Sharing Who We Have Become, Because of God’s Love for Us

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By Jim DeAngelo

I had the opportunity a few days ago to share Jesus, but it was a bit different. An acquaintance talked to me about how they had difficulty with their neighbor and wished a large wooden screen could be erected to block their view of the neighbor whose front yard joined theirs. As I knew that both proclaimed their relationship with Jesus, I asked the person, “How this could be?” They both professed Jesus, and they were joined in that relationship. Jesus states in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (ESV). This person shared how they didn’t know why it was so, and they gave a few examples that demonstrated the other person’s anger with them. They appreciated the discussion and recognized it wasn’t how they were to live, that they needed to address the unforgiveness.

The conversation continued for more than an hour on additional subjects that focused on Scripture and our personal walk and beliefs. The most pronounced of these was on the authenticity of Scripture. They felt that the Bible was written by men and subject to interpretation through culture, the culture during the time the Scriptures were written and the different culture of now. They felt that this filtering was the best approach to understanding God and defining how we are to live our lives.

I admit this was challenging. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (NKJV). If a person believed the Bible was stories written by man instead of God breathed, then the culture defined our walk instead of God. A decision to filter Scripture based on a cultural view results in the ability to justify any position a person wants to take and to indulge in any sin or practice we feel is culturally okay instead of what is presented in God’s Word. This decision removes the safeguards that God has lovingly given us for our own good and protection.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness? And what agreement does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? And what agreement does a temple of God have with idols? For you are the temple of the living God, as God has said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.’ Therefore come out from among them and be separated, says the Lord, and do not touch the unclean thing. And I will receive you and I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (NKJV)

Martin preached on this subject July 20, 2014, in his sermon titled, “The Bible: Is the Bible Historically Reliable?” You can hear that onlne here.

This is where I was given the opportunity to lovingly share my position and to encourage the other person to see our relationship with God through the love of Christ and each other. I shared with this person that God gave us His word to direct our lives and that it is authentic, and that I was discussing this to share my love for Jesus and how He had changed my heart and my life to be different from whom I had been and whom the culture would define me as. This is the testimony, that love does define who we are. To share means we share out of our love instead of our rightness.

I know that we will have opportunities to share and discuss the living God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I look forward to sharing whom I have become because of God’s love for me.

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What Is ISRAEL?

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By Jeff Foerster

Israel is a state.

Its geographical size is quite small. If the nation of Israel were cut from a map and placed over the United States of America, it would require more than 473 “Israels” to completely cover the United States. Even in comparison to bordering Egypt, Israel is tiny, covering only about 2 percent of its neighbor’s geography. It is the only democratic state in the Middle East, having a prime minister (currently Benjamin Netanyahu) and a parliament.

Israel is a person.

“Israel,” which can be translated as “to struggle or wrestle with God,” was the name given to Jacob as recorded in the book of Genesis. Jacob was son to Isaac, the son of Abraham. Through Jacob, now Israel, Joseph was born, and many, many descendants after him. When we speak of the nation of “Israel,” we speak of a group of people, generations of family.

Israel is a promise.

More than four thousand years ago, God made a covenant with Abraham that He would give the land of Canaan to his descendants forever. Modern-day Israel exists in the former “land of Canaan.” Roughly 2,800 years ago, the prophet Isaiah wrote prophecy that would take nearly as long to fulfill. He writes, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once?” (Isaiah 66:8). On May 14, 1948, just that happened. The Jews once again had a place to call home, a nation of their own. From out of the smoking ruin of World War II, and Hitler’s attempted annihilation of the Jewish people, arose the nation of Israel. Her existence today serves the world as a reminder of God’s faithfulness as core to His character. He has not forgotten the Jewish people (Romans 11).

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A Message from Antebellum America

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By Dan Amos

Commuting is a painful necessity of working, but good can come from it. As an example, I offer the last book I listened to — A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845). His writing made me think about how we as a nation have come to where we are today.

Frederick was born into slavery in the early 19th century. In captivity he lived as far north as Baltimore. His writing reveals an intelligent man who taught himself to read as a boy and taught others from the New Testament. Jesus found him and claimed him as His own. This is clear in his writing, even as he rails against the pastors, church board members, and regular attenders who persecuted him and the other people tortured in slavery. He clearly distinguished between Christ’s Church and the American church that permitted, encouraged, or merely stayed silent against slavery.

He observed that the sin of slaveholding was a wickedness that deformed the spirit and made the practitioner miserable. As a boy, he was under the detention of a husband and wife, though the wife was kind and began his lessons in reading. Her husband ended the lessons and, as time wore on, she became mean and hateful towards him and all slaves. The sin of slavery infected her entire being.

His account of the cost of sin upon the nation is one we can recognize that we still suffer from today. In our hate for our fellow man, we have hated ourselves and our Creator. We have created divisions between ourselves and have destroyed the helpless and unwanted. We are in a time now where evil is called good and good is called evil. As individuals and as a body, we must measure good and evil not by society, but by the Word of God.

Frederick lived until 1895 and, by all accounts, he will be among the great crowd in Heaven. His was a difficult story to listen to, but powerful in its redemption and his reliance on our common Redeemer. If you read it or listen to it (available at the Pierce County Library), I would love to hear your opinion.

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Just Because He Is

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By Tom Chase

Remember the story of Job, a very rich man, had everything he needed and more? Then trouble struck him and he lost everything except his life. His riches, his family, his reputation, and even his health — all were gone.

Job’s response when he found out?

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said,

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”

Job 1:20-21 NLT

I have to say that I am totally blown away by a man whose response to trouble like this is to worship God. Wow! Really?

I am pretty sure that is not our typical response, and I know it is not mine. Yet what bothers me is that it should be. Over the past several weeks I have been pondering Job’s response. I have been checking his response compared to the things that cause me (and, I believe, sometimes us) to praise God. It seems to me that we have become really good at praising God for what He has done … and we should do that. But I also believe that we (and I) need to become really good at worshiping God because He is.

There is so much to appreciate about our creator God. Scripture tells us that He is glorious … that He is beyond compare … that there is no one else like Him. We do see some of that in the things He does for us. It gives us a glimpse into His character. But I have to say that He is worthy of our praise because He is — not just because of what He has done for us (or me). As I continue to think this through, I have been finding myself in awe of the person of God and I have found joy in God in praising Him simply for Him. He is our greatest “Thing,” and not because He gives us stuff, but because He is.

If you are feeling like your praise has been heavy on the “because-of-what-God-has-done” side, take some time and just praise Him for Him and give Him glory!

If a song will encourage you in this way, “Just Because You Are” by Philip Sandifer has been an encouragement for me.

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