Posts tagged ‘sin’

January 28, 2013

How Did We Get Here?

by pastortimfowler

Blog

 

I want to fast forward through the rest of Genesis to get to Moses and the deliverance from Egypt. I am currently working on a commentary of the Bible so I don’t want to duplicate that in blog form. Most people are familiar with the story of Moses and how God used him to free Israel from slavery in Egypt. What most don’t think about is how they got there. If you have read your Bible you know the story of Joseph being sold into slavery and the brother’s lie to the dad saying that he was killed. What happens after that is often forgotten when the slavery part comes around.
The Old Testament is full of typology. Certain things and places represent certain common theological issues all throughout the Bible. For instance, Egypt is a type of sin. God’s people, Israel were in bondage to sin, Egypt. When we get to that point in the Bible, most of us are feeling sorry for Israel and rooting for them to be delivered. We all want God to fix the injustice that Egypt is inflicting on them. What we forget is that Israel chose to live there.
Keeping in mind the typology, Israel chose through the years to disobey God. God promised them a land through Abraham and his descendents and over time they rebelled and did what they wanted to do. They chose what felt right to man over what was right to God. That is how sin works. It causes us to go farther and farther away from God. Before you know it we are deep in trouble and crying for God to get us out of it..
Remember that Joseph was sold and left for dead. God sent a famine, and his family that did this to him had to face their sin by going into Egypt and asking for help. Joseph made it possible for the family to move into Egypt and for a while, things were great. But that is how it is, way to often, with sin. It usually feels good and for a while even looks like the right thing, but before long, sin shows its true colors and turns ugly.
God said from the beginning that sin would lead to death. He said that sin would cause trouble for mankind as long as we are on this earth. The more we sin, the less God can fix our problems until we finally decide to turn to Him in desperation and let Him restore us. The good news is that when we finally ask God for help, He will help. He is the only answer to our sin problem. His gift of salvation and forgiveness comes through. Call to Him with all your heart. It is called faith and repentance. If we cry out to God with a change of heart He will forgive us and begin to deliver us from our sin.
The best thing we can do is trust God before we move to Egypt. Turn to God before we think that we can fix a problem by trying to get even further in sin.
Don’t forget that it was Israel that chose to live in Egypt. Don’t forget that even their best efforts turned into slavery. Don’t forget that God is the one who set them free. And don’t forget that you too can be set free if you cry out to God.

January 8, 2013

Where Did They Come From?

by pastortimfowler

SONY DSC

In Genesis chapter four we are introduced to Adam and Eve’s two son’s. Every time I read about their story of envy and murder I am reminded that parenting has never been easy and maybe, just maybe, I did okay, ’cause none of my kids killed the other; yet. There are a couple of things that we are told in this chapter that make people ask questions so I figure I will give my explanation. The first is, after Cain murdered Able, it almost seems like God gave him a really light punishment and even offered him protection. The second and probably the one I am asked about the most, is, where did Cain and Able’s wives come from? Both answers have a common answer. Let me explain.
The easy answer, but less acceptable answer for many is the one about the wives. They married their sisters. The other answer helps to make this more understandable and I will offer some biblical evidence for my answer as well.
Let me give an analogy to set the tone. In America there are laws against speeding. I have seen some speed limits as low as 15MPH. It is a known fact that horses can run faster than 15MPH. But when the cowboys were running around in early America on horses running faster than 15MPH, none of them were given tickets for speeding because there was no law against speeding. Sadly, today we have little regard for speed limits and the severity of this analogy is not the same as murder, or even incest, but, if there is no law, even if it is something wrong, there can be no punishment.
Now Adam and Eve were punished for their disobedience. They were told not to eat of that tree. But there were no other laws given. There was an awareness of right and wrong, but no law specifying individual deeds as sin. Romans 5:13Sin was in the world before there were any laws. But no record of sin can be kept when there are no laws. This is what explains the murder being treated with kid gloves, and can explain the “sister act” of Cain and Able’s marriage.
Today we have laws against incest. We also have medical evidence of the dangers of incest. But there are a couple of other things about Cain and Able’s situation that we must keep in mind. And there are some Biblical truths that we must remember as well.
Cain and Able’s generation was the first from Adam and the effects of sin on the human body were not as bad yet as we know them today. For several generations after Adam, humans lived upwards of 900 years. After the flood in Noah’s day, the lifespan of mankind was quickly limited to about 120 years, by God’s say so and the accumulating effects of sin which is what brought us death and disease. So the medical reasons for not having incest were not yet in place and there was no law against it yet.
There are two times in the Bible where marrying close relatives was necessary, or the Bible is false. Cain and Able and Noah’s family after the flood.
Many question whether or not God made other humans and they were the wives. Not according to the Bible. Genesis 3:20 Adam named his wife Eve [Life] because she became the mother of every living person. Adam and Eve lived over 900 years and could have many babies in that time. They were fully mature at creation and could have started having kids right away. There was not even many causes of head-aches then, so that excuse did not exist to not make babies. And we are told that sin entered into the world by one man, Adam, and was forgiven by one man, Jesus.
So that is where they came from.

November 7, 2012

We Better Think About It

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jakecaptive/3205277810/sizes/l/

The election is over and the blame game is going strong. I have already heard the Christians screaming about stuff like gay marriage and abortion and how the US is doomed to be judged by God. I will now proceed to make some people mad. We better think about it.
(1)Why did Jesus come to earth? (2)Why did He die on the cross? (3)Why did He establish the church? I am glad you asked. Here are some answers.
(1) 1 Timothy 1:15…This is a statement that can be trusted and deserves complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the foremost sinner.
(2) Colossians 2:13-14 …13 You were once dead because of your failures and your uncircumcised corrupt nature. But God made you alive with Christ when he forgave all our failures.
14 He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross
.
(3) Matthew 5:13-16… 13 “You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.
14 “You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill.
15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house.
16 In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven
. Those three references are not the complete biblical answers, especially to the question of what is the purpose of the church, but it does summarize things fairly well. Now let me add my two cents worth into things.
God wants all to be saved, not just those who haven’t committed “really bad things”. Jesus came to earth to save sinners, and we all fall into that category.

When nailed to the cross, Christ took all sins and the death penalty, and nailed them to the cross. He did this so we could be forgiven if we chose to accept the gift of eternal life.
Those who are forgiven and claim to be followers have been given the task of telling others that they too can receive this gift. It is a command to tell others the good news. It is not our place to decide that one sin is worse than another. It is not our job to elect a better sinner. There is no such thing. But it is our job to act like we know this holy God and let people see our good works, not words. We should shine in what we do, not what we post on Facebook (my blog being the exception). We should be telling people how we were forgiven and how grateful we are for that rather than telling people how evil they are.
One thing I have not heard anyone say this morning is how bad it would have been to elect someone who, according to most evangelicals, follows a false religion. Is that better than abortion? I know that many think that Romney was a good guy, but being good is not what gets you to heaven. Being forgiven does. And no, this is not me putting an endorsement of Obama in my blog. I just think if we are going to be critical of one, we should be critical of all.

Perhaps it is time for Christians to do some serious thinking. The Bible tells us that we (God’s people) need to confess our own sins. It tells us that we need to follow God’s commands, all of them, not just pick and chose which sin we think is best or worst. There will never be a presidential candidate that is perfect, but there will always be a God who is. If we really want to make a difference as believers, perhaps it is time to be more passionate about our faith than we are about elections.

I used to be a drug addict and an alcoholic. I used to be a horrible spouse. I used to be a lot of things, and still have many sins that I struggle to overcome daily. But I have not always been a Christian. I am only a Christian because of what Christ did and my confessing to be a sinner to God and accepting His forgiveness. No president has changed that nor ever will. No election will make the church any more or less responsible for living that forgiven life in front of people. I am responsible for living as a very grateful and obedient follower of Christ. Without actions, my words mean nothing.

The church needs to love people with their actions. We need to show evidence that it is far better to be a forgiven sinner than one who is not. Hateful words rarely win anyone, but love covers a multitude of sin. Christ accepts sinners, all sinners. He allows them to come to Him just as they are and forgives completely. He patiently waits for us to change as His grace keeps us in good standing. Grace is amazing, judgement is not. Think about it.

August 30, 2012

One Step Ahead

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/252574052/

6am is very early for a lot of people. I am one of those. There was a time when I was up and about by 5:30am every morning, but with kids growing up and moving out and jobs changing to not require it, I have taken a liking to sleeping a little later. But this week I started meeting with a group of guys from the church at 6am for ministry training and it was really weird to be out that early. We wanted to meet at IHOP so that we could relax and let the food and drink come to us, but it doesn’t open until 7am. In fact, there is not a restaurant in this town other than fast food that opens that early, so I am not the only one who doesn’t want to get up that early.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron,so one person sharpens the wits of another. This is the verse I shared with the guys today, at 6am. It is important in life to have someone who can help you achieve your goals and follow God’s calling. It doesn’t matter if you are called to do a specific ministry or just want a closer relationship with God, others who have a little more experience can and should help. It is easy to become a Christian. All it takes is admitting you are a sinner in need of forgiveness from God and asking Him to forgive you because you believe that Jesus paid your sin debt. It is by grace that we are saved through faith. After that, the hard part begins. Growing to be the best Christian that you can be. Jesus never left the ones that He called alone to figure things out for themselves. He invested His time and His love into their lives. He showed them by example how to live a life that is pleasing to God and taught them about forgiveness when they failed.
Far too often Christians stagnate and become of very little influence to those around them. Not because they don’t want too, but because they don’t know how too. We try to be loners in our faith and self-taught followers of Christ. But like a self-taught plumber, self-taught Christians often don’t attempt much real work for fear of causing a bigger mess than that which already exists. This should not be the case.
Reading the Bible is an important part of being a Christian. But, like learning something such as plumbing, what you read can often confuse you more because some things need someone to explain terminology and procedures. And then there are those things that happen that don’t seem to fit the directions that you just read. I was trying to install a new sink the other day and the fittings in my house were different from what I had in the instructions that came with the sink. I tried several times to figure it out on my own, but every time I did, water kept flowing out of the pipes onto the floor and I am pretty sure that is not normal. So I went to the local home improvement store with parts in hand and asked for help. This guy was a plumber who had done this many times before and showed me how to make things right. It wasn’t as hard as I thought, but without his help, I would have never gotten it and chances are, I would have never tried this again. Now I believe that I could do it right and even help someone else who might be attempting this for the first time.
So I am trying to help some guys who want to go further in ministry. They in turn are helping others who are trying to grow in their Christian walk and relationship, and hopefully, one day those who they are helping will be meeting with me at 6am. Meanwhile, I encourage you to see about finding someone to help you grow to a better relationship with God. Perhaps you need encouragement to read your Bible more. Perhaps you need to serve in another capacity at your church and you need someone to help you take that step. Perhaps you just need to strengthen your faith in the simple fact that God has forgiven you or maybe you need to take that important step of trusting God for forgiveness and salvation. If so, and no matter where you need the help, there is someone who can and will help you. All you need to do is ask. But don’t think that you can do it all alone; iron sharpens iron.
A wise man once told me that you only need to be one step ahead to lead. Lead others to help them lead others. If you don’t know where to go, ask for directions. But please, do what it takes to find your way to God and continue growing closer to Him. He is waiting to meet you and desires a relationship with you.

August 29, 2012

Hateful Speech

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/b-tal/236503622/

I saw this on Facebook today: Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. When I read it I thought about our nasty political climate and presidential campaign and it made me think about these verses of the Bible:
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (GW)
1 First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people,
2 for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way
.
Christians should really think before they post things on Facebook or anywhere else that are full of hateful words. I think that it is very easy for us to lose our credibility as the people of love that we are supposed to be when all people see or hear from us is hateful slams of those we disagree with. Some of you may quickly say that in America, we have freedom of speech, and that is true, but as Christians, we have freedom from sin and using hate filled speech is sinful.
Years ago, I got out of the Navy and because I needed a job to provide income immediately, I went to work as a car salesman. One of the things I had to do is learn about the competition’s cars. All car makers make a model to compete with the others, like compact, mid-sized, full-sized, and pick-ups. What you learn is that there are subtle differences between each of them and that a good salesman could tell you what they are. My boss told me to learn those differences, not to talk down about the other make of cars, but to point out the ways your make of car was better. For instance I might say to a customer, Yes sir, the Chevy does have good towing capability, but the Ford we sell will tow a thousand pounds more than that. Given the fact that they are both fine vehicles, wouldn’t you get more for your money with our better towing capability?
But for some reason, people like to talk about the bad stuff or the different stuff as if it were bad. I was told years ago that different is not always wrong, it is just different. That is the way our country was built, to respect and give freedom to be different. But in the case where different is in deed wrong, slamming that wrong publicly rarely results in change. That is where Christians need to remember the words written in the verses above. Whatever leader is in place, it is because God has allowed that leader to be there. We are to follow the laws of the land and to respect those who are in authority over us and most of all we are to pray for them. Romans 13:4 The government is God’s servant working for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid. The government has the right to carry out the death sentence. It is God’s servant, an avenger to execute God’s anger on anyone who does what is wrong.

So I challenge you to promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. Love covers a multitude of sin.

May 18, 2012

That Loving Feeling

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/aunto/3281711078/

Falling in love is a weird term. It isn’t biblical nor is it something that really happens. Growing in love would be a better term. Yet Hollywood and TV land are constantly making shows that tell the story of two people who meet and know from the start that they are in love. (Yawn). I have experienced lust at first sight, and that happened more than once, but never love at first sight. There are many who will probably argue with me on this one, but far too often we confuse love and lust. And, most people have no idea of what love really is. Dictionary.com gives this definition for love. A noun; a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. I don’t care for the definition as a stand alone meaning, but even this can’t happen at first meeting. The Bible gives this meaning for love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant.
5 It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs.
6 It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth.
7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.
8 Love never comes to an end…
Certainly, this doesn’t happen at first sight.
This brings up the other side of the argument, can you fall out of love? I say no. There are a couple of reasons for my answer. First, the biblical definition of love says that love never ends. Now this is based on pure love, God’s type of love. Not a lustful, self-centered love, but one that is sacrificial and serving of others. The Bible says that God is love. Because of that, we have the ability to love like Him. This is the perfect love that never ends. God never stops loving. Some may say this isn’t true because God punishes sin, but like a father punishes a son that he loves, God does so too. God’s love is extended to every human on earth that ever has, is, or will live. This is done through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as payment for our sins. Sadly, many are blinded by misinterpretations of God’s word and ignorance of the total concept of the Bible, and never see this love. But for any who will seek Him, love can be found.
This type love is extended through married couples and families. This is another reason that I say you don’t fall out of love. A mother loves a child. If that child grows to be a mass murderer, the mother still loves the child. Sure she can be disappointed and ashamed, but she does not stop loving the child. This love is deeply engrained in who a mother is. Her love is not conditional, it is a part of her very being.
My parents were married for 21 years when they got a divorce. My dad was an alcoholic and became abusive. Finally, my mother couldn’t stand it any longer and filed for divorce. They did the typical divorce couple fights and said mean, hateful things about each other. Many years later, when my mother died of cancer, my dad cried like a baby at her funeral. He told me that he never stopped loving her, but that he had allowed his love for her to become inactive due to drinking.
My mother told me several times before she died that she still loved my dad. She said the love that used to show in their relationship stopped being nurtured and so it stagnated. She said that after years of wanting to feel the love flow and not being able to caused her to lose hope, but not love.
We must be very careful to not let love become defined as warm fuzzy feelings. We must constantly work to show love so that is doesn’t become stagnant. Stagnant waters are where disease and filth tend to gather. Love is far too beautiful for that to happen. Love must be given away as freely as we want to receive it. It can never become a one way street or we will risk becoming stagnant.
There is a great old song that is sung in many a karaoke parties called, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. You can lose the feeling, but love never ends.
Don’t let the ones you love, lose that loving feeling.

May 15, 2012

There Is No God

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturegal/4267190771/

As a pastor and a Christian, I have heard many criticisms of my faith. I am cool with that, after all, there was a time when I did not believe and offered as bad, if not worse criticisms myself. One of the things I often hear is how cruel and intolerant God and the Christian faith is. I have to admit that most of the harsh things said about Christians are earned by those who call themselves Christians, but God is a different story. He is called cruel and intolerant for a lot of wrong reasons and mostly because people refuse to read the whole Bible and take things in context. I include Christians in this. They are just as bad to quote one liner to point out how bad someone or something is and tell you that you are going to hell. The Bible was never meant to be a book to prove our point by pulling out what fits our argument. It is meant to show how God is God and we are not and that there is morality that matters in this world and those morals are based on who He is and not what we think it should be.
So for a moment I am blogging as if there is no God.
If you disagree with me about anything, you are a scumbag. I make the rules and I am right. Who are you to disagree with me? Nature put me at the top of the food chain and my opinion of what is right is right. Sure, you can have an opinion, but I don’t care what it is and that makes you intolerant because you won’t even try to understand why I am right. I made myself to be the god of this blog and anywhere else I am. My beliefs are right because I believe them.
I, for this blog, now believe in evolution and natural selection. It is good science and it is right. Natural selection is the process by which biological organisms with favorable traits survive and reproduce more successfully than organisms that do not possess such traits, and, conversely, organisms with deleterious traits survive and reproduce less successfully than organisms lacking such deleterious traits. (New World Encyclopedia) Because of this, I must be superior or I would not have survived. Therefore, people who are inferior to me will be or should be dead and cease to exist. This includes homosexuals who cannot reproduce for themselves and therefore must be inferior. They should not survive the evolutionary process and should be dead. Don’t get mad at me, there is no God and I am making the rules. Who are you to try to force your morals on me? You fascist pig. That is real science that backs me up. Only someone who believes in a loving God who provides a way for all of a fallen humanity to be forgiven would ever think that homosexuals have a right to exist on this planet. Real humanists know that evolution is right and never would allow for anything that can’t even reproduce itself to continue to evolve. That would be unscientific and mean that evolution is flawed and cruel. It would mean that weaker things could not continue and have to be replaced by better things, like me.
Okay, back to reality. I do believe in God. Yes, God allows for sin to be punished by death, but at least it is because of a sin of choice rather than being born a certain way that condemns us. Humans are all going to sin. I too have and do still sin. Over time God dealt with sin in different ways. But every time He dealt with sin, He offered a chance to repent first. Read the whole Bible before you challenge me on that one. God never just kills innocent people. God even cares when an animal dies. But nature and evolution, have no conscious or morals and the weak and inadequate will die with no hope. And if there is no God or higher authority, who are you or anyone else to tell me how to live? If there is no God, then I will be God to myself and you can not.
God is love and chose to give a way to be forgiven through the death of His Son. He is holy, we are not. But God made it possible for us to become one with Him. Not through evolution or natural selection, but through redemption. No sin is worse than another. We don’t get to choose what sin is, God does. We don’t get to condemn either, so stop it Christians. We need to remember that we are only going to heaven by the grace of a loving God, not because we are special. And none of us have become perfect in this body. (I am close).
The Bible is a beautiful book of God’s love for a fallen creation and His provision to restore us. He has, does, and will judge sin that is not forgiven, but did, will, and does forgive any and all sin when asked. And there are no bigger sins than another. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

April 11, 2012

What Does That Word Mean?

by pastortimfowler

I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to people using words that don’t mean what they think it does or perhaps they have no clue what they mean but they are trying to sound smart. I had a professor one time use the word flabbergasted as he was trying to tell us how good it would feel to be healed completely after you met Jesus. I thought the word meant something negative but it was in fact proper use of it because it means to be overcome with astonishment.
There are lots of words that people use because they hear them on TV or in a song or in a conversation. The word surreal is one that I hear a lot and I don’t think it is always used properly. I hear it in about every interview on the news when something happens that people think is special. It may be close, but not what the intent of the word is supposed to be. I have a friend who got in the habit of using the word phenomenal. Everything that was better than normal was phenomenal, but if that was so, then nothing would really be phenomenal.
Lately there is a word used by our president that bothers me. It is not a hard word, but I don’t think he is using it correctly; fair. The word fair means free from bias and so how can you tax someone more than others for any reason and call it fair? Usually it is used when talking about the rich not paying their fair share. But how can anything be fair if there is bias based on income? What about those of us who don’t have minor children? We pay more in taxes than someone who make the same wages who has minor children. Is that fair? And my biggest question of all is who elected anyone for the purpose of telling me how much of my money I need to give them to spend on fairness?
If you want to be fair, perhaps we should use a standard percentage for everyone to pay no matter how much they earn. 20%, and that is not the amount I am suggesting, would be the same percentage for someone who make $10,000 per year or $10,000,000 per year. That would be fair. And forget about deductions for children or houses or anything else, just pay your percentage and it will be fair.
There are very few things in this world that are fair. I find fairness in the Bible. God says that all believers should give 10% of their income. No matter if that is a penny or millions of dollars, 10% is the standard and it is fair. It teaches that everyone is a sinner in need of forgiveness. Everyone will have to either die for their sins or accept Jesus’ death for their sins. That is fair. Anyone can be forgiven, no matter the sin or amount of sins and the fair thing that God requires is that everyone ask to be forgiven believing that Jesus died for our sins. God has no favorites and it is not His will that even one soul perish, but that all should come to know His great love and forgiveness. That is surreal. That is flabbergasting. It is phenomenal. It is fair.

March 28, 2012

Justice

by pastortimfowler

Justice.jpg

According to dictionary.com, this is the definition of Justice: the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness. It does not mean do what you think is right. It does infer that there is a higher authority that determines what is right. I believe that higher authority is God. Otherwise that leaves the whole idea of right and wrong in the hands of mankind, who has the tendency of injecting feelings over facts. I have written about right and wrong and where we get the idea of what they are. It has little to do with feelings, but few will admit it. Justice is a word being tossed around by many in cases like I wrote about yesterday. Justice in America is accomplished through a system of laws and courts and civil authority, not random groups who feel like they have a better way.
Before I go any further I want to respond to one comment from a reader about yesterday’s blog. I said that clergy needed to speak out about the threats of taking the law into your own hands and this person said that there are no black pastors or churches that were not racist or had the guts to speak out. This is one of those times that I would like to slap someone who reads my blog. You could not be more wrong. The only reason I feel that I can speak out on such a sensitive subject and be as bold as I am is because my friends know my heart and know me. They know that the truth sets us free and not our opinions. Many of my friends are black and pastor churches full of people who love God and other people, regardless of race. While I appreciate your opinion, I take offense at your racist comment about my friends and brothers in Christ.
Now back to justice. The goal of justice is to make things just, or right. Right and wrong were never meant to be subject to feelings. They were never meant to be gray areas or ambiguous. There is a difference between and law and right and wrong. A law can be something that is totally based on feelings. For instance, the current health care law is a feeling that everyone has a right to health insurance. I can find no place that ever gives us a clear-cut right or wrong concerning this. If the law remains, it will be wrong not to follow the details of the law, but it is still based on a feeling.
Right and wrong is where there is a clear-cut determination, regardless of feelings. Murder is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Sexual abuse is wrong. These are things that almost every civil society in the world agree on. It is something that comes from the very moral fiber of humanity, which I believe comes from God. It is right to help the poor, but how, is left open for interpretation. It is right to work for what you have and to provide for your family. It is right to love and protect one another.
But justice is the process of taking a wrong and to the best of the ability of the legal system, making it right. That may mean to those who have stolen, that they give back. To those who have hurt another that they lose the ability to hurt again. The process most often takes time, and because of the human element, can sometimes make mistakes. That still does not give anyone the authority to take this into there own hands. We must first give the justice system time to work. In America we are innocent until proven guilty. We are protected from those who would take vengeance into there own hands and given a method to defend ourselves against all accusers.
The bottom line to this whole idea of justice comes down to God. He is the only righteous judge. He is the only one who knows the hearts of man and has promised that no sin will go unpunished. He did not limit those sins to the ones that we feel are worst, but to all sin that has separated us from Him. He made a way for the punishment for sin to be given to another. One who would be our sacrifice and take the wrath of God so that we may receive total forgiveness. Not based on who we are or how good we say we are, but totally based on His love for us and His hatred of sin that causes us to be separated from Him. God can do this because only a righteous judge can bring true justice with no influence from human imperfections. God has done this and will do this for those who repent.
Although His justice is firm and final, He has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, our advocate, the Savior of humanity. Vengeance is Mine says the Lord. His judgment is true and His mercy is greater. Justice will prevail.

March 12, 2012

Three Things I Learned

by pastortimfowler

I just finished reading the Bible through again for at least the 20th time. No, I am not bragging, it is just a fact. I started out several years ago trying to read the Bible from beginning to end at least once every year. For the most part I have been successful and sometimes I get through it twice and other times I fall a bit short. But I have noticed that every time I read it through I learn something different or strengthen what I thought I believed and every now and then I have to change my mind on something. Either way I am never disappointed. Another reason I do this is because I tell my church all the time that they need to read the whole bible for themselves and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.
I believe that at least 75% of Bible conversations contain some sort of misinformation. Not intentional, but out of ignorance. The Bible is an incredible group of writings that span thousands of years and many cultures. That can make proper interpretation difficult, but certainly not impossible. The reason for this misinformation is that people who say that they are Christians do not read the Bible with the intent of learning what God says, but they read it to pick out what they want to believe He says. Throw in the fact that translation any language to another can be difficult to insure the purity of the thought is intact and you can have some really wild stuff come out in conversation. But that is not the purpose of this blog.
Here are three things I learned this time.
1. God is not a liar. Now I knew this and didn’t doubt it, but I kept being reminded every day that if God says it He means it. He said that sin would cause death and it does. He said that He forgives and He does. He said that Israel would never cease to exist and despite all odds, they have not. There are prophesies that were written hundreds of years before they came true and the accuracy in which they came true are incredible. History has some amazing records of what the Bible says coming to be true. Sure there are still things that I don’t understand and have not come true, but the more I read it the more I believe it.
2. What I thought were inconsistencies are not. This is very close to repeating what I said in the first thing, but I want to elaborate. There are things in the Bible that seem to contradict itself. Yet the same Bible says that there are no contradictions and that the Bible is God’s infallible word. This is the source of friction between denominations and churches and believers and non believers. As of right now there are things that I don’t have an answer for when it comes to this subject. But every time I read the Bible, I find that the inconsistency is not in the Bible but in my interpretation of it. That is why I said that there are times when I change my mind on something that I thought before. Some call this flip-flopping or manipulating, but I just know that the God I believe in says that He is perfect and I am not. So if anything needs to change it must be me. No human will ever fully understand God until we get to heaven and He reveals to us His truth perfectly, without our sin nature getting in the way. Meanwhile, I will keep searching and adjusting to my faith to agree with God and His word.
3. God really loves me. The Bible says that God is holy and we are not. Sin keeps us from God and God hates that. So He made a way for us to be close to Him through the sacrifice of His son Jesus. Let me take a moment to clarify. I didn’t just learn that God really loves me. I just keep learning how much more He really loves me. The Bible is not a book full of perfect people who do perfect things to please God. It is just the opposite. It is full of messed up people doing stupid things that ruin our relationship with God and He has to fix it. He allows us to make a choice to trust Him or not. He never forces Himself on people but always tries to draw us close to Him. He is patient with us and waits for us to give Him a chance to show His love for us. There are hundreds of stories of people who tried and failed and still God kept wanting to mend the relationship and always accepted the repentance of those who asked for forgiveness.
Because the first two points I made are ever on my mind, I know that God has every right to kill me. I sin. But because He loves me unconditionally and I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, God has made me one of His children and fathers don’t disown their children, not loving fathers ant certainly not the perfect Father, God. Every time I mess up, God convicts me. It may take a while for me to see it His way, but when I do, He always forgives me and His love never changes. I tell you this because I mess up more than most think a pastor should. I tell you that because I want you to know that He will forgive you no matter who you are and what you have done. God really loves us!
There are several other things that I learned this time through, but I wanted to express these three because they are consistently being strengthened in my heart and mind every time I read the Bible. I challenge you to try reading it all, and then do it again. Don’t look for the gotcha moments, but look for the consistent truth that runs deep about a God that has every right to judge us, but does everything possible to redeem us.

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