February 11 – Not All That Different Then

“One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.” Romans 14:2-3 (NASB)

When it comes to judging brother and sister believers regarding “right and wrong” activities, we realize that “back then” in the 1st century it was not so different. One example was food—especially meat. Was it acceptable to eat meat offered to idols? The stronger believer, whose mature faith allowed him to exercise his freedom in Christ by eating the inexpensive meat sold at the pagan meat markets—inexpensive because it may have first been sacrificed to a pagan deity. On the other hand weaker Jewish and Gentile believers abstained and ate vegetables only. They believed the meat was unclean*. Some believers today still declare some activities “unchristian” and called it sinful to participate. These may be activities for which God has not prohibited but the affiliations may offend some. The strong hold the weak in contempt as legalistic and self-righteous do-gooders; the weak judge the strong as irresponsible or even depraved. But God has given us a promise that His acceptance is not based on observing such rules and legalism but on His love and grace. Let each live and love our brothers and sisters while accepting all as living according to their own conscience before God.

*This is different than reasons why vegans abstain from consuming animal products today.

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Care for a Second Chance?

“For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Hebrews 2:18

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”  Hebrews 4:15

How many times has you wanted a “do-over”? 

How many times have you wished for a mulligan in your life – and I do not mean on the golf course where mulligans are actually possible.  The idea might be attractive but really?  Do you really want to do it again – especially in view of the state we are in in this world?  

I find it interesting when I hear people say “the times are changing and we just have to get used to it.”  Well it isn’t really the times that are changing but the people who are changing as time goes by. Of course this has always been the normal course of history for humans. There has been no time in history that society has not experienced changes.  

Perhaps in the past the change came more slowly but it always came. Today the speed of change seems to have accelerated but that may just be a matter of perspective. Perhaps change, as it has come has always seemed to come too fast for some and not fast enough for others. For those who believe it is too fast, they want to roll back to a time when things were more comfortable. They are seeking a rewind of our morals to a time when respect of each other and of God was dominate. The want the time when being a Christian did not make them a target of scorn and ridicule. But that is not what is happening. Persecution will be and is a part of our lives. If they persecuted Christ, they will persecute Christ-followers also. If they hated Christ, the will hate believers in Christ also. It has been promised.

The times are perilous and for most of us it looks like they are only getting worse.  The days of mutual respect and acceptance of people of faith are fading away. Now, today, a celebrity will receive a police escort to the Super Bowl where she will preform in a way that trashes the Police and honors organizations that support criminal behavior.  The celebrity will be praised and applauded and go on her way making millions from people who never stop to think about the disconnect in their lives. 

And when it comes to change and second chances there is nothing like what God has offered. First, He never changes. What he said thousands of years ago to Adam and Eve is still true and has never changed. So he says to us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not tremble or be dismayed. The Lord your God is with you wherever you go. He will never leave you or desert you. The only do-over we need is the one Jesus Christ has provided for us through his death and resurrection.  We do not have to face the wrath of God if we choose to believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior. Believe, accept and receive a new life that is eternal and all things in the past are forgiven and forgotten, separated as far as the east is from the west. 

Fear not. Trust in the Lord God. Ask Him for the grace and faith to live the do-over life he has made available for you completely free.  Nothing we can do can result in our earning it.  It is a gift – it really is that simple but it simply is not easy, it cost something it cost Jesus his life and people hated him for it. They still do.