Pot calling the kettle black

I'm doing something I rarely do here. I'm copying my column from Studylight.org here on my blog. I do that when I feel very strongly about something. Early in January something happened that illustrates Satan's tactics against biblical principles.

Prejudice vilifying prejudice is the same as the pot calling the kettle black.

A man, former fire chief of Atlanta Kelvin Cochran, was fired from his job. He's black. He's a Christian. He wrote a book. Which one of those things do you think prompted the mayor to fire him?

Here in Mississippi a person can be fired for absolutely no reason at all. I know because I experienced that. Only God knows what the real reason was. I think it was because I was perceived as a threat to the passage of the sale of alcohol within the city limits (our county is a dry county). I stood my ground. I was quoted in the newspaper. I know the Bible does not teach against alcohol consumption, only against the gluttonous misuse of it. I know you cannot regulate moral values. The discussion was deeply complicated, however my point is that because of my biblical convictions I stood in someone's way. A person who wanted alcohol sales within city limits happened to be in a position to get me fired, which he did. Or it could have been because he hated Jesus in me. Only God knows.

Cochran wrote a book about his Christian views on marriage, the biblical principles of marriage. The mayor claimed that his views caused rifts and hardships, and strained relations with practicing homosexuals within the city's fire department and city personnel.

Let me share some of Cochran's thoughts about it
This experience has taught me that there are worldly consequences for publicly standing for righteousness. But I stand before you to say that the kingdom consequences are far greater and more glorious than the worldly consequences.
 To that end, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters in Christ, let me emphasize that this event is not just about Kelvin J. Cochran. This event is to raise attention and awareness to every American that freedom of speech and freedom of religion are under attack. As Christians we have to fight the good fight of faith to preserve these cherished protections. We cannot allow our divisions by denomination, race, political party, or geography to continue to weaken the collective voice of the body of Christ. The power that works within us can and will make a difference. You can see that video here.
Openly homosexual, city councilman Alex Wan said, When you're a city employee, and [your] thoughts, beliefs and opinions are different from the city's, you have to check them at the door.

How ironic that Mr. Wan said personal beliefs and opinions should be checked at the door, but was quite vocal in his approval of the firing of the Chief for the perceived belief that the Chief was causing strife within the ranks! This is classic example of Satan's tactics. Using prejudice to vilify supposed intolerance while expecting tolerance.

I'm outraged, but not surprised. It's only going to get worse brothers and sisters. We are facing the beginnings of persecutions. But the persecution is against Jesus and those who love Him, not against the  false religions of the world. Satan knows his time is short and the Bible warns us that his anger fans to white hot fury against Christians of this world. He'll use any means he can to circumvent God's plan.

Take heart. God is never thwarted. He is the Creator of the universe. Consequences will happen when we hold firm to our biblical principles, and when we speak out against society's version of truth and sin, which are blatant lies of the Father of Lies. God always wins and always receives the glory. It is our purpose. We reflect that glory right back at God Himself.

Something crucial bubbles to the top here. How many of us would have ever known the name of the fire chief of Atlanta if he 1) was not a Christian, and 2) did not write a Christian worldview book on marriage, and 3) did not get fired?

God's purpose is clear here. He uses good things and things Satan intends for evil to promote His truths.

How can Christians do any differently that Kelvin Cochran?

The Seven Crowns We Receive

I did a lot more digging using the Hebrew and Greek lexicons. Then, I taught this study to my Thursday Morning Bible Study class. Wow! When I updated it with more in depth research you won't believe what I found. There are more than 7 crowns that we receive. Isn't that amazing? There's several crowns of the same type, but of different kinds. There is also a crown of insolence... and yes, Christians can wear this crown.

This has been such a popular post, I decided to use my updated notes and write a book.

It isn't long, and it isn't expensive. It will be available for your eReader, and in paperback very soon. Be looking for it here and on Amazon.com It will be available in other places, too. I hope you will seriously consider purchasing the book. Beside helping me pay bills, it will help me to buy things for my two grandbabies that I have been praying to appear for more than six years! God is so very good all the time!!!


Paul was very fond of using The Race as an analogy for the Christian Lifestyle. To the Corinthians, he espoused this theme pointing to the victorious receiving a crown of corruption. That was a wreath of leaves of laurel which would soon wither. It wasn’t the crown that the runner coveted, it was the victory.. The crown was the proof of victory, but lasted for such a short time. Paul immediately points out that our crowns are incorruptible, lasting forever, being the proof of victory of Christian living. With this in mind, we'll be studying the crowns we receive as Believers.

I have heard studies on “the five crowns” we receive, but there actually are seven crowns. Two of those crowns we have already received and we wear them daily.
In order to have a complete Biblical study on crowns, one must always include the Old Testament in the search. Also, in order to get the broad picture, we should use the lexicons (I use the ones located at Studylight.org.)

So we click on the Hebrew, and when that lexicon opens, we then type in the word “crown” under the search feature.  Voila! All the words translated crown appear. Here is the point that can get tricky. It is very easy to get distracted when discovering the different ways the word is translated and where it is used that particular way. The first instance where it is used other than the physical crown, is in Numbers 6.

Crown of Separation – the word is actually translated separation and is the Hebrew word nezer which means consecration, crown, separation. Looking closely at Numbers 6:8 we see All the days of his separation he is holy to the LORD. It could also be termed our Crown of Holiness. We are of God. He has transformed us through Christ's blood sacrifice into a holy people.

I know, I can hear you saying, “But that says separation!” Yes, it does. In order to make the correlation, look at what the word nezer means. It is translated crown and is used in describing the Nazarite. When we correlate this verse with one written by Peter in the New Testament, we see something amazing. 1 Peter 2:9  But you are a special people, a holy nation, priests and kings, a people given up completely to God, so that you may make clear the virtues of him who took you out of the dark into the light of heaven. Peter is talking about God setting us aside as peculiar people, special by divine design as well as divine purpose. The next crown we discover is just as intriguing and hard to pick out unless we continue using the Hebrew lexicon.

Crown of Protection is found in Psalm 5:12 translated surround. The Hebrew word is  âṭar  and it is a primitive root meaning to encircle as for attack or protection, especially to crown either figuratively or literally. The verse reads, For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield. This verse tells us many things, for one God is all powerful and it is He who is our protection which is a blessing reserved for the righteous person. How assuring that promise is.

Therefore, the first two crowns are ones that we receive immediately upon being transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Just as He is our engagement ring, our seal of betrothal, He is also our shield of protection and our crown of holiness, separation from this world. He is our worldly dirt repellant and shield of grace.

Crown of Incorruptibility – Is found in 1 Corinthians 9:25  And everyone who strives for the mastery is temperate in all things. Then those truly that they may receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. This could also be called the Crown of Victory. Just as the first two crowns, this crown is given to every Believer. It is the mark of finishing the race of Christian living which is victory over death and sin through Christ who achieved that victory for us. It is everlasting and will never tarnish eternally sparkling and shining reflecting the glory of Christ our king.

Crown of Rejoicing is found in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 – For what is our hope or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are you not even to be in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? 20  For you are our glory and joy. The victor of the race had a crown as proof of  his victory, Paul had the churches he had established, then supported with his letters and visits which reflected God’s glory and is a matter of much rejoicing. This crown is reserved for evangelists, missionaries, seekers of lost souls and those who bring the lost to Jesus to be saved. These do not seek glory for themselves, but consistently reflect God's glory and constantly give Him glory.

Crown of Righteousness is found in 2 Timothy 4:8 Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that Day; and not to me only, but also to all those who love His appearing. The Crown of Righteousness is given strictly to all who are saved because all who love Jesus’ coming are saved. Those who fear His coming or despise Him are not saved and will get the Lake of Fire, not this crown. The Crown of Righteousness will be worn into the 1,000 years of peace. Each person who believes God's testimony concerning His Son will receive this crown.

Crown of Life James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation, because having been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. This is the crown that goes to those children of God who have endured the trials and temptations, learning the lessons God has set before them. Also see Rev 2:10 This is the crown that goes to those who endure many things and do not waver in their faith. Their faith has been tested and it has been proven Sincere. They love God, and they trust God. We all experience times when we suffer doubt or when we ask out loud, “Where is God?” That is not questioned here. The Crown of Life is the proof of surviving the trials, temptations and tribulations of life. Those that are common to man and those that are allowed by God in order to strengthen our Spiritual Muscles. If we did not suffer trials, our Spiritual muscles would be flabby and unable to support the skeleton of our faith. We must exercise our muscles for a healthy body and the same holds true for our souls.

Crown of Glory 1Peter 5:2 ...to the Elders... 2Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight, not by compulsion, but willingly; nor eagerly for base gain, but readily; 3 nor as exercising lordship over the ones allotted to you, but becoming examples of the flock. 4 And at the appearing of the Chief Shepherd, you will receive the never fading crown of glory. The Crown of Glory is reserved for those who are the backbone of the church, the elders, pastors, teachers and those who are above reproach in guiding the Bride of Christ. (See 1 Peter 5:1)

Here is the exhortation, that we should always be working, using our gifts toward the edification of the body. When we set on a pew hatching nothing, then we will never receive this crown. However, when we utilize the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows upon us at the very instant we are saved, then we can look forward to this crown.

What will we do with these crowns, all these rewards we receive? Rev 4:10 says that we will throw them at His feet and glorify Him. Our job here on earth is to labor and be ready for His glorious coming.

Something sadly wrong at Duke University

Political correctness gone amuck! So says Dr. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church-Dallas
was interviewed today on Fox & Friends about this decision by Duke University to amplify and broadcast from the tower the Muslim call to prayer for three minutes each week.

Wait! I see red flags waving all over the place!

I think it is worse than that. This school was started by unashamed, unabashed Christians for Christian theological studies, and even now closely affiliated with the Methodist Church.

Now the officials of the school want to "accommodate trends in the national religious circles." Pooh! It is a complete lack of good judgment and sense. Satisfying trends is like trying to adopt all the goofy fashions that most designers try to faust off on unsuspecting and gullible people. There is a reason that the fashion world uses the word trends. It's a fad, it's a passing fancy. What's bought last year is out of date this year so one must go purchase what's trending this year. It's how people get people to buy into stupid stuff.

Political correctness is how the Muslim mosques rose in number from 11 to more than 1100 in England in a short decade. It is how there are now several No Go zones in Paris that are not safe at all for even policemen. It is how policemen in France were stripped of any kind of guns to protect themselves and law abiding citizens.

This inch-by-inch encroachment is subtle. Soon America will have Islamic No Go zones, we already have more than enough mosques. We are now on the precipice of a terrible, slippery slope. A good gust of wind will knock us over the edge. It may just been an amplified call to prayer to a demon god disguised as the Father of Lights. Beware America, beware!

Addendum: Late yesterday afternoon Duke University retracted their plan to amplify the call to prayer once a week. It seems they suddenly realized how insensitive it was to "celebrate" Muslim at the time France is reeling from the Islam terrorist attack.

Discovery Channel's "Naked and Afraid"

I used to watch Discovery Channel all the time, and I thought it was very educational. My nephew preferred watching it over cartoons when he was 7 years old! He learned a lot and taught me a lot. I was banned to the bedroom TV when I wanted to watch it when football was on.

But today, I don't watch that channel. One show in particular that is offensive is Naked and Afraid.

This show has two people stripped of any clothing dropped into some wilderness and they have to survive without clothing, food, or other gear for days. Discovery Channel thinks this is good fare to be shown in late afternoon rather than delegated to an older viewership after 9PM. Showing this much skin in this kind of desperate, survival situation is soft porn, and should be recognized as such by all parents.

What are they thinking? It's bad enough that other nations around the world think nothing of foul language and soft porn in their TV viewing as well as commercials, but why does America have to follow suit? Where is our sense of decency these days? We have become a broken bridge for our children!

Paul told Timothy that in the end times people would be addicted to lust and allergic to God, and that is exactly what is happening. When I think things couldn't possibly get worse, they do. Things get worse in such sick, graphic, and smutty ways.

Christians have become desensitized to foulness. The problem is that there is no way to give back a child's innocence when it is taken away by shows such as this. Will we every wake up?

I cry out to God, "How long, Lord? How long must we sit in this squalor that has become our once proud, Christian nation?"

$42.5 million goes to Colorado State for stem cell research

The story does not explain what kind of stem cells. If it is from the umbilical cords, then hip-hip-hoorah. But if it is those essential stem cells that are procured from embryos, then they are the biggest losers of all time.

This is my granddaughter's heartbeat at barely 4 weeks.
To harvest a stem cell from an embryo, one must murder the embryo. According to Prolife Physicians.org, the classification of what makes life had to be defined, categorized and agreed upon in order to know if life—or the evidence of it—was found on another planet. According to the elementary definition of life (found at the link provided), this categorizes embryos as Life and harvesting the stem cells from the embryos is then categorized as murder.

To date there have been zero, nada, no cures developed from embryonic stem cell research. However, President Barack Obama revoked Bush’s order  in 2009. It is sad that the words “responsible” and “human embryo stem cell research” are in this Executive Order which negates what Bush did. Now  the FDA approves embryonic stem cell treatment for spinal injury.

The problem with this is that treatment for spinal cord injuries that have proven somewhat effective are from bone marrow stem cells not embryonic stem cells.
Stem cell treatment, using Beike’s cord mesenchymal stem cells and protocols for spinal cord injuries, is available at various hospitals in China and one in Thailand. Generally, many patients have reported improvements soon after treatment, and continue to notice more improvements for up to 12 months following the stem cell transplants.

Back in 2005 Byron Spice of the Pittsburg Gazette reported that scientists have now found cells that are “strikingly similar to embryonic stem cells in their ability to regenerate a wide variety of tissues.” They are cells found in the placenta. Since then stem cells have been found in the umbilical cord. Why must we use embryo stem cells? What makes them so much better than these other stem cells? The cells, called amniotic epithelial cells, (try pronouncing that, I dare you)potentially could be used to produce new liver cells to treat liver failure, or new pancreatic islet cells to cure diabetes or new neurons to treat Parkinson's disease. – Pittsburg Gazette, 2005

I am going to try not to sound sarcastic here. If anyone had bothered to ask me several years ago, I would have told them that there is no way God would have created a cure for anything that would require the death of another human. God just does not work that way, except only once and that was the death of His only Son to secure the life of all Believers which was on a Spiritually higher plane than mere physical healing. Other than that one instance, God does not take the lives of innocents to save other human lives. Therefore He would not grant a cure for any disease at the sacrifice of a human being's life.

Struggling with wickedness

Ever wonder why the wicked seem to prosper so well while we struggle with all kinds of things?
I did.
Jeremiah did, too, he writes 12:1  Righteous are You, O LORD, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?  It is a terrible question. Can you imagine what it would be like to have God far from your reins? We don't have to look very far to see examples of what happens when authority and restraint are far from our reins.
A more explicit example is found in Romans 1:18-32.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 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, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their 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. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.
I shudder at those verses. What would it be like for God to just let go and let you have your own way? Just like children need boundaries, and actually beg for boundaries, so do we Christians. It is how we stay sane, how we stay close to God, how we stay clean. God created order from chaos which gives us our equilibrium.
The wicked may prosper but nothing is done in the dark that will not be found out. God has blessed me by letting me see the wicked be found out. Oh, not all of them, just a few, but enough for me to know that they do not prosper forever.
So what if the wicked prosper until they die? They will not prosper after death. Some of us will just have to wait until the Day of Judgment to see some of the wicked receive justice. That will be so horrendous, though, it will mean that they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire. I don't care what anyone has done to me... fired me... manufactured evidence against me... betrayed me with other women... thrown me out of house and home... rejected me... spit upon me... called me all manner of things and even prayed to God for evil to befall me... None of that is worth eternal torment. I would not wish that on any person.
Have mercy, Lord. Have mercy on me and on those who revile me and reject me. Draw them close Father and pour Your Spirit over them, Father for they know not what they do. Open their eyes, Father to what they do. Make them see. Give them compassion, for they shall surely die without You.
All of that wickedness is merely temporary. The sting of losing a job only lasted until I was employed again. Admittedly, it took a lot longer to forgive my husband who betrayed me, but I don’t grind my teeth at night anymore. The other things were sword stabs, and they wounded, but not mortally. God is the great Healer. When all the attacks against our person and our spirit from wickedness whether from Satan or from other Christians are measured against how huge God is, the seeming mountain becomes a mole hill. They last no longer than the time it takes for water to pour out of the hand.
Thank goodness God is in control of believers’ lives. Why should we want Him in complete control?
Job 38 has a huge list of things that God did.
Job 38:4 Where were you when I founded the earth? Declare if you know understanding. 
Not even a twinkle in my daddy's eye! I do not understand how God spoke and brought the universe from nothing.
Job 38:5 Who has set its dimensions, do you know? Or who has stretched a line on it? 
Oh... yes! God stretched a line around the earth's middle and we can see it from space. Job didn't have the faintest notion what the line meant. He could not see the "big picture" that we can see by turning on NASA channel.
Job 38:6 On what were its bases sunk? Or who cast its cornerstone, 7 when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 
Ummm... Nothing? Well, not exactly nothing. We know all about gravity and how it interacts with mass and how motion has a lot to do with positioning in space. Job was a herdsman, albeit very rich, but he did not have a PhD from MIT. We humans know the answer to this question, even learned it in 11th grade science class or in physics class, but knowing it doesn't give us greater insight to God's personality.
Job 38:8  Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it burst out; it came forth from the womb? 
Lots of archeology evidence of the Great Flood. Lots of historical accounts of it dating before Moses. So, therefore, Moses must have copied the story from other sources, right? No, not, nada.
Job 38:9  When I made the clouds to clothe it, and darkness its navel-band; 10  and I broke My limit on it and set bars and doors; 11  and I said, You shall come to here, but no further; and here your proud waves shall be set?
Tides, ebbs, moon's gravitational pull. Science explains to us what God means by bars and doors and waves being set. It is only from other forces such as earthquakes that the waves set is pushed back beyond the normal high tide. But there is a door and a bar where the water cannot go beyond. Only God did that.
Job 38:12  Have you commanded the morning from your days, and caused the dawn to know its place, 
We have pictures from space of the dawn/dusk boundaries, and the boundaries of the seas, the cloud covering, the "navel-band" of darkness. But not even the strength of every living soul on earth can keep the sun from rising or the earth from rotating.
We have pictures from 4 miles under the ocean's surface that depict mountains and trenches of the seabed, and indeed man has walked the ocean's depths... but only recently.
We still cannot comprehend the hugeness of earth. We compare how "small" it is compared to how "large" Saturn and Jupiter are, and we compare how "small" they are to the vastness of the Sun. Can we truly comprehend how big earth is?
In the pictures from space only 200 miles from the earth's surface, a human being cannot be discerned, and cities look like splashes of light.
And yet, of all the things God created, He loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believed on Him would never perish, but would have life eternal. Since Man is like the grass of the field, green and lush today then dry and burned tomorrow, the wicked only prosper for a flash of time. Too bad they cannot store their riches in Heaven where it will neither rust nor dissipate like fog.

Warnings to Christians about unbelievers

We should definitely be wary of the wolf in sheep's clothing. The great pretender is Satan who tries to disguise himself as an angel of light, but is actually the darkness and depths of the pit.

There are many who do profess Jesus, but who do not posses Him and the Holy Spirit does not indwell them. They are those who pretend to be in the body of Christ, but who are people that Christ does not recognize. (This is not to say that these people will never know Christ, just that the wickedness they commit and stir up only produces rotten fruit.)

1 Corinthians 13 is the Christian plumb line. It is a description of agape kind of love which only comes from the Father and is gifted to us to pour out on others as we become more and more full of the Holy Spirit. Agape is active and is quite literally, love in action. Which is why Peter had such a hard time understanding what Jesus was asking in His question, "Peter, do you love Me?" Jesus was talking about full-blown love displayed by the action of feeding His sheep. Peter was insisting that He loved Jesus Himself, and Jesus wanted Peter's proof of love with actions.

Hebrew 3:12 Watch out, brothers, so that there won't be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God.

This is a warning to Christians to keep their congregations pure from the world. Because of several other verses... Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled [clean] from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

Where does the true heart come from? Only from God. Man cannot achieve it alone.

Psalm 17:3 You have tested my heart; You have visited by night; You have tried me and found nothing [evil]; I have determined that my mouth will not sin. [Or [evil]; my mouth will not sin] David claims God found nothing evil in his heart after searching it... yet, David did commit adultery. The lust in his heart for Bathsheba was not always there. David should have been with his army fighting that battle instead of reclining by the fire and eating bonbons. But there is one thing to cling to 1 Samuel 15:13 So Samuel took the horn of oil, anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the LORD took control of David from that day forward. The black sins of murder and adultery were events in David's choices, but they do not define him. David was the apple of God's eye.

But David still sinned with Bathsheba. David still prayed for God to keep him safe from evil. Psalm 141:4 Do not let my heart turn to any evil thing or wickedly perform reckless acts with men who commit sin. Do not let me feast on their delicacies. It is only the foolish that live godlessly and the wicked that God hates. Prov 3:32 for the devious are detestable to the LORD, but He is a friend to the upright. Isaiah 32:6 6 For a fool speaks foolishness and his mind plots iniquity. He lives in a godless way and speaks falsely about the LORD. He leaves the hungry empty and deprives the thirsty of drink.

Another example of a warning to believers against unbelievers in their midst is the letter to Pergamum 14 But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place a stumbling block in front of the sons of Israel: to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. 15 In the same way, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent! Otherwise, I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword of My mouth. Them, not you. Interesting.

An example of warning to unbelievers is the letter to Laodicea. 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. I believe this is to unbelievers because according to Jesus and the writers of the New Testament, the Holy Spirit lives within us and He becomes one with us (John 17) and in doing so, God creates a completely new creature. 2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things [Other mss read look, all new things] have come. Galatians 6:15 For [ Other mss add in Christ Jesus] both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; [what matters] instead is a new creation. To spew out of the mouth means that it never went to the stomach. It was intimate, but the relationship never developed into full agape love.

This letter also says that these people are naked, blind and poor even though they do not know it. Believers are not naked. Matt 22:11 And the king having come in to view those reclining, saw there a man not clothed with clothing of the marriage-feast, 2 Cor 5:3 if so be that, having clothed ourselves, we shall not be found naked. There are lots of verses that describe Believers as rich and as having Spiritual 20/20 vision and discernment.

Jesus says He will spew them out of His mouth. What we have here is a warning to the pretend Christians. Those who go to church and go through the motions of being Christian, who live a public life beyond reproach but their hearts are black with sin, never being circumcised and therefore insensitive to the Holy Spirit, even perhaps insensitive to their own conscience. They are absolutely miserable, and don't know why they are miserable. They think because they are wealthy according to the world's standards and go to church, they are saved.

Not so.

It is these black hearts that we must be wary against because they live a make-believe righteousness that is sickening to God. These are the misguided ones and can cause quite a bit of strife amongst God's children.

5 Ways to Give Mercy

How often have you thought today: "Jesus really, truly, and deeply loves me! Little ole, human me!"

Have you recently thought about the depth and breadth of mercy that Jesus poured over us dirty, filthy sinners by loving us so much He went to the cross? He loved us first, even the stubborn ones who hang on to the mistaken belief that trusting God is like facing a raging grizzly -- a life full of unpredictable danger and strife.

That is exactly what life is like without God's mercy and grace.

Matthew 12:6-8 But I say to you, One greater than the temple is here. 7 But if you had known what this is, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice," you would not have condemned the guiltless.

We like to watch a show called Forensic Files. The other day I was very surprised that a fellow who had killed a woman's daughter was spared the death sentence because the mother had pleaded for his life. She said that as long as there was life there was hope for him to repent. That kind of mercy is rare between and among humans.

Often times the victim's family cry out for vengeance not mercy.

What about that sacrifice part?

What good does that do? Not one slender whit, which happens to be much smaller than a splinter, by the way.

Mercy and forgiveness is valued by God much greater than sacrifice is. If the Hebrews had learned this, if the Jews had learned this, then they would never have turned away from Jesus. They never understood that Jesus, a completely sinless person, had to take all the sin of the world upon Himself so that we humans could be free of sin. Well, at least those humans that believe Him. Jesus said from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!”

Mercy is that thing that God gave us while we were still sinners. Forgiveness is what He gave us as He watched His Son go to the cross. According to the worldly thinking, that is impossible. I look around and see so much hate and so much unforgiveness and bitterness. What is so sad is that most people cannot see unforgiveness for the cancer it is. How much energy is wasted by harboring hatred and unforgiveness? It does not mean that we have to fraternize with those who have hurt us, nor do we have to allow them the opportunity to do it to us again. Jesus said to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).

How do we do that?

1. Be willing to let go of the hurt. If we keep rolling that hurt around in our minds, nurturing the anger, nursing the hurt, reveling in the injustice of it all, we are merely playing into Satan's hands and opening our armor for the fiery dart of bitterness. Make no mistake, we can hide our feelings from friends and loved ones, but we cannot hide them from Satan. He knows our weakness and exploits it to the hilt of that dart. There is the sting. It is not the hurt from the betrayal or the hurtful words or the lack of support which deeply hurts. Of course it does. But time does heal wounds from the outside. Those self-inflicted wounds of anger kept alive, and bitterness which we keep open and bleeding by continuous poking and prodding turn to stinging cancer.

Examine that and see if it is really as bad as it feels. Sometimes, we blow things out of proportion and add importance to nit-picky things. Oh, come on, you can think of at least one time when you did that. I can think of a dozen. I am not belittling that really huge thing like infidelity. Been there, too. That kind of anger takes several years to work through. But, oh how great freedom felt when I finally let that last bit of anger go.

2. Decide to give mercy and to forgive. It absolutely is a decision. Just like deciding to lose weight or quit smoking or deciding on a worship lifestyle instead of a worldly lifestyle.

3. Understand it will take lots of time. We have the Holy Spirit inside us and we have the mind of Christ, but we are not God. It takes a lot longer for us because we've got so much more to influence us. The world, our friends and acquaintances who, sad to say, "egg" us on.

4. Set the thoughts of anger aside. Paul said to get angry but do not sin. That kind of anger is over some injustice. God does not hurt us. Nothing hurts a child of God that is a just hurt. He may discipline us and chastise us for our unruly behavior, but He will never harm us or hurt us. It is our pride that gets hurt so often, and when it is bruised, it is painful. So setting aside the thoughts also includes setting aside pride. It only gets in the way of forgiveness and gives fuel to the flame to anger. God does not like it when someone messes with His kid. His vengeance is so much wiser and so much better than ours ever could be. The question here is how can we expect mercy and forgiveness from God when we harbor unforgiveness toward a brother or sister in Christ?

5. Obey God’s command. It is commanded that we forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ anything. That hard verse comes to mind. Forgive or your Father in Heaven will not forgive you. However, giving mercy truly expresses God's heart. Doing that we begin to truly look like Him.

Luke 6:37 Judge not, and in no way be judged. Do not condemn, and in no way you will be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and good measure will be given to you, pressed down and shaken together, and running over, they will give into your bosom. For the same measure which you measure, it will be measured back to you.

If that isn't "What goes around comes around," I don't know what is. Not that karma stuff, but truly as we pour out blessings on others, God pours more and more blessings on us. We cannot out give God.

“But what about unbelievers?” Good, no, excellent question. Have you ever noticed how Jesus so often answered a question with a question?

Can a believer nurture anger and bitterness toward someone not a believer and still have room in his heart for God? How does that draw more lost to God?

Loving pleasure or loving to please?

There are certain things that just naturally give pleasure. I can look about my grandbabies' smiles and my heart just overflows. Joy abounds. I am so thankful! I prayed for so many years for a grandbaby and God answered that prayer with not one, but two grandbabies this year. One from each daughter.

We derive pleasure from what others do for us, and from what we do for others there is a certain pleasure that comes from altruism. But God says:

The one who loves pleasure will become a poor man; whoever loves wine and oil will not get rich. Proverbs 21:17

In these days of soft-soap Christianity and the feel-good-do-it society, I've noticed that people reach for that pleasure factor in worshiping our Lord God Almighty. Have you noticed that?

I think there is nothing wrong with going to God for the pure pleasure of it. In fact it gives great pleasure to believers to go into the Throne Room to worship and bring praises to God our creator and our deliverer. But just as Solomon found out there is a limit to how pleasure pleases the mind and the body (Ecclesiastes 2) It becomes empty.

It is exactly like marrying a woman for her body... eventually a person gets exhausted of nothing but pleasure and it then comes to a point where there is no more satisfaction in the pleasure act and cravings begin to develop for something more than just pleasure. We are created that way--different aspects and facets to the same jewel.

I think pursuit of pleasure as a motivation to serve does seem a bit selfish. It is the same as the end justifying the means which is wrong thinking. Our motivation should be a deep desire to please and not so much focused on our own pleasure, although that is a great benefit.

After all to obey is better than sacrifice and to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 14:22

Who can I speak to and give such a warning [and bear witness] that they will listen? Look, their ear is uncircumcised, [ = unresponsive to God] so they cannot pay attention. See, the word of the LORD has become contemptible to them— they find no pleasure in it. Jeremiah 6:10

God searches the hearts of men all over the world, but the hearts of those that serve Him are of the most special interest to Him. If God finds a self-serving motive--such as pleasure seeking-- how true is that Believer's heart? Where is the sacrifice? Where is the fat of rams?

And here is where I have the problem with the pleasure-motivated service to God. Where does the personal agenda cease and the neck bend, the will submit to God's will and His agenda?

Jesus for the sake of the joy ahead... that was to come, endured the cross. How hard that struggle was for Jesus knew the torture and pain yet He willingly set His face toward it. He looked past the shame to the joy, (notice it the word in that Scripture is not happiness) beyond the cross.

So... with that in mind, how enduring is a pleasure-based motive to serve God? When the trials and troubles come, does the pleasure motive have roots deep enough to withstand the storm?

Since God is love and His gift to His children is His enduring love, it holds true that the love-based motive is stronger and more enduring, and longer-lasting than the pleasure-based motive. Here is the thing, if a person does good deeds simply because it makes them feel good, does that diminish the good deed's worth? Perhaps in the sight of God it does, perhaps not to the person receiving the good deed.

Seeking to enjoy God for the pure pleasure of His company and the pure pleasure it brings is very okay! That is the fun time, that is the dancing time and it is enjoying Him that gives strength for the other times that are not so enjoyable when He calls us to sacrifice for Him.

Sacrifice is all about Him and none of self. It is all about obedience and none of selfish desire. Since God searches the hearts of man, Jeremiah 17:10 I, Jehovah, search the heart, I try the reins, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. Therefore, pleasure is a poor motivator for the things of the heart that would please God. He promises that if we delight in Him, then He will give us our heart's desires.

Does that mean that our desires are given to us, or does it mean that He puts desires in our hearts? I would that He put His own desires in my heart, then I know I would delight in Him and delight Him. How great that is... putting a smile on God's face! To please Him brings great pleasure, but that kind of pleasure is much more pleasant. It doesn't depend upon another person, or even upon one's self. It just bubbles up and pours all over us like a the spring in a well-watered garden. Isaiah 58.

Grace does not run in the blood

Grace pours out from Heaven in such a flood that it cannot even be compared to Niagra Falls. But grace does not run in bloodlines.

A study of Jesus' lineage shows a curious mixture of good and bad royalty. Even in those written in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews were counted righteous, but certainly were not sinless. Humans have this wonderful tendency to be oh so very good, but when bad are particularly horrid.

Something I had not thought about before is those wicked kings that show up in Jesus’ lineage. Matthew Henry points out that grace does not run in the blood. Here’s what he says:

Some observe what a mixture there was of good and bad in the succession of these kings; as for instance (Matt. 1:7-8), wicked Roboam begat wicked Abia; wicked Abia begat good Asa; good Asa begat good Josaphat; good Josaphat begat wicked Joram. Grace does not run in the blood, neither does reigning sin. God's grace is his own, and he gives or withholds it as he pleases.

Often times we think because of who our father is or who our mother is  that gives us a hall pass to do as we please. Some of that is ego, but most of it comes from a false belief of entitlement. That respect paid to the “great” person in our life has a tendency to bleed down (or over) to us, but it truly is because of nothing we have done.

By the same token, that respect and love given to us as believer in Christ from other believers in Christ first comes because Jesus commanded it, then as relationships blossom, that trust and respect comes to us because of who we are in Christ, how we relate to others, and even our return of respect and love.

Then, because we are humans and fallible, something goes wrong, tension rises, anger flares, feelings are hurt and we suddenly withdraw our trust of the other believer. We steer clear of him or her. We hold grudges. We might hold back gossiping about it, and feel very pious about it. When all the time Jesus is saying, “Forgive, love, because that is the only way the world knows Who I AM!”

Just as God delivers grace to those whom He will so, too, should we. Who are we to withhold grace from our brothers and sisters in Christ when the ultimate forgiveness and love was poured out from Heaven to the cross and swept the world?

Grace does not run in the bloodlines, but is a definite choice. There are we happy. That is a two-way heart throb that God pours out from Heaven directly into our hearts if we open them up to it. We sing the song, Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord. My question is, how can He if we lock the doors of our heart and keep them embedded in stone?

Sgt. Tahmooressi ordered RELEASED!

Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi Just Ordered to Be Immediately Released From Mexican Jail by Judge

Marine Sgt. Tahmooressi Just Ordered to Be Immediately Released From Mexican Jail by Judge

Marine veteran Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi has been ordered to be immediately released from a Tijuana jail, following a Mexican federal judge's ruling late Friday. Tahmooressi, who moved to San Diego to receive treatment for Post Traumatic St... Read more…