Friday, July 21, 2017

The Bible on Celebrities and Suicide?

Chester Bennington, lead singer of the band Linkin Park, who sold over 70 million albums, died of suicide at the age of 41. Chris Cornell, lead singer of the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. He hung himself at the age of 52.

Story after story of rock stars who killed themselves or say they struggle daily with depression show that fame and fortune, attention and admiration, do not lead to happiness.

The wise King Solomon wrote, "I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind. What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted" (Ecclesiastes 1:14-15).

"He who loves money will not be satisfied, nor he who loves wealth; this is also vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes?" (Ecclesiastes 5:10-11)

"There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing in all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil" (Ecclesiastes 6:1-2).

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Matthew 5:6). "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," and all the things you need will be added to you (Matthew 6:33).

"Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:29-30), when we understand the text.

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Study Shows Prayer Doesn't Work?

According to a story in The New York Times, "Prayer by strangers had no effect on the recovery of people who were undergoing heart surgery, a large and long-awaited study has found."

The study was conducted for nearly a decade, involving more than 1,800 patients. Whether or not the patients were prayed for, or even if they knew they were being prayed for, it did not speed up their recovery.

It's one of the most popular studies skeptics have used to say, "See? Prayer doesn't work!" But those skeptics, and those who conducted this study, don't understand how prayer works. There are qualifications for prayer.

Psalm 66:18, "If I'd cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened to my prayer." James 4:3, you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly. John 14:6 says that Jesus is the only way to the Father, and 1 Timothy 2:5 says he's the only mediator between God and man. So prayers to Mary or a false version of God are not received. We are to pray in Jesus name.
"The researchers asked the members of three congregations -- St. Paul's Monastery in St. Paul; the Community of Teresian Carmelites in Worcester, MA; and Silent Unity, a Missouri [New Thought] prayer ministry near Kansas City -- to deliver the prayers, using the patients' first names and the first initials of their last names," the Times reported. It's of little wonder to the Bible-believing Christian why their prayers didn't work!

But even then, the Bible does not promise that God will grant a person's wishes. The Apostle Paul prayed three times for the Lord to take away what was tormenting him. But God replied, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Paul said he would boast all the more gladly of his weaknesses, content with hardships insults, and persecutions, so the power of Christ would rest upon Him. Prayer works for God's glory before it's for our benefit. With thanksgiving to the Lord let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of Christ will come to you (Philippians 4:4-9) when we understand the text.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The REAL Reason God Destroyed Sodom?

Matthew Vines is the founder of The Reformation Project, which has nothing to do with the protestant reformation. It's an attempt to "reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity." Vines authored a book entitled God and the Gay Christian in which he attempts to argue that God is actually for homosexuality.

In his reinvention of the text, he says that Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed because of same-sex fornication. The men of Sodom wanted to have sex with the two angels who came to rescue Lot from the wrath of God upon the city. But this was a threatened gang-rape.
"God sends two angels disguised as men into the City of Sodom where the men of Sodom threatened to rape them. The angels blind the men, and God destroys the city. For centuries, this story was interpreted as God's judgment on same-sex relations, but the only form of same-sex behavior described is a threatened gang rape." Matthew Vines, from the video God and the Gay Christian: the Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Marriage

Vines says the real reason Sodom was destroyed is given in Ezekiel 16:49, which reads, "Now, this was the sin of your sister, Sodom. She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned, they did not help the poor and needy." So even though Vines acknowledges the Sodomites wanted to rape visitors, he still insists Sodom was destroyed because they didn't invite the angels to dinner.

Ezekiel 16 is one of the most shocking chapters of Scripture with its use of sexually explicit language. Jerusalem was unfaithful to God who labeled the city a promiscuous whore. In addition to being prideful and uncharitable, God said Jerusalem was guilty of all Sodom's abominations, having at one point employed male prostitutes (1 Kings 14:24).
"And your elder sister is Samaria, who lived with her daughters to the north of you; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you, is Sodom with her daughters. Not only did you walk in their ways and do according to their abominations; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways. As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it." Ezekiel 16:45-50

So that passage really doesn't work in Vines' favor. He also ignores other passages like in Jeremiah and Jude that mention the sexual and unnatural desire of the infamous Sodomites.
"...Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire." Jude 1:7

"But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah." Jeremiah 23:14

According to the Bible, homosexuality is a serious sin worthy of the wrath of God. But it's not an unforgivable sin. Those who repent will be washed, sanctified, justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God, when we understand the text.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

How to Stop Looking at Porn?

If you watch porn, and know you need to stop looking at nude people and masturbating to them, there's a simple solution for ending this lurid obsession with the flesh. You won't have to take notes or remember some cutesy acronym. Here it is: Stop looking at porn.

It's that simple, and you know it. You know what you're doing is evil. God hates it. Have you not read that He will judge all the sexually immoral and throw them in the lake of fire? (Revelation 21:8) Is porn and masturbating really so important that you would risk going to hell for it?

God forbid you've become so enslaved by your lust you don't even think it's wrong anymore. "It's harmless," you say. "It's not actually sex. The Bible doesn't say anything about masturbating. It's not actually adultery." (See Matthew 5:27-28.)

If that's your attitude, perhaps God's already turned you over to a debased mind to be destroyed by your passions. You've suppressed the truth with unrighteousness. God have mercy on you. (See Romans 1:18-25.)

But if there's part of you by the Holy Spirit of God that is convicted over this, then stop! The Bible says, "Flee from sexual immorality" (1 Timothy 6:18). Not go through five stages, not enter a program. Get away from it. "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart" (2 Timothy 2:22). And the devil will flee from you!

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts you double minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep" (James 4:7-10). Beg for God's forgiveness, ask for the mind of Christ, and He will deliver you from your sin, when we understand the text.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What is Sexual Immorality?

The Bible says those who practice sexual immorality will not inherit the kingdom of God, but will be cast into eternal fire.
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

"Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21

"But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." Revelation 21:8 
What is sexual immorality? It is translated from the Greek word porneia, which means fornication. The Bible uses the word for any kind of sexual desire outside of the covenant of marriage between a husband and wife, for whom God designed sex, that they may be one flesh.

Since God created sex, He gets to define it. So any kind of sex outside of His definition of marriage is immoral and idolatrous: pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexuality, porn, and masturbation, since sex is not intended for one person, but a husband and wife. Jesus said if a man lusts after a woman he has committed adultery in his heart (Matthew 5:27-18).

The culture will say sex is okay as long as two people love each other, but causing someone else to sin isn't loving. We read in 1 Corinthians 7:2, "Because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband." When sex is enjoyed between a husband and a wife, they protect one another from sinning.

In a list of sins, sexual immorality is often at the top (ex, Mark 7:21-23, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 13:13, Galatians 5:19-21, Colossians 3:5-9). There is a uniqueness to sexual sin that makes it unlike any other kind of sin.

Every other sin is committed outside the body, but sexual sins are committed against the body. It is self-destruction, desecrating that which was made in God's image. The body is for the Lord, and for those united with Christ, sexual immorality dishonors that union, defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit, and is likened to sleeping with prostitutes.
"The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, 'The two will become one flesh.' But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." 1 Corinthians 6:13-20
Hebrews 13:4 says, "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous." Ephesians 5:3 says, "But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints," when we understand the text.