Pleading for Mercy

Pleading for Mercy

Righteous Daniel, minister of kings and faithful servant of the Almighty God, perceiving that the seventy years of his people’s captivity was coming to an end, and knowing that this captivity had been the judgment of God, turned his face to God in prayer and fasting, pleading for mercy and acknowledging, “O Lord, the great and awesome God,… we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules.” (cf. Daniel 9:1-5ff)

mercy daniel

Can we acknowledge the need for mercy in our lives?

Where is the righteous man who prays thus today, acknowledging our sin, and pleading for mercy?

Are we not rather the unrighteous Pharisee, who stands before God, declaring, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men(Luke 18:11).”

The blood of our fellow man is shed in violence and hatred, and we respond with accusations, seeking to blame others. But where do wars and fights and anger come from? Do they not come from our own passions within our body politic? Can we divide and spread disunity and not be held accountable when there is division?

“I hate divorce,” says God, “for it covers your garments with violence(Malachi 2:16).”

Do we think that we can tear ourselves apart, tear our families apart, tear our communities apart, tear our country apart, tear our world apart… with hatred and division and animosity,… and not reap a harvest of violence? A man reaps what he sows, and so does a nation. If we sow to the wind, will we not reap of the storm?

There are behaviors which God identifies as wrong and wicked, things which bring judgment upon the doer. Among these are the haughty eye, the lying tongue, and hands which shed innocent blood. But in addition, He is quite clear that those who sow discord among brethren are abhorrent in His sight (Proverbs 6:16-19). If we sow discord, are we not thus as murderers? If we preach animosity among brethren, have we not become as liars in His sight? The Scriptures say as much.

The disciple of Marx, who longs for revolution, and advises others to “eat the rich,” does he not share in the guilt when one man slays another for his cause? The leader who decries the stranger as an “invader,” and jokes about shooting the same, does he not share in the blood that is shed? Can we doubt an environment of hostility, suspicion and fear will not ultimately produce ever greater acts of violence? If we turn on one another in word and thought will we not finally turn upon one another with tooth and claw?

But we are afraid, and we act upon that fear.

Dare we let fear dictate our behavior? Where is our faith? We say we must defend ourselves, taking up arms because of the dangers of those around us. Do we not do better to trust in the Living God, who is a shield and defender to those who love Him? Those who put their trust in God will never be put to shame. Even in death they shall be more than conquerors (cf Psalm 25:3; Romans 10:11, 8:36-37). Perhaps we are fearful because we have abandoned our faith in God, and if so, we are right to be fearful. If God is for us, who can be against us; but when God is against us, no weapon fashioned by man can save us.

There is no fear in love, for perfect love cast out fear (1 John 4:18a). The wisdom that is from above is pure and full of peace, gentle and reasonable. It is not fearful. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:17-18). If it is a message of fear and discord which is to be preached, that is not the message of Christ; that is demonic wisdom, born of the devil, who was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, turning brother against brother, so that Cain killed Abel.

The message of Christ is a message of reconciliation. In Christ there is neither Mexican nor American, there is neither rich nor poor, there is not male or female, but all are united together as brothers by their salvation through His blood. As many of us as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (cf. Galatians 3:26-28). Jesus came and preached peace, even to those who were far off, breaking down the walls that separated, reconciling us each to God, whether we were far or near (cf. Ephesians 2:13-17). Jesus proved the truth that God is not a respecter of nationalities nor wealth, nor ethnicities; rather God, in every nation accepts the man who fears Him and works righteousness(cf. Acts 10:34-35). Dare we reject a man whom God accepts because of our own prejudices and hatreds? Dare we hate another, whom Christ has loved and died for? (cf. John 3:16)

Confronted with violence born of hatred, rather than continuing to look for others to blame, we do better to imitate Daniel in his humility, and confess before God, “We have sinned.”

Posted in Jonathan McAnulty | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Pleading for Mercy

Do you know the Lord?

Do You Know the Lord?

There was no name on the church building, just a plaque which said, “The word of the Lord will be proclaimed here Sunday at 3:00 p.m.” We had just arrived in New Zealand (there were six of us, three couples) and had gone there to establish the church in Hamilton. We decided we would go to visit that group. As we walked in we noticed a different arrangement of the pews—at the front of the building there were pews on all four sides of what was obviously the table for the Lord’s Supper. Then, there were other pews, much like you would see in any church building, which extended back to the entrance.

know the lord

How do you know the Lord?

They asked us, “Do you know the Lord as your personal Savior?” When we answered “yes,” they ushered us up to the “inner circle,” and we worshiped with them. We arranged for a study period later that week and discovered a lot about them. When we came a second time, we were not invited to sit at the front, but we were seated in the pews in what I perceived as the “sinner section.”

Obviously that phrase about knowing Jesus as a personal Savior is rather widespread in the religious world. It is not found in that form in the Bible, but the Bible does discuss about knowing the Lord. How does God use the words about knowing the Lord?

The clearest definition of knowing the Lord is found in the second chapter of First John. “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” (v. 4). One cannot simply say that “I know the Lord as my Savior” and fail to obey Him. God says that if I fail to do what He says that I do not know Him.

Look at the next verse. “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in Him.” In the study that we had, it was obvious that while they talked about knowing Jesus, they had little regard in doing what He said. God said that they lied when they said they knew Him.

Now look at the next verse. “Whosoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.” One who knows God’s will, but does not obey Him, may think he loves the Lord. However, John says that whatever love they may think they have for Him is an imperfect love.

This same truth tying the true love of Jesus to obeying Him was taught by Jesus. “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14). “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

So, when you hear someone talk about knowing the Lord, remember that it is one thing to say, “I know the Lord,” and another to show that we know Him by obeying Him!

Posted in Dan Jenkins | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Do you know the Lord?




La parábola es discursado en un contexto de Mateo 24, en la destrucción de Jerusalén y del templo en el año 70 d.C. Desde el versículo 36 de Mateo 24, Jesús hace una transición para comenzar a hablar del juicio final de la humanidad y continúa con el tema al llegar al 25, tanto que su venida se compara a:

  1. La venida de un señor que examina al siervo que ha colocado a cargo de su casa y a otros siervos (Mateo 24:45- 51).
  2. A un novio que viene para casarse con su novia (Mateo 25:1-13).
  3. A un amo que viene y evalúa a sus siervos, después de confiarles ciertos bienes para su administración (Mateo 25:14-30).
  4. A un juez y a un pastor, que viene en gloria con sus santos ángeles, para sentarse sobre el trono del juicio, reuniendo a todas las naciones y separando a las ovejas de los cabritos (Mateo 25:31-46).

En medio de estas imágenes, aprendemos que la segunda venida es como la llegada de un novio a la casa de la novia, ¡con gozo y celebración! Por lo tanto, el concepto de la segunda venida no debería ser solo un evento triste, lúgubre o sombrío, sino también vibrante y gozoso debido a la esperanza que nos aguarda. Con esto en mente, volvamos nuestra atención a la exposición de la parábola.


La vírgenes mencionadas en el texto eran probablemente algunas de los amigas de la novia…”


Jesús tiene en mente su reino y desea que los oyentes entiendan la naturaleza del mismo. En su libro, Manners & Customs of the Bible, pg.376 James Freeman escribe: “En la ocasión de un matrimonio, el novio, acompañado por sus amigos, iban a la casa de la novia y la traía con sus amigas en una procesión jubilosa a su propia casa. La vírgenes mencionadas en el texto eran probablemente algunas de los amigas de la novia…Por lo tanto, la costumbre común de Palestina era que las amigas de la novia permanecían con ella y la acompañaban hasta la llegada del novio, momento en el que encendían sus lámparas, salían al encuentro del novio y seguían la procesión hasta llegar a la casa del él. Así eran las bodas (Leer Apocalipsis 19:7)


En el 25:5 La palabra griega para “dormido” significa “movimiento de cabeza, tener sueño, dormitar.”Por lo tanto, al estar esperando la llegada del novio, a todas las vírgenes les dio sueño, cabecearon y luego se durmieron.  Es curioso, que el pasaje no culpa a las vírgenes por dormirse. Todas las vírgenes habían hecho todo lo que se consideraba necesario para la llegada del novio. Su sueño de ninguna manera interfirió con su disposición para recibir al novio. Sabemos que esto es verdad porque la mitad de las vírgenes que se durmieron estuvieron listas para su llegada. De hecho, incluso si todas hubieran estado bien despiertas cuando llegó el novio, esto no hubiera acrecentado su preparación para encontrarlo.


Las diez vírgenes fueron despertadas por un grito de medianoche anunciando la llegada del novio (25:6-7). Aunque el momento exacto de la llegada del novio fue una sorpresa para todas las vírgenes—sabían que vendría pero no sabían el momento exacto—algunas vírgenes habían sido lo suficientemente sensatas para estar listas para su llegada.


Las vírgenes prudentes, sabiamente guardaron su suministro de aceite, no porque fueran egoístas, sino porque “porque cada uno llevará su propia carga” (Gálatas 6:5). Mientras que hay algunas cargas en las que podemos ayudar a otros a soportar (Gálatas 6:2), algunas de las responsabilidades no son transferibles (Ro.14:12). En día del Juicio final (2Co.5:10). Por otra parte Mateo 25:9.Hubiera sido difícil encontrar distribuidores en ese momento de la noche, de todas formas (aunque algunas tiendas de cocina podrían estar abiertas, si estuvieran cerca de alguna ciudad grande); las vírgenes insensatas definitivamente llegarían tarde. William Barclay comenta acertadamente :“Por otra parte, en la cultura judía en ese tiempo, a nadie se permitía andar por la calles en la noche sin una lámpara encendida”. (The Gospel of Matthew Vol. 2., p320).


En el mismo capitulo Jesús enseña la parábola de los talentos. Cuando comparamos ambas parábolas tenemos dos extremos con los que todos en el Reino, tenemos que tener mucho cuidado. Aquellas vírgenes tomaron muy fácil el servirle al Señor, el siervo lo consideró muy difícil.  En el mismo contraste observamos (HLM) que debido a que trabajaron para el amo, él les dio la bienvenida. Sin embargo, el hombre que no hizo nada con su talento fue excluido, el amo ordenó que el siervo inútil, fuera arrojado a las tinieblas de afuera, un lugar de lloro y de crujir de dientes (Mateo 25:30).  Mismo principio de exclusión con las virgenes insensatas.


Para las vírgenes insensatas, que se quedaron afuera, hay una frase triste y definitiva “y se cerró la puerta” (Mateo 25:10). De hecho, el tiempo en griego que se usa en este pasaje transmite la idea de que la puerta “se cierra y permanece cerrada.”  Mateo 25:11 Leer. Las vírgenes insensatas se perdieron la procesión hacia la casa del novio. También  perdieron el elemento importante de la boda judía, en la que la novia era traída al hogar del novio bajo el palio nupcial. Después de no considerar la importancia del anfitrión, no fueron admitidas a la fiesta, la cual se prolongó durante siete días después de la ceremonia.En todos los banquetes formales los invitados presentaban su tarjetas o libreta a un siervo parado en la entrada de la puerta para mantener afuera a los espectadores no invitados. Cuando se juntaban, el ‘señor de la casa’ cerraba la puerta y después se le daba la indicación a ese siervo de no permitir aceptar a nadie más, no importando que la insistencia fuera grande


El propósito de toda la parábola se resume en la declaración de Jesús en Mateo 25:13, “Velad, pues, porque no sabéis el día ni la hora en que el Hijo del Hombre ha de venir.” De hecho el comparó su venida con los días de Noé (Mt 24:37). La gente estaba ocupada con su vida cotidiana.

El cristiano solo tiene que hacer lo que temo que muchos de nosotros estamos en peligro de hacer—esto es, “nada”—a fin de asegurar que su lámpara no se apague. Por lo tanto, haríamos bien en seguir el consejo de nuestro Señor, que dijo, “Estén ceñidos vuestros lomos, y vuestras lámparas encendidas; y vosotros sed semejantes a hombres que aguardan a que su señor regrese” (Lucas 12:35-36).

Posted in Heiner Montealto | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on PARABOLA DE LAS DIEZ VIRGENES

Give Yourself to the Kingdom of Heaven

Give Yourself to the Kingdom of Heaven

What do we think about when we think about the Kingdom of God? The Pharisees thought that the Messiah was going to come as an earthly ruler and begin a new age of financial prosperity and Jewish dominance in the world. When Jesus started preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven, they wondered when it would come. In Luke 17:20-21 we read: “Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There!” for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.’” In other words, the kingdom of God isn’t about armies fighting carnal battles, castles sitting on the mountain tops, or fabulous wealth pouring into the treasury. Jesus said, “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Other translations say it is “within you,” or “among you.” And why is that? Because the kingdom of God is composed of people! That is the fabulous wealth that God sought—you and me—we are the kingdom!

kingdom citizen

Are you a citizen of the kingdom?

There is a practical aspect to this. Because the kingdom of God is God’s people, we need to be busy serving God’s people. In my studies, I ran across Proverbs 18:1. The English Standard Version translates it like this: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Because the kingdom of God is people, we are not to isolate ourselves, but be part of the citizenry of the kingdom by participating in its activities. We value God’s kingdom—Christians—by giving ourselves away to others!  Why not do that today? Go out and find someone who has a need, and help them. God’s kingdom is other people.

Posted in Kevin Cauley | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Give Yourself to the Kingdom of Heaven

Is Mental Illness an Excuse for Sin?

Is Mental Illness an Excuse for Sin?

We must be very careful to give a blanket, over-generalizing, one-size-fits-all answer to this question. All mental illnesses are not the same, so we cannot give a simple “yes” or “no” answer to this question.

There are genuine mental problems which exist. Some of them are genetic or hormonal. Some of them are biological or environmental.

There are some genuine mental problems which come about due to debilitating conditions which are self-inflicted.

mental illness

Mental Illness as a blanket concept does not determine accountability.

Some people spend much of their lives indulging in certain sins and as a result become genuinely unbalanced mentally. Wickedness does exact a huge toll, and in some cases mental illness is a consequence of sin.

Some mental problems keep one from being able to make rational choices, while others do not.

And in some cases, many people have cited mental illness because they want to defend their sinful conduct.

What we need to remember is this. We are commanded in John 7:24 to not judge according to appearance. That means we never assume anything about anyone. We do not assume that all mental illness is sin, we do not assume all mental illness is not sin. We do not assume that someone’s mental illness is real or faked, we do not assume that their mental illness holds them accountable or fails to hold them accountable before God.

Instead, John 7:24 tells us to make righteous judgments. That is possible at times, but at times it is not possible. Mark 7:20-22 tells us that one’s actions shows the condition of their heart, but in the case of mental illness are they genuinely in control of their actions? Sometimes it is possible to successfully determine that; sometimes it’s not. God knows all, and he will make the final judgment.

In the meantime, and this is the most important part to the answer to this question, we must always make the conscious choice to always be like Christ wants us to be with everyone, including those with mental illnesses (Col. 3:12-14): kind, compassionate, patient, encouraging. Basically, love them as Christ loves us.

Before moving on, here are some biblical points we need to remember when thinking about mental illness and sin:

Genesis 1:26 tells us that we are made in the image of God. That means, among other things, that we have the ability to choose between right and wrong. If man is incapable of making choices, the whole system of civil law is futile and we ought to abandon our justice system, which would of course result in utter chaos. So generally speaking mankind has the ability to choose between right and wrong. Now, some people are incapable of choosing between right and wrong due to genuine mental illness. However, if one truly does have the mental ability to choose between right and wrong, that person is accountable.

Every command given to man in the bible implies that man has the ability to respond to that command. That’s why Joshua said in Josh. 24:15, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” That’s why Isaiah talked about the time in our lives when we come to know how to refuse the evil and choose the good (Is. 7:15-16). That’s why Jesus told us in Matt. 22:37 to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, but then also acknowledged in John 5:40 that some in fact refuse to come to him. Rev. 22:17 says, “Let the one who desires take the water of life”…why? Because we have the ability to choose. What good is a command from God if we do not have the ability to either accept it or reject it?

With this in mind, if one genuinely is mentally unable to make choices and therefore is not capable of obeying or disobeying God, then the scriptural doctrine of them being eternally punished in hell makes no sense whatsoever.

Therefore, biblically speaking, if a person’s mental problem truly keeps them from being able to make the choice to obey or disobey God, then they would not be sinning. Those of us who are professionally trained in dealing with mental problems might or might not be able to tell if such is the case in a certain situation, but we can be confident that the God who is the final judge is capable of making that judgment, and he will do so.

(My thanks to Wayne Jackson and his excellent book, The Bible and Mental Health, which helped me greatly in part of the answer to this question.)

Posted in Jon Mitchell | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Is Mental Illness an Excuse for Sin?