Bible Love Notes – Are You Putting Conditions on God’s Commands?

Sometimes professing Christians put conditions on God’s commands. For example: 

“I’ll give something to God’s work when I make more money.”

“I’ll be sexually pure when the temptations aren’t so great.”

“I’ll study the Bible when I’m not so busy.”

“I’ll honor my parents when they live up to my expectations.”

If a person puts conditions on God’s commands, they aren’t taking their faith seriously. In fact, they need to ask themselves if they’ve made a genuine commitment to Christ.

Jesus says people who love Him obey His commands (John 14:15John 14:21John 14:23). That’s how we “remain in His love” (John 15:10). Scripture says we can know if someone has come to the Lord by the fact that they are living as He commands (1 John 5:1-5).

None of us is perfect, but genuine believers take God’s commands seriously. We seek to obey wholeheartedly, letting God change us from the inside out (Philippians 2:12-13).

We sometimes think we’re being gracious to remain silent when a fellow-believer excuses their sins, but we’re actually being disobedient. God commands us to gently correct them (Galatians 6:11 Corinthians 5:12James 5:19-20). And if we’re not taking our faith seriously, God commands others to correct us.He died for us. We need to ask ourselves if we’re genuinely living for Him (2 Corinthians 5:15).  


Bible Love Notes – Natural, Unnatural, & Supernatural

The most popular teachings among Christians: 

  • Appeal to felt needs, not actual needs. 
  • Tell us we’re victims, not sinners. 
  • Tell us we’re wonderful just the way we are. 
  • Use only Bible verses that make us feel good about ourselves. 
  • Exclude verses that talk about holiness, dying to self, or obeying God’s commands.

But God’s love isn’t like that. It’s life-changing and full-bodied, including teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training (2 Timothy 3:16-17). God is holy and He expects holiness from His beloved children (2 John 1:61 Peter 1:15-16). 

Our old self is impure, ungodly, “corrupted by its deceitful desires.” Our new self is “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”  But we are in process. We must daily “put off” our old self and “put on” our new self (Ephesians 4:17-24).

That which was natural for our old self is unnatural for our new self. And the only way we can change is through the supernatural indwelling of God’s Spirit. We need His strength and guidance (Philippians 4:13). 

We have an important part to play in this process of sanctification, so let’s get serious about “putting off” and “putting on” so God can change us from the inside out (Philippians 2:12-13).


Bible Love Notes – Not a Victim

The Trojan Horse series covers false teachings which have entered the church to undermine sound doctrine.

Nowhere in Scripture does God excuse a man’s sins because of his life circumstances. 

But we do it all the time because Satan has convinced us we’re victims, not sinners. 

We blame our sins on insecurity, poor self-esteem, bad parenting, mistreatment, lack of opportunity, or difficult circumstances. 

But God gave us a biblical example that blows our victim mentality out of the water. 

It’s the story of young Joseph (Genesis 37-50):
Raised in a family of incest, murder, multiple wives, and jealous half-brothers. Sold into slavery. Thrown into prison by a lying adulterous woman. Separated from his home and forced to live as a stranger in a pagan culture. 

He could have wallowed in self-pity, disabled with fear and rejection. But he chose to do the right thing—forgive his offenders, trust God for his circumstances, and make the best of his life. And that’s what we must start doing too. 

No one is a victim when they’re in Christ.*
————————-
*Please understand this within the context of sin. Victims of crime or abuse are not responsible for the crimes committed against them. But the sins committed against them don’t excuse their sinful choices in life.


Bible Love Notes – The Gospel According to Absalom

When a nation rejects God, some professing Christians accept cultural values while maintaining a “form of godliness” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

One example is the increasing number of “Christians” who are neglecting or rejecting parents. Some of these adults are simply ignoring God’s commands because they’re selfish and inconsiderate. Others are fabricating “Scriptural” reasons to cut off or marginalize their parents. This is one reason teachings like Boundaries have become so popular.(1)

If you do a Google search about adult children neglecting or rejecting parents, you’ll find the majority of articles blame parents. This means most younger adults are mature and unselfish and most older adults are not. Of course, this isn’t true.

I call it “the gospel according to Absalom” because Absalom is the “patron degenerate” of this attitude (2 Samuel 13-19). He may have had some reasons to be disappointed in his father’s conduct, but he thought he had the right to dishonor and punish his father, King David. 

If we aren’t honoring our parents, we aren’t honoring God. It’s a very basic test of faith. Sadly, we’re hearing very little from the church about this problem which is succinctly described in Proverbs 30:11-14 and clearly addressed in Ephesians 6:2-31 Timothy 5:4, and Matthew 15:3-9.  

(1) For an example of the Boundaries focus, see Blame Your Mom.


Bible Love Notes – Don’t Turn Into a Troll

Have you ever encountered an “internet troll”? Trolls intentionally write repetitious comments that are rude, arrogant, aggressive, accusatory, and sometimes profane.(1)

You quickly learn that they are not interested in open discussion. They simply want to accuse, mock, and disagree.

Psychologists have different views about the cause of troll behavior, but they agree that trolls are typically bored and angry people who get a sick enjoyment and a feeling of power from leaving repetitive rude comments. (source)

They’re like the fools mentioned in Proverbs 26:4 who shouldn’t be answered.(2)

Most Christians are wise and gracious when they disagree, but it’s easy to slip into bad habits if we’re not careful. This happens when we focus on non-essential denominational doctrines more than on Christ. It happens when we comment before understanding what’s said or written (Proverbs 18:13). And it happens if we start attacking those who disagree instead of sticking to the subject (Ad Hominem Disagreement).

Psychologists may not fully understand the behavior of trolls, but God explains the real reason for rudeness of any kind:

“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks…The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”  Matthew 12:34-35

Let’s think about this passage whenever we speak, especially when disagreeing with someone. 

💙💙💙💙💙💙 

This collection of 1-minute devotions can be helpful: Christian Speech.

Footnotes:

(1) I’m not sure how trolls (fictional Scandinavian cave-dwellers) got such a bad rap, but Webster defines internet trolls as those who “antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.” 

Typically, the trolls commenting on Bible Love Notes devotions are what I call “evangelistic atheists.” But their rudeness will never win them converts. They actually highlight the weakness of their unbelief.

See God Can Even Use Proud Fools

(2) See A Foolish Contradiction.


Bible Love Notes – The Thief on the Cross had Greater Faith than Most of the Disciples

When we discuss the thief on the cross, we typically focus on the validity of his sincere “deathbed conversion.” He clearly confessed his sin and believed in Jesus and God’s Kingdom (Luke 23:39-42).  

But recently I’ve been thinking about the thief’s incredible faith. Let me explain: 

✔ When Jesus was arrested, the disciples deserted Him (Mark 14:50).

✔ Peter disowned him (Matthew 26:69-75).

✔ Women were present at the crucifixion, first standing at a distance, later moving close to the cross with John (Mark 15:40-41John 19:25-27). However, they still didn’t expect Christ to be resurrected (Mark 16:3). 

✔ When Peter and John reached the empty tomb, Scripture says, “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead” (John 20:1-9).  

✔ Even after others had seen Him risen, Thomas doubted (John 20:24-29).

✔ The two disciples on the Emmaus Road were confused (Luke 24:13-35).

✔ Even at the ascension, some of the disciples doubted (Matthew 28:16-20).  

It was hard for those who’d walked with Jesus to believe in His supernatural resurrection. 

But the thief looked upon the dying Jesus, who was being mocked as a fake, and he believed in Christ before Christ’s resurrection. 

That was incredible faith!!May we have such faith when things seem hopeless and when the world mocks our Lord. 


Bible Love Notes – Should Happiness Be Our Goal?

Does God want us happy? 

The answer is “yes” if happiness is based on being joyful, at peace, and content. Joy and peace are fruits of the Spirit, and “godliness with contentment is great gain” (Galatians 5:221 Timothy 6:6).

However, Jesus doesn’t guarantee the type of happiness that’s based on worldly pleasures.

Jesus said, “In me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).   

As we anticipate eternal happiness, we make holiness our goal:

“Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” 2 Corinthians 7:1

“Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-16

“For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7

God loves us and has special purposes for our lives (Ephesians 2:10). We find our happiness in Him as we seek holiness.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”Romans 12:1

I encourage you to check out the Bite Size Bible study that adds some details to this devotion: Does God Promise Us Holiness or Happiness or Both?.


Bible Love Notes – 25 Things Christ Revealed About His Father

This is not an exhaustive list, but it offers 25 things Christ revealed to us about God the Father. But please remember that the Trinity is One, so these roles overlap.

1. God is the provider of all:
Matthew 5:45: … He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

2. He sees all things and rewards goodness:
Matthew 6:4: … your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

3. He’s fully aware of our needs:
Matthew 6:8: … your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

4. He’s better than human fathers at giving His children good gifts:
Matthew 7:11: If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Also Luke 11:13

5. His Spirit speaks through us when we are persecuted:
Matthew 10:19-20: When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

6. He knows all the details of our lives:
Matthew 10:29-31: What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

7. He reveals truth to us:
Matthew 16:17: Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.

8. Guardian angels report to the Father:
Matthew 18:10: See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.

9. He answers our prayers:
Matthew 18:19: if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

10. The Father decides who will have places of honor with Christ:
Matthew 20:23: Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

11. When we forgive others, He forgives us:
Mark 11:25: when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

12. The Father decides the timing of events:
Mark 13:32: But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

13. He reveals things to people who have child-like faith and conceals things from the proud:
Luke 10:21: At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

14. We cannot know the Father except through Jesus:
Luke 10:22: “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
See also John 1:18

15. He seeks true worshipers who worship Him in spirit and in truth:
John 4:23: true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

16. The Father is always at His work:
John 5:17: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.”

17. The Father and Son are One:
John 5:19: Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
See also John 12:50 and John 14

18. He leaves judgment to Christ:
John 5:22: the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…
Because this is a complex role, please read “Did Jesus Come to Judge or Not to Judge.”

19. We come to Jesus through the Father:
John 6:44: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

20. He honors those who serve Christ:
John 12:26: Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 

21. When Christ came to earth and temporarily gave up His full rights as God (Philippians 2:5-11), the Father was greater than Christ:

John 14:28: “You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.”

22. The Father required the death of Christ for our sake, and Christ obeyed out of love for the Father:
John 14:30-31: “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, 31 but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.

23.The Father answers requests in Christ’s Name (i.e. in and through Christ, according to His will):
John 15:16: …whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
See also John 16:23
To get a balanced view of this passage, please read “Ask & Receive”

24. The Father loves those who love Christ:
John 16:27: the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 

25. We tell small children who accept Christ that they “have Jesus in their hearts,” but we actually have the entire Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit (John 14:15-17):

John 17:21: Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.


Bible Love Notes – Genuine Faith

Sometimes I’m surprised to hear people’s descriptions of Jesus because they make Him sound like a guy whose only purpose is to make us feel good about ourselves with no concern for how we live our lives (2 Corinthians 11:4). 

But the real Jesus doesn’t see it that way at all:

“You are my friends if you do what I command.” John 15:14 

“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” John 14:21 

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.” John 14:23-24

“Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.” John 8:51 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

Let’s reject false views of Jesus.