1 Timothy 1:8 | Lawless Evil

Today is another day where there is a killing of the innocence without regard to human life at some soft target be it a school, a place of worship, a concert, a nightclub, a workplace, or a retail establishment. My heart breaks. Lawlessness abounds. Right is wrong and wrong is right as society thinks itself enlightened and progressing into supposed fairness and supposed justice.

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers 1 Timothy 1:8-9 ESV

One of the things that makes America great is law and order. It is a pardox that I did not understand in my youth. Law allows for freedom. I can safely go where I want because of laws. Anarchy restrains freedom. Without rules then I will live a guarded and fearful life because of the lawless and the murderer. Murder is evil and God has written into our very nature that it is wrong. Outside of the authority of government (war and capital punishment) God grants no person the right to take a life. I don’t need a law to tell me murder is wrong. But the law against murder condemns those who seek to take up that evil.

Peter in his first sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) speaks of lawlessness the same lawlessness that Paul is talking about here in 1 Timothy. Peter reminds the audience that it was lawless men who unjustly crucified Jesus (they corrupted the legitimate process of capital punishment for their own selfish desires) but that this lawlessness was done according the plans of God.

23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Acts 2:23 ESV

Translation: God allowed Jesus to be murdered. God knew people would murder his son and he allowed it to happen. Today when people are gunned down God know this will happen and yet God allows it to happen. The restraining hand of the Holy Spirit is removed from society and evil lawlessness is allowed to roam free.

7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 ESV

The evil of murder is just a taste, a mouth of ash, of what is to come when the restrains on evil are lifted completely. Outside of the freedom and greatness of America many have lived and continue to live in lawlessness. God has permitted this. God has allowed this evil.

God has also allowed peace and prosperity. God has allowed peace and prosperity that makes these killings all the more shocking. These killings are a wake-up call and a reminder that God’s grace and mercy are available. Everyone including the lawless will be held to account. God has not overlooked this lawlessness. God comforts those who draw near in this moment of anguish. And God sees the big picture that our life here be it long or short is temporary. God calls us to an eternal home where evil lawlessness is not found. This pain and this anarchy are temporary while we pass through. Are you making your home here and now or are you looking to an eternal home? Submit to Jesus repent of your lawlessness and draw near to the Creator. Ultimately peace, security, and home will only be found in Him.

9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 2 Peter 3:9-10 ESV

1 Corinthians 15:3 | The Very Best Miracle

Miracles are more than just important to Christians, they are foundational to what is believed about the universe, God, and His intervention into the lives of humanity. When people think about miracles, the first thought might be Jesus walking on water or healing the sick, but I want to direct attention to the most spectacular miracle in the Bible.

More than walking on water or healing the blind the most impressive of all is the resurrection of Jesus on the third day. We cannot repeat history to see for ourselves exactly what happened so we must rely on the multitude of eyewitnesses who left their accounts recorded for the next generations to read and study. There is no evidence that they lied, or manufactured a legend. One only needs to point to the fact most all of these men died because they claimed Christ resurrected and their witness is consistent from the beginning.

Paul claims hundreds of people witnessed the resurrected Christ:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 ESV

Paul providing his defense to the Romans:

“For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.” Acts 26:26 ESV

Peter making a case for Christ and the Gospel message:

“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.” 2 Peter 1:16 ESV

So why is the death, burial, and resurrection of “first importance”? Paul answers that question and puts it this way when it comes to the centrality of the miraculous that surrounds Christ…

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:12-14 ESV

The resurrection of Christ is the hope of the world because God so loved the world (John 3:16) which leads this miracle to become even more spectacular in that it impacts individuals even today. The 5,000 that Jesus fed are long gone and that food does not do us any benefit today. The miracle of the resurrection however continues on in my life even now. The resurrection is a miracle that happens daily all over the world. It is a miracle that we can see in the changed lives of our friends, coworkers, and family. The resurrection propagates miracle of salvation on each individual who calls on Christ. The very gift, the deposit of the Holy Spirit, given to those who believe in Jesus is a miracle because God the creator of the universe gives to His children hope for the now and a promise for eternity.

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

Galatians 6:7 | Please don’t Live Your Truth

The mantra of the modern person that is preached and taught today is “You be you. Live your truth”. This sounds wonderful and in the free society that America has provided, people may be whoever or whatever they want to be. We as a society have moved far beyond conversations about what is truth or is there an absolute truth. Now society demands that we recognize, affirm, and support whatever an individual decides is true for themselves. But the age-old problem with truth is still true… Truth is fixed it cannot change.

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 ESV

There are truths out there that we are constrained by. There are natural laws and laws of personal interaction that are true regardless of how I live or what I believe about them. The laws of gravity prevents my ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. There are laws of nature that demand I will grow old and die. No matter what I believe incorrectly or correctly the truth of reality is fixed and this brings us to a powerful realization of an absolute truth that impacts everything. That absolute unchanging knowledge is that where there are laws there is a Law Giver. Where there is a creation there is a Creator. The truths and the laws that we are constrained by, these laws that provide order and consistency are given by God the creator of truth and the creator of humanity. Jesus declared that he is the truth therefore anything that is truly true is sourced from him. The order of mathematics, the order of physics, the order of the seasons, the very order that scientist use to conduct their research, and the order of interpersonal relationships are all sourced from God the creator and law giver.

7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7 ESV

This brings us to what will be a shock to many living in this contemporary time. We have no power to alter or set aside what God has ordered and set as true. Paul writes that God is not mocked. It is the only time in the Bible that this Greek word is used. Contempt, the turning up of one’s nose at truth and the order God has set in place will not last.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20-21 ESV

Continuing on in his thought that God is not mocked Paul goes on to explain what he means by putting the result of mocking God into terms of sowing and reaping.

8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8 ESV

Mocking God looks like someone who is consumed by personal truth. A pseudo truth that they build life upon. In fact, Paul right before this topic on mocking God writes what a personal truth looks like to God. From this list of personal truth one can start to see how reaping corruption is the only conclusion.

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Alternately someone who sows to the Spirit. A person who understands that there is no truth apart from God the law giver and creator would look like this to God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-24 ESV

I have one more point to make on this topic which is very emotional for many who are trapped in their own truth and are consumed by the physical and relations created in this personal truth. The final point is around perspective. The life we build in this world is temporary. The power I accumulate the way I love others if outside the truth of God’s order will come to nothing and set me against God. In order to reap in eternity, one must submit to God and his truth now in this moment of grace. My personal truth is a lie and a trap that leads to destruction. God is truth and he is eternal. He is able free and untangle each of us from the desires of this world and set our heart on him if we recognize his authority and truth through faith.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 ESV

Galatians 3:10 | Physical Solutions to a Spiritual Problem

There is an old joke about a spiritual person who has a house that is hit by a flood. Everyone has advanced warning of this flood and flees, but the spiritual person waits for God to save him from the flood. After some time, the water rises and the spiritual person has relocated to the roof of the house and a boat comes to him and the operator encourages this person trapped by the water to get into the boat. The person refuses because he is waiting for God to save him. The waters rise and the roof is almost under water and a helicopter comes with a life line and the person refuses the rescue. This person eventually drowns and upon meeting with God the person asks “God why did you not rescue me?!” and God responds “I sent you warnings of a flood, a boat, and a helicopter rescue what more did you want?” This joke is usually told as a challenge to some religious person who is waiting on God or is seeking God’s will in a situation.

While amusing this joke has a flaw that makes it irrelevant to the majority of people who are waiting on God. This joke highlights a situation where there is a purely physical situation that requires a physical solution. The failure of the joke is that people are both physical and spiritual so most problems are both spiritual and physical. So, seeking a completely spiritual response to a physical need is not relevant to how life works. What is real however is the opposite of this joke. People are almost always seeking a physical intervention to a spiritual predicament. Rarely does anyone wait on God for his solution to the problem of life. We chase after purely physical interventions like idols, crystals, superstition, self help gurus, money, lovers, and drugs to comfort us in our failed spiritual conditions. This happens inside the church to spiritual people as well and it take on the form of rules and laws. The thought goes like this “If I follow these rules then I will be hashtag blessed”

10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Galatians 3:10 ESV

Laws are wonderful. They provide order and protection in an evil world. When there is a breakdown of laws then violence and poverty increase. This increase in poverty and anarchy is the physical result of unrighteousness, or lawlessness, that is in the spiritual heart nature of mankind when unchecked. The laws prove that I am lawless. It is impossible for me to live a life that follows all laws perfectly from birth until death. I hate and I lie which leaves me under a curse. But even if I tried to follow the law perfectly the law is only one part of understanding our predicament before God.

Jesus highlighted this problem directly to the religious leaders of his time. These leaders followed to the letter laws and customs but their spiritual state was an ugly mess. While they may have kept the “law” they were evil and mean-spirited people. They had perfected the physical response while neglecting their spiritual condition.

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:27-28 ESV

The problem people miss when discussing the law is that the lawlessness is the physical outcome of a spiritual problem. Trying to live to the letter of the law without first solving the spiritual condition is the criticism that Jesus had to the Pharisees. They “outwardly appear beautiful” following the law and customs. But Jesus continued “within [they] are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” because they never confronted the spiritual side of the problem. God understanding this problem provided his Holy Spirit to mankind in order that we might live by the spirit. This means that we might be transformed starting on the inside and then following the law would be a natural overflow into the physical.

5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? Galatians 3:5-6 ESV

Is God at work in our lives because we follow the law? Or Is God at work in our lives because we believed and trusted in him? The law is the physical overflow of what occurred because we first trusted him by faith in the spiritual.

Genesis 1:27 | Look at the Stars

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In the beginning man is made in the image and likeness of God by God. Unique in creation men and women are created a shadow or an outline baring some of God’s characteristics like love, mercy, justice, wisdom, compassion, and free will.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26-27 ESV

God creates in “our image” demonstrating from the very beginning the singular God exists as three persons the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Our image” also makes mankind uniquely special in all of creation. God does not waste himself and he cannot be mocked so however one treats fellow men reflects then on how they would treat God.  Have you ever stolen from , lied to, or even simply called another person “stupid” in a derogatory way? Then you have trespassed not just against man but the image of God who is the source of our very being.

7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. James 3:9 ESV

The reason racism is such an evil is that any person who disparages another group because of physical characteristics is disparaging God himself. Racism is rooted in Darwinist worldviews where evolution is used to justify racism. Other groups, using the logic of evolutionary worldviews, are not fully man because they have not evolved enough. Also according to this logic man is in the image of animals therefore they may be treated as less than a creation in God’s image. Such thinking is evil as is the Darwinist view that there is no God. People regardless of intellect, opportunity, or being inside a womb are all still men created in God’s image. How can one pray to God on one hand and then hate God’s image bearer in the other?

God created men and women to worship him. God created the stars that men would look up and dwell on spiritual things and marvel at the infinite scope of God’s power. By looking up one might draw near to the creator. But we spend too much time looking down and marveling at our own creations. Worshiping our own marvels like buildings, technology, sports, governments, business, money, doctors, and power. Interestingly in modern times as we light up the night in cities and suburbs the stars fade away as the light pollution obscures them from the sky. Look at the stars. Ponder their creation! We are cut off from God’s creation the beast of the field, the seeds of the land, and the light of the heavens. This creates a warped view of who we are.

8 Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Acts 14:8-16 ESV

Paul performed a sign, God is here!, and the community was so impressed they assigned Paul to the likeness of a man-made super hero or god. Paul pointing them to God the creator not god the created and the community missed the sign because they were enamored of their own creation. Now is the time that we might turn to the living God who created the heavens and earth and all that is in them. The living God who is alive and active. We are obligated to him because he is the author. Who is God? God is the Creator and everything was made by and him and for him. Is it time to accept who you are in God’s creation?

Genesis 1:14 | No more Darkness

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Light and Darkness are a theme in life and storytelling. Darkness hides and Light reveals. Darkness is a cloud over our mind that leads to depression. Darkness halts activity. Darkness is where the fears of men hold back progress. The dark ages vs enlightenment. Light is life. Even the faintest smallest amount of light will penetrate darkness. On day one of creation God created light to separate the darkness and then God called light “good”. It is obvious even now that light is a source of goodness.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. Genesis 1:3 ESV

Interestingly when God created the light he did so before creating the sun or any other source for light. The source of light the device from which the light is produced was not created until day four. If I were to diagram an evolutionary step by step requirement for a creation God’s creation of light before a light source would seem to be an odd approach. The word “lights” used to describe the creation of the sun, moon, and stars is the same word and context as when describing light from a lamp. On day one when God said “Let there be light” that word is used in the same context as when talking about light as one might describe the “light of the morning” the description of the light is of the light itself not the sun the source of that light.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. Genesis 1:14-19 ESV

So then we have light created on day one and we have an ongoing source for light created on day four. This blows up any desire to reconcile an evolutionary progression of creation with a God spoken creation. Is this a contradiction in the Bible or does this revelation tell us some greater truth about God himself?

God did not say let light shine out of the Sun. Paul reveals more detail about God’s creation of light that existed before the sun was created. God himself was the source of light in darkness.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV

Just as God created the heavens and the earth from nothing so he creates light from nothing. Light shines out of darkness by God’s command on the first day of creation. He is the source of that light, by his word and his creative power. The same God that brings forth light sourced from his own desire is the same God that brings forth an even greater light in the darkened hearts of men.

God does not need a lamp or a sun or a moon to bring forth light. In fact, on the fourth day when God created a source for light he created it for our benefit as “signs and for seasons, and for days and years” while we live in this time limited creation.

In any story or event in life surrounding the war of darkness and light Jesus, who is God in flesh, overcomes the darkness. Darkness that leads to death, fear, or depression is broken before Jesus the author of light. Jesus revealed his heavenly state to the disciples at the moment of his triumph.

2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. Matthew 17:2 ESV

And the future state of creation will have light without any need of a sun or moon. God himself will be the source and lamp of light that will shine on all who are with him in Heaven.

5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:5

God did not need the Sun to bring light into this world. God himself is a source of light both physically and spiritually. We have an opportunity to be in the light to be part of the light or we may remain in darkness for all eternity. Light is found in Christ and he is near to those who would call on his name.

Genesis 1:1 | Beginning with Purpose

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The start of something is beautiful and there are usually only a few that are involved or even notice. Birth of a child. Start of a business. A new relationship. So it was at the beginning of physical reality. God acted bringing forth everything.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 ESV

He created planets, space, time, life, laws of nature, wisdom, and anything else that is ordered and true. Our very existence points back to God. We cannot understate his influence on every moment of our lives. So why did he create? Why begin something so vast that did not previously exist?

I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:9-10

What is this creative all-powerful God’s purpose? Paul writes that God’s purpose is to “lavish” upon peoples his plan to bring all of creation into unity. He created all things not to watch disinterestedly. Many people think that the creator is passive and that we are free of any interference from Him. A passive creator is not possible. Some view him as weak and powerless to control the creation once it was unleashed. A creator big enough to create the reality we live in is big enough to control what is going on. God knew exactly what he was doing at the beginning and has demonstrated the truth that “I will accomplish all my purpose”. That purpose is revealed in Christ.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV

The beginning was beautiful and demonstrated the majesty and holiness of God. What follows from Genesis 1:1 is the purpose of God to draw people to him that want to love him and that want to fellowship with him. There is more to the event in Genesis 1:1 that is revealed after the arrival of Jesus. That backstory is the amazing knowledge that Jesus was created first before the beginning. God’s purpose was evident before the beginning even started.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:1-3 ESV

Not only was Jesus the word and the active agent through which God spoke creating everything. Jesus is the image of God the first born of everything we see today.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:15-16 ESV

The beginning was created through Christ and for Christ. Jesus lived and walked this earth and he left a record of his purpose that we can read and study today. Dear reader today is the moment of mercy and grace that you might connect with his purpose. From before the beginning. Before God created you, he planned a moment and provided a way of reconciliation. This is the purpose and Jesus is his plan to accomplish that purpose.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, John 1:12 ESV

Hebrews 10:39 | Soul Driven Path

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I would not know Kanye West’s music if I heard it, but I am aware of who he is, and he has made news recently in his public “like” of President Trump. It is interesting to me because of the intense backlash that has impacted him personally. Public figures supporting Trump in any way even if only a little is an unforgivable evil for those in media. It is also an apparent betrayal in many evangelical circles as well. Here is a quote from Kanye where he talks about the pressure he was under to avoid freely speaking his mind on this topic.

“Everyone around me tried to pick my candidate for me, and then told me every time I said I liked Trump that I couldn’t say it out loud or my career would be over, I’d get kicked out of the black community,” he said. “So even when I said it right before I went to the hospital and I expressed myself… When I came out I had lost my confidence. And it took me a year and a half to have the confidence to stand up and put on the hat, no matter what the consequences were.

This is the way the world works. Everyone is expected to be part of the tribe and to follow the party line. The more power, riches, or fame the more one has to lose by breaking from the group. Deviation from the framework will cause one to be separate from the crowd. I personally feel that my views of the world are like walking upstream. From politics, to personal use of technology, to how children should be raised I have always followed a less than popular path to the frustration of my own extended family. My service to Christ only highlights this even more. Jesus said the way to God is a narrow path (Matt 7:13-14) but the church and especially the world are always looking to make that path wider. Making a path set by God wider is problematic and impossible.

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. Hebrews 10:39 ESV

Following the narrow path is not easy. Walking upstream against the flow is filled with all kinds of pressure that limits career and community opportunities. The word for soul here in Hebrews is the Greek word ψυχή (psyche) which houses the core of our feelings and desires of the heart. My desires are formed on the narrow path and are driven by the Spirit of God that has taken residence in my heart. God’s spirit has invaded my psyche and pushes me down this hard way. Leading up to this pronouncement of preserving the soul and not shrinking back the author gives examples of what he means.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. Hebrews 10:32-36 ESV

The narrow path is the will of God. That path looks different for everyone in actual execution but the path remains narrow because of the sacrifice of comfort and peace in this world by those who follow.

14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:14 ESV

The Christians this author is addressing have lost their homes, joyfully accepting the loss he adds, plundering of property, shamed in public, and standing with those who went through the same. I am anonymous in this world and have never experienced this kind of resistance. How would my soul my psyche handle that kind of abuse? Would I see the conclusion that I am not one to shrink back because I have faith? I pray I have been practiced with small amounts of public shame so that if and when the big one hits God has prepared me.

He has promised as much. He will have prepared his children to endure what is needed. Shrinking back is not an option because my very core and foundations are built in him who has already walked that narrow way.

19 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

2 Corinthians 12:10 |Content in Weakness

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I am rarely content. I think it is a sickness to always want more. It is part of the sin nature to covet and desire. Always comparing myself to my neighbors and coming up short. It eats away at the soul to always want more.

10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV

Contentment while having a lack of money and power and contentment with actual hardships points to a diminished sense of self and selfish desires. Paul found strength to live like this through Christ. Wealth is a dangerous power because it creates an illusion that the possessor of the wealth has control over life and can live independent of God. We control less than we think. Wealth only separates one from dependence on God temporarily like the foolish prodigal son who left his father to live a life independent of any care for tomorrow.

12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13 ESV

That is not to say wealth in this life cannot and should not be taken advantage of when it is used for God’s glory according to his leading. The strength comes not from the wealth, in fact it is a weakness, strength comes from Christ and Christ alone.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV

Whatever your circumstance, rich, poor, happy, sad, strong, or weak give thanks to God that he has given Christ. Give thanks to God for giving you life to live. Be content where you are today and be grateful for all that you already have secured through his love.

Acts 17:30 | Ignorance or Holiness

Ignroance

If someone called me ignorant my initial reaction would be to throw up defensive shields and turn on my offensive arguments of war. However, the truth is that I am ignorant on a great many subjects. Yet to call someone ignorant does seem to be an insult in an age where information is literally at the fingertips of anyone with a connected device. At this point in life I may remain ignorant of a specific topic unless or until there is a need for me to be educated. This brings me to the book of Acts with one of the most interesting chapters where the apostle Paul makes a stop in Athens Greece. While on this stopover he is invited to speak to the Areopagus. The Areopagus was a location where a council of the most educated, likely wealthy, men and women of Athens gathered to “spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21 ESV) This crowd is not ignorant. These are the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers that helped to build the foundation of western society that I materially benefit from today. Yet Paul addresses them and tells them that they have been ignorant.

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:29-31 ESV

The old saying “Ignorance is bliss” highlights the fact that being unaware of the complexity and realities of this short life people blissfully unaware of the impending dangers that lay ahead. The fact that ignorance about a topic or event may eventually get one into trouble in no way slows the trouble or prevents those events from unfolding. Paul tells us all that while we like to make God into an image of our own choosing God has revealed himself and will no longer overlook such ignorance. A day of impact and judgment has been set when the time of mercy and grace will end. At that moment God will call men and women both alive and dead to account. Paul uses a word for ignorance here that is not a general kind of ignorance. These people of Athens he is speaking to are not ignorant people. Paul calls them a special kind of ignorant ἄγνοια (agnoia). This is an ignorance of divine and moral knowledge. While for their time these people of Athens may have known about the physical world they were ignorant about the moral implications and the dead spiritual conditions that shadowed their minds. Much like the modern world of today.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ! Ephesians 4:17-20 ESV

Do not be ignorant Paul preaches to us today. Do not be ignorant of the moral and spiritual darkness of the land we live in. Repent, turn away, from that darkness. Flee from the selfish life of lust, sensuality, and greed. Do not be ignorant because God will hold against people a life impurity. Even more God has made the Bible, his revelations, available to a majority of people the world over. Ignorance is not an excuse because God will not overlook sin when that person has at their literal fingertips access to direct revelations about Christ and salvation.

Christ is the opposite of ignorance. He is the truth. He is the life. In him is found self-control, unselfish love, and a beating heart. This is what is learned when in Christ and how we become a new creation no longer darkened by ignorance of a former life.

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct 1 Peter 1:14-15 ESV