Friday, December 31, 2010

Answered Prayer

Let me tell you about prayer – it’s wonderful! Last night a prayer request went out for a two-year-old who fell and hit her head on concrete. Her parents and grandparents are members of our church and serve their Lord with loving praise. She was not responding to them as she should. As they rushed her to the hospital, they also sent out a prayer request.

The call came to our Thursday night fun and fellowship over dominoes and sixteen people immediately went to prayer for this child, her family and for a couple of others standing in need of prayer. The request then went, literally, around the world with connections to churches over the internet.

With praises this morning, we read a mid-night post from her grandfather: "Praise the Lord she just has a concussion and will be OK. She even gets to go home tonight. Thank you for your prayers."

“Thank you for your prayers,” is a beautiful phrase, acknowledging the care and love of Christ’s extended family for someone standing in need of prayer. At times, we all do. At times, we don’t even know what to pray for, and God understood that and gave us an answer:

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

Christ, knowing what would be happening to Him within the next hours, went to our Father in prayer:

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 went back and prayed again, with just a couple of changes:

He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. (Matthew 26:42 KJV)

Some would say that His prayer was ignored, that it went unanswered. Please look again at the close. “Thy will be done.”

Whether it’s Matthew 6:10 or here, it’s the example He left for us:

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2 KJV)

Some will say God doesn’t answer prayer, that we just accept whatever happens. Untrue. We know what He provides.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 KJV)

Thus we give thanks.

The LORD is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. (Psalms 145:18-19 KJV)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Arise, Shine!

Good morning!!! Well, it is here, though some of my readers are already partially through this glorious Thursday. My granddaughter is at a church camp and I just sent her a text saying with that greeting – and this verse:

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1 KJV)

That’s another one of those stand-alone verses that I really love. It’s a carry over from chapter 59 where Isaiah heard from the Lord:

And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever. (Isaiah 59:20-21 KJV)

Matthew tells us in 5:14 that we are the light of the world. In John 8:12, Jesus tells us the source of that light. In John 1:1-4 that light is defined. Sadly, we are also told:

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:5 KJV)

I am reminded of the story of the blind man Jesus healed in John 9. The Jews were trying to catch Jesus in lies and demanded that the parents or the man tell them that he was not actually blind, that it was a ruse and Jesus a sinner for false healing. If they could prove that Jesus had said he was the Christ they could cast him out:

These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. (John 9:22 KJV)

The healed man testified:

He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. (John 9:25 KJV) If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. (John 9:33 KJV)

The Jews responded to his testimony as many people do today.

They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. (John 9:34 KJV)

Jesus doesn’t.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him. (John 9:35-38 KJV)

It’s your decision to be part of the light, or not. Arise – then what?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Enmity

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16 KJV)

Telling the truth bought Paul a lot of enemies. Powerful enemies that eventually engineered his death. From Genesis we read of enmity between God’s creation and the cursed one.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15 KJV)

We give thanks to God that through Jesus Christ we are no longer at enmity with Him.

And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: (Ephesians 2:16 KJV)

Our flesh still has desires, though, and the world seeks our friendship.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4 KJV)

So, what do we have to do in order to be God’s friend?

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. (James 4:7-8 KJV)

That “double minded” comes from a word meaning ‘two spirited’ or vacillating – wanting two things that are diametrically opposed, bouncing back and forth between them. Liking the idea of a Christian life, but enjoying worldly pleasures that cannot be reconciled with God’s word.

How can I be certain of that? Because that’s me, too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Counseling

It is a trip we all take.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)

Much political talk has taken place over “end-of-life counseling.” Frankly, I’m all for it. And, it should start at a very young age.

Several years ago, three teenagers died about three miles from my house. All five had been drinking through the night and into the early morning. All five had lied to their parents about where they were going, what they were going to do. Running out of alcohol, they decided to go get some more, at a high rate of speed. When the emergency crews cut them out of the truck, three were dead, one paralyzed and another scarred to her very soul.

Just last year a high school senior, well liked among her peers, active in multiple school activities, looking forward to graduation and the rest of her life, text messaged instead of paying attention to her driving. Students were shocked as they attended her funeral.

Where was their end of life counseling?

End of life is not reserved for the elderly. We all need to be aware that death is a reality. It does not just happen to other people. It does not just happen to people we know. It will happen to us, whether we are prepared for our lives to end or not.

One gentleman wrote that he wanted to live his life so that even grown men would cry at his funeral. Not me. I would prefer rejoicing. Christ said so:

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. (John 14:28 KJV)

Christians have specific service to do here. At times we’re not certain how things are going to turn out, but we do know they are in God’s hands. As Paul wrote, we walk by faith, knowing something’s missing.

Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (2 Corinthians 5:6 KJV)

That confidence comes through the walking by faith, not by sight. Where does the faith come from?

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)

Through prayerful Bible study, faith grows. Then we look forward to the journey, leaving our departure in His hands.

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8 KJV)

I may not have all the options given to me about medical treatments at the end of my life, but God has provided for me much further than this life. Has he done so for you?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Look Forward

Wow, the last Monday of the year! Next Monday will be the first of a brand new calendar, never before written, never before used up, but we will do so much more quickly than expected.

We will lose loved ones. People will shuffle of this mortal coil to for themselves the answer to Hamlet’s soliloquy. We will gain love. Some will come with births within our families; others will come from friends, still others from friends not yet created.

We will meet new people. We will not, however, learn new things.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9 KJV)

We may, however, look at old things in different ways. If we continue to carry with us the baggage from years before, we may not.

Right now I’m thinking all of this relative to a marriage that is in danger of breaking up. That’s nothing new. Each one of us can recall watching from the edge of such a disaster, grateful that we’re not in the middle of the whirlwind. Perhaps there is among us one swept away by it. It may be an absolute necessity, a life-saving event. Or, it may be hurt pride. Only the participants know for certain.

My pain is for the children. I’ve seen the damage done to children over years of being torn between their parents. I’ve lived the majority of my life with such a child – determined that his own marriage would last, not simply for himself, but for his children.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: (Psalms 127:3a KJV)

That verse follows another that talks about laboring in vain:

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. (Psalms 127:1 KJV)

The nation watched a high-profile marriage disintegrate, a wife fight a losing battle against the cancer in her body as well as the death-dealing blow to her marriage. Simple unselfish faithfulness would have saved the marriage and changed the grief.

Solomon’s thoughts in Psalms 127 is echoed in his Proverbs:

Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers. (Proverbs 17:6 KJV)

How do we reconcile for a child the explaining of multiple parents? How to these old men get to enjoy their crowns when they must share their time with multiple sets of grand-parents?

Golda Meier’s quote comes to mind. With respect to Palestinians, she once said peace would come “when they love their children more than they hate us.” I believe that can be applied in marriages where damaged pride is the worst problem.

Love the children, unselfishly. Simple, unselfish faithfulness is not confined to marital vows. Faithfulness to the needs of the children should be a parent’s prime consideration.

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him. (Proverbs 20:6-7 KJV)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Generations

Written before church this morning: Looking for a frugal Christmas, I compiled for my grandchildren items from their great-grandparents lives.

Both my father and my father-in-law wrote some poetry. Dad also wrote on a long roll of paper, sharing memories from his childhood. Mom had kept a steno book full of notes of her childhood and about her family. One of my husband’s cousins wrote questions for her three aunts, then in their nineties, about their childhood and transcribed them for her cousins.

I took all that material, added some additional information along with photos and created binders for my grandchildren, including a folder where they can slip photos and notes to add to it. It is my intention to add to it over the years with additional information and stories from my husband and myself.

Among the poetry my father-in-law wrote was one that he also had read at his funeral, and would be a fitting gospel for my own. My grandson-in-law read it and it fit right in to a melody he had been working on. If all goes well, it will become a part of his upcoming album. That would be such a blessing, and carry a family belief even a generation further.

Martin wrote an addendum to his will in 1932 commending trust in Jesus Christ for all of his children. His son, John, wrote a poem speaking of how he was close to God. His son, David, chose to follow in their footsteps, raising his children within God’s love, as did his daughter, Nancy. Her daughter married a young preacher, who also sings the gospel of our Lord. Her daughter, just before age two, sings “The B I B L E, yes that’s the book for me!” Six generations.

Some might say (as one man did to me) that each generation led the next astray, not allowing them to learn on their own, making them lean on the crutch of religion. While it is true that each generation had the example of the one before, let me assure you, these are independent people who have known rebellion and return.

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7 KJV)

Added after church this morning, since this morning’s service was about family, doing as our fathers. Christ spoke to that:

I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. (John 8:38-41 KJV)

Jesus went further and told them who their father was.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8:44 KJV)

We get to choose our spiritual father. I choose the One to speaks the truth of, and to, the great I AM.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

God Bless

This photograph was taken Christmas Eve, 1968 as Apollo 8 swung around the moon. During their Christmas Eve broadcast, the astronauts read from the book of Genesis. Their commander, Frank Borman, closed: “From the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, and Merry Christmas and God bless all of you – all of you on the good Earth.”

How do you see your planet? A globe hanging in the night sky with your portion of the earth visible? I think of it that way often, cutting out the majority of mankind.

I am grateful that God sees us as individuals. Each unique, each His creation, each seeking Him or denying His very existence.

The focus that night two millennia ago was upon one child. Christians join together in a single fellowship to acknowledge and celebrate the Gift God presented to the world in a manger. The birth was heralded to shepherds, not to priests. The star led wise men, not kings or generals. He came with the power of creation to create clean hearts in people who seek to serve, and He came as a servant to teach us how to do so.

As perfection, He cannot be attained. Yet that same perfection reaches out to whosoever will believe, offering life eternal. That life does not begin at our physical death – it begins the moment we give ourselves to Him.

To the Christian reader, may God bless the abundant life He provides for you. May your service be all His will has to offer for you. May you continue to grow in understanding and in outreach. May your coasts be enlarged by the Almighty.
To the others who join in reading, may God bless your search for understanding. May you find Him while He may be found. May your hearts be opened to His joy. May you provide the joy in heaven described in Luke 15:7. May we both be, eternally, His.

Begin reading here, and continue on:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 KJV)

May He see that it is still good. God bless the reading of His word.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Manger to Cross


It’s Christmas Eve. Beloved Husband is baking his traditional pies – pumpkin fragrances mingle with spices of apple and waft up here to my ‘office.’ I’m printing the last of my Christmas gifts. I cannot describe them now, everyone in the family has access to the internet and it would spoil the surprises!!

Know this, though, that part of what I’m doing includes an addendum to my grandfather-in-law’s will:

Hand written by Martin Tshudy Blickensderfer, January 21, 1932:

To my dear family survivors; the greatest asset I can hand down to you is to commend you to the Lord Jesus Christ whom I have tried to serve from childhood. He is the only rock or foundation you can safely build or rely upon and you should love Him with all your might.

You see, he wanted to pass down to succeeding generations the most important thing in his life – the acceptance of Jesus Christ as his Lord. So do I. Both Martin and I join John in believing it brings joy:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. [3 John 1:4 KJV]

During this Christmas season, we often lose track of His birth. Instead we see decorations, evergreens; red, green, white lights; multitudes of ribbons, wrapping paper and bows; neglecting so great a salvation that came because God so loved the world. Once Christmas is past, will we remember the manger that led to a cross?

If we do not, how can we answer this question posed to Hebrews:

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; [Hebrews 2:3 KJV]

We cannot say we did not hear. Must we answer that our neglect was due to our own ignoring?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Elderly

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. (Luke 2:25 KJV)

Was Simeon the only just and devout man around? Probably not. Remember Elisha? His words were: I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19:10b KJV), but he wasn’t the only one left. God had more:

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18 KJV)

So Simeon, never spoken of before and never mentioned again, was both just and devout – and waiting for the consolation of Israel. Now there’s an interesting phrase. From what I’ve read, it is a phrase used for the Messiah. And Matthew’s Commentary on the Bible made an interesting observation that perhaps Simeon was not old, but simply was ready to meet his maker after holding Jesus:

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; (Luke 2:29-31 KJV)

Maybe we think Simeon was old because of Anna?

And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:37-38 KJV)

So it’s easy to picture an elderly man and an elderly woman recognizing the child, isn’t it?

Take it from an elderly woman – recognizing Him does take spending time with the Lord and His word. Read it over and over again, coming to that time in prayer. You never know to whom He will speak, but it’s usually to those seeking Him.

I know, I know – Paul wasn’t. But that’s a whole ‘nother story!!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Obedience

They are the women of Matthew’s first Chapter, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary. They are also the subjects of Francine Rivers’ “A Lineage of Grace.” I’ve found the book to be a pleasure to read and a blessing of information.

I enjoy what Judah told Tamar of his God, that what He requires is obedience. Tamar had asked about the God of Judah’s family, since he did not worship the Canaanite gods. What sacrifice did Judah’s God require, she asked.

Amazing, but that is still true today, just as it was for Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Isaac, you and I. Obedience – the quality of compliance with the instructions of authority.

God has provided those instructions since the beginning of time. He gave Adam specific instructions as to what he could and could not do. He provided a companion, a helpmeet, to aid in fulfilling those instructions. They failed.

Noah was given instructions, too. He complied to begin Adam’s job anew. Abraham was given specific prophesies that took a very long time to occur. Enough time that Sarah laughed at the possibility God proposed, yet it happened. A son was born, only to be sacrificed – but hold! There was more!

So often we fail to look beyond ‘obedience’ to what God has in store. Had Adam and Eve believed that God was true, where would they be? If Noah had ignored God’s instructions, where would he be? If Abraham had waited beyond Hagar? If Abraham had not prepared Isaac?

What if? For any of the Bible characters we learn about – what if they had not shown obedience?

We’ve been told, and shown, time and time again what God requires.

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, (Deuteronomy 10:12 KJV)

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8 KJV)

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)

Why has mankind found that so hard to do?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Mother's Farewell

I met her less than two years ago. We were assigned to the same project. On her first visit to my house she noticed the scripture sign out front and simply commented that she liked it. We didn’t discuss our religious beliefs, but we both understood that the other was a Christian, too. I didn’t mention this blog. Our work kept us physically apart and when we did speak, it was all about the project.

We kept in touch a couple of times each year. She sent a Christmas message, and I responded and she wrote back that she had lost her mother this last August. My first thought was how hard this Christmas was going to be for her, but her message continued. I could not make her story any more moving, so here they are, her own words:

“Although I miss her terribly! I’m in awe to think that she is in heaven during this wonderful holiday season. It is the only thing that gives me peace sometimes. I was my mother's caregiver to her last dying breath. This is nothing new for me, I also cared for and held my grandmother’s, my father’s, my godfather’s, my ex-husband’s grandmother and my very best friend’s hands as I prayed while they took their last breath.

“I have been lucky to witness that those who were able to speak during the last moments shared the beauty and awe of what they were seeing. My Dad had a hard time communicating but he drew me a picture. My mother wasn’t able to talk to me during her last week here, but right before she lapsed; she and I were just having one of those ‘pass the time’ conversations with light-hearted banter; but I was prodding her for some answers (because I knew her end was close).

“I was fussing around with some curtains and had my back turned to her. I had asked her a question in which I was waiting for her reply. I waited for what seemed like enough time that she should’ve answered me. Thinking I must’ve struck a nerve that made her cry which disabled her to respond to me, I prodded her again. This time I turned to look at her after a few seconds of silence from her end ... I saw her hands outstretched, holding hands with someone. She was intently looking and listening to every word being spoken to her. She was gazing at whomever with an adoring, awe-struck look. I went to her bedside. You see, I couldn’t see who she saw. I had an idea though.

“I put my hand on her shoulder, I asked her if she was talking to angels again. (For about 2 weeks she has involved me in her conversations with the angels that have been visiting) I asked her if she was holding my dad's hand. (She had not seen him yet and I was waiting for him to come.) I waited quietly but intently. She finally spoke to whom she was holding hands with. She said, ‘Yes, I understand. I will ...’ (She said a few more words but she started mumbling & I couldn’t understand.) Their hands let go.

“She then turned to me & said, "Lord Jesus Christ was speaking." I was speechless. She asked me to hold hands & pray the Lord's Prayer. She then told me she was tired and wanted to rest. She listened to me as I caught her up on everybody. She mumbled some responses and drifted off. I never spoke to her again, coherently.”

What struck me was how ready to go her mother was, yet waited patiently for the Lord’s timing. I am also reminded of multiple scriptures. Of Stephen, being stoned, who saw his Lord (Acts 7:56); of Job, who lost all he had except his belief that God was worthy of worship, no matter what the hardship; of Jesus’ words in John 5:34, “That ye might be saved”.

But, greatest of all the scriptures that come to mind is the one that is used in the book of John, one that all Christians hold in their heart for their unsaved loved ones:

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]

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Opinion

"It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!" - Friedrich Nietzsche

If the name doesn’t ring a bell, just remember that this is the German philosopher who first published in 1882 the words that God was dead. His writings after that continued the precept, though his mental illness grew worse until his death in 1900. Nietzsche was dead.

His work is quoted and built upon more than a hundred years afterward by those who wish to believe Nietzsche was correct. Many more people, however, are building upon the precepts written thousands of years ago that state to this day:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [Genesis 1:1 KJV]

This same God later demanded:

Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. [Job 38:1-4 KJV]

He later explained to His chosen:

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. [Exodus 20:2-6 KJV]

Unlike Nietzsche, I can remember the reasons for my opinions, for they underpin my beliefs. I have at times questioned them and through a variety of circumstances found those foundations to be firm and secure.

I have been angry with God when loved ones have suffered both physical and spiritual pain, but came to realize that He has not promised us comfort and ease through every moment, though He has promised it to us for eternity.

He gives a hard lesson in Luke.

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? [Luke 13:1-4 KJV]

Bad things will happen to good people. Still, my opinion is that God lives. Nietzsche died in 1900.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Going to Church

I missed church last Sunday. I was sick and I did not want to share any bugs with other members, but I sure missed not being there. I have friends who tell me they are Christians. They send me e-mails with prayers and encouragements to worship Him. Yet, they do not attend church. Here we are with multiple churches within driving distance, and professed Christians do not attend.

Why is this on my mind? Because one person send this link:
http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2010/December/Underground-Chinese-Church-Goes-Public/

“One of the largest underground churches in Beijing has decided to go public.” They’ve been worshiping in small groups in homes. A thousand people – can you imagine coordinating such meetings? The worry if they get caught? Possible social stigma, damage to careers? Yet they attended church under repressive regimes.

In some countries not attending religious services is noticed. Compliance with religious laws is enforced. Others have been the opposite. Here? Doesn’t matter, except maybe to mothers or dads whether religious services are attended.

Mistakes I’ve made I see being made by some very faithful church members – putting temporary things before church. “But, the children need (insert name of their favorite class/sport) in order to learn how (insert favorite end result).” And, I agree to the extent that it does not interfere with teaching them, by example, the important things.

Jesus himself taught importance.

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)

Quite specifically, God gets first place. The people around you get second, and everything else will fall into place.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33 KJV)

What things? What Jesus mentioned in the surrounding verses are such mundane things as clothing, food, drink, shelter, even tomorrow.

Does that mean ignoring any of those? No, nor does it mean ignoring the class/sport either. Just keep them in perspective, in their right place. And that place is always following God.

Visit Him in His house, please.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What about Christmas?

What are we appreciating about Christmas? Just what is coming for us December 25?

Let’s skip over some of the divisiveness. We cannot know the date Christ was born. It is not necessary for us to know so. December 25 was chosen ages ago and I see no reason to either change or ignore it. Yes, I know there were no Christmas trees, no decorations, and the nativity set would not include camels and magi for some time to come. So what?

What are we looking for in Christmas? What were we offered? I like how Luke puts it:

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed. (Luke 1:1-4 KJV)

That’s part of what we’re expecting – certainty. But, there is more.

And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: (Luke 1:30-32 KJV)

Mary did not understand. We still don’t today.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:34-35 KJV)

Gabriel gave Mary another bit of news. Not from the mouth of men who believed, but from an angel who was doing the bidding of the God he served came these words.

For with God nothing shall be impossible. (Luke 1:37 KJV)

From this belief, Paul speaks for mankind:

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13 KJV)

What do I expect to come from what we learn at Christmas? Miracles. Beyond giving thanks for God’s unspeakable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15) I give thanks for His coming as a babe in a manger with good tidings of great joy.

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Offering Provided

When we press for non-believers to recognize that Jesus truly is the reason for the season, I think we sometimes miss the true miracle that occurred.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:7-8 KJV)

The relationship between God and His creation had been spiritual from the moment life was breathed into Adam. That changed when Gabriel spoke to Mary. Not just from omnipotence did God know of man’s physical presence, for He provided Himself the lamb for sacrifice.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29 KJV)

John made this proclamation twice, the second with emphasis.

And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! (John 1:36 KJV)

That is the miracle of Christ’s birth. God, Himself, provided the Lamb to take away our sins. Why would He do so? Let’s hear from a man described as a man after God’s own heart:

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. (Psalms 103:11-12 KJV)

That man knew the sins God was capable of forgiving since he stood in need of the very mercy he described – and the judgment rendered.

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. (Psalms 103:8-10 KJV)

Again, Why would He do so?

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)

From Matthew to Revelation, one word remains consistent: Fufilled.

Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:22-23 KJV)

Fifty-six verses with the word fulfilled, references to the law and the prophets, all based on two verses:

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)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Small Quiz

I received this in an e-mail that I believe has been very widespread. I have edited it a bit, but hope you’ll take time to take this quiz. You don’t have to write any of this down, but think about the questions and answer as truthfully as you can without researching on the internet:

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name five Heisman trophy winners, no time limit.

3. Name five winners of the Miss America pageant, no time limit.

4. Name five people who have ever won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last five Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the 2000 to 2005 World Series winners.

How did you do?

The point is, we seldom remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

6. Name the person who taught you of God.

Easier?

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money...or the most awards. They simply are the ones who care the most about us personally. Have you told them how much you appreciate them?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Micaiah


I couldn't find a painting depicting this event, thus the Ahab selection (Wiki Commons)

There really needs to be a sarcasm font. One that the moment we look at it, we know for certain the person’s insincerity. It should be one dripping around the edges. That’s the way I think Micaiah spoke to Ahab.

After three years of peace, Ahab and Jehoshaphat sat in Israel and debated war. Jehoshaphat asked Ahab to check with the prophets before heading off to war, and Ahab complied.

Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said unto them, Shall I go against Ramothgilead to battle, or shall I forbear? And they said, Go up; for the Lord shall deliver it into the hand of the king. (1 Kings 22:6 KJV)

The only problem with this, from Jehoshaphat’s point of view, was that not one of them was a prophet of the Lord. So, he asked for one.

And Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him? (1 Kings 22:7 KJV)

There was only one name that came to Ahab’s mind. Only one.

And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so. (1 Kings 22:8 KJV)

Hindsight tells us that Micaiah would have to prophesy against Ahab, a man who ignored his Lord and worshipped the idols of the land.

So, Micaiah was called before the two kings. While waiting, others prophesied.

And the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah sat each on his throne, having put on their robes, in a void place in the entrance of the gate of Samaria; and all the prophets prophesied before them. And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made him horns of iron: and he said, Thus saith the LORD, With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until thou have consumed them. And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, Go up to Ramothgilead, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the king's hand. (1 Kings 22:10-12 KJV)

Think of celebrities today, with nothing but sycophants about them to tell them what they want to hear, what will keep those sycophants close and in power. They are not new.

And the messenger that was gone to call Micaiah spake unto him, saying, Behold now, the words of the prophets declare good unto the king with one mouth: let thy word, I pray thee, be like the word of one of them, and speak that which is good. (1 Kings 22:13 KJV)

And, Micaiah did so. Not that Ahab believed him. Surely Micaiah’s words dripped with sarcasm. Ahab told him to try again – this time, the truth. The truth was painful and resulted in Micaiah’s imprisonment.

And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace. (1 Kings 22:17 KJV)

The rest of the story would make a great movie, wouldn’t it? Including Elijah’s 1 Kings 21:19 prophesy that dogs would lick Ahab’s blood. It is not a good thing to ignore the word of the Lord.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thus Saith The Lord

Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16a KJV)

Once again we have clear words from the Lord. Stand firm, ask about the old paths, which are the good ways, walk there. Do this and we’ll find rest. Look to experienced people and ask them about what worked and what didn’t. Walk in the paths that have proven good. Sounds very clear and shouldn’t be all that hard to do, right?

Must not have been, when you read the rest of the verse.

But they said, We will not walk therein. (Jeremiah 6:16 KJV)

So, He provided watchmen.

Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. (Jeremiah 6:17 KJV)

You’ve heard these watchmen if you’ve ever heard a sermon, or even a Mom, giving warning. Hear that sound? It has meaning. It’s an alarm to let you know something is going to happen, so be ready.

But they said, We will not hearken. (Jeremiah 6:17 KJV)

They’re not going to walk the good path, they are not going to heed the warnings of a watchman (or even a Mom), so what’s next.

Therefore hear, ye nations, and know, O congregation, what is among them. (Jeremiah 6:18 KJV)

Wow, He wants everyone to hear what is going to happen. Let me be the first to warn you here – it isn’t going to be loving kindness and forgiveness to those who do not listen. There is no “every path leads to God,” as so many would seek.

Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it. (Jeremiah 6:19 KJV)

Reject Him if you will. I decline to do so. I will ask for the good paths and walk therein. I will heed the sound of the trumpet and be aware of His warnings.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (Deuteronomy 30:19 KJV)

The people Jeremiah spoke to chose unwisely. Do we do better? Do we understand why?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Do We Believe?

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

Martha had gone to meet Jesus, while Mary sat still in the house. What a reversal from the image of Martha too tied to housework to listen to Jesus and Mary sitting at His feet.. Martha told Jesus that she knew if He had been there, her brother would not have died. And that she knew whatever He asked, God would supply.

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. (John 11:23 KJV)

That she didn’t doubt. She believed in the resurrection at the last day – it was after that affirmation when Christ asked if she believed He was the resurrection. She confirmed it again.

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

Some would say that Jesus never claimed to be Christ, and that the title was given to him by disciples after He died. His words refute this, right here.

Some expect similar signs before they could answer the question given Martha. Too often the loss of a loved one hacks away at a person’s faith. They arrive at a slightly different logic than Martha and Mary, saying “If there were a God, my loved one would not have died in this horrible way!!”

We forget what Jesus said.

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)

We’ve been taught by advertisers that we want it now. We want it our way or not at all. We forget.

Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee. (Proverbs 20:22 KJV)

Though we’ve been told how to wait, what to do, We forget.

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:4-5 KJV)

All we need to do is outlined for us. Then shall we see the glory of God.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Comfort Food

Comfort food – I crave it! Creamy rice, warming the added milk and sugar, to soothe a throat that believes every swallow catches on barbed wire in my pharynx. I’ve already lost my voice as the inflammation spreads to my larnyx. I crave comfort – and the rice helped, soothing warmth!

I give thanks to God that His word provides comfort, too. He comforted others when He was here.

For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. (Matthew 9:21-22 KJV)

He promised a Comforter for us when He went home.

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

He knows what we don’t, and He petitions for us when we don’t know how.

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

We are not promised all we ask, for it must be within the will of God for it to be good for us.

And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:27-28 KJV)

His word, written by men, breathed by God, provides comfort.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4 KJV)

So, we praise Him, adore Him and lift our voices in worship and wonder, saying:

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; (2 Corinthians 1:3 KJV)

With full knowledge that the God of all comfort loves us:

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

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Witness

If you’ve had e-mail for a while you’ve received the story of a lady in the hospital who loved Jesus and told everyone she met about Him. There was a nurse at the hospital that did not know Him as Lord, and did not wish to hear of him at all. The ill lady continued her witness, saying God kept her here because she had something to do, and she never failed to speak of her Jesus. The story ended with her death – and the nurse’s change of heart, picking up the witnessing to others.

I’ve seen that story in real life. Miz B was not hospitalized, but she had to have dialysis several days a week in order to maintain her life. Her transportation options were extremely limited so several people from our church scheduled their lives to take her. Beloved Husband and I discussed it, but his pickup sits high, making entry a bit difficult at best, even with running boards. He dislikes driving my compact car, so we missed out on opportunities to enjoy her sharing Jesus with others. Many in our church did have the pleasure and shared those times.

This week, during her dialysis, her heart failed. Physically, for it did not fail her spiritually. Whatever task He laid before her was finished and she could continue on her journey to meet her Lord.

How could she know that? The Bible told her so.

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:7-8 KJV)

She knew there was much more to life than what is presented here. There is work to be done here for Him:

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. (2 Corinthians 5:9 KJV)

And there will be an accounting done there before Him:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2 Corinthians 5:10-11 KJV)

She spoke to others of her love for Jesus, sharing the gospel message of salvation and joy that angels praised.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

How, then, can we say, “We cannot” when it is only our minds placing limitations? What could possibly keep us from saying, “Do you know my Jesus?” or “Let me tell you about how Jesus loves us.” If we don’t, He has promised the message will still be heard.

Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. (Luke 19:38-40 KJV)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Josiah's Choice

A third day in the same chapter! But Josiah’s story has so much to think about.

We’ve looked at what Huldah prophesied in 2 Kings 22:19-20 – Josiah’s choice to serve God was acceptable and he would not live to see the punishment in store for his people. He continued in chapter 23 to “walk after the Lord.”

Why? It would make no difference to his people. Yet he commanded the high priest to remove the items made for Baal. They were being used in the temple! He put down idolatrous priests who “burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.” The people did not believe there was one God who deserved their worship. Josiah did.

Josiah made the choice public.

And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant. (2 Kings 23:3 KJV)

The people stood to the covenant, but didn’t stand by the covenant. It was the one given to the Children of Israel before entering the Promised Land.

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3 KJV)

This is what Christ described in Matthew:

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. (Matthew 22:36-38 KJV)

The people of Judah broke that first commandment before Josiah, and his example was not sufficient for them to return to the Lord. Huldah prophesied to Josiah that he would not see the destruction of his nation, but he knew it was coming.

So, why didn’t he give up? Don’t we give up when it appears our witness is being ignored? How many of us have walked away from our ministry, our church, our friends – yet Josiah kept right on keeping his covenant with the Lord. We’ve known people like him, haven’t we? We’ve had pastors as dedicated to the Lord as this king was, haven’t we? Friends who continue to love the Lord in spite of those around them, haven’t we? Do we?

From this day forward, we can do the same. It really doesn’t matter who walks with us as long as we walk with the Lord. He is in control, His will is what will be accomplished. When you think the job, the day, the hour is overwhelming, remember Josiah’s lifelong choice.

And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. (2 Kings 22:2 KJV)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Josiah

The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. (Isaiah 57:1 KJV)

That could have been written about Josiah. According to Huldah, that is the blessing God gave him for his humbleness before Him.

But to the king of Judah which sent you to enquire of the LORD, thus shall ye say to him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, As touching the words which thou hast heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place. And they brought the king word again. (2 Kings 22:18-20 KJV)

Josiah worked hard to bring his people back to the Lord.

And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant. (2 Kings 23:3 KJV)

The following verses tell us how he commanded that the vessels made to worship Baal be removed from the temple. Can you imagine our churches today filled with items intended to draw attention away from God toward idols.

Oh, wait a minute. It didn’t take long to come up with some examples, did it? Why do we wonder at so many wicked things happening in the Temple when we see similar things happening today. Worse yet, when Josiah had all those things removed, the law read before the people and them making their own covenant with the Lord, within a few short years, the Temple was destroyed and Judah taken captive. God knew it was going to happen and promised Josiah that his eyes would not see the destruction.

Josiah re-instituted Passover. And what a Passover celebration it must have been for the writer to say:

Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah; (2 Kings 23:22 KJV)

Josiah’s relationship with God was outstanding.

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. (2 Kings 23:25 KJV)

Nevertheless, Huldah’s prophecy was fulfilled. For all the good Josiah did, his people did not. God allowed Josiah to die before his kingdom returned to its old ways. When Jehoahaz became king, the son did not follow in his father’s footsteps, but of those kings before him.

And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done. (2 Kings 23:32 KJV)

We’ve been told. How will we act?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Huldah


Last night at our Christmas Ladies Meeting, our Pastor’s Wife gave a lesson that included Huldah.

Are you familiar with her name? Pastor’s Wife wasn’t, and I wasn’t either. I’m certain she has read through the Bible more times than I have, and I remember this particular story, but not the name, nor the reference.

The same story is told in 2 Kings 22 and in 2 Chronicles 34. According to Jewish Encyclopedia, scholars disagree as to whether Huldah Gates in the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem may have been named for her. Huldah was a relative of Jeremiah, both being descendants of Rahab by her marriage to Salmon. She was living in the college in Jerusalem and was keeper of the wardrobe. She also was a prophetess, and her words were without much hope for Judah.

We are much more familiar with Josiah, the eight-year old king of Jerusalem, of whom it is written:

And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left. (2 Kings 22:2 KJV)
Of course, David was Josiah’s multiple-great-grandfather, but he certainly made a good example to follow. By the time he was twenty, Josiah was concerned about the temple and sent Shaphan to look after it. He was looking for people who get things done, and he was concerned about the physical aspects of God’s house.

And let them deliver it into the hand of the doers of the work, that have the oversight of the house of the LORD: and let them give it to the doers of the work which is in the house of the LORD, to repair the breaches of the house, (2 Kings 22:5 KJV)
Obviously the doers of the work had not been doing their job, and more sadly, it took this effort for the high priest to find what he was supposed to be using to spiritually lead the people.

And Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. (2 Kings 22:8 KJV)
Josiah understood how this could affect his nation.

Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us. (2 Kings 22:13 KJV)

So they went to Huldah. The Lord told her that the inhabitants of Judah were condemned for their forsaking of God and their seeking other idols. She had another future for Josiah, and gave the reason why:

Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD. (2 Kings 22:19 KJV)

Knowing we cannot save others, are our hearts tender and have we humbled ourselves before the Lord? Do we weep before Him for the others? Do we hearken unto the word of His book?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Die in Sin

No one likes to be excluded. Even from places they really don’t want to go, they’d be offended if they were told they were not acceptable. The Jewish leaders Christ spoke to in John’s eighth chapter were the same way. They had already come to dislike Christ, then He told them:

Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. (John 8:21-24 KJV)

They weren’t certain where He came from, and had no idea where he was going. What Christ taught was totally from their scriptures, but it was not what they believed. They chose what they wanted from the words God had given them, added a bit of what they thought should be and adjusted for times and needs.

Mankind has done such since Eve looked at the fruit and saw it was good. We do the same thing.

We pick from churches and from the Bible what fits with what we’ve heard or what we want and ignore the rest. In many instances we’ll state openly that what we’re reading applies only to a specific time, a specific place and it is no longer applicable.

We don’t look at His words here, for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins, and believe they do not apply to us. They do.

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:10-11 KJV)

I like the connecting view from Isaiah that there is only one savior. There are those who become content with their own live, satisfied with what is happening now and do not seek Him. Instead, they will fulfill Christ’s prophecy.

That does not mean that those who have found Him are sinless. We did, do, and will sin while in this world. Christians work toward being aware of their sins, changing their lives toward not sinning, along with confessing and repenting when they do. The big difference is that we know our sins affect our edification and glorification of our Father, making our witness of Him lessened. We’re still learning to put off our natural way of living and putting on the way Christ has taught us.

We do so because we believe He is who He said He was.

Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. (John 8:25 KJV)

For those who say Christ did not proclaim He was the prophesied Messiah, read again.

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:25-26 KJV)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Family Stuff

We had company over the weekend. Beloved Husband’s Next Brother and his wife came down from northern Oklahoma Thursday. It was supposed to be a relaxing weekend for us. Instead, it just proved that we can’t.

Thursdays are our 42 Domino nights and since they would be arriving late, we made the dinner and games – and had our wonderful fellowship time. The sum of these evenings are truly much greater than the total of their parts. We all belong to the same church, but see things from different perspectives, so our fellowship and sharing always increases our knowledge base and our friendships. It was this group that was instrumental in the success of our Children’s Auction last month to provide Christmas for many children.

Anyway, we left a bit earlier than our regular time – company and Beloved Husband’s aching arm crying out for another pain pill sped us along. Since BH is sleeping in a recliner in the den, bedtime arrived at the same time for all of us. So did the getting up and getting ready, since they were to accompany us to therapy in a nearby town. Fortunately the hospital next door had a craft fair and Company was entertained a bit by shopping and some very good peanut brittle.

Then it was off to lunch in another town and after lunch a two-county drive down to Granbury, Texas, where eighth great-grandchild had been born while we were at lunch. Picture available on Saturday’s post – and both Micah and his Mom are home safe and sound, with much praise for answered prayer for their safe birthing experience! We got there in time to all hold him a few moments before we were scooted out for Mom and Micah to have some quiet time bonding. We made the crossing two counties trip back home, relaxed for less than an hour and visited our revamped local restaurant.

If you are ever in Wise County, find Cottondale and attend the First Baptist Church of Cottondale at least once, and eat at Cottontop. Their Friday night Fish Feast is worth it. We had it and can attest to its value.

Saturday we did homey stuff – ham for lunch, hamburgers for supper – broken during the day for BH’s every three hours of exercise. Friday he missed his noon and three sessions because of our traveling, but with an hour of full therapy, it wasn’t bad. Saturday NB was there for all five sessions, three hours apart. Makes it a bit difficult to do much else but relax in between time. A bit of knitting here, some computer work there, relaxing!

Sunday they went with us to church – as we do with them when we’re in Oklahoma. It is such a blessing to be with family in any church. The Sunday School lesson I taught was on Epheesians 4:17-24, putting off the old man, putting on the new. Second Daughter gave a neat demonstration with an old work coat and her new winter coat. We had new girls and our regulars making our class pretty full this week. Praying that growth continues and we can reach more.

Pastor’s reference was in the 8th chapter of John, regarding His truth and being free. You can hear these sermons at our church website: http://fbccottondale.com. We seldom think of our binding sin is in our lives. We take pride in living in a free land, looking up that as being able to do anything we want, even if that wanting damages others. We need to understand freedom.

Lunch with First daughter and her husband, and very good time for visiting, then home for naps between BH’s exercise sessions, while I put on a roasting hen for supper. Unfortunately, none of us were really hungry so there are plenty of leftovers for us to eat for the next few days.

The biblical application for such?

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 KJV)

It applies to families, too, as four generations visited back and forth this weekend, blessed by God.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Doctrine

I worked with a young man half my age that took pride in the fact that he believed in no doctrine. He belonged to a non-denominational church, selecting it because members were not required to hold to specific doctrines as denominations are. It was not necessary to believe in Jesus as Christ to be a member of that church. He thought doctrine was divisive, that it caused arguments.

I believe he was very much in error. Here are my reasons why.

Strong’s defines the Hebrew word ‘leqach’ as “something received, that is (mentally) instruction (whether on the part of the teacher or hearer); also (in an active and sinister sense) inveiglement – doctrine, learning, fair speech.” The word is used in Deuteronomy 32:2. Zophar used that same word against Job in 11:4. Yet we know that Job’s doctrine, his belief in God, was pure.

Without a set of theological beliefs, how can anyone tell another the basis of their faith? How would they come to understanding, as laid out in Isaiah 29:24?

Christ had a set of beliefs that astounded. Matthew 22:33 and Mark 1:22, 27, the Greek ‘didache’, “instruction, the act or the matter,” of Jesus’ doctrine astonished those that heard Him.

Thus, doctrine is what is theologically or philosophically believed. The body of teachings that make up one’s doctrine is very important.

Look at the organizations to which you belong. Membership indicates agreement with their body of teaching. Members of political parties display the tenets, the platforms, and the beliefs of their party. (As an aside: I do hope that every reader is familiar with their party’s platforms – all of them. I do know of instances that when those platforms were read, changes have been made.) The same exists for our social organizations, sororities, fraternities, employers and most specifically, spouses. Disagreement with their basic principles ends up in separation.

Although 33 per cent of the world’s population identify as Christian, some of those (as I wrote in Nothing) do not hold the Bible as the basis of their doctrine. One such statement, “The way we live is more important than what we believe,” does not include in the equation that the way we live is bounded by what we believe. If I don’t believe that s specified company will be in business next month, I will not go to work for them. If I don’t believe that bank will care for my money, I will not use their services. If I do not believe that house is well built, I will not buy it. Our beliefs determine our actions.

Why, then, take pride in, take a stand that doctrine should be thrown out? Of course, I do not understand the splintering of Christ’s church, the divisions over the very doctrine He spoke so openly. I believe the “how” and “why” can be found in principalities and powers described in Ephesians 6:12.

I am not advocating questioning your doctrinal beliefs, but I am advocating knowing their base, their foundation. Follow Paul’s instructions to Timothy:

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)

Know your doctrine – your body of beliefs – and know why you believe them.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Little Gentry Man Child


Please join in – this is a special post. With apologies to: George Washington Cable (1844-1925), who wrote a beautiful poem for his daughter. My friend, Jilly, in England, introduced us to this poem. For her, it introduced a beautiful new granddaughter.

A few changes here, an adjustment there and we’ll celebrate a birth in Lake Granbury Medical Center, December 3, 12:44 pm, 9 lbs 2 oz, 20 inches long, a new great-grandson. Since the hospital’s initials are on the stocking covering him, we’ll call this brand new Micah Weston Gentry:


Little Gentry Man Child

There came to port this Friday noon
The queerest little craft,
Without an inch of rigging on;
I looked and looked and laughed.
It seemed so curious that he,
Should cross the Unknown water,
And moor himself right in this room,
A son of my granddaughter!

Yet by these presents witness all
He's welcome fifty times,
And comes consigned to Hope and Love
And common-meter rhymes.
He has no manifest but this,
No flag floats o'er the water,
He's too new for the British Lloyds--
This son of my granddaughter!

Ring out, wild bells, and tame ones too!
Ring out the lover's moon!
Ring in the little worsted socks!
Ring in the bib and spoon!
Ring out the muse! ring in the nurse!
Ring in the milk and water!
Away with paper, pen, and ink--
For the son of my granddaughter!

Mother and child are both doing fine and older sister has already held and kissed her baby brother. Family members have been in and out of the room and he’ll be welcomed home with love and prayers. Among those prayers will be mine that he shall come to know the truth and that it will make him truly free. Then I will say, as I have for my children, many of my grandchildren and look forward for the great-grands:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4 KJV)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Amen!

Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? (1 Corinthians 14:16 KJV)

Two words in this caught my eye while studying another subject. Paul was explaining that spiritual gifts were to be used to edify the church. In verse 14, he explained that if he prayed in an unknown tongue, that understanding was not fruitful. By verse 19 he’s saying that it would be better to speak five understandable words than a thousand that were in an unknown tongue.

All of that is a very good lesson for us to be direct in what we’re saying, to be understandable to those who hear (or read) us. But what caught my eye was “say Amen.”

We started going to church regularly when I was ten. We were taught to be reverently quiet when we were in the sanctuary. For several minutes before the services our organist would play softly, and some of those hymns became my favorites over the years, preparing our hearts to listen to the preacher give the message.

As we moved, the other churches attended were quite similar. Then we moved to Cottondale. Nope, you won’t find that as part of our address. The post office was closed decades ago, but the community exists and the First Baptist Church is active. Very active!

It was the first service in a generation where I heard people practice this verse. I remember it from my grandmother’s church in the middle of the last century. I’ve come to participate myself.

Oh, I’ve said “Amen” before. The Lord taught us to use it, giving the example in His prayer, closing with “So be it.” But it has another meaning, to affirm that what was said is true, an expression of agreement with what was said. It is also one of the titles of Christ.

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (Revelation 3:14 KJV)

“Do I hear an Amen?” I’ve heard a preacher say, which usually raises one from the congregation. It would do so often in our congregation when we agree with what the preacher is saying. We also say Amen in thanks for what we’re hearing. During any given service, you’ll hear Amen from a wide variety of people, for any one or all of the definitions given.

It’s a Hebrew word, existing in the oldest of Hebrew texts. It was brought to the Greek through Jewish synagogues, passed into Latin and then into our own English. In the King James Version, where Jesus says “verily”, the Greek word is “amen”:

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Matthew 5:18 KJV)

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:16 KJV)

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

So, whether you pronounce it with a long A (ay-men) or the short A (ah-men), feel free to express your affirmation of the truth as it is faithfully spoken.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Demas

Chronologically, Philemon comes before 2 Timothy, though it appears later in the New Testament. That’s important to know when looking at references to Demas.

We first read of him as Paul closes his epistle to the church at Colosse.

Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you. (Colossians 4:14 KJV)

Next in the timeline is in the letter Onesimus carried from Rome to Philemon.

There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. (Philemon 1:23-24 KJV)

We do hear of him a bit later, when Paul writes again to Timothy.

For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:10-11 KJV)

The Greek word used here for “loved” is agapao – derived from agape, the spiritual love between God and man. Instead of loving God, Demas left Paul for instant gratification. We know nothing more of his story, though speculation continues. Many would make excuses for Demas, trying to explain that this happens often in life.

Paul said nothing more about Demas, no condemnation, no recriminations, no comments regarding his future and no pleas for his return. Paul states facts, not judgments.

James puts a bit more perspective for those who chose the world – and he doesn’t define when this choice takes place, before or after committing one’s life to Christ.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. (James 4:4 KJV)

Paul also wrote of the sorrow of the world.

For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (2 Corinthians 7:10 KJV)

We know nothing more of Demas. But, we are faced with the same choices – follow Christ or enjoy the pleasures this world has to offer without Him. Some have chosen well, some have forsaken their faith for things important only in this world.

Of course, if a person believes this is the only life there is, why not? I’ve chosen to believe there is more to life than this present world. My doing so harms no one, even when I state there are consequences for not believing so. Others do not believe.

If the Bible is wrong, we will never know. If the Bible is God’s word, our choices determine our eternal results. The stakes are very high and the question deserves careful consideration.