Don’t give up

Posted: October 23, 2017 in Thoughts on God

Growing up did you ever do something so bad you were afraid to tell your parents?

You probably thought they would never forget you. When they found out, they were probably mad, but still called you their child and fed you and kept a roof over your head.

Have you ever felt like this with God?

…that you did something so bad he wouldn’t let you be a part of the church anymore, you weren’t good enough for your Christian friends, or God wouldn’t forgive your sin?

Today’s devotional verse is an example of Israel doing something similar:

And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.

1 Samuel 12:20-22

The Israelites told God that he wasn’t good enough to be their leader. The prophets and judges he put in place to take care of them were not enough. Instead, they wanted a king.

This obviously made God angry and he explained to them all the bad that would happen because they had chosen a little king to rule over them instead of the King of kings.

The Israelites we became afraid and asked Samuel to pray for them, so that they wouldn’t die for their sin of demanding a king.

God graciously heard their cry and told them to not stop serving him. He didn’t tell them that they had sinned so much they were no longer good enough to be a part of his plans. No, instead he said he would not forsake them.

So, what does this mean for us?

We all know somebody (it might even be us) who has sinned in a way that they feel as though they can never make it up to God and leave the church in shame. Just as God told the Israelites to continue to serve him, he desires for us to continue to serve him and be a part of his church when we have sinned.

What an encouragement we can be to those who have messed up and feel such shame! Don’t ever think your sin is so great that God no longer excepts you.

Is there someone you need to encourage, or do you need to change your thinking and start serving the King of kings like he desires you too?

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Give in secret

Posted: October 19, 2017 in Thoughts on God

In the Church, we tend to take giving in secret pretty seriously.

As we should. Jesus talks about it in today’s verse, after all.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:3-4 ESV

Now, let’s dig into Jesus’ teaching here.

First, an important rule for interpreting the Bible comes front and center. It’s understanding the marriage of two verb moods: the indicative and the imperative.

Indicative verbs reveal a certainty or truth.

For example: It is dark outside as I write this.

Imperative verbs give a command.

For example: Light a candle because it’s dark and I can’t see what I’m writing.

This is important to understand when it comes to following biblical commands.

In Matthew 6 Jesus teaches about giving, praying, and fasting in secret. They are imperative commands, telling his hearers to “do it like this.”

The Heart Able To Give In Secret

But these commands rest in a key truth: The people who are to give, pray, and fast in secret are the ones who have been doing these things to get street cred and praise from people.

They’re the ones who’ve been waltzing around, making a big to-do about how spiritual and generous they are.

Jesus isn’t primarily saying everyone should give in secret and never talk about their generosity. After all, sometimes people are inspired by cheerful givers to be more generous.

(Read 1 Chronicles 29 for a prime example of this in the life of David.)

Instead, Jesus is exposing the heart that’s powering the kind of giving, praying, and fasting he’s talking about in the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus’s point isn’t that no one but the Father should know about your generosity and spiritual practices.

Instead, you need to watch out if your motive for sharing these things is for applause. And if that’s you, it’s your heart’s only reward.

To give in secret means to seek to honor God alone. In this way, our giving does not become a spiritual lever we can pull to draw attention to ourselves.

Does your heart crave recognition and praise for your giving? Or are you able to give in secret with a heart seeking to honor God?

Update

Posted: October 18, 2017 in Thoughts on God

Good Evening, Everyone! My apologies for being sporadic in my postings lately, but I have been working on a number of projects that have taken way too much time. One of my projects is going to be to upgrade this site and it’s mission to reach more people and to draw them into accepting the Lord into their lives. I have also decided to work more on working with struggling Churches and revival. Having said that, I would like to ask everyone to support this ministry with a monthly tithe IF you feel led to (2 Corinthians 9:7, Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver).

This site currently has over 270,000 people who have come hear and heard the word of God. Many people have subscribed to it on a daily basis. If each regular subscriber gave five to twenty dollars (Or more if led to) we could reach so many more people. Of course I will give a regular accounting of what is going on with the money you have given.

If you would like to help this Ministry you can either use paypal (My account is under mikesand_62@yahoo.com) or mail it to us at:

Pastor Mike Sanderson

8825 W. La Madre Way

Las Vegas, NV. 89149

Paypal is much easier but I know that not everyone knows how to use it.

I sincerely pray that this reaches your heart, and that you will consider this so that I can begin reaching the unsaved throughout the U.S..

Thank you for everything, and may the Lord bless you

Pastor Mike

 

There’s a church building I pass every day on my way to work.

They put out clever sayings on their sign. You know, the kind like: “Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitos?”

Sometimes they’re kind of funny…

…but a few days ago, the message was anything but humorous.

This time, their sign read: “Jesus is the password for a better life.”

Now, at first blush that might not seem like a big deal. In fact, you might be thinking, “Sheesh, lighten up Jordan!”

But it bothers me so much in light of today’s Bible verse. Jesus told his disciples:

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

John 15:18–19 ESV

Does that sound like the avenue to a better life to you?

Let’s think about what the name of Jesus did for these people:

  • Ask Stephen how the stones felt as they pelted his body to death.
  • Ask Paul how his many beatings, whippings, and imprisonments felt.
  • Ask James how Herod’s sword felt.
  • Ask John what it felt like to be boiled alive.
  • Ask Peter how it felt to be crucified upside down.
  • Ask Andrew what it was like to be crucified on an X-shaped cross.
  • Ask Polycarp how it felt to be burned and then stabbed to death.
  • Ask Wycliffe, Huss, and Tyndale how it felt to be martyred.
  • Ask any of the thousands of persecuted Christians in North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan and so many more how it feels…

There is this incorrect notion today that Jesus simply died to give us easier, more fulfilled lives. Does Jesus infuse our lives with purpose? Certainly!

But did he die for our comfort? Absolutely not. And it belittles the suffering of the martyred saints for us to pretend otherwise.

We are not in the business of selling salvation. Of trying to pretty the gospel with makeup so it’s more attractive.

Jesus promised persecution and spiritual warfare for his disciples. But he also promised SO much more than a “better” life…

…he promised eternal life!

Let’s be mindful of how we speak when it comes to our savior Jesus’s life, death, and purpose on earth. Because anything less than his real mission means the gospel is sold short.

Give in secret

Posted: October 10, 2017 in Thoughts on God

In the Church, we tend to take giving in secret pretty seriously.

As we should. Jesus talks about it in today’s verse, after all.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said:

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:3-4 ESV

Now, let’s dig into Jesus’ teaching here.

First, an important rule for interpreting the Bible comes front and center. It’s understanding the marriage of two verb moods: the indicative and the imperative.

Indicative verbs reveal a certainty or truth.

For example: It is dark outside as I write this.

Imperative verbs give a command.

For example: Light a candle because it’s dark and I can’t see what I’m writing.

This is important to understand when it comes to following biblical commands.

In Matthew 6 Jesus teaches about giving, praying, and fasting in secret. They are imperative commands, telling his hearers to “do it like this.”

The Heart Able To Give In Secret

But these commands rest in a key truth: The people who are to give, pray, and fast in secret are the ones who have been doing these things to get street cred and praise from people.

They’re the ones who’ve been waltzing around, making a big to-do about how spiritual and generous they are.

Jesus isn’t primarily saying everyone should give in secret and never talk about their generosity. After all, sometimes people are inspired by cheerful givers to be more generous.

(Read 1 Chronicles 29 for a prime example of this in the life of David.)

Instead, Jesus is exposing the heart that’s powering the kind of giving, praying, and fasting he’s talking about in the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus’s point isn’t that no one but the Father should know about your generosity and spiritual practices.

Instead, you need to watch out if your motive for sharing these things is for applause. And if that’s you, it’s your heart’s only reward.

To give in secret means to seek to honor God alone. In this way, our giving does not become a spiritual lever we can pull to draw attention to ourselves.

Does your heart crave recognition and praise for your giving? Or are you able to give in secret with a heart seeking to honor God?

A 64-year-old man armed with more than 10 rifles shot and killed 58 people in what is being called, “the largest mass shooting in U.S. history.” Hundreds more were wounded.

The question that comes to mind at a time like this is. . . Why? Why did God allow such a horrible thing to happen?

A Barna Poll asked, “If you could ask God one question and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?” If you are sharing the gospel, it won’t be long before someone asks, “How could a God of love allow tragedy, pain, and suffering?” C.S. Lewis said that the “problem of pain is atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith.” More people point to the problem of evil and suffering as their reason for not believing in God than any other. It is not merely a problem; it is the problem.

So, why does God allow tragedy? If God can prevent such terrible tragedies, why does He allow them to take place? Here’s the classic statement of the problem: Either God is all powerful but not all good, and therefore He doesn’t stop evil—or He’s all good but not all powerful, and therefore He can’t stop evil.

The general tendency, of course, is to blame God for evil and suffering, transferring all responsibility to Him. So let’s look closer at the core question: If God is so good and loving, why does He allow evil?

The first part of this question is based on a false premise. People who express those words are essentially suggesting (or saying outright) that God must meet their own criteria of goodness. But who are they to set standards for God? When did they become the moral center of the universe? God isn’t good just because that’s my opinion of Him, or because I personally agree with His words or actions. God is good because He says He is! Jesus said, “No one is good—except God alone” (Luke 18:19 NIV).

God is good, whether I believe it or not. He and He alone is the final court of arbitration. As Paul said, “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4 KJV). And what is “good”? Good is whatever God approves. And it’s good because He approves it! “That’s circular reasoning!” Well, maybe, but everything begins and ends with God. I think of it more as biblical reasoning. In Isaiah 1:18, God invites, “Come now, and let us reason together” (NKJV) or “Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out” (MSG). You see, God’s thoughts are above our thoughts. There’s no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character—and His approval of whatever’s consistent with that character. So God is good. Period.

Now let’s come back to the second part of the question. Why does He allow evil?

Remember that mankind was not created evil. In their original state, Adam and Eve were innocent, ageless, and immortal. But from the very beginning—from the time that God gave life to Adam and Eve, man has had the ability to choose right or wrong. He made his choice (and then his choice made him!).

Had man never sinned, there would have been no resulting curse. But now it’s too late. Romans 5:12 says, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the [entire human race]. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (NLT).

What this man in Las Vegas did is pure evil. The point to keep in mind here is that humanity—not God—is responsible for sin.

So why didn’t God create human beings to be incapable of sin? If God hadn’t given us a free will, we would merely be puppets on a string, remote-controlled robots that bow before Him at the touch of a button. God wants to be loved and obeyed by creatures who voluntarily choose to do so. Love cannot be genuine if there’s no other option. You and I can choose to love God. And if we’re realistic, we have every reason in the world to make that choice.

Most of us can accept the idea of suffering in general, especially when it happens as a consequence of bad behavior. When bad things happen to bad people it seems appropriate, fitting, understandable. So, its’ not suffering that troubles us; it’s undeserved suffering.

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Even more, why do bad things happen to godly people? There are times I just don’t know why God does or does not do certain things. I, like you, am mystified by a lot of it. So here is my answer: I just don’t know!

Listen: being a Christian does not mean you will not suffer. We may ask the question, “Why me?” but we could more easily ask, “Why not me?” As 1 Peter 4:12 tells us “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” (ESV). Our trials and sufferings should not be seen as strange but expected. Jesus Himself assured us that there will be suffering in our lives: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NKJV).

Here is what we need to know: we need to prepare for suffering. Suffering will come; it’s not a matter of if, but when and how much.

As you read this, and you do not have any suffering or tragedy, I would say, “Rejoice, and enjoy it!” But know that hardship will come. Here is the bottom line: you are either coming out of a storm or headed into another. “People are born for trouble as readily as sparks fly up from a fire” (Job 5:7 NLT). It’s just a matter of time. In this life, the only way to avoid suffering is to die. So like the diligent squirrel gathering nuts for winter, store these truths in your heart.

As Randy Alcorn says in his book If God Is Good, Why? “Most of us don’t give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them. This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we’re exhausted and consumed by pressing issues. People who have “been there” will attest that it’s far better to think through suffering in advance.” In other words, be prepared ahead of time!

Our hearts go out to the families of those that were killed. We need to pray for them.

We thank God for the courageous first responders who are still on the scene. And we pray for the hundreds of wounded people. May God extend His comfort to them.

Events like this remind us that life is short and eternity is real and very close. This is why all of us should always be ready to stand before God. And the only way to be ready is by having put your faith in Jesus Christ.

What is Jesus’ turn the other cheek meaning?

First, let’s look at how Jesus teaches in a specific pattern throughout the Sermon on the Mount.

  1. He starts with: “You’ve been taught {the old way of doing things}…”
  2. Then he explains: “But I say {the new way of doing things}…”
  3. And he finishes: “Here’s how {this topic} impacts your life…”

In today’s devotional verses, Jesus says:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Matthew 5:38–39 ESV

He quotes Old Testament law from passages like Exodus 21:24Leviticus 24:20, and Deuteronomy 19:21.

This law was not meant to be brutal. Instead, it was meant to limit retaliation to a proportional affect.

So if you were hurt, you couldn’t justly hurt the offender in a tenfold way—like killing them for it.

…but, Jesus is taking this “right” away. Saying that disciples have no right to retribution.

Commentator Matthew Henry wrote, “…for it is the second blow that makes the quarrel.”

Violence builds upon itself. Evil for evil is self-perpetuating.

In today’s passage, Jesus isn’t telling us to be doormats or passive objects of abuse. Instead, we’re called to a new standard: giving up personal vengeance.

The True Turn The Other Cheek Meaning

So what did Jesus really mean?

First, notice how curiously specific Jesus’ phrase is: “…if anyone slapsyou on the right cheek…” (Emphasis mine.)

Here’s how it worked. Most people (70 – 95%) are right handed.

To be slapped on the right cheek meant someone would be hitting you with the backside of their left hand. And the left hand was associated with weakness and even impurity.

Even more, in their culture any slap was considered an insult. It was a degrading action and a sign of great disrespect. And it was doubly so if someone backhanded you.

Surprisingly, pastor Keith Krell explains in this article that if a man hit you “with the back of his hand instead of punching you in the mouth, you could collect twice the damages because an insult was worse than an injury in Jesus’ honor-shame society.”

Jesus’ teaching was a sign of both brilliance and humility before God.

Brilliance because he offered people a real solution for being abused.

And humble because he still called his disciples—which includes us today—to the higher standard of leaving vengeance off the table.

  • Do you seek revenge anywhere in your life?
  • Are you hanging onto a proverbial list of people who have wronged you, so you can get back at them?
  • Have you surrendered your right to retaliate to God?
  • Where do you need to submit your thirst for vengeance to God?
  • Are you being abused? How can you remove yourself from the situation in a non-violent way? Pray for wisdom and the Holy Spirit’s guidance here.
  • Finally, what is Jesus’ true turn the other cheek meaning to you?