Conceived, Not Born, In December.

So, many people have stated that no one can REALLY know when Jesus was born, and that is true.  No one can pinpoint the exact date that Jesus’ birth took place.  But we can pretty much pinpoint the month in which he was born.  In doing some study and research and listening to my pastor and a few others, it’s easy to see that Jesus was NOT born in December, but was most likely CONCEIVED in December.  We can figure this out by going back to the Bible when it talks about Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, and when he performed his priestly duties before John was conceived.

Luke 1 says that Zechariah was of the priestly division of Abijah.  The priests were divided up into 24 separate divisions.  Zechariah’s priestly course was carried out the first time sometime around mid-late June (www.christinprophecy.org/articles/when-was-jesus-born/).  Each course ran twice a year from one Sabbath to the next (8 days).  We know that it was during his time of temple service that he was visited by the Angel Gabriel who told him his wife would bear them a son.  Of course, we also know that Zechariah did not believe this news and was struck mute.  After Zechariah returns home, he and Elizabeth conceive their son, John.  So, this takes place around mid-late June.  Fast forward six months and now we’re in December, possibly at or near the Festival of Lights (Hanukkah) and Mary is visited by this same angel who tells her that she, too, will bear a son and that her cousin, Elizabeth, is in her sixth month of her pregnancy.  Now, Mary leaves and goes to visit Elizabeth and stays with her for her final three months.  This will put John being born in mid March-early April.  Since we know that John is six months older than Jesus, we can safely say that Jesus was born in mid September-early October.  More than likely mid-late September because we read that there were shepherds in the fields on the day/night that Jesus was born and if Jesus were born in December, shepherds would NOT be in the fields.  It would be too cold for them.

It just so interesting to study and research this stuff because this is not anything mainline pastors will break down and teach from their pulpits.  Not sure why unless they don’t see the importance of it.  They go with the man-made, Roman Catholic tradition of celebrating Christ’s birth in December.  It’s study and research like this that makes me want to dig deeper and learn more because it’s all these “little things” (like when Zechariah performed his priestly duties) that changes the whole narrative on Christ’s birth.

 

 

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World Acting Like The World

Something I’ve learned over the years is that many Christians can be pretty haughty.  They are quick to point out the sins of the world as if they haven’t sinned themselves, but if every single one of those Christians were to have their inner thoughts played out on a jumbo screen for everyone to see, they would have to hide in shame.  I know I would.

Christians shouldn’t be shocked at how the world acts.  They are only acting according to their nature.  I’ve seen Christians berate non-Christians for acting ungodly.  Ungodly people are only acting according to their nature.  They don’t have it in their nature to act godly.  That’s like telling a lion to not hunt down and eat an antelope.  It’s in their nature to do so.

Many times when I watch Christian pastors and lay people on TV I cringe at some of the things they say about how we need more laws to curb the “sin” in our country.  We cannot legislate morality.  I don’t care how many laws you make, not everyone will obey them.  How many Christians go the speed limit every…single…time they drive a car?  I know I don’t!!  If speed laws don’t work, how can they expect other laws to work?  How many people still murder despite there being a law on the books that states it’s against the law to kill someone?  How many teenagers still gain access to alcohol and cigarettes even though there’s laws against them being able to purchase them?  Laws can’t make people act right.  Only when there’s been a spiritual change in someone can we expect them to live godly lives.

Telling a lost person to “act” better doesn’t get them saved.  We can act high and mighty and criticize them for their behavior, but we forget that we still sin ourselves.  Christians have forgotten that salvation is of grace, not morality.  It’s a gift given to us freely, not something we earn by doing good deeds.  So, if we ever find ourselves getting up on that high horse that we should just shoot and put out of it’s misery, we need to think about the sins we’re guilty of.  Every lustful thought, every unkind word we speak or unkind thought we think about another person, and every prideful word, deed, or thought we may have, are still sins and the only difference between us and those who are lost is that we have been given grace and forgiveness for those sins.  It doesn’t make us better than anyone else.  It should make us humble knowing that we did nothing to deserve that grace, not prideful and arrogant in how we treat those who aren’t Christian.  God didn’t command us to be their judge and their conscience.  He commanded us to love them.  Sometimes we may have to give some “tough love” and they may not like that, but through that love, we are to point them to Christ.

Jeremiah 29:11

Once again, I saw someone who took Jeremiah 29:11 out of context, so I thought I would post it here within the context in which God spoke those words:

 “For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare[b] and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.”  Jeremiah 29:10-14.

These words were spoken by God to the prophet, Jeremiah, who then wrote them down in a letter to be delivered to the exiles who were in Babylonian captivity through the sovereign providence of God.  King Zedekiah, who was appointed by Nebuchadnezzar to be his representative in Judah, decided to turn and rebel against Nebuchadnezzar and in turn, Nebuchadnezzar seized Jerusalem and took many Israelites into captivity.  This was God’s judgment upon Israel for their idolatry and rebellion against Him.  They would be held captive for 70 years, but then He would fulfill the promise He made to them that He would visit them after those 70 years and would return them to their homeland and restore to them all they had lost.  That was God’s plan for Israel and it was prophesied in earlier Old Testament writings.

In the original Hebrew, the verse reads, “plans for peace, not of evil.”  The Hebrew word for “peace”, of course, is Shalom.  The main definition of “Shalom” is  “completeness, soundness, welfare, and peace.”  Some translations use “peace”, some use the term “welfare” and others use the term “prosper”.  Now, if we think in American terms, to “prosper” means to have financial and material wealth.  Another definition is to “flourish physically; grow strong and healthy”.  I believe we need to use the original term “peace” so that we can get the true meaning of the verse.  So, is this peace referring to peace from war?  All you have to do is look at the news every day and see that’s not the case.  Or does this have a spiritual meaning in that they will have peace with God?  I say it’s a spiritual peace because we know there hasn’t been much earthly peace in Israel since they became a nation.  The peace Christ gives is peace between man and God, not between nations.

What about Israel’s “future and a hope”?  God made a covenant with Abraham that was made up of three parts:  (1) The promise of land; (2) The promise of descendants; and (3) The promise of blessing and redemption.  I believe in Jeremiah 29:10-11, we see God keeping all three promises.  First, the promise of the land.  He gave the Israelites the Promised Land and He was not going to take that away.  He was going to send them back after the 70 years was up.  Their future and their hope was in the promise of descendants and the promise of blessings and redemption because it was through Abraham’s descendants (future) that the Messiah (Blessing and Hope) would come and bring redemption not only to Israel, but to the Gentiles.

So, while we believe that God has a plan for each of our lives, this particular verse is speaking directly to Israel who was in captivity and God was reminding them that He had not forgotten them.  He would still keep His covenant and give their land back to them and they still had a future and a hope, but at that particular moment, they would have to remain in captivity as judgment for turning their backs on Him.

Philippians 2:12-13

“12 – Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 – for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:12-13.

This is a verse that many seem to misinterpret.  Those in the “salvation by works” camp point to this verse and say, “SEE!!!  You’re supposed to do good works to gain salvation!”  And those who disagree with them point to the fact that they stop at verse 12 and fail to continue on to verse 13 that puts the verse in the proper context.  So, I’m not trying to say that our salvation is earned if we do good works.  The works that Paul is speaking of here are not works that are done to earn salvation, but works that come AFTER salvation.  I believe this verse goes hand in hand with James 2:26 where James tells the Jewish church, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.”  And this verse, also, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’  Show me your faith without deeds, and I’ll show you my faith by my deeds” (James 2:18).  If we claim to be in Christ, our life will prove that claim through our works.

In my study on this verse, someone posted a better wording that I think shows the correct meaning of the it.  They broke it down to one simple phrase:  “Work out(wardly) what God is working in you.”  In other words, the work that God is accomplishing in us, we should be showing outwardly.

Some people profess Christ, but their daily lives don’t reflect that.  How we speak around others and how we act around others are a good indication of whether that profession is true.  I’m not saying that we stop sinning.  We sin everyday.  But I believe the amount of time we spend reading His Word or listening to His Word being preached and how much time we spend in prayer, will be reflected in how we live, because it is through the exposure to God’s Word that we can see how He is working in us.  And when He works in us, it will show in how we live.  And as verse 13 says, it is God who works in us, “both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

And I believe all this is contingent upon how our relationship with Christ is.  The saying “You get out of it what you put into it,” could be used in this situation.  If you’re in a relationship with someone, you can’t grow and deepen that relationship if you spend more of your time away from them than with them.  We can’t expect to grow and deepen our relationship with Christ if we’re unwilling to read His Word and pray.  And I will be the first to say that I am lacking in that department.  I think all of us at some point let other things get in the way of that.  But, I desire to do better.  We can’t be angry with God for not growing us like we think He should if we’re unwilling to put more effort into the relationship.  We can’t put the Bible up to our heads and expect the teachings to infiltrate our brains like osmosis.  It doesn’t work that way.  It takes effort on our part grow and to learn, and in that growth and learning, God works in us and through us to do His will and good pleasure.

Salvation is all of God.  But our growth as Christ’s followers requires work and diligence on our part.  And through the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can accomplish that knowing that God will work in and through us to accomplish His work.

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

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“GOD is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  Psalm 46:1

Many people say they don’t like change.  Well, let me tell you, life is all about change.  I’m used to change.  I grew up moving from place to place due to my father being a pastor.  So, every few years, we’d pack up our stuff and move to another town/community where my dad was called to pastor at a particular church.  I learned to adapt to change.  Some change is good and some not good, but one thing is for certain, there will always be change.

Those who don’t like change are comfortable with the familiar.  But, those who don’t mind change, see it as a growing experience.  Some change happens over an extended period of time.  In cases like that, it makes it easier to handle.  In other cases, change comes suddenly; without warning.  It’s those types of changes that bothers people.  They’re hit between the eyes with the unexpected detour.  They were going down the path of life with certain goals in mind and never giving thought to “what if”, and then suddenly, it all changes.  We all do it.  It’s easy to get in a set routine and live our life as if we’re promised our next breath.  But, that is never a promise we’re given.

My family had to deal with the death of two loved ones in the same week last month.  But, there was a difference in the two.  One was my mom.  She spent a little over a month going from hospital, to rehab, back to the hospital, until she was eventually sent home under hospice care.  We knew once she went home that there was going to be a future change.  A change in family gatherings.  A change in how things would be at home when we went to visit after she passed.  We, in our minds, began to prepare for that change.  We were given time to grieve even though she was still with us.

The second was my brother-in-law.  He was killed in a car accident four days before my mom passed.  We had his funeral on a Friday and mom passed the next day.  Life for my sister and their five kids changed in the blink of an eye.  Life for his parents and his sisters changed in the blink of an eye, too.  It’s times like this that remind us that we need to appreciate our family and loved ones.

And change isn’t just about the passing of someone we love.  It could be the sudden loss of a job.  One day you do life as normal and the next day you’re wondering “How am I going to pay the bills?”  Or, it could be the loss of your house due to fire or natural disaster.  One day you have a nice warm bed with a roof over your head.  The next day you’re living in a hotel or with family because you’re house is gone.  Or, it could be the dreaded cancer diagnosis or a sudden heart attack.  You’re going through life as usual, now you’re faced with the reality that you are now fighting for your life and wondering if/how you’re going to make it through.  Or, you come home to have your spouse say, “I don’t love you anymore.  I want a divorce.”  What do you do now?

It’s in these “blink of an eye” moments that we need to have a refuge to run to.  We may think we can handle whatever comes our way, but when the rubber meets the road, when that moment finally hits, we find out that we’re not as strong as we think we are.  Those who have their hope and trust in God and have experienced those “blink of an eye” moments have found unexplained peace and comfort that only He can give.  I’m not saying we don’t express emotions.  I’ve lost jobs before and went home crying wondering how I was going to pay my bills with no income.  And we all have grieved the loss of friends and family because we feel the pain of their absence.  Yes, we still feel and express emotions of pain and loss, that’s just human nature.  But, in the midst of those times of crying and feelings of grief, God, like a mother bird sheltering her babies from the storm with her wings, will cover us with His peace and comfort.  It’s His strength that carried us through those times that our life had changed “in the blink of an eye”.  So, when we find that life has suddenly changed, we mustn’t think “How am I going to fix this?” or “How can I get through this?”, it’s not for us to fix or to handle on our own.  God never intended for us to handle life on our own.  He wants us to depend upon Him to guide us through the storms of life.  And He will.  He won’t abandon His children when we most need Him.  We just have to stop looking inside of ourselves for the strength because we don’t have it.  It is only by His strength we are able to endure the storms of life.

 

 

Defending God’s Word

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Just some thoughts that came to mind today as I was scrolling through that bastion of culture, Facebook.  I guess you could say I’m just as patriotic as the next person, but sometimes I wonder….when are Christians going to defend the Word of God just as much or more than they do the American Flag?

Please, don’t think I’m trying to be unpatriotic.  I consider myself blessed to live in this country, even though it is becoming more and more entrenched in racial disunity and our society is becoming more tolerant of the most vile and deplorable behavior that we have ever seen in our lifetime.  Sure, this stuff has been around since Adam and Eve ate of that fruit that God told them to stay away from, but the debauchery we’re seeing now is the same stuff that caused many cultures and civilizations to fall.  We were once a great country, but now we’re becoming the laughing stock of the world.

But all this is not due to people being unpatriotic.  It’s because people have turned away from God’s Word.  Even mainstream Christian churches are going away from God’s Word.  Oh, they still open their Bibles and read passages from it, but they are twisting and distorting the Word to fit what THEY want it to say instead of what God meant for it to say.  And many times the twisting and distorting comes from popular “Bible” preachers/teachers that have gained the trust of so many people that, when others begin pointing out the flaws and heresies that are being taught by them, their followers tend to get mad.  Not sure why that is.  Is it because they don’t like their favorite teacher knocked off his/her pedestal?  Or, maybe, it’s that they don’t like finding out that they’ve been duped.  Jude 1:4 says, “For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” 

In that first part, these false teachers who twist scripture crept in unnoticed.  They came in feeding the sheep a little morsel at a time and as time went on, they began mixing some sugar coated poison in with the good stuff until those who kept feeding on it didn’t know the good from the bad.  There’s been pagan practices introduced into the church and many are blind to it.

Sadly, nowadays, people are more apt to defend their favorite “Bible” teacher, rather than defend the Word of God.  No matter how much of their heresies are revealed and how they are shown to twist scripture and how they have introduced pagan practices into the Christian religion, it’s not God’s Word that gets upheld, it’s the one who is mangling scripture that gets defended.

There’s also some so-called Christian artists who have become very popular these days that many would be angry or upset if it were revealed just how badly they twist and distort scripture/doctrine.  And they wouldn’t be angry with the artist.  They would be angry with the one who revealed it to them.  How DARE you talk bad about MY favorite singer!!

Discernment isn’t easy.  It takes study, reading, more study, and more reading…..and maybe a podcast here and there (Fighting 4 The Faith by Chris Rosebrough is a good one) to be able to learn to know when something doesn’t sound right.  I thank God that He introduced me to other Christians who helped me to gain a better understanding of Scripture and to direct me to resources that help me to know who’s the real deal and who the imposters are.

Please, Christian…..I realize you love your country and want people to respect it and the nation’s flag, but there’s something WAAAAAAAYYYYY more important than our patriotism.  It’s our defense of the Gospel and God’s Word.  It’s being picked apart, twisted, and mangled and we turn a blind eye to it because either we don’t want to give up our favorite “Bible” preacher/teacher, or we just don’t think God’s Word is that important.

CONTENDING WITH THE ALMIGHTY

As with any catastrophe, many people question why God allows calamity and suffering to occur.  Well, let me cut to the chase and go ahead and give my main point right here and now so you don’t have to muddle through a whole bunch of words to get to it, okay?  Here goes:  God allows calamity and suffering because He chooses to, plain and simple.

People begin questioning, “If God is so powerful, why doesn’t He stop these storms from happening?”  Probably for the same reason that able bodied people stay and ride out these storms instead of fleeing for safety…..because He chooses NOT to.  God is more than willing and able to stop a storm.  Remember when Jesus was asleep in the boat while the disciples struggled to keep it afloat during the storm?  When they woke him up in fear asking him does he not care that they were about to perish, Jesus stood up and commanded, “Peace!  Be still!”  So, we know that God can calm any storm.  When Job lost his children, all his wealth, and was left sitting in ashes scraping his sores, he began justifying how righteous he was and how God was wrong in bringing this calamity upon him (Job 33:9-11; Job 35:1-3).  In Chapter 38, the LORD spoke up and says, ““Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?  Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.”  Then God proceeds to ask WHO was responsible for creation and everything that goes on within it.  Was it Job who causes the sun to rise, or the rains to fall, or causes lightning to fall to the earth, or the snow to cover the ground?  Of course not.  Job was not responsible for any of that.

God created EVERYTHING and He is in sovereign control of it all.  In Job 40:2, the LORD says, “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?”  How dare we question God as to WHY He doesn’t stop these storms from causing destruction.  It’s His creation and He can do as He pleases with it.  We could stand and shake our fists at Him all day long demanding to know why He allows these catastrophes to occur, but He doesn’t owe us any explanation.  Compared to Him, we are like a tiny ant walking across a table and at any point He could take His finger and flick us off of it.

It’s not our place to demand answers from Him.  He’s the Creator and we are His creation.  He is the Potter and we are the clay.  Just as a potter has control over how his vessel turns out, God is Creator and He has control over what He does with His creation.  Read Job 38-41.  Those chapters will tell just how in control God is and how puny we are.  God owes us no explanations as to why He does what He does.  He can shelter His people under His protective wing like a mother bird, or utterly consume someone with His hot, fiery breath.  Just know that God is still Sovereign and in control of all things.

WITHHOLDING CHARITY

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This is written for all, but I want to specifically speak to Christians.

When you woke up this morning, did you have a roof over your head?  Were you able to sit down at your dinner table last night and leisurely eat a nice meal with your family?  Did you enjoy a nice hot shower this morning?  Have you taken a look at all you’ve been blessed with and say a prayer of thanks to God for blessing you with everything you have?  If not, you should, because one day, in the blink of an eye, it could all be swept away or blown away and you are left with nothing but the clothes on your back and sleeping on a cot wondering how you’re ever going to get back on your feet.  That is what the folks affected by Hurricane Harvey is experiencing right now.

Christians…..WE are to be some of THE MOST giving people on this planet.  The stuff we have in our possession…..this wasn’t something we obtained due to luck or due to our smarts/intellect.  These possessions we have are given to us by God.  That job we have that pays us on a regular basis?  It is a blessing from God.  It is that job that God gives us the opportunity to own what we have.  But, yet, I’ve found that many Christians tend to be some of the stingiest people out there.  Just ask a waiter/waitress on Sunday afternoons who gives the worst tips.  My sister worked a few years as a waitress and, as a Christian, she found it very disappointing that the “church” people were the worst tippers despite the great service she gave them.

Some people may say, “Well, I don’t get paid that much and I have a lot of bills to pay.”  The early church spoken of in the Book of Acts took some of their possessions and sold them so that they could provide assistance for those in need.  Look around your home.  Do you have things lying around just collecting dust?  Might be a dandy time to have a yard sale and use that money towards helping people in need.  You’re killing two birds with one stone.  You’re giving assistance to people who have lost all they have while de-cluttering your house.  I mean, why are you holding on to that stuff anyway?  You can’t take it with you when you die.

Maybe you do have some extra cash at the end of your pay week that is used on frivolous items or pursuits.  Why not decide to put that cash to good use and buy supplies to help the people displaced by Harvey get back on their feet?  I’m not asking you to buy them a house or a new car.  I’m asking you to do something that will help them take one step at a time towards getting back into a new home and having a new car.  OR it could help them fix up the home they were living in.  I have never experienced something like this, but I can only imagine how it must feel to be faced with the knowledge that I have no house left to go home to.  It must be stressful and nerve wracking knowing that I would have to wake up every morning with hundreds of other people crammed into a school gym who are in the SAME PREDICATMENT as I am.

I know there are Christian organizations out there lending a hand to these folks.  But, why isn’t EVERY Christian willing to sacrifice just a little to help someone who’s lost everything?

I Never Knew You

Matthew 7:21-23……”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

The term Christian these days doesn’t mean what it meant in the days when the Apostles first began preaching the gospel.  Some people think that just because they believe God exists, that means they’re Christian.  But the Bible clearly says that even the “demons believe and tremble.”  But their belief in His existence won’t change their eternal destiny.  Some think because their name is on a church roll somewhere, then that means they’re a Christian.  Wrong!  The first verse says that only those who do “the will of my Father who is in heaven” will enter into the kingdom of heaven.  So, just what is the will of the Father?  John 6:40 says:

“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Now, this verse is not saying that EVERYONE will look on the Son and believe.  It says that everyone WHO looks on the Son and believes.  That latter statement is pointing to a distinct group of people; those who look to Christ and believes that HE is the only way to salvation.

In the last part of verse 23, Jesus says that he will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”  The word “knew” in this verse isn’t referring to having a knowledge of someone.  God knows who we are.  God obviously knows every person that has lived and will ever live on this earth because He created us all.  The word “knew” in this verse comes from the Greek word “ginosko” which refers to knowing someone intimately.  Mary used this term when she said, “How will this be when I do not know a man?”  In this sense, she is referring to sexual intimacy, but the word doesn’t always refer to that type of intimacy.  We can know a little about person we work with, but we don’t know any of the more intimate details of their life such as, how do they like their steak cooked, or what is their favorite movie or song, or what was their childhood like growing up.  In his commentary, John Gill writes this:

“for as the omniscient God he knew their persons and their works, and that they were workers of iniquity; he knew what they had been doing all their days under the guise of religion; he knew the principles of all their actions, and the views they had in all they did; nothing is hid from him. But, as words of knowledge often carry in them the ideas of affection, and approbation, see ( Psalms 1:6 ) ( 2 Timothy 2:19 ) the meaning of Christ here is, I never had any love, or affection for you; I never esteemed you; I never made any account of you, as mine, as belonging to me; I never approved of you, nor your conduct; I never had any converse, communication, nor society with you, nor you with me. The Persic version reads it, “I have not known you of old”, from ancient times, or from everlasting; I never knew you in my Father’s choice, and my own, nor in my Father’s gift to me, nor in the everlasting covenant of grace; I never knew you as my sheep, for whom, in time, I died, and called by name; I never knew you believe in me, nor love me, or mine; I have seen you in my house, preaching in my name, and at my table administering mine ordinance; but I never knew you exalt my person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; you talk of the works you have done, I never knew you do one good work in all your lives, with a single eye to my glory; wherefore, I will neither hear, nor see you; I have nothing to do with you.”

It will be sad day when some will come before Christ and boast of their works only to hear, “Depart from me for I NEVER knew you.”  Jesus knows who belong to Him.  Those whom the Father gives to Him are the ones He died for.  Those who are His sheep, will hear His voice and respond to the gospel.  No amount of good deeds or extraordinary works will give anyone free access to heaven.  There’s not enough good works we can do to satisfy the debt that we owed.  Only Christ, in His perfection, was able to satisfy that debt when He died on the cross.

 

 

GIVING IN SECRET

Okay…..I’ll probably get hate comments for this because (A) someone does it all the time and doesn’t see anything wrong with it, or (B) someone will misinterpret what I’m saying and think I’m speaking out against being merciful and showing kindness to those in need.  But, I will, to the best of my ability, try to communicate the best way I can so that there is no misunderstanding.

I see posts on Facebook frequently where people will post their “good deed” of the day for everyone to see.  Whether it’s helping out someone who’s broken down on the side of the road, or someone paying the electricity bill for their elderly neighbor, or buying someone’s dinner because there wasn’t enough money to pay for it.  First….let me say this right now so there is no misunderstanding….there is NOTHING WRONG with showing mercy and kindness to someone in need.  The Bible talks about “doing unto the least of these” and as Christians, we should be the MOST GIVING and MOST HELPFUL people out there.  But here is the thing that bothers me. Matthew 6:1-4 says:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.  Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogue and in the streets, that they may be praised by others.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you give to the needy, do no let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were famous for showing how “giving” and “merciful” they were, not because that was part of their character, but because they wanted to be praised by the people.  They liked it when people patted them on the back for their generosity and so to get their egos stoked, they would publicize their “good deeds” just to have people say “what a good person they were”.

Now in this day and age, we have Facebook where people can post the pictures of the evidence of their “good deeds” and then their friends start posting “Oh, what a good person you are!” or “Thank you for your generosity!” or “God bless you for your kindness!” or “We need more people like you in this world!”  Jesus wants our generosity to be done in secret.  Why?  Because He knows we are prideful people and we like being patted on the back when we do something good.

I get it.  I understand.  We’re living in a time when people are self-centered and egotistical and selfish, and it’s so nice to hear about how someone did something nice for another human being and we LOVE to hear those stories.  I enjoy reading about how someone was helped by another person in their time of need and desperation.  But, Christ said that as far as we’re concerned, our giving should be kept secret.  And, there are times when that is not possible, especially if it’s in a public setting.  It’s one thing when there are 4 or 5 people there at that precise moment to witness it, but it’s a whole other matter when you go home and post it on Facebook and say, “See what I did today?”

We need to learn to practice humility and not be like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day who proclaimed “Look at what I did!”  The only ones who should know are us as individuals, the people who were helped, and God Himself.  God blesses us and we should bless others with what He’s given to us.  But, our generosity should never be publicized, at least not by us.  If the people we help choose to make it known, that’s their decision, but if that were to happen, we should deflect the attention off of us and just give credit where credit is due, and that’s to God.