God is in the Past and the Future

Genesis 50:25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.

We are living in a day of modern marvels with things that our grandparents never could have even imagined taking place. For instance, recently I saw a news story about the development of a flying car. I know they have been talking about this for some time, but it seems that we are getting closer to that being something that comes to pass. It is hard to imagine what the future will be like considering the rapidity with which things are changing every day.
Now we can imagine artificial intelligence, flying cars, and all kinds of marvels in the future, but can you imagine God in your future? Can you imagine confidently the fact that God is present in the future already and that means your future?
Joseph was a man who could have been bitter about his past and fearful about his future, but he was neither. When he was reunited with the brothers who had sold him into slavery in Egypt, they were fearful that Joseph would take revenge. But Joseph said, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good.” Joseph realized that even the bad things that had happened to him God had turned for the good. God had a purpose that wouldn’t be thwarted by evil brothers and a vacillating father. Joseph looked back to his past in the pit, in the house of Potipher, in the prison, and in the palace, and Joseph recognized the presence of God.

Now I will tell you what that did for him. Looking back and acknowledging God’s presence gave Joseph confidence regarding the future. The promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that colored Joseph’s own perception of his self-history is the same promise that informed his confidence about the future.

Genesis 50:24-25 says, “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” Notice the word “surely.” Joseph said, “I am going to die. I am not going to be with you forever, but God will be. And God will surely visit you, and God will surely give you the land that He promised to our fathers. When that happens, you take my bones and pack them out of here.”

Joseph was imagining a day well beyond his own life. Most of us rarely imagine life without ourselves, or if we do, it is a morbid thing where we worry about our children and grandchildren. We should not be totally oblivious to the fact that the world will not stop rotating on its axis once we are gone, neither should we be fearful for our children and grandchildren in days to come.

Joseph was a man who saw God in his future because he acknowledged God in his past. Those who choose to see God in their past can confidently imagine Him in their future. May God help you to be aware of God’s presence in your past and rely on the fact that God will surely be with you in the future.

Will Rice
https://billriceranch.org/god-is-in-the-past-and-the-future/

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The Sins Forbidden by the Ninth Commandment in a Social Media World

In an article I shared a couple of days ago, we began to take a look at the ninth commandment (“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”) and its relevance in a world in which so much of our communication takes place through social media. Specifically, we considered some of the duties required by the commandment. Today we want to look at the flip side and consider the sins it forbids. As with the first article, I will share in bullet points each phrase of the explanation provided in the Westminster Larger Catechism, then, beneath each one, suggest questions that may foster meditation and application.

The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are:

  • all prejudicing the truth, and the good name of our neighbors, as well as our own, especially in public judicature;
    • Do you routinely seek out and read information that causes you to look at other people with suspicion? Do you spread information (online or offline) about brothers or sisters in Christ that might cause others to look at them suspiciously? Do you spread the kind of information that prejudices people against others?
  • giving false evidence, suborning false witnesses, wittingly appearing and pleading for an evil cause, outfacing and overbearing the truth;
    • Do you ensure that every bit of information you share about another person is the whole truth? Do you do your best to verify that information you learn about another person is nothing less than the whole truth? Do you assume damaging information you learn about another person is true or do you demand evidence?
  • passing unjust sentence, calling evil good, and good evil;
    • Are you too quick to pass judgment on others, perhaps declaring them heretical with too little evidence or according to a loose definition of the term? Do you call evil good by consuming sites or feeds committed to sharing information that is untrue or unnecessary?
  • rewarding the wicked according to the work of the righteous, and the righteous according to the work of the wicked;
    • Do you reward wicked people with your time, attention, clicks, subscriptions, follows, shares, retweets, and ad impressions? Do you treat godly people wickedly by assuming all you have read about them is true?
  • forgery, concealing the truth, undue silence in a just cause, and holding our peace when iniquity calleth for either a reproof from ourselves, or complaint to others;
    • Are you unwilling to stand for the truth or defend a brother or sister in Christ when you have evidence that would vindicate them or promote their reputation? Do you conceal truth about them in order to allow their reputation to be more consistently impugned?
  • speaking the truth unseasonably, or maliciously to a wrong end, or perverting it to a wrong meaning, or in doubtful and equivocal expressions, to the prejudice of truth or justice;
    • Do you share truth about others in a way that is actually meant to do them harm? Do you weaponize truth, perhaps sharing information that, though true, primarily seeks to damage another person’s reputation? Do you hold facts over another person with the threat of exposure?
  • speaking untruth, lying, slandering, backbiting, detracting, talebearing, whispering, scoffing, reviling, rash, harsh, and partial censuring;
    • Do you visit sites that tell full-out lies or that convey half-truths? Do you spend time in the online company of people who slander others, who backbite them, who detract from their reputations, who scoff at them, or who revile them? Do you do any of these things yourself? Are you harsh with others and with your interpretation of the facts about them? Or do you choose to believe the best about them in the absence of undeniable evidence to the contrary?
  • misconstructing intentions, words, and actions;
    • Do you interpret intentions and convey them as fact? Do you assume you know the inner motives of other people? Do the sites you read and feeds you follow only convey facts or do they also assume knowledge of intentions and motivations?
  • flattering, vainglorious boasting;
    • Do you flatter others or brag about yourself through social media? Do you see social media success as so meaningful you are tempted to sin to achieve it?
  • thinking or speaking too highly or too meanly of ourselves or others;
    • Do you use social media to speak too highly of yourself or too highly of others? Do you use it to speak too poorly of yourself or too poorly of others? Do you visit sites or read feeds that commit such transgressions?
  • denying the gifts and graces of God;
    • Do you fail to identify or do you outright deny evidences of God’s grace as displayed in the lives of other people, and especially of people you dislike or disagree with? Do you deny that these people are displaying evidences of the Spirit’s presence through their spiritual gifting? Do you thank God for every evidence of his gifts and graces, even in the lives of people of whom you are suspicious?
  • aggravating smaller faults;
    • Do you focus on the small faults and peccadillos of other people? Do you allow even their minor transgressions to become gossip?
  • hiding, excusing, or extenuating of sins, when called to a free confession;
    • In your own life, do you fail to confess the full measure of your own sinfulness? Do you excuse sins in yourself you would not excuse in another? Do you read writers who are far freer in expressing the faults of others than of themselves? Do you see evidence of the grace of humility in your own words and conduct and in the words and conduct of those who influence you?
  • unnecessary discovering of infirmities;
    • Do you go online to research the faults of others when there is no good reason for you to do so? Do you read web sites committed primarily to exposing the sins, faults, and heresies of other people?
  • raising false rumors, receiving and countenancing evil reports, and stopping our ears against just defense;
    • Do you read sites that spread rumors and do you yourself spread them in the absence of clear and undeniable facts? Do you read and receive and spread reports about others that are speculative or unsubstantiated? Do you fail to read and evaluate the defence of a person’s character with the same hopefulness and thoroughness as the attack? Are you willing to tell others you will not hear rumors, but only necessary facts?
  • evil suspicion;
    • Do you read sites that cause you to grow in suspicion toward others? Do you spread information that causes other people to grow suspicious, particularly about fellow believers?
  • envying or grieving at the deserved credit of any, endeavoring or desiring to impair it, rejoicing in their disgrace and infamy;
    • Do you find yourself hoping you will learn negative or damning information about another person? Do find pleasure in hearing bad news about another person? Do you rejoice in their downfall? Do you fail to give them credit where credit is due to them, especially for how the Lord has sovereignty seen fit to use them?
  • scornful contempt, fond admiration;
    • Does what you read cause you to increase in scorn and contempt toward others?
  • breach of lawful promises;
  • neglecting such things as are of good report, and practicing, or not avoiding ourselves, or not hindering what we can in others, such things as procure an ill name.
    • Do you neglect to seek out and rejoice in good reports of others? Do you say or share things that would cause another person’s reputation to be diminished? Do you fail to avoid sites or feeds or accounts that cause another person’s reputation to be diminished? Do you fail to call others to account when they diminish another person’s reputation?

Let me repeat what I wrote before. The ninth commandment is not the only commandment, so we do not obey it at the expense of what is required or forbidden by the other nine and, of course, by the rest of the Bible. Neither is it the only word on our relationships with other people and certainly there are times we must investigate what others have said or done. Still, God calls us to examine this commandment carefully and apply it deliberately. I trust these two articles have helped us do so.

Tim Challies
https://www.challies.com/articles/the-sins-forbidden-by-the-ninth-commandment-in-a-social-media-world/

How’s Your Heart Today?

Examine yourselves, seeing whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not know that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do that which is honorable, whether or not we may seem disqualified. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when we are weak, and you are strong. We wish even your perfection.

– 2 Corinthians 13:5-9 MEV.

When Jesus said to love God and others with “all your heart,” it shows that we need to pay attention to and work on our hearts continually.

In life the “want to” precedes the “how to.” Good advice on howto do something serves no purpose unless we wantto do it. This is the heart of Christian living. Only after we want to do what is right are we then ready to learn how to do that very thing.

Be honest, how is your heart toward God? If you could pick one word (e.g., tender or hard, loving or angry, obedient or defiant, etc.) to describe your heart toward God what would it be?

Grace and I have been together since March 12, 1988. Then one day I asked, “How are we doing in our relationship?”

I was expecting her to tell me that she felt like she was married to Jesus. Much to my surprise, she took that opportunity to gently let me know that I had a lot of room for improvement.

I got a bit defensive. I asked why she had not told me these things before. She kindly reminded me that she had on various occasions and that I was not really listening or acting upon what she was saying. She was right.

I took the words of my wife to heart and scheduled a day alone with the Lord. My goals were to (1) pray to the Lord, asking Him how I could love better in my relationship with my wife, (2) listen, (3) journal out my thoughts with the Lord, and 4) study scriptures that pertained to what He would say to me.

But before God talked to me about my relationship with Grace, He spoke with me about my relationship with Him. The Lord convicted me that if I loved Him better first, then I would love Grace better, so I needed to start working on my relationship with Him first.

I believe that much of the time, God feels like my wife did. God loves you, and He wants a loving relationship with you. He has spoken to you through Scripture, your conscience, and the wise counsel of godly people about some areas you need to improve in order to nurture a loving relationship with Him and others. Have you been listening?

In Him,

Pastor Mark Driscoll
https://markdriscoll.org/examine-your-heart/

To a Woman Considering Abortion

Abortion is rarely talked about.

I’m not talking about the word “abortion.” We hear this word a lot in the public square. But we rarely hear about it. Abortion almost always refers to something else. We hear that abortion is fundamentally about a woman’s right to reproductive freedom. Or abortion is a litmus test for judicial nominees. Or abortion is symptomatic of what’s wrong with the social discourse in America.

But none of those things is what abortion really is. Abortion is the intentional killing of unborn children.

Death Is in the Power of the Tongue

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Abortion is a clear example of this truth.

The killing of children can be tolerated and even championed as a social good so long as we don’t call it what it is. Call abortion an individual’s right to privacy and you can write it into the legal code. Call abortion a compassionate choice offered to a frightened girl to save her future or to save a child from an undesirable quality of life and you can swing popular opinion. Call abortion a liberation of women from the social and economic oppression of male dominance and passionate people will march on capitols chanting demands to preserve the human right of abortion on-demand.

But you won’t hear the street marchers chant, “We will fight for the right to kill our children!” Because calling abortion what it is might awaken uneasy consciences out of a euphemistic stupor to realize that millions of the most defenseless human beings on the planet are being denied the self-evident, Creator-endowed human right to life.

Death is in the power of logic-contradicting, term-redefining, and deceptively-clinical tongues. We have allowed legal child-killing on-demand for 41 years because we’ve called it something else.

Life Is in the Power of the Tongue

That’s why Christians, “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13–14) must keep speaking the truth about what abortion is with relentless clarity. “We destroy arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5) by not yielding the ground of clear truth. Because life is in the power of truth-speaking tongues.

Therefore, we will keep saying:

Abortion kills children and we all know this.

Our legal code demonstrates that we know this because it grants an unborn child the rights of personhood in areas such as tort, criminal, and property law, making legalized abortion a schizophrenic, arbitrary, and tragically defective legal ruling.

Abortion is mercilessly violent. Children with heartbeats, brainwaves, and a nervous system that allows them to feel pain are literally torn to pieces.  “93% of all abortions [in the United States] are performed on healthy mothers, with healthy babies. . . . Less than 1% are performed because of rape or incest.” (Abort73)

The number of children killed by abortion every year dwarfs the Holocaust and other homicidal horrors of history.

  • Approximately 3,300 children are killed by abortion every day in the United States. Americans kill 1.2 million unborn children every year.
  • The World Health Organization estimates between 40 and 50 million children are killed around the world by abortion, approximately 125,000 every day.

Unborn girls are killed at a higher rate than unborn boys. Estimates are as high as 163 million unborn girls have been intentionally killed since the 1970’s because they were girls, resulting in what some are now calling a “gendercide” (see Abuse of Discretion, 334).

And we will speak many, many more clear truths (here are 15 more) until abortion on-demand is ended.

Here’s the point: truthful tongues save lives. Legalized abortion is an evil that occurs and is tolerated because of deceptive words. And truthful words are required to clear the fatal fog with clarity.

Keep Speaking

I don’t know if our speaking truth will succeed in helping to change the abortion laws. World Magazine reports encouraging developments. But as John Piper says, “We are not called to win; we are called to witness.”

However, history does show that the faithful, relentless, prophetic witness of the saints over many years results in the remarkable spread of the gospel and the end of thousands of horrible social evils from the individual to the national levels.

So we must keep speaking. We must call abortion what it is: the killing of children and a vicious, established, legalized evil and injustice.

Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we just remembered because of his relentless truth-telling in the face of established, legalized, racial evil, once said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”

We dare not be guilty of this. The Lord who said, “Rescue those who are being taken away to death” will not accept the excuse, “Behold, we did not know this” (Proverbs 24:11–12).

May life be in the power of our truthful tongues.

What the Devil Doesn’t Want You to Do

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

A 2013 report from the Barna Group revealed that when Christians were asked if they felt they had a responsibility to share their faith with others, 73 percent said yes. But the report went on to say that “only half (52%) of born-again Christians said they actually shared the gospel at least once” over the previous year with someone who had different beliefs.

The devil doesn’t want us to share our faith because it’s a direct threat to his kingdom. He will do everything he can to keep us from sharing our faith. I don’t know about you, but I want to redouble my efforts to do what the devil doesn’t want me to do. You can lead people to Christ. It’s just that most of us haven’t taken that step yet.

Every Christian should be able to share his or her faith in three minutes or less. Let’s say that you were on a plane and learned that all of the engines had gone out and the plane was going down. You have three minutes to talk to the rest of the passengers on the plane. Do you think you could actually give them the gospel in that period of time? I guarantee you could do it. You just get to the essential message. I believe that if we would do that more often, we would be leading more people to Christ.

Please don’t say, “I don’t believe that I’m called to be an evangelist. I’m just trying to be a good example.” Good examples don’t bring people to Christ. Good examples, however, can open the door to articulate their faith so they can bring people to Christ. And good examples are what we need to be so that we’ll have opportunities to verbally articulate our faith.

– Greg Laurie
   Harvest

How Does God’s Grace Get You Through?

“My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace” (1 Peter 5:12 NLT).

We face many pitfalls in the marathon of life. But regardless of what you go through, you can count on God’s sustaining grace.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:12, “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace” (NLT).

There are three things in life that can cause you to stumble, to get cast off to the side of the race, and to not finish well in life. But in each of these situations, God’s sustaining grace will get you through.

1. God’s sustaining grace helps you keep standing when you’re tempted.

Temptation is the first thing that can cause you to stumble. The Bible says, “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT).
God says, “I will provide the sustaining grace to always give you a way of escape.” It may mean turning the channel. It may mean running out the door. It may mean changing the way you’re thinking. But God will provide a way to escape temptation.

2. God’s sustaining grace helps you keep standing when you’re tired.

Sometimes you’re not tempted. Sometimes you’re just tired! Life is often exhausting. It requires a lot of energy, especially when you’re trying to do the right thing rather than the easy thing. But where do you get the power to do the right thing when you’re dead tired? “It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). The key is having the Holy Spirit in your heart to have the energy to do the things you can’t do in your own power.

3. God’s sustaining grace gives you the power to keep going when you’re troubled.

There are some hurts that all the wishing in the world won’t make go away. There are some things in life that are unplanned, unrelenting, and undeserved—and they hurt the most.

What do you do in those situations? You first stop doing the “if only” game and instead focus on Christ and his sustaining power. Isaiah 41:10 says, “Don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you” (NCV).

Eventually, God Makes the Woeful Wonderful!

John 12:32-33 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

In His final days before the cross, Jesus reminds us that every day is filled with both the woeful and the wonderful.

Nothing is more woeful than the cross. As the old hymn states, it is, “an emblem of suffering & shame”. Crucifixion was the most painful, public, and awful way to die. The Jewish historian Josephus called it, “the most wretched of deaths”. Not only were Romans not crucified, Cicero said that Roman citizens should not even speak of it because it was so vile. And, God was clear in Deuteronomy 21:23, “if a man…is put to death, and you hang him on a tree… a hanged man is cursed by God.”

When the early Christians decided to choose the symbol to represent our faith, starting with the church father Tertullian they chose the cross. Why would God’s people choose the most woeful symbol to remind them of Jesus Christ?

Because, on the cross God turned the most woeful thing in the most wonderful thing!

Jesus death brought us life!

Jesus condemnation brought us salvation!

Jesus separation brought us reconciliation!

In the middle, while Jesus was bleeding and dying and before He was rising and living, all was woeful. But, then everything became wonderful. In this we learn an incredibly important truth – when things are woeful keep trusting God and keep walking with God until the end. In the end, you can trust Jesus to make even the woeful wonderful!

What woeful thing in your life right now do you need to trust that God will one day make wonderful? How does the cross of Jesus give you faith and hope that Jesus life will be the same thing that God does in your life?