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What Does God Think About Abortion

What Does God Think about Abortion?

We have heard from preachers and politicians telling us what God thinks about abortion, but what does God actually say in the Bible?  I want to share with you from Biblical principles the many-faceted angles of abortion and what God thinks about it.

Jeremiah 1:5
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. ” (NIV)

This is the word of the Lord spoken to the prophet Jeremiah. God knew Jeremiah before He was formed in the womb.  He knew him.  He was familiar with him.  He knew his name, his personality, his essence.  These words remind us that abortion is taking the life that already existed in the eternal realm that has been placed in the womb to become flesh on this Earth.  Nevertheless, what doesn’t exist cannot be known.  God knowing Jeremiah before the womb reminds us that conception in the womb is life.  It is known by God and for man to take this life is not acceptable to God.

We read how John the Baptist, still in the womb of Elizabeth, jumps for joy within her belly when Mary, pregnant with Jesus, comes to visit her.  John and Jesus knew one another in transcendence before their physical bodies were fully formed.

So many Christian articles about abortion are simply statements of why abortion is wrong or a sin.  Anyone with faith in the Bible as the Word of God, along with the logic that nothing can be known that doesn’t exist, makes it clear that abortion is not godly.  Nevertheless, should the question of right or wrong be the focus of believers?  Should our focus be in the politics and polity of abortion laws?

 

 

Should I fight to make abortion illegal?

Not everyone considers abortion sinful.  The Bible clearly teaches us not to judge those outside the church.  If someone has no issue with abortion, it is not productive to argue the point with them.  Biblically, we know the laws of a nation can bring blessings or curses down upon that nation so working to make abortion illegal is a noble cause. Telling someone who has had an abortion that they have sinned against God or holding up signs that say “God hates abortion” doesn’t really convey love to those who may wonder if God can still love them after they’ve had an abortion.

The response of the church to abortion must be anchored in love then morality.  Many will disagree with me here, but Jesus’ morality is wrapped in transformation.  Jesus did not require the woman caught in adultery to confess her sin, renounce it, or even ask for forgiveness.  He prioritized mercy above morality.  It is not that He was not concerned with morality because His command to her was to go and sin no more.  He first gave mercy, then morality.  Isn’t this God’s way?  He died for us on the cross while we were yet sinners.  This love draws us to Him, makes us want to listen, to follow Him.  Then comes morality as He teaches us to be holy as He is holy for this is the way to abundant life.  Love followed by morality strengthens a person’s sense of being loved.  Morality before love makes the law of God more important than the child of God.  Jesus criticized people like this in Scripture telling them their actions were the same as putting a stone around someone’s neck and throwing them into the sea.

God’s compassion for us comes out of His understanding of the original sin that we often forget.  We don’t sin because we are bad people.  We sin because we were born with the condition of sinfulness.  If a baby is born with a defect that disallows them to walk, we are not angry with the baby.  We have compassion for their condition.  With sin, we forget it is a condition that we must be rescued or saved from.  Too often, our view of sin doesn’t span wide enough.  We act as if there is no condition causing sin, but the Bible clearly teaches there is a sinful nature.  All of Scripture is not about people no longer sinning as much as transforming them in the Spirit so they are set free from the law of sin and death, the sinful nature.  God breaks the chain of our slavery to sin.  Our greatest concern must be the condition that leads to sin more than the sin itself.

Political posturing to make abortion has great merit, but has the church become so consumed with this that it has forgotten our first calling from the Lord is to minister to individual people as they suffer from the pain of sin.  We can walk and chew gum at the same time.  We can be active politically in the abortion arena.  Our first priority must be loving those whose lives have been hurt from the effects of abortion.  Changing the law is important for God’s protection over our nation, but it will not save a single soul.  To be active politically but absent in personal ministry is an earthly response to a spiritual issue.

 

How can abortion be sinful if God commanded the death of the unborn?

For many, the struggle is found in the Christian message of love from a God who commanded the death of many people including pregnant women and children.  The average Christian has lost sight of God’s command for Israel was to defeat the city of Jericho and kill every man, woman, child, and animal.  Surely, in a city this large, there would have been many pregnant women.  How can a God who protects the sanctity of life destroy the unborn?  Another difficult passage is the Old Testament ceremony regarding the suspected infidelity of a wife.  The priest was to take bitter water and give it to the wife whose husband is unsure of her fidelity to Him and then declare:

Numbers 5:19-22
Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse —“may the LORD cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” (NIV)

Many outside the church claim the Christian stance of God’s sanctity for life has no basis because of passages such as these.  What they miss is that God and God alone is Judge.  He has the authority to dispense consequences though none of us do.  In the human realm, it is the same.  If I see someone robbing a bank, I can call it wrong.  Perhaps, I can make a citizens’ arrest.  But I don’t have the authority to condemn them to prison for any number of years.  Only those endowed with this authority can do this.  But we allow judges to hand down punishment even though they, themselves are not perfect.  It is a necessary, though a  highly imperfect, system in an attempt to maintain order.

Remember, the Bible places people into two categories: perfect and imperfect.  The first group only has one member.  His name is Jesus.  The rest of us belong to this other group.  Judges have authority to hand down consequences because it has been given them by man.  God’s authority, however, is based on His perfection.  Only the one who has never sinned can justifiably condemn those who have.  Like any kind Father trying to help their children live their best life, He motivates us with a promise of blessing to our children when we live according to His statutes, but the absence of these blessings, which is what a curse is, when we don’t follow this way also fall upon our children.  It is not that God does not value life.

He is the Good Father using both reward and punishment to help his children take the best path that He alone who is omniscient can know.

 

Is it ever ok to have an abortion?

A person’s lack of understanding of God’s authority to bless and curse must not be allowed to deceive us into believing that abortion is acceptable to God.  We should, however, have a posture of patience and mercy for those who do not understand.  Abortion is not acceptable to the Lord.  No person, no human being, has the moral authority to take the life of another innocent human being.  Judges may give the guilty a death sentence, but this is a man-made government attempting to establish order.  This is controversial enough, but to sentence to death an innocent baby is so far beyond what any human has the authority to demand.

What about in the case of rape, incest, or the danger of the mother?  These are beyond difficult situations.  Secular society will rationalize these moments, but the Bible calls for faith in the heart of a Christian.  Should I walk into my wife being raped, would it be acceptable to God for me to kill the rapist?  Yes, it would be.  I know that is going to throw many of my Christian brothers and sisters, but Scripture teaches this:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-3
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal, (NIV)

We can not equate rape with abortion however because we know God allows and disallows our behavior according to the hearts of men made clear by their pattern of behavior.  In other words, a rapist is trying to do great harm, perhaps kill his victim.  A baby in the womb has not such intention so this comparison is apples and oranges.  Those who criticize the pro-life community will often use against this group, their support for the death penalty.  This is an unfounded comparison.

The pain of having a child from rape is more than what I can know or that anyone could know who has never gone through such a nightmare.  However, the principles of Scripture remain.  The Lord would call for us to lean on Him remembering that He is the God who makes streams in the desert, pathways in the wilderness, and brings life from death.  He would call for us to lean upon His promise:

1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (NIV)

What is this escape but a way to move out from underneath the pressure creating temptation.  For some, this may be allowing the baby to be adopted.  For some, it may be raising the baby as a way of overcoming how our spiritual foe, Satan, would want to steal our joy, peace, and love.

This is so much easier for me to say this than for someone to endure it.  This is why I have no right to judge, neither does anyone else.  It’s easy to say a mother should stand up in court and offer forgiveness to the one who murdered her little boy because that is what Jesus would do.  But woe to anyone who judges another without walking in their shoes.  This is why the Bible says not to condemn one person for a speck of dust in their eye when we have a whole plank of wood in our own.  But the error of me judging someone who struggles to put their faith in the promises of God does not change the promises of God.  In all of these, the Lord calls upon us to let Him strengthen our faith.  Faith in His promises allows Him to take what was meant for evil and use it for good.  He takes that born in the spirit of death and subjects it to the spirit of life.  He reverses and defeats evil that all people might know that God is alive and His way is true.

 

How to minister to someone who has had an abortion?

Those who have had an abortion must be loved before they will believe that God still loves them.  As we love them, they will learn to trust our love for them.  They will be confident that our priority is their well-being.  Trust opens the door to speak of the dangers of immorality.  These will be words of life, not condemnation.  Those consumed with guilt because of abortion need to be reminded that the only sin that keeps the Lord from receiving them into His arms is their rejection of Him.  He will never reject anyone who comes to Him, but He will not force His way into the heart of someone rejecting Him.  They need to be reminded that their action was not the end, but the Lord has made provision for those who perish before reaching an age of understanding.  They need to know they will see their baby in the Heavenlies.

Love before morality opens a hardened heart to hear the truth of Scripture regarding forgiveness and the Heavenly reunion with babies they have never seen.

The Bible teaches morality without a doubt.  The Ten Commandments clearly reveal this and of course, the sixth commandment is “Thou Shall Not Murder.”  Christ, however, has not called us to be moralists, but Christlike.  The priority of moralists is to declare what is moral and what is not.  However, our priority as believers is not to teach morality, but to love.  Often, these will overlap.  For example, the negative consequences of abortion ranging from physical complications, emotional anguish, and mental health can be destructive to someone.  If we love them, we will guide them away from all destructive behavior as we ourselves attempt to live away from these same behaviors.  The separation between morality and love is found in the intent.  The intent of morality is to decide, teach, promote, and demand the right behavior.  Of course, to demand the right behavior without love tears people down.  Christians are commanded to build one another up.  The intent of love is heart transformation, so a person experiences the abundant life Christ has for them.  This distinction should affect our response to the issue of abortion.  Christians should care about the laws of the land and whether abortion is legal, but a higher priority is to help those who are suffering from the injurious effect of abortion.

Morality is truth regardless of impact, but we are taught to speak the truth in love.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  It does not bring up past mistakes to do harm.  God does not break a bruised reed and neither should we.  We should never beat down someone who is already deeply hurt.  The power of God’s love is the message it sends to a sinful world.  The cross symbolizes God’s love for us even at our worst.  The Bible says we love God in response to Him loving us as we are in all our imperfection and sin.  Love transforms.  Morality without love embitters.

 

How to deal with the guilt that may come from having an abortion?

Many of you reading this may carry a weight of guilt because of an abortion.  I want to clearly say to you today that God loves you just like you are.  His compassion eclipses His wrath.  And I want you to know that the Bible teaches us that we all need God because all of us have broken His law.  As humans, we have placed greater emphasis on certain sins, but the Bible does not teach this.  Consider this passage for example:

Romans 1:29-32
They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (NIV)

Even though the human imagination supposes some sin is worse than others, it is only the immediate consequence of some sin that is greater than the immediate consequences of others.  God is more concerned with the long-term effect than the immediate consequences of any sin.  He considers all sin equally dangerous because the ‘little’ sins open the door to ‘bigger’ sins.  There are no ‘big’ sins without preceding ‘little’ sins.   This is what Solomon meant when he said it was the ‘little foxes that ruin the vineyards.’  What we see as little sins may actually be more dangerous because they are equally corrupting to our soul but much harder to detect.  If I killed a man, I would be fully aware of this, but I can easily justify and turn a blind eye to a small lie told to someone to make myself look better.  The way human society assesses sin, including the church many times, is not Biblical.

So when it comes to abortion, the human consequence is greater.  This is true, but God gives us a list in Romans that all lead to the same place of destruction.  There are some that seem ‘small’ such as gossip and disobedience to parents and some that seem ‘larger’ such as hating God.  God judges all of these as equally wicked and perilous to the good life He wants for us.  The only person who is perfect enough to judge you is God and He does not see abortion as somehow beyond redemption.  In fact, God has already forgiven you.  When He died on the cross, He died for all sin.  If God knows how many hairs are on the top of every head in the world, He surely knows every sin each person will commit.  In foreknowledge, He knew every sin you would ever commit and He died on the cross for your forgiveness.

Don’t let anyone, not even other Christians, convince you that God will not forgive.  Forgiveness is a gift that He has already left on your porch.  Like an Amazon package, it is waiting there for you to bring into the home of your heart.  It is a free gift.  The only unpardonable sin is to refuse to open the gift of forgiveness.  Let today be a new day.  If God is Judge and He has forgiven you, then who are you to condemn yourself?  Let God be the Judge.  Accept His judgment that all sin was crucified on Calvary and thrown into the deepest sea.  His blood shed on the cross has made you clean.  Accept His forgiveness.  Stop beating yourself up. Start living a new life in the grace of His mercy.

Now, go and live blessed because you are, then go and be a blessing to others because they need it.

Biblical principles Christian Counseling

root cause of pride

The Root Cause of Pride

What is the root cause of pride? We are living in an atmosphere where everyone is convinced that they know everything.  Pride has taken root in American culture like no other time in history.  With so many controversial issues, we would think people might listen more to the other side.  The opposite is happening.  A quick glance on social media reveals the pride of humanity.  People are not only convinced they are right, but they also have no shame in declaring their rightness and condemning all who disagree as ignorant, stupid, hateful, racist, uncaring.

The Bible teaches that pride comes before a fall.  We can literally be certain that when pride prevails, disaster is just around the corner.  But even with this understanding, pride is embedded so deeply in the human spirit, we can’t get rid of it.

 

HOW TO GET RID OF PRIDE?

To root out pride, we need to understand the root causes of pride.  Sure, we can say that pride is connected to the sinful nature, but that doesn’t help us practically.  The Bible tells us to humble ourselves before the Lord.  God would not command it if it weren’t possible, but how?  How do we get rid of pride?  How do we humble ourselves before the Lord?  Today, let’s look deep into the soil of our soul to find the root cause of pride and yank it out.

One of the most audacious examples of pride in the New Testament occurs when Peter rebukes Jesus.  Can you imagine rebuking the Messiah?  Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it?  Of course, every time we take a course of action that goes against God, we are in a sense telling Him He knows nothing.  We are not quite in His face rebuking Him, but we are being passive-aggressive toward Him.  It’s pride, hubris, arrogance.  And it ruins everything.  As we identify the root cause of pride and how to get rid of it, let’s learn from Peter’s mistake.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (NIV)
Matthew 16:21-23

              The primary reason Christ has come to Earth as a man is to be the propitiatory sacrifice needed to open a way for sinful man to be restored in relationship with God.  Without this sacrifice, man would not be able to enjoy the love and goodness of God.  Without Christ on the cross, humanity would be forever lost chained to the floor of the devil’s dungeon.  He knew this would be difficult for his disciples to hear so He has slowly been preparing them for this moment.  He lays it out a plan before them that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer.  The key word here is ‘must.’  This is part of the plan, God’s plan.  This is what is necessary and right and good.  And Peter says, “You don’t have a clue what you’re talking about Jesus!”

 

THIS IS WHY GOD WANTS US TO BE HUMBLE

Pride enables us to think that we know what is right or what is best.  Pride conveniently helps us forget that we don’t know everything.  Pride prompts us to correct everyone else because, in our mind at least, we couldn’t be wrong.  The fact is that Peter did not want this to happen.

Anytime there is something that we don’t want, words we don’t want to hear or experience we don’t want to live through, changes we don’t like, we will resist.  We resist because human nature does not enjoy suffering.  Human nature wants to feel good and be at peace in all circumstances.  Of course, life does not allow this.  But our natural response to not getting what we want is resistance.  Then we have to justify that resistance.  Notice how Peter changes the vernacular from ‘must’ to ‘happen.’  Jesus says this ‘must’ happen meaning this is why I have come, and I don’t want you to worry when it happens.  Peter changes the dynamic as if it is something that could happen to Jesus outside of God’s plan.  He completely missed the point.  Pride gives us this unusual ability to morph what has been said or done into something else to justify why we should not have to endure unpleasantness.

This justification sets us up in opposition to God any time what He knows to be good and right might cause some temporary suffering.  Look at the morality of churches today.  So many have morphed Scripture into something that it is not to justify a position that avoids uncomfortable or contentious interactions with others.  Churches have decided that Biblical principles about marriage and sexuality were cultural only applicable during Biblical times.  To hold to the standard would mean being demonized as a homophobic, religious zealot.  Pride gives us the ability to justify the skew we place on Scripture.  Any false teaching that makes following Christ easier and more pleasant is very appealing to us in our pride.  Pride carries us to the other side of the battlefield, and we set ourselves up as God’s opponent with these small adjustments to His word to accommodate our need for congenialness.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.” (NIV)
James 4:6

 

WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF PRIDE?

Jesus says to Peter:

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (NIV)
Matthew 16:23

              Peter fell to pride because of what concerned him.  In other words, the thoughts that occupied his mind trapped him in his own pride.  He was thinking about human concerns, not Godly concerns.  But what is the difference?

Christ is concerned about what needs to be done to provide a way for sinful man to be reconciled to a holy God.  Peter is concerned about Jesus raising up an army to overthrow the Roman empire and the Jewish religious elite.  Peter’s concerns have to do with his suffering.  He wants to avoid suffering.  Think about when you worry.  Do we not worry most about those things that are messy, difficult, painful?  We hate to suffer.  Pride is in us because of the sinful nature.  We can’t do anything about the sinful nature.  However, by the blood of Christ and the Holy Spirit abiding in us, we have the power to resist sin.  Though pride is innate, we don’t have to succumb, but rooting out pride involves our thoughts.  It is not simply our thoughts, but our priorities.

 

GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN

The Lord is equating human concerns with Satanic thoughts.  Satan could care less about anything so long as we don’t find salvation in the Lord.  He is working continually to keep us from knowing Christ.  For those who know Christ as their Lord, He is working to discourage us from any kind of growth because our growth means help for others in finding Christ.  One of his main ways to do this is through fear produced by the prospect of suffering.  To root out pride, we must transfix our priorities to God’s priorities.  The cross is the focal point of God’s priorities.

Jesus said following Him means taking up our cross and denying ourselves.  To follow Christ is to suffer.  We suffer in that we don’t get what we want.  We suffer in ridicule of those who don’t love the truth of God.  We suffer in sacrifice living to help others come to Christ.  If we are going to set our concerns on the things of God, we must embrace suffering, not despise it.

I don’t mean that we punish ourselves as some kind of sign of repentance.  I mean that we embrace the suffering that comes with not living life for the earthly things we desire, but for the Heavenly things God desires.  Getting a promotion is not our priority when we go to work.  Our priority is to handle ourselves at work in a way that reveals the goodness of God.  Please don’t go to work tomorrow and stand up on your chair above all the cubicles and start preaching.  This is not what I mean.  I mean go to work and be helpful to others not selfish.  Be a team player, not a solo artist.  When everything hits the fan, let the people be more important to you than the issue.  Don’t allow yourself to have a bad attitude because you are more ‘concerned’ about losing a client than you are showing the love of Christ to your co-workers.

Don’t get in your car to go home and concern yourself with how much time you are spending in traffic.  I know, that’s a tough one.  Instead, handle yourself in traffic in a way that won’t make you look hypocritical when someone sees that Jesus fish on your bumper.  Instead, concern yourself with the things of God.  Let that time help you increase your patience.  Take the extra time to call a friend going through a hard time.  Wave to those sitting in line with you.  And when you are seeing them foaming at the mouth like a rabid dog, pray for them.  Is God more concerned about your level of patience or how long it takes you to get home?

 

A SERVANT MENTALITY

When soldiers go out to battle, they have orders.  These orders relay the priorities of the commanders who have the most information.  This information gives them the advantage of knowing how to fight the battle and win.  God is our commander.  Each day, to concern ourselves with His priorities, we need to get our marching orders.  If we don’t spend time in prayer, reading the Bible, letting the Spirit remind us of God’s priorities, then we can’t expect our sinful brain to do it on its own.  We need to hear from our commander.  This is what our spiritual disciplines are all about.

We need to get our priorities from the Word of God, from prayer, from meditation, and from the church.  Sometimes, in my pride, I have convinced myself so well that I am right that I can’t see it.  That is when I need a brother or sister in Christ who will speak the truth in love to me and tell me that I am wrong and being prideful.  When we are out of the church and never gather with Christians to concern ourselves with the things of God, the sinful nature will not be impeded, and our natural concerns will be of man.  We will set ourselves against suffering.  We will adapt our thinking according to what we want then let everyone else know how wrong they are.

Battles are not won on the battlefield.  They are won in the strategy room.  Our battle against our own sinful nature was won in the strategy room of Heaven.  But we must go to the throne of grace to get our orders aligned with the strategy to kill this enemy of my soul.  This will root out the spirit of pride from our hearts.

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HUMBLE YOURSELF BEFORE THE LORD?

Humility like pride is a state of mind.  Pride is our natural state.  We don’t have to work at being prideful.  When we look at something, we form an opinion that feels right which makes every other opinion feel wrong.  We don’t have to decide to feel this way.  It is natural.  It is only with some spiritual growth are we able to leave open the possibility that we might not be correct.  Then we can be humble before people and listen to their opinions.  To help us develop humility, God calls for us to humble ourselves before Him:

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (NIV)
James 4:10

              Humility is a mental exercise of reminding yourself in the presence of God that you are lower than He is.  Humility roots out pride.  As we move into a time of prayer and allow our focus to be upon the Lord as He sits on the throne, we imagine ourselves kneeling before the throne recognizing His eminence and our lowliness.  We exalt His wisdom and remind ourselves that without Him, we have no wisdom.  We exalt His holiness and remind ourselves that without Him, we have nothing good in us as the Apostle Paul said.

Humility is so anti-humanity that we can’t expect to have victory over pride easily.  The key is to continually exercise the spiritual discipline of humbling ourselves before the Lord each day.  If we do not do this each day, pride will come back with force.

Pride is part of the sinful nature and the sinful nature will be with us until we are glorified in Heaven.  We cannot kill it forever.  We can only kill it day by day.  In fact, we have to kill it circumstance by circumstance.  When a situation with potential suffering at any level presents itself, we need to make a conscious choice to say out loud, “Lord, I will gladly obey Your way in this moment.”  When we make this confession of our desire and delight in His law, we give the Holy Spirit permission to rise up against our pride and defeat it in the moment.  But it will return.  Each day, be it morning, noon, or night, take time to humble yourself.  Remind yourself of who God is then remind yourself who you are without God.  Then take this mindset into the rest of your day or the next day drawing upon it when suffering seems to be imminent.

 

A NEW PARADIGM OF HUMILITY

To root out pride, we need to humble ourselves but adopt a new paradigm of how the world works.  When we operate as servants concerned about the things of God, God gives us the desires of our hearts.  We often wake up in the morning set to go after the earthly things that we desire.  In fact, this is the American dream.  Dream for what you want, then go and make it happen.

We cannot deny that self-determination can bring earthly success.  But God’s paradigm brings success in one area while loss occurs in other areas.  These past few weeks, we have seen the announced divorce of two of the most successful men in the world.  Both Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are getting a divorce.  They have more money than anyone but God.  They have been wildly successful from an earthly standpoint, but their marriages are dead.  The new paradigm of serving the Lord moves Him to create success in all areas of your life.  He gives you success with balance, peace, and a restful soul.  God’s promise in James is that if we humble ourselves before Him, He will exalt us.  Here is another Scripture reference:

Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart (NIV)
Psalms 37:4

              Don’t get too excited thinking if you humble yourself, God is going to give you a new yacht.  As we humble ourselves, the Spirit responds to our efforts to do this by purifying our hearts so that the desires of our hearts change.  It doesn’t mean you will not get a new yacht, but all of your desires will be for those things that you will use to exalt the Lord and bless others.  Your heart will no longer be so selfish.  You will be transformed and moved into this new paradigm or humility allowing the Lord to exalt you according to your humility.  Worldly success is wrapped in selfishness, not humility.  Selfishness requires a great deal of effort to go after those things you desire.  But when we seek the Lord and serving Him as our King first, then He goes and gets these things and brings them to us.  We don’t have to become workaholics burning the candle at both ends.  Instead, our life is blessed, and we live in a spiritual, mental, even physical rest.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (NIV)
Matthew 6:33-34

              Humility seems backward in our American culture, but it is God’s way of blessing our life, giving us balanced success throughout everything in our life.  Make up your mind today to humble yourself, exalt Him, and concern yourself with the things of God and see if God won’t exalt you.

 

Biblical principles Christian Counseling

 

 

life is hard for everyone

Life is Hard for Everyone so stop being jealous

Why do we hate other people?  Life is hard for everyone, even if we can’t see it.  In the Old Testament, Joseph’s brothers hated him because of the dreams that God had given him.  Perhaps Joseph did not handle these dreams with wisdom by sharing them with his father and brothers.  I don’t know if he realized the meaning of the dreams.  He was only seventeen, nevertheless, the dreams indicated that he was going to rule over his family.  We know from the advantage of being able to look back that God was preparing Joseph for his future as a ruler in Egypt that would save his family and the entire nation of Egypt.  But when God first gave him these dreams, they were just dreams.  Most of us would just laugh off someone’s dream, but Joseph’s brothers hated him all the more.

Sometimes, we hate people for what God has given them.  We hate them because they have had an easier life, they have more opportunities, they are prettier or have a prettier wife, a nicer husband.  There are so many people all over the world who hate Americans as if we chose to be born here.  It’s not like God chose a group of people over others and asked them if they wanted to be born here instead of Venezuela or Haiti.  Why do we hate people for things that are not even in their control, things that God has put in them and in their life?

We do this because we totally misunderstand the appearance of blessing.  We look at someone who has been given what we have been denied and we are offended or resentful because we think these things somehow make things easier for them, more blessed than we.  But is life harder for us than them?

In Biblical times, the general theology was that if a person was rich, it indicated that they were blessed by God, obviously loved more and favored by God.  But then Jesus came along and blew this theology out of the water.  Here is what Jesus said:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Matthew 19:23-24 (NIV)

The people of Jesus’ day would look at the rich and they assumed that God loved them more because they had been born into these rich families, but Jesus said the more money you have, the harder it is to get into Heaven.  This is a reminder that just because things seem better for someone else, it doesn’t mean that is true.  For the rich, it is easier for them to be tempted by the god of mammon.  They put their faith in their own money and ability to make money to provide for their needs and desires instead of putting their faith in God.  This is a very devious scheme of the devil because they might go to church, read the Bible, and sing loud the songs of the church.  It is a sin of the heart and hard to detect.  What may appear to be a blessing could actually be a curse.  Life is hard for everyone.

Plus, the more we are given, the more God holds us accountable with what we have been given.  God does not hold a dirt poor Christian to the same standard of generosity as a filthy rich Christian.  God expects them both to give sacrificially, but the poor man has less to work with than the rich man so God’s expectation of money management for the rich is greater than the poor.  The same is true for wisdom or anything else that God gives.  Great blessings come with great responsibility and thus, great temptation.

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Luke 12:48 (NIV)

Now, don’t go thinking that those who have less have it any easier than those who have more.  The lack of things makes us more susceptible to stress, anxiety, worry, fear, and doubt.  These can challenge our faith in God as easily as those who, by all earthly standards, are extravagantly blessed.  The point is that no one has it easy therefore we have no reason to be jealous, bitter, or to have hatred just because it ‘seems’ that someone else has it better than us.  We are all in this boat together and we all have trouble, trials, and tribulations that make life hard.

 

Leave me a comment.  Have you ever struggled with resentment for someone who seemed to have it easier than you?

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 

Search me o god

Search Me O God

“Search me O God.” The Psalmist asks God to search his heart confident God will give grace.  Intellectually, we know that God is omnipresent and omniscient, but the issues of life can drive our knowledge of His essence right out of our minds.  Psalm 139 is one of the most transcendent passages in Scripture.  David, under pressure from enemies that hate him, reminds Himself that God already knows everything.  Nothing can be hidden from the presence of God.  He knows our thoughts before they reach our tongue to be spoken.  He is more aware of my physical and emotional bearing than I am.  Seriously, half the time, I am befuddled by the pace and direction the world spins politically, socially, and even religiously.  How can I understand these things?  But, like David, I find comfort in the stillness of His awareness of all things everywhere.  Where can we go to hide from the Lord?  Our thoughts are as clear to Him as a giant neon billboard along the highway.

It is in this knowledge of God’s pervading presence where nook and cranny cannot hide that David cries out, “Search me O God and know my anxious thoughts.”

He does not ask God to search his heart for God’s knowledge because God already knows everything in his heart.  God knows everything in your heart.  He knows every innocent and perverse thought we have entertained.  David is asking God to reveal to David what he doesn’t know about himself.  Isn’t it something how we can block out the parts of us we don’t want to see.  Knowing our wicked thoughts and impure desires oblige us to build a wall in our mind blinding us from what we are ashamed of and the sin we refuse to release.  David is fully aware of his unawareness and He calls out to the Lord for help.  The Lord is our ever-present help in trouble.  He has known our impurity and wickedness, yet has not condemned our soul.  He has known the sin we grasp so tightly, yet He has continued to bless us anyway.

To grasp the knowledge God has of every particle of air that passes through our lungs, every hair on our head, every electrical impulse in our brain, every dream, every desire, every sin, and every praise stills our fear and opens our heart to the God who knows us at our worst and loves us anyway.  We are confident to receive grace as He reveals that which is unholy within because He has known it all along and lavishly poured out love and grace still.

Do not be afraid to let God search your heart and show you what you need to escape from.  He is not the guard who locks the cell.  He is the angel leading you out opening doors that others have locked to keep you imprisoned to your own fear and addiction.  Search me O God.  Let this be your prayer this morning and may you find rest in the knowledge of God that has soaked through the mental firewalls we have installed.  He is God.  He is good.  He is love.  He is forgiveness.  And He is all of this with full knowledge of your anxious thoughts.

When you meditate on this, what does it mean to you?  Leave me a comment and a prayer for God to search your heart.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 

Take me to the king

Take Me to the King!

 

She had nothing to offer.  No one had poured anything into her life.  A life of emptiness and pain, forgotten and undone, she lived her life outside of the reputation accepted by her world.  Never a hope to grasp nor a dream to fulfill, she released hope to avoid the pain of disappointment.  She had no one then she found Jesus.  Nothing would keep her from the king.

 

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

Luke 7:37-38 (NIV)              

 

We don’t know how or when this woman first encountered Jesus.  We don’t know if she met Him in person, perhaps He prayed for her, maybe she had heard Him speak.  All we know was that she was a sinful woman.  She had been forgiven much as Jesus used her stream of devotion to illustrate entire acquisition of forgiveness born out of authentic repentance.  

Free GiftThis woman, rich in heartache, emblemized by the perfume that had served to facilitate fleshly indulgence becoming her method of adoration, poured herself out at the feet of the man who forgave lavishly.  He soothed her torment with acceptance.  For the first time, she felt valued and when she again heard that Jesus would be in this home, she would not be denied the privilege of anointing Him with her worship.  No doubt she had given her body to many and never imagined anyone might desire her heart.  When she found a man who loved her, nothing could distract her.  

Controlled by judging eyes and harsh words her entire life, but now, in the home of her accusers, she worshiped in freedom without taking notice of who else might be in the room.  She had come boldly to the throne of grace.  Oh to know the beauty of acceptance that overwhelms the shame.  This was her joy and it is ours.  

Many will judge, criticize, and discard you like rubbish.  Their words ring loud and often in our ears.  We cower and hide to escape condemnation to no avail.  Imprisoned by what others see when they look our way, we want to shrink and disappear, but when we come to the Throne of Grace, His acceptance knocks down the arrows of their words.  To know this love and acceptance moves us, changes us.  We hide no longer, but come out boldly in the value He has bestowed.  We cry out to Him. 

I will not be stopped.  Say what you will, you cannot keep me from Him.  He loved me first. I am acquitted in His presence.  He is my freedom and I will not be kept away.  Beat me and I will keep coming.  Shove me, push me, run me out, I will only return more determined than ever.  Take me to the King.  Take me to My love for I am His beloved.  I am only His.  I am only His and He is mine.  Take me to the King.  I will pour out my past, my pain, my hurt and He will receive it all, every Hell I have walked in, He will take it from me.  Isolation, shame, and fear, I will pour it out and He will remove it from me as my Healer, my Physician.  He will make beautiful in me even my past, even my sin, even my hate, anger.  He receives from me all that people hate and loves me anyway.  Take me to the King!  

 

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 


Rolling RiverLet Justice Roll on Like a River

For today’s Verse of the Day, I think I am just going to jump right in.  This topic hits at the core of our society still today:

Amos 5:24

But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (NIV)

In this verse, the words ‘justice’ and ‘righteousness’ are almost synonymous.  These two words are very closely connected. We live in a day where justice is a hot topic.  We have about a million Law and Order-type shows. Some of the most popular movies are murder mysteries where someone is trying to right a wrong.  Even the Marvel movies have heroes that form the Justice League. Wait…is that Marvel…or is it DC…ahhhhh, I just can’t keep it all straight! I’m more of a Looney Tunes kind of guy.  Anyway, the point is that these heroes are supposed to be exacting justice…Read More

 


Looking Into the MirrorLooking Into the Mirror

There was blood running like a small river down the side of my face.  I hadn’t felt it. I didn’t even know it was there and I was about to walk out the door and go to work.  The blood would have quickly run down my face and ruined my brand-spanking-new Walmart shirt. What a waste it would have been!  Thankfully, as I was making the last walkthrough of the house turning out lights before I left for work, I reached into the bathroom and looked into the mirror and saw the blood.  But what if I had never looked into the mirror? I would have been like that bloody horror figure. I would have frightened my staff. They would have run out of the church with screams and shrills afraid of the blood-covered monster 🙂 Read More

 

 


The Wisdom of MercyThe Wisdom of Mercy

God is rich in mercy

I just recently had someone ask me, “So if a child rapist asks for forgiveness, God forgives?”  The answer, of course, is yes. In our finite mind, this seems absurd. But we have to put this into the right perspective.  God may forgive, but He still allows consequences. He may allow a person to receive the gift of salvation, but this doesn’t mean the person doesn’t go to prison.  It doesn’t mean the person never has to face up to what he or she has done. In fact, God commands that we make restitution which is to do everything we can to make right those things we have done wrong. Nevertheless, it is very easy to think that God is too kind to the wicked.  And that brings us to our Verse of the Day…Read More

 

 

 


 

Self-control vs freedom

Self-Control vs. Freedom

Self-control is tough, but once we get victory over the temptation, we have freedom.  We all understand the negative behaviors in us that cause great destruction in our life and we hurt those closest to us.  We know these behaviors are wrong and we begin to work to get these things under control.  We stop lying.  We stop losing our temper.  We stop smoking, start working out, stop over-eating, doing drugs, sleeping around.  Here is my big temptation 🙂 And we work very hard to control these things in our life.

The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit pours into us self-control to help us do these things:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

Our ability to create self-control to curb these behaviors comes from God.  But it is not God’s will that we only create self-discipline to end these behaviors, but that we are set free from them.  God wants us to participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).  He created us to not simply be victors, but more than overcomers (Romans 8:37).  The problem with resisting sin and working to have more and more self-discipline is that we never fully get victory.  And too often that behavior will raise its ugly head yet again and the cycle starts all over again.  This is not God’s will for our life.  And that brings me to our Verse of the Day:

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Galatians 5:13 (NIV)

Paul is teaching us here that humility and servanthood is the indicator of freedom from the fleshly desires and behaviors we are attempting to resist.  When we understand this, our focus must change.  We move from putting all our effort into self-control, and focus on serving others with a good attitude, humility and servanthood will rip that behavior out of our soul eventually.

When we are simply trying to stop a negative behavior without replacing that behavior with something good, we can actually make things more difficult for ourselves because we are focused so heavily on the behavior.  But when we begin to focus our mind on ways to help others and be a blessing to them, our mind must release thoughts of that most hated behavior.  And then we are set free.  Self-control vs freedom?  Self-control is good and it is from the Lord, but the goal is freedom!

Live blessed and be a blessing!

Don’t forget to share or like this post if it was helpful to you.

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

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crucifixion of christ

It Was Personal – The Crucifixion of Christ

How often have we heard the story of the crucifixion of Christ?  We must never stop telling the story of the God who sent His only Son to take the punishment of sin for every soul that has ever lived.  It is a powerful story, but it is a gruesome story.

We sing songs and whitewash the gory details so often to tell the wondrous story that saves our souls, but we can never forget it was the most victorious moment for Hell.  The air was full of demons crowded around to see what they believed to be the defeat of Heaven’s Hero.  Entering into the hearts of people in the crowd to lie about Jesus, to falsely accuse Him, to drive the Roman soldiers to delight as they scraped away Jesus’ flesh in the flogging.  They didn’t think twice about attaching a living human being to wooden crossbars with nails driven through the flesh, tendons, and muscles of the wrist and the tops of his overlapping feet.  Blood splattered to the delight of the crowd and every perverted demon. 

Though mortal, He had infinite knowledge of all things which includes you and me.  The Bible says that nothing has been made but by Him.  As He pushed on the nail driven into his feet to extend his body and open his lungs for one more breath, He knew exactly why and for whom He did this.  Knowing each and every human being by name, by face, by personality, He did it for each of us.  He endured for those who would believe and for those who never will.  He is no respecter of persons.  Whosoever believes will be saved.  He thought of my face as the sturdy thorns were driven into His.

Fully aware of my sins and yours, He remained silent before His accusers.  The shameful decisions we wish to hide, He knew every detail that He might cover them fully.  He was pierced for our transgressions.  He did not fight the nails.  He did not squirm or flinch, but cherished every ring of the hammer upon His nails.  He held still as Roman soldiers struck Him in the face.  He could have called each one of them by name.  He knew their Mom, their Dad, their pain, their joy, their lost dreams, and their lost childhood.  He was bruised for those who bruised Him.  He considered it all joy that these bruises would bring healing to every hurtful word, every abusive moment, every neglectful act He already knew we would face.

He saw my face when I sat in my room alone struggling in depression.  He saw your face when despair and hopelessness overwhelmed.  It was for you and for me.  And it was not easy.  It was Hellish.  He took our defeat that we might live in His victorious resurrection.  In Heaven, He calls out our name before His Father.  He calls us by the nickname given to us by our grandmother.  It was for you that He embraced the suffering of the cross.  And it was not easy.  The crucifixion of Christ was not simple.  It was Hell on Earth.  It was complete humiliation and torture beyond anything any of us will ever know.  And it was personal.  

When we whitewash the bloody details of the cross, we lose the depth of His passion for our soul.  He must remember He suffered, bled, suffocated, and died in matchless pain.  And He did it with you in mind.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 (ESV)

 

God bless you all.  You are all in my prayers.  May the crucifixion of Christ be ever on your mind today, that He did it all for you.

 

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

Learn to be patient

Learn To Be Patient

 

Is anyone patient anymore?  How can we learn to be patient?  From people driving us bazonkers to marriage, to parenting to traffic jams to Jerry Jones messing up yet another season with his craziness, it’s hard to be patient.  How can we learn to be patient?

It is interesting to note that the early church spent more time working to develop patience than they did preaching the Gospel to unbelievers.  They believed patience was the true image of God and reflected God to the world more than anything.  They believed God was incredible patient with everyone.  He allows us to live our life without final judgment patiently waiting while wooing us to Him.  He remains patient with us as we grow in Him.  To be patient is to reflect the glory of God in our life.  But where does patience come from and how we can make it part of our life?

First of all, patience is the result of love (1 Corinthians 13:4).  It is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).  The Holy Spirit is the presence of God in us.  And God is love.  The greater His presence in our life, the greater capacity we have for loving others.  And with this increase in love, there will be an increase of patience.  

The process of becoming patient begins with understanding and accepting the love of God.  The Bible says that we love because He loved us first (1 John 4:19).  The Apostle Paul reminds us that we need supernatural power from the Holy Spirit to help us grasp the love that God has for us.  Spending time in the presence of God through the Word, the gathering of believers, praise, and worship fills us with power to grasp the powerful truths of Scripture including the love of God.  That God gave His only Son to receive the punishment we deserved because of our sin so anyone who chooses to follow Christ can be set free from this judgment is the love of God.

To love God is to love His creation.  It is to love every person, everyone regardless of social status, race, religion, sexual orientation, or personality.  The world loves by deciding who is worthy of being loved.  God loves everyone though no one is worthy to receive His love because of their rejection of Him through sin.  When we don’t love people, we are not loving God.  Love is patient, kind, gentle, not proud, not seeking harm, never beating people down with their past mistakes.  To love God is to treat people in this manner.

If you tell me you love me, but treat my children with disdain, then you are not loving me because you are hurting my heart when I see how you treat my kid.  The same is true with God, but with greater depth.  When we mistreat anyone, we are hurting God’s heart because that person, no matter what, is a child of God whom He loves.

More than this, though, we have to understand that God wants to see everyone healed in their spirit, for broken lives to be made whole, for broken hearts to be mended, for souls to be saved.  If I truly love God, then I will want for His children what He wants for His children.  Then I need to be moved in my heart to do what creates the greatest potential for others to be saved, to be healed, to be made whole.  And at the heart of this behavior is patience.  Without patience, there is no love.  If people can’t see the love of God in me, I am doing nothing to help them find the source of their healing.

The Scripture says ‘for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross,’ speaking of Christ (Hebrews 12:2).  In other words, He wanted to honor His Father in Heaven by helping His Father’s creation find salvation.  To do this, He was willing to suffer for them to see the love of God that they might fall in love with God.

Patience is a mindset.  It is not an emotion, but a way of looking at every situation from a spiritual perspective.  If we want our children to find and know God, we must be patience to reflect God’s love to them.  If we want our spouses, family, friends to know God, patience is required.  And even for those we struggle to love or like, we have to keep in our mind the simply truth that God loves everyone the same.  Determination to hold fast to this mindset will develop patience in our heart.

 

Hey, y’all be sure to like and save these if they minister to you.

Leave me a comment.  What is the hardest part about being patient?

 

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

Read more about patience.

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Why do You go to Church?

 

Why do we go to church?  Do you go because your Momma makes you go?  Do you go out of obligation?  Do you go to see friends?  Do you want to hear a good sermon?  Why do you go to church?  Do you sing?  Do you sleep?  Do you snore?  Why do you go to church?  And that brings me to our Verse of the Day:

 

But who is able to build him a house, since heaven, even highest heaven, cannot contain him? Who am I to build a house for him, except as a place to make offerings before him?

2 Chronicles 2:6 (ESV)

 

Solomon reminds us of why God allowed man to build a temple.  The purpose was simply to make offerings before the Lord.  There are many different reasons we give for going to church, but the one reason that comes from the Lord is that church is a place where we make offerings to Him.

If we come to church and do not make offerings, what is the point?  Offerings in the Old Testament were symbolic of repentance, praise, worship, and supplication.  This is what should be happening in church.  This is what should be happening in us when we go to church.  When you are in church, there must be repentance.  It is to take time to note where there needs to be a move away from sinful thought, action, attitude, or words and confess these to God with a commitment to turn away from these things.

There should be praise.  Praise is just that-expressing the goodness of God.  It is to declare His love, His power, His authority, His position.  Praise is more than acknowledging who God is, but expressing our admiration and appreciation for who He is.  It is to exalt His name above all names.  We do not do this so that He will understand how wonderful He is.  Praise is taking time to remind ourselves of how wonderful He is.  Praise is thankfulness and appreciation for all He is and all He has done.

There should be worship.  To worship is to humble ourselves in homage and reverence to the Lord.  We praise Him to remind us how wonderful He is, but we cannot sincerely praise Him without first humbling ourselves before Him.  Worship is to declare him to be God and we to be His servant.  We cannot enter into the Presence of God without humility.  If we attempt to come into the presence of God in pride, He will humble us with discipline.  If we humble ourselves, He will exalt us and bestow His honor upon us (Proverbs 29:23).

There should be supplication.  Because we recognize that He is God.  And because we remember that He is good and desires good in our life, we can cast our cares upon Him in prayer.  When we come to church, we pray and ask the Lord to help us in our time of need.  We stand in the gap for others who need the strength of God’s mighty hand.

Why do you go to church?  Are you doing these things when you get there or are you watching your clock, judging the quality of the music, the entertainment factor of the message?  God has called us to His temple, to His church building for the purpose of making offerings to Him.  The music helps us praise and worship.  The prayers are our supplication.  And the message disciplines us as His servants.  But we have to get our mind ready for these things.  To neglect the purpose of going to church will leave us very religious and very empty.

 

Leave me a comment.  Do you think Christians come to the church with the right spirit?  Do you?

 

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 

PS: Be sure to subscribe and I will send you “10 Principles for Living in God’s Abundant Plan for Your Life.”