Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Here we go – it’s brand new, unstained, cleansed. No. I’m not talking about the new year.

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Colossians 3:10)

I’m talking about the new us.

Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:19-24)

How can that be? Is that any harder than cleansing leprosy?

And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matthew 8:2-3)

Or, harder than anything in this list?

Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. (Luke 7:22)

Poor? Preached only to the poor? I believe that connects to

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

We could hold the world’s wealth (which some appear to do) and without God, we are not just poor in spirit, we lack it entirely. When we are new, poor in spirit, we still have the kingdom of heaven.

God has given us instructions in His word. Yet the same question from two thousand years ago is asked today – and the answer remains the same, too:

Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. (John 10:24-25)

Midnight tonight begins a new year, as with each day with Christ:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Preacher Boys

Early in my blogging, I mentioned our church’s "preacher boys." We’ve had several young men leave our church and go on to Bible college. We have a couple home for the holidays and one of them preached Sunday night. I regret that you did not get to hear him.

He spoke of Abraham and the errors he made by not listening to God. He spoke of David and the sinful scandals of his life. He spoke of Noah, and of others who have specific instances in the Bible of their open sinfulness.

Yet, centuries later, the summary of their lives include:

Abraham is called righteous: … for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. (Romans 4:9)

David is described as being after God’s own heart: … the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, (1 Samuel 13:14)

The list was long – much longer than I had thought. We moved through many verses in our Bibles. Bible character after Bible character – failures along the way but listed among the righteous and the faithful who served God.

It reminds me of the poem “The Dash” by Linda Ellis. There is a beautiful pictorial presentation of this illustration on the internet:

How God summarizes our dash is up to us and is based on how we respond to His will. We’ve made errors along the way but we are not alone. We have been told how to escape them:

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. (Ezekiel 18:30)

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:1-2)

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:1-5)

What is your own summary of your life? Do you think your summary is similar to His?

Monday, December 29, 2008


For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: (Matthew 6:14 KJV)

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22 KJV)

Mostly likely more than one man requires this forgiveness from members of my family. My daughter’s, her son’s and her daughter’s vehicles were broken into this weekend. Two vehicles with out-of-state tags and boxes, I’m certain Christmas presents were expected. And Christmas presents were stolen.

But the boxes weren’t Christmas presents – and fortunately the thieves didn’t make off with them. They were baby gifts. Young parents expecting in February will have to pay $1,000 insurance deductible in addition to hospital and doctor bills, all because of thieves.

Each of these family members trust Christ’s words: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: (Matthew 6:19 KJV)

Their real treasures – their eternal souls – are in the following verse: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (Matthew 6:20 KJV)

Every thing these thieves stole is replaceable. All of the CDs were either Christian music or sermons. Even the iPODs and MP3s held Christian music and sermons. Some of each recorded by the young pastor hit by thieves.

We’ve discussed and are now praying for these thieves. Obviously they do not believe: Thou shalt not steal. (Exodus 20:15 KJV)

Surely they do not believe: The soul that sinneth, it shall die. ... But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:20-21)

So, we pray for these thieves. We pray they listen to the music; that they listen to the sermons; that the Holy Spirit opens their hearts to the word of God.

We pray that what they have stolen will eventually bring them to the Savior, and save their eternal lives.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Made Me Do It

And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. (1 Samuel 16:1 KJV)

This morning our Sunday school class will begin a series of lessons on David. There’s a lot of background for such a study that must include Saul and Samuel. I was struck by God’s understanding of Samuel’s reluctance to move forward, for his mourning for Saul’s fall from grace through his willfulness.

In the previous chapter Saul was given specific instructions by Samuel, including the source of those instructions:

Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD. (1 Samuel 15:1 KJV)

Saul chose not to follow the instructions to the letter, resulting in God’s displeasure:

It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night. (1 Samuel 15:11 KJV)

Saul did not recognize his sin:

And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. (1 Samuel 15:13 KJV)

Samuel tried again to explain about rebellion against God’s will, and the resulting punishment:

For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. (1 Samuel 15:23 KJV)

Saul, repenting with words, lays the blame on others and Samuel must repeat the punishment:

And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. (1 Samuel 15:24-26 KJV)

Adam taught us all so well: And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:12 KJV)

Eve did just as well: And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:13 KJV)

How many times do we do the same? “See Lord, if it weren’t for [insert name] I would be doing your will.”

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Your Fig Tree?

Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. (John 1:48-50 KJV)

I have been intrigued by Nathanael and his fig tree.

There must have been great significance to Nathanael that Christ knew about the fig tree. As soon as He mentioned it, Nathanael acknowledged Him as the Son of God. Was it a simple acknowledgement of omniscience?

Does everyone have a fig tree? What would it take in each life to turn to Christ and say, “Thou art the Son of God.”

Early in Matthew demons acknowledge that He is: And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? (Matthew 8:29 KJV)

Shipmates did so, too: Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. (Matthew 14:33 KJV)

When asked directly, Simon Peter also acknowledged: And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16 KJV)

And, Simon Peter also learned the source of this knowledge: And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17 KJV)

Since I believe the Bible to be God’s word, I believe this promise and choose to do so now and forever: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11 KJV)

I have discovered my own fig tree. Tell me about yours.

Friday, December 26, 2008


For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)

I’ve enjoyed reading of the growing relationship between Paul and Timothy. Luke speaks first of Timotheus, the Greek of the name:

Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: (Acts 16:1 KJV)

Paul salutes him in Romans, first in a list of many:

Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you. (Romans 16:21 KJV)

Paul’s epistles become personal, and loving:

Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Timothy 1:2 KJV)

To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (2 Timothy 1:2 KJV)

The two letters Paul wrote to him would be as a loving Christian father teaching his most beloved son the depths of his faith.

Timothy had two other close examples of those who loved God:

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. (2 Timothy 1:5 KJV)

What brought these verses to mind today is another grandmother and grandson – with a loving mother in between – who love their Lord and have shared His word. The grandmother shared it again this Christmas with a number of “You Say, God Says” cards with our excuses and verses from God’s word. She made one for each of her grandchildren. When this grandson opened his gift, he came and knelt at her chair, pointing out one verse.

“That’s my verse,” he told her. “I have it on my heart,” and he showed her the tattoo. More than just hiding His word in his heart, he displays it for his peers to see.

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Gift

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2 KJV)

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

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. (John 3:16-17 KJV)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)

… ye that fear God, give audience. (Acts 13:16a KJV)

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joy Unspeakable

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: (1 Peter 1:8-10 KJV)

Can we love that which we have not seen? Certainly. My granddaughter is carrying Sarai – not to be seen until sometime in February. We have faith Sarai will join our family, and we love her deeply. As much as we love Sarai, it doesn’t compare with the joy unspeakable and full of glory that comes from loving our Lord.

The prophets spoke of Him from the beginning of the scriptures. They wrote of God’s plans for the world, and many of them have come to pass over time. Some have not yet done so, but the faithful hold that they, too, shall come to pass.

Barney E. Warren read those verses and wrote this refrain:

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,

Full of glory, full of glory;

It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,

Oh, the half has never yet been told.

How true. Only the first half has been accomplished. There is so much more to come, more to be done. Warren’s stanzas are a celebration of that unspeakable joy:

I have found His grace is all complete,

He supplieth every need;

While I sit and learn at Jesus’ feet,

I am free, yes, free indeed.

I have found the pleasure I once craved,

It is joy and peace within;

What a wondrous blessing, I am saved

From the awful gulf of sin.

I have found that hope so bright and clear,

Living in the realm of grace;

Oh, the Savior’s presence is so near,

I can see His smiling face.

I have found the joy no tongue can tell,

How its waves of glory roll;

It is like a great o’erflowing well,

Springing up within my soul.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Meet Jude

Twenty-five verses. That’s not too much to read in a short time. Those few verses are very important, especially today. After identifying himself, Jude writes:

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)

He wanted to write about the salvation he held in common with other followers of Christ. Instead, Jude is led by the Holy Spirit to require Christians to strive against opposition for their faith. There were certain men turning the message of grace into something it wasn’t then and isn’t today. They were distorting the message to excuse their own immoral actions.

Things haven’t changed over the centuries. There are still men turning the message of grace into something it isn’t. They say some verses are more important, some can be ignored. One, called Bishop, says these verses no longer apply:

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; (1 Timothy 3:2 KJV)

Perhaps he rejects Jude’s exhortations, too:

Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 1:7 KJV)

Surely those certain men would not accept:

These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. (Jude 1:16 KJV)

And, what are we to do with them?

And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 1:22-23 KJV)

Save, pulling them out of the fire. That takes a lot of love. It takes having the same love God has for sinners to stay and save them rather than to walk away and ignore them. Love enough to earnestly contend for their eternal souls. Love enough to speak out against certain men, ungodly men.

Do we stand with Jude, or not?

Monday, December 22, 2008


How is your nativity set arranged, that is – if you have one. My daughter does. Last Sunday we discussed several Christmas traditions that are not necessarily biblical. Nativity sets fit in that category.

Of course, the Christ child is the centerpiece of the scene. Joseph and Mary would be placed on either side. If angels and a star can be placed above, fine. If not, a light is provided and angels are in the background. Shepherds are just behind the parents, with sheep and the donkey Mary rode in the background.

My daughter’s magi are across the room, with their camels. They were not at the manger the night Christ was born. They arrived in Jerusalem to see Herod later, later enough that the family had moved into a house when they finally arrived.

The manger scene takes place in the second chapter of Luke. The magi are spoken of in the second chapter of Matthew:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1-11 KJV)

Three? Or, more? Doesn’t matter. There were three gifts that had great meaning in the life of this child.

Their error in reaching Christ was in defining what Christ would be. They equated Christ with earthly royalty, expecting Him to be born to a position of power.

How many of us still make the error of defining what we expect of Christ instead of searching for what He expects of us?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11 KJV)

What better gift could there be than Christ for Christmas?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Have you told your children?

Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. (Joel 1:3 KJV)

This Thursday morning, as paper scatters across your floors, tell your children about Jesus.

This celebration isn’t about their gifts under the tree. It isn’t about who did (or didn’t) show up. It isn’t about whether or not retail sales were good.

This is about prophecy and its fulfillment:

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2 KJV)

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 KJV)

Read the rest of the story to your children – Luke 1 and 2. Matthew 2.

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

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Time To Live

December 18 I had the privilege of reading an executive’s e-mail to his employees. I had met, and admired, this executive. All business. Focused on the needs of the company. Not asking of his employees more than he was willing to give. Keeping in touch with clients as world events impacted their company. Traveling prolifically as projects required. Project minded, yet seeing “the big picture.” An American success story.

This missive, however, acknowledged what we have all should have learned, especially this year. There are events encountered outside of our control. Some are sufficiently impactive as to bring portions of our society to a screeching halt.

We saw one similar happening following 9/11. Our skies emptied, for several days. No planes above us. No blinking lights between the stars. All travel moved to the ground, traversing the country much more slowly than before.

Soon, however, things were back to normal. As if “normal” can be defined. Travelers returned to their usual pace, slowed only slightly by enhanced security. PDA’s in hand as they walked, Laptops in use as they flew. Meeting schedules beeping from telephones. Reports in and out of the home office. Soon time would be rescheduled for families and friends. There was just one more urgent project, one more urgent need, one more meeting would be the fix.

As this executive discovered, a friend’s child’s illness paid no heed to the frantic fixing. Between trips abroad, meetings at home, an emergency here, a financing there, the child died, the family unvisited.

How do you then greet an acquaintance, much less a friend, when the only words that can be said are not only inadequate, but are excuses for a life unlived.

What is the difference between our lives being taken by disease or given away to busyness? Choice. The friend’s life changed without his input. He forsook busyness for his child illness. The executive’s life changed without his input either. The financial world depleted a multitude of options, removed levels of hopefulness.

The executive wrote to encourage his employees to do better than he. To put down the tools of their trade and speak with their co-workers, their friends, their families. To be a support, and to be supported.

For those of us who love His word, some exist that are quite similar:

Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: (1 Samuel 12:23a KJV)

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; (Colossians 1:9-11 KJV)

In creating time for your family and friends, you are creating life for yourself.

To every thing there is a season,

and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born,

and a time to die;

a time to plant,

and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill,

and a time to heal;

a time to break down,

and a time to build up;

A time to weep,

and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn,

and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones,

and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace,

and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get,

and a time to lose;

a time to keep,

and a time to cast away;

A time to rend,

and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence,

and a time to speak;

A time to love,

and a time to hate;

a time of war,

and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 KJV)