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That Doesn’t Apply To Me December 30, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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We are at our best, not when we see how the instruction in God’s word applies to everyone else, but when we apply it to ourselves.  False teaching often has the effect of giving us a false assurance that we are OK.  In other words often we are deceived into thinking that some important instruction doesn’t apply to us.  Let me use myself as an example:  I was raised Catholic and as an infant was “baptized” by having water sprinkled on my head.  This is what I was told from the beginning.  When I began to study the Bible and I came across the instruction to be baptized my initial reaction was: “That doesn’t apply to me”.  It wasn’t until someone specifically pointed out to me that what I had been told was according to a false tradition that came from the minds of men and not in agreement with God’s instruction that I began to correctly understand and see how the instruction applied to me.

I was not convinced the instant I was informed.  I first set upon the task of proving by the scriptures that what had been passed on to me was correct.  When I could not, I had to face my own error and correct my thinking.  Then do the right thing.  I was then baptized for real.  I was baptized according to God’s instruction.  Baptism is something you do when you believe the gospel.  When I was an infant I didn’t know what was going on and so could not ask to be baptized.  But this post is not specifically about baptism it is about the effect of false teaching.  It often causes us to say, when we see God’s instruction: “That doesn’t apply to me”.    

The process of repentance does not end when you are baptized.  Repentance is an on going thing.  Getting things wrong is human nature and getting our thinking and actions in line with God is a life long pursuit.  Everyone teaches error.  Some teachers say: “We are doing the right thing so follow us”.  The problem with that type of thinking is that when those teachers see the instruction to repent, to correct error they think: “That doesn’t apply to me”.  Everyone teaches error.  The teachers should rather say: “Join with us as we strive to follow God’s instruction”.  Always keeping in mind that the instruction to repent, to get our thoughts and actions (and teaching) into agreement with God is something we are never finished with in this life.  It is wrong to think, “That doesn’t apply to me”.

If we’re breathing we’re making mistakes, that is a main theme of the Bible.  Everyone needs to repent every day.  We should all be helping each other with this.  Religious folk should not get the false idea: “That doesn’t apply to me”.  God showed his love for us by sending his son to teach us and show us the path to agreement with God.  The apostle John wrote:

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.  He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

Jesus always did what God The Father told him to do.  His teaching and actions demonstrated his perfect agreement with the Father.  This is what we should all be striving for as we strive to walk as Jesus did.  This applies to everyone. No one can say: “That doesn’t apply to me”.

Truth Is The Glue December 28, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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To paraphrase the now late president Gerald Ford: Truth is the glue that binds us together.  Ford was talking about government.  His comments were hopeful and perhaps often contradicted as people and factions often prefer to be bound together by falsehood.  This is also often true in the spiritual realms.  Truth should be the glue that binds us together.  The only glue that is going to hold permanently is the truth.  The truth is superior to the lie because in the truth is freedom in the lie is bondage and oppression.  So why do many choose to believe the lie and fail to embrace the truth?

This is a great spiritual challenge because in this world it is so easy to be deceived.  We have been brought up to be deceived.  We are so used to being lied to that the truth seems strange to us.  Because it is natural in this world for things to simply go their own way their must be a conscious effort to find out what the truth is, to separate the truth from all the lies we are so accustomed to.  We should be working together to do this.  If someone comes to us with a spiritual idea and says: “This is the truth”, we should not just blindly accept it.  We should not be swayed by the individuals conviction or the widespread acceptance of the so called truth.  We should together investigate and firmly establish the facts so our belief can rest on the truth.  Then the truth can be the glue that binds us together.

We need to be more honest with each other.  Sometimes the truth is a little hard to believe.  Sometimes the truth is something we are embarrassed to share with each other.  There is such an incessant drone of nonsense that we need to overcome.  But we must overcome it if we are ever going to be free.  This can be a tall order but we should start by telling each other the truth.  We should not fail to speak, we should not remain silent.  If we want the truth to be the glue that binds us together then we should actively seek the truth and share it with each other.  To remain silent, to not share the truth when we know it, is to give falsehood the floor, is to allow the lie to have the upper hand.  We should all encourage each other to share in the truth.

Jesus Christ often opened his comments with: “I tell you the truth”.  Christ was quoted in the gospel of John chapter fourteen saying, “if it were not so, I would have told you”.  Jesus promises his followers eternal life.  This is hard to believe for those of us who are slaves to the prevailing deception of this world.  But in order for each of us to receive this promise we must each embrace the truth.  Truth is the glue that binds us together.  The apostle Paul encouraging the followers of Jesus Christ to greater truthfulness wrote this:     

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

Those who are followers of Jesus Christ, who have already made a commitment to the Truth still need to be constantly encouraged and reminded.  It is so easy to go off track.  It so easy for our thinking to be slowly, bit by bit pulled away from the pure truth.  Deception then creeps in and groups of believers find themselves being bound together by something other than the truth.  We all need to be constantly on guard against this.  Jesus Christ said:   

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Christ stresses the importance of the truth.  We need to know the truth and share it with one another.  We need to be on guard against falsehood creeping in.  We need to have the courage to speak the truth to one another and stop hiding behind lies and deception.  We should make every effort to all share in the freedom that comes with the Truth.  Truth is the glue that binds us together.

Everybody Does It December 26, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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Everybody does it.  But don’t use that as an excuse.  For a long time whenever I thought about discussing the Gospel with people this thought occurred to me: Who am I to tell anyone to change and follow God?  I’m as bad as anybody and probably worse than many, so why should anyone listen to me?  Finally though as time went on and I realized how many do not acknowledge the simple truth, I decided not to use that as an excuse and do what I can to help.  When it comes to not following God’s simple truth (believe His promise follow His instruction):  Everybody does it, but don’t use that as an excuse. 

We should each try to do better, first in the understanding, then in the doing.  Always keeping in mind that one thing we all have in common is that we all need to do better in understanding and following God’s word.  I’ve taken a lot of heat from friends and family for opening up my mouth about this.  So besides anything I was already doing to offend people there is now an additional offense.  But friends and family should not use this as an excuse.  They should not let the failings of the messenger obscure the message.  They should look past me and see God’s eternal yet simple truth and decide to follow it.

Those who are religious yet fail to let go of their own traditions and false teachings that have been passed on to them from previous generations need to see this also.  Everybody does it.  But don’t use that as an excuse.  Everyone of us has some sort of tradition or false understanding that stands between each of us and the truth.  These cultural artifacts prevent us from first understanding and then doing the simple things God requires of us.  Religion should not be an obstacle but so often it is.  Each of us needs to do what we can to counter this universal trend.

Many people see themselves as generally good and therefore really have no need for putting an awful lot of effort into this specific study of God’s word.  But once again, everybody does it.  We should not let our satisfaction in our own good works deceive us into thinking that we do not need to make a specific effort.  The message of the Gospel never is: “You people are doing just fine, keep up the good work”.  We all have faults we need to correct.  We all have thoughts and heartfelt beliefs that separate us from God.  We all need to make a specific effort to draw nearer to God.   Just because when it comes to wandering away from God, everybody does it we should not use that as an excuse to continue the trend.

God understands what we need and God has not made it difficult for us.  We make it difficult sometimes by clinging to useless ideas and following the crowd this way and that.  Let’s each make an effort to latch onto to something solid.  Let’s all do our very best to turn away from these natural tendencies that separate us from God and from each other.  We are all in this together, we are all connected.  Even if we do not always see the connections.  Even if we do not want to acknowledge our connection to some of the less favorable aspects of humanity, we are all connected.  We all need to see ourselves as sheep that have gone astray and make every effort to get back into the fold. Cliche yes, but it’s a cliche because everybody does it.  But don’t use that as an excuse.    

Keeping The Doubt Alive December 24, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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The word of God presents a clear picture that is not difficult to understand.  Why then is there so much confusion and disagreement?  Why so much doubt?  One way that the doubt and confusion is kept alive is by obscuring the truth with a whole lot of made up stories and superstitions.  These things come from the fertile imagination of man.  Sometimes these things come from well meaning folk who are trying to share what they believe.  But these made up stories do not bring us any closer to God.  These made up stories do not help us understand the power and majesty of the Lord.  The apostle Peter wrote:

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Peter was an eye witness to actual events.  His faith is based on things that actually occurred and promises that God actually made.  His religion was not based on vague notions and fuzzy reasoning that evolved and grew over time.  One of the ways religious teachers get away with teaching all sorts of things that are not backed up by the word of God is that most people are not sufficiently familiar with God’s word to say: “The Bible doesn’t say that”.  Or people are not sufficiently familiar with God’s word to separate a teachers personal inferences and conclusions from what the Bible actually says.  Everyone needs to become more knowledgeable of God’s word to help prevent this.  The apostle Paul also stated clearly that his understanding of the Gospel came not from man, but from God:   

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up .  I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

The problem with all these man made stories is that they prevent people from respecting the real thing.  Most people do not differentiate.  They see everything as something that man made up.  Most teachers who do this are sincere and well meaning.  They are just following a method of handling the scriptures passed down to them from previous generations, a method that has strayed from the truth.  But whatever the reason these made up stories and unsubstantiated inferences are all examples of false teaching.  The apostle Peter sternly warns us concerning false teachers: 

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves.  Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.  In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

Made up stories and unsubstantiated inferences wether they come from well meaning but misguided teachers or from those who plan evil willfully are all false teachings.  They lead people away from God.  They put stumbling blocks in the way of those who seek the truth.  They cause division an disagreement.  They are instrumental in keeping the doubt alive.

The Power Of Prayer December 22, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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I was asked a question the other day about prayer and part of the question was: “Is God really aware of every request or prayer made to him?”  The Bible indicates that God is indeed aware of everything that is going on, hard as that is to comprehend and he cares deeply for his people.  Jesus Christ said: 

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.  Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows .

So God is certainly aware of every prayer.  But the key to having confidence that God will answer your prayer lies in your every day relationship with him.  Jesus made the promise that you will receive anything you ask for “in my name“.  What does that mean?  It means according to the teaching and ways of Jesus.  The person who is acting in the name of Jesus is acting according to the instruction of Jesus and following his example.  Remember Jesus always did exactly what God the Father instructed him to do.  We can have the same relationship with God and power in prayer if we strive to do likewise.  Jesus made this promise:    

I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  And I will do whatever you ask in my name , so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name , and I will do it.

I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

Notice, when Jesus is speaking, how “in my name” is always included with the promise of receiving what you ask of God.  Clearly this is very important to God.  This aspect of prayer is so often neglected by religious people today.  The book of Acts shows the disciples of Jesus carrying out his instructions.  We see in the book of Acts that the believers were going about believing God’s promise and following his instructions and as they were doing just what God told them to do they were encountering threats and resistance.  So they prayed to God.  Look in Acts chapter four for example, their prayer started off talking about how they were doing exactly what God wanted them to do, but they needed strength and encouragement from God in order to overcome their fears and continue despite the opposition they were encountering.  Then God gave them a sign to indicate his support for their prayer:  

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. All the believers were one in heart and mind.

Also notice that because their thoughts and actions were in agreement with God (in his name) they were one, in agreement with each other.  This is the key to the power of prayer, unity with God and with each other is both a requirement and product of this process.  Believe God’s promise, follow his instruction and you will also know the power of prayer.

Peace, Peace December 20, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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People often talk about peace this time of year.  You hear the phrase: “Peace on earth good will towards men”.  God promised his chosen one would bring peace.  So why, almost two thousand years after his coming, do we still have war and strife?   Let’s look for a moment at some passages from the word of God, the prophet Isaiah wrote these words about the coming Messiah about seven hundred years before Christ:

Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire. 
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace . 
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.

But for many in this world things go on as they always have.  The prophet Jeremiah passed on this message from God to those who would not listen to his instruction:

They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.

Christ came to bring about peace between God and mankind.  He indeed accomplished this.  Those who follow Jesus have peace with God and with one another.  To put it another way, a more personal way, if you and I have peace with God we will have peace with each other.  We can have peace with God by believing his promise and following his instruction.  Jesus knew that in this world, even after he completed his work in the flesh and returned to the Father, there would continue to be disagreement.  Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace , but a sword“.  Jesus knew that there would continue to be a contrast between those who follow him and those who follow the ways of the world:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace . In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

Christ overcame the world when he rose form the dead.  Christ brought about the peace with God that was promised.  But until his return we will all be among those who have not yet understood this and remain separate from this peace.  This is why we still have war and strife in this world.  So what if you decided to be an activist for peace, how would you go about doing that?   Or to put it another way, whose plan for peace would you follow?  First we all need to believe God’s promise and follow his instruction to achieve peace with God, then we should pass that on amongst each other.  We should educate and encourage each other in God’s instruction.  This is the only way to achieve real peace.  Since this is turning out to be a scripture heavy post I’ll close with a passage from the apostle Peter, he quotes from the book of Psalms and the prophet Isaiah:   

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.  Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  For,

“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech. 
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it. 
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Is It Even Possible? December 18, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.
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Every person is unique, every person is different.  Variety is an integral characteristic of humanity.  When Jesus Christ came into this world in the flesh he lived his life always in perfect agreement with God the Father.  God is one.  Christ made it clear just what that means.  He walked through his life on this earth right in step with the Father at all times.  This is really so uncharacteristic of human beings.  Everyone thinks differently.  In fact we pride ourselves on our uniqueness.  So how was it possible for Jesus to do this?  Is it even possible for us?  When Christ was baptized the Holy Spirit was seen descending on Jesus “as a dove” and it remained on him.  John the Baptist commented later that God gave Jesus “the Spirit without limit“.  It is because of the Holy Spirit, the mind of God, that Jesus could have this perfect relationship with the Father.

What about for you and me now?  The Bible teaches us that only through the Holy Spirit is this possible.  Christ teaching on how difficult it is for us to enter the kingdom of heaven said, “With man this is impossible , but with God all things are possible“.  Christ prayed to the Father that we would be one just as he and the Father are one.  The answer to that prayer came on the day of Pentecost when once again the Holy Spirit made a visual demonstration on those who were obedient to God, the followers of Jesus Christ.  This ushered in the age that we are living in now.  The key is the Holy Spirit.  The key is the mind of God.  The key is the thinking of God.  God said through the prophet Isaiah “come now, let us reason together“.  The apostle Paul said to those obedient to God, “we have the mind of Christ“.

We receive the Holy Spirit by obeying God.  What was Jesus doing when the Spirit came upon him?  He was being baptized.  This confused John the Baptist for a moment because he understood baptism as an act of repentance and obedience.  Jesus had nothing to repent of because he always walked with the Father.  But Jesus assured John that this was the right thing to do, thus underscoring the connection of obedience, baptism and the Holy Spirit.  The apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost stated the promise for us like this:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.

Those who believed the promise followed these instructions and received the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God and the Bible tells us, “All the believers were one in heart and mind“.  So it is indeed possible for us through faith and obedience to be one with God and with one another.  But this is only possible with God.  God has chosen Jesus Christ as the one to have “the Spirit without limit” and thus be the source for us to receive the Holy Spirit by following his example of perfect obedience to God.  Believe the promise, follow the instruction, then we will each know the answer to the question: Is it even possible?

Keep The Faith December 16, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.

I just finished watching Tavis Smiley on PBS.  He generally ends his show with this phrase: “and as always, keep the faith”.  My reaction to his invocation is mixed and perhaps it should not be.  Or to put it another way, why would I react with anything but comfort at some entertainment figure making sure he ends every show with a declaration of faith?  The reaction I want to have is: Bravo Tavis for putting it out there.  But since I do not know the man personally, I do not know what he means by, “keep the faith”.  My first assumption is that he is paraphrasing the  words of the apostle Paul.  Paul, late in his life, wrote in his second letter to Timothy:

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Paul’s personal statement of triumph in the face of a great deal of adversity was based on his confidence in the promises of God and his success in staying true to God’s instruction.  Today, almost two thousand years later, while many claim to be keepers of the faith the reality is that the kind of adherence to The Faith that Paul is talking about is really quite rare.  So the cause of my mixed reaction to Mr. Smiley’s invocation has nothing to do with him personally but has to do with the condition we find “the faith” in today.  The apostle Paul was indeed a staunch defender of The Faith.  Despite the fact that he always used figures and elements from the contemporary and local culture he was addressing to illustrate his points, he was always careful not to let various heartfelt issues and prejudices of society corrupt the pure and perfect reasoning from God.  

There is such a temptation by well meaning people to add to God’s instruction in order to make it apply to a specific situation.  Or a preacher may be so concerned about warning his listeners away from a harmful contemporary danger that he gives the impression that God has spoken on a subject when he is really expressing his personal opinion.  Even if his personal opinion is very much informed by a knowledge of the scriptures his personal opinion is still just that.  As a result many go around thinking and claiming that the Bible has spoken on a certain issue when it has not.  Even if one can show that the Bible speaks out against elements that sometimes are included in the danger being warned against.  The teacher must continue to be clear about what the Bible specifically says.  The teacher must resist the temptation of labeling his body of inferences as the word of God.

God knew what he was doing in what he said and what he did not say.  We must privilege the text above our own opinions.  We must “keep the faith”.  Not only from dangers that come from outside but also from our own tendencies (no matter how well intentioned).  I would like to see the day when I can hear someone, anyone say: “and as always, keep the faith” and feel confident that The Faith is indeed being kept.  I know that some indeed are, and my apologies to Mr. Smiley if he is one of those few.  We should all be making every effort to see that number grow and each of us should be doing our part each day to keep The Faith.

Teach Your Children December 14, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.

The holiday season is full of heartwarming traditions and things we share with our children that have been passed down from generation to generation.  At this time of the year as we are decorating our homes with the signs of the season it might be helpful to pause for a moment and remember God.  But some may ask: Isn’t this season a remembrance of Jesus’ birth?  Well yes and on the surface this all has the feel of some sort of religious activity, for some the only religious activity they do all year.  But these celebrations are all human traditions.  These celebrations, while having the taste of spirituality because they have been passed from generation to generation, had their origins in the mind of man and are no substitute for the instructions from God.  In fact human traditions tend to draw us away from God.  Jesus himself said:   

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.”  And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!

At this time of year as we decorating our homes with the signs of the season that remind us of the stories of Rudolf, Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman, I am reminded of God’s instruction to his people from Deuteronomy chapter six.  The instructions from God should be conspicuously held in a central place of importance in our lives.  Like the seasonal decorations we all put up this time of year, our focus on the instructions from God should be noticed by all passers by and passed on from generation to generation:

These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.  Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your fathers, promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

What I am trying to say here is that it is vitally important for us to understand the things of God and make every effort to pass on that understanding to our children.  Our holiday festivities are no substitute for that because these are all human traditions.  Things are very busy this time of year and all the hustle and bustle will certainly have the effect of crowding out God.  We must be in the habit all year round of focusing on God’s word, both in season and out of season.  Then when this busy season is upon us we will be less likely to let go of God for the sake of our traditions.  Teach your children the word of God.

What If You Do Nothing? December 12, 2006

Posted by rattazzimedia in Christianity, Church, God, Religion, Spiritual, Spiritual Overview, Spiritual Study, Spirituality, Theology.

I was reading through some of my old essays and came across this one, it is also on my website: RattazziMedia.com.  I though it might be useful to reprint it here.  Let me know if you have any comments.  Some people, while they acknowledge the existence of God, choose to do nothing in connection with their spiritual life. To put it another way: Some people, while they believe in God, do not follow God’s lead. Is it necessary to follow anything? Can you be accepted by God if you merely live your life as you think best and pay no attention to following what God indicates is best? What if you do nothing? Jesus Christ said:

Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.[1]

God has made a choice, so each person must make a decision in harmony with the path God has chosen. The prophet Amos puts it this way: Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?”[2]  What if you do nothing? Two people cannot walk together unless both have decided to. If you pay no attention to God, you won’t be walking with God. We see the pattern repeated over and over again in the Bible. God makes a promise and gives an instruction; faith in God is believing his promise and following his instruction. This is what God expects from each of us. Just accepting that God exists is not enough. In the epistle of James the question “What if you do nothing?” is handled like this:

You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that– and shudder.  You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?  Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.  And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.  As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.[3]

James wrote about Abraham “…his faith was made complete by what he did.” Jesus Christ underscores this point in the following passage.

What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.[4]

What if you do nothing? We have seen here that from God’s point of view doing nothing is not an acceptable option. Taking it one step further, the word of God contains many passages indicating that God expects a determined effort be made. Jesus Christ said:

From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.[5]

The apostle Paul utilizes a figure from the world of sports to emphasize the point that God expects a determined and aggressive effort to be made.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.[6]

Note the level of concern the apostle Paul has here. He is concerned that his effort to attain the prize will not be sufficient. He continued striving though and we can see from the following passage written much later in his life his confidence in God’s promise. Paul believed God, followed his instructions and therefore is confident he will receive what God has promised. What if you do nothing? Doing nothing is not an acceptable option.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day– and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.[7]

[1] John 12:26  [2] Amos 3:3  [3] James 2:19-23, 26[4] Matthew 16:26-27  [5] Matthew 11:12  [6] 1 Corinthians 9:24-27  [7] 2 Timothy 4:7-8