Monday, December 31, 2012


For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? (Luke 9:24-25 KJV)

In 1961 the US Army recalled thousands of reservists to active duty. We were among many who reported to Fort Polk, Louisiana, in response to a crisis in Berlin. We were renters, so we lost no home. Others did. We were employees, we did not lose a business. Others did. A lot was given in the service of their country, for their fellow countrymen.

What about those who would follow the Lord, but find they love what they are losing more than they love the path He chose for them? I think that’s what is meant in the above verse by life – the current way we’re living, the standards we desire, the income to buy what we like – if we leave Him to save that, what have we lost?

Can we follow Jesus’ words?

Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12:33-34 KJV)

I can’t. I honestly cannot sell all that I have. I’ve convinced myself that it would not be good stewardship to sell our home and expect God to actually provide my daily bread. I turn to Paul for part of that justification:

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8 KJV)

Yet, Jacob’s descendants were asked to do that very thing – leave their homes in Egypt and follow Moses. Where do we put our trust? What treasures are we losing? Are we listening to God or ourselves?

Think of missionaries, pastors, the church staff that you know. They followed God’s call. Their salaries do not match those in the secular world, do they? These men, these families, have given their lives to the service of our Lord. They have not sought earthly treasures – but they’ve been promised a crown. Peter wrote of them:

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:2-4 KJV)

I believe it is good for all of us to pray for those called to be leaders in His service – the Peters and Pauls of our generation, the men who shepherd the Lord’s flocks. Those who fulfill their service most assuredly deserve that crown of glory – a true treasure.  Pray that they will continue to feed the flock of God among us.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


After Christmas, a friend placed a very uplifting post on Facebook. Yes, she celebrated Christmas with children and grandchildren, but the previous year also held great loss for her family:
Sometimes I just have to push past the feelings and make the choice and it all works out in time
It is a choice – something I’ve tried very hard to get across for years now – that we make daily. How do we face life?

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15 KJV)

Joshua did not threaten to kill every Israelite that chose not to serve the LORD. He did not tell them horrible things would happen to them. He did make his choice known.

There are times when it is necessary to “push past the feelings”, though. Not just feelings of loss and make the choice to rejoice, as my friend did, we also have to push past feelings of bitterness to find life’s sweetness. We have to push past feelings of anger or hurt and choose forgiveness. We have to push past feelings of fear and choose trust.

We have to do all of this pushing ourselves not just with our relationships with fellow man, but with God. We have to push past our own feelings for temptations to place our lives in God’s hands.

Too often we hold on to feelings of anger or hate and withhold our forgiveness of others. We judge their hurtfulness to be greater than we can bear. We are wrong.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 KJV)

We all need God’s forgiveness, for how we treat our fellowman is how we treat God:

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)

We need to push against feelings that tend to separate us from God and keep us from providing fruit of 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)

The previous verses in Galatians 5 give a much longer list for the works of the flesh. Some of them will provide worldly gain, but will certainly quench the spirit.

Daily – we must realize that this isn’t a once in a lifetime event as salvation is. Daily we make decisions about what fruit we provide. Jesus didn’t hold that information back from anyone:

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23 KJV)

Tomorrow I’ll look at the next verse.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Let Me Introduce “Henry”

No – that’s not my MRI – it’s a screen capture. I captured it because the arrow points to the right optic nerve, and my “Henry” resides directly below that red arrow in my own MRI. I wrote of three Meningiomas back in August, and said there would be a follow-up. Did the MRI a couple of weeks ago and met with the Neurologist this past Wednesday. Two of the white blips on the film appear to have calcified – no problems.

Then, there is Henry. I wanted to give it a name and First Daughter came up with Henry. We do not have a Henry in the family, so hopefully no one will become offended, ‘cause this Henry doesn’t belong and is going to go away.

Henry is a tumor in my central nervous system – i.e. my brain. He sets behind my right eye, close to the optic nerve and just a short way from the interior carotid artery. He doesn’t belong there and we’ve been referred to a surgeon to discuss Henry’s eviction.

Now, there are several good things that have occurred:  1) we have visual confirmation that brain matter does exist in my head. Certain members of my family were a bit concerned that there was little indication of that; 2) Henry was found before he interfered with my eyesight; 3) Henry can be evicted at this point with reasonable assurance that he will cause no damage – he’s not showing a spurt of growth.

Naturally, I can see a biblical application to this situation. There’s always the possibility of a “Henry” in our lives, even after we’ve experienced salvation and the remission of our sins. We continue to sin, simply because we are not perfect. Oh – we attempt to justify our actions as NOT really sins. And if we can’t get that far, we point out the sins of others who are so very much WORSE than we are.

What we need to do is evict the “Henrys” out of our lives, no matter how difficult it may seem. They will grow, other sins will get thrown in there along the way, and soon they’ll fester. The Psalmist shared some thoughts:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24 KJV)

That is a powerful prayer that can have awesome results. Be prepared, though, to be uncomfortable as we’re shown the errors in our hearts and in our thoughts. Be prepared for the removal of these Henrys from our lives. There could be a bit of pain, a modicum of swelling and it’s absolutely necessary to admit to all of it to get it gone, and see there is no room for a repeat.

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. (Luke 11:24 KJV)

Are you ready to have the Lord know your heart? Ready to face any wicked way He might find? Just as getting rid of my physical '”Henry” is necessary, we’d best get rid of our spiritual ones, too.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Spiritual Growth

"Apple Blossoms" by Josef Petrek (Public Domain Pictures)

I used this graphic before, back in 2010, when I wrote about potential. I was looking at apple seeds then -- odd looking, elongated and varied in size. Singly, each seed has the potential to repopulate the species across our planet. That's what caught my attention -- potential. Now I’m looking at differences between the seed and the plant that grows from it.

Paul knew how seeds did not just grow bigger to become a plant resembling the seed:

And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: (1 Corinthians 15:37 KJV)

Paul was speaking of our earthly bodies and the resurrected ones. It was his answer to questions about how we would be raised after death. The next twenty verses are used to define differences between the physical and spiritual, bodies we have now and what will be with God.

I believe these verses are also applicable to what our spirit is before salvation and afterward – if we allow God to put us to good works.  (That’s why we were created – see yesterday’s post.) We do have the ability to quench the spirit, though we are asked not to:

Quench not the Spirit. (1 Thessalonians 5:19 KJV)

If we are asked not to quench the spirit, we certainly have the power to do so. Could it be that our quenching the spirit is a reason for our lack of Christian growth? Are we building a wall around our seedling that will quench its potential? Remember the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23) where some seed fell on stony grown? The seed grew, but without roots it withered.

Is that where our faith comes in? Are the roots of our faith shallow, unable to soak up nourishment? Or, do they seek passage through that stony ground, following tidbits of nourishment from God’s word?

We’ve all seen plants blooming in odd places – stony ground, steep hillsides, weedy fields – how? Their roots sought more nourishment and pushed through obstacles to reach their goal.

I submit that God will provide what is needed as long as we seek Him and do His good works. Three Jewish captives understood this:

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. (Daniel 3:17 KJV)

Paul understood, and knew that Abraham did, too:

And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. (Romans 4:21 KJV)

Do we also understand? Are we as persuaded as Paul is:

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 KJV)

Which will we do - quench the spirit, or reach our roots for growth in God’s word?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Don’t Just Bud–Flower!!

Growth in our Christian life is necessary. It is expected by our Lord and the instructions are available in His word. The Holy Spirit is available to assist, but the actual growth depends on us, individually. Believing that God exists, that He takes an interest in our lives and there is more to life than this world are only the first steps.

Following salvation - the very first step, but no place to stop - we are given opportunities to serve. Paul wrote about why we were created:

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

Good works covers a lot of territory, so I don't understand why people think Christians do little more than meet together on Sunday morning, sing a few hymns, make an announcement or two, listen (or sleep) through a sermon - job complete until next week.  Sorry - that's a poor excuse for "good works" that God ordained. What are the good works you have in mind? Doing any of them? If not, why not? If so, share with us, please.

Some where along the way, we become frustrated. Surely "this" is not what God had in mind!!  That comes to all of us. What we thought we were called to do is not successful - in our minds, or in the words of those who criticize our good works. Often, this stage is reached when we are very self-satisfied about what we are doing. Why, we have the greatest understanding of God's plan, don't we?  Haven't we recognized new thoughts, new ideas that appear to have been hidden from others?

Being self-sufficient brings pridefulness and serious frustration. At this point it becomes very easy to back away from God instead of taking the next step – total dependence.  Oh, we accepted that He is divine, but we've retained so much our selves that we stopped becoming His image:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28-29 KJV)

Do we really love God - enough to follow the greatest 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. (Matthew 22:37 KJV)

Or are we keeping "this" little thing that we really, really like, want and can take care of separate and apart from what God called us to do?  Are we allowing pride in our own abilities, discouragement that our plans are not panning out, or distractions (perhaps temptations??) to remove our focus from God's will?

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (Philippians 3:7-8 KJV)

The frustration is ours, the solution is God.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jonah Teaches Again

David Warren gave  the sermon Sunday morning, his scripture from Jonah. He began with where God told Jonah where to go, through his decision to head in the opposite direction and the immediate result of his decision to go elsewhere. Bro. Warren gave us descriptions of three places Jonah thought of:
Nineveh = Where God wants us to be
Joppa = Transition point
Tarshish = Rejection of God’s will
Then he reminded us that we make these same decisions every single day. Think not? Go ahead – pick a day, even this one. Have you spoken with God this morning? He expects us to, every single day (Matthew 6:9-13).  We have many examples, such as David and Daniel – and, of course, Jesus.

Did you make it past that first decision point about where God wants us to be? Or, did you end up in Tarshish?

How about your last drive? Did you treat everyone on the road they way you wanted to be treated (Luke 6:31). I find myself impatient at least once in traffic. I’m tempted to edge beyond the posted speed, too. I’ve been known to give “dirty looks” and have been known to use my horn. Is that what I wish done to me? Not hardly.

Once up and down the road, how about the people we meet. Both of those verses above would apply, wouldn’t they? Especially that “Lead me not into temptation.” We find ourselves at Joppa, the transition point, headed for Tarshish. Actually looking forward to our arrival, don’t we? Think not? It doesn’t have to be a huge temptation, even small ones are part of our decision-making during our day.

Now, consider Nineveh, where God wants us to be. Frankly, I know God brought me to this physical location. It would take a much longer venue to explain, but please trust me on this. We would not be here, doing what we’re doing, if God had not made the provision for us. That’s geography, though. I’m still working on being where God wants me to be in my relationship with Him and with others. There is always more to learn, more to do.

Think of the Beatitudes – a progression in following God’s plan.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
(Matthew 5:3-11 KJV)

An odd progression, isn’t it, to end the blessedness with reviling persecution with evil? He knew, though, what was in store for Him, and for those who would follow His teachings. Still, they chose to follow God’s will, just as Christ did. Will we? Daily?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Gift

That screen capture is the graphic and caption from an opinion piece written by Scott Colby in The Toronto Star on Christmas Eve this year. It’s very well written, and while there were lots of thoughts in it for me, there are two things I’d like focus on today:
As a child growing up in Thunder Bay in the 1970s, it was clear Christmas was meant to be about the birth of Jesus. Almost everyone was Christian and my mother took my brothers and me to her small Lutheran church. Dad, an atheist, stayed home.
Scott’s mother was unequally yoked. Paul discusses this in 1 Corinthians 7:10-15, closing with:

For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? (1 Corinthians 7:16 KJV)

There are non-believing children from devout Christian parents, so it should not be said that Colby’s lack of faith is sourced in his father’s atheism. We each make our own choice regarding our faith. Colby later wrote about his lack of faith:
Although I’m not religious, it bothers me Christmas is no longer a religious holiday for so many people. Even so, hundreds of thousands in Torontonians will be going to church tonight and tomorrow, reverently celebrating the birth of the Messiah. I envy those people. I wish I shared their faith.
Let me tell everyone reading, here’s how to share that faith (I’d like for it to be my Christmas gift to you, but it’s really from God):

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

Where will one hear the word of God? In a church that uses the Bible, God’s holy word about His Word, as the foundation of belief, teachings and sermons. There are plenty of self-help organizations, twelve-step programs, esteem-building seminars and socially acceptable gathering places that do not offer what is received from the word of God. If they help you – fine. They are meant to do so. They were not created to build faith, though. That’s for us to do for ourselves. A lack of faith is no excuse, as we find in the ‘faith chapter’:

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)

A successful business requires a business plan. A successful businessman does due diligence in preparing his plan. The Bible has shown to be a very successful plan for faithfulness, when followed:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;  2 Peter 1:5 KJV)

For those looking for faith – there’s the plan to achieve it. There are detractors actively placing impediments in our way. Will they achieve their goals? Will those impediments close our minds to possibilities, to searching and researching, to seeking God through His word?

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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Gift From Germany

It’s not biblical, our lovely Christmas tree. From the History Channel:
Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness. … the Egyptians filled their homes with green palm rushes which symbolized for them the triumph of life over death.
So it wasn’t just Germany with an historical interest in symbols, but it was through Germany that America was introduced to what we know as the Christmas tree:
The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.
Over the past few days I’ve written about verses of that first Christmas, a large cast of characters and lots of activities – and no mention of trees.  No verses.

Nope – no verses to tell about these trees that decorate our homes once a year. Not biblical, but a tradition that says to us, “Christmas”, loud and clear. Some people become upset when hearing “Holiday tree” or “national tree” instead of “Christmas tree.” I really don’t care what it’s called. It’s been a tradition for a couple of centuries, but I’m not tied to it. There’s much more to this coming celebration than family traditions.

There’s only one verse, more than any other verse in the Bible, that speaks to me this time of the year. More, even, than John 3:16:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 KJV)

The word ‘Messiah’ is used twice in Daniel. The Greek word ‘Christ’ is used often across the New Testament. Men claimed to be that Messiah, the Christ, over past centuries – men still do today. Luke introduces us to Him as a babe in a manger, unrecognized except for His parents, a few shepherds and a couple of old people in a temple. Yet, every time I read/hear the story, one other verse comes to mind:

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV)

Thanks for sticking with me through the Christmas discussions for the past few days – and I beg your indulgence for the next few days as I take them off from writing to focus on family and the celebration of God’s gift of a Savior to each and every one of us. May this be a blessed time for you and your family. May God open our hearts to His message – He has one for us all. See you back here in just a few days.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two Old People

After a baby is born, families return to ordinary activities. One of the things our church does is offer a dedication service for the baby. It’s not a rite of the church, it has nothing to do with expectations for the baby, either. It’s a promise by the parents about how the child will be raised. It is a commitment by those who participate that they will help the parents, too.

Eight days after the birth of Mary’s baby, she and Joseph were in the Temple in Jerusalem. Her purification was accomplished and her first born son required a sacrifice.. They met two old people who looked to God for answers:

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

Amazing! Simeon was waiting for the Messiah, the consolation of Israel. He was close to God and God allowed him to recognize this child:

Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:28-32 KJV)

We aren’t told that Anna received word from God – just that:

And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. (Luke 2:38 KJV)

It could be as simple as being at the right place, at the right time and accepting the uniqueness of the moment.

The story of these two old people concerns only a few moments of the life of this child, but their names have not been forgotten for a couple of thousand years. I’ve read fiction where they were interwoven into stories preceding Christ’s birth, giving reason for their being at this place for such a time as this.

Where will we be when God is doing something special?

Are we close enough to Him to hear what He has in mind? Would we spend enough time in His house to be available when a special child comes through? Would we recognize that child as being part of God’s plans? Would we rejoice?

Several years ago a group of youth moved through our  church, dedicating their lives to His work. They are pastors or pastor’s wives now, in His service. Their choice was obvious by their words, their activities, their own dedication to His service. The church supported them.

We haven’t had such a group in the years since. Are they not there? Or do we not recognize them? Do we think it can’t happen again? Are we waiting for a group – and overlooking a single child that would blossom with support?

Why not reach out, take them in our arms and bless God for them. Why not make ourselves available to support them through the decisions they must make along the way.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Here we have Mary and the baby. Joseph is probably the figure in green, and one boy to represent a field full of shepherds. Those are covered in Luke 2. (The one at our church is somewhat prettier, but has the same figurines displayed)

Incorrectly displayed are three magi with gifts, though we do find them in Matthew 2:

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, (Matthew 2:1 KJV)

They had a specific purpose that upset the current king, always on the lookout for someone eager to take his throne:

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:2-3 KJV)

Didn’t they have enough trouble with Roman conquerors? Now there’s a new king born without any fanfare?  Then we hear the same story from lots of Old Testament situations – who do you call?

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. (Matthew 2:4-6 KJV)

They knew where, but not who nor when.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. (Matthew 2:7 KJV)

Then, Herod lied:

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. (Matthew 2:7-8 KJV)

Look at the nativity set again. No men carrying swords, yet they played a huge part:

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. (Matthew 2:16 KJV)

Then was heard what we are hearing today, weeping for the innocent children:

In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. (Matthew 2:18 KJV)

Thus had Jeremiah been told:

Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. (Jeremiah 31:15 KJV)

If our mangers scenes must display these wise men, so should they display the men Herod sent forth to destroy this new king.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Monday’s Child

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my Monday’s Child? He could qualify for some of the other days, but he most definitely is a Monday’s child, fair of face.

I find him full of grace,too. And, he has been full of woe. He has gone far, and he still has far to go. He is known for being loving and giving. Yes, he has worked hard for his living. I’m not certain about the ‘bonny and blithe’ but he certainly is good and knows how to bring gaiety to life for him self and others.

He could have been born any day of the week and fit into that children’s poem. So could our Lord.
We’re not told much about the time of His birth. Another belief’s day of celebration was chosen to remember His birth, and I don’t mind that at all. We do know that shepherd’s were out in the fields with their flocks.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. (Luke 2:8 KJV)

Since I’m not a shepherd, I’ll leave it to experts to tell you what time of year that might have been. It doesn’t matter.

It was in that field that the night became different. Oh, there were other people traveling to be taxed. There were other inns that were filled. There were other people inconvenienced, and maybe even another baby born. But no one else was announced by an angel:

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

Every description I’ve read of angels, in the Bible and out, their appearance would be enough to frighten. God’s reflected glory shone all around them. What a sight – not given to townsmen, not given to priests – just for shepherds.

What the angel said changed the world forever.

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

Glad tidings. Great joy. To all people. All of that’s OK, but the big deal was: Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. His heavenly father provided not only what He needed to accomplish the purpose of His birth, but what we need to accomplish every hour of our daily lives, and more.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:13-14 KJV)

Too soon it’s over.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. (Luke 2:15 KJV)

Be as these shepherds. When all the hoopla is over, the holiday energy runs down, the wrapping paper consigned to trash sacks – go see about that thing that came to pass which the Lord has made known.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


My reading plan currently is Major Beliefs. Today's reading is Luke, chapter 4. Looking for a graphic to show Christ's temptations, I was struck by the way Satan is portrayed as something we would turn from. That's not how he is.

Satan is an angelic being. His actions are not what God desires, but nothing indicates that temptations are noticeably undesirable. In fact, they appear completely desirable.

And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. (Luke 4:1-3 KJV)

Look at what he first offered Jesus -- bread, a necessity of life. Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, and He had been without bread during His fast. Our bodies crave food. How easy it would have been to simply provide a common necessity. Don't our necessities go beyond a single loaf of bread? Why not provide for one's self?

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Luke 4:4 KJV)

From my own experience, years went by when I did live by bread alone, without the word of God. Can't change that, can't make up for the time lost, but I can be filled to overflowing with His word now - to the point I share it with others, knowing it builds faith:

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

The second temptation could have been the hardest for Jesus, who prayed that the 'cup' - the humiliating death on the cross - could be passed. The devil offered Him what he had no right to give:

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. (Luke 4:5-7 KJV)

Permitted in this world by God's omniscience, it does not belong to him - then or now:

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:8 KJV)

Okay, if He wouldn't give in to bodily needs and was willing to face death, perhaps a small sign of His relationship to God would do. Sort of, "If you're really God's given Son, show me a bit of proof. I need to see it with my own eyes. Maybe I have the wrong man."

And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Luke 4:9-11 KJV)

Once again Jesus quoted scriptures - God word - in response:

And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (Luke 4:12 KJV)

Where do you find yourself tempted? How do you recognize it? What's your response?

How many of us respond to temptations with scripture? What scriptures do we know to use when we're tempted? What scriptures do we remember that deal with what we should -- or should not -- be doing? How do we know something is a temptation? Aren't we supposed to get what we need? What we want? What we're entitled to? Do we believe there are consequences?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Repeating History

Last night there was an article on about Jews in Hungary. That caught my eye because this weekend I was reading “The Story of the Scrolls” by Geva Vermes. He is very familiar with history, as he wrote:
In March 1944, on Hitler’s order, the half-hearted Germanophile Magyar government was replaced by enthusiastic puppets of the Nazi Reich, and all hell was let loose on the Jews of Hungary. My parents were deported and joined the millions of innocent victims of the Holocaust.
History could be repeated, as NBC reported:
The Jobbik party, the third biggest in parliament, has used anti-semitic slurs to boost its standing before elections in 2014, drawing international scorn. The strongest yet greeted last month's call by Marton Gyongyosi, who runs Jobbik's foreign policy cabinet, for Jewish members of government and parliament to be listed in the wake of Israel's recent military campaign to stop rocket fire from Gaza. "I think such a conflict makes it timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary," he told parliament.
Not even a full generation later and there’s movement to list people with Jewish ancestry. Mankind has not learned to live together in peace.

History has repeated itself in the death of innocents in America, too. Men with guns and mental problems have repeated such deaths from coast to coast. Some will work to pass legislation to control gun ownership – but that will not solve the problem. The solution is love.

Golda Meir was quoted love while having children on her mind:
Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us. …  What bothers me most is not that Arabs kill our children, but that they force us to kill theirs
Can there be a generation of children raised without hate? Or will history continue to be repeated, at the level of the horror at Newtown? At the level of Hitler’s holocaust? What is an acceptable level?

What help is there? If I were reaching only Christians, I would quote:

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:39 KJV)

For non-Christians, what would be a similar requirement to achieve the safety of children? What can be accomplished? What do we want to accomplish? How are we willing to do this?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Age Old Old Age

My Mom’s youngest sister, last of her siblings, turned 90 this year. She and her husband included a verse in their Christmas letter that I simply love – and understand:

And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. (Isaiah 46:4 KJV)

She wrote:  “Seems our year has been busy, much of which has been the maintenance of life and limb.” Oh, boy, can I relate to that, even though we are almost twenty years her junior!

Maintaining life is often not easily accomplished. This past year placed David in ICU three times. Add once for surgery for him and once for me, that’s too many hospitalizations. Yet, we have maintained, against some pretty strong odds that we shouldn’t have been able to do so. That speaks well of his physicians, but equally as well for the faithful prayer partners we’ve had.

We’ve also had the promises of our Lord, age old commitments, that sustain us in our old age (even if that’s twenty years from now!) That what, hoary, hair can be considered a crown:

The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness. (Proverbs 16:31 KJV)

It’s God’s righteousness that needs to be found:

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

That ‘righteousness’ is the Greek δικαιοσυνην, justification. First used in Jesus’ reply to John when John wanted to decline baptizing him:

But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. (Matthew 3:14-15 KJV)

There are things to be done in achieving God’s righteousness – pretty well spelled out in His word. We’ve been told what is good, what is bad. We’ve been told how to be good, and we’ve been told what happens when we’re not. Cause/effect, actions/consequences. We’ve lived long enough to experience that reality.
God’s righteousness is available for all. Peter discovered that following a vision and meeting a man seeking God’s righteousness:

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10:34-35 KJV)

James reaches out to tell us to control our anger:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. (James 1:20 KJV)

That’s something that often comes with age. Maybe that’s why Proverbs combines a hoary head with righteousness. My advice is “Don’t wait!” Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:2 – now is the accepted time. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year. Not waiting for old age.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Grander Design

Friday evening’s YouVersion reading was Galatians 5, which includes this verse:

Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? (Galatians 5:7 KJV)

As I went to sleep, a quote I read Friday morning combined with that verse. From Stephen Hawking's "Grand Design":
“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist…. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”
That's nothing new. The book came out in 2010 and Hawking's theories have been around a lot longer than that. He once said he wanted to find out what happened before the 'big bang.'  In an interview following the book’s publication, Hawking is quoted:
"One can't prove that God doesn't exist, but science makes God unnecessary."
I must admit that it would be nice to uncreate a God that would allow amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or myasthenia gravis, or anyone of a number of cancers along with the death of children, wars and natural disasters. Mr. Hawking is not the first to uncreate God. There are, however, scientists who believe otherwise. From Gerald Schroeder’s article:
Our concept of time begins with the creation of the universe. Therefore if the laws of nature created the universe, these laws must have existed prior to time; that is the laws of nature would be outside of time. What we have then is totally non-physical laws, outside of time, creating a universe. Now that description might sound somewhat familiar. Very much like the biblical concept of God: not physical, outside of time, able to create a universe.
I found Dr. Schroeder’s article while doing background. A rabbi as well as a physicist, his scientific research does what my own research has done – confirms belief that God not only exists but takes an active interest in His creation. I go a step further than he does, though, and believe:

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

We will never be able to prove nor disprove God’s existence. Paul gives us good advice:

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? (Romans 3:3 KJV)

The writer of Hebrews tells us that faith is necessary and has rewards:

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)

In seeking philosophical answers or scientific answers, how diligently does the researcher consider God in the results? How diligently do we seek Him in our daily lives. More importantly, going back to the first verse here, do we hinder anyone in their seeking of God or His will in their lives. Think seriously on that – Jesus mentioned consequences:

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. (Luke 17:1-2 KJV)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Want To Be Shocked Or Lulled?

Read this recently, a quote from Vance Havner posted on Facebook:
My father was converted by the preaching of a hair-raising sermon on the text, “He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Proverbs 29:1). It scared him into the Kingdom of God. Such preaching is discouraged these days, but it is better to scare men into heaven than to lull them into hell.
It gave me pause to think. He’s right – such preaching is discouraged. Larger audiences are gained by encouraging people to be positive, to look forward to happiness, to have a sense of well-being. Today’s attitude that all children are winners and no one is left behind came from adults who fail to understand that there are standards some do not achieve. Participation ribbons are not the same as first place medals and not all athletes compete in the Olympic Games.

There are winners and there are losers. My great-grandchildren are learning this lesson as they compete in wrestling matches. It is better to win than it is to participate, and they don’t miss those who do not even enter.

So why in this world do we look upon religion as being different? There is gain and there is loss.

Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (Philippians 3:8 KJV)

Paul lost his career, his friends, his very way of life when he chose to follow Christ after their meeting on the road to Damascus. Jesus did not tell Saul he was going to hell. He did not tell him about sin or the devil:

And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. (Acts 9:4-5 KJV)

But Paul knew, having read and believed David from the Psalms. Check Psalm 14 and Psalm 53. Paul used them in Romans 8, beginning with verse ten to explain that we all stand in need of God’s mercy.

Paul never mentions hell in his writing, though he does mention Satan as our adversary. Paul knew that salvation was necessary, and available.

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:8-10 KJV)

It is a shock to understand from what we must be saved. Read the verses before this one to understand why:

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31 KJV)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

My Apologies

This week has turned out to be a very hectic schedule. My Beloved Husband’s fistula surgery was sort of inserted into the surgeon’s schedule (one doctor delayed the request for a few weeks, necessitating a bunch of rescheduling for everyone involved!) We got it all done - with the help of my SiL Mike.

I am maintaining my scheduled Bible reading – YouVersion’s Major Beliefs. My problem is a lack of time to do the verses justice in a blog, but here goes on a couple of items – I offer my apologies for the lack of depth! Please take time to read these two chapters on your own.

Wednesday and today’s readings were on the Holy Spirit – Wednesday was Romans 8, Thursday’s 1 Corinthians 12. Both of these were read within the last few months during the Chronological Bible Reading, but I’ve always found new thoughts with each reading.

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. (Romans 8:5-6 KJV)

While reading about the Holy Spirit, we come face to face with what happens to us when we become spiritual – when we spend more time with God – we leave some things behind and fill that space with new. We think differently. If we don’t, we’re missing a connection along the way.

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (1 Corinthians 12:3 KJV)

Paul wants his readers to understand that no one containing the Spirit can curse Jesus, and those of us who believe He is the Lord, the promised Messiah, does so through the Holy Spirit. That’s truth. Factual.
Strange as it seems, it’s almost impossible to explain that peace. Paul knew that, too:

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 KJV)

That peace comes through understanding that God truly is in control, not only interested in our lives but actively responding to our prayers. However, our prayers need to be seeking His will. We lose our peace when we doubt His abilities – I think of it as quenching the Spirit.

And, that returns me to how best to live each day:

Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
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. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-23 KJV)

Hmmmm. No one said it was easy. Just that it can be done, and done with peace in our heart and soul.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Revisiting A Way

(It's 4:00 Wednesday morning and we're heading to the hospital in about 15 minutes to check David in for his fistula. I'd appreciate your patience as I post from about a year ago:)

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)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

First Baptist Church of Cottondale

That’s new!! Our church has a new website, though it’s the same URL ( there’s a lovely new look to it. Very eye catching and all of our previous information has been ported over to the new site – along with some new pages and good quotes.
I really like this one:
We want you to know that there’s still a church that feels like a church. It won’t feel like a rock concert, comedy club, or motivational seminar. It’s not old-fashioned, as in 50 years ago. It is timeless, as in 2000 years ago.
Our hymns are a bit different, but they reflect the same message found 2000 years ago:

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:30 KJV)

Our pastor still preaches from scriptures, over 2000 years old:

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:17-21 KJV)

His sermons still offer the same good news that angels delivered:

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

Those sermons tell how a person can be saved, too:

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (Acts 16:30-32 KJV)

Now, if a person is seeking entertainment, fashion displays, life affirmation, or a number of other current buzzwords, you might not find our church comfortable – but I assure you, it would be good for you, just as promised:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 KJV)

The very best news is that ours isn’t the only church that offers all of the above plus fellowship with believers. If you’re not close enough to come to ours, look for these same things in a church near you. If you don’t find all of them the first time, look just a bit further. That’s in both the Old and New Testament:

But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. (Deuteronomy 4:29 KJV)

That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: (Acts 17:27 KJV)

Monday, December 10, 2012


It takes patience to wait for blooms. I have so very little.  You’ve read that facetious prayer, “Lord, give me patience RIGHT NOW!!” Well, that might have originated with me.

Thursday I was told the results of my MRI would come this week. Friday the surgeon told us Beloved Husband’s fistula surgery would be scheduled this week. I want to know  the day, hour, minute – and I have to wait.  It’s a good thing our last Sunday School lesson was on patience. It covered:

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; (1 Corinthians 13:4a KJV)

Yep, a whole lesson on half a verse. The lesson was four 8.5x11 pages, too, so that half verse covered a lot. It told us that the Greek μακροθυμέω, translated as ‘suffereth long’ means “be patient; patiently endure.” That reminds me of another verse:

In your patience possess ye your souls. (Luke 21:19 KJV)

There are a couple of ways of reading that, but I like what Matthew Henry wrote:
“In suffering times, set patience upon the guard for the preserving of your souls; by it keep your souls composed and in a good frame, and keep out all those impressions which would ruffle you and put you out of temper.”
I found it odd that ‘patience’ is not used in the Old Testament, though it’s used in 33 New Testament verses. It’s used in lists that teach us godliness:

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. (1 Timothy 6:10-11 KJV)

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. (2 Peter 1:5-7 KJV)

The lesson suggested “incorporate patience into your daily life,” then reminds us it’s already there in God’s patience with us. God has certainly been patient with me! It’s that example I should be using in my patience with others. Running out of patience actually indicates a lack of love. Being patient with people (everyone, not just loved ones) means taking time to communicate to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

Being patient also means overlooking faults in others as well as being willing to listen to them. Listen closely, with understanding and without interruptions. Finally, being patient means that we are to respect different viewpoints.  That doesn’t mean accepting them as truth, but to respect the individual holding them.

It is not our job to change people, to expect them to change or even to require that they change. Change comes from within and has to do with a change of spirit. We may pray for it, but God is the only one that requires it – and He requires it from each of us.

Let’s work on our own spiritual changes with patience and God’s help. We all have much to learn and much to do. What’s next on your list?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

I’m Not At Church

It’s strange – I’m not at church this morning, and my health is fine. It’s my husband’s health that is of concern. He’s scheduled for a fistula implant this week (no, we don’t have the schedule, yet) and there’s a virus going around. It was suggested we not be in crowds, just in case. He needs to stay well and get this accomplished or there could be another month’s delay due to the surgeon’s holiday schedule.

It does feel strange.  Oh, I’ve stayed home on days I’ve not been well, but that’s an entirely different situation. I’m at a loss, really.  I’m missing out on a lesson covering a couple more verses in 1 Corinthians’ 13th chapter, too. I’m missing a sermon given by our Youth Minister. Our pastor has gone to another church for a special baby dedication service, his third grandson!

I’m missing the fellowship, too.

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

I will miss the support, the advice, the urging we receive from our fellowship with Christians. I never miss their prayer support, though! That has been the source of much strength over this past year when we literally passed through the valley of the shadow of death. We received prayer support from loving Christian brothers and sisters literally around the world.

Just as we pray for others’ strength during difficult times, we receive the same urging from our fellowship to grow our faith and remain close to our Lord. It is wonderful to know that there are people who continue to repeat Samuel’s words:

I will pray for you unto the LORD. (1 Samuel 7:5b KJV)

Samuel was praying for the entire nation, after they had complied with God’s request:

And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only. (1 Samuel 7:3-4 KJV)

That’s the theme throughout the Bible – serving the Lord, only. He created us. He loves us. He provides for us. He has told us what He requires:

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)

I love that verse. To me it is such a beautiful picture, walking in the presence of our God. Not prideful, not armed with strength, but with humility, submitted myself to His will. Knowing with all my heart that what He has for me is so much greater than this world can imagine.

We do get a taste, though, in fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


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)

How do we measure our giving? Most churches will teach that good stewardship includes tithing, but a lot of their members find it difficult to give ten percent of their income.

Why is it so difficult to believe what Jesus told His disciples? Why not believe it is just as true for us today?

Trust – which really translates into faith – is the answer. We have a tendency to believe He said these things, that His disciples wrote them down, and maybe we believe they are historically valid. Maybe we even believe that what He spoke is a good philosophy to live by, but we lack the faith to believe this is truth, applicable to us today.

Or, maybe we don’t think we can give enough to make a difference:

And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. (Luke 21:1-4 KJV)

A simple lesson, with very little information. I could imagine the rich handing theirs over with a little pride, while she was quiet, probably quick to cast hers into the treasury and move on. The Bible doesn’t tell us that. It doesn’t tell us that the rich were wrong in their attitude or their gifts, either. There’s no indication that the rich withheld in their giving, or that they were doing it for show. Jesus did speak against those who acted for people to see:

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:5 KJV)

So if there were a deeper lesson about giving, He could have used it with this example of the rich and the widow. They gave from their abundance, she from penury, but they both gave. Do we?

Can we have faith in the promise that how we give will be used to measure what we get? Does our attitude have an impact? Is it important to remember:

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7 KJV)

Friday, December 7, 2012


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

Daniel Coates, serving where fields are ready for harvest, is one of the missionaries our church helps support. Click on his picture or click here to reach his Facebook page.  He recently quoted:
"People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from effort, people do not gravitate towards godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessnes and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated." D. A. Carson
Liberated does not mean that we ignore God’s law. Jesus fulfilled the requirements of the law, but did not erase it. Paul knew this truth:

Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3:31 KJV)

Paul wrote to Timothy about slaves, but it’s applicable to us all – obedience.

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-6 KJV)

That “teach otherwise” would be teaching disobedience to Christ’s words. Matthew Henry explains:
Observe, If the professors of religion misbehave themselves, the name of God and his doctrine are in danger of being blasphemed by those who seek occasion to speak evil of that worthy name by which we are called. And this is a good reason why we should all conduct ourselves well, that we may prevent the occasion which many seek, and will be very apt to lay hold of, to speak ill of religion for our sakes.
When we delight ourselves in the Lord, He becomes the desire of our heart. Spending time with Him in prayer and studying His word will bring us closer to practicing virtue and staying away from sin - holiness.

I recently read articles saying that we need to stop thinking we’re sinning and accept diverse ways of life. For me, I think of David, who understood his sin (as we should understand ours) and asked for cleansing (as we should ask for ourselves):

Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 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 51:2-4 KJV)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a delight filled life? Let’s set our goals to move toward holiness. Will you share yours?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Still Nothing

When I was a teen (no, there were no dinosaurs then) I belonged to a Southern Baptist youth organization called Girl's Auxiliary (no, it doesn't exist today, either.) Instead of 'grades', there were 'steps' - Lady-in-Waiting, Princess, Queen, Queen Regent and Queen with a Scepter (or vice-versa, I forget whether Regent or Scepter came first.) That doesn't matter, though.

What does matter is what I learned about Jesus, the application of biblical principles to my life and the scriptures I memorized. 1 Corinthians' thirteenth chapter was one, only we started with the last verse from the previous chapter.  Paul had been discussing the gifts of the spirit - actually admonishing the church at Corinth to appreciate all the gifts. Then he writes:

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. (1 Corinthians 12:28-31 KJV)

That ‘more excellent way’ was our lesson last Sunday. That ‘more excellent way’ is having the godly love that is necessary to live the abundant Christian life the Bible defines. Without that love, we are nothing.

In the first three verses of chapter 13, Paul gives examples that sound so much as if they would be the perfect display of Christianity. The world’s greatest orator could be understood in every language, but without love, we might has well be banging cymbals. Even the most knowledgeable scientists and the greatest prophets of all time are nothing, without love. A church member can give the most money, serve on the high profile committees, accomplish everything on his agenda, but without love, Paul says “it profiteth me nothing.”

Motives are of the utmost importance, aren’t they? Everything done for self is valued at nothing. The tiniest thing done for another turns out to be great.

I’ve visited this topic of ‘nothing’ and these verses before – and I probably will again in the future simply because has a great bearing on the excellent way to not only love our Lord (the first and great commandment) but to love our neighbor (the second commandment.) That love is not only the more excellent way, without it there is nothing.

One of the best examples of this love in action was a lady at our church who helps serve families during funerals. We had been asked to sign a book that listed those who brought dishes, sent flowers, helped in general. The widow wanted to be certain she thanked everyone. This lady declined – very sweetly, very kindly – and said it was OK, the Lord knew. Can we be as unselfish? Are we aware that we are serving Him, and need nothing more?

We each need to look to our own motives – why do we (or we do we NOT) do things for our fellow man? Are we paying ahead hoping for something in return, or can we do for others without letting people know?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. (John 15:11 KJV)

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. (Luke 2:10 KJV)

Do you have your share of the joy? It’s available, according to many verses in the Bible. Chronologically, joy is mentioned in Job, so that’s very early in the Bible. But joy is mentioned in book order first with David. He puts the word to good use in the Psalms, too, beginning with:

But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. (Psalms 5:11 KJV)

My favorite, though, is:

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psalms 51:12 KJV)

Without salvation, Christmas can hold no joy. Oh, there could be happiness when presents are opened, there can be pleasure in the company of loved ones – but the joy comes from those good tidings, that good news that angels spread:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 KJV)

Yep – savior. The Messiah, mentioned by title only in Daniel in the Old Testament:

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:25-26 KJV)

That doesn’t sound very joyful, does it. Yet, it is for the joy of the Messiah that we write, just as John did:

And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:4 KJV)

Restore the joy of the Lord’s salvation – spend time with Him in His word.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The First Love Song

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24 KJV)

For the secular humanist, this has no meaning. To them, there is no God, therefore Adam and Eve could not have existed. They are a figment of a tribal imagination striving to explain a traditional view.

For the secular humanist, so are believing Christians a type of tribe imagining a way to explain a traditional view when it is socially obvious that humans were built for pleasure and the many way to express it personally. If it feels good, do it.

In my opinion, their imagination is limited to human sensations, lacking a connection to a spiritual relationship with One capable not only of creating our known universe, its inhabitants from blazing suns to boson particles, but of being interested enough to create sentient beings to commune with Him and each other.

In doing so, He created a man who sang the first love song to the woman who became his wife. As it was written later, the author was inspired to include the reason a man leaves his parents – for the love of the woman at and of his side.

Within a few generations, that thought was forgotten. Skeptics today look at the multiple wives of the patriarchs and think that was the biblical plan for the family. No. The Bible describes truth. The truth is that mankind took what God made and changed it to match what men want.

God has a plan for each one of us. If we do not fulfill it, it is our loss, not His. Mordecai knew this and explained to Esther:

Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13-14 KJV)

Esther didn’t respond simply on Mordecai’s word:

Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. (Esther 4:16 KJV)

Esther entered into a loveless marriage, with a man who was known to discard wives and keep concubines. Yet hers was as much a part of God’s plan as Adam and Eve’s. Let’s remain in His plan, being part of a love song if only between ourselves and our Lord.