Resolving to Change Old Habits

Resolving to Change Old Habits

We are well into the New Year now, and how are things going for you? Perhaps you have made some New Year’s resolutions. That is something that many do, and then set out to follow through. The going is well for the first month or so, and then as old habits and routines start to push on our thoughts we fall back into old patterns of behavior. What happened? Why couldn’t we keep up the good work? We recognize the importance of making changes in our life, but then we don’t necessarily always follow through on those changes. Why is that?

Old Habits

Are you sticking to your resolve? Are you a changed person?

Sometimes we tell ourselves that we just can’t change no matter how hard we try. This is not true. God’s word says that we can change our lives for the better. In the Bible, this is known as repentance: a change of mind that results in a reformation of life. To change, though, we’ve got to be committed to God and His will for our life. Without that foundation, our efforts of change will not last. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). To change, we must recognize our past problems and sorrow for them. This sorrow must be of a godly type, having the proper foundation for lasting change. Many simply do not see their past indulgences as being a problem. Hence, when they seek to change, it doesn’t last, but with God, we can change.

Why is it that we cannot hold onto lasting change in our life when we know it is needed? In last week’s article, we noted that change is possible according to God’s word – we can change for the better! This change requires us to acknowledge the wrongs of the past, and make God the foundation of our change. Even under these conditions, change can be daunting. There are other obstacles. Many of these we place in the way of our changing so that we don’t have to do the hard work. If we understand that we can change, then why is it still so hard to change?

Perhaps the biggest detriment to changing is our own desire; we don’t want to change. We may say, “Yes, I do!”, but deep down, we like the way things are because it validates us. Take dieting as an example. Why is it that we can’t lose weight? We like eating! Instead of eating to live, we live to eat, and it is so easy to be validated by eating. Don’t we show love for one another by giving food? If I don’t eat the food, then haven’t I rejected another’s love? Of course not, but we take it that way, and since we don’t want to be unloving, we eat. What a rationalization! We have just validated ourselves as loving people by eating. Who wants to change that? This whole process is deceitful. Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Who really validates us? God does. Get yourself out of the way and change!

When we let go of validating ourselves by everything except God, it becomes easier to change. However, knowing that we can change, and getting rid of the obstacles to change, we may still fear change. We tell ourselves: “How I am going to adjust? Maybe the changes will be horrible instead of good. Maybe life isn’t too bad right now as it is.” Fearing the unknown is a challenge when we need to make changes because fear pushes us to accept the status quo and stagnate. How can I confront fear and overcome it, so I can change and thrive?

Fear is an emotion that we create from our own anxieties and worry. God doesn’t want us living like that. He wants us to put our faith and trust in Him. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” God promises a life of peace and spiritual safety through Christ Jesus, but we must act on faith to receive that life by trusting in Jesus and His word instead of our own rationalizations. When we live like Jesus, we can overcome our fear knowing that Jesus will be with us to give us peace and spiritual safety. We overcome fear through loving God and loving one another as Jesus taught us to love. First John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.” Our fear is not greater than God, and God’s love practiced in our lives overcomes it! Trusting in God, we can change!

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Man’s Choice to Be Morally Wrong Isn’t Right

Man’s Choice to Be Morally Wrong Isn’t Right

There is a certain phenomenon which can be seen in our modern political discourse, and Christians who participate in it should stop already.  The problem is thus: a politician gets caught in a morally questionable situation, such as an adulterous affair, and some among their followers defend them by saying something along the lines of, “God raised up David, and Solomon, and Nebuchadnezzar as leaders! And look at what they did!”

nathan morals

There is one standard of morality, it fits all, all have transgressed it.

Some of the reason for this, of course, has to do with the very human instinct to defend those we perceive as being on our side; but some of it is simply just bad theology and a lack of actual biblical knowledge. Defending your politician-of-choice’s bad moral judgment by saying, “David did it too,” does not necessarily make the case that many suppose it does. Neither, for that matter, does comparing politician X to Nebuchadnezzar necessarily put your chosen champion in a good light.

Firstly let’s deal with the actual biblical histories… It is true that God raised up Nebuchadnezzar as a leader and that Nebuchadnezzar was an ungodly man (cf. Daniel 2-4), but we might want to acknowledge that God did this, not to bless His people, but to punish them for 70 years (cf. 2 Kings 24-25, etc.).

Likewise, it is true that David, who God generally approved of, had an affair with Bathsheba, and that Solomon, David’s son, was a polygamist. But this is not the defense that many think it is. For one thing, David’s sin with Bathsheba, and David’s other poor familial choices, wrecked his family, literally resulting in death and misery. Time precludes a litany of the problems David’s children experienced, but it was a pretty miserable affair (cf. 2 Samuel 12-14). Beyond this though, David’s poor familial choices had severe repercussions for the nation of Israel: namely David’s son Absalom, angry at his father, plunged the country into civil war (cf. 2 Samuel 15). This hardly seems like the path rational people want to follow, politically.

So too with Solomon. We read in the Bible that his poor choices with women led him further and further away from God (cf. 2 Kings 11:3-4). Summarizing quite a bit, Solomon’s decision to turn to idols was the beginning of the end of an era and it led the nation down a path that resulted in God’s judgment and the destruction of both Israel and Judah. Politically, Solomon’s poor choices contributed to civil unrest, and following his death, the nation was divided by God as punishment, with David’s line losing 10 of the 12 tribes.

Do we really want to defend our politicians-of-the day by comparing their choices to choices which historically led to death, civil war and political upheaval? That doesn’t seem like sound reasoning.

But there is another reason we should stop using these sorts of arguments. Namely, because they miss much of the point of what God is actually trying to teach us in His word. For example, when we study the story of David and Bathsheba, we might want to make sure that we glean the actual point of the account. God is not sharing the story in order to justify powerful men having affairs. In fact, just the opposite is true. The story teaches us that God holds even kings accountable to His standards!

In the story of David and Bathsheba, there is a hero, a man of God who does the right thing, but it is not David. The hero of the story is Nathan, the prophet, who had the God-given duty to confront David concerning his sin. Nathan did this, quite boldly, and only after David repented did God, in His mercy, grant David repentance (cf. 2 Samuel 12).

There are two take-aways from the text. First, if we, like David are caught in a sin, rather than justifying it, we should repent and turn to God for mercy. But second, when we observe powerful people caught up in sin, we need to have the boldness Nathan had to confront them about their deeds. Nathan did not rationalize away David’s indiscretion, nor did he allow his admiration for David, nor his fear of David’s power, to silence him. Instead he boldly did what God required him to do and chastised David for David’s sin.

Many years later, John the Baptist did much the same with Herod (cf. Mark 6:18). One wonders if the Herodians, Jews who politically supported Herod, argued that John should have kept quite, pointing out to John, “consider David and Bathsheba.” Whether they did or not, John did not keep quite when he observed his king sinning with a woman. Instead he boldly did what God required him to do and denounced it.

We might notice that Jesus had very little respect for Herod’s morals (cf. Luke 13:31-33), but He did think John was a great man (cf. Matthew 11:11).

Christians who do decide to be politically active should keep these things in mind. We are to be faithful to God above all else, even above our loyalty to kings or other leaders. When we observe sin, even in the powerful, we should indeed remember the story of David and Bathsheba; but remembering the true hero of that story, let us choose to be a Nathan.

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A Christian Girl and Hollywood

A Christian Girl and Hollywood

If you know our family then you know Melinda and I were blessed with three “scruffy” boys and one princess. The boys have always been 100% boys—for instance, when they play indoor knee football in the upstairs playroom I often fear the ceiling is going to cave in. My little princess is different. Now don’t get me wrong, she can certainly handle herself with her brothers, but she is definitely a girl. She spends more time selecting what she’s going to wear (and she actually hangs her clothes up rather than selecting them by smell from a pile on the floor!), she enjoys doing girl things, and has more lotion than a Bath and Body shop.

hollywood girls

Who are you teaching your girl to be like?

Watching her mature into a young lady has been a joy and a somewhat nerve-racking event. The reason it is nerve racking is because as I travel, I see young ladies her exact same age who are trying to appear like they just walked down the runway of a Hollywood-modeling studio. They wear make up by the pound and wear clothes meant to accentuate certain areas of the body. These are 12-15 year old girls who want to appear to be 18-22. And far too often, members of the church encourage this Hollywood transformation through words of affirmation and “likes” on social media.

I have two problems with this. Problem number one is that there is a massive amount of pressure on young ladies, by friends their own age, to imitate this grown up look. (And lets be honest for a moment—young girls can be cruel, even in the church. I’ve watched firsthand this “pack mentality” where three or four girls make fun of another girl because of the phone she is carrying or clothes she’s wearing. They can be almost vicious with their tongues.) Christian young ladies who have been baptized should be kind, exhibiting the new man (Colossians 3; Ephesians 4), and should not be worldly (1 John 2). Christianity is about loving God and loving your neighbor—not making fun of someone or pressuring him or her to fit in.

I’m just going to say it—too many Christian parents are spending more time selecting and purchasing name brand clothes than they are molding and shaping the hearts of their daughters. They want them to fit in so badly that they will spend loads of money to insure they have the latest trends. Friends, Jesus Christ did not go to the cross so our young ladies could “fit in” with the culture and have the perfect Instagram picture. We are called to be different—different in speech, dress, actions, and thoughts. Maybe we should be spending more time “parenting” their hearts and less time at the local boutique.

Problem number two is we are encouraging our young ladies to look like Hollywood rather than to look like innocent young ladies. From the pulpits preachers point out the evils of Hollywood and we say “Amen”, all the while members hit “like” on Instagram and Facebook when the youth in our congregations are dressed just like them. Do you not see the problem here?! Friends, the Hollywood look should not be the goal for Christian young ladies. Hollywood should never be held up as a role model for Christian young people.

Hollywood believes fornication (sexual activity outside of marriage) is acceptable. Hollywood believes lust is a game.

Hollywood believes that commitment is optional.

Hollywood believes homosexual tolerance is a must.

Hollywood believes that sensual pleasure is a goal for every relationship.

Hollywood believes that curves should be accentuated and revealed.

Hollywood believes that there is no such thing as immodest dress.

And yet, many of our young ladies in our church auditoriums are running in this direction as fast as they can! And too often, they pressure the young ladies sitting around them to dress the same. As a result, usually sometime in April or May we get a wake up call and hear a single sermon on immodest dress, as summer clothes are pulled out of the closet. Where are the godly fathers who should be saying, “No” and not paying for clothes that accentuate the body? Where are the spiritual leaders who are teaching purity and cultivating meek and gentle spirits?

Friends, a single sermon on immodest dress is not going to fix the problem. This is a worldview/mindset problem. We are raising young people who would rather look like Hollywood than Jesus Christ. Isn’t it time we address the real issue? Maybe we need to retrain parents. Maybe we need to focus more on the cross. Maybe we need to stop competing with the world.

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God Always Feeds His Saints

God Always Feeds His Saints

The saints of God have often found themselves in dire circumstances. In the first century when God’s just judgment was about to come against the Jewish nation, it was preceded by wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. Christians were in the midst of all these troubles. What hope did they have?

Saints adversity

Through God there is victory.

In addition to this, their faith in God created even more adversity. Hebrews 10:32-34 vividly describes what was happening around them. “You endured a great struggle with sufferings…both by reproaches and tribulations…the plundering of your goods.” Shortly after the church began, Saul led the assault against the church which brought great adversity. “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging of men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3). What hope did they have?

The same happened to Old Testament saints. Think of those many years when David fled from King Saul and later from the Jewish army led by his rebellious son. He and his men lived in the wilderness where there were caves in which they took refuge.  He had to flee from the Promised Land to even survive, living among the enemies of Israel. Once he had to feign insanity before the pagan king to keep from being put to death. What would have been our thoughts if we had been with him. What hope did he and his followers have?

Hear the words of David: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Psa. 37:25). There were times when it appeared that this man after God’s own heart failed. David speaks of this in this same psalm and then turns his eyes toward God. “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.”

Hear the words of Jesus, given first to those who would suffer the ravages led by Saul. He told them to look at the birds. God feeds every one of them. Not a single bird has even fallen to the earth without God being aware of it. He feeds every bird. Look at the birds! (Matt. 6:26; 10:29-31; Luke 12:6-7, 24). The practical results of this is His promise to the faithful. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).

There is a vivid application in what is happening all around us. We have seen the horrendous storms which swept through the Bahamas, just fifty miles from West Palm Beach. We have listened as our brethren describe what they have endured. However, in the midst of all of this there is one thing which we must always remember. You will never see a skinny bird in the Bahamas! God feeds His birds and His saints!

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Es necesario antes echar un vistazo al contexto. Específicamente en esta ocasión el contexto es la celebración de la fiesta de los Tabernáculos. El capítulo 7 se divide en 3 partes (Antes de la fiesta 1-10, durante la fiesta 11-36, y el final de la fiesta 37-52)Note que en este debate público sobre el Señor Jesús intervinieron tres grupos diferentes de personas. 1) Los dirigentes religiosos 2) El pueblo (Jn 7:12) 3) Los judíos que vivían en Jerusalén (Jn.7:25). El debate empezó incluso antes de que Jesús llegara a la ciudad, y se centró en su carácter (Juan 7:11–13). Si era un hombre bueno o un engañador, pero no podía ser los dos al mismo tiempo.


No se estaba hablando de todos los pecados… era del adulterio.

Cuando Jesús empezó a enseñar abiertamente en el templo, el debate giró en torno a su doctrina (Juan 7:14–19). El carácter y la doctrina van unidos, por supuesto. ¡Sería necio confiar en las enseñanzas de un mentiroso!. Todo esto da la ocasión en trasfondo a la trampa que desean tenderle con respecto a la mujer encontrada en el acto de Adulterio.

A Canonicidad del Relato. ¿Es el relato de la mujer adultera, parte de la escritura? Si lo es ¿dónde debería de estar?. Es verdad que el relato no aparece en “algunos de los manuscritos más antiguos”, así lo escriben algunas versiones de la Biblia en sus márgenes como (LBLA, ASV 1901). Otros explican que el pasaje aparece en Lc.21:38.

1 Sin embargo el pasaje sí aparece en los manuscritos, más antiguos y está localizado aquí mismo en Juan 7, y no fue un problema hasta el siglo doce.
2 Para muchos de nosotros el pasaje encaja perfectamente aquí donde lo tenemos y aquí algunas evidencias internas.

a La declaración de nuestro Señor de ser la luz del mundo (Juan 8:12) por cierto encaja, al igual que sus palabras sobre el juicio recto y falso (Juan 8:15–16, 26).
b La frase repetida “en vuestro pecado moriréis” (Juan 8:21–24) claramente se relaciona con el juicio de la mujer.
c El hecho de que el capítulo termina con un intento de apedrear a Jesús muestra un paralelo a la historia de la ella.
d La transición de Juan 7:52 a 8:12 sería demasiado abrupta sin una sección de transición.

B ¿Porqué algunos han intentado quitar el relato? Hay varias razones y no debería de sorprendernos que ese sea el caso. Necesitamos estar alertas y enterados de los ataques a la Biblia es este caso a como Obró Jesús. Un reconocido Erudito y versado en estos asuntos ofrece la siguiente explicación: “Agustín definitivamente declaró que ciertas personas habían eliminado de sus códices la sección sobre la adúltera, porque temían que las mujeres recurrieran a esta historia como una excusa para la infidelidad … el ascetismo desempeñó un papel importante en la era sub-apostólica. De ahí la sugerencia de que la sección (Juan 7: 53-8: 11) era en realidad parte del Evangelio de Juan pero (más tarde) eliminada de ella no puede ser descartada por completo”. William Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1961), II, p. 35.

A El Complot.v.4 dice en el “acto mismo de adulterio”. Es muy poco probable que hayan realmente encontrado a una pareja en el acto del Sexo. Si ese era el caso, ¿dónde está el hombre? Es probable que él sea parte del complot. La ley de Moisés exigía la muerte de ambos (Lv.20:10, Dt.22:22) y no solo la mujer. Los fariseos actuaron en todo esto tan abruptamente, que incluso interrumpieron la enseñanza de Jesús y pusieron en medio (Thayer: Hacer firme, establecer a la fuerza) a la mujer. Esto revela el carácter violento de ellos.

B El Plan. Si el decía “si, esta mujer debe ser apedreada”, no solo cometería una injusticia sino que también estaría perdiendo al pueblo, ya que El era amigo de publicanos y pecadores y muy distinto a los fariseos. Si el decía “no, esta mujer no debe ser apedreada” estaría en contradicción directa a la ley de Moisés porque tenía que contar con el hombre y de él no había rastros. Su plan era perfecto. Dejarían al maestro en ridículo, y en violación a la ley de Moises Ahí mismo donde estaba enseñando en el templo.

C Los cargos. Adulterio. Albert Barnes y James Coffman dicen que la palabra sugiere la idea de que ella era una mujer casada, ya que fornicación es una sombrilla más amplia para hablar de Coito ilícito en cualquier circulo(porneia Thayer G4202) mientras que adulterio específicamente es tener intercambio sexual ilícito con la esposa(a) de otro (Moicheia G3430). El problema es observado en el v.7 “el que de vosotros esté sin pecado…”, Sugiere que el Señor se estaba refiriendo a ese pecado en especifico del adulterio. Por varias razones.

1 El contexto. No se estaba hablando de todos los pecados… era del adulterio.
2 Anamartétos dice Adam Clarke sugiere el mismo tipo de pecado.
3 Jesús no estaba pidiendo que hombres sin pecado juzgaran a la mujer, porque El era el único que no tenía pecado. La ley de Moisés entonces hubiera sido absurda.
4 El estaba exponiendo la hipocresía de ellos. El momento exacto cuando los cargos se dan la media vuelta a golpean a los acusadores, cuando los jueces son juzgados. Ellos vivían una vida sexual inmoral y si alguien debía ser apedreado ese día, sin duda alguna eran ellos mismos.

A Su carácter en medio de lo abrupto. Jesús se encobra y comienza a escribir en el suelo. ¿Qué habrá escrito? Tal vez les estaba recordando que los mandamientos fueron escritos con el dedo de Dios (Ex.31:18) y que por lo tanto él es Dios. O tal vez escriba las advertencias de Jr.17:13? La verdad es que no sabemos…pero él estaba muy calmado.

B Su carácter con respecto al pecado. Jesús no tomó a la ligera el pecado de ella. El hecho de que le perdonara no significa que él no tendría que morir por esos pecados. El perdón es gratuito pero no es no barato. El perdón y la gracia de Cristo no es una excusa para pecar: “Vete y no peques más” V.11. De hecho el perdón inmerecido motivará al pecador penitente a vivir una vida Santa delante de su Dios, así es como funciona correctamente.

C Su carácter con respecto al pecador.

1 Sola con Jesús v.9 ¡Qué lugar más dulce y santo, que refugio!
2 Su primera palabra produce humildad, arrepentimiento y fe (V.10).
3 Con la segunda, la angustia de muerte es quitada (V.10)
4 Con la tercera palabra produce la seguridad del perdón (V.11).

A En este debate observamos como Cristo es la cuestión. Es la cuestión para que el pueblo estuviera ahí escuchando, la cuestión de la trama de los enemigos, la cuestión que obró el perdón de esa mujer, la cuestión de la vida misma (a la mujer la vida le cambió).

B Observamos que el pecado siempre es abominación a Dios y solo hay tres maneras de tratarlo.1) Como el pecador trata al pecador, 2) Como la ley trata al pecador 3) Como trata Jesús al pecador.

C Lo más impactante para mí de todos los debates del Señor es saber que el Señor un día moriría también por ellos.

D Al estudiar la naturaleza de Cristo queda más que evidenciado y su carácter divino al leer Job 38:32-36 uno puede hacer un paralelo meditando en la respuesta de Job en Job 42:1-6. Ante el carácter del Señor nosotros deberíamos de estar como lo que dice el v.4 “Oye, te ruego y hablaré; te preguntaré y tu me enseñarás”.

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