Monday, October 31, 2011
There were times when we had company and multiple dishes of food were ready for the table, my mother would say that we had enough food to feed Cox’s Army. I had a vague idea that the army wasn’t military and the name was created early in the twentieth century, but until I did a bit of research, I had no idea who Cox was and why he had an army.
Protests are not new to America, though few have been as successful as the civil rights movement. Some, such as the Haymarket in Chicago, which “deeply polarized attitudes separating business and working class people in late 19th-century Chicago” turned violent.
This research was precipitated not only by the ‘Occupy’ groups making headlines, but an article about misery displayed in an index. Why do we focus on these miseries?
That question made me think of being content – sometimes it’s not good:
And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord GOD, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! (Joshua 7:7 KJV)
The Israelites were not to be content on the other side of Jordan, but were supposed to follow God’s instructions. They had not done so. God told Joshua why they had failed:
Up, sanctify the people, and say, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow: for thus saith the LORD God of Israel, There is an accursed thing in the midst of thee, O Israel: thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. (Joshua 7:13 KJV)
For Paul, who was following God’s will for his life, being content came naturally:
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Philippians 4:11 KJV)
That certainly did not mean accepting things as they were, for he was among those listed in Acts 17 who were turning the world upside down. But he did it in words of truth, not impeding the work of those around him. He did it in prison, not escaping, but using his bonds as an example to others.
He did it in letters, to churches and to individuals, exhorting them to follow Christ’s example through good and bad:
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. (Philippians 4:12 KJV)
Paul was more concerned with a man’s soul and relationship to God than to physical situations. He had been introduced to – and had followed – Christ’s instructions:
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. (Acts 9:6 KJV)
There he had learned what he continued to teach:
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13 KJV)
Are we capable of turning the current world upside down without harming others? What changes should be employed, and why?
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Moses wanted to be certain Israel remembered the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the entire nation. It bore repeating then and it bears repeating now. It hasn’t changed in all this time.
This, however, is a generation beyond those who left Egypt. Those original emigrants rebelled and were not allowed to set foot in the promised land. The next generation would accomplish their purpose.
Actions have consequences. Obedience does, too. Moses reminded his listeners how God provided for them:
Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. (Deuteronomy 8:4 KJV)
Begin with Deutoronomy 8:12 where Moses begins with "Lest ..." and continues with all the things people desire for their own comfort - filled with food, living in a good house, wealth multiplied and hearts that forget God and what He has done - and those deeds are listed - then comes the sinfulness:
And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. (Deuteronomy 8:17 KJV)
That’s the start. I’ve mentioned it over and over – some of my readers are probably tired of hearing that when we cease to follow God’s will, when we substitute “I will”, there are consequences.
Moses then reminds his listeners that power and wealth comes from God, with reasons. And, that there are consequences for them (just as for us) if we forget:
And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. (Deuteronomy 8:19 KJV)
This tells me things haven’t changed since Moses’ time. The words of God bear repeating, reminding us again and again. Unlike some other reminders, I never tire of His. I need the reminders.
It is so easy to forget. Days are filled with activities that do not mention His name. This generation has serious proponents for removing all mentioning of Him or His word from schools and any other public area, indicating those who mention Him are intolerant. I beg to differ with them.
The most recent instance is the removal of a World War II memorial, more than fifty years after it’s erection by the Knights of Columbus, American citizens, American veterans, who wished to honor their fellow servicemen. A later generation forgot them and their reasons for the memorial were no longer relevant. As a consequence, the memorial must be removed.
Religions – not simply Christianity - have been a part of this land’s culture since its beginning. Tolerance allows citizens to practice their religion. Intolerance requires its removal.
May we be allowed to remember. Each and every one of us.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Deuteronomy 5 begins with a history lesson for all the children of Israel. The Bible says:
And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. (Deuteronomy 5:1 KJV)
This wasn’t a message simply for the tribal leaders, nor just for the priests. This was a repetition of God’s words given on the mount as the people watched in fear a generation earlier in Exodus 20. Those words bore repeating then, and they bear repeating today.
Moses was going through the statutes and judgments in order that God’s people would learn, keep and do them. How do we measure up today on those three items?
What have we learned? Not enough to pass lessons down more than a single generation, if we’re discussing economics. Sometimes the same if we’re discussing religion. Oh, the classes are there – every Sunday in most Christian churches, and often again on Wednesday nights, were attendance drops significantly.
What do we keep? The appearance today is that we keep what we want and toss what is inconvenient. Paul saw it in that first century, and we see it today:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 1:25 KJV)
We look upon ecological disasters and call them an ‘inconvenient truth’ while tossing aside the Bible as simply inconvenient, denying it has truth.
You think not? What part of the Bible is seen as no longer valid? The part we don’t “do”?
Moses was calling upon those who were freed by God to hear the statutes and judgments – and to do them. Live by them. He then repeated what we refer to today as the Ten Commandments. You know, the ones that are illegal to display in portions of the United States, though they are revered by multiple religions. (Would their display constitute the establishment of Judaism? Or Christianity? That stretch of the imagination has resulted in lawsuit after lawsuit, hasn’t it? Or is it simply people of faith that must be squelched?)
A lot of people opt out on the very first of the statutes:
Thou shalt have none other gods before me. (Deuteronomy 5:7 KJV)
Once they opt out, they aren’t concerned about graven images, taking names in vain nor remembering special days. They may, however, have some concerns about the next six, creating secular laws that protect families and personal property, never giving thought to how those laws fit right in to His.
All through the Bible there were men chosen to teach the same lessons over and over again that the people might learn them, and keep, and do them. It’s available to us for the very same reasons. Will we get a passing grade?
Friday, October 28, 2011
And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12 KJV)
We’ve certainly had the great and strong winds up the east coast. The earthquake there, too. Fires were strong in Texas, New Mexico and many other states. Some will say those were to get our attention, and I wouldn’t argue with that, but what I see are the natural forces set in motion at creation. I would keep in mind that the Lord wasn’t in them in Elijah’s time, though He did pass by.
The remarkable thing was the still small voice of God.
Adam and Eve heard that voice, the call from someone who came to visit, regularly:
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 KJV)
We haven’t changed much from those two in the Garden. We think that we are alone, and we know that we’ve sinned against God. We’ve forgotten that He does speak to us. Some have become so inured to hidden from the damaging nature around us that we don’t listen.
Neither Elijah nor Adam had accomplished what God had set out for them to do. And they both had excuses. Adam blamed God:
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. (Genesis 3:12 KJV)
In a way, Elijah did, too:
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19:10 KJV)
Every thing there is true, except I, even I only, am left. He wasn’t, though the number of faithful was small. Both Adam and Elijah felt alone because they were not close to God.
Are we close enough to hear? Or do we need that huge ear?
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Until I came to the reference regarding David’s slices of milk, which I could not find. I looked and searched. I gave thanks for e-Sword, though it returned 48 milk possibilities, none of those verses referred to David or slices. So, I tried other versions – remembering when the book was written. Finally, found it!!
Again, I was grateful for e-Sword and it’s Strong’s!! Strong’s H2461 found in 1 Samuel 17:18 where the ten slices of cheese come from the Hebrew chalab, “milk (as the richness of kine) - + cheese” and I can see the ten slices of cheese made from the richness of milk, remembering the smoothness of the best I’ve tasted.
This is part of the joy of reading the Bible – the depth and richness of the words used. A surface reading gives history. Looking more deeply and we get the personalities, the characters, the richness of the stories told for generations. But there is a greater depth – reading with prayer and preparation, reading to receive – where the spiritual message becomes evident.
No, there is no secret message for me in David’s slices of cheese other than the understanding that God’s word holds more than surface reading. There are applications for daily life in every scripture I’ve ever read. I have found some, as Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:16, hard to be understood, and not just in Paul’s writing.
I have not found why Isaiah wrote of a bed too short in 28:20. Perhaps someday I will know, but the verse does create a word picture that brings a smile. Was the bed long enough for a young, or short person, but the grown man could find neither comfort nor cover? There are times we long for that comfortable bed, sufficient cover and enough sleep to wake with vim, vigor and vitality. Is that the verse’s message for me? Perhaps, yet to be confirmed.
There are many such verses that pique our interest, raise our curiosity, leave us seeking more and more of what God’s word has to offer. I have never tired of reading. Never tired of hearing a minister share what God’s word means to him, what He has in store for us.
I pray that I’m tossing out seeds of curiosity – perhaps someone will disbelieve what I say and search the scripture to see if it is true. God’s word does not return void. He said so.
So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11 KJV)
Scriptures are God breathed. He said so.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV)
That “inspiration” word? Again, Strong’s for the Greek root: theopneustos, divinely breathed in.
Come, jump on in. Look deeply into God’s word and see what it holds for you.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up. (Psalms 94:18 KJV)
We all slip – often on very solid grounding. It can happen when we’re not paying attention to where we are going. Keeping focused on our walk helps keep that from happening, still surprises arise.
Mankind wasn’t the first to fall. Jesus speaks of seeing Satan’s fall:
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. (Luke 10:18 KJV)
Many equate that fall to one described in Isaiah:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; (Isaiah 14:12-16 KJV)
Men have done a very good job on their own, too. Even those who chose to follow Christ, to give their all for Him. Peter is the first example that comes to mind. One of the earliest disciples, absolutely the most outspoken and defensively active, he still denied Jesus, just as prophesied. Instead of being left at the wayside as a dulled example of failure, he received the same mercy offered to us and a lifetime of service.
There are other great examples in the Bible of those who failed to live up to their abilities – and God’s calling – who receive His mercy. There are also examples of those who failed and never returned for mercy.
The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: (Proverbs 14:14 KJV)
Which brings me back to the “Thy will be done,” that Jesus so often prayed. When we change from “I will” to “Thy will” our lives are changed, too.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37 KJV)
But, it isn’t, for the bird above has chicks firmly under wing, protected and safe while those who heard our Lord’s word fall under the “ye would not!” Nope, this photo is an application of other verses:
The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings thou art come to trust. (Ruth 2:12 KJV)
He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. (Psalms 91:4 KJV)
In those two, protection is pictured. Perhaps David heard his great-grandmother’s family history. In this verse, a petition is made:
Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings, (Psalms 17:8 KJV)
When we are under the shadow of His wings, we can trust Him to keep us safe.
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. (Psalms 36:7 KJV)
Why does mankind fight so hard against that safety, that protection, that love? Why do so many still respond, “We will not!!” Often they add, “And, we won’t let others, either” as if they themselves will provide protection from even hearing of God. They would deny the ability to hear and decide, determining for others a lack of value.
Thanks, but “No thanks.” I will declare Him to all who will read or listen to me and to many others.
You see, we believe Christ’s promise that He will return:
For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matthew 23:39 KJV)
We are also promised in both Testaments that all will come to know:
I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:23 KJV)
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. (Romans 14:11 KJV)
I will bow then, too, but I also bow now – and confess to God who created the heavens and the earth that I give thanks for my salvation and His unspeakable gift.
Monday, October 24, 2011
This is a shot taken at Clark Gardens Botanical Park outside Mineral Wells, Texas. It is worth the trip out west if you’re ever in the DFW metroplex. The Gardens are part of the 501(c)3 Max and Billie Clark Foundation - Clark Gardens Botanical Park, designed to display beautiful foliage throughout the year. I haven’t been back this summer, fearing the impact of our drought.
This photo was taken because of the reflection. The clouds, shrubs, wall, are all reflected in the still waters. It reminds me that we are to be a reflection of Christ. Paul wrote of this, and about not having attained the perfection we strive to be.
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12 KJV)
Some people see Christians as acting as though they have attained that perfection. They see a “better than you” attitude in some church members. Some church members actually display that attitude, but they aren’t. Paul knew that he hadn’t, though he was imprisoned, facing death simply for telling his world about Christ:
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended:
He knew a couple of things that had to be done, though – don’t hold on to the past. Don’t hold grudges and don’t allow past mistakes to lead anyone astray:
but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (Philippians 3:13 KJV)
There is a lot before each and every once of us. Not until we take our last breath do we reach forth unto those things which are before us.
I like the way Matthew Henry’s Commentary puts it:
As for other matters of difference, lay no great stress upon them, God shall reveal even this unto you. Whatever it is wherein you differ, you must wait till God give you a better understanding, which he will do in his due time. In the mean time, as far as you have attained, you must go together in the ways of God, join together in all the great things in which you are agreed, and wait for further light in the minor things wherein you differ.We will differ. We are imperfect people, even when we act as though we’ve got “it” together. Nope, we remain a work in progress, changing daily, praying it is for the better. “Please, be patient with us,” is not only our prayer to our Father, but to our unsaved friends. We are an imperfect reflection of our Lord. Meet Him for yourself before deciding.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
If you’re in America, you might have used Old English furniture polish. I did this morning. Our interior doors are six-frame solid oak. Gives a bit of noise reduction in a house that is so open.
Beloved Husband had a pulley system on our bedroom door to help exercise his rotator cuff after surgery. The neurologist had him get that out again to help strengthen the muscles in both arms due to myasthenia gravis. The pulls at the end of the rope knock against the door and make small nicks in the finish, sometimes showing the bare wood beneath. Yes, they should be refinished, but I’ve been using Old English’s dark oil to soak and match. Doing that brought to mind (of course) a verse:
Having a form of godliness,
My polishing the doors gave them the look of being ‘finished’, even with the bit of wear all wood gathers, but it’s not real. It’s as though I’ve denied the reality of needing refinishing and the depth it would provide. As the next part of the verse displays:
but denying the power thereof:
When it comes to the life of a Christian, covering up with a temporary fix ‘ain’t a gonna get it done.’ We’re told in the last of the verse:
from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5 KJV)
Of course, Paul wasn’t telling Timothy about furniture polish. The previous verses explain from what we are to turn away:
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; (2 Timothy 3:2-4 KJV)
Those are the people we are to turn from. Yet, those are the people we read about in the newspaper and internet, watch news (and dramas / comedies) of on television and see movies of in theaters. We see so much more of them than we do the people who could be described as having the fruit if the spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)
Which ones do we turn from – and which ones do we turn to? The choice to do so is ours. No one is forced to watch egotistic, greedy, self-servers being disobedient and all the rest. Yet the ratings are higher when there is violence and controversy.
Whether it be news, drama or comedy, how many have you noticed with the fruits of the spirit? “Fireproof” comes to mind. Have any of my readers seen that movie? Or, “Courageous”, now in American theaters. Heard about it? They do exist.
Vote for them by watching them, not the ones we’re to turn from.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
It’s a small town, 2000 Census showed a population of 459. We know it was higher in 2010, but I can’t find that information online. We don’t live in the city. We’re just within the mailing addresses for the Paradise Post Office. It would be regrettable to lose this Post Office – who really wants their address to be less than Paradise?
We don’t, really, live in a paradise, no matter how much we enjoy the area. Not the paradise Christ spoke from the cross:
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:42-43 KJV)
John records another mention:
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7 KJV)
That’s the true paradise we hope to receive. It’s the one our faith leads us toward. Just as the thief, we hope that it is for us to be with Him in paradise.
Faith is the base we build on:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
That chapter has so much information on faith, how it was lived, who had it, and why. Verses 4, 5 and 7 begin with “By faith,” while verse 6 has a warning:
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)
That ties in with another book, another verse:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)
I recently read someone’s sarcastic, derogatory belief about Christ – that since God’s Son died for everyone, that everyone was saved. I have not found that in the Bible. As with every promotion I’ve ever heard of, there are qualifications. The very least of which would be:
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)
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)
If a man cannot walk humbly with God while keeping His commandments, where is his faith, his hope, his reward?
Friday, October 21, 2011
Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (Matthew 26:38 KJV)
Jesus was facing a painful, humuliating death even though He knew what was waiting for Him on the other side of the cross:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
He prayed for it to pass:
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 taught us to pray, “Thy will be done,” just as He prayed, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
Thursday's In Touch devotional says it so much better than I've been able to before -- and since I'm hearing this from several sources (just posted about personal preferences in Narrow Way Thoughts!), I need to pay close attention and study deeply.
Every believer must choose whether he will live by the principle of obedience or follow his preferences. When a person commits to doing the Lord’s will, then every situation and decision is sifted through the standard of “God said it, so I’m going to do it—and that’s the end of it.” He may complain, weep, or try to argue. But in the end he will be obedient, no matter what.The above devotional was forward to me by a dear friend and was posted on the In Touch website October 20, 2011.
I recall being invited years ago to interview with a church in Atlanta. During the entire road trip, I told the Lord that I didn’t want to move. I fussed and carried on a good while, but I knew Atlanta would be my new home. I didn’t like the idea, but the alternative was unimaginable: there are few things more unpleasant than living with the nagging anxiety that you missed out on something good.
The Lord certainly understands our need to question, cry out, and petition Him for the strength to do what He asks. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that we have a high priest who can sympathize with us. Jesus wasn’t excited or happy about the cross. He grieved over the coming separation from His Father. Nevertheless, He was committed to following God’s will. No one took Christ’s life from Him; He laid it down. (John 10:18)
Our lives are about fulfilling God’s purpose. Many people miss His awesome plan for them because they choose to follow their preferences. Obedience is sometimes hard, but the struggle and sacrifice are worth it. There is joy and peace for the believer who pleases the Lord and lives by His principles.
I needed to reread this message during what has been a very soul-searching summer and fall. I need to see His will done in my life.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
That quote caught my eye, but I could not recall its source. Found it in the Washington Post, Goldwater’s acceptance speech for his failed 1964 presidential candidacy. Part of that speech sounds familiar:
Rather than useful jobs in our country, people have been offered bureaucratic "make work," rather than moral leadership, they have been given bread and circuses, spectacles, and, yes, they have even been given scandals. Tonight there is violence in our streets, corruption in our highest offices, aimlessness among our youth, anxiety among our elders and there is a virtual despair among the many who look beyond material success for the inner meaning of their lives. Where examples of morality should be set, the opposite is seen. Small men, seeking great wealth or power, have too often and too long turned even the highest levels of public service into mere personal opportunity.That paragraph could apply today – except for the “make work,” since so many are unemployed. Almost half a century later there remains, scandals, violence, corruption, aimlessness, anxiety, despair. Doesn’t appear we’ve returned to proven paths.
Goldwater wasn’t the first to call for ‘proven paths.’
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. (continued below)
Jeremiah was a priest of Israel, gifted also to be their prophet during the reign of King Josiah.
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:4-5 KJV)
As so many of those called by the Lord, Jeremiah did not feel up to the job.
Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. (Jeremiah 1:6 KJV)
God, however, took care of that – and gave Jeremiah his marching orders.
Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. (Jeremiah 1:9-10 KJV)
Notice how much had to be done before building and planting. There was a lot of work ahead for Jeremiah. And very little cooperation:
(continued from above) But they said, We will not walk therein. (Jeremiah 6:16 KJV)
God sent Jeremiah with specific instructions, which were ignored:
Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. (Jeremiah 6:17 KJV)
That ignorance had repercussion:
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)
The Lord God does not have to bring the evil for it is already here. Simply lifting His mercy is sufficient to catch our attention. Will we hearken to Him, pay attention and follow?
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
If you’ve read about my Ohio Sister-in-law (Osil) here she is. If you want to know more about her, she started a blog just this summer to tell others about the miracles in her life. Her blog is called “The Groves and Their Branches” and it is incomplete. I know it will be updated and more of her life will be told. I can also assure you it was more than a pleasure to know her, it was a blessing.
We didn’t meet until after our oldest children were married. Our husbands were separated in 1945, hers remaining with the boys’ mother in Ohio and the two older boys going to Oklahoma with their father. It took 37 years before they were reunited.
We came together with lots of family history, feelings, culture that could have led to additional rifts and lack of understanding. Instead, we bonded and came to appreciate each other and our deep, abiding love for Jesus Christ, our personal Lord and Savior, sharing our love of service in His church.
Strongly based in their faith, Osil and her husband helped a church-planting pastor start a new church, opening their home for the first services, before the church grew out of it. As soon as they moved back to their childhood home town, they joined and became active in a local church. Her love of God was so strong in her life that her last e-mail out to family included:
I know it is very risky and I may not live through the surgery. But I can't go on living like this either. If I don't have it done, I won't be here this time next year, or less.
I pray God is with me and I ask for your prayers also. If I don't make it I want all of you to know that I love you very much. And if you haven't excepted Jesus into your heart then please do.Prayers were with her, and they were answered. She is so healed now!
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23 KJV)
Osil looked upon the majority of her life as a miracle, and her son as the miracle who gave her life. That story was told in the first few blogs she wrote. She was not well and went to the doctor. They found that she was pregnant – and that she had Hodgkin’s Disease. Were it not for that pregnancy morning sickness, the disease could have spread unnoticed. Had she followed the doctor’s advice and aborted the child in order to take radiation treatments, her story would be somewhat ordinary. Instead, she fought for her son, underwent surgeries, gave birth, then took radiation treatments to clear her from the cancer.
Those treatments caused her heart valves to begin calcification years later – but those were years she might not have had. Those are the miracle years for which she gave thanks, year after year, as she saw her children mature, marry and provide grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Miracles that many people did not get to enjoy. The greatest joy of her life, though, was her Wonderful Husband. Her last blogs tell of their meeting.
My Bible tells me I will see her again. We discussed that while they were here this summer. Under the Tree of Life, beside the River of live, we planned a picnic. Please, come join us.
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2 KJV)
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
This graphic is another where I can’t give the source. It appears to be a copy of a copy, etc.
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14 KJV)
While it does give a good view of a ‘narrow way’ and the distance might appear to be a ‘strait gate,’ it doesn’t convey the thought from Matthew 7 that I have in mind.
You see, I think I know some people who are following that narrow way. They’ve chosen to do so and by reading God’s word they believe they are moving toward that strait gate.
But sometimes there seems to be more milling around on the road. People trying to fit personal preferences into the way, actually impeding forward progress of others. Oh, they haven’t left the narrow way, but they appear to be stepping from side to side rather than focusing on the Lord’s will and moving forward.
Some of my readers think that I’ve spent too much time discussing His will. They ask, “We have the ability to think, shouldn’t we use it?” I certainly hope so! I do believe I’ve pushed people to do that – think, and think outside the box. However, I have strongly encouraged people to look for, and to follow God’s will – not their own preferences.
Living by our preferences – based on our likes, dislikes, pleasures, desires – is living without regard to rules. This is circumstantial or situational ethics, changing with society’s whims or cultural fluctuations. Preferences have no absolutes and any rules change with what feels good.
It’s those personal preferences that bring us to the edge of the narrow road. Sort of, “I like eight of those commandments, but the other two just don’t fit my lifestyle, so we can ignore them.” Won’t take long until all ten are history and we’ve walked over to that broad way.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (Matthew 7:13 KJV)
David often wrote of God’s path in his Psalms:
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalms 16:11 KJV)
Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. (Psalms 119:35 KJV)
What do we get for walking the narrow way? For keeping to His path? For following His commandments? We get what He has promised, for we’re told He loves us.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3 KJV)
Monday, October 17, 2011
Readers not realizing that the Holy Bible is my favorite book are new here. I am so glad that I’m not alone in how I regard the Bible as God’s word – and it’s importance to those who follow Christ. A recent In Touch devotional focus on how we understand it.
The writer asks a question that does require an answer:
One of the reasons that many people—including believers—don’t read the Bible is because they can’t understand it. We would expect that to be the case for those who don’t know Christ, but why do so many believers fail to comprehend the truths of Scripture? Maybe it’s because they haven’t asked for help from their divine Teacher.The scripture referenced is:
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 KJV)
I’ve used that before discussing how much we have to learn. I don’t remember focusing on the Holy Spirit’s importance in our educational process. We know material, secular things that are available to all mankind without even considering a spiritual aspect to life. Once we acknowledge a spiritual existence, we need to heed our spirit:
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. (1 Corinthians 2:13 KJV)
We’re back to our ways are not God’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). His are totally unselfish. We have never been able to reach that point, but accepting God’s plan for our lives offers us spiritual help in obtaining that knowledge:
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12 KJV)
This is the Comforter Jesus described:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26 KJV)
Without learning through prayer and listening for God’s teaching, His word is nothing more than a history or poetry:
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14 KJV)
When someone asks where they should begin, I suggest the book of John. Read the first three verses, pray for understanding and open your heart to God’s word for your life. Grow from there. Feel free to ask questions!
Sunday, October 16, 2011
If you’ve ever attended a Baptist revival meeting, you’ve seen an invitation where the preacher calls for “Just one more verse,” in prayer that someone on the edge of coming forward will do so while singing that one verse. Some do.
Others put it off for another night. They are following an example from the Bible, but it’s the wrong example.
We’re all familiar with Moses’ request to pharaoh to allow the children of Israel to go and worship their God – and his continued refusal to do so. Remember the frog part of the plagues? Aaron stretched forth his rod and frogs came out of the river and covered the land:
Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Intreat the LORD, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the LORD.
Sounds straight forward, doesn’t it? Sounds as though pharaoh was willing to comply and wanted the frogs gone, until we read the next part:
And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Glory over me: when shall I intreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain in the river only?
Even knowing that God was speaking through Moses, as explained in Exodus 4:12, I still wonder why Moses asked that, and wonder even more why pharaoh replied:
And he said, To morrow.
Yet God explained that in Exodus 4:5, and in Moses’ next words to pharaoh:
And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God. (Exodus 8:8-10 KJV)
“To morrow" looks a bit odd as two separate words. Pharaoh had just admitted that he thought Moses’ God could get rid of the frogs, otherwise he would not have agreed. Could have done it right then, clearing them off the land, but he said “to morrow.”
That same answer is echoed in Scarlett O’Hara Butler’s movie line: "I won't think about that now, I'll think about that tomorrow."
The real problem for anything thinking that way is – the problem will still be there tomorrow, though the choices before us may change. Since pharaoh did not comply with his end of the bargain, the next plague was lice. Ignoring God’s plan for our lives may bring another set of problems, too.
How difficult is it, really, to read God’s word in a prayerful attitude, so that thou mayest know that there is none like unto the LORD our God?
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Yep, that’s the same picture as yesterday’s “See What?” because this is a ‘continuation’ of thoughts from our Ladies Meeting.
David learned a very hard lesson, and shared with us how to keep from learning it ourselves.
And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king's house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. (2 Samuel 11:2 KJV)
She was beautiful. What was the harm in looking? Death, after lies to a good man and intrigue against a loyal soldier. Harm that began simply by looking. By setting a wicked thing before mine eyes.
Well, there are plenty of wicked things out there right now. We invite them into our home through the internet, through television, through our workplaces. Parents allow it for their children, unable or unwilling to say “No,” and mean it.
I’m three generations away from raising my own children. Their children are raising children of their own. I do worry about those as they face peer pressure to partake of off-color jokes (yes, I’ve heard one from an innocent, who really didn’t understand the punch line.) I feel for the new babes in Christ, seeking to learn their Bible, hearing “Honor thy father and thy mother,” while seeing them not honor their God. I know they are torn as wicked things are set before them.
What do I mean by ‘wicked things’? Anything that keeps us from that pure heart that allows us to see God. Remember yesterday’s verse:
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8 KJV)
How do we get that pureness back after having wicked things before our eyes?
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalms 51:10 KJV)
Then we can see God as He is.
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2 KJV)
The following verse contains the result of our hope – purity:
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. (1 John 3:3 KJV)
Matthew 5:8, above, tells us that the pure in heart shall see God. This verse tells us who will not:
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3 KJV)
Thus the Bible-based phrase, “a born again Christian.” Unless we throw out the whole book of John, we must face his third chapter. We can ask, as Nicodemus did:
How can these things be? (John 3:9 KJV)
But be ready to act on the answer when it is heard.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18 KJV)
Ready for that purification process in order to see God?
Friday, October 14, 2011
Our Pastor’s wife presents the lessons at our Ladies Meetings quite often. And, she does such a good job of teaching from the Bible. This week’s lesson had to do what what we see.
She started with:
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8 KJV)
That’s our goal – to see God. To do so, we must work to be pure in heart. There are several Bible verses that talk about that: Psalm 19:8, Psalm 24:4, 1 Timothy 1:5, 2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Peter 1:22. We also have to believe in order to see:
I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalms 27:13 KJV)
When we believe, we can see God’s goodness here on earth. Think of the ones you see. Which ones are your favorites? Do you see Him in individuals? How about seeing ‘this woman’:
And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? (Luke 7:44a KJV)
Look up the full story. Christ uses her as an example for what she is doing for Him that His host is not. Christ calls her a sinner and He forgives her sins. Those watching don’t see the lesson, they don’t see their own sins. Instead, they ask:
And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? (Luke 7:49 KJV)
Do you ask that question? “Who is this man that thinks he can forgive sins? Just who does he think he is?” You see, they firmly believed the scriptures, the Tanakh:
Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only? (Mark 2:7 KJV)
Well, He’s given us the answer, hasn’t He?
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)
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)
What do we do for the one who has openly forgiven sins – knowing that we commit them ourselves? The best answer for us is to simply ask for His forgiveness while it is available to us.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
No, that’s not mine, but I do drive a PT. Mine doesn’t have blue pin striping or window covers – and it does have a license plate on the front. For a while, it didn’t work correctly.
Sometimes I would have a clock, other times, nope, it didn’t show. The temperature and compass wandered on and off, as did the interior lights. For a while whenever I opened a door at night I thought I was on a stakeout – no map lights. Other times, they showed brightly.
It still ran just fine. Created in 2004, purchased in 2005, it runs just fine. Has for over 109,000 miles, giving a good 27 miles per gallons. It has room for four in very good comfort, carrying four suitcases and four carry-ons in the roomy cargo space. All in all, it has served me well and I will drive it a bit longer – if I can get it inspected.
Item #1 on the Texas inspection website is: Horn. That’s one of the intermittent items. Some times it worked, sometimes not. Not, during the actual inspection means failure. Thus fixing it became a necessity, since I’m the only one out of three that can drive right now. Beloved Husband can’t see to drive, Second Daughter still has her neck brace on and can’t hold her hands up long enough to drive (according to her doctor.) I could drive her much newer Dodge Caliber, but I like my PT. Yesterday we took it to our favorite fix-it mechanic. He was shutting his business down – no more customers. So, we were off to a new fix-it mechanic. Took them less than three hours from drop off to pickup and every thing works, because the wiring is now properly grounded.
All of the on/off/back/gone was due to an improper ground.
Our lives require a proper grounding, too. Too often we continue, as I continued to drive, without that proper grounding, inconsistent and intermittent. People don’t know what we believe because we don’t know what we believe. Well, some of us do – and we don’t mind telling people about it, do we.
Mine are based on the Bible being the word of God. It is open to interpretation, and mine differ from some others. The absolute common basis for Christians is that Jesus is the Christ and we are His followers. We should know what we believe and we should be ready to talk about those beliefs:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)
Are we properly grounded in our hearts? Are we ready, always, to answer every man that asks us about the hope we hold? Is this part of the hope you hold?
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:13 KJV)
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
How would your life be if Joanne Schiebel had chosen an abortion? Unwed, not wishing to be married, abortions were dangerous and illegal when she became pregnant. Her options were limited.
Joanne’s decision to give her child up for adoption changed a number of lives. First of all hers, then the adoptive parents, before we even get to the child.
I know from personal experience how my husband’s adoption changed his parent’s lives. They took in two boys, gained two daughters-in-law, six grandchildren, along with years of Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays and vacations with those they loved.
Joanne’s child gained that in adoption, too. He gained two parents, though I understand he retained a connection to his mother.
Agree with Catholics or not, read Greg Kandra’s blog from October 2nd, Respect Life Sunday, and the beginning of Respect Life month, about Joanne and her choice – the same choice facing millions of women each year.
Options are not limited today, are they? Abortions are done easily, daily and regulations are in place to see that they are safe. So quickly women head back to their lives without another thought of the baby they did not want. Our culture tells them that’s just fine.
Greg Kandra suggests:
This nightmare will end when we acknowledge that life is inconvenient, and difficult, and unplanned. But nothing, and no one, is ever unplanned or unwanted when the one doing the planning and the wanting is God.So, what did Joanne’s abortion decision do for us? For all of us? It gave us the Macintosh, the iPod, iPhone, iPad, for Joanne’s unaborted child was Steve Jobs.
This nightmare will end when we realize, at last, that love is greater than fear.
Greg Kandra also challenges those who hear, and read, his words:
“Respect life” is more than just a catchphrase. It needs to be a way of living. Respect life. Not just in the womb, but everywhere, at every time, in all circumstances — within our families, our communities, the places we work and do business. It means treating every life with dignity, and honoring every life as a gift.I do not agree with many of Steve Jobs’ choices in life, but I really do agree with that one his mother made, to choose life.
Doing that, moment by moment, we will begin to change the culture.
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)
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
That’s a picture of our church that I love because of the rainbow, though it doesn’t show much of our building.
I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. (Psalms 122:1 KJV)
And, we really are glad to be there – both Beloved Husband and I enjoy the services. Our attendance has been somewhat sporadic, though, during and since his diagnosis with Myasthenia Gravis. Sunday morning we made it through a combined Sunday School – instead of our regular classes, we met together in the sanctuary to hear missionaries, as part of our focus on missions this week.
This disease affects nerves, disallowing muscles to work properly, and it becomes (very literally!) hard for BH to hold his head up. His eyelids droop until they cannot be opened, but must be held open. When the pain becomes a distraction, not only to him, but to those around him, we either do not attend, or leave between services. Sunday, we left after Sunday School.
I regret that, but not with guilt. God knows. He knows where our hearts are, and He knows how much we love Him. He knows we are grateful, because we tell Him. We do not approach Him in anger, either. While there are physical frustrations, we know that these are temporary, He is eternal and has promised the same to us.
That, in return from so little from us. I like the way it is described of King Josiah:
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)
We do that today, stand before the congregation and give our covenant before the Lord regarding His book. The book is quite a bit longer than in Josiah’s day for we follow the teachings of Jesus, of whom John said:
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29 KJV)
The day will come when neither one of us can sit in God’s house and hear the preacher’s words. Doesn’t matter, for the day will come when we live in God’s presence and hear His words. When that day comes for you, too, stop by and spend a millennia or more sharing our love for our Lord.
Monday, October 10, 2011
I was reading the “Searchlight”, published by the Independent Baptist Fellowship International. We had a Missions Sunday with IBFI missionaries, and our Pastor is speaking this coming week at an IBFI conference in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. Among several articles in the “Searchlight” was “A Word From The President.”
The IBFI’s president wrote of his son’s preparation for his first day at high school. There were Post-It notes on the clothes he laid out. There were notes on his toothbrush, the bath tub. He planned his first day of high school, then went to bed at 8:00. His father also wrote of what his son said to his mother: “Thank you for having me.”
Testing for Down syndrome is getting more and more exact. Two years ago it was an amniocentesis that hinted to a friend of mine that her fourth pregnancy, at forty-plus, might give them a Down child. But she wasn’t concerned. Their third pregnancy indicated a similar diagnosis. For them it didn’t really matter, abortion was not to be considered, though it is for many others.
An interesting 2007 New York Times article is an interview with Sarah Itoh, then eleven, who said she likes to read, math was getting easier, she was a Girl Scout, and aunt. She also said:
“I am so lucky I get to do so many things,” she concluded. “I just want you to know, even though I have Down syndrome, it is O.K.”The article also stated:
About 90 percent of pregnant women who are given a Down syndrome diagnosis have chosen to have an abortion.Those termination percentages come from the National Institute of Health and remain valid.
This reminds me of the man who found a butterfly chrysalis as it began cracking open. He watched, then decided to help. His doing so meant the butterfly did not get the necessary exercise to be able to fly.
Perhaps the women who opt for abortion know themselves well enough that they firmly believe they do not have sufficient strength nor love to enjoy their child. Or, they may be a butterfly getting help and will not know that depth of unconditional love.
You see, I don’t believe this verse applies only to Jeremiah:
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5 KJV)
There are other verses that tell us God knows all about us, from conception.
Thus saith the LORD that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, which will help thee; (Isaiah 44:2a KJV)
From Isaiah to Paul, the message is the same:
For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. (Isaiah 64:4 KJV)
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV)
Sunday, October 9, 2011
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. (John 1:32 KJV)
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13 KJV)
I’ve heard non-believers say that we act as if Christians know something no one else does. We don’t – but He does and He shows us what we need to know. Much of that comes through prayer and Bible reading.
Reading the Bible with prayer reminds me of eating meals. We do it more than once a day, every day. Some of the ingredients are the same time after time. We take some pasta, some meat, some sauce – and turn it into different things for different meals. When we say “Salad,” do we mean lettuce and etc., fruit, macaroni, peas and cheese?
The scriptures for us are quite similar. We’ve been told, and Christians believe, that whether the reference is Deuteronomy 8:3 or Matthew 4:4, we are dependent upon every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
It was the Holy Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness for forty days. The reason is also given in Matthew 4 – to be tempted by Satan. Each of the temptations began with “If”. Twice it was “if you are the Son of God you will …” The third actually acknowledges that Satan knew He came for this world, and Satan offered it to Him, conditionally:
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. (Matthew 4:9 KJV)
Mankind doesn’t have to go that far. All we have to do is ignore Christ, and so many have done so. We’ve ignored His words as He explained what is necessary to reach His Father:
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)
One way, not many. One Father, who commanded us:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5 KJV)
One Lord, not many. One faith:
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6 KJV)
Jesus told us about the way, what it is like:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 KJV)
The strait and narrow way is laid out for us in God’s word. Everyone can find it.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Too often we set expectations with our prayers and miss what God has to offer. When it’s “Yes” we’re pleased as punch and give ourselves a pat on the back for knowing what God had in mind for us – or for receiving a reward for getting it right. With this in mind, we look upon “No” as a failure. If we don’t see where we’ve failed, we think God must have. A lot of times we see “Wait” as a “No” answer, too.
Get rid of those preconceived ideas about what we think God should be doing in our lives and in our prayer life.
The concept needs to be changed from our thinking God is responding to our prayers, our requests, to understanding that we are responding to God’s will in our lives. Don’t keep a tally of positive prayer answers to see if God is responding. Do keep track of how we approach Him in understanding of “Thy will be done.”
The Bible tells us that God said:
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:22-23 KJV)
Christ’s followers were fully aware of this:
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:11-12 KJV)
While we may allow accountability to others here, we are all accountable to God simply because:
The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalms 24:1 KJV)
If you don’t think He’s capable of handling it without us, you don’t have a clue as to His power. It is for our own sakes that we follow Him, not to increase or call attention to Him. He doesn’t need us, we need Him.
As Jacob lay dying, with his sons around him, in the midst of blessing them he said:
I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD. (Genesis 49:18 KJV)
David understood that salvation:
But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. (Psalms 13:5 KJV)
And there came One, as prophesied, who brought God’s salvation to us all:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9 KJV)
Peter knew this as he stood in Jerusalem, filled with the Holy Spirit, and gave God’s word to those who would listen:
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12 KJV)
That, truly, is God at work.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.Disease brought him to this thought much too early in life – but he is so right. There are huge choices to be be made in our lives. Not just once, but many times we come to paths that diverge. Which way will we go?
Mr. Jobs looked around and selected Buddhism as his religion of choice. I choose Christianity. I believe the Bible, and he did not. I look at Christ's words, and I see compassion, commandment and judgment. I see the reasons I believe choosing Christ is choosing life. Christ gives us parables, examples of what our meeting with God will be. All will receive acknowledgement of their actions. I pray that I will hear:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (Matthew 25:35-36 KJV)
Those who did this for their King, without regard for recompense, were surprised at the result:
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? (Matthew 25:37-39 KJV)
They apparently did not understand, so the King explained:
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40 KJV)
Those who did not look to Him as their choice, their example, their goal, received a different response:
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels … Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (Matthew 25:41, 45 KJV)
Many ignore the inescapable fact that humans die. Every one of us. We will stand before our King at least once, no matter whether we are prepared -- or not. Some choose life, many do not. May I always remember that being a doer of His word is love, not just reading it.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
We are studying doctrine in our Junior High Girl’s Sunday School class. I’ve written on it several times in the past – here are a few to review at your leisure: Doctrine, Sound Doctrine, Sound Doctrine (no there’s not an echo, same subject, different time) and Doctrinal Matters. There are more, but no one wants to hit them all.
As homework, we’ve asked the girls to write down their creed, the summary of their particular set of beliefs representing their faith. This is the fourth week, and none have been turned in.
Yes, they are busy in junior high school – much busier for those in for their first year. However, I want them to build an understanding not only of what they believe, but why they believe it.
It is fairly simple for young people to memorize what is given to them, repeat it back to their teachers and not understand the basics underlying what they are saying. We teach children that way for years. They learn to accept authority. One day they will find they can think for themselves yet not understand that all that glitters is not gold.
My goal is for these young ladies to question what I teach them. To seek the answers beyond lessons spoke and find whether what I say has basis in God’s word.
There are very good orators out there whose messages sound very good, yet not doctrinally sound. There are scholars who have questioned scriptures and found reason to deny them. I cannot question their reasoning nor their motive, but I pray I can instill a desire for these young ladies to seek answers through God’s word and prayer, as exampled in the suggested memory verse:
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)
The King James Version has 53 references of ‘scripture’ or ‘scriptures’. Except for one in Daniel, they are in the New Testament and refer to the Tanakh, or what we call the Old Testament. As part of our doctrine, we need to know why the New Testament authors referred to scriptures and we need to know why they thought prophecies were fulfilled. We need to rightly divide the word of truth. We need to know whether these things are so.
My favorite preachers give the gospel message – Jesus, Christ, was given by God to provide salvation through His mercy and grace for all mankind – and explain the consequences of denying His gift. For me, there is but one testament, from Eden through today, that God is open to and waiting for each one to make the decision to follow His instructions. A wise man once told anyone who would read and heed:
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)
Centuries later another affirmed:
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3 KJV)
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Some time ago I wrote that He left it all. He did not bring a robe, not a crown, not ten thousand bowing down, not a piece of jasper wall – He left it all.
But, that’s not the rest of the story. The separation from other religions is resurrection – and the time He spent with his disciples after the resurrection. That is what makes Christians different.
Yet, that’s still not the rest of the story, either. Those ten thousand bowing down were but a handful.
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:11-12 KJV)
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. (Revelation 19:11-12 KJV)
And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:16 KJV)
Oh, yes, that’s Him!
My Lord spent time on a cross and His earthly body died. He did not. He lives, even as He told us Himself:
For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. (Luke 20:38 KJV)
The Lord, our Lord, is one – and He lives. Of great importance to each of us is whether or not our names are included the Lamb’s Book of Life. The Bible tells us so.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Every once in a while I wonder where people get their ideas about Christianity. Often, online, I read where people write very derogatory things about Christians as a whole. Some are personal experiences, some based on their view of historic events. How is religion viewed?
Muslims throw up the thousand-year-old crusades from western Europe as though it happened yesterday. Christians have 9/11, which relatively speaking was yesterday. Atheists look at both and see only animosity in them and other religions.
I read this on another website -- a comment left by a reader on a Christian blog about love:
"I don't need to read you, because if you love your God you have to love to everybody,"I’m not sure what was meant by the sentence, but the author certainly had gained some knowledge of, and made a decision about, a Christian’s God. I wonder where that knowledge was gained, and I wonder about my reader’s. Some state they have read God’s word, others state it has no value for them. What I do here every day depends on how I view what I read of His word.
I believe reading the Bible will teach us what He has in mind for mankind. While I use and appreciate study guides and lessons, I believe reading His word in prayer provides His plans for our lives.
I first learned about the Bible from my grandmother. My Mom and Dad were without a church home for a while, but by the time I was eleven, lessons began in earnest. I also learned about other beliefs. It was a part of the lessons in our congregation – it’s hard to know what one believes without understanding why it is different from others.
So I learned about other Christian denominations. I also learned about the differences among Jews today, not just the Sadducees and Pharisees of the New Testament. I found Islam divided, too, beyond the Shi’ite and Sunni majorities. I’ve had a copy of the Book of Mormon, and while in Taiwan had the opportunity to read Buddha’s teachings. I’m uncertain about the polytheism of Hindu deities, though I’ve discussed some specifically with co-workers.
My Muslim co-worker told me everyone is born a Muslim, but many are led astray to wrong religions, by society, by their parents or others. So far, that’s the only religion I’m aware of that is all inclusive – for a short time. Also, I have yet to run across a religion that accepts everyone as they are, with no change in spiritual growth.
So, my question is – where did you learn about religion? Did you trust that source/sources as much as I trust my path?
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)
That was written by a man who sought to kill Christ’s followers before they were called Christian. God’s ability to change lives is greatly evidenced in Paul’s. Those who come to Him are changed, forever.