was a long trip, but worth it, as Sally and Kelly, 7 and 8 years old, got to see a lot of the two countries of which they are citizens.

We stopped at a lot of museums along the way, both in the U.S. and in Mexico.  One thing they all seemed to have in common – DEATH!  We hit three museums our first day after crossing the border into Texas.  Judge Roy Bean museum featured the actual building where the famous judge lived and died.  We stood in the billiard room where he breathed his last breath.  Next stop was the Fort Stockton museum where we learned the Indians, or Native Americans, if you prefer, where killing a lot of people bound for the western U.S.  The government build Fort Stockton and started killing the Indians.  The final museum was in Pecos, Texas.  There an old hotel and saloon had been turned into a historical museum of sorts.  The saloon featured an animated bartender who told the story of the death of two cowboys at the hands of a third.  The places where they fell and died were indicated by a marker on the floor.  That was the loss of life we encountered on our way north.

On our way home we took a different route and ended up at Dodge City, Kansas.  The museum there was a recreation of the famous/infamous wild west town.  It was at the end of a long cattle drive, back in the day.  The cowboys, after being on the trail for weeks at a time, finished their trek in Dodge City, got paid.  Pockets full of cash, they headed to the saloons, and with heads full of booze and there was lots of gunfights, knife fights and death.  We visited the cemetery there called Boot Hill and then watched as this museum staged a gunfight between the sheriff with his deputies against a gang of desperadoes.

Back in Mexico we spent a day in Guanajuato.  The ultimate place of death. Four locations, four places of death.  The first was a torture chamber.  Here part of the Mexican Inquisition took place.  Heretics and infidels were tortured and killed.  The second museum was an old mine.  Dozens of miners died extracting gold and silver.  The third was the “Calle de beso” or “Kissing street” where two young lovers shared their last kiss before an enraged father killed his own daughter.  The fourth and final place was the worst.  The mummy museum.  A building with over a hundred dead bodies that had been exhumed from the local cemetery and put on display. This was by far the most popular museum in town.  Hundreds of people stand in line for over an hour everyday to buy a ticket and see the “mummies”.

Visiting all these museums made me think about death and what the Bible says about death.  More specifically, what attitude should those of us who live in the Happy Kingdom have about death?

For me, the first thing to remember is that everyone starts life dead.  We begin our existence existing, but not really living.  The Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins.”  The way to move from death to Life, from merely existing to truly living is through Jesus.  Paul goes on to say in verses five and six, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”  In the words of Jesus in John 3:16, “… that whoever believes (in the Son) shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Once we believe we immediately become citizens of God’s Happy Kingdom.  We should no longer worry about physical death.  Physical death for the Christian is not the end, but the beginning.  The beginning of eternal joy and peace and perfect righteousness.  NO MORE SIN!  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:55, “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where O death is your sting?”  No longer does death have any victory or sting over the believer.

Paul also writes to the Philippians, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.  Yet what shall I choose?  I do not know!  I am torn between the two:  I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (1:21-23).

On our vacation we were often reminded of death in various ways in a lot of different places.  I wonder about all those people who died.  Did they die with confidence, knowing they would soon be in the immediate presence of a loving and gracious Father?  Or did they die in fear, feeling the sting of death, not knowing what eternity would hold for them?

Thank God for Jesus, for forgiveness, for the washing away of guilt, the new life and sure hope for eternity.  We can no longer fear death, but embrace it, knowing our Lord and Savior waits for us behind deaths door.

I was worthless, vile, soiled, polluted.  I was dead in iniquities.none righteous

Before thee I am nothing but vanity, iniquity.  May I, a convinced and self-despairing sinner, find Jesus as the power unto salvation.

I deplore my my own foolish maliciousness.  I live in contempt, anger, malice, self-sufficiency…

Before thy cross I kneel and see the heinousness of my sin, my iniquity, my evil.

I have destroyed myself, my nature is defiled, the powers of my soul are degraded; I am vile, miserable, strengthless…

The sentences above come from Puritan’s prayers, found in the book The Valley of Vision.

Before we can be fully happy enjoying the Lord’s love, we need to be fully aware of the depths of our wickedness apart from Christ.  Before we can rise to the heights of joy in God, we need to know the depths of the sin that we were in.  Before we can fly like eagles in glory, we must realize what a bunch of turkeys we are without Jesus.

The Happy Kingdom of God is made up wholly of broken, twisted, sin-bent, hurting, vile, wicked, alienated people who have been bought, forgiven, redeemed, rescued and restored by the blood of Christ that dripped from Calvary’s cursed tree.  That’s why it’s such a happy place.

Salvation is more than being saved from Satan.  Salvation is more than being saved from a depraved world.  Salvation is mostly about being saved from ourselves.  There are a lot of people who don’t think they need saving from themselves.  They think they are pretty good people.  They don’t murder, steal, rape or pillage.  They give to charities and help the poor.  Some even attend religious/spiritual services and occasionally read religious/spiritual books that help them to do religious/spiritual acts of goodness.  They are pretty OK, they think.  Don’t need all that Jesus stuff.  Don’t need to be saved.

They need to read  Romans 3 to get a glimpse of what God thinks about them-

“There is no one righteous, not even one;

there is no one who understands;

there is no one who seeks God.

 All have turned away, they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good, not even one.”

There throats are open graves;

their tongues practice deceit.”

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.”

Before we can appreciate, rejoice and live in the Good News, we must realize the truth of the Bad News of who we really are without God.  Before we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever, we have to know the extent to which we despise God and hate Him.  It is only when He enlightens the eyes of our heart (Ephesians 1:17-18) that we can understand that we are bound by the chains of wicked evilness and reach out for a Savior full of grace and mercy and live lives of Joy and Gladness in His Happy Kingdom.  God give us that enlightenment.

righteousness from God

 

 

 

God loves us and wants us to be happy.  Psalm 136:1 says “Give thanks to the LORD, forgod is good he is good.  His love endures forever.”  This idea that God is Good and that his love lasts forever is repeated often in the Psalms (100:5, 107:1, 118:1).

In the New Testament we are reminded of God’s love for us in verses like John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…”, Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”, 1 John 4:7-12, “love comes from God – God showed his love by sending his Son – God so loved us” and many other verses.  God’s grace and mercy flow from his great love.  We take in that love and are happy.

What is our good and proper response to God’s love?  To love God and others. The Great Commandments. We reflect God’s love back to him and to others.  To show grace and mercy to those around us, to our neighbors, enemies and the “least of these, my brothers and sisters” are signs of our love for God (Matthew 25:40).

Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).  Blessed is often translated “Happy”.  It is a happy thing to reach out and take the  good gifts from the hands of God our loving Father, and from those around us.  But we are happier when we give.

There are three primary things, or categories of things that God gives us, and that we in turn are to give.  We take from God’s generous hand Beauty, Goodness and Truth.  We see those things in Creation and in the Word of God.  We give those to our world.  We imitate God by Making Beauty – Gardens, Paintings, Music, etc. We Do Good – helping orphans and widows, feeding the hungry and standing up for the oppressed, etc.  We Share Truth.  All truth is God’s truth, but primarily we share the truth of the Gospel, the Good News that God brings hope to the hopeless, new Life to the dying, rescue to those in peril, through the incredible gift of Jesus, his work on the cross and his resurrection.

This is Kingdom stuff.  God’s Happy Kingdom.  His Kingdom is a happy one in heaven; No pain, No crying, No suffering.  Just lots of joy and gladness.  Why?  Because his Happy Will is done.  His Will is that all his children be happy.  Jesus taught us to pray “Your Kingdom come, your Will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  He give us his Word, the Bible, the Truth, so that we know what to believe and what to do to be happy.  Primarily, Make Beauty, Do Good and Share Truth.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.  His love endures forever.