Text Size: Zoom In

Self-Opening Gifts

DSCF0874

Milkweed

In the beginning, Genesis describes a God who was mysteriously wonderful, creative, loving, strong, wise, present, personal, and generous.

When the son and daughter of his likeness opened the one gift marked “Do Not Open”— only to suddenly feel as if they had been locked out of the house without their clothes on— he came looking for them.

Instead of raging, the God of Genesis speaks gently to his embarrassed children. He talks about a series of self-opening gifts that would, from now on, be reminders that they were now living in an “as is” world of intermingled goodness and pain.

Then he turned to the Serpent and gave him a gift that could only be partially unwrapped. The LORD God said, 14 “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:14-15).

We now know that a diamond of inestimable worth was wrapped in this lump of coal. But for thousands of years the mysterious gift would remain unopened.

With words of a blessing wrapped in a curse… God went under cover to carry out the greatest of all stings and revelations.

Only, after the fact, could it be announced what God had done— not only to answer the Serpent’s question “Has God said?”—but to answer the implied “Who says your God is as good as he wants you to believe?”


Vote on whether you think this post is something you'll be thinking about:
Vote This Post DownVote This Post Up (+1 rating, 1 votes)
Loading...
158 Comments »

158 Responses to “Self-Opening Gifts”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    Any parent knows what it is like to warn your children of enumerable dangers only to be frustrated and watch helplessly as their children put their advice to the test.

    It’s not my own quote, but I do use it often in that all anyone can do is watch the train wreck in slow motion unable to stop it, only to be there to pick up the pieces when it is over.

    One of the pains my son Matthew has to endure is suffer the absence of all the friends he once had before his disabilities changed his life. It is older people who understand Matt’s pain and try to make him feel loved and the efforts of a couple very special friends that give him any friends at all.

    My observation of this tragic lapse of compassion is that his other friends have not grown up enough yet to learn how they too can be blessed by blessing another and how important it is to do so.

    Adam and Eve understood nothing and were just babes themselves in learning the difference between right and wrong, yet it appears God let them learn as do we parents have to, *the hard way*.

    I feel as though I have said just about all I can relevant to the story of the fall of man and the consequences in Eden in the other topic, however.

    What “gift” is hidden in the story of the snake having to live a life as we know the snake to live?

    The snake was punished for the deeds of Satan; are we then also punished for the deeds of Satan?

    It appears that Satan’s punishment is withheld until the full story of God and man is played out. As the innocent children of Adam and Eve suffer lives because they haven’t grown up enough to know the difference between right and wrong under the influence of Satan and his arsenal of evil.

    It is said that the “beginning” of wisdom is the “fear” of God.

    Fear God, obey His commandments, hold tightly to the garment of Jesus of Nazareth and be kept safe under His wings.

    We are not in control, God is.

    46 degrees and misty.

    Steve

  2. poohpity says:

    I have a choice this day and everyday who I will listen to, who’s words I will heed and who I will pursue/follow. I guess I really do not fear God like I am frightened/scared of Him but like I know or have a small idea of what God is capable of just by looking around at creation. The intricate details of all that exists working together in harmony to function and sustain for the benefit of mankind. That is proof to me of God’s goodness and another area is the gift of free will.

    To force someone to respect, honor, love or want to be around you is not free will but oppression, control and manipulation. Reading about how God went looking for Adam and Eve even after they blew it was just the same experience I had in my life, He came looking for me when everyone else had turned away.

    There are times I have to admit when I have questioned the goodness of God especially when things do/did not go the way I would have liked them to but in hindsight I have been able to see in some cases the reasons and in the one’s I can’t see have been able to trust God’s wisdom.

    I am 62 today and woke up with flashbacks of how much pain I put my parents through. Then came the times I experienced pain from them as well but all in all they provided a life of travel, new experiences, new people which in all of that was an education that most children never experience by staying the same place all the time. I think about all the things that could have been worse/better but the most amazing thing is to see God’s heart in His pursuit of me. Thank you to our good God and for showing me still how good, trustworthy and faithful you are.

  3. SFDBWV says:

    Good morning and a happy birthday to you Deborah (pooh).

    Yes pooh the older we get the more we are able to see backward over our life and recognize that God’s hands were always on us. Fashioning who we are today.

    One of the unpleasant facts of life are that along with looking backward always comes with regrets. Whereas I think we all need from time to time look back over our lives, I also see the importance in focusing forward and keeping our eyes fixed on the only true person and power that can provide less regrets and in their place blessings in what is left of our days upon this earth.

    I hope you are blessed today Deborah.

    Steve

  4. poohpity says:

    Well Thank you my friend. :-) I so agree if we did not look back we are destined to repeat the same mistakes. Yes there is a big difference in glancing back and concentrating on it which prevents us from moving forward. Don’t you think that by looking back we can see more plainly the goodness of God instead of the doubt about His goodness that the adversary would rather draw us too?

  5. SFDBWV says:

    Yes Pooh I absolutely agree, looking backward can show us, as I said, that God’s hands were always upon us and give us an assurance that He is still there.

    Besides Matt always likes to hear my stories from the past as we remember good things and laugh together.

    It takes special vison though sometimes to see the blessings that rose from the ashes of the past pains.

    It is that time for me to attend to Matthew’s routines and my time at the computer for Saturday has come to an end.

    Again Pooh I hope you have a very happy birthday and your day filled with blessings.

    Steve

  6. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Happy Birthday, Deb! Joys be yours in the coming year!

    The sin of rebellion in Eden took thousands of years to be cleansed! That is one way of looking at the serpent’s vile work on Adam and Eve. All this time, then, badness has been counter-balanced by God’s grace measure for measure. The Lord did a huge silent and unseen work in the course of human history.

    Job saw things this way in his most extreme hour. “He said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.'”

    Am reminded of the story Jesus told about a great dinner. He told the story when he was attending a dinner Himself at the home of a Pharisee leader. (a story within the Gospel story, a parable)

    Luke records the story Jesus told about an important man who invited other influential people to his home for dinner. All of them had excuses for why they could not attend — one had bought real estate and had to go see it. Another had bought a luxury vehicle and had to try it out. Another had just been married and had no time for dinner.

    The main thing is that when all those fine people the host had prepared a meal for refused to come and eat, he sent out servants to bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame to feast with him. The man said, “Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled.” The Lord brought in those who could not refuse.

    On the Day Jesus reenters this world it will surely be like turning on the lights in a dark room. The profound goodness of God will at last be seen by all. In that light, nothing will be as we think it is in the dark.

    The Gift, by that reasoning, cannot be opened by anybody but God.

    Blessings,
    Maru

    40F and cloudy. More rain (!) forecast here.

  7. joycemb says:

    Happy Birthday Pooh, hope your day is filled with blessings from above and peace here below.

  8. joycemb says:

    Yes one of the blessings of getting older is hindsight, which is where the blessings are indeed special. Steve it is sad that young people don’t have that special blessing, yet even to be able to understand and know that someday they will is a blessing in itself.

    It rained all day here the last couple days also Maru, highly unusual for my part of the country, no flooding though. We are all waiting for snow though as it’s very gray/brown and the snow is so beautiful.

    Blessings abundant to all today,
    Joyce

  9. oneg2dblu says:

    Pooh… Happy Birthday to the one who was born on 12-12, and is now looking back with 20-20.

    To All,
    It seems to me, that as Adam and Eve looked back to the garden, they saw the “flaming swords” of God’s actual follow through, and the message was quite clear, “They were duly punished and “thrown out,” for being disobedient to the Word of God.

    Now, if it is possible to say that Adam had no knowledge, although we know that he gave the name to every living thing, then, then we deny his real genius.

    Thinking that Adam was born with no conscience, or ability to know right or wrong, to me, is also absurd.

    God would not give him a command with the Consequences of Death for disobeying, if Adam could not understand what God was saying.

    Do this and live, but do this one thing “against my word,” and you will die.

    Adam always had free will choice, and he had godly restraints placed on him for his own good, meaning to me, that the premise of right and wrong, or life and death, were clearly in effect right from God’s first command.

    Just as much as sin was very much alive “before” the Law was ever given.

    Also, to me, things that happened in the Garden are not cleansed, or remedied.

    I mean that sin is not yet cleansed either, in this ever darkening world, because sin is still thriving quite prolifically everywhere.

    The stench of its presence is all around the world, it is Death to Christians in the Middle East, Death to Israel, Death to America, Death to the Infidel!

    So, the forbidden fruit of the garden hangs easily within grasp today, just as appealing as ever.

    It must be labeled properly, not relabeled as no big deal, it must be avoided at all cost, and never played with, because the results are still as deadly.

    But, I may be wrong.

    Where is the truth for those who are now reaching for their next bite of the innocent looking, seemingly tasteful, little prize dangling before them?

    Thank God that some of us have that little rear view mirror dangling in front of us today, it shows us exactly, from how far we have fallen.

    “If we but keep our eyes only on You Lord, the forbidden fruit will not be in our focus.

    But, If we follow your commands, “Go into all the world,” won’t that also keep our eyes on teaching, training, and rebuking in truth as well, so we can have both perspectives, a possessing of a divine double vision, as we see you and also see others who are in need of the truth.

    Gary

  10. jeff1 says:

    I see people who are in need of the truth but unfortunately they do not see it that way and God Himself does not tell us to force our beliefs on anyone.

    I am surrounded with younger people who tell me God is a mystical figure that older people believe in but that Science has the answers for they can produce facts and that is what the modern thinking man is looking for today proof and facts.

    Younger thinkers are products of their time and they have been well and truly brainwashed towards Science but then they would tell me the same that I was well and truly brainwashed towards God.

    You cannot force faith on anyone Gary you either have faith or you do not and there is a falling away from it in this modern time.

    In this Country the religious war that the younger people grew up with has not helped how they see God for they think that believing in God creates hate and division for that is what they saw.

    I am told that a Community Church has started in my town and drawing all denominations to it and that is what we need now to unite people of faith rather than divide them.

    I think we need to make it a priority to pray and praise God which unites believers and stop getting into issues that divide and cause argument.

    It should not be about whose right but what is right and putting God first by praise and prayer has to be more important than anything.

  11. poohpity says:

    Gary, the bible says that Adam and Eve were not thrown out of the garden as punishment but as a way to stop them from eating of the tree of life and staying in their fallen state for all eternity(Genesis 3:22). They were sent to labor and toil but not to despair that one day the promised seed would appear so that one day their sins would be covered as to eat of the tree of life in eternity.(Rev 2:7; 22:14) So it was because of God’s goodness, love and mercy.

  12. oneg2dblu says:

    Thanks pooh… you have confirmed what I said, they were punished and thrown out of the garden.

  13. oneg2dblu says:

    Jeff1… So, is teaching, forcing? Is training, forcing?
    Is rebuke, forcing?
    If not, then why do you see what I just said, as forcing something on others?
    As long as we still retain our free will, we are not brainwashed, just following the path we desire, being open and closer to God in all things.
    How can one force that on others, by sharing His Word?
    Gary

  14. jeff1 says:

    This is a very different world from the world I was born into when a Christian upbringing was the norm and Science was not heard of. Today children from a very young age are being taught Science as a means of finding answers to life’s issues.

    As a result many now choose Science before God. If I had been taught this at school then I may be blinded to the truth. It is my belief that I will not convince today’s generation for they are not going to listen when they are already convinced Science has the answers.

    They see the Religions of the world as causing more hatred and division in the world then uniting people and for someone like myself who witnessed two religions doing just that I see why they think this way.

    The best way to lead is by example and that is what my father taught me and what he practiced. When someone was in trouble my father would be a helping hand, a listening ear but he never made judgments on others for he was always ensuring that his own heart was right with God for a servant is not greater than His master.

  15. poohpity says:

    Gary, you must have misunderstood, I did not confirm anything you were saying. :-)

  16. SFDBWV says:

    I should not be surprised given I have learned that people see what they want to see and hear only what they want to hear; certainly the same can be said for that which is read as well.

    Experts in the Torah who had spent their lives studying Scripture could not agree on most of what was said and only when Jesus began to teach was it said that the Scriptures became alive to those who heard Him.

    I haven’t the time to get into a deep theological debate over matters of trying to prove who may be more right or wrong about Scripture and the truth is it is very exhausting.

    I am just going to quote what God said and leave it at that; Genesis 3:22 “And the Lord God said, Behold the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat and live forever:” Genesis 3:23, “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken.”

    Genesis 3:24 So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

    Adam and Eve didn’t even know they were naked until they ate of the forbidden fruit and God Himself said that after they had obtained the knowledge of good an evil they had to be *drove* out of the garden in order to keep them from eating of the tree of life.

    I have never read anywhere in Scripture where man has free will over God’s will.

    I will say again that in my opinion this story was designed by God for His purposes and we the pawns as well as the recipients of the *gift* or prize as a result of it. “Before the foundation of the world.”

    Steve

  17. poohpity says:

    I have never, not even once felt like a “pawn” for God’s purposes. That to me gives the connotation that God is this supreme being who controls everything, authoritarian, domineering and manipulative which seems to me so far from the truth of who He is. That would be one of the ways the enemy can put things in our heads to distort who God really is. If I ever thought that to be true I certainly would never trust God any longer.

    #1. Satan means “the adversary” of God. The enemy is antagonistic to the plans and purposes of God. He will always seek to misconstrue and malign the character of God and to thwart the purposes of God.

    #2. Devil means “slanderous” to malign and defame the character of God and others. Whispers lies in hopes of denigrating God’s reputation, which in turn will diminish your confidence in God and cause you to mistrust His direction.

  18. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Discussion of “Self-Opening Gifts” requires reading Genesis chapter 3. Without at glance or preferably a close reading, the conversation does not move forward. (I only presume we might wish the conversation to move forward.)

    Your point is well taken, Steve. The Lord curses the serpent (3:14) and the Lord curses the ground (3:17). The Lord does not curse Adam and Eve. Mart asserts that God gives gifts to the two of them.

    The Lord, according to Mart’s interpretation, gives Eve the gift of increasing the “pangs of childbearing” and makes her more dependent upon her husband.

    Adam, again by God’s gift, becomes a tiller of the soil and struggles to bring crops out of the earth, not weeds. Also, he, from then on, returns to the dust (adam) from which he was made. Death is humanity’s lot.

    Mart, you wrote:
    “Instead of raging, the God of Genesis speaks gently to his embarrassed children. He talks about a series of self-opening gifts that would, from now on, be reminders that they were now living in an “as is” world of intermingled goodness and pain.”

    Your take on the message of Genesis 3, Mart, is a departure from doctrines of the past. Have no problem with this. However we slice it (thick or thin), God is sovereign over the universe He breathed into being.

    The One who strikes the serpent’s head, Jesus of Nazareth, destroys the curse. We glimpse this now in the world, and the victory will be revealed completely on the Day of the Lord.

    In Advent (the four weeks before Christmas) we have, for generations, pondered the “world of intermingled goodness and pain,” as you call it, Mart. The promise of Messiah has been fulfilled. We may use the time remaining to rejoice in God’s provision — or gnash our teeth in agony over paradise lost. This is our freedom.

    Wisdom says, “Plant milkweed for the Monarch butterflies, to nourish them on their long journey”

    :o)

    God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah:

    “Seek the Lord while He may be found;
    Call upon Him while He is near.
    Let the wicked forsake his way
    And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
    And let him return to the Lord,
    And He will have compassion on him,
    And to our God,
    For He will abundantly pardon.
    ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
    Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord.
    “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    So are My ways higher than your ways
    And My thoughts than your thoughts.
    ‘For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    And do not return there without watering the earth
    And making it bear and sprout,
    And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
    So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
    It will not return to Me empty,
    Without accomplishing what I desire,
    And without succeeding in the matter
    for which I sent it.'”

    Advent Joy,
    Maru

  19. poohpity says:

    Greek mythology and movies about Greek mythology portray their gods like Zeus as being that way using people as pawn’s to serve their purposes. My God does not need anyone to fulfill His purposes that to me is a privilege and when I understand what His purposes are it even makes less sense to think of Him that way.

  20. poohpity says:

    Maru, I am very confused on how you think Mart has changed a doctrine of the past about the Genesis account? What I believe was Mart’s point was that according to the serpent God was not a good God because of His instruction not to eat of the tree of knowledge. If God withholds things from us which would cause a loss of innocence that means that God is not actually good at all but a tyrant who does not want us to be like Him. But further down the road as the self opening gifts occur we see that through Jesus Christ He does want us to me like Him which will not be fully opened until the time when we see Him face to face.

  21. remarutho says:

    Dear Pooh —

    “Doctrine” is Latin for teaching. Teachers put a spin on what they teach. Not sure what is printed above Genesis 3 in your Bible, but in mine (NRSV) it says “The first sin and the punishment.” Mart is proposing that the outcome of the fall of Adam and Eve from grace is not punishment. My comment has little to do with the definition of words. I am more interested in the living out of the Word God has given us.

    When you and I proceed in full faith that God’s response to Satan’s temptation and Adam and Eve’s action of eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is to give a gift of grace — we commit to a world-view that holds no grudge and bears no bitterness.

    The gift of the Advent of Christ has not yet been opened. It seems to me that the Lord determines when and how that gift is opened.

    Yours,
    Maru

    41F with light rain here.

  22. remarutho says:

    This discussion is a corollary to the discussion of “Overpersonalizing a Harvest Festival,” in my opinion.

    Every human is made of the same stuff — dust. We share a common life.

    The Savior is for all mankind, from the highest to the lowest. It is He who gives eternal life. Maru

  23. poohpity says:

    Yikes, I am a simpleton but I still do not understand where you think the spin, as you say, is? I am quite familiar with the definition of doctrine however what I did not understand is where Mart twisted it in anyway. I also did not understand Him to say anything about punishment but was trying to ruffle down to Satan’s attempt to distort the goodness of God.

    When you stated, “When you and I proceed in full faith that God’s response to Satan’s temptation and Adam and Eve’s action of eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is to give a gift of grace — we commit to a world-view that holds no grudge and bears no bitterness.” I do not think Mart said anything like that. God’s response was merciful and grace filled compared to what He could have done but that it was let to happen to just show grace and mercy was ludicrous especially when God asked them not to it and then told what the consequences would be. So I do not know who holds to that type of thinking but I certainly did not read that in what Mart wrote.

  24. poohpity says:

    However in one way after reading what Paul wrote in Romans 11:32 that was what he was saying.

  25. bubbles says:

    I looked at the topic photo several times, thinking it was two birds. After clicking on the picture, I saw it was milkweed in sunshine. A little humor for you this morning.

  26. joycemb says:

    Only, after the fact, could it be announced what God had done— not only to answer the Serpent’s question “Has God said?”—but to answer the implied “Who says your God is as good as he wants you to believe?”

    The serpent’s roll is to diminish Gods goodness. He does a good job of it I think. Thank you so much Mart for this engaging and thought-provoking post. I’m remembering how God told Moses to hide “in the cleft of a rock” as the old song goes also lest he be destroyed by the unfathomable goodness of God Himself. To think that God came to us in flesh as a little child is also unfathomable; that He would subject Himself to the dust, dirt, rocks and every imaginable hardship on this cursed planet just to save us is breath-taking. Yes, it’s not about us. It’s about God, both then and now.
    Oh come let us adore Him.

  27. oneg2dblu says:

    Maru… thanks for another confirmation about the Garden, resulting in sin and punishment.

    To all…
    Some here would rather see that heading reprinted as… “The first sin and the blessings.”

    Oh well you just can’t please them all.

    They either were thrown out, ushered out, drove out, or gently and lovingly placed outside, but however you want to spin it, they were “banned from ever returning.”

    Call it a blessing if you will, “I will” call it part of the Consequences of Sin.

    Oh there’s that ugly free will again, I guess to some here, Adam and Eve were “willed” by God to disobey Him.

    Show me that verse!

    They apparently had no choice but to disobey, or no free will of their own?

    Just pawns on the board, pushed along by another force, or will, greater than their own.

    Yet the bible says God never forces himself upon any of us.

    Which do you believe?

    But, is that really a scriptural position for all mankind, who are already lost, or the sheep, who can always choose to just wander away?

    Kind of places brainwashing as the real higher calling, if you will.

    Oops, there’s that word again.

    Matthew 18:14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

    Luke 13:3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.

    Am wondering if Adam and Eve ever repented?

    Just thinking…

  28. joycemb says:

    Bubbles thanks for pointing out the picture. Out of curiosity I found this on Wikipedia:

    Milkweed is named for its milky sap, which consists of a latex containing alkaloids and several other complex compounds including cardenolides.[2] Some species are known to be toxic.

    Carl Linnaeus named the genus after Asclepius, the Greek god of healing.[3]

    Healing, toxic? The curse.
    Spiritual healing? Out of the goodness of God with no more curse.

  29. oneg2dblu says:

    James 5:19,20 “My brothers, if one of you strays from the truth and someone brings him back from the wandering of his way will save his soul from death and will cover great number of sins.”

    Sounds to me, that we are “blessed” or empowered to be able to see when a brother is wandering off, or away from the truth.
    Or is that also just another form of judgement?
    Gary

  30. foreverblessed says:

    That the curse has a gift wrapped into it, that is a great thought!
    “He will crush your head (that of the snake, and you will strike his heel)”
    In that one line is the whole plan of God:
    Redeeming that which is lost. The Plan of Salvation.

    So in the curse of the snake is wrapped the Gift of Salvation

    The whole bible is about this fact: That God would redeem man from the darkness they had brought themselves into, by sacrificing His Son.

    That the Son of Man was willing to be bruised in the heel.
    In that one verse is already the prophecy that there would be a suffering by the Son of God to redeem us, to set us free from sin and darkness.

    (What a great revelation of these bible verses it must have been when they were made clear to the disciples, we read them from hindsight, but they had to have their eyes opened for them)

    Letting Adam take of that fruit:
    We would have done it quite differently, at least, I would.
    I would not have let Adam made that wrong choice, I would have warned him before he took of the fruit. Oh yes, I would. I would have held back his arms, so he could not take of the fruit.
    I would have held in front of their eyes the good to choose. And warned them of the bad choices.

    But God let them choose as they did.

    I once heard a sermon on the fact that God had that tree put there in the garden of Eden. That God not only wanted man to follow Him, but that He wanted that man would choose as a full and definite and a well purposed choise for Him, and Him only.
    That man would choose for following Him, not because he was manipulated to do so, but because he is so determined to follow, that it is the best way, and nothing else is better.
    I bet that now in heaven, Adam is very very determined to follow God, with his whole being and whole will he wants to do the will of God. Because his will has become the will of God, knowingly and determined, not as a resignation.

  31. poohpity says:

    Amen, forever. A curse turns into a blessing when God enters into anything. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” As Mart said, “We now know that a diamond of inestimable worth was wrapped in this lump of coal.” speaking of the happenings in the garden.

  32. SFDBWV says:

    Isaiah 45:1-4 “Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus,”—:4 “For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have called thee by name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.”

    Exodus 9:12 “And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh…”
    Exodus 10:1 “And the Lord said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and his servants, that I might show these my signs before him.”
    Exodus 10:27 “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart,”
    Exodus 11:10 “: and the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart. So that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land.”
    Exodus 14:4 “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart,”

    Ezekiel 38:14 “Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog”…:16 “I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me…” :17 “that I would bring thee against them?”

    Like I said it is exhausting.

    Steve

  33. joycemb says:

    Forever interesting thoughts about letting Adam partake, yet, not having the knowledge of good and evil they did what they were ‘led’ to do without a conscience to tell them not to. Was the conscience created through this process of temptation? Going back to thoughts about this a couple days ago about it all being a part of Gods larger plan and will for mankind it makes sense to me. Imago Deo, the image of God. Were Adam and Eve (being very ‘God-like’, if you will) given the same option as Lucifer- the most beautiful of angels who decided “I will be like God” and was cast out of heaven forever?

    What a blessing to us that He planned to send a savior, Jesus Christ Messiah. So that we would not be thrown out forever.

  34. remarutho says:

    Good Afternoon BTA Friends –

    First, last and forever, the Genesis description of the Creator God is:

    “…a God who (is) mysteriously wonderful, creative, loving, strong, wise, present, personal, and generous.”

    And His Messiah is coming to us as a newborn baby! Makes me think of CS Lewis’ “Surprised by Joy.” He is the Gift of Christmas, to the willing and the unwilling.

    Blessings all day,
    Maru

  35. jeff1 says:

    It seems to me that men will always see God differently and it also seems that may be the way God intended it for He knows his children personally as well as collectively.

    For myself it is enough for me to know that Christ died for my sins and yes I do believe that means future sins as well as past.

    I spent too much of my life worrying about going to hell and trying to be good and keep the 10 and failing miserably to see it any other way.

    Unlike my father I only learned by getting it wrong while my father was always ahead of the game, in short my father was a righteous man by inheritance and not by nurture.

    There are people I find who have a wise head on their shoulders when it comes to seeing the bigger picture and my Dad was one of them.

    I am what I am and the most wonderful news about God is that he likes his children to be different for I suspect he would find it very boring if we where all the same.

    I am as I mature, for the first time in my life, starting to feel comfortable in my own skin for I realize now that I spent too many years trying to be somebody I wasn’t so that I would make an impression on others.

    Knowing now that God is my forever friend as the song goes has given me a new lease of life and I have learned to enjoy today, or not, as the case may be, but I have stopped worrying about what happens the day after that for it is in God’s hands and I for one am very happy with that.

    He’s got the whole world in His hands,
    He’s got the whole world in His hands,
    He’s got the whole world in His hands,
    He’s got the whole world in His hands.

    He’s got my brothers and my sisters in His hands,
    He’s got my brothers and my sisters in His hands,
    He’s got my brothers and my sisters in His hands,
    He’s got the whole world in His hands.

    He’s got the sun and the rain in His hands,
    He’s got the moon and the stars in His hands,
    He’s got the wind and the clouds in His hands,
    He’s got the whole world in His hands.

    He’s got the rivers and the mountains in His hands,
    He’s got the oceans and the seas in His hands,
    He’s got you and He’s got me in His hands,
    He’s got the whole world in His hands.

    He’s got everybody here in His hands,
    He’s got everybody there in His hands,
    He’s got everybody everywhere in His hands,
    He’s got the whole world in His hands.

  36. oneg2dblu says:

    Before you all gather for another New Age Doctrine teaching of living in disobedience, but with blessings as the reward…

    Thinking you are all on your irrevocable way to Heaven, assuming that you have all found and entered the narrow gate, innocently and unknowingly, and the reference Christ made to “many who will not find it,” is really no longer relevant, and should just be overlooked as more “dangling fruit, which will only bring about more disobedience and more resulting blessings?

    Sounds like a plate full of deception really goes a long way.

    As, all mankind is now really been “blessed with a sin nature,” because now we can be forgiven and saved, because it is God’s Will, that none should Perish?

    “So that we would not be thrown out forever.”

    Now, I see where some people get the idea, that even the warnings of the second death,are not really any concern.

    Blessing for the willing/obedient, and the unwilling/ disobedient as well.

    Grace without measure, given freely to all, regardless?

    Now there’s a spin… I have not yet read in the scriptures.

  37. joycemb says:

    Gary, this is Mart’s blog not Gary’s blog. So if you think we are all being deceived then one warning is sufficient. If I were you I’d shake the dust from your shoes and move on maybe? Just thinking…

  38. SFDBWV says:

    Saul of Tarsus, the Pharisee, thought he was involved in a holy war and on a mission “for” God.

    With all of his abilities he warred against the followers of Jesus, this new ideology and as he saw it a blasphemous affront to the God he thought he knew.

    Then suddenly he heard the voice of God and was struck blind. Not until a reluctant follower of Jesus put his hands on him and followed the unction from God did Saul, see the world in a different “light” and became Paul.

    The gift of the road to Damascus encounter and consequence brought about the man God wanted to use. God changed the way Saul seen, Saul didn’t.

    Paul used the term “kicking against the pricks”, and an earlier story used a stubborn jackass to demonstrate the uselessness of going against God’s plans. And as I had stated before Jesus said if we being evil know how to give good gifts, just imagine how much better the gift God gives.

    God will have His way and we cannot stop it from being just as He wills.

    36 degrees and a very dense fog.

    Steve

  39. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends —

    Have to smile, Steve at the parallel you draw between Saul of Tarsus and Balaam the Midianite. :o) Saul started out with the hammer and tongs school of teaching. There is surely such a thing as being so stubborn we cannot see the difference between God’s sovereignty and our own (if there were such a thing as mortal sovereignty).

    Saul did become Paul — and we who seek to follow Jesus have to thank God for it. Balaam’s outcome was not so useful to God’s kingdom. Jude comments upon Balaam’s actions as he describes the dreamers who “know” they have figured out all mysteries:

    “These are blemishes on your love-feasts, while they feast with you without fear, feeding themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the deepest darkness has been reserved forever.”

    Thanks be to God, Saul became Paul. Jude teaches that Cain, Balaam and Korah wandered into rebellion on account of their stubbornness. God shows us again and again that His will is done — to His glory, majesty, power and authority.

    Blessings all day,
    Maru

    36F and clear here

  40. poohpity says:

    No one who has the Spirit of God in them desires to be disobedient. The only way to have the gift of that Spirit is to believe in Jesus, who He is and what He has done, period. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except by Him. Jesus holds the keys to eternity and no one can snatch us out of His hand. But everyone has to open that gift for themselves.

    I have never heard anyone who believes ever, not ever say it is alright to be disobedient. lol That is just plain old silliness to even think that.

  41. poohpity says:

    I pray for God’s good and perfect will to be done as it was in the garden before the fall over the abyss. God provided everything for the needs of His children and walk and talked with them. That was his Will just like it is His will that one day for that to be again. No more tears, pain or sorrow from following our own will. It is our will that leads to wars, hunger, homelessness, trials, suffering, prejudices, hatred, destruction, decay and with the help of the enemy who’s job it is distort our view of God will one day no longer be possible.

  42. remarutho says:

    Notice this morning that the milkweed pods (in the photo) burst open at just the right time — releasing the potential for new life — nourishment for the butterflies — beauty on the garden path — continuation of the species.

    So the Lord determines to the nano second when the gifts He has given will be opened.

    Maru

  43. poohpity says:

    So true Maru, when the recipient is ready to receive the gift.

    For those who understand the fullness of that gift are the one’s who know it has nothing to do with their obedience but due to the obedience of Christ because we as human beings know that we are completely unable to be obedient to all of God’s commands. People have a very rebellious spirit within them as we see in the very first act of it in the garden before the law was even given which even more highlighted our inability and showed us our need for that gift.

  44. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh says… “No one who has the Spirit of God in them desires to be disobedient. The only way to have the gift of that Spirit is to believe in Jesus, who He is and what He has done, period.”
    The scriptures says,”Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.”
    I wonder what is the “true faith,” that the Holy Spirit says, they will turn away from, if not faith in Christ, then who?
    Just thinking…
    Gary

  45. oneg2dblu says:

    pooh says… “No one who has the Spirit of God in them desires to be disobedient. The only way to have the gift of that Spirit is to believe in Jesus, who He is and what He has done, period.”

    Yet, the scriptures say,”Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.”
    I wonder what is the “true faith,” that the Holy Spirit says, they will turn away from, if not faith in Christ, then who?
    Just thinking…
    Gary

  46. oneg2dblu says:

    I guess we all need a little double vision today, mixing well, some of our own theology, if you will, with the actual word.

    Of course, if you continue to believe otherwise…
    then you believe otherwise.

    1 Timothy 4:1 was my quoted verse. I refrained from using the next verse, which speaks of a seared conscience.

    I liken a seared conscience, to that false teaching that says, All your sin, past, present, and future, are already forgiven, so, you no longer have to worry or have any conscience, thinking about your continued, “already forgiven” sinning.

    After all, they are nothing but the blessings of the constant tasting of the low hanging fruit?

    Gary

  47. poohpity says:

    Gary said twice, “Yet, the scriptures say,”Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.” There is none other than Christ. This is the true faith John 3:16-17; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever ‘believes’ in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

    John 3:36
    Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

    John 6:40
    For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

    John 11:25
    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

    Hebrews 2:9
    But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

    1 John 4:10
    This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

  48. poohpity says:

    Gary, it is great to finally hear you saying that you mix your theology with what is written. That is a first step, Hallelujah, I never thought I would hear you say that. :-)

  49. SFDBWV says:

    December 12, 2015
    How to Keep from Falling
    “For thou hast delivered my soul from death: wilt not thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Psalm 56:13)

    Once a person receives Christ as Savior, he must begin, then continue, in the Christian life. There will be many temptations along the way, however, as well as many pressures to recant, many sorrows, many difficulties. How is the “babe” in Christ to keep from stumbling and falling?

    The answer, of course, is that we are kept by the same grace that saved us in the first place! The Lord Jesus died to save us from eternal death in hell; surely we can “be saved by his life” from falling while living (Romans 5:10). Our beautiful text verse anticipates this great New Testament truth. If the Lord can deliver my soul from death, surely He can keep my feet from falling! Other wonderful verses in the psalms give the same assurance. For example: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23-24).

    It is important, of course, that each person professing faith in Christ be sure that his faith is real, founded on the true Jesus Christ as Creator, Redeemer, and Lord, not a sentimental faith in “another Jesus, . . . or another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4). As Peter urges: “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:10).

    And then, in the last words of the New Testament before the book of Revelation, we are directed again to Christ. “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25). What a blessed assurance is this! HMM

    Institute for Creation Research – 1806 Royal Lane, Dallas TX 75229

    Enjoy
    Steve

  50. poohpity says:

    Gary’s theology says he does not believe that Jesus died for our sins past, present and future but Peter teaches us that is exactly what Jesus did in 1 Peter 3:18 “Christ suffered for our sins ONCE FOR ALL TIME. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.”

  51. poohpity says:

    Heb 9:26 “If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, ONCE FOR ALL TIME, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.”

  52. joycemb says:

    Remembering this old song,

    Trust and obey. For there’s no other way,
    To be HAPPY in Je-sus…
    Than to trust and obey.

    The song has it right. I am not happy when I disobey, but I don’t lose my salvation.

    If you are not one of His it doesn’t matter if you disobey because it’s His salvation, not our TRYING that saves us.

  53. jeff1 says:

    While I am among those who believe Christ died for mankind’s past, present and future sins I also believe in God’s plan to separate God’s good seed from the evil seed of Satan in His time and for all time.

    God does not allow suffering unless for a very good reason and that means that many of us may have suffered through our own negligence which is what I did but likewise there are many who have suffered for God’s purpose.

    God saving mankind does not mean that there will not be rewards for those who have walked a blameless life of faith as opposed to myself who made many bad choices by not being diligent in my walk.

    I believe Gary that when God establishes His Kingdom on earth He will trust His authority to those who have obeyed diligently as well as to those whom know His word as He is a righteous God above all else.

  54. foreverblessed says:

    This time of year is so nice, when the night is falling, and the lights appear in the houses, and in the gardens. Just lovely.
    But tonight a special light is on, the new moon, just small and tiny. But promising that in two weeks it will be full again.
    All this about the Light that entered the world. The Light that Saves us, and that is Jesus Christ!

    Anyway, I wanted to write last night on this blog, but had not time. Telling about Adam and Eve, that lost their secure life in the Garden of Eden, their life which was all OK, because God cared for them. Nothing to worry about, all was good. Always food around, shelter, good Company.
    And then they lost that. and a whole was formed in their heart. An emptiness, and fear for life. Where to live, how to get food, and shelter, and so on. and so on. The human life started without the security of a Great God who cared for them.

    We in Christ can have that security back, we have to fight for it, as there are many fears to overcome, many troubles that we face.
    But I wanted to tell about that life that is secure in Christ
    Blessed assurance Jesus is mine…… and I am His.

    God calling of December 13 spoke to speaks about it too
    here it is:


    God calling by twolisteners
    December 13 Perpetual Guidance

    Fullness of Joy. The Joy of Perpetual Guidance. The Joy of knowing that every detail of your lives is planned by Me, but planned with a wealth of tenderness and Love.

    Wait for Guidance in every step. Wait to be shown My way. The thought of this loving leading should give you great Joy. All the responsibility of Life taken off your shoulders. All its business worry taken off your shoulders. It is indeed a Joy for you to feel so free and yet so planned for.

    Oh! the wonder of this a God-guided life. To think anything impossible in such circumstances is to say it cannot be done by Me. To say that is surely a denial of Me.

    “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son.” 1 John 1:3

  55. foreverblessed says:

    So, this is my dream, being worry free and living in the Rest that can only be in Christ.
    The total Sabbath Rest, to be in it, and never be out of it again.
    Has any of you this total security, not worrying, this total -all is well with my soul- security?
    This is not my blog, but I was just wandering. I am stretching my hands out for this life, a blissful life, of a deep trust in Christ Jesus, My Lord. I have it some times a day, but then it slips out of my thoughts again, and I am working, that is working on my own energy, instead of staying focused on Him, my Savior and Friend. There is none like He is, nobody who knows me as He does, nobody who loves me as He does!

  56. joycemb says:

    FYI a “seared conscience” is one that no longer has the ability to receive conviction of sin. God gives them over to their worldly desires along with the consequences thereof. It’s their choice, not Gods. That free will thing again. Kind of like the prodigal, yet was welcomed home when he realized he could not flourish without Him. God always welcomes us back, that’s who He is!

  57. joycemb says:

    You’ve heard of the phrase “hitting bottom”? Yet there is redemption through sharing and giving up our fake selves for real. Surrendering and letting go and letting God take over because we are not able to change ourselves.
    Trusting in a ” Higher power”.
    For Christ followers it is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and His red prove work, not ours.

  58. joycemb says:

    What? Red prove work? Ugh! I meant redemptive work. I love and hate auto correct.

  59. poohpity says:

    I do not know one follower of Christ that doesn’t experience the conviction of sin but when the accuser has anything to do with it; “The enemy seeks to weaken the believer’s confidence and influence by conveying condemnation and guilt. He points out and constantly reminds you of sin and mistakes in order to cripple the believer with discouragement and shame.” The Lord’s conviction and correction to me is way different because it leads to admitting, healing, restoration, forgiveness and redemption a long with buckets full of grace, mercy and love.

  60. oneg2dblu says:

    Pooh… Yes, there is conviction from the Holy Spirit, and that conviction brings to us believer’s, an awareness of our wrong doing, thinking, or desire.

    If that is not a disobedience based guilt, or would your already forgiven theology call it, just more grace awareness?

    Of course not, because grace awareness to your theology, is knowing you are already forgiven, so there is no longer any double dose of cross bearing for Christ, or any more forgiveness needed, you are either forgiven or not.

    And, if you are already forgiven, then why the conviction, which then brings about confession, which then brings about forgiveness, according to the scriptures.

    If you claim that you know of no other Christian who desires to sin or be disobedient, then, what is the battle of the mind all about to you, if not to constantly fight the still active sin nature, alive in every believer.

    Or, are you saying if one has the Holy Spirit living in them, the battle is over?

    Why would a Christian, who you claim only has thoughts of obedience, also need to daily put on the Armor of God?

    Just thinking…

    The scripture is quite clear about how we, by our own desires, get entangled and dragged away to sin.

    James 1:14,15
    “But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own desire. Then when the desire has conceived it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it reaches maturity, produces death.”

    I think your theology/bias toward making your point, is allowing you to tell misguided truths, or the scripture is dead wrong.

    Which would you say is really going on here?

    Gary

  61. poohpity says:

    Gary, I have no idea what you are talking about. The things I believe are what has been taught to me from scripture not just bits and pieces but the whole thing. The whole thing says that Jesus paid the penalty for my sins once for all time. When I confess or admit my sin to Him I know He is faithful and just to forgive me. I do not need to ask Him to forgive me again because I already know that He did, it is a done deal. Why ask for something I already have? The reason I confess it is because I tend to carry the guilt but after confession I do say thank you Lord for your forgiveness and not giving up on me. So it is like keeping a clean slate not all piled up with transgressions.

    If you read the bible the same way as you do the comments it is no wonder you come up with the things you do.

  62. bubbles says:

    We’ve been experiencing spring like temperatures recently. It’s a gift!! A hard rain fell this afternoon and when we walked outside at the end of the day, the sun began to shine. A full rainbow arched across a blue sky. Then the second rainbow formed. I’ve never seen a rainbow with colors as dark as this one had. The purple which is usually pale was vibrant. That rainbow brought smiles to many faces. Although I’m not permitted to speak of God at work, I said, “He always keeps His promises,” to several adult co workers. They smiled, and replied, “Yes, He does!” A brilliant double rainbow in December on a spring like day was a present from God. I think He must have smiled to see the happiness and wonder His creation brought today.

  63. remarutho says:

    Thanks for the lovely picture and the smiles, Bubbles!

    Blessings,
    Maru

  64. oneg2dblu says:

    bubbles… Oh the joy for sharing God even when we are told not to!

    Many workplaces in this darkening world want to suppress His Light everywhere, or put it under a bowl… if you will.

    In a few days I will get a break away from work as the schools will celebrate their PC “Winter Break,” which used to be called Christmas.

    Gary

  65. jeff1 says:

    Life is a journey Gary and believing that Christ died for my/the world’s sins does not mean I am free from temptation of sin but that I am strengthened from entering it to it by the Holy Spirit when I allow it to work in me.

    It is my mind that does battle with Satan for their are voices from experiences I have had telling me I am justified in blaming God for the ugliness in the world and deep down I wonder why God did allow these things to happen which does do damage to my faith.

    It is often when I have doubts about God that my faith is not faith but hope. It is my hope that keeps me going not my faith but I am told that it is only faith that pleases God so I do not see how hope can be fruitful to God which means that those believers whose faith and love in God is secure are fruitful in the Kingdom.

    I see myself as the last in the Kingdom as I am the doubting Thomas when things are going badly wrong in the world I am looking for proof that God is still in charge instead of trusting His word which is what in my way of thinking faith is “trusting God 2 Corinthians 4:18”.

    Faith, hope and love but the greatest of all is love.

  66. poohpity says:

    Mart, That series of self opening gifts that seemed to take centuries to open was found in Christ Jesus. I got the partial picture this morning in reading Colossians when Paul described it as a mystery. Like you were saying, “With words of a blessing wrapped in a curse… God went under cover to carry out the greatest of all stings and revelations.” Paul said, “This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” (Col 1:26-27) “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col 2:2-3)

    Although it may on the surface seem like a curse it was in fact a spiritual blessing that was promised from the beginning. Our first parents lived in the “as is” but it seems that to God it was the yet to come because not only did He cloth them in the skins of animals but in a mysterious revelation that they and us would come to find out that although Satan would lead us to believe God does not have our good in mind or even His own goodness that all the while He actually does.

  67. joycemb says:

    Pooh you said: “The whole thing says that Jesus paid the penalty for my sins once for all time. When I confess or admit my sin to Him I know He is faithful and just to forgive me. I do not need to ask Him to forgive me again because I already know that He did, it is a done deal. Why ask for something I already have?”

    I’m confused as I have never heard that before. Didn’t Jesus tell the disciples in what is known as the Lord’s Prayer to pray, “and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Isn’t that asking for forgiveness? For me, asking for forgiveness when I sin keeps me accountable and reminds me that God is greater. And holds standards I need to keep striving for. It’s intimacy with God. Knowing that my sin (the sin that Jesus died for so we could have a relationship with God) is forgiven, yes, but that relationally I still mess up and need to ask forgiveness as with anyone.

    The Lord’s Prayer was not a parable but a direct teaching for communication with God, although some churches have called it out of date and overused.
    One of those self opening gifts all can enjoy. The gift of intimacy with our creator.

  68. poohpity says:

    Joyce, 1 John 1:9. Jesus died once for all time in earlier verses I put down. If we believe what happened on the Cross then we know all our sins for all times were paid for then and there, forgiven. In the OT when we were first taught about bringing sacrifices to the Temple when we sinned for those sins to be covered but Jesus was the final sacrifice. The Book of Hebrews explains this.

    Yes the prayer guideline that Jesus gave to His followers when they asked how they should pray but remembering that was before the self opening gift had been opened fully at the Cross when Jesus cried out “It is Finished”. Many people, me as well still ask for forgiveness but for me it because I am still learning it has already been done and living in that knowledge gives me a freedom to understand more fully the grace of God.

  69. joycemb says:

    So you believe that once we truly understand grace we no longer need to ask for forgiveness when we sin or transgress, for that matter?

  70. poohpity says:

    If we ask over and over and over again do we really understand it has already been given to us and does that signify we have not truly grasped what was accomplished on the Cross? Rather than asking for it wouldn’t it show we understand by just saying thank you each time we sin or transgress after confession. (i.e. I told a lie Father but you knew I would and still went to the cross for me, thank you for your forgiveness)

  71. joycemb says:

    No can’t go there. Father forgive me for I have sinned still is appropriate for me. Whether He knew I was going to sin or not it shows humility.

  72. poohpity says:

    Does it show humility or a lack of faith? Is it rather showing that the adversary has won by thinking what Christ did on the Cross was not enough? A better understanding may be found in Matt 26:28; Hebrews chapters 9-10; Acts 13:39-39; Col 2:13-14

    I am not in anyway saying that it is a bad thing to ask for forgiveness over and over what I am saying from what the Bible teaches it is just really not necessary. I do not believe that there is a single scripture after the Cross where a believer is taught to ask for forgiveness again after they have been already given it when they came to believe.

  73. joycemb says:

    Lack of faith, no. When I pray, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”, for example, I am including myself. With confession of sin and repentence I am also asking God to forgive me for transgressing against His holiness. We are bought with a price, therefore are held accountable to live reflecting the righteousness of Christ. When I fail, which is daily, I ask forgiveness as I would anyone over me, which happens to be everyone according to Jesus. If as Jesus said a servant is not greater than his master, and Jesus said we are his friends, then, it follows that our Master is God. I believe to not apologize to my master is disrespectful. I believe to hold up the cross as a free get out of jail card saying I no longer need to apologize to God is, well, just wrong. The Lord will show me if I am wrong.

  74. joycemb says:

    If the Lord’s Prayer was only valid pre-cross I wonder why then things like forgiveness, prayers for deliverance, for food and recognition of Gods sovereignty were still used after the cross by NT writers? Maybe they didn’t understand grace?

  75. poohpity says:

    I do not feel comfortable praying what Jesus did from the Cross for the reasons He said that. You said we were bought with a price but it does not seem like that is what you believe. No one said not to admit or confess sins before God or as you said to apologize. It is not about being right or wrong it is about understanding what happened on the Cross. We have been given a get out of jail free card if that is how one looks at it although it is get to heaven by what Jesus did and that was not free at all for Him but an undeserved, unmerited gift for us.

  76. poohpity says:

    So what happened when you accepted Christ into your life? A temporary pardon that was not worth the blood that was shed because it did not take on the sins of the world? So our sins are greater than His grace could ever cover?

  77. joycemb says:

    :-) It is finished Jesus said. But we’re not home yet!

  78. oneg2dblu says:

    Amen!

  79. joycemb says:

    Pooh I’m not disputing the wonder of the cross, just life on the planet in the body until we get Home! God bless you.

  80. oneg2dblu says:

    What a bunch of double talk we whip for ourselves and everybody else when we don’t receive/believe the Word directly from the scriptures, but allow others to teach us a watered down version, designed for the masses.

    The wide road is for them, (the masses on their way to destruction,) but, there is only one way to the Father, and it is a narrow one, according to the scriptures.

    Yet, some claim they find it in nature, on the beach, while fishing, or in the mountains…

    According to Christ, wide is the road the leads to destruction.

    The masses are on the wrong road, but, some still teach all roads lead to Heaven, because it is the Father’s Will that none should perish.

    Sounds almost as good as the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    Gary

  81. oneg2dblu says:

    The cross, endured for all, for all time, for all sin, for the wages of sin, for the end of the sacrifice for sin, for the atonement, for the get out of jail free card, but, only for those who believe in Jesus Christ, as their personal Savior.

    What makes it personal?

    I would say, it is a real Love for Christ, and a Relationship with Christ.

    Christ says, there is a condition…

    “If you love me, you will obey my commands.”

    In other words, Obedience!

    Oh yeah, there is still that Faith thing, because the word says, It is impossible to please God with out having Faith.

    Yet, there is another condition…

    Faith without works (obedience) is dead.

    Perhaps for some they would rather hear, “Father forgive them for they know what they do.”

    Because of the false premise promoted in much of the Grace teaching today, they are taught,

    “You are already forgiven, so it does not matter how you live.”

    That is a very wide and dangerous road for many my friends!

    Gary

  82. joycemb says:

    From Discover the Word today:
    Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. —James 4:10

    Not just for me only but it’s what I live by. Or try to live by. Not always successful but the Holy Spiirt guides. Another of the gifts of God to mere mortals.

  83. poohpity says:

    I am so shocked that the very basics of our faith and belief are so lacking within those who profess to know Christ. Even when given teaching from God’s Word it is not believed so what does that say about how active the deceiver, the ruler of the world, the adversary, Satan, the prince of darkness, the accuser and temper actually is. Believers can be attacked at anytime and any place without giving any thought what so ever because some things can not even be recognized even if they are in your face, can you imagine how difficult it will be when he comes dressed as “the day star” or the “shining one”?

    Now one can see how easily Adam and Eve fell under his power by implying, “Who says your God is as good as he wants you to believe?”

  84. bubbles says:

    Gary, yes, I do share Scripture even though I cannot. Many times a Proverb will come to mind, and I can say a very wise man once wrote. . and then go from there. For instance, the wisest man and rich man once said it’s better to have a good name than great riches. . .;) I am careful but get a point across.

  85. jeff1 says:

    I just want to say Gary that when men shared with me that they felt nearer to God when fishing than they did in church I did not have a problem with that as I was very pleased that they felt near to God.

    I can tell you this when I was doing my best in my younger days to keep the 10 I did not feel near to God for I lived in fear of Him for I was listening to teachers who where preaching hell, fire and brimstone.

    It was a very good friend of mine who had studied her bible from she was a young girl who told me that I was listening to false teaching.

    She told me then I was not saved by how good I could be but by the blood of Christ. The Church that I attend has always taught the same.

    It does not matter whether you believe that I do not go out with the intention of sinning for God knows I do not.

    God know my weaknesses and that I may falter so He has covered those weaknesses by sending His son to die for me.

    Isn’t that what makes God’s ways so much better than man’s for He cares for the weak and lowly as well as the strong and highly which is so different to man’s way.

  86. street says:

    mart said,”In the beginning, Genesis describes a God who was mysteriously wonderful, creative, loving, strong, wise, present, personal, and generous.”…..
    “but to answer the implied “Who says your God is as good as he wants you to believe?”

    i think of the prophet Habakkuk 3:16-18 and the book of Job. these two understood that God withholds no good thing and and will bring salvation and healing, He truly is a Master-craftsman working in human flesh. all his works will praise Him in all circumstances. He is a gift that keeps giving new revelation of His tender mercy and steadfast love. the increase of His Kingdom will have no end. Isaiah 9:7 Merry Christmas

  87. narrowpathseeker says:

    POOH!!! I for one know EXACTLY how active satan is almost everytime I read one of your posts. YOU do NOT, however, deceive me with your cunning condescending words to those you attack. Satan knows scripture and is a believer and he is a liar that can come as an angel of light…..Christ told some Pharisees that their father was satan…the father of lies…so people who lie are not my brothers or sisters in Christ because we don’t have the same father. I pray for anyone that has yet to recognize your deceitful spirit.

  88. oneg2dblu says:

    jeff1… I totally get how people can feel God’s closeness in a Sunset, Sunrise, or while fishing, or on a mountain top, I’ve felt them all as well.

    But, are those fleeting moments, those times of goose bumps and grandeur and the like, although we experience them and they are real, are they what the bible describes as seeing, hearing, and knowing God personally?

    Are they anything like having a daily ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ, or like one day hearing, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

    Just thinking…

  89. oneg2dblu says:

    My pastor was telling us in the Saturday evening service, don’t be fooled by all the decorations on peoples homes, because they do not represent a relationship with Jesus Christ, or any putting of God first in anyone’s lifestyle.

    Public display, is public display, and he said the homes in his complex with the greatest displays, many times do not even want to talk about a relationship with Christ, or any going to church.

    It reminded me of whitewashed tombs, looking good only on the outside, but really dead inside.

    A wake up call to the senses when you drive around and see things all lit up, thinking there’s a good Christian home if I ever saw one.

    We never really know where things stand, until we have that personal relationship with them, or with God.

  90. cbrown says:

    In another “public display”, I would ask That you pray for our Churches prison outreach this Saturday. Pray that we will proclaim the Gospel and that many will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. Joy to all!

  91. joycemb says:

    Praying

  92. poohpity says:

    narrow, Satan tries to stop the preaching of the Gospel and sharing the Good News. The adversary also promotes hatred, bitterness and anger. So who is actually under his control?

  93. SFDBWV says:

    The funny thing this morning is that I started to lay out our Spiritual “gifts” given in Romans 12:6-21 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-31. Of course followed by the famous 1 Corinthians 13:1-13, showing us with the gift of Jesus comes the gift of love.

    Though having read this mornings “Our Daily Bread” I was hesitant to be guilty of “profaning God’s name” by the possibility of misusing Scripture.

    I was dryly amused at the subject given on ODB given the diverse discussion between grace and law and each side giving Scripture to validate their point.

    I will say that if any of you have a Concordance and look up “gifts” there is plenty to read and perhaps discuss.

    I will say that we can do nothing for Jesus for God without He first giving us the ability to.

    32 degrees this morning after two days of wet foggy weather.

    Sad that some always seek to take the “Joy” out of living and do so thinking they do God a service in doing so.

    Steve

  94. remarutho says:

    Good Morning BTA Friends —

    Today, we move to single digit number of days until we celebrate the birth of the Holy Child. What a wonder! The bursting forth of the long-time desire of the Father to make a Way where there was no way!

    Praise the Lord!
    Praise God in His sanctuary;
    Praise Him according to His excellent greatness…
    Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
    Praise the Lord!

    Advent Grace & Peace to all here,
    Maru

    39F and cloudy in the valley — good chance of rain.

  95. remarutho says:

    Prayers going up for the prison ministry over here, Chris!

    We will be offering socks, hats, gloves and scarves to our
    Community Food Pantry guests the same day.

    The joy of the Lord is (your) strength.

  96. oneg2dblu says:

    cbrown… Done!
    Prayers released, and God hears every one of them.

  97. oneg2dblu says:

    I do trust that taking the freedom to sin away from those who are taught they are already forgiven, may seem like some of their joy is lost, but, the word of God does not quite relate to godly living, as lacking any Joy!

    In fact there are great rewards for thousands explained in Exodus 20:6 KJV
    “and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”

    Now there are many today who will say that no one can ever do such, meaning that this verse, never really came to fruition.

    I guess we could say that Christ also, being God in the flesh, placed a condition on those things that God had shewn His Mercy for doing.

    “If you love me, you will obey my commands.”

    In my daily reading today, I was not surprised to see this echoed in this conditional versing…

    2 Timothy 2:19 NIV

    “But God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription:
    “The Lord knows those who are his,”and,
    “All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”

    The rest of that, “frowned upon and dismissed condition,” as taught by many Grace teachers today, is further defined in the following verses, 20-26 which do not leave an abundance of wiggle room for those who refuse to change.

    Just thinking…
    Gary

  98. foreverblessed says:

    Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

    That is a very clear command in the bible.

    Instead of telling over and over again how wrong people are…..

    Start praying for them!

    A prayer of a righteous man availeth much (I like the old spelling) James 5:16
    A man, or woman that is right in Christ, a man who is secure IN Him, that prays, for people that are around him, for people that have all these christmas lights, start praying,
    And what a joy htese prayers can bring, I pray, when I see a house with christmas trees,
    Father in heaven, may they see the Real Light that has come in the world, Shine with the Light of Christ in their hearts.

    Ans when all these christmas songs are heard all around us, Mart let me see how much of the Gospel is in them,
    when Hark the Herald Anges sing is heard, I pray, Father, may the words of the song these people hear now with their ears, be as a seed in their hearts, that when the time is there for their hearts to see the Light of the Gospel, they might understand and see You.
    yes, and what a joyt that brings when I pray like that!

    It works soooo much better then seeing the deceit, and the evil. Then I am overcome with negativity. It is not that I do not want to see the evil, but having seen it once, what does help more: to ask God to have His power working in them, then me, thinking over and over again, how wrong they are?

    The answer is: Intercessory prayer!

  99. foreverblessed says:

    Say, for instance, the song:
    O Holy night,,,

    then it says: Fall on your knees!

    Now imagine the people around you in the streets, when that hear the song, and you pray, “may they fall on their knees, when the time is due, let them adore You!
    As the prophecy in Zechariah 12:10
    ” And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.”

    I remember Mart using this prophecy a long time ago, about praying for Israel, that there will be an opening, of their hearts, and suddenly they will see. But we can pray for all those around us, and ESPECIALLY the ones that irritate us!

    So, yes, pray Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do,
    Yes pray that prayer, and pray that the Light of the Gospel may touch their heart, as is described in Zech 12:10

    And fall on their knees, another bible verse come to mind:
    “By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.”
    Isaiah 45:23, and then I pray that the bowing of the knees will be of a sincere heart, a heart that has undergone Zech 12:10

  100. oneg2dblu says:

    When I said, Grace teachers, I meant to say Grace Changers, those who preach today using Grace as if it is a license to sin.
    All who teach the Word of God, or about God, will have a Grace component in their message, if they teach the whole truth.

    We all experience Grace, those who will repent and turn back to God.
    Gary

    Off to work…

  101. SFDBWV says:

    Great wisdom and caution should be exercised when dealing with fools and cults as they gather their momentum from being criticized and erroneously believe that they are martyred for their “false” beliefs.

    I love to see the Christmas lights up on people’s houses and yards and to listen to the Christmas music that is played this time of year.

    I also like the familiar ringing of the Salvation Army kettle tenders outside of the stores and am pleased to see people smiling and they feel the JOY the Christmas season brings with it.

    I have not put up a tree for years, but always enjoy the beauty of them as all of the decorations and attention is because of the celebration of the birth of Jesus into the World.

    Reading of your pastors view of Christmas decorations Gary explains some of why you think the way you do, it is because of what you are fed.

    I have a new name for you Gary…Grinch.

    Steve

  102. poohpity says:

    Mart, stated; “But for thousands of years the mysterious gift would remain unopened.”

    “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. 5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

    9 God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. 10 And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. 11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.” (Eph 1:3-11)

  103. poohpity says:

    But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

    8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” (Eph 2:4-9)

    Do you see Gary that all you teach is contrary to what God teaches us through His Word and what we who believe know in our hearts. Praying that one day you will believe and know it too. Praying for Pearl and Joyce as well as many others and those who you share with too in the prison, Chris that their hearts will be set free.

  104. narrowpathseeker says:

    POOH.. YES, I agree “The adversary also promotes hatred, bitterness and anger.” and I also believe that you are a master promoter of those attributes. As to this “So who is actually under his control?” I am under the influence of “The Truth shall set you free” I openly as well as privately confess all the ugliness that overcomes me often and at any given time.. I pray the 51st Psalm more than once daily and give thanks as well as ask for mercy and forgiveness countless times a day. I have had no ugly feelings towards anyone else on this blog. You are the ONLY one here that kindles ugly fires for me. On the other hand you attack just about everyone here except Mart, which proves to me that you know EXACTLY what you are doing because if it was just a case that you didn’t know any better or lacked control you wouldn’t leave him out.

    As foreverblessed has stated… “The answer is intercessory prayer” I agree full heartedly and we are also to do good to our enemies. I do not believe doing good is condoning or giving nicety nice comments to people attacking people for the things they themselves are doing on a far larger scale. So while I very seldom forget to pray for such individuals I will not be an enabler or support them in their folly.

    I have tried to stay away from here for long periods of time because we are living in a critical time and we need all the Fruit we can have Grown in us…Unfortunately curiosity killed the cat…I was informed of some “goings on” here and didn’t resist the temptation.. Therefore, if I don’t come back before the New Year… I pray that you all have a Blessed and Fruitful Christmas season that will continue throughout the New Year.

  105. poohpity says:

    narrow can you give me an example of what you think is an attack on anyone? Do I call people names or speak as if I hate anyone? I speak the way I do to Mart because I have great respect for him as a teacher, the abilities he has of getting us to think for ourselves and because he is my brother which is the way I treat most other people as well even those that think I am their enemy.

  106. joycemb says:

    I think what narrow is saying is that if the “public” persona and “private” are in direct contradiction then there lies the problem. If what we speak doesn’t match our real selves then it’s hard to take that one seriously, and deception can be joyless to say the least. While we all deceive even ourselves at times, it is maddening for her and others to watch the deception persist.

    As for myself I’ve finally been able to let-go of my anger. However I will challenge a public lie when I see one, lest others be deceived. I’m glad pooh that you finally admitted that asking forgiveness for our current sins is valid, however saying that we don’t understand the tenets of our faith is a low, condescending way of saying ” you may be right but I still understand the gospel more than most”. “So there, see, I am better than you all after all”. Doesn’t work because Jesus taught humility, not condescension and quoting scripture endlessly when our comfort zone is challenged. There are RIGHT fighters and there are truth fighters.

    Forever said pray only, I say speak and pray when you know the other person is not capable of hearing anything but what’s in their sin sick heart. And especially those who make an appearance of being part of the Body; or those who live their own version of the good news.

    Pooh you challenged my friend narrow to share what you have said wrong. You know she won’t share publicly or even privately for that matter what she knows. I too have only talked to Mart about the deception, yet some of us pray for each other to overcome our shock and anger toward your persistent facade of knowing and speaking the words of the Bible, yet, well, you can fill in the blanks yourself.

    While grace is something none of us completely understands, we all have our struggles with it, yet, if I were confronted with ungodly behavior by several people I would surely take a good long, prayerful look at myself, instead of lashing back.

  107. joycemb says:

    Correction: when I say I spoke to Mart it was through email and did not get a response back.

  108. joycemb says:

    Praying to be set free of accountability to God is not freedom but a lie. A lie that goes wayyyy back. Joy is found in knowing all our sins were forgiven and that that forgiveness extends to today tomorrow and forever. Confession and repentance and seeking forgiveness keeps me from being “like God”.

  109. poohpity says:

    lol When did I finally admit “that asking forgiveness for our current sins is valid”? That goes totally against what I believe was done on the Cross. Jesus died once for all time for the forgiveness of my sin and no I do not believe I or anyone who has put their faith in Jesus wants to go on purposefully sinning because of it nor do I want to but yes I still do. That is why that gift is so totally amazing and beyond my human comprehension.

  110. joycemb says:

    Pooh said 2:35 “No one said not to admit or confess sins before God or as you said to apologize.”

    You contradicted yourself from what you said earlier about those who do this are not understanding grace.

    Pooh said: December 15, 2015 at 12:50 pm
    If we ask over and over and over again do we really understand it has already been given to us and does that signify we have not truly grasped what was accomplished on the Cross? Rather than asking for it wouldn’t it show we understand by just saying thank you each time we sin or transgress after confession. (i.e. I told a lie Father but you knew I would and still went to the cross for me, thank you for your forgiveness)

    Maybe to you this sounds strong and spiritually healthy but to me it’s the opposite.

  111. poohpity says:

    One is confession and the other saying thank you for giving us forgiveness. I understand that is how you read it which is very different than what was said but isn’t that usually how misunderstanding happens?

  112. joycemb says:

    Misunderstanding, yes, ok, sure

  113. poohpity says:

    Do you even know what honesty is?

  114. street says:

    i think i c some foolishness in the details. chambers wrote about it in a recent devotional about sorrow forgiveness and repentance. you can have sorrow and forgiveness without repentance. fooling yourself that you are good to go. only to repeat your sin.

    there is a verse in Job that speaks i think clearly to the issue,” If you lay a hand on it, you will remember the struggle and never do it again! [9] Any hope of subduing it is false; the mere sight of it is overpowering. [10] No one is fierce enough to rouse it. Who then is able to stand against me? ”

    to think we ever are done with the influence of sin in ours lives this side of heaven is like a deer in the head lights waiting for death. we must become like dependent trusting little children before a Mighty and Powerfully Loving God. trusting God in all circumstances knowing He can call us home at any time and in any way. paul strained in reaching for this. He was very focused in following correctly so as to not be disqualified. putting on the armor with out love is a waist of time and pleasure. i like the devotional today about struggling before God and not with Him. it made me smile.

  115. joycemb says:

    Street I read it also and found it comforting. God is God and we are not.
    How great Thou art!

  116. oneg2dblu says:

    Steve… just opened another gift from you.

    Another demeaning name to add to your list of many you have given me here over the years.

    My story about the lights, was what my pastor personally experienced when he approached some of his neighbors who had the most wonderful decorations.

    If lights on a particular house mean something else to you, like an earnest compulsion to display the Lord’s Birth, a heart for God, or a confirmed Follower of Christ, then, that must be your personal experience.

    Thanks for sharing all the good feelings I’m sure we all get within us when we see them, hear the music, or see the bell ringers.

    Hearing another take on it though, is not part of my constant diet, nor was it my finding, it is his, and he shared it to show us all the old rule, “You can’t tell a book by the cover.”

    Nor, must one live up to your demeaning names you feel you must throw at me.

    Have a Blessed Day, my Brother in Christ,
    Gary

  117. narrowpathseeker says:

    Joyce, thank you for understanding my comment to Pooh and for explaining my stance perfectly. I will not debate her in her satanic like strategy. She has left a perfect example of just what she does that is maddening and exhibits satanic like strategy. She has been exposed numerous times by numerous different people that she is dishonest/deceitful…When she realizes which particular offense of hers is in the Light she will throw it at someone else….like today…it is dishonesty…so she blatantly asks YOU if you even know what honesty is!!! Of course you and I KNOW you do and that you practice honesty, but this is how she handles her sins..by heaping them on anyone else’s door but her own!!

    This is why I will expose her on occasion but I will not debate her in her satanic manner. Thank you again.. have a Blessed evening.. I will get back to memorizing some Psalms..not doing too bad at it for 71!! I have truly surprised even myself!!

  118. joycemb says:

    Pooh I’m as honest as God enables me. I am much more honest than I used be, how about you?

  119. oneg2dblu says:

    “you can have sorrow and forgiveness without repentance. fooling yourself that you are good to go. only to repeat your sin.”

    Genius!

    There is a great difference between true repentance, a turning away from, and a repeating.

    Those who repeat their particular besetting sin, over and over, have not yet truly repented from that besetting sin.

    Although they may have been sorrowful, and have experienced forgiveness in the past, they are still allowing themselves in the future, to be held captive, until they fully resist the devil, then, he will not depart.

    According to what I’ve read, James 4:7 NIV

    “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

    Gary

  120. joycemb says:

    I’ve heard the teaching that says; what does God see when He looks at me? Jesus! Yay, I’m perfect in His eyes! Yay! I can do no wrong because His blood cover covers ALL my sin!

    This is a lie. An American made counterfeit of the true Gospel as presented in the Word of God. It feeds into our well known and widely experienced American narcissism. Unfortunately some of the most popular “men of God” still teach this, along with the health, wealth and prosperity gospel.

    I believe Mart is far beyond this personally and so appreciate his discussions on grace and seeking the pearl of great price, if you will. But everything man made is dung, truly.

  121. bubbles says:

    Eph. 4:29 says “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

    and

    Eph. 4:32 says, “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

    Tears are coming right now. . . .

  122. joycemb says:

    Gary I have to say I too think your pastors example was in poor taste. Using the “example” of bright lights to cast aspersions on possible “unbelievers” does not make for divine light but darkness. As believers we are not to judge possible unbelievers as Paul says.

    When my daughter was 13 she began a rebellious tyrade against everything good in her life. Through prayer and many calls to her counselor and also family counseling she did a turn around her senior year. She settled down and ended up getting on the honor roll. I proudly displayed an honor roll status sticker on my car bumper for her and all to see how she had changed. I was truly proud of her. That fall I started Christian college having the sticker still on. Then one day a professor and pastor made a derogatory remark in class about parents who display honor stickers of their children on their bumpers. I was offended; he knew nothing about me nor the struggles I had as a single parent of 3 teenagers that I had to deal with myself. Nor did he seem to care, he just used my ‘boasting’ to make his point. I’m sure he’s moved past that kind of preaching by now, I would hope, and pray yours will also.

  123. joycemb says:

    Thank you Lord for Bubbles gift of tears..

  124. SFDBWV says:

    My friend “Grinch” you are most welcome for the gift of a nickname.

    Having the experience of being in the Marine Corps from 17 -22, working in power plants and welding shops and a long career in the underground coal mines put me with a lot of tough guys and one thing I can assure you is that if you did something embarrassing or stupid or perhaps eventful you gained a nickname for it.

    Don’t be angry Grinch, the nickname fits.

    No matter what the subject sooner or later you “Grinch” it up by stating that all the rest of us are either false teachers or being misled by false teaching because we don’t agree with you.

    Now it may be that you don’t realize how nasty you sound, so rather than my thinking you are so negative on purpose, I am going to hope you are just oblivious to your delivery.

    Now whereas I fully agree with Foreverblessed in the concept of intercessory prayer, I also agree that we should confess our sins, if we know we have sinned and ask forgiveness. I also believe we should ask for forgiveness for any unknown sins we may be guilty of.

    Part of realizing unknown trespasses is being told of them.

    Just so you know, my nickname in the mines was “brother”, because I called everyone else brother either because of our union affiliation or our solidarity in Christ.

    A few of the fellows called me Mayor, because I was, and we all shared a laugh at whatever nicknames we “earned”.

    Mellow out Grinch it’s the Christmas season try hard to share some “Joy” instead of hell fire and damnation.

    Please consider this an added gift of my time this evening.

    Steve

  125. joycemb says:

    Speaking of nicknames,
    Steve the first time I saw your online name, not having the correct lense of my tri-focals in focus I saw “speedway” so that’s my nickname for you :-). I’m sure you feel like you are on one some days!

  126. oneg2dblu says:

    Joyce… would it have been in better taste for you and “brother,” if my pastor lied about trying to talk to his neighbors about Christ, about and going to our church, telling us instead how receptive they all were to his reaching out?

    Should he have said, I have found that, “the brighter the lights, the better their relationship is with Christ?”

    To all…

    Sorry to bring to light, if you will, the reality that all decorations displayed during this season, all lighting displays and all those lovely cards and gifts we receive, do not all reflect anything about Jesus Christ, or His Birth , His Lordship, His Dominion, His Sovereignty.

    Or, maybe we are now so blinded by all the lights, we can’t see what has been slowly darkening, or slipping away every year.

    Filled in with…Happy Holidays, Holiday Greetings, Season’s Greetings, Yule Tide and Holly, Good Old Saint Nick, Frosty the Snowman,
    Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer, Candy Canes, Snowflakes,
    Holiday Trees, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, and of course, lets not forget the Grinch, and the like… all that tripe, on the tips of our tongues, all on display, all competing with and drawing the world further away from the real Reason for the Season, and all the while, pointing to their greater one world message, and it ain’t found in their Manger, it is found in their Marketing.

    But of course, real Christians would never get caught up in all the other worldly stuff, Right?

    Oh, there I go again, always bringing in the rest of the story.

    “Lord, I know I just can’t help myself, so that’s why I know your here, and always helping me.”

    HIS

  127. oneg2dblu says:

    Brother says… “No matter what the subject sooner or later you “Grinch” it up by stating that all the rest of us are either false teachers or being misled by false teaching because we don’t agree with you.”
    Gee, I thought I was bringing some actual scripture with my Grinch like moments.

    “I guess your word just can’t please them all Lord!”

    They only want to promises spoken here, and let the warnings fall somewhere else, where they too are received as truth, and not rejected.

    By a sensing of corporate advisement, I’ll now stomp the dust off my feet now, and leave.

    HIS

  128. cbrown says:

    Gary, after reading your several posts about Christmas I did not look at my neighbors any differently nor did I take my Christmas decorations down.

  129. bubbles says:

    I have cried every day since last Monday.

  130. joycemb says:

    Gary you said: We never really know where things stand, until we have that personal relationship with them, or with God.

    If they won’t listen to your pastor does that mean they are rejecting Christ? Or you or me for that matter?
    Come on! We are not the only messengers in the world, are we? Having or not having decorations does not a Christian make. I’m not mad at all with you Gary, just sharing my opinion. (I dare you to show me scripture that says houses should not be decorated. Well, Paul mentioned women newly coming into Christian home churches should not wear fancy jewelry because the temple prostitutes dressed up and they needed to be different than cultural norms and standards of impurity because Christ had set them free from all that.)
    Don’t get mad get even, seek the truth with your whole heart, accept criticism and humble yourself before God. He has His reasons for every interaction here. And Je is our sovereign master. Take heart, God is good! Merry Christ-mas brother.

  131. joycemb says:

    Oops. Je should be He

  132. joycemb says:

    Oh that’s right, it’s brother Grinch isn’t it? Cute name for such a loveable little brother. (I’m serious :-) )

  133. joycemb says:

    Good morning,
    it’s the middle of the night for me but The Lord woke me up with an important dream. In my dream I accidentally scraped a metal pole in a parking lot: no big deal I thought. But then the parking attendants came out and said: we know you scraped this pole and you have to pay. I watched as they used a false measure and said “yes the scratches match your bumper. I was so angry and continued to deny hitting it because to me it was not a big deal as the pole was old and scratched up anyway. Well they “sentenced” me to have to come back and pay $7 a day for 4 or 5 days. I woke up realizing how easily I tried to cover up my sin by denying it ever happened and even downplaying it to myself. Yes I lied but still had to pay as a consequence.

    The dream really showed me how easily we can get defensive to protect ourselves, to protect our ‘image’ of who we think we are or would like to be,

    We all make mistakes or can cause misunderstandings, however nothing gets past God who holds us accountable because He loves us that much. The $7 a day really was not a burden for me, it was more the humiliation of being caught and even though they used a crooked measure and had no real proof I was charged anyway. God is real just like that. I can’t begin to measure up to His righteousness, yet, He does prick our conscience when we lie, or even try to deceive ourselves with cover ups. Just like a good parent would do.

    God is doing something powerful on this blog. May we all have the humility to listen to what He may be saying to us.
    Thank you Lord and good night all.

  134. SFDBWV says:

    For those who may have access this month’s “Decision” magazine from Billy Graham Evangelistic Association has two interesting articles in it titled “Unpacking the Ultimate Gift”. One a Q&A interview with Ravi Zacharias and an article from J.I. Parker.

    I found it curiously interesting when I received the copy that it was the ongoing subject of Mart’s BTA blog.

    Unsettling for some, both articles mention the political issue of today (abortion) as well as the acceptance of believing in the supernatural birth of Jesus being both God and “the Second Man”.

    However both articles deliver up the answer to what and who is the “Ultimate Gift”.

    It would seem the “gift” idea was in the air. I attribute that old adage of “being in the air” to the mention of the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the Disciples as sounding like a roaring wind.

    Bubbles I hope you are comforted today and your tears turn to JOY.

    Steve

  135. foreverblessed says:

    Thanks Steve, I try now to post on my smartphone.
    Gary, God bless you. Ander I must tell you, I am freed from negative reactions to your warnings. Thanks to God! He freed me!
    I rejoice greatly for He delivered me, He set me free.

  136. foreverblessed says:

    I was raised in A church that preached like your pastor, emphasising the wrong in the world, ander the so- called christians. And when I read your comments the reaction in me was ‘grinch’, so, God was not in charge but negativity.
    Now I am so full of Joy! God be praised, He sent His Son to earth to Free us from the dark force.

    Yes, Hosanna in the Highest

  137. foreverblessed says:

    Ander= and
    Thanks to autocorrection, making and into A Dutch word for: other

  138. foreverblessed says:

    I will confess some more: my old church considered Christmas as A pagan Holiday, and so sinfull.
    God have mercy on my old church, and all their members.
    Yes, Steve I also agree to confess, to ask for forgiveness.

    It has taken me A long time to enjoy Christmas.
    Last year I joined A project choir, studying Weihnacts Oratorium by Bach. It has such beautifull and evangelical lyrics:
    As Christ was born in A crib, Lets prepare our hearts as A ‘bettelyn’ to receive Christ.

    That maken it very very personal, a very intimate relation with Christ.

  139. foreverblessed says:

    The whole night I have been praying for this blog, it made me so sad, like Bubbles, she described it so simple: tears!
    And God gave me Joy! I pray that He will give you all Joy, heavenly Joy,the Joy that is eternal, and no one, or any comment van snatch away!
    And God bless Mart with an extra portion of Joy!
    That his tears will be turned into merry-ness.
    Merry Christmas!

  140. SFDBWV says:

    Foreverblessed you are very welcome, and I am happy that you are free to worship Jesus and enjoy the Christmas season.

    A Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    Steve

  141. foreverblessed says:

    (I am travelling by train right now, and so have time to comment)

    Psalm 126:4-6
    Restore our fortunes, Lord
    Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy
    Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seeds to sow,
    will return with songs of joy
    carrying sheaves with them

    My prayer to God is that especially Mart will carry a great harvest from this blog!

  142. foreverblessed says:

    Thanks Steve, I merrily accept it!
    and MERRY Christmas for you too, and for your family, and… (I may ask what I want…) for your whole town, the town where you are Major, may God bless them with His Spirit of Peace and His Spirit of Love!

  143. jeff1 says:

    Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers as the song says and it is in knowing this that I believe that God has chosen and by chosen I mean pre-destined what I now believe to be His children whom He has scattered through the world and one day will gather up again as the bible so prophecies.

    Those chosen may go through hell on earth or they may not because I now know God chooses His own warriors as He does His own peacemakers.

    Gary made reference Dec 15th 3.49 pm to myself making reference to the fact that faith pleases God but also added that faith without works is dead.

    This seems to be where most believers differ there are those like myself who believe faith in Christ is what God asks and no more for Salvation is a gift.

    There is those believers like Gary who believe faith without works is dead and does effect our Salvation.

    As you know I was brought up in a Country where two religions entered a war that turned out to be a very bloody one and lasted for 30 years.

    I learned a lot from that war about God, myself and others.

    My conclusion is that while God does not want wars to happen He knows human nature and especially fallen human nature.

    As a 15 year old I had no knowledge of Irish history for I was born a Protestant and brought up British and had been taught British history at school.

    In my Society at that time I was very aware of the division in Catholics and Protestants for I was about to see a war that although I was not aware of had been going on for some time.

    My mother then tried to explain to me why we where killing each other and how the IRA had been around from her day and that was since the 1920’s.

    The reason for the war was that the Catholics believed that we the Protestants where discriminating against them and they where not getting equal rights.

    My father at the time whom I now know was gifted with being a very wise man held very different solutions to what I did and I wandered from my teachings and listened to those that I now know did not have my father’s wisdom.

    It was during that time that God made me realize how I had very double standards but I was not seeing it that way and one reason that stands out in my mind for me not seeing it was my anger.

    This is a very small Country by comparison to mainland Britain and so when someone was killed if you did not know them personally you knew their families.

    Violence and hatred became a way of life to us here. Security was everywhere and it was normal to be shopping when you would here a bomb go off or the area was cleared because of a bomb scare.

    When a war lasts as long as this one did it changes you but they are gradual changes so you do not notice them at first.

    I begin to realize how hard I had become towards others for while I am not trying to make excuses for my hardening of my heart I became aware that I was becoming very critical and judgmental.

    I also had personal relationship problems and ended up have a nervous breakdown by the time I was 38. It was my faith in God and my earthly father who got me through it and while I would not wish psychosis on anyone I believe my friend was right when she told me God would not leave me and I should say the Lords’s prayer when I was alone and frightened and He would help me and that is just what happened and while I take medication which was prescribed for me at the time by the Doctors it is God whom I believe has given me my mind back to a normality that I can live with.

    My friend unlike myself was brought up brethren, she was much more intelligent than I was at school and was a great reader 6 or 7 books a week and as brethren had studied the bible in great depth.

    Her friendship to me during my illness and her insistence that God would never leave me and that no matter how depressed and anxious I may feel God would be faithful to me made an impact on me that I could never have imagined.

    I want you to consider Gary that it is God who knows us personally and as such I believe is the one best to judge whom He allows into Heaven.

    I will share with you what I believe God has shown me over the years:

    1. I should not interfere in matters that are above my understanding and are for Him to judge.

    2. That what He asks from me is to trust Him even when circumstances are difficult and I may suffer or see others suffer.

    3. That suffering is necessary now in order for Him to separate evil from good for eternity.

    4. That no matter how dark the world gets He is still in control of the cosmos and it is Satan disrupting my mind that causes my depression and anxiety.

    During my stay in hospital my father and I noticed that the medical staff where 80% Roman Catholic and my father knew an administrator and asked him why so little Protestants worked for the Health Trust and he replied that the applicants are from the Roman Catholic community and not from the Protestant community.

    I was discussing it with my friend and she said to me did I not know that the difference in our faiths was that Roman Catholics believed it was good works get them to Heaven while we believed it was the “Blood of Christ”.

    It is why she said that many choose jobs of a caring profession because of their beliefs.

    I then discovered as I had worked for the Security Forces all my life that 80% of Protestants choose to work in defense jobs.

    Do you think this is by God’s providence or coincidence?

    God’s purpose is for the greater good of mankind and to my way of thinking I am still part of the human race.

    Granted those in my family who do not share my belief in God often say to me that I live on another Planet!

  144. cbrown says:

    Since both Steve and Gary refer to the book of James at times I went back myself to see what It says. I love the book of James.It only makes since to me though when when guided by His spirit. James2:8 If, however, you are fulfilling the [i]royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the [j]law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole [k]law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the [l]law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy [m]triumphs over judgment.”

  145. refump says:

    Gary, I believe the way you administer your pills here, for most of us, make them hard to swallow is you seem to always be a “hammer” looking for a “nail”. My guess is that you want to be seen as a beacon of warning but it does not come across that way. You warn that obedience is a requirement for being on the “narrow way” which I don’t dispute but question how much obedience is enough. Complete obedience? Majority obedience? Partial obedience ? Or do we fall off the “narrow Way” when we are not in complete obedience? What does complete obedience look like? It sounds like perfection to me & we know only Jesus Christ was perfect.
    You also keep “hammering” the statement that if one believes that grace covers all our sins, past, present & future that we also must believe we can live however we want doing whatever we want. As Pooh & others have pointed out their is no one on this blog that has indicated they believe this. In fact, we believe that this grace that covers ALL ours sins past, present & future is the grace that inspires us to have & develope that relationship with the ONE who gave us that gift. To love Him back & want to please Him & live for Him.
    There is difference in speaking the truth in love & speaking the truth to prove one is right. You may win the battle with that second approach but you will not win the war?

  146. poohpity says:

    The “law of liberty” mentioned in James is the Gospel of Grace or the Good News of God’s grace and speaking the truth in love is teaching about Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one gets to the Father except through Him (the Narrow Way). What a valuable gift we have been freely given even though to Jesus it was not free it cost Him, His life but that was what He was born for to die for us.

  147. poohpity says:

    When we know that I wonder will the question of God’s goodness or His love for us ever come. Or the implied question that the adversary present to us, ““Who says your God is as good as he wants you to believe?” I DO!!!

  148. SFDBWV says:

    Viv God bless you, you have had quite a life and in my opinion turned out very well. Thank you for your comments.

    I was raised up as a child in a “Brethren” church like your friend, but due to too many circumstances to get into here I started off as a teenager and young adult sewing wild oats at odds with living a Christ like life.

    However as it is said in Scripture “If you raise up your children with the knowledge of God it will never depart from them.” As I look back across my life from hindsight I can easily see where God never left me, always faithful always present. In due time I returned to my faith.

    However by that time the Brethren church here in the USA had merged with the Methodists. As time went by I was shocked to learn that when the merger occurred there were some from each church that would never return to church services because of the merger.

    I think any parent who has two children knows how the two are most often at odds with each other over just about everything.

    While the bombings and murders in Northern Ireland where making headlines here in the USA I couldn’t understand how Christian’s could be killing each other over one being Catholic and the other Protestant.

    It took reading of the history of the matter and updating to the more modern reasons for the intense hatred before any of it made sense, if there was such a thing as understanding why so many could be so misled.

    I have learned only too well that prejudice and bigotry is taught and handed down from generation to generation and can only be broken in the same way, though here will be some who will never let go of their hate for anyone or any reason.

    Like many before us I too pray for peace in your land and mine.

    Chris I hope that if I am being credited with quoting James, as well in my opinion the whole of Scripture, it is remembered that in my opinion grace/mercy will always triumph over law/judgement.

    Way out of time, but enjoyed my time with you all this morning.

    Steve

  149. joycemb says:

    Good morning again all. Thinking about Viv’s experiences with war between 2 major Christian churches it somehow ties in as a warning to those here (dear brother a Grinch) who are forever pointing out the ‘dangers’ of grace believers vs obedience believers. Be careful you are not trying to start a war here by listening to a pastor that sounds as though he promotes more strife than peace. Remember that Christ went to the cross with no weapons, even though He could have called 10000 angels to intercede for him he did not. There is a lesson there for us all of course,

    Discover the Word is beautiful this week.

  150. jeff1 says:

    Yes Joyce I have seen enough of hatred and how it destroys and God’s way is the better way. When you see the victims of war and live with the scars of it you long for God’s peace and not man’s.

    As Steve says prejudice and bigotry are handed down but my father did not hand it down to me but instead led by example as he was one of the good guys who tried to break the cycle of hate but people who are hurting have their hearts set on revenge and are not listening to the voice of reason but the one who shouts the loudest!

  151. joycemb says:

    Yes and sometimes I wish God would shout at me when I become distracted by the noise within and outside yet He says to “Be still and know..”. Sometimes He even goes so far as to speak to us in our dreams if sleeping is what it takes to be still.

    Viv I am so thankful you had a Godly influence in your life of strife and war; being able to let go of my own battle walking through PTSD is finally getting better after some 60 years of battle. Not gone away completely but more manageable finally. It’s all Gods doing and like you are so grateful to know Him and the peace that passes all understanding even in the midst of war.

    I know there are no quick fixes and formulas for changing a brain that has been broken, much like a broken leg. It just takes time and
    God bless us and all others who have who have had to deal with not only our own questions of why can’t I fix this but the disappointment of others who can’t understand because they can’t see the damage in our brains so out of their own frustration think we should just get over it and try harder. I had a couple Christian counselors that only made me worse assuming it was only spiritual and I was not allowing God to heal me. It was finally a psych.D. who with enough knowledge and experience showed me it wasn’t my fault! That my brain was damaged and taught me how to manage it, all the while leaning hard on God for comfort and help. Just as you do. Merry Christmas to you and peace multiplied! Joyce

  152. foreverblessed says:

    Joyce, this morning I did not see your comment about your dream?!

    But what a great message it has:
    What a great improvement to our christian life it would be if we were not in the business of defending ourselves.
    Jesus is our great Example, He was not defending Himself either.

    It is very good for killing our old man, to start trying not to defend ourselves.
    See what impulses well up inside me when people misqoute me, or misunderstand me.
    But I have said to Jesus that He is my Lord, He will defend me in due time. When I do that I hinder Him!

    Good night, it is beleven overhere.
    May God bless you and watch over you, may you be in His Hands.

  153. joycemb says:

    Forever yes it so wonderful to be free from the irritants in life: to finally be able to let-go and let God as the saying goes. So happy for you and it is wonderful to be at peace again. I understand things better now and so appreciate your prayers and encouragement. What God has taught me is that I cannot have a conversation with someone who triggers my unhealed emotions. Being sensitive is a warning God has given me to avoid further pain and damage,

    I get it now and again thank you and others who pray for the blog,

    Merry Christmas over there and peace!
    Joyce

  154. street says:

    self opening gifts
    thinking these gifts were given out of His great creativity wisdom and love.

  155. street says:

    it is sometimes difficult to believe His generosity presents and love, but this comes from the failings of man, not from the givers part.

  156. joycemb says:

    “Who says your God is as good as he wants you to believe?”

    Now that’s a dare with a promise that left a slimy serpent slithering on the ground forever!

  157. jeff1 says:

    I too Joyce now find it hard to be with people who are critical of mental anguish but also realize that it is their lack of understanding for those who do not know what it is like to be clinically depressed or suffer anxiety will say you are a weak minded person.

    The one thing God has taught me is not to judge others for each of us has different weaknesses and different strengths but He can make them work for His purposes.

    Another thing He taught me was that I can have double standards and yet I hate double standards in others but do not see it in myself.

    God puts people in our lives who help us on our journey and since primary school I had a friend who shared her faith with me and it was her faith that helped me through my illness when she told me to repeat the Lord’s prayer and I would get peace in my anguish and she was correct I did.

    I have had the privilege to have had many faithful people in my life and I often feel that it was not my faith but their’s that I was clinging on too.

    God can work mysteriously in our lives but as I overcome each hurdle I realize He is with me and that is what is so amazing about God that He does not leave us in the bad times.

    It is this that I have had difficulty getting my head around for I could only see God in the good times but lost Him in the bad.

    For the God on the mountain, is the God in the valley,
    And the God of the good times is still God in the bad times.
    The God of the day is still God in the night.

    A Blessed and Happy Christmas to all.

    We are having very warm temperatures for this time of the year and it forecasts temperatures of 18 degrees on Christmas day. So no white Christmas for us anyway!

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.