Your thoughts are who you are, therefore be careful what you think.
Your thoughts form your actions, and the actions of others help form your thoughts…be careful who you interact with and listen to.
Your thoughts are not always your own, Satan can and does influence your thinking negatively…therefore be on guard where you allow your thoughts to go…
Many people “receive” God’s love without wanting to accept it with all that it entails. They want God’s blessings without having to be responsible on their part. It is the same as a woman receiving an engagement ring from a man and thanking him for the pretty ring and then going out on a date with someone else the very next day. To accept an engagement ring is to agree to all that it entails and to decide to be responsible to keep our part of the bargain. In this case, we would say covenant. To accept God’s love is to agree to all that it entails which means that in response to His immense love for us and His wanting the best for us (Jeremiah 29:11), we cannot help but love Him back. With all our hearts, minds and souls (Matthew 22:37). That means a decision to trust and obey (submit to, surrender to) God in all these areas of our lives: our minds which denotes our logical and intellectual human thinking; our hearts which represents our emotions; and our souls which represent our own strengths and desires.
To love God is to obey His principles (John 14:15, 21). To obey is to submit to, to surrender to; which means that we must surrender all of ourselves to the Lord. This might sound daunting to some as they do not know that they can trust God to direct their lives. What if God does something bad with it? This is when we need to realize how much God loves us. No good parent wants horrible things for his/her child. We need to realize that God wants the best for us. (Jeremiah 29:11). We need to realize that He is good (Psalm 31:19). And because He is good and wants the best for us, we can trust Him with all areas of our lives. We can surrender ourselves over to Him in obedience to His principles. Because He is good.
The first commandment to love our God is not one built on fear or a threat. It is the heart’s cry of an all powerful God who loves us so much that He longs for those who accept His love to also reciprocate in kind. To not only receive His love but to accept it with all that it entails in every area of their lives because He wants to protect them and help them realize the future and purpose that He has for them; and to love Him back because He loved us first. How can we not love someone back if we know how much they love us? God decided to love us; He made a commitment to love us. I am sure, in my opinion, that it is not a butterfly in the stomach lovey type of feeling that God feels in His love towards us because we as the human race are not very lovable. All we need to do is look at our selfishness throughout history. Yet, He chose to love us. Commiting to us through a covenant He chose to make with us.
People who do not understand the depth of His love will keep rejecting Him; by way of insisting on doing things their own way and using excuses to justify it. Unfortunately, they will never come into the fulness of their calling and purpose in the Lord if they constantly insist on doing things their own way and will not submit themselves to His principles. In fact, if they keep insisting on rejecting God’s love, they will end up on the path of destruction in one way or another, in one area of their life or another because the bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
“Trust the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in ALL your ways acknowledge (submit to; obey) Him and He will make STRAIGHT your paths.” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6
By Neil Anderson
This is a research paper I did for my Biblical Literature class. I think it’s also a good teaching opportunity on a debated topic. I may use it in a sermon or to teach a Sunday School class as well. Enjoy!
Throughout the Old Testament, the Angel of the LORD appears in various places to various people. The appearance of the Angel almost always preceded a major turn of events in Old Testament stories. We see this “Angel” in the book of Judges frequently. The identity of the Angel has long been debated. Some say this is just simply a messenger sent from God, but others argue this is a pre-incarnate form of Jesus Christ. Both sides have presented suggested evidence to support their theories. Most of the claims are based on grammatical usage in the text. Does the Bible ever directly tell us who the Angel is? What does the Biblical evidence say about the Angel?
The word “angel” comes from the Greek word, άγγελος. This means “messenger” or “one who is sent” (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 299). We know that Jesus was sent directly by God as seen in John 8:29. It is important to note that the Angel of the LORD doesn’t speak in third person, as other messengers seem to do. The Angel speaks in first person as if he is God. Judges 2:1a is an example this: “The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers.” The Angel is talking as God and not just for God. This happens time and time again throughout the Old Testament. The Hebrew for angel and messenger is used 213 times in the Old Testament. The phrase for “Angel of the LORD” is used 48 times in 45 verses in the Bible. We also see people giving the Angel reverence that usually only God receives. For example, in Joshua 5:14-15 we find Joshua fall “facedown” and taking off his sandals before the Angel. (White, “Angel of the LORD: Messenger or Euphemism”, 300-301). This would imply that the Angel is more than just a messenger if Joshua is responding in worship to him.
In Genesis 18, Abraham gets three visitors. The text describes one of the three as “the LORD.” The other two are believed to just be angels. However, the text indicates that one of the men is God himself, a theophany (Pak, “BIB 110 Lecture Notes”, 22). If these people saw God face-to-face, why did they not die like God suggested in Exodus 33:20? The answer is simple. Either the Angel is not God or God came in the form of the Son (pre-incarnate). That would make this a Christophany in the Old Testament.
Daniel 3:25 also seems to have an appearance of Christ. King Nebuchadnezzar sees a fourth man in the fiery furnace after Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was thrown in for not worshipping the image of gold. When Nebuchadnezzar sees the fourth man he exclaims, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” It is after that the Nebuchadnezzar seems to recognize the God of Israel as at least legitimate because he addresses the three men as “servants of the Most High God.”
Finally, we go to Exodus to look at the Angel appearing to Moses. In Exodus 3, the Angel of the LORD appears to Moses in a burning bush. The Angel actually says this in verse 6 which seems to be a clear hint of the Angel’s identity: “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (“Fire Bible”, 410).
The case against the Angel being Divinity doesn’t seem to be as strong. Again, the scholars that say the Angel was only a representative of God use grammar and other linguistic evidence, and custom in the text to support their theory. The main argument is that saying the Angel is deity creates a problem for monotheists, such as the Jewish audience of the Old Testament (López, “Identifying the Angel of the LORD in the Book of Judges…” 15). However, we see the Godhead at work from the beginning. The claim is that the text clearly distinguishes the Angel from Yahweh.
This research project has further confirmed what I already had a strong belief in. The appearances of the Angel of the LORD are indeed pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. The Biblical evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of this. I even believe that God told us exactly who the Angel is on more than one occasion. There are a few Christophanies in the New Testament, too. Even though none of them are described as “the Angel of the LORD,” Jesus is the one who appears. Take the example of Saul’s conversion to Christianity while on the road to Damascus. Jesus appears to Saul, later known as Paul, in the same dramatic way that the Angel of the LORD reveals himself in the Old Testament (Newman, “Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children…”, 155). Christ’s appearance to Saul also brings about a major turn of events just like the Angel of the LORD did in the Old Testament. The people the Angel appears to also fall in worship when they realize who he is as well. Other angels told the people to not worship them. Along with the textual evidence, the Angel’s claims and messages indicate that the Angel of the Lord is actually a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. God had a plan from the very beginning and he has always used the Son to fulfill the plan.
By Neil Anderson
By Neil Anderson
“I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit… (Isaiah 57:15, NAS).”
The last two posts discussed the topic of humility and forgiving self. That brings us to the subject of forgiving others, be it minor infractions or heinous crimes committed against us. It is completely astonishing how people can walk for many years claiming the grace of God, but never forgive that one person in their life they deem “unworthy” of forgiveness When you begin to see through new spiritual spectacles, your heart will begin to melt for the offender as God’s heart melted for His offenders – you and I. It does not mean a person (or group of people) was justified in their actions; it means that you are now able to extend mercy and grace as Christ extended it to you.
Mercy is not being given something you do deserve (punishment for a crime). Grace, on the other hand, is receiving something you don’t deserve (a pardon). Like the woman in Matthew, the more forgiveness (love) you begin to realize you have been extended from God that you do not deserve, the more forgiveness you will begin to pour out to those who equally do not deserve it.
Isaiah 57:15 listed above is clear. God abides in two places: I dwell on a high and holy place (heaven), and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit (the one humbled before God). When you lower yourself, you will then be lifted up where Christ resides in the heavenly realm. One cannot be lifted by God lest they first lower themselves. You must see yourself from God’s standpoint. When you see yourself as better than someone, you have lifted yourself and you will have to be lowered; either by your own hand or the hand of the Almighty. The choice is yours. It’s simple mathematics.
Let’s say though that no one offended or harmed you personally. Maybe they just have a different skin color, nationality, speech, style, amount of money (less or more), etc. All over the world there are nations against nations because they don’t believe the same way. Do you think yourself better than a Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, Indian, Catholic, Baptist, etc? My Hispanic friends tell me that there is rivalry between Latinos: Spaniards, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and others. What about African Americans where the lighter skinned people think themselves better than darker skinned or vice versa? I believe it’s called colorism. Of course there is the ever common white against black. The list of prejudices is a bottomless pit. If you think yourself better than anyone, it is pride and God cannot grant you grace.
It’s time to understand the without forgiving others, you cannot be forgiven and without humility, we cannot forgive. They are inseparable. Then with this understanding, we need to learn how to forgive as Christ forgave wicked mankind. Then the next step is to purpose to apply it to everyone in your life. These aren’t my rules, but those of your Creator and the One who loves you beyond measure. There is nothing He commands from us that isn’t first for us.
“YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE, YOU who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, YOU ARE CONDEMNING YOURSELF, because you who pass judgment do the same things” (Romans 2:1, NAS).
“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But IF YOU DO NOT FORGIVE OTHERS, THEN YOUR FATHER WILL NOT FORGIVE YOUR TRANSGRESSIONS” (Matthew 6:14-15, NAS).
I hope you’ll come back next week for part IV as we continue to explore the subject of forgiveness that can only come from humility.
Peace and blessings,
Alexys V. Wolf
By Neil Anderson
- The Helmet Of Salvation (inspirationalchristiansfortoday.com)
- Christianized self-loathing: neither humble nor holy (wadereckons.wordpress.com)
- Why I Thank God for Jesus Christ — the Remix (blackchristiannews.com)
- Deception! Not Viewpoints! (vineoflifenews.com)
By Neil Anderson