Friday, April 30, 2010

Love of God

It is okay to look up words in the dictionary. It is really okay to learn new words, even ones with more than three syllables. I do it quite often. I just looked up “dissimulation.”

Without looking, based on “dis” and “simulate”, I thought Paul’s phrase “without dissimulation” would mean “real.” After checking, I was close, since “dissimulation” is defined as: The act of concealing the truth; hypocrisy or deception. Hiding one's feelings or purposes.

Why was I looking it up? Well, I was reading:

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. [Romans 12:9 KJV]

Later, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us what love is. Here he’s telling us what love isn’t, and it’s a very good lesson.

Love does not simulate something else. Now, we people often do – we not only conceal a truth, we create and sell lies as truth. Don’t lie to me by saying “Not me!!” We not only do it to people we say we love, we do it to ourselves. Daily.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? [1 John 4:20 KJV]

John spends a great deal of time on this subject. He is certain that when God is loved, that love is evident to everyone.

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. [1 John 2:4-5 KJV]

Some of my favorite verses about God’s love is in this one book where John mentions love 33 times in 23 verses. Here are just a few:

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. [1 John 3:1 KJV]

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. [1 John 4:7-8 KJV]

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. [1 John 4:10 KJV]

And his final admonition to us in this book?

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. [1 John 5:3 KJV]


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Glorious!!

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. [Psalms 19:1 KJV]

We read of it first in Exodus as He accompanied the Children of Israel out of Egypt and they worshipped in the Tabernacle.

And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the LORD ,,, And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. [Exodus 16:7a, 10 KJV]

Again, as the Ark of the Covenant entered the temple Solomon built, the glory of God was displayed.

And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD, So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD. Then spake Solomon, The LORD said that he would dwell in the thick darkness. [1 Kings 8:10-12 KJV]

The destruction of this temple led to a rebuilding Ezra describes. Under Herod the temple was restored to beauty. Many believe prophecy tells us there will be a third temple, one that will see the abomination of desolation by the anti-Christ spoken of in the Bible.

Neither tabernacles nor temples are required for the glory of the Lord to appear.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. [Luke 2:9 KJV]

When there is a temple to Him, the glory of the Lord will shine from it, and we can be that temple.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? [1 Corinthians 3:16 KJV]

Always looking forward to the day when there shall be no temple, no sun, no moon, for the glory of God replaces all.

And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. [Revelation 21:22-23 KJV]

Let us seek His glory now and return it to Him multiplied, that all men may glorify God.

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. [Philippians 2:11 KJV]

Let us believe, as Christ said to Martha:

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]

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. [Jude 1:25 KJV]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Song

It’s confession.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.


It’s supplication.

I must tell Jesus
All of my trials
I cannot bear these burdens alone
In my distress
He kindly will help me
He ever cares and loves His own


I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus
I cannot bear these burdens alone
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone


It’s praise.

Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus, our blessed redeemer
Sing, O earth, His wonderful love proclaim
Hail Him! Hail Him! Highest archangels in glory
Strength and honor give to His holy name


Like a shepherd Jesus will guard His children
In His arms He carries them all day long
Praise Him! Praise Him! tell of His excellent greatness
Praise Him! Praise Him! ever in joyful song


Never ceasing, always rejoicing, ever in joyful song.

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. (Psalms 28:7 KJV)

Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein. (Psalms 69:34 KJV)

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalms 106:1 KJV)

These are the songs of our lives as we come together in fulfillment of scripture.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: [Hebrews 10:25a KJV]

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. [Psalms 95:6 KJV]

Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalms 106:48 KJV)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Reading the Writing


The written word is so much more powerful than the spoken. Through past ages, it has lasted. From thoughts placed on cave walls to these digital displays, mankind has sought to spread what he is thinking, far beyond a current audience.

In today’s digital world, things have changed a bit. Excerpts from YouTube give the spoken word larger audiences, but the written word prevails. After careful consideration, I’ve decided it needs something more.

Expressive, standardized fonts would help.

The sarcasm font would drip. The romantic font would have curves resembling hearts. Cutting remarks would have little daggers. And Truth would stand out fully in three dimensions.

Wouldn’t that make reading much easier? No more wondering what the author was thinking when the fonts defined the words. Somewhat similar to my font changes when quoting scripture. Here, when you see the italicized green font, you know that is scripture from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

Oral history is important and people who used it for passing down history for generations took care that it was preserved. In the case of our Bible, it gives evidence of the source.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: [2 Timothy 3:16 KJV]

Strong’s tells me that “inspiration” used here has the Greek root “divinely breathed,” theopneustos. Quite descriptive when we consider that our spoken words consist of vibrations created by our own breathing out.

Why should we accept that scripture is from God? Because we’ve looked for its proof, we’ve seen its ability to correct a person’s life, we’ve come to know that it divides right from wrong – we’ve studied it.

Paul encouraged Timothy to study it:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [2 Timothy 2:15 KJV]

Luke extolled the Berean’s searching of it:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. [Acts 17:11 KJV]

The author of Hebrews most likely did not think of his words as scripture when he wrote:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; [Hebrews 1:1-2 KJV]

Peter gives us the last word on the subject:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. [2 Peter 1:20-21 KJV]

Monday, April 26, 2010

Image

I met a gentleman who had given in to peer pressure as a teen and had a rather large tattoo. Years later he discovered his liver failure could be tracked to that tattooing. A professional shop, meeting state regulations, and still his health was destroyed, his wife and daughter impacted as the family adjusted to his medical care.

If that worst case scenario doesn’t happen, does it mean a tattoo is appropriate? Although socially acceptable in many circles, such acceptance does not change what the Bible says.

b'tzelem Elokim. In the image of God. The phrase was included in a discussion of Jewish interpretation of the following verse:

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:28 KJV)

The first part of the verse speaks of those who cut themselves while grieving. The middle is interpreted to include tattooing.

Often it is young people who wish to be tattooed against their parents’ wishes, thus breaking the one Commandment with a promise.

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12 KJV)

The greater reasoning, that our bodies are a gift from God, is both Jewish and Christian, as Paul wrote:

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 KJV)

Nor do I see it fitting into any of the following:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)

And, if the above is insufficient for a young person contemplating marking their bodies permanently, consider how impermanent things really are. Skin, the largest organ of our bodies, changes over the years, responding most to gravity.

Another consideration would be, to whom would you NOT show the tattoo? Do you respect that person? Do you wish their respect? Will obtaining a tattoo gain their respect? Move a step further. How would you explain your choice to God as glorifying Him.

You remember Him, the one who said:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: (Genesis 1:26a KJV)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Holy

There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 1 Corinthians 7:34

I will have been married 49 years next month. When I have read this verse (and I’ve read it many times, for many reasons), I’ve thought about how I should be caring for my husband. I’ve looked upon it in relation to the submission verses and considered what is pleasing both to my husband and to my Lord. I could not imagine life without either of them.

Oh, my, but I’ve missed opportunities to teach my girls in Sunday School!!

Where else is there an explicit expectation given for unmarried girls? Here’s the dividing line between unmarried and married and their service to the Lord. My Junior High girls are in a position to be holy both in body and in spirit, caring for the things of the Lord.

Well, some of them. Remember, we’ve had a seventh grader visit our class the month her baby was due. Yet, she didn’t fall into the married category, either.

We’ve prayed for these girls, daily. We’ve exhorted them week after week after week, until some roll their eyes when we begin to discuss purity with them. We have taught them the commandments as well as the plan of salvation.

But we haven’t told them the simplicity of this single verse – that they can do things we cannot. We haven’t given them the expectation that they should be holy – not just pure, but holy – both in body and in spirit.

I’m afraid that more of our girls are interested in boys, gossip, drama and the general roller coaster of teens than caring for the things of the Lord.

As an example, one of our most faithful members could not seem to get her Sunday School lessons studied. So much homework, outside agricultural activities, busy family agendas, all kept her busy until late at night. Then came one Sunday evening when she mentioned to my daughter how she had finished a 600-page novel about teenage vampires. It took her a moment to realize how she had admitted placing her Bible study way behind a fictional drama.

Sunday morning I’ll have another opportunity to bring their attention to God’s will for the lives, and this verse, with my new understanding of its focus, will be available for them.

Please take a moment to pray for my Junior High girls. God has a place for them in His will, a strait path and a narrow way that will glorify His name. For this, we all were created – to do good works.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [Ephesians 2:10 KJV]


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Will You Pray?

Are you willing to be Hannah? Absolutely, I’m not suggesting your husband has another wife. I’m not even suggesting you are a wife. No, I’m not saying that you are childless and need to pray to God for a child.

What I’m asking is, are you willing to pray for a child?

For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: [1 Samuel 1:27 KJV]

Hannah’s husband did have another wife who provided him with children where Hannah could not. She wanted the child, but promised to give him away in service to God. As a result, Samuel served his Lord all of his life. His mother continued to love him.

Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. [1 Samuel 2:19 KJV]

Once a year she would see her child. Can you imagine planning each year’s coat, wondering how much Samuel had grown? Would this new coat fit him, be too small, or would he out grow it too quickly? How short the time must seem while they were together.

Even when her family grew to include five more children, that annual trip must have held special treasures for her. Hopefully she did not know all of the sins that surrounded her child.

Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD. … Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. [1 Samuel 2:12, 17 KJV]

And their father knew this.

Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress. [1 Samuel 2:22-24 KJV]

It cost them their lives.

And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. [1 Samuel 2:34 KJV]

It fell to Samuel to hear God’s call.

And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth. [1 Samuel 3:10 KJV]

Are you willing to be Hannah, who prayed for her child, to the point God called him and he heard. Was your mother a Hanna? Did she pray for her child? Did her child hear God calling? Has her child responded “Speak; for thy servant heareth“?

What is God saying to you, besides “Pray for the children.”


Friday, April 23, 2010

Shining Light

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. [Matthew 25:1-2 KJV]

All ten of these virgins were ready to celebrate, to party. There was going to be a great time and they were going to be part of it. There was only one small difference between the two groups.

And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. [Matthew 25:2-5 KJV]

Both groups waited, patiently. Both groups believed the bridegroom would be coming, there’s no thought expressed of doubt. And, he did!

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. [Matthew 25:6-9 KJV]

Why did the foolish expect the wise to share? Doesn’t the Bible expressly state that we should share what we have with less fortunate?

Ah, there’s the point – these were not less fortunate, just less prepared. They were found wanting when the bridegroom arrived. They had expected him earlier and were not prepared for his timing.

And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. [Matthew 25:10-12 KJV]

Excluded. They were excluded from the wedding party. The doors were closed to them, forever. Not by the bridegroom’s planning, but by their own lack. The time had come, and gone, without them.

Are we ready? Looking for the Lord’s return for His bride, the church? We’ve had the same notice that the lamp carriers had – the bridegroom is coming. We all want to be part of the celebration. Are we prepared?

Are our lamps trimmed, with oil enough to do as He requested:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. [Matthew 5:16 KJV]

What did you do yesterday to fulfill this verse? What will you do today? Tomorrow?

Are you telling of the bridegroom’s arrival by letting your light shine?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sheep and Goats

There are but two commandments, according to Jesus Christ, upon which all others hinge.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. [Matthew 22:37-40 KJV]

Jesus also gave a parable written in Matthew 25:31-46. Go ahead, look it up. If you have e-Sword on your PC, it won’t take but a moment. Got it? OK, let’s proceed.

This reminds me of the ten virgins earlier in Matthew 25. All believed the bridegroom was coming. Five did something about it, five did not. In this parable, all believed the judgment was coming, perhaps indicating they understood the first commandment, they just completely ignored the second.

Note that all the law and the prophets hang on those two. Not just the first one. Loving the Lord thy God is incomplete without loving thy neighbor.

It’s all about people. The people we don’t meet every day unless we go looking for them. That requires action, we have to work at it.

That brings us to James. And, he was serious about the subject!

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. [James 2:15-17 KJV]

Think James got the message when he heard Christ as written in Matthew 22? What did he mean when he wrote:

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? [James 2:14 KJV]

Did he not read Paul’s epistle? People quote it enough:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV]

Perhaps James read the next verse, too:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. [Ephesians 2:10 KJV]

Wow, what a concept. Christians are created to do good works. Then James is right.

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. [James 2:17 KJV]

Then we can understand the end of the parable, and tremble.

And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. [Matthew 25:46 KJV]


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dark Moments

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom, his son.

LORD, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me.
Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.
But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah.
I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O LORD; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone; thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongeth unto the LORD: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.
[Psalms 3:1-8 KJV]


There are many things that increase and trouble us. The list includes health – ours or our loved ones; relationships – within our family, extended family or friends; worldly things – pleasures or pain caused by economics or fears. The list seems endless.

In this psalm, David has fled before his own son. The increased troubles were many— family, relationships, economics, politics. He had lost his kingdom as well as having lost a son. Seldom do any of us face what David did at this time in his life. Yet, he writes:

I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.

Nothing had changed, yet He could state “the Lord sustained me” as he turned it all over to God. He knew that others felt God had forsaken him. Why else would he be running for his life from his own son? Wouldn’t that be a sign that David’s sins had found him out and he was receiving God’s punishment?

Nope. David’s relationship with God was shown much earlier, when the servants asked about his mourning – or, rather, the lack of mourning upon learning of his child’s death.

And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. [2 Samuel 12:22-23 KJV]

We ask while there is hope. We pray until something happens that gives an end to praying for one thing and move on to the next step in our lives that are to be lived in God’s will. David knew why the child was born and Nathan had explained that it would die.

By this time in his life David knew there remained help for him in God and he turned to God for that help. It was given to him and he returned to his throne, in sadness. While the people rejoiced, David cried for his lost son.

But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, O my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son! [2 Samuel 19:4 KJV]

For all of his errors, for all of his sins, for all of his loss, for all of his gain, David never railed against God for unfairness. He knew the source of his salvation, personally.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mountains and Valleys

Do we really know He is with us in the valleys? It’s easy to feel His presence on the mountain tops when we are filled with His glory, but don’t we lose that glow when we drop into the dark of the valley?

There are so many things that take us through the shadows. Things we do not understand and begin questioning “Why?” Often, there is no immediate answer. Even more often the answer will not be available until we go home.

Usually we can see the other side. We can see where the trail will become lighter and we reach out for His light to see us through. We know from previous experience that the shadows do not last and that the road lifts in just a while.

But what if it doesn’t? Or what if the shadows are so bad that the light on the other side seems too far away?

The Bible tells us what Christ did when faced with such a time. He prayed.

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 26:39 KJV)

He prayed that He would not have to endure the coming valley. He prayed that He would not have to endure the cup from which He must drink to reach to other side of the shadows.

Three times. Not just once, not twice, but three times that night He knelt and prayed for a possibility that would not come. He closed each prayer with the words we find so hard to use, not as I will, but as thou wilt.

When we pray, in His name for something we need, asking that if it be possible, not as I will, but as thou wilt, are we willing to accept a “No,” or a “Not yet,” answer?

It is easy to say “Yes, I can,” from a mountain top – not so easy from the shadow of the valley. It is more difficult when it is the valley of the shadow of death. Wait!! That’s where we are to fear no evil, at all. We hear of that valley in many verses in Job, but it’s Psalms where we are told He is with us.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalms 23:4 KJV)

Whatever else happens, we have the last verse as God’s promise to those who walk with Him.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. (Psalms 23:6 KJV)

Not just today, not only tomorrow, not through the year or years, but for ever. Just as Christ promised.

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

Christ endured those next days of trial, execution, and burial that He prayed would have passed from Him. The promise on the other side was most assuredly a mountain. The glorious mountain of resurrection, the fulfillment of God’s plan, handed down to us through God’s grace and mercy.

What more can we ask?

Monday, April 19, 2010

An Angry Man

Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul. (Proverbs 22:24-25 KJV)

What I like about Proverbs is the admonition followed by result. Reminds me of the IF THEN statements in programming. If you are friends with an angry man, you will learn his ways and damage your soul.

A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass. (Proverbs 16:29-30 KJV)

There are other verses in Proverbs telling us to keep away from angry and violent men, pointing us to the positive.

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city. (Proverbs 16:32 KJV)

Why, then, do girls find them so attractive and enter into abusive relationships?

I don’t think I’m so unusual, and I’ve known a few in my own life. I expect others have known some, too. Kind, sweet girls who choose men who are inappropriate. Psychologists tell us some think they deserve the anger such a man generates. In other cases, the young lady thinks he’ll change because he loves her. Too often the anger turns to physical violence, to the point of death.

I have known two elderly women who lived with such men. The only way that is not good they were led into was their own daily interaction with the angry man. Both continued to hold their marriage vows sacred, raising their children to love and serve the Lord through decades of example.

At times, the anger leads to broken bones. For protection against continued physical abuse, divorce is necessary. To do so after years together is a devastating blow, an admittance of personal failure. Yet, it should not be. With grace and dignity such a wife shows us an example of faithfulness that he has not been able to remove.

She does not enter into divorce with rancor but with sadness that it has become necessary. She wished to continue her life with the husband of her youth, expecting him to rejoice with her.

Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. (Proverbs 5:18 KJV)

Instead, she is faced with acknowledging treachery in her marriage.

Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. (Malachi 2:14 KJV)

God has known us since before we were born. Though we do not know what He has in store for us, we know that His plan contains beauty. Let us always keep to His plan, not our own.

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11 KJV)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Romans 16

Late yesterday I began feeling a tickle in my throat. By bed time, it was a cough and painful throat. A bit of night-time medicine did not work its miracle cure and this morning I was in full misery. No church this morning for me – no sharing this little bug with kind people coming to worship our Lord.

So I did a bit of Bible reading, choosing Romans 16. I was struck by the number of people Paul commended in the first verses of this chapter. Some leap out at me as being mentioned in other verses. Rufus, for example.

And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross. (Mark 15:21 KJV)

Simon bore Christ’s cross, a burden that he bore for us, too. It is possible his family was affected by his selection. We know that this Rufus in Romans became a Christian, his mother treating Paul as a son. So much information held in two verses, if they are the same Rufus.

One verse causes a bit of contention still today.

I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: (Romans 16:1 KJV)

The word translated ‘servant’, diakonos, in Strong’s is G1249 “specifically a Christian teacher and pastor – deacon, minister, servant” which is found in 28 verses and translated as servant. Deacon in 1 Timothy 3:10 and 13 is G1247, found in 32 verses and translated many times as ministering to others. Oh, how I wish I knew Greek sufficiently to understand the differences. Yet we cannot, with this one word in only one verse, discredit the doctrine held in I Timothy 3:11 defining the character for the wives of deacons.

Among all the salutations and greetings given in this last chapter of Romans, there are also admonitions.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18 KJV)

How true this is today. Amidst the list of greetings, something called Paul’s attention to them which cause divisions and offences. Their names are not given, which is well and good. Were they to be named, we might not believe we should be aware of such today. We could think this was a one-time event. It is not.

Paul gives us, in these final verses, a strong warning concerning false teachers. They sound good. Their speeches, their sermons, are appealing. They gather people around themselves. They look upon those who us the Bible for doctrine as being divisive. They wish to have all follow them.

In other verses we are told these false teachers are accursed (Galations 1:7-9). We are told to turn away (2 Timothy 3:5), to reject (Titus 3:10) and receive not (2 John 10).


Where is the gospel to be found? In God’s word. I commend it to you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Know Your Day Of Prayer

I met a dear friend through the internet when I left a short message correcting an item she had posted. She did not take well to the short, terse note and we had a long explanatory exchange that led to friendship.

I think it’s time to make another correction, to a much wider audience. You’ve probably read the e-mail and Facebook postings regarding President Obama and the National Day of Prayer. Some dear friends forwarded the e-mail and posted a paragraph on Facebook.

I will not repeat any portion of the posts here, as the information is erroneous. One very nice lady commented on the errors – adding this last paragraph:

“I don't think anyone who sent this story (to) others are wrong to share it. Hey, you never know when something is legit and true. So if we don't band together and share info as it comes then we fall into the trap of being uninformed of the issues. So kuddos for those who shared it in good faith in the first place.”

I disagree. Kudos should never go to people who pass along gossip, even when they wish it were so. Spreading what amounts to untruths does harm, whether it is within social networks or mainstream media. We are quite capable of knowing when “something is legit and true.” We are obligated to know so before passing along untruths.

The Christian right has decried misreporting, or a lack of reporting, within mainstream media. To have passed on an item that is patently untrue is just as bad. We need to be more noble, as the Bereans Luke described.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 KJV)

We still need to find the source and consider seriously whether those things were so. What showed up in the subject e-mails and social networks was not so.

The National Day of Prayer has not been cancelled – not in 2009 or in 2010. President Obama issued a presidential proclamation designating a National Day of Prayer in 2009 and will do so again, as other presidents have done since 1952. He elected to observe the occasion privately. And why not? Did not Christ give us the example?

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:5-6 KJV)

We should be more concerned about the lawsuit brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. A federal judge has ruled in favor of their contention that such a National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. The Obama administration defended against the suit, supporting the retention of our National Day of Prayer, and will be able to issue the proclamation this year while appealing the decision.

Muslims may join all Americans during the National Day of Prayer. They did, independently, organize a prayer service in September, 2009, which was not observed by the White House.

Those are discernable facts available to anyone who will take the time to check. Here are but a few resources.

http://www.ndptf.org/ or http://nationaldayofprayer.org/
http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/prayerday.asp
http://www.sbcbaptistpress.org/BPnews.asp?ID=32729
http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-04-15-prayer-day_N.htm

Friday, April 16, 2010

Authorized Personnel Only

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14 KJV)

After posting my ‘Authorized Personnel’ it dawned on me that is an excellent example of non-discrimination.

My last career required specific proficiencies. To protect code from unauthorized use, from possible corruption, safeguards were built in to allow access to capable employees. These employees accepted limitations. They could not “walk” around their work sharing with friends and family, no matter how close they were. No one felt it was discriminatory to do so.

The majority of people I know are kept out of operating rooms. The doctors and nurses we do know are allowed in as their expertise and patient needs require. A great deal of training is acquired before they are welcomed into that room. Few of us stand in line to enter the operating room as a patient, and we feel no discrimination that we are not invited.

Yet non-believers cry foul that God has defined requirements for eternal lodging that go against what they want.

Why?

The commandments are laid out in His word and even though mankind endeavors to change the commandments to fit current social acceptance, the rules haven’t changed.

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3 KJV)

Christ summed up this one with the next three:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38 KJV)

The following six were summed, too.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:39-40 KJV)

To use those two in order to negate others is an attempt to circumvent God’s plans. The fullness of Christ’s message begins here, not ending with these commands.

Perhaps the most difficult are the ones that separate saved from unsaved. Christ said it Himself.

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)

It is repeated elsewhere.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 KJV)

These words are reinterpreted, denied or simply ignored by those who really wish there were no entry requirements for eternity. To do so creates peril, as heaven is open to Authorized Personnel Only.


(Graphic from Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Home Again!

Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. (Mark 5:19 KJV)

I might just as well feel as thankful as the man who was cleaned of devils. God has done great things for me!! And he has done great things for those who traveled with me this week. I was the youngest, not yet reaching my seventh decade, Mrs. H was the oldest, just having started her eighth. Truly Titus 2 aged women!

Yet she was the most agile!! I do wish you could have seen her climb into the back of the pickup and arrange our suitcases (both going and coming home.) Besides, her coal black hair (with only one or two white ones) speaks of her youthfulness. Her love of the Lord is evident in her caring ways for others. She’s the one who placed a needed bandage ‘just right’ and eased the pain. She was a blessing.

Our driver, Mrs. P, was awesome. Daylight or dark, rain or shine, two lanes or four – she took us from all the point A’s to the point B’s we had in mind. No map, just memory or following new directions. The cabin she provided was eleven miles out of Fredericksburg. Close to a mile up into some hills, nothing but some trees, donkeys, deer and barbed wire between us and the highway. At night, no lights besides ours broke the dark. She did a great job.

Our quiet lady, Mrs. B, is always a comfort to be around. Her soft-spoken response to our discussions, and well as our jokes, keep us focused. So often she brings us back to firm ground. We all know the painful, stressful situation she is facing with faith and confidence that instills the same in our own lives. Keep her in prayer, please, for the coming month as her life changes drastically.

And our prankster!! The other Mrs. H, who is full of practical jokes, bright colors, joyful hats and full of words that spill all over us, keeping us in stitches!! I didn’t know that four days could generate the number of suitcases and bags that she constantly rummaged through – yet she brought things we had forgotten, and appreciated having. She not only brought the First Aid kit, she was the one who needed it!!!

Now we’re home. Home sweet home. We’ve shared how great things the Lord hath done for us while we were away, and will continue to do so now that we’re back. Home, where we will continue to sing His praises and share the truth that we know.

… for thou art a gracious and merciful God. (Nehemiah 9:31 KJV)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Companions

We saw a herd of at least ten deer as we left for town yesterday morning. Since there were differing counts, I can't be exact. The rest of the time our outdoor companions are these donkeys. There are several in the field - great lawn mowers. Much quieter than our Silver!

Kristy commented about the visit last week with family - which was great and a blessing - reminded me that I am with 'family' now. God's children, as she is, bound together for eternity!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

This is the day ...

... Thr Lord hath made!! And we are rejoicing. There is a great pleasure praying with those of a like mind. Having Mrs. B up early to have coffee waiting is good, too. May your day be as blessed as ours.

Grammy Blick

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tin Roof

We had a fun trip, good meals, Mrs B bought ice cream and we have no freezer! Isn't a shame we have to eat all the ice cream tonight?

Ooooops

My GMAP cut off 2/3rds of my previous post. It was about Psalms 30 and I'll use it later.

Tin Roof Cottage

We're headed for Fredricksburg!!  With reservations for three nights in Black Jack Ridge's Tin Roof Cottage.  If I can make it work, some photos will be posted. 
 
Of course, Bible reading is an ongoing pleasure anywhere I might be.  Psalm 30 includes the note "A psalm and song at the dedication of the house of David." Reading that reminded me of the Hindu ceremony used by a former co-worker.  I could understand the priest saying specific mantras and found it similar to our use of scriptures.  I just wasn't ready for the use of cow urine to be part of the purification ceremony

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Instructions

The comment was made on a recent post: "The instructions we are given seem so simple and easy, but the carrying through with those instructions sometimes get lost with our good intentions."

Absolutely!!

It’s the first two instructions – the ones upon which all others hang – that we cannot seem to get right.

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

We don’t get the first part right.

Sure, many of say we love the Lord, but we give away pieces of our heart to people who do not know Him nor acknowledge Him as Lord. We keep a bit of our soul to ourselves, forgetting it belongs to Him, eternally. Our minds? We fill them with things that can only be defined as ungodly. “No!” you say? Go ahead – think only of what you’ve read/seen in books/tv that have at the very least ignored God and at the most, taken His name in vain. I can say that with confidence, for I have read/seen those things, too.

As for the second, we must think about how we feel about ourselves. Do we look upon ourselves as unworthy and place that upon our neighbors? How sad that is when we do. I was not worthy to unlatch the sandals on His feet, yet He made me worthy enough to be the child of God. My neighbor needs the same, and is just as worthy of God’s love.

So often we hear God’s call for a specific purpose and respond as Jonah did by running away. We have seen Jesus’ work in our own lives and in others but when asked about him we respond as Peter did with embarrassment and say we don’t know Him.

Think not? How about when we’re asked to an event on Sunday. Is not our reasoning that it is only one Sunday away from church, there are 51 more each year? Yet how often do we take away one of our celebrations of His resurrection to be elsewhere?

Do we tell anyone how much we do love Him? If we do, is it only other Christians that hear those words? Is it something we say at church, never at work or out in public? A simple greeting, such as “Have a blessed day!” instead of “Have a good day.” What a difference a blessing makes.

This one falls under loving your neighbor, too:

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:44 KJV)

Can we do that? Or do we comment on other people’s driving habits in a derogatory manner and deride a relative/acquaintance/stranger’s deceit and cruelty? Who was the last person which despitefully use(d) you? How did you treat them when it happened? How do you treat them now?

Work on that first commandment by keeping God close in prayer and Bible study. The second becomes easier. Truly pray to God for spiteful neighbors, as we do for ourselves. It does make following Him easier and much more joyful.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Knowing Him

There were lots of things I did not know about my Beloved Husband when I first met him. We were engaged for a year, and only scratched the surface of learning what was important to him, what his goals were and where I fit into his life. He made adjustments for me, while I believe I made fewer for him.

I learned quickly that he wished my happiness. He enjoyed my company and wanted my attention. I spent time asking him about his likes and dislikes, seeking ways to please him and bring him happiness, too.

Our children came along and we made adjustments for them, finding that loving others in no way lessened our love for each other. We all learned, and responded to the knowledge we gained of each other.

Each of us also came to love our Lord, Jesus Christ. We’re still growing in knowledge about Him, and there is much to learn. Paul wrote of his own experience.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (Philippians 3:8-10 KJV)

I thank God for His blessings that I have not suffered the loss of all things. By God’s grace I was born to parents who came to serve Him, not being required to forsake family to kneel before Him, as Paul did. Not as Paul, required to leave co-workers and friends whose studies and beliefs no longer matched, were no longer acceptable.

Paul saw the power of his resurrection, the blinding glory of the risen Christ, finding in Him the righteousness which is of God by faith.

The majority of my life I have worshipped Him, studying His word. The most I can say is that there is so much more to learn.

Unlike Paul, I have additional family responsibilities. I have been blessed by Him with a comfortable home, surrounded by family and friends and given the opportunity to serve Him in a local church. Many do not have these blessings. Some come to Him in pain, facing the same losses Paul did. I think of one missionary who placed his life in God’s hands, the only protection against a religion and a government that promise him physical harm. Yet, as Paul, he continues to preach to the unsaved.

I thank God for the opportunity to support such work through prayers and offerings, just as churches supported Paul. This, too, is part of the growth in knowledge of Christ.

How can there be complacency in a Christian’s life? Did we choose Christ to save us from hell or did we make a choice to serve Him? Do we simply feel comfortable within our salvation, without a desire to get to know Him better?

Or, do we continually grow closer to Him, strongly desiring not only knowing Him better but to please Him? We’ve done much more for other relationships, and this one will last through eternity.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Authorized Personnel

At my retirement, I ceased to be an Authorized Personnel. You know – you’ve seen the signs. “Authorized Personnel.” The ones who can do things others either cannot or will not do. I had specific logins for specific activities. My work could be tracked by those logins, so I treated them with security and respect.

An exit interview, confidentiality signed, badge turned in and it was no longer possible for me to enter the building or log in to the system.

A few months later, I returned. My replacement hadn’t worked out all that well and my boss needed the expertise I had to offer through her own retirement. I went through a re-authorization process and, once again, became an Authorized Personnel – for six months.

Christians don’t go through such a process but once. Instead of becoming Authorized Personnel, we become children of God.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14 KJV)

Paul wanted that to be very clear to Christ’s followers.

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: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:15-17 KJV)

In our oft divorced, many times married world, children are tossed back and forth. However, even here where families are donned and discarded, adoption is a very serious legal commitment. A co-worker adopted his wife’s children from a previous marriage. When theirs broke up and she wanted her next husband to adopt them, the court disallowed based on the needs of the children, the very reason for adoption laws. His obligations continued.

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)

God’s adoption process is so much better than what mankind has put in place.

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12 KJV)

John was very plain in the way he confirmed his own belief, and wrote to allow others to be just as firm in theirs.

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)

I, too, know whom I have believed. And, I, too, believe on the name of the Son of God.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Till The Time

The ability to tell stories is a great talent. My Daddy was very good at that. We all enjoyed the stories from his own childhood and he was just as good at passing down stories he heard from other family members. His great-grandchildren remember the stories he told them, but we wrote too few of them down. I have a few pages in his own handwriting, and a couple of hours of tapes he made several years ago.

One of the tapes is one my Mom set up while Dad and two of his siblings were chatting after dinner. She was the only one aware that the tape was going, and there is at least an hour of give and take, back and forth, as one memory stirred another and their childhood was recalled. Aunt Ocie recalled the train trip from eastern Arkansas to western Oklahoma. My grandfather’s niece (his same age) and her family accompanied them to Beckham county. Just a few years later, after my father was born, they moved by wagon to Jackson county, farming there for their remaining years. Many such stories were recalled for the duration of that tape.

The same events were recounted from differing viewpoints. One story had to do with how Aunt Grace received the scar across her forehead. I won’t tell it here, for someone might try it – it was an intriguing experiment! To hear it from her point of view, then a sibling’s, who watched it happen, almost sounding as two separate events. Throw in a third’s seeing the results when they arrived home and you have a well-rounded description. All three are accurate.

I’m reminded as such when reading the Bible. Quite often the same event is recounted by one or more, with the slightest of changes. Detractors jump upon that and declare the recounting invalid. I suggest it is no more invalid than my aunts and uncles discussing their childhood.

I also believe that the Queen of Sheba’s comment recorded both in 1 Kings 10:7 and 2 Chronicles 9:6 applies to much more than Solomon and his kingdom, half was not told. Daniel gave us such a clue.

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)

As did John.

And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. (Revelation 10:4 KJV)

Can we know them? Nope. Daniel asked that same question.

And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. (Daniel 12:8-9 KJV)

I think that is one of the most difficult things to accept in faith, that we are not given all the answers. Mankind continues to seek them. The Large Hadron Collider, the most costly scientific experiment in history, seeks such answers, just as we do in our daily life. How did the universe begin?

I think of Rebekah’s question to the Lord: … and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. (Genesis 25:22 KJV)

We often ask the same question. Perhaps we, too, need to inquire of the Lord for our answer, fainting not, even if the only answer we get is “Wait.”

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Psalms 27:13-14 KJV)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Doing What?

I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (Acts 26:9 KJV)

Unlike Paul, most of us do not persecute Christians. We don’t set out to make their lives miserable in an attempt to return them to their previous state, unbelievers in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.

At least I don’t think my readers do.

There are some in this world who do. The reactions range from those who deny saving grace to those who behead Christians simply for their belief. Christians are often laughed at, ignored or filed suit against, but in some places there are laws limiting their abilities to meet and speak.

It has been this way since our Savior died on the cross.

Those are the extreme reactions to Christians. What about within the Christian community itself? A quick glance among those who call themselves Christian find them doing many things contrary to the name of Jesus.

No, I’m not thinking only of recent, or even past, scandals within differing denominations. Nor am I thinking of evangelical ministers of large congregations who hit headlines with sins consequences. I’m thinking of the every day family members who fit Paul’s description of himself.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (Romans 7:19 KJV)

Sins of omission, sins of commission. We all do them. When recognizing this in ourselves, we agree again with Paul.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24 KJV)

There are people I love dearly, for whom I fear. There are some I know slightly, and pray for them just as strongly as I do my loved ones, for they are not looking for delivery. Yet we have hope – for them and for ourselves.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. (Romans 8:24-25 KJV)

That hope is faith. It accepts God’s grace.

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

It is written that Christ said it first to a sinful woman who washed His feet.

And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:50 KJV)

Do you pray He will say it to others in your life?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Romans 13

The fourteen verses of Romans 13 are incomplete when it comes to the gospel story, but Paul appears to assume we know it. Here he offers us instruction in our daily lives.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1 KJV)

We are here for God’s purpose. He will allow, and use, those who deny and/or ignore Him.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. (Romans 13:7 KJV)

Shakespeare borrowed from the following verse to advocate being neither a borrower nor lender.

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8 KJV)

We fulfill the second greatest commandment in this verse.

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:10 KJV)

I enjoyed finding the source of one of my grandmother’s comments. So often she would say, “It’s high time that …”

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11 KJV)

Are we ready for the light? Do we really consider that today may be the Day of the Lord? As Christians we’ve talked about it for so long that perhaps we’ve forgotten He could return soon. We look back centuries where He did not and calculate centuries ahead that He will not. Yet we’re told:

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (Romans 13:12 KJV)

Jesus told us that He was the light of the world.

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5 KJV)

And, the light of heaven.

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. (Revelation 21:23 KJV)

It is up to us to be His light in the world

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14 KJV)

The chapter fittingly ends by telling us how to be that light.

But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:14 KJV)


Monday, April 5, 2010

Following

A few years ago I wrote a series of posts that were written as letters from a follower of Jesus to his parents. The series began on Palm Sunday, when the letter writer was telling of the grand entry into Jerusalem, when so many of His followers felt the culmination of their dreams. They just knew the overthrow of the Roman government was at hand. His kingdom would have to be established to do so. Soon they would achieve what had been foretold by prophets.

Instead, they were faced with betrayal and trials. Even keeping to the fringe, they were faced with denial of Him and what He stood for. Crucifixion for Him, confusion for them. Can you imagine the recriminations? Did Nathaniel blame Philip for bringing him to Christ? Peter had already denied him thrice, did he blame Andrew for bringing him to Christ?

The first day of the week, the day we come to worship Him today, the world turned upside down again. Resurrection. He had preached it to them during His ministry. As most of us do, they ignored what they didn’t understand (or didn’t want to hear) and chose that which most fit their needs. Resurrection changed all of that.

How many times have you heard pastors preach on the following week? Except for the Great Commission, we have a tendency to skip from Resurrection to Pentecost.

Why skip the wonder and awe the apostles felt at His appearance. Is it because we do not feel that same wonder and take for granted what an awesome time it must have been? Can we not imagine being in the upper room and watching Thomas proclaim the truth?

We simply ignore the mundane walk along the road to Emmaus. There’s such a great lesson there. Even today we walk through our days without recognizing Christ. He places people in our paths to display His worth and His will, yet we do not recognize Him or them. Our eyes are just as blind.

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)

Those same scriptures endure today. They are available in every congregation that calls upon His name as promise of God’s salvation. There is no other religion that requires such a belief as ours. No other religion offers the grace of God by faith.

And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Luke 24:31-32 KJV)

What does it take to open eyes? What does it take to have our hearts burn within us when we hear scriptures? Would we return along our path to tell those important in our lives what we’ve experienced?

It is now the week following Easter. Celebrations and gatherings are over. We go back to our daily routines. We know we’ll be headed for church upon the first day of each of the following weeks, but do we truly have no more time than right now to gather for life eternal.

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. (John 4:35-36 KJV)


Sunday, April 4, 2010

He Is Risen! Indeed!

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 KJV)

He is risen!! According to the scriptures. And, the preceding verse is the result of His resurrection.

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:2 KJV)

The presentation Paul makes in this chapter is the very center of Christianity, yet we seldom pay attention to it.

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (1 Corinthians 15:14 KJV)

Resurrection is not a myth. Christ died in front of witnesses. He was buried by witnesses. The empty tomb was seen by witnesses. But that is not sufficient evidence. Romans were ready to swear that the body had been taken by His followers.

So, we needed more witnesses.

And that he was seen of Cephas,
then of the twelve:
After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
After that, he was seen of James;
then of all the apostles.
And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
(1 Corinthians 15:5-8 KJV)

Paul was calling upon the Corinthians to believe the report of men they could speak to, men who visited their church, who had walked with and talked with Christ after His resurrection. His rhetorical question rings with truth:

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55 KJV)

From Matthew to Revelation, His story is told over and over again by men in an effort to reach men. Yet mankind has problems accepting that we are …:

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)

I stand before men today making Thomas’ statement and I will stand before Him then, saying the same.

And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. (John 20:28 KJV)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

He's Done It All


When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30 KJV)

Walked upon the golden strand
Held our souls safe in hand
Obeyed his own strait command
He's done it all

Born a man, as you and me
Felt our pain, it had to be
To bear our sin on Calvary
He's done it all

Walked the shores of Galilee
Gave His all so I am free
Bore my cross to Calvary
He's done it all

With His blood, my sin's atoned
I will never stand alone.
He did melt my heart of stone
He's done it all

We must tell this earth below
What we've seen, how we know
God has always loved us so.
He’s done it all

One day kneeling at His throne
In faith to hear "You are my own.
Come with me. You're not alone."
We'll have done it all.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. (Revelation 1:8 KJV)

Friday, April 2, 2010

The "F" Words

Food, fun fellowship. Some of my best memories are wrapped around those three words. This week brought us several examples of such.

First, my Beloved Husband’s brother and his wife are staying with us for a few days. This is the full brother found after 37 years of separation, and we’ve been so grateful to God for their place in our lives. The family was reunited in 1987, and it’s been a blessed 23 years.

As we went over our plans, we realized our evenings had all been taken with activities put on the calendar before we knew when they would be here.

They arrived Wednesday, when we were previously scheduled to provide treats for our AWANA children. So they came into a house filled with aroma of baking cupcakes, then carried off to watch the children participate in Easter egg hunts and play time.

Thursday nights are our regular 42 nights. These began with a couple from our church providing a home cooked meal for a widower and a gentle man (space intended) whose wife is in a nursing home. They would eat and play the domino game 42. It has flexed and grown into three tables of four players of senior adults from our church. Our guests fit right in.

Friday night is a Family Game Night, which we set up for every six to eight weeks as family members are available – this one happen to fall with they were here. Our three children, one grandchild, guests and spouses will gather for potluck dinner and game tables.

Saturday night the
Rochester Family will present a concert at our church, followed by a BBQ sandwich dinner and Beloved Husband will be taking a sheet cake for dessert.

Sunday is the annual celebration of that which we celebrate each and every first day of the week – the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our guests will join in that celebration (and another opportunity to hear the Rochesters sing) then we’re off to First Daughter’s house for Easter dinner, another bring-a-dish.

So, why is all this activity listed in my Bible reading blog? Because of the “F” words -- food, fun, fellowship, friends and family – that flow through our Christian life.

It has been thus since examples were given.

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42 KJV)

In the midst of storms, Paul gave an example of how to handle them in our lives today.

And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. (Acts 27:35-36 KJV)

Each and every one of the listed activities included prayer. We pray not only that the food prepared would serve as nourishment to our bodies, but also for answered prayers, prayers for specific requests and thanks giving for God’s mercy and grace in our lives, in Jesus name.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (Matthew 18:20 KJV)

May God offer you the same opportunities to enjoy His world with His people.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy commandments, (Ezra 9:10 KJV)

Ezra was speaking to a captive people. He had been astonished that day hearing transgressions of God’s chosen people. At the evening sacrifice, he spoke to God

And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. (Ezra 9:6 KJV)

There are times what I see in this world today does cause me to blush in shame, too. God’s word has been shown to us and we’ve treated it the same way it has been treated since Eve plucked the fruit in the Garden.

To disbelieve the sinfulness nature of man is to ignore what mankind has done, and is doing still.

Philosophers today write of man’s ability to produce good works without religion. Twice in the past year I’ve read articles written by professes philosophers extolling how far mankind has come, lifting up man’s ability to do good to all. To do so denies a central truth that we’ve experienced, was recognized early in the scriptures and repeated by Paul:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10 KJV)

That’s the message Jesus spoke when answering Pharisees.

But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:12-13 KJV)

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the Pharisees righteous, though.

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Matthew 23:13 KJV)

Which brings us back to Ezra 9:10. What do we say to God after all we’ve done? We could give thought to the people’s response to Ezra.

Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do. (Ezra 10:12 KJV)

They had been told to rid themselves of the sinful lifestyle that included unbelieving wives. No – we’re not advocating divorce. That is not what God has spoken for His people today. Christ’s message asked more.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40 KJV)

Just a few chapters before, Jesus had told the young rich young man to sell his goods (Matthew 19:16-26). I believe it was because that hindered him from complying with the two commandments. What hinders us?