Friday, August 29, 2008

My Father

Through a pet lover’s post, I wrote a very short story that included a small slice of my father’s character. I never forget him, not for one day since he went home. There’s never a day goes by that there’s something I want to point out to him. My youngest great-grandson looks so much like Daddy’s youthful pictures. Will he have that sense of humor, the great story-telling ability?

But that’s not what came to mind after I wrote that short pet story. Nope. What came to mind was this verse:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 KJV)

You see, my Dad laid down his life for his friend – his wife. For a couple of years he took her to a variety of doctors, then to Mayo Clinic. He retired early, giving up a portion of their income for the rest of their lives. He gave up going fishing, which he enjoyed all of his life. Instead, he cared for his wife, afflicted with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Eventually, he turned her several times a night. Cooked and cleaned, for she could no longer. Shopped, not just for their groceries, but also for her clothing. (Try that. It is NOT easy.)

I wish I could tell you how much Mom appreciated it, but first imagine the frustration of such a debilitating disease. Losing your ability to communicate, to walk, yet retaining all intellect. To be forced to sit and think, yet not share. Unlike Stephen Hawkin, there was not an inner universe she could manipulate and disperse through a computer. Sometimes her frustrations boiled over.

Yet her husband laid down his life, for this friend.

That situation gave me two examples. That of our heavenly Father, willing to accept us with our limitations and our faults. And our Christ, willing to lay down His life that we might live:

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:28 KJV)

My father is not a singular incident. One such husband lives nearby, spending his days at a full-care center. His wife does not retain her intellect. Alzheimer’s has stolen all of her memories, even her ability to eat. For almost four years, he fed her every day. Today he simply holds her hand as she slowly slips away.

Are there those who do not believe in God and yet offer their lives for their friends? Yes. Christians do not have this market cornered. This is simply a way of looking at men who bring to mind Bible verses.

Even greater than this love is the love these particular men and women have shown for their God. Not once did I hear any of them express a thought of life’s unfairness. Not once did I hear them rail against an uncaring deity, nor indicate a loss of belief.

I’m sorry – I’m beginning to ramble, seeking to create a larger portrait, when this covers what was on my mind. My agenda? Summed up as:

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; (Colossians 1:9 KJV)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mites

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. (Mark 12:41-44 KJV)

When studying giving, I’ve heard people say how grateful they are that they can give more than this widow. Last night our pastor illustrated how penurious we are.

A church was going to institute a program that would be costly to start. The pastor was talking to members of the congregation. One of the wealthier, when asked if he would help with funds, replied, “Of course! You can count on me for the widow’s mite.”

In the following service the pastor told the congregation that the funding had been pledged. That one single individual had been contacted, and fully supported the program. After services the man came the pastor and asked him what he meant. The pastor responded, “You promised the widow’s mite. She cast in all that she had, even all her living. I know the cash value of your holdings and they more than cover the costs.”

Of course, our congregation laughed at the illustration – but the point was true. The widow gave all to God. And God noticed. I doubt the wealthy man described above would fit the following verse:

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7 KJV)

And, of course, that verse is incomplete without:

But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. (2 Corinthians 9:6 KJV)

Thanks be to God who measures us by the heartfelt intentions of the gift, not by the amount. For neither the mite nor millions count in heaven, but whether it is our all that is given to God.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hands of God

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:29-31 KJV)

Remember, the verses above were written to those who had followed Christ. The author had serious concerns for their faith: For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (Hebrews 10:26 KJV)

Do you ever visualize yourself walking over the Son of God? Don’t we do that every time we ignore the promise God gave us? You know, where He said That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:15 KJV)?

But what if faith is lost, or hidden behind personal pleasure: Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (Hebrews 10:38 KJV)

After explaining what faith is, the writer continues to explain the unexplainable: Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3 KJV)

Unbelievers ask Christians to drop their faith in God because science has shown the universe was created in a big bang. How ridiculous do they sound? Christians believe in a singularity creation when “God said”. What most scientists do not question is, What existed prior to the big bang? I’ve read Stephen Hawkin quoted as asking that question – not in a religious context – but the question begs to be answered.

For the Jew and the Christian it was answered in Genesis. Before creation, God is. Unconfined by the limitations of nature’s laws, which He instituted. Unfettered by time, which He set in motion. Unbounded by the mind of man, which in arrogance deny His existence.

When He spoke to Abram – I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (Genesis 17:1b KJV) – He offered the same walk He offered to Adam, and that He continues to offer to all today.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31 KJV)

Instead, let us shout Peter’s words: And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. (John 6:69 KJV)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jesus Wept

Jesus wept. (John 11:35 KJV)

When it comes to reciting a memory verse, children love this one. Sometimes they have trouble getting the right book, chapter or verse, but even the youngest attendees soon know they can recite: Jesus wept. (John 11:35 KJV)

His close friend was dead. The people around Him still do not understand Him. Mary, who preferred sitting at His feet to learn from His words, did not come out to greet Him. Instead, it was Martha, whom He chided about being troubled about many things.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. (John 11:20-22 KJV)

Martha’s trust that Jesus could have helped did not come close to understanding what He has to offer. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. (John 11:23 KJV)

That, she knew. Just as we know it today. Though some doubt it, some deny it, the message has been consistent, and Martha repeats her confirmation of the promise: I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. (John 11:24b KJV)

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25-26 KJV)

Do you believe that? Martha did. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. (John 11:27 KJV)

Do we know what to expect from that belief? Not hardly. We have seen so little of God’s abilities, and yet so much. Mankind looks upon His creation and must measure, define and change it instead of giving thanks and seeking His will; instead of seeing Mary come to Him; instead of hearing Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? (John 11:40 KJV)

Nor do we see and listen as Jesus speaks to our Father: And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 11:42 KJV)

He speaks aloud for those witnessing, that they might know God’s power. That the words “Come forth” were spoken by the Son of God.

So when these children speak John 11:35 as their memory verse, take time to teach them the rest of the story. Be certain they know the ending is just a continuation of God’s plan that many seeing the things which Jesus did, believed on him. (John 11:45b KJV)

And, we can too.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Net, Nets or Nuts

Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. (Luke 5:4-5 KJV)

Even when you know it won’t work –

Even when you know you don’t have support –

Can we respond, as Peter did, “At thy word, I will”

And, when we finally respond positively, do we use one net, or more.

Christ said “let down your nets” and Peter responded “I will let down the net.” How small is our faith that we only use one net.

Or, do we just decline and say “He’s nuts! There’s nothing to be caught!”

The Bible tells us that men were marveled and amazed at Christ’s words and actions:

But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! (Matthew 8:27 KJV)

And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. (Mark 1:27 KJV)

It must have been easier for them to understand that this man was the Son of God since they saw His work. We’ve heard testimony of it for millennia since that time, still some do not respond to who He is. Many have, and Christ said of them:

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29 KJV)

Are you among the blessed that have not seen, yet have believed what the centurion stated so plainly:

Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. (Matthew 27:54 KJV)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Your Bible

How’s your Bible?

Is it lonely? How often is it opened? How often is it read?

There are many different ways to approach Bible reading, which one are you doing right now?

Is it the right one for you?

What do you expect from your Bible reading? Are your expectations being met?

How much of the Bible have you read?

Have you read it straight through?

Do you take notes to follow up on verses where you have questions?

Do you enjoy your Sunday School Bible study? Do you go beyond the SS lesson?

Do you memorize verses? If so, why? If not, why?

Do I expect you to answer these questions for me?

You don’t owe me answers nor any explanations for your Bible reading / study habits. I just wanted to take a moment to make you aware of your own habits. All of us can enhance our study periods and increase our knowledge of God’s word. Prayerful Bible reading opens God’s word and affects our lives.

If any of the verses I’ve previously posted encouraged you to open your Bible and read further, thank God. If they haven’t, my prayers for you and your increased knowledge of God’s will in your life will continue.

May God bless each of us as we read His word and accept His will in our lives.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ignorant

I recently read a forum post – in a Christian bulletin board -- where an atheist expressed his belief that Christians are similar to drug dealers. He wrote, “You sound like a drug-dealer, except it's ignorance you're selling.” In response, the Christian stated he was not selling, instead: "I'm just telling you that the gift is there for you to take." The atheist responded, “… yes, you are trying to sell something because ignorance comes at a cost.”

With a part of that, I agree. Ignorance costs.

Living in this world requires knowledge. Yet no individual can “know it all.” I depend on others. I do not do it for myself. I depend on someone to create medicines that impact my health. I cannot do it for myself. The list is endless, for new products are created daily in our society. I am dependent on news sources. I cannot cover world events. I depend on educators. I cannot self-educate sufficiently to provide an income to support myself.

I dare not ignore available education. Ignorance does come at a cost. I must know if the products are suitable for my needs. I must know if the medicine is correct for my health. I must discern if the news is valid or inflammatory, believable or lies. I must be able to create and build a career.

When I read:

For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. (1 Corinthians 15:16-19 KJV)

I must be able to discern if the message is complete and valid. I must educate myself as to who wrote this, when it was written, how it was received at the time and how it has been treated since it was written. I must know, for my eternity depends on knowing. Ignorance comes at a cost. An eternal cost.

But by the grace of God I am what I am: (1 Corinthians 15:10 KJV) and what I am is a child of God.

Others look upon this as being "servile", with "a loathing for mankind". I look upon it as acknowledging the presence of God. The One who loves mankind, and commands that his followers do so, too. For that, I rejoice and am exceedingly glad!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Contention or Love?

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2 Timothy 2:23-26 KJV)

There are some boards I’ve visited that intrigue me simply because I cannot understand why people post in the manner some do. Don’t get me wrong, please. I do post to a few boards, but in fellowship and information exchange, not in debates. And, on the subject boards, the debates are not friendly.

Of two that come to mind, their very names relate to Christianity. Yet the examples set for non-believers show more strife and less gentleness than Paul requests.

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. (Titus 3:9 KJV)

More than once Paul brings this to Christians’ attention. He knew of which he spoke: For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. (Titus 3:3 KJV)

Paul knew that infighting is not profitable: But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (Galatians 5:15 KJV)

He instead offers … the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV) (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) (Ephesians 5:9 KJV)

Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease. (Proverbs 22:10 KJV)

Paul experienced such contention and knew the results were painful: And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; (Acts 15:39 KJV)

So often posters act as Christ described children: And the Lord said, Whereunto then shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? They are like unto children sitting in the marketplace, and calling one to another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned to you, and ye have not wept. (Luke 7:31-32 KJV)

He had our generation down pat, didn’t He? We know the truth, too, just as John: 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. (1 John 2:21 KJV)

I believe he would write to us, just as he wrote then: And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. (2 John 1:5 KJV)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

His Words

Some say Jesus never said He was the Messiah, the Son of God. Here are a few scriptures written concerning what He said about Himself:

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27 KJV)

He speaks of Himself as being the fulfillment of prophecy, calls Himself the Christ. Oh, yes, this follows His resurrection.

And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 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 16:14-17 KJV)

Peter acknowledges Him as the Christ, son of the living God – and Jesus blesses him for the statement, which Jesus said came from His Father.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

Confirmation from Jesus that He is the way to our Father.

… Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? (Mark 14:61b-63 KJV)

Do we? Need any further witnesses? I think so.

I think we need the witnesses who believe in Him to speak out. Those who follow him to live His love openly. We need to hear from those of us who sought out the living God from the beginning of time to show Him to the world around us.

To hear the words of the Man who gave His reason for coming to us: For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)

That was me. Is it you, too?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

God's Word

I post a lot of Bible verses. I read the Bible often. Do you see the Bible as God’s word? Inspired by God, written by men, written for men?

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; (Titus 1:2-3 KJV)

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13 KJV)

If you do not accept the Bible as God’s word, the scriptures cannot be important to you.

Someone living a good life may incur your interest, but until you come to the scriptures to understand how lives are changed, how can you believe what you are told?

If you don’t read His word, how do you come to know Him? For the Bible says:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 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? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:13-17 KJV)

Does the Bible save you? No – emphatically, NO! God does that: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)

The Bible does, however, speak to the hearts of those who are seeking. Acts 8:26-38 is a wonderful example of this principle. Not only is there someone seeking to know about the words he’s reading from the scriptures, but God literally sent someone to help him understand. Look around. There is someone likeminded who will spend time with you and discuss scriptures.

God has many promises given to us, not the least of which is: And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Luke 11:9 KJV)

Was it said to me: What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? (1 Corinthians 14:36 KJV)

Read and find out for yourself.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Please, pray with me.

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:23 KJV)

Often, our Lord prayed alone.

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matthew 26:36-39 KJV)

Once, He prayed for something that He knew would not come to pass. Yet, as He had taught His disciples to pray, He asked that God's will be done.

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; (Luke 18:1 KJV)

He taught us in parables to PUSH - pray, until something happens.

Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (Matthew 26:53-54 KJV)

He declined to test God when it came to fulfilling scripture, though He knew He could change the outcome.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 14:16 KJV)

He prayed for us, that we might be comforted, and because we are His.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (John 17:9 KJV) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (John 17:20 KJV)

My own prayer list is a bit long right now. A young boy being treated for brain cancer; a teenager without the stability of a home; a grandmother living with physical pain that is being treated; college students leaving home for school; a pastor facing civil trial; a mother awaiting EGD results; a prodigal, apostate without faith, but missing that which was lost.

You may or may not know them, but I ask that you join us in prayer -- for my list, just as I join with you for yours. For we are promised:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26 KJV)

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16 KJV)

We are also taught when to pray: Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Describing God

I am often amused at how we attempt to describe God. I had a young cousin whose parents were not involved in church. On a visit to her grandmother, she visited her church. She came home all enthused about hearing of God, but couldn't think of the right expression to explain to her parents. "He's so shiney," she said. "All shiney and bright! He shines, He shines like the top of a beer can!"

We use the examples we see in our own lives, limited though they might be, in an attempt to encompass the glory that cannot be contained. The Psalmist used many phrases. One of the most intriguing for me is:

For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. (Psalms 50:10 KJV)

Talk about limiting -- He owns not just those on the thousand hills. We are told that The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalms 24:1 KJV)

I know that God does not need me. He was not waiting to hear of my decisions across my years. He does not depend on my words to tell His story. Were I never to speak His name, He would not be lessened.

The remainder of His creation awaits our confessions. He has told us what to expect if we do not speak out: And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. (Luke 19:40 KJV)

There is a promised time when all shall worship Him: 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)

Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:21-23 KJV)

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:11-12 KJV)

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)

Might be a good idea to get in a bit of practice now, right?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Current Events

How strongly do you feel that Russia was the aggressor in Georgia?

Would you find any similarities with this demonstration in Hawaii?

How would this relate to a professor’s views of Republica Del Norte?

From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? (James 4:1 KJV)

That applies to nations as well as to individuals. What should our response be?

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. (1 Peter 2:13-14 KJV)

Are the number of conflicts in our world indicative of the nearness of His return?

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. (Matthew 24:6 KJV)

And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. (Mark 13:7 KJV)

But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. (Luke 21:9 KJV)

I do not wish to count the number of boundaries redrawn, the renaming of countries, the deaths of defenders as well as offenders – just within my lifetime. It would appear that every square inch of our earth had been re-measured and renamed if we count from the beginning. So, what do we do?

Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:36 KJV)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

His Ways?

My son-in-law mentioned his name in passing, and I thought it would be good to spend a bit of time with C. H. Spurgeon. I landed on his “Accidents Not Punishments” sermon and found it to be so very timely!

Tsunami, Katrina, earthquakes – we’ve experienced global agonies with tremendous loss of life. Some agonies are man made. Spurgeon quotes David: I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. (Psalms 37:35 KJV)

Spurgeon continues: “And if you and I pretend that we can find out the reasons of Providence and twist the dispensations of God over our fingers, we only prove our folly – we do not prove that we have begun to understand the ways of God.”

God has not changed since Spurgeon preached. God has not changed since Christ spoke: And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? (Luke 13:2 KJV) 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? (Luke 13:4 KJV)

The answer to both questions remains valid today: I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3 and 5 KJV)

Spurgeon’s closing thoughts in this sermon have always been valid, “We are dying creatures…” What we do with our deaths is determined in our lives. Spurgeon made his choice based on the same options he offered his audience at the close of this sermon. The same choice our pastor offers each service. The same choice offered to you every moment of every day of life – but not beyond.

“Souls, you know the way of salvation, you have heard it often, hear it yet again – ‘He that believes on the Lord Jesus has everlasting life.’ ‘He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. He that believes not shall be damned.’”

The message remains unchanged, for the Bible remains the same:

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:16 KJV)

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 3:18 KJV)

Friday, August 15, 2008

The List

This isn't a new posting, and I'm grateful for running across this: http://www.christianitytoday.com/mp/2005/003/7.32.html. A quick synopsis is that a young wife and mother decides to leave her husband and heads home to mother. Her mother has her write a list of the things that makes her husband impossible to live with. Then, on the right hand side of the paper, not a list of his good qualities but write a list of the wife’s reaction to his bad ones.

We all have our left hand lists. If not on paper, at least in our minds. We know our spouse’s faults. We can name them at a moment's notice and we can add to them with the slightest slight. We know our spouse’s good points, too. We remember how they first impressed us. How they took our heart and made it theirs. We know how they've kept our love over the years, too.

What we often do not know is that right hand list. Not what we do that irritates our spouse, but what we do that harms ourselves. That also harms our marriage, our family and our relationship with God.

Have you ever seen a milkmaid’s stool? As it states, “A simple three legged stool which will stand without rocking on uneven ground.” There are great opportunities for uneven ground throughout out our marriages. With the triangle of God, husband and wife, our marriage is equipped for uneven ground.

As wives, we’re told: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22 KJV)

Paul repeats it, just in case we didn’t get it the first time? Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18 KJV)

Our beloved husbands are also given instructions: Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:25 KJV)

That is a great responsibility given to each spouse. Are we up to the task? If there is any question in your mind, remember where we can get the strength to do so: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

Uneven, rocky ground cannot topple a marriage that includes Christ as part of its daily life. He has promised to be with us always, though it appear as a great mystery. And marriage often does!

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5:32-33 KJV)

If you feel you must, make that left hand list. But never forget to make the right hand list, too.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Adoption

These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood. (Nehemiah 7:64 KJV)

I know how they felt. According to the Dawes Commission, my great-grandfather’s generation was not eligible to be included in the Cherokee Rolls. There is no doubt he, and his cousins, descend from Ahneswakie and her husband, John Thompson. There was no doubt that Ahneswakie was Cherokee. Yet membership was denied because parents and grandparents were not on earlier rolls – just as the children of Barzillai, above.

Through Christ, we’ve been offered the opportunity to change our genealogy. We’re allowed to adopt our parent:

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12 KJV)

Woowhoo!! That’s hard for some to accept, but it’s repeated over and over again:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (Romans 8:14-16 KJV)

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. …That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; (Philippians 2:13, 15 KJV)

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:1-2 KJV)

That is so awesome to me. That He who created all loves us to the point of forgiveness and reconciliation. Rather than punishment, He offers reconciliation. Truly, He spoke:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV)

Can we, as Job, acknowledge the roll of Creator that God holds?

Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this? In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:9-10 KJV)

There is yet scripture to be fulfilled, just as other portions have been fulfilled earlier: And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:21 KJV)

Before all is fulfilled, we may know the results of our adoption: 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 5:13 KJV)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Three Lines

I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; (2 Timothy 1:3-4 KJV)

I know that I do not give as much information in any three of my written lines as Paul does here. From just these three lines we can assume that the writer:

Believes in God

Puts God first

Gives thanks to God

Served God for years

Comes from a God serving family

Prays morning and night

Prays for specific people

Misses the person to whom he is writing

Knows that person misses the writer

Expects to see that person again

Such a meeting will bring joy

It would be easy to create a separate paragraph, a separate page, perhaps even a separate book for each one of those assumptions.

Paul looked forward to seeing Timothy again here on earth, and he knew they would meet again in heaven. There are many, many people I doubt I shall see again here on earth – but many I expect to see in heaven. They have expressed their faith in Jesus Christ, are serving Him and we are told:

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:15 KJV)

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 5:12-13 KJV)

Christ tells us to search the scriptures, that they speak of Him: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)

Part of that scriptural testimony He repeats: And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err. (Mark 12:26-27 KJV)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Will vs Thy Will

In The Rochester Family’s song Highway to Heaven, the chorus tells us:

You can live as you please

But you must pay the cost

John Edwards is discovering that the cost continues to be paid long after the pleasure is gone. What he did is not illegal, though there can be legal consequences. After a brief fling, the other spouse may file for divorce, in response to broken vows.

You see, marriage is not simply a religious rite it is a legal contract. Breaking the contract negates a number of provisions and the contract must be renegotiated. In many instances, negotiations fail and the contract revoked.

Eliot Spitzer learned that breaking the marriage contract also breaks contracts with others. His commitment to his constituents appeared just as broken as his commitment to his wife and his position was lost.

Breaking vows is not confined to politicians. Ted Haggard and those listed in the John Jay report broke vows, too. And the cost is high.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart,

I will ascend into heaven,

I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:

I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;

I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:12-14 KJV)

The common thread, “I will”, remains the contract breaker. Each of the examples thought of themselves and the pleasures they desired, not of the promises they had made to others. We all do when we follow the “I will” of self-gratification. For what? A few hours of immediate pleasure?

When it comes to making a commitment, the promise God makes is not broken. Though we fail often in our own promises, God is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV)

We trust Him, as John tell us: 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)

And, Peter, too: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:9 KJV)

Thus we pray:

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10b KJV)

Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2b KJV)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Trains

June 5, CNN included this link on their news site: Amtrak train hits cars, kills two people. The link included the following leading paragraphs:

The southbound train hit a car in south McComb, Miss., and sent the car's 19-year-old driver to a hospital.

“The train then continued south, and after it crossed into Louisiana, it hit another car near the town of Independence.”

The picture created in our minds is that of a train actively, aggressively, searching for vehicles to hit. Most such articles do lead with the active verb being applied to trains. The specifics, however, paint an entirely different picture:

“… the car was traveling east on Anderson Road when the collision happened. … witnesses heard the train blowing its whistle, but the car did not stop.”

Yet the connotation is that the train was at fault. Moving forward on fixed, firmly laid out tracks, sounding warnings loud and clear – yet the train is considered at fault.

In many ways, Christians are considered having the same aggressive intent as the train.

Christians sound out warnings, loud and clear:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31 KJV)

And their message is considered an error. Christians are considered foolish and weak, out of touch: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; (1 Corinthians 1:27 KJV)

When people refer to the “straight and narrow” they actually refer to: Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 KJV)

I am so grateful that I do not have to ‘find’ it – the way has been openly shown to us. Just as the railroad runs on straight ground, soundly based with firm foundations, most often with signs and warning lights and bells, Christ’s message is broadcast in similar manner.

It is up to those on the broad way, able to change their direction, to pay heed. If not, we can only surmise they do not wish to follow the way God has provided for all