In the beginning God…Genesis 1.1

God is self-existent, he has always been and will always be. This is the foundational belief that we hold to be true and from this we understand our place and purpose. The only other option is to believe that matter has always been and somehow this matter came into being and had inherent power to change and create life. An impersonal substance somehow was able to create personal beings. If we hold this to be true there is no need for God and our lives can be lived by our own desires because we are free to act as we want. We are not accountable to anyone ,there is no moral code that we must submit to. Once we acknowledge that there is a God then we also must acknowledge that we are accountable to him. Our Creator is a kind and benevolent God who created human beings for his pleasure and to be the objects of his love. He is a good God and everything he does is based in his goodness. True life begins when we understand the first sentence of the Bible and place our lives under the rule of our Creator.

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Hatred of believers

And you will be hated (despised) by everyone because [you bear] My name and for its sake.
Luke 21:17 AMPC

Jesus predicted the intense persecution that would happen to his disciples. The moral laws that God has given are under attack today and the believers that stand against the immorality that is spreading are being condemned and are not on the right side according to the people that are promoting the immorality. There is no tolerance for Christian beliefs that they are opposing and conformity is the only alternative that is presented. The situation confronting believers will not get better but the opposition will continue to impose the standards of depravity. Believers need to be on guard and pray as Jesus has directed us. The world is on a downward path of destruction just as Jesus predicted. Persecution will test the quality of one’s faith and those who endure to the end will be saved. God will not abandon his people and he will supply the wisdom we need to answer the oppressors.

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So they watched [for an opportunity to ensnare] Him, and sent spies who pretended to be upright (honest and sincere), that they might lay hold of something He might say, so as to turn Him over to the control and authority of the governor.
Luke 20:20 AMPC

As the popularity of Jesus continued to increase the desperation of the religious leaders also increased. They tried everything they could think of to bring an accusation against him that would lead to his death by the Roman authorities. Each time they tried to trap him they failed and their frustration became greater. Their foolishness could not overcome the wisdom of God. Jesus put them in their place and saw through their pride and hypocrisy.

We see the same attitudes today among politicians that resort to desperate measures to try to eliminate people that oppose them. They create lies and are full of pride thinking that they alone have the answers and authority to impose their beliefs on the masses that are not in agreement with them. The thirst for power and control will eventually lead to their downfall.

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Hunger and hatred

And He continued to teach day after day in the temple [porches and courts]. The chief priests and scribes and the leading men of the people were seeking to put Him to death, But they did not discover anything they could do, for all the people hung upon His words and stuck by Him.
Luke 19:47‭-‬48 AMPC

The people were hungry to hear the teachings of Jesus. He spoke with authority and clarity. His parables were easy to listen to and memorable even though the meaning of them was hidden from many people. He spoke the truth and was not afraid of the scribes and pharisees that hated him and wanted him dead. His boldness to preach and teach in the temple where huge crowds gathered made the religious leaders furious but they could not stop him.

Jesus provoked two responses from the people. They either hungered for his teachings or they hated him for the truth he was revealing. Some were hanging on his every word while others could not wait to hang him. It is the same type of responses that are repeated today. Disdain and apathy toward the word of God is the attitude of the majority of people and few have a true hunger for the word of God.

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Faith or fake?

And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf? I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth?
Luke 18:7‭-‬8 AMPC

We serve a God that is just. He invites us to cry out to him when we face situations of injustice. He will defend us and come to our aid quickly when we have faith to believe in his character and his promises. Difficult times are facing the church today and persecution is spreading throughout the world. People are turning away from their beliefs in Jesus and are denying the foundational beliefs based on the word of God. It is happening just as Jesus predicted. As persecution increases and intensifies the true believers will be purified and strengthened in their faith while others that are fake believers or of little faith will lose faith and face a future of being denied by Jesus and cast into the place prepared for all that have rejected him.

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Woe to tempters of evil

AND [Jesus] said to His disciples, Temptations (snares, traps set to entice to sin) are sure to come, but woe to him by or through whom they come!
Luke 17:1 AMPC

Sanctioning sin and enticing others to commit sin have serious consequences that Jesus warned the people about. Legalizing practices that are in contradiction to God’s standards has to be viewed as an invitation to temptation and not a human right to do whatever you want and expect everyone to be tolerate of the sin. They devil is at work through many people that are his accomplices in presenting temptations to be led into sin for the purpose of destroying their lives. Legalizing sin is a sure path to destroying the soul of the person that practices the sin. Nothing good us accomplished when God’s standards are replaced by the defiant standards of the world. Sin cannot be tolerated, it must always be opposed by adhering to God’s standards of holiness and righteousness. People are free to make choices but the consequences of these choices are life or death and are clearly revealed by God’s word.

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Detestable standards

But He said to them, You are the ones who declare yourselves just and upright before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted and highly thought of among men is detestable and abhorrent (an abomination) in the sight of God. [I Sam. 16:7; Prov. 21:2.]
Luke 16:15 AMPC

Living by God’s values and principles is contrary to the ways of the world. Those who oppose God create their own standards that are an abomination to God. Today we see the world’s standards that are being forced upon the believers to accept them as normal and not resist or oppose them. Marriage has always been a union of male and female. Abortion is murder of the unborn. Transgender changes are a rejection of the way God has created each person and given them an unchangeable DNA. Euthanasia is murder because it takes away the life of a person before God’s timing. Pornography defies the sacredness of the body God has created to be an instrument of righteousness not an instrument to create lust and sexual abuse .

These are all detestable to God and those who practice and condone them will face God’s judgment. The pride they now exhibit by their defiance will become a shameful condemnation.

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Lost and found

NOW THE tax collectors and [notorious and especially wicked] sinners were all coming near to [Jesus] to listen to Him. And the Pharisees and the scribes kept muttering and indignantly complaining, saying, This man accepts and receives and welcomes [preeminently wicked] sinners and eats with them. So He told them this parable:
Luke 15:1‭-‬3 AMPC

Jesus used many parables to teach principles and paint a different picture than what was taught by the Jewish leaders. The three parables taught in Luke 15 are addressed to the Scribes and pharisees that had grievances against Jesus because he associated with contemptible people.

The lost sheep parable emphasized the responsibility of the shepherd to care for the sheep and be accountable for each of the sheep in the herd. As believers we have a responsibility to reach out and find the people that have strayed from the Lord or have never known him. We cannot neglect doing what Jesus has told us to do to preach the gospel message and bring his salvation to a world lost in sin.

The lost coin emphasizes recovering something that has value. The coin was important enough for the woman to diligently search for it until she found it. Like the coin each person God has created has great value not because of anything they have done but because they are created in God’s image and likeness. God has done everything possible to make the recovery of lost souls. He desires that none should perish and spend eternity separated from his goodness. The value of each person should be a strong motivation for us to recover everything they have lost because of their fallen state.

The lost son, the prodigal son’s return to his father emphasizes the restoration of a broken relationship. Everyone has sinned and has suffered the consequences of sinful choices that have separated us from our relationship with God. God wants this relationship restored and is waiting for people to realize the brokenness of their lives and humble themselves through repentance to return to him.

All three parables have the same result, that there was great rejoicing and celebration. We must never forget the joy God and all the angels experience when the lost souls receive salvation. The scribes and pharisees treated the sinners with contempt but Jesus had compassion and that made all the difference on how he sought them out and spent time with them.

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The cost

So then, any of you who does not forsake (renounce, surrender claim to, give up, say good-bye to) all that he has cannot be My disciple.
Luke 14:33 AMPC

Jesus was very clear regarding the cost of being a disciple. To a group of people that valued possessions and family his demands would seem unrealistic and undesirable. Jesus knew how to put his finger on things that would hinder people from being 100 % dedicated to him. He is worthy of our complete and total dedication and nothing can replace the priority of doing what he calls us to do. It does not mean we neglect our responsibilities toward our family and abandon them. However our families cannot become the most important thing in our lives that cause us to to be disobedient to the call of being a disciple of Jesus. God can take care of our families if we are called to be separated from them in response to his call to complete what he wants us to do. We have to trust him to be in control and know that he is a perfect father who will meet their needs.

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I tell you, No; but unless you repent (change your mind for the better and heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), you will all likewise perish and be lost eternally.
Luke 13:5 AMPC

The decision to become a disciple of Jesus requires turning away from sin and having a true hatred for it. If one continues in sin and does not break away from its control and begin to live a different lifestyle it is a sign that true repentance has not taken place. The fruit of a true believer is demonstrated by the changes that have happened since surrendering their lives to his lordship. If there is no fruit evident there has not been a true conversion. Confessing to be a Christian must be evidenced by a changed life that desires holiness and righteousness and a hatred for sin.

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Nothing is [so closely] covered up that it will not be revealed, or hidden that it will not be known.
Luke 12:2 AMPC

Jesus was very aware of the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. They pretended to be pious people but in reality their hearts were far from God. They looked holy on the outside but were corrupt in their hearts.  Everything they did would be revealed and their condemnation would follow.  Hypocrisy is a major concern for everyone today but especially for people in positions of authority that make laws or tell people how to conduct themselves but do not practice what they proclaim. It is disheartening to read of pastors and teachers that have fallen into sinful lifestyles, some for many years but were able to hide it. When their hidden life is revealed it strikes at the heart of everyone. There is no secret life with God, he is omniscient and omnipresent. We deceive ourselves by our hypocrisy and must always guard our hearts against temptation to enter into a lifestyle that will bring shame to us and discredit our God.

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