The Apostle here tells the Ephesians that in their natural state, before divinely quickened and made alive unto God, they were “without Christ,” that is, without manifest union and communion with him. Though in the purposes of God, and by their eternal election in Christ, they were members of his mystical body, they had not been baptized into Christ by the Spirit so as to be made living members of his spiritual body, the Church (1 Cor. 12:13), and therefore had not “put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). And as they were, such were we. We were “without Christ” in our Gentile days. He had no place in our thoughts. We knew nothing of his Person and work, blood and righteousness, beauty and blessedness, grace and glory. He was to us a root out of a dry ground, and in our eyes he had no form nor comeliness. His name might have been on our lips, but his Spirit and grace were not in our hearts. And if matters be in any way different now with us, if there be any faith on him, hope in him, or love to him, grace has wrought it all. Let us never forget what we were before we were called by grace. Let the remembrance of our sins and of the whole bent and current of our lives be bitter to us, that we may all the more prize and admire the riches of that sovereign grace which stooped to us in our low and lost estate. The paschal lamb was to be eaten with bitter herbs. The remembrance of Egyptian bondage should ever accompany the enjoyment of gospel liberty, and godly sorrow for sin the feeding on the flesh of Christ.
Kevin Sorbo of the upcoming Christian film “God’s Not Dead” said there is no point speaking with someone as angry as TV host Bill Maher, who recently called God a “psychotic mass murderer.”
“I wonder what happened to him in his lifetime, because the atheists I have met, not all of them are angry. I’ve got some very good friends who are atheists and they just don’t believe, they simply don’t believe. We’ve had great debates about it and things like that,” Sorbo said in an interview with Newsmax, posted Tuesday, after being asked about Maher’s comments.
“There is no reason to even try to talk to a guy like that because he has so much hate.”
Maher, who has described himself as an “apatheist,” made hiscontroversial remarks last week on his HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher,” when he started talking about the biblical account of Noah’s ark and the flood.
“The thing that’s really disturbing about Noah isn’t the silly, it’s that it’s immoral. It’s about a psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it and his name is God. Genesis says God was so angry with Himself for screwing up when He made mankind so flawed that He sent the flood to kill everyone. Men, women, children, babies, what kind of tyrant punishes everyone just to get back at the few he’s mad at?” the comedian and talk show host said.
Responding to those comments, conservative radio host Bryan Fischer, director of Issue Analysis at the American Family Association, reminded listeners on Monday that the picture presented of God in Scripture is that He is the Creator of the entire world, and that the reason for the flood was the evil of men at the time, who according to the story had nothing but evil in their hearts.
“The point was, God had nothing left to work with. God’s heart was not to destroy, God’s heart was to redeem, but He only found one man, and perhaps the members of his family, who had a heart to respond to Him, to work with Him, to obey Him, and that man’s name was Noah,” Fischer said.
Sorbo added in his interview that it is sad that Maher “has so much anger and hate,” and suggested that he is a “very angry and lonely man.”
In “God’s Not Dead,” Sorbo, who is most famous for the ’90s TV series “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys” and the sci-fi show “Andromeda,” plays an atheist professor whose belief system is challenged by one of his Christian students.
The movie, set for release on March 21, also stars Willie Robertson and his wife Korie from “Duck Dynasty,” who play themselves.
“I was very impressed with how they made the movie,” Robertson told The Christian Post in an interview last week. “I would definitely say my own faith was strengthened – I was glad to be on the side of the kid defending his faith.”
God is saying to His people, “You are not in love with Me now, but I remember a time when you were.” He says, “I remember . . . the love of your betrothal . . .” (Jeremiah 2:2). Am I as filled to overflowing with love for Jesus Christ as I was in the beginning, when I went out of my way to prove my devotion to Him? Does He ever find me pondering the time when I cared only for Him? Is that where I am now, or have I chosen man’s wisdom over true love for Him? Am I so in love with Him that I take no thought for where He might lead me? Or am I watching to see how much respect I get as I measure how much service I should give Him?
As I recall what God remembers about me, I may also begin to realize that He is not what He used to be to me. When this happens, I should allow the shame and humiliation it creates in my life, because it will bring godly sorrow, and “godly sorrow produces repentance . . .” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
A gay blogger has a piece of advice for Christians who tell him he should leave his homosexual lifestyle: don’t confuse your best with God’s best.
Azariah Southworth, who maintains that God affirms his homosexuality, recently wrote a blog post about lessons that “straight Christians must learn.” In it, he suggested that conservative Christians who believe homosexuality is a sin are mistaken in their interpretation of the Bible.
“[W]hen you tell me my life would be better as x,y,z; you’re minimizing my relationship with Christ. I have a different interpretation of a couple verses in the Bible,” he wrote. “I have reconciled my faith and sexual orientation. There has to be respect for my personal journey with God.”
Southworth, formerly host of “The Remix,” a popular Christian music program, has spoken openly about his negative experiences in the church, which include ex-gay counseling.
But despite what many preachers say in condemning homosexuality, he insists that God not only loves LGBT persons but also affirms them.
Since coming out in 2008, Southworth said he has received emails from old friends, strangers and past fellow church members – “people who are reaching out to me in hopes for me to ‘see the light’ and come out of this ‘lifestyle’ – for me to deny my identity.”
One email from Connie (whose last name was withheld) reads: “Jesus has soooo much better life for you than what you’re experiencing now. As long as you have breath, there is hope….”
Southworth responded on his blog, saying, “I just wish Connie could know the Jesus I know. The one that delivers us from fear, breaks the bondage of ignorance, the one that loves and affirms all people; regardless of their sexual orientation.
“I’m not hurt by Connie’s email because I know she means well. She has reached out to me time and time again, she truly cares and wants the best for me. However, Connie is confusing her best with God’s best. Connie has done what countless others have done and continue to do; they have made God nothing more than a mere reflection of themselves.”
The gay blogger, who outed young evangelical Jonathan Merritt in a controversial blog post in 2012, insisted that homosexuality is not an “abstract theological concept,” but rather “a piece of me.”
“I didn’t choose this anymore than you choose to be straight,” he wrote.
He also argued that there are “many interpretations” of the Bible and believes Christians should do their research on what the Scriptures say on homosexuality.
His statements are nothing new.
Among some of the more publicized arguments made by those who identify as gay Christians, Matthew Vines challenged the belief that homosexuality is a sin. An over hour-long video of Vines making his case garnered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
But many Christians, including those who struggle with same-sex attraction, rejected Vines’ arguments.
In the end, Southworth wants Christians to get to know him and have a “mutually respectful dialogue” about homosexuality.
Such was God’s promise to Moses, and such the high character that Moses was to assume toward Aaron, his brother. May it not suggest a high and glorious place that each of us may occupy toward all whom we meet, instead of God?
What a dignity and glory it would give our lives, could we uniformly realize this high calling! How it would lead us to act toward our fellow-men! God can always be depended upon. God is without variableness or shadow of turning. God’s word is unchangeable, and we can trust Him without reserve or question. Oh, that we might so live that men can trust us, even as God!
Again, God has no needs or wants to be supplied. He is always giving. “Rich unto all that call upon Him.” The glory of His nature is love, unselfish love, and beneficence toward all His creatures. The Divine life is a self-forgetting life, a life that has nothing to do but love and bless.
Let us so live, representing our Master here, while He represents us before the Throne on high.
As you journey with God, the only thing He intends to be clear is the way He deals with your soul. The sorrows and difficulties in the lives of others will be absolutely confusing to you. We think we understand another person’s struggle until God reveals the same shortcomings in our lives. There are vast areas of stubbornness and ignorance the Holy Spirit has to reveal in each of us, but it can only be done when Jesus gets us alone. Are we alone with Him now? Or are we more concerned with our own ideas, friendships, and cares for our bodies? Jesus cannot teach us anything until we quiet all our intellectual questions and get alone with Him.
Christian! here is all thou canst require. To make thee happy thou wantest something that shall satisfy thee; and is not this enough? If thou canst pour this promise into thy cup, wilt thou not say, with David, “My cup runneth over; I have more than heart can wish”? When this is fulfilled, “I am thy God,” art thou not possessor of all things? Desire is insatiable as death, but He who filleth all in all can fill it. The capacity of our wishes who can measure? but the immeasurable wealth of God can more than overflow it. I ask thee if thou art not complete when God is thine? Dost thou want anything but God? Is not His all-sufficiency enough to satisfy thee if all else should fail? But thou wantest more than quiet satisfaction; thou desirest rapturous delight. Come, soul, here is music fit for heaven in this thy portion, for God is the Maker of Heaven. Not all the music blown from sweet instruments, or drawn from living strings, can yield such melody as this sweet promise, “I will be their God.” Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight; come, bathe thy spirit in it; swim an age, and thou shalt find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and thou shalt find no bottom. “I will be their God.” If this do not make thine eyes sparkle, and thy heart beat high with bliss, then assuredly thy soul is not in a healthy state. But thou wantest more than present delights-thou cravest something concerning which thou mayest exercise hope; and what more canst thou hope for than the fulfillment of this great promise, “I will be their God”? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of thy Lord, and let thy soul be always ravished with His love. Get out the marrow and fatness which this portion yields thee. Live up to thy privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy.
“I am doing a great work.” Ne 6:3 NKJV
Nehemiah was passionate about rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. So when his enemies tried to sidetrack and discourage him, he answered, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.” Passion is the starting point for all achievement. There has never been anyone who achieved anything of value, who wasn’t passionate about it. It’s the energy that fuels your dream. The road to success is cluttered with detours, problems, and disappointments. And if you don’t have the right mindset, your dreams can die there. Indeed, there are days when the needle on your passion meter will be on empty. On those days you need to remember that God gave you your dream to begin with; go back to Him and ask for the strength to keep moving toward it. The Psalmist wrote, “For You will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall” (Ps 18:28-29 NKJV). Who gives you the power to run and leap? God! But you can’t sit back, fold your arms and think that He will do it all for you. Between your dream’s inspiration and its manifestation, there’s going to be a lot of perspiration. As every new parent finds out—it’s much harder having and raising a baby than conceiving one. But if you have the passion for your dream, the price tag won’t stop you. You’ll get up every morning, draw on God’s grace and take one more step in the direction of the thing you know God put you on this earth to do.
The Torah portion for this week is Bo, which means “come,” from Exodus 10:1–13:16, and the Haftorah is from Jeremiah 46:13–28.
An impala is an African antelope capable of jumping to a height of 10 feet and covering a distance greater than 30 feet. Yet, these magnificent creatures can be kept in any zoo behind a mere three-foot wall. Why? Because impalas will not jump where they cannot see. They become the keepers of their own prison.
One of the most famous scenes in the Exodus story is when the Israelites each slaughtered lambs and placed the blood on their doorposts as God had commanded them. The blood served as a signal to God to “pass over” their houses during the final plague of the death of all the firstborn in the land, and indeed, that is how Passover got its name.
But have you ever wondered why it was necessary for the Israelites to give God a sign? After all, our God is all-knowing and all-powerful. Surely He knew which homes contained Egyptians and which housed the Israelites.
The reason, of course, is that placing the lamb’s blood on the doorposts wasn’t really for God’s sake. It was for the children of Israel.
God knew where each and every Israelite lived. However, in order to be redeemed, they had to pass a test – a test that would prove that they knew where God was. They had to demonstrate their faith in God and their belief that He was everywhere and would protect them from all harm.
In ancient Egypt, sheep were considered sacred. So when God required that the Israelites slaughter these lambs, He was essentially asking them to kill an Egyptian god. There was no greater level of faith and reliance on God than flaunting the killing of these so-called deities by placing their blood on Israelite doorposts for all Egypt to see. This was stepping out in faith to the fullest. It was a declaration that they fully trusted in the God they could not see — and then, they were seen by that very God and saved.
Often, all it takes for our own redemption is trust and faith. We can be like the impala, imprisoned by our own insecurities and fears. Or we can be like the Israelites on the eve of the Exodus — we can embrace trust and step out in faith. It’s the only way out and the only prerequisite for redemption.