Our God is a Giver

Our God is a Giver

It is remarkable that so many know the “Golden Text” of the Bible. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” It is called the “Golden Text” because many who read John 3:16 see it as summing up the story of the Bible.  Our God is a giver. He gave His son, but He has given us so much more.

Giver stream

Thank you to God for all He provides.

He gives us our food. Paul, in his sermon at Lystra, reminded the pagans that while God allowed the nations to walk in their own ways, they were still accountable to Him. They could know He existed. “He did not leave himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). That same witness has been given to us, for did He not tell us to pray about God giving us daily bread?

However, far above all of this is the spiritual food He supplies us. He has given us access to the fountain of the water of life freely (Rev. 21:6).  He has given us all things which pertain to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3). He has given us the ability to understand the mystery that not even O.T. saints understood (Mark 4:11; 1 John 5:20). He has given us access to heavenly wisdom (Jas. 1:5).  He has also given us exceedingly great and precious promises (2 Pet. 1:4). Our God truly is a giver.

He has given us the church and its attendant blessings which come with it. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). That eternal kingdom, planned from before the world began and prophesied by the Old Testament saints, has been given to us. This was more than part of His plan. It was the plan, and it was His pleasure to give it to us!

He has given to those in that kingdom the honor of telling others about His plan of redemption. That honor was not given to saints of old—not to Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah or any of the prophets. It was not given to Gabriel or Michael or any other angel in heaven. Paul described it this way: God has given to us the word of reconciliation and the work of reconciliation. We stand as the only ambassadors Jesus has on this earth saying to the world, “Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).

The list of what God has given to us is seemingly endless. He has given us peace (John 14:27). He has given us grace (Rom. 12:6). He has given us a new name (Isa. 62:2). He has given us the right to become sons of God (John 1:12) and what love is shown in this relationship (1 John 3:1).

Our God is a giver. What is our response? He allows us to fill in the details, but have we not all sung at various times, “Give of your best to the Master”?

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LAS CADENAS DE ORACION

LAS CADENAS DE ORACION

Siempre escuchaba de estas cadenas de oración mientras estuve en la iglesia evangélica, y casi sonaba como a “un vendedor haciendo su mejor esfuerzo para embaucar a sus clientes”. Durante estuve ahí fue en realidad eso, juntamente con las oraciones de intercesión las cadenas de oración tenían un buen `Rankin´ de popularidad en lo nuevo y progresista que tenía para ofrecer la iglesia evangélica de la comunidad donde asistía con mi abuelita. Con poco ánimo de herir sentimientos, este artículo tiene como intención informar lo que dice la Biblia respecto a la práctica moderna de cadenas de oración . Vale la pena mencionar que la oración es buena y agradable en todo momento (1Tes.5:17) y que está claro que es una enseñanza vital en lo que Cristo predicó y vivió (Mt.6:5-15). El Señor muy frecuentemente se apartaba para orar y aún en la ora próxima a su agonía sube al monte de los olivos para orar allí (Lc.22), pidiéndole a sus discípulos que oraran con él. (Mt.26:36; Mr.14:32) pero de ninguna forma esto puede tomarse como una cadena de oración que tuvo su inicio en el Getzemaní. En Hechos 16:25 Pablo oraba con Silas y el texto es claro en mencionar que mientras cantaban a media noche los presos lo oían.

Cadenas de oracion

Las cadenas de oración no tienen autoridad Bíblica, por el contrario son una invención del mundo denominacional que la Iglesia de Cristo no debe de copiar.

Ciertamente como estos ejemplos encontramos un gran número de instancias en el que; los discípulos oraban por alguien o alguien oraba con los discípulos y la iglesia era caracterizada por ser un grupo dedicado a la oración. Cuando la Iglesia se reúne debe de orar, juntos, en armonía tal cual lo hacía la iglesia de Cristo en Jerusalén (Hechos 2:41-43). Pero ese no es el tema que nos compete en esta ocasión. Existe una idea “moderna” circulando entre las denominaciones con respecto a lo que ellos llaman “cadena de oración” y ésta innovación a encontrado su camino en un gran número de congregaciones de la Iglesia de Cristo en Latinoamérica. Los fariseos tenían una extraña teología con respecto a la oración. Jesús observa el problema en sus oraciones en Mt.6:7 cuando dijo: “orando, no uséis vanas repeticiones, como los gentiles, que piensan que por su palabrería serán oídos.” Ellos pensaban que por sus vanas repeticiones fervorosas causarían un efecto “extra” en la respuesta de Dios. Es probable, que lo que el Señor esté condenando no sea las repeticiones (ya que él mismo repitió la misma oración tres veces en Mt.26:44), sino más bien la mera repetición vana, hueca vacía y la idea de que Dios será “extra conmovido por ello”. La observación que realiza el hermano H. Leo Boles a este pasaje de Mateo es realmente precisa cuando dice:

¿Qué hace vana una repetición? o ¿qué es lo que hace que la repetición sea “vana”?El griego de donde obtenemos “repetición vana” es “battalogein”, que significa balbucear, tartamudear, luego balbucear o parlotear, repetir la misma fórmula muchas veces como lo hacían los adoradores de Baal y Diana de Efeso (1Reyes 18:26; Hechos 19:34). Literalmente Jesús dice a sus discípulos  no “battologize”que parece ser un término onomatopéyico y puede haberle dado el nombre a Battus , el príncipe cireneo que tartamudeaba…Tales repeticiones vanas impedían la sabiduría  y bondad de Dios por lo tanto eran prohibidas. (H. Leo Boles. Comentario del Nuevo Testamento, Mateo. Gospel Advocate Company 1992.Pág. 125).

El problema principal con las cadenas de oración es el mismo problema que señala Jesús en este pasaje y la idea de que la oración necesita ayuda, ya sea; repitiendo o en este caso incluyendo a otros para que oran a la distancia al mismo tiempo puesto que pareciera que la oración en silencio de un individuo no es escuchada y que el Señor escucha más fuerte y más claro cuando lo hacemos en grupo y al mismo tiempo. Es realmente una idea patética y preocupante al mismo tiempo, saber que alguno hermanos  andan por ahí que pensando que  Dios presta “mejor” atención si estamos juntos, como si el número fuera importante para Dios. De hecho la Biblia enseña que cuando nos reunimos como Iglesia y oramos, no todos estamos orando al mismo tiempo sino que decimos “Amén” a la oración del hermano al que nos unimos en espíritu para elevar tal oración a Dios (1Co.14:16). A lo que me estoy refiriendo con esto es simplemente el hecho que ni siquiera cuando estamos reunidos como iglesia cada uno está concentrado en su propia oración (al menos no debería ser así) ¿entonces porqué motivar a una cadena de oración donde todos harán su oración al mismo tiempo en espacios distintos?.  La respuesta a la pregunta anterior es, porque para muchos ya no es suficiente el modelo de oración de la Biblia, hay que innovar en método, hay que ser relevantes y actualizarnos y ese pensamiento precisamente fue lo que llevó a Uza a la muerte inmediata; la falta de conformidad al patrón dado por Dios. De hecho en 2 Juan 9 la palabra griega παραβαίνω (parabaino) de donde la versión Reina Valera 1960 lee “extravía” obtenemos también la palabra “progreso”. Horrores se han llevado a cabo en las últimas décadas por algunos cuantos infiltrados en la iglesia en nombre del “progreso”. Con respecto a este tema el hermano Dave Miller Ph.D afirma:

Este tipo de mentalidad, contradice completamente la prescripción Bíblica a la hora de completar tareas. Si deseamos que la iglesia crezca y esté vacunada contra el error, necesitamos regresar a la Biblia y ver que solo en las bases de la verdad enseñada sin comprometerla fervorosamente puede ocurrir el crecimiento divino notable. No existen sustitutos. Nada va a impactar mejor la mente del ser humano más que la verdad presentada directamente. La verdad de Dios solamente tiene el “poder”(Ro.1:16) y la “energía” (Heb.4:12) para estimular a la gente. (Dave Miller Ph.D, Piloteando en el estrecho. Sain Publications; TN 1996. Pág. 65).

Las cadenas de oración no tienen autoridad Bíblica, por el contrario son una invención del mundo denominacional que la Iglesia de Cristo no debe de copiar. Tal como lo mencionaba el hermano Dave, necesitamos regresar a la Biblia. Necesitamos orar con la esperanza de José, con la convicción de Daniel, con la intensidad de Jesucristo, con la humildad de Pablo con la unidad de la Iglesia. No hay nada que necesite ser modificado en el formato de nuestras oraciones. Es bastante sencillo, es una conversación privada con nuestro Padre celestial. Pablo lo hacía “dando siempre gracias por todo al Dios y Padre, en el nombre de nuestro Señor Jesucristo” (Ef.5:20). Lo simple es poderoso si es autorizado por Dios y nunca pierde su efectividad. Las iglesias sectarias deberían de estar copiando el modelo que nosotros practicamos, el modelo Bíblico y no más bien al revés.

REFERENCIAS

Boles, H. Leo. Comentario del Nuevo Testamento, Mateo. (Gospel Advocate

Company; Nashville TN 1992).Pág. 125.

Miller, Dave Ph.D, Piloteando en el estrecho. (Sain Publications; Pulaski TN

1996). Pág. 65.         

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Worship God’s Way, Not Ours

Worship God’s Way, Not Ours

You have said time and time again that you don’t have a problem with people being spiritual, but you just do not have time for organized religion. In fact, you have on several occasions ridiculed the idea of gathering together in a church building to worship God. You indicated that if God really existed, it would make more sense to “worship” that God outside in nature—instead of putting on uncomfortable clothes and coming together in a stuffy building with fake ficus trees and an old fashioned pulpit.

Worship

There is a loving God who created us and deserves our worship.

When Paul was talking about evidence for God one of the statements he made was this: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Notice Paul was using God’s creation as part of his evidence that God exists. Basically Paul is saying this: “If you want proof that God exists, then go outside and look around.” Everywhere you turn you will see evidence of design and complexity. Go outside for evidence, yes! But what we are talking about today is worshipping our Creator. Examining the evidence for God is different from worshipping Him.

(I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not a big fan of the pulpit between two ficus trees either. I am not sure when that tradition started, but it was picked up on by many congregations—and hasn’t changed in decades. If you have ever seen me preach/teach, you know I do not spend a lot of time behind a pulpit. Sadly, I think they separate the evangelist from the church family—almost setting up an “us” versus “him” scenario. In my mind I picture Jesus teaching among the people, not from behind a pulpit.)

The real issue at hand is not whether we worship God inside a building with fake ficus trees or outside on top of a mountain. The real issue is: Are you willing to humble yourself and actually do what HE wants? See, worshipping God is not about you, what you think, or how it makes you feel. Read that again, because most people have a hard time with that. They have been raised to think that everything is about them, and far too often they bring this selfish idea into worship. But worship is about God and for God.

Thankfully God has told us—through His inspired Word—exactly what our worship to Him should look like. In the New Testament we find 5 different acts of worship that God commands us to do. Each one of these is commanded, so again the question remains: Will you humble yourself enough to do what God instructs? Allow me to give a brief description of each of these five acts of worship:

Prayer

Multiple times in the New Testament, we find passages emphasizing the importance of prayer, not just in our own spiritual life, but also as an act of worship. In 1 Timothy 2:8, we find Paul telling us, “I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” In 1 John 5:14, John tells us, “Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Prayer is the way in which we talk to our Heavenly Father. Just as prayer is an important part of our everyday life, it’s an incredibly important part of our worship to God.

Singing

Using our voices to praise God in song is an integral part of our worship to Him. Colossians 3:16 tells us, “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Instruments were used in the Old Testament by the Israelites primarily in the temple. After the temple was destroyed, we have no record of followers of God using instrumental music until the 7th or 8th century A.D. Out of the 27 books in the New Testament, not a single one of them references any kind of musical instrument being used in worship to God.

A verse to remember is Ephesians 5:19-20. Writing to Christians, Paul says, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God commands us to sing with our voices and make melody in our hearts.

Teaching

In Acts 20:7, we find that the disciples of Christ met together on the first day of the week and Paul spoke to them a message. Paul’s message was probably similar to what you and I call sermons. A sermon or a lesson in worship services serves several purposes. First of all, it edifies the members. After a week of living in the world and in the secular workforce, it’s refreshing to hear a portion of God’s word taught to you and in many cases it motivates Christians for the upcoming week. Secondly, it can simply teach. Finally, a lesson can be used to convict its members of sin in their lives. All 3 of these purposes are reasons why a sermon or an evangelical lesson is commanded for Christians to take part in during worship service.

The Lord’s Supper

In each of the Gospel accounts, right before His crucifixion, Jesus partakes in the Lord’s Supper with his apostles and when he does so, he says, “Do this in remembrance of me.” The Lord’s Supper is a time in which we fulfill this command given to us by Jesus. 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 gives us a detailed description of what the Lord supper is and verses 30-32 inform us that it should be a time of self-examination. A time where we focus on what Jesus did for us on the cross.

Contribution

Giving is also an important part of worship. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 instructs Christians to lay aside something on the first day of the week. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. We give not because God needs something—because He certainly doesn’t. But rather we give to further His kingdom and give Him glory.

I heard what you said regarding “organized worship.” But have you honestly humbled yourself enough to consider what God specified about worship? Because again, it’s not about you—it’s about Him.

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A Lifetime Ago

A Lifetime Ago

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing just a little over six months ago today? Do you recall Christmas morning 2019? What about New Year’s Eve just before welcoming in 2020? In light of current events, it is hard to believe that it was only a little over six months ago that we were engulfed in those particular activities. To some it must seem as if that were a lifetime ago.

coronavirus second

All things will change and in a blink of an eye.

Still harder yet to believe would have been the thought back then, that within the next few months, everything we were so engulfed and involved in – almost all that we call “life” in general – both could, and would, be so swiftly and suddenly taken from us! So many of those things that we just simply took for granted would go on forever – from attending school, to going to work, to being involved in various sporting activities, as well as to attending weddings, funerals, church services, and graduation ceremonies – have all now ground to a very abrupt, complete, and all-encompassing halt. No one could have seen this coming, and certainly no one, even if they had, could have ever imagined the size and scope of the shutdown we are now experiencing. Even our government was taken totally off guard, finding themselves completely unprepared for the massive social, medical, financial and economic fallout this crisis would cause; and that, despite the several weeks of warning they had at the beginning as China so desperately struggled to come to grips with it.

And yet, as impossible as all of this was for any of us to imagine beforehand, here we are. What is infinitely far scarier still however, is the fact that the Bible very clearly promises us that there is another event coming that so dwarfs the deadly losses and catastrophic effects of the Coronavirus, that it defies every fiber of our ability to even begin to comprehend (2 Ptr. 3:10; Rev. 20:10-15). Unlike the Coronavirus though, this world-wide event will come upon all of us instantly and without warning; striking like a “thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2); occuring in the blink of an eye (1 Cor. 15:51-52). No one will even have time to think about turning their heart toward proper preparation at that time, for in the time it just took you to blink, it will all happen and be done with.

The incredibly beautiful silver lining to that mushroom cloud of mass destruction though, is that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, as He sat on a mountainside with His disciples almost 2,000 years ago (Matt. 24:3), began to warn us to get ready for it’s coming (Matt. 24:42-25:46); a message which His faithful messengers would soon thereafter began to echo and call out as well (John 12:48-50; Acts 17:30-31; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2 Ptr. 3:1-18).

Oh my beloved brethren… what a wonderful blessing it is to know that one is prepared. To know that one is prepared, according to God’s word; because they love Him so much that they have completely devoted themselves to learning and obeying His holy word (Jn. 14:21-24; Acts 2:38-42; 2 Ptr. 1:2-21) so that they may know that they have eternal life (See: 1 Jn. 5:13).

For those who are not thus prepared however, the depth of the eternal tragedy they will suffer because of not being ready will be truly beyond anything one could ever possibly imagine. Today, if you know anyone at all who does not know Jesus, do not let the day pass without telling them how important it is that they get prepared while there’s still time. Because unlike the Coronavirus, when this hits, there will be no time to even blink!

 

 

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Gender Identity and Sexual Attraction

Gender Identity and Sexual Attraction

There are two sexes.  There are two genders. DNA determines from birth whether a person is male or female. Today, gender is being redefined as the role you identify with. This has created a great deal of unnecessary pain and confusion for many people.  Yet, God is very clear on this topic: “So God created man in his image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)  God also defined roles for males and females and he defined the nature of their relationship in view of sexual attraction. Sadly, it has become common for worldly media, political organizations, and educational institutions to deceive mankind.

There is a God given role for your gender.

In the society of our current day, assuming an identity, not according to your sex, is accepted and promoted. God has made it clear this is not acceptable and does not promote this.

A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God”.  (Deuteronomy 22:5)

Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered?  Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.  (I Corinthians 11:13-16)

The use of the word “Abomination” in Deuteronomy makes it clear God will never accept the practice of cross dressing and trying to assume the identity of another gender.  The dictates of I Corinthians 11 often relegated to culture with a focus on authority is established with eternal evidences and states that within the Church there is no acceptable practice for men and women to look like one another. It is against the authority structure and design of nature which God has established.

Today, the purpose behind confusing sex and gender is to promote and make same sex attraction appear acceptable.  Shaming those who do not embrace this evil dogma creates pressure to make individuals question their identity and sexual attraction.  Millennial singles are embracing the sinful side of this issue more than ever before and the Church needs to be there for them to comfort and direct them in the Lord.

Most people are attracted to the opposite sex. Some people have feelings of attraction for the same sex or both sexes.  For most this is a passing thought of youth and it is common. Advantageously, the world supports acting upon these feelings.  However, God does not support that behavior.  The following passages all condemn acting upon same sex attraction: Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9-10, I Timothy 1:9-10.

While some people have same sex attraction, strong sexual drives, or weak sexual drives, some people identify as asexual.  This is in its simplicity defined as a lack of sexual attraction. There can be a number of reasons for no sex drive or attraction: youth, lack of full development, trama, ongoing stress, depression, low self esteem, emotional issues, prescription medication, obesity, diet, lack of proper nutrition, and so much more. The majority of people identifying as asexual have depression and low self esteem. These impacting issues are normal and can often be resolved.  Unfortunately, our young people are prime targets of those with an agenda to be pushed into considering themselves asexual.  If they question why they do not have a sexual drive, those with a worldly agenda tell them perhaps they aren’t male or female.  Perhaps they need to pursue their sexuality with the same sex or some unidentified nonexistent group.  Here are three important things to know:

  • Approximately 1% of the population identifies as
  • It is important to note that females are much more likely to identify as asexual than men. (Consider the role testosterone has in this).
  • According to – John Whitehall – Professor of Paediatrics at Western Sydney University …up to 90 per cent of children who question their sexual identity will orientate to their natal sex by puberty.

This issue is rising among the millennial single population.  Such a philosophy when directed by the world lends itself to tearing down the family unit, increasing ungodliness, and causing what God identifies as sinful to be acceptable.  It needs to be understood that while various levels of sex drive can occur throughout different stages of a person’s life, they still have the responsibility to:

  1. Look like their God given sex.
  2. Behave like their God given sex.
  3. Provide a proper Christian example.

Gender identity and sexual attraction, or lack thereof, is not just about you.  It can say something about your relationship with God and its example impacts others.  God has set the parameters of a human’s sex\gender to be male and female.  He has set their roles of sexuality to be moral and yoked to the opposite sex.  While having a lack of sexual attraction is not a sin, it doesn’t give you the right to transgress God’s will for you.  You are His child and though you may have some struggles, He has provided a path within His Word and His Church so that you might spiritually thrive.  Do not withdraw from Him or your Christian family, they are here to help you especially with these difficult issues.

 

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