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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Judgment, Hate, Tolerance, Love, Faithfulness

Judgment, Hate, Tolerance - Standing for Jesus
Some people judge and hate Christians because they claim Christians are judgmental and hateful. 

In the name of tolerance, some people insist Christian beliefs shouldn't be tolerated.  

Some people claim Christians should be silenced in order to maintain freedom of speech.

Everyday Christians are stereotyped because a few deranged people calling themselves Christians commit hate crimes.

Most genuine believers share God's truth in love.

But people still hate us (John 15:18-19). 

Many professing Christians are buckling under the pressure and rejecting God's values. But genuine believers are standing firm (Matthew 24:12-13).

If you are faithfully sharing God's truth with our lost and dying culture, you will identify with Jeremiah 20:8-9:

“The word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, 'I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire… I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”  

Stand firm, dear Christians. 
For more encouragement, read these 1-minute devotions:
Standing Firm and Reaching Out 
Who Do You Say That I Am?
Is Jesus Likable?

Bible Study 

Judgment, Hate, Tolerance - Standing for Jesus
We are seeing increased compromise in churches around the world. Biblical values clearly outlined in Scripture and confirmed by Bible scholars throughout church history are now being questioned, revised, or ignored. These revisionists claim they are motivated by love. But nothing could be more hateful than allowing people to damage their souls and die in their sins. 

1. We cannot expect the unsaved to understand God’s truth: 

1 Corinthians 2:14-16: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments,16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.  

Often, when I watch a debate between a Christian and atheist about creation or the existence of God, the atheist personally attacks the Christian instead of debating the issue. I think this is the sign of a weak argument. This is a sign that men know in their hearts that God exists (Romans 2:14-15).

2. We cannot shrink back from speaking God's truth in love. The majority will mock us, but some will listen.

Luke 9:26: Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. 

Ephesians 4:15: Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Speaking God's truth in love does not mean sugar-coating it or revising it. It means speaking it without arrogance, self-righteousness, or hypocrisy, with the hope that our listeners will find Jesus and turn from the sins that are damaging their souls.

If we aren't interested in a person's welfare, then we should keep our mouths shut and pray for right motives.

3. There are many among us who are not genuine believers and they will choose culture over God’s Word. 

Matthew 24:12-13: Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 

We must make sure that these "fake believers" do not influence us. See "Standing Firm."

4. Jesus promised we would be hated. 

John 15:18-19: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 

2 Timothy 3:12: In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 

If nothing about our faith offends anyone, we should question whether we are genuinely living for Christ. See "That's Not Jesus."
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Self-Pity is Prison Cell Locked from the Inside

The Prison Cell of Self-Pity and How to Get Out
Self-pity is a prison cell.  

Recently a woman emailed to tell me I was a "fraud" and my devotion “Open Wide Your Mouth” was a lie.  

In rude, angry, bitter words she listed her problems, insisting God doesn't answer prayer.

I wrote back, told her I was sorry about her difficulties, assured her God wanted to help, and told her I’d pray for her. I also told her she’d need to give up her anger and bitterness to make room for God's salvation and comfort.   

When she replied with angry profanity, I realized she was quite committed to staying in her prison cell of self-pity.

At times, I’ve chosen that cell myself.  

But it’s not mistreatment or difficulty that puts us there. Cells of self-pity are locked from the inside.   

The key is always available and bears this inscription: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).

Self-pity is self-imprisonment. Let's not go there!
Bible Study

1. Selfishness is any act or attitude that focuses on our feelings and desires above the feelings and desires of others. 

Philippians 2:3-4: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

One way to deal with self-pity is to take our focus off ourselves and ask God how we might bless someone else:

Proverbs 11:25: A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

2. When we wallow in self-pity, we grow an eye log. We become insensitive to the feelings and desires of others but overly sensitive to our own feelings and desires.

The Prison Cell of Self-Pity and How to Get OutMatthew 7:1-4:“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. 3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?   

3. Self-pity is a self-inflicted wound. It never solves a single problem. But it causes a great many.

Hebrews 12:15: Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. 

Ephesians 4:26-27: And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.  

The Greek for "foothold" means to give the devil a place or an opportunity. It's like preparing a room in our hearts for Satan to dwell and keep us constant company, reminding us of how we've been wronged and helping us forget our blessings. Anger, bitterness and self-pity are intertwined. Any and all of them will give Satan a foothold in our lives. 

When we're going through a difficult period, we should pray throughout the day and make sure we don't go to bed brooding or angry. 
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Pondering God's Mercy

God's Mercy is Beyond  Comprehension
Have you ever thought of the terrible sin Adam and Eve committed? 

Our loving Father walked and talked with them every day, but they chose to believe the lies of the serpent.

They doubted God's command, damaged the perfect world He'd created for them, and rejected His generous love. 

He had every right to destroy mankind, but His mercy prevailed.

The Old Testament is the story of God preparing mankind for our redemption. In every book, God whispers clues of His plan, giving an unfolding revelation of Jesus, the coming Deliverer. 

And the very first clue comes when God addresses the serpent after the Fall: "And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel." Genesis 3:15

Whispered within this verse is the promise that Satan and his demon offspring would be at odds with Eve and her offspring. But the most important offspring of woman, Jesus Christ, would crush Satan's head--a fatal wound.

While the taste of the forbidden fruit was still on Adam and Eve's lips, God was already whispering about His gracious way to save them. 

Bible Study:

God's Mercy is Beyond  Comprehension

Why are we held accountable for Adam's sin? Why were we born into this fallen world with a fallen human nature when we didn't eat the fruit from the forbidden tree? 

This question has no definitive answer. Scripture gives us clues, but we must extrapolate(1) those clues to come to conclusions. And the reason God sometimes only gives us clues is because we don't need a full understanding of some concepts here on earth, or perhaps because we couldn't understand the complete answer with our finite minds. This is but another proof that His intellect is far higher than ours, another proof that He is God and we aren't. (See Deuteronomy 29:29 and Isaiah 55:9.) 

So why examine a question with no definitive answer? Because we find meaning in the clues God gives us. 

1. First, let's confirm that we are born fallen. 
Secular psychology teaches that we are born good. Then we are corrupted or improved by environment. But the Bible tells us we are born damaged. Environment has a great impact on us, but not as great as our personal choices. If you doubt this, read Bad Blood

Genesis 5:1-3: "This is the written account of Adam’s family line. When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. 2 He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind" when they were created. 3 When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image..." 

The image of God in man* was damaged when Adam chose to sin. No longer innocent and now possessing the knowledge of good and evil, Adam brought death to mankind and decay to our world. 

He and Eve violated the ONLY rule God gave them. 

Genesis 3:22:  "And the Lord God said, 'The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever [thus bringing sin into eternity].'” 

2. So why are we born with a damaged image of God when we didn't eat the forbidden fruit? 

Adam and Eve were created innocent, but untested. When tested, they chose to sin and this damaged God's perfect world and our human nature. 

Theologians give several possible answers for our relationship to Adam's sin. Some believe Adam was our federal head. He represented mankind so we are accountable for Adam's sin. Others believe that Adam's sin caused our fallen human nature which causes us to sin. Both views arrive at the same Scriptural conclusion that all men are sinners in need of a Savior. 

So whatever we believe about the first Adam, one thing is for sure: we did NOT deserve the "Last Adam's" representation:

1 Corinthians 15: 45-49: 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam [Christ], a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man." 

Christ represented us on the Cross and saved us though we didn't deserve it. 

*God was not damaged, but His image in mankind was damaged. And when the Bible uses the term image, it's not talking about physical looks but spiritual character. Man still bears the image of God, but not as Adam and Eve originally did.
(1) to project, extend, or expand known data to explain something unknown. Most non-essential doctrines that divide true believers are based on extrapolation although some Christians defend them as if they were clearly explained in God's Word. 

So, I'd love to hear your comments. Had you already thought through this concept? Or were you taught about it in a Sunday School or Bible study?

Copyright 2013, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
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