Commands & Promises

I owe my readers an apology and explanation for the hiatus I’ve taken from this blog.  I am truly sorry, but it’s not that I haven’t thought a lot about it.  Rather, I simply have not been given the words to deal with what I have been thinking about.  Maybe, it was writer’s block; maybe, I was thinking about the wrong things, or most likely it was simply, …wrong thinking.  Today, as my wife and I were doing our morning devotions, things changed.

13If you carefully obey all the commands I am giving you today, and if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul, and if you worship him, 14then he will send the  rains in their proper seasons so you can harvest crops of grain, grapes for wine, and olives for oil. 15He will give you lush pastureland for your cattle to graze in, and you yourselves will have penty to eat.

22Be careful to obey all the commands I give you; show love to the Lord your God by walking in his ways and clinging to him.  23Then the Lord will drive out all the nations in your land, though they are much greater and stronger than you.  (Deuteronomy 11:13-15, 22-23, NLT)

Yes, this is Old Testament, and thus, many people tend to discount it. Please do not make that mistake.  These are God’s words to His people, through Moses.  And in the New Testament, Paul tells us in Galatians 3:26-29, that which God promised the Jews in the Old Testament applies to us as the adopted sons and daughters of God.

26So you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have been made like him.  28There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female.  For you are one in Christ Jesus.  29And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham.  You arehis heirs.  And now all the promises God gave to him belong to you.  (NLT)

This morning as I read God’s words ringing down from the Old Testament, they brought me an understanding that had escaped me for weeks.  You see, I have been adrift in concerns that are, in reality, not mine. The political scene had captured my attention, as it is wont to do – too often.  Specifically, the Affordable Health Care plan, and (especially) the debate on gay marriage had me going round and round to no effect.

Let me try to pull all my thoughts together for you.  But before I can do that, I need to give you some facts to keep in mind. 

  1. God gave us free will.  Thus our life (in all repects) is determined by the decisions we make.
  2. We are eternal beings.  For the moment we reside on God’s creation, planet Earth.  After death, we will either reside in the presence of God (Heaven) or in the total absence of God (Hell). 
  3. What determines where we will spend eternity is the choice we individually make as to whether or not we will accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, when He calls us.
  4. This decision is 100% voluntary.  Period. 
  5. God is on His throne.  God’s plan for mankind will come to fruition – and Satan, try as he might, will not change that.  In the meantime, can Satan create problems and take many people with him to eternal damnation?  Yes! Does this hurt God?  Yes!  How long will God let it continue?  Good question.  No, excellent question! The answer is, we don’t know.  (See Matthew 24:36).  If you ask me how much time I think we have left, I can only answer, “Less time than we had yesterday …or even an hour ago”.
  6. There is a difference between civil law and God’s Law.  Jesus recognized this when some Pharisees questioned Him about paying taxes to Caesar.  He asked them to bring Him a coin that was used to pay the taxes.  When they handed Him the coin He asked them, “Whose picture and title are stamped on it?”  They answered, “Caesar’s”; and Jesus said, “Well then give to Caesar what belongs to him.  But everthing that belongs to God must be given to God.”  (Matthew 22:15…22, NLT)

With that background let’s look back to the scripture from Deuteronomy. These scriptures are part of the promises God gave to the people of Israel (through Moses) – prior to their entry into the Promised Land.  God was making it very clear to them that as long as they followed His commandments and trusted in Him, He would in turn provide for their needs and (a separate promise) assure the establishment of their nation.  Pretty straight forward and very important.  And, we know they apply to us.

So, I am an heir to both commands and promises.  I get it – but what do I do with it?  Actually, that’s not too difficult.  First I claim the promises as my own.  In my talk with Jesus I tell Him that I am aware of this promise and what is required of me.  I  ask forgiveness for those times I’ve cheated Him by not giving Him my “all”.  I ask for help in recognizing when I’m putting other things before Him in my life.  And, I let Him know that I want to do better.  Then, I thank Him for providing for my needs even though I don’t deserve it.

Continuing on, it seems very obvious to me that we – as a nation – are growing farther and farther from God’s Commandments and Laws.  We are moving out of His will.  How will God respond?  Most of the examples in the Bible would indicate, NOT WELL for the long-term prospects of our nation. 

So, my major concerns with the Affordable Healthcare Plan are: first, it will put a tremendous strain on medical man-power services beginning next year.  Second, the financial cost will be staggering.  But, both concerns are something I have zero control over.  Worrying about it is the same as telling God I don’t trust Him to take care of me. I’ve claimed Gods promises and I simply need to trust Him.  Sounds like the easy way out, doesn’t it?  Well, it’s not always easy; but it is the way out.  Our worries keep us in chains.  Get rid of those chains and praise God every day for your freedom.

Homosexuality and gay marriage – is a complex issue.  And my solution for dealing with this is to remember the separation between civil law and God’s Law. 

I do not, can not, approve of the homosexual lifestyle.  But, neither am I a bigot.  I do not treat homosexuals with hatred or intolerance.  I am learning to accept all people as they are.  (It’s a big part of that “me and God… it’s a process”).  I have met, worked with, socialized with, and called gays and lesbians my friend. So, if sexual orientation is what makes them different, consider this.  I’m a heterosexual; and, I have to tell you, I did not keep my heterosexual lifestyle free of sin.  So, does God see sexual sin differently if it’s between a man and a woman than He does if it’s between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman?  Last I knew, sin is sin. Period.  Gays and straights, …it seems to me there is NO difference in our ability to commit sexual sin.  That tends to make it easier for me to follow Gods commandment to love others, in this case homosexuals.  Nor do I recall God making it an option.

Actually, I can understand gays wanting the same freedoms and benefits guaranteed to other U.S. citizens.  But, I also find myself unable to support it because it violates God’s sacrament of marriage.  I also know marriage is obviously very important to God.  For example, He refers to the church (meaning us) as His bride.  (Try wrapping your mind around that.)

And now it looks to me like it’s only a matter of time before homosexual marriage becomes the law of the land.  Would making all homosexual “marriages” purely civil unions solve this dilemma?  Legally, under civil law, absolutely.  Will it satisfy the gay community?  I don’t know.  I would hope so.  Would it satisfy God?  Not that I can see.  (A civil marriage would do nothing to change their “sin status”).  Would some Christian ministers officiate gay marriages? Yes, at least they have in the past.  (No, I don’t know how they justify this).

One aspect both of these issues have in common is the potential to test to, and perhaps beyond, the limits of the First Amendment of our Constitution. 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …. (Italics mine, Avery)

I have seen our government ignore First Amendment rights with aplomb. For instance, trying to intimidate and otherwise coerce people who have religious/moral objections, into providing certain drugs or medical procedures.  At the very least people who refused to provide abortions, distribute the morning after pill, or prophylactics were marginalized by being labeled intolerant, out of touch, and bigoted. Will the government try to force churches into sanctioning and/or performing gay marriages?  It wouldn’t surprise me.  The argument would be that said churches are denying gay couples a basic right enjoyed by all other US citizens.

It’s just something else I will leave in the hands of God.  But, if He asks me, I will fight in whatever way I can to protect the First Amendment to our Constitution.  One thing I can do right now, is to find and send people who will represent my values to Capital Hill. I’m finding there aren’t many of them in the pool of “politicians”. So sometimes I just have to hold my nose and pick the best of the lot. 

I’m pretty sure this post will be criticized, in some cases rather spectacularly.  Some will ask how I can side with homosexuals.  My answer is, the only one I’m siding with is God.  He commands me to love – not judge.  And certainly not to drive homosexuals, or anyone else, away from Him. 

This I know, the only way homosexuals will come to salvation and repentance is through Jesus Christ.  God loves them; but, He will not force them to accept His saving grace.  At His call they will make their decision.  It will be incredibly hard for them in many cases; and we need to stand ready to support them. 

Avery

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2 thoughts on “Commands & Promises

  1. Thank you, Joe. This was a difficult post for me. I love God. And, I love this nation — which I believe was established through God’s providence. We are very priviledged to live here, and we take it for granted, or worse! We have much to be forgiven! AG

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