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CAN WE CHOOSE GOD, OR DOES HE CHOOSE US?

salvation 2

Dear Friends,

What will you say to God on judgement day if He asks, “Why did you believe on my Son while others didn’t?”

Would you say “Because I was smarter”? “Because I had the good sense”?

Of course you wouldn’t. I would bet that we would all be so overwhelmed with God’s glory and our own unworthiness that it may be hard to put two words together much less put any attention upon ourselves.

From a reading of Colossians 2:13, if we have been saved, it is because God has raised us from spiritual death.

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins”.

Logic would then tell us that for those who have not been “made alive”, it is because God has not raised them.

The doctrine of unconditional election (salvation brought about by God’s sovereign choice, not according to any action, merit, or condition met by the believer) is probably one of the most analyzed and debated subjects in Christendom. God’s choosing of some and not others does not fit into our natural and limited ideas of what is right or fair.

To this objection, I refer now to Nathan Pitchford and John Hendryx at the Christian Publication Research Foundation who make an eloquent and biblical response:

In Romans 9, when Paul is speaking very clearly of God’s unconditional election of some, and not others, to eternal salvation, a hypothetical objector to this doctrine raises that very question:

“If it is as you say, Paul, and God loved Jacob and hated Esau before they were born, or had done anything good or bad, just so that his own purposes might stand in election, does that not mean he is arbitrary and unjust?” (see Rom. 9:14). Paul’s response to this is a resounding, “Of course not! May it never be!” God is not arbitrary or unjust – but he does elect individuals to mercy and hardens others as he sees fit, and for no good will or exertion that he sees in anyone (Rom. 9:15-16). He hardened Pharaoh according to his purpose of displaying his glory in all the earth, and he sovereignly chooses to have mercy on whomever he will, to display the glory of his grace (Rom. 9:17; cf. Rom. 9:22-24). In sum, “Therefore, he has mercy on whom he will and he hardens whom he will” (Rom. 9:18).

Just because God chooses to have mercy upon some does not make him unjust or arbitrary for giving to others their just deserts. It is his free, undeserved mercy and grace that he holds forth in salvation, and he may do with it as he will. We may not fathom the deep and mysterious ways of God (Rom. 11:33-36); but woe to that one who foolishly says, “I see no reason for why God chooses some and not others, so he must be arbitrary and unjust”. On the contrary, O foolish man, you would do well to say with Job, “Behold, I am of little worth; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand upon my mouth” (Job 40:4).

We would challenge you to wrestle with the following verses. Paul encountered this very same argument against election in Romans 9:18-23; that it would make God unjust and arbitrary:

18  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19  You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”20  On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?21Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same  lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

Paul is saying that God has the sovereign right to do with us whatever He wants.  Will you deny Him this right? This points to an even greater truth: that there is no higher principle in the universe than God Himself. God is the ultimate Truth and therefore, if He determines something it is, by definition, not arbitrary. In other words, there is no better reason for anything than the fact that God determines it. We should draw no comfort from the theology that promotes a god who must yield to something greater than Himself.

In His counsels and works no cause is apparent, it is yet hidden with Him, so that He has decreed nothing except justly and wisely according to His good pleasure founded on His gracious love towards us.” (Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics) Just because we don’t know His internal reason for choosing some to faith and not others is not reason enough to reject it.  The “foreseen faith” people are, in effect, saying that they cannot trust God in making this choice and prefer it to be left up to the fallen individual, as if he would make a better choice than God. This would also make God’s love toward us conditional and based on some inherent talent, wisdom or strength found in the individual rather than in God Himself.”

What I have come to love about the doctrine of unconditional election is that it elevates a rightful, high and glorious view of God and keeps me humble. What great security we have in knowing that our salvation starts and ends with Him! Jesus prayed, saying that “all that the Father gives me will come to me”.

Friend, if you have come to profess Christ, and trust in Him as Lord and Savior, then you are of the elect! If you have not, how do you know that you are not? Come to Him this day. He will NOT forsake you!

Comments welcome 🙂

ONE CONFUSING STATEMENT

“Everything happens for a reason” must be one of the most head scratching statements I’ve ever heard…not just because this “reason” is often undefined, but because I never know the speaker’s perspective in making this statement.

They could mean that everything has a material cause, that is, a building exists because of the elements of brick and mortar.

They could mean that everything has an efficient cause, much like the domino effect of the decisions we make. For example, I could say that I failed a class because I failed the final, and I failed the final because I didn’t study, and so forth and so on.

Still, there is a final perspective that can be taken, which refers to a higher purpose or goal behind an outcome or event, an overriding reason that may not be immediately apparent.

Even then, I’m still puzzled by the ambiguity of saying “everything happens for a reason”. What is the impetus that runs the order of purpose, if any? Is it karma? Is it the universe? Are these already-laid-out goals specifically good purposes or bad purposes?

I’ve heard it from acquaintances, celebrities, even news anchors and athletes. It seems to have become a modern cliché, an “insert-your-own-meaning” phrase which in essence conveys a message of comfort and control, often when things don’t go as planned. Everyone assumes what the other person is saying, when it fact this statement is more loaded than a plate at a free buffet.

From a Christian perspective, the best way to describe the statement, I believe, is that it’s simply incomplete and out of context in itself. I say this based upon the scripture of Romans 8:28:

“And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose”

Do our lives amount to nothing more than random drifting, or is it up to us to steer the outcome as best we can? How much does God play into the direction of our lives? I can’t begin to scratch the surface of theology in this post alone, but I can shed some light on God’s promise for the meaning of our lives through this scripture.

He communicated this through the Apostle Paul in starting out the scripture by saying And we know. God’s sovereignty in our lives is not a speculation or guess. What’s one thing that we can know without a shadow of a doubt? That all things work together for the good. Let’s break this statement down further by looking at each phrase in this wonderful scripture:

All things

It clearly states that ALL things work together for the good…not just some things, not just the good things, but ALL things. This includes all joyful, good events as well as all sad, painful events in our lives. It would include our bad decisions, our failures, our set-backs and yes, even sin. There’s nothing that qualifies “all things’. How would it all play out? Well all things…

Work together

How in the world could anything good come of heartbreak or loss… or the consequences of a horrible decision? What about emotional pain inflicted by betrayal or the physical pain of illness? It’s easy to blame God for not listening or caring. I know I have. I’ve flat out defied Him to answer in my worst suffering. Yet, I look back and see that He was there all along, in mercies that got me through day by day. Circumstances may not make sense individually. This promise states that each experience, be they good or bad, will weave together for our ultimate benefit.

It’s like a jigsaw puzzle. If you look at each piece individually, it doesn’t make sense.

Jigsaw puzzle piecesSome pieces are dark and uninteresting. Others are bright and colorful, but none of them show the whole scene of the completed puzzle.  It’s not until they are all put together that we see the whole picture.jigsaw-puzzle-art It’s interesting that no matter what a piece displays, each one is vitally important. Lose one and the picture is ruined.

That’s how it is with our lives. We can’t see the full picture by looking at just one of the pieces. God sees the whole.

Great examples come from the Bible itself.

For instance, there’s the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob. He was thrown into a pit by his jealous brothers, then taken into slavery in Egypt. It just got worse from there. He was falsely accused of adultery and thrown in jail. Finally, after many years in jail, he found himself in a position of power over Egypt. The brothers who were so cruel to him as a kid were at his mercy when they had to travel to Egypt for famine relief. He forgave them, saying, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” (Genesis 50:20). God used the passage of time and all these hardships to mature Joseph to be the man of God that he turned out to be.  He used the famine to bring his brothers to humility and gratitude, and He brought everyone into a place of healing.

For the Good

We may be able to point back and say, for instance, that if we lose a job, God will lead us to a better one. I don’t believe that concept to be true in all cases. As we’ll see in the later part of this scripture, the benefit referred to here is of spiritual value—to make us more like Christ. He can definitely bless us with earthly gain and ease, but “good” is not measured this way, or everyone, (even those who hate God), could claim His favor. He can and does bless materially, but He is after a far greater value in our hearts and lives, a value we won’t see completed until we are made perfect with Him in eternity.

To those who love God 

Here’s where the incompleteness of the statement “All things happen for a reason” comes into play. From a Christian perspective, the peace of mind of knowing that all is for a purpose is stipulated only to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.  What does it mean to love God? Well, here are some of the characteristics of someone who loves God:

  • They keep His commandments (Psalm 25:10)
  • They put God first in their lives (Luke 10:27)
  • They acknowledge that the Father and Jesus, the Son, are One. (John 10:30)

How can we say we love God if we don’t know Him and keep His commandments? This brings up another question. How much “keeping” of his commandments would merit us as one who loves God? Do you ever wonder if you qualify? Well, read the next clause:

And are called according to His purpose:

What does it mean to be called according to His purpose, and what does it have to do with obedience? That question is answered in the next scripture, Romans 8:29:

For whom He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the Image of His Son…

Isn’t that glorious? You see, although we are called to love and obey God completely, how many of us do this perfectly? None of us…but it says here that if we are believers in Christ, we are predestined, we are pre-appointed, no less, to be conformed to Him.

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corin. 3:18)

That is His purpose for us, and that is what He has promised to do.  This whole passage comes full circle when we see that we cannot love the Lord and not be called to His purpose. We see that it is His work in us, and not our efforts that bring us to want to love and obey Him. We see that He uses all things to work together towards that end.

What an awesome promise! If we are predestined to this purpose of transformation in our lives, it’s a done deal. Romans 8:28 is the explanation of the answer to the “everything happens for a reason” question. Our response is nothing less than gratitude for His sovereignty and glory to Him.

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Like Joseph, have you ever gotten to see some of the reasons for hardship in your life? Have you been able to look back at a difficult time and see the intangibles you would have never had otherwise? What were they? I’d love to hear your stories!

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? (PART 3)

Dear Friends,

Are we constantly being shaped by the forces of our own society? I mean, how many times are we enticed or pushed by the masses to compromise on our principles or beliefs to protect our status or popularity?

Last week we read about three men who stood strong in the face of a much greater threat than just social acceptance. Their names were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three Hebrew young men who were threatened with losing their lives if they didn’t bow down to an idol. However, they never abandoned their convictions and obedience to God. They refused to bend their knee to none other than Him alone. Their story is found in Daniel 3:1-30, and we’ll continue to the conclusion today.

FireYou may recall that King Nebuchadnezzar ordered everyone in Babylon to bow down to an idol he made of himself or be thrown into a furnace. Everyone in his kingdom were all willing to do whatever they had to do to be in favor of the king, (and keep their lives), except these three.  When it came time for Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to bow, I don’t believe that their courageous decision was made in a vacuum. Character like that just doesn’t happen overnight. I believe it was a result of an already ingrained commitment to uncompromising principle. If you look at the opening chapter of Daniel, (Daniel 1:8-21), we see them already living out a life of discipline and honor in terms of their diet, refusing to eat food that was offered to idols. So by the time their feet were at the edge of the furnace, their minds and hearts were already made up. A question I ask myself and propose to you today is the same: If we are found in a similar situation, can you and I say that we have built a level of authenticity, love, and devotion to our Lord that we, too, would stand strong in our faith?

Are we alert enough to see the subtle (at least for now) distractions and sin that chips away at our faith on a daily basis?

Do we hold on loosely to this world or is it with a clinched fist?

Are we aware or oblivious to the persecution of brothers and sisters that experience physical threats every day?

As the story goes, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were indeed tied up and thrown into the fire (Daniel 3:21). When the furnace door closes behind them, King Nebuchadnezzar sees not three, but what appeared to be four men within the flames.

Then Nebuchadnezzar, the king, was astounded and rose up in a hurry and spoke and said unto his counselors, did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men, not bound but loose, walking around in the midst of the fire and they have no hurt. And the form of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:25).

None of them were bound; none of them seemed afraid or looking for the exit. They were all just walking around, unscathed. Many believe that fourth man was Christ Himself, in a pre-incarnate appearance. Others believe it was an angelic being. Either way, they were comforted and protected.

In reference to God’s presence, John MacArthur says,

“How wonderful to know that we go through no experiences where God is not there in divine companionship and the hotter the fire the sweeter the fellowship. I can tell you…in my own experience, that whenever I get into a situation where I decide to take a stand for something and it’s the unpopular thing to do and you start getting flack, you have this tremendous sense of divine companionship. It’s what Peter talked about when he talked about the fact that when we go through persecution, the spirit of grace and glory rests on us.”

He articulates a thought I’ve had often, and that is that I have to believe that God gives a special strength, a greater sense of His peace and presence to those who suffer these unimaginable assaults.  It is the peace that passes understanding that He has promised (Philippians 4:7).

They are taken out of the fire not even smelling of smoke! (Daniel 3:27). They went into the fire resolved of one thing: God could deliver them if it was His will, and they would praise Him whether they got a miracle or not. I love that. They were confident in God’s sovereignty. They didn’t think that if they just prayed hard enough and believed enough that God would have to do their bidding. He was still God no matter what happened… and it was God who got the glory that day, not them or the strength of their faith. After witnessing this miraculous deliverance, the King himself said,

“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, who has sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him, violating the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies so as not to serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation or tongue that speaks anything offensive against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego shall be torn limb from limb and their houses reduced to a rubbish heap, inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” Then the king caused Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego to prosper in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:28-30)

We may never have to choose between life or death, but we can take a lesson from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, right where we are today.

Are there any ways we can demonstrate uncompromising principle in our lives, in our workplace or homes?

Is there an area of compromise right now that the Lord has been nudging you to change?

How can we prepare for opportunities to express our faith in a loving yet confident manner?

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY? (PART 2)

The pressure must have been tremendous. Three young men, bound in chains, had a decision to make. They could either renounce their faith or be put to death within the flames of a blazing furnace…

FireLast week we looked at the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, (Daniel 3:1-30). It’s the story of three Jewish young men who refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. If you recall, we tried to put ourselves in their sandals while remembering that there are Christians who are living (and dying) under that same kind of persecution today. We asked ourselves what we would say if we found ourselves in a similar situation.

What would you say if you were in any one of these present day scenarios?

  • You are one of these Christians that faced a number of tortures and even death for their faith?

I love Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s response:

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you O king that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18

They said, “We do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter.” Just like that. They didn’t protest or preach. They didn’t feel any obligation to explain, apologize, dialogue, or defend themselves or God. The lesson here? Sometimes we are called to speak up, and sometimes we are simply called to quiet resolve. In this case, they knew that any lengthy explanation to King Nebuchadnezzar would be useless. Christ also didn’t say a word as He was lead to the cross, knowing that His death was the will of God.

Notice a very important phrase: “If it be so”, they said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king, But even if He does not…we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image.

Did they show a lack of faith by not “claiming their miracle” as some may profess? No. Did they have a fit loud enough to reach heaven to get God to act on their behalf? No, I don’t see that either.

What I do see is three believers who stood firm in the object of their faith, not in faith itself. There’s a difference. The first is centered on trust in God, the second is centered on man’s ability in himself. Even more so, I see three believers who loved and worshiped God for who He is and not what He does for them. They did not withdraw their love or faith in God based on what happened that day. They believed God could save them, but they did not presume He would. They believed the greater audacity was not standing up to an idol when others fell, but rather to stand up before God and tell Him what to do!

I’m sure that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego prayed for deliverance. Who wouldn’t? They may have begged and pleaded to God to save them. Look at Jesus himself. He cried and pleaded to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, (Matt. 26:36-46). He didn’t stand up and “claim” deliverance from the cross. At the end of the day, He resigned that it not be His will, but the Father’s.

This passage is a clear message that God is not a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wishes.

Dear believer, if they had this attitude about their very lives, why would we “name and claim”, assume and demand of something of God for so much less?

 

 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?

We’ve all read the headlines and heard it on the news. Present day Muslim terrorist like ISIS shout “renounce your faith or die” to the “infidel” (anyone who isn’t a Muslim), and they are following through on their threat. As I thought about what I might write this week, I considered the fact that this threat is the same spirit of evil that has been expressed throughout history. In fact, there’s a story in the Old Testament that describes a very similar scenario.

It’s found in Daniel 3:1-30, the story of three Jewish young men by the name of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These men were taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar after he besieged Jerusalem in 600 B.C. Even though captive, the King favored them and hand-picked them as administrators in his court. He saw their wisdom and trusted them enough to put them in positions that carried great popularity and prestige.

The day came when King Nebuchadnezzar created a golden image of himself, and demanded that everyone under his reign to bow down to it. If anyone refused, they would be thrown into a blazing furnace.

Fire“Now if you are ready, [he said] at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:15)

 

In other words, “Renounce your faith or die”

Now Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had a lot to lose, that is, besides their very lives. You would think that they would want to support their leader…guard their own popularity, you know, be politically correct. A number of thoughts could have run through their minds:

  • “It’s just an idol. All we have to do is bow. We can just go ahead and bow physically, but we’ll be praying to God instead.” 
  • “God wouldn’t have taken us so far in life only to die this way. It’s not in His plan. We need to comply in order to reach people in the long run.” 
  • The king is an authority figure and we need to be compliant to the demands”.

 Instead, what was their response? They said,

“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you O king that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” – Daniel 3:17-18

They didn’t rationalize in any number of ways that they could have. They didn’t even want to have the appearance of evil. They didn’t presume upon God but saw the circumstance for what it was. They also knew that no authority is to be obeyed if they are in conflict with God. They wanted to live, but their desire to worship the one true God was even greater.

I am amazed at the courage these three men had to answer so boldly, and yet what amazes me even more is that thousands of Christians have responded to this same threat in the same way over the last 2,000 years. There are many who are facing it right now. God dramatically rescued Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, but for many others, He has given strength to see them on to Heaven.

If you and I were told to renounce our faith or die, what would we say? Are we girded with a strong and focused faith that can stand strong in the face of evil? Is our relationship with God so close and abiding that we long to see the far greater eternal reward?

My hope is that you and I as believers would be strong and ready if and when a time of decision comes, that we are always ready to give an account for our faith.

 

WHAT’S ON YOUR MENU?

I was watching an online clip not too long ago that featured a woman in her 20’s that has literally not grown since she was 5 years old. She looks and acts like a toddler, leaving doctors mystified about her condition. More than once the narrator used the term “frozen in time” to describe the lack of normal aging and maturing .*

We tend to see only the physical, but we are both physical and spiritual. In much the same way as someone born with a physical abnormality, it is possible to never get out of our spiritual infancy. This is shown in the Apostle Paul’s writing in1 Corinthians 3:1-3:

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly.”

Let me break down this scripture:

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ”

Paul was talking to the Corinthian church, pointing out that although they were Christians, they showed no signs of spiritual growth. He “could not speak to [them] as to spiritual men, that is, they were acting more like “men of flesh”, a term used to describe someone who does not know God, or knows little of God. They were “babes in Christ”.

“I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it.”

Baby bottleBabies drink milk, a substance that’s easy to take in and handle to a baby’s body; it’s contains the basics of nutrition. Using the illustration of a baby drinking milk, Paul draws a spiritual analogy. The “milk” he provided them was the basics of the gospel. Like many Christians today, the Corinthians seemed content to stay on milk. They don’t want their teachers to give sermons that had a lot of “meat” on them, that would get “too deep”, or “too specific”. The problem with this is that once you have heard the gospel and believe, then what? Do you just keep listening to the same evangelistic message? How do you learn the myriad of principles in God’s word? How do you apply it to your life and soul? Like today’s listeners, they may have claimed that teachings of any substance had “too much doctrine” or on an unspoken level, exposed their sins and godless lifestyle.baby

Living off of spiritual milk is like nodding my head at a sermon that skims the surface of the gospel, understanding the truth in concept alone. I’m content to being passive and spoon-fed, not just because it’s easy, but because I don’t have the spiritual muscle mass that would crave solid food because I haven’t flexed them. I haven’t burnt too many spiritual calories so I can’t get strong. My spiritual self is flabby and plump from inactivity.

Steak dinnerOn the other hand, what does it mean to crave solid spiritual food? When I think of solid food, I think of a substantial, wholesome meal, not sucrose filled, junk food –like messages we often hear today. These messages taste good at first – they offer nothing but prosperity and ego-boosting self-motivation, but have little to do with the gospel (they are neither “milk” nor “meat” but false, misleading teaching!). Solid spiritual food is grounded in the word of God, given through careful study of the text. It exposes sin and challenges the believer to godly living, establishing him in the fundamentals of the attributes of God, man, sin, salvation, judgment, and eternity. It gives the basis for each. It may not always feel good going down, but it is necessary for the healthy believer.

Indeed even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly.”

Even then, we can’t leave our growth (or lack of growth) on the shoulders of our teachers and pastors. If we are going to grow beyond the baby bottle, we must take the responsibility to take in God’s instructions on a daily basis. We have to exercise our spiritual muscles by reading the Bible ourselves. Together with the Holy Spirit, this will begin to create the appetite for solid food. Then we can’t be called “fleshly”, as those who have no desire to grow.

Believer, where do you think you are in your growth chart today? Are you a new believer starting out on “milk”? Are you weaning yourself by learning more and surrounding yourself with good teaching? Are you stuck on “milk” and should be eating “meat”? Do you remember a time when you were…or are you enjoying a full course meal on God’s word?

*http://singularityhub.com/2010/05/17/what-secrets-are-in-the-dna-of-a-17-year-old-girl-with-the-body-of-a-baby-video/

 

“AN INVITATION TO FORGIVE” – NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

Dear Friends,

Just wanted to let you all know that my Bible Study, “An Invitation to Forgive: A Study of the Book of Philemon” is finally  available on Amazon ~ I’m so excited to share it with you!

(Click on “Amazon” to order)

AnInvitatiotoForgive_FrontCover_Final

Suppose you were to open your mailbox and spot an unusual piece of mail. A glimpse of your name, handwritten in calligraphy, tells you this isn’t just another bill. Pushing aside the junk mail like tares from the wheat, you snatch the envelope and open the gold-lined seal to find –

An invitation ~

It is from a friend, offering you the chance to mend a broken relationship.

“An invitation to forgive?” you may scoff…

Why would anyone want to get an invitation like that?”

And yet that is exactly the type of invitation the Apostle Paul writes in his letter to Philemon. In a manner that is both brilliant and appealing, Paul urges Philemon to take back his runaway slave, Onesimus. He challenges Philemon to see forgiveness as a privilege; an invitation to be accepted or declined. It was Philemon’s choice to make.

Would he have the character to see past his anger to the benefits this invitation would offer him, or would he hang on to resentment and miss the blessing?

This verse-by-verse Bible Study is written for anyone who has ever struggled with forgiveness or longs to see the reconciliation of broken relationships. It will address and examine the questions involved in the dynamics of forgiveness, such as:

  • Can true forgiveness ever be commanded?
  • Does loyalty and harmony come by compulsion?
  • What is the character of someone who forgives?
  • On what basis should we forgive someone who has offended us?

This study will not only shed light on the answers to these questions but also present the rich Biblical principles on which they are based. It is written in an easy-to-read, interactive format, guiding the reader to identify his own invitation to forgive—an invitation ultimately written for all of us.

If you would like to stay updated on this project and others, (and also win a chance for a free copy), please fill out this form. Your privacy is my highest priority!