Does God take the ‘initiative’ to reach my ‘enemy’ with his love?

Let My Praises Be Heard!


DOES GOD TAKE THE ‘INITIATIVE’ TO REACH MY ‘ENEMY’ WITH HIS LOVE?

During my difficult times, I am called to ‘commit my ways unto the Lord’. Also, not only am I to rejoice in the Lord, when I am the object of another’s scorn and hurt, I am to rejoice that God continues to love my enemies and that God, in His own timing, will bring my ‘enemies’ to a place of repentance and faith in Christ. I can rejoice in the Lord that ‘vengeance towards my enemies belongs to the Lord’. God will bring just punishment to those who (from God’s perspective) ‘deserve’ punishment.

God is not vindictive in His judgment of evil persecutors, but He, nevertheless, is the Judge of all persons. Through several methods (like chastening and like imposition of great loss to the sinner, etc.), our merciful God is intent on humbling a proud or a deceitful sinner- to incite ‘godly sorrow’ deep within his heart and mind! Repeatedly stated (and very important): “God is not willing that any person should perish, but that all persons should come to repentance!”

I must look beyond the ‘hurt’ that my persecutors inflict on me, and, instead of falling into self-pity or into a vengeful ‘rage’, I must (as Jesus) see the pitiful (sin-causing) condition of my ‘enemy’, and (in a spirit of forgiveness and compassion) earnestly pray for my ‘enemy’s’ wonderful forgiveness and healing and transformation to a new life in Christ! I ought to look at him, not as what he presently is, but for what he can be through Christ Jesus!

If God can change a wicked John Newton (slave trader), God can change anyone! Then when God has made the ‘bad man’ into a ‘good man’, this transformed sinner can join John Newton in singing “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see!”

When I feel the ‘blows’ of the persecutor’s ‘whip’ (literally or figuratively), I must remember that ‘there go l, but for the grace of God.’ If sin had its way in my life, there is no telling what a ‘wretch’ I would have become. I am what I am (goodness, righteousness, integrity, compassion, peace, love, holiness) – ‘only by the grace of God.’

If it were not for the grace of God that has touched my life, I probably would be the ‘persecutor’ rather than the ‘persecuted’! What l just noted, is exemplified in the life of the apostle Paul. He was the persecuting one (seeking to kill Christians), but when the ‘great light of heaven’ reached him (in conversion); Paul became the object of brutal persecution! His conversion ‘turned the tables’, from the persecuting one to the persecuted one! All because Paul obeyed the ‘call’ to follow Christ for the remainder of his days!

In closely observing the life of the apostle Paul, and the life of John Newton, I must renew my faith in God’s transforming power that is; God can make a bad man good! I must focus on the vision that God has for the lost soul (the soul who is so ‘out of sorts’ with himself, that he chooses to be ‘out of sorts’ with his surrounding human beings).

When one of the ‘out-of-sorts’ souls chooses to aim his sharp arrows of persecution at me (for no ‘good reason’), I must see beyond his cruel behavior, and realize that this ‘enemy’ of mine needs not my retaliation but my compassion and understanding and forgiveness.

I must remind myself (even though my unjust treatment is hurtful) that this persecutor is deeply loved by God, just as Saul the killer of Christians, was greatly loved by God, and, indeed, was pursued by God! As God miraculously changed a killer of Christians into a lover of Christians, so God is certainly able and willing to change my God-rejecter into a God lover! And when this miracle happens on a vertical scale, there will automatically be an effect on the horizontal scale.

In other words, when there is reconciliation between a sinner and God, there will (soon or eventually) be reconciliation between the sinner and his fellow human beings (even between him – as my ‘enemy’- and myself)!

I must rejoice in the Lord that God will use the suffering that I experience (at the hands of wretched persons), to perfect my own character. I also must rejoice in the Lord that He will render the just judgment that is necessary to bring a sinner to the ‘foot of the cross’! Rejoicing because of God’s loving treatment of me (during great adversity), and rejoicing because of God’s just and merciful treatment of my persecutors.


Table of contents: Let my praises be heard!


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Will God’s justice be vindicated and his righteousness be exalted?

Let My Praises Be Heard!


WILL GOD’S JUSTICE BE VINDICATED AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS BE EXALTED?

I am commanded to ‘rejoice evermore’! The fulfillment of this ‘high command’ from God is possible only because I believe that God has control over the tragedies of my life (the injustices and inequities of my life). I can ‘rejoice evermore’ if I truly believe that God desires good for me, at all times and in all circumstances – even when my heart is breaking because of the schemes of evil men who have brought me nothing but great distress and threatened destruction!

I must learn to forgive those who do me wrong. I must remember that, though God hates evil and though God will bring eventual just punishment to the evildoer, nevertheless, God loves all persons, and God wills that none should perish but that all should come to repentance. Both God’s justice and God’s mercy will be demonstrated (eventually) in the life of every sinner (including the sinner who has chosen to greatly trouble me).


Table of contents: Let my praises be heard!


Praise God for the wonder of God’s creation!

Let My Praises Be Heard!


PRAISE GOD FOR THE WONDER OF GOD’S CREATION!

Even though the Fall of Man has ‘marred’, in some ways perhaps not quickly discerned, the original beauty of God’s magnificent world, nevertheless, the world, even after that tragic historic ‘Fall of Man’, is filled with the splendor of God’s beauty. The breath-taking beauty of this creation witnesses to the fact that the Creator of beauty is Himself beautiful beyond description!

When one beholds the order of our world, and of the universe, it is easy to conclude that the God who is behind this orderly world is Himself an orderly God. Scientists, more than anyone else, can speak about – witness to – the astounding precision in the movement of the planets around our sun, in the Milky Way Galaxy, ‘as a starter’, before talking about the order in the vastness of the incomprehensibly big universe which God ‘spoke into existence.’

Future ‘events’ in the movements of planets, hundreds of years from now, can be ‘calculated’ accurately, all because the Creator is a ‘God of Order’, not a God of carelessness and chaos.

As shown by the manifest forces (power) of Nature, we can conclude that our God is a God of unlimited power! For instance, one example (among countless other examples), think about the power of electricity.

The electrical power (electricity) in one large flash of lightning, not only frightens humankind, but this degree of electrical power (electricity) is so great that it could light an entire city (if that electrical power could be harnessed).

Think of the vastness and the magnitude of Nature. Our world’s tall mountains, and our giant trees, and our vast prairies, and our expansive oceans, and our huge canyons like the Grand Canyon – these features of our created world are wonderful and they are awesome! The vastness of the world and, especially the vastness of the universe, are faint reminders of the ‘vastness’ of our majestic God!

Next, when considering the majesty of Nature, think about the amazing variety in Nature. Even the casual observer of Nature, and certainly the serious student of Nature, will readily testify to the fact that everywhere he looks, he is overwhelmed with the vast number of species in the animal world, the plant world, the world of trees and grasses and vegetation of all kinds! Go to a “Botanical Gardens’ and witness the vast variety of flowers.

Go to a ‘Tropical Forest’ and walk through it (if you can) and notice the different kinds of trees- both small and large trees. You will also doubtless see a large variety of bugs and reptiles and primates and other lower forms of animals. lf God created our world, and if this world is full of variety in plants, animals, trees, prairies, fish, then God must be a Creator who obviously values and who likes variety.

For the wonder of each hour Of the day and of the night, Hill and vale and tree and flower, Sun and moon and stars of light: Christ our God, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise. (For The Beauty of the Earth, by Folliott S. Pierpoint)

Unlike my dear brother, who has walked thousands of miles on many mountain trails (especially in Rocky Mountain National Park), I have not been a ‘lover of nature’. Nevertheless, as I have jogged many miles, on a limited number of city trails, I have observed the little squirrels in the trees, and the scampering bunnies darting across my paths, and I have been entertained by the sweet (heavenly) sounds of the various flying birds above my head!

I have been fascinated by the hundreds of willows that stick up their fuzzy heads along my jogging paths. Occasionally I have been awed when I have caught a glimpse of the beautiful deer that find their home among the thick trees, not far from where I regularly take my early morning jogs.

There have been numerous mornings when, after I have started jogging in the near dark, I am taken aback when I suddenly view the entire eastern horizon lite up with bright colors, as the sun peeks up on the eastern horizon.

I am so grateful that our loving and beautiful God created colors for His creatures to enjoy. Black and white are meaningful colors, of course, but there is something about multi-colors that causes me to be prostrate before my great Creator. If color is wonderful here on earth, how much more wonderful will color be in that glorious Home above!

It is true that this earth is not our home, and that we (believers) are only ‘pilgrims passing through’ this temporary dwelling, but, nevertheless, God has promised to give us (His followers) all things (on this earth) ‘richly to enjoy’. And the splendor of His creation is one of those ‘things’ that is intended to give us (believers) ‘great pleasure and great delight’. Of course, we do not ‘worship nature’, but we are permitted (even encouraged) to enjoy the ‘works of God’s hands’ (Nature)!

The Scriptures often exalt the works of God, as seen in Nature! “The heavens are telling the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship. Day and night they keep on telling about God. Without a sound or word, silent in the skies, their message reaches out to all the world. The sun lives in the heavens where God placed it and moves out across the skies as radiant as a bridegroom going to his wedding or as joyous as an athlete looking forward to a race! The sun crosses the heaven from end to end, and nothing can hide from its heat.” (Psalms 19:1-6 Living Bible)

One day I was with an elderly (godly) woman, while she was taking a short wheelchair ride around a couple blocks, near our home. This woman lived in our home, and nearly every morning (if the weather permitted) this dear woman wanted to get outside and to breathe in the fresh air and to enjoy some of the delights of Nature.

On this particular morning, as she was ‘drinking in the beauty of nature’, she suddenly said to me, “Just think, Ron, all of this, and heaven too!” To her, the beauty of nature on that special morning was simply a foretaste of the beauty of heaven.

This woman was a ‘double winner’, for she (as a believer) was well aware of the One who created the beauty of that particular morning, and she was also well aware (by faith) of the beauty of heaven that someday she would enjoy in God’s presence! She was confident that the One who was giving her the ‘gift’ of physical beauty, on that particular morning, would someday grant her the greater ‘gift’ of heavenly beauty, when God called her to her mansion above!

Her life was lived with a sense of gratitude for the present gifts of God, but she also lived with a constant anticipation of the wonderful beauty of God that she would enjoy some day in God’s nearer presence in heaven! “Just think, all of this, and heaven too!”

This precious woman knew that soon she would enjoy the beauty of heaven in a much more full and wonderful way! She loved the beauty of this earth, but she knew there would be much greater beauty when she entered the portals of heaven!

God’s gift of beauty on this earth was very wonderful to her, but soon she would experience God’s expanded and perfected beauty over there (in heaven)! Indeed, she was a double winner! Abundant life on earth and eventually eternal life in heaven! (It was only a few weeks, after that exciting morning, when she departed this earthly life, to become enraptured with the beauty of her heavenly home)!


Table of contents: Let my praises be heard!


Because God is the ‘Great Transformer’ you can live gratefully!

Let My Praises Be Heard!


BECAUSE GOD IS THE ‘GREAT TRANSFORMER’ YOU CAN LIVE GRATEFULLY!

God is the Great Transformer who is able to bring good out of evil, comfort out of suffering, hope out of despondency, understanding out of confusion, strength out of weakness, meaning out of purposelessness, healing out of illness, companionship out of loneliness, activity out of listlessness, and interest out of boredom.

God is the great Compensator- both on this planet and in eternity (heaven). God does not want any of our adversities (caused by our own self, or caused by other hurtful persons) to be wasted. He wants to use every adversity as His ‘tool’ to teach us life’s lessons- especially the lesson that the one who suffers greatly is the very one who is best equipped to comfort other fellow sufferers greatly.

If the suffering we go through results in giving us a more tender heart towards other persons, and if it results in enlarging the capacity of gratitude in our heart towards our God, then adversity will have served a most noble cause. Adversity, wrongly handled, tragically results in the sufferer becoming bitter towards God, and indifferent (or angry) towards the sufferer’s fellow men!

Suffering should increase our gratitude, both toward the God of grace (gifts) and towards the fellow sufferers who need to receive the same type of comfort which we (the sufferer) have received from God.

A tender heart, and a teachable mind, and a reverent spirit (like the Holy Trinity) are the ‘trinity of godly traits’ which produces the offspring of gratitude! Without the presence of these ‘holy qualities’ in a person’s life, there can be no manifested life of ‘gratitude’!

When a believer’s heart becomes tender (through the Holy Spirit’s presence), when a believer’s mind becomes renewed (through the Holy Spirit’s presence), when a believer’s inner spirit becomes worshipful (through the Holy Spirit’s presence) – then the kind of person that the ‘world has on its hands’ is a person who overflows with gratitude to the God who is altogether ‘good’! Gratitude, Praise, Thanksgiving- all centered in God! All because God is sovereign, God is the self-revealed God who had made Himself known in the life and words and sacrificial actions of Jesus Christ!

How do we know that God is a ‘good’ God? Because Jesus was a ‘good man’ (the Son of Man who went about doing much good, and whose supreme love for mankind was conclusively demonstrated on Mt. Calvary)! “God commends his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!”

The love of God (for sinners) is so great, that no man can comprehend that magnificent love! The God of love- revealed once and for all in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus- is the ‘foundation’ for man’s lifetime expressions of ‘gratitude’!

“Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends (and enemies)!” Take a careful look at the Cross (even daily), and you will be lost in wonder, love, and praise! And al! of those words are different ways of ‘spelling’ Gratitude!

God, who is the Great Compensator, will ‘make it up’ to Sharla, because she had to die prematurely! God is a ‘debtor’ to no man (or child or teen). What a person lost, by dying prematurely, that person will gain in eternity! And always remember: “God is a debtor to no man!”


Table of contents: Let my praises be heard!


Why does God ‘Favor’ certain individuals?

Let My Praises Be Heard!


WHY DOES GOD ‘FAVOR’ CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS?

We say that God has ‘no favorites’, and this statement truly describes the God of justice and equality. But, while it is biblically-taught that God has ‘no fear or favor of men’ (that is, the plan of salvation is offered to all persons, and God has a place prepared in heaven for all persons), it is also true to say that God, indeed, does ‘favor’ those humans who have most opened their lives to the love and to the grace and to the offered benefits of God.

God loves all persons equally, Jesus died for all persons equally, the Holy Spirit desires to give Himself to all persons equally- these basic truths declare that God is not a God of arbitrary ‘selection’- regarding His offered gift of abundant life on earth and His eternal life in heaven.

But, after contemplating all of the biblically-taught truths regarding the universal aspects regarding God’s love for all mankind, there is also the biblically-based truth regarding God’s ‘divine selectivity’ (based on a man’s right choosing). When a person freely chooses to follow the living Christ, God brings a special blessing into that person’s life!

The grace-oriented person (who desires to humbly follow Christ and to obey Christ and Christ’s teaching) is the person who increasingly becomes lost in wonder and lost in love and lost in praise of the mighty Savior!

This is one way to describe a ‘grateful person’- a person who humbly praises his God, a person who realizes that he is not worthy of the least of God’s favor, a person who increasingly realizes that he is the recipient of all of God’s undeserved rich and wonderful gifts.

God is not a ‘God of arbitrary favoritism’, for God loves all persons and God, through Christ, offers salvation freely to every person. However, it can’t be denied (from a study of the Bible and from an observation of life in our world as it really is), I say, it can’t be denied that some persons (namely, the truly grateful persons) are unusually ‘favored’ by God, in many ways!

Not an arbitrary ‘favoritism’ (which would be a denial of God’s ‘basic justice’), but, nevertheless, a divinely-given ‘favoritism’ -a favoritism based upon the believer’s humble and grateful relationship with the God of all grace! Humble and obedient and grateful submission to the ‘God of grace’ brings God’s special blessings and benefits and ‘favor’ to this kind of person!


Table of contents: Let my praises be heard!


Living the life of ‘receptivity’ to the God of joy!

Let My Laughter Resound!


LIVING THE LIFE OF ‘RECEPTIVITY’ TO THE GOD OF JOY!

Never forget that God gave us a world in which there are ‘laughable’ experiences. God wants us to see the ‘comic’ side of life, the ‘laughable’ features that are inherent in many of life’s events, in many of life’s relationships, in many of the movements and the facial features of the animals. But, it is only the simple-minded persons, the persons of ‘faith’, the persons of humility, the persons of gratitude who have the capacity to receive God’s gift of good ‘humor’, the gift of outright ‘laughter’!

There are some persons who are so proud, and so intent in ‘making it to the top’ (academically or materially), that they don’t have sufficient time to stand back (in a spirit of humility and gratitude) and to gaze at God’s amazing creation (of mankind and of the animals) and to give praise to their Creator. The person who is most given to praise of God, is the same person who is least self conscious and who is most in love with humanity.

Such a person is most ‘in tune’ with the deeper meaning of life’s events. When a person is most in communion with his Creator, he is most ‘in tune’ with the ‘deeper levels’ of God’s creation. Of course, one’s capacity to be sensitive to the deeper levels of meaning in God’s creation – this capacity is subject to growth and to maturity.

The person who truly loves God is the person who gradually finds that he has a greater love for all of God’s creation, and he also discovers that he has a greater sensitivity to the mysteries of creation and to the marvels and mysteries of the human species! Concerning the latter ‘marvel’, the one who is growing in his relationship with his Creator, is the same one who is growing in his appreciation of the human race generally, and he is the one who is increasingly fascinated with the uniqueness of each person that he meets or observes.


“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!


Is God capable of truly experiencing both ‘weeping’ and ‘laughter’?

Let My Laughter Resound!


IS GOD CAPABLE OF TRULY EXPERIENCING BOTH ‘WEEPING’ AND ‘LAUGHTER’?

The fact that human beings are created to enjoy hearty laughter is, I believe, an indication that our Creator is pleased when we humans are (occasionally) engaged in laughter (that is, in laughter that, not only refreshes the one who is laughing, but that enhances and builds up persons with whom he is laughing).

Not cynical or sneering laughter – not laughter that ‘makes fun’ of another or that belittles another! That kind of laughter is below the dignity of a human being, and that kind of laughter reduces life to the ‘beastly level’!

Engagement in wholesome laughter is an expression of the uniqueness of the ‘human creature’. God created us in His own image, and that must mean that, because we humans ‘laugh’, we must be a ‘mirror’ of God Himself (that is, this phenomenon of laughter indicates that we, in some way, are like our Creator).

Admittedly, we humans tend to ‘create God in our own image’ but, because we are finite, we are in many ways compelled to think of God in ‘physical images’ and in ‘physical characteristics’. Of course, Commandment Two warns us against ‘making graven images’ to represent God. We can break this commandment by making ‘mental images’ of God, or by (crudely) making actual physical images to represent God. Either is a form of idolatry, and, therefore, we must guard against such an activity.

However, when we notice (in the Gospel record) that Jesus, during His earthly ministry, both ‘wept’ (explicitly stated) and ‘laughed’ (implicitly communicated), we can (by extrapolation) declare that God Himself (in some way) both ‘weeps’ and ‘laughs’! This assertion is based on the biblical statement that ‘Jesus is the Incarnate One’ who came from the Father, and that Jesus is the perfect expression and manifestation of the Father.

Amazingly, the Bible indicates that everything Jesus was on earth is what God has always been. In other words, the sinless character of Jesus is a perfect reflection of the character of the eternal Father. Like Father, like Son! Jesus is the perfect image and ‘manifestation’ of the Father.

Even though Jesus was confined (for 33 years) to a human body (with the limitations that were inherent in that physical body), yet what the invisible Father had always done eternally, the visible (incarnate) Son did on this planet. ln other words, when Jesus wept, His Father wept, When Jesus laughed (with the children on His lap), His Father was laughing!

Yes, it is true that the weeping and the laughing of the invisible God (Father) would likely be differently expressed by the invisible Father. But, simply because God is a Spirit (invisible and not ‘fleshly’), does not mean that He is incapable of expressing strong emotions.

The Father (as a Spirit) is capable of expressing His various emotions (including weeping and laughing) far more vividly and far more strongly than mankind is capable of expressing these same emotions!

If it is true that the two emotions that humans most feel – sadness (weeping) and gladness (laughter) – this basic observation indicates that these emotions are an integral part of what defines persons as, ‘unique creatures’ (who are created in God’s ‘own image’).

If it is ‘natural’ for humans to both be sad (weep) and to be glad (laughter), then this fact (logically) must mean that it is ‘natural’ for our Creator to both ‘weep’ and to ‘laugh’.

If we (in our ‘fallen state’) have the capacity to engage ourselves in ‘weeping’ and in ‘laughing’ that is wholesome (edifying to ourselves and to others), then we must conclude that this capacity is a ‘God-given’ gift to mankind.

Of course, man (the ‘fallen creature’) sometimes expresses these God-given gifts in perverted ways (rather than in wholesome ways). The expression of weeping sometimes is not productive to the one who is weeping.

Weeping ‘in and of itself’ is not always helpful, but, instead, is sometimes unproductive and futile. The Bible says that there is ‘worldly sorrow’ (tears) which leads to death, for the tears of regret and remorse do not, by themselves, lead to repentance for sins and to faith in Christ.

In a fallen race of persons, there are too many tears of regret or tears of remorse or tears of anger or tears of revenge. These kinds of tears are the manifestation of a ‘fallen human being’ – a person who has tears that reflect spiritual illness and personal alienation from God and from the human race.

Jesus’ tears, which were the visible manifestation of the invisible tears of the Father – these tears were perfectly expressed – at the right time, for the right purpose, and with the right outcome!

Just as it is possible for a ‘fallen creature’ to express his God-given ‘gift’ of tears in ways that are unhealthy and unproductive and destructive, so it is possible for a ‘fallen creature’ to express his ‘laughter’ in unhealthy and unproductive and destructive ways.

This ‘gift’ of laughter is meant to be an enriching gift, a gift that builds up others, a gift that enhances relationships, a gift that gives relaxation and diversion to one’s own self and to others who are in one’s company.

When one uses laughter to belittle or to embarrass another person, this ‘good gift’ of God is used in a despicable way – in a way that defames another who is made in God’s image. Laughter is misused when the reputation of God is defamed, or when the reputation of a fellow human is smeared!

God wants you and me to ‘see the funny side of life’, to smile at the oddities of life, to enjoy a good (‘clean’) joke, to laugh at our own (innocent) ‘slip ups’ and ‘blunders’ and ‘harmless accidents of life’! Most of all, God wants as to enter into His own laughter, namely, that, through Christ’s sacrifice, the ‘victory has been won’ – Christ’s victory over sin, death, despair, and the devil!


“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!