Check out those curves!

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As I sit here at my desk, I hearken back to my ol’ school daze taking the incredibly intricate course called calculus. Now, this course is soooo difficult that few students have a clue as to what it’s all about. In fact, it was years later that I began to understand that we were trying to figure out the rate of change between two sets (whatever that is). The definition for calculus is: a branch of mathematics dealing with the way that relations between certain sets (functions) are affected by very small changes in one of their variables (independent variable) as they approach zero. It is used to find slopes of curves, rates of change, and volumes of curved figures.

I also remember another course called differential equations, and it is defined as: a mathematical equation that relates functions and their derivatives. And now years later – I still have absolutely no idea what it was about, except that it’s used by rocket scientists. In fact, this course was so absolutely baffling that the school dropped it. Apparently they realized that instead of making fine minds they were breaking them! It’s possible that the teachers couldn’t “do the math” so to speak and thus school officials wisely withdrew the course. In the cases of both of these courses we poor befuddled students were graded – on a curve!

By grading us like that our morale was able to miraculously and immensely remain uplifted, keeping discouragement (for the most part) out of the proverbial “equation”. In some cases however, a number of students who received this boon from the teachers did not show appreciate of this grace by studying more. This, of course, rendered them ill-prepared for the next course needed for their academic development. This time around there was no grace given, and I noticed that attendance dropped off precipitously (sharply)! Perhaps if they’d been made aware of the difficulties of the next step, they would have hit the books more urgently.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Eph 2:8).” Grace is good stuff (unmerited favor, or goodness – Psa. 23:6) God gives us although we don’t deserve it. Mercy is “bad” stuff (punishment) God doesn’t gives though we do deserve it. Grace and mercy are the acts of love that enabled God to send Jesus to die for Man, thereby entitling us to be redeemed, or to have at-ONE-ment, with the Heavenly Father. It’s the LORD’s way of grading Mankind on a curve because Rom. 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Having grace, shouldn’t we “…prepare ye for the way of the LORD(Isa. 40:3)” so that we can be ready for the next level? What is the next level?

Let’s start with Step 1, which is to keep My commandments, and live (Psa. 7:2).” “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” – Deu. 6:5. This is the First Great Commandment; “and the second is like unto it, ‘thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets’ (Mat. 22:39-40.” There is no need to concern ourselves with any other step if we are not obedient to these commandments. No matter who we are, or where we are from, obedience is the pre-eminent way to show love to God! This type of love is based on a decision – not just an emotion! God told Cain, If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him (Gen. 4:7).”  Therefore, when we follow the commandments to love we have dominion over sin, and the damnation Satan wants for us (Jam. 4:7; Jhn 10:10).

Step 2 requires us to be morally responsible, and not to shift blame for our misgivings and self-imposed deficiencies as Adam did in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:9-13). We need to understand that the LORD “…neither slumber nor sleep (Psa. 121:4)so it really and truly behooves everyone of us to be “…ambassadors of Christ (II Cor. 5:20).”  

However, let it be noted that our responsibility is not just for us to do the right thing, but also to forgive so that God can forgive us of our manifold sins (Mat. 6:14-15). Then, He can resurrect those of us who have decided to accept His Plan of Salvation, to live eternally in the Kingdom by breathing life into us (Gen. 2:7). Disobedience incurs or burdens us with the need for discipline so that we can understand how to be morally responsible!

 “Eat the flesh of Jesus” is Step 3 which is the LORD’s way of saying that we are to be taught Divine Reconciliation by a salvific God (Jehovah), who sent His Sacrificial Lamb (Jesus) to redeem and show us how to live holy lives (Jhn 6:45-51; Mat. 16:6)! Why should we live holy? So that we can  live free of impending death as His disciples (Jhn. 8:31). While some think that they can flimflam their way through life, Christians understand to, “be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting (Gal. 6:7-8).”

Furthermore, blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be fill“righteousness tends to life” (Mat. 5:6; Prv. 11:19). Hopefully, we now understand that our blessing of eternity is generally related to our desire for “right” actions (Jhn. 6:27; “Job experiences” excepted Jam. 1:12 – ” quality control”). This understanding is necessary for us to achieve discipline, self-control, and autonomy. As we LEARN BETTER we DO BETTER! In other words God expects us to act like Him for He says, “be holy for I am holy (I Pet. 1:16).” If what you say, do, or think isn’t holy, then your first step is to get rid of those hindrances to spiritual reward, even if YOU think they’re inconsequential because it’s written a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Gal. 5:9).”

In Step 4 the focus is on improving our environment by faithfully walking the path God has revealed to you for His glory (Psa. 85:13). That may mean the dissolution of some cherished relationships, activities, our habitat, etc. (Mat. 10:34-39). Notice how in the 4th dispensation (Gen. 12:1-4) Abram didn’t begin to really be blessed until his relationship with Lot was culminated (last mentioned in Gen. 14). Besides being obedient, responsible, and autonomous, Abram had to be faithful (steadfast) (Heb. 11:6).

In the 25 year span from his pioneer journey to the Land of Canaan, up to the birth of his son Isaac, the Bible says that it was his faithfulness (which God “counted it to him for righteousness” – Gen. 15:6) that empowered him to hold on to God’s promises. Sarai did convince Abram to have a child with Hagar her maid as opposed to waiting on God to fulfill His word (Gen. 16). However, in Gen. 17 God made promises, and gave instructions for circumcisions to Abram after commanding him to “…walk before Me, and be thou perfect.” We know that “Abraham” faithfully endured in his relationship with the Lord.

Step 5 is attained when we develop character as a result of our faithfulness to being righteous, responsible, and obedient. We make it a point to do what is expected of us whether or not we get attention, awards, or any such accolades. This is especially true with regards to the law of the land as we understand that all authority comes from God (Jhn. 19:11). While there may be those who rationalize criminal behavior, that tendency dissipates as our character becomes more defined. For example, we may have been tax cheats, adulterers, involved with illegal contraband, etc.; however, by God’s grace things of this nature have lost their appeal.

In life sometimes we are faced with “gray areas” which are dealt with in Step 6. When we are confronted with issues that are not covered by the law, we have to still maintain our ethics. Healing a blind man on the Sabbath infuriated a lot of people, however Jesus taught that the Sabbath was made for Man, not Man for the Sabbath (Mrk. 2:27). There are those occasions when the situations determine the appropriate ethics, where we must fulfill the greater good. The LORD does not expect us to be so legalistic that we become negligent of our neighbor.

I remember a situation where my Pastor who, while on the way to church, had to stop a conflict between a battling couple and pray with them before things became severely violent. As important as it was to “feed the flock”, bringing peace to these two souls understandably took precedence. It is also vital that we realize that while we need to be law-abiding, we must have compassion for any given situation.

In Step 7 we become new creatures (II Cor. 5:17) by becoming God-centered as opposed to being self-centered. Overcoming problems relevant to any complex or phobia we have, we’re now ready to help someone in their struggles because Php. 4:12 tells us to “know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound; every where and in all things I am isntructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me!” 

“Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister…(Mat. 20:28).”

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