confesses

Dear friends, don’t believe every spirit. Test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets have gone into the world. This is how you know if a spirit comes from God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come as a human is from God, and every spirit that doesn’t confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and is now already in the world. You are from God, little children, and you have defeated these people because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world. So they speak from the world’s point of view and the world listens to them. We are from God. The person who knows God listens to us. Whoever is not from God doesn’t listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 John 4:1-6, CEB)

Ok, this seems to be straightforward, if they confess that Jesus came from God then they are true, but if they don’t confess Jesus is from God then they are false.

But people confess Jesus is from God and say LGBTQIA+ are damned and others confess Jesus is from God and say all of God’s people are included, including those on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. So who is actually true and who is false? They can not both be right.

You see this verse was written to a community in a time when it was straightforward. Jesus was either from God or not and that was the determination of true and false prophet, but now the waters have muddied and there needs to be another test.

What is that test?

Love. I believe the test is love. If you read and speak of a way to love all of creation and help the world see the love they have available then you are a true prophet. If you read and speak of ways that keep people out, then that is not love.

Love God and Love Neighbor. Period. And that test tells true or false.

Loving People. Loving God.

old religion

“I came to cast fire upon the earth. How I wish that it was already ablaze! I have a baptism I must experience. How I am distressed until it’s completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, I have come instead to bring division. From now on, a household of five will be divided—three against two and two against three. Father will square off against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Jesus also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud forming in the west, you immediately say, ‘It’s going to rain.’ And indeed it does. And when a south wind blows, you say, ‘A heat wave is coming.’ And it does. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret conditions on earth and in the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret the present time? (Luke 12:49-56, CEB)

What does Jesus mean he came to cast fire upon the earth and he wishes it was already ablaze? Is this the fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? Did that actually help?

Jesus says that family will be against family because some will follow Jesus and some will follow religion.

We can see how the weather will be but we can not see how society is and how God needs us to be. Are we really ablaze with the Holy Spirit or are we stuck in our old religion?

Loving People. Loving God.

The reader should understand this

“When you see the disgusting and destructive thing that Daniel talked about standing in the holy place (the reader should understand this), then those in Judea must escape to the mountains. Those on the roof shouldn’t come down to grab things from their houses. Those in the field shouldn’t come back to grab their clothes. How terrible it will be at that time for women who are pregnant and for women who are nursing their children. Pray that it doesn’t happen in winter or on the Sabbath day. There will be great suffering such as the world has never before seen and will never again see. If that time weren’t shortened, nobody would be rescued. But for the sake of the ones whom God chose, that time will be cut short. “Then if somebody says to you, ‘Look, here’s the Christ,’ or ‘He’s over here,’ don’t believe it. False christs and false prophets will appear, and they will offer great signs and wonders in order to deceive, if possible, even those whom God has chosen. Look, I’ve told you ahead of time. So if they say to you, ‘Look, he’s in the desert,’ don’t go out. And if they say, ‘Look, he’s in the rooms deep inside the house,’ don’t believe it. Just as the lightning flashes from the east to the west, so it will be with the coming of the Human One. (Matthew 24:15-27, CEB)

I love that parenthetical part, the reader should understand this.

Should being the key word there. The reference is to scripture, and if the person reading this has knowledge of Daniel they will have an understanding of what the writer of Matthew means. But isn’t that really the case in all of scripture? If you have an understanding of the Hebrew Scripture, the New Testament is easier to understand. But we also need an understanding of the context of the day to really understand the scriptures. So much is wrapped up in the passages we just read and quote and use to keep people in check.

The Bible was written to help us understand how much God loves us and how we should love the world God created. Does the reader understand this?

Loving People. Loving God.

Hold fast

But remember the earlier days, after you saw the light. You stood your ground while you were suffering from an enormous amount of pressure. Sometimes you were exposed to insults and abuse in public. Other times you became partners with those who were treated that way. You even showed sympathy toward people in prison and accepted the confiscation of your possessions with joy, since you knew that you had better and lasting possessions. So don’t throw away your confidence—it brings a great reward. You need to endure so that you can receive the promises after you do God’s will. In a little while longer, the one who is coming will come and won’t delay; but my righteous one will live by faith, and my whole being won’t be pleased with anyone who shrinks back. But we aren’t the sort of people who timidly draw back and end up being destroyed. We’re the sort of people who have faith so that our whole beings are preserved. (Hebrews 10:32-39, CEB)

Do not let the passing of time take you from holding fast to what you have known and know to be true.

Follow God and be prepared to give up everything for the love God has given you to share with the world. Know our timing is not God’s timing and all will happen when God needs/wants it to.

Do not lose heart, but hold fast and love the world.

Loving People. Loving God.

Sin

If we make the decision to sin after we receive the knowledge of the truth, there isn’t a sacrifice for sins left any longer. There’s only a scary expectation of judgment and of a burning fire that’s going to devour God’s opponents. When someone rejected the Law from Moses, they were put to death without mercy on the basis of the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think is deserved by the person who walks all over God’s Son, who acts as if the blood of the covenant that made us holy is just ordinary blood, and who insults the Spirit of grace? We know the one who said, Judgment is mine; I will pay people back. And he also said, The Lord will judge his people. It’s scary to fall into the hands of the living God! (Hebrews 10:26-31, CEB)

This passage is interesting. It shows us that God is scary. I mean the last line is, “It’s scary to fall into the hands of the living God!”

But honestly who would choose to not be in the presence of God once you were? Well actually that is a silly question because all of us would say not me, but we all do choose to not be there when we put our own desires above those of God.

If we choose our own desires, or fulfill our wishes and get what we want, that is sin and we have made a decision to remove ourselves from the presence of God.

Let us so focus our lives on God and the love we have received that we see that following and fulfilling God’s will is the best thing for us and for all of the world.

Loving People. Loving God.

Integrity

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for everyone?” The Lord replied, “Who are the faithful and wise managers whom the master will put in charge of his household servants, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy are the servants whom the master finds fulfilling their responsibilities when he comes. I assure you that the master will put them in charge of all his possessions. “But suppose that these servants should say to themselves, My master is taking his time about coming. And suppose they began to beat the servants, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk. The master of those servants would come on a day when they weren’t expecting him, at a time they couldn’t predict. The master will cut them into pieces and assign them a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but didn’t prepare for it or act on it will be beaten severely. The one who didn’t know the master’s will but who did things deserving punishment will be beaten only a little. Much will be demanded from everyone who has been given much, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked. (Luke 12:41-48, CEB)

Integrity is one of my favorite words. I was told by a friend once that people seem to have issues with people of integrity because they always say what they mean and mean what they say and they are always the same no matter who they are with.

People are used to people being two-faced and saying one thing to one group and something else to another group. I have always found this tedious. Plus I can’t possibly remember everything I have said. So if I always tell the truth and live by integrity then I don’t need to remember what I told someone, because it is what I would tell everyone.

We should not live one way at church and another throughout the week.

God sees everything, and everything will be revealed.

Be a person of integrity.

Loving People. Loving God.

By faith

By faith Abraham offered Isaac when he was tested. The one who received the promises was offering his only son. He had been told concerning him, Your legitimate descendants will come from Isaac. He figured that God could even raise him from the dead. So in a way he did receive him back from the dead. By faith Isaac also blessed Jacob and Esau concerning their future. By faith Jacob blessed each of Joseph’s sons as he was dying and bowed in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph recalled the exodus of the Israelites at the end of his life, and gave instructions about burying his bones. By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months when he was born, because they saw that the child was beautiful and they weren’t afraid of the king’s orders. By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter when he was grown up. He chose to be mistreated with God’s people instead of having the temporary pleasures of sin. He thought that the abuses he suffered for Christ were more valuable than the treasures of Egypt, since he was looking forward to the reward. By faith he left Egypt without being afraid of the king’s anger. He kept on going as if he could see what is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, in order that the destroyer could not touch their firstborn children. (Hebrews 11:17-28, CEB)

When we read passages like this from the Bible and we see all of the great things that others have done, we wonder, or at least I wonder, have I really done anything by faith?

And the answer to that is yes, we have all done something by faith. We stepped out when we had no idea what would happen or how things would go trusting that the timing was right. God helped us trust that God was with us and even in the uncertainty the thing we were doing was the right thing at that moment.

So walk by faith and know that God is always with you and love the world.

Loving People. Loving God.

Faith

Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith. By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible. By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice to God than Cain, which showed that he was righteous, since God gave approval to him for his gift. Though he died, he’s still speaking through faith. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he didn’t see death, and he wasn’t found because God took him up. He was given approval for having pleased God before he was taken up. It’s impossible to please God without faith because the one who draws near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards people who try to find him. By faith Noah responded with godly fear when he was warned about events he hadn’t seen yet. He built an ark to deliver his household. With his faith, he criticized the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes from faith. (Hebrews 11:1-7, CEB)

Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see.

Do you believe the wind exists?

Have you ever seen the wind?

I have never seen the wind. I have seen the effects of the wind but I have never seen the wind. I have also never seen oxygen but I know it exists.

Sometimes we just need to trust that something is.
Sometimes we just need to believe that something is.
Sometimes we just need to have faith that something is.

In the Greek πιστος is the word for faith, and for trust, and for believe.

I have never seen the wind or God, but I have seen the effect of both, and that for me is enough to have faith that God and the wind are real.

Loving People. Loving God.

Treasure and heart

“Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights in giving you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to those in need. Make for yourselves wallets that don’t wear out—a treasure in heaven that never runs out. No thief comes near there, and no moth destroys. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be too. “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps lit. Be like people waiting for their master to come home from a wedding celebration, who can immediately open the door for him when he arrives and knocks on the door. Happy are those servants whom the master finds waiting up when he arrives. I assure you that, when he arrives, he will dress himself to serve, seat them at the table as honored guests, and wait on them. Happy are those whom he finds alert, even if he comes at midnight or just before dawn. But know this, if the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he wouldn’t have allowed his home to be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Human One is coming at a time when you don’t expect him.” (Luke 12:32-40, CEB)

Where your heart is there your treasure will be…

That isn’t how the verse is above.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be too. If you show me your checkbook, I will tell you what had your heart.

Where is your treasure? We say when we join the church that we will see how this goes and then we will give. But I tell you if you truly do as this passage says and give everything away and trust in God, your heart will be so into what God has for you your life will be abundantly better than you could ever imagine.

Loving People. Loving God.

Where?

“Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how terrible that darkness will be! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. (Matthew 6:19-24, CEB)

This is an interesting passage. Jesus ends it with, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” I have always said that if you show me your checkbook register I can tell you what your treasure is. Money is not a god to worship but is a tool. It helps us acquire things but is not something that can rule our lives unless we let it.

If you are serving wealth and trying to collect treasures for yourself, know that you can’t take it with you. You came into this world naked with nothing and that is how you leave, well maybe not naked, but with nothing. He who dies with the most toys dies. That is not winning.

Focus your life on God and use money to help get the message of Love to the world.

Loving People. Loving God.