By Neil Anderson
[What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living!—Psalms 27:13 (Amplified)
Often, I hear people say that whatever they are ‘going through’ is the will of God and I beg to differ. David, in the verse above, tells us that it was his believing in God’s goodness that kept him going in tough times. How could we have faith in God’s goodness if it is His will that we suffer? The things we often go through or experience, in my opinion, is not the Will of God but it is due to the sin that is in this world. Not your sin necessarily, but sin in general.
For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me—Psalms 51:5 (New Living Translation)
David, in his pleading with God, puts it plainly. He understood where the problem rested…in sin. To say that God made you sick to teach you something, or He made you poor to keep you humble, is to go against everything the Word teaches. If this was true, then why attempt to get delivered…it is difficult to get delivered from anything we presume God is the source of. In fact, it is wrong to expect God to take something away that He gave you! Please understand this; God is not the one who blesses and curses…God is not double-minded, for He says: “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways…”—James 1:8.
Remember, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above…” (James 1:17). God gave us His Son to bring us into right standing with Him (righteousness), His Word to transform us into His image, and His Spirit to keep us and guide us into His Truth. With all this, how could also be the source of every ill and discomfort we face? The answer is: He is not, because God is good! This is why we absolutely must exercise faith in His Goodness and His willingness to bless us and bring goodness into our lives.
God was in Christ. He was working through Christ to bring the whole world back to Himself. God no longer held men’s sins against them.—2 Corinthians 5:19 (NLV)
Many will tell you that God is punishing us for this or that; when you hear that…RUN! Jesus took the curse as a final sacrifice and penalty for our sin. Thereby, allowing everyone who receives Him by faith to become righteous. In other words, because of Jesus, God has adopted us and gave us His righteousness! That excites me to no end. God is so good and loves us so much that He did not leave it to chance but settled it all forever. We just need to receive His gift of righteousness by faith and start a daily walk with Him…having faith in His goodness.
30 As He said these things, many believed in Him [trusted, relied on, and adhered to Him].
31 So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples.
32 And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.—John 8:30-32 (Amplified)Have Faith1st
- Fighting to Stand Firm on Faith (menofredemption.wordpress.com)
- Psalm 71:14 NIV – I will praise You, Lord! (pagprayer.wordpress.com)
Copyright© 2013 πίστις
Other Believers are the most judgmental and critical people I know. Offended yet? Then do not read any further.
I will say that being so quick to judge does not apply to all Believers, some are not this way. Yet many of us are unfortunately very quick to judge and in an unbiblical way. Many are as well quick to jump on the actions of others and be critical of them.
Read this excerpt from an article I found, it’s an eye opener:
This past Thursday evening, I was reading a discipleship book to my children. At the end of each chapter there are discussion questions. One question was: “What negative characteristic turns people off about Christians?” As I posed this question to my children my boys responded by saying, “When Christians judge other people.” WOW! Honestly, I was taken aback by this response because my boys are eleven and nine. I wondered, “How could they know this so early in their Christian maturity?” I concluded that it is an intuitive. Even young Christians can sniff out inappropriate judgment.
It goes without saying that unbelievers pounce all over Christian hypocrisy and judgment. A Hindu professor once found out that a man in his class was a Christian. The professor said to this student, “If you Christians were like Jesus Christ, India would be at your feet tomorrow.” A learned Muslim who recently became a Christian said, “If Christians were truly Christians—like Christ—there would be no Islam.”1 A USA Today poll shows 72% of unchurched Americans agree that a God exists, but the same percentage says, “the church is full of hypocrites.” 44% say Christians get on their nerves.2 People flat-out don’t like Christians. Yet, when is the last time you heard someone say, “Man, Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists get on my nerves!” It doesn’t happen, does it? People show respect and honor to these religions. Now it’s easy to object, “This just isn’t fair. The media has turned Christians into cultural punching bags.” Yet, we must ask, “Have we brought some of this pain upon ourselves?” If we’re honest and humble, we would probably have to say, “Yes, guilty as charged.” Read the full article here: Lord, Save Me From Your Followers!
Have you ever been on the receiving end of this type of judgment or criticism? It hurts…and makes one think twice about trusting others. The one place, the body of Christ where this should not be…it is rampant. It is also readily apparent to the outside world that “Christians” tend to shoot their own wounded…this is disgraceful.
I find it ironic that many people in the secular world despite not knowing Jesus have a better attitude and are more willing to display understanding and forgiveness than many of my own brothers and sisters in the Lord. Far too many Believers seem to look on forgiveness as condoning another’s actions; this could not be further from the truth. Forgiveness means to forgive, it does not mean that you condone the actions of another.
Evangelism is very important, one of the most important things in the Church today after worship and glorification of the Lord.
Yet I see an even more urgent need in today’s Church; Believers need to stop being so judgmental of one another and be much quicker to forgive and to understand…not to mention help one another. There is this misguided notion in today’s Church of guilt by association. Rather than help a fellow brother or sister, many will walk away so as not to look guilty themselves. This is of course ridiculous…whom did Jesus spend so much time with? Who was it that rejected Christ Himself and was lovingly restored?
This may upset some; today’s Church is beset by legalism. Rules and the observation of them are more important that people are. Again…I’m NOT saying all are this way, but many are. This is not to say that we in the Church should condone the sins of others, but at the same time what value is there in turning our collective back on someone caught in a sin? Who among us has not sinned?
This is a Church-wide problem and one that is steadfastly denied by many. Not many will stand up and say anything about it; instead it is swept under the rug and ignored. The average (I mean no insult here) Joe will simply leave the Church and not come back. That of course is just another mark against that person.
I mentioned previously the importance of evangelism, while this is an important need and commanded by the Lord Himself…of even more importance is the how the outside world views the Church. How can I say this you might be thinking; if the secular world views Believers (the Church) as a bunch of back-biting, judgmental, “throw their own to the wolves” kind of people…then when we try to evangelize them why on earth would they want to join us? Would you want to?
Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that you be not judged This is one of the most misunderstood verses in the Bible by both the secular world and Believers as well. It does not mean to never judge, we are told by Christ Himself to make judgments. The problem is not in Believers making a judgment it is how that judgment is made.
John 7:24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment
John 8:7 So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”
Many Believers when making judgments fall into error as in John 8:7…instead of judging the actions of another brother or sister, they judge that person’s actions and they judge the person as well. This is throwing stones…we are to judge a brother or sisters actions, we are not to judge the person. Judging the action only is a righteous judgment. The other part of a righteous judgment is judging by God’s standards, not our own. This refers back to Matthew 7:1-2, in the same way you judge others, so shall you be judged by Christ Himself…scary thought is it not? Be careful how you judge.
1 Samuel 16:7 …For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
No Believer should judge another person…we do not know the heart of that individual and why they did what they did. Only the Lord knows that. People do tend to look at the outward appearance or the action itself. Do you know what that person has been through? The pain they have suffered? The trials they have gone through? You may think you do…you do not.
How about the cross-dresser, the homeless man, or the one who reeks of alcohol? Many would like to escort these people to the door. Are they not supposed to be treated with respect and shown the love of Christ? How are they to possibly come to know the Lord if they are shunned because they are not in their Sunday best? We maybe will speak to these people on the street, but please do not show up in our churches because you are not welcome. Really? Is this loving your neighbor as yourself?
How many Believers do you suppose come to church in their Sunday best; both in clothing and attitude…afraid to ever confide in anyone the truth of what is in their lives for fear of being ostracized from the very people that should help them? It is not only the secular world that sees what goes on in the Church…many IN the church see it as well.
In this time of the Church being fractured in so many ways; gay pastors, the teaching of Chrislam, accepting many other religions views of reaching heaven apart from Christ as legitimate, “tickle my ears” teaching…unity in the body of Christ should be of utmost importance.
Love your neighbor as yourself, mercy trumps judgment.
By Neil Anderson
By Neil Anderson
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.