Saturday, April 18, 2015

What He Said vs What We Do

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Do you know that Jesus never advocated civil disobedience? Oh, that was what He was charged with – disrespect for Roman authority and working to over throw the Roman government – but what He is documented as saying is:

Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. (Matthew 22:17-21 KJV)

That must be an important message, it’s repeated in Mark 12:17 and Luke 20:25. Or, how about:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. (Matthew 5:38-41 KJV)

Roman soldiers could compel citizens for a mile – Jesus tells us to offer two. The graphic for today is a screen capture from Michael Belk’s Journeys With The Messiah. I’ve found a couple of sites that were vitriolic in their dislike for this photo, stating how disgustingly immoral Nazi’s were. Could we possibly say the Roman army was better? Yet Jesus never offered physical resistance to Rome or Rabbis.

There was one exception in regard to His anger:

And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. (Matthew 21:12-13 KJV)

He did not show anger when His message was ignored:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37 KJV)

And, the most important to me of what He said is in John’s third chapter:

Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. (John 3:9-11 KJV)

Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a religious leader, a “master of Israel” in the words of our Lord, yet he asked “How can these things be” the same way that question is asked today by so many. Jesus gave the bottom line, simplistic, non-theological answer that remains unacceptable to some today:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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 3:14-18 KJV)

He came not to change Roman society, Jewish society or American society. He came to change individual lives, creating a personal relationship. How’s that working in your life?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Yesterday’s Thoughts Continue

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There is another thought from Pastor’s Wednesday night lesson:

There are churches everywhere that used to believe the gospel that today are filled with people who do not believe the Bible is the inspired word of God or that Jesus Christ is the true way of salvation.

I know from my own research that this is a valid statement. I’ve quoted articles from our own country and others written by ordained ministers who have stated (some emphatically) that the Bible is too outdated to be a reference for today’s society. I have read works of academic theologians that posit the same, placing doubt on the origins of the books selected for inclusion as scripture. John ran across these same concepts in the first century:

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. (1 John 2:18-19 KJV)

Too many of these who “went out from us” pick and choose which scriptures to use – for their own gain, whether it be monetary or position. There are some, as Thomas Jefferson, who would delete certain biblical items and retain others as a “benevolent code of morals.” Why it would be considered moral if it were given by a man who lied about being sent from God to save souls is beyond my comprehension. The same man’s word are testified to by those who saw and heard Him. If they lied about a part of His message, why listen to the part he liked? Perhaps that’s what Jesus meant when he spoke of camels and gnats.

I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (1 John 2:21-22 KJV)

I can understand why John wrote this – partly because there are readers who are as familiar with the Bible as I am, yet have gone out from us as though the Bible had no truth. Unfortunately, Paul was familiar with them, too:

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18 KJV)

The same story of the cross that Paul preached:

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. (Acts 17:1-3 KJV)

Please remember that the scriptures Paul used came from what we call Old Testament. The New was being lived, not yet written. It was being preached – and believed. Can we do any less today and be called followers of Christ?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Negatives

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"Filmstrip" Photo of a negative, Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

During a church visit, a lady mentioned our church yard signs – I wrote about them three years ago. They are similar in size to realtor signs and many of our members have one in their front yard.  I know of only one person who requested one, but is not a member, so when you see one, you know the source.

The lady said the signs are not good PR for our church.She said the verses were negative. I regret that’s a problem for her, for two reasons:

First – the signs contain scripture. Yes, it’s only a verse – and not a long verse at that.  But the chapter and verse are cited and it’s simple to look up the verse and see it in context.

Second – the signs have two sides and the design has a verse of warning on one side and the other side in a verse of encouragement. Both sources are cited and available for comment.

I would hope they would be a source for questions and comments, an opportunity to expand viewpoints and learn from each other.

It is not any Christian’s responsibility to make the message acceptable – only to make it available. That’s what Pastor taught us Wednesday night during our study of Jude verses 3-4:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4 KJV)

Another reference he used was:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2 Peter 2:1-2 KJV)

That led me to two specific thoughts. The first has to do with “pernicious”:

having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.
synonyms:  harmful, damaging, destructive, injurious, hurtful, detrimental, deleterious, dangerous, adverse, inimical, unhealthy, unfavorable, bad, evil, baleful, wicked, malign, malevolent, malignant, noxious, poisonous, corrupting; maleficent

I believe the translators found an excellent word for the Greek ἀπώλεια - destruction, causing someone (something) to be completely severed – cut off (entirely) from what could or should have been.

My other thought came from a genealogical article expanding on an example to encourage “trust but verify,” even when using a source with impeccable credentials. For me – that includes the Bible.  I do trust it, even though the original writings are lost and there are multiple translations.  It is the translations I verify and consider the source.

The 66 books included in the King James Version were listed as scripture by the fourth century. The process was open and there are many websites that give that history and discussion.  I agree with the one that states:

. . . we are moved simply to trust in his providence as he led his people through the years and gave us the most honored and powerful and comforting volume in the history of humanity, the book known as the Bible.

Let’s continue studying it, even what appears to be negative.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Watchman Shares Light

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(I knew I had used the Ezekiel watchman scriptures a few years ago. It was good for me to re-read today. I hope it is for you, too.)

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5 KJV)

I’ve seen examples of this truth in so many places.  Darkness does not comprehend God’s light. We’ve also been told that our light must shine, too:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 KJV)

I’ve seen that verse pointed to as telling us that good works are necessary, but don’t talk about beliefs – they will offend some people. Once again, I point to what we’ve been told:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20 KJV)

When we do so, the response is often a comment that we are closed minded and not accepting of others. From a source I neglected to source, I found written what I pray applies to my life:
We live our beliefs. And that is what is so offensive. The fact that no matter how the mob roars we can't be changed. We won't let go despite the pressures brought to bear.
I will continue to share the light of my life, my Lord and my God revealed across the centuries in the Bible and in the example of lives lived for Him. I will offend some, cause others to laugh but for the most part, I will be ignored and remain unnoticed. Not my concern.

My concern is summed up in Ezekiel’s 33rd chapter about a watchman:

But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. (Ezekiel 33:6 KJV)

Jesus testified that He is the light of the world:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12 KJV)

As promised in Isaiah:

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9:2 KJV)

In my heart, in my soul, I see the return of our Lord – as promised. I will speak of Him, write of Him, pray to Him and share Him as the light in my life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Secrets

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Do you know any good secrets? I have in the past – from surprise birthday parties to changes in corporate structure. Confidentiality is a character trait to be desired. Keeping secrets is very important. God has shown us to be perfect at keeping things secret:

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: 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 2:5-8 KJV)

“Had they known . . .” That could be said about us, too, couldn’t it? Had we known what God had planned, we wouldn’t have waited so long to accept His gift.  Had we known the joy He offers, we would have partaken much sooner. Part of the problem comes from listening to those who do not appreciate His gift nor want to be joyful. That is a mystery I cannot understand.

God does open some of His secrets:

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 KJV)

We might say it was easier for the disciples who walked with Jesus, heard His parables – and the explanations.

For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. (Matthew 13:17 KJV)

Preceding that verse is the parable of the sower. Following that verse is the explanation. Take time to look into the parable and Jesus’ explanation. Understanding one parable helps understand others – and there is much to learn from His words.

Some things are not yet understandable – not yet open to us. We are not prepared to receive them.

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Daniel 12:4 KJV)

Is there any other time in history that knowledge has been increased as in the last century? Are we not running to and fro? When will we know?

And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. (Daniel 12:9-10 KJV)

What I understand is what Daniel was told at the close of his vision:

But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. (Daniel 12:13 KJV)

I will do so not by what I know or what I have done, but by God’s grace:

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2 Timothy 1:9 KJV)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Proclaim The Gospel

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"A reconstruction of houses within a walled city" from Bible-architecture.info

Sunday our congregation celebrated its 60th anniversary. I learned much more about its history over the last few weeks.  We’re short-timers, having been here just seventeen years. There was a funeral last week for one of the charter members and Sunday I discovered the families who started the church were in their 20’s, with young children. There are some remaining charter members – and many of their children are continuing our Lord’s service in this congregation.

That includes making a joyful noise unto the Lord, especially proclaiming the message from the lyrics “Jesus Saves.” Not the one found in hymnals – the one that tells us:

But the world still tells us daily,
That God is not alive;
Salvation's plan is just a fairy tale.
But their lies don't change the truth,
Jesus died for you;
And the word of His returning
Could happen any day.

I love the chorus!!

I'm gonna shout it from the housetop,
Proclaim it from the mountaintop,
Tell the world around me - Jesus saves;
I have made my choice,
I'm gonna make a joyful noise,
The world will hear my voice, Jesus saves!

How biblical is that chorus? Well, we know from many Bible verses that Jesus saves – I’ve used them often enough through the years. We know we’re supposed to make a joyful noise, too. But how about those housetops?

What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. (Matthew 10:27 KJV)

As the graphic shows us, a house in the Jewish city of Jesus’ time gives ample opportunity for a large number of people to hear what is being preached. My own housetop would garner more cows that people if I were to preach from it – so I choose to use this blog to pass along with I have heard – JESUS SAVES. Spread the tidings all around, Jesus saves.

That’s the joyful sound of good news proclaimed by angels:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 KJV)

The message hasn’t changed from the centuries before through those that followed. God loves His creation and has such tremendous plans for it that we cannot understand . . .

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV)

. . . except for what He has revealed through His word, as Paul describes:

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 2:5-7 KJV)

Where do you choose to shout and proclaim the message that Jesus saves?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

If You Missed It . . .

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If you missed me yesterday, it wasn’t your fault. We had to be out of the house early – and got back late. What happened reminded me of:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (2 Timothy 4:3 KJV)

No – I haven’t uncovered scripture that overturns what I perceive as sound doctrine, but Beloved Husband certainly reminded me of itching ears. He has new hearing aids. Very expensive, very technologically current, but the left one makes him reach often to his ear.  After a couple of weeks of use, the audiologist confirmed that the aid was not seating properly and was allowing feedback. For him, the sound was absolutely intermittent. No head movement, specific range, incorrect seating – the mold simply had be redone and the aid remade.

Sometimes it takes remolding, doesn’t it? Remember the Lord’s word to Jeremiah:

Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. (Jeremiah 18:2-3 KJV)

If you’ve never watched a potter cast a work on a wheel, please take time to find a video. It is a very personal work. I have cast clay in molds, and the results are pleasing. But the potter ends us touching each particle of the clay, molding it by hand as his wheel turns, matching the speed of the wheel with pressure to shape to his will. Except:

And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. (Jeremiah 18:4 KJV)

Let’s assume for the moment – an assumption because it is not part of the scripture – that there was a grain of gravel, an immalleable piece of stone that caused the mar. That I have seen happen on a potter’s wheel. The Bible does not tell us what caused the marring, though it is absolutely positive that the potter used that same clay to make another vessel simply because it seemed good to the potter to make it.

God has that prerogative with His creation.

O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:6 KJV)

I believe that applies to all of His creation, not simply to Israel. I believe that ties in to what Mordecai told Esther:

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14 KJV)

Think of all the examples given of faith in Hebrews 11. Then think of other examples where God had to do a bit of convincing before His chosen vessel responded to the call. Where do we fall in this group. I know I fall to those needing convincing. I believe I’ve experienced remolding, just as the potter’s vessel, just as BH’s hearing aids. I pray for the best fit into His will.