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Why call ye me Lord?

Why call ye me Lord?

Our God is our Father and wants us to regard Him so. This conveys the tenderness and warmth which God has for us. He deals with us as a loving father who would never act but for our well being. We should rightly rejoice in this relationship that Christ has purchased for us with His blood.

But our Father is also our Lord. This connotes the rulership over us that comes from being a Lord. Fathers have authority over us and rightly. So our Lord asks us who regard ourselves as His and under his authority, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6;46) the implication is clear. If we will not do the things which He says, we are not His.

God has done all there is to be done to secure our relationship with Him. But it is ours to receive this and this reception carries with it submission to Him. We cannot receive salvation while retaining self rule of our lives. All true Christians accept the rulership of Christ. Those who do not accept the rulership of Christ are not truly His. Adoption and submission are two sides of the same coin.

Paul tells us to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith. One very clear test of whether we be truly Christians is whether we have the attitude of obedience to His will. This does not mean that there won’t be moments of rebellion or reluctance. But it does mean that when an issue arises that calls for submission to His will over our own, God’s will prevails ultimately. Protracted resistance to the will of God is one of the fruits by which we can judge the root of our faith.


Is it true faith or self delusion?

Our Father

When asked by his followers how to pray, the Lord Jesus gave an example of the prayer of the ages for instructional purposes. He began with, “Our father…” and thereby delivered the most important lesson about prayer.

Focus on God, but not God as an immutable force, unseen, unfelt, an oft times distant one who is hard to be entreated. Focus on Him as Father, one so familiar, one so concerned, one not only so capable but so willing. Our God might be able to do all but is he willing? We know of our Father, that though we are imperfect, though we fall short of God, He is willing to overlook our weakness, even our flaws if we confess them. Our Father knows us better, cares for us better, will never act selfishly, will always understand. He does what is best for us, we can trust him.

By focusing on our Father, we are able to come as we are, admitting our unworthiness, appealing to His mercy, His power, His wisdom, trusting in His timing.

What father is unaffected by the pitiful wail of a child hurt or in need? What father is untouched by tears?

Focus on our Father, not ourselves nor our problem. Faith comes not by looking at the problem. Faith comes by looking at our Father. By thinking on Him and His great love, His great ability, His great willingness to undertake for us, faith comes and we are able to leave matters in His capable and loving hands.

Two Views

There are two main views of the universe.

  1. There is a God who transcends all of the universe and perhaps other universes. This God is infinite in scale, knowledge, eternal in existence, infinite in power, is everywhere, infinite in multi-tasking. He created the universe, holds it in existence, and controls every detail.
  2. There is no God but the universe exists of its own and has always existed. It is controlled by laws of physics and chemistry that have always existed. Man is nothing more than a highly developed evolved being. Life evolved from inanimate matter. Emotions, will, intelligence, all are products of evolution.

As widely divergent as these two views are, both have in common, a problem of logic. The logical problem is that it is beyond man’s reasoning to comprehend anything that had no beginning. While some hold the second view and acknowledge the problem of no beginning, they contend that it is more sensible to believe that a set of physical laws and chemistry govern all of the universe than that there is a being called God who designed, made and governs all of the universe.

The problem of No. 2 is that no one has ever been able to duplicate the origin of life in any form. It is not satisfactory to hypothesize that life just spontaneously evolved from a mix of molecules but not be able to prove that this process will work. And yet that is the dilemma of those holding View No. 2. Moreover, there is hard evidence to refute the entire process of evolution even though those holding the evolutionary view argue for it anyway because they have no alternative except view No. 1. And they refuse to accept view No. 1 for philosophical reasons.

In addition, view No. 2 denies the history of the New Testament which contains accounts of miracles including the most salient one, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If the history of New Testament miracles stands up to scrutiny, then the case for view No. 1 is greatly strengthened. Before dismissing the New Testament miracles as not worthy of belief because they are impossible, remember that both views No. 1 and 2 are impossible by the logic of humans. So rather than dismiss the New Testament miracles out of hand, the importance of this question deserves a careful scrutiny.

It should be pointed out that many very educated and intelligent men over centuries have indeed examined the New Testament miracles and concluded the evidence that indeed they did take place is compelling. The objections raised by opponents are not based on the evidence of history but generally on the prima facie case that the miracles did not happen because they could not have happened.

The bottom line is that the choice of the two views hangs by one line of reasoning on the veracity of the New Testament. A careful, even if critical, study of this is well deserved by any serious person. Reading the New Testament is only a start and from there a careful, reasoned study of corollary evidence is recommended.

It is understandable that one might want to hold an agnostic position on both views. If View 2 is the correct choice, then nothing is required. Indeed, our existence as well as we can tell will end with our lives and nothing we do or don’t do has any effect on this. On the other hand if View 1 is true, then it has profound implications requiring action. A whole set of other questions follow, as below:

Is God a person? Does He have a plan for our lives? Did He indeed send his Son, Jesus Christ to earth? Is the Bible true? Is the eternal existence of man true? What is this existence and can it be influenced by what man does or does not do?

If the answers to these questions is affirmative, then action of the most crucial nature is called for. Failure to take action if View 1 is true could result in eternal destruction as well as a failure to enjoy the fruits of a life in harmony with the Creator of the Universe.

Art thou he that should come?

The coming of the Messiah was long expected. But the manner of His appearance was assumed to be foreshadowed by the pomp and glory of Solomon in all his majesty. Like Solomon, the Messiah would restore the grand kingdom of Israel, and righteousness would again rule in the land.

John the Baptist knew from a child he was to announce the coming of the Messiah and prepare the way by preaching against the rampant sin of the day. He was fearless, naming King Herod as an adulterer for taking his brother’s wife and for that he was arrested and thrown in jail. Languishing there but hearing of Christ who worked miracles and preached widely, John wondered that if the Messiah has truly come would not he have been released and restored? Didn’t justice cry out for John whose only offense was the condemnation of sin? Where was this Messiah, his distant cousin who demonstrated the power to heal the blind, the crippled, and preached the gospel of the forgiveness of sin?

So from prison, he sent his visitors with the message, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matt 11;3) Is it any wonder that even the faith of John the Baptist should be strained in such dire circumstances? Does God condemn us if our faith falters in perilous situations?

Indeed, here is a lesson. The work of God is frequently past our understanding. His timing is seldom the same as ours. Even the drastic outcome of events can seem to be beyond the will of God. And our faith might well be tested by the train of events.

The Messiah sent word to John to keep the faith but the Baptist continued languishing in prison until one day, Herod’s new wife induced the King to present her the head of John. His execution was carried out immediately.

John the Baptist died not knowing that the Messiah himself would also be executed soon after. But he died in faith that the coming of the Messiah though different than expected, secured John’s salvation as well as all others who cling to faith in His name.

Praying specifically

Should we be specific in our requests to God? There are those who say that if we are not specific it is because we do not have faith in God. Is this so?

There are some prayers that should be specific such as praying for forgiveness from God for sin in our lives. We should pray specifically for lacks of virtue in our lives. We should pray for God to deliver us from temptation.

But what about specific things in the secular domain? Say there is a situation in someone’s life that indicates a need. Should we lift that person up in prayer and ask God to intervene? Yes, but should we then start explaining to God how He should intervene? No. It is enough to intercede for someone by calling upon the Lord to undertake in circumstances. Usually, personal situations are so complex and the number of possible outcomes so varied that it is not within our wisdom to know what specifically should be done. It is not a lack of faith if we do not pray specifically. In fact, it honors our Heavenly father more to acknowledge His power, His love and admit our ignorance and simply leave with Him the situation with confidence that He WILL work. But His work will be in His time, in His way and we might not even see the outcome ourselves.

How utterly powerful is that promise given us by the Lord through Paul in his letter to the Philippians 4:16,17. “Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” A few points contained in this great command with promise… We should fret for nothing. We should lift everything to God in prayer and thanksgiving in advance for His interest and concern. And we should put as a matter of the will, our fears aside. God shall keep give us peace of mind and quiet hearts. What a tremendous concept to get a grip on in our prayer life.

God wants us to be joyful and have peace. Situations that are heavy can weigh upon our hearts and sap the joy and peace from us. These situations should be identified and handed over to our Heavenly Father. This is done as an act of our will, not emotion. Then, as an act of the will we should refuse to allow our minds to fret further. Any recurrence of worry should be met with reminding ourselves that we have given the situation to our Heavenly Father and we should thank Him that we know He is trustworthy.

Here are some things about our attitude toward God that I think are important in prayer. We must first be convinced that God is able to answer prayer. We have to believe that He has the power and the ability to affect matters in a positive way. It is good to spend time meditating on Him as creator of the universe. Think about how vast is the universe and then reflect on the power it would take to create this and keep it in existence.

Then it is important to think about God’s goodness and concern for us. If we do not believe that He cares, it is difficult to have faith that moves mountains. Think on the scriptures that speak of God’s knowledge of our lives and of His interest in us. There are many scriptures that speak to this but one that is very powerful is Romans 8;32, “He that spared not his own son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”

Thinking on these two ideas, God’s power and God’s goodwill toward us is how we come to a place of faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (See Rom 10;17). When we are convinced of God’s ability and when we are convinced of his willingness to answer our prayer, we then need to think on His promise. See that verse above in Romans 8;32. God shall freely give us all things. Does this promise apply only if we live a perfect life? The verse doesn’t say that, does it? Does this promise apply only if we have earned it? The verse says “freely give.” That means we don’t have to deserve it. It is our enemy, Satan who will tell us that the promise is conditional on how much we deserve it. Satan wants us to believe that because he knows none of us deserve any favor from God and if we believe Satan’s lie, we will not have faith. But the promise says that if God would give His only Son for us, He will freely give us all things.

When we have come to this place of faith, then we can place our situation in the hands of God and know that He WILL answer. But remember. It can be a mistake to tell God exactly what and exactly how and exactly when the answer to our prayer must be. We need to see that He knows all things already, he sees the end point when we cannot. And He is willing to undertake for us. We must place our situation in His hands and then refuse to worry as a matter of the will. This is His command to us and if we do this we will have peace of mind.

And best of all, God is honored by this attitude and will answer our prayer. Will the answer be exactly what we think is needed? Will it happen exactly when we think it should? Not likely, because God has plans for us that we know nothing about and will find out about only when He is ready.

But He is able and He does care for us. And he will answer.

True Happiness

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

It’s not so much a place as a relationship. Eternal life is a relationship with the eternal God. And it is not only possible but the only source of true happiness. We can find it in the here and now because we can know God in the here and now. What a concept! Could there be anything more important than knowing God?

The first disciples forsook all and followed Jesus. There is a real sense in which we should do likewise. Of course, we must make a living. Of course, we must be occupied with getting by day by day with all the things that attend life on this earth. But there is a sense in which we can and should forsake all and follow Jesus. Not his teaching, not his rules. But Him.

Seek to know him for therein is the secret of happiness. Everything else is dung, said the apostle Paul. Paul declared his life objective to be the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. (Philippians 3)

The psalmist declared, “In thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures forever more.” (Psalms 16:11) Have you experienced this? I can tell you, it is worth pursuing. After 50 years as a Christian, I can say without equivocation, this is the key to life. Nothing else will satisfy like the presence of God. To know Him is indeed eternal life and I recommend it in the strongest terms.

He saved others…

calvary-282x197“He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” (Matthew 27:42)

So taunted the persecutors of the Lord Jesus Christ as he hung on the cross, surrounded by Roman soldiers, Jewish leaders, onlookers and a few of his followers from a distance. They flung in his face, His helplessness. He had healed many of sicknesses, made the lame walk and the blind see. He had even raised the dead. But He could not, He would not, come down from the cross.

Why not? Certainly, being God, He had the power to do so. Was He just trying for sympathy? No, He needs not our sympathy. Was He engaged in symbolism? No, Christ was not a showman. Why then did He endure such agony and humiliation?

He had to. The scribes were right. Their taunt was more true than they realized. He could not save Himself and still save us.

For indeed, if Christ saved himself from the penalty of their sin, they nor we could not be saved.

For you see, they and we are under a curse. The sin which we inherited and practice in our lives brings us under the curse of death. No amount of effort on our part; no good works are enough to satisfy the penalty for our waywardness. Our God’s standard is so high that only death will pay for its violation. The apostle Paul said it well in his letter to the church at Rome, “…the wages of sin is death.”

Jesus Christ endured the same temptation we all face everyday but lived a life without sin. Being the Son of God, He was able to die for the sins of the world because He had none of His own to die for. This is the substitutionary death that makes it possible for us to be justified before God. Without this substitutionary death of Christ, we must pay for our sin with our own death. Christ made the choice to give up His life in order that we might live. What great love! What an incomprehensible thing He did. And we are free from the penalty of our sin merely by counting upon His death for us.

By His resurrection from the grave, He proved that He is indeed who He claimed to be, the Son of God. What great assurance we can have of eternal life knowing that His death paid for every sin we ever committed.



Why Pray?

If God already knows what we need, why do we need to tell Him? If He wants us to pray “Thy will be done” then why ask? If He already knows the outcome in advance, why worry Him with our issues?

These are all good and reasonable questions from our standpoint. And yet the Word of God teaches us to “pray without ceasing.” And the Bible is full of examples of prayer and admonitions to pray. What’s the point?

Well, our Heavenly Father wants our worship. “The Father seeketh such to worship Him.”  If we didn’t have needs, He probably would never hear from us. So, in His great wisdom, He has made us a part of his grand program by the means of prayer. If we don’t pray, will it matter? Yes, indeed. We are told by the apostle James, “…ye have not, because ye ask not.” God definitely wants us to ask Him for our needs.

It is a good idea to just put our needs before Him and not get into telling Him how to go about answering. My experience is that God seldom answers prayer in the exact manner I think it should be answered. He always surprises me and after the dust settles, I find that His way really was the best way. It is important when praying to take the position mentally, that God does hear and that He will answer. It’s ok if we feel doubtful but we need to tell God that we are taking as a matter of the will, the position that He will answer. He will honor that attitude. But it is better not to set up specific expectations on the timing and the particular way that He will respond. That’s where “Thy will be done” comes in.  Seek a position mentally that you want only what God wants. That involves a mental surrender but it is important in achieving the sincere attitude of “Thy will be done.”

God really does care. He really can do. He is not an unwilling Father but one who loves us, wants our best, knows what is best and it is a big step in our spiritual growth to accept this and be glad  for it. Then we will know why we pray.

What happened to hell?

It’s something you don’t hear preached about anymore. There seems to be a notion that the gospel is more about how you can succeed here on earth. You could believe from the things many Christians discuss about their faith that it is just another formula for how to live a successful life. Happiness is assumed to be everyone’s heritage and being a Christian is the way to attain it. We are told to take our problems to Jesus.

One gets the idea that God is really a super “genie in the bottle” kind of being. He exists so that we can have a nice life and all our troubles are for Him to take care of for us. We do the best we can and He is there in the background to bail us out when things go wrong or life gets tough. Jesus is our comforter, our helper, He understands and doesn’t condemn us.  Find in the scriptures the many promises of God to undertake for our needs.

There is more than one thing wrong with this concept but for this article, the absence of hell is my focus.

Not much is said about sin, as if it’s an outdated concept. Being a Christian means God loving us, whoever we are and whatever we are. He sees our faults and overlooks them. No one’s perfect yet. Don’t judge me, I’m a work in progress. Just do the best you can and everything will be ok.

But in this current notion of Christianity, something has been overlooked. We have forgotten what the gospel is really all about. We have forgotten that Jesus himself said that “Narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it.” We skip over his words, “Repent or you shall all likewise perish.” When he was asked by one of the apostles, “Are there many saved?”, his answer was that many will seek to enter in and shall not be able. Nobody takes that seriously anymore.

We have forgotten that the game of life is not played for success on earth but for eternity. It is not trying to get God to do for us here and now but for eternity. The gospel is not a ticket to earthly happiness. Yes, a true understanding of the gospel can produce earthly happiness. But the real issue that Jesus spoke of so many times is entering into a heavenly kingdom and avoiding eternal damnation.



“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:6)

It depends on how you calculate it but most estimates say that divorces are now about 50% of marriages in the U.S.

But I’m amazed that it isn’t higher. After all, think about it. When you get married you really do not know what you are getting. And neither does your partner. None of us know what we will be like when the vastly diverse circumstances of life hit us, much less our new spouse. We all become someone different than who we were in our youth because of the events and things that happen to us. Death, illness, poverty, failure and even success, all make changes in us.

We all thought we were getting someone who would make our lives better. This will sound radical but I would argue that no marriages start with true love but rather a selfish love. That’s just human nature. In my opinion, no one gets married for what it can do for their partner. They get married for what it can do for themselves. Down deep, isn’t that the reality? And does that sound like real love?

Real love develops only as two people learn to put the other first. Real love is not a matter of emotion as much as it is a matter of the will. As we will to do best for our partner, real love begins to blossom.

What makes a marriage last is true love. But that true love is not emotion as much as it is the will for the other party’s well being. Then, as we put the other person first, our emotional part begins to kick in and in time, we find that we have a deeper feeling of love that overcomes all.

This is what makes marriage work.

My own heart has been broken for those in my family who have suffered so much in broken marriage. But I rejoice that they have learned God can use even this to change our lives for the better as we put Him first.