Topics: Dancing

The preacher says that there is a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4) and yet some Christians say that there is never a time to dance. What does that Bible say about this topic?

Jesus criticized the Pharisees for making up religious rules that are not in the Bible. One example of this among Christians is the topic of dancing. To ban all dancing is contrary to the Bible. Not all dancing is lewd “dirty dancing.” Some dancing is holy and right and even encouraged in the Bible. Dancing that God encourages is for triumphal celebration, joy, praise, gladness and merrymaking. Let’s look at a few verses in the KJV Bible:

Triumph: As a part of the triumphal celebration of Israel’s freedom from Egypt, they danced (Exodus 15:1, 20 Then sang Moses and … Miriam … and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.)

Joy: Dancing is pictured as a joyful response to God (Psalm 30:11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing … 1 Samuel 18:6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.)

Praise: The Bible encourages praising his name in the dance (Psalm 149:3 Let them praise his name in the dance; Psalm 150:4 Praise him with the timbrel and dance …).

Rejoicing: God approves of dancing for joy. God turns mourning into dancing (Jeremiah 31:13 Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance … I will turn their mourning into joy …)

Gladness: Michal may have wanted to ban dancing. She despised David for dancing. (2 Samuel 6:14 David danced before the LORD with all his might … And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. 1 Chronicles 15:29 And as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came to the city of David, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and celebrating, and she despised him in her heart.)

Merrymaking: God blessed and rebuilt Israel and he encouraged dancing with joy over it. (Jeremiah 31:4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry)!

The Bible teaches us that there is a right time for appropriate and righteous dancing and that includes moments of triumph, joy, praise, rejoicing, gladness and just plain merrymaking.

The Lord is my Shepherd


We often hear the 23rd Psalm read or recited at funerals, but did you know that it does not apply to everyone, only to the sheep of the Great Shepherd.


To really understand the most popular of all the Psalms.


We will go through Psalm 23 looking at some important details.

I shall not be lacking

When we look at that most famous of David’s melodies, Psalm 23:1, we begin to see healing in the midst of greed. The traditional translation of this verse is now moving out of use in everyday language. To not be “in want” is becoming strange terminology to our ears, when every advertisement encourages us to want more materialism in our lives. Yet that is not the original meaning. The Hebrew words lo ehser simply mean I won’t be lacking, or I have all my needs. We could call this a theology of sufficiency. In a world of lust for more, it is rare to hear people say that they lack nothing, that they are satisfied and need nothing more materially. Yet, that is the point of the Psalm, to be satisfied with life, and that is a truly happy life.

I lie down in green grass

When sheep are hungry or frightened they will not lie down. This picture from Psalm 23:2 is one of serenity and security. How can we experience peace and safety in the midst of terrorism and other world problems? Terrorists can kill the body but not the soul protected by God. This is not a promise to everyone, but it is a picture relevant to those who allow themselves to come under that rod and staff of the Great Shepherd. When we go to funerals and this Psalm is read, many people just assume that it applies to them, but it does not apply to those who cannot be bothered with the things of God. It only applies to the sheep of the one who is. The Lord’s sheep experience lush pasture and quiet waters in the midst of dangerous predators.

The right track

For most people the right track in life is one of the ways of the world. It may be a meticulous kind of political correctness, a particular gender bias, the quality of foods we eat or the way we teach our children. However, the ways of the world often deceive us. They cannot guarantee a full and happy life, but God can. The word righteous is not popular today, but it simply means the right track and there is only one who can lead us there. In Psalm 23:3 that is often translated as the paths of righteousness, meaning the right tracks picturing the ways of justice and fairness. Anyone who has experience with sheep knows that they create and follow well-worn tracks. As God’s sheep, if we follow the Good Shepherd, he will lead us down the right track.

His rod and staff

The two tools of shepherding mentioned in Psalm 23:4 were a rod and staff. A sling was not mentioned. The rod was a often a club used to protect the sheep from predators, but also to discipline them for their own good. Jesus’ rod is also a vehicle of comfort, even though momentarily perhaps a little painful. Discipline is for our good. The staff was a bent piece of wood that could be used to catch and rescue sheep. In our age of mass manufacture we imagine that they were all of the same model as pictured in our Sunday School books. But that is unrealistic. They were homemade and just about anything that would do the job was chosen. There are many times in life that we need Jesus to rescue us and he sees that as his job.

In the midst of enemies

David’s Psalm 23:5 pictures a table prepared right in front of our enemies. All his life David faced antagonists, from those in his own family to Saul the king of Israel and when he was king to enemies round about. In the midst of our own enemies we seem strangely shocked by terrorism and world troubles. It is as if we cannot accept that this has always been and always will be until Jesus’ returns and brings about world peace. From the first murder of a brother by a brother to Viking terrorism to the most recent bombing God has made a promise: that in the midst of all this, he would set a table for those in his sheepfold. The choice is ours. Who is our Lord? Is it this world or is our Lord the God of heaven?

You anoint my head

In Psalm 23:5 is a metaphor of anointing our heads with oil. Understanding the original language and culture helps us see the deeper meaning. When a shepherd came in from the fields as did David when he was to be chosen king, he would have been rather dusty and perhaps even have dirt in his hair. Just as many moderns prefer to cleanse with perfumed oils rather than soap today, so did the ancients. The original language actually says you “remove ashes” from my head with oil. As David was ill-treated by his brothers, and ashes on the head symbolized mourning, this removal also symbolizes the Good Shepherd healing our emotional pain. Also, the anointing was to make David king, and symbolizes God lifting us up high after humiliation by others. Most importantly, God anoints us with his Holy Spirit.


If we can truly say that the Lord is our shepherd, then we will be satisfied with what he provides. We can trust that he will give us peace and safety in the midst of a troubled world. He will lead us down the right track. Jesus will protect and rescue us. We can relax in the midst of enemies and be well fed. He will lift us up after humiliation and anoint us with his Holy Spirit.

Good News of True Worship


What do a strange and lonely woman, a well, worship and living water have to do with the Gospel?


To show that the Gospel flows from true worship and is spread in the most unlikely places by the most unlikely people.


We will examine the woman at the well, living water, real food and the Gospel.

An inviting Savior

How do we invite people to faith? When Jesus met the woman at the well (John 4:7) his invitation was distinct in many ways. First of all, he was not a bigot, but willing to chat with anyone. His unbiased friendliness broke the ice. Jesus seized her curiosity by speaking about the gift of God and living water which gives eternal life. In ancient languages, flowing water was called living as opposed to still water. The woman’s curiosity grew. As the conversation progressed, Jesus revealed deeper and deeper truths to her, including his ability to know even personal secrets. The result of the conversation was that not only she came to faith, but others also. While we may not have every ability that Jesus did, we can certainly learn from him and make the invitation attractive to our hearers.

Bigotry busting

When Jesus met a woman at a well (John 4:7-9) he broke a number of social taboos. The woman mentioned the most obvious. She explained that Jews did not associate with Samaritans. Yet, Jesus was not concerned with such bigotry. A couple of other taboos may not seem so obvious. In a society that was hypersensitive to any appearance of evil, the fact that Jesus talked to a woman alone, could have been taken the wrong way. Especially so because perhaps only someone with a bad reputation would be gathering water alone at a well in the heat of the day. Yet, Jesus did not care what others thought, when he knew he was doing right. We have our own modern prejudices to contend with. How do we react, caring more about what others think or what is right?

Foreigners' faith

In any country, foreigners can be looked upon with disdain and suspicion. Ancient Jews particularly despised their neighbors to the north, the Samaritans, because their ancestors had separated themselves from the union with Judah and Benjamin, been carried away to Assyria and been replaced with a mixed race people of perhaps partial Israelite stock. The distrust between the two peoples was also cultural and religious. The Samaritans were more conservative than the Jews, believing only in the five books of Moses, and they had a rival temple site. Unlike many Jews, Jesus did not avoid Samaritan territory on his travels and without prejudice or bigotry even conversed with one of their women at a well (John 4:9). It was this woman, an otherwise hated foreigner and others from her neighborhood who were among the first to believe Jesus’ message.

Living water

Jesus came to Jacob’s well, an abundant source of water. He asked a Samaritan woman for a drink there (John 4:10-11). This was considered inappropriate. The Jews despised the Samaritans and usually went the long route between Jerusalem and Galilee to avoid them. Also, a lone man talking to a lone woman was considered immoral by many overly strict religious folk. The separation of men and women was not really necessary for morality and Jesus readily overstepped the taboo. He was preparing the way for a new order where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither male nor female, but where all are one in Jesus (Galatians 3:27-28). Jesus offered her living water. She did not understand the riddle because the term meant flowing water. Yet, Jesus meant the water of life through baptism and the Holy Spirit.

Living water flows

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman about living water (John 4:10-11) he was referring to something spiritual not physical. Unlike the water in the well, living water is like a stream or river. It flows. Living water flowed from the woman’s encounter with Christ into her community. So the Gospel flows from our encounter into our communities. Churches are not cisterns where water collects, but river beds where we drink from flowing water. We were all once enemies of Christ. We went to a well dug by men to quench our thirst. He offered us living water. It flows regardless of ethnic or religious background. Living water flows while we still have questions. Living water flows to the harvest even into the homes of our enemies where many will come and believe in the Savior of the world.

Satisfying every thirst

When the woman at the well met Jesus (John 4:13-15) there was no denouncing of her from his mouth. Commentaries about her are too often colored by whichever political or social ax people have to grind. Jesus was not interested in condemnation of her but revealing himself to her. His purpose in revealing his knowledge of her background had nothing to do with criticism of her life but, to reveal himself to her as the source of living water. Who we are or what mistakes we have made cannot stop God loving us. Jesus sees all that we have done and does not judge. He is far more interested in showing us the way to a kind of life which satisfies every thirst. It’s not what we have done in the past, but what he can do for us.

Never satisfied

Our consumer society is constantly buying new things yet never satisfied. We are encouraged to be dissatisfied because that will mean more sales for those who create an ever changing array of new gadgets, cars, appliances and fashions. When Jesus met a woman at a well (John 4:13-15) he suggested to her that he was the source of living water that really quenched a thirst, so that a person need never be thirsty again. A consumer society buys things which never satisfy permanently. If they did, we would never need to buy the upgrade, next model, or the latest fashion. Enticed by the latest and greatest, we fall prey as the merchants of dissatisfaction line their pockets with our hard-earned money. We are their willing slaves. There is only one thing that permanently satisfies and Jesus is its source.

Church growth Samaritan style

Is there a lesson in church growth in the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4:13-15)? Protestantism began among the northern European tribes. These culturally diverse peoples may have one thing in common which perhaps influences Protestantism to this day, a bluntness of speech which tends to avoid mystery. When Jesus began introducing the truth of the Gospel to the Samaritan woman, he spoke to her in riddles. He created an air of mystery and intrigue. Jesus spoke of living, flowing water as opposed to still well water. He spoke of a thirst which can only be satisfied by that living water and he spoke of worship without the necessity for temples in particular geographical locations. The woman was intrigued and her village too. Perhaps this enticing air of mystery is missing from our church growth efforts.

Polyandrous witness?

Who was the woman at the well from John 4:16-18? Prejudiced opinions seem overly anxious to paint her as either an immoral woman or an innocent victim. Either extreme reads more into the text than it says. She had had five husbands. Whether simultaneous or sequential polyandry, divorced or widowed is also not explained. Then Jesus said that the man she was currently with was not her husband. Whether she merely lived in the same household with a man or was having relations with him is also not clear. What is very clear is that Jesus did not judge the woman. He simply taught her about true worship. We do know that the woman could see that Jesus was a prophet, and she believed that the Messiah was coming and spread the news of Jesus to her whole village.

Marital status

As Jesus encountered the woman at the well, he discussed her marital status (John 4:16-18). He invited her to bring her husband back, then he stated that the man she is currently with is not her husband. In the beginning God joined the first marriage with no formality or papers. Then marriage became a matter for the family. Two sets of parents approved, the couple went into a tent alone and a party was held. Then the church tried to put God back into the picture. Eventually, marriage became a state matter, in a strange mixture of church and state. Today, some still go into the tent and declare themselves a couple. The line is rather fuzzy. Most churches recognize the state’s legal authority over marriage, but we face a dilemma as Old Testament marriage styles make a comeback.

Feeling like a trained worship seal?

Worship leaders sometimes try to incite people to "perform" like trained circus seals. Such forced "worship" is an outward show and not worship at all. Outward things like music, vocal sounds, languages, robes, crosses, gestures and liturgies are in fact NOT worship. They certainly may accompany worship, but worship is of the heart and spirit. In John 4:21-26 Jesus said that true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. When he said "and truth" Jesus did not mean true doctrine, but true or sincere worship from the heart. So, we do not need to feel judged or compelled to conform to any outward physical gestures or show of religion. Jesus made us free to worship the Father in spirit and truthfully. He declared this with authority, claiming that he is the “I am”, a name of God.

The best evangelists

A professional evangelist comes to town, puts on an expensive show and leaves. A church experiences a flash of excitement, a big bill and very little growth. The best evangelists are not the professionals but the most unlikely people, like the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:29). Was she of doubtful reputation or poor and had been widowed many times? We don’t know exactly and we cannot judge, but there seems to be some question about the man she was currently living with. Was she a caregiver or living in a dubious relationship? For sure she seems to have been a loner, who fetched her water at a time when the crowds were not there. The best evangelists can be new people and even those from the fringes, but always those who have had an encounter with Jesus.

We need more Samaritan women

I’m not interested in church growth gimmicks. They are boring and trite. I have tried many of them and found them to often be ways to keep churches busy but without much fruit. But I am big on ideas from the Bible and in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well is an idea on church growth that succeeded wildly. The disciples were away buying food and Jesus shared the Gospel with one solitary woman (John 4:29). Sometimes just that one encounter makes all the difference. She then prepared the way for the Gospel by telling her whole village. One sows the seed and another reaps the harvest. In this case she sowed, and Jesus encouraged his disciples to reap the harvest. We may not need more church growth gimmicks, but we do need more Samaritan women.

Food to eat

Like the woman at the well to whom Jesus offered living water, he told his disciples that he had food to eat that they knew nothing about (John 4:31-34). Like living water, the bread of life is to be passed on. We eat the bread of communion on Sunday but our food is also to do the will of God and finish his work. What is that work? There is a harvest to be reaped. God has already prepared the hearts of many in our community. It is up to us to seek and find the souls that are ripe for harvesting and do the work. A lone Christian who goes to church and hides all week long cannot harvest. We need to be in our communities and know our neighbors. That involves all of us as a team.

Photina of Samaria

After her encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:42) went on to become a famous evangelist. According to tradition, she was baptized by the apostles with the name Photina. She is also known variously as Saint Photina or Saint Svetlana. Some call her the church’s first evangelist. She and her five sisters along with her two sons were also baptized and became a family of evangelists. After Peter and Paul were martyred, she and her family moved to Carthage to preach the Gospel. She and her son Joses are reputed to have fearlessly preached the Gospel there. Photina’s elder son Victor had become a military commander and was taken to Rome to betray Christians. Instead his witness converted his jailer and his servants and along with his family he eventually died a martyr in 66.


The Gospel is a continuation of worship. It flows from true worship into our communities. It is spread most effectively in the most unlikely places by the most unlikely people who have had an encounter with the living Christ.

Nick at Night


What does it mean to be born again? How are we born of water and the Spirit?


Let us understand the Spirit life.


We will examine Nicodemus, regeneration, and why we are not to condemn others.


Nicodemus is also called Saint Nicodemus. He was a Pharisee and a senator in the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin. He appears three times in the Gospel of John. He visited Jesus by night to ask questions (John 3:1–2), he challenged condemning Jesus without a hearing (John 7:50-51) and assisted Joseph of Arimathea preparing Jesus for burial (John 19:38-39). He is possibly the Nicodemus ben Gurion in the Talmud, a wealthy and popular Jewish leader famous for miraculous powers. Jesus explained to him the mystery of regeneration as was taught in the prophets. Nicodemus was not offended at Jesus’ correction but received it in humility. He defended Jesus openly against the Pharisees, assisted at his burial and was later kicked out of the synagogue for believing in Christ. He retired to his country home where he died.

Symbolism of Nick and the night

The night time meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus was symbolic in two ways. First of all Nick was representing others who were not immediately present because he said “we know” (John 3:2) and so Jesus answered him in the plural speaking “unto thee” (you plural) and “ye” (you plural). Jesus was speaking to all those others for whom Nicodemus had spoken, other religious leaders, and perhaps also other believers and perhaps too all of us. Secondly, Nicodemus came at night, symbolic of the darkness that we all faced until light came into the world and we came into that light (verses 19-21). In the Old Testament the law was that light, now it is Christ. Even the most devout and moral people who may obey all the commandments can still be in darkness, because the true light is Jesus.

Sky born

The circumstances of our birth can make a big difference in our worldly fortunes. Some are born into power and wealth. Others are born into subjugation and poverty. Equal opportunity simply does not exist. According to the Opportunity Index, income inequality is closely associated with opportunity inequality. That means that those from poor homes are less likely to have what is necessary to take advantage of opportunities. No matter what our circumstances are we have a better birth in God. To be born from the sky, from heaven above (John 3:3), is to belong to heaven. We owe our allegiance to a different kingdom not of this world. We are a child of God. Every level of status in this world is inferior to that which we have from heaven. In God we have the highest status of all.

Born from where

When we are born we inherit a name, a nationality, and a family history including all the skeletons in the family closet. When we are born again, we are actually born from above. The Greek word in John 3:3 is similar to what musicians say when they say “from the top”. It can mean from the top of the page or again. So too the Greek word can mean either born “again” or “from above”. Nicodemus took it to mean born again, when actually Jesus meant born from above, from heaven. It is a shame that popular understanding takes Nick’s interpretation instead of Jesus’. Being born from above is an act of God. It is regeneration, a change of orientation. We give up an earthly birthright, nationality, status, heritage and identity to receive a heavenly one from God above.

Born of water and the Spirit

Born from above or from heaven is also described as being born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5). Water is used in our baptism, Jesus turns water into wine and Jesus will later speak of living water. Our human rituals are insufficient without the transforming power of that living water from above. Christian baptism is not just a water ritual, but includes an unseen spiritual component. That unseen component is like the wind. We may know generally that cold winds come from colder regions or that warm winds come from the tropics, but we cannot tell specifically where they came from or where they are going to. Our new Spirit born life is as mysterious as the wind. Christianity is not about doing certain moral acts, but a life of faith trusting God where his Spirit may blow.

Jesus in two places at once

Some interpret John 3:13 to mean nobody goes to heaven when we die but await the resurrection while they lie unconscious in a grave. Others believe it means that Jesus ascended to heaven before he died. It means neither of those two things. Jesus’ unique position is of one who was on earth and at the same time “in heaven” in constant communion with the Father. Jesus is the bridge between heaven and earth. In a similar sense, all believers are “seated in heavenly places” (Ephesians 2:6) much as Jesus resided “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18). Jesus is able to reveal heavenly secrets to Nicodemus because he “has ascended to heaven” and “is in heaven.” In Jesus, there is a bridge from heaven to earth which all those who are born from above experience.

Problem, Cause, Solution

Ancient Israel was often impatient with God. One one occasion, God punished them by sending poisonous snakes into their midst (Numbers 21:4-9). The people regretted their slander and Moses prayed and following God’s instructions made a bronze snake on a pole. When the people were bitten and looked on the bronze snake, they lived. The immediate problem was snakes. The cause was their lack of faith in God. The solution was to stimulate them to repentance and faith. In similar fashion humanity is in trouble and we are mostly to blame (John 3:14-15). Just as the solution to a snake problem came via a snake, so has the solution to our human dilemma come through the man Jesus Christ. He too was lifted up on a pole and we who keep our eyes on him will also live.

Loving the hateful

Think of a group of people who absolutely hate us. Maybe it is a country that hates ours. Maybe it is a group of hate-filled and demented terrorists whose only plans are our destruction. Maybe it is another class of individuals who despise us. Imagine then that we decide to die for that group out of love. That is what it means when the Bible says that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Amazing! The word world just about everywhere else in the Bible refers to those who hate God, yet "God with us," Jesus Christ died to save that same God-despising world. While we use faith to divide, God teaches us one simple rule, love that unites.

Non-judgmental yet discerning

Are Christians judgmental if they disagree with certain sins or bad teachings? Some may be, but that does not mean that everyone is. Can a Christian be non-judgmental yet discerning? In John 3:17 Jesus said that he did not come to condemn the world. Unfortunately some Christians do just the opposite, condemn. Does that mean that we may not disagree or discern that a particular idea is wrong? Of course not. In the same chapter where Jesus taught us not to judge (Matthew 7:1, 15) he also said to watch out for false prophets. There is a big difference between a condemning, hypercritical attitude and having an opinion that something is wrong. Jesus Christ is the final judge, not us. Our judgment now ought to be righteous — not a damnation, but a discernment of right from wrong.

When Christians condemn

When Christians criticize national leaders, neighbors and each other what should we think? We are all guilty of such judgmental behavior. Yet, at times when we are tempted to condemn other people, perhaps we should all rethink what Jesus said in John 3:17. He did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Of course, there are things in this world worthy of condemnation. Even in the church, surprise, surprise, there are things that occur which are just not right. That kind of thing occurs in every denomination without fail. Some Christians love to play Satan, the accuser of the brethren. Others just like to look down their noses at the shortcomings of others. Perhaps we all ought to reconsider our graceless approach of condemnation and realign ourselves with the mission of Jesus Christ.

What would Jesus say?

We are extremists. We either condemn adulterers, homosexuals, polygamists and cohabiting singles or we approve their actions. Jesus did neither. On one sexual sin, he said that in the beginning it was not so, but due to hardheartedness Moses allowed it. Jesus did not condemn a woman caught in a sexual sin, but told her to sin no more. He did not come to condemn the world (John 3:17). It does not mean that Jesus could not condemn the world, or that he will not at the judgment, but that he does not now. We also know that it is also not our business now to judge. So, what would Jesus say to sexual relationships that are different than was intended in the beginning? What would Jesus say to those who miss the sexual ideal? What should we say?

You might be a Liberal/Conservative if...

Do you remember the story of the woman caught in adultery? Can you also remember Jesus' reply to her at the end of the story? If you remember that he said to her neither do I condemn you, then you might be a liberal. If on the other hand, you remember that he said to her to go and sin no more, then you might be a conservative. He said both, but is it not strange how liberals and conservatives tend to remember different parts of the story?
The story is found in John 8:1-11. Conservatives can tend to jump straight through the story to Jesus telling her not to sin any more. However, liberals can tend to leave this part out or minimize it and emphasize Jesus' non-judgmental attitude. Both are part of the story and we need to see both to get the whole picture of how Jesus approaches sexual sin or any sin for that matter. We live in a world where Christians at both extremes of the debates over various sexual sins are verbally at war and often cannot see that the complete picture is neither one of condoning sin, nor not one of condemnation.
Jesus' first act was to defend the sinful woman from religious extremists who wanted to publicly shame and kill her. Do we defend sexual sinners from society's condemnation or do we act like those Christians who can only condemn those who cheat on a spouse, can only judge gay people or can only criticize those who have sex before marriage? Remember, non-judgmentalism is not the same as condoning. It is simply saying that we have no right to judge. It's none of our business. It is Christ's job and his alone at that great Judgment Day.
Even Jesus is not ready to judge now. In fact he did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17). So what do some Christians do? We condemn the world. It's not our job and it's not our business. Our business is to join Jesus in his job of saving. Perhaps we should listen to Jesus' own words to the religious. Who is without sin cast the first stone. Before he even got to the "go and sin no more" part, he had already told her that he did not condemn her.
There are two reactions that Christians can have towards sin. One is becoming a hater and the other is becoming a lover. It is clear that if we are truly to love our neighbor, then the approach of condemnation is sinful. It is not even following Christ's own example. His example was not one of condemnation. His attitude was always one of love, and that is the bottom line. Let's ask ourselves if we are haters or lovers. The only legitimate response for liberal or conservative Christians is non-judgmental, non-condoning love.


While we recognize that sin exists in the world, we are not qualified to judge and condemn others. We should not remain as haters but allow the Holy Spirit to transform us into lovers.

3 great temptations to ruin it all


Life is filled with trials and temptations. Sometimes we fail. Jesus too was faced with three great temptations that had the potential to ruin it all for everyone, but he succeeded.


To see how presumptuous miracles, wild stunts and selling our soul for prestige are common temptations to us all.


We will look at how temptation can ruin lives with hollow promises, how mass hysteria deludes and how we can learn to be immune to deception.

3 great temptations to ruin it all

In Matthew 4:1-11 the devil tempted Jesus with 3 basic temptations that we all will face in different forms. Unlike Jesus, humanity has given in and it has ruined our lives. Only in Jesus do we have hope of rescue from the evil. The first temptation was to be motivated by satisfying physical needs ahead of satisfying spiritual need guided by the word of God. The second was to misuse the Word of God to manipulate God rather than living by his Word. The third was selling out to the devil in exchange for power and prestige. How many Christians neglect the word of God for physical things? How many read the word of God but twist it to make it say what they want? How many are tempted to do wrong for the sake of money and power?

Hollow promises

Are we suspicious when a preacher shouts exciting promises and a kind of hysteria takes over? We should be. Mass hypnosis also occurred at Hitler’s rallies and that certainly was not “anointed preaching.” Satan also made great swelling promises in the Temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11). The hollow promises offered to Jesus included a miracle, a foolish risk and wealth. Sound familiar? Similar promises often come from deceptive sources disguised as good. If the source is not God, the promise is without guarantee. If someone tells us to act presumptuously without examining biblical principles, be very suspicious. We live by every word of God. If someone promises God’s protection in a risky, foolish act, be leery. We ought not tempt God. If someone promises great things for worshiping in strange ways, be cautious. We worship and serve only God.

Mass-hysteria miracles & money

A popular kind of preaching has crowd appeal, but very little of Jesus in it. The teachings of Jesus are overlooked in favor of the mass appeal of miracles, stunts and materialism. The hysteria witnessed is unlike any that Jesus encouraged. When Jesus taught, he challenged people to think. Instead these preachers encourage people to stop thinking, leaving their brains at the door. In reality, thinking people see right through the mass-deception. There is no teaching of what Jesus taught, but selected preaching of only those verses which in isolation seem to support popular preconceived notions. Satan also tried to deceive Jesus into a miracle turning stones into bread, to make foolish decisions disguised as religion and be materialistic. Trite miracles, folly and wealth did not tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). His miracles, thoughtful wisdom and voluntary poverty were real.

Antidotes to deception

The temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11) included antidotes to similar religious deception today. What is an antitoxin to deception involving miracles? Rather than performing a presumptuous miracle, Jesus was concerned about feeding on the word of God. Beware of those who place miracles ahead of teaching from the Bible. Beware of those who claim to have a word from God, but do not get it from the Bible. What is an antidote to those misquoting the Bible and tempting us into foolish leaps of faith? An antidote is to know our Bibles well enough to see through such things as cheap stunts disguised as faith but are in reality tempting God. What is an antivenin to deception involving promises of wealth and power? Jesus said to worship God and serve only him not the deception of wealth and power.

Life’s greatest victories

We are all familiar with scenes of great victory where a hero, with tears streaming down the face, is cheered on by a large crowd. Yet many of life’s greatest victories are won far away from the applauding multitude, in the privacy of our own solitude. The Temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11) was such a victory. He was all alone in the wilderness without supporters to cheer him on to victory. It is easy to do the right thing when others are watching, but the real test is when nobody is around. The real victory may not occur when we are at a church service, but during the week when we are all alone. But we are not alone. Just as Jesus overcame temptation, so too by faith in him do we overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5).


Life is filled with trials and temptations. Sometimes the devil tempts us to place material food ahead of spiritual food, or take foolish steps and ask God to bless them, or sell our souls to the devil for power and prestige. The better we know the devil’s tactics, the better we are at saying no.