Saturday, April 30, 2011
We’re looking through photos, my children and I, and I ran across this one I took in Tulsa, Oklahoma, December 2007. Not the first, nor the last ice storm to do such damage.
When Mom and Dad moved into the home they bought in the 1950's there was a similar ice storm that winter in Tulsa. I remember how beautiful it looked at night with lights reflecting in shimmers as a neighbor and I pretended we were skating. As I grew older, I realized what damage the weight of ice can do.
Small drops of water adhering to surfaces, building one right after the other when the temperature’s right.
The broken limbs shown in my sister-in-law’s yard, above, shows them snapped at tension points. All across Tulsa county – old trees, young trees, fruit trees, nut trees. I cried at the pecan grove I had known from childhood, broken. The limbs appeared as drooping arms from broken shoulders, damaged goods.
Our burdens build just as those of the ice-laden trees – a little at a time, small things attaching, collecting others along the way. Some are sins we commit, some are good deeds left undone. Each builds on another, thickening, weighting us down. There are days our burdens are so heavy we don’t want to face the following days. He offers us so much more than just hope. He tells us how we can change. We can trade our burdens for His.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:30 KJV)
Sounds good? What about those broken limbs? They cannot be reattached. Just hanging there in the spring leaves the tree wounded, seeping. It can’t be left that way, just as we can’t be left wounded from our burdens, even when He has traded ours for His. We need to have more waiting for us – and He has provided healing. David experienced spiritual healing and wrote about it for us:
O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. (Psalms 30:2 KJV)
He heals. There will be scars. There will be consequences that we must face, but He will be there with us – when we ask Him to.
I’ve made my choice, and I give thanks to Him every day, for I have believed His word:
As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. (Psalms 55:16 KJV)
Friday, April 29, 2011
Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. (Genesis 25:1-2 KJV)
After Sarah’s death, and apparently after Isaac’s marriage, Abraham took another, but not in the same manner as his wife. Keturah is referred to in Genesis 25 both as wife and concubine. I find that I get tied up in Abram and Sarai’s life-changing story, and the conflict between Hagar and Sarah so that Keturah gets very short notice – and her sons, forgotten.
Abraham did not forget them, but he did have an obvious favorite:
And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country. (Genesis 25:5-6 KJV)
Some Jewish writings contend that Hagar and Keturah are the same, others that they are entirely different woman, with different status within the family structure. We read that Hagar was from Egypt, but no mention is made of Keturah’s homeland, her family, her age or what happened to her after Abraham’s death.
Why think about her now? I’m reading through the Bible chronologically. There are a couple of good apps for my iPhone – The Olive Tree and YouVersion – both offer a multitude of translations (my KJV is free, as are many others), include the ability to take notes, bookmark and have reading plans. The YouVersion recently added several versions with audio. I find that listening as I follow the chapters is quite enjoyable.
There are additional study aids – some have a cost, but many are free, as are both applications. Search capabilities are not quite as good as my PC version of E-Sword, but that’s not available for the iPhone or Droids and doesn’t work on all Windows Smartphones.
During this week’s readings, I ran across Keturah again, like a small gem among a full jewelry box, and began looking for commentaries and additional information on her. She’s only mentioned in Genesis’ 25th chapter, and in 1 Chronicles’ first, so there is very little to learn this woman taken as wife .
The next time you think of Abraham and Isaac, think also of the other sons that time has all but forgotten. Instead of simply the patriarch of the Bible, see him as a wealthy man, loved by his family, get to know him. Get to know your Bible better.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Those represent price tags. What would you write on them? I mean, what would you buy, and what price would you pay?
It’s important to a lot of people. According to 2009 figures, more that $140 billion dollars is spent on advertising – in the United States alone. You’ve seen the ads if you’ve watched television or use the internet. You’ve read the ads if you take newspapers and/or magazines. You’ve heard the ads if you listen to the radio.
Not all of them are directed at you – some are created directly to appeal to children. How many of you have a tiny tape recorder (age 2 to 18) who are reached by these ads, come running with an urgency to say “I gotta have …”?
How do you teach children to be discerning, judgmental even, about what is deemed appropriate for them? Or, do you purchase all they ask for, buying their attention and their love? I doubt that last one. Oh, we’ll check the stores for the latest and greatest fad designed to whet their appetites for birthdays or Christmas. Are we doing them favors for doing so?
How much better is it to teach them that ads and commercials are created by highly paid companies to present their products as absolute necessities for our lives – when they might not be.
We think of Bible verses as applying strictly to our spiritual life, but they are truly for every moment of every day:
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; (Philippians 1:9-10 KJV)
I believe that verse is in context, as is this one, too:
Teach me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. (Psalms 119:66 KJV)
Learning to make such discerning judgments in small things in our life helps us as decision-making grows into ones that affect us for decades.
Those small decisions about what to watch on television, what movies are viewed, what enters our daily lives is within our control. We set the standards ourselves, we set the limits, we set the price tags.
What do we think our time is worth? What value do we place on the ability to teach our children how to make decisions – ones that will affect relationships, finances, education and their futures? Give them a firm foundation to build upon.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:9 KJV)
There’s truth in Job’s perception that age brings experiences:
With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. (Job 12:12 KJV)
Find an older couple held in respect by others. Spend a bit of time with them and learn from their experiences. They will tell you of learning from errors, learn from theirs, and they will tell you of wise decisions. Learn from them, too.
By the way – I don’t advertise on my site – it’s strictly not for profit, and I’m not going to benefit if you follow my advice. It’s simply words from an aged woman who believes the scriptures and prays she fits in Titus 2:
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; (Titus 2:3 KJV)
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. (Nehemiah 8:1 KJV)
Ezra didn’t confine himself to twenty minutes following a period of adjustment to bring hearts together in worship, either.
And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. (Nehemiah 8:3 KJV)
“How is it that two people can sit in the same pew, hear the same sermon about the same portion of Scripture, and walk away with two different reactions? One is joyful and the other unaffected. I think the reason is that some people do not know how to listen to the Word of God.
“Nehemiah 8 is an amazing scene of God’s people coming together to hear His Word. Remember that they didn’t have individual copies of Scripture to read. For generations, the events of Genesis though Deuteronomy were passed down from parent to child. Moreover, the people had been in captivity for many years. This was the first time most of them heard the Word read. Imagine their excitement as they listened attentively for the Lord to speak to them.
“The Israelites were hungry for God’s Word. Are you? Do you listen eagerly and with an expectant mind and heart? The length of a person’s attention span is directly related to the intensity of his hunger for something. If you crave to know more of God, then your mind is going to be fastened on what He’s saying through your pastor or your personal reading. And the reality is that nothing in the world matters as much as what the Lord has to say.
“So many things clamor for our focus but few truly deserve it. The Lord is worthy of nothing less than our undivided attention. He has something to say to every person. So whoever listens to God’s Word with an open heart and alert mind will receive from Him.”Would we be willing to stand – for hours – and hear God’s law explained to us? How about just one hour next Sunday morning at the church of your choice?
… caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. (Nehemiah 8:7b KJV)
Schworer lays out in the Introduction the basis for the book -- a chronological roadmap through a book that promises blessings for those who read it. Since he had not found one available for his own study, he would create one.
I found that two of his three stated purposes have been achieved:
1 ) a 'harmony' of the book, showing what happens through the seven years of the tribulation;
2 ) an easy to read commentary, complete with charts showing where we are in reading through those seven years;
3 ) there is an examination of events that "may or may not be in Revelation."
I found #3 to create distractions and detours that take attention away from the first two goals. Primarily, the focus throughout as to the Roman Catholic Church being the Anti-Christ, taking attention away from other possibilities that stand in our own lifetime -- and others that may exist as the day approaches. The insertion of mythology does not add to the roadmap, either, taking focus away from the scriptures God provided.
This would be my reason for hesitating to give a recommendation for the book.
However, the depth of study is apparent and the book's bibliography would add value to libraries. Schworer writes with enthusiasm, too. I cannot fault his interpretations as he inserts some fictionalization of coming events. These are well marked as being included as his own views of possibilities.
His desire to educate is apparent. He wants the reader to follow the roadmap and learn from it. The charts Schworer uses are workable as we study the book of Revelation -- and study it we should.
No other book in the Bible promises a blessing simply for reading it - Revelation does. Using Rick Schworer's roadmap could be useful while doing that reading.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
The Texas wildfires over the past couple of weeks (as well as the fears of new possibilities) brought back memories of December, 2005. This is our pasture and the flames were less than a mile away before the winds changed. Below is the pasture again, in a spring that had lots of rain that give the green we love so much.
The smell of smoke, mingled with a lot of west Texas dust, blew through Friday, April 15, irritating lungs and throats, but there were no clouds of smoke as in the upper photo.
The storms that missed us with their rain that weekend brought strong winds, moved eastward, turning the wind into destructive, deadly tornados. This past weekend we received more rain from lines of storms – along with high winds and hail.
I can be grateful, back in 2005 and again today, that we were spared damage. Many homes then and now were not. Could I be grateful if I had lost our home to flame or funnel? I pray that I could. You see, our God has asked that we be grateful for everything:
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV)
So far the greatest tragedies we have faced have been the deaths of loved ones. In each instance we were able to give thanks for knowing them, loving them, their love for the Lord and that love they shared with us. Even in the death of our five-year old nephew we were able to thank God for the time we had with him, as short as it was.
Death, however, is expected. It will come to each of us. The Bible mentions it:
And as it is appointed unto men once to die,
We tend to overlook the rest of that verse, ignoring it because it reminds us that the aftermath of disasters must be handled. We cannot ignore the cleanup after earthquakes, fires, floods or funnels. We must deal with the consequences.
but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)
Residents of places prone to natural disasters make preparations. Buildings are reinforced for earthquakes, firebreaks are built, levees prepared, ‘fraidy holes’ put underground. In some instances, these fail. There are promises from God that He will not.
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. [Deuteronomy 31:6 KJV]
I suggest we make our preparations for that final appointment. Do not go unprepared.
Monday, April 25, 2011
And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. (Genesis 16:2 KJV)
Sort of reminds us of Adam and Eve, right? Just can’t seem to get it right when waiting for the Lord’s will to be accomplished. Surely we can do this little part ourselves? Doesn’t the end justify the means? Obviously, NOT! Just as soon as wife Hagar becomes the center of attention:
And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. (Genesis 16:4)
And, just as soon as that happens, discord leads to complaints, complaints to punishment, punishment to guilt and guilt runs away.
And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee. But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face. (Genesis 16:5-6)
Hagar’s decision to flee wasn’t anymore in God’s plan than Sarai’s solution. This time an angel was sent to convey God’s word.
And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. (Genesis 16:9)
There’s that ‘submit’ thing again. We find it all over the Bible and it’s a stumbling block to so many people who want to do things for themselves, by themselves, for their own good. How many times do we need to look at examples to see that doesn’t work very well?
The point is, don’t look at Hagar with pity, unless it is for a loveless marriage, which was how it worked in that society. Hagar’s marriage was similar to every other marriage in the land. Well, except for the fact her husband was one of the wealthiest, most powerful around. He dealt with kings as easily as he dealt with shepherds.
Now, when Sarah had her own son, and Ishmael mocked him, things changed:
Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. (Genesis 21:10)
That’s when we see Hagar’s desolation, her fear for her son, to the point she did not want to see his death – neither did God.
Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. (Genesis 21:18)
And, He did:
Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham: And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. (Genesis 25:12-16)
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Today brings us remembrance of the most holy of Christian holidays. No, not His birth, for that was very ordinary. His conception was not, but His birth was. His life was very ordinary, too, until He was 30. Well, there was that time at twelve when He astounded the priests in Jerusalem, but that was not of great interest and went almost unnoted.
His baptism was ordinary, except for the dove that lit upon Him, and the words from heaven. His going from town to town speaking of God was ordinary, and even the miracles He performed had been done before, though not by one many over such a short length of time.
His death was ordinary for common criminals and those who preached sedition against Rome. The earthquake and rending of the temple curtain was not, but few noticed that and it affected no lives.
So poor that He was placed in a borrowed tomb, and His followers so distrusted that a large stone was rolled in front of it and Roman soldiers were set to guard it. Doesn’t speak well of those who called Him Lord. You know, the ones that spent the next hours crushed by Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ death. All they had looked forward to, destroyed in one day.
Nothing left to do but remain hidden, after they anointed His body, making His burial complete. Their future ceased when He was arrested, tried, convicted and killed.
How quickly they (and we) forgot the first verse, remembering only the second:
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14-15 KJV)
Did they not hear of fulfilled scripture:
And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:21 KJV)
So we come to the third day, as He mentioned:
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matthew 12:40 KJV)
They should have known what to expect, that first day of the week:
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (Matthew 28:6 KJV)
He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, (Luke 24:6 KJV)
We don’t remember, either. Well, maybe on this day, once a year, we think of the sacrifice He made (for us) but most of us don’t let that interfere with our daily lives. Some make this special Sunday a day to attend church, while others do that weekly. This is truly a most special day. Without it, we would not be worshipping.
Without the resurrection, our religion is in vain.
But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. (1 Corinthians 15:13-14 KJV)
My hope is built on nothing than less than Jesus, Christ, risen.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
It was finished. He said so.
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. [John 19:30 KJV]
So, why are you here, reading this? Because there’s a second part yet to come. Our problems stem from that time when His friends, family and followers believed “It is finished,” constituted the whole of the story. They, as we do today, neglect John 14:26, 15:26 and 16:7 (among many other verses.) At the very least, they should have found comfort in His words. If they were never to see Him again, they could recall Him saying:
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]
They paid no attention to what He said, they were concerned with what Roman soldiers had done. We don’t even do that! Seldom do we consider what was done to Jesus, and that’s not really a bad thing. We need to know it, we need to acknowledge it and we need to appreciate and love Him for it, but that’s not the focus of His teaching. There are four books that were inspired to tell of His daily walks in life, followed by other inspired writings to help us understand how to apply those teachings in our lives that others might learn them.
Thomas Jefferson thought that the writings were good to live by, as long as the miraculous, the spiritual, could be removed. No creating wine from water, no healing the blind, no making the lame to walk. Just remove all that and the method of living a good life would be sufficient.
Why is it so hard to believe there is a loving God sufficient in mercy that He reaches out to His creation?
Don't pack a bag of guilt if you have a problem believing that, too. His followers had been with Him for three years and they did not understand what He was teaching. They heard his words and inserted them into what they wanted to see -- an earthly kingdom that would bring peace to all and power to Israel. We do exactly the same thing. We read His word without His presence because we believe all this happened too long ago to make a difference in our lives.
That's what His disciples thought, when it was only the day before that their dreams and hopes ended.
Don't stop there. There was so much more for them, and so much greater in store for us. It is finished is only another beginning. Oh, yes, the ending was written -- be blessed by reading that, too.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Perhaps the thought of the last supper of Jesus is dusty in our minds, too. He knew what the next few days would be like for the twelve. He knew that Judas was, even as he sat there with the rest, planning how he would be spending the thirty pieces of gold – and He knew how that gold would be spent, instead.
John gives more specifics on what Jesus said that night. Pastor has been leading us through John on Sunday mornings, and this night is filled with lessons, and with love. In chapters 14, 15, 16 John shares what meant most to him that night, such as Jesus knowing the pain this causes them:
But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. (John 16:6 KJV)
They wanted Him to know that they understood what He was saying, but there remained a question from Him.
His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? (John 16:29-31 KJV)
Have we not heard His words, plainly, without proverb? Can we state, as the disciples did, that He camest forth from God?
Can we be those in the next chapter:
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. (John 17:8-9 KJV)
The disciples remembered that night often, breaking bread and taking the wine in remembrance of Him, and others have done so for the two millennia following. We did so last Sunday night as we move toward the doctrinal foundation of Christianity, celebrating the death, burial and totally miraculous resurrection of the Messiah, the Christ, confessed Son of God, the one who prayed for us:
And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. (John 17:13-15 KJV)
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. (Psalms 51:2-3 KJV)
Let’s take a look at two others who betrayed someone they were supposed to love – Judas and Peter. Their attitudes and personalities play out from the four gospels, time after time. John mentions Judas’ attitude toward money in John 12:6 and again in 13:29. In the first he states categorically “… because he was a thief.” Peter, on the other hand, received information from God the Father and Jesus called him blessed in Matthew 16:17.
They both betrayed Christ – Judas for the money he craved, based on his lack of belief that Jesus was the Messiah. Peter out of fear, though Jesus had explained to him not only that he would betray, but do it thrice before the cock crowed. Jesus knew them both.
David knew himself, and knew against whom he had sinned:
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalms 51:4 KJV)
Judas and Peter both realized their sin, too. Judas, after all his time with Jesus still did not understand that God was capable of loving kindness and forgiveness to a contrite heart. His response to his awareness was suicide. Peter wept (Matthew 26:75, Mark 14:72, Luke 22:62.)
David’s response to the consequences of his adultery and murder was a contrite heart and an open plea to his Lord:
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psalms 51:10-12 KJV)
What is the condition of your joy of His salvation? That joy is available to all, and it even shared with angels:
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 KJV)
I do not know who Christ had in mind when he described just persons, which need no repentance. It isn’t me – for I stand in need of His loving kindness and His forgiveness when I sin, though I love and serve Him. Whether for David, for Peter, for me or anyone who comes to Him, God is quite capable of providing that clean heart.
David came to God, as did Peter. Judas didn’t.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Many times in my blogs I’ve used the phrase, “one of my favorite verses.” For a couple of years now I’ve used tags on my Blogger site and I can now attest to my favorite chapter – Matthew 22, which I’ve used 36 times – and my true favorite verse in that chapter:
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]
That chapter also has explanations about what heaven will be, too. Next on my most used, therefore my second favorite, is John’s 14th chapter. It contains the verse I wish read after I’ve gone home, in celebration of my love of God. Nope, not the one about many mansions – I couldn’t care any less about housing arrangements with my Lord. It’s the one about being happy:
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]
There are many, many verses in John 14, though, that Jesus is giving His disciples to understand the coming days. They are at Passover. He has explained about his broken body, the spilled blood. He has told them to remember these things. Those are verses we come to love after we’ve come to accept Genesis 1:1, John 1:1 and John 3:16; come to know that God loves what He created and provided means for mankind to connect to His love.
Third on my list of 440 chapters referenced comes from our pastor’s favorite book – Philippians, the fourth chapter. He has mentioned this is his favorite book, but I have evidence, too. Several years ago I began noting the verses used in sermons along with the date of the sermon. Yep, he was right. But I did have a problem discovering which of these verses I would have used most in the 23 postings attributed – there are so many good verses here! I think this one would be my first choice out of the chapter. Follow this and lives change:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. [Philippians 4:8 KJV]
Our King James version of the scriptures contains 1,189 chapters, so I have yet to reference half. Of course, the number of books, chapters and verses depends on what you are reading, and has no bearing on God’s message. His covenant with Israel stands as given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Through their descendants, the world has been blessed. As prophesied in Genesis 22:8, God did provide Himself, a lamb, as an offering. For all of His love toward us, we give thanks.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I’ve been thinking about a question, “Where are you on your spiritual journey,” that does not come from this book, but the book does bring out attention to milestones laid out in the Bible. What came to my mind first were the Beatitudes, or what I wrote about some time back, “The Be Attitudes.” They are good milestones for measuring one’s spiritual life and the progress we’ve made along the way.
Jim Berg offers another set of milestones – making it clear that Galatians 5:22-23 is representative, but not all-inclusive. Not so much in the same order, and not in the same words, but I think you'll find the same meanings in Matthew 5:2-10 as Paul writes in Galatians regarding our fruit of the spirit.
Where Paul writes meekness, Matthew says meek; Paul says peace, Matthew peacemakers; Paul, longsuffering; Matthew, persecuted. The case could be made that the other words are interchangeable, too. We begin with Matthew's poor in spirit, which brings us to seek what Paul describes as love. These are the some milestones we may to use as measurements along our spiritual journey.
What good is a milestone unless we know our journey’s end? That’s in the Bible, too. To be increasingly as Jesus taught and as He is.
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: (Ephesians 4:12-13 KJV)
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14 KJV)
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11 KJV)
It is a journey many are taking. It is a life-long journey filled with changes. Some are using a multitude of study guides, some only the word of God and prayer. Sometimes we have taken a step backward, for that, please forgive. Offer admonition, exhortation, and walk with us along the way.
Monday, April 18, 2011
“I don't want my life to have been in vain but I don't know what to do about it to make it worth something.“
That’s something I’ve read before, again on Sunday, and have given careful thought in how to answer. I think Solomon has several verses that address the answer, beginning with why he wrote Proverbs:
To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. (Proverbs 1:2-4 KJV)
Solomon worshipped the Lord God, making sacrifices to Him. God gave him an opportunity to make a request, and he did:
Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? (1 Kings 3:9 KJV)
God granted that request, and gave more:
And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment; Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. (1 Kings 3:11-12 KJV)
That’s what I would suggest to the person who wishes not to have lived in vain – an understanding heart to discern between good and bad.
How they achieve that heart is open to a wide range of interpretations depending on one’s upbringing and closeness to their creator. For myself, I’ll turn to another of Solomon’s writings. This one came after years of wisdom, heartache, battles, an aging kingdom and an aging king. After he wrote:
What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:3 KJV)
He wrote another twelve chapters, most in the same theme, but concluding with one that speaks to me:
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; (Ecclesiastes 12:1 KJV)
Remember thy youth, when the Lord God was acknowledged as Creator, when He inspired Solomon to write:
The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. (Ecclesiastes 12:10 KJV)
Is it truth when he gives us the penultimate conclusion?
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV)
Will we, as he closes, understand that God is the final judge, not man?
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14 KJV)
The choice remains ours whether to hear God – or not.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
1 cup whole pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
1 pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
Place pecans in the baggy and let the children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by the Roman soldiers.Read - John 19:1-3
Let children smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read - John 19:28-30
Add egg whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life for our life. Read - John 10:10-11
Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand, let them taste it then brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that represents the salty tears shed by Jesus followers, and the bitterness of our own sin... Read - Luke 23:27
So far the ingredients are not very appetizing.
Add 1 cup sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of this story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read - Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16
Beat with mixer on high speed for 11-15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read - Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3
Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper-covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus body was laid. Read - Matthew 27:65-66
Put cookies sheet in the oven. Close door and turn oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the door. Explain that Jesus tomb was sealed. Read - Matthew 27:65-66
Go to bed. Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read - John 16:20 and 22
On Resurrection Morning open the oven and give everyone a cookie.
Notice the cracked surface and take a bite.
On the first Resurrection Day Jesus followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read - Matthew 28:1-9
What a wonderful way to teach children about the risen Savior...Hope you enjoy these with your family.
This sounds similar to the Resurrection Cookies, but even more simple, and would be fun to do with children.
1 can refrigerated crescent roll dough
8 large marshmallows
Give each child one triangle shaped section of crescent roll. This represents the tomb.
Each child takes one marshmallow which represents the body of Christ.
Dip the marshmallow in the butter and roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture. This represents the oils and spices the body was anointed with upon burial.
Lay the marshmallow on the dough and carefully wrap it around the marshmallow.
Make sure all seams are pinched together well. (Otherwise the marshmallow will "ooze" out of the seams)
Bake according to package directions. Cool.
Break open the tomb and the body of Christ is no longer there!! Celebrate God's love!
Saturday, April 16, 2011
O that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbour! (Job 16:21 KJV)
For a moment I could picture a man pleading with God for his neighbor. We do pray for our friends, often. I don’t think we picture it as pleading with God, but it is.
Yesterday there was a prayer requested for a family whose home was in the projected path of a wildfire. That prayer was answered affirmatively and their home was not lost. Others lost their homes, and I’m certain prayers were said for them, too. Not all of our prayers receive affirmative answers. We continue to pray.
The prayers I’m thinking of right now have to do with friends we know have declined God’s invitation to be a part of their lives. Some of them may not be answered because God has given us free will to make decisions. He is not a puppet master, as some suggest. There are other prevarications about Him and our decision regarding eternity. One of the greatest lies is that we have time.
We have right now. The majority of us will have tomorrow and many days following, but we don’t know which ones do and which don’t. Knowing that places evangelists on streets going door knocking, asking people about their spiritual status.
One person did knock on a young mother’s door. A rather pretty young lady, at home because she has no job. Neither does the man living with her, her children and her mother. The children’s fathers do not provide support, either. When asked if the visitor could have some of her time to talk about Christ, she obnoxiously turned the visitor away, with invectives that anyone would question her lifestyle (which was not mentioned, except by her.) She quickly reverted to curse words and sent what she called a hypocrite away.
Bragging about it to relatives just ended with family members telling her they would be praying for her, resulting in more complaints of how people keep telling her how to live her own life, and would they just stop!
No, we can’t. We plead with God for our neighbors.
Any one of my readers can stop reading, stop coming here, and I’m grateful that they don’t. Christ’s message can be sent away from one’s door. But I would feel incomplete if I were to stop sharing what God’s word means to me – inviting questions and hoping to raise interest enough to continue researching. What I pray is that my readers will be as the Bereans (which I’ve written time and time again):
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)
Search the scriptures to see whether the things I write are so – read and ask God to give wisdom and understanding. Simple, isn’t it?
Friday, April 15, 2011
Nope – it’s not a case of measles. It’s part of last Tuesday night’s lesson from our Ladies Meeting. Well, a reasonable facsimile of the sheet our speaker created as we named our blessings.
As we called out the things we saw as blessings in our lives, she drew a red dot. Family, husband, (no wives – this is a Ladies Meeting!) children, friends, pastor, church, homes, jobs – the list of blessings grew and grew until there were red dots all over the place and people were still making the list longer. We were way past the few we would have listed alone.
I thought of the hymn “Count Your Blessings”, which tied in with Spafford’s sea billows, too:
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
But that really wasn’t the focus of this point in the presentation. That came when our speaker added one circle:
Can’t miss it, can you. It’s overwhelming. It’s larger than the blessings, one by one. Our eyes are drawn to it on paper, just as they are in our lives. Those billowing seas that overcome the good in our lives. Like a magnet they draw our eyes, our thoughts, our attention – away from the blessings we enjoy.
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. (Matthew 14:28-30 KJV)
When Peter heard the word Come, he knew it was Jesus and stepped out in faith. Instead of keeping his focus on the Lord, he saw the wind boisterous, feared and sank.
Don’t say in your mind what Peter should have done – confirm what we should do. We know because we have Peter as our example. He didn’t let those boisterous waves overwhelm him. He cried for help, “Lord, save me.” That same response is available to all of us.
Oh, by the way, it is a joyous thing to truly count your blessings. Our speaker keeps a small wire-bound set of cards and writes three of her blessings for each morning, noon and night, non-repeating. By that we mean she can’t say each time that her husband is a blessing, but she can list different blessings from her husband.
Can you list three specific blessings? Not just people, but what they do?
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Jacob feared their meeting, made preparations for a battle, then when he saw Esau coming, separated his children:
And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids. (Genesis 33:1 KJV)
He need not have been concerned.
And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. (Genesis 33:4 KJV)
Could two brothers have been closer than Moses and Aaron?
And the LORD said to Aaron, Go into the wilderness to meet Moses. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him. (Exodus 4:27 KJV)
How about the love Andrew held for Simon Peter, enough to share what he had learned?
One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. (John 1:40-41 KJV)
How much more should we be loving our siblings, when we come to know we are the children of God?
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:14-15 KJV)
Paul continues that theme in other epistles.
But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. (Galatians 4:4-6 KJV)
Before he did so, Christ made it apparent when He taught us how to pray:
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. (Matthew 6:9 KJV)
So, how are we to treat our brothers? Rhetorical question. The Bible tell us we already know.
But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. (1 Thessalonians 4:9 KJV)
As the author begins the closing chapter in Hebrews, we are given our final instructions regarding brotherly love:
Let brotherly love continue. (Hebrews 13:1 KJV)
Let us do so, quickly.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well. (2 Kings 4:26 KJV)
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
On a peaceful river, we can easily say “It is well.” When sorrows overwhelm as sea billows, can we say it as well?
The Shunnamite woman ran to Elisha and was able to tell his servant, “It is well,” though she needed to plead for the son Elisha had prophesied and she bore. In her grief, Anna Spafford recalled the words of a friend, "It's easy to be grateful and good when you have so much, but take care that you are not a fair-weather friend to God."
The Spafford’s were certainly not. By 1881 they were headed to Jerusalem to set up The American Colony. Joined by others, Colony members engaged in philanthropic work in Jerusalem regardless of religious affiliation of those they helped. Horatio Spafford died of Malaria in 1888 and was buried in Mount Zion Cemetery, Jerusalem. Anna continued their work until her death in 1923. A hotel in East Jerusalem bears the Colony’s name.
When you sing this song in a congregation of your choosing, determine for yourself, is it well with your soul?
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
I quoted that in a post back in 2008. And I think it is as valid today as when he wrote it. Part of that comes from the new things I find in old verses. Verses I know I have read before, yet a new reading displays information I had missed and reminds me that if we think we know God's plan in its entirely, we need to think again. His words tell us that. He has kept his plans and purposes hidden to a certain extent. Daniel, John and Paul each wrote of such:
But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. (Daniel 12:4 KJV)
And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not. (Revelation 10:4 KJV)
This one from Paul is the one I overlooked:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8 KJV)
The part: had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord.
Sometimes we tend to think that Satan knows as much about us as God does. Not when we’re close to God, but when we move away, he does learn more – but only what God allows him to know. He did not know why Christ was here, though he thought he did. Satan tried to tempt Jesus (Matthew 4) by offering what would appeal to a hungry man, to a showoff and to a man come to save the world but didn’t want to die. This man’s death would end with Satan ahead – he thought. He thought wrong.
I think what Satan did not know was the resurrection. As shown in Genesis 22:8, God did provide Himself as a lamb. That could have been seen from prophecy. But the resurrection was not expected. And, the resurrection changed everything.
Hindsight allows us to understand what Christ meant about rebuilding the Temple in three days, but only by comparing what happened with what was said. His disciples did not look beyond His death. They fully expected His body to be in the tomb that Sunday morning. Finding the stone rolled back, the funeral coverings emptily folded was not expected. Resurrection changed everything, especially for me.
Had Satan known, do you think he would have worked to stop the crucifixion?
Monday, April 11, 2011
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. (Acts 17:16-17 KJV)
Paul never neglected an opportunity to spread the gospel, even when it brought him into dispute with other, knowledgeable men. Synagogues, homes, out in the market place, he spoke with people he met.
Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. (Acts 17:18 KJV)
These were Greek philosophers, the ones who not only thrived on disputes and arguments but stood on their philosophies to the death – or to the death of those who would dispute, thinking of Socrates. But they didn’t quite make sense out of Paul’s story of Jesus and His resurrection. Can you relate to that? Do you know of someone who has yet to understand that same gospel?
So they took him to the Areopagus, or Mars Hill, not to punish or stop him, but to hear more:
(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) (Acts 17:21 KJV)
Paul fulfilled their request. When he closed, the result was much as it is today – some believed, some scoffed and some said they’d be back to hear more:
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. (Acts 17:32 KJV)
Still others believed:
Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them. (Acts 17:34 KJV)
Those two, and others with them, listened to the babblings of a man willing to confront and dispute with strangers. Their names are written in God’s word, and most likely, according to His word, are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 13:8).
Sunday, April 10, 2011
A recent conversation brought to mind a memory from my paternal grandmother’s kitchen. We’re going back fifty years, without our modern electric conveniences. Grandmother was in her 70’s and had been given orders to sit down and rest while her daughters and daughters-in-law took over her kitchen. It was not fast food! It was a farm kitchen, so someone went out to the yard, gathered up a couple of chickens to begin chicken and dumplings.
As one was being cleaned, there was not only a fully formed egg ready to be laid, the line up of eggs-in-process confirmed this must be one of her best layers! I heard my aunt say “Don’t tell Mama!”
The kitchen was filled with ladies in various stages of meal-making, aged from we helpers in our pre-teens to my oldest aunt in her 50’s and we were all part of the conspiracy. And, all part of a memory made in the kitchen.
My Beloved Husband and I still work together in the kitchen. Thursday we baked a couple of carrot cakes. I gathered up a good recipe, made a couple of changes, grated carrots and measured some ingredients while Beloved Husband got out “his” mixer, prepared the cake pans, then mixed up the batter. It was quite a good time spent together with a marvelous outcome.
Families don’t do that often enough. At least most I know don’t, and I would encourage that to change. Time spent in the kitchen is good for the family’s nutritional and financial health as well as spiritual health. Time spent making and baking bread, shelling peas, snapping beans, canning tomatoes, sweetening the jellies can also be time spent talking to your loved ones and creating memories.
God told Joel to write:
Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation. (Joel 1:3 KJV)
So what that you haven’t done this before – give it a try now. And if you’ve been doing it all along, praise! You’re ahead of those just getting started. Don’t allow the busy schedules that steal away family time to continue. There are memories and stories you know that no one else does, no one else can tell. God told Moses:
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; (Deuteronomy 4:9 KJV)
Our job is always that of teacher, from the time our babies are born.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
From an MSNBC article about the royal couple: “The modern-day tolerance of William and Middleton's living arrangements, many say, just brings the House of Windsor in line with the times.”
My what ‘tolerant’ times we do live in. Is that biblically correct? I can find quite a few verses advocating morality, can one be given to advocate fornication?
As for “in line with the times,” those words appear in a good many places, but what is the definition? Does that mean tossing out items from previous times and starting new? Why?
If that were the way we raised children, would we need to ignore that previous generations learned when best to introduce solid foods, and what foods should be introduced first. Start them off on spicy foods because that’s “in line with the times?” OK, so maybe we really do need a sarcasm font so it’s obvious that’s where I’m going.
For those who believe in God and strive to live by His word, there are some absolute truths. Whether it is called fornication, living together, shacking up, one-night-stand that stretches, why is its rejection being called “intolerant”? Why, if it is working so well and tolerated by “the times”, are William and Kate marrying? Why not continue living together, as they have in the past? If it is tolerated short term, why is it not acceptable for the long term? Is that not “in line with the times”?
There are tons more questions I could ask, most of them rhetorical. But my own answers are tied to scriptures God introduced:
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 KJV)
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:4-6 KJV)
Paul used the joining as an example:
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. (1 Corinthians 6:16 KJV)
How then about the argument that young people cannot control their sexual drive and must give in. Have they not read – or been taught:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)
It is a matter of setting personal goals and standards that do not fluctuate “with the times.” I know people who have set them – some have failed, but the majority did not. Those who failed spent a great deal of time with others who encouraged their fall. Those who did not fail placed purity above friendships and peer pressure.
Those who did not fail are looking at marriage as a life-time commitment. Their marriage contains the goal of sharing their children and subsequent generations together, not dividing holidays between mom and dad and half/step siblings. I looked at a photograph today of half-sisters who love each other, but each has a parent not welcome in the home of the other parent. A part of their life that cannot be shared in their love for each other because at least one parent did not work at marriage as a life-time commitment.
I feel strongly about this. There is very little special about me except as seen through the eyes of my husband. Special enough that soon we will have lived through fifty years of marriage. All of our children come to one house to see their parents. We have dinner and games every Thursday night with six other couples who have achieved the same anniversary, some surpassing that half-century mark.
How are we different? The answer apparently is not “in line with the times.”
Friday, April 8, 2011
Big Brown, photographed by Rick Samuels (used by permission)
Note that “used by permission”? Well, I used a Rick Samuels’ Big Brown photograph before without the correct research and contact. That happens often in the digital/Internet age where bits and bytes swirl around the world at the speed of light. We tend to forget that photographers and painters earn their living through such. Oh, we read the Copyright Fair Use and think we’ve accomplished the letter of the law because we don’t take time to seriously search for the creator.
Fortunately, someone noted the picture and gave me an applicable lesson. Rick even wrote a comment on my “Bridle That Tongue” post, so I took the time to search for him, located an e-mail address and let him know how much I regretted my misapplication of Fair Use and apologized. In addition to forgiving me, Rick sent the above photo. What else could I do but make an application lesson out of that, too?
You see part of that application at the end of the first graph – “… we don’t take time to seriously search for the creator.” Capitalize that Creator and the application is apparent. The Preacher wrote in favor of that search:
Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; [Ecclesiastes 12:1 KJV]
But we’re usually too busy in our youth just learning how to survive. Unfortunately, that also leads to misuse of what is available to us, and we live with regrets. If we would take the time to search for the creator, we could avoid those regrets. The Bible literally speaks volumes of that Creator. He described Himself to Isaiah:
I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; [Isaiah 43:15-16 KJV]
When we do the research, look for knowledge, follow the guidelines laid out for the benefit of all, we’ll also find forgiveness for previous errors and help along the way. What else could we desire?
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]
Thursday, April 7, 2011
And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. (Luke 6:31 KJV)
The Golden Rule, or ethic of reciprocity, is found in many ancient philosophies. What makes it different here in Luke is found after following verses telling us how to treat others, including the standard we need to use to measure – the one we set:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38 KJV)
Yep – we each set the measure of what we receive based on what we give. If we give harshness, sarcasm, corruption, that’s what we’ll get back in good measure! Most of us (I know I do) seldom think about what we’re giving out, we’re just trying to get a job done. Even with the family we love, we can speak sharply – then be hurt when we get jabbed back.
So, along with the standard we set with measurement, we can also set the standard for what we give – and can expect in return. Of course, it’s another Bible verse:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)
Yep again – we each set the standards for what is given to us. Wait! What was that you whispered? You tried that and what was returned was hurtful to the point you never want to see that person again. Obviously they are not familiar with either one of these Bible verses.
Have they seen them in you? That might make a difference, right? If they observe both of these verses in your life, might their reaction be different? Have you tried that?
Try a small experiment. Think of someone, connected to you through family or work, that has not responded to kindness. Are you willing to spend a bit of time with them? Not to see what you can get in return, but just to exchange a bit of chitchat, moving toward a place where sharing is possible. Didn’t work in the past, and there’s no sign it will in the future? Isn’t it worth the effort? Not to change them – that won’t work. Not even to change yourself. Just keep the subject matter within Philippians 4:8.
Then watch for the return – what is given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over. It’s worth it!!
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
“Great acts of faith flow from our past interactions with the Lord. By neglecting His simple commands, we miss priceless opportunities to witness His faithfulness.” From an ‘In Touch’ devotional forwarded to me, this thought caused me to do some searching in my Bible – what does it say about God’s faithfulness? Here are just a few:
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; [Deuteronomy 7:9 KJV]
Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee. [Isaiah 49:7 KJV]
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. [1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 KJV]
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9 KJV]
Hebrews 11 gives a list of those who proved to be faithful to God: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and the last in that list, the harlot Rahab.
Wow, we can’t display the faith of a harlot? She explains her faith by what she had heard:
And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. [Joshua 2:9-11 KJV]
She read no scriptures, heard no priest, did not see the miracles she heard described in rumors of war – but she recognized the hand of God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. And we cannot do as well?
What would it take for us? A theophany, a physical manifestation? Christ gave Israel just that, and only a few believed. Is His story truly explained away as a death covered up by excellent fiction writers? What a conspiracy theory! A few fishermen, a tax collector, a Greek physcian, add a young Pharisee priest and they create, through letters and preaching, a religion that spreads in spite of persecution to the point of death?
An atheist commented as to how surprised Christians are going to be when they die and find there is no God. To me, that shows he hasn’t thought through his own argument. If death is the end, no eternity beyond, Christians will not be surprised, nor will anyone else. However, if Christians are correct, eternity does exist as explained by them, I would not want to be an atheist. Of course, that’s Pascal’s Wager.
My concept of the “play it safe rather than risk being sorry” is to study what is offered about God. Others have done so and chosen different religious views. I will not demonize theirs, but simply state my own beliefs and their source.