The battle for your mind

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2 Corinthians Chapters 9 and 10

 

This week’s reading is from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 “For though we walk in the flesh we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing every thought into captivity.” Most people are not aware of the battle that goes on for the control of our minds and their thought life. Many people don’t realize the power of our thoughts and are not even aware that they can control their thought life. Many times when you get down to the heart of people’s problems, somebody is seriously mixed up on their thinking. All of us tend to get mixed up on our thinking at times, and often we don’t even see the problem. But Jesus Christ can straighten out our thinking a whole lot better than Dr. Phil or anybody else in this world. Paul would not say this if it were not possible to control our thoughts. As Christians, we CAN take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. Our thoughts do not have to control us; we can control our thoughts.

We are called to cast down arguments, and every high thing that is contrary to the ways of God. Other translations call these “imaginations (v.5).” That means we are to conquer them. We are to attack and conquer imaginations of this world. Paul is saying “Be your own thought police.” With God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within you, you CAN do it. It is time we stop letting the devil win the battles for our minds and our lives and our families. It is time to identify his wiles, and his schemes and defeat them with God’s weapons. When we allow the devil a foothold in our lives it pollutes our mind. There is a war raging in our souls and in our minds. Satan is out to destroy you and your witness for Jesus Christ. He is out to capture, corrupt and control your mind. You don’t have to let him win! What are some things that you do that have helped you to gain victory over your thoughts?

The difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow

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2 Corinthians Chapters 6 through 8

This week’s reading is from 2 Corinthians 7:10. “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted: but the sorrow of the world produces death.” There is a big difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow.

Worldly sorrow is lamenting without repenting. This means someone is sorry because they are CAUGHT or sorry because they have to pay the consequences. This has nothing to do with sorrow because what you did was wrong or against the laws of God. In I Samuel 7:2-4 we read the story of when the people of Israel lamented for years but never repented. They grieved because of their suffering but they still worshiped idols. It wasn’t until the prophet Samuel confronted them about worshipping their idols and told them to get rid of them, that they ever really repented. In Hebrews 12:16-17 we read that Esau repented even with tears yet he found NO forgiveness. This is the story of when Esau gave away his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup. He did not care about his spiritual heritage and was hungry so he gave his spiritual authority as the oldest son away to his brother Jacob. Then afterward we are told he repented even with tears. Yet he was not forgiven. Why, because his sorrow was worldly not godly sorrow. There is a big difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. Esau was sad because he lost his inheritance. He wasn’t sad because disdained his spiritual responsibility as the oldest son. Judas who betrayed Jesus was full of worldly sorrow and the result of it was he killed himself. Worldly sorrow works death. It is the weeping of self-pity, regret over material losses, or sorrow that our sins have been found out. The fruit of this kind of sorrow is not life, but rather it produces bitterness, cursing, and death. Pharaoh, Balaam and King Saul, each said, “I have sinned,” but the returning prodigal said, “I have sinned, against heaven and before God.”

Only godly sorrow produces true change. In Acts 2:37 we read that 3,000 people “were pierced in their hearts and cried out,” after Peter preached a powerful sermon on the day of Pentecost. Godly sorrow means to be pierced in our heart. It means to feel the pain of our sin. They realized that they had offended Almighty God with their sin. This kind of sorrow produced a change in these people. Godly sorrow works life. True godly sorrow PRODUCES REPENTANCE. It produces a real change so that we turn away. The city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, showed godly sorrow when the prophet Jonah rebuked them. We read that they repented in sackcloth and ashes. In Psalm 51 we read about David’s godly sorrow as he mourned for his sin.

Godly sorrow means that we are sorry because what we did was WRONG. We realize that we have sinned against God. This is the kind of mourning that Jesus was talking about, when He said, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” May God give us godly sorrow for our sins that we may find life and forgiveness.

Pride Week?

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Pride Week???

   Driving through downtown Columbus on Monday, May 15th I noticed the streets lined with Pride week celebration banners. Pride week is not until June 11th! I guess now it is Pride month! I realize the homosexual issue has surely become a hot issue in our country and in many churches. I am glad though, that we still have the first amendment right to free speech.  I would like to take advantage of this freedom while we still have it!

 Is Homosexuality a sin?

     Yes. Anyone who reads the Bible with an open and unbiased mind would come to this conclusion. Here are just a few verses that show clearly that homosexuality is sin and needs to be repented of.

     In Genesis 19:4-11 we have the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are told that the men of the city attacked Lot’s house “in order to know the men who had come into their city as visitors.” The word “know” used here means to “know sexually.” It is used many times throughout the Bible, such as when Adam “knew” Eve and she conceived and bore Cain in Genesis 4:1. The Hebrew word for “know” is yada. It is used in a variety of ways, to know by familiarity as well as to have sexual relations with. Some in the homosexual community have tried to say that the men just wanted to be friends with the angels who came to visit Lot. What a strange thing that God would destroy a city in judgment for offering friendship! Also by Lot’s own response, in which he offered his daughters who were virgins, it is clear this was a sexual advance being proposed here. The word “Sodomite” came to mean sexual relations between men as a result of this story.

     In Jude 6-7 we are told that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was sexual immorality, not unfriendliness. 2 Peter 2:4, 6-8 also speaks about the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah is an example to those who would be tempted to live ungodly lives, “in filthy conduct.” The word “filthy” in the Greek means incontinent or without sexual restraint.

     In Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 we read, “You shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.” Homosexual churches teach that this is a reference to “ritual” uncleanness. The word abomination in the Strong’s Concordance is “towbah.” It means to be morally disgusting! Some pastors try to excuse this away by saying that this is Old Testament law and we are under grace. At least it means that homosexuality was forbidden in the Old Testament. There are many other Old Testament verses that speak about how homosexuality is an abomination to God.  Judges 19:11, Deuteronomy 23:17, I Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46 and II Kings 23:7.)

 What does the New Testament say about homosexuality?

    In I Corinthians 6:9-11 we read, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolater, nor adulterers, nor HOMOSEXUALS, nor SODOMITES.” Now if this sin of homosexuality the result of a person’s choice it would be wrong for God to judge people for it. It is clear that God punishes people for the bad choices that they freely choose. A person is a homosexual by choice not by birth.

     I Timothy 1:8-11 gives us a list of sins that are “contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Among this list are murderers, fornicators, HOMOSEXUALS, kidnappers, liars, and perjurers. Once again it is clear that these are actions that a person has a choice in. To choose to engage in homosexual behavior is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Regardless of what anybody says, God’s Word says it is impossible to be a born again and practicing homosexual Christian.

     In Romans 1:26-27 we read, “For even the women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” Some pastors say that if the government would let homosexuals and lesbians get married they would not “lust” for each other. But the emphasis of this passage is not on “lust” but rather on what is “against nature” and that these acts homosexual acts are “shameful.” Men lying with men and women lying with women is against nature and is shameful.

     Marriage should only be between a man and a woman. To allow homosexuals to marry is to recognize their lifestyle CHOICE as healthy and normal for family life. This is completely unsupported by any research that has ever been done. Homosexuals are not born homosexuals they are born sinners like all of us. They choose to live a homosexual lifestyle and because of their choice, they reap the consequences of their sin. Just like a person is not born an alcoholic but becomes one by their lifestyle choices and then reaps the consequences of their decision. Homosexuality is a very unhealthy lifestyle and this would never be a good environment for children to be raised in. When people say someone is ‘born’ a homosexual this is nothing but an ill-informed statement. It is totally unsupported by all REAL scientific research. There is ABSOLUTELY NO SCIENTIFIC evidence that has ever been found to support this false notion that a person is born a homosexual. There has NEVER been any reputable research that has shown any indication of sexual orientation being related to genetics.  A recent study by Doctor Paul McHugh, M.D., the former chief of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital and one of the leading psychiatrists in the world, and Lawrence Mayer a full-time tenured professor for over four decades, from Johns Hopkins University, was published in the journal New Atlantis.[1] It strongly concluded that NO legitimate scientific study backs up the claim that people are born homosexual or born the wrong gender.[2]

  If a person can be born with a sexual orientation to be a homosexual why couldn’t a person be born with a sexual orientation to have sex with young teenagers since this is clearly a sexual orientation with many people? Why couldn’t a person be born with a sexual orientation to have sex with dead people, which is called necrophilia? Why couldn’t a person be born with a sexual orientation to have sex with animals, which is called bestiality? Why couldn’t a person be born with a sexual orientation to marry many wives, which is called polygamy? The list could go on and on and on. So you see this whole idea of being “born” with a sexual orientation to be homosexual is just completely wrong.

     It is completely incorrect to equate someone’s lifestyle choice with that of “unchangeable characteristics” which are protected by our Constitution. Homosexuality is a lifestyle CHOICE. It is not an “unchangeable characteristic like race, nationality, or gender.” It is illegal in this country, to discriminate against someone because of “unchangeable characteristics’ but it is NEVER illegal to discriminate because of lifestyle choices. Banks do this, businesses do this, colleges do this, and rental businesses do this. The issue is not that we cannot discriminate, the question is what criteria should we use to decide when to discriminate and when not to discriminate. That criteria should be what is in the best interest of our society. So it is right for a bank to refuse to loan money to someone who has bad credit, and it is right for a rental company to refuse to rent to someone with evictions and late payments and so on. The issue that has to be resolved is whether homosexuality is a lifestyle choice or an unchangeable characteristic. It is, in fact, a lifestyle choice. This is one reason why God calls it sin. It needs to be repented of, not condoned. It is in the best interest of our country not to allow homosexuals to marry and raise a family. Our government should not persecute homosexuals. Our government should not persecute people who are divorced. Our government should not persecute alcoholics or drug addicts or people who like to gamble. But our government should not be giving special rights to people who choose these lifestyles!!!

 So what is a Christian to do?

     A Christian should treat a homosexual just like he would treat a divorcee or someone who likes to get drunk. A Christian should treat a homosexual just like he would treat someone who is committing adultery or who likes to look at pornography or any other sinner. We should show love and grace and mercy to every human being.

     We must be careful though, that we do not condone this grievous sin against God. We need to be careful about being too quick to say that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. Especially when the sinner is so blatant with his sin that he demands public acceptance and forbids any opposition voice to be heard. As Christians, we need to preach the love and mercy of God as well as the wrath and judgment of God. It is a false balance to preach one without the other.

     When there is an appropriate opportunity we are to help them to “see the light” much like Jesus did when He encountered the woman at the well. He clearly loved and respected her, but He also talked with her about her lifestyle choice about sleeping with men and not being married. We don’t need to go around and point out everyone’s sin. We are to love people and serve them. But when there is a discussion about a particular lifestyle choice that is being discussed, such as homosexuality or polygamy we are called to be the voice of God. If we don’t speak the truth and help to lead people to God’s ways, we are clearly “salt that has lost its savor and is good for nothing.” Matthew 5:13.

[1] http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/preface-sexuality-and-gender

[2] http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/executive-summary-sexuality-and-gender

Some stress can be good

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2 Corinthians Chapters 4 through 5

This week’s reading is in 2 Cor 4:17 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” Stress is not all bad. Sometimes God allows stress in our lives for a purpose. Here are two purposes that might be why God is allowing stress in your life today.

Sometimes God uses stress to change or build our character. Sometimes when stress comes into our life and the heat gets turned up, what’s inside us comes out. Ever been camping and put a log on the fire? As the log heats up all sorts of bugs come out. Stress is like that. So when you are dealing with your spouse or that special person in your life and the heat gets turned up, what comes out? When you are dealing with your children, and it gets intense, and there is stress and anxiety, and the heat gets turned up, what comes out? At school or at work, when the heat gets turned up in your life, what comes out? If we see bad stuff coming out maybe God wants us to deal with it and be healed of it. God uses stress to build our character. Sometimes He allows stress to help us to see some areas of our lives that need to be worked on and need to change. We may not like it but sometimes stress can build character.

Sometimes God uses stress to change our direction. Sometimes stress can be a road sign that God can use to help us navigate and help us understand which direction He wants us to go. I used to think that any obstacle in my path was just something for me to somehow overcome or go over or be through, or persevere stronger, or do whatever. I just had to get through it. But if I would just sit back and say, “God, what are you trying to show me in the stress that I am feeling? What are you trying to show me in this obstacle? Maybe I am not supposed to go over. Maybe you have got a different direction for me.” Maybe He is wanting me to change my schedule. If your schedule is out of control, and it is causing stress in your life, and you catch yourself coming and going, maybe God is trying to tell you, “Hey, it’s time to change your schedule.” Maybe He is wanting you to change some of your friendships. If you’ve got a friendship and it is causing stress, maybe God is trying to show you something about that relationship. Maybe He is wanting you to change the way you handle your finances. If you are finding yourself constantly stressed about your finances maybe God is trying to talk to you about how you are managing your money. Are you honoring Him with the tithe? Is it possible that this stress is being caused by my lack of giving? Sometimes God uses stress to change the way we are doing things.

So when the stressful time comes, instead of asking God “WHY,” a better question might be “WHAT are you trying to show me about my character or about my schedule, my finances, or my friendships?” Sometimes, or maybe most of the times the stress that we experience is the prime motivation for us to give up some bad habits, change some things, mature, take better care of our health, or stop us from over-committing. So what is God showing you today? As you have been reading this maybe God has brought something to mind, and you are thinking, “You know, God, I think you are trying to show me something here.” You see, God doesn’t want to hurt us, and even though it feels tough at the moment, sometimes God is using stress to change us.

I know what you are going through.

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2 Corinthians Chapters 1 through 3

This week’s reading is in 2 Corinthians 1:4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” No one likes to go through hard times, but when we do and we are comforted with God’s comfort, it does equip us to help others that may go through the same thing. Sometimes God allows pain in my life to give me a ministry to others. There are many reasons that problems occur in our lives. There are many reasons we go through hard times and get hurt. Sometimes it is caused by our own bad decisions, sometimes it is caused by other peoples’ bad decisions and for no reason of our own. In any case, since God is supreme He could always just step in and prevent bad things from ever happening to us, but He doesn’t. Why is that? One of the reasons God allows pain in my life is to give me a heart to help others. It makes me humble, sympathetic, and more sensitive to others’ needs. The truth is, pain prepares you to serve. When others are troubled and needing our sympathy and encouragement we can pass on to them the same help and comfort God has given us. Who can better help an alcoholic or a drug addict than somebody who struggled with alcoholism or drug abuse? Who can better help somebody dealing with the pain of abuse than someone who was abused themselves? Who can better help somebody who lost his job and went bankrupt than somebody who lost his job and went bankrupt? Who can better help a couple of parents who have a teenager, who’s going off the deep end than a couple who had a teenager who went off the deep end? God wants to use and recycle the pain in your life to help others, but you have to be open about it and honest. If you keep that hurt to yourself, you’re wasting it. As we go through the healing cycle and feel the presence and love and forgiveness of God we are being prepared to help others do the same thing. As we learn how to get victory over certain struggles that we have faced we are being prepared to help others. God never wastes a hurt, neither should we. Let’s share God’s great love and comfort with others.