Saturday, July 31, 2010


We keep the artificial sweetener saccharine in the house. Beloved Husband uses it, picking those ubiquitous pink envelopes not only at home but in restaurants, too. It was an accidental lab discovery that provided this sugar substitute. In 1878 Constantin Fahlberg was working on coal tar derivatives at Johns Hopkins University, find saccharine by accident. We need to look for answers beyond the expected places, too.

An example is found in Matthew 22: 23-33. There is a lot of information in those ten verses. The Sadducees had come up with an unanswerable question. They knew it could not be answered because it contained an invalid assumption – that there was life after death. Sadducees knew there was no resurrection. They could prove it with scriptures that had been studied for hundreds of years. In this question, they would catch Jesus and invalidate His ministry.

Do we not see this today? Though the questions differ, do not men ask questions they deem unanswerable?

The Sadducees’ question related to the Jewish tradition of a man marrying his brother’s widow. In this question, one woman consecutively married seven brothers as the previous died. Now, which would be the husband in heaven, knowing no woman could have seven husbands at the same time.

Christ defined their error in two ways.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29 KJV)

Jesus continued, telling us what to expect following the resurrection – no marriage, just as angels do not marry. No scriptures cited, simply personal knowledge. Then He used scripture to validate resurrection.

But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (Matthew 22:31-32 KJV)

We have Sadducees today. Matthew Henry’s explanation applies to many in today’s world: “... Sadducees were much of the genius of the Epicureans; they denied the resurrection, they said, There is no future state, no life after this; that, when the body dies, the soul is annihilated, and dies with it; that there is no state of rewards or punishments in the other world; no judgment to come in heaven or hell. They maintained, that, except God, there is not spirit, nothing but matter and motion. They would not own the divine inspiration of the prophets, nor any revelation from heaven.”

Many of today’s Sadducees would also deny the existence of a supreme being, looking upon the creation of the universe as an accident similar to finding saccharine. They tend to forget that accidents occur while something else is happening.

The final comment from today’s scriptures is tied to astonishment.

And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. (Matthew 22:33 KJV)

His doctrine remains astonishing today. The answers to our questions are within His word. They will not move off the paper and shake us by the shoulders to get our attention. We do have to read them, study them, come to understand their source and build faith as we continue to learn more and more. Then we can astonish others with His truth. The greatest, to me, was said to Nicodemus.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17 KJV)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Might Works

I’ve written before about our Thursday night 42 games. Several years ago a couple in our church invited a widower and a husband whose wife was in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s to join them for a home made dinner and an evening of fellowship. Over the years the number of attendees has fluctuated, but increased considerably. Last night there were five game tables in use to accommodate the group.

Among the attendees was a walking miracle.

Last December, one of our church members had a toothache. She also had four children that kept her busy, from age 16 to a toddler not yet two. She was feeling a bit worn out a couple of times when we spoke. Getting to the dentist took some doing, but finally there she was. He told her she needed to see another doctor. An oncologist.

It wasn’t a tooth that was giving her pain, but a tumor growing in her jaw. It was cancerous. It may have saved her life, though, for further tests showed she had the very rare Plasma Cell Leukemia.

The question is, do you fight it – with all the finance, energy and emotional drain involved, only to succumb – or do you accept the terminality to wait patiently for homegoing. Her Christian doctor joined them in prayer for God’s will to be made manifest, advised them that if it were his wife, treatment would begin immediately.

In keeping with God’s word, the couple went to our pastor and requested the biblical response before beginning the debilitating chemo, placing themselves in God’s hand for all the answers.

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: [James 5:14 KJV]

Instead of the elders of our church going to their home, the entire church took part in that evening service. We circled the sanctuary, taking turns placing our hands on the shoulders of this loving couple, praying that in God’s will would be found the healing for this deadly disease. Then came the long months of chemo.

It has not been an easy eight months. But it has been a joyously uplifting time as hundreds have prayed without ceasing. Effectively.

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]

Last night was the first time in months that she wore no protecting head cover in our presence. Those have been lovely, but not as lovely as the flowing blonde locks we used to see. It will be months more before the wavy locks return, but the short hair she now sports is the promise of new growth.

As the people when He entered Jerusalem, we praise Him:

And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; [Luke 19:37 KJV]

Indeed, we praise God with loud voices for this mighty work that we have seen!

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: [1 Peter 1:8 KJV]

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Just Do It!"

Twenty-two years ago Nike trademarked “Just do it.” I remember shortly afterward one of our managers used the phrase often, wanting something done quickly. As usual, the concept goes way back. Our pastor read last night Paul’s version.

Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. (2 Corinthians 8:11 KJV)

“Perform the doing of it” is a bit longer, but has the same concept – let’s do it, and quickly. Paul was writing here to the Corinthians a year after his first letter, a year after they had decided to make a contribution of support for the church in Jerusalem. The year before, they were ready. At this writing, performance was lacking.

Are we doing the same? Do we need someone to tell us to perform?

The subject here in chapter 8 is contributions. There is a wider application than bringing our tithes and offerings. The Bible tells us we should do that with a cheerful heart and in a right spirit.

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)

There are no specific references in the New Testament to the tithe, the ten percent giving of the Old Testament other than Jesus’ words.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matthew 23:23 KJV)

Tithes were not to be left undone. The greater application refers to all giving, not just money, but giving of time and talents. Jesus refers to the law (following God’s commandments), mercy (loving and forgiving our fellow man), and faith (the substance of things hoped for, evidence of things unseen) as things we out to have done. Are we? Or are we just as the Pharisees?

“Perform the doing of it” applies to all facets of our Christian life. Our performance can be measured, too, through scripture. Go ahead, pick a verse where we’re told to do something. Then determine the performance.

Start with that greatest commandment. Do we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind? Do we on Sunday mornings when sleeping late can be justified due to the lateness of Saturday night and the need for eight hours of sleep? As part of the body of Christ, do we think we are too weak to be of service, not needed for His work. Think again.

Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (1 Corinthians 12:22 KJV)

God can accomplish His goals without us, but why in the world would we want Him to do so? It is through His strength and His will that we are able to “perform the doing of it.” Through that doing, we are blessed. Not simply through giving money, but giving works.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (2 Corinthians 9:8 KJV)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why One, Not Another?

But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. [Luke 4:25-27 KJV]

Why one and not another? The thought was addressed again, later.

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 personal cry is “Why me, oh Lord; why me?” Do we so think of ourselves as different from others? And, when we see one afflicted, do we wonder what they have done to deserve it? Do we ask who sinned, as Jesus’ disciples did?

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. [John 9:1-3 KJV]

Do we require explanations of all the events in our lives? Must all of our lives either be blessed or cursed of God?

The sun rises and sets, a natural consequence of God’s creation. Storms gather and disperse, also a natural consequence of God’s creation. Just as Christ’s answer in Luke 13 tells us that there are natural consequences in every life.

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. [Luke 13:5 KJV]

So, are we then to believe that once we repent all will be perfect? Not hardly. But we do know that repenting, turning from old ways to new, will bring a comfort provided by God.

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. [John 14:26 KJV]

Whether our afflictions are part of the natural consequence of God’s creation, or specific working of God to be made manifest in our lives, our response should be to accept the remembrances brought by the Comforter. That includes all the messages God has for us in His word. Reading it often in prayerful communication with our Father opens understanding and allows His lessons to direct our lives.

John explains why he wrote, and I believe it holds true of all scripture.

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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Second Mile

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

When I wrote “In The Way” and searched for a graphic for the rich young ruler, one link took me to Journeys With The Messiah. The photo that struck me – and has stayed with me requiring a posting of its own, is “The Second Mile.”

Each of the graphics on this site are thought provoking, bringing the Messiah into our century. Placing the Messiah into every day situations, just as He lived them in Israel. But this one!! Based on the Roman law allowing the compelling of one to carry a load for Romans, how could we be expected to substitute a Nazi soldier for a Roman soldier. I was brought back to “why not?”

The entire thought behind “whosoever” is anyone and everyone. We are not to pick and choose to whom we walk and talk with, but we are to witness to those on our journey. Would Christ have witnessed to a Nazi soldier? Why not – He witnessed to Roman soldiers. Would Christ have witnessed to a Jihadist terrorist? Again, why not? Was not Saul’s goal to destroy those who believed in Christ?

Do we confine our witness to those we would invite into our church, into our homes?

I have struggled with this since I saw “The Second Mile.” I want to be able to walk with my Lord and follow His example. I believe He would have given his cloke, and that He would have walked that second mile, speaking to His follow traveler of God’s love.

Yet I draw back at the thought of doing so. Not just from the thought of those long ago Nazi soldiers, but of people today. People whose thoughts are not only far from God’s love, but whose actions oppose God’s laws and the people who love Him. Is it because I fear them? He tells me not to.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. [Matthew 10:28 KJV]

There are things worse than dying -- eternal separation from God being the absolute worst. And, I know people who will spend eternity in that separation. I know, I know – the choice was theirs to make and they’ve made it, openly proclaiming their choice to ignore God and His message. Denying His existence, rejecting His love, unbelieving of the consequences.

Can we walk that second mile with them? Over and over again, praying that their attention will be focused? Can we do it for someone as hated as a Nazi soldier? Can we do it for an estranged family member? Can we walk with them and speak of Him?

Do we really believe that He walks with us as we do so?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Their Ministry

The Hinkle Family was with us yesterday for morning services. During the Sunday School hour we met in the sanctuary to hear them sing; during worship service they not only sang but Pop Hinkle preached. Both services were outstanding, as they always are when the Hinkles visit.

Our church provides some support for their ministry – visiting nursing homes across the United States. They will be in this area for a couple of days, then are headed for Tennessee by Friday. Be sure to
stop by their website and get acquainted with their ministry and their music.

How often do any of my readers visit a nursing home – unless we have family there? One gentleman in our church visits every single day to feed his wife. Because he loves her. How many are there without family members who can come any day to see them.

James wrote:

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. [James 1:27 KJV]

Are these residents “in their affliction”? Do I write this because it is something I do? No. The last time I was in a nursing home was for my mother-in-law. Think of the joy I’ve missed, reflected in the faces of those lifted by such visits.

Something Pop Hinkle mentioned Sunday remains in my mind. Why pray for God’s presence when He has promised never to leave or forsake?

I’m certain I’m turning his phrase a bit when it runs through my mind – but I’m thinking that God has not forsaken His children who require full time physical care, but most of us have. He did promise to be with us always.

(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them. [Deuteronomy 4:31 KJV]

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. [Joshua 1:5 KJV]

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

We have neglected our part of the covenant, our teaching things commanded unto those who need most to know. Such as my widowed mother-in-law. She required care due to dementia. Not Alzheimer’s, but just as surely, she did not know who we were, or where she was. At first our visits made her nervous, as any change in routine would do. As we stayed and talked, that lessened, though she never recognized any family member, having people with her appeared to comfort.

How hard it is to get through those first moments of the visit, when she was visibly nervous. Aren’t we just as nervous about the visit?

Thank God, daily if you would, for the Hinkle family bringing joy and comfort to residents each day. It is their God given ministry.

What’s yours?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

House of the Lord

Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good. (Psalms 122:9 KJV )

That’s one of two hundred and thirteen verses that mention the “house of the Lord.” My favorite is the verse that opens this Psalm:

I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. (Psalms 122:1 KJV)

My Father’s house is a comfortable place for me. I know He expects me to be there and always has something for me when I come. But verse nine holds something for you, too, when I follow it.

He expects that by my attending to Him, I will seek thy good. Because I go to His house and heed His words, I will look for good – in you and for you. It is something He expects from me.

You are the second most important person in my life. He said so.

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. (Matthew 22:37-39 KJV)

I’ve said before – part of our problem is that we do not love ourselves. We do not accept that we are lovable, though we’ve been told over and over in His word that He loved us first, created us, He gave Himself for us. Because of this, I spend time in the house of the Lord, learning to love those with whom I share His world.

Some do not appear lovable physically. Some do not appear lovable by their actions. Some deride His name, ignore His words and live without His guidance in their lives. Many of these people would tell me they are quite content, as happy as they can be without Him and would I please stop talking about it.

I cannot. There are so many things to say! As John wrote, the earth could not hold all the books that could be written.

I shall go to the house of the Lord this Sunday morning to hear a family that has given three generations to sing for the elderly. To hear our pastor, whose father and son also provided three generations of preachers of His word. And, I will be grateful that someone kept on and on and on saying to me:

Let us go into the house of the LORD. (Psalms 122:1b KJV)

The photo is of the Mennonite church built by my husband's great-grandfather in Oakland, Missouri in the 1880's

Saturday, July 24, 2010


So far my doctor hasn’t limited salt. Since it has a tendency impact blood pressure, we know it is helpful to place limits on intake, but we also know it enhances flavor, so there’s a fine balance to achieve. The right amount is necessary for overall health, too. It would not be good to cut salt completely.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. (Matthew 5:13 KJV)

We’ve grown up with the term “good for nothing.” How many could point that phrase back to the Bible. It’s usually applied to a person whose character is questionable, from whom little or nothing is expected. Matthew’s verse is a very good picture of someone so defined.

What does it take to reach the point where an individual is “good for nothing?” What would the analogy be with a person – what is the “savour?” Encarta defines savor as:

1. enjoy something unhurriedly: to enjoy something with unhurried appreciation
2. relish something: to enjoy the taste or smell of something
3. show traces: to show traces of something

Christ was describing His followers as being the salt of the earth, so when they’ve lost their joy of their salvation, lost their taste for the Christian life, or no longer show traces of Christ in their life, they are good for nothing.

It would fill me with sadness to know that anyone looked into my life and could not see the joy my salvation continually brings me. For anyone to think that I had lost my taste for living a Christian life. I pray that much more than traces of Christ can be seen in my actions, my words, even my daily routine.

I am more than ready to discuss religion (mine or theirs) with anyone. I’ve been told that I listen as well as I share. I do so with prayer that others will listen as well, and leave it in God’s hands to speak to their hearts about His plan in their lives. His plan for my life is between us in our conversations.

The value of salt in our lives was an excellent example for Christ to use. It was just as essential for life then as it is now – just as God is as essential now as ever in the life of mankind. Even those who do not accept Him seek ways to explain why He doesn’t exist, or discredit those who believe in Him. Yet He remains as necessary to life as salt.

As my age progresses through this seventh decade, my doctor may define my salt intake. When he does, I shall miss enjoying the taste. And, give thanks that my Lord and Savior will provide my continued unhurried joy, my relishing of His word and allow His life to show traces in my life that I might serve as the salt of the earth for people to savor Him.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mine Eyes

And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: [Matthew 18:9a KJV]

Today, I’m doing just that. Well, not the whole eye, and I’m not going to do it myself. I’m paying a very nice lady doctor to remove a portion of it. And replace that portion with a lens that will work well for many years to come.

My eyes have been measured, new lens ordered. This morning a slit will be made in my eye, old lens removed, an intraocular one inserted and pray there are no complications. This isn’t a solution for all my eyesight problems, but should resolve a few issues.

I should be able to focus in a distance. That comes in so handy in reading signs! And my television should clear up quite a bit. Right now all objects have shadows and/or halos, since I’m seeing double. Our pastor’s single microphone appears dual to me.

Tuesday, while picking up medicine at the pharmacy, a lady came weaving her basket toward me. Odd. Until she was within about ten feet and I recognized my daughter. The ability to recognize at a distance is what I want returned. I want to drive again and read street signs. I also want to type one of my Bible readings without my eyes beginning to water.

Hopefully in the next month, after the second surgery, glasses will be required only for reading. That will be a change, since I’ve worn them since I was fourteen. It will be strange to be taking them off and on just to read. I’ll probably write about it when it happens.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is Bible reading without holding the book so close it’s awkward just to read clearly. Same for hymnals. I’m used to holding them out with my head up and bringing out those joyful noises in worship. Some are close to being on key, I think.

I don’t want to fall into this category:

Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? [Mark 8:18 KJV]

Rather, let me hear, as Solomon heard:

Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place. [2 Chronicles 7:15 KJV]

Let me say with the Psalmist:

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. [Psalms 119:18 KJV]

For I do thank God that I can see the wonders the Lord has provided to us. I just pray I see them a bit better in the next few weeks.

Finally, I repeat Simeon’s words, though mine eyes have not seen the babe. I have had my sight for a long, long time, enjoying God’s world and searching through His word. I truly can say:

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, [Luke 2:30 KJV]

Cataract Surgery (Wiki Commons)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How Will You Build?

We have this wonderful salvation offered to us simply for the accepting. After that acceptance – after we have acknowledged God’s unspeakable gift as our own -- we build on that foundation. As a pastor who provided a base, a foundation, for new believers, Paul wrote about what should follow.

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.

But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
[1 Corinthians 3:10-13 KJV]

Seeking out what God has for each of us to do is part of that building. If we build on our own, without using His plan, I would expect quite a bit of hay and stubble. Sort of the sod houses of our western frontier at the turn of the 20th century. Shelter provided, stable? Not hardly.

Just as no one can be saved for us, no one can build upon the foundation except ourselves. Where do we find the plans? Where are the building codes? Are there minimums, where we can just ‘get by’? All of the answers are in God’s word.

The framing of the house would be the commandments Christ left for us in His word. Look for them in the Bible with prayer and you’ll know which ones will provide the strongest structure for your building.

The walls? I think Paul laid that our in Ephesians six, describing the whole armor of God. Use that armor in building the walls and they will not only stand but provide strength to add the gold, silver and precious stones.

What are they? James mentions what I think they are.

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. [James 2:18 KJV]

We know Peter had neither silver nor gold on this earth.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. [Acts 3:6 KJV]

What better precious material could decorate the walls of such a building than the good works of the devout follower of God? One who truly understands and believes the foundational commandments.

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]

So, what will be built on the foundation given?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Except Ye ...

Last Saturday’s post mentioned that I would return to thoughts remaining in my mind from that particular Bible study. But we had company over the weekend and I missed my time apart for devotionals. Then Sunday’s sermon touched my heart and that’s what I wrote about Monday morning – still spending time with Pastor’s scripture selection for his sermon.

This morning, though, I’m returning to the thoughts from Acts 15. I see this often in people.

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. [Acts 15:1 KJV]

Have you seen this yourself? Not the circumcised part most likely, but any other layer of action required prior to salvation? "Except you be …" and insert the requirement laid out by men. For these Jewish-Christians it was something God had required of Abram when he was 99 and the covenant was offered.

This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. [Genesis 17:10 KJV]

What was required for every Jew between Abraham and Jesus should be required forever, according to the men down from Judaea to Attalia. But their requirement was not well received by all and dissension ensued. As it often has since then among God’s people.

When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. [Acts 15:2 KJV]

That alone didn’t solve the problem.

But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. [Acts 15:5-6 KJV]

The discussions, the words of Peter, James, Barnabas and Paul are there for our edification. They are there for our study. They are part of God’s infallible word.

Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? [Acts 15:10 KJV]

As the Bible says, the Holy Spirit provided their determination:

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. [Acts 15:28-29 KJV]

Monday, July 19, 2010


Jesus used Pharisees as examples of what we should NOT be. If we were looking at career types likely to follow Him, fisherman would be in a much higher percentage than Pharisee.

The first recorded comments Jesus made to them would not be endearing, much less inviting.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? [Matthew 3:7 KJV]

Yet Christ accepted their invitations.

And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee's house, and sat down to meat. [Luke 7:36 KJV]


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

It was one of these Pharisees who first heard the words that have circled the globe as the center of the gospel. As most of us do, he came with questions, but he first made a profound commitment and understanding of Jesus’ source.

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. [John 3:1-2 KJV]

We know Nicodemus believed in God, that’s in a Pharisee’s job description. We know he believed God was powerful. What he acknowledged here is that Jesus could not do miracles without God. Yet, Christ had much more for Nicodemus to learn. A lesson that is often too difficult for men to accept, even today.

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. [John 3:5 KJV]

Many today deride the term “born again Christian.” They do not understand the concept that is a lead-in as to why Jesus was on the earth.

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. [John 3:7 KJV]

There it is, again. Ye must be born again, or not enter into the kingdom of God. A statement, not a question. A fact given, not an answer.

Too many people repeat Nicodemus’ incredulity.

Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? [John 3:9 KJV]

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? [John 3:11-12 KJV]

How do we answer His question? Believe the things He taught here on earth? If not, how can we believe what He said of heaven?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A New View

Sometimes reading scriptures simply opens a new vision of something we’ve read before. Puts new light on a subject. We’re studying in Ephesians in Sunday School. This week we’re in the first chapter, verses four through six. There are some very deeply divisive doctrinal issues in these three verses, which sent me to 2 Peter.

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. [2 Peter 3:15-17 KJV]

I’ve written before on the phrase some things hard to be understood, but this time I was caught by As also in all his epistles. I realized that Peter and I read the same epistles. Of course I knew this! But at the same time I didn’t think about Peter sitting in a service hearing Paul’s words read aloud – or leading a service, doing the reading.

Can you picture that? Or, Paul being in a group where he received Peter’s second letter for the first time? These men had the same message, the same gospel, to deliver to people, but some of it was harder than others.

Such differences have let to schisms within churches, leading to so many different denominations and doctrinal differences of today. We know these divisions were not created by God.

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. [1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV]

Paul faced the situation openly as he proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? [1 Corinthians 1:12-13 KJV]

It is hard to be confronted with questions regarding the source of our beliefs. Do we look to the Bible as God’s word, studying it ourselves in prayer, seeking God’s will in our lives, or do we accept another’s interpretation, tradition or the writings of men to tell us what God says?

I expect the sermons my pastor gives to come from God’s word. He may quote another’s writings, but it cannot contradict what is in the Bible and be true. His sermon’s will not take a single verse or even short passage and interpret it to be different from other passages. God is not the author of confusion.

We do know who is very good at taking scripture and turning into something not meant to be. A couple of examples are given to us in Genesis 3:1, and in Matthew 4:6. In Acts 15 we sit in on a discussion among church leaders, reading input from Peter, Paul, Barnabas, James and they come to the conclusion that God is available to all men. Why? God is the same, forever.

Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. [Acts 15:18 KJV]

There are more thoughts I garnered from this study – more devotionals in the next few days.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Corner Stone

How is your house built? Does it have a foundation? Paul spoke of a spiritual building.

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [Ephesians 2:20 KJV]

He said it had the foundation of the apostles and prophets. The prophets he refers to are those Old Testament men sent by God to remind Israel of its past and to tell them what their future would be. Men who wrote about His birth:

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

To those who wrote of His death:

They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. [Psalms 22:18 KJV]

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. [Zechariah 12:10 KJV]

This corner stone is spoken of by prophets, too:

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. [Isaiah 28:16 KJV]

And by Christ:

Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. [Matthew 21:42-44 KJV]

Upon that corner stone, that firm foundation laid by prophets and apostles, we build.

In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. [Ephesians 2:21-22 KJV]

And what do we get for building with this corner stone?

For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; [Ephesians 2:18-19 KJV]

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. [2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV]

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Wise Child

Long ago Solomon came to understand that two is better than one, and three is much stronger.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. [Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 KJV]

Mankind has created a great many tools to help get work done. From a couple of pieces of flint and a spear used to provide food, we’ve grown past a wheel to carry a load to huge factories that use machines to complete work for us. Even those require men to maintain and repair. No one can endure the work alone. Solitary confinement remains a punishment. It is very important who is selected to create that strong cord.

Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. [Ecclesiastes 4:13 KJV]

Accepting admonishment requires at least two – one to do the admonishment and one to receive it. I believe this verse truly belongs following verse 12. There is a good message here for those who need admonishment to return their lives to a workable solution.

We’ve often seen in the entertainment and sports world people who have come into great fame and/or wealth. Very quickly they are surrounded with others tagging along for handouts. The word that comes to mind is sycophant – one who uses compliments to gain favor or gain through the powerful. Perhaps that should truly be ‘psycho fan.’

A poor and wise child has nothing to offer such people, but an old and foolish king – or singer, or athlete, or executive, or politician, or preacher – can fall prey to those who constantly tell them “Rules are for others. You can do anything money can buy.” One of the saddest example is Michael Jackson. It is easier to insulate with sycophants than it is to hear those around who would admonish.

When Roman conquerors returned to the city in parades, there would be a slave standing in their chariot who whispered in their ear “Momento mori.” “Remember you are mortal.” In a couple of cases, those generals forgot to heed that admonishment. Caesar Augustus, made into a child of the gods. The lives of following emperors were no more fortunate than some of our headliners today. Instead of drugs and infidelity, though, they were brought down by physical opposition.

Where can we find that “poor and wise child” in us in order to stay better? Heeding the wisdom of the ages, the book that carries these verses. The book that teaches It is more blessed to give than to receive. [Acts 20:35 KJV] The book that tells us For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [John 3:16 KJV] The book that shows in many ways we need to be that wise child.

At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 18:1-4 KJV]

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In The Way

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. [Matthew 19:21 KJV]

The answer doesn’t seem to match what Christians witness, does it? The question was:

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? [Matthew 19:16 KJV]

When we Christians witness to others who ask that same question, we take them through the Roman Road for background and give them the answer Paul gave the jailer.

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. [Acts 16:30-31 KJV]

So, are we lying? Did Christ lie? There seems to be a contradiction, doesn’t there. Which is why doctrine should not be confirmed by a single verse. There was a deeper exchange between Christ and the rich young ruler.

And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? [Matthew 19:17-20 KJV]

Under the law, it was necessary to comply with all of the commandments. There is one that Christ didn’t mention, which I believe was covered in His answer.

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. [Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV]

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. [Mark 12:30 KJV]

Christ demanded of the man the one thing that kept him from loving God with all his heart. Just as He does from us.

What is in the way that is keeping us from following in His way? Do we believe there is a god? Do we believe that god is the Lord God? Have we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior? Did we get to this point and forget that it takes with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind? Or is there something – probably not wealth – that stands in the way?

Whether believing in eternity or not, consider the question. Is what we have to give to the Lord in order to follow Him really worth giving up eternity?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Up In Smoke

And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him. (Luke 21:38)

Do you get up early in the morning to spend time with Him? Abraham did.

And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: (Genesis 19:27)

Abraham was looking back at destruction, though, to people who ignored God's word.

And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. (Genesis 19:28)

Lately, as we look back, there is smoke and destruction along our path. We see scenes of it daily in the Gulf of Mexico as thousands upon thousands of barrels of oil burn. There have been smoke and destruction recently in other countries, too.

I started to list some of most recent, but thought of so many others. Across my lifetime alone the list would be long and include the names of countries that no longer exist as well as the names of countries that did not exit when I was born. None of the smoke supernatural. Instead, they were, and are, man made, not for the edification of God but for the destruction of their fellow man.

These fires burn because of things John Lennon wrote about. He imagined a time and place where there were no countries, no religions, no possessions, no greed, no hunger. Yet he died for none of those things.

One of the things Lennon rejected offers a future of hope.

For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. (Psalms 38:15)

Lennon had part of his dream right -- a time and place where there are no nations, no borders, no greed, no hunger, no thirst -- for the living water offered freely by our Lord holds that promise.

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; (Titus 1:2)

The Bible tells of so many who have sold that hope, sold that promise of eternity, for as little as a bite of fruit, a bowl of porridge, thirty pieces of silver or the personal sin they will not release for the love of God.

We are promised a day when we shall worship as planned.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:23)

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (Romans 14:11)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Psalms 103

I am comforted by David’s adoration in the 103rd Psalm.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. [Psalms 103:1 KJV]

This is not the blessed/happiness of the Beatitudes, this is the worshipful, kneeling praise of adoration to God. David tells us here what God has done for him, why God is to be worshipped.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: [Psalms 103:2 KJV]

Praise and adore Him not because of future expectations, but what He has proven in the past.

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; [Psalms 103:3 KJV]

Right at the top of the list is forgiveness. The reason that is so important is that mankind must accept that there is a need for forgiveness to begin with. David was thankful for God’s forgiveness because he received it when he confessed his sins. He understood, and stated in his confession, that his sin was against God.

And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. [2 Samuel 12:13a KJV]

David then thanked God for redemption.

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; [Psalms 103:4 KJV]

Again, as David himself had experienced.

And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. [2 Samuel 12:13b KJV]

David continued in praise and adoration of all God has done, to Israel as a people and to David as an individual.

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.
[Psalms 103:5-22 KJV]

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Your Ministry?

About once a year, or a month or so longer, our internet connectivity takes a vacation. No notice at all, and I turn on my Need-to-Know-Right-Now mode and start learning all I forgot from last year, and the new stuff my PC/ISP/Router providers have added that I don’t know -- yet. Last year it was in May. This year (so far) we’ve only lost a couple of days last month. I think we have it returned to the standard available 24/7 that we’ve come to expect.

Of course, it made me think of how our time spent in God’s service is measured. Do you ever notice empty spots in pews?

Some people think if they attend church on special holidays, that’s quite enough for each year. Others decide being there Sunday mornings starts their week off right and they don’t need to come back until next week.

Others take a seat in their pew for every service. Actually looking askance should some new person be sitting in their regular place.

Then there are those who regularly are not in their pews. We have a lot of those. Sometimes they’ll miss Sunday morning worship services and show up Sunday night. Their pew is empty every Wednesday night during school, but you’ll find them there in the summer when classes change and fewer children attend. You’ll find their car in the parking lot on Thursdays and some Saturdays, but not on a Sunday, when they drive a van picking up children.

Who are these people? Ministers, but not preachers. Church workers, but not the hired staff. Ministers because they have chosen to follow our Lord and provide service and training to His family.

They include a number of ladies who miss services to take care of babies and toddlers in the nursery; those who come during the week for visitation, sometimes going in pairs, sometimes alone; the youth and children workers who arrive early on Wednesdays when school meets, spending two hours training and playing with children from pre-K through 6th grade. Then there are ushers, who spend as much time in the back as in their pews as sitting in them. Or bus drivers who are keeping an eye on their passengers-without-parents, driving before and after services.

That doesn’t start to mention the Sunday School teachers. Each and every week they spend hours planning lessons, sending messages to their students and presenting Bible lessons. Or the youth leaders, shoulders drenched with the teen-years tears. Or the librarian who places orders, checks them in, prepares them for checking out then follows up with those of us who are forgetful about returning on time. (I do think I’d better check my bookcase!!)

Why? Because He first loved us, we’ve come to love Him and want to share our family with others.

Where are the scriptures for today? They are displayed In the lives of those who serve in the ministry of their choice.

Every church member should have one. If one of my readers does not, you are missing out on rewards here – and there. Pray for God’s will to be evident, then go serve. We’ll notice, but much more importantly, He’ll notice.

(This photo was taken by a neighbor, not a member, of our church after a fall storm and was kind enough to share with us)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

At Least Three Times

On a recent Sunday morning our pastor’s message was building God’s church through personal evangelism. We had a visiting preacher Sunday night – he spoke on the same message. Neither man had mentioned to the other the subject they were using.

I’ve found that often God sends the same message to us. Maybe just to get our attention. That same Sunday I posted
Be Still, Patiently. I needed that message. It came to me twice Sunday morning – Psalms 46:10 was used in the lesson in Sunday School, and it was the scripture chosen to be placed in our bulletin. I received His message three times.

Long ago I learned that quite often His message is placed in front of me three times. There was a specific situation in our family. My mother-in-law told me, in no uncertain terms, that it would be up to me to make the first move. Feeling the aggrieved party, I pushed the information aside. The following Saturday, my mother told me the same thing. I know the topic was not discussed between them. And I knew that neither one called our pastor – yet his Sunday morning sermon was on forgiveness, seventy times seven!

John 21:15-17 has Jesus asking Peter three times, “Lovest thou me?” while He knew the answer in advance.

It takes repetition to get an important message across – especially to someone who has preconceived notions and a somewhat impetuous personality. I mean Peter, of course!

There have been numerous writings about our Lord, beginning that first century. Not unusual, as John saw it.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. [John 21:25 KJV]

Everyone who met Him, who heard Him, could write a book about that experience. But I really like the preceding verse, which limits what should be written.

This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. [John 21:24 KJV]

We are not told that Luke met Jesus, yet I love the books of Luke and Acts, for they read as though written by a researcher, a detail-oriented author who checks facts. We do not know if Theophilus was the name of a living person or if Luke was writing to all of us who love God. Either way, the resulting documentation of living for God is a blessing to all who read it.

Paul’s letters to the churches have oft repeated phrases, too. Though he writes to each one for a specific purpose, admonishing and encouraging always returns to Christ as the example for us to follow and God’s love for mankind that provided salvation.

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) [Ephesians 2:4-5 KJV]

That theme is repeated more than three times, throughout the books of the New Testament.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. [John 3:16 KJV]

We love him, because he first loved us. [1 John 4:19 KJV]

Friday, July 9, 2010

Matthew 5

And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, [Matthew 5:1-2 KJV]

What follows in Jesus’ sermon on this mountain are some of the most basic truths of Christianity. Children are taught at a very early age the “Be Attitudes”, Matthew 5:3-13, which tell us how to be happy in our lives. Then we’re told that we are as salt, a city, a candle – essential things, if used correctly, but useless if not. We’re then told about the everlasting commandments of God.

Then begins an interesting segment of contrasts – Ye have heard versus But I say unto you.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: [Matthew 5:21 KJV]

Christ begins to discuss traditions versus reality. Most of the world has heard of the Ten Commandments and are familiar with Thou shalt not kill. In nations then and today there were rules about this, listing punishments for murder.

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. [Matthew 5:22 KJV]

The words of God have deeper meaning than the superficial glances we give them.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: [Matthew 5:27 KJV]

Good advice. Great harm comes from breaking one’s marriage vows. Families are torn asunder and lives are impacted in succeeding generations. But it is done so very quickly without thought. I’m thinking of two celebrities this year whose infidelities not only have made national headlines in mainstream media, but have cost them millions of dollars in their divorces. They are but a couple among millions. Yet, Christ tells us there is much more than a physical infidelity.

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. [Matthew 5:28 KJV]

Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: [Matthew 5:33 KJV]

This one is so simple to understand. How can we swear to accomplish anything when our lives depend on so many variables outside our control? Christ not only confirms this, but gives examples of why our answers should be ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’

But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. [Matthew 5:34-37 KJV]

There is more. Much more, but I’ve reached my self-imposed size limitation. Take a bit of time and continue in this sermon. Truly, the words of God have meaning in our lives today.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Laboring in Vain

There have always been doctrinal differences among people who worship within the same religion. There are enough differences between the Sunni and Shi’a versions of Islam to start wars in our own time. The same held true of Christians divided between nations of Catholics and protestants. Jews in the first century were divided, too. Pharisees believed in a resurrection. Sadducees did not. I remember the difference by thinking, they were sad, you see.

Christ answered the question of resurrection Himself.

But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. [Matthew 22:31-32 KJV]

There were doctrinal differences within the New Testament church. Paul sought to clarify one of those differences.

Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? [1 Corinthians 15:12 KJV]

This is the very basis of Christianity. Without it, Jesus of Nazareth was a philosopher at the very least, and perhaps a prophet as some see Him. With it, He is the Son of God.

As a philosopher, His teachings are acceptable to a majority of the world’s population. They see Him caring for everyone and encouraging all to do so, too. If He was no more than a prophet, His prophecies fall short, not having been fulfilled.

Those who look upon Him solely as a philosopher or prophet learn of Him from the New Testament, selecting only what is acceptable, rejecting that which does not apply to their view. Many read of Him and reject Him based on the lives of others, judging by man’s hypocrisy instead of God’s plan.

Our desires to do as we please, not as God planned, has been the basis of disobedience since Eve looked upon the tree and saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. [Genesis 3:6]

It is much easier to reject Him than to accept Him. Acceptance means researching, learning, listening, discerning, determining which version is true and serves God, or which is a false lead serving only another man’s ego. Acceptance means service, ministering to others in His name, giving God the credit, the acclaim, the glory, pointing to Him as the source of all things good.

Paul put it openly and bluntly.

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. [1 Corinthians 15:16-17 KJV]

Examples follow to display this truth, and he closes the thought confirming our labor is not in vain.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. [1 Corinthians 15:57-58 KJV]
(The 'Lone Fish' photo was taken by my niece who graciously granted permission for its use here.
Please do not copy without requesting permission.)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day Trip

We went to Dublin yesterday. No, not a quick trip to the emerald isle. It’s a town of close to 5,000 whose biggest claim to fame is Dr. Pepper.

The soft drink wasn’t invented there (that was Waco, Texas), but the oldest Dr. Pepper plant is there. Built in 1891, it still produces what Texans know as Dublin Dr. Pepper, and it is different from all other plants. Here, instead of the high fructose corn syrup sweetener used by other soft drinks, they still use Imperial pure cane sugar. Other plants haven’t since sugar cane from Cuba became unobtainable.

For most north Texans (and lots of other people), Dr. Pepper is the soft drink of choice. Among those, Dublin offers the best of the best. We missed their annual birthday celebration in June, when the town is officially known as Dr. Pepper, Texas.

I like their website’s closure:

“Bill Kloster was a man of conviction. When small bottlers have been gobbled up by conglomerates, the tiny, independent Dublin Dr Pepper plant remains. Its signature product is produced just like it was more than 100 years ago. Bill wasn’t afraid of bucking marketing trends because he believed in the unique quality of his product.”

In some ways it describes the two-dozen people who went from our church to the plant. We are an independent, fundamental Baptist congregation. Our daily lives differ from those first-century Christians in secular ways, but we continue to meet on the Lord’s day to hear preaching (though usually not as long as Paul’s.)

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. [Acts 20:7 KJV]

We bring our tithes and offerings for His work, just as they were instructed to do.

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. [1 Corinthians 16:2 KJV]

When someone comes to the understanding of a central truth:

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

And they’ve made public their profession of faith in our Lord as savior:

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. [Romans 10:10 KJV]

They come for baptism:

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [Romans 6:4 KJV]

And, they worship the Lord, our God.

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]

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Yahweh Is My Strength

There are so many kings in Israel’s history that we tend to overlook them, skipping from Solomon to the prophets, with just a few lessons in between. We are neglecting excellent lessons by doing so. I was reminded of this recently with an introduction to Uzziah, one of David’s descendants listed in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus.

His name means ‘Yahweh is my strength.’ We are introduced to him at age sixteen.

Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did. And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. [2 Chronicles 26:3-5 KJV]

A great start, isn’t it? He listened to others, selecting those who could achieve what was needed.

Also he built towers in the desert, and digged many wells: for he had much cattle, both in the low country, and in the plains: husbandmen also, and vine dressers in the mountains, and in Carmel: for he loved husbandry. [2 Chronicles 26:10 KJV]

Strong. Powerful. Capable. All attributes of a great leader.

And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. [2 Chronicles 26:15 KJV]

Lord Acton’s dictum comes into play right after this. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense. [2 Chronicles 26:16 KJV]

As Saul did before him, Uzziah made the mistake Lucifer stated aloud.

I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. [Isaiah 14:14 KJV]

Authority is granted by God, not taken from Him.

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]

Uzziah did not have the authority given to the priests to burn incense upon the altar. Usurping that authority cost him his health and his kingdom.

And Uzziah the king was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house, being a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the LORD: and Jotham his son was over the king's house, judging the people of the land. [2 Chronicles 26:21 KJV]

He forgot that
as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. [2 Chronicles 26:5 KJV]

Detail of Uzziah from Michelangelo Buonarroti's Sistine Chapel, Vatican (1511)

Monday, July 5, 2010


I neglected my Bible reading. And, it showed. Simple enough, I received the material for my Sunday School lesson Friday afternoon. I spent some time on it Saturday, preparing worksheets for the girls and getting my thoughts in order.

There were four specific references. Three of them I opened my Bible and read to be certain I understood the application. Not a problem. I could tell that the fourth reference had to do with Christ washing His disciples feet. I knew that story – from childhood I could apply the lesson of a servant. I remembered Peter saying that there was no way Christ was going to wash his feet. He looked upon Jesus as his savior, not his servant. I knew Christ’s answer, too. Peter didn’t understand now, but if he didn’t allow Christ to wash his feet, he was not obedient. Peter displayed his obedience.

Since our lesson contained serving God through His people, the application was apparent, so I moved on to the next part of the lesson.

Foolish me.

There was a typo in the lesson plan. Instead of pointing to John 13:4-16, the scripture written in the lesson was John 12:4-16. It was my turn to read scripture when we reached that point. I am so glad I was the one reading aloud. Instead of Jesus preparing to wash the disciples feet, I’m in Bethany, Lazarus’ home, and Mary has anointed Jesus feet with spikenard and Judas is complaining.

Ooops! All because I made certain assumptions regarding my knowledge and God’s word. I didn’t know I was a chapter off, but would have known had I done all of the Bible reading listed for the lesson.

I don’t know about the three other teachers, yet. I shall ask them, of course, and we will laugh a bit. But it is a good reminder that making assumptions is only a starting point. They are not facts until proven.

When you read about many scientific theories, global warming, evolution, the universe, please keep that in mind. Often theories and assumptions are stated as accepted facts, and they are not, even when larger concepts based on smaller, provable facts. Be certain to read the ‘may,’ ‘might,’ ‘could,’ ‘should,’ etc. Be as skeptical about those assumptions as unbelievers are about what we see as biblical truths.

God has asked us to do diligence.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: [Hebrews 6:10-11 KJV]

He has, through Paul, asked us to study.

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]

We are told to search for truth.

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]

I did not do so. I will do better.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Fireworks were going off when we headed to bed. Not many, our neighborhood is sparse. A few lit up the sky. Most were noise, and distant noise at that.

Our house could be called a duplex, sort of. Second Daughter and her husband live in one end, there’s a double car garage, we live in the other end. Thus, smoke alarms in both are tied together. When the smoke alarm goes off in one end, so does the alarm in the other. They did so this morning at 2:30.

First Granddaughter’s family was home visiting and they had all gone to the drag races to see Son-in-law’s car race. When they arrived home, FG took a shower. When she left the room, for some reason the moist steamy air set off the alarm. We all settled back down, except for Beloved Husband.

Some people think I speak for him as a pushy, controlling wife. I don’t think so. I think it’s because without his hearing aids, he’s deaf. Proven last night when he did not stir. Not even when I got out of and back into bed. The sleep of the innocent! But also the sleep of the deaf.

Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not: [Jeremiah 5:21 KJV]

Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house. [Ezekiel 12:2 KJV]

Beloved Husband’s hearing loss is physical, linked to days in the Army close to artillery. There is some danger associated with not hearing a smoke alarm, but there is greater spiritual danger in not hearing God’s word. His will last a lifetime, the other lasts eternity.

Christ spoke to his disciples, men who walked beside Him and took in every word. Yet not hearing what was in those words.

Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? [Mark 8:18 KJV]

This wasn’t said to Pharisees or crowds of people. This was said to Peter, Andrew, James, John and the others who were traveling with Him. He made a reference to sin and they thought He was berating them for having no bread.

Paul later referenced the older scriptures, too.

(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. [Romans 11:8 KJV]

I agree with him – to this very day. The vibrations arrive, but the understanding never makes it past the ears. The light enters our eyes, but never forms a picture.

Take time to read God’s word in prayer that eyes and ears may be opened to receiving God’s message.

Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. [James 1:21 KJV]