Southside's Blog

Southside is a loving, vigorous, and growing congregation in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Our vision is toward the future: Our Children, Our Ministry, and Our Outreach. Our goal is to embrace all people in our hearts and fellowship as we strive together to support Christ’s mission on earth.

YOUR “ONLY GOD” MOMENTS - Max Lucado

There is something unique about your story. Would you be willing to share it? Become well versed in your “only God” moments – those precious events in your life that only God could have orchestrated.

There was an occasion when Jesus healed a deranged man. The fellow had made his home in a cemetery and cut himself with rocks. When Jesus delivered him from the affliction, the man wanted to go with Jesus. Christ, however, said, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you…” (Mark 5:19 NKJV).

In other words, speak up. Do you feel ill equipped to do so? That’s okay. You have God’s Spirit to help you. And God’s plan is reduced to one strategy: ordinary folks telling the extraordinary story of Jesus with the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit.

From Mike: Do you spend time and effort tell others about your "only God" moments or complaining? No one really wants to hear our complaints especially God. So make God and others feel good about your "God moments".

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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UNCOMMON FORCES - Max Lucado

‘Do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say…For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you'” (Matthew 10:19-20 ESV). Best I can tell, this promise of Jesus has not been rescinded.

On the day Brenda Jones went to see the plastic surgeon, she was in a battle with breast cancer. She asked if she could share a story, and Dr. Pete politely said yes. He listened to the story about the God who became a baby, then a man, and then a sacrifice for humanity. “He died for you, Doctor Pete,” she told him. The fifteen-minute conversation changed Dr. Pete forever.

The promise of Pentecost: the Spirit turns common folk into uncommon forces and turns those who are lost into those who are saved. Might the Spirit do the same with us?  With you?

From Mike: How many of us have the confidence and boldness of Brenda? How many of us would say: I'm not comfortable doing what she did because I might offend Dr. Pete?  How many would say: I don't have that talent inspite of what Matthew said? We need to pray about our boldness and confidence then take Matthew 10:19-20 to heart!

Thanks

Mike    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Spiritual Discernment

From Mike: I receive John’s material through Facebook. It’s been sometime since any of his writings have been posted but it seems especially pertinent to our society now. Christianity is more under attack than I can remember. With elections just a short time away, we need discernment to vote for God fearing candidates who demonstrate discernment!

By John Gray from Preaching Ideas

Spiritual discernment is the quest to discover God’s will for us so that we can follow that will.

GRANDPA SAYS – “THINK ON THESE THINGS”: “Discernment is not just a matter of telling the difference between right and wrong, truth from falsehood; rather discernment is avoiding deception by being able to tell the difference between right and almost right.

“GOD MUST BE ‘THE’ SOURCE OF TRUTH AND WISDOM THAT DWELLS AT THE CENTER OF THE CHRISTIAN’S BEING. THEREFORE, ANY THOUGHT, EMOTION, OR ACTION THAT MOVES A CHRISTIAN AWAY FROM THEIR ‘CENTEREDNESS’ ON GOD CAN BE NEITHER TRUTHFUL, NOR WISE.”

Focus Scriptures

 “For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12).

 “But solid food is for full grown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.” (Heb 5:14). [Note: Experience will thus enable one to discern what is suited to the soul of man; what elevates and purifies the affections, and what tends to draw the heart near to God.]

Commentary

           Wisdom is the exercise of sound judgment either in avoiding evils or in attempting good deeds. Discernment is similar to wisdom, but offers a more specific focus. The primary difference between the two, lies in the distinction of discernment being able to help us to decipher right from wrong, truth from falsehood and avoiding deception by being able to tell the difference between right and almost right. Discernment is something that we should all desire because it is necessary to help us to grow in our faith and keep us from being deceived.

Aside: It is hard to gaslight someone with a Godly spirit of discernment.

          Discernment is something we need to ask for and seek if we truly want to live righteously and free from deceptions and gaslighting. Hosea 14:9 says --- "Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them." We cannot follow the ways of the Lord without discernment because deception dresses and masquerades in the garments of truth. The Scriptures make us wise, but this can't happen unless we have the discernment to understand them --- “For everyone that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But solid food is for full grown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.” (Heb 5:13-14).

          Folks, Proverbs 3:21-24 gives us all some good advice --- “My son, let them [wisdom and discernment] not depart from thine eyes; Keep sound wisdom and discernment: So shall they be life unto thy soul, And grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way securely, And thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: Yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.”

______

“A Poem of Discernment” | Author: Gracie Jane, 2016

"Lord, give us discernment in the coming days, false teachers on the rise who try to amaze, with signs and wonders that don’t hold true, the only real miracles come from You.

You taught us to test every claim against Scripture. It’s as simple as that, why don’t some get the picture?

Your Word, absolute truth, but some continue to deny, they laugh and they scoff bought into Satan’s lie.

Christians, stay strong for temptations will come, but rest in the knowing that to Him you belong."

Thanks

Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

John Gray from Preaching Ideas – used with permission

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POWER FROM THE SPIRIT 

From Max Lucado

"Perhaps the greatest characteristic of fire is this: energy. It is the secret of the electric current. It has empowered countless coal-burning engines and fueled too many stoves to count. Fire combusts. Fire ignites. Fire moves things. And the Spirit? Does he not move us? “You shall receive power,” promised Jesus, “when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8 NKJV)."

"God doesn’t want us to give him our best effort. We don’t try our hardest and then turn to God; we turn to God and trust him to do the work for and in us. The greatest force in the universe will work within you to give you the power you need to become more and more like him. He will make you holy, in an instant, and make you holier over a lifetime."

I read and reread Max's last paragraph. Coming from a background of encouragement to give it your best effort and ask God to bless the effort, Max's encouragement causes me to think. More thought is needed!! Maybe it's semantics.

I've posted on this blog for a number of years and hoped for your thoughts about the subjects. To date, the only thoughts received from a  couple of years ago were from a reader whom I don't know.  I don't remember the subject but he thought that I was too lenient. 

Please give me your thoughts so I may share them with others. 

Thanks!

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Disappointment with God

Is it ok to be disappointed with God. The short answer is yes. The “But” is coming. Some of the synonyms for disappointment are: dissatisfaction, disenchantment, frustration, failure and many more. Recently, it seems there are a number disappointments in the lives of a number of people I know. You pray for healing of those in the church bulletin but death comes. Prayer for those children whose parents should have never brought children into this world are put on hold. Divorce comes anyway. The new job does not happen.

If you have lived life, you have had disappointments, probably many.  A disappointment with God carries a whole different meaning and comes in degrees from mild to extreme. If you are disappointed, tell Him. He already knows what’s in you heart. Ask Him to help you deal with it. Even Christ expressed disappointment from the cross when He asked God why He was forsaken.

You ask God for a blessing and He doesn’t produce what you ask for so disappointment sets in and may even consume you. Look for the good. As mentioned before, I’ve asked God for over seven years to cure my speech and to date he has said “my grace is sufficient”. The good is that I did not die and the very good is I’m not an invalid. For me there are things worse than death.

The “but” is when it consumes you to the point you want nothing to do with God and may even rail against Him. During the initial visit with a CASA young man and his foster father I asked if we could pray. The foster father said “yes, we need it” but the young said an emphatic “NO”. “God let my Nana die and that’s why I’m here. I want nothing to do with Him” . He stomped out of the room. He kept that attitude through the entire year we were involved. CASA is no longer involved with the young man but I learned recently that the young man’s mother had died from drugs. The foster father says his attitude is worse. Prayer for the young man has brought no change. Disappointment!

Some thoughts about disappointment:

From Max Lucado: “And disappointment is cured by revamped expectations. God is still in control. Life's mishaps and tragedies are not a reason to bail out.”

“When God doesn’t do what we want, it’s not easy.  Never has been.  Never will be.  But faith is the conviction that God knows more than we do about this life, and he will get us through it. Remember, disappointment is caused by unmet expectations. And disappointment is cured by revamped expectations.”

“God is still in control.  Life’s mishaps and tragedies are not a reason to bail out.  They are simply a reason to sit tight. Next time you are disappointed, don’t panic.  Don’t jump out.  Don’t give up.  Just be patient and let God remind you he’s still in control.  It ain’t over till it’s over.”

From F. LaGard Smith: “Those who can’t live with Godly contentment in the here and now will miss out on the joys of even the there and then. Heaven itself would disappoint them!”

Thanks

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thoughts from Max Lucado can be found on his website. Published with permission

Thoughts from F. LaGard Smith – Meeting God in Quiet Places – 1992 – Harvest House Publishers – published with permission

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KEEP LISTENING - Max Lucado

The last several posts I've put on the blog are following Max's book on the Holy Spirit, Help Is Here. I have not posted all his daily devotionals but you can receive them by going to his website: Read more Help Is Here

Today's devotional: "The phrase “led by the Spirit of God” is such a happy one. The Spirit gently leads us as a shepherd would lead a flock. He is more committed to leading us than we are to following him. So relax! And if you don’t sense his guidance, ask again." (Bold emphasis is mine)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 NKJV). He is completely capable to lead you where he wants you to go. He might use a nudge, a prick of the conscience, a reminder of Scripture. The Spirit first speaks through the verse. He may complement the verse with a voice. Go first to the verse. His will never contradicts his Word. When you open your Bible, God opens his mouth. The verse and the voice. God is calling. Keep listening."

I've always been independent although I did pray. Looking back, I wished I had turned a ear to the Spirit more often. Growing older has tuned my ear for keen listening.

Thanks

Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

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DECISIONS by Max Lucado

"According to God’s plan, life is a series of decisions. Do I move or stay? Hold on or let go? Tie the knot or not? Small decisions, large decisions. Decisions everywhere! We make our choices, and they make us. Consequently, decision-making saps energy and creates anxiety. What if I make the wrong choice?"

"So what can we do? Given the weightiness of choices, how can we make good ones? You will be encouraged by the promise of Scripture: we can be led by the Holy Spirit. “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3 ESV). God, our Good Shepherd, doesn’t just feed us; he leads us. He does more than correct us; he directs us. He keeps us on the right track. He has commissioned the Holy Spirit to guide us down the winding roads of life."

 

I agree with Max but I do not believe God is going to guide and direct us if we do not have a heart that is willing. We must have faith and belive!

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before amen

You think there’s ever a church service where requests are not made for someone’s healing? I cannot recall a service at Southside where prayers for the sick were not requested. Max Lucado, in case you have not already guessed is a very favorite author of mine. ? One of his books is titled “before amen, The Power of a Simple Prayer”. In case you are wondering, that’s not a misspelling. 

Chapter 5’s title is “Heal Me”. He opens the chapter by describing a daughter’s journal giving an account of her dying father’s final stages of ALS. Her journal is full of depictions of the many things  “Dad can’t anymore.” At her father’s funeral, the family requested two scriptures, Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, and so I lack nothing.” and Psalm 22: “My God, My God!....Why have you forsaken me?” Max says in his Bible you can see both passages in the same page opening.

Max continues: “In times of sickness we can hear both prayers from the same heart. Our bodies ache and emotions sway. Nothing bends our knees to ask for God’s help more than a health crisis. We need the Lord to shepherd us through sickness. “But will he?” We watch as our loved ones or we ourselves suffer and struggle while the evil ones live into triple digits.

Max writes about Jesus healing people even raising some from the dead as He traveled. Max goes on: “Afflictions can sideline the sufferer. Everyone else has a place in the parade. You would join them if only….. Others seem happy. And you’ve wondered, What am I to do with this ailment?”

People in the New Testament cried out to Jesus for healing. “Persistently, personally, passionately. I need help. Heal me. Here is why you need to do the same. God’s goal for you is wholeness.” (From Mike: Then why does He not give it? My attitude problem!)

Max points out: “God envisions a complete restoration of the garden of Eden. Everything He saw in His garden was good. This assessment included Adam and Eve. They weren’t sick, crippled, depressed or afflicted. They were spiritually and physically sound. Yet they rebelled, everything fell out of harmony. The event is called the Fall for a reason. Adam and Eve had a falling out with God and a falling out with each other. Nature fell out of whack, and the human body fell out of balance. The fall was exactly that: a fall from wholeness. Sin opened the door, and sickness walked in. ‘Sin came into the world because of what one man did and with sin came death. This is why everyone must die—because everyone sinned.’ Romans 5:12 NCV”

Max urges us to talk to God about our ailments both physical and emotional. “He will heal you—instantly or gradually or ultimately.

“Our highest hope, however, is our ultimate healing. In heaven God will restore our bodies to their intended splendor. ‘We know that when He is revealed , we shall be like Him’ 1 John 3:2’”.

If Jesus heals you instantly, praise Him. If you are still waiting for healing, trust Him. Your suffering is your sermon.”

Max writes about a friend who struggled with a muscular condition. The atrophy hampered his ability to walk and slurred his speech. “But it did not diminish his faith or erase his smile.” God is using his friend’s faith to inspire other’s faith. “He will use your struggle to change others.”

He tells about his own struggles with pain in his writing hand. He continues in therapy and says “But most of all I pray. Better said, I argue. Shouldn’t God heal my hand? My pen is my tool. Writing is my assignment. So far He hasn’t healed me.”

“Or has He? These days I pray more as I write. Not eloquent prayers but honest ones. Lord I need help…Father, my hand is stiff. The discomfort humbles me. I’m not Max the author. I’m Max, the guy whose hand is wearing out. I want God to heal my hand. Thus far He has used my hand to heal my heart.”

Max writes about the blind men who asked Jesus to heal their eyes. “Jesus’ heart went out to the blind men. He ‘had compassion and touched their eyes.’ The Greek term means He felt for them deep down inside Hie stomach. Jesus moved in where others had stepped away. He healed them.”

“He will heal you, my friend. I pray He heals you instantly. He may choose to heal you gradually. But this much is sure: Jesus will heal us all ultimately. Wheelchairs, ointments, treatments, and bandages are confiscated at the gateway of heaven. God’s children will once again be whole.”

I believe Max’s words can ease our pain and struggling but they do not eliminate all of the hurt. Only continued faith and prayer can help with that. I don’t really subscribe that time will heal all wounds.

Thanks,

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

before amen – Max Lucado – 2014 – Thomas Nelson – Used by permission

Max is now 67 years old and has health problems like many of us. In October 2001 he was diagnosed with ascending aortic aneurysm. He praises God because he is doing well. Wonder if he rereads some of his writings when he faces illness?

 

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PRAYERS OF A WEARY SOUL by Max Lucado

I feel certain that Max's thoughts relate to the majority of us.

 

"There is often a gap between what we want from life and what we get in life. And during such times of weakness “we do not know what to pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26 NKJV). What should the cancer patient request? Healing or deliverance into heaven? For what should the father of the prodigal pray? God’s patience for his son or a pigpen for his son? For what should the persecuted prisoner ask? Release from captivity or endurance in captivity?"

"We do not know how to pray as we ought. What if our prayers are too sparse to deserve an audience with God? What if he turns us away? Does heaven hear the enfeebled prayers of a weary soul? Thanks to our heavenly helper the answer is yes. “The Spirit himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26 NIV)."

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THE GROANS OF THE HEART by Max Lucado

“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us…” (Romans 8:26 NIV).

The groans of the heart. You have heard them. You have made them. They are the vernacular of pain, the chosen tongue of despair. And when prayers won’t come, these will have to do. Yet these raw appeals find their way into the presence of God the Father because they are entrusted into the care of the Holy Spirit.

We’re accustomed to the Holy Spirit’s mighty deeds. Fire falling on Peter, doors opening for Paul. Because of the Spirit, Ezekiel saw dead bones rise, and Moses saw the Red Sea open. Yet of equal import is this: the Spirit curates and translates the incoherent prayers of the weak until they are heard in the tribunal of heaven.

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HEAVEN’S WIND by Max Lucado

The last paragraph is in bold because we really need to take Max's words to heart.

"The Spirit is like the wind. Had Jesus stopped with this comment, Nicodemus would have had plenty to ponder. Yet Jesus went on to stretch the imagination of Nick and Max and all people who have tried to quarry the jewels that follow."

“So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8 ESV). That which is born of a vegetable is a vegetable. That which is born of a dog is a dog. And that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. That is to say, we have his wind, his unseen power, within us. We host the mystery and majesty of God."

"Stop and think about something you struggle to do. Forgiving an enemy? Solving a problem? Breaking a habit? You can’t do it? The Spirit can. You have the force of heaven’s wind within you."

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A Very Good One from Max Lucado

I recall an afternoon early in my ministry when the invitation of Jesus to the weary became the invitation of Jesus to Max. I was supposed to be studying, but I could not concentrate. I thought that I had to fix everyone’s problems, shoulder everyone’s burdens, and never grow weary in doing so. After some moments I bowed my head and sighed and this scripture came to mind:  “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NASB).

It was the pronoun me that got me. I had been turning to everyone and everything but him. Now why did that verse come to mind?  Simple. The Holy Spirit, my teacher, reminded me. And the Spirit of Christ will do this for you, my friend.

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THE PARACLETE - by Max Lucado

Jesus doesn’t want us to think of the Holy Spirit as an it or a thing. The Spirit is a person. According to one study only four people in ten believe that the Spirit is a divine person. The rest of those surveyed either don’t have an opinion or choose to believe the Spirit is more like a power surge than a divine being who empowers and teaches us.

Can you join me in a pledge? “I hereby resolve never to call the Holy Spirit an it.” The Spirit is a person. And Jesus calls him the Paraclete. Now, translators land on different, yet similar, translations for this Greek word. Comforter, Counselor, Advocate, Intercessor. But the central message is the same: we are not alone.

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SO HEAVENLY, SO HUMAN - August 30, 2022

Max Lucado Devotional

Jesus was undiluted deity. No wonder no one argued when he declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). He has authority over everything, and he has it forever. Yet in spite of this lofty position, Jesus was willing, for a time, to forgo the privileges of divinity and enter humanity.

Are you troubled in spirit? He was too (John 12:27). Are you so anxious you could die? He was too (Matthew 26:38). Are you overwhelmed with grief? He was too (John 11:35). So human he could touch people, so mighty he could heal people. So heavenly he spoke with authority, so human he could blend in unnoticed for thirty years. So mighty he could change history and be unforgotten for two thousand years. Because Jesus was human, he understands you.

And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!

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How is your power level?

 

Excerpt from Help Is Here

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NKJV).

Mark it down. The Holy Spirit comes with power. Power to make good choices, keep promises, and silence the inner voices of fear and failure. Power to get out of bed, get on with life, get busy about the right things in the right way. Power to face the unexpected, unwanted passages of time. Power. This is what Jesus promised then, and this is what Jesus promises still.

How is your power level?

Perhaps you have all the power you need. Life is a downhill stroll through a pleasant meadow. You never lack energy, enthusiasm, or strength. Your step has a spring to it; your voice has a song to it. You are ever the joyful, empowered person.

If that describes you, can I recommend a book on honesty? If that doesn’t describe you, consider the possibility of a life-giving relationship with the Holy Spirit.

No more walking this path alone. No more carrying weight you were not intended to bear. It’s time for you to enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit and experience the vigorous life he offers. 

From Mike: I did not include Max's add for the book. It can be found on Amazon or Walmart

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Confession or Justification

Sometimes I find myself justifying my sins as opposed to confessing them and asking for forgiveness. When people treat me in a way that’s rude, the first inclination can be retaliation, the waitress was rude so very little tip for her, and he just swerved in front of me so lay down on my horn. He/She just spread gossip about me. After all they offended me first so turnabout is fair play. Right? A man that I don’t like to begin with recently mocked my speech but I did not retaliate. But boy, there was plenty of ill will towards him for too long. Any ill will no matter how long is wrong.

Romans 12:17: “If someone has done you wrong, do not repay him with a wrong. Try to do what everyone considers to be good.” GNT

Matthew 5:44: “But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you.”

James 4:17: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” CEV

These verses should be the guidance in these situations!

Thanks!

Mike    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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YOU ARE NO ACCIDENT - August 10, 2022

Many people need to read Max Lucado's devotional thoughts. Children especially need to read and believe his thoughts. So many children of drug abusers are told they are worthless primarily because of their parents failures need reassurance. If you have an opportunity to share Max's message, please do so.

"When you say yes to God you are being made into God’s image. Print that on your resume! In the eyes of God you are worth dying for. Would you let this truth define the way you see yourself? Would you let this truth define the way you see other people? Every person you see was created by God to bear his image and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This is God’s plan, this is God’s promise, and he will fulfill it!"

"And because God’s promises are unbreakable our hope is unshakable!"

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Our approach

In the 1920’s-30’s my grandfather was a share cropper. He plowed with his mules Dick and Jane. When they did not gee and haw, he would hit one in the soft of the nose with his fist. Now he had their attention. One time it back fired, the mule dropped his head and Grandaddy caught him in the forehead. Two of his knuckles were shoved up in his hand.

Some to use the same approach when talking with folks about their short comings! This writing was inspired by a pet peeve of mine! Our approach to people when we see faults.  One of the greatest services we can perform for God is to encourage one another in our relationship with Him. Notice I used the word “encourage” not “judge” one another!

Hermeneutics – “the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts.”  Some Bible scholars believe the scripture is taught by command, example and necessary inference. Some continue to use this form of interpretation but it’s not talked about as much today. Apologetics is reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine.

Have you ever considered that some of your interpretations, beliefs, doctrine or tenants could be wrong? On FB, a posting said: “A discussion is much better than a debate. A debate is about who’s right and a discussion is about what’s right.” I totally agree with the statement. We need more discussions!

The reason for this article is that a friend called because she is being condemned to hell because she does not attend church on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. She is there every Sunday morning. No person has the right to pass judgement on someone else as far as their salvation. We need to make sure we are practicing every part of the Bible. The reference used was Hebrews 10:24-25 - “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” The word “forsake” in Greek carries the thought of abandoning or deserting totally. This seems to take on the meaning of no church attendance.

Many take specific passages out of the scriptures and give them more importance than others or misapply them. Too often we use these favorite verses to judge others. Here are a few verses that imply certain things but we don’t seem to practice them:

Matthew 6:16-17 – Both of these verses begin with the phrase: “When you fast”. This does not sound like a command but it certainly sounds like a necessary inference that we are to fast. There are about seventy verses in the Bible that refer to fasting, both publicly and privately with guidelines set. Acts has several references to praying and fasting together. Do you fast? Are you following the intent of Christ’s teachings?

James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.” I’ve only known of this happening once. Are we falling short of God’s wishes by not following this practice?

James 5:16 “therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Confessing our sins to each other-– I’m not aware of this practice being a part of many people’s life, it’s not for me.

The Rising Tide by Jeff Shaara is written about World War II. In one passage he writes about a German general who is reflecting about the war. Mr. Shaara writes: “Who is right, after all? We do not weigh the value of our cause; we simply fight to preserve it.”

We should make sure that we weigh the value of our beliefs and don’t just fight for them cause we want to be right!

Thanks

Mike    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Rising Tide – Jeff Shaara – 2006 – Ballantine Books

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How Far Does God’s Grace Extend?

My favorite class in high school was civics. Each day the teacher had discussions centered around current events and what they meant in our lives He would not allow discussion of religion but there was a general respect for belief in God. It may be because of age but it does not seem the country was as divided way back then as we are today. Now, it feels as though a confession of faith in God means you are evil. Current events carry too much frustration for me these days!

A current event is Brittany Griner. Brittany is a 31-year-old women’s professional basketball player. She and her wife have exhibited many frustrations with the United States. Brittany has shown her frustration by refusing to stand for our National Anthem, then refusing to leave the locker room as it was played to finally demanding that it not be played at all.

Brittany grew frustrated with her compensation, $227,000 per year, in the US and started play in Russia for about $1,500,000 annually. Her net worth is estimated at five million dollars. Not too bad! Recently, she was caught bringing cannabis vape cartridges in her luggage into Russia. She was arrested and subsequently pleaded guilty to possession of an illegal substance. She says she did not mean to break the law and now her attorney  claims she has a medical prescription. Unfortunately for her, Russia has no medical prescription allowance. She faces up to ten years in a Russian prison. Brittany and her wife have been super critical of what they see as the US’s lack of efforts to bring her home.

Some media has written that the US is at fault for her going to Russia. Women do not receive equal pay with men basketball professionals so Brittany was forced to go to Russia. That seems to be the way in today’s society; “it’s someone else’s fault!”. Other media has claimed that she “made her bed” so lie in it. Reading the comments on social media people are pretty well split on what they believe.

Many people on Facebook are of the opinion that she hates the US so let her spend ten years in a Russian jail then let’s see how she likes the US. She has after all totally disrespected America, refused to take responsibility for her own actions and lives an un-Godly life style. She needs to get her comeuppance! To be completely honest that’s been my feeling until some recent Bible study.

John 15:12: “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, even as I have loved you.” John 15:17: “These things I command you, that ye may love one another.” Is my attitude love? No! I believe she needs to pay for breaking the law in Russia. I strongly detest her attitude towards America however I still need to have Godly love for her. There are many other people that I have the exact same attitude about so I need to have Godly love for them as well! It’s difficult but all the things that I detest about her does not justify not having Godly love for her. I also need to be careful that my feelings don’t extend to her comeuppance relative to where she spends eternity.

Now maybe the biggest question is: “Does God’s grace extend to Brittany?” Most of us are pretty sure that God’s grace extends to us, our family and friends but are not sure it extends far enough to cover people like Brittany.

John 15:12 and 17, do not say except love everyone except the following. In fact Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  Probably need to inventory our lives so we have true Godly love. Maybe we need an attitude adjustment to feel more comfortable about God’s grace for others.

Thanks!

Mike   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Mystery and Hope

 I was talking with a lady the other day whose husband is suffering from Parkinson disease. The discussion was around how many prayers had gone up for him but there was no improvement. I told her that there were times when I didn’t understand God’s decisions. She promptly told me that I lacked faith. My reply was that is not the case. Just because you don’t understand does not mean lack of faith. I referred her to the two verses inserted here:

Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  Romans 11:34 - “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” Accepting these verses is an act of faith but not understanding is not an indication of lack of faith. Doubting God is a lack of faith.

My devotional reading that came up today is from “A Little God Time”:

“There is so much mystery to life. So many unanswered questions and unknowns. Faith in and of itself is a huge element of mystery. In order to have a faith-filed life, we accept we accept the elements of mystery because we know what goes hand-in hand with it----hope. Hope is God telling us that His purpose is bigger than any unknown. When we walk through anything, no matter how great a mystery, God is walking alongside us.”

“God doesn’t promise us an explanation, therein lies the mystery. But he does promise His presence, and that is an unfailing truth. When we walk through deep waters He is there.”

Thanks!

Mike  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

A Little God Time for Women – BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC – 2021- used by permission

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