Thursday, July 23, 2015

Preachers

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One Sunday night our preacher repeated words from another Preacher, but I’d like to go back a couple of verses before he began:

Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity. (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10)

We find “vanity” from the beginning of the book Ecclesiates, which Strong’s defines as: transitory (with lots of synonyms - transient, temporary, brief, short, short-lived, short-term, impermanent, ephemeral, momentary, fleeting, passing, here today and gone tomorrow) and unsatisfactory (with a shorter list of synonyms - disappointing, dissatisfying, undesirable, disagreeable, displeasing) – neither one really sounding close in meaning to rejoice or cheer.

Childhood and youth are short-lived – I can witness to that having lived through mine, my children’s, my grandchildren’s and starting through my great-grands. Life is short – some a lot shorter than others – then, as these verses remind us, comes judgment. Yet, we begin chapter 12 with:

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

I must also witness to the fact that age alone does not bring us to “I have no pleasure in them,” as long we we think of what another preacher wrote in “Pulpit Commentary” in explaining 12:1:
Set God always before thine eyes from thy earliest days; think who made thee, and what thou wast made for, not for self-pleasing only, not to gratify thy passions which now are strong; but that thou mightest use thy powers and energy in accordance with the laws of thy being as a creature of God’s hands, responsible to him for the use of the faculties and capacities with which he has endowed thee.
Yes – using what God gave us as His creation is our responsibility. How do I know that? The Preacher tells us at the end of Ecclesiastes:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

The Preacher goes even further and tells us why:

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

That is not a “single verse doctrine.” It is a theme through the entire Bible, from the beginning to the end. It is what I understand when I say all paths do lead to God, for we shall all stand before His throne, all knees bowing, all tongues confessing, all before Him and His judgment. I’m still preparing for that day, and I pray for those who read His word:

To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. (Colossians 1:27-29)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hope

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But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)

This graphic was a reminder for me to to give my answer to anyone who will take time to listen – or read. Please forgive me for the missed opportunities, and I am prepared to write of hope.

Someone asked my daughter what will happen to my husband if he is not given his MG treatments and her immediate response was, “He’ll die.” The questioner was not ready for her un-sugar coated reply. They were expected something along the lines of alternate treatment. Unfortunately, those will be available when/if he goes into crisis caused by the build up of protein created by the auto-immune disease.

Please do not be concerned – our medical centers today are prepared to treat these crises,  but it did remind me that there are places in our world today where there is no hope for such treatments. We are not experiencing a lack of hope, but our hope not solely based on the medical community. Ours is based on Bible verses that we accept as truth:

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. (Psalms 16:9 KJV)

Yes, we can be glad and rejoice because we have hope – and we know that comes from faith:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

It is almost impossible to explain that verse, that hope, to people who do not accept that this world, this universe, was created and did not occur by accident. Those often cite scientific discoveries, yet many scientists do believe in a Creator even as they endeavor to understand how this universe works.

Where (or what) is your hope? Is it man-made? Is the man who made it sufficient to sustain that hope? By what means?

My hope is in a God who made plans before He created. A God who loves mankind, proving that love with the gift of saving grace. A God who prepared a place for us. A God who inspired men to write about Him and what He wants us to know that:

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
(1 Corinthians 2:4-7 KJV)


Please wonder about this mystery and continue to read His word to grow faith:

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Username and Password

If you are reading this you have some computer skills, which means to me that somewhere along the line you have an online identity that requires a Username and a Password. I have several and am using Dashlane app to try to get them accessible when I forget one. Don’t know about you, but that has happened to me – more than once.

That made me think about the Book of Life:

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:3 KJV)

As Paul referred to it, so did John through the book of Revelation:

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5 KJV)

. . . ending references with:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:19 KJV)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Username and Password were simple:

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Close, but it is possible to use the name Christian without having the faith that Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God, Savior. That is a requirement:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18 KJV)

There is so much more to being a follower of Christ than getting one’s name written down in church membership. That is not the same as having one’s name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. There will come a time when those not written will worship another:

And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8 KJV)

Believing that God’s plan from the foundation of the world included His Son is only the beginning of our journey. There is much to learn along the way, ministries to accomplish and witnessing to share. There is affirmation to read:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31 KJV)

John felt strongly enough that he repeated:

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13 KJV)

So do I.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let Me Introduce Controversy

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This blog is probably to sound totally off the wall, but I ran across this paragraph in Being On God's Side – please note that I’m not advocating the site, but find myself asking/answering questions from paragraphs such as:
For example, many of them are likely unaware that the largest Protestant denomination in America, Southern Baptists, cannot even tolerate a centralized church government, much less a central government controlled by the church. Thinking that a nation full of Southern Baptists wants to establish a theocratic regime is about as absurd as believing anarchists want to create a centralized government.
There is much more in the article that I found to match my own views, but this one hit home. I grew up in a Southern Baptist congregation, though now I belong to an Independent Baptist congregation because it is closer to the teachings of the church I knew then.

Yesterday I wrote of Peter’s statement:

But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:19-20)

That’s very much what “Being on God’s Side” says – and it’s directed as “An Open Letter To The Religious Right.” Yes – that means me, and I’m being convicted by much in this article. For example, would you agree with their quote from Lincoln:
During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was purportedly asked if God was on his side. “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side,” said the President, “my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
The next couple of paragraphs include some interesting definitions :
. . .  it contains three of the most controversial ideas in American politics: that it is legitimate to invoke the name of God within the realm of political discourse; that God’s existence isn’t merely symbolic, but that he is always right; and that since God takes sides on certain issues, some people will be divinely justified while others will stand in opposition not only to their political opponents but to the very Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.
If you find these ideas absurd and repugnant, you are most likely a secularist. If you find them to be embarrassing truths, you may be on the religious left. If you find them so obvious that they hardly need stating, you are probably a member of the so-called “religious right.”
I do fall within that last category – I find that God exists, He is always right, He has given us definitions for issues and when sides are taken, some are in opposition “to the very Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.” Guess that throws me to the right.
Protecting the sanctity of innocent human life and defending the traditional definition of marriage are clearly essentials. Those matters are based on principles that can be clearly derived from our traditions and holy texts.
That was written five years ago – in 2010 – and now we have not only lost the sanctity of innocent human life but the definition of marriage. I can accept that a portion of our populace does not support this, but that does not mean I should change my position, does it? My beliefs certainly did not change the position of the opposition – and that opposition is not supported by tradition nor holy texts.

I appreciate your thoughts – and comparisons with scripture.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Not Pleasing

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A missionary posted a graphic with:

But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:2-4)

… and a question:

How are we told to speak unto others the gospel?

I do hope you got the answer: BOLD. And I hope you understood that there was much contention. Most important to me is being allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel. All the gospel, as Paul spoke before church leaders did:

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27)

Paul gave all the advice, the purpose, of what God had inspired him to speak and write. By this I can make the connection through:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

. . . to us, especially with the word “charity.” That is used today to indicate something given to another who has less. But the original Greek, ἀγάπη [agapē] is defined in Strong’s Concordance as:
G26 agápē – properly, love which centers in moral preference. So too in secular ancient Greek, 26 (agápē) focuses on preference; likewise the verb form (25 /agapáō) in antiquity meant "to prefer" (TDNT, 7). In the NT, 26 (agápē) typically refers to divine love (= what God prefers)
I know, I’ve defined it in my blog before. But, I’m still having a problem applying it myself to certain people. To certain groups. To the seeming multitude who dislike hearing about our Lord and the boundaries He gave to people who are to teach us about Him.

I’m disheartened when I hear the word “love” used to justify actions outside the boundaries given both by Jesus, the Christ, and the men he sent out to spread His good news. Thus I become nothing more than the sounding brass and tinkling cymbal Paul describes.

Does that change God’s message?

No – it can’t. Which brings me to an answer Peter gave during another contentious hearing (please read the background in previous verses):

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:18-20)

It is up to me to be certain I’m giving what I read from the Bible with love – no matter who is hearing the message and how contentious it is. The good news must be stated factually, even if the person receiving it does not respect God’s word. Why?

We love him, because he first loved us.

Don’t stop there – the message continues:

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:19-21)

If we don’t, we are not pleasing to men nor God, are we?

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Have You Read It?

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I have – and the Lamb wins. Oh, a lot of things have to happen in between. Jesus’ disciples (just as most of us) wanted to know what and when:

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (Matthew 24:3-7)

All those things have happened since the beginning of time. Wars have been the subject of stories and they bring famine and pestilence. Earthquakes constantly remind us that our world isn’t as firm a foundation as we would like to believe. Wars and earthquakes will continue past today – and God knows when, we don’t.

Paul was inspired to tell us:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8)

God knew, others didn’t. Over the years of biblical history, God entrusted portions of His knowledge to others for specific purposes. I believe John’s Revelation has a specific purpose, too.

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: (Revelation 1:1)

Unfortunately, we are all interested in the “must shortly come to pass.” Believers pray that means soon. Unbelievers laugh at us for waiting two millennium for nothing that has happened. Both forget:

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

There is a problem, though, if this information is not shared:

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)

Preacher’s need the assistance of his congregation to fulfill their responsibilities:

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (Romans 12:4-9)

Others have cried, as we do now:

And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? (Revelation 6:10)

God knows when and we don’t. But we do know – the Lamb wins!