Archives for : #IWillShineHisLight

What the bible says about same sex marriage.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Genesis 1:27 (NKJV)

“And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’ Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
Genesis 2:18-25 (NKJV)

The image of God is both male and female and is reflected in a godly union between male and female where the creative power of God, His life-giving, His self-giving and His moral nature are perfectly expressed. This is only possible in a heterosexual union.

When God created a partner for Adam He created Eve—not another Adam. This means that perfect partnership requires some level of difference as well as a level of similarity so great that Adam could cry out loudly, ”This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”. Sexual intimacy between a man and a woman is the normal method of male/female bonding (emotionally and physically) because it corresponds to the design of our bodies and because it is the normal means by which offspring are created.

If God had intended the human race to be fulfilled through both heterosexual and homosexual marriage, He would have designed our bodies to allow reproduction through both means and made both means of sexual intercourse healthy and natural. Homosexual anal intercourse carries a high risk of disease, this is recognized in Scripture where gay men are said to receive in their bodies the due penalty for their error (Romans 1:27).

Editor’s Note: Various studies indicate that homosexual behavior makes both men and women more vulnerable to disease and decreases lifespan. See: R.S. Hogg, S.A. Strathdee, KJ Craib, M.V. O’Shaughnessy, J.S. Montaner and M.T. Schechter, “Modelling the impact of HIV disease on mortality in gay and bisexual men,” International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 26 (Oxford University, 1997), pp. 657-661. (“If the same pattern of mortality were to continue, we estimate that nearly half of gay and bisexual men currently aged 20 years will not reach their 65th birthday”) / Executive Summary, “Health Implications Associated with Homosexuality,” Medical Institute of Sexual Health (1999) (”Homosexual men are at significantly increased risk for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, anal cancer, gonorrhea and gastrointestinal infections.” “Women who have sex with women are at significantly increased risk of bacterial vaginosis, breast cancer and ovarian cancer than are heterosexual women.”) / L.A. Valleroy, D.A. MacKellar, J.M. Daron, et al, “HIV prevalence and associated risks in young men who have sex with men,” JAMA, 284 (2000), pp. 198-204. (Discusses the prevalence of HIV infection and high-risk behaviors in study group of 3,492 young men who have sex with men.) / D. Binson, W.J. Woods, L. Pollack, J. Paul, R. Stall, J.A. Catania, “Differential HIV risk in bathhouses and public cruising areas,” American Journal of Public Health, 91 (2001), pp. 1482-1486. (demonstrates that high risk behaviors are still quite common among homosexual men).]

 

A Graduation Challenge by Rex Yancey

Congratulations! You have come to a time of transition. It is the biggest transition you have faced in your life up to this point. It is reminiscent of the lad who visited the Grand Canyon with his family. His Dad gave him a diary and asked him to make an entry each day of his insights and observations.

The lad stood on the edge of a very high cliff and spit as hard as he could. He seemed to get a thrill out of the experience. That night, he made his entry in his journal of the days activities.

His father slipped into his room after he had gone to sleep. He saw his journal and could not stand the temptation. He opened the diary and this is what it said, ”Today I spit two miles!”

That was quite an accomplishment. But you also have made quite an accomplishment. Yogi Berra said ”When you come to a fork in the road, take it!” Well, you have come to a fork in the road.

Psalm 32 can be divided into three sections: 1-5 contains confessions and forgiveness; 6-7 speaks of deliverance and preservation; and 8-11 offers guidance for life’s journey.

John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. In one of the chapters Christian and Hopeful leave the City of Destruction in pursuit of Mt. Zion. They meet many obstacles and temptations along the way-and so will you.

What are some steps you can take to finish the journey? You cannot arrive at the right destination unless you travel the right road.

1. CELEBRATION

Breathe a sigh of relief. Some of you thought you would never make it. You have! We need to celebrate significant goals in life. We can do that without the presence of mind altering drugs.

When I graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with my doctor’s degree, someone sent me a card that pictured a dog climbing stairs. He had made it to the top of the stairs and there was a bone. I had faced one obstacle after another until I finally made it. It was a time of celebration for me. You have reached the bone. There will be other bones; however, this is a significant one.

I heard about a senior who was about to hand his father his failing report card. He said, ”Before I hand you this, I want you to look at your old report card I found in the attic!”

This is a time of celebration for you, your parents, your teachers, and your spiritual leaders. So celebrate!

2. CONTEMPLATION

This is a good time to have some serious thoughts. One fourth of your life is over if you live to seventy. What will you do with the rest of your life? What you do in the next four or five years will set the stage for the rest of your life.

1. You have a journey to make that is planned by God.

-Jeremiah 1:5 says ”Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

-Acts 9:15-16 says ”He is a chosen instrument of mine…”

-Ephesians 2:10 says ”For we are His workmanship, created in Christ J …

Whom Shall I Fear.

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safein his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LORD.
7Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence.
13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

When God seems distant, we must call to Him and trust in His unfailing love.

t those times when it seems as if God has turned His back, we must deliberately trust the fact that He loves us with an unfailing love, and that He will not forsake us, even though it may seem that way for a while. Let’s examine the three parts of the psalm:

1. The problem: God seems distant (13:1-2).

God’s distance in the face of the enemy’s prominence resulted in a lot of inner turmoil for David.

A. DAVID’S GOD SEEMED DISTANT (13:1).

It seemed as if God had forgotten David, had hidden Himself from him, and as if it would last forever. It always seems as if a time of intense trial lasts forever, doesn’t it? The hard thing about waiting is that you have to wait! Don’t you hate to wait? Waiting is especially hard if you don’t have much to do while you wait. If this psalm was written when David was being pursued by Saul, then David had a lot of time on his hands. He was holed up out in the desolate wilderness of Judah. About all he and his men had to do was to get their daily provisions and keep watch. The hours, days, weeks, and months dragged on as David waited for God to act.

Sometimes it seems as if God moves so slowly! We live in a day that says, “Hurry, hurry, hurry!” But so often God says, “Wait! Wait! Wait!” Most of us can relate to a comment by the New England preacher, Phillips Brooks. Normally, he was a calm man. But one day he was clearly agitated. He paced the floor like a caged lion. A friend asked him, “What’s the trouble?” Brooks replied, “The trouble is, I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t.”

Have you ever noticed the difference between God’s timetable and ours? We think in terms of minutes, hours, and days, but God works in terms of years. Do you remember the story of Joseph? God wanted him in a position of influence in Egypt. How did He get Joseph there? First, he had him sold into slavery by his brothers when he was a teenager. He was hauled off to a foreign land. Then, he had him falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison. A long time went by. Don’t you suppose that Joseph was praying fervently, “God, get me out of here?” But God didn’t seem to hear.

Finally, an opportunity came to interpret the dreams of a couple of fellow inmates. To the one man, the king’s cupbearer, who would be released from prison and restored to his job, Joseph pled, “Remember me and get me out of here!” The cupbearer assured him that he would–but he forgot! The next verse (Gen. 41:1) casually reads, “Now it happened at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream ….” Two years! Think back to two years ago in your life. For two more years Joseph languished in prison. Couldn’t God have given Pharaoh his dream sooner? Why the long wait? As it was, Joseph spent the better part of his twenties either as a slave or in prison in Egypt.

Or take the Apostle Paul. He was God’s greatest apostle to the Gentiles. There was so much work to be done for the Lord, and so little time to do it. Paul wanted to go to Rome and then on to Spain with the gospel.

How did God get Paul to Rome? He had him imprisoned on a false charge. The governor in Caesarea heard his case and knew that he was innocent, but he kept him in custody because he knew that Paul had some influential friends and he hoped for a bribe (Acts 24:26). Acts 24:27 reads, “But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned.” Two years! God’s great apostle was confined in Caesarea. People were perishing without Christ! Why didn’t God do something? Why didn’t He move the governor to release Paul? Wasn’t Paul walking by faith? Wasn’t he praying? Why did he have to sit there for more than two years?

That’s what David was going through. He had been anointed as king by the prophet Samuel when he was a teenager. But Saul was pursuing him like a partridge in the mountains (1 Sam. 26:20). David was perhaps now in his late twenties. This had been going on for years! Where was God? Had He forgotten about David? Perhaps you can relate! When God seems distant, it always affects our emotions:

B. DAVID HIMSELF WAS IN TURMOIL (13:2A, B).

The idea of the Hebrew in verse 2 is that of adding one thought to another in an attempt to get out of the difficulty, but they all fail and just add sorrow to sorrow. At night David made his plans, and by day he tried them, but they were all futile, just causing him more grief (H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Psalms [Baker], p. 135). David had gone from hope to despair so many times that he felt like he was on an emotional roller coaster. He was like a rat in a maze with no exit; God had dropped him in and walked away. Thus,

C. DAVID’S ENEMY SEEMED TO BE WINNING (13:2C).

Saul was still the king. He was enjoying the comforts of the palace, while David was sleeping in caves. What made it worse, Saul was the bad guy! He wasn’t seeking the Lord; David was. Saul was trying to kill David without cause, even though David had spared Saul’s life. Didn’t God know what was happening? Couldn’t He do something? Had He forgotten about David?

Sooner or later you’ll be there! You’re in an extended time of trial. You call out to God, but He doesn’t answer. You try to figure out how to get out of your circumstances, but nothing works. You go from the heights of hope to the depths of despair so many times that your stomach can’t take much more. Meanwhile, those who aren’t following the Lord are living the good life in the palace while you’re seeking the Lord from the cave. There are two vital lessons to remember at such a time:

(1) God has not forgotten you! Note Isaiah 49:14‑15: “But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.’ ‘Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.’“ You may suffer for years, but God never forgets you if you are His child. “… He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’“ (Heb. 13:5).

But God does seemingly forget some of His choicest servants, as we have seen. Joseph, Paul, David‑‑all of them were shut up in unpleasant circumstances for years during which it seemed that God had forgotten. Do you know what was happening during that time? God was building maturity into those men as they learned to trust Him. Just as it takes years to grow a sturdy oak tree, so it takes years to build the godly character qualities needed to be an effective servant of the Lord. That’s the second lesson:

(2) There is no such thing as instant godliness. We have instant everything in our society, but there is no instant godliness. David was anointed as king in his teens. He had a strong faith at that time, as seen in his victory over Goliath. Did God put him on the throne when he turned twenty-one? No. Twenty-five? No. Twenty-six? Twenty-seven? Twenty-eight? Twenty-nine? No. Through all those years of running from Saul and living in caves, David learned to wait upon God. God was developing His man.

That’s so out‑of‑joint with our rush‑rush world! But that’s how God works. If God has you shut up in some frustrating circumstances; and you have racked your brain trying to figure a way out, but nothing has worked; and you see the godless prospering while you suffer; and it seems like God is far away; hang on! Let God do His perfect work in you. He hasn’t forgotten you. Learn to wait on Him.

2. The Petition: Call to the Lord (13:3-4).

Do you know why many Christians do not grow to maturity and why they are not used by God in a mighty way? It’s because when God seems distant to them, instead of calling out to Him, they just shrug their shoulders, say “Oh, well,” and go back into the world. Or, they go buy the latest self-help book that promises to fix their problem, but it doesn’t help them to trust in God alone.

David didn’t do that. When God seemed distant, he called on Him to answer him. Instead of turning from God, he turned to Him. Instead of complaining to men about God, David complained to God about men. Matthew Henry wisely observes, “We should never allow ourselves to make any complaints but what are fit to be offered up to God and what drive us to our knees” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary [Revell], 3:282). Four lessons from 13:3-4:

A. OUR PRAYERS SHOULD BE CONCERNED FOR GOD’S GLORY, NOT JUST FOR OUR HAPPINESS.

David wasn’t just praying for deliverance so that he could escape from his problems and be happy. His fear was that the enemy would rejoice (v. 4). Since David was God’s anointed king, if he died at the hands of his enemies, it would make God look bad. God’s honor was tied up with David’s deliverance. If you profess, as David did, to trust in God alone, then your defeat becomes God’s defeat. To defend His own honor, God will defend you. So in a time of crisis, you can call out to God to rescue you, not just for your relief, but for God’s glory. God delights to honor such prayers.

B. WE MUST SEEK GOD ESPECIALLY WHEN HE SEEMS DISTANT.

David was sensitive to the presence of God in his life. If he lost the sense of God’s presence, he went after it with a holy fervor. The test of your faith is not when God’s presence is real, when you see God at work in your life. The real test of your faith is when God seems distant. Do you seek Him then? If you seek Him, you will find Him, but if you turn to the world or look for a quick fix for your problems without seeking God, you won’t find Him. Seek God especially when He seems distant.

C. WE MUST KEEP AN AWARENESS OF GOD AND THE ENEMY BEFORE US AT ALL TIMES.

Derek Kidner writes: “Awareness of God and the enemy is virtually the hallmark of every psalm of David; the positive and negative charge which produced the driving‑force of his best years” (Psalms [IVP], 1:78). We need to keep both realities before us as the factors which motivate us to holiness and put us on guard against sin. As Christians, the honor of our God is at stake through us. If we fail Him, the enemy will rejoice. Satan is trying to drag the name of our Savior through the mud by getting us to forsake the Lord or fall into sin. We need to keep God and His honor and the reality of our unseen, evil adversary before us at all times so that we will not disgrace our Lord.

Dr. Howard Hendricks said: “When you are doing what Jesus Christ has called you to do, you can count on two things‑‑and you can stake your life on it: you will possess spiritual power because you have the presence of Christ, and you’ll experience opposition because the devil does not concentrate on secondary targets. He never majors on the minor” (Leadership [Summer, 1980], p. 114).

D. GOD ALLOWS US TO COME TO THE END OF OURSELVES SO THAT WE MUST RELY ON HIM.

David was fearing for his life. For the Hebrews, “dim eyes” were a sign that the vital powers were growing dim and that death was approaching. Bright eyes were a sign of life. David calls out to God to enlighten his eyes, that is, to bring him from the brink of death back to life again.

The Apostle Paul said that he and his co-workers in the gospel “despaired even of life”; “we had the sentence of death within ourselves, in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:8-9). Sometimes God seems distant and allows us to go right to the brink, to come to the end of ourselves, so that we learn to trust Him more. Whatever their intensity, all trials are designed to bring us to a deeper trust in the Lord. If we dodge them without learning that lesson, we missed what God had for us. David came to that point of trust. Thus, we see that David’s problem led to his petition which led to his praise:

3. Praise: Trust in God’s unfailing love (13:5-6).

David has not yet been delivered, but he trusts in the lovingkindness (NIV = “unfailing love”) of God, and a calm assurance comes over him. His heart is filled with joy as he thinks of the deliverance which God will bring about. By faith, David counts God’s future deliverance as past and says, “I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me” (v. 6).

Please note that David’s circumstances had not changed one bit from the start of the psalm, when he felt confused, depressed, and forsaken by God. David was still hiding in caves; Saul was still on the throne, trying to kill David.

So what changed? David’s focus! From focusing on himself and his problems at the start of the psalm, David shifted his thoughts to God’s loyal love and salvation. That shift in focus moved him from confusion and depression to joy and praise!

It didn’t happen accidentally, either! “But I” (v. 5) is emphatic (in Hebrew) and points to David’s deliberate choice to rely on God’s loyal love. He chose to interpret his circumstances by God’s love rather than to interpret God’s love by his circumstances. In a time of trial, Satan tries to get us to doubt God’s love. But we have to resist that temptation and affirm with God’s Word that He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). With Joseph, we must affirm that even though those who wronged us meant it for evil, God meant it for ultimate good (Gen. 50:20). So we deliberately choose to trust in God’s loyal love.

This Hebrew word for trust has the nuance of relying or leaning upon someone or something. You ask, “Then is God a crutch?” Yes, and we’re cripples! One of the main reasons people do not trust God is that they’re too proud to admit their total need. Or they mistakenly think that they must earn God’s love. But His love does not stem from any merit on our part, but only from God’s nature. Thus it is pure grace, undeserved on our part. But since God’s love stems from His unchanging nature rather than from our feeble effort, we can trust in it.

Conclusion

The famous preacher, Charles Spurgeon, was walking through the English countryside with a friend. He noticed a barn with a weather vane. At the top of the vane were the words, “God is love.” Spurgeon remarked that this was an inappropriate place for such a message, because weather vanes are changeable, but God’s love is constant. But Spurgeon’s friend disagreed. “You misunderstood the meaning,” he said. “That weather vane is stating the truth that no matter which way the wind blows, God is love.”

When God seems distant, join David in deliberately trusting in God’s unfailing love, however the winds of circumstance are blowing. As David wrote in Psalm 103:11: “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” You can count on it, even when your circumstances seem contrary. He is only taking you through the difficulty to develop maturity and godly character. “But it’s been months! Years!” Yes, that’s the way He works. He builds things to last, and that takes time. But the finished product is so much better in quality than quick imitations that don’t develop trust in the living God.

If you are distant from God because of known sin, the answer is the same: Call out to Him and put your trust in His unfailing love as supremely demonstrated in the cross of Jesus Christ (John 3:16). He died as your substitute, taking the penalty you deserved. If you will flee to Him for refuge, He will never turn you away (John 6:37).

“What does the Bible say about Christian tithing? Should a Christian tithe?”

Many Christians struggle with the issue of tithing. In some churches giving is over-emphasized. At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the biblical exhortations about making offerings to the Lord. Tithing/giving is intended to be a joy and a blessing. Sadly, that is sometimes not the case in the church today.

Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the Law in which the Israelites were to give 10 percent of the crops they grew and the livestock they raised to the tabernacle/temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5). In fact, the Old Testament Law required multiple tithes—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the feasts, and one for the poor of the land—which would have pushed the total to around 23.3 percent. Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites in the sacrificial system.

The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends, that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. The New Testament nowhere designates a percentage of income a person should set aside, but only says gifts should be “in keeping with income” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some in the Christian church have taken the 10 percent figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving.

The New Testament talks about the importance and benefits of giving. We are to give as we are able. Sometimes that means giving more than 10 percent; sometimes that may mean giving less. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom in the matter of participating in tithing and/or how much to give (James 1:5). Above all, all tithes and offerings should be given with pure motives and an attitude of worship to God and service to the body of Christ. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/tithing-Christian.html#ixzz3D7y597zf

Embrace Wisdom


Proverbs 1

New International Version (NIV)

1 The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

2 for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior,
doing what is right and just and fair;
4 for giving prudence to those who are simple,[a]
knowledge and discretion to the young—
5 let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
6 for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.[b]

7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools[c] despise wisdom and instruction.

Prologue: Exhortations to Embrace Wisdom

Warning Against the Invitation of Sinful Men

8 Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction
and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
9 They are a garland to grace your head
and a chain to adorn your neck.

10 My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them.
11 If they say, “Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
let’s ambush some harmless soul;
12 let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
13 we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
14 cast lots with us;
we will all share the loot”—
15 my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;
16 for their feet rush into evil,
they are swift to shed blood.
17 How useless to spread a net
where every bird can see it!
18 These men lie in wait for their own blood;
they ambush only themselves!
19 Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain;
it takes away the life of those who get it.

Wisdom’s Rebuke

20 Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
21 on top of the wall[d] she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:

22 “How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
23 Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings.
24 But since you refuse to listen when I call
and no one pays attention when I stretch out my hand,
25 since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
26 I in turn will laugh when disaster strikes you;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.

28 “Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me,
29 since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the Lord.
30 Since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
31 they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
33 but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

1 Peter 5-Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

The Flock of God

5 Now I have something to say to the elders in your group. I am also an elder. I myself have seen Christ’s sufferings. And I will share in the glory that will be shown to us. I beg you to 2 take care of the group of people you are responsible for. They are God’s flock.[a] Watch over that flock because you want to, not because you are forced to do it. That is how God wants it. Do it because you are happy to serve, not because you want money. 3 Don’t be like a ruler over those you are responsible for. But be good examples to them. 4 Then when Christ the Ruling Shepherd comes, you will get a crown—one that will be glorious and never lose its beauty.

5 Young people, I have something to say to you too. You should accept the authority of the elders. You should all have a humble attitude in dealing with each other.

“God is against the proud,
but he is kind to the humble.”

6 So be humble under God’s powerful hand. Then he will lift you up when the right time comes. 7 Give all your worries to him, because he cares for you.

8 Control yourselves and be careful! The devil is your enemy, and he goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to attack and eat. 9 Refuse to follow the devil. Stand strong in your faith. You know that your brothers and sisters all over the world are having the same sufferings that you have.

10 Yes, you will suffer for a short time. But after that, God will make everything right. He will make you strong. He will support you and keep you from falling. He is the God who gives all grace. He chose you to share in his glory in Christ. That glory will continue forever. 11 All power is his forever. Amen.

Final Greetings

12 Silas will bring this letter to you. I know that he is a faithful brother in Christ. I wrote this short letter to encourage you. I wanted to tell you that this is the true grace of God. Stand strong in that grace.

13 The church in Babylon[b] sends you greetings. They were chosen just as you were. Mark, my son in Christ, also sends his greetings. 14 Give each other a special greeting[c] of love when you meet.

Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

Psalm 91- Gods Protection

You can go to God Most High to hide.
    You can go to God All-Powerful for protection.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my place of safety, my fortress.
    My God, I trust in you.”
3 God will save you from hidden dangers
    and from deadly diseases.
4 You can go to him for protection.
    He will cover you like a bird spreading its wings over its babies.
    You can trust him to surround and protect you like a shield.
5 You will have nothing to fear at night
    and no need to be afraid of enemy arrows during the day.
6 You will have no fear of diseases that come in the dark
    or terrible suffering that comes at noon.
7 A thousand people may fall dead at your side
    or ten thousand right beside you,
    but nothing bad will happen to you!
8 All you will have to do is watch,
    and you will see that the wicked are punished.
9 You trust in the Lord for protection.
    You have made God Most High your place of safety.
10 So nothing bad will happen to you.
    No diseases will come near your home.
11 He will command his angels to protect you wherever you go.
12 Their hands will catch you
    so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.
13 You will have power to trample on lions
    and poisonous snakes.
14 The Lord says, “If someone trusts me, I will save them.
    I will protect my followers who call to me for help.
15 When my followers call to me, I will answer them.
    I will be with them when they are in trouble.
    I will rescue them and honor them.
16 I will give my followers a long life
    and show them my power to save.”

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What I’m Learning About – Forgiveness

I listened quietly as my friend Jamie told me the frank details of the sexual abuse she’d suffered as a child.

“I hate my father!” she blurted out. “He abused me for more than a decade!” Jamie cried. “But my pastor said if I want to heal from my childhood pain, I have to forgive.”

“What did you tell your pastor?” I asked.

“I told him I could never forgive my father, that I didn’twant to forgive him, that no one—not even God—wouldexpect me to forgive him!”

Jamie told me all the reasons that kept her from forgiving her abusive father. I’d heard many of them before. In fact, I’d used some of them two years earlier, when a friend I’d trusted to keep a confidence told several women in my Sunday school class about a painful circumstance I was going through. I felt betrayed by my friend—as I should have. But forgiveher? That was the last thing I wanted to do! I dropped out of the Sunday school class and avoided her at church. But a year later, when I reread what the apostle Paul said about forgiveness, his familiar words touched my heart in a special way: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, my emphasis).

As I meditated on that verse, I knew I’d been forgiven much. I needed to forgive my friend, even if I didn’t feel like it. I decided to do so. Later, when I met her and told her I’d forgiven her, she apologized, and we both cried. I wish I could say she and I became good friends again—but I can’t. Her betrayal deeply hurt our friendship, and I was careful never to share another confidence with her. But God’s Word and my decision to forgive set me free from bitterness.

Facing the Challenge

Jamie and I are just two of a legion of Christian women who’ve struggled with forgiveness because it’s difficult—almost impossible—to do. Yet in Luke 6:37, Jesus says, “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” He elaborates in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” The apostle Paul repeats Jesus’ command: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13). Surely Paul’s “whatever grievances” covers any kind of hurt, betrayal, or injury another person could inflict!

In talking with hundreds of women about forgiveness, I’ve discovered six myths that keep us from the healing and freedom God desires for you and me.

Myth 1:

Forgiving means the offender didn’t really hurt you.Jamie thought if she forgave her father, it lessened the severity of his abuse. Yet Jamie’s forgiveness doesn’t deny her father hurt her. In fact, it clearly recognizes the enormity of his evil—if Jamie’s dad hadn’t deliberately caused her pain, she’d have no reason to forgive him.

“Forgiveness is a redemptive response to having been wronged and wounded,” wrote author Lewis B. Smedes. “Only those who have wronged and wounded us are candidates for forgiveness. If they injure us accidentally, we excuse them. We only forgive the ones we blame.” Choosing to forgive her father acknowledges the pain Jamie endured at his hands. It also begins her healing.

Myth 2:

Forgiving means you excuse the offender’s hurtful act. When I chose to forgive my friend, I didn’t condone her cruel behavior. Forgiveness, I’ve discovered, is a response that seeks to redeem the hurt, not brush it off. An accidental “slip of the tongue” needs no forgiveness because it isn’t deliberately caused. Intentional hurts—like my friend’s betrayal—need forgiveness. When I forgave my friend, my forgiveness didn’t lessen the impact of her painful action. But forgiveness unlocked my own “prison” of bitterness.

Myth 3:

Before forgiving, you must first understand why the offender hurt you. On December 1, 1997, Missy Jenkins, a sophomore at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, stood with her classmates and prayed before school started. Before they said their final “amen,” 14-year-old Michael Carneal pulled out a pistol and fired 11 shots into the student prayer group. One bullet severely damaged Missy’s spinal cord. Paralyzed from the waist down, Missy will spend her life in a wheelchair.

Missy doesn’t know the reason her classmate deliberately hurt her. Michael may not understand his reasons. But that didn’t keep Missy from choosing to forgive him.

“I believe hating him is wasted emotion,” Missy says. “Hating Michael won’t make me walk again. Besides, I know it isn’t what Jesus would do.”

Our human mind yearns to make all the confusing puzzle pieces fit together neatly before we forgive. However, the truth is we can forgive an offender even if we never discover the reasons for the inflicted pain. Author Philip Yancey writes in What’s So Amazing About Grace, “Not to forgive imprisons me in the past and locks out all potential for change. I thus yield control to another, my enemy, and doom myself to suffer the consequences of the wrong.”

Myth 4:

Before forgiving the offender, you must feel forgiving. Forgiveness has nothing to do with how you feel. You can feel hurt, betrayed, and angry, and still completely forgive the one who wounded you. Biblical forgiveness is an act of the will. It’s a choice you make.

Can you still feel angry after you forgive? Yes! Anger means you’re in touch with reality—it’s part of being human. But be careful to aim that anger at what your offender did, not at the offender herself. Then let your anger push you toward justice.

Myth 5:

Forgiving means the offender will face no consequences. When we choose to forgive someone, our forgiveness doesn’t “let him off the hook.” Forgiveness also doesn’t mean justice shouldn’t be served.

In December 1983, Pope John Paul II visited a prisoner, Mehmet Ali Agca, at the Rebibbia prison in Rome. In May 1981, Agca had aimed a pistol at the pope and shot him in the chest. After much pain and agony, John Paul recovered, and now he looked Agca in the eye, extended his hand, and said, “I forgive you.”

Even though the pope forgave him, Agca still faced the consequences of his crime. He served a lengthy prison sentence until he finally was released years later.

Myth 6:

When your offender is punished, you’ll find closure.On June 13, 1990, Linda Purnhagen saw her two daughters, Gracie, 16, and Tiffany, 9, for the last time. Dennis Dowthitt, a dangerously sick psychopath, strangled Tiffany to death, then raped Gracie and slit her throat. When authorities discovered the girls’ bodies, they arrested and convicted Dowthitt, and scheduled his execution.

A decade later, as executioners strapped him to his death gurney, Dowthitt apologized for the savage killings. But not even his confession, apology, and execution brought closure for Linda. She was disappointed after the execution, not relieved.

We think we can more easily forgive others if they confess the crime and apologize for the pain they caused. But don’t look to justice, imprisonment, or execution to bring needed closure and healing. Only forgiveness will do that.

The Choice to Forgive

The decision to forgive an offender is probably the hardest choice we can ever make. Some crimes seem too horrible to forgive. Our instincts tell us to avenge the person who caused us pain, not to release him from the debt he owes us. But as Christians, we can’t afford to have unforgiving hearts, for we have been greatly forgiven by God in Christ (Ephesians 4:32).

Only forgiveness can release us from a life of hatred and bitterness. “Forgiving is a journey, sometimes a long one,” wrote Lewis B. Smedes in Shame and Grace. “We may need some time before we get to the station of complete healing, but the nice thing is that we are being healed en route. When we genuinely forgive, we set a prisoner free and then discover the prisoner we set free was us.”

Denise George, www.authordenisegeorge.com, is the author of more than 20 books, including A Woman’s Right to Rest(Leafwood).

Forgiveness ABCs

Acknowledge the hurt. When someone deliberately hurts you, don’t try to diminish the pain and its effect on you. Acknowledge your suffering—and express it aloud to God. Scripture promises: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18), and “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Blame the offender. If a person hurts you by mistake, she didn’t mean to inflict pain, so she needs no forgiveness. But if a person intentionally hurts you, then the pain she caused was deliberate. Say aloud: “I personally blame you, (name of offender), because you hurt me on purpose.” Correctly placing the blame readies you to begin the forgiveness process.

Cancel the debt. You’ve acknowledged the hurt and rightly blamed the offender. Now you’re ready to make the willful decision to “cancel the debt” your offender owes you. Find a quiet place to be alone and ask the Lord’s help in forgiving the person who hurt you. You might pray the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13) and meditate on verse 12: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” After you’ve prayed and while you’re still alone, speak aloud your decision to forgive: “(Name of offender), I’ve chosen to forgive you for hurting me; I’ve decided to cancel the debt you owe me.” You’ve now embarked on the process of forgiving the person who hurt you. —D.G.

Copyright © by the author or Christianity Today/Today’s Christian Woman magazine.
Click here for reprint information on Today’s Christian Woman.
July/August 2006, Vol. 28, No. 4, Page 38

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James 1.

1 Greetings from James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To God’s people[a] who are scattered all over the world.

Faith and Wisdom

2 My brothers and sisters, you will have many kinds of trouble. But this gives you a reason to be very happy. 3 You know that when your faith is tested, you learn to be patient in suffering. 4 If you let that patience work in you, the end result will be good. You will be mature and complete. You will be all that God wants you to be.

5 Do any of you need wisdom? Ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to everyone. So he will give you wisdom. 6 But when you ask God, you must believe. Don’t doubt him. Whoever doubts is like a wave in the sea that is blown up and down by the wind. 7-8 People like that are thinking two different things at the same time. They can never decide what to do. So they should not think they will receive anything from the Lord.

True Riches

9 Believers who are poor should be glad that God considers them so important. 10 Believers who are rich should be glad when bad things happen that humble them. Their riches won’t keep them from disappearing as quickly as wildflowers. 11 As the sun rises and gets hotter, its heat dries up the plants, and the flowers fall off. The flowers that were so beautiful are now dead. That’s how it is with the rich. While they are still making plans for their business, they will die.

Temptation Does Not Come From God

12 Great blessings belong to those who are tempted and remain faithful! After they have proved their faith, God will give them the reward[b] of eternal life. God promised this to all people who love him. 13 Whenever you feel tempted to do something bad, you should not say, “God is tempting me.” Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone. 14 You are tempted by the evil things you want. Your own desire leads you away and traps you. 15 Your desire grows inside you until it results in sin. Then the sin grows bigger and bigger and finally ends in death.

16 My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be fooled about this. 17 Everything good comes from God. Every perfect gift is from him. These good gifts come down from the Father who made all the lights in the sky. But God never changes like the shadows from those lights. He is always the same. 18 God decided to give us life through the true message he sent to us. He wanted us to be the most important of all that he created.

Listening and Obeying

19 My dear brothers and sisters, always be more willing to listen than to speak. Keep control of your anger. 20 Anger does not help you live the way God wants. 21 So get rid of everything evil in your lives—every kind of wrong you do. Be humble and accept God’s teaching that is planted in your hearts. This teaching can save you.

22 Do what God’s teaching says; don’t just listen and do nothing. When you only sit and listen, you are fooling yourselves.23 Hearing God’s teaching and doing nothing is like looking at your face in the mirror 24 and doing nothing about what you saw. You go away and immediately forget how bad you looked. 25 But when you look into God’s perfect law that sets people free, pay attention to it. If you do what it says, you will have God’s blessing. Never just listen to his teaching and forget what you heard.

The True Way to Worship God

26 You might think you are a very religious person. But if your tongue is out of control, you are fooling yourself. Your careless talk makes your offerings to God worthless. 27 The worship that God wants is this: caring for orphans or widows who need help and keeping yourself free from the world’s evil influence. This is the kind of worship that God accepts as pure and good.