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All Aboard the Peace Train (Boarding at the Pearly Gates)


SIH STSTA ICONGoogle the phrase “World Peace” and you will be bombarded with website after website declaring the desire for a worldwide peace.  It is the desire of most Miss America’s, seemingly the entire 60’s generation, and probably, over 90% of the world’s population.  In my younger days, one of the more popular songs was a song entitled “Peace Train”, recorded in 1971.  This song voiced the hope for peace and was in the top ten for an extended time.

Certainly, world peace has been and continues to be one of the greatest wants of mankind.  It is very easy to understand why there is such a longing for peace.  Just think of the number of human lives lost in all the past wars here on earth.  I’m sure the total is staggering.  Just in my lifetime, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan has cost the lives of more than 63,000 Americans, not to mention over 380,000 Americans wounded.  These numbers do not count the civilian casualties, much less the casualties from the other countries participating in these wars.

It would seem that, with world peace being such a popular idea, and the price of war being so terribly high, we could have a permanent peace.  But we don’t.  As much as we want it, no matter how hard we try to attain it…we have no peace.

However, when it comes to world peace, all hope is not lost.  The Bible teaches us that the existence of wars and the threats of coming wars doesn’t surprise our Lord.  The Lord knew these “perilous” times would come upon the world, and He proved it by giving us advance warning (Lk 21:8-11.) He made it quite plain that in spite of all these horrible wars brought about by man, He remains in complete and absolute control (Dan 4:35).  The Lord guarantees us that, someday, He will restore a perfect peace to this earth (Isa 11:4-10).

Besides this outward, worldly peace, there is another more important inward peace that comes only from our Lord.  This is the peace of Galatians 5:22-25 …

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

The peace of Gals 5:22 is one of the “fruits of the Spirit”.  It is given to us through the Spirit of God that indwells us at salvation.  It is the assurance that both our life here on earth, and in the hereafter, are in the hands of our Lord.  It is the peace we receive when we know HE WILL CARE FOR US, PROTECT US, and ACCOMPANY US from here through eternity.  It is a peace that “passes all understanding” (Phil 4:6-7).   It is the peace that only God can give (John 14:27).

Can you imagine a peace that brings us joy in the midst of any trial we face in life?  Can you imagine being able to think about death with an assurance that we have an eternity with God awaiting us?  Have you put down the burden of your sin knowing all of your acts of disobedience have been forgiven by God?   This is what this peace is all about.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

But it doesn’t end there.  God does not give us this peace to hide within ourselves. He gives it to us that we might display it in our lives.  That is why it is called a “fruit” … it is to be given off by us, like an apple tree gives off an apple for another’s benefit.

For a Christian, peace is given to us, contained within us, and then revealed to others by us. As we exhibit this peace in our lives, others see it and are shown what they are missing.   As an act of thankfulness to God, we display our peace, glorifying Him in the eyes of a lost mankind.  This is being a fruit-bearing Christian.

For those who are not saved by God’s grace, please be honest and sense the burden you are living under.  God’s Word makes it clear that we all have sinned.  Because of this sin we are separated from our God.  (Romans 3:23 & 5:12)   Separation from God has two aspects to it: first, it includes no communion with Him and secondly, facing His eternal judgment in the lake of fire.   (Isaiah 59:2 & Rev 20:15)  If we come to the Lord, trusting Him and His work on the cross, we can be saved.  This trust involves our willingness to submit our entire lives to His leadership and rely on His work on the cross to pay the sin debt that we all owe to God.  (2 Peter 1:10-11 & Galatians 3:11-14)

It is only through this faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that salvation from our sins can be received.  It is only through this faith that we can share in the peace that all God’s people possess.

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

A Prayer for the Persecuted


Originally posted on messytheology:

"Sanctuary" by Cadi Clark “Sanctuary”
by Cadi Clark What do rape victims and the persecuted church have in common?

Both have faced the invasion and desecration of God’s Temple. Both have survived atrocities that leave them scarred and damaged. And both are left with some serious questions about why God didn’t protect them from evil men.

Jesus’ cry of abandonment on the cross echoes through the voices of the Psalms, some in response to national disaster and other in response to personal abuse. This is the same question that I have encountered in counseling sexually abused women and in interacting with Nigerian Christian leaders. The inevitable conclusion their hearts struggle not to feel is that God has somehow forsaken them.

Why have you rejected us forever, O God? Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture? Remember the people you purchased of old, the tribe of your inheritance, whom you redeemed–…

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Tim Tebow, Godly Answers…


Originally posted on The True Light...:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.…”

~John 15:18-19

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The Church and its Move to Secularism


Introduction

Historically the Church has purposefully pulled away from ideas and practices that seemed even remotely ungodly. Christians behaved themselves in such a manner is to easily differentiate between them and non-Christians. The Christian language was not replete with expletives neither were church services geared toward a specific group rather than wholesome worship of God. Even more, the manner of dress was evident in that both males and females dressed in modesty while biblical principles were taught in the homes and reinforced in the church.

Today it appears that the Church is moving from traditional Christianity to a selfish modernism.  Sound biblical teaching has given way to feel good speak which serves only to create a double standard among the adherents of a Gospel which seems to be acceptable only to those growing up in pre-postmodern era in which sound doctrine was the norm rather than the alternative. It is for the reason that an examination of some church practices will be presented in this report. Research in the matter of church secularization shows the church at large pulling from traditional teaching and practices to a more liberal view and application of past traditions.

Context

     The fact that God has always required a high standard for His followers goes without dispute. Even before the time of Moses God required that His people worship Him and Him alone. Multiple scriptural references show that God’s people are to live in the world without being attached to the world system (Romans 12:2). This idea of not being attached to the world by conforming to its standards of living pulls in the idea of holiness. This separation is not new rather has been a struggle of the church from the time of its birth. The problems of a secular church was at least hinted on with the words “We see the church is yearly becoming more tolerant and more democratized” in the late nineteenth century.[1] This observation suggests that the church has been becoming more secular with the passage of time to the extent that the Church of England noticed changes in its clergy.[2]

The move of the Church to secularism was also well noted by Michal R. Weed in his article “The Secular Church” wherein he reaches back two centuries to show the steady move of secularism in the church both in Europe and the United States.[3] Weed specifically notes that “In America, churches have survived, however, by adapting to secularization and by commending themselves in terms that are attractive to “secular man.”[4] It would appear that the ‘secular man’ is more inclined to self-satisfaction rather than adherence to sound biblical teaching as has been the history of the Church.

Weed further notes that the secular church is more like a “Christ Club” wherein members are not gathered to worship God rather the practice of the secular church is to become more entertaining with hosts of social activities and various forms of recreation that have little to do with spiritual growth and biblical learning.[5] The suggestion is that spiritual growth and the adherence to biblical principles has become less than paramount as appeasement to self-centeredness and perhaps hedonism have taken stage in the secular church.

There are divergent views on the secularized church. For instance, traditional churches relied on classic hymns or traditional Gospel music as forms of worship. This style of worship has been replaced by Hip Hop and is not necessarily seen as appeasing the secular man. Instead, it has been propped as speaking for “the marginalized, the poor, and the downtrodden … and sought to increase social consciousness along with racial and ethnic pride.”[6] It is further argued by Daniel Hodge, author of “No Church in the Wild: Hip Hop Theology and Mission” that Hip Hop “Engages profound religious themes and has a capacity to provide meaning and hope to people … ignored by many Christian churches.”[7] This begins the argument that deindustrialization was the impetus for Blacks becoming disenfranchised thereby causing a shift in cultural expressions giving rise to Hip Hop.[8] Hodge predicates his view of Blacks making themselves relevant with the use of Hip Hop and other forms of secular music in the church by stating that “It emerged as a source of alternative identity formation and social status for young people within the theological vacuum of the ‘hood are within a system that had abandoned them.”[9]

Hodges view presupposes at least to issues. The first is that the changing economic condition of the United States primarily negatively impacted Blacks. It also supposes that the church at large had no use for the young people. While there may be some truth to Hodges view, Alan Ehrenhalt argues that demographic changes in inner cities have not nor are currently in place solely because of racial issues. He argues that “Race is not always the critical issue, or even especially relevant in this demographic shift.”[10] Ehrenhalt further argues that “… the deindustrialization of the central city, for all tragic human dislocations it caused, has eliminated many of the things that made affluent people want to move away from it.”[11]

Ehrenhalt shows that the impact of deindustrialization impacted humans no matter their cultural heritage. The affluent were also gravely disadvantaged yet Ehrenhalt makes no specific effort to show whether the affluent were of any particular people group. Instead a larger picture is painted of different groups moving either in the city or into suburbia because of their financial ability to live in either location. Ehrenhalt also makes clear that starkly different from the 1970s “… middle-class people of all colors began to feel safe on the streets of urban America in the 1990s…”[12] One might be hard pressed to say that Blacks alone were negatively impacted by deindustrialization rather it might be suggested that the plight of Blacks was highlighted more than that of their White counterparts.

Arguably, the same is true of music.  While Hip Hop and Rap are presented as a means “to overcome despair with hope” the musical genre might be more aligned with social rebellion.[13] This is also true with other forms of music introduced to the secular church such as Rock. While Rock is not provided the cover of racism or any other racial impetus with Hip Hop rather, Rock is seen more as a form of popular music “used to express religious, social and political messages.”[14] This distinction between the two genres of music is significant because they are contemporaries in popular culture. It is also shown that “The sociology of music is more about society than about music. It is based on the assumption that social reality is embodied in an individual’s activities…”[15] This is why the introduction of secular music such as Rock and Hip Hop is troubling. Neither form of music is expressly used to worship God. Instead of worshipping God, the music is used to set forth agendas that may have nothing to do with godliness.  Hip Hop, for instance, in part sets forth a racial divide in that Hodge presents the idea that “Hip Hop contextualizes a Jesus to whom urban youth can relate – not a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, White embodiment of perfection…[16] The problem of Hip Hop in the church goes further than diabolical racial divides it also promotes erotica in ways such as was never intended to be in the Christian Church. Michael Ralph notes:

Hip-hop’s most promising intervention grows from its preoccupation with desire and fantasy. This tends to be a chauvinistic male fantasy, but hip-hop actually narrates a range of social practices. Some rappers develop coded queer personas, even if they refuse to identify that way. And rap music that reveals an abiding interest in erotic power remains indebted to feminism while, ironically, expressing callous disregard for the female, queer, nonconforming populations offended by its licentious messages.[17]

The introduction of secular music provides considerable insight into why and how local church bodies became secularized. This is exceptionally true when music with sexual overtones are presented as a way to reach people have become preeminent rather than using music to worship God. A greater problem is that the male rappers are often considered to be exploitive of women yet women have also chosen first hand in the world of Hip-Hop.[18] Women have not only voluntarily engaged in Hip-Hop but also freely subscribe to the idea of “praise dancing” in many local assemblies.

In 2004, there was at least one discussion surrounding the idea of programmed dancing and its place in the church. While the trend has taken on considerable influence there are some that liken the introduction of secular dancing in the church to the introduction of Hip-Hop and Rock into the church. Among those who bemoan praise dancing is Rev. Ron Brown of the First Missionary Baptist Church who declares that “When you put women in leotards in the church, it’s going to open the doors to problems because it attracts unbelievers in a fast and powerful way – and worldly women who want to show off their bodies.”[19]

Despite the different dance styles involved in praise dancing such as hip hop and ballet, there are dissenters to Rev. Brown’s point of view. Among those is Pamela Rutherford who believes “Church leaders should accept that reaching modern churchgoers requires modern techniques.”[20] The idea of reaching modern churchgoers might be considered code for reaching the youth as much of the secular church seeks to reach the youth by integrating secular ideas in the church. This is the case with Hip-Hop. It is seen as less than “a utopian ‘evangelizing tool,’   it can help youth to find God on their own terms without the religious mantras present.”[21] Perhaps this is the reason Rev. Brown sarcastically retorts during a discussion, “If I had three or four good-looking women with great bodies, I’d be guaranteed an audience.”[22] It seems evident that Rev. Brown has not only recognized the secularization but also the sexualizing of the church as it has welcomed practices which go against the norm of the traditional Church.

The introduction of secular practices is not seen as inappropriate by some clergy members but also some in academia. For instance, Professor of Religious Studies at Lewis and Clark suggests that her peers “stop studying hip-hop through the lens of Christianity, and view rappers more as products of their own environment.” [23] This idea seems to go in line with the thought that “The so-called transcendence of the secular church is a false transcendence which merely uses the Creator in a thinly veiled adoration and infatuation with the creature.” [24]

Music, however, is not the only issue in the Church that pulls toward secularism. A rising practice is the teaching of a prosperity Gospel. This form of teaching presents the idea that “health, wealth and material success as the essential promises of the Christian faith.[25] It would appear that the major difference in prosperity teaching and secular music in the church is that the former may be designed to reach the older members of local bodies while evidence shows that the latter is specifically geared to younger generations. Even so, prosperity teaching seems to demean the poor as it seeks to “exalt success as to pour scorn on the poor and stubborn infidels who have evidently refused to seek God’s aid.”[26]

The general idea of prosperity is certainly a principle which is found in Scripture however, that prosperity may not be as presented by the teachings of pastors such as T.D. Jakes. In fact the converse may be true in that it has been said that prosperity teachers such as Jakes tend to “flaunt tremendous wealth before their congregants as validation of their faith.”[27] By extension, those who have not enjoyed wealth such as Jakes lack faith and perhaps will never enjoy the wealth enjoyed by Jakes and those like him. With that it can be said that prosperity teaching, as it relates to church secularism, seeks to appease God through tithing rather than the Christian living a lifestyle of holiness.[28]

Conclusion

No matter one’s personal view of church secularization, it is inarguable that music plays a significant role in the church as teachings of prosperity have become a form of religion on its own. It becomes more evident that as music has changed, so have larger attitudes in the church at large. For instance, Hip-Hop although it started in the 70s was not intended as a form of music giving worship to God. Instead, this style of music was used to give voice to a group that perceived itself as having no voice. Its uses of vulgarity and sexuality serve only to show lack of regard for biblical standards. Despite this some local bodies continue, to embrace alternative styles of music as a method to reach the youth.

God’s call for holiness is embedded in the idea of the Church. The Church, while in the world, is not an entity of the world. This is why pure worship of God is paramount and should not be “quasi-entertaining” rather; it should be a practice of solemnity in the presence of God.[29] Additionally, while Christians do well to prosper, perhaps a renewed look at prosperity might be beneficial. It is for this reason Weed argues, that repentance “will be a necessary part of recovering our way. We will confess that we have put ourselves in the place of God.”[30] Hence by putting ourselves in the place of God we have created a secularized Church.

[1] “The Church and the World”, The Speaker: The Liberal Review (Oct. 13, 1894)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Michael Weed, “The Secular Church: American Church Adapts to Self-Centered Culture,” The Examiner volume 1 (November 1986): accessed  March 2, 2015

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Daniel Hodge, “No Church in the Wild: Hip Hop Theology and Mission,” Missiology: An International Review (2013)

[7] Hodge. 99

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Alan Ehrenhalt, “Trading Places,” New Republic 239 (2008): 18-22

[11] (Ehrenhalt, 18)

[12] Ibid.

[13] (Hodge, 100)

[14] Jay R. Howard, “Contemporary Christian Music: Where Rock Meets Religion.” Journal of Popular Culture (1992)

[15] (Howard, 124)

[16] (Hodge, 101)

[17] Michael Ralph, “Hip-Hop,” Social Text (2009)

[18] Ibid.

[19] Kortney Stringer, “Spirited Debate: Dancing in Church Splits Congregation; Black Protestants Question Whether a Crowd Pleaser Serves Religious Purpose,” Wall Street Journal (October 14, 2004)

[20] Ibid.

[21] (Hodge, 103)

[22] (Stringer)

[23] Vincent Funaro, “Religion in Hip-Hop: Reconciling Rap and Religion,” The Christian Post (October 26, 2012)

[24] (Weed)

[25] Philip Jenkins, “Notes from the Global Church: The Case for Prosperity,” The Christian Century (November 30,2010)

[26] Ibid.

[27] Shayne Lee, “Prosperity Theology: T.D. Jakes and the Gospel of the Almighty Dollar,” Cross Currents (2007)

[28] (Jenkins)

[29] (Weed)

[30] Ibid.

Bibliography

Ehrenhalt, Alan. “Trading Places.” New Republic 239 (2008): 18-22.

Funaro, Vincent. “Religion in Hip-Hop: Reconciling Rap and Religion.” The Christian Post, October 26, 2012.

Hodge, Daniel White. “No Church in the Wild: Hip Hop Theology and Mission.” Missiology: An International Review, 2013: 97-109.

Howard, R. “Contemporary Christian Music: Where Rock Meets Religion.” Journal of Popular Culture 26, no. 1 (1992): 123-130.

Jenkins, Philip. “Notes from the Global Church: The Case for Prosperity.” Christian Century, November 30, 2010: 45.

Lee, Shayne. “Prosperity Theology: T.D. Jakes and the Gospel of the Almighty Dollar.” Cross Currents, 2007: 227-236.

Ralph, Michael. “Hip-Hop.” Social Text (Duke University Press) 27, no. 3 (2009): 141-146.

Stringer, Kortney. “Spirited Debate: Dancing in Church Splits Congregation; Black Protestants Question Whether a Crowd Pleaser Serves Religious Purpose.” Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2004: A1.

The Speaker: The Liberal Review. “The Church and the World.” October 13, 1894: 399-400.

Weed, Michael R. “The Secular Church: American Church Adapts to Self-Centered Culture.” The Examiner 1, no. 6 (1986).

Happiness is Something We Should Be Joyful About!


SIH STSTA ICONWhen I was at home, as a youngster, I wanted to grow up and be out on my own.  You know how it was …. the folks were sticks in the mud, kill-joys, and grinches all combined.   It seemed like anything I really wanted to do they were against… like lighting the cats tail on fire, playing basketball inside the house, and of course, staying up until 3:00 AM watching my favorite horror movie.  These were the important things in life… these are the things that would give a guy real satisfaction… and all they could say was “NO”.   That’s why, at times, I wanted to be away from my folks… then I could do what I want when I want.

Well, my folks thought otherwise, they would tell me, “Rob, appreciate your life at home.  You have very few responsibilities and people who love you and look out for you.”   Believe me, I didn’t see what they meant, but I sure do now!  They were right, my time at home, growing up with a loving family, was one of the best times of my life.  I was blessed and I didn’t’ realize it, I took the blessing of a loving family for granted and only later in life (when I was out on my own) did I really begin to understand how blessed I had been.

This brings to my mind, the songs I would hear my Mom or Dad sing at home…“Count Your Many Blessings”  (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIYl6lK1c50 )    There are many songs we sing that have a practical application to them, but throughout my life, I have found that this song is one of the most needed songs for my life.   One of the most amazing things takes place in my life, when I am discouraged, and then I think of this song, I begin to apply it’s message and joy replaces my discouragement as I think of all my God has done for me.

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

In our Galatians verses, we find that “joy” is among the list of fruits that the Spirit gives to us when we are saved.  For us to understand the fruit of joy, we need to know it’s relation to happiness in the Bible. “Joy” and “happiness” are associated with one another in God’s Word, but they are not the same.   When we are “happy” … “joy” should follow.

The Greek word for happy is most times translated “blessed”.  In the New Testament, a man who is described as “happy” refers to a man who is blessed.   This is his condition in life.  In the Bible “happy” is a state of being, not an emotion.     In other words, when a man is said to be “happy”…. the New Testament is saying that this man is receiving blessings from the Lord.  This is clearly brought out in several verses, here is just one….”Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. “ Here, in James 5:11, the Bible says that when we see someone who is able to endure all this life throws at them, remaining faithful to their Lord… that is proof that they are being blessed by God.

“Joy” on the other hand, does not refer to a condition, but to an emotion.  “Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; “ (2 Tim 1:4)   Paul was saying that when he could see Timothy face to face, he would be filled with the emotion of cheerfulness or “joy””.  So to summarize, the Bible describes anyone who is “blessed” as being “happy”, whether he realizes that he is blessed or not.    The Bible describes a man as “joyful” because he recognizes he is blessed and then outwardly displays his appreciation through joy.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: (Psa 103:2)

So to put these two ideas together, the idea is this…. we are to desire and recognize the blessings we are given every day.  Then out of appreciation for all He has done for us, have a joyful attitude about us.   We are not to forget what He has done for us, but we are to allow the blessings He’s given to us be an encouragement and strength to us.

In other words, we should be joyful that He has blessed us.

For those of us who are saved, it is an absolute necessity to recognize all His blessings He has given to us.  How sad it is for us to forget what He has done after He has done so very much for us.  He came to the earth, humbled Himself as a man and then died on the cross for our sins (Phil 2:5-11).   It is through this joy that we receive the encouragement and strength to serve Him in the midst of a fallen world.  (Neh 8:10)

For those who have never received Christ as their Savior…. trust in Christ and His work today… it is only through Him that you can have a true, permanent, fullness of joy (Psa 16:11).  This joy is given to us through His death on the cross, as He died to save His people from their sins.  (Matt 1:21)  By trusting in Christ as Lord and Savior, His grace, forgiveness and presence, bring forth joy and gladness in our hearts.  He has saved us from an eternity of punishment for our sins… He has saved us from the rule of sin in our lives. What a reason to be joyful!!!

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

BE A LIGHT!


Originally posted on Shellie Woods:

In Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV Bible), Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

We don’t think much about light in our modern-day of technology. We just flip the switch on and `Voila`!, we have light! We have our cell phones, that are almost always available and they give us light, internet, tv, music, etc. What would happen if all of a sudden an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) happened and our country went out, literally? Total darkness would be our constant companion!

The definition of darkness, taken from  freedictionary.com: the state…

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Love… Biblical Style


SIH STSTA ICONThe subject of “love” has dominated the attention of mankind throughout the years.   There have been literally thousands of songs, poems, stories, fables, even scientific studies, trying to help define love and explain it more fully.  The entertainment industry uses love as a central theme in most of it’s programming.

After all these attempts, it seems as if there still exists much confusion about love and man’s pursuit of it.  For us to look to our society for a definition of love is a futile act.  Today’s definitions can range from an innocent emotion to an immoral act and everything in between.   The more man tries to define it, the more confused man becomes.

So what is love?  We will try to answer this question from God’s Word….

THE SCRIPTURE:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

(Gal 5:22-25)

THE STUDY:

The Bible has ALOT to say about love… within the pages of the Bible we find at least 311 times when the word “love” is used (300 times in the Old Testament, 11 times in the New Testament).  Love is a central theme of the Bible…. Both God’s love for man and man’s love for God are emphasized.  But throughout the Word, there is also many references to mankind’s love for one another.   Anyone who is willing to take the time to examine every reference to love in the Bible will see a vast storehouse of information that helps us to see the true meaning and role of love in our lives.

At the risk of over-simplifying the Biblical teaching, let me center on just one of many observations about love found in the Bible….   a scriptural, God-pleasing love is one that produces self-sacrifice in our lives.  For one example of this principle please see John 15:3; here we find love for a friend resulting in laying down our life for them.

Our God set the ultimate example of a sacrificial love for us…

God the Father loved us so much He gave His Son to die for us on the cross. (John 3:16, Roms 5:8)

God the Son loved us so much He gave His life as an offering and sacrifice to God for us, paying the price of our sins. (Eph 5:2)

Christ, in the person of God the Spirit, then indwells our hearts through faith… giving us a continual testimony of His great love for us. (Eph 3:17-19)

Finally, we can never be separated from this great love He has bestowed upon us!  What a wonderful promise, once we are placed in His love, no one can take His love off of us… in other words, His love is without limit, He will never cast us aside nor will he ever desert us, we are kept by Him eternally. (Roms 8:35-39)

Now, after setting such great examples of true love for us, He then promises to implant within us this same love when we are forgiven of our sins.   In our scripture verse, love is classified as one of the “fruits of the Spirit”…   this means that love is given off in our lives, when the Holy Spirit inhabits our hearts, at the time our salvation.  Therefore, we can begin to love Him, and others, with the same type of love that He has loved us… an unrestricted, self-surrendering love.

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

What a wonderful gift we have been given…. a fruit of love that we can give off to others…. much like a tree gives off its fruit to those who need it.   We can love others sacrificially, with no thought of personal gain.  Have you ever heard of an “unconditional” love?  This is the same type of love we can give to others through the working of the Spirit in our lives.

As followers of our Lord, we can place this love upon Him, allowing us to serve Him without hesitation or reservation.   We can willingly give our all to Him, just as He gave His all for us. (1 John 4:19)

Then, we are able to love others as Christ loved us.  What a wonderful way to be a living testimony for Him.   By loving others sacrificially, with no thought of personal gain, we are displaying for all to see how our Lord has loved us and laid down His life for us on the cross. (John 15:12)

For those who have never received the love of God into their hearts…. look to the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  Trusting in Christ for his salvation, is all men’s responsibility.   Have you trusted in Christ?  Have your sins been forgiven?  Has the love of God been placed upon you?  Does His Spirit now enable you to love as He loves?  If you have answered “no” to these questions please read God’s word, it shows us the way of life and true, Godly love.   A great place to start reading is 1 John 3:23-24.

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.

Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”

If you have any questions or subjects you would like discussed on this blog, please feel free to email me at settledinheaven@gmail.com.  I will answer all emails via this blog, by email, or both.


“No” is Not a Curse Word

Prepared for:

Harlem Park Elementary School

1401 Lafayette Ave

Baltimore, Maryland 21217

19 September 2012

Prepared by:

Elder William James Carter, The 1st

© The Christian Perspective

“No” is Not a Curse Word

All too often parents work tirelessly for their families and those that surround them. But that work comes a great cost. That cost is that parents are often stressed, worn out, tired, impatient, underfed and the like. With that bad health is often not only at the door but sitting in the easy chair. When this happens parents are not good for themselves or their children. They have said yes way too often to way too many people for all the wrong reasons.

Saying yes is proper and right but not always necessary. There is no need to say yes to everybody for everything because it will have a negative impact. One impact, as noted is stress. But what is stress? There are two forms of stress; one good and the other not so much. The first form of stress is eustress which is a positive stress that provides energy for us. It is the kind of stress that is useful for creativity as well as getting us out of dangerous situations. For instance, if we are cross the street and suddenly a car comes streaming down the road we are suddenly filled with certain adrenalin that allows us to run across the street to safety.

The second type of stress is called distress. Some synonyms for distress are:

  1. Suffering
  2. Pain
  3. Anguish
  4. Greif
  5. Agony
  6. Misery
  7. Torment
  8. Affliction

This, however, is not the whole of negative stress. There is another term for negative stress which is hyperstress. Hyperstress is the compilation of a number of negative stressors which makes a person feel like there is no hope. Feelings of depression can seep in which makes the stress all the worse. Unchecked stress can:

  1. lead to emotional distress
  2. spiritual exhaustion
  3. Physical illness

Much of this stress can be alleviated if we simply learn to say “no”.  Many seem to think that saying no is a curse word. That is many see denying others their services as being an obscenity or blasphemous. It is not. Not only is it OK to say no but often it is necessary to say no. For instance; if your child wants you to buy him $200.000 pair of tennis shoes but budget not only disallows it but he just received a new pair of tennis shoes at the start of the school year. It is OK to say no if only because there is no need for them.

And then there are the neighbors. They need this and they need that. Milk is needed for the baby but the store is two blocks away and she just came from the store. And then there are other needs of neighbors that really are not needs rather they are desires that have little to no necessity. But in the mind of the one seeking your help it is not only urgent but an emergency. But you just arrived home from work and dinner needs to be prepared. You are tired and the kids need help with their homework. Not only that you have to prepare for the next day’s work. It is OK to say no. This is a small part of the picture of the working parent because there are many other aspects to their lives. This is a list of things most of us are involved in or with:

  1. God
  2. Spouse
  3. Children
  4. Self – Most often denied behind God and Church
  5. Work
  6. Church
  7. Friends and neighbors
  8. Health
  9. Security
  10. Civic duty

With all this going on it is quite easy for a life to fall out of balance. In his book Margin Dr. Richard A. Swenson outlines steps to “restore balance.”  Those steps are:

  1. Regain control over your own lives.
  2. Place God at the center of all things, and build outward from there.
  3. Beware of the trap of trying to solve the problem of imbalance by becoming even more unbalanced.
  4. Accept the No given by others.

Above all say NO when you need to and when you want to. It is OK to pamper yourself. So,

  1. Take that bath and let Calgon take you away (in my case Mr. Bubble)
  2. Watch a movie
  3. Twiddle you thumbs
  4. Take that walk
  5. Love You!
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