Our muscles are Bigger in the Shadow

Do you remember standing in the evening sun as a kid having fun making “muscle poses” with your shadow and noticing how much bigger they looked?Shadow, Cross, Christian, Religion, Religious

Thanks to my daughter I relived that childhood memory, and as I did a very serious thought came to my mind – my faith muscles get much bigger as I stand in the shadow of the cross.

In the cross’ shadow we’re able to relive the moment that gave us life, and in the cross’ shadow God’s grace strengthens us so we can carry the cross that we’re called to bear (Luke 9:23). EA

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13

Selfies of the Gospel

As the culture around us continues to become more and more stuck on self (and I’m talking pictures here), the gospel calls us to have a different frame of reference.

A lot of selfies are taken to show where we have been, but the gospel calls us to deny our self and focus on where we are going:

  • Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

A lot selfies are taken to build up egos, but the gospel calls us to humble our self and to allow God to do the building up:

  • And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)

A lot of selfies are taken as solo shots, but the gospel calls us to include others by loving our neighbor as our self:

  • So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:32-33)

A lot of selfies attempt to show how we’re better than others, but the gospel calls us to be more concerned with our own weaknesses before we critique others:

  • Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:42)

So the question is, what are others seeing when we take a spiritual selfie? EA

Seeking a religious experience

People often confuse having a relationship with God with “experiencing” God…so the experience is what they seek. This is why many of the religious movements of the past and present have found “success” by centering around a person’s opportunity to “experience” God in a way like they never have before!

These “promise makers” of the past and the present exchange the reality of the first-century miraculous gifts from God for twenty-first-century emotionalism, and the result is that many individuals are drawn away from following God’s word in exchange for following their own heart (Proverbs 3:5-6); the result is that many individuals look for God to “talk to them” instead of listening to what He has already said (Hebrews 1:1-2); and the result is that many individuals confuse God’s desire for holiness with their own desire for happiness (Hebrews 12:14-17).

These situations, and many more, happen due to the mistake of thinking that a healthy relationship with God is based upon what some consider to be “experiencing” God through a rush of emotions.

But instead of seeking a “religious experience” one should seek the word of God’s grace that builds one up spiritually (Acts 20:32) because seeking a “religious experience” is not the same as seeking God, and whichever one we seek will determine which one we will find. EA

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

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Washed or Wet?

When it comes to water baptism, intentions make a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Matthew 3:7-9)

When it comes to water baptism, purpose makes a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said to them, “Into what then were you baptized?” So they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Then Paul said, “John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:1-5)

When it comes to water baptism, the origin of the act makes a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:18-19)

When it comes to water baptism, the result makes a difference between getting washed and getting wet:

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

You can be sprinkled over, poured on and even immersed – but there’s still a difference between getting washed and getting wet in the water baptism that we read about in the New Testament of the Bible. EA

And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’” (Acts 22:16)

It’s the principal of the matter

To most people, many things in life come down to the principle of the matter, and while that is fine and well, as long as the principle is a guideline worthy of imitation, to the Christian there are many things that come down to the principal of the matter – namely, doing what we do as a disciple because it is expected by the teacher who is Savior, Teacher and Lord.

So remember, a principle of Christianity may not make sense to the world but it’s because the world doesn’t understand the principal behind the matter (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.” (John 13:13)

Bible Questions and Answers – Holy Spirit or the Word?

“Dear Editors: A preacher claimed that you people at GOSPEL MINUTES do not believe the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian separate and apart from the word of God. Please reply.

- S.G., PA”

If this preacher read our paper carefully, he would not have been so quick to point out what we believe, nor be as wrong in his conclusion. I don’t like that phrase, “Separate and apart from the word,” for it means different things to different people. How about this instead, “Do you believe that the Holy Spirit actually dwells in Christians?” I have no hesitancy in answering with a resounding, “Yes!”

Let me show you the problem with the phrase, “Separate and apart from the word.” If someone asked you, “Do you believe Christ saves people today, separate and apart from the word of God”, how would you answer? If you answer “Yes” that would be a denial of what God said in Romans 1:16, “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.” But if you answer “No” that implies that Jesus Christ is not really involved in saving people today. That same basic problem is found with that phrase when used with regard to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Christian. The question comes, “How does the Holy Spirit dwell in Christians?” And the truth is I have yet to find the man who understands how his own spirit dwells in him! So, let’s forget the catchphrase and just look at the Bible.

I firmly believe the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian, for the Bible says so: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him” (Acts 3:38-39). Compare that with Acts 5:32, “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Or, again: “And because ye are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). These texts show that when people become Christians, God gives them the Holy Spirit. Now add Acts 2:41, “They then that received his word were baptized; and there added (unto them) in that day about three thousand souls.” Notice the order: Only those who believed and repented were baptized, and only those who were baptized received the Holy Spirit. They received the word, they were baptized, they then received the Holy Spirit. Thus, the reception of the word and reception of the Holy Spirit were two different things. (more…)

But who’s doing the counting?

Character counts – even the atheist proclaims such. But when it comes to the atheistic version of theological morality, minus God, I often find myself asking, “But who’s doing the counting?”

How can morality even be counted in a system of belief that has its roots in amorality? It’s an oxymoron from the get go. And it’s a pipe- dream with severe leaks! For a system based upon evolution must demand that evolution continue to happen through the avenue that “got us” to where we are as humans to begin with – survival of the fittest. But survival of the fittest isn’t a very positive moral guideline is it? I mean how can a wolf in sheep’s clothing ever be wrong if the wolf is only doing what he evolved to do? If nature does it then it must be right, right? Of course, unless nature is wrong. It’s fuzzy math to say the least!

Humanism says at the end of the day we’re animals but we’re not supposed to act like it. It says character counts but it refuses to add into the equation the fact that animals don’t care about character – and they care even less for math. EA

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