Daily Devotional – Known Fruit

Is Judging Always Wrong? - FaithGateway

AMP and RVR 1960 


CONTEXT:

The other day I was watching some political commentary on TV about the upcoming election. There were two participants in the discussion (plus the host) one a syndicated conservative commentator himself and the other a former chief aid to Chuck Shumer. 

Somehow the subject matter got around to abortion and the conservative made a remark something to the effect ‘VP Biden calls himself a Catholic but supports Abortion on demand’ to which the former Schumer aid responded; ‘How dare you question Mr. Biden’s Faith.’

I had two immediate observations: 1) He (the Schumer aid, sidestepped answering the question and 2) He (a non-believer I think) immediately imposed Matthew 7:1-5 upon the the other guy. 

Since I have Previously posted on Matthew 7:1-5, Is Judgment Always Forbidden?,The Most Popular Bible Verse Among Unbelievers, The Whole Counsel of God;  suffice it to say that Biblical Judgement (Discernment) is warranted  at all times and Mr. Schumer’s former aid should know better than to try and deflect answers. 

I will concentrate today instead on a much neglected (my opinion) aspect of our faith, that is How can we tell if someone is saved or not?

Most Bibles are sectioned off somewhat around Matthew 7:15-20 with a Heading of A Tree and Its Fruit. Here the theme is knowing the difference between TRUE FOLLOWERS and FALSE PROPHETS, we will know both by the fruit or works of God they bear. 


BREAKDOWN:

Ye shall – In v.15 Jesus said theses False Prophets would disguise themselves as gentle, innocent sheep. But YOU can see through their camouflage and distractions. 

know them by their fruits. – All false prophets lack Good Fruit. Oh they got fruit, it is just rotten to the core. It goes against the very Word of God. 

Do men gather – When you are hungry Physically or Spiritually, mankind will gather almost anything to eat. 

grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? – But even the most suborn and foolish should know enough that while Grapes and Figs are Good to eat, the little berries found on thorn and thistle bushes are not. Yet false prophets will lead men to these time and again. 


APPLICATION:

Thistles and Thorns can never never produce fruit, it is not in their nature. The same is true for those who claim to be children of God but are just great pretenders or as Jesus said Wolves in Cheeps Clothing. 

Is our “Judging” others Faith Biblical and Important? In a word YES! James dedicates most of Chapter 2:14-26 to the subject. Someone can claim to be whatever they want, in my example above Joe Biden claims to be a practicing Catholic but is pro-abortion, but if their lives (Fruits) do not bare witness to that claim they are Liars and False Prophets.  

The Apostle John in his 1st Epistle 2:3-6 makes the same point only this time with an inward focus. Are we really children of God that we claim? Are we working for the Kingdom or our own Glory? 

As always we need to take in the Whole Counsel of God and no go off half Cocked and start accusing and aggressively pointing fingers at everyone claiming they are False Prophets. Matthew 7 is part of the Sermon on the Mount and earlier in that Sermon Jesus said  “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the [b]gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth. 

The Bible clearly teaches we need to be bold and point out the false prophets but doing so with a gentle spirit of humility that shows Christ in us. We need only the Word of God to be our weapon of choice and we need only use it in a manner that mortally wounds the sin while bringing peace to man. 

What type of Fruit are you known by?

 

Saturday’s Military Devotional – Hungry and Thirsty

Logos.com

AMP and RVR 1960


CONTEXT:

AT first glance this may not seem the most logical verse for a “Military” devotional but bear with me through the next two sections and I hope I can convince you otherwise.

We have here a verse from the great text known by two distinct names. First it is part of the “Sermon on the Mount” , Matthew 5-7, which Jesus preached from a mountaintop for the first time educating the larger audience and not just his immediate disciples. 

It is also part of the sermon know as the “Beatitudes” , Matthew 5:3-11,  as each verse begins with “B”lessed. 


BREAKDOWN:

Blessed are they – I keep looking for them, but have yet to find that person who says “yes sir I get up every morning and pray I will be cursed.” That would be nuts, folks want to be BLESSED, and here in these Beatitudes Jesus tells us how we can be. 

which do hunger and thirst –  I dare say that all of us have been there done that. I mean at some point in our lives we have been hungry or thirsty. Whether it was self imposed or forced upon us in some manner we have all experienced it.  So you understand the craving the deep desire to fill the need for food and drink that Jesus is referring to here. 

after righteousness: – Yet Jesus is not speaking of the physical needs of man, that would be too simple to accomplish. (Do not lecture me on the staving of the world, if society as a whole was not depraved and corrupt, we could fix that quickly). Jesus was speaking of eternal hunger and thirst

for they shall be filled. –  This life and the nourishment thereof is only temporary, eventually we all die and then eternity in Heaven or Hell kicks in. Jesus is says which is more filling the stuff of the world or God?  

 


APPLICATION:

We all need physical nourishment to survive. When I was on active duty, back in the day MRE’s had like 3000+ calories or some crazy thing. The thought was if a soldier only got one a day they were good to go. Well anyone who serves(d) knows first most MRE’s suck, and “one a day” is a vitamin not a daily meal count. We need more to survive and be combat ready and efficient. 

The same holds true for God and or future.  Here in this verse Jesus is saying what nourishment for your eternal future are you eating daily? Are you reading His Word? Are You fellowshiping with like-minded believers? Are you propagating the kingdom by sharing the Gospel message? In others words are you Filling your Spiritual Bellies

 


Today’s Questions:

Say What?

Observation: What did I read? What struck you as most meaningful?

So What?

Interpretation: What does it mean? Overall and the most meaningful? Did it change your view on being HUNGRY and THIRSTY?  

Now What?

Application: How does it apply to me?

Then What?

Implementation: What do I do? How can I start living it out today?


OTHER RESOURCES:

Check out the series on our website: Daily Devotional – The Beatitudes by Thomas Watson Part by typing in the search box. 

 

Dealing with difficult people?

Question: “What does the Bible say about dealing with difficult people?

Answer: We all know people whom we find “difficult” in one way or another, and we’re all called upon to deal with difficult people at some time or another. A difficult person may be one who is condescending, argumentative, belligerent, selfish, flippant, obtuse, or simply rude. Difficult people seem to know just how to “push one’s buttons” and stir up trouble. Dealing with difficult people becomes an exercise in patience, love, and grace.

Our response to difficult people should model the examples provided by Jesus, for He surely dealt with many difficult people during His time here on earth. In His interactions with difficult people Jesus never displayed an attitude of harsh superiority or dismissive pride; rather, He showed authority under control. He used rebuke when necessary (John 8:47), but He also dealt with difficult people by remaining silent (John 8:6), asking questions (Mark 11:28–29), pointing them to Scripture (Mark 10:2–3), and telling a story (Luke 7:40–42).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was quite specific about dealing with difficult people in love and humility: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:27–31). We must never give tit for tat: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

In dealing with difficult people, we must guard against pride. It is important to recall the admonition given by the apostle Paul in Romans 12:3: “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you” (see also Philippians 2:3–4). So, when we know we must deal with a difficult person, we approach the situation in meekness. Love is also key: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:14). We are to show God’s love to everyone—including difficult people.

The book of Proverbs provides much wisdom in dealing with difficult people. Proverbs 12:16 promotes patience in our relationships: “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” Proverbs 20:3 commends peace-making: “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 10:12 encourages love: “Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” Proverbs 17:14 values foresight and deference: “Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.” If possible, it might be best to avoid the situation altogether by choosing carefully whom we associate with: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered” (Proverbs 22:24).

Dealing with difficult people is unavoidable. When we deal with difficult people, it’s easy to respond in the flesh. But that just brings out the worst in us. How much better to allow our dealings with difficult people to bring out the fruit of the Spirit in us (Galatians 5:22–23)! By the grace of God, may we deal with difficult people in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and—to top it all off—self-control. May we extend the same love, grace, and mercy that God extended to us. And may we be careful not to become the “difficult people” ourselves!

Recommended Resource: Who’s Pushing Your Buttons? Handling the Difficult People in Your Life by Dr. John Townsend

“What is the Golden Rule?”

Question: “What is the Golden Rule?”

Answer: The “Golden Rule” is the name given to a principle Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount. The actual words “Golden Rule” are not found in Scripture, just as the words “Sermon on the Mount” are also not found. These titles were later added by Bible translation teams in order to make Bible study a little easier. The phrase “Golden Rule” began to be ascribed to this teaching of Jesus during the 16th–17th centuries.

What we call the Golden Rule refers to Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus knew the human heart and its selfishness. In fact, in the preceding verse, He describes human beings as innately “evil” (verse 11). Jesus’ Golden Rule gives us a standard by which naturally selfish people can gauge their actions: actively treat others the way they themselves like to be treated.

The English Standard Version translates the Golden Rule like this: “Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus brilliantly condenses the entire Old Testament into this single principle, taken from Leviticus 19:18: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” Again, we see the implication that people are naturally lovers of self, and the command uses that human flaw as a place to start in how to treat others.

People universally demand respect, love, and appreciation, whether they deserve it or not. Jesus understood this desire and used it to promote godly behavior. Do you want to be shown respect? Then respect others. Do you crave a kind word? Then speak words of kindness to others. “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The Golden Rule is also part of the second greatest commandment, preceded only by the command to love God Himself (Matthew 22:37–39).

What is interesting to note about the Golden Rule is that no other religious or philosophical system has its equal. Jesus’ Golden Rule is not the “ethic of reciprocity” so commonly espoused by non-Christian moralists. Frequently, liberal critics and secular humanists attempt to explain away the uniqueness of the Golden Rule, saying it is a common ethic shared by all religions. This is not the case. Jesus’ command has a subtle, but very important, difference. A quick survey of the sayings of Eastern religions will make this plain:

• Confucianism: “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you” (Analects 15:23)
• Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you” (Mahabharata 5:1517)
• Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” (Udanavarga 5:18)

These sayings are similar to the Golden Rule but are stated negatively and rely on passivity. Jesus’ Golden Rule is a positive command to show love proactively. The Eastern religions say, “Refrain from doing”; Jesus says, “Do!” The Eastern religions say it is enough to hold your negative behavior in check; Jesus says to look for ways to act positively. Because of the “inverted” nature of the non-Christian sayings, they have been described as the “silver rule.”

Some have accused Jesus of “borrowing” the idea of the Golden Rule from the Eastern religions. However, the texts for Confucianism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, cited above, were all written between 500 and 400 BC, at the earliest. Jesus takes the Golden Rule from Leviticus, written about 1450 BC. So, Jesus’ source for the Golden Rule predates the “silver rule” by about 1,000 years. Who “borrowed” from whom?

The command to love is what separates the Christian ethic from every other religion’s ethic. In fact, the Bible’s championing of love includes the radical command to love even one’s enemies (Matthew 5:43–44; cf. Exodus 23:4–5). This is unheard of in other religions.

Obeying the Christian imperative to love others is a mark of a true Christian (John 13:35). In fact, Christians cannot claim to love God if they don’t actively love other people as well. “If someone says, ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). The Golden Rule encapsulates this idea and is unique to the Judeo-Christian Scriptures.

Recommended Resource: Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: And His Confrontation with the World by D.A. Carson

Biblical Contentment

Logos.com

This may seem like a strange verse to begin a look at biblical contentment but I think it captures the essence of what it is not. So first let us look at what it should be.

Contentment is usually considered being “in a state of happiness and satisfaction.¹”  Interestingly in a “2017 Harris Poll Survey of American Happiness, shared exclusively with TIME; only 33% of Americans surveyed said they were happy.²

What makes this number so dismal is the fact that as we have noted in the past depending on who’s poll numbers you use (and that depends on what year 2015 or 2017) between 70% and 75% of Americas self identify as Christians³. The conclusion is simple and unavoidable, many of the Harris Poll participants who responded as unhappy, had to also self identify as Christians.

Haggai 1:6 there are many reasons for this unhappiness in America and it begins with the same problem Israel had as a nation. Yes, we have turned our backs on the Lord and He (in my humble opinion) has lifted His hand of divine providence from this nation. We are more and more going to a two tier or class system of folks, the have and have not’s. We have rich and plentiful fields to plant yet harvest little, we had factories and jobs galore greed sent them overseas. We eat and drink gluttonous like and are never satisfied. Then there are the Have not’s (I am not talking beggars here) who are the working poor of this nation, scraping by paycheck to paycheck hoping to to somehow not get evicted and to have food to feed the kids. 

What is the problem? “In God We Trust” means nothing! Even the so called Christian majority in the country, fail to call upon, depend upon and be content upon the sovereign God of the Universe. 

So what is Biblical Contentment. First we must accept that God is truly in control of all things. Without that you WILL NOT and CAN NOT have contentment in this life. Biblical Contentment is being satisfied with what God has given us materially, spiritually and physically. In other words what we have, do and the path we are on. 

Jesus in His sermon on the mount tells us to be content, Matthew 6:25 (ESV) “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” He continues this thought in verses 32-33 when He describes that true contentment is not found in earthly or human things but in those of heaven. 

One of the greatest testimonies in the Bible of contentment is the Apostle Paul’s in the Book of Philippians 4:10-13:

 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Paul at this time is locked in a Roman prison yet He is content knowing God is sovereign, totally in control of the situation and nothing outside His will is going to happen to him. Paul understood what the write of Hebrews put in ink (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

I could go on but suffice it to say if you self identify as a “Christian” there is NO EXCUSE for you not to also self-identify as Biblically Content.

 

¹ = Contentment 

²= Harris Poll 

³ = Gallup Poll