3 Types of Legalism

R.C. Sproul

Have you, as a Christian, ever been accused of legalism? That word is often bandied about in the Christian subculture incorrectly. For example, some people might call John a legalist because they view him as narrow-minded. But the term legalism does not refer to narrow-mindedness. In reality, legalism manifests itself in many subtle ways.

Basically, legalism involves abstracting the law of God from its original context. Some people seem to be preoccupied in the Christian life with obeying rules and regulations, and they conceive of Christianity as being a series of do’s and don’ts, cold and deadly set of moral principles. That’s one form of legalism, where one is concerned merely with the keeping of God’s law as an end in itself.

Now, God certainly cares about our following His commandments. Yet there is more to the story that we dare not forget. God gave laws such as the Ten Commandments in the context of the covenant. First, God was gracious. He redeemed His people out of slavery in Egypt and entered into a loving, filial relationship with Israel. Only after that grace-based relationship was established did God begin to define the specific laws that are pleasing to Him. I had a professor in graduate school who said, “The essence of Christian theology is grace, and the essence of Christian ethics is gratitude.” The legalist isolates the law from the God who gave the law. He is not so much seeking to obey God or honor Christ as he is to obey rules that are devoid of any personal relationship.

There’s no love, joy, life, or passion. It’s a rote, mechanical form of law-keeping that we call externalism. The legalist focuses only on obeying bare rules, destroying the broader context of God’s love and redemption in which He gave His law in the first place.

To understand the second type of legalism, we must remember that the New Testament distinguishes between the letter of the law (its outward form) and the spirit of the law. The second form of legalism divorces the letter of the law from the spirit of the law. It obeys the letter but violates the spirit. There’s only a subtle distinction between this form of legalism and the one previously mentioned.

How does one keep the letter of the law but violate its spirit? Suppose a man likes to drive his car at the minimum required speed irrespective of the conditions under which he is driving. If he is on an interstate and the minimum posted speed is forty miles per hour, he drives forty miles per hour and no less. He does this even during torrential downpours, when driving at this minimum required speed actually puts other people in danger because they have had the good sense to slow down and drive twenty miles an hour so as not to skid off the road or hydroplane. The man who insists on a speed of forty miles per hour even under these conditions is driving his car to please himself alone. Although he appears to the external observer as one who is scrupulous in his civic obedience, his obedience is only external, and he doesn’t care at all about what the law is actually all about. This second kind of legalism obeys the externals while the heart is far removed from any desire to honor God, the intent of His law, or His Christ.

This second type of legalism can be illustrated by the Pharisees who confronted Jesus over healing on the Sabbath day (Matt. 12:9–14). They were concerned only with the letter of the law and avoiding anything that might look like work to them. These teachers missed the spirit of the law, which was directed against ordinary labor that is not required to maintain life and not against efforts to heal the sick.

The third type of legalism adds our own rules to God’s law and treats them as divine. It is the most common and deadly form of legalism. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees at this very point, saying, “You teach human traditions as if they were the word of God.” We have no right to heap up restrictions on people where He has no stated restriction.

Each church has a right to set its own policies in certain areas. For example, the Bible says nothing about soft drinks in the church’s fellowship hall, but a church has every right to regulate such things. But when we use these human policies to bind the conscience in an ultimate way and make such policies determinative of one’s salvation, we venture dangerously into territory that is God’s alone.

Many people think that the essence of Christianity is following the right rules, even rules that are extrabiblical. For example, the Bible doesn’t say that we can’t play cards or have a glass of wine with dinner. We can’t make these matters the external test of authentic Christianity. That would be a deadly violation of the gospel because it would substitute human tradition for the real fruits of the Spirit. We come perilously close to blasphemy by misrepresenting Christ in this way. Where God has given liberty, we should never enslave people with man-made rules. We must be careful to fight this form of legalism.

The gospel calls men to repentance, holiness, and godliness. Because of this, the world finds the gospel offensive. But woe to us if we add unnecessarily to that offense by distorting the true nature of Christianity by combining it with legalism. Because Christianity is concerned with morality, righteousness, and ethics, we can easily make that subtle move from a passionate concern for godly morality into legalism if we are not careful.

This excerpt is from How Can I Develop a Christian Conscience? by R.C. Sproul.

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/3-types-legalism

5 Characteristics of Legalism Theology (and its dangers)

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9 Signs Your Church is a Breeding Ground for Legalism

Insights| Church Life & Ministry | May 28, 2019

chains door lock legalism church
Eneida Nieves photo | Pexels

By Laura Petherbridge

“Hello. My Name is Laura. I’m a grace-killer.”

If there was a 12-step program for recovering grace-killers, aka legalists, I could be the founder. And that is how I would need to introduce myself.

It’s an embarrassing confession. It’s an essential confession. But it’s a victorious confession.

And a significant part to my voyage is that I spent the first 10 years of my walk with Jesus completely unaware that I was a legalist. I sincerely thought I was defending God and His Word.

That’s exactly how Satan deceives God’s people. Legalism—a perversion of holiness that masquerades as morality—can look and feel godly, respectable, virtuous, and beneficial. This is especially true if we’re surrounded with other grace-killers who cheer us on.

During my years as a legalist, I was knowledgeable in the Bible and I knew about the Pharisees. I believed I could detect legalism.

It wasn’t until I read a book by Chuck Swindoll called The Grace Awakening, which prompted me to ask God, “Am I a grace-killer?”

That’s when the Holy Spirit revealed truth.

You must be willing to consider whether legalism has infected you and your church. Here are a few questions to ask yourself which can help determine whether your church is fostering legalism.

  1. The people in your church have an “Us vs. Them” mentality: Those who believe in Jesus are good. Those who don’t believe in Him are bad.
  2. There’s talk about the church extending “too much grace” when it comes to a less-than-desirable person in the pew.
  3. You notice there seem to be many people who never believe they’re doing enough for God. They say things like, “I should pray more often” rather than “I love to pray.”
  4. Outsiders don’t visit often (perhaps because the church his known for its legalism). People who are deeply hurting due to their sins or poor choices feel humiliated and embarrassed around you or people in your congregation.
  5. Congregants actively avoid people who have a different worldview from them or who struggle with an outwardly visible sin.
  6. There’s a general attitude among church members that being right is more important than being kind.
  7. People are smug about their Bible knowledge and feel superior to those less educated about Scripture.
  8. People who are deeply hurting due to their sins/poor choices feel humiliated and embarrassed around you.
  9. This list has made you very uncomfortable, angry or indignant and you want to start defending yourself or your congregation—with Bible verses.

At this point you might be thinking I’m suggesting preachers and teachers water down the gospel to please people and culture. That’s not it at all.

The Bible is the inerrant Word of God and should be obeyed. Disobedience to God’s teachings results in severe consequences. Satan’s goal in getting us to believe we don’t need God’s truth is to steal, kill and destroy us with sin.

But what I’ve discovered in my freedom from legalism is a Pharisee loves the rules more than the person. A person who has shed legalism sees the person with a lens of compassion.

Now, when I see a person living in sin, my immediate reaction is gut-level grief and gentleness. Instead of spewing condemnation at him or her, I want to embrace them.

And I want to extend grace to them.

Is this a common practice in your church—extending grace when it’s needed?

Jesus never worried about extending too much grace. Every single time we see Jesus with someone living in sin—like the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, or the woman washing His feet with her tears—His first response is compassion and kindness.

Legalists eagerly surge to the end of the story where He instructs the sinner “go and sin no more.” It makes them feel superior and justified to point out another person’s sin.

But that isn’t where Jesus starts. His broken heart is weeping for His people who have been deceived. He lovingly lets them know they are safe with Him. Do you?

Once I stopped performing for God’s love, the temptation to sin lessened. No one needs to convince me sin is harmful. I trust God and His protective boundaries.

He is our shield. That truth removes the need to create and defend man-made barriers.

Are you instilling this confidence in those you lead?

Laura Petherbridge

@TheSmartStepmom

Laura is an international author and speaker who serves couples and single adults with topics on relationships, stepfamilies, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of several books, including The Smart Stepmom, and can be found at TheSmartStepmom.com.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Two historic women, one old and one young, were the first to welcome and praise the Savior of the world. And two glorious paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Dec 23, 2019

If quizzed “Who was the first person to welcome Jesus and announce his lordship?” how would you answer? It’s an important question when we consider that this man from the nowhere town of Nazareth is the most consequential individual ever.

His teaching and followers across the globe radically transformed world culture, toppled great powers without ever firing a shot, established the world of humanitarianism and accessible medical care for commoners, inspired the scientific method, and enlivened the world movements for justice, human dignity, and individual freedom. He literally divides history and is responsible for the founding of the largest, most diverse collection of people around some basic ideals.

This all started with two women no one had ever heard of, whose life-altering experiences are now illustrated in two exquisite works of art. Mary, a humble, young virgin, by tradition about 14 years old at the time, is told by an angel she will give birth to the very Son of God. At this striking news, she “arose and went with haste” to see her cherished relative, Elizabeth, some 90 miles away.

Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her own miraculous pregnancy, for she was well past child-bearing years. Of course, her baby was Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

The beauty of this part of the Christmas story is the miracle that happens the moment Mary enters Elizabeth’s home. Christ is recognized, received, proclaimed, and worshiped, and Mary and Elizabeth are not the only two involved in the divine drama here. We read in Luke 1:41-44:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

This is a major event in Jesus’ story and thus the Christian church, but we seldom appreciate it as such. It is the first time Jesus is both proclaimed and worshiped as God! This was done, we are told, “in a loud voice.” And Christ the Lord is worshiped by two people at the same time — one very old, one super young.

The First to Proclaim Jesus’ Lordship

Elizabeth proclaims the blessedness of Jesus and his mother. The simple but world-changing confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was the first and most basic way Christians began to proclaim their faith and greet one another in the church’s early years. It was the first Christian creed, and Elizabeth was the first to proclaim it, long before Christmas morning. Think on that for a moment.

The second greeting is even more incredible and speaks to an intimate relationship in the Savior’s life. Baby John leaps for joy, literally, at the coming of the Savior. He does so as a child in the darkness of his mother’s womb. (Yes, Christianity has profoundly strong words for the humanity and dignity of the unborn child in John and Jesus’ remarkable in utero contribution to the good news.)

John did not start serving as the forerunner of Christ when preaching about his coming in the desert. It was here, in the womb. And it was two very common mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, who experienced this remarkable, history-changing event. It happened in distinctly womanly interiors of their hearts and wombs, and in the humbleness of Elizabeth’s home. Humble motherhood and the intimate bond only mothers can share is the human font of the Christian story.

To be sure, the Christian church, which is often incorrectly charged with being sexist by people who know little of its actual story, is founded upon two women being the first to welcome and praise the Savior. (Remember as well, it was a small group of women who announced the “second birth” of the Savior, if you will, at his resurrection.) What other major faith or philosophy has women playing such a significant role in its founding? I cannot think of one.

Two famous paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events, “The Annunciation” and “The Visitation.” The first African-American painter to achieve significant critical acclaim, Henry Ossawa Tanner, created both. He is a remarkable man and one of my favorite artists.

Christmas paintings by Henry O. Tanner

‘The Annunciation’

One of the things I like best in Tanner’s two works here is that he shows us the simple humanness of Mary and Elizabeth. They are not supernatural, other-worldly, saintly subjects in the typical sense. Tanner’s images show us the regular, everyday women they were.

Christmas Painting The Annunciation

He will not allow us to miss the youth, innocence, and commonness of our Mary. Tanner doesn’t give her a facial expression communicating anything obvious. Is she scared? Stunned? Joyful? Solemn? His Mary is more complex than many artists’ as is undoubtably true of the actual event. Tanner has her communicating all these feelings and struggles at once.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this most startling news, he found a teenage girl living a typical teenage girl’s life. The greatest royal announcement in the history of the universe takes place in this teen girl’s humble bedroom, illuminated by the majesty of God’s oracle. That is precisely what Tanner gives us, and it’s just stunning. Also, his technique in presenting the folds and flow of her gown and bed coverings is nothing short of magnificent.

‘The Visitation’

As wonderful as Tanner’s “Annunciation” is, his “Visitation” is even more striking.

Just look at it and consider what’s happening here.

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christmas painting The Visitation

Tanner allows us personally to witness this event. Elizabeth most likely did not have any notice that Mary was coming or the grand news that prompted the visit. She sits at the table on an ordinary day, when she hears Mary possibly utter what any of us likely would as she comes to the door, “Liz, you home?”

Elizabeth’s divine surprise and wonder is dramatically communicated simply in her uplifted hands. It’s a glorious device. Are they hands of praise or surprise? Certainly both at the same time.

This simple scene of a surprise family visitation and domesticity is the first scene of Jesus being worshiped. Reflect on this a moment. The event we are witnessing right here in this kitchen is the initiation of what the rest of history and eternity will be about, the worship of the second person of the divine Trinity: Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son.

The interchange between these two women in this domestic setting is unspeakably profound. We typically move over it far too easily, wanting to get onto what we see as the center of the Christmas story, the manger.

This exchange is also vitally important because it is the first revelation of Christ beyond Mary’s heart and womb. It is the precise second and scene that commenced the worship of the Son of the God that will continue without end into eternity, the story that encapsulates a Christian’s whole reality.

P.S. Tanner Lived in Philadelphia

I knew Tanner lived in Philadelphia for some time, so on a business trip there some years ago, I wanted to see if his house was discoverable. It was, and I found it, right around the corner from John Coltrane’s home. How cool is that?

Henry O. Tanner house

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/23/behold-two-paintings-that-show-a-miraculous-christmas-meeting/

Legalism And Preaching

By Peter Mead on Feb 4, 2021

Defining legalism carefully is vitally important. It is important for each follower of Christ. It is a serious business to discount a restriction as legalism when it actually is displeasing to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Legalism is an easy word to throw around, but a challenging term to define. For many of us, legalism seems to refer to whatever restrictions others might feel that I personally do not feel. But defining legalism carefully is vitally important. 

It is important for each follower of Christ. It is a serious business to discount a restriction as legalism when it actually is displeasing to the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. Equally it can be stifling to the life He has given us to overlay unnecessary restrictions and thereby misrepresent Him to ourselves and others. 

The issue of representing Christ to others means that defining legalism accurately should be a concern for every preacher. People look to us for guidance, both in clarification of the Gospel and in instruction for living. Every preacher treads a minefield in every sermon – preach legalism, or preach license, and damage will be done. 

However, many of us never really think about the definition of legalism. I think part of the reason for this is that we have been lulled into a false sense of security by an inadequate definition. 

Many definitions are essentially similar to this: “Legalism is about trying to merit salvation by obedience.” 

But there is a significant problem with this definition. Too easily we will hear this to be referring to the heresy of salvation by works. That is, the idea that we have to behave in order to be saved. And the problem with that understanding of legalism is that once we are saved (by grace, not works), then we are effectively immune from any charge of legalism. After all, doesn’t every born again believer in Jesus know that salvation is based on grace, not works? 

Surely a definition of legalism that rules out any Christian from being a legalist must be flawed.  It concerns me because I am sure I have met a few legalists.  I have probably been one too. 

So perhaps it would be better to define legalism as “trying to merit God’s favour by obedience.” After all, God’s favour is not just about getting into the family in the first place, we also value God’s favour in our ongoing relationship with Him. 

Next time I would like to wrestle with this idea more and identify one big reason why believers can fall into legalism so easily.

Peter Mead is involved in the leadership team of a church plant in the UK. He serves as director of Cor Deo—an innovative mentored ministry training program—and has a wider ministry preaching and training preachers. He also blogs often at BiblicalPreaching.net and recently authored Pleased to Dwell: A Biblical Introduction to the Incarnation (Christian Focus, 2014). Follow him on Twitter

https://www.sermoncentral.com/pastors-preaching-articles/peter-mead-legalism-and-preaching-2441

Practical Life’s Lessons From The Nativity

by Pastor Ray Patrick

1. Spend Quiet Time with Yahweh

Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:10

The baby was soon to come and Mary had so much to do. In spite of all her preparations in the physical, she had to spend spiritual one on one time with God. Spending time alone with God is an important part of spiritual development. This week, amidst hectic holiday preparations, make time for quiet meditation. Stop the talking, working and rushing long enough to be still. God is waiting for you. Begin now!

2. Yahweh Source of All Hope

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Isaiah 40:31

For 9 months Mary and Joseph lived with great hope and expectations. Hope is a powerful thing, but the real strength comes from the source of hope. When you place your desires and dreams into the hands of God, nothing is impossible. Hope for all mankind came through Christ, born as a lowly child in a stable.

Are you feeling run down, dealing with worry or frustration?

Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ today, say a prayer and stand in hope…

3.  Make Faith In Yahweh a Habit

So exercise yourself spiritually and practice being a better Christian.

1 Timothy 4:8

Mary had to make faith a daily habit. She had to trust God moment by moment, day by day. Through loneliness, ridicule and the pain of pregnancy she had to exercise faith and make it a habit. Someone once said that practice does not make perfect; practice makes habit. This advent season, dedicate time to your spiritual exercises–prayer, Bible reading, meditation and make deepening your relationship with God a daily exercise. So like Mary, you can stay on track on your spiritual journey.

4. Focus on Yahweh’s Gift

Be very careful, then, how you live…making the most of every opportunity.

Ephesians 5:15-16

This time of year was a busy time in the Jewish calendar. Mary and Joseph would have had lots to do. But they had to stay focused on the gift God had blessed them with. December is a busy month for most of us. Filled with opportunities—parties to attend, special worship experiences to have and chances to reconnect with family and old friends. Make sure to focus your heart on the true reason for every Season. Focus on God the man, Christ Jesus and the tremendous difference He makes in your life. Pray for the wisdom to keep the holidays blessed rather than stressed.

Pray With Me
Yahweh, our Creator, we offer this humble prayer today. Father, we worship you with a song of thanks in our hearts—a song of redemption, a song of hope and renewal. We pray for joy, hope, love, forgiveness and peace upon the Earth. God, we ask for the salvation of all our family members and friends, and we pray your blessings on all people. May there be bread for the hungry, love for the unlovable, healing for the sick, protection for our children, and wisdom for our youth. We pray for the forgiveness of sinners and abundant life in Christ. Holy Spirit, be with us in love and power. In Christ’ name. Amen.

https://godinterest.com/2019/12/25/practical-lifes-lessons-from-the-nativity/

She’s Interested and He’s Not Pursuing

What’s up with all the godly Christian men not making a move?

by Godinterest

Houston, we have a problem. It’s a problem that will require all of our effort, courage, confidence and creativity to solve.

Christianity is the largest religion in the world, claiming 2.2 billion of the world’s 6.9 billion people, as of last year and dating is a big deal for most young Christians. However, ask any young woman what the Christian dating scene is like these days.

“Christian men … ugh.”  Grim. Impossible. Slim pickings they’ll  say.

Young Christian men simply won’t commit, they’ll  say and if you’re lucky they’ll  call once — never to be heard from again.

And the churchgoing men who are available? Well, there’s a reason they’re single.

“Usually, he respects or admires the godly young woman (or, other people in his Church think he should admire her more), and yet he’s not physically attracted to her. She’s not his “type,” he says.”

So why are all the single Christian ladies having trouble finding single Christian guys for companionship and romance?  A plethora of Christian dating websites, books, blogs, advice columns, and magazine articles have surfaced in the last few years, attempting to give Christian young women some helpful tips for snagging a godly man and achieving that much-desired state of wedded bliss.

  • Date for at least a year.
  • Don’t kiss before you’re married.
  • Be careful how much time you spend together.
  • Date a bunch of people before getting serious.
  • Don’t unless you are ready to move in the direction of marriage.

It’s not terrible advice– waiting until marriage takes work. But here’s the thing: Relationships take work.  However, while most Chrisitan ladies have internal regulations in the form of our Spirit inspired convictions and knowledge of the Bible, it does not seem to be enough?

Could it be that we screened all the godly young men out of church as boys?  

Probably not entirely, as according to Mark Regenerus, a sociology professor at the University of Texas, young single women in the church outnumber young single men by a three-to-two ratio.

That’s right ladies, you’re not imagining it: there’s a severe shortage of single men in the church. Not just here in the U.S., but also around the world.

“There are almost no men in my country who are following Christ. And French men will not marry a woman whose faith in Jesus is so strong. She is a leper in their eyes.” –  Christian woman from France

A young godly man knows he’s a catch — particularly if he’s dedicated to his faith, good looking and works out and there are hardly any other man is his Church. With each week that passes, he’s presented with a congregation full of single women. Most haven’t been on a date in a while. He has his pick of the bunch.

There’s even a joke about the gender imbalance. It goes like this:

“Men in the church are like parking spaces. All the good ones are either already taken, or they’re handicapped.”

Furthermore, it has been confirmed that the supply of young women grows with each passing year.

So whats the solution?

God Will Orchestrate the Love Story

Do you find yourself becoming resentful that God is withholding something from you?

  • Still waiting to find the man of your dreams
  • Your greatest desire is to have a baby
  • You want to experience the joy of being “equally yoked” with a godly husband

Desperation is dangerous because it focuses on self: What I want. What I must have. What I cannot live without. Firstly,  if and when the time comes for you to be married, God will orchestrate the love story. But in the meantime, your focus is to be on serving God and pouring your life out for God, not on getting serious about getting married. The timing is up to God, not you.

Singled Out in Church

Secondly, research shows that single men are more likely to attend churches that fit the following profile:

  • Large
  • Headed by a male pastor who’s bold and outspoken
  • Offers intentional male discipleship
  • Worship service is done in under 90 minutes

Apart from salvation, there is perhaps a way that the concept “God helps those who help themselves” is correct. We’re not suggesting you switch churches over this issue. It probably wouldn’t hurt to visit another church once in awhile — especially if your church offers nothing for singles.

Also remember that there are actually some Christ-men out there who are praying and hoping for a set-apart young woman — one who is not following after the trends of the culture, or who are not wallowing around in discontentment or on the constant prowl for a guy.

Any pastors who are reading, have you ever stopped to listen, really listen, to the women in your church about how they feel they are treated or perceived?

https://godinterest.com/2018/03/18/shes-interested-and-hes-not-pursuing/

People Series: David, man after God’s own heart

January 15, 2020 by Nehemiah Zion

David, the greatest King Israel ever had. A shepherd, warrior, worshipper and a lot more. What did I find when I mapped his life onto the seven point framework? Similar to the previous article on Cornelius. If you enjoyed it, please leave a comment or share your thoughts as you are moved by the Spirit.

David knew his Identity

“How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!” Psalms 139:17 

Full marks to David for knowing the heart of God concerning him aka His children. He had no doubt that God loved him greatly, he was so filled in the love of God himself. He knew his joy and peace came from the salvation of God alone. His gratitude and adoration is revealed in his words of praise to God. What a life of hope!

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23-24 

David knew the state of man. He knew his true place as a human being on earth. Even though he was King, he knew he was nothing before the King of kings. He was eager to please God every day. His only desire was to be with God forever.

David knew he was Unique

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalms 139:14

David believed he was uniquely created. He had a clear vision of his life, knowing that God had created him with purpose. He fed his spirit with Gods will, and not his own.

David only Expected from God 

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalms 62:5 

One of the key enablers of all confusion and unrest in life is living on wrong expectations. It’s impossible to satisfy a longing soul. He knew God alone could fulfil the longings of his soul.

He expected only from God. He waited on God for every help he required for battles and life.

David gave his Time to God

“My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. Psalms 84:2

When Jesus is your first love, you’ll only want to spend all your time with Him. Are you hungry and thirsty like the OT King? We who have the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, how passionate are we about praying and meditating on Gods word?

David loved fellowship | People

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalms 133:1 

David not only loved God, but also loved fellowship. He believed in a lifestyle of unity. When the families of his army and his own family were captured, his own people turned against him. Yet, he encouraged himself in the Lord. He leaned on God when everything was against him. Not only did he get the families back but the love of his people was greatly restored.

David knew the secret to true success in this World

“What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?” Psalms 34:12 

Everyone wants a good and long life (when things are going well for them), but you cannot have it without walking in the fear of God. David who had it all, personally realised the price one pays when he or she strays away from the Word of God.

David knew his Enemy

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalms 23:4-5 

David’s lifestyle, his love for God and people, not only brought him victory over his enemies but also converted enemies into friends. His devotion in worship brought healing to those who were affected by evil spirits of depression, anxiety and other mental and emotional problems. No matter who the enemy was, in the physical or spiritual, He relied on God to overcome them all.

Original here

 

A Liberal Order That Seeks To Shut Down Christian Charities Doesn’t Deserve To Survive

Christian post-liberals on the right have seen how readily the liberal center-left and the Chamber-of-Commerce right surrender to the extreme and illiberal left. It makes them wonder: Why not us?

A Liberal Order That Seeks To Shut Down Christian Charities Doesn’t Deserve To Survive

Dec 26, 2019

It is a basic Christian teaching that good works are insufficient for spiritual salvation. We should also remember they are unlikely to suffice for cultural and political salvation either.

Chick-fil-A’s abandonment of The Salvation Army is yesterday’s news, but its lessons should be remembered, for they explain our cultural and political trajectory. That the chicken chain capitulated even though everyone was “eating mor chikin” is instructive regarding the power of the LBGT lobby and its allies. That they directed this power against a Christian organization dedicated to feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the homeless — including those who identify as LGBT — is even more instructive.

It exemplifies how hard-liners are driving the cultural left. It is not clear that a majority even of those who identity as LGBT hate The Salvation Army. For example, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg volunteered for the organization (albeit for a photo op) a couple of years back. Now he is facing criticism from LGBT activists, as those running the movement want total victory, not coexistence. And they are winning.

The campaign included government officials from Buffalo, New York, to San Antonio, Texas, retaliating against Chick-fil-A for its support of The Salvation Army. Even without full control over the government, the left has been aggressive in its use of government power against Christians who believe traditional teachings on human sexuality. The left seems to target particularly those engaged in charitable work, rather than protecting them on account of their good works.

The left’s legal wing is trying to compel Christian hospitals to perform abortions and sex-change surgeries, Christian schools to affirm same-sex relationships, and Christian charities such as women’s shelters to pretend men can be women. A purportedly serious Democratic presidential candidate wanted to tax dissenting Christian organizations, including churches, into oblivion.

The left won’t even spare elderly nuns. When the Trump administration ended Barack Obama’s legal campaign against the Little Sisters of the Poor, various Democratic attorneys general made a point of continuing that unholy effort.

The Rise of Post-Liberal Christianity

This should not surprise us. Jesus promised that the powers of this world would hate his followers, not that they would love us if we were virtuous. While we Christians should always strive to be more like Christ, we should not succumb to a quasi-Pelagianism that presumes our winsomeness determines how others receive the gospel. Christ himself was crucified, and the grace and charity many martyrs exemplified did not save them from persecution unto death.

But that we should expect trouble in this world does not mean we should be disinterested regarding politics, nor does it excuse governments that oppose the church and oppress its people. That our nation seems to be starting down this path has intensified Christian reconsiderations of liberal political theory. Although our government ostensibly protects the freedoms of religion, association, and speech, procedural liberalism increasingly appears insufficient to protect our rights or to ensure a culture of tolerance and pluralism that includes Christians who maintain the traditional teachings of our faith.

The supposedly neutral principles of the legal left consistently restrict the rights and opportunities of orthodox Christians, and the left always pushes the envelope. Christian litigators should, of course, do their best to defend our rights, and thank God for their efforts, but it should be no surprise that more and more Christians are intrigued by varieties of post-liberal thinking, including previously marginalized ideas such as Catholic integralism. It is understandable that Christians are turning against the system of liberal democratic capitalism as it turns against them.

Post-liberal Christians are unlikely to find their minority status daunting, for they see that minorities can win if they are determined and the institutions they face are weak and full of cowards. After all, a minority of hard-line leftists control cultural, economic, and political pressure points that grant them power far beyond their numbers.

For example, the 2020 Democratic field is so radically pro-abortion that even The New York Times has noticed. The Democratic Party stands for abortion today, abortion tomorrow, and abortion forever, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren illustrated in promising that at her inauguration — angels and ministers of grace defend us! — she will wear swag to rep the nation’s largest abortion chain.

Christian post-liberals on the right have seen how readily the liberal center-left and the Chamber-of-Commerce right surrender to the extreme and illiberal left and wonder: Why not us? A decadent and despairing culture with weak institutions and degraded elites is precisely the sort that a determined minority might govern.

Thus, they see an opportunity as our culture disintegrates despite its wealth and technological prowess. Liberal individualism seems to be devouring itself: Fertility is down, loneliness and depression have increased, and deaths of despair from suicide, drugs, and alcohol are way up.

Should Liberalism Be Preserved?

Perhaps it is time to be bold and reorder society toward the highest good, rather than accepting liberalism’s dishonest promises of “live and let live” neutrality. As some post-liberal thinkers note, we increasingly live in a non-Christian integralist society that mandates belief in sectarian dogmas, such as the mystical belief that a man may become — indeed, may already be — a woman. Therefore, they see the alternative to post-liberal Christian politics not as liberalism, but as some sort of post-Christian illiberal politics.

I am sympathetic to some of the post-liberal thought developing on the right. I see the appeal, especially as liberalism’s promise of legal neutrality is exposed as so much fiction. I share many of the critiques of liberal political theory and find its discourse far more interesting than the stale talking points of neoliberals and neoconservatives.

But I am neither Catholic nor Calvinist enough to be much of an integralist, and I remain more skeptical of the likelihood of governmental efficacy and rectitude than many post-liberals seem to be. I also remain attached to many liberal practices, such as the right to trial by jury.

I am, in short, still thinking over these matters and am not entirely in either camp. From this in-between, I would recommend post-liberal thinkers reflect on the frailty and fallibility of human institutions. I also suggest that the defenders of liberal democratic capitalism take the critiques of post-liberals seriously. A liberal order that seeks to shut down Christian charities for nonconformist views on human sexuality does not deserve to survive.

Nathanael Blake is a Senior Contributor at The Federalist. He has a PhD in political theory. He lives in Missouri.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/26/a-liberal-order-that-seeks-to-shut-down-christian-charities-doesnt-deserve-to-survive/

Mighty Warrior

by Discerning Dad

Judges 6:12“When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

I struggle to know if I am moving in God’s calling in my life.  After all, days turn into months and years and the grind is real.  Who am I that God can use?  My past, my sin, my fear, my doubts are all reasons for why I am not qualified.  God couldn’t possibly use someone like me, look at what other people are doing in God’s name, look at the ministries, the salvations, the miracles… how can I measure up?

Let’s take a look at Gideon, he was a mighty warrior for God and one of the most famous of Israel’s judges. If you look at when God called him, he was not even close to who we think of him today.  God first saw him and called him a “mighty warrior.” Why? Had he won battles yet? Had he defeated Israel’s enemies yet? No… but God saw him for what he could become, he called this out of him before Gideon even believed it. In fact the next verse (13) Gideon answers the angel by saying “Pardon me, my lord, but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about…. But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.”  God responds to this by saying “Go in thestrength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand.  Am I not sending you?”  God shut down Gideon’s doubts pretty fast, Gideon is overcome by his circumstances and basically tells God that He abandoned them, he says this directly to God’s angel, talk about being bold!  God responding with “Am I not sending you”, as in- I know what I am doing, I chose you for a reason if you were to but act upon it and believe it.

This should have been enough right?  I mean, if God told you directly that he was sending you, would you obey?  Or would you come up with excuses? Take a look at Gideon’s NEXT response in verse 15 “But how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Gideon still had excuses, he refused to believe God knew who he was calling and tried to correct God by telling him where he came from.  The Lord then responded “I will be with you,” as if to say, none of your past matters, I am calling you into a mighty future.  The rest of the chapter is Gideon asking for signs from God to confirm even more what has already been spoken.

You have to give Gideon credit for his boldness in the face of God, he was worried that he couldn’t be a mighty warrior for God and yet here he is, in front of the creator of the universe, telling Him how He is wrong.  I find it interesting too that God allowed Gideon to express his fears and concerns without giving up on him, he came through on Gideon’s asking for a sign and did not go and choose someoneelse.  God knew what he was doing and God knew why he called Gideon.  Fast-forward some verses and Gideon destroys Israelites enemies and fulfills what God spoke over him as a “mighty warrior.”

It’s been said that God doesn’t call those equipped but equips those he calls…

What does God’s calling look like on your life?  Have you been walking faithfully in it or have you been running away from it because you are not “qualified.” What I have seen in my life is that following through on God’s calling is taking small steps and saying “YES” to God, in whatever that may be, big or small.  God is patient and wants to hear your fears and doubts. He may not always answer a “fleece” (v.39) we put before him, but he will always encourage us and always sees us for who we really are and the“mighty warrior” we can become!

Discerning Reflection: What is the reason I use for why I “can’t” do something God is calling me to do? What have I said YES to that has turned out to be a blessing to me or someone else?

Prayer- God, help me see myself as you see me. Help me walk in the calling you have placed on my life, however big or small it may be.  Help me not use excuses from my past as to why I can’t but give me boldness and guide my steps.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tim Ferrara

 

 

TBT- Mighty Warrior

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