In Matthew 5:24 in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” When we won’t reconcile with a brother or sister, our worship is hindered. You have to get things settled with one another. A part of this discussion centers on two acts: forbearance and forgiveness. If you have been offended in some way, scriptural or otherwise, you can choose to forbear. You could also call this “turning the other cheek.” It isn’t supposed to be easy to offend a Christian for many biblical reasons, one of which is Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” John Bunyan wrote concerning this: “They that have this character of God’s children, will not the stumbled at God’s dispensations, let them he never so cross to their desires, because they have a God to fly unto in all their troubles, and a sure covenant to rest upon.” Forgiveness comes after some confrontation or interaction with the offender or the one offended — this is the reconciliation that Jesus is talking about. When the situation is settled, you forgive. You choose to let it god. Two other concepts come into play here: don’t let the sun go down upon your wrath and put away bitterness. All of this relates to love. You love your neighbor. And it relates to trusting God — all things work together for good to them who love God.
Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA
As I typed this, I was thinking of the ability to move, and how we can take that for granted. You know that as we get older, it becomes more difficult to move for various reasons. And usually it’s not going to get any easier. As it becomes more and more difficult, you could become more thankful for the movement that you ever had. These thoughts sent me in the direction of Acts 17:28, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being.” The word “move” translates kineo from which we get kinesiology, which is the scientific study of human movement, perhaps with the emphasis on human muscles. Muscles are a part of our movement, but there is much more to it – the brain, the nervous system, and perhaps something intangible that relates to coordination of all of these things. You’ve heard someone say that “he couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” We actually do move in a lot of different ways at one time, which is hard to imagine. Several of my fingers work at the same time, as well as both wrists, and my eyes coordinate with that in reading what I’m typing – all of this while thinking of what I want to type. Yet, it is in him that we move. We don’t move without God. The energy to move comes from God and the source of that movement is from Him. You don’t move without Him. So how will you move and where?
Think about yourself for a moment, all there is to you. As finite and frail as you are, always to a certain degree not in control of your surroundings, you are rather complicated, even if you just start with your body. You could start with the cellular level, your being made up of millions of parts: atoms, molecules, and cells. At the same time, the cells about which you are made, themselves are of irreducible complexity. Living things have fantastically intricate features—at the anatomical, cellular and molecular level—that could not function if they were any less complex or sophisticated. Each cell is as functionally complex as a small city. When magnified 50,000 times through electron microscopes, you see a cell made up of multiple complex structures, each with a different role in a cell’s operation. At any given moment so much is happening within each of your systems, that you could never keep track of all of them. You can’t do anything really about what’s happening on the insides. Each of your eyes have multiple parts dependent on each other one. And then you are breathing and your blood is circulating and your brain is sending messages through your nervous system that enable you to multi-task. When you think of just yourself, draw that circle around yourself and think about who is in that circle, that is a good argument for faithfulness to God.
As I prepared to write this, the first thought that came to my head was from a song that was written about 30-40 years ago, that begins: “My life Lord is yours to control, I give you my heart and my soul, Not my will, yours ever mine….” It’s a song, but like a lot of the psalms, the spiritual song is a prayer. You are singing this prayer to God. It is in fact a prayer that someone would pray if he were turning from His way to receive Jesus Christ at the moment of His justification. A sinner denying himself to follow Jesus Christ would think something like those words. However, it is also a prayer that a believer could pray in a right way. I wonder if you would pray it. What is difficult for some with the prayer is that even though they may claim to be saved, they might not want to pray a prayer in which they say to God, “My life Lord is yours to control,” because they indeed want to control at least part of their own life, which means that they want to control their life, period. I hope that isn’t you, reader. The reason we give God our heart and our soul is because He is a good God—a loving, wise, powerful, benevolent God—who would do a better job than you in controlling your life. You believed that to be saved. But as a saved person, it remains your prayer. When you pray that prayer, you are praying something similar to, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
I remind you that a church is a body, and as a body, it has body parts. The Bible calls the parts, “members.” Our body parts are members. Each member is different and yet necessary. The whole body will function properly only as each individual member does. The other body parts should notice what is missing from other members. If a body part is missing, then the body will not function as well. It will get less work done or fulfill as many goals. The church is the body of Christ. Even more important, each part is a member of the body of Christ, so is representing Christ in being so. You are Christ’s finger, eye, nose, hand, foot, or ear. Each body part will and should notice when another body part is suffering, missing, or even not functioning as he should. A key aspect to ministry in the body is noticing each body part. You should recognize what’s going on with other members. Obviously, a pastor is responsible for doing this, even as his name, “bishop,” from episkopos, which means “overseer.” The overseer is responsible for overseeing. However, every Christian is to bear one another’s burden out of love. This really is more significant than family. I know, because Jesus said that his brothers and sisters in the church were his family. He said they were his brothers and sisters in the same or a greater way than his real family. Let the church be thus.
Over a century ago, Charles Darwin wrote his Origin of Species after visiting the Galapagos Islands in the South Pacific. His theory of evolution said all living things traced from a common ancestor and gave men their basis for all natural origin without God. In his time, Darwin saw the cell in the detail of a microscopic blob. The thought of evolution took its derivation from common features of different species of animals. It did not take into consideration the complexity of an individual cell or the information or language or code of DNA. Men walking after their own desires wanted no ultimate authority. They embraced a theory that backed that philosophical presupposition. There was enough mystery in the concept of a common origin, that is, that idea lacked detail so that convenient extrapolation and speculation could be done in order to dismiss God. However, the evidence, the truth as seen in microbiology, physics, and DNA, doesn’t back up the claims of natural selection over billions of years. It defies incremental transitional development of living things. The only explanation is design. This is on the level of words written in the sand on the seashore. We know these were designed by intelligence as much as the Rosetta Stone wasn’t formed by chance. God’s design has an irreducible complexity that can be explained only by God. They’re His fingerprints.
When you get to the end of your life and there was little value to your life, what kind of education will that seem that you received? You knew math, could really talk about plants and animals, had computer skills big-time, and wrote flawless English, but skipped doing faithfully what God said. Did you get a good education? Some could tell you all about varied and multiple historical events, listing the names, place, dates, but then leave out what God told them to do. What kind of education is that? There is one God and one world. It is His world. He created it for His purposes. If you miss that, isn’t that missing a pretty important aspect of an education? Don’t get me wrong though. I think someone should have grammar and it would be good for him to be able to write. It would be better, far better, to know math, and it would be helpful to do as well as possible at math. We have a school. We believe in that. But if you don’t believe what God says to believe and then do what He says to do, you can have the highest SAT scores and you’ve totally missed an education. We want our young men to get a good enough education that they can support their family. We do. But support them in the work of the Lord and faithfulness to God, no less than that. If so, then we’ve got an education to talk about, to elevate, to be happy about.
I was considering Luke 18:8 this week, and the second half of that verse: “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” And especially the last part, “Shall he find faith on the earth?” If He came back today, would He find it in you? If He didn’t, you would be lost. But would He? You can say whatever it is that you think it is that makes it difficult for you to believe, but Jesus is the truth. It is His story. If you are saved, you made up your mind about that. Didn’t you? Or are you hedging? When I say that, I mean, are you straddling between faith and doubt to the degree that you think you are in the sweet spot between, ‘yes, you’re saved’ and ‘you’re going to do little to nothing to serve Him’? It is not the faithful person, not the saved person, who waivers like the wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:6). You have to make up your mind, and that isn’t making up your mind. If it is evidence, then pay attention to the evidence and notice that the evidence isn’t on the other side. If it is other professing Christians, that’s a lame excuse. That doesn’t change the fact that Christianity, the Bible, is the truth. If it is your love for the world, well, that’s sounds about right, but if you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you. Think about it. Let’s be a church. A church is a congregation under Jesus as Head.
How does family fit into the scheme of God’s kingdom? God created male and female to glorify God in the context of a one flesh or marriage. The marriage procreates children, and sanctifying, God-glorifying, saving truth is passed down from one generation to the next. This populates, builds up, the future kingdom of God. Family is not more important than the kingdom, but is for the kingdom. We see this in the life of Jesus. In the temple as a child, he said to his parents, he was here to do the Father’s business, and same at the miracle at Cana in John 2. He twice calls her “woman,” that signifies the lesser relationship that is physical family and lineage next to spiritual family and kingdom of God. Matthew 12 is certainly a clincher here in v. 50, Jesus saying, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” The Apostle Paul displays this knowledge in 1 Corinthians 7, when he emphasizes that Christianity has no goal of changing existing social relationships. 1 Peter is the same. The purpose again is evangelism and multiplication of kingdom citizens. As the Father sent Jesus, His son, to do this, so sent He us. I write this in part because of Matthew 10:37, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
For over two centuries Americans included the Bible in their education. It was only in the early 1960s that the Supreme Court ruled that using or even having the Bible in public schools was a violation of the first amendment, the so-called separation of church and state. As a result, many Americans, especially in our own area, do not know basic ideas about the Bible. What they do think is mainly wrong. In addition to that bad consequence, people now very often separate the Bible from truth or fact or evidence. They think that faith is separate from those. You’ve got fact and then you’ve got faith to them, and the Bible is the latter, not connected to or in the category of fact. Because of these sad circumstances, we have to attempt to get what are now Bible deniers up to speed. You’ve got the groups out there that people call birthers and deniers, which relate to conspiracies. A bigger one that gets almost no attention is the complete ignorance and disregard for the Bible. People don’t have a basic understanding, for instance, that the Bible is historical, that it is scientific, that it has archaeological evidence behind it, and that thirty percent of it is prophecy, setting it apart as a supernatural book. This country, founded very much with the Bible in view, often sees Bible believers as kooks, because they have a misconception about the Bible itself.