Category Archives: Humanity

RESPECT YOUR PARENTS:

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Respect is the act of giving particular attention to someone or something, especially when that attention is accompanied by a high regard. The Bible does not directly command us to respect our parents; however, the idea of respect is included in the command to honor and obey them (Exodus 20:12Ephesians 6:1).

To honor is to assign value. Regardless of the character of the people who brought us into the world, they are our parents and we are to honor them. They have value because of their part in our creation. We can honor their roles even if we cannot always honor their behavior. When we couple the idea of honor with that of respect, we have a formula for the treatment of our parents. Because of their assigned value as our mother and father, we give them particular attention and special esteem.

In childhood, honor and respect are demonstrated by obedience. Children are commanded to obey their mother and father (Ephesians 6:1Colossians 3:20). Whether they like the instruction or not, children need to learn to obey their parents with an attitude of respect. Parents who tolerate disrespectful behavior in their children are merely grooming them for an adulthood of rebellion and lack of honor. It is the parents’ responsibility to train their children to be respectful. Parents can model the behavior they want their children to imitate by showing respect toward their own parents and authority figures.

The teenage and young adult years often set the stage for the future relationship with the parents. Despite the cold wars and stormy scenes, wise parents will remain firm in requiring respectful behavior from their hormone-driven future adults. When still living at home, they need to obey the house rules and show respect for their parents’ values, even when they disagree. One skill young adults should develop is that of listening to counsel. Listening is one way of showing respect. Proverbs 23:22 says, “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.” Parents can model this skill by also listening to a child who speaks respectfully to them.

Once children are grown and out of the house, they can show honor and respect by keeping in touch with their parents when at all possible. As parents age, their needs increase. Adult offspring should stay aware of those needs and be ready to help meet them. Even a parent who was not a good parent still deserves respect because of the role he or she played in bringing a child into the world. God used that parent, flaws and all, to accomplish His good plan. We show respect for the position because it is healthy for us to do so. Refusing to demonstrate respect leaves us with bitterness and anger (see Hebrews 12:15). Even when speaking boldly and confronting wicked behavior, we can maintain an attitude of respect.

Godly people show respect to all other people, regardless of their behavior or position. We may need to distance ourselves from dangerous people, but we can do so with an attitude of humility and kindness because they, too, are created in the image of God (James 3:9). Parents and grandparents are especially worthy of this respect because of the roles they played in God’s plan for us. While we do not need to obey parents once we’ve reached adulthood, we should still consider their wishes and advice as a way of respecting them. Showing respect to one’s parents is also a way to model for the next generation the way we’d like them to treat us.

Prophet Nathan Emol

GUARD YOUR HEART:

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Proverbs 4:23–26 instructs believers to, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” When Solomon refers to guarding the heart, he really means the inner core of a person—the thoughts, feelings, desires, will, and choices that make that person who he/she is. The Bible tells us that our thoughts often dictate who we become (Proverbs 23:727:19). The mind of a man reflects who he really is, not simply his actions or words. That is why God examines the heart of a man, not simply his outward appearance and what he appears to be (1 Samuel 16:7).

Just as there are many diseases and disorders that can affect the physical heart, there are many ailments of the spiritual heart that can impair growth and development as a believer. Atherosclerosis is a hardening of the arteries due to accumulated cholesterol plaques and scarring in the artery walls. Hardening of the spiritual heart can also occur. Hardening of the heart occurs when we are presented with God’s truth, and we refuse to acknowledge or accept it.

Although Egypt was stricken with one calamity after another when the pharaoh refused to release the Israelites from their bondage, he hardened his heart against the truth that God Almighty intended to deliver His people from Egypt (Exodus 7:228:329:34). In Psalm 95:7–8, King David pleaded with his people not to harden their hearts in rebellion against God as they did in the wilderness. There are many things that can harden the heart and lead a person to deny God, and just like cholesterol blocks blood flow, they keep a believer from having a free flow of God’s peace and blessings derived from obedience. Guarding against a rebellious spirit and cultivating a spirit of submissive obedience to God’s Word, therefore, is the first step in guarding the heart.

Heart murmurs are abnormal flow patterns due to faulty heart valves. Heart valves act as doors to prevent the backward flow of blood into the heart. Spiritual heart murmurs occur when believers engage in complaining, gossip, disputes, and contention. Believers are instructed many times to avoid grumbling, murmuring, and complaining (Exodus 16:3John 6:43Philippians 2:14). By engaging in these activities, believers shift their focus away from the plans, purposes, and past blessings of God to the things of the world. God sees this as a lack of faith, and without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Instead, Christians are instructed to strive for contentment in all things, trusting in God to provide what is needed in His good time (Hebrews 13:5). Guarding against a complaining spirit and cultivating a spirit of gratitude and trust is the second step toward guarding the heart.

Congestive heart failure is an inability of the heart to successfully pump blood through the body due to weaknesses within its walls. Congestive heart failure can result from hypertension (high blood pressure), myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), and abnormal enlargement of the heart. The spiritual equivalents are anger, giving in to temptation, and pride. Anger acts like a poison on the body, both physically and spiritually, and makes believers more vulnerable to the temptation to hurt others with their actions and words. Ephesians 4:31–32 instructs, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Every Christian is locked in a constant, intense war with demonic forces. Many of us become so intent on fighting the external spiritual war that we forget that much of our battle is not with external forces, but with our own mind and thoughts. James 1:14–16 tells us, “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.” Sin always begins in the mind. A sinner must first conceive and dwell on the sinful action before he actually carries it out. The first line of defense, therefore, must be to refuse to even contemplate a wrongful action. The apostle Paul tells us to take every thought captive, so that it conforms to the will of God (2 Corinthians 10:3–5).

Proverbs 16:18 tells us that pride leads to destruction. Proverbs 16:5, says, “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord.” Pride was the first great sin of Satan, when he thought that he could be like God and incited one third of the angels to attempt a coup in heaven (Ezekiel 28:17). For this reason, Satan was cast from heaven. Satan also tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden by appealing to her ego. He said, “For God knows that when you eat from [the forbidden tree] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Eve desired to be as wise as God, so she capitulated to Satan’s advice to eat of the fruit of the tree. Pride was, therefore, the downfall of man, as well. Satan did not want man to obey God but to become his own god—determining for himself reality, meaning, and ethics. This satanic philosophy is the foundational philosophy of sorcery, secular humanism, and New Age mysticism.

Avoiding anger, pride, and temptation are also critical elements of guarding the heart. The apostle Paul instructs us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Dwelling on these things will help to build a guard fence around our hearts.

Prophet Nathan Emol

ABORTION IS MURDER:

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The subject of abortion is perhaps one of the most highly charged issues of our day. Finding an honest answer to the question “is abortion murder?” takes courage for those who have performed abortions or have had abortions themselves. The Bible is clear about the fact that murder is wrong (Exodus 20:13). However, in some cases, the Bible does not forbid killing. Soldiers representing their country were expected to kill soldiers on the opposing side (Joshua 11:20). That is not murder. Animals were killed for food and for sacrifice (Exodus 24:5Genesis 9:3–4). That is not murder either.

Murder is defined as “the unlawful, premeditated killing of one human being by another.” Murder is unlawful killing—that is, killing that is done by the judgment of one human being against another, for personal (rather than national) reasons. The Bible condemns murder repeatedly as a characteristic of a wicked society (Deuteronomy 5:17Isaiah 1:21Hosea 4:2Matthew 5:21). Determining whether or not abortion is murder involves two considerations: first, whether or not a fetus in utero is actually a human being, and, second, if a fetus is a child, whether or not abortion can be rightly called murder since it is legal in most countries. If murder is unlawful killing, it would follow that a lawful killing would not be murder.

One reason murder is outlawed in many places is that it is unethical for one person to unilaterally decide the fate of another. Under the Old Testament Law, a murderer was not put to death unless there were multiple witnesses: “No person shall be put to death on the testimony of one witness” (Numbers 35:30). In war, soldiers do not decide to kill for their own purposes; rather, they kill in the national interest—if they fight for an honorable nation, the national interest will be to protect innocent civilians from some threat. Abortion is different. Abortion is killing based on a mother’s unilateral judgment and choice. Such unprovoked killing of the defenseless is unethical and should define abortion as murder in any society—unless the fetus is not human. If the fetus is just a mass of impersonal tissue or something less than human, ending its life would not face the same ethical challenge and would not be considered murder.

So, is a fetus a human? Or is it something else? Biologically speaking, human life begins at conception. When the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm come together, they combine and create a new string of DNA that is personalized and totally unique. DNA is coded information, the blueprint for the new human’s growth and development. No more genetic material needs to be added; the zygote in the womb is as human as the mother in whose womb it dwells. The difference between a fetus and any one of us is one of age, location, and level of dependence. When a mother aborts the process of fetal development, she is destroying a unique life.

The Bible clearly points to conception as the beginning of human life. Samson said, “I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb” (Judges 16:17). He refers to his unborn self as having already been what God planned him to be—a Nazirite. David says, “You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Again, we see David referring to himself as a person in the womb. Then, he says, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). David is saying that God had all of his days planned out for him while he was still in the womb. Again, this evidence points to personhood beginning at conception, rather than at the moment of birth. We see God had a similar plan for the life of the pre-born Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

The Bible considers a fetus to be an unborn child, a planned human being that God is forming from the moment of conception. This being the case, it doesn’t really matter what human jurisprudence says or how socially or politically acceptable abortion is. God’s law takes precedence. A mother who decides to abort her child is unilaterally making a decision to end another person’s life—and that is and always has been the definition of murder.

Prophet Nathan Emol

SECRET TO LIVING A LONG LIFE:

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“‘Honor your father and mother’—which is the first commandment with a promise—‘that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:3–4). In this passage, the apostle Paul is quoting from the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:12 specifically: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” This represents the only instance of God connecting long life as a reward for something we do. Is this promise of long life for honoring your parents true? And, if so, why is honoring your parents so highly valued to God that He rewards it with long life?

First, yes, the promise is true, but not in a universal sense. There are people who honored their parents but died young. And there are people who did not honor their parents but lived a long life. Therefore, it is a principle that is generally true. If you honor your parents, God will, generally speaking, reward you with a long life. However, this promise does not override other decisions we make that impact how long we live. For example, if a man honors his parents, but then decides to commit suicide, the act of suicide “negates” the reward of long life. The same can be said of those who engage in reckless and dangerous activities. God’s reward of long life for honoring parents does not miraculously make you immune from serious injury or death.

Again, the reward of long life for honoring your parents is a general principle, not a universal truth. God considers the way a child treats his/her parents so important that He usually rewards those who honor their parents with long life. Solomon urged children to respect their parents (Proverbs 1:813:130:17). Jeremiah 35:18–19 describes how God blessed the Rechabites for obeying their father. Disobedience to parents is a trait of those who rebel against God (Romans 1:302 Timothy 3:2). This brings us to the second point. Why is honoring your parents so highly valued to God that He rewards it with long life?

There are at least two reasons for the value God places on honoring your parents. First, God entrusts parents with the responsibility to raise their children in a godly manner. The task of parenting is not easy. It is painful, stressful, expensive, and often unappreciated. For a child to not recognize, and be grateful for, the sacrifices parents make on his/her behalf is an affront to the position of authority and value God has given to parents. It is similar to how we are to respond to the government (Romans 13:1–7). If God has placed us under authority, to rebel against that authority is to rebel against God Himself.

The second reason God desires us to honor our parents is because our relationship with our earthly parents is an illustration of our relationship with our Heavenly Father. For example, Hebrews 12:5–11 compares the discipline a child receives from parents to the discipline believers in Christ receive from God. Just as our parents are our biological progenitors, God is our Creator. We are children of God and children of our parents. To dishonor our parents is to distort the picture of what our relationship with our Heavenly Father is to be.

Do you want to live a long life? Honor your parents. Why? Because God placed you under their authority and guidance, and because your attitude toward your parents is illustrative of your attitude toward God. While this reward is not universal—and while it does not override every other decision you make—it is still generally true. If you want to live a long life, honor those who gave you life in the first place.

Prophet Nathan Emol

WHY IS LIFE SO HARD?

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Life IS hard. It is harder for some than for others, but we all must cope with being imperfect people in an imperfect world. Accidents, disasters, illness, heartache, loss—the ways that the human heart can suffer are myriad. Even Jesus agreed that life is hard, but He didn’t stop there. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Life was never supposed to be hard. When God created the world and placed the first man and woman in it, life was perfect (Genesis 1–2). Bodies were perfect. The temperature was perfect. The first couple’s relationship was perfect, and they had everything they needed or wanted. They even had the presence of God with them. They lived in paradise.

Enter sin (Genesis 3). When Adam and Eve chose their own way over God’s, everything changed. Perfection was marred, and life became hard. As a result of humanity’s disobedience, God cursed the perfect world He had made so that it turned on the man and woman. Thistles sprouted where flower beds had been. Food was no longer available everywhere they looked. They must now forage, plant, struggle, and reap in order to survive. Sin ruined everything. Now “the whole creation groans” (Romans 8:22, NAS), and we groan with it.

Sin still affects our world, and life is still hard. Sin has a ripple effect that carries its destruction to others. Consider this example: a man gets drunk. That’s one sin (Proverbs 20:1). He comes home and beats his wife and children: more sin. His wife suffers a broken nose that will cause her difficulties for the rest of her life. The children are so traumatized that they run away, eventually getting involved in drugs and prostitution. More sin. One son gets in his car and, under the influence of drugs, ignores a stop sign and slams into a bus, killing six people. Their families will now grieve the loss for the rest of their lives, and others will be affected by their pain in various ways. The fallout from one sin continues to spread, impacting countless other people who then impact other people, and the legacy goes on. That’s only one sin. Multiply that by tens of millions, and we start to understand why the world is so messed up and life is so hard.

Another reason life is so hard is that this is not our final home. Those who belong to Jesus are here on visitor’s passes. We became citizens of another kingdom the moment God adopted us into His family (John 1:12). We are ambassadors, here on assignment for our Father, the King of kings (2 Corinthians 5:20). We’re not supposed to feel at home in this world. We don’t belong here, so it’s only natural that we often feel like aliens and strangers (Hebrews 11:13). Life is hard many times because those who’ve been redeemed and transformed by Jesus Christ live with a deep yearning to go home (2 Corinthians 5:17). But as obedient children we remain faithful to our assignments until our Father calls for us.

When life is hard, it is a reminder that this world is not our final destination. As difficult as circumstances may be, Paul called them “light and momentary troubles” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Paul and many of the first-century Christians knew how hard life was in ways that most of us never will (2 Corinthians 11:23–29). Some of their struggles are showcased in Hebrews 11, a chapter that reminds us that, as hard as our lives are, many have it worse.

As we grow through troubles, we develop the character of Christ—who also struggled much during His time on earth (Isaiah 53:3). His example of selflessness, endurance, and trust in God is an example to us: “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).

Life is hard, but Christ is our advocate (1 John 2:1), our intercessor who pleads our case to the Father. He knows what it feels like to struggle through difficulty, depression, fear, heartache, and the host of human situations that make life so hard (Hebrews 4:15). Life is hard, but the Holy Spirit is our comforter who helps us and stays with us forever (John 14:16).

Life is hard, but it is brief. Compared to eternity, our earthly lives are like a mist that vanishes with the morning sun (James 4:14). What we do during this time on earth affects the rest of eternity. We can grow bitter, hard, and waste our struggles. Or we can endure (James 1:2–4), grow, learn faith, develop compassion for others who are struggling, and wait for our final reward. At that time, we will hear our Savior say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord!” (Matthew 25:21)

Prophet Nathan Emol