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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Tolerance Isn't Approval, Agreement, or Silence

Standing up for Christ's values, Matthew 5:10; Luke 9:26; 2 Timothy 4:2-3; James 1:12.
Tolerance is only necessary when we disagree...

Genuine tolerance means treating everyone with respect even when we disagree with their lifestyles and beliefs. 

However, some people use the word "tolerance" to mean approving all lifestyles and beliefs. 

Ironically, tolerance isn't necessary when we agree.  And no one can approve all lifestyles and beliefs because many contradict, oppose or exclude each other. 

Those who claim to celebrate diversity actually celebrate the diversity of people who agree with them and reject the diversity of those who disagree.

God expects us to show true tolerance, treating people respectfully. 

But He doesn't expect us to approve of their sins any more than he expects us to approve of our own.

This misuse of "tolerance" is often an attempt to shame or silence Christians which leads to the misuse of another word - "hate." 

No matter how kindly a Christian defends God's truth, they're often called "haters" by those who claim to love diversity.  But God has a different name for His defenders. He calls them faithful. See Matthew 5:10Luke 9:26; 2 Timothy 4:2-3; James 1:12.

Bible Study

Standing up for Christ's values, Matthew 5:10; Luke 9:26; 2 Timothy 4:2-3; James 1:12.
1. There is a false notion held by both Christians and non-Christians that it's tolerant and loving to approve all lifestyles or at least keep our mouths shut about sin. The following Scriptures should put that notion to rest.

Ephesians 5:5-13: For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. 

1 Corinthians 15:33-34: Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

Don't fall into the trap of believing that we are not meant to judge people and things. Scripture tells us how and when to judge appropriately. To read more on Biblical judgment, please check out:
The "J" word
Biblical Judgment: 5 Errors and 5 Commands

2. Another false notion is that everyone liked Jesus, something easily refuted by Christ's words below.

John 7:7: The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil.
(Jesus was speaking to men who agreed with worldly values.)

3. Associated with the false notion above is the notion that everyone will like Christians if we act Christ-like.

Matthew 10:22: You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

For more encouragement to live for Christ's values, check out:
God Says, Man Says
Good and Wrong
copyright 2016, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Monday, November 21, 2016

They'll Know We Are Christian by Our Love - Or Not

Getting Along With Christians, Disagreeing With others without personal accusations
Can we love Christians with whom we disagree?

A woman commented on one of my devotions. She doubted I was born again and knew I didn't have God's Spirit because I was spreading poisonous lies from Satan and preventing people from being healed.(1) 

I responded kindly, but that inspired four more comments in which she quoted Scriptures and attacked my faith and character. 

If a non-believer visited my site before I deleted her comments, I doubt they'd believe John 13:35: "Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples."

In the forty years I've been a believer, it seems like Christians have become more angry (and not righteously so) - about politics and non-essential doctrinal differences.   

If we can't disagree without discrediting the character and faith of other believers, we should keep our mouths shut.

Because I'm an opinionated person, I need to occasionally remind myself of the principles in Romans 14 - 15:1-15.

If you haven't read that passage lately, why not do it today. With God's help, we can disagree and still be a testimony for Christ's love. 

(1) This was regarding my devotion "Does Faith Heal?"

Bible Study

If Scripture says something is wrong, it's wrong for everyone. But there are some non-essential areas where Christians can have different convictions without either party being wrong. 

Dietary and holy day observance are specifically mentioned in this passage. In today's Church, issues are more likely to include things like consuming alcohol, wearing make-up, dancing, watching television, wearing a head-covering, and politics. Or they may involve tithing, church membership, and church sacraments. They could also include how we approach holidays, material wealth, hospitality, and education. 

There are right and wrong behaviors in all of these areas, but there is also more than one right approach. This means Christians will apply Biblical principles in different ways, some with more liberty and some with less. The weaker brother is the one with stricter convictions about these non-essentials. And this passage tells us that we should not dissuade him nor judge him for following his conscience.

Note: please do not think that this passage means we should never judge a fellow Christian. While there may be more than one right way to do something, that doesn't mean that there aren't wrong ways - ungodly ways. We are called to judge those within the Church and help them correct wrong behavior (1 Cor. 5:11-13; Matthew 18:15

Romans 14: Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.  

5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.  

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” 12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.  

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.  

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.  

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin. 

These articles can help you understand how this passage applies to us today: 
Christian Liberty
Strong & Weak
copyright, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, November 13, 2016

10 Most Popular Books of the Bible

10 Most Popular Books of the Bible
Bible Gateway statistics reveal these ten most popular (most read) Bible books on their site. 

1. Psalms- Beautiful poetry, praise and thanksgiving ... confusion, sorrow, and anger ... all taken to the Father for comfort and guidance.

2. Matthew - the Gospel emphasizing Christ as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. 

3. John - the Gospel emphasizing Christ's deity, signs, and wonders. 

4. Romans - a theology book woven into a letter to God's people.

5. Proverbs- wise sayings and instructions for godly living.(1) 

6. Genesis- the death of mankind's innocence and the birth of God's plan of redemption. 

7. Luke - the longest Gospel emphasizing God's love and care for all people. 

8. 1 Corinthians - addressing church problems and giving us God's beautiful definition of love. 

9. Isaiah - proclaiming dual fulfillment prophecies (fulfilled both in Isaiah's time and in the life of Christ). 

10. Acts-  Luke's second letter to Theophilus, convincing him of the Gospel message. 

Are any of these your favorite books to read? 

(1) not all are promises (Proverbs Aren't Promises)
Resource: Popular Books Infographic 
Note - This Bible Gateway statistic is based on how often the book is read. Because books vary in size, this isn't altogether a scientific way to discover the most favorite books of the Bible. But the study does reflect a special interest in these 10 books.

Bible Study  

This study is a bit different. I am including a key verse from each of these 10 most popular Bible books. Read through each one, ponder it's significance in your life, and add your favorite verse from each book.

Psalm 23:1: The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.  

See "The Comfort of Psalm 23"

Matthew 28:18-20: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  

See "Not Just the Easy Parts"

John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  

See "God-Breathed

Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  

See "5 Keys to Trusting God Wholeheartedly"

Genesis 50:20: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 

This was Joseph's response to his brothers' crimes against him. Their cruelty changed the course of Joseph's life and changed the course of history as Joseph applied God's wisdom to famine-relief.

See "Genesis 50:20 Eyesight"

Luke 15:20: So [the prodigal son] got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Eighteen of Christ's parables are found only in Luke, including the good Samaritan, the lost sheep, and the prodigal son. 

See "Waiting Eagerly"

1 Corinthians 13:12: For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 

See "Poor Reflection"

Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

See "The Big Picture"

Acts 4:12: There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.  

See "Every Path Does Not Lead to God"
copyright 2016, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
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