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Our Own Fruit

Whoever is wicked covets the spoil of evildoers, but the root of the righteous bears fruit. (ESV) (Proverbs 12:12)

Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit. (NLT) ( Proverbs 12:12 )

Do you ever find yourself envious of other people? It is only natural, everyone does, it’s part of being human. Watching the Olympics, I envy a lot of these athletes: their stamina, their strength, their beauty, etc. However, we don’t have to act on our feelings. While we can’t steal these things from the athletes, we can and often find other flaws in people to make ourselves feel better. This verse tells us that with being strong in our faith comes the ability to create our own fruit! Of course, this is done through God. If we are to be envious, envy someone for their faith and emulate that. We can work hard to have better bodies and work on our own strengths. But how awesome to know we can rise above thieves, who only steal from each other, and instead can glorify God with creating fruit.

New Year

The New Year can mean a fresh start, some much needed change, or a continuation of success and happiness. No doubt this new year will bring some changes in my life. I just pray that they are good changes.

10 Reasons


Here are 10 reasons why God accepts gay Christians.
1. The term “homosexual” didn’t exist until 1892. Some modern Bible translations say that “homosexuals” will not inherit the kingdom of God, but neither the concept nor the word for people with exclusive same-sex attraction existed before the late 19th century. While the Bible rejects lustful same-sex behavior, that’s very different from a condemnation of all gay people and relationships.

2. Sexual orientation is a new concept–one that the Christian tradition hasn’t addressed. Many Christians draw on their faith’s traditions to shape their beliefs, but the concept of sexual orientation is new. Until recent decades, same-sex behavior was placed in the same category with gluttony or drunkenness — as a vice of excess anyone might be prone to — not as the expression of a sexual orientation. The Christian tradition has never spoken to the modern issue of LGBT people and their relationships.

3. Celibacy is a gift, not a mandate. The Bible honors celibacy as a good way of living — Jesus was celibate, after all — but it also makes clear that celibacy must be a voluntary choice. Requiring that all gay people remain celibate is at odds with the Bible’s teachings on celibacy, which are grounded Scripture’s core affirmation that God’s physical creation is good.

4. Condemning same-sex relationships is harmful to the LGBT community. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that good trees bear good fruit, while bad trees bear bad fruit. The church’s rejection of same-sex relationships has caused tremendous, needless suffering to the LGBT community–bad fruit. Those harmful consequences should make Christians open to reconsidering the church’s traditional teaching.

5. Sodom and Gomorrah involved an attempted gang rape, not a loving relationship. It’s commonly assumed that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah out of his wrath against same-sex relations, but the only form of same-sex behavior described in the story is an attempted gang rape — nothing like a loving, committed relationship. The Bible explicitly condemns Sodom for its arrogance, inhospitality and apathy toward the poor — not for same-sex behavior.

6. The prohibitions in Leviticus don’t apply to Christians. Leviticus condemns male same-sex intercourse, but the entire Old Testament law code has never applied to Christians in light of Christ’s death. Leviticus also condemns eating pork, rabbit, or shellfish, cutting hair at the sides of one’s head, and having sex during a woman’s menstrual period — none of which Christians continue to observe.

7. Paul condemns same-sex lust, not love. Like other ancient writers, Paul described same-sex behavior as the result of excessive sexual desire on the part of people who could be content with opposite-sex relationships. He didn’t have long-term, loving same-sex relationships in view. And while he described same-sex behavior as “unnatural,” he also said men having long hair goes against nature, and most Christians read that as a reference to cultural conventions.

8. Marriage is about commitment. Marriage often involves procreation, but according to the New Testament, it’s based on something deeper: a lifelong commitment to a partner. Marriage is even compared to the relationship between Christ and the church, and while the language used is opposite-sex, the core principles apply just as well to same-sex couples.

9. Human beings are relational. From the beginning of Genesis, human beings are described as having a need for relationship, just as God himself is relational. Sexuality is a core part of what it means to be a relational person, and to condemn LGBT people’s sexuality outright damages their ability to be in relationship with all people — and with God.

10. Faithful Christians are already embracing LGBT brothers and sisters. Mainstream denominations like Presbyterians and Episcopalians now ordain openly gay clergy, and there are seeds of change in evangelical churches as well. This November, the Reformation Project will host a training conference for up to 900 LGBT-affirming Christians in Washington, D.C.–and the movement for change in conservative churches is just getting started.

Matthew Vines is the author of God and the Gay Christian and is the founder of The Reformation Project, a Bible-based non-profit organization that seeks to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. Matthew lives in Wichita, Kansas.

Rejoice

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:4-7

It’s been a difficult week. I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a post with these Bible verses. It reminded me that God is with me. He will guide me through the troubled waters ahead. I just have to trust in him. I have to rejoice that he is with me always. Reading these verses brought a certain peace that I haven’t felt in a long time. This week has made things tougher, but I hope the week to come brings answers and resolutions to my problems/issues. I pray that the Lord will stand by me in this time of need.

A Prayer for Strength and Love

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For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.—Ephesians 3:14-21

In this prayer, Paul tells the Ephesians to ask God to strengthen them by His Spirit. This is not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength. This strength is so Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. He asks for spiritual blessings, which are the best blessings. Strength from the Spirit of God in the inner man; strength in the soul; the strength of faith, to serve God, and to do our duty. If the law of Christ is written in our hearts, and the love of Christ is shed abroad there, then Christ dwells there. Where his Spirit dwells, there he dwells.

Paul further asks God that with both feet planted firmly on love will be able to take in with all Christians the many glorious dimensions of Christ’s love. Paul tells the Ephesians to reach out and experience the breadth of God’s love, to test the length God’s love. He tells them to measure the depths and to rise to the heights of God’s love. We should desire that good affections may be fixed in us. And how desirable to have a fixed sense of the love of God in Christ to our souls! How powerfully the apostle speaks of the love of Christ! The breadth shows its extent to all nations and ranks; the length, that it continues from everlasting to everlasting; the depth, its saving those who are sunk into the depths of sin and misery; the height, its raising them up to heavenly happiness and glory.

He wants us to live full lives, full in the fullness of God.  Paul tells us that God can do anything. He can do far more than we could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams. He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Those who receive grace for grace from Christ’s fulness, may be said to be filled with the fulness of God.

In this prayer, Paul gives us the path to happiness. He wants us to realize how much God is there for us. we can turn to him when we are weak, and he will give us strength. He gives us the strength to do all things in his name. He wants us to understand how much God loves us. The truth is there is no way to measure God’s love. It is infinite and everlasting. If we live our lives in the fullness of God, then we will be able to accomplish anything. God is with us, and if we let Him, He will fill us with his love and strength.

A Beautiful Life

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Let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faithGalatians 6:10

A Beautiful Life

Each day I’ll do a golden deed,
By helping those who are in need;
My life on earth is but a span,
And so I’ll do the best I can.

Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days and I must go.
To meet the deeds that I have done.
Where there will be no setting sun.

To be a child of God each day,
My light must shine a-long the way;
I’ll sing His praise while ages roll
And strive to help some troubled soul.

Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days and I must go.
To meet the deeds that I have done.
Where there will be no setting sun.

The only life that will endure,
Is the one that’s kind and good and pure;
And so for God I’ll take my stand,
Each day I’ll lend a helping hand.

Life’s evening sun is sinking low,
A few more days and I must go.
To meet the deeds that I have done.
Where there will be no setting sun.

“A Beautiful Life” is a song which encourages us to do good unto others in order that we might be an influence for righteousness in this world. The text was written and the tune (Life’s Evening Sun) was composed both by William M. Golden (1878-1934). The song is dated 1918, but little information about its background is available. Perhaps Golden’s best known song is “Where the Soul Never Dies,” beginning, “To Canaan’s land I’m on my way.”

While I have sung this song many times in church, my most vivid memories are of my mother playing it on the piano. It was one of the songs that she loved to use to proactive playing the piano. I knew the tune long before I knew the words; however, this is one of the most beautiful songs when sung A Capella. When it is sung, the base begins “Each day I’ll do,” followed by the higher voices singing “A golden deed.” Each line alternates between the two and when done right it’s an amazingly beautiful song.

The song suggests several things that we can do to be a good influence on others. According to stanza 1, we must do our work for the Lord every day. Christianity is a religion that must be practiced daily and affect our daily lives. Therefore, daily we should be concerned about those who are in need. The reason that this is so important is that our lives are limited so we must do good while we have the time.

According to stanza 2, we must let our lights shine. God wants us to be His spiritual children. However, as His children, He wants us to let our lights so shine that men may see our good works and glorify Him. One way to do this is to sing His praise that we might teach and admonish others.

According to stanza 3, we must be kind to others. Our lives are more than just our physical existence, and to have an enduring quality they must be influenced by Christ. A life that is truly influenced by Christ will be characterized by kindness. Such a life will also not be ashamed to take a stand for God so that it can be a help to others.

The chorus re-emphasizes the need to be doing these things because of the brevity of life. God has eternal life planned for His people in heaven. However, to be made fit for such a wonderful dwelling place, we must strive while we journey here on this earth to have “A Beautiful Life.”

Boasting About Tomorrow 

  

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”-yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:13-17

There is so much depth to these five verses. In the big picture, do we include God in all of our plans? Do we include him in our career or educational plans? Do we pray about the path He wants us to take? When we make plans and exclude God, no matter what the plans are, it is as if we are boasting in our own abilities.

Verses 13 and 14 refer to making future plans for prosperity without consulting God. Even if the plans are honorable and righteous, God may have other ideas. Our lives are but a blink of God’s eye, “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” God wants us to consult with Him for all plans.  

At the first of last week, I boasted about how far I’d get each day on my journey to Vermont. However, God had other plans. I had not planned on hitting something in the road, puncturing my fuel tank, and being stranded in Knoxville for a few days, but that’s what happened. It actually only delayed my arrival by one day, but I was fortunate on two fronts. First, I was fortunate that I was not hirt in the accident and that no severe damage was done to my car. Second, it apparently rained most of the day yesterday in Vermont and it would have been miserable trying to move things into the apartment. In most things, we can find a silver lining, if we try.

I plan ahead. If I do not have the next step or two thought out before I get to them, I feel behind and unorganized. Of course, just because we plan doesn’t mean things will actually go as planned. God decides what will and will not happen. Ever since I gave Him full rights to my life, I cannot seem to plan anything too far in advance. He is the ultimate schedule shifter. James notes, “you do not know what tomorrow will bring.” I have to remind myself of this. Life throws sudden changes at you. Yes, I still plan ahead to the best of my ability, but I now make flexible plans instead of rigid ones. This is one way I submit my life to God, by giving Him free reign to jumble my schedule. In the end, I trust God has a better idea of what I should do with my life than I do since He sees the entire picture.

I remind myself that God has a plan for me in my prayers. I begin by asking God to forgive me of my sins, then I ask Him to guide me down the path He has chosen for me before asking Him to bless my family and friends. I pray for guidance down the path God has chosen for me, because I know it is not an easy path. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

I’ve learned to use verse 15 in all planning. “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” There is so much each of us wants to do with what time we have left in our lives, right? Personally, I would love to travel to Europe again, write a book, get in better shape, and be healthier. With each thing I want do to, I pray about it and say, “Lord, if it is Your will that I do this, then I will do it.”

Psalm 37:4 states: Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. This is a Scripture of hope. We think, “I love the Lord and so He will give me whatever my heart desires.” That sounds great and all, but what about this: if we love the Lord and become very close and intimate with Him, very soon His desires become the desire of our hearts. Ask the Lord if your desire is His will and you may find that His will truly becomes your desire.

Verses 16-17 remind us that boasting in our arrogance is evil, and goes on to say that if we know the right thing to do and fail to do it, we are sinning. If the Lord places something upon your heart, and you do something else instead, verse 17 tells us that it is sin. In 2 Corinthians 1:12, Paul writes, “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.”

Boast in the Lord and proclaim to everyone: “My God has blessed me abundantly, and He directs my path.” In Matthew 5:6, Jesus said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” There is satisfaction in doing God’s will. To actually do good is filling food. The more we eat the keener our appetite becomes. Dissatisfaction is a sure sign that we are not eagerly doing the will of God. It is a symptom of spiritual immaturity. The only way to discover the point of Christ’s teaching is to practice it. The only way to godly contentment is to hunger and thirst after righteousness.