Adding and Subracting from Scripture

Deuteronomy 4.2 commands do not add a thing to what I command you nor subtract from it.

When God lived with us as the Man Jesus, His predominant conflict with men was the religious leader’s addition to His commands which caused people to miss the heart of God.

Moses commanded Israel to neither add nor subtract from the commands of God, a command Jesus reminds His people in the last book of the Bible.

God takes very seriously our manipulation of His Word for it is His recorded Word that teaches us how we are to live and reveals to us the very character of God.

An example of addition to God’s teaching is a church condemning dancing of any kind within its building even weddings and daddy-daughter dances. Nowhere in Scripture does God condemn dancing but instead His beloved David danced with joy before Him.

A recent subtraction is the tolerance of homosexuality, a behavior clearly condemned but largely ignored by the church.

The Bible commands men to be diligent students of the scripture, workmen who will not be ashamed when they face God on judgment day and give account for how they lived and taught His Word.

The Lord Jesus called Himself the Word of God Who came not only to pardon men from their evil deeds but to teach men now to live lives pleasing to God.

Truly the commands of God are not burdensome but are the means for all of humanity to live healthy, joyful lives full of peace and prosperity.

Our propensity to add, subtract and ignore God’s Word is great and evident all around us but those who love God must diligently seek God through the Scriptures to personally know Him and to thoroughly obey Him.

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Getting to Heaven

John 12.48 warns the word I have spoken will judge him at the last day.

God in disguise, Jesus Who is God, told us and has recorded for history what He requires for people to live with Him forever in His kingdom.

Most people believe in God though Who He is and what He requires is by no means agreed upon as most people believe in the god their minds have created rather than the God Who really is.

Most people believe in life after death hoping for some place beyond this earth where we will live again since our time here is so short and many times hard but getting there too is a matter of opinion with most believing it takes being more good than bad to get to heaven.

Rarely if ever does one attend a funeral where the minister alludes to the person’s afterlife being anywhere but heaven despite how we know this person really lived.

God however states clearly what He requires for humanity to live forever and that is the words of Jesus must be obeyed. Those words have been recorded and translated so that all people everywhere can know God and can enter into His heaven if they will but take the time to seek Him and apply His teaching to their lives.

God’s perspective is that men are without excuse for knowing Him since He has proven Himself through nature and our own conscience.

In addition, God has spoken to men throughout history performing great deeds so that people could know Him.

Finally God came to us in the man Jesus so we could see Him and touch Him.

We must know Jesus and do as He commanded if we are going to live forever.

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Spiritual Fitness

Jude 1.20 commands Christians to build themselves up in their most holy faith.

Salvation comes from God both by the work of Jesus Christ at Calvary and the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of men and is developed by the presence of the Holy Spirit and the effort of men who subject themselves to the rule of God in their lives. Jude, the half-brother of the Lord Jesus, lists several ways we are to build ourselves up in our faith which is the personal responsibility of every Christian.

First, he commands we pray. In this way we both talk to God and hear from God His direction for our lives. The most effective prayer life is the one saturated with the Word of God for God uses His Word to speak to our hearts as we pray.

Second, we are to obey God which is our means for remaining in His love. If we love God, Jesus taught, we will obey God. Obedience is the proof of our devotion and surrender to God.

Third, we show mercy to our fellow believers. Like the members of a gym where everyone is at different stages of physical fitness but each one is working on getting more fit so too the Church is the community of spiritual fitness where each person individually who is working on their faith is encouraged and helped corporately in that process.

Fourth, we are to save others by sharing the gospel so that they are saved from the flames of hell. The destiny of all people everywhere is condemnation from God unless they receive a pardon for sin from Jesus Christ the Savior. God’s people are the communicators of God’s free pardon but God’s people must engage the lost for them to receive it.

These disciplines are to be practiced daily if we are to become strong Christians who know God and are useful to Him for the building of His kingdom.

George H.W. Bush is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting training operations.

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Listening to God

John 10.27 observes My sheep listen to My voice.

God is willing for every person on the planet to know Him personally.

God has recorded His character, His deeds and His commands so that all people everywhere can know Him and live to please Him so that He pardons them on Judgment Day and welcomes them into His eternal kingdom.

This record God has left us is known as the Scriptures or the Bible and has been given to us so that all humanity is without excuse for seeking God and pleasing God by our deeds. Yet most of humanity ignores the Scriptures even most Christians fail to consistently read the Bible.

When God lived among us in Jesus the Christ He identified those who are truly His as people who listen to His voice.

The Bible is called the Word of God because its pages record His voice by which He still speaks today into the hearts and minds of those who seek Him through it.

So what does it mean for a person to call himself Christian yet ignore the Scriptures? Are they truly children of God if they do not seek communication from the Father?

At best these people remain spiritual infants useless to God and a constant burden upon the Church.

Christians are to seek maturity not remain as infants in their faith their entire lives.

Growth occurs through knowing God and obeying His commands becoming increasingly more useful to Him as we become more productive for Him in His work of winning people to His point-of-view as recorded in the Scriptures.

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Faithfully Working

John 9.4 observes night is coming when no one can work.

Many Christians believe the Lord Jesus will soon come again to establish His eternal rule on earth as it is in heaven. This perspective is as old as the founding of the church for it is the subject of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians when he commands in his letter for the men to work instead of sitting idle waiting for the Lord’s return.

The Lord Jesus too tells His disciples they must work as long as there is light for, as recorded in today’s verse, night is coming when no no can work. Many Christians are acting as though they cannot work while they lament the evil in the world doing noting to counter it through the sharing of the gospel and the discipling of the nations.

When the church began, following the resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead, there were only a handful of believers and a whole world of pagans.

The church, filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, began the work of sharing the gospel and discipling the saved eventually influencing the world with the commands of Jesus Christ.

Many Christians today appear to have given up on this work making no effort to win the lost or even to give generously of their treasure to such efforts.

The church is the salt of the earth but it is losing its saltiness becoming worthless to the world.

Whether the time is near or not for Jesus’ return it is impossible for us to know but what we can know is the Lord’s expectation that His people be found ready for His return .

This readiness is defined by Him as being actively engaged in His work, faithful to His commands, so that when He comes as as a thief in the night we will be found faithful.

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Zealous for God

Numbers 25.13 promises a permanent priesthood because he has been zealous for his God.

Earlier God told Israel the entire nation would be a priesthood for serving Him and making Him known in the world: a role every Christian has been assigned as well.

Within that group one tribe was assigned the formal duties of priest among the priesthood of believers. The criterion for choosing this tribe was their zeal for God and His righteousness. Israel was beginning to do the wrong things again but one man stopped the current by putting to death the evil in the camp.

There is much evil in our land and God seeks those, who like Him, are deeply troubled by its prevalence.

The Christian is not to condemn his neighbor for sin but he is to seek to convince him of the error of his ways and lead him to repentance toward Christ.

There is much that men do today that directly disobeys God’s Word but the Christian is to know God’s commands, live those commands and encourage others to do the same, especially among those who call themselves Christians.

Among the priesthood of believers all are required to be zealous for God.

This zeal will manifest itself through fervent seeking of God, passionate worship of God, daily service for God and living righteously before God.

If we really love God we will obey His commands but to obey those commands we must study the Scriptures to know what they are.

We are hard-pressed to find the zealous among us; those who fervently seek God and live for His glory through holy living, consistent proclamation of Jesus as Savior and abundant good works.

The Church is in desperate need for those who are zealous for God living among men as priests holy to the Lord.

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Putting our minds to work

1 Peter 1.13 declares get your minds ready for action.

Because we know God we serve God. Because we have been restored to God we live to glorify God. Because we call God the Creator and Lord of all, Father, we work as children of God to do His will on earth as it is in heaven.

People seek meaning and purpose to their lives but meaning and purpose come through knowing God and doing His will.

We were created by God for God to serve God.

Peter commands our minds be set for action. This means we use all the intellectual capital at our disposal for understanding the will of God then bring it into reality.

We are not to wait until we feel like serving God we are to serve God from an understanding that obedience to God is our purpose for living.

God has given us His general will through His Scriptures then we seek Him for specific application through His Holy Spirit in prayer.

Knowing God and doing His perfect will in our particular context with our unique abilities occurs as we individually seek Him with all of our heart and mind through the Scriptures and through prayer. Upon meeting with God in this way we are to be active in doing the will of God before all men.

Our religion is not contemplative like the Buddhists but action oriented for God requires we both know Him and carry-out His plans for the earth.

After we gather for instruction on Sunday we are to implement what we have understood on Monday.

There is no knowing without doing in the eyes of God.

We must understand that our minds are to be used in all their capacity to seek God then to glorify God throughout the whole earth doing great things for men to see and experience God that they too might know Him then join in the work for Him.

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Confession is good

James 5.16 commands Christians confess their sins to one another. In the same verse that commands Christians pray for each other comes this command to confess to one another; we do well at the former but mostly ignore the latter.

The benefits of confessing our sins to each other are numerous.

First, confession makes us humble.

Too may Christians act as though their life is nearly perfect when in fact it is really a facade. We originally came to Jesus because we were broken and needed a Savior. The forgiveness of our past sins is not the perfection of our future life, we are still broken and still sin and still need both forgiveness and restoration. Certainly God’s pardon for our sin is appropriated for all time but daily we need God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of others. It takes humility to ask men to forgive us.

Second, confession keeps us accountable.

When I reveal my weakness I admit to where I struggle and need encouragement. Too many Christians are surprised to find one of their own filing for divorce or getting caught in some major scandal. This happens because the small things leading to this big thing were not confessed to a brother so that the brother could encourage us to victory and keep us from falling.

Third, confession leads to peace.

Rather than living in fear and despair over the dark secrets locked in our closet confession brings them to light allowing us to unload them from our souls. The vacuum created in our hearts through confession is filled by peace and joy. If we would be free from the burden of living a lie we must confess our sins to one another.

Confession is good medicine that brings great healing but taking that medicine seems hard in the moment.

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Remember to obey God

Numbers 15.39 warns that we are not to follow after our own heart and eyes that lead us to unfaithfulness.

The Lord told Israel to remember His commands and to obey them, to know them well and make constant reminders for remembering them so that they would not do what their feelings told them or pursue what their eyes lusted upon.

God’s ways are not man’s ways so men must seek God and His ways in order to know God and to please Him.

God has not hidden Himself nor has He made His demands obscure, rather God has personally visited us in Jesus and has recorded clearly what He requires from humanity so that we might please Him.

There will be a final exam, a day of accounting, when God will judge each person according to His will and His ways that He has made known to everyone.

Many will fail this test, many will be condemned by God for they have ignored His commands and loved what was right in their own eyes. Many people think they know inherently what is right and wrong. Many people dismiss God’s clear teachings in order to justify their own behavior that is directly opposite what He has told us He commands.

While we temporarily seem impervious to His judgment all people die and all people will be judged and all people will be sentenced either to heaven for all eternity because they loved God and obeyed His commands or to hell for all eternity because they ignored God and did what was right in their own sight.

The fool says there is no God. Wise is the person who humbles himself before the Creator and Judge of all mankind choosing to obey Him instead of pleasing self.

As an added bonus, those who do seek to please God find their life to be the happiest and most satisfying of all because God is good and so too are His ways.

A Call to Worship and Obedience

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Faith

Hebrews 11.2 honors those who lived by faith and received God’s commendation.

This should be the Christian’s highest desire: God’s commendation.

Above all God’s children should desire to hear their Father say, ‘this is My beloved child in whom I am well pleased.’ Three times the Father spoke these words to His Son Whose life was given so that others could live.

To receive such commendation a Christian must have faith in God while they live in obedience to God.

The Lord Jesus and all the people listed as examples in this chapter of the Bible obeyed God completely through the trying circumstances of their lives. They obeyed God because they had faith in God’s commitment to them and their best even though their circumstances were proving otherwise.

Faith is trusting God when life is screaming there is no God.

Faith is doing what God commands because we love Him and trust in His reward though our circumstances dictate other action in order to free us from their difficulty.

Few exhibit any real faith in God these days for we avoid situations that requires us to depend upon God. Furthermore few know the commands of God for rare is the person who spends a part of each of his days reading God’s Scriptures in order to know Him and His will so that he can obey it.

Just as the solder receives no medal unless he first goes through battle so the Christian will not receive any commendation who does not have faith in God tried by difficult circumstances.

Faith is believing in Scripture and God’s character then acting upon it when the world and life tell us to compromise and to do otherwise.

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