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Amen Amigo.

I am disappointed in the American Clergy of all faiths (exceping islamers) due to their abdication of their role as shepherds in the face of this contrived "crisis". At a time when a people need spiritual leadership most all of the clergy, with a few-very few, exceptions have acquiesced to the tyranical rules of our totalitarian overlords.
The silence of the church is deafening!
 

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“A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” (Pro 26:28)
It is not hard to recognize how hateful lies about others are. We see it all the time, don’t we? Politicians lying about one another to gain the slightest edge while demeaning another’s character. Coworkers lying to place blame on another. Or possibly we might consider the lie propagated by many today that the police are all racists, out to punish blacks for no cause; and thus people are rioting and destroying and killing! And they are attacking police without cause!
But how does flattery bring ruin? Simply by causing one to believe they can do no wrong, and thus they are convinced of their being right, even when they are completely wrong. It gives folks a swelled head!
 

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“A desire fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but to turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.” (Pro 13:19)

We all have desires in our lives. For some, desires are more material; new car, new home, new gun :eek:, or some such item we wish to possess. Many have spiritual desires; to pray more, to draw closer to God, or even to be a better disciple. And there are many who have moral/social desires; as seen in political motivations or various groups one might align with like the NRA. You will notice, I hope, that I am speaking of desire not lust. When our desires are fulfilled, it is indeed sweet joy! But it is also only momentary. Some years back I saved the extra cash to by a Freedom Arms 454 Casull. I was so excited to get that gun in my hands, and I loved shooting and hunting with it...but several years later I sold it, it was no longer my desire. Desires can be fleeting, do not let them control your life; you control your desires!
The second half of the verse is a dire warning, because when we are so set on achieving or having our desires we will not let anything hinder us from them. Thus, we will stop at nothing to get what we want; committing evil acts is seen then as good if we achieve our desires. When one gets to that point, it does no good to point out their actions are evil, because they are convinced it is the right and only way to fulfillment. This is visible on the streets of American cities today as people have aligned themselves with BLM or Antifa and become convinced they must protest and fight the police in order to achieve some utopian idea of what they think America will/should become. Violence has become necessary in their eyes to beget the change they desire...even though they really are not sure what it is they desire...They demand justice while committing unjust acts of violence and terror, and those who resist them are seen as an abomination...
Desire has turned into lust...and they are fools.
 

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“And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, ‘Why does He not?’ Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one with a portion of the spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. For the man who does not love his wife, but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit and do not be faithless.” (Mal 2:13-16)

God is not in favor of divorce, right? Of course that is true, but to a degree it misses the point of the argument, which is stemming from the idea that people expect God to smile when they do certain good things and not rebuke them for their evil. In this case, the people thought an offering should make them okay even though they were faithless! In one sense they think they can buy God’s favor and forgiveness; that bringing a gift should make them okay with God. The other aspect is that they wish to be seen as faithful when they are the opposite. Does anyone really believe that people who are faithless toward the people they have entered into covenant with whom they can see, can be faithful to God whom they cannot see? Finally, the text suggests that it is God who makes the two people into one in marriage; would you dare to render what God has drawn together? (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5-6) Such behavior is defiance, and that person stands against God.
Be faithful to whom and what you have committed yourself! Thus it is vital to carefully consider before commitment...
 

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“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (Pro 18:17)
All too often somebody says something that is misleading or in error and the truth is not realized until someone else utters correction. The point is there are two sides to every story, but the first word heard is the one everybody tends to believe, until it is proven false.

For years now the word that our president had colluded with the Russians was the drumbeat of the media, but now, finally after more than three years the truth is being heard; and the truth is the opposite of what had first been said. Now it seems that the accuser was actually the offender. Yet, many still wish to cling to the belief that the president was the offender, but as the evidence continues to come forth the falsehood is exposed and soon no one will be able to cling to the first story...

In a similar manner, right here and on other forums, someone will make a post and unless you knew differently from the beginning you might be tempted to go along because it seems right...until someone else posts viable truth, often with collaborating evidence or testimony to refute that first post.
 

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“Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” (Pro 9:8-9)

Have you noticed how some folks just refuse to learn? They mock and scoff at anything, no matter how carefully presented, and if you have proven him/her wrong in something they will be your enemy henceforth! But the one who is wise, takes the reproof to heart having gained wisdom...they are thankful for what they receive!

I have observed that wise people are teachable; they want to learn. Fools think they know all that is worthwhile already, or are too stubborn/proud to learn.
 

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“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” (Pro 20:3)
I find myself troubled by my own failures in this regard right here in this forum. Admittedly I have found the rhetoric of at least one individual to get under my skin and thus I responded and contributed to strife instead of virtually walking away. I know that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, so I am not surprised at my own behavior, but I am ashamed still. I know better. I apologize to all.
It is perfectly acceptable for us to disagree as we discuss varying topics, but not to quarrel and act as children do. We can have adult disagreements in our dialogue without strife. But when we stoop to fighting we make ourselves to be fools. We can be gracious in our remarks and still uphold what is right and truth...if we choose to do so.
 

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“A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” (Pro 27:3)
Since moving to Texas back in July, I have been doing some work in our back yard to hopefully transform it into a sanctuary of sorts for my wife and myself with a decent garden and flowers and even a little grass. In order to get where I want things I have needed to move a few large stones and, ironically, some 80 lb. bags of sand. I am not exactly a kid anymore, so I felt it a little the next day after wrestling with the likes of those.
But, what the author wanted us to see in his comparative verse was that the spiritual and emotional weight of being provoked by another is far harder for us to deal with or bear the weight of it. For my part, I readily agree. There are some folks who like to needle and provoke others; worse yet claim to be innocent and thus increase the provocation until they are just about intolerable. I have to work hard to shrug these types off, but I find a greater satisfaction in knowing that they did not succeed in getting me to respond carelessly to their provocation (I have done that). This sort of thing is not uncommon on forums, so the challenge is to not respond in kind to the provocation, but overwhelm them with wisdom, wit and even kindness. (Eccl 9:18; Pro 11:17)
Remember, when you respond carelessly to the provocation, you will be made to look like the provocateur.
 

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“A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” (Pro 27:3)
Since moving to Texas back in July, I have been doing some work in our back yard to hopefully transform it into a sanctuary of sorts for my wife and myself with a decent garden and flowers and even a little grass. In order to get where I want things I have needed to move a few large stones and, ironically, some 80 lb. bags of sand. I am not exactly a kid anymore, so I felt it a little the next day after wrestling with the likes of those.
But, what the author wanted us to see in his comparative verse was that the spiritual and emotional weight of being provoked by another is far harder for us to deal with or bear the weight of it. For my part, I readily agree. There are some folks who like to needle and provoke others; worse yet claim to be innocent and thus increase the provocation until they are just about intolerable. I have to work hard to shrug these types off, but I find a greater satisfaction in knowing that they did not succeed in getting me to respond carelessly to their provocation (I have done that). This sort of thing is not uncommon on forums, so the challenge is to not respond in kind to the provocation, but overwhelm them with wisdom, wit and even kindness. (Eccl 9:18; Pro 11:17)
Remember, when you respond carelessly to the provocation, you will be made to look like the provocateur.
Thank you.
 

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“...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2Tim 1:7)

In a day when half our country is fearful of the virus or the outcome of the election it might strike us there is a sense of godless behavior in our land. We are fearful of the virus and even worse, fearful of what some politician might do..or not do.

Instead we ought to rejoice in knowing the sovereign God and Creator of the universe has full control of earthly events, even if we are unsure as to what He is accomplishing! Instead of trusting God we shake our fists and demand things be done our way. We should remember that the power is His, and given to His Son! (Matt 28:18)

And, when we should be loving one another, we are instead fighting and killing one another. We seem to have not merely forgotten the Lord’s teaching, but it is as if we never knew...(John 13:34)

And we lack any semblance of self-control. Blurting out angry and/or ugly comments is commonplace. It is as though our freedom of speech is considered a license for vitriol and hatred. The day is coming when we will be accountable for our words...(Matt 12:36-37)
 

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“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Pet 2:16)

In context, Peter is, like Paul (Rom 13:1-5), encouraging folks to understand that all authorities and governments are from the Lord who is sovereign over all of creation. (Big pill in light of elections) Peter encourages us to live like the free people we are. Holding are heads high and standing for what is good in the world around us. But then he almost admonishes us to not abuse your freedom by committing evil. In other words he tells us that our freedom is not an excuse to commit evil, nor a shield we can hide behind if we do. He sums up the statement in this verse saying we should live like servants of God; we should submit to and uphold all that God declares good and righteous and so we should abhor all that He calls evil...always.
Freedom and the defense of freedom is not license to do as we please and say “it was in defense of freedom.” We must not as individuals or as nations. I believe that few people have ever tasted of freedom as much as Americans have. But we have encouraged and taken part in many evils as free Americans. I will not dredge up all the depths of evil we have involved ourselves in, but as a single example, might we consider the abortion industry...killing the unborn; the defenseless.
 

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“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him...” (Luke 17:3)
Jesus spoke clearly as He reminded His disciples that temptation is all around, but they should not be those who bring temptations and sins upon others (17:1-2). Why? Because they will bring judgment upon themselves! So he emphasizes the need for them to watch themselves; don’t be one who causes others to be tempted and to sin! This sort of thing is prevalent in forums and social media where people provoke others by way of arrogant or dismissive comments or by petty name calling or insinuations...we all see it often enough. But then Jesus insists that if a brother (fellow disciple) sins in these ways to rebuke him! Call the individual out for their behavior. In a forum that can be difficult, and can turn into a nasty argument to which the only answer then is for admin/moderators to step in. At this point it becomes essential to address the behavior of the one who instigated, but all to often a blanket rebuke is issued instead of rebuking the individual bad behavior. This allows a culprit to escape the deserved shame, and no repentance will come from that. In closing Jesus allows that if the one who sinned repents to forgive him. You gotta leave the door open for grace; for forgiveness. Repentance means to turn; turn away from sin/bad behavior and do what is right.

Sometimes, when people refuse to change their ways, it is best to rebuke them publicly (1 Tim 5:20), so all can see and perhaps think twice before exhibiting the same poor behavior. This is difficult because it requires the fortitude to confront the individual head on, and if the behavior continues to then openly shame them. I know, this is not common in our day, but when one commits shameful acts/behavior, let them be shamed before their peers when they refuse to change.
 

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“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Pet 4:12)

I am often amazed at the number of those who say they are Christians, but expect life to be rosy and comfy. When I have suggested to some that they ought to read the Bible a bit more so they might truly understand, they often get a bit...huffy! Yet, this is just one of many verses that suggest Christians ought to know that suffering will come their way. Peter thought it was an honor to suffer as Christ suffered (4:13), yet American Christians have become so pampered and wimpy that they whine at the least provocation and hope in the government to protect them from any cruelties or suffering even though Jesus made it clear we should expect to suffer persecution if we follow Him! (John 15:20)

Many Christians believe they will be raptured and spared from any suffering in the end times (a fairly new teaching). I wonder, what Bible verse tells us we shall not suffer in this lifetime? (crickets...) The promise of eternal bliss is in heaven with the Lord (Rev 21:1-4), not in this lifetime.

So when we suffer the cruelties of a virus or the potential oppression of a government that is turning socialist more each day, we should not be surprised, nor be whining, but be thankful for the eternal promise that is yet to come and live a God honoring life until we are home. No, this is not easy...but it is that which we are called to.
 

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In the fourth chapter of Nehemiah we read of the struggle to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem when the people of Judah are finally allowed to return home from the Babylonian exile. There are many miscreants in the land by then. When the people began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem that were essential for security in those days, the miscreants at first just made fun of them and mocked them; at first it was all just taunting and verbal abuse. But when it was realized that great progress was being made and that the people were not in the slightest bit moved by the verbal abuse, the miscreants got mad and began planning to gather Arabs, Ammonites and Ashdodites to fight against the Jews rebuilding Jerusalem. This caused no small amount of consternation among the Jews when they heard about the planned attack, for they were already struggling to complete the work of rebuilding the wall with all hands available. So Nehemiah gathered all the returned exiles into Jerusalem (some had been living outside Jerusalem) and organized them for defending the city. And he had them armed while they kept working, so their swords and spears were at hand always while they completed the work on the wall. He organized the people to insure communication and rapid response even as they continued to work.

It was evident then, as it still is today, that good men need to be armed and prepared for hostility in this sinful world, even as we carry out our work and raise our families. It is also obvious that there is a need for organization and leadership, not simply every man for himself. And it also makes obvious that at first the opposition is just verbal, but then becomes much more ominous. Not much has changed, though the weapons have modernized. Nehemiah and the Jews returned from exile had the modern weapons of that day; we do not, and there is a steady push to take away what we do have. It is quite evident that “there is nothing new under the sun.”
 

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Today, I want to talk just a minute about the Trinity, the divine triple nature of God. First of all, what scriptural evidence is there for this doctrine? Here are just a few Bible evidences of the reality of the trinity:

Matthew 28:19 (KJV);
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

John 14:26 (KJV);
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (KJV);
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”

1 Peter 1:2 (KJV);
“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.”

Although there is plenty of Bible evidence FOR the trinity, there is very little to help us UNDERSTAND the trinity. Many popular examples have been given – some good, like the fact that I am a husband, a father, and a pastor. Each of these three stations in my life are very different in nature, yet each is filled by the same human being, me. The person that I am is made up of all three; if one were removed, I would no longer be the same person. Some examples are not as good – like the popular egg example, where there is egg shell, egg white, and egg yoke, and they all make up an egg. This breaks down, however, because an egg-shell is not an egg. Explain the Trinity? I can't even begin. I can only accept it as a mystery disclosed in Scripture. It should be no surprise that the triune Being of God baffles our finite minds. Instead, we should be surprised if we could understand the nature of our Creator for then He would be a cheap man-made god, not the fathomless Source of all reality.
 

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“The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe what they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.” (Matt 23:2-3)

Following these words, Jesus turned His attention to the scribes and Pharisees and verbally ripped them for their hypocrisy, and doing so before the crowds who followed Him. Nothing looks quite as degrading as seeing a hypocrite in action; saying one thing and doing the opposite! If we think about it today, we have to admit that hypocrisy has become quite common, and to some is even considered as a normal means of accomplishing what you want or getting what you want. I cannot count the number of parents who have said or implied the same to their children so as to do what they knew was wrong and a bad influence for their children. Politicians practice hypocrisy as though it were some sort of religion! This has become “in your face” evident during the pandemic as governors and others order folks to stay home and minimize gatherings while they themselves do just the opposite. But here in our forum and other social media hypocrisy is not so evident, because you cannot see what the writer actually does to know if their words are just more hypocrisy. But with the evidence so obvious in our culture that hypocrisy is a part of it and oft considered normal, you have to know there are many hypocrites who enjoy saying stuff about themselves that is not even close to true...so don’t get too worried about what you read here or in other forums. You can bet that a portion of it is bovine feces.
I think that for the upcoming weeks I will slowly work through this text in Matthew 23 and examine the ways Jesus said the religious leaders were being hypocrites. I know, it is almost Christmas, when we should be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. But since so many celebrate Santa Claus instead...well, it just seems appropriate to spend a little time in this text.
 

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“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” (Matt 23:13-15)

Please not that twice there is an exclamation in the text as Jesus pronounces woe (condemnation) on this religious sect (Pharisees) and the learned of the temple (scribes), not once, but twice.

They demanded perfect obedience to the Law of Moses; legalism! They maintained an expectation that one cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless they abide in the law in every way. This is an impossible expectation; if we could fulfill the law there would be no need for the sacrifices and all the blood that flowed daily for forgiveness of sins, and, even more so, there would be no need for the sacrifice of Christ for our sins! (Eph 1:7)

In that manner of thinking, when the scribes and Pharisees worked hard to make another proselyte (converted to Judaism) they imposed the same religious dogma on the new ‘believer.’ Thusly each convert became a new hypocrite who publicly demanded strict adherence to something they too could not achieve.

When grace is cast aside, hypocrisy shall reign in the hearts of men. They demanded the impossible while secretly unable to fulfill it themselves.

I cannot help but think of certain politicians who demand adherence to ways that are impossible and destructive, ways which they themselves will not submit to. Woe to them; they too are just hypocrites!
 

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“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matt 23:23-24)

They did everything for a show so that others would see that they supposedly went the extra mile in their devotion to the Lord and obedience to Him. They sought to show how they made sure that 10% (tithe) of everything they had was given back to the Lord even to the point of measuring trivial amounts of spices! Jesus pointed out that while they should tithe, that was a minimum performance, and there were far more important things that they ought to be about as the religious leaders of that day. But they neglected seeing to justice for all and they were merciless, exacting strict obedience from all people of the law which none was able to truly uphold. Basically they demanded strict adherence to the law which they themselves could not manage. The resemblance to our politicians today is quite unnerving.
 
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