TODAY’S BREADCRUMB

FAITH OR FEAR

Death is certain, but it isn’t final. Fear of dying and death causes normally rational people do lots of irrational things – like hoard toilet paper and live alone in caves (homes) for who knows how long. But, there’s GOOD NEWS and also a better option – faith. Death is terrifying when viewed from people who live in a place of fear, but death isn’t very scary when viewed through lenses of faith. Because death is a defeated enemy – it has been swallowed up in the victory of GOD’s love, so it has no power, no sting, and nothing to fear any more – unless you live in a position outside of faith.

We are all dying mortals who need a living Savior – Dr. Jim Denison

54 And when the rotting body has been clothed in what can’t decay, and the dying body has been clothed in what can’t die, then this statement in scripture will happen: Death has been swallowed up by a victory. 55Where is your victory, Death? Where is your sting, Death? (56 Death’s sting is sin, and the power of sin is the Law.) 57 Thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!  1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (CEB)

People who fear dying and death either have never heard such GOOD NEWS, refuse to believe it, or don’t really trust it, for it seems that even people of faith have fallen into the camp of the fearful at this time. Yet fear and faith cannot occupy the same place – as they are in total opposition to one another.

Because…18 Where God’s love is, there is no fear, because God’s perfect love takes away fear. It is punishment that makes a person fear. So love is not made perfect in the person who has fear.  1 John 4:18 (ICB)

Death is no longer the punishment for sin, but the promotion of salvation – when we go from mortal to immortal, from partial to complete…if you live by faith, not by sight.

Jesus said…I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]  John 16:33 (AMPC)

Fear sees a problem. Faith sees an opportunity.

Fear cowers. Faith takes courage.

Fear complains, criticizes, and blames. Faith takes action.

Fear sees a giant too big to fight. Faith sees a target too big to miss.

Fear turns to government, medicine, and science. Faith turns to GOD.

We are living in a period of time where many are living in a state of fear – afraid of this enemy virus. Others are living in a state of faith – turning to and trusting in GOD to protect us, provide for us, and grant us His divine favor. This is always the case when dealing with an enemy – some fall back, while others step forward.

Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home.’” And Gideon tested them; twenty-two thousand returned, and ten thousand remained.  Judges 7:3(ESV)

 23 As he was talking with them, Goliath, the Philistine champion from Gath, stepped out from his lines and shouted his usual defiance, and David heard it. 24 Whenever the Israelites saw the man, they all fled from him in great fear…34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”…45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”  1 Samuel 17:23-24, 34-37, 45-47a (NIV)

We must allow people to decide for themselves what to do and determine their own level of risk in dealing with this virus. Let the fearful, weak, and vulnerable go home and stay home as it is the right thing for them to do, and let their decision be understood and supported. Let the faithful, courageous, and confident go out to battle and engage in life as they choose, care for those staying at home, build immunities against this virus, and defeat its threat upon our lives and livelihoods.

TODAY’S BREADCRUMB

We can’t stop living because some of us are dying.

100% of human beings die. The hairs on our heads, as well as the length of our days are numbered.

You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer. Job 14:5 (NLT) 

We can do nothing to change the quantity of our days, only the quality of them. We do what we can to preserve life, exercise prudence, and not live recklessly or arrogantly, but still we watch some die who “shouldn’t”, and others who “should” die, yet don’t. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is going to kill the exact number of us it is destined to kill – not one more, not one less. Tens of thousands of us die each and every day from a variety of causes – people of every age, size, shape, and color – but we have never “shut down” the world because of this.

We haven’t stopped driving though some of us die in traffic wrecks. We haven’t stopped eating though some of us die from choking on food. We haven’t stopped swimming though some of us drown. We haven’t stopped having sex though some of us die from it by heart attack, aids, std’s, and unwanted pregnancies (tens of millions of babies are aborted each year after people have had sex). We haven’t stopped going outside though there are hungry wild animals out there who kill some of us. And what about the millions of us who develop and/or die from cancer each year? We live on, knowing that some of us will get it and some of us won’t, some of it can be treated, some of it can’t.

We know for certain that cigarette smoking leads to lung disease which kills tens of thousands of us every year; We know for certain that pornography is connected to and associated with tens of thousands of crimes, abuses, addictions, and disorders; We know for certain that alcohol destroys and kills tens of thousands of us each year; We know for certain that soda, cheesecake, and donuts contribute to obesity and diabetes which kills tens of thousands of us each year – yet we haven’t banned cigarettes, pornography, alcohol, or sweets. So, what is this sudden concern right now for the safety and well-being of human life and “shutting down” the world in which we live? (According to the Associated Press, 80,000 Americans died from the flu during the 2017 – 2018 season; as of this writing there are roughly 40,000 worldwide and 4,000 U.S. deaths due to coronavirus COVID-19).

We can’t stop living because some of us our dying.

People live; People die. We call this life. Death has always been here with us. No one dies too soon, no one dies too late – we all die right on time – our time.

This is not a time to live in panic and fear, but to stand together, under GOD, in faith. We must carry on and continue to live in common unity – to work, play, attend school, shop, celebrate, mourn, and worship GOD – and everything else human life entails. We should take advantage of this unique opportunity to re-examine our lives, reset our values, and reform our systems of government, healthcare, business, education, entertainment, religion, etc…

But we shouldn’t return to “business as usual” either. We have just learned that we can live without a lot of things – things that just a few weeks ago we would have never dreamed we could forego. Things that were a part of our every day, every week rhythms and routines. Yet in such a short period of time we have adjusted, adapted, and changed. We have also learned that the Church is not a building, that being able to go to work and school is a blessing, and that we miss each other – even those frustrating, annoying, irritating people we used to interact with every day.

We need to live better and smarter. We need to live more simple, humble, selfless lives. Yes, we should be vigilant to wash our hands, fold them in prayer, and use them to help and serve those around us. While we’re at it, how about incorporating a little common sense into the way we live, since it has been replaced by too much non-sense. A great deal of life is a matter of being disciplined and responsible on a daily basis – doing the right thing, the right way, for the right reason, each and every time (we find what is right by reading the right book, The BIBLE).

We can’t stop living because some of us our dying.

Physical life ends in physical death – this is a certain, given fact. But we are both physical and spiritual beings. Spiritual life is eternal – it is spent in perfect relationship with GOD and His people, or in absolute isolation alone forever. Yes, death is certain, but so is life.

He who has the Son [by accepting Him as Lord and Savior] has the life [that is eternal]; he who does not have the Son of God [by personal faith] does not have the life. 1 John 5:12 (AMP)

I am certain, as I hope we all are, of this“All my days GOD has been faithful; All my days GOD has been so, so good; With every breath that I am able, I will speak of the goodness of GOD.” (Goodness of GOD, Bethel Music and Jenn Johnson, with a few grammatical liberties taken)

 

TODAY’S BREADCRUMB

True FREEDOM is found only through SACRIFICE – when I lay my selfishness, my insecurities, and my defensiveness aside and put GOD and others before me. A “me first” manner of life yields a dissipated caged death.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not allow anyone to put the yoke of slavery on you again. Galatians 5:1

TODAY’S BREADCRUMB

ALL THERE IS

The unbelieving, unsaved souls of the earth are compelled to do it all and have it all right now, because for them, there will be no later life. The fear of death holds them captive, leaves them short-sighted, and drives them into a flurry of self-promoting, pampering, and pacifying activities, since for them, this is all there is and the best that life will ever be.

These children are people with physical bodies. So Jesus himself became like them and had the same experiences they have. Jesus did this so that, by dying, he could destroy the one who has the power of death – the devil. Jesus became like these people and died so that he could free them. They were like slaves all their lives because of their fear of death.    Hebrews 2:14-15 (ERV)

 

TODAY’S BREADCRUMB

BRINGING DEAD PEOPLE TO LIFE

People turn to any variety of self-improvement strategies – diets, exercise, yoga, meditation, positive thinking, religion – all trying to make big people smaller, weak people stronger, dull people brighter, bad people better, and good people “gooder”…yet only Christianity deals with the principal human predicament – that of bringing dead people to life.

 Although training your body has certain payoffs, godliness benefits all things—holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming.  1 Timothy 4:8 (VOICE)

And you he has quickened to life also, who were dead in trespass and sin, in which you walked in time past according to the course of this world, and followed the prince that rules in the air – the spirit that now works in the children of unbelief,  Ephesians 2:1-2 (NMB)

When you were dead in your sins, you were not set free from the sinful things of the world. But God forgave your sins and gave you new life through Christ.  Colossians 2:13 (NLV)

 This “realm of death” describes our former state, for we were held in sin’s grasp. But now, we’ve been resurrected out of that “realm of death” never to return, for we are forever alive and forgiven of all our sins!  Colossians 2:13 (TPT)

 

TODAY’S BREADCRUMB

Yes, there literally is “hell to pay” – the question is, “Who is picking up your tab?”

And so Jesus is able, now and forever, to save from the punishment of sin all who come to God through Him because He lives forever to pray for them.  Hebrews 7:25 (NLV)

IN THE KNOW

Where do you look for information and instructions? Not news, weather, and sports information. Not instructions on how to build, bake, or fix something. But “in the know” information and instructions like:

How to deal with real life situations?

How to interact with difficult people?

How to handle challenging circumstances?

How to respond when unexpected events occur?

Here’s where people “in the know” look:

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries. There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way?

Or know when we play the fool?

Psalm 19:6-12

 

Where do you turn to uncover truth, to get help, to receive healing, to find hope?

Here’s where people “in the know” turn:

There’s nothing like the written Word of GOD for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live GOD’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks GOD has for us. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

People “in the know” know GOD’s Word is the best source for finding answers to life’s questions and in dealing with life’s problems. Nothing else is more practical, powerful, profound, and poignant. In the late 90’s a group named Burlap To Cashmere came out with a song titled Basic Instructions (Before Leaving Earth) which forms the acronym BIBLE (this song can be found on YouTube). Only The BIBLE reveals what has been, what is, and what will be. It explains who GOD is, who we are, and what this life is all about. GOD’s Word provides insight and understanding in regards to the happenings in our world today both near and far away. GOD’s Word puts life into life.

The word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

 

Unfortunately, we live in an age where most people are not “in the know” when it comes to the Word of GOD, but rather just say “no” to it. The majority of people place no value on the information and instructions it contains, and believe it is archaic and irrelevant. This passage describes the state of affairs today:

 …because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they’ll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths.

2 Timothy 4:3-4

What is offensive about the Word of GOD? Why is it ridiculed, mocked, and ignored? How is knowing about GOD and knowing about ourselves a bad thing? Does learning to live fully and love fully have a negative side to it? Even people who claim to love Jesus and consider themselves to be Christians rarely or never read their Bibles – which is ludicrous. It’s like a person who claims to be a swimmer but never gets into the water; or a vegetarian who avoids eating vegetables.

So here are a couple questions:

Do you find information and instructions for living and loving from The Bible or from fancy fads, novel notions, and tired traditions? And when it comes to the Word of GOD are you “in the know” crowd or in the “no” crowd?

TOO GOOD FOR JESUS

Too good for Jesus – this sounds strange doesn’t it? But isn’t this the way it is with some people? A few posts back I wrote about how The Bible separates people into two main categories: GOD-fearers and fools. One of the places this is referenced is Proverbs 1:7  which reads:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

GOD-fearers deliberately choose to acknowledge GOD as GOD and His Word (The Bible) as truth, they attribute all that is good, right, beautiful, and true to GOD, admit dependence upon GOD, accept that GOD is sovereign in all matters, and adore GOD by worshipping, thanking, and praising Him. Fools deliberately refuse to do these things. So all of us are either GOD-fearers or fools, right?

In addition, there are two basic things that keep people away from Jesus, one is ignorance, the other is arrogance. Fools then, come in two varieties – ignorant fools and arrogant fools. Now before someone gets their underpants knotted up, and thinks this is too insensitive, allow me to present a bit of personal disclosure. I used to be a fool of both types. First, I lived as an ignorant fool for many years before I investigated Jesus for myself. After that, I became an arrogant fool by allowing religion to justify my life rather than Jesus. I’m happy to say I am no longer a fool, but I am a first-degree jerk and jackass at times, since I am still very hard-hearted and hard-headed (just ask my wife). Thankfully, GOD grants many opportunities to help me develop, mature, and get over myself. I read a good book about Jerks a couple years ago titled Don’t Let Jerks Get The Best Of You, by Dr. Paul Meier, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1993. It’s a good read for anyone who is interested.

Now back to the topic of fools. Here is something else that is found in Scripture:

Don’t respond to the stupidity of a fool; you’ll only look foolish yourself. Answer a fool in simple terms so he doesn’t get a swelled head.  Proverbs 26:4-5

This sounds like a contradiction at first, but it isn’t, for the fact of the matter is ignorant fools and arrogant fools need to be handled in different ways. So it’s important to know the fool you are dealing with. Ignorant fools don’t deserve a response since they are clueless in what they are talking about, and if you attempt to enlighten them you will look just as ignorant as they are. On the other hand, arrogant fools deserve a response – a response that is in clear, plain terms that exposes their silliness and keeps them from getting even more full of themselves.

Ignorance can only be used as an excuse until information is presented. Once the GOOD NEWS message of Jesus is shared ignorance instantly changes into arrogance if it not accepted. Arrogant people struggled with Jesus since they thought they were already good – too good for anything He had to offer. They were unwilling to admit they were diseased and broken with sin, and they were infuriated that He would even suggest such a thing about them.

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend My time with those who think they are already good enough.”  Luke 5:31-32

Not much has changed. Today, arrogance (pride) is probably the greatest obstacle to Jesus as many people think they are already good enough. What a foolish notion. But this is the way arrogance operates – it lives, works, and plays in the arena of comparison. Arrogance is quite aware of everyone else’s deficiencies, but disinclined to consider its own – the very things Jesus came to save people from. And here’s the irony of it all, real fools actually think GOD and GOD-fearers are the fools:

 For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God’s power.      1 Corinthians 1:18

Nothing but foolish arrogance resists Jesus, rejects His message, and refuses His gift of salvation. Only arrogant fools believe they don’t need saving – that they are too good for Jesus.

Do they really believe they are already perfect? They must. What else could keep people from believing how someone else (Jesus) has already taken their punishment and paid their debt to make them free and clear, as well as clean and new? But still they say, “No Thanks, Jesus, I’ll take what I deserve.”

 Better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs than a fool hell-bent on folly.                                         Proverbs 17:12

ENTER JESUS…

Life was never supposed to be so hard…full of fears and failures, diseases and disasters, pains and pressures, sorrows and sufferings, worries and wars. Life was never intended to end in death either. But since “The Fall” in Eden, these things have become part of our everyday experiences. This is the way it works with sin. Truth is exchanged for lies, as the devil, the father of lies and chief thief, wrecks havoc upon the earth. Unfortunately, we humans are all too eager to aid and abet him in his dirty deeds.

For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Perhaps you disagree. Maybe you have been able to “dodge the bullet” so far, and your life has been pretty easy going. But what about those in your extended family? What about your friends? What about your neighbors and co-workers? What about your classmates? What about those people in other counties, other countries, other continents? Life is hard; really, really hard for an awful lot of people. It’s a world of hurt, and all these hurting people need saving from their situations and circumstances, from their brokenness and rebellion, and whether you believe it or not, so do you and me. And as for me, it always seems that the hardest thing I have faced, is the stuff I am dealing with right now.

Enter Jesus…

Jesus told them, “Go back to John and tell him about what you have heard and seen – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. And tell him: ‘God blesses those who are not offended by Me.’”  Matthew 11:4-6

Jesus came upon the scene and drastic changes began to occur. Even though miracles still happen every day, we also know that Jesus doesn’t always provide physical healing, and He doesn’t always fix our problems. Instead, He walks beside us through our hard times, He shoulders our sorrows, He carries our burdens, He directs our path.

Enter Jesus…

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

Jesus came and brought GOOD NEWS. Jesus came to bring life back to its original condition. Jesus came to save us from sin, death, and the devil. He told us where to find salvation, how to receive salvation, and what to do in order to flourish in salvation.

Enter Jesus… 

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying.  John 11:25

Jesus came to help. With Jesus, you and I receive forgiveness for yesterday, courage and strength for today, hope for tomorrow. Rather than life ending in death, Jesus made a way for us to transition into bigger and better life – full, abundant life.

Enter Jesus…and hard life becomes whole life.