Making Sense Through Our Senses

Seeing_eye

One of the elementary lessons we learn in science class is that humans have five basic senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touch. Believers attribute these senses as gifts from the one true God, our Creator. For example, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the LORD has made both of them,” (Proverbs 20:12, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

God has created each of our body parts for the purpose of glorifying him: “…therefore, glorify God in your body,” (1 Corinthians 6:20). Logically, this is why we have eyes, ears, a nose, a tongue,  fingers and hands. When he wrote to the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul compared members of the church body to members of the human body saying,

“I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. (1 Cor. 12:14-18, The Message, MSG).

Indeed, our senses demonstrate how we are unique in the scheme of God’s handiwork or workmanship. God has created us with these abilities so that we can use them to be his witnesses and do good works for him through Christ. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them,” (NASB).

If you study the many Bible passages that specifically point to the five senses, you can see how they make a lot of sense when it comes to using them for serving the LORD. To show how this applies, I have compiled the following scriptures for your own study with fill-in-the-blanks just to make it more intriguing. Most of the passages are from the NASB, but you might like to compare them to the translation you prefer.

SEEING

1 Corinthians 13:2 For now we see in a __________ dimly
Psalm 119:18 ________ my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from Thy ________
Matthew 5:8 Blessed are the pure in ___________ for they shall see God
John 1:14 We have seen his __________
Matthew 6:33 Seek first the ____________ of God

HEARING

John 5:24 He who hears my Word…has _________ _________
Romans 10:17 So _________ comes by hearing and hearing by the _________ of Christ
Matthew 11:15 ________ to hear (also, 13:9; Mark 4:9; Luke 8:8)
Revelation 2:7 Hear what the __________ says (also, 3:6)

SMELLING

Ephesians 5:2 Christ…gave himself…an _________and _________ as a fragrant aroma to God
Ezekiel 20:41 As a soothing aroma I will ___________ you
Philippians 4:18 …what you have __________, a fragrant aroma…
Ecclesiastes 10:1 Dead _________ make a perfumer’s oil stink, so a little __________ is weighter than __________ and __________
2 Corinthians 2:15 _________ are the fragrance of Christ to God; 16 to the one a (or, an) _________ from death to death and to the other a (or, an) __________ from life to life

TASTING

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is ____________
Psalm 119:103 Sweet are thy __________ to my taste (also, 19:10)
Hebrews 6:5 Tasted the good _________ of ________ and the __________ of the age to come
1 Peter 2:3 Tasted the ____________ of the LORD

TOUCH

Mark 10:13 And they were bringing __________ to him so that he might touch them           (blessing)
2 Corinthians 6:17 Touch no _________ thing (also, Isaiah 52:11)
Matthew 9:20-22 If I only touch his ___________
Isaiah 41:13 I am the LORD you God who upholds [takes hold of] your ________ _________ (also, Isa. 42:6)
Deuteronomy 33:27 Underneath are his __________ __________

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here’s a catchy tune for kids from 1 to 101… http://youtu.be/vXXiyIGqliE

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Happy Trails to You’

Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Trigger

When I was a kid growing up in the 50’s and 60’s one of my favorite programs was The Roy Rogers Show. This action-packed TV Western series, popular among kids, was set in the traditional style of cowboy and cowgirl attire, six-shooters, and galloping horses.

The show featured the owner of the Double RR Ranch, Roy Rogers (“the King of the Cowboys”) and his Golden Palomino, Trigger (“Smartest Horse in the Movies”), Roy’s wife, Dale Evans (“the Queen of the West”), and her horse, Buttermilk, along with their German Shepherd, Bullet (the “Wonder Dog”) as well as their comedic sidekick, Pat Brady, and his jeep, Nellybelle, that sometimes seemed to have a mind of her own.

At the close of each episode while the credits were rolling, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans rode away on their horses singing, “Happy Trails to You,” written by Dale, herself…

Happy trails to you, until we meet again,
Happy trails to you, keep smilin’ until then,
Happy trails to you, ’til we meet again.

As I look back on it, what made the show most meaningful is that the characters were always on the side of good. They were heroes who rescued victims from villains and brought justice to the west. There was always a moral lesson to be learned in each show. And sometimes they would even give pointers on conservation and gun safety.

The lessons depicted in the show were emphasized outside the show, in the real world, as well. In fact, Roy Rogers reportedly had a group of young fans known as the “Roy Rogers Rider’s Club.” To be a member in good standing, you had to follow 10 rules:

1.    Be neat and clean.

2.    Be courteous and polite.

3.    Always obey your parents.

4.    Protect the weak and helpless.

5.    Be brave but never take chances.

6.    Study hard and learn all you can.

7.    Be kind to animals and care for them.

8.    Eat all your food and never waste any.

9.    Love God and go to Sunday School regularly.

10.  Always respect our flag and country.

I believe these are the kind of rules that today’s kids would do well to follow, inspite of those who would jeeringly say they are “too old fashioned.” Could such rules be revived? But where are the heroes inspiring kids to follow them? They seem to be few and far between. Otherwise, perhaps kids would not be so unhappy and troubled as so many are today.

In her article, “The Truth About Troubled Teens,” (verywellmind.com, 10/6/2018), Psychotherapist Amy Morin reported,

In the next 24 Hours in the United States…

… 1,439 teens will attempt suicide.

… 2,795 teenage girls will become pregnant.

… 15,006 teens will use drugs for the first time.

… 3,506 teens will run away.

… 2 teens will be murdered.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. According the report, there many more alarming statistics pointing to problems of youth and crime, teen pregnancy, suicide and mental health. This is hardly a picture of satisfaction and innocence among our youth.

We need good guys of today to show the youth of today that the rules of yesterday will lead them to happier trails than the ones their traveling on now. Kids need to understand that those rules are not silly or boring or out-of-touch. Rather, they are most valuable for instilling stability, security, and safety in their lives.

The Bible calls on us to instill wisdom into our young people. “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it,” (Proverbs 22:6, New International Version, NIV). And this is done by teaching them and showing them how much happier they’ll be if they follow the rules God sets forth in his Word (Deuteronomy 11:18-25). In this way, we can become their heroes as much as Roy and Dale and the cast of other good guys when we were young.

We all want to see that we show our kids the right way to live and be happy in preparation for the Kingdom of God. For that is the ultimate goal of every follower of Christ, both young and old. And what could make us more happy than entering his Kingdom when Jesus returns!

So, happy trails to you, ’til we meet in the Kingdom of God!

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here are Roy Rogers and Dale Evans singing their classic song: https://youtu.be/eEqUyNaSdvg

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Turning the Other Beak

Bird on feeder

My wife and I have a blue bird feeder shaped like a house hanging just outside our living room window. In fact, I can see it very well from my recliner as I’m seated right next to the window. All I have to do it lean over in the front of my chair, turn to my right, and look right at those birds through the glass just a couple of feet away.

We enjoy watching different kinds of birds—from finches to sparrows to cardinals with their many colors, sizes, and sounds—landing on the feeder looking for something to eat. With beaks wide open, snatching up a tiny seed no bigger than a BB, rolling the seed around in their beaks, peeling off the outer shell, then gulping the remainder down, and all within the blink of an eye, is like poetry in motion.

It doesn’t seem to take a whole lot of seed to satisfy their hunger before they speedily fly off somewhere else. It reminds me of what people say about someone who doesn’t put much food on their plate: “She (or he) eats like a bird.”

One day, as we were sitting in our living room, my wife and I heard some rather loud squawking outside the window. I said to her, “What is going on out there?” “I don’t know,” she replied, “but I’ve heard that noise before.”

We both got up to take a close look. And we were surprised to see one small bird actually bullying another slightly bigger bird. No kidding. The smaller bird was just raising fury as if scolding the other bird who was merely minding his own business, trying to eat peacefully. But that pesky bird would not leave the other one alone. He’d even use his beak  as a weapon to peck at the other bird’s beak, as though trying to provoke a fight. I said to my wife, “What a bully!”

The victimized bird tried to get away from the bully bird by walking around the edge of the feeder to the other side. But the bully bird kept on stalking him, squawking louder than ever. A time or two, the victimized bird pecked back at the other bird just to show he wouldn’t be bossed around. But all in all, he seemed to turn the other beak and take the whole thing in stride.

In the meantime, however, that bully bird just would not quit even when the other bird flew away. He kept on following that victimized bird from tree to tree, hounding him where ever he flew.

A little bit later, they both returned to the feeder. And would you believe that bully bird was still at it? But in spite of the trouble that bully was causing, we admired that other bird for his patience and endurance. It didn’t keep that poor bird from eating the seed he could get to.

Now, we can’t figure out why that bully bird was taking it out on the other one. Did it have to do with protecting his territory as animals are instinctively prone to do? Assuming they were male birds, did it have to do with fighting over a female bird?

Interestingly, the bird being bullied was more colorful having a reddish color in his head and feathers. The bully bird, on the other hand, was brown and plainer looking. Moreover, the bully bird was a tad smaller than the one he was picking on. So, was he trying to compensate for his color and size, and make himself feel better by berating and bossing the other one around?

I ask that last question because, if you didn’t know any better, you’d almost think that the bully bird was jealous or prejudiced toward the other bird. I doubt, however, this was really the case. Animals act out of instinct not emotion like humans. But it does give us an intriguing analogy from which to draw.

There may have been times when you’ve felt like that bullied bird. Or, perhaps you’ve seen someone else treated that way. It’s a pitiful situation, isn’t it? And, if I may say, it usually goes afoul like fowls that appear to fuss and feud all the time. Feathers tend to fly when one person bullies the other person around, and the victim who has more than he or she can take, finally tries to strike back. Here’s where Christians must step back and consider what Jesus would do under those circumstances.

Jesus, who was himself bullied more than one time by self-righteous, arrogant men, said something astounding: “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’ “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also,” (Matthew 5:38-39, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

Like the bird who turned his other beak, Jesus turned the other cheek when he suffered, bled, and died for our sins. For when it comes to bullies, turning the other cheek is being able to keep on doing what’s right in spite of the wrong others do to you, trying to keep you from your good work. Of course, like that bird that was bullied, you might be continuously hounded and picked on. Jesus said it would happen to anyone who sincerely followed him (John 15:18-27). But, also like that bird, you can endure with patience taking it with one seed at a time.

Jesus made it clear that our seed is the Word (Mark 4:14; Luke 8:18). And when we spiritually feed upon it through love, we find strength to overcome the way those bullies treat us (Matthew. 5:40-48). For our reward is knowing that in the end, there’s something far better coming that no bully can ever take away (Matthew 5:10-12).

And then there was another occasion. Again, we heard two birds making some noise. I looked and saw one of the birds pecking at the other bird’s beak. At first I thought, “Here we go again! Another bully bird.” But upon closer examination, I realized this time there was no bullying. Instead, one bird was actually feeding the seeds to the other bird. The one bird would pick up a seed with his beak, and very quickly poke it into the opened beak of the other one waiting to be fed. I am told this was an instinct for male birds when providing food for their female birds.

Just think of it: No squawking. No fighting. No bullying. Just teamwork, cooperation, and mutual contentment between those two birds. You could say this fine feathered couple flew away, happy as larks. Could we learn a lesson from this scene? You bet!

We have much to gain when each one looks out for the other and goes about doing good rather than picking at each other. God wants his people to work together through Christ (Ephesians 4:13). He gives each person a role to play without our having to worry about the blessings he sends.

Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 6:26). Of much more value are we than even the birds for God has promised his Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). And if we’re seriously making his Kingdom and righteousness our priority in life, then we can expect many wonderful results as we bravely endure the bullies of our day.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here’s a country melody by Breakin’ Ground titled, “He Turned the Other Cheek,” http://youtu.be/il6gMDelDQw

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Bring Your Bible to School Day’

Bring Your Bible logo

This coming Thursday, October 3, is designated as “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” It is sponsored by Focus on the Family, a Christian ministry helping families to thrive in their cultures.

The annual nationwide event led by students “will celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends,” according to Focus on the Family. Students are encouraged to use that day to express their “beliefs in the truth of God’s Word” and “in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.”

Focus on the Family has gone all out to promote the day—broadcast media (TV, radio) print media (posters, conversation cards, invitation flyers) and, of course, social media (Facebook, Instagram, You Tube, Twitter). In the process, students are being signed up to participate through Churches, Christian bookstores, Christian clubs and youth groups.

Participants will be involved in special activities— or, “fun things”—during the event. They are encouraged to wear stickers and T-shirts featuring the logo, “Bring It, Share It , Live It” with a Bible verse printed on them. They will distribute “conversation cards” (but not during class time), host a “Bible-read-aloud” (during lunch or other free time), take part in “pass-the-verse-forward” contest (similar to “pay-it-forward”), and a number of other ways to share God’s Word with others, including personal testimonies to other students. In addition, participating students are encouraged to continue in their aim to share God’s Word all throughout the year.

While we commend Focus on the Family for sponsoring the event, you probably wouldn’t be too surprised to learn there are some who are against it. Just recently NFL quarterback, Drew Brees, drew a lot of heat from left-leaning activists opposing his promotion of the event. Brees was criticized for supporting the activity of an organization opponents consider as a “hate” group for advocating traditional Biblical views on marriage and family. 

This is most puzzling to Christians who see “Bring Your Bible to School Day” as a time to simply shine the light of God’s Word (Matthew 5:16) and his love (John 3:16) for everyone. In fact, in the 22-second video, Brees quotes 2 Corinthians 5:7 (“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”) and says to kids, “I want to encourage you to live out your faith on ‘Bring Your Bible to School Day ‘ and share God’s love with friends. You’re not alone.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if there will be protests going on the day it is held. I pray it doesn’t happen. But, if it does, let’s hope it doesn’t get out of control for everyone’s safety.

I might add that students taking part in the activities are instructed to be respectful toward others. Focus on the Family says that students are expected to share the truth of God’s Word in “a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.”

Nonetheless, Focus on the Family is prepared should any opponents of the event attempt to prevent students from their activities presumably under legal restrictions. Students are informed of their First Amendment right of freedom of speech and religion. In addition, Focus on the Family is backed by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), “a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.”

In fact, Focus on the Family states in bold type, “ADF offers pro bono legal assistance as deemed appropriate for Bring Your Bible to School Day students who encounter unconstitutional roadblocks to their free speech rights.”

As I think about “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” I can’t help but reflect upon my own days when I was in school—in the 60’s and 70’s. I know I’m dating myself. But even though I grew up during a time of protests and social upheaval (Hippie mania! “Make love, not war!” “Peace, man!”), I felt free to take my Bible to school anytime I wanted. And I did, regularly!

Sure, friends would tease me sometimes when they saw me reading my Bible during Study Hall period. Or, they might make some kind of wise crack when I expressed disapproval of their swearing or refused to listen to their dirty jokes. And if I shared my view of a scripture they questioned, then I would usually hear something like, “That’s just YOUR opinion!”

But there was never the kind of criticism or threats I might get today just for bringing my Bible to school, let alone sharing my views with others. There wasn’t all this concern  about needing legal assistance like there is nowadays. I’m thankful I didn’t have to worry about getting into trouble by school authorities just because I had my Bible with me and talked to others about it. I had the freedom to share my faith without activists labeling me as part of a “hate group.”

In those days I was in school, I found that most students did sincerely show respect for someone like me who brought his Bible to school. In fact, now and then I did spot someone else with his or her Bible, too, and that was encouraging. But, in the long run, I’m glad I did bring my Bible to school for it gave me an opportunity to share the Good News of Christ and the Kingdom. Not only that, it provided an excellent way to sharpen my knowledge in the Lord’s Word and serve him out of love for him and for my fellow students.

I have to say that I would be no different today if I was a student. Yes, maybe I’d get into trouble for bringing my Bible to school, sharing God’s Word, and giving my personal testimony of faith to fellow students. But it wouldn’t matter. I’d still do it. NOT out of defiance. NOT out of spite. Not even out of hate. On the contrary. It would be out of humility, obedience, and love for God and his truth, and with a sincere desire to show his love to others according to his Word.

What was it that the Apostle Peter said about being ready to give any answer? Ah, yes…

”But in your hearts revere Christ as LORD. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15, New International Version).

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here’s Lester Lewis who won the Jamaican Gospel Festival in 1988 for singing this song, “Everytime I read My Bible,” https://youtu.be/AwdhimkaTgQ

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Grumble Town

Grumbling_Phil_2_14

Have you ever been to Grumble Town? You probably have but didn’t realize that was the name of it. Such is a place in our imagination according to a story told by Dr. William J. Bennett in his book, The Moral Compass (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1995):

There once was a place called Grumble Town where everybody grumbled, grumbled, grumbled. In summer, the people grumbled that it was too hot. In winter, it was too cold. When it rained, the children whimpered because they couldn’t go outside. When the sun came out, they complained that they had nothing to do. Neighbors griped and groaned about neighbors, parents about children, brothers about sisters. Everybody had a problem, and everyone whined that someone should come do something about it.

One day a peddler trudged into town, carrying a big basket on his back. When he heard all the fussing and sighing and moaning, he put his basket down and cried: “O citizens of this town! Your fields are ripe with grain, your orchards heavy with fruit. Your mountains are covered by good, thick forests, and your valleys watered by deep, wide rivers. Never have I seen a place blessed by such opportunity and abundance. Why are you so dissatisfied? Gather around me, and I will show you the way to contentment.

Now this peddler’s shirt was tattered and torn. His pants showed patches, his shoes had holes. The people laughed to think that someone like him could show them how to be content. But while they snickered, he pulled a long rope from his basket and strung it between two poles in the town square. Then, holding his basket before him, he cried,

“People of Grumble Town! Whoever is dissatisfied, write your troubles on a piece of paper, and bring it and put it in this basket. I will exchange your problem for happiness!”

The crowd swarmed around him. No one hesitated at the chance to get rid of his trouble. Every man, woman, and child in the village scribbled a grumble onto a scrap of paper and dropped it into the basket.

They watched as the peddler took each trouble and hung it on the line. By the time he was through, troubles fluttered on every inch of rope, from end to end. Then he said: “Now each one of you should take from this magic line the smallest trouble you can find.”

They all rushed forward to examine all the troubles. They hunted and fingered and pondered, each trying to pick the very smallest trouble. After a while the magic line was empty.

And behold! Each held in his hand the very same trouble he had put into the basket. Each had chosen his own trouble, thinking it was the smallest of all on the line.

From that day, the people of Grumble Town stopped grumbling all the time. And whenever anyone had the urge to whimper or whine, he thought of the peddler and his magic line.

Yes, Grumble Town sure was filled with a lot of unhappy people UNTIL the peddler came to town. How the peddler must have been saddened to see all the citizens so discontent in the midst of those many blessings!

In spite of the fact that he didn’t own much or have nice things himself, the peddler STILL had joy in his heart. Thanks to the peddler, the sharing of his joy is what turned the people’s grumbling into happiness. Once they got rid of their troubles on the magic line, they were joyful, too.

This story is analogous to what happens when we follow the instruction of OUR Peddler, Jesus Christ. When Jesus enters our lives, our eyes will then be able to see and appreciate the many blessings all around us. Unlike the citizens of Grumble Town who couldn’t see just how blest they were, we have plenty of good things to be thankful for which far outnumber the troubles we often think we have.

When we totally trust and obey him, he turns our frowns upside down with joy and appreciation for all the good things he wants us to have—things like, peace of mind in stressful times, strength to endure hardships, order when there’s disorder, confidence to believe in God’s truth, assurance through faith that frees us from fear, resistance when temptations come our way, spiritual growth to make right decisions, and genuine hope for a better day when Jesus comes.

The Good News is that through Christ, you don’t have to reside in Grumble Town. But if you DO have the urge to whimper and whine like the citizens there, just think of what happened after the peddler came through. For, as the peddler came with joy in his heart, having the joy of Jesus brings complete joy to us, too (John 15:11)!

Without a doubt, it’s Jesus who turns our trouble into happiness. Indeed, he’s the true Source for true contentment. And that definitely leaves us nothing to grumble about but, instead, a whole lot to rejoice in!

Like the citizens learned, compared to everyone else’s troubles, ours may not seem to be so big after all. In fact, through Christ, we have the hope of a better, brighter future beyond those things we moan and groan about in this present life (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Moreover, like the peddler who came to Grumble Town, Jesus came gently and humbly and “…for your sake he became poor,” (2 Corinthians 8:9). He didn’t even have a place to lay his head (Matthew 8:19–20; Luke 9:57–58). And while OUR Peddler doesn’t have a magic line, we can still hang our troubles on him and watch what will happen next. For Jesus said,

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. There’s no need for living in Grumble Town when you “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
featuring Loyiso Bala, Neville D and Ivan Siegelaar: https://youtu.be/6KmE5p2n85s

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trusting God When Terrorism Strikes

Terrorism

Every year, when we come to September 11, we are once again reminded of the terror that was felt 9/11/2001. For it was on that terrible day when the nation was suddenly attacked by Islamic terrorists and thousands of innocent lives were lost. It was a fearful time when terrorism left the free world in a state of shock, panic, confusion, and frustration.

Those of us who were around at that time vividly recall how we felt when we witnessed the planes crashing into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Still hearing that it was likely done by terrorists who hijacked the planes, chills ran down our spines when we heard of another airplane hitting the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

And if all that wasn’t enough, it was being reported that another airplane bound for the U.S. Capital ended up crashing in a Pennsylvania field. We later learned that some very brave passengers had fought the terrorists who had overtaken the plane. But sadly, during their struggle, the plane went down taking the lives of everyone in the process.

From then on, the world has never been the same. Laws were enacted and security was tightened in public places like airports. There has been a heightened awareness of potential terrorist threats and what to do in certain circumstances. Sometimes terrorists are thwarted; other times they aren’t. And once again, we are reminded of what happens when terrorism raises its ugly head.

Whenever terrorism strikes, we seek a Higher Power to carry us through it. Our trust is in God. We’re talking about more than a motto printed on our money—a motto that some may not take as seriously as they should or others who would just as soon remove it from our money. Our trust is truly and truthfully in God.

We trust him more than we trust political leaders, military strategists, economic experts, professional educators, and even religious authorities. That does not mean we don’t respect them or rely on their skills, experience, and care for our safety and well-being. We do appreciate their aim to protect, defend, and instruct us for maintaining order and stability. Their sacrifices are, indeed, worthy of honor.

But when it comes to the bottom line, we know who we can totally trust to provide for us when terrorism strikes—the Almighty God, himself. The scriptures reassure us that God is the One we can turn to whenever we are faced with any kind of terror.

For a good guideline to follow, we turn to Psalm 91. This chapter shows how God, not humans, is in control of the world even when terrorism leaves us believing everything is out of control. As we trust God, we will find that security, peace of mind, encouragement, confidence and hope will keep us strong when certain circumstances get out of control.

In a sermon, one minister said,

Psalm 91 teaches all of us a crucial lesson for life—a lesson we need to live by whether we are at war against terrorism or whether we are enjoying a period of peace; whether we are experiencing economic prosperity or whether we are struggling waiting for economic recovery; whether our family life is terrific or whether you find your home torn in conflict—this is it THE truth we need to remember…THE truth we must have to live in victory: THE TRUTH THAT I SPEAK OF TODAY MAY APPEAR ELEMENTARY BUT I ASSURE YOU IT IS ALSO ETERNAL…IT IS THIS TRUTH: “IN GOD WE TRUST.” (Pastor Larry Thompson, SermonCentral.com.)

When you read this chapter in Psalms, you find four attributes about God in whom you can trust, particularly when terrorism strikes: (1) God is our shelter (vss. 1-4); (2) God is our strength (vss. 5-8); God is our security (vss. 9-10); and God is our salvation (vss. 15-16).

(1) God is our shelter.

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
My God, in whom I trust!”
3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with His pinions,
And under His wings you may seek refuge;
His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
(New American Standard Bible, NASB)

You do not need to be afraid of “terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day,” (vs. 5). Disease, destruction, and death, as noted in verses 5-7 are what takes place when terrorists strike. But they will be recompensed for their evil deeds according to verse 8. God is in control; he is our “dwelling place,” (vs. 9).

(2) God is our strength.

5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
7 A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
8 You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
(NASB)

God will support you in his hands, give you wisdom to outwit the lies and deceptions of the world, and empower you to overcome the temptations of evil. Ironically, the words in verses eleven and 12 were enticements to Jesus when he was tempted in the wilderness. But he found refuge in the command that, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test,” (Matt. 4:5-7). In the wilderness of our temptations, we can trust God to be our strength.

(3) God is our security.

9 For you have made the Lord, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.
(NASB)

People try to find security in different ways: They built walls, create better alarm systems, invest billions of dollars in defensive weapons, sit around peace tables, and debate how they will use these tools to win the war over terrorism. But while they are doing these things, we are putting our trust in the best security there ever was: God our Heavenly Father.

(4) God is “MY salvation.”

15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 “With a long life I will satisfy him
And let him see My salvation.” (NASB)

Notice he says “MY salvation” rather than “let him see HIS salvation.” In troubling times of terrorism, our trust is in God since he is the true Source of salvation. It comes from him, not us.

When we put our confidence in him, we’re able to wait with courage, serve with patience, and live with loyalty toward him. The “light of salvation” that shines in our lives beams out into a dark world walking in terror every day. Our aim is be a beacon that draws others to the light of that salvation, to give life and hope to all who are seeking it.

Corrie Ten Boom was a Christian who knew all about terror. It happened from her own experience as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp for hiding Jews during the Holocaust. But she became a survivor, giving testimony of the Lord’s grace. Years later she stated, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

If and when terrorism should strike, we know that God is always present to help us through it (Psalm 46:1). We can trust him as his Word tells us. For we do not know from one day to the next when terror may strike us. But we leave it up to our God to guide and provide like he has promised.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Here is a Scripture Song from Psalm 91, “My God, In Him I Will Trust” by Esther Mui, http://youtu.be/67wC6-kWWSo

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Consciousness of Your Conscience

conscience

Now and then you might hear someone say something like, “I always follow my conscience.” Some people think that if they simply follow their conscience, they will never go wrong. But what if they are not aware of what it means to go wrong?

WHAT IS “CONSCIOUSNESS OF CONSCIENCE”?

This is where consciousness of conscience comes into play. Consciousness is to have awareness through knowledge and experience. A conscience is the strength of an individual’s moral judgment according to that person’s consciousness of what is right and wrong.

A lot of people depend upon their conscience to be their guide. Some depend upon it to be their only guide, especially in times of decision and action. At least this is what Sir Winston Churchill, the famous prime minister of Great Britain, said onetime in a tribute to his predecessor, Neville Chamberlain.

Neville Chamberlain, British prime minister just before World War II, tried to keep his country out of war with Hitler through a policy of appeasement but the plan was unsuccessful. Later, after recognizing his failure, Chamberlain joined in support of Poland and led Great Britain into war against the German aggressor, Adolf Hitler.

In a tribute to Chamberlain about a month after his death on November 12, 1940, his successor, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, said to the House of Commons,

History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. What is the worth of all this? The only guide to man is his conscience; the only shield to his memory is the rectitude and sincerity of his actions. It is very imprudent to walk through life without this shield, because we are so often mocked by the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations; but with this shield, however, the fates may play, we march always in the ranks of honor. (Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations)

Note what Churchill said…”The only guide to man is his conscience.” According to the prime minister, “the failure of our hopes and the upsetting of our calculations” indicate the need to be shielded with a conscience so that history will honor us regarding the actions we take.

Our awareness of their actions is a revelation of their conscience. Our consciousness in regard to their choices, their motives, and the results of their actions, tells a great deal about their conscience. And it sets an example for our conscience, as well.

WHAT IS A “GOOD CONSCIENCE”?

The consciousness of your conscience is important. If you’re going to follow your conscience, then you must make a conscious effort to have a good one. But how do you have a good conscience?

I submit that it starts with the teachings of God’s Word. When one has a consciousness of God’s presence, power, and purpose for his creation, then one can develop a conscience based upon God’s wisdom, strength, and plan for his creation. We can have a clear conscience knowing that we can trust him in time of need.

This leads me to a joke: A college professor handed out exam papers to his students requiring them to sign a statement at the end saying they did not receive any outside assistance. One student was hesitant about signing it noting that he prayed for God’s assistance. The professor answered back, “You can sign with a clear conscience. From what I’ve seen, God did not assist you.”

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT THE CONSCIENCE?

Speaking of God, are you aware of the many Bible references to the human conscience? Consider a small sample of the following scriptures on the conscience…

  • Good conscience (1 Timothy 1:5, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and good conscience and a sincere faith.” ~New American Standard Bible, NASB)
  • Clear conscience (2 Timothy 1:3, “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.” ~NASB ~The Apostle Paul to Timothy)
  • Proud confidence (2 Corinthians 1:12, “For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom, but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you,” ~NASB.)
  • Cleansed conscience (Hebrews 9:14, “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the Living God?” ~NASB)
  • Defiled conscience (Titus 1:15, “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” ~NASB)
  • Evil conscience (Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” ~NASB)
  • Weak conscience (1 Corinthians 8:7-13, “However, not all men have this knowledge [consciousness of the one God, our Father and Creator, and his Son, Jesus Christ] …and their conscience being weak is defiled…But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow becomes a stumbling block to the weak….And thus, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ….” ~NASB).

Upon a close examination of these and other scriptures, you’ll find that having a good conscience or a bad one depends on one’s consciousness of sins. Hebrews 10:1-2 says,

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would not longer have had consciousness of sins?”

HOW DO YOU GET A “GUILTY CONSCIENCE”?

The writer of Hebrews in these verses is referring to the Law of Moses, given directly by God, himself. We are well aware of what right and wrong are through the Law. Sin is disobedience to the Law. So when the Law is broken, whether intentionally or not, our conscience bothers us. The sacrificial offerings that Israel was instructed to observe in their worship raised the consciousness of their sins and reminded of them of their guilt (Hebrews 10:3-7). In fact, one of their offerings was called a “guilt offering,” (Leviticus 6:1-7).

While it is perfectly natural for the Jewish people to have a guilty conscience for breaking the Law, you might ask, Then why do I still have a guilty conscience even if I may not be Jewish? The Apostle Paul answers the question this way:

“For when the Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ,” (Romans 2:14-16., NASB).

In other words, God has implanted this little thing called a conscience in everyone’s brain whether they are conscious of the written Law or not. And from that conscience   the Law is written in our hearts. Thus, we are instinctively capable of telling right from wrong.

It’s because of this fact that we know (1) God exists; (2) Sin is real; and (3) We have a conscious choice to make according to our conscience. Our conscience is a testimony that God is the Supreme Lawgiver and Judge. And it’s because of our conscience that we are aware of the reality of sin. What we do with our belief in God and the condition of sin we’re in will have a bearing on our conscience.

Because of our conscience, we know the need for having human laws and governments. We make moral or immoral choices according to our conscience. We make plans, join certain groups, take various actions as our conscience dictates.

But what if we ignore our conscience? What if we shut off the consciousness of God? And, what if we no longer abide by the absolutes God provides for establishing order and contentment in our lives? You can imagine the chaos that will result.

A “SEARED CONSCIENCE” AND LATER TIMES

A world that is no longer conscious of God and loses the sensitivity of its conscience… Well, that’s just the problem that the Apostle Paul describes in First Timothy 4:1-2,

“But the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,” NASB).

We believe that “in later times” is a reference to the near return of Jesus Christ. One of the signs pointing to it is the great “falling away” (a.k.a.. “the apostasy,” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) of believers from the faith established through Christ. The falling away will occur through erroneous teachings and deceitfulness of liars whose consciences have lost all feeling for what it is good and right. Leaders will do whatever they have to do— manipulate and take advantage of anyone—for the sake of their own power, greed, and control.

These days we don’t have to look very far—indeed, right under our nose—to witness the lies and deceptions of those having a seared conscience: politicians preaching socialism, the “fake news” in the media, left-leaning judges, propagandists who pose as educators, and so-called “experts” in the science field who deny the existence of the one, true God. Add to these things, the rise of false religions, cults, and Satanic worship, and one can see how close we are getting to the age of “the Antichrist”—”the man of lawlessness”—who will have no conscience at all (Daniel 11:3639; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 1 John 2:18, 22; Revelation 13:1-10).

THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR CONSCIENCE AS CHRISTIANS

That is why it is so imperative to keep our own conscience clear as devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus exhorted his Church to be ready for his coming. For there will be many false Christ’s and prophets who “will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, the very elect,” (Matt. 24:23-24, NASB).

Jesus is the One whom God gave to save us and give us a pure conscience. The consciousness of our conscience is built upon the gift of God’s grace and the growth of our faith through Christ. Had Jesus not died for our sins and given us the hope of living forever in his Kingdom, then our conscience would forever be filled with guilt and shame.

But Jesus, who was without sin, took our guilt and sin upon himself and died in our place so as to spare us from the second death (Revelation 20:6) as well as to provide forgiveness (1 John 1:7-10) with the hope of receiving eternal life when he returns (2 Corinthians 5:21). The shedding of his innocent blood bought us our eternal salvation (Romans 8:1-8). Therefore, if we willingly accept him as our Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38-39), we are covered by his blood with a clean conscience so as not to have the stain of a guilty conscience due to sin (Hebrews 10:22).

Desiring to become more conscious of Christ in our lives, we prepare our conscience to live, learn, and grow in our faith. As we follow his Word, we are aware of the times in which we’re living. And our conscience speaks clearly to us, Get ready, for you don’t know when that Great Day will come! “Therefore, be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming,” (Matthew 24:42-51, NASB).

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. When we recognize the holiness of God, we can start to appreciate our need to have a good, clear conscience through his Son, Jesus Christ. With that thought in mind, here’s Addison Road singing, “What Do I Know of Holy?” https://youtu.be/N6J5TzSE_18

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment