Freedom is self-governance. Consider it as a Golden Triangle: Freedom requires Virtue; Virtue requires Faith; Faith requires Freedom. We cannot have freedom without a majority having Virtue, a culture of Virtue in the nation.
There needs to be a Faith in an order greater than oneself, so there is no need for someone to force you to do the right thing. Consider: there will never be enough police to keep the world safe if most people are unable or refuse to govern themselves and live virtuously on their own power.
There is a higher order. There is a God who tells me what is right, but real Faith cannot be compelled. God has given us the Freedom to choose. Choose wisely.
Re: John 14: 26: But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
It was the resurrection—and its gift of the Spirit—that provided the meaning of Jesus’ works. The inspiration of the Spirit, therefore, does not bring forward new revelations about Jesus, but simply gives correct applications and meanings for what he did in history. Just as Jesus’ primary work was revealing the Father (John 1:18), so now the work of the Spirit-Paraclete is revealing the ‘Jesus of history’ to his followers.
(NIV Application Commentary: John by Gary M. Burge, p. 399)
"Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." --John 14:11 NIV
References: John 14:11; Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8, p. 705
We can come to believe Jesus because of his works—how a belief in Jesus can turn people’s lives around and make them better people, and a culture or society a better place. Or, we can believe because when we look at Jesus, we see the Father and know that he cares for us beyond measure.
"For looking at Christ, we can say not only that this is what God is like, but that this is what God is; this is how he feels toward us, this is how he spends his life, this is what it means to be God (I.B. p. 705)."
"The world is a dangerous place. Always has been and will be until it exists no more.
"Read the prophecies of what the eternal life will be like. Heaven will be a place of no danger and perfect peace. The condemned will be in an opposite type of place. The world is middle ground. There is enough joy to be a tiny glimpse of heaven and enough pain to be a glimpse of hell."
--Ted Stark, American Thinker comments section
"The Church, and resultingly the country, is on a dark and unforgiving path because our foundations are eroding and being supplanted by postmodernism. Even non-Christian scholars have noted that Christianity is the only Western institution powerful enough to stop the advancement of postmodernism. If we are to escape intact, we must coalesce around Him who binds and recommit His word to our hearts. We don't have to agree on how we're baptized, on what day we practice the Sabbath, on intercessory prayer, or on venerating saints. We must agree on loving Christ, loving others, and despising the wickedness that drove Him to a redemptive death."
In response to those people who want to turn Jesus into just a wise sage, and not the incarnation of God into our world: "Flannery O'Connor once siad of the resurrection of Christ. 'If it's just a symbol, to hell with it.' I would say the same thing of the incarnation. If it's just a symbol, metaphor, or myth, thn so was my baptism. A wise sage cannot save us from sin and death. Only the incarnate God can do that. The real Jesus does not simply want to make us wise, but holy. The real Jesus will not simply reform society, but renew all of creation. The real Jesus offers us not just a better lif, but new life."
--David F. Watson in Good News magazine, Nov/Dec 2022, p. 18
“One might ask why the all-powerful God could not simply wave away our sin and its consequences, rather than actually becoming human, living a perfect life, dying on the cross, and then rising from the dead. Such a scenario would involve what Bonhoeffer called ‘cheap grace.’ If God were simply to dispense with sin as if blowing on a dandelion, the unavoidable conclusion would be that sin really doesn’t matter. But you and I know that isn’t true. Sin has consequences. We see and feel them every day. Lies, violence, exploitation, betrayal – these kinds of actions cause us pain because they are violations of creation’s moral order. They are the opposite of love, and to say that God has wrath in the face of these sins is another way of saying that God is love. The destruction of his beloved creatures through the corruption of sin and its consequences is intolerable. Were it tolerable, if God simply did not care, it would mean that God does not love us.”
David F. Watson, in Good News magazine, Nov/Dec 2022, “The Scandal of the Incarnation,” p. 20.
Based on John 12:1-3. Reference: Thru the Bible, J. Vernon McGee Vol. IV, p.443.
- Lazarus: alive from the dead and in fellowship with Christ (as we are who believe);
- Mary: at Jesus’ feet, growing in grace and knowledge of Christ, devotion, and adoration;
- Martha: serving in service to the Lord.
What each person represents in these verses:
- Lazarus: believers raised from the dead in the spiritual sense; once dead in our trespasses and sins (John 11:25);
- Mary: worship, adoration and growing daily in knowledge of Jesus Christ;
- Marfha: serving in his Kingdom’s work.
Notice: Mary poured out her all to Jesus—even the ointment she was saving for her own burial! Her giving created a pleasant odor throughout the house, as our service and devotion to Jesus does in our world—and in heaven.
This quote is from a mother about her miserable adult daughter. As she says after trying for years to help her daughter:
"I didn't break her. I can't help her."
There are times when all you can do is let go and let God take over. Don't give up praying. Don't quit loving the person as best you can. But don't expect to change the person or the person's behavior, either.
Sometimes, nagging the person leads to a stronger entrenchment in the bad behavior, because we humans tend to be a stubborn lot. No one likes to be proven wrong or irresponsible or stupid.
Find what little good you can in the person, even if it is only the fact the person is a human made by God, and therefore due a modicum of respect--the person, not the person's actions. Then stand aside, hand into God's care, and trust in his love, compassion, and power to effect change.
Will everything turn out okay? Not necessarily. Some people are unsaveable--by choice. And God gives us a choice. Pray the good choice will be made. Be a witness to how choosing Jesus leads to other good choices and a better life. Mention the gospel message often in that person's presence, but don't push. The decision is for that person to make, not you.
"Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me (John 12: 7-8 NIV)."
“Jesus says that the poor are always with us and that He will not always be with us. He is not contradicting His statement that He is with us always, that He will never leave us nor forsake us. What He is saying here is that we can always be of service to the poor—they are always with us—but that our service should not be a substitute for sitting at His feet. There comes a day when it is too late to absorb all He has for us…Do not substitute activity for sitting at His feet.” J. Vernon McGee, Through the Bible, Vol. IV, p. 443 in reference to John 12:4-8
Jesus said, “A day has twelve hours, doesn’t it? So those who walk in broad daylight do not stumble, for they see the light of this world. But if they walk during the night they stumble, because they have no light” –John 11:9-10 (emphasis added)
“…meaning thereby, so we may understand it, that each of us is set here in the world with a work to do which God created for him, assigned to him, that so long as he pursues this task, and seeks to know God’s will, and tries to live it out, no evil or disaster will prematurely cut him down; but if shrinking from trouble or danger or unpleasantness he seeks to prolong his life, and refusing what he realizes is God’s will turns into some softer and easier path, then indeed danger threatens, and disaster has drawn perilously near (Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8, p. 641).”
"If we pursue goals selfishly stemming from a “this world only” perspective, it eventually devolves into a survival of the fittest environment. This leads to tyranny and ends in destruction. If we choose an eternal perspective (store up your treasures in heaven mindset), then cooperation (serve, accept, forgive, encourage, etc. one another) by pursuing the truth in love becomes the dominant theme for how to live.
Belief begets behavior. Our nation was founded upon a professed esprit de corps (e pluribus unum) and in servitude to God, our Creator and Supreme Judge, in Whom we trust. We claim to be a nation under God. Those are just words. If we desire to preserve this Republic, we need to live it. It is the critical action upon which our nation’s destiny hangs."
"Our rebellion against and alienation from God brought abnormality to human life and created a permanent state of war in the universe. "What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors," Lewis reminds us in Mere Christianity, "was the idea that they could 'be like gods' — could set up on their own as if they had created themselves — be their own masters — invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history — money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy."
Statements from former Lesbian and unbeliever, Rosaria Champagne Butterfield:
“What good Christians don’t realize is that sexual sin is not recreational sex gone overboard. Sexual sin is predatory. It won’t be ‘healed’ by redeeming the context or the genders. Sexual sin must simply be killed. What is left of your sexuality after this annihilation is up to God. But healing, to the sexual sinner, is death: nothing more and nothing less.” So she is thankful that “when I heard the Lord’s call on my life, and I wanted to hedge my bets, keep my girlfriend and add a little God to my life, I had a pastor and friends in the Lord who asked nothing less of me than that I die to myself.”
–referenced in Good News magazine May/June 2014, p. 38
Obedience leads to true Joy. How can you be truly obedient if you never ask God what he wants you to do? We pray for God to bless our plans after we have decided what to do, already. That is not obedience. It is arrogance and selfishness, or self-indulgence.
Stop and ask God to tell you what he wants you to do; and let him know that you are willing to accept and do whatever he tells you to do.
He will empower us if we are truly open completely to his will.
"To belong to the [visible church], to be brought up in its atmosphere, to be played upon day by day by its gracious influences is in itself an immense advantage which ought to predispose one to become a member of the real church (called invisible because only God knows with accuracy who belongs to it), i. e. to the body, not merely of traditionalists and conformists and outward adherents, but genuine believers, of those who have accepted God’s offer of salvation, and have put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and are growing up into his mind and ways. Apart from that, membership in the outward church is not enough.”
From commentary based on John 8:37-41a in the Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8, pp.603-604
Justification…is not the being made actually just and righteous. This is sanctification, which is indeed, in some degree, the immediate fruit of justification, but, nevertheless, is a distinct Gift of God, and a totally different nature. The one (justification) implies, what God does for us through His Son, the other (sanctification), what He works in us by His Spirit.
A Main Cause of Our Failures:
“The road to God, once much frequented, has become grass grown and largely deserted. The times of public worship are invaded by other claimants for them who filch them away from God. Family prayers, which daily brought one within the sight of the eternal hills and let a breath of clean air straight from their heights into musty lives, have become nearly obsolete. In how many of us nowadays is there this instinct of Christ to take our difficulties and problems and lay them at God’s feet, looking to him for light and leading, careful to be ruled by that? Yet, declared William Law. ‘He who has learned to pray, has learned the greatest Secret of a holy and happy Life.’ –Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 8, p. 591
“Faith is a form of courage…it is in your best interest and of everyone else’s to maintain faith in the goodness of existence despite the evidence to the contrary.”
--Jordan Peterson, May 2022, Hillsdale College Graduation Speech.
Quote from Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, V. IV, quoting a scientist:
“’You know, this universe is made up of just three things. I believe that God has put His fingerprints on everything—the Trinity is everywhere.’ Then he explained what he meant. The universe is divided into time, space, and matter. Can you think of a fourth?” The very interesting thing is that time, space, and matter include everything that is in this universe as you and I know it. Then time can be divided into just three parts: past, present, and future. Can you think of a fourth? And what about space? Length, breadth, height. Is there another direction? Also, there is in matter energy, motion, and phenomena. These are the three divisions of the three divisions. The universe in which we live bears the mark of the Trinity.” (p. 371)
“Arnold J. Toynbee, the historian, makes the observation, that a spiritual force undergirds civilization. When nations adjust themselves to that spiritual force, they live; when they refuse so to adjust themselves, they perish.” --Interpreter’s Bible, V. 2, p. 609
NIV Application Commentary by Burge, p. 106; John 2:1-25 (cleansing of the Temple)
“I cannot fear the public arena or the specter of political entanglements if I am zealously pursuing God’s passions in the world. When my society (or government) does something that is wrong, such as promoting an unjust war, an unjust economic policy, or discriminatory practices, or something that penalizes the church for pursuing its mission, I have to be willing to move to action. The prophetic voice is directed not only to believers but to the powers of the state as well.”
After George Wallace, the Governor who stood defiantly on the steps of the University of Alabama to block two Black students from attending was shot in an assassination attempt, Shirley Chisolm, the first black woman elected to the U. S. Congress and in 1972 became the first African American to run for U. S. President, visited Gov. Wallace in the hospital. When a young, idealistic campaign worker asked her why she would visit such a man she replied:
“Sometimes we have to remember we’re all human beings, and I may be able to teach him something, to help him regain his humanity, to maybe make him open his eyes to make him see something that he has not seen. Chisholm also said, “You always have to be optimistic that people can change, and that you can change, and that one act of kindness may make all the difference in the world.”
Wallace later visited an African American Baptist Church in his wheelchair (now permanently paralyzed from the would-be assassin’s bullet) and said:
“I’ve learned what suffering means in a way that was impossible,” he told them. “I think I can understand something of the pain that black people have come to endure. I know I contributed to that pain and I can only ask for your forgiveness.” As he left the sanctuary, the congregation sang “Amazing Grace.”
--information and quotes from Good News, September/October 2021, “Bright Light in Montgomery” by Steve Beard, pp. 18-21
"Boredom, at least in our time, is the most overlooked source of evil. In the past, before people went to college and abandoned religion — the two greatest reasons there is so much moral idiocy in our time — people knew how dangerous boredom was. Idle hands are the devil's workshop was a commonly used aphorism that wouldn't even make sense to most young people today."
"By bored I am not referring to a lack of things to do. There is more opportunity to do and experience things today than ever before. By bored I mean a deep boredom of the soul, what the French call ennui. This is the boredom that emanates from lack of purpose and a yearning for excitement."
Read more at http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0718/
NIV Application Commentary by Burge, p. 101; referencing the cleansing of the Temple in John 2:1-25
“But when I examine the timeless meaning of this story, I see the struggle between God’s desire to be worshiped and the religious institutions humans frequently build and edify in order to facilitate that worship. The two are not always the same. Religious institutions sometimes pursue financial interests or social agendas when all they are designed to do is facilitate our relationship with God and set us loose in the world to change it.”
NIV Application Commentary; Leviticus/Numbers by Roy Gane, p. 685.
When people sense victory:
- They sacrifice to succeed.
- They look for ways to win.
- They become energized.
- They follow the game plan.
- They help other team members.
When people sense defeat:
- They give as little as possible.
- They look for excuses.
- They become tired.
- They forsake the plan.
- They hurt others.
Let's practice the mindset of winners, not losers; because we know God wins, and we are his people.
Reference: Rob Renfroe, Good News, March/April 2022, pp. 2-3
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune was a woman whose parents had once been slaves. She was brought up in a time of segregation and discrimination against blacks. Although she grew up in poverty, and had to work hard to receive an education; she decided to start a quality private school for black Americans, and she did not let lack of funds stop her. She believed that education was the way out of poverty and discrimination for her fellow black Americans. One thing she told her graduating students each year was:
“Faith ought not be a puny thing. If you believe, have faith like a giant. And may God grant you not peace, but glory.”
“It was Bethune’s way of telling her students that the battles that matter and the causes that are worthy of our lives are rarely accomplished without difficulty, courage, and sacrifice. You can life a comfortable life or you can live a great life. You can live an easy life or you can live a glorious life. Now, which do you think you were created for? Peace—or glory (Renfroe, p. 2)?”
Jesus told his disciples that he would be glorified as he went to the cross (John 12:23-24). His whole life, death, and resurrection glorified God. We are made in the image of God. Shouldn’t our main purpose in life be to glorify God with our lives, too?
“We often think of greatness as being seen and celebrated. Doing big things and being recognized by others. But Jesus thought of glory as being a servant, remaining faithful, and sacrificing ourselves so some part of this world is made better, more the way the Father wants it to be (Renfroe, p.3).”
Let us live for God’s glory, not our own.
Thru the Bible, V. IV, McGee, p. 373-4; John 1:12
“But as many as received him, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
Power = authority (not physical power); believe = not just head knowledge.
Illustration: “You must believe into, in, or upon Jesus Christ. Let me illustrate with a chair. I am standing beside a chair, and I believe it will hold me up, but it is not holding me up. Why? Because I only have a head knowledge. I just say, ‘Yea, it will hold me up.’ Now suppose I believe into the chair by sitting on it. See what I mean? I am committing my entire weight to it and it is holding me up. Is Christ holding you up? Is he your Savior? It is not a question of standing to the side and saying, ‘Oh, yes, I believe Jesus is the Son of God.’ The question is have you trusted Him, have you believed into Him, are you resting in Him? This chair is holding me up completely. And at this moment Christ is my complete Savior. I am depending on Him; I am resting in Him.”
John 2:6-10; Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee V. IV, p. 379)
Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’…’Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’ They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.” (John 2:6-9a, selected)
The old battered water pots were brought out into the open and filled with water. As the servants drew out the water and served it, it became wine.
“This holds a great spiritual lesson for you and me. Jesus uses us as water pots today. We’re just beaten and battered water pots. We’re not attractive and ought to be pushed to the side and covered up. But he wants to use us. He wants to fill us with water. What is the water? The water is the Word of God, friend. He wants to fill you and me with the water of the Word of God. He wants to ladle it out. When we ladle it out—I don’t know how to explain it—but when the water leaves the water pots…it becomes wine. It becomes the wine of joy through the working of the Holy Spirit…the Holy Spirit takes that water and performs a miracle in the life of the individual.”
So, the best way to be used for Christian service is by first filling yourself up with the Word of God. Then let God pour out the Word from you to each desperate, spiritually blind, and dying-in-sin person that God sends your way. And let God do the miracle of salvation and transformation. You spread the Word, God does the rest.
Reference John 2:1-25 (Cleansing of the Temple by Jesus); NIV Application Commentary: John, p. 101
"But when I examine the timeless meaning of this story, I see the struggle between God's desire to be worshiped and the religious institutions humans frequently build and edify in order to facilitate that worship. The two are not always the same. Religious institutions sometimes pursue financial interests or social agendas when all they are designed to do is facilitate our relationship with God and set us loose in the world to change it."
Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 8, p. 364; Luke 21:12-19:
"The charge is often laid at the door of the Christian faith that fundamentally it is a means of escape, both from the rigors of thought and from the harsh realities of existence. Let those comfort themselves with such excuses who can. Escape it is, not out of life, into it: from meaninglessness into meaning, from futility into purpose, from bondage into freedom, from security beset with peril into peril hedged about by God."
"The life of a Christian is a life of paradoxes. He must lay hold on God: he must follow hard after him: he must determine not to let him go. And yet he must learn to let God alone. Quietness before God is one of the most difficult of all Christian graces." Richard Cecil
Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 8, p. 442
"grace is nothing else than love in action, and the supreme message of the Gospel is that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)