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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.

 

 

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Someone is upset because he didn’t get his way.sinners
Someone is angry and yelling at another.
Someone is full of rage and wants to kill someone.
Who is he?
Someone bad.
Bad Like me.

Someone is jealous because of a guy.
Someone is envious of another’s wealth.
Someone is coveting a diamond ring.
Who is she?
Someone bad.
Bad Like me.

Someone is cheating on a test.
Someone is lying about what happened last night.
Someone is trying to get away with something.
Who is that boy?
Someone bad.
Bad Like me.

Someone is pulling a girl’s ponytail.
Someone is making fun of another.
Someone is leaving her sister behind.
Who is that girl?
Someone bad.
Bad Like me.

Someone is sluffing off.
Someone is sleeping on the job.
Someone is not doing their fair share.
Who is he?
Someone bad.
Bad like me.
Someone is gossiping about the boss.
Someone is slandering a neighbor.
Someone is running down his spouse.
Who is that man?
Someone bad.
Bad Like me.

Someone is grumbling about the food.
Someone is complaining about the pastor.
Someone is denigrating the president.
Who is that?
Someone bad.
Bad like me.

Someone is pilfering office supplies.
Someone is shoplifting in the store.
Someone is robbing a bank.
Who is that person?
Someone bad.
Bad like me.

Someone is looking at pornography.
Someone is committing adultery.
Someone is abusing a child.
Who is it?
Someone bad.
Bad like me.

Someone drunk ran over a kid.
Someone with a gun killed a man.
Someone murdered a woman.
Who was it?
Someone bad.
Bad like me.

Someone doesn’t like black people.
Someone is practicing genocide.
Someone is trying to kill off another race.
Who is that person?
Someone bad.
Bad like me.

Someone is awfully proud of himself.
Someone is acting self-righteous.
Someone thinks he’s better than others.
Who could it be?
Someone bad.
Bad Like me.

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The Apostle Paul said, towards the end of his life, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom, I am the worst.  But for that very reason,  I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience, as an example for those who would believe in him and have eternal life.” 1 Timothy 1:16

What is this thing, this action, that in and of itself is not a sin, but when most people attempt it, they usually end up sinning?  What is it that people do millions of times a day, and usually do it wrong?wordsmouth1

The answer is talking.  Of the multitude of sins that are chronicled in the Bible, none is more common or more destructive than the sin of words and talking.  The apostle James speaks much of this in all five chapters of his little book.  Most forcefully in chapter three, where he calls the tongue a wild fire, a poison, something straight from the pit of hell.  Our words can poison relationships, burn out a community of faith and destroy years of good work.  Who can tame the tongue?

And even if a person never gossips, slanders or badmouths another person, their words can still be sin!  Paul, in Ephesians four, tells the church that every word uttered should only be for the uplifting, edification and strengthening of the body of Christ.  If not, it’s a sin.  The last two letters Paul wrote in his life that we have in the Holy Scriptures are written to Timothy.  Paul knew his time on earth was short, and his last instructions were of utmost importance, so he emphasized  the most important truths to his young charge.  In both letters he told Timothy to “avoid godless chatter”.  What is “godless chatter”?  It is any conversation with another person that does not in some way include or point to God.  If we talk a lot about the weather or sports, or other people or events,  and that discussion does not have its basis in  God, then we are skating on thin ice.  We are probably sinning.

Back to the book of James.  He says that anyone who controls his tongue is perfect.  We all want to be perfect and mature before God and man, so we need to control our tongues.  The best way to control our tongues and thus be perfect is to not talk at all.  Never utter a word.  Most people are probably aghast at the thought of not being able to voice their opinion, tell the world what they think, or stand up for themselves with their words.  They are probably sinning.  We have all  heard of monks who take a vow of silence; who don’t talk.  Perhaps we think them crazy.  We should think them very wise.  Perfect.  They have tamed the tongue.

Of course the Bible talks about good words.  Happy, encouraging words can be like medicine to a broken heart.  Doctors don’t hand out any type of medicine to their patients in a helter skelter kind of way.  First they diagnose the problem and then give out the exact prescription that is needed to bring healing.  We should be like that with our words. Paul writes in Romans ten that people need to hear the words of the gospel to be saved.  We need to offer life saving gospel words to lost people in a sick world.

In order to speak helpful words and not sin words, we need to put a filter over our mouths and carefully, thoughtfully, prayerfully think before we speak.  All of our cars have air filters, oil filters and gas filters to keep harmful particles from going in the engine and causing destruction.  We need the same kind of mental and spiritual filters between our brain and our mouth to keep harmful words from going out and causing harm.  The Psalmist writes “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! ” (141:3)

If we are careful to maintain these filters or guards or doors between our brains and our mouths, we will speak words of life and not death, words of health and not poison, words of hope and not destruction, words of righteousness and not sin.  If we watch our words we will glorify God and enjoy him all the more!

Words about words from Proverbs –

12:18   There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
12:19   Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
15:2     The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
15:4     A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
17:4     An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
18:21   Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
21:23   Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
25:23   The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue, angry looks.
26:28   A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.
28:23   Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.
31:26   A virtuous woman opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.

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In our chatty world, in which the word has lost its power to communicate, silence helps us to keep our mind and heart anchored in the future world and allows us to speak from there a creative and re-creative word to the present world.

Henri Nouwen – The Way of the Heart

“Give us this Day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those that sin against us.  Deliver us from the Evilsalvation One; save us from the time of trial.”

In Christianity we talk about salvation.  It’s not uncommon when one Christian meets another Christian for the first time, to ask, or to be asked, “When we’re you saved?”  Sometimes, when asked this question, I want to say, “Today.”

Of course we understand the meaning of the question – When did you begin to trust in Jesus with your life and experience salvation from Sin?  Some people can remember the day and hour that they were “saved”.  Other people, like me, can’t remember an exact time or place that “salvation” occurred, because we were brought up in the faith and as far as we can remember, we always believed that God loved us and that Jesus died for our sins and rose again so that we could have eternal life. That was me.  Sure I remember a time when I was about five years old and said “the sinners prayer” at Vacation Bible School, but I trusted in God’s saving grace before that, even though I had never verbalized it in such a formal way.  Later at age eight an evangelist came to our little farmhouse in Colorado and talked to my parents and my sister and I about “salvation” and once again I prayed a prayer that he wanted me to pray, which I prayed as sincerely as I could and seemed to make everyone happy.

Some people are looking for a great emotional experience when they talk about salvation.  I had one of those as well at Summer Bible Camp one year when I was about 12.  I cried and then felt spiritually “high” for about a week afterwards.  It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget.

Some years later I began attending Bible College and experienced other spiritual, emotional and mentally transforming times that had, to various degrees, an impact on my life.  In one sense or another, these were all “salvation” experiences.  I was “saved” each time.  Sometimes I was saved from Sin, other times I was saved from sins.  The ultimate Salvation is being made righteous in the sight of God.  Other times salvation is a changing of a wrong attitude, or an incorrect perspective on some aspect of life.  Sometimes we are saved from an unforgiving spirit. In short, some of us need to be saved everyday!  Especially me.

The greatest commandments are not things we shouldn’t do, but things we should do.   “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind soul and strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself.”  If we disobey God’s commandments we sin.  Not a day goes by when I am apathetic in some way or another to those around me.  Not a day goes by but that I turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to the needs of my wife, children, brothers and sisters in Christ, or strangers that cross my path.  Many times I am much more like the priest and levite that ignored their fellow man in need, than I am like the good Samaritan who showed compassion on the poor man lying naked in his own blood along the road.  By neglecting my neighbor I am also neglecting God  and disobeying his commandment to love him with my entire being.  Truly I need to be saved everyday.

Martin Luther has said that we are continually struggling against the World, the Flesh and the Devil.  That is why Jesus taught us to pray daily to be delivered from the Evil One.  Satan prowls around like a hungry lion, seeking to destroy and kill us- mentally, spiritually, socially and physically.  Our flesh and the world are bent toward sin, thus when we pray to be saved from the time of trial, we are praying for God’s power and intervention in our daily lives.  We are asking him to maintain a hedge of protection around us, our family and our community of faith.  Indeed we need salvation everyday.

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Oh, what’s going on inside of me?
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
I’m still a man in need of a Saviour

Charlie Peacock

This morning I was thinking about the history of mankind, from Adam and Eve, to the new heavens and earth, and new Jerusalem.  From Genesis to Revelation.   I was thinking about the high points and low points; the great positives and negatives.  The first great positive was the creation of Adam and Eve.  The first great negative was the fall of Adam and Eve, and thus, all mankind.

In my mind there was a timeline, with blips to indicate the highs and lows.  In the middle of this time line was a the highest positive blip, signifying the death and resurrection of Jesus.  The greatest negative down blip was the fall.  The next biggest negative blip was something I read in 1Samuel 7.  The Israelites come to Samuel and tell him they want a king, like all the other nations.  Samuel, who was the spiritual leader at that time felt rejected and went before God.  God tells him not to worry, that the people have not rejected Samuel, but have rejected God.

That is huge!  Almost as huge as Adam and Eve ‘s falling to the temptation of the serpent, with similarities.  Adam and Eve rejected God’s command because they wanted to rule themselves.  The Israelites rejected God because they wanted a human king to rule them, rather than the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Both great sins came down to pride, arrogance and greed.  Both entities felt that God had given them the short end of the stick;  that God didn’t really love them and want them to be happy.  They believed that they could be happier doing things their way.

God has always wanted and chosen a people to be his own.  A people who would love him, follow him and do his will.  A people that he could bless, reveal himself to, and make happy and prosperous.  A people who would respond to his generosity by being generous themselves, both to God and their fellow man.  Thus, the second up blip on the historical timeline is God’s call of Abraham.  God did not call Abraham only for Abraham’s sake, but so that Abraham would be the father of a nation who God could call his own.  Through this man and this nation, God would bless all the people on earth.

This group of people would be initially called Hebrews.  The Hebrews were enslaved by the Egyptians.  God delivered these people from slavery in a miraculous way.  This is the third high point in the history of mankind and pointed to the ultimate high point in history when God would set people free from slavery to sin through Jesus death and resurrection.

The next high point after being set free from bondage in Egypt followed closely on the heels of this miraculous event.  This was the giving of the law on mount Sinai.  God was saying to his chosen people, “I love you and want you to be happy, so I am giving you these laws, precepts and commands.  If you continue to follow me by obeying these mandates, I will prosper you and you will be truly happy and will experience shalom. Slalom was a word the Jewish people used then to greet one another. It meant peace, prosperity, and joy.

Next followed a low point where the people showed they didn’t really believe that God loved them and wanted them to be happy. When it came time to possess the land flowing with milk and honey, they balked. Ten bad spies gave the report of giants in the land that made the Hebrews look like grasshoppers in comparison. Two good spies said the enemy was indeed large, but our God, who delivered us from the Egyptians is the real giant that will go before us and conquer the enemy. The Jews didn’t trust God and thus had to wander in the wilderness for forty years until the unbelieving generation died out and a believing generation rose up.

The believers went in and took the promised land. A definite high point.

The next century was filled with high blips and low dips as God’s chosen people alternatively worshiped and obeyed God, and then fell away and were disobedient. This cycle continued through the period of the Judges and then the kings. Finally, an awful low point occurred when first the ten tribes of Israel were conquered and taken into captivity by the Assyrians, and then Judah was humiliated by the Babylonians and taken into exile.

The prophets had warned the people of Israel and Judah that if they didn’t change their hearts and their ways that God would punish them and send them into exile. They didn’t and he did. The prophets also told of a time of restoration that would come. They told of a new covenant that would be written on hearts of flesh rather than tablets of stone. Daniel foretold of a Son of Man who would come into the world and inaugurate a new era; a new way to relate to God; a new way to experience peace and happiness.

The Son of Man was Jesus. He used the title Son of Man to refer to himself more than any other title. The incarnation of the Son of God, the Son of Man, was the high point on the time line of mankind. God with us, the beginning of the end. The end of the God’s presence in the holy temple in Jerusalem, along with the sacrificial system involving the blood of bulls and goats and lambs. The Lamb of God was the ultimate sacrifice that made a way for all mankind to receive forgiveness of sins, liberation from the bondage of Sin, and to enjoy God forever.

The ultimate high point will be the day when God creates the New Heaven and New Earth and the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven.  God’s radiance will be our light, and his presence will be our joy.  We will enjoy Him, evermore free from tears, pain, loss, suffering and grief.  All will be glory and peace, and that is the point in mankind that I am looking forward to.  Come quickly!

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mankind