Indian Giver

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.14.27.csb

When I was growing up, I remember this phrase being used around me, but I didn’t understand it. As I grew older, and understood the the complexities of relations between the United States and the Native Americans as this country developed, I thought I had a better grasp of it.

An Indian giver is one who gives with the expectation that he will be able to take back what he has given at any time. Many Native American tribes have the custom that if they give you a gift, then they expect one of equal value in return. The concept may refer back to this custom. It may also refer to the fact that despite numerous treaties with the Native tribes, the government always seemed to find a way out of the treaty. So I’m still not exactly sure where the phrase comes from. If anyone knows, please enlighten me.

What sparked this for me is Jesus statement that He gives peace, but not like the world gives. My interest here is the contrast between two types of giving and how they are different. If I am to understand this, it helps to know how Jesus gives. I know that God loved the world, and so gave His only Son, who suffered the penalty for our sins and gives us peace with God. God’s measure of giving is of infinite value, given without measure. That’s certainly not like the world, that likes to dole out only what it can afford to lose, or takes from one to give to another. God gave Himself.

Jesus also offers peace, beyond measure, to anyone. The world picks and chooses.

Jesus gives without expecting an equal gift in return. The world expects to be paid back. Jesus calls for faith and devotion. The world calls for enslavement, a “you owe me” mentality.

Jesus offers peace with An Almighty God before whom one day you will stand. The world offers temporary pleasures that must be paid for. Jesus offers to be your advocate and defend you with His blood. The world offers only sorrow and blame. Which would you rather have?

God bless you in your decision.

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Just a Word

www.bible.com/1713/pro.1.7.csb

There is a gulf of difference here between fools and the wise. If I understand wisdom not just as sacred knowledge but secular knowledge of the world God has made (with the understanding it was created), then fools deny both. Fools assume a godless creation and a godless life. Funny.

Fools can actually know a lot of things. But so much of it is useless knowledge. I am beginning to understand that wisdom is the sum total of all knowledge that both springs from knowledge of God and returns you to glorifying God in that knowledge. Wisdom is a beautiful thing if you can find it, and sort it out from all of the foolish notions that get handed out as knowledge. Foolish facts will lead you away from God. Wisdom will lead you to Him. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Elegant, isn’t it?

God bless!

Too Angry Too Long

www.bible.com/1713/eph.4.26.csb

The beautiful thing about this text is the time limit. I love how the verse both gives you permission to be angry “Be angry but do not sin” and then gives you a time limit “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”. Well.

Anger is not a bad thing. There are many things in this this world we ought to be angry about: injustice, hate, mixing profane with the holy, using God’s name in a casual manner, etc., basically, we should be angry at sin, just as God is. But we should also not to let that anger incite us to sin ourselves.

I was reading yesterday about John Brown, who was a Christian Preacher before the Civil War. It is said that slavery made him angry, and using a text from Hebrews to justify his action (“without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin”) he killed those who participated in the slave trade. He applied sinful actions, like murder, to respond to sin, which he viewed as sinful.

I may be a bit controversial when I say this, but owning slaves is not against God’s law. He never said “thou shalt not own slaves” but instead gives instructions on how to treat slaves. In those days, slavery was an excellent option when facing extreme poverty. Food and shelter were provided, and you had plenty to do. But slaves were also to be released after seven years, and people sold themselves into slavery to pay off debts, kind of like what we do with credit cards.

John Brown was in the wrong, and used his anger in a sinful way to the harming of others.

I’ve known many people today who do the same thing. But they don’t murder others with their hands, but with their minds. It’s called resentment. You’ve heard the phrase “you’re dead to me”? I’ve seen people carry grudges for decades for past slights. Everything someone does is interpret in the worst possible light. And then that person needs help? Sorry. Can’t. There is no room for “love one another here”. And this is in the church setting. Too much anger held too long kills the soul.

This is why God says “be angry” because that can be a good thing. But don’t be angry for long. Outrage is not a good companion.

God bless you today!

Whatever You Want

www.bible.com/1713/jhn.15.7.csb

So What Do you want? A bigger house? A nicer car? Peace and quiet? Someone you’ve lost, or someone you haven’t met yet? Fulfillment? Joy? Peace? Jesus seems to leave it pretty open-ended here.

This verse is probably one of my pet peeves, because it so often gets taken out of context. In John 15, Jesus is giving some of his last teachings to His disciples. He stresses how important it is they “abide” in Him. 2000 years of church history and we are still scratching our heads on this one. We think it means being in the presence of, surrounding yourself by Jesus. He is all around us, but immersing ourselves in His teaching and obedience to Him goes a long way to realizing this. At some point, His will becomes our own will, thinking His thoughts after Him. Then we may add this verse. “Whatever you want, It will be done for you.” What do you want? You want what He wants. And of course He will carry out His own will.

So this verse is not about fulfilling your dreams, but His will. That’s what it’s about. It’s about God fulfilling His work through you. When you are both on the same team, everyone has the same goal.

My encouragement for you today is to abide in Him. Spend time with Him today. Seek His will in the things you do everyday. What would Jesus want you to do? How would He feel about what you are doing? How would He feel about you reading this blog post? Or me writing it? Bring Jesus into everything you do.

God bless you today.

Sons of God

www.bible.com/1713/mat.5.9.csb

This has always intrigued me. There is One Son of God. There can be only one Son who takes away the sins of the world. Yet, in this translation, and I believe rightly so, is the word translated “sons” to really make us think about. E implications of this text.

The very work Christ did was to make peace between God and Men by offering Himself in their stead. The very essence of peacemaking here is “take me instead” as the subject of wrath.

That gives new meaning to peacemaking, doesn’t it?

Peace of Mind

www.bible.com/1713/isa.26.3.csb

Can you have peace of mind? In many parts of the world, they struggle to have clean water, nutritious meals, clean clothes, a job, even being free from slavery. We call them “third world problems” like they happen to someone else, since our society in America has “eliminated” through government support and charity all those kinds of problems. We have “first world problems” like, where are we going to eat? What kind of cell phone am I going to buy this month? Is my car new enough? Should I get a vacation house? Really?

One of our first world problems is killing us. It’s called depression. America is on the top of the list when it comes to this mind-killing malady. Though I’ve written about this before, just let me add here that if we could cure depression, there would be no stopping us.

I think depression has some physical causes to be sure, but I also believe it has spiritual causes, among them guilt and shame. We cannot did ourselves of the natural guilt we experience when we sin against the law of our heart which our Father put there. We may ignore it and try to forget it, but it never goes away. It plagued us in our dark and quiet moments. When we are alone with our thoughts, it comes around again.

This is not to say that all depression comes from guilt and shame for sin, but we are lying to ourselves if we say it doesn’t. Some of it does. And that part we can deal with spiritually. Hence the verse above.

Peace of mind comes from trust in the Lord. If we have faithfully confessed our sins to Him, He is faithful to cleanse us from our guilt and grant us peace of mind. We need to seize it, because a mind long held in depression will not give up self-hate easily. It is the sense of justice we carry that condemns us. We know we don’t deserve grace but judgment. That’s why trust is so hard. But it is necessary. How can you have peace without it?

God’s bless you today.

Faith for the Future

www.bible.com/1713/job.19.25.csb

What keeps you going? I like to get a good strong cup of coffee in the morning, listen to AFR to find out what’s going on since I went to bed, and get ready for work. I like to think the coffee helps. But faith keeps me going. Faith that I will have a job when I clock in for the day. Faith that the world has not fallen apart since I went to sleep. Faith that my kids ad my wife are going to be in good health today so that I don’t need to worry.

But all of those things depend on Someone else. I need faith in Jesus to make sure all of theses things happen, and especially if they do not. When Job penned these words, he had lost everything. He had nothing. His kids had died. His possessions were destroyed or stolen. His wife lost her respect for him. He sat in an ash pile, covered in painful burning sores. He was miserable. And yet, he had faith in God. Even on his worst days, he knew he needed God.

What keeps you going? I pray that for you, it is faith that God holds your present and your future in His hands.

God bless you today!