You Shall Commit Adultery!

The Bible states “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). However, an amazing and true fact is the in the 1631 edition of the King James Version of the Bible, the word not was omitted from the seventh commandment. The omission made the commandment read, “Thou shalt commit adultery.” This edition became known as “the wicked Bible.” Let’s hear it for proofreaders!

Today an appalling number of people – including believers – behave as if this rendering were not a mistake. Dependable statistics on how many married people commit adultery are notoriously elusive, but most surveys show a rate of 30 to 60 percent. Adultery, as defined by the Old Testament, is consensual sexual intercourse between a married woman with a man who is not her husband or a married man with a woman who is not his wife. It is therefore a crime against marriage.

Jesus, however, makes a sobering extension to this commandment. In the New Testament he teaches that lust is adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27-28). As with the preceding commandment about murder, where we can ‘murder’ someone in our heart, we are put on notice that the commandment is being redefined by the Lord and includes much more than the physical act. It’s more difficult to avoid guilt than we thought.

The Bible makes a point of distinguishing between sexual desire and lust. The first is no sin at all, but part of God’s plan for humanity; lust, on the other hand, is twisted and misplaced desire. It exists because of human depravity. The seventh commandment recognizes that lust and adultery destroy people, their relationship with one another, and their fellowship with God.

Recreational, impulsive sex is considered the norm in our troubled culture. Defending the seventh commandment against the modern world singles one out as a pious puritan stuck in a lost century. However, when we strip sexuality of the restraints God gave it, we create chaos that tears at the very fabric of society. And we place an obstacle that blocks the fellowship God wants to have with us.

God gives us this commandment from love. He is saying, “My child, sexuality is My gift to you. I want you to know that when it’s rightly used, it can bring you joy and intimacy with the spouse I gave you, and it can create a legacy of children to replenish the earth.

“But when it’s wrongly used, it can create absolute havoc. It will destroy you from the inside out, and it will injure people who love you. I love your children, and I don’t want them to suffer because you marriage has failed. I don’t want you to spend the balance of your life in deep regret over the damage and heartbreak that was your return for the impulse of a moment.

“I love you, and I know what will make you happy. Sexual ‘liberation’ is really one more brand of enslavement. It advertises thrills and delivers grief. A long and faithful marriage to your spouse will bring you peace and delight that are beyond price — and you and I will be drawn closer.”

SOMETIMES I DOUBT GOD   [The Bout With Doubt]

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimesi-doubt-god/

 

In the midst of daily life there are many opportunities to doubt God

      • When a baby dies we wonder “So, where is God when we need Him?”
      • With a world-wide epidemic taking thousands of lives a day we wonder. “Is God real?” And “If He is, is He good?” And, “If He is real and good – where is He?”
      • If God is all-powerful, then why doesn’t He just stop all the bad things going on in the world right now?

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Keeping the Sabbath?

In the midst of ten life rules – we call them the Ten Commandments – we read about “keeping the sabbath.” Let’s read it…

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Many have made this commandment into a legalistic nightmare. When I was growing up in a traditional, non-born again, church family we had separate rules for Sunday. Special clothes we wore to church. Special and fancy lunch in the dining room (only time we ate there), and no friends over to play and definitely no cards. 

A bit legalistic? Perhaps, but you should have known the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. They actually crunched the numbers on legalism, and came up with 1,521 things you couldn’t do on the Sabbath Day. That sounds like the title of a book no one would want to read.

Among the 1,521: no rescuing of drowning people; no wearing of false teeth (reinserting them, should they slip, would be work); no looking in the mirror (plucking a white hair, also work). If your friend grew ill, you could do certain things to forestall the illness, but actually trying to cure him — too much like work. At the beginning of a famous revolt, many Jews stood and let themselves be killed rather than risking work by defending themselves (1 Maccabees 2:29-38).

Men made a bureaucratic nightmare out of Sabbath-keeping, but it wasn’t what God wanted. This commandment shows a deep affection for us. The word sabbath means “rest.” God knows we grow weary in the cycle of work, so He established a day for us to regularly disengage from toil and refresh ourselves. God cares about both our labour and our leisure.

The Sabbath was also to be a day to turn from the material to the spiritual, to connect in a deeper way with God. Before Christ, people worked toward the Sabbath, resting on the last day of the week (Saturday). Since the Resurrection, we work from the Sabbath (Sunday), living in the power of the risen Christ. 

The early Christians began to worship on the first day of the week because that was the day on which Jesus rose from the dead (Mark 16:9). By the time we get to Act 20:7, we see the disciples coming together on “the first day of the week” to pray, break bread, and listen to the teaching of the Word of God. By the beginning of the second century, Christians universally understood that the Lord’s Day was to be on Sunday, the day after the Jewish Sabbath. And in AD 321, the Roman emperor Constantine, by royal edict, proclaimed Sunday a special day of worship throughout the entire Roman world. It is remarkable to realize that every Sunday from the day of Christ’s resurrection until today, somewhere in the world the church of Jesus Christ has come together to worship.

When I was growing up, Sunday was a special day. And, back then, even those who chose not to attend church still reserved a certain respect for Sunday and how the day should be treated.

We need to accept the wonderful gift of God’s day. We can do this by recognizing its special purpose: to honour Him by resting and reflecting on His goodness. As we do that, we’ll want to find ways to return the gift to Him with gratitude — through ministry, through worship, and through avoiding anything that makes Sunday just another day.

The two command here are to remember it and to keep it holy.

The story goes that when Africa was first being explored, native guides were taking their visitors through the region. After six days of pushing through the jungle, the natives refused to walk. They explained, “We need a day to let our souls catch up with our bodies.”

God has given you a gift to get your soul back in alignment. Will you accept it?

Hyper-conquerors

God’s love is so amazing. It is constant and unfailing. And, amazingly, it is also triumphant. Not only will it endure all circumstance, it will overcome all circumstances: “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). We are not merely conquerors; we are more than conquerors. What can this mean?

The Greek word for “conquer” is hypernikao, a compound word made up of ‘hyper’ (“more, above, beyond”) and niko (“to conquer or prevail”). The term is a unique one, occurring nowhere in the Bible but this particular verse. It has no single-word counterpart in English, so we must cobble together two or three words to get the sense of what it means. Scholars have tried such phrases as “overwhelmingly conquerors” and “beyond conquering,” but my favourite by far is “more than conquerors.” Many of the more recent translations contain that familiar phrase. 

But let’s try another one: “hyper-conquerors.” If has a modern ring to it and suggests the idea of a new league of superheroes — “The Hyper-Conquerors”! I think I like it. Let’s try it out on what Paul is telling us:

    • In the midst of all these things that try to bring us down (tribulation, distress, persecution, you name it), we are hyper-conquerors.
    • When facing any problems that life can dish out — you are a hyper-conqueror.
    • In struggling with that problem you’re worrying about this very day, which is ____________ (fill in the blank), you are a hyper-conqueror.

The very term lifts our spirits and seems to infuse us with a ray of hope. But there’s more to being a hyper-conqueror than just emotional hype. If we were merely conquerors, we would have nothing to complain about. We would neutralize the forces that opposed us. We would prevail. But as more than conquerors, whatever comes against us actually ends up working in our favour. Every difficulty that challenges us finally serves to prove the love of God, from which nothing can separate us. When those evils lie in chaotic rubble, God’s love stands high and unfazed like an immoveable monolith.

How does this work in real life? Here’s a story that gives us the answer.

During his reign of terror, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini turned his war machine on Ethiopia and expelled all the Christian missionary there. Christians everywhere began praying immediately. The answer came in two waves: first, in the protection of the expelled missionaries; and second, in reopening the doors of Ethiopia to the Gospel after the military pride of Italy lay broken in the dust and Mussolini was executed by his own countrymen. 

But during the missionaries’ absence, the Word of God multiplied in Ethiopia, and the returning missionaries found a larger, stronger church than the one they left. One group, the United Presbyterian Mission, had only sixty believers when the missionaries were expelled. On their return, the sixty had grown to thirty churches with a membership of sixteen hundred! These believers were more than conquerors.

With God’s love holding us when evils attack, we don’t merely prevail; we turn every dramatic event to our advantage. We feed on adversity and grow stronger. The greater the problem, the more we gain wisdom, spiritual power, and maturity. That’s what it means to be a hyper-conqueror. 

Nothing is meaningless in the world of the believer. Everything has a purpose; and in a world ruled by a loving God, the purpose is always to use every encounter to shape us into the perfect image of our Lord. Every difficulty will be turned to our favour and help us to become “perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4). Or, in Paul’s words, to become more than conquerors. 

God Is At Work In Us and Sometimes It Hurts

Our loving Father’s ultimate goal for us is that we share in His holiness. This is not just holiness, mind you; this is God’s holiness. The Lord wants us to “be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). As the apostle Paul said, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (I Thessalonians 4:7). The writer of the book of Hebrews states, “That we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). 

To be holy means to be set apart for a special purpose. The story goes that Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo chose a block of marble and set it aside to sculpt an angel from it. His hammer and chisel pounded and scraped away until out of that dull cube of rock emerged a beautiful angel for the tomb of the pope. “My task,” he told his admirers, “is to look at a block of stone and see an angel. Then I carve away everything that is not the angel.”

That’s what God does with us. Since we are not insentient stone, the hammering and chiseling may hurt. But we are in the hands of the Master Artist, and we are His masterpiece. If we submit to His sculpting, we will see holiness emerge from the dullness of ordinary living as we are transformed chip by chip into the image of Christ.

For fallen creatures bent on going their our own way, hardship and holiness are inextricably linked. There are no shortcuts; it’s a slow and painful process. God chips and chips until an unworthy attitude crumbles away. He scrapes incessantly until a bad habit disappears. All the while He sees beyond these imperfections to the beauty He intends for us.

Not only do we see the old, sorry attributes falling away, we begin to know God as only discipline can reveal Him. You see, sculpting is a close, detailed, intimate process through which we can develop a fellowship with Him that makes any conceivable discomfort more than worth it. 

What is God chipping away in your life right now? 

Are you fighting Him and refusing to change and alter a part of your lifestyle (attitude, action, thought, approach to life) or are you submitting and allowing to do what only God can do regardless of the discomfort?

Sometimes I Get Angry

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-get-angry/

 

Let’s look at the rather dangerous issue of anger:

“Sometimes I Get Angry” – “Rage Rash” 

Mark Twain once said: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”

So, we want to look at this commonly occurring issue and see if we can find out what the Bible says about … “Neutralizing the Acid of Anger”

Now I have a few things that make me angry … that makes my blood boil Read more

Where Is God? 

Same old story: Mom had two sons who were driving her crazy. She had read all the parenting books. She had tried every disciplinary strategy imaginable. Her kids weren’t children; they were uncontrollable force of nature.

One day she was bemoaning the situation in an over-the-fence conversation with a neighbour. Her friend said, “I took my son to the pastor, and he hasn’t given me a problem since.”

It didn’t should like much reason to get her hopes up, but Mom had tried everything else — what did she have to lose? She marched her two sons to the car and drove them to the church, where they had an appointment in the pastor’s office.

The clergyman worked like a good police detective: He separated the two suspects for interrogation. The younger one waited outside while the older one faced the somber, robed minister alone. Without so much as introducing himself, the pastor stared into the eyes of the frightened boy and began his interrogation with this thundering question: “Where is God?”

The boy was speechless.

The pastor repeated, “Where is God?”

The young lad looked away, searching the room as if the answer might be found on the shelves or in the framed picture. He still kept silent. The thunder sounded closer as the minister demanded for a third time, “Where is God?”

This time the boy leapt to his feet and fled the office. In the waiting room, he grabbed his brother and shouted, “Let’s get out of here! They’ve lost God and they’re trying to pin it on us!”

Have you ever lost God? Have you ever felt as if the folks at church have lost God somewhere? In my household, when something is lost, someone usually asks, “Where was the last place you had it? For many of us, maybe that’s the right question. Where was God when I lost Him? Where did I leave Him?

And as we reflect over these questions, we usually come to the conclusion that the last time we had God, there was a certain something in the air. There  was a feeling. There was an energy. Perhaps the right word is passion. Somewhere in the course of doing life, we lost the art of feeling God. The passion drained away, and the emptiness became palpable.

The idea of losing God is a terrible one. As a young believer, I was given a copy of a remarkable book called Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. I remember writing out the statement that seemed to be the very secret promised by the title. Hudson Taylor wrote: “I saw Him, and I sought Him, and I had Him, and I wanted Him.”

Those fifteen words carry the whole story. All the ingredients of the conquest of life are held in those four clauses — to see, to seek, to have, and to want. That last part addresses this issue of losing God — will we keep wanting Him once we’ve found Him?

Isn’t that what losing our spiritual passion is all about: losing our desire for God? And, how can we explain the idea of not wanting God? How can we acknowledge such an awful truth?

A.W. Tozer wrote that the great people of the Bible and Christian history have had an insatiable hunger for God. He waits to be wanted. Too bad that with so many of us He waits so very long in vain.”

Here’s my point: Desire for God is that spark that can ignite into flame (passion) or, when untended, fizzle into ashes. As we grow in the Christian life, we understand more and more that it’s a fire that must be fed. Coming to know God and realizing that He wants to be wanted does make the flames (passion) leap within us. Think about the first time you fell in love and the object of your affection loved you back. There were two elements: your wanting and the other person’s wanting to be wanted by you. It makes a world of difference, doesn’t it? If you find that your feelings are not cherished, neither will your love last.

In the same way, we come to a place where we not only desire God but feel His pleasure. His yearning for us. Every one of us wants to be wanted by someone. As a result, there is no heart in this world that will not be touched by the realization of being wanted and cherished by the Creator of the universe. It feeds the fire of our passion, and we want him all the more.

If you have lost God, turn around as He is right there. He wants to be wanted! Ask Him to rekindle your love and your passion for Him. That, is a prayer that He will answer immediately. Guaranteed. 

McDonald’s in Cardiff, Wales

You might say that Luke Pittard relished his job at McDonal’s in Cardiff, Wales. But he walked away from it after winning the UK National Lottery. After all, he was an overnight millionaire.

Luke celebrated his good fortune by marrying his girlfriend, Emma, also a McDonald’s employee. They bought a house and took a long holiday in the Canary Islands. But after returning to Wales, Luke was bored. “To be honest,” he said, “there’s only so much relaxing you can do. I’m … young, and a bit of hard work never did anyone any harm.”

Luke asked for his old job back, and now you can find him flipping hamburgers again at McDonald’s. He makes more money from the interest on his winnings than at the restaurant, but he feels a natural need to work and to be with friends and coworkers. “They all think I’m a bit mad but I tell them there’s more to life than money,” he says. 

Emma added, “I can totally understand it. We both really enjoyed working at McDonald’s and still have good friends there. So it was very familiar for him and something for him to look forward to.”

We all need a break now and then, but we don’t need an endless holiday. Instead, what we need is meaningful work, close friends, and something to look forward to. Those facts will never change, not in this life and not in heaven!

When you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you’re wealthier than the winner of the richest lottery. Remember — much of our treasure is ahead of us in heaven. But many people are afraid they’ll be bored there. It’s remarkable how many people — even Christians —  harbour mixed feelings along these lines. They ask: “What if I get to heaven and I’m bored? After all, there’s only so much relaxing I can do. What if I miss my friends? What if I long for the kind of activity that enriched my life on earth?”

Don’t worry, God is not boring!

Heaven won’t bore you; it will bring fulfillment and celebration! All your dreaming, praying, focusing, risk-taking, and investing — all your growth and maturing that you went through on earth, all your forward momentum — is a prelude to greater service, happier work, and richer fulfillment in your heavenly home. God’s children are always moving forward, even as they depart earth. 

We need to be looking forward to our new home in heaven. The apostle Peter said something important about this. Notice the words in italics, for they reveal the attitude we should have about heaven:

“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

Three times Peter told us to look forward, to anticipate what God has for us in the future: the return of Christ, the creation of the new heaven and the new earth, and our eternal home in heaven. Our anticipation empowers us to live holy, godly, and purposeful lives in this present age. 

Just a thought!

Just Do Something!

Did you know that showing compassion has measurable therapeutic value for our lives? Doing good for others does good for us. One of the benefits of showing compassion to others is that it reverses the destructive process of self-absorption, moves us into the healthy arena of seeing the need of others, and ultimately opens us up to the reality of God and His destiny for us.

William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, was passionate about showing compassion, especially for the downtrodden of the London slums. One day his son Bramwell entered the room early and found his father furiously brushing his hair, brushes in both hands, as he frantically finished dressing for the day. No time for “Good Morning”; Booth looked at his son and cried, “Bramwell! Did you know there are men sleeping outdoors all night under the bridges?” He’d been in London late the preceding night, and this had been a shocking sight on his way home.

“Well, yes,” said Bramwell. “A lot of poor fellows, I suppose.”

“Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself for having known it and done nothing for them,” answered William Booth,

Bramwell began constructing elaborate excuses. He could never add such a complex project to all the things he had going on in his life, which he now began to name. His plate was full.

His father simply barked, “Go and do something!”

That moment of resolve and compassion was the beginning of the Salvation Army Shelters, a special ministry that changed the lives of hundreds of homeless men during the early days of the Salvation Army work in London.

Have you ever had a Booth moment, when suddenly you saw some person or situation through God’s eyes and developed a fiery determination to see it change?

That is almost always the start of an amazing adventure with the Lord as you move forward out of self-centredness and begin to respond with compassion and meet the needs of others. Reminds me of an old saying I heard when first saved: “Find a need and meet it!” 

So many believers sit and wonder what the Lord has called them to do. They want to know what their ministry is. It’s simple: “Find a need and meet it.” In doing so the Lord can then direct you and reveal to you your unique calling and personal ministry. Just sitting and waiting for a revelation does not work. It is much easier to steer a moving car than a car that is parked. So, “find a need and meet it” will get you moving and then God will steer and reveal. 

Good advice: “Go and do something!”

In the Middle Of Adversity

A certain tribe of Native Americans had a special rite of passage for training young braves. On one boy’s thirteenth birthday he was blindfolded and taken deep into the forest, where he was left to fend off the terrors of the night.

The young man had never been apart from his family until now. He had learned of all the dangerous creatures and of the danger of becoming lost forever in the labyrinth of untamed vegetation. But now it was his role to show his courage.

When he took off his blindfold, he found himself alone under the moon and the stars. The darkness and solitude magnified every sound, infusing every snap of a twig with foreboding possibilities. Could a wolf be stealthily drawing near? Or maybe a poisonous snake, coiling itself in the branches above? He wondered in the privileges of adulthood were worth such a trial.

After a moonlit eternity the first rays of sunlight broke through the thick green canopy above him. He began to see flowers, trees, and finally a forest pathway. Looking a bit farther, he was jolted by the sight of a fierce warrior only a few feet away, bow and arrow at the ready. It was his father. He had silently kept watch through the night.

A reminder that when you are having a hard time and traveling through adversity and rough waters that your heavenly Father is right there with you. You might not see Him or even feel His presence but He is there nonetheless. He promised He would never leave us not forsake us. And, I believe that. He is there in the midst of the storm to protect us and see that we get through whatever it is we are facing.

Life can bring us to dark and foreboding places — lonely places in which we feel isolated and maybe desolate. Yet there is always Someone keeping watch. Why doesn’t He speak? Why doesn’t He disclose His presence so that we might relax? He keeps His slience because otherwise we would not learn the lessons we need to learn from the test or trial. And, we would not learn to be courageous. We would not build trust.

The trials and the dark tough times that bring us into maturity are often terrifying or even painful. But who wants to remain a child forever? Not me! I want to be a fully grown, mature disciple of the Lord. I want the traits He wishes to install in me through His perfect love — traits that will be evident only if I trust Him, even when I can neither see Him nor feel His loving hand.