How We Treat Each Other

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul gives valuable instructions on how Christians should treat others, following the model of Jesus Christ.

First, we are to speak the truth. As we have always heard, “honesty is the best policy.” This phrase is often accredited to Benjamin Franklin. However, the idea can be recognized from the ten commandments given by God to Moses for the children of Israel. “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” (Exodus 20:16) Wikipedia says this in relation to this quote, “Matthew Henry taught that the prohibition against false witness concerns our own and our neighbor’s good name. “Thou shalt not bear false witness” forbids: “1. Speaking falsely in any matter, lying, equivocating, and any way devising and designing to deceive our neighbor. 2. Speaking unjustly against our neighbor, to the prejudice of his reputation; and (which involves the guilty of both). 3. Bearing false witness against him, laying to his charge things that he knows not, either judicially, upon oath (by which the third commandment, and the sixth and eighth, as well as this, are broken), or extrajudicially, in common converse, slandering, backbiting, tale-bearing, aggravating what is done amiss and making it worse than it is, and any way endeavoring to raise our own reputation upon the ruin of our neighbor’s.”[61] 

Second, don’t let our anger cause us to sin against others. Our anger can give the devil a foothold that can change our attitudes, our desires, and our actions. “Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive.” Marcus Tullius Cicero (https://www.brainyquote.com)

Third, we mustn’t take things that belong to others, thereby hurting them in some way. “Thou shalt not steal,” is very clear on this subject. (Exodus 20:15) Pastor Don Wilton admonishes, 

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Why Die?

I know that I am not the first one to ask this question, specific to the apostles. Why would anyone choose to die a horrible death when they could easily conform to the demands of the authorities? By simply denying Jesus, they could have avoided the persecution and brutality they suffered.

Why? Because they were eyewitnesses to the truth. Because they knew, beyond all doubt, that Jesus is who He said He is. Because they knew that the truth is bigger and more durable than their fragile, human lives. And above all, Jesus was able to sustain them and give them peace, even while they were imprisoned, and/or tortured, and/or killed. Only John the Revelator died a natural death. The manners of death for the others included crucifixion, beheading, stabbing, stoning, and flaying.

Methods of crucifixion from the time varied, none of them pleasant. Beheadings were carried out by sword, the guillotine still centuries away from being invented. Therefore, death would have been less instantaneous. Stoning was, of course, like being beaten to death with big rocks. Flaying/scourging was accomplished by using a whip with many tails. Each tail was corded with metal or bone, in order to split skin and muscle. This method of punishment was almost always used prior to execution. Obviously though, a human body is only able to withstand so much flaying.

They became martyrs because they knew that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They knew that He performed real miracles, that He was crucified, that He died, and that He arose on the third day… because they saw it! They were there! They watched Him ascend into heaven. After all that they experienced with Him, and after being blessed with the Holy Spirit sent to them by God, they were able to endure and complete the mission that they were given.

“And they overcame [the devil] because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” (Revelation 12:11)

As missionaries, they expanded the Christian church. As martyrs, they made it possible for future disciples of Christ to point to the example set by the apostles and for us to pose the logical question…

Why would they choose death? Because they knew for a fact that what Jesus had told them was true. There is a better life beyond this one, an eternal life, and that Jesus is the  way to that life.

For the Martyrs

Applying Christ’s Teaching to Our Own Lives

I am excited to share this link for last week’s sermon from the First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, SC. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I immediately felt the need to share it. I looked for it for a couple of days following the broadcast, but it hadn’t been made available yet. I am happy that God reminded me of it today. I hope everyone will watch and be moved.

First Baptist Church of Spartanburg Sermon 1-13-19

Right Versus Wrong, As a Christian

Recently, I have felt a great conviction about my choices of reading material and other media entertainment. I mean, if “you are what you eat,” then your heart and soul are a reflection of the things you put into them, right?

I have always enjoyed reading a lot of fiction, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, my love of reading a lot of fantasy has led to some topical matters that I am now finding problematic. I mean, a really good story makes me imagine myself within it, as it unfolds. Shouldn’t I be careful where my imagination might lead me? As a Christian, shouldn’t I try to avoid a minefield of things that the scriptures say to shun?

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul asserts, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, …

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, … that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5: 16-21)*

Anything that includes magic, mythological realms, demonic indwelling, angelic affairs, sexual situations, etc. should not be on the reading list of someone who is saved and called according to Christ’s purpose. Neither should I spend time watching tv shows or movies that I would be ashamed to watch in the presence of the Lord. Because, as a Christian, I know that He is with me always.

I am sure that some who read this will say that I am going a little overboard, that I am taking my belief too far. I wondered about that myself. I have really wrestled with this. Then I realized that the answer is available right in the Bible.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” (Colossians 2:6)

“knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:6-7)

And, of course, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)

Not only are the scriptures clear, my soul feels much more at peace since I let go of my own selfish desires, and let God reveal His will.

Now My Lifesong Sings by Casting Crowns

 

*New American Standard Bible, underlining is my own emphasis

Nothing Without Him

One of my favorite songs is titled Nothing Without Christ, by Newsong. It always reminds me that I am a creature born into sin, without a hope apart from the saving grace of Christ Jesus.

Newsong Nothing Without Christ

It boggles my mind that God cared enough for me that He sent His Son to live as one of us, and die a horrible death, so that I might have a life of joy and peace never-ending. Once this life is behind me, I have His promise that I will live eternally, without pain, sorrow, or worry. He must love me, a lot.

It nearly cripples me when I think of the dread, anguish, and pain that Christ must have felt facing His death by crucifixion. The shear weight of the humiliation, dread, torture, and death that He faced is enough to make me sob in sympathy.

https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-roman-crucifixion-700718

Yet, He did it. He sacrificed Himself in one of the most painful ways imaginable in order to fulfill the scriptures and pay the wages of EVERYONE’S sins, (not His, for He remained blameless).

“By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Hebrews 10:10 (NASB)

His death, and resurrection, provides us all with the chance of forgiveness that no amount of animal sacrifices ever could. He became the Lamb that was slain for us all. That is why we owe Him everything. That is why we should be expected to live in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Our lives should be a living testimony to our Redeemer and Savior. That is why he deserves our praise and worship.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  Romans 12:1

May the Lord bless and keep you…

All Lives Matter

Dr Alveda King, Niece of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Addresses Dallas Shooting

I agree.

There are, without a doubt, people in all areas of authority who abuse the power given to them… including police officers. There are also, without a doubt, people in all walks of life who choose to violate the rights of all citizens… including the rights of police officers. For most of these individuals, the violence is about power… taking the power from others or asserting a power beyond what they possess.

There is no excuse for police officers who act no better than criminals, nor is there any excuse for citizens who go to war with all police. Most of the officers serving in the United States do so because they truly want to protect the communities from crime. Most citizens want to live in peace, without promoting violence as an answer to the nation’s problems.

“There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. (from “Loving Your Enemies”)”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.   

I believe that Police agencies should conduct random psychological screenings, and take them seriously. Officers should be brave enough to report others who they see abusing power. Citizens should be brave enough to report others when they suspect those people to be planning mass violence… no matter who that violence may target.

This is the only answer to the problems we currently face.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches   

#AllLivesMatter

#PeaceMatters

#MLKJr

#MartinLutherKingJr

#LoveNotHate