I Believe in Impossible Things – The Creation

I am beginning a new set of devotional thoughts about believing in impossible things. I pray that they will bless you.

THE CREATION

It is amazing how deeply divided the world is about our origins. I sometimes wonder about my family’s heritage. I know my father’s side of the family goes back to Ireland, but know nothing before 1794. My mother’s family comes from Norwegian backgrounds. But we go back further, I suppose, and I don’t know anything before the first of my ancestors that came to America.

Genesis 1:1 boldly declares that God created the world (John  1:1; Revelation 4:11).images (29) He made the planet, he divided light from darkness, he split the sky from the land, he made day and night, sun and moon, plants, animals, birds, sea creatures, and human beings. Pretty impressive! Every day the earth and the natural things in it “declare the glory of the Lord!” (Psalm 19:1; 57:5; 108:5; 4:11).

Then there is the belief that science has explained the origins of the world as accidental and natural, or some outside intelligence (God or someone or something else) is responsible for the initiation of an evolutionary process that developed and evolved over millions of years; one thing becoming another thing, evolving and adapting over time to become what we know of humans and animals now.

Which track is true? I personally have never, ever doubted that God created the world. I have never once believed that evolution (other than macro-evolution; which as I understand it is basically environmental adaption) has had a single thing to do with the beginnings of this world and how it continues to exist.

In a modern and a post-modern world, where evolution and skepticism is normal, I believe in the impossibility that God created the world as we know it, with plants and animals and humans and everything pretty much the same as when he created but has also been effected by the poison and cancer of sin.

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Which Thief (on the cross) Are You?

There’s a cross for you. I mean, the three crosses raised that day in A.D. 29 were our crosses. Our sin, our affront to God with our sin shows we are guilty and deserved death.

Three people died that day; Jesus in the middle, and two criminals on the left and right side of Jesus. When Jesus said “it is finished,” the fate of the two thieves was set. One would suffer in hell, the other, would join Jesus in “paradise.”

Sin destroys! Think about it. Sin doesn’t do good at all. The ultimate purpose of sin is to destroy the sinner. Lying destroys trust. Hate and murder destroys lives. Adultery destroys relationships and families. Sin destroys.

The reason for sin’s destruction is to hurt God. The devil, in the Garden of Eden, in the form of a serpent wanted to convince Adam and Eve to sin. He worked his deceit through Eve and Adam fell in with her in the sin.

The devil wants to hurt God, and what hurts the most, a severely broken relationship. Sin is the break-point and separation and punishment is the consequence, because, we have not obeyed the Father.

The thieves had separate attitudes about Jesus. One taunted Jesus to save himself. The crowds watching the spectacle were taunting Jesus in the same way. The other thief, realized that Jesus was without sin and that he did not deserve punishment. He even scolded the other thief. We deserve this punishment, but this man has done no wrong.

“For all have sinned” Romans3.23; and “the wages of sin is death” @Romans6.23. We are sinners, we deserved the death that Jesus died. But Jesus death was for sin. He was on the cross receiving the penalty for our sin, therefore he became sin for us.

Because the one thief was repentant, when he asked Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom, Jesus told him that he would be in paradise with him that very day. He was forgiven. He was given freedom from the spiritual penalty of his sin.

Have you repented of your sin against God? Have you asked forgiveness for your sinfulness? Have you confessed Jesus as the risen Son of God because you believe in him? Have you been immersed for your salvation?

Which thief are you?

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Let the Blood Flow

This devotion first appeared in the October 9, 2002 Laplata Home Press.

Not long ago, during a time of personal prayer, praise, and meditation, singing songs of surrender and the meaning of the cross, I realized I was overlooking a portion of the truth and reality of Christ’s atonement for me. I suddenly turned and was facing the communion table at Church. In the dark of the Church auditorium, with only the outside street light shining through the frosted windows. I saw the communion table clearly and the words engraved on the front, “This Do in Remembrance of Me.” It struck me, when I am sharing in the Lord’s Supper each week, I am awestruck by the death and resurrection of Jesus, but I’m not sure I was letting the character of awe bleed into every other aspect of my life.

When a person has clogged blood vessels, their heart doesn’t work to full capacity. The blood doesn’t get into every part of the body, or at least not enough blood. When this is the case, sometimes heart attacks, strokes, the loss of extremities and other negative conditions can result and often do. To open blood vessels so that blood flows to all the fingers, toes, and other extremities, often surgery, and or medicine, exercise, change in diet, and lifestyle are absolutely necessary. Otherwise, debilitation and death occur.

So, it is with the meaning of the Lord’s Supper in the believer’s life. In that moment as the auditorium became a sanctuary, I considered how the blood of Christ is to flow into all areas of the Christian’s life. In all relationships; family, friends, business, work, neighbors, and church. In all our financial considerations and activity; choosing government officials, in the meals we eat, in very choice we make, including TV, movies, computer and Internet, video games, our choice of friends, even in the Lord’s supper each Lord’s day.

To let the blood flow into all areas of our life means, total commitment to Jesus Christ, commitment to and participation in the Church, commitment to obedience and service, commitment to Bible study, meditation, and prayer, commitment to obedience and service, humility, forgiveness, and love.

About 20 years ago, at the Christian Church in Welch, Oklahoma, one man gave a communion meditation pointing out that the time we have to prepare for each communion service begins immediately after we have completed the last communion service. In other words, total commitment. Or to state it in modern popular lingo, 24/7. As Christians come to “the Table” each week to share in the breaking of bread and partaking of the cup, we remember the Scriptures tell us this is done to remember what Jesus Christ has done for us. Not just for a few hours a week, or whenever we feel like it, but always. A total commitment of our lives to the cause of Christ for which he died.

Have we let the blood flow into all areas of our life?

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Baptism is the Sinner’s Prayer

It’s controversial. It may be the most controversial debate among Christians. To be saved does a person have to say “the sinner’s prayer,” or do they have to be “immersed” (IE., baptized)?

Personally, I had never heard of the sinner’s prayer until I began studying in Bible college. I grew up in church, was a part of Sunday School and youth groups, heard sermons and learned lessons from my parents and grandmother from the Bible and never once did I encounter the sinner’s prayer.

There’s a reason for that. The church I grew up in taught the Bible, not the doctrines of men. The Bible says nothing about a sinner’s prayer. The New Testament teaching about salvation involves a person coming to believe in Jesus Christ, repenting of their sins and their life of sin, confessing Jesus, and being immersed to be saved. There is nothing about saying a prayer.

Some past posts have dealt with this:

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2009/09/28/evangelism-is-what-it-is-or-is-it-what-must-i-do-to-be-saved/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/whats-the-bible-say/

https://blogthechurch.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/the-sinners-prayer/

If you click on the link “Salvation Stuff” on the left you will see several discussions about baptism. The real issue is what does the Bible say. The Bible says “Be Baptized” (meaning be immersed). I can’t find and no one has been able to show me where the Bible says to say a prayer for salvation.

When Jesus was baptized, he didn’t offer a prayer. I know he was sinless, but he was still immersed. Read through Acts,

Artwork entitled, "Difference of Opinion"

every conversion account involves baptism, but there in nothing about saying a prayer.

Recently, I received a comment about this from a reader. When some people he encountered learned he hasn’t said the sinner’s prayer, they question his salvation. You know, I might question theirs because they said a sinner’s prayer. The Bible says because you have believed in Jesus and repented, then be baptized. Were they baptized and why were they baptized?

The apostle Peter, the one Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom to (Matthew 16:19), spiritually speaking (though he was implying that all the apostles had the keys), who preached the first sermon about Jesus Christ (Acts 2), he taught us that baptism is necessary.

In Acts 2, when the crowd asked what they needed to do to be saved, he said, “Repent and be baptized, for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  Then after a few more words of encouragement, about 3000 people were baptized.

When Peter wrote the letter called 1 Peter, he wrote these words. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:18-21).

Baptism now saves you. When you are immersed, you are appealing to God to save you because you have obeyed and followed the conditions God has set for your salvation. Your baptism in essence is the sinner’s prayer.

I believe the Bible, it is God’s Word, it is what I follow and teach, the Word of God. The Bible says be baptized.

Baptism is the sinner’s prayer!

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The Uncomfortable Truth (Romans Pt 2)

I believe it’s pretty common, most people want or try to improve themselves. The New Year is a popular time for people to reevaluate their lives and resolve themselves to improving themselves in some way. Eat healthier, lose weight, develop stronger relationships, help the needy more, be more productive at work, etc.

I think we all want change that is desirable to ourselves as well as is beneficial to those around us. Isn’t that a good goal? Be better and make the world a better place.

We also rely upon others to make things better. In the past couple of national elections, the main reason America elected most of the candidates they did was to see our country become a better place, economically and socially, to put the biases and divisions behind and find a unity that might propel our country forward as not only the greatest nation it has been, but that it will become even greater.

There are organizations whose purpose is to benefit and improve the lives of others. They may be concerned with the planet, or with poverty, or with animals, or education, or any number of things.

We humans want to be better. How well we’re doing at that is a matter of opinion, but there is one uncomfortable truth that each individual must wrestle with, whether we like it or not. Here is the fact – we human beings are sinners!

Bad word. No one likes that word and a lot of us want to deny that is what we are. We weren’t born that way, we were born with the ability to learn and the free-will to choose and we learn to sin and we choose to sin which makes us sinners.

We all want to improve ourselves just like I already noted, but we cannot improve or change until we understand and admit that need. I can’t overcome being overweight until I consciously and emotionally admit that it’s not good and then I must have the conviction and determination that something needs to be done about it and so I’m grateful for Nutrisystem. Until I come to that point in my life, my weight will remain, or actually, continue to increase, even if only gradually.

We hide ourselves from God because we have sin. Sin never accomplishes anything positive. It actually separates us from God. We want to deny that, but it is true. Look at Romans 1:18

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men” (sin and sinfulness) “who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (NIV)

We try to hide from our sin. Yet we are sinners and God will punish sin. Romans 6:23 says plainly, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV).

It’s not good. George Carlin (1937-2008) accused Christians of being the reason for the problems in the world. I will admit that some Christians have created problems in the world, and at the same time I realize that many who claim to be Christians do not represent God or the spirit of Christianity. I think that Carlin, and others like Bill Maher have lumped all people who claim to be Christians into one basket. That is dangerous. That’s like saying every Democrat is liberal or every Republican is conservative and interpreting the characteristics of each party on the basis of a few people. That’s not fair.

The problems in the world is sin. It always has been. Sin is a separation from God. Sin puts up a wall that keeps us from reaching God and keeps God away from our lives. We like the moral teachings of Jesus, we revel in the care for the weak, the crippled, and the poor that the Bible endorses, but just being moral, or being helpful doesn’t bring us close to God because sin has separated us from him.

The sad reality is that each and every one of us has learned to and has chosen to sin. A single white lie, disobeying our parents, stealing a dime from the kid sitting next to you in math class, any single thing was enough to build the wall. And the more we do things that are sin, it’s makes this proverbial wall higher, and wider, and even thicker separating us further from God.

All have sinned and come short of God’s glory” Romans 3:23 (NASB), or as “The Message says, “Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us….”

We can’t please God in this way. We can’t get close to God with sin, in fact, he doesn’t hear our cries out to him in need or in thanksgiving unless we are repenting of our sin.

Another sad reality is, since we humans sin and seem to want to keep sinning, God has given us over to that sin and things continue to go from bad to worse in our lives and in the world. God will not force his will on us, but his desire is to have a close and intimate relationship with you and me.

The truth is uncomfortable, but it is not hopeless.

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Is it Possible to Find God?

His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him–though he is not far from any one of us” Acts 17:27. NIV

Should we consider the agnostic, the one who has doubts about the existence of God as we would an atheist or a prodigal?

God’s intent is for every person to make their way to him and find him. When a person searches for God with all their heart they will find him. He promises Israel that would be the case when they were in captivity in Babylon and he promises the individual the same thing.

Maybe the answer to the question is that some agnostics are more like an atheist and some are like the prodigal son. God is there and if they look for him, they WILL find him.

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Not Sure I Believe

There are times that I am so amazed at God. He puts me in unexpected circumstances . . . often! Tuesday (10/12/10) was no exception, though it doesn’t happen everyday, it is frequent.

I was visiting the teen treatment center I volunteer spiritual help and guidance at. I was able to visit the CEO, the two lead therapists, a handful of teens (more than just “hi, how ya doin?”), ate lunch with some of them and got to share with one young man in particular.

He’s only been there a few weeks and knows why I come but we hadn’t begun a relationship yet. There are a number of details as to why he is in this facility, but he is struggling with his doubts about faith and disappointing his father because of his doubts about God.

He wanted me to help him figure out a way to tell his father, who believes in God, that he has doubts. He places himself in the agnostic camp. Not sure about it. At the same time, he doesn’t want to hurt his father. Talking with the therapists, I learned he is a kind-hearted, thoughtful young man, concerned about other’s feelings.

I was able to help him see how to approach his father with this news without it becoming a crisis in their relationship. This man also gave me permission to help him sort out his doubts. He knows that I am a Christian and that I believe there is a God and I believe and have faith in God. He knows that I may convince him, that he may come to believe that there is a God, but he may not be convinced.

I pray that there is open dialogue with his father and that he does come to believe there is a God and to place his faith in God.

That boy was searching and God put me in his path. He was open and honest and as a follower of God and Christ, I will set everything aside and let him see and even find God through me.

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