Hating, Hateful Hypocrisy

I hate it when I hit my thumb with a hammer. My wife hates bugs in the house. My little boy hates it when his big brother takes a toy away from him. I think most of us could come up with some things we hate.
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Even God has a list of things that He hates. “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)
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I must admit that there are a number of things that I hate. I hate child abuse. I hate that women are raped. I hate that drug cartels are killing police officers and innocent citizens.
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Now what would you say if a drug cartel thug put a gun to your head and asked you why you hated what he was doing? He likely would try to justify his actions, even using force to do so, but that would not make it right. If you were in such a position it would be difficult not to hate what he was doing no matter how tolerant you are.
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The prophet Amos brought this challenge: “Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate:” (5:15a). Not only is it allowed that we hate certain things, it is commanded. “Ye that love the LORD, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 97:10) “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” (Proverbs 8:13)
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So based on these verses, what should be the standard for the things that we hate? The standard must be our fear and love for God and what He classifies as evil. I wasn’t the one who decided that it was wrong for drug cartels to go around killing whoever they wanted to kill, it was God who determined that.
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As I look at God’s standards for right and wrong, I hate the fact that innocent babies are killed. I hate the fact that pornography and sexual perversion are running rampant in our culture. For that I am called intolerant when the truth is that what is not being tolerated is God and His standards. Thus we have hatred on both sides. The one side hates what God calls evil and the other side hates God’s values. It is sad that those who fear God have been bullied into silence by those who hate what He stands for.
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“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
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Romans 12:9 tells us to let our love be without hypocrisy and to abhor evil and to cling to what is good. Christians need to stop letting others define right and wrong. They need to love and fear God and let Him define the standard. Sure they may be called hateful, but it is good and loving to hate evil. Let us not be fearful to call evil what it is and to call sin “sin.”
 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Is The Devil Really Real?

Halloween is often referred to as the devil’s holiday. Some laugh at the idea of this being his holy day, because they do not even believe that he exists. Let us take some time to examine scripture to see that the devil is real.
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Christ told us that the lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41). This passage is interesting, for it makes it clear that men who do not trust Christ have the same eternal destiny as the devil. Further it shows that the devil has angels. In the Greek there is actually a separate word used to distinguish these demons from Satan, though in English the word devil is often used for them as well.
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The Greek word diabolos refers to whom we typically think of as the devil. This is the word to describe the devil who tempted Christ in Matthew 4. Christ then addresses the tempter as Satan, showing us that they are the same. Revelation 12:9 also connects them.
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Peter warns us to be on guard for he is dangerous. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (I Peter 5:8).
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James drives home the reality of the devil as he commands that he must be resisted. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Notice that submission to God along with resistance to the devil, must happen before he will flee.

Peter warns about the devil, James says to resist him, and Paul tells Timothy that there is hope for those who are enslaved by him. “And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:26).
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The hope for being free from the devil comes from the one who resisted all his temptations. The same one who came to this earth as God in the flesh to die for our sins. In so doing, Jesus Christ destroyed what the devil was trying to accomplish. “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil“ (I John 3:8).
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Notice the connection between sin and the devil. When we sin, we are like him rather than like Christ and thus it brings us short of God’s glory. But notice as well that Christ came to destroy the works of the devil. By trusting Christ as Savior, the wages of sin are paid by Him and thus we are forgiven by His grace. Through Christ, the devil’s works are destroyed in many ways. First of all, the devil’s work of keeping us separated from God has been destroyed as we are delivered from the lake of fire and reconciled to God. Further, by trusting Christ, we are now able to say no to sin as we submit to Him. That doesn’t mean that we become sinless, but it does mean that Christ is there to enable us to resist when we couldn’t resist on our own before. Thus the devil’s victory of easily influencing us to sin has been destroyed as well.
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As we look at the reality of the devil, we cannot miss the reality of the Savior who has come to deliver us from him. Trust the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to Him as you resist the devil and have him flee from you.
 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Glory Not For Us, But For God

Imagine if we were able to give a truth serum to husbands and wives and we asked them why they married each other. I suspect many of them would say, “so the other person could make me happy.” That sounds quite self centered, but what if you were to ask Christians why they trusted Christ? How many of them would say, “so He can make me happy?”
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No doubt, I am happy to know that my sins have been forgiven and that God the Father loved this world so much that He sent His son to die for us. But, it is so easy to start to think that everything that God does is all about us, rather than all about Him.
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Did God make us just so He could please us? Perhaps you have heard a few sermons or motivational speeches that have left you with that impression. Actually, the truth is that God made us for His own glory. Revelation 4:11 says, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” That includes us. We were created not so that He could please us, but so that we could please Him.
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No doubt, as we trust Him and serve Him, we receive many blessings, but that is not the reason we are here. Revelation 4:11 actually gives us the meaning of life- the reason we are alive. That reason is to glorify the one who created us. Realizing Christ is the creator God, Hebrews 3:3-4 says, “For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.”
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We live in a society where people know about God, but they are so vain that they act as if their desires are more important than God’s. Roman’s chapter 1 talks about the downward progression of a society that has turned from God. Notice how that progression starts. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” (Romans 1:21)
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Too many Christians focus on what they are saved from and forget about what they are saved for. So what are we saved for? Often the focus is on heaven and its benefits, but consider I Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” This shows us that we are not saved JUST so that we can enjoy the benefits of heaven, but we are saved so that we can glorify God.
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Some may be tempted to criticize God for being so self centered in wanting all that glory for Himself, especially when He says things like, “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” (Isaiah 48:11) Any criticism of God is a misunderstanding of who He is.
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Being self centered is wrong for a sinful human because it takes the focus off of a perfectly holy God, for all have sinned and come short of His glory. But, for a perfect God to reserve glory for Himself is only natural. “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.” (Psalm 115:1)
 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Are You in Touch WIth God?

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to keep in contact with friends? People move away and we get caught up in the business of life and soon we remember that we haven’t talked to that good friend in a long time.
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I think of my friend Mike. We went to school together from kindergarten until we graduated. He got married shortly after high school and I was able to be in his wedding, but after he went into the Air Force, we didn’t see each other very often. Now we only talk on the phone every couple of years. Though I still consider Mike a friend, in reality he really doesn’t have much of a part in my life anymore.
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Both of my brothers live 2-3 hours away, but we still make it a point to get together. Travis just called me the other night. They were writing their will and wanted to know if we would take their kids if anything ever happened to them. We are definitely a part of each other’s lives. My other brother Dusty calls me regularly and we can talk for hours, even if we have just seen each other recently.
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My brothers and I are so close because of our shared values and our shared faith in God. Neither of them are pastors, but God is a central part of both of their lives. They have each trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior and are committed to training their families according to His Word. Travis is not quite as outgoing as Dustin, but he is not afraid to talk to and about his God.
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So how many of us are like that? Even for those who have trusted Christ as Savior, has your relationship with Him become like my relationship with my high school classmate? Have you become so distant from God that it is almost like you don’t even know Him anymore? I believe much of the downfall of our society is because people (even those who call themselves Christians) do not really know God. God declares in Jeremiah 9:24, “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”
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If you really get to know God, you will find that Jeremiah 9:24 is true. He is a God of justice and righteousness and He is also loving and kind. But when people don’t even know Him and don’t understand who He really is, no wonder there are so many problems in our world. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Romans 1:28).
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I think of the most memorable moments of my life. In many of them my brothers were there. In all of them, my God was there, but did I really acknowledge that at the time? Was I walking close with Him, keeping in touch with Him, not just on a daily but on a moment by moment basis? Am I doing that now?
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If you were to describe your most memorable event, what role would God have in that description? Would you even mention Him? As we consider the Psalms of David, we realize that he is describing things that happened in his life,. What makes those descriptions so important, is not the details of the events. Rather, it is God’s role in those events and David’s connection to his God throughout them that stand out. If someone were to read your diary, would they find God in it? As you go throughout your life, is God a part of it, or is He a distant acquaintance far far away?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Girls are Prettier Than Boys

Our little boys have an assortment of bathtub toys, ranging from a boat, to bowls, to rubber duckies. The duckies actually came in a set, with the momma and her babies. My 2 ½ year old son brought a baby ducky and the momma ducky into my office and was showing them to me. He quickly understood which one was the baby because it was smaller. I had often told him that his own mother was pretty, so I pointed out the big long eyelashes that were painted on the momma ducky and said, “look, Jared, this is a momma because it is pretty.”
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He then picked up the baby ducky and pointed to it’s long eyelashes and said, “baby mommy ducky.” It looks like our little boy is starting to understand the differences between boys and girls.
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This reminds me of the little 5-6 year old girl I talked with. She had been on a field trip and was all excited to tell me about it. I told her that it sounded fun and that I would have liked to have gone. She informed me that I was too old. I responded by saying that I wished that I was her age for just a little while, then I could go on the field trips and we could play on the swings. She looked at me with total indignation and said, “I wouldn’t play with you.” I asked why not. She looked at me as if I were the most ignorant person in the world and said, “because you’re a boy!”
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Yes, boys and girls are different. “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6) Though we can have the same relationship to Christ (see Gal 3:28) we are obviously different.
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Some would like to minimize those differences and suggest that there is no distinction at all between the genders. This goes against nature itself. For example, I did not have the strain nor the pleasure that comes with being able to carry our children in a womb. I will never know or understand exactly what it is like to be a woman, nor will my wife understand what it is like to be a man.
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The differences between men and women go far beyond the physical. It has been said that women tend to be more emotional than men. I fear that tension between men and women has resulted because too often those differences are not understood. It has become politically incorrect to even discuss them.
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Consider how men tend to want to talk about a problem until a solution is found and women just want to know that the man cares. I have learned that instead of trying to find a solution to every concern my wife voices, I sometimes need to simply listen for a minute, be quiet, and give her a hug.
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Now if I thought she was just like me, I would never do that. You see once we realize we are different and that those differences are not bad- just different- we are better able to relate to each other.
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I fear the high divorce rate can partly be attributed to the lie that men and women are the same. If more couples went into the marriage aware of the differences and loved each other because of those differences, they would be better equipped to relate to one another. Yes, God created us male and female, and though different, those differences make us complementary to one another.