Friday, November 30, 2012

A Repeat Look at the Creator

Big Brown
Big Brown, photographed by Rick Samuels (used by permission)

This blog is a repeat from earlier last year - 
as a reminder to take care in using graphics
and in our search for God.

Note that “used by permission”?  Well, I used a Rick Samuels’ Big Brown photograph before without the correct research and contact.  That happens often in the digital/Internet age where bits and bytes swirl around the world at the speed of light. We tend to forget that photographers and painters earn their living through such.  Oh, we read the Copyright Fair Use and think we’ve accomplished the letter of the law because we don’t take time to seriously search for the creator.

Fortunately, someone noted the picture and gave me an applicable lesson.  Rick even wrote a comment on my “Bridle That Tongue” post, so I took the time to search for him, located an e-mail address and let him know how much I regretted my misapplication of Fair Use and apologized.  In addition to forgiving me, Rick sent the above photo.  What else could I do but make an application lesson out of that, too?

You see part of that application at the end of the first graph – “… we don’t take time to seriously search for the creator.”  Capitalize that Creator and the application is apparent.  The Preacher wrote in favor of that search:

Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; [Ecclesiastes 12:1 KJV]

But we’re usually too busy in our youth just learning how to survive. Unfortunately, that also leads to misuse of what is available to us, and we live with regrets.  If we would take the time to search for the creator, we could avoid those regrets.  The Bible literally speaks volumes of that Creator.  He described Himself to Isaiah:

I am the LORD, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King. Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters; [Isaiah 43:15-16 KJV]

When we do the research, look for knowledge, follow the guidelines laid out for the benefit of all, we’ll also find forgiveness for previous errors and help along the way.  What else could we desire?

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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

How Do You Invite People To Church?

Pastor’s Wednesday night message started me thinking about inviting someone to church. Why? What are we expecting? That’s going to depend on how well we know them, what age they are and what they are going to hear.

If they come to Sunday School, there will be lessons prepared, age appropriate, a teacher and other students who may know a lot more than a newcomer. Seems designed to make the newcomer a bit uncomfortable.

So, let’s say Worship Service instead.  Ooops, how’s that going to work when the purpose is defined by the title – Worship. How’s the newcomer going to react to the psalmist’s description:

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. (Psalms 29:2 KJV)

How will our invitee react to this:

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. (Psalms 95:6 KJV)

Would our hypothetical invitee participate? Probably not, unless they’ve mentioned earlier they are Christians, but often we are inviting people that 1) we know are not Christians, or 2) we have no idea about their religious preference. And that’s what we need to change. We need to spend time away from church with the people we’re inviting. Do some preparation.

Take a look at the first services after the resurrection:

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:40-42 KJV)

Been to one of those services lately? Well, not the three thousand, but it is a blessing to see a couple baptized, a family united for eternity. We also hear words of testimony and exhortation during our worship services – is the invitee ready for that?

Shouldn’t we be doing some prep and explain why we’re inviting these people to church? We have good news for them and we should be explaining that long before asking them to come worship with us, shouldn’t we? We are asking them to a religious experience, shouldn’t we be able to discuss religion with them before they attend?

Do we say, “Come to church with us next Sunday?” instead of saying, “I would like for you to join us in worshiping the Lord this Sunday.” Do we take it for granted that our invitee knows the purpose of the church? To be honest, why would a non-believer want to come to a service designed to worship a God they do not know or understand. How can we expect them to understand the message if we can’t explain it?

We need to be witnessing with our words, our actions, our every day life. All of that should shout why we worship and why we would share the experience.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Do thoughts fill your mind and keep you from sleep? What thoughts are they?

We add information to our minds daily – what we read, what we see, what we say and what we hear. Which ones keep us awake at night?

All of that went through my mind when I read:

In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. (Psalms 94:19 KJV)

There are times that my concentration fails. I’ll start on my prayer list and find myself following ‘rabbit trails’ that have little connection to my original plan. I will want to pray for a specific individual, a specific situation in their life – and find myself following thoughts that brought them to that place, or about another family member, or a similar situation in the past. I lose focus.

Then the real Comforter, not the one in the graphic, provides for me, as Paul explained:

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

That’s the Comforter we have now – the one promised by our Lord as he told His disciples farewell:

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)

He does bring things to mind – all the small, daily, blessings the Lord provides for His children. Those bits and pieces we see of His ability through the universe He created for us, down to the waving grains and calling birds that delight our lives.

The greatest of these is love, which gave us the unspeakable gift of salvation:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)

God, who spoke the universe into being, gave Himself to mankind in order to provide that which we need the most – eternal life with Him. How much time do we really spend considering what that cost Him as He bought us and made us new?

For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2:18-20 KJV)

Oh, yes – the multitude of my thoughts about our Lord gives me delight. What glorious comfort!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An Eyewitness

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:1-4 KJV)

My favorite New Testament authors are Luke and John.  Luke because he follows a timeline, and in Acts he’s right there in the action. John because he writes more about the spiritual, and here he gets specific as to how he knows about what he’s writing.

He heard Jesus speak, and wrote down His words. He saw Jesus do miracles that men could not. He touched him, and he saw him after His resurrection, so John knew specifically about the eternal life. John needed to declare all these things, to share them in order to give others joy.

Luke was writing to a ‘friend of God’ to tell, in order, what he believed because it was delivered to him by eyewitnesses.  We are not told if Luke saw Jesus, but since he spoke with those who were witnesses from the beginning, I believe he spoke with Mary and was able to give us the story of Christ’s birth.

Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, (Luke 1:1-3 KJV)

John writes of joy, Luke tells us angels proclaimed it. It reminds me of a David Psalm:

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

There is a joy in the salvation God provides. Unfortunately, it cannot be experienced in increments as one approaches God. It comes when we understand our salvation is an accomplished fact, that God is able to care for what we’ve handed to Him. Just as John, that’s what we want to share with others. We want to proclaim glad tidings of great joy, mostly because we’ve experienced it.

We’ve also experienced grief, disappointment and loss. We know that’s part of life on this earth – experienced by our Lord, too. There’s much more, and for that we are grateful. Thanks be to God for the joy of His salvation!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fear, Faith and Leadership

Our Sunday evening services right now are studies in Judges. A couple of weeks ago we learned more about Gideon.  Last night there were several things that struck me as we read in Judges 7.

Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand. (Judges 7:3 KJV)

God was working with Gideon, taking the number of warriors down to where it would be understood by all that the salvation of Israel now was His work, not theirs. Using people’s fears was the first winnowing, and over two-thirds of the army returned home. They did not have the faith that God would keep His promises. The second winnowing left Gidean with an army of three hundred.

And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. (Judges 7:7 KJV)

The Lord then helps Gideon face his own fears:

And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand. But if thou fear to go down, go thou with Phurah thy servant down to the host: And thou shalt hear what they say; and afterward shall thine hands be strengthened to go down unto the host. Then went he down with Phurah his servant unto the outside of the armed men that were in the host. (Judges 7:9-11 KJV)

I’ve wondered, “Why Phurah?” What did he have that others did not? There’s no explanation in the Bible, so anything I said would be speculation – the question remains. Why did the Lord ask Gideon to face his fears with Phurah? But, he did and they gained confidence in the victory. A victory accomplished without weapons:

And the three companies blew the trumpets, and brake the pitchers, and held the lamps in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands to blow withal: and they cried, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. (Judges 7:20 KJV)

A trumpet in their right hands, lamps in their left, no weapons to defend themselves or attack the enemy – yet their enemy turned and fled. Gideon’s army of three hundred had responded to his leadership, his cry of “Do as I do.”

And he said unto them, Look on me, and do likewise: and, behold, when I come to the outside of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so shall ye do. When I blow with a trumpet, I and all that are with me, then blow ye the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon. (Judges 7:17-18 KJV)

Do we have the faith to move beyond our fears to allow the Lord’s leadership in our lives? To do as He says, then tell others, “Look on me, and do likewise.”

Sunday, November 25, 2012


So many words have their meaning changed over the years. Today when we speak of “transformed”, a movie or toys comes to mind. That picture doesn’t match how it was used in the Bible:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2 KJV)

The Greek μεταμορφόω used here is the base for metamorphosis – a noticeable change. That should be applicable in a Christian’s life. I’ve heard (and seen) the changes one of our Deacon’s describes in his life. He was a functioning alcoholic, able to keep a job (partly because of his excellent co-dependent wife) and do good work in life. Except when he was drinking, which put him in the back of a police car a couple of times. Except for the money taken out of their budget to cover his cigarettes, booze, a bit of pot here and there, fines and lawyer fees. Multiple rehab stays hadn’t changed him. Once he was in a facility with an aunt and two cousins – same one his Dad had been in. It was a family trait.

He was in a twelve-step program when he started attending our church. He asked the pastor about a couple of the steps.  Pastor’s response was that he didn’t know about more than one step – Jesus, Christ, as personal Lord and savior. When this man accepted Christ, he was transformed.

Conforming to anyone’s concept of what this world should be is a huge step. Most people are non-conformists – wanting to stand out from a crowd, which means they think conforming to church rules and regulations is absolutely NOT for them. They’d rather not confirm to society.

Being transformed by acceptance of God’s will is very difficult to explain to a non-believer. They think we’re ‘brainwashed’ and that we’ve conformed to what people think a Christian should be. That’s why I love the part about renewing the mind: that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Prove it. Put it to the test. Experience what happens when asking God to be in your life.  Be prepared, though, for the result. Read an example of an atheist who put God to that very test. There is one line from that example that some would ignore, but it is very important:
I cannot remember when my discomfort level has been higher.
Transforming is not comfortable. Think of the butterfly’s exit from the cocoon. It is a struggle, but anyone helping to free it weakens the wings to the point it cannot fly. Do not back off at the discomfort. There is an adversary that wants to keep you cocooned in darkness and doubt.

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12 KJV)

Friday, November 23, 2012


That’s such an important words to Christians, by through Christ we are redeemed. It says so:

Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. (1 Corinthians 7:23 KJV)  The Greek word translated as ‘bought’ here is ἀγοράζω, to purchase or to redeem.

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. (Colossians 4:5 KJV)  Here the word translated ‘redeeming’ is ἐξαγοράζω, to rescue from loss, and also to redeem.

We cannot purchase our time, but we can rescue it from loss by being a good steward of our time. How our days are spent is a question of stewardship since our time is limited.

Friday I pretty much lost a day, feeling ill I accomplished little more than taking aspirins, napping and cautiously not adding to the headaches I hoped would go away. I took some of my Beloved Husband’s time, too, as he saw to it I ate meals on time.

He rescued me, thus redeeming time. We can do that when what we do is done in love for another – done in service to our Lord’s commands. Both of the top commands remind us to love:

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:37-39 KJV)

When we follow these commands, we should be able to hear Him say:

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)

We would be doing those things as part of our nature. Most of us don’t, though. We seem to forget our neighbors and certainly don’t take in strangers – we know that can be dangerous, don’t we? Aren’t the hungry taken care of by the Red Cross or local shelters? The other things – well, don’t we have families to care for? We simply run out of time.

Somehow others do find time to accomplish a great of the above in our Lord’s service. I find that I don’t do as well as I believe I should. No one can change that except me. It is up to me to remember that I have been redeemed, and serve Him as He intended. Want to know how to get that done?

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

As long as I don’t stand in the way.

What He Did Say

Advocates of same-sex marriages have said Jesus did not address the issue.  Let’s take a look at what Jesus did say about marriage:

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:4-8 KJV)
    1. God made male and female. It was the pattern.
    2. A man leaves his father and his mother, his family, to create a new family with his wife.
    3. The husband and the wife are joined as one flesh.
    4. God approves of their joining - blesses it, if you will.
    5. Divorce was not part of God’s plan.
Many professing Christians obviously do not believe the Bible applies to their lives, or they would be advocating God’s plan.

So – let’s say a person is past certain points in life and mistakes have already been made. The soul mate God provided was traded for someone not interested in souls or God. What sounded good turned out to be wrong. Children are being raised without both parents in the same household, separated loyalties, divided times. That can’t be changed, but it can be forgiven – by God and ones self.

The disciples found the concept hard to live with, too:

His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. (Matthew 19:10 KJV)

Jesus knew some could not live with His answer:

But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (Matthew 19:11-12 KJV)

Eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake? Celibacy rather than sin? Giving up personal pleasure in exchange for their soul, and perhaps other souls? Looking to God to lead us not into temptation, or rationalizing that we were created for the pleasures laid before us.

Again, let us look at what He did say, just a few verses later, another example of giving up our greatest desires:

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26 KJV)

God’s possibilities, or our selfish limitations? Just consider what He did say.

Thursday, November 22, 2012



Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:5 KJV)

Paul was reminding the Thessalonians of what he had taught them when he was with them. He mentioned in earlier verses in this same chapter – that the day of Christ is at hand. It appears that the problem came when that was their whole focus, talking about and waiting on the day of Christ.

Paul spends many words talking about that day, concluding with:

Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. (2 Thessalonians 2:17 KJV)

That good word and work is what we should be doing, since we note that the day of Christ may still be hand, but has not yet come. It didn’t come during the dark ages when the word was kept from men. It didn’t come during the crusades when men were focused on the old Jerusalem instead of the new. It did not come when Islam covered a large portion of Europe, nor did it come when Islam retreated from Europe.

It did not come when Hitler set out to exterminate Judaism, along with a number of other groups. It did not come when Israel was renewed as a nation, and it has not come while Israel has been under attack over the last six decades.

Many believed that those events – or others – should have been precursors of His return and they predicted (not prophesied, mind you) specific times. We need to remember, even now:

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:36 KJV)

Some say it will never come. They say that God either does not exist, Christ was not from God, or that we’ve misunderstood and He’s not coming. Sorry, all of that is simply denial. We’ve been promised His return, but we’ve never been promised when that will be. It could be soon, or not. So what are we supposed to do? Plan for it or not?

I remember, and consider, Christ’s words:

But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 24:43-44 KJV)

We watch and keep our house together. We remain ready, continuing to do what He has commanded we do. If you don’t know what those commands are, you haven’t been reading my blog for very long. They are in His word – the Bible. Paul said this was a good idea:

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; (Philippians 1:9-10 KJV)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Words Matter

This paragraph comes from an NBC News article on the theft of Paiute hieroglyphs. Can you see what’s wrong with it? NBC News’ name tells us it is in the ‘word’ business. At best, using an incorrect word is a distraction. At worst, it is a lie. In between falls explanations of a lack of education, lack of attention, lack of interest.

‘Elicit” is not “illicit.” I remember a sports reporter with the Daily Oklahoma in the 1980’s quoting a source’s phrase as “It’s all cheroot.” Old timers (such as yours truly) know that phrase is not about a cigar but should have read “It’s all she wrote,” when referring to the end of a game. The words are not the same.

Etymology really isn’t the same as semantics, either. Often the history of a word does not give it’s current meaning, though it may tell the story of how it got to where it is today. That’s very important when considering the Bible, its origins and its translations by people of different languages into differing languages.

My best example is one that caused a rift between another blogger and myself when I mentioned that English has limitations that affect on our understanding of LOVE. That was brought to mind when I looked at next Sunday’s lesson on 1 Corinthians 13. I once wrote:
Charity is important.  That English word was translated in 1611 from the Greek word agape.  In some places it was translated as love and in other places as charity.
I had used another example earlier, referring to John 21:12-17:
In the New Testament there were three Greek words for love. Brotherly love (phileos), physical love (eros) and the spiritual love between man and god (agape.) An example of the difference in nuance is in the 21st chapter of John where Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. (John 21:12 KJV)
The reader took exception due to his perception that my words indicated a lack in the KJV translation from the original Greek.  I don’t see a ‘lack’ in translation, I see a lack in the ability of the English language to show a nuance in the single word ‘love.’ We use it for the things we hold dearest – our children, our spouse, our family. We also use it for how much we like things – our food, our furniture, our cars, our entertainers. Yet the feelings we hold are not comparable, are they?

What do we love with all our heart, soul and mind? For what are we willing to give ourselves, our lives? What do we mean when we answer, “Yes, I’m a Christian”? Words matter.

Our fruit is on display to all, but God knows our hearts, our motives, and upon those we will be judged.

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:35-37 KJV)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Worship God

John was awestruck.  He had seen so much. Don’t you know his mind was overwhelmed? I believe I would have thrown myself at the feet of an angel, too:

And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10 KJV)

We serve for God’s pleasure, and He only is to be served:

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

That’s all that is required.  When we accomplish this, the remainder of what we do will follow His will. Take a step back, where Jesus was telling of the error being committed then and is still being committed today:

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

Mankind has a tendency to lift some men onto pedestals, then require that others pay homage to them, their abilities, their teachings, their dreams. Too often the man on the pedestal takes the homage as their due, allowing their ego to overcome their own relationship with God. They forget the angel’s message, “I am thy fellowservant.” Knowing the scriptures should constantly remind such a man – unless he’s hearing the scriptures through the Father of Lies.

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

The devil will tell the man that he’s different. He’s better. He is due the attention based on his talent, his ability to do more and better than those around him. That’s a huge lie. We are all designed to be fellowservants of the Lord of Lord, King of Kings.

We all received the same command to love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind. He has a job for each of us to do in the furtherance of His will. When we step outside of that job for our own gratification, we lessen our witness to His glory just as we lessen our worship of our Lord.

Where do we need to be? The answer is the same, yet different for each one – same in that we need to be living in God’s will; different in that our witness, our testimony, our job in God’s plan will be the path laid out by Him, not by us nor for any other. Where are you in His journey?

Monday, November 19, 2012

It Is Finished!

I completed reading the Bible through chronologically! One year, three hundred and sixty five days, completed Sunday morning. I do have a sense of accomplishment as well as a badge.

Over my lifetime, I knew I had read most of the Bible – but could not say I had read it through from cover to cover. My reading was based on a variety of plans – Sunday School lessons, devotionals, reading with the preacher during services – nothing that would give me the feeling of having read every page, every word.

This plan gave me the guidelines and schedule to know it was completely read. It also sent me reminders if I missed a day so that I could catch up quickly. Accountability!!

It was one week ago this Thanksgiving that my Beloved Husband had his first Myasthenic Crisis and  had to be airlifted to THR’s Harris Fort Worth. Twice more during this past year we spent a week in ICU. I cannot express strongly enough how helpful it was to have the Bible, our prayer partners and the support of family and friends during this year. I am so very grateful for what has sustained us. It’s a matter of faith.

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

Did I mention that I can listen to this being read instead of doing a daily reading? I thoroughly enjoyed what has to offer. Since it’s on my Kindle (as well as my smartphone and PC), I have my Bible everywhere I go and can read/listen to it at any time.

I don’t know exactly how many plans there are – several cover the Bible in a year, some are three or four days long. Topical plans start with ‘Joy’ and run through ‘Fear of Death .’ Featured Plans begin with ‘Remembering All God Has Done’ and continues through ‘The Books of Wisdom.’

I’m looking over the selections and think I’ll begin a short one this time. In fact, this one looks very interesting:
4 Days
Diligence is a fundamental part of the Christian faith. And your diligence grows through encountering God and meditating on His Word. The following verses, when memorized, can help you become more diligent in all of your days. Let your life be transformed by memorizing Scripture! For a comprehensive system for memorizing Scripture, visit
Take a few moments, follow the link – whether on a PC, smartphone or tablet – and pick out a Bible reading plan.  Please, come back here and let me know how you enjoyed it. I guarantee it will provide a blessing (especially if you read Revelation 1:

Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand. (Revelation 1:3 KJV) )

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I do not know this gentlemen, but his photo was available as an example of business attire. Such attire has changed over the years - ties have been wider or narrower, lapels increased or decreased, collars lengthened or shortened yet basically the same. When we see a man in a suit we know he means business. We know he is serious about his work.

My husband was a construction superintendent. Such attire was not his regular choice – though he was very serious about his business (and very good at it, too.) It was neither expected nor appropriate in his daily work to be dressed in a suit and tie. Other business had dress codes, until toward the end of last century.

The changes came gradually. Casual Fridays – sort of a precursor of the coming weekend, or upper management heading for the golf course that afternoon. Soon employees without client contact had even more relaxed dress codes. Before I retired, employees were wearing sandals, shorts and T-shirts. For those who worked from home, attire wasn’t an issue at all and bunny slippers were a norm.

What brought this to mind? A stained glass window at a seminary, a picture of a recent graduate in casual dress – no tie, open collar – and I realized how many preachers I’ve seen that have made that dress code choice. Mine hasn’t, and I admire his respect for his God, his job, his congregation and the example he sets for those he mentors and leads.

Moses received specific instructions regarding priests’ clothing:

And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty. And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office. (Exodus 28:2-3 KJV)

The instructions continue with the fabric, the colors, the layers. Catholic priests, even today, have clearly defined clothing for specific occasions. Our pastors should be grateful that’s not necessary in our congregations.

But – respect is. Respect for our God. Respect for His word. Respect for the congregation. A preacher’s job is not – or at least should not be – casual. It is a very serious business.  A good example is Nehemiah 8:1-8, a little too long to include here, so click the link and study those scriptures. Dress is not mentioned. Did you notice that? The people were attentive, the scripture reading was done from a pulpit, was read distinctly and the people understood. It wasn’t casual.

So – this has been my opinion, and does not have a biblical base other than the multitude of verses that tell me that the Lord our God deserves our respect simply because we are His.

The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them. (Psalms 89:11 KJV)

That bears repeating, and Paul did:

For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. (1 Corinthians 10:26 KJV)

Saturday, November 17, 2012


When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. (John 13:21-22 KJV)

Could you sit with someone you knew betrayed you? The question is in the past tense because we often sit with people who in the future will betray us. Jesus, on the other hand, knew that the man who shared His life for years as well as bread and wine at that last supper had betrayed Him. He knew Judas’ future just as He knew His own.

We don’t see Jesus correcting Judas as He did Peter, except perhaps in Mark 14. It was after the woman anointed His head with spikenard and there was a complaint about the cost, stating it could have been sold and given to the poor. Jesus defended her actions and the very next verse has Judas making the deal with the chief priests for Christ’s betrayal.

I can imagine, based on people’s actions today, that the perceived waste could be the precipitating action that moved Judas away from following Jesus to betraying a man Judas thought was betraying the message of helping the poor.

Judas did not pay attention to what Matthew (26:11), Mark (14:7) and John (12:8) heard Him say – that the poor will always exist, but Jesus was here for a very short time and had a very large message to share.
For all the good people would do, we cannot cure poverty. Christians, however, cannot ignore it either, given this parable:

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? 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 25:37-40 KJV)

As His followers, God expects us to provide for the hungry and thirsty; to care for strangers; to provide clothing; to visit the sick and imprisoned. We need not be told more. We have the example laid before us and confirmation that by doing so, we have done it unto Him. Not to do it is a betrayal of what we’ve been taught and what we profess to believe.

If Christ knew Judas would betray Him, why keep him around? The betrayal was necessary:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8 KJV)

The betrayer had a choice. It did not have to be Judas. He faced the same choice we face – is Jesus the promised Messiah, or not.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Holy Spirit

There are so many different verses that teach us about the Holy Spirit. My favorites are where Jesus speaks of what the Spirit will do for us:

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)

He said a lot. Three years of teaching that men continue to study today, and will be doing so until His return. As we study, the Holy Spirit will keep Him on our mind, prodding us to remember.

The Spirit has another responsibility, too:

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

Since we’re speaking of God, who better to intercede for us? I know – the concept of the trinity is difficult for some. It was for me. I remember how difficult it was for my son. Yet we live with it all the time.

As a physical being, I am three in one – a child, a wife, a mother. Yet there is only one of me. Three specific responses and responsibilities in one. God, as a spirit (defined as such) and unconfined by physical limitation or law, is one – the ‘echod’ of the Shema – yet is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

There are some things we’re told to do that are directly involved with the Holy Spirit:

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (Ephesians 4:30-31 KJV)

We’re also told:

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

I do believe that bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and speaking evil would certainly grieve anyone who loved us. It would just as certainly quench the ability to work with a person, wouldn’t it? Think about what happened to the Israelites when they turned their back on God. Is that what we should be doing? Rebelling?

The choice is ours. All we have to do is ask.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13 KJV)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Being Thankful

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)

Next week we’ll be sitting down to similar meals across this country. Most of us will remember and give thanks. For others, that will be difficult. Not everyone believes they have a reason to be thankful.

Within a 24 hour period this past weekend I heard of five deaths – completely unexpected deaths – and the quickening decline of a mother of six youngsters. Six families who would have to look deep into their soul to be able to give thanks and believe that what happened to them was the will of God.

The way this world works, it is the will of God that we die. The Bible tells of a couple of men taken by God, the remainder died even as Christ died. As we will die – and expect our loved ones to find reason to rejoice.

Yes, even in our grief, it is possible to give thanks for a number of things – the time we had together, the memories that we carry, the hope through Christ’s resurrection that we will meet again. Too many do not have that hope. To many have no hope at all. Of course, they don’t know that verse and are unaware that it is God’s will that we give thanks.

They don’t know about the preceding verse, either:

Rejoice evermore. (1 Thessalonians 5:16 KJV)

Rejoice? Evermore?!? When we’ve lost loved ones? Again it is necessary to look to God for reasons. We can’t see any reason to rejoice, can we? What we see is loss and pain that seems to last forever. A hole in our lives. Why would we possibly rejoice?

Because God knows.

Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24 KJV)

He felt the loss of Lazarus. He felt the pain of nails. He died. He knows. He also knows the other side:

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)

How often do we think of the ‘joy that was set before him’? His disciples didn’t, even though He told them, and us:

If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. (John 14:28b KJV)

Yes – we are to rejoice, and to give thanks, because of our faith. Remember:

this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Can we believe that? Do we?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thy Word

LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. (Psalms 119:89 KJV)

Today a group of 35 people loaded into two church vans, three personal vehicles and headed to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth to see the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition. It was well worth the time, effort and cost – we’d all do it again, only we’d take some more people along to watch their expressions as we learn.

I’ve heard of the scrolls since childhood. I was fascinated by the story of the goat herder tossing stones to encourage a goat out of a cave, only to hear the sound of breaking pottery. The discovery of the scrolls changed the lives of so many scholars and opened untold possibilities – would they confirm or refute what we consider to be God’s word?

It took years of study to confirm the books of the Old Testament – with the exception of Esther – were part of this treasure trove. Studies continue, but we now know that millennia ago scribes carefully copied old words onto new parchment with such care that they remained ‘settled’ from one millennia to the next. Their technology? Reed pens, wet dyes and biodegradable parchment.

Yet these lasted two thousand years, hidden by uncertain people for uncertain reasons. There are ongoing debates, but their existence, their age, their words are absolutes. The comments on Psalm 145 confirming that the Septuagint was missing a verse is more than interesting, it is confirmation of the continuity of God’s word.

The largest portion of the exhibit are facsimiles of the pieces, including the most complete Isaiah scroll. The actual pieces found in Qumran are tiny and very protected. There’s no way they would make sense to the crowds slowly moving past these antiquities. We depend on others to study and tell us what they’ve discovered. We are grateful for their dedication.

Jesus spoke of these very scriptures – verses from the Isaiah Scroll:

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. (Luke 4:17-19 KJV)

After reading, He closed the book, returned it to the minister and seated Himself:

And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:21 KJV)

I cannot imagine what it would like to have the Messiah declare Himself before a congregation. Oh, to have been sitting there and hear scripture fulfilled. Prior to this reading, Jesus had preached to the poor, healed the brokenhearted, preached deliverance, returned sight to the blind – and preached ‘the acceptable year of the Lord.’

Why is this important?

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:11 KJV)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hypocrite or Apostate?

From Matthew Henry's 'Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible' note on Psalm 78:1-8:  "Hypocrisy is the high road to apostasy". I just had to look more deeply into that statement and came away with a few thoughts.

The pretense of believing does make it easy to renounce one's faith. For a professed Christian to turn away from God may mean their belief was not based on faith in the beginning. I think James' chapter 2, about works showing faith directly addressed hypocrisy.

Anyone can publicly state they have faith in God. Anyone can join a church, even attend on a semi-regular basis and tell others they are a Christian. That can be entered in a social network profile, available for anyone to read. Their works - their daily words and actions - will display more publicly if their profession of faith has a foundation built on God.

Professed faith becomes evident as hypocrisy when it is not lived. It is not always hypocrisy, however, when shortfalls are apparent. One can have faith in God and fail to achieve all of His commandments. Christians were and are sinners. Even when we've given our lives to Him and are walking the narrow path, we will stumble.

What removes us from hypocrisy is whether or not we are willing to apply God's corrective requirement of repentance to our lives and turn from where we stumbled. Continuing to repeat known sin is either hypocrisy or apostasy. We either pretend to believe or we renounce the belief we said we had.

In His world, it's for God to judge, while we are to check for motes and beams:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. (Luke 6:41-42 KJV)

See the order of correction? Self review, recognize our sin, get rid of it - then help with our brother's. We are never to do nothing! It is true that our brother needs help - after we've addressed our own sin against God. It is not hypocrisy to exhort another to reach for God's help.

How can we recognize these motes and beams? They are laid out in the Bible. We are told in more than one place by more than one man, each inspired by God, what is good and acceptable to Him, and what is not. We are told how to have faith:

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

We are told it is necessary:

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)

Hypocrite, apostate, or one coming to God in faith? It’s an individual choice and way of life.

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Responsibility

Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: (1 Samuel 12:23 KJV)

I was recently reminded of this verse. There are times we cannot ‘fix’ something and the only thing we can do is pray. There are many examples of this throughout the Bible.  In fact, people acting instead of waiting cause more problems – long lasting problems.

Sarah comes to mind. The promised child had not appeared. Her husband was disappointed, she grew old and (she thought) incapable of providing a child. We know her story, but we don’t know any of the stories of the women who lived at that same time and were in similar situations. We know her story because it affects all of mankind.

Oh, I know a third of the world doesn’t believe that, but they most certainly are affected by the tension existing between the two peoples, two religions that derive their history from Abraham and the two women who bore him sons. How different would our world have been had Sarah waited upon the Lord?

We cannot know. We have only now, with the results of not waiting. It would be best, then, if we did what Sarah did not:

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Psalms 27:14 KJV)

We can do something while we’re waiting:

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)

We can ask others, too:

Brethren, pray for us. (1 Thessalonians 5:25 KJV)

When we don’t know what to do – and who among us really thinks we have the answer, the responsibility, the right to do the ‘fixing’ – there is one who does:

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

Thanks be to God that the Holy Spirit speaks for us, making intercession beyond our human abilities as well as knowing what we need and having the ability to provide it:

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11 KJV)

Keep that in mind. Remain in prayer. Wait on the Lord, patiently:

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

Remember, I ask that surrounding verses be read to be certain I haven’t changed the meaning by removing context. If you do, you’ll also find:

Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. (Luke 21:14-15 KJV)

Allow God to speak through our actions, our faith, through our very words. That’s done by remaining close to Him in prayer, seeking His will and allowing Him to accomplish His purpose.

For thus saith the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not. (Isaiah 30:15 KJV)

Personally, let’s change that to: “… and ye did.”

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Uttermost

I enjoy hymns based on specific verses. One of my favorites was written by Phil and Carolyn Cross, "Saved To The Uttermost:"
I could tell of the story when the thousands were fed,
When He lifted the sick, when He raised up the dead.
I could sing of the others like the blind made to see,
But I'd rather tell you what's happened to me.

Yes – tell our witness to others, what Jesus has done in our lives. That’s the message we need to get across:

I'm saved to the uttermost and I know that I am.
Washed in the blood of the precious lamb.
Through the Father, through the Son, through the Holy Ghost,
I'm saved to the uttermost.

Oh, there are other verses about our names in the Book of Life, that we are children of the King, that good living alone is insufficient and that we have blessed assurance (which is a whole 'nother song and Bible verse) - all based on scripture that tells the good news that we are saved through God's grace.

Too many people stumble over the simple items. First stumbling block is that all have sinned and come short (that's a verse, too). We think we haven't, and that's called denial. Have you taken something that was not yours? You've broken a commandment which makes you a thief. I have - a pen, pencil, paperclip, something so simple. It's the same as taking jewelry or cash. It wasn't ours.

Others stumble over being good. Most think they are, judging by other people. We are responsible for ourselves, though, not by standards set by ourselves or others. We are answerable to God's standards.

Jesus explained those to Nicodemus:

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. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:3-7 KJV)

Yep, there it is – that ‘born again’ phrase that turns off so many people. Yet it is part of the introduction to the verse we first learn, that almost everyone knows:

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)

Accept that, accept Him, then come to understand how we are saved to the uttermost:

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25 KJV)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

He Is!!

I seldom use unknown graphics, but I do love this one. It brings to mind the combination of rock and salvation in so many verses.

In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. (Psalms 62:7 KJV)

He is!!!  Moses knew this:

Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deuteronomy 32:1-4 KJV)

He sang it to the children of Israel, some of whom did not know it, setting a bad example for others to follow:

But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation. (Deuteronomy 32:15 KJV)

How do we esteem the rock of our salvation? Do we spend time with Him? Do we speak with others about Him? Do we take seriously what we know and seek to learn more?

I’m afraid that some answers to those questions are resounding “No.” There are consequences for lightly esteeming, or even forgetting Him entirely:

Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips: In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish: but the harvest shall be a heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow. (Isaiah 17:10-11 KJV)

Thanks, but no thanks.  I don’t like that scenario. I prefer:

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. (Psalms 95:1-3 KJV)

Yep, that’s what I have in mind – making a joyful noise, being in His presence with thanksgiving, acknowledging He is above all. That’s the scenario I prefer, based on all I’ve learned of Him.  He provided salvation for all who seek Him. He came to us as one of us:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3 KJV)

What happens if that is not proclaimed?

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. (Luke 19:40 KJV)

Friday, November 9, 2012

King's Highway to Salvation

I'm reposting a subject that should be reviewed often. Before I do, there are two verses I need to add:

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

Now, let's continue checking the Kings's Highway:

... I heard a great story about giving the plan of salvation, and then I read Beth Amatelli’s GPS blog.

When I think about presenting the salvation plan, I think of the Roman Road – while there are variations, here’s a short one with a huge message:
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 10:9-10 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 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
All of the information in those verses was given by a student to his graduating class – a public school graduating class – in a speech just a few years ago. A teacher, speaking after him, stated that although she had prepared a speech, she tossed it aside and suggested that the audience spend time considering what that graduating senior offered them – belief in their eternal future.

I caution, however, that sticking with God’s Plan of Salvation, not our own, not someone else's, is extremely important. I’ve used a global positioning system that directed me incorrectly. As I sat at a corner, looking down the road at our church, that gps was sending me to a spot several miles away, assuring me it was the way to go. Wrong! God has made His plan evident, without error.

Stick to the Bible, which tells us good works will show our faith, but faith is what saves us:

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

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man shall boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV)

We can have good works without faith; we can show faith through good works; we cannot be saved without faith; we are saved without works. We’re not witnessing to people in order to get good works, we’re interested in their eternal soul. That’s why I ask that you read and check further anything I write here.  Like Paul, I ask that you:

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8 KJV)

Rather than ask “What would Jesus do,” read the Bible to find out what He did, then set personal standards based on His actions, not society’s.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

King’s Highway–Part 3

Tuesday and Wednesday I posted the first and second part of a devotional given to our Ladies Meeting Tuesday. Click on the days, and you can catch up – or, simply start this closing portion:

Edify means to lift one another up. It’s not found in the Old Testament, only in the New, where it is used often. My favorite verse using it is where Paul is explaining about the different gifts, the different ministries, that God has given to each person. He goes on in Ephesians 4:12 to tell what all those gifts are for:

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

When we lift up another, we’re making the road, that King’s Highway, free of obstacles for others traveling the same path. A lot we do can apply both to our brethren, our fellow Christians, and to those who need to find Christ for their life.

In Sunday School this week, we heard a good portion of what we need to do to make the way easier for ourselves and for those around us. I’ll take 1 Thessalonians 5:12-23 verse by verse:

(12) And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

We need to get to know those who work for us in the church – the staff, the teachers, the volunteers. Pay attention to what they do for us – remember, it’s for the perfecting of His saints.

(13) And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

Pretty self-explanatory – we’re to appreciate those who serve the Lord simply because of the work they do. Then there’s more we can do for those around us. Now, don’t name any names when it comes to this next verse – mine might be among them:

(14) Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

That ones a little bit harder, isn’t it. I think of a member and the unruly AWANA’s that ended up in his care and I was always struck by the patience and love he showed for each of them. We all know who we need to comfort and support, and where we need to grow patience for us to work with all men.

(15) See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Getting harder, isn’t it. How can we see that none render evil to any man? We have no control over another’s actions, but we can speak out in defense of the victim when evil is done. We can warn those who do evil just as we warn the unruly. This we must do for our brothers and sisters in Christ, and to all men – to all non-Christians. Just a tiny bit harder.

(16) Rejoice evermore.

How can we rejoice in everything? Can we rejoice in automobile accidents this past week involving two members? In another member’s heart attack? Yes – we can always find a reason for rejoicing in difficulties, even tragedies. Even if we have to go to the Lord and ask Him to show us where to rejoice. Even if the only rejoicing we can do is that God is loving, merciful and the giver of grace. Even in the worst of tragic times.

(17) Pray without ceasing.

Yes, we can pray without ceasing when we remain in God’s loving care and open a conversation with Him at any time. We may have a set time for our studies and prayer, but He is available every moment of every day and we need to talk with Him all the time. He is with us without ceasing. That’s about the same for the next verse, too:

(18) In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Give thanks even if there are serious problems. We are always grateful that God is available to help us through them, then give thanks and praise when He does.

(19) Quench not the Spirit.

Remember, it is the Holy Spirit who speaks for us in groanings that cannot be uttered, according to Paul in Romans 8:26. We want His Spirit to always be working for us, not drenched with our pessimism. We do have the power to build a wall between us.

(20) Despise not prophesyings.

This isn’t the prophesying of biblical times – this is the preaching that we hear every time we come to church. Be prepared to hear God’s word from the pulpit and applied to our hearts. There is something in each message for every in the congregation.

(21) Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Just because it comes from the pulpit doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look it up and learn more about the subject. Luke wrote in Acts 17:11 that the Bereans were more noble because they searched the scriptures to see if what the disciples said was true.

(22) Abstain from all appearance of evil.

The very appearance of evil. Now that’s hard to do, for some people think that believing in God as we do has the appearance of evil. We must be discerning about what others see when they look at our lives. We must know not only what we believe, but why we believe it and be able to determine what does appear evil and what might just appear as different from others.

While we’re traveling this narrow highway, there is a goal. Paul tells us that we’ll have help along the way:

(23) 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.

That’s our goal, and that’s the promise that we will reach it. Many have removed obstacles along our path just for us to reach this point. There is much more we can do for others so that we can all, through God’s grace and mercy stand blameless at the coming of our Lord. May He provide each one of us strength to continue on our King's highway.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

King’s Highway–Part 2

Yesterday I posted the first part of this devotional, given at our Ladies Meeting on Tuesday. It was the story of a king who created a highway, invited anyone interested to walk it and the best contestant would win a box of gold, who won it and why. Here’s part of what I added in the devotional – the remainder will be tomorrow’s post:

You’ll notice there is not much history for the travelers. Some are shown to be wealthy, some are shown to be poor. All were on the same journey. While this reminds me just a bit of the Good Samaritan story, we’re not told anything about their religious beliefs, either. Keep that in mind.

I was also reminded of the road Jesus described in Matthew 7:14:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

While we walk upon that narrow way as Christians, we are also publicly walking along with people of the world. Our paths cross often, and sometimes people crossing find their way onto that narrow path with us. Some may lag along behind us a bit as they stop to learn along the way. Others catch on quickly and speed ahead of us. Sometimes there are obstacles along that path.

It’s not so much that our Lord places obstacles in our path – there is an adversary that works hard to get us to leave that narrow way. Peter describes him in 5:8:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Did you notice that Peter calls him “your adversary”? Matthew Henry’s commentary explains how Peter describes him:
By his characters and names. (1.) He is an adversary: “That adversary of yours; not a common adversary, but an enemy that impleads you, and litigates against you in your grand depending cause, and aims at your very souls.” (2.) The devil, the grand accuser of all the brethren; this title is derived from a word which signifies to strike through, or to stab. He would strike malignity into our natures and poison into our souls. If he could have struck these people with passion and murmuring in their sufferings, perhaps he might have drawn them to apostasy and ruin. (3.) He is a roaring lion, hungry, fierce, strong, and cruel, the fierce and greedy pursuer of souls.
2. By his business: He walks about, seeking whom he may devour; his whole design is to devour and destroy souls. To this end he is unwearied and restless in his malicious endeavours; for he always, night and day, goes about studying and contriving whom he may ensnare to their eternal ruin.
Paul writes a couple of times in First Thessalonians that we are to comfort one another – first in 4:8 and again in 5:11

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

(continued Thursday)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The King’s Highway

Here’s the first portion of the devotional I planned for our Ladies Meeting today. This came from a friend’s post I intend to post the remainder over the next two days.  I think I can get it posted in three parts and stay within my goal of about 500 words for each post.

Here’s the introductory story. It has no Bible verses, so see if you can come up some appropriate selections.
Once upon a time, a king had a great highway built for the people who lived in his kingdom. After it was completed, but before it was opened to the public, the king decided to have a contest. He invited as many of his subjects as desired to participate. The challenge was to see who could travel the highway the best, and the winner was to receive a box of gold.
On the day of the contest, all the people came. Some of them had fine chariots, some had fine clothing and fancy food to make the trip a luxurious journey. Some wore their sturdiest shoes and ran along the highway on their feet to show their skill. All day they traveled the highway, and each one, when he arrived at the end, complained to the king about a large pile of rocks and debris that had been left almost blocking the road at one point, and that got in their way and hindered their travel.
At the end of the day, a lone traveler crossed the finish line warily and walked over to the king. He was tired and dirty, but he addressed the king with great respect and handed him a small chest of gold. He said, "I stopped along the way to clear a pile of rocks and debris that was blocking the road. This chest of gold was under it all. Please have it returned to its rightful owner."
The king replied, "You are the rightful owner."
"Oh no," said the traveler, "This is not mine. I've never known such money."
"Oh yes," said the king, "you've earned this gold, for you won my contest. He who travels the road best is he who makes the road better for those who will follow."
Remember those words of wisdom as you travel the road of life!
My thanks to Alfie Eskander for sharing this story.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sunday Evening

The message Sunday evening was about Gideon. So was last Sunday’s, so we’ve found there are many lessons to be found in this one man. My thoughts focused on one verse from last night:

And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. (Judges 7:2 KJV)

Pastor covered much more, but I want to think about when we take credit for what God has done. We’ve all done that – prayed, turned something over to God then failed to give Him thanks for the results or to share with others what He did in our lives.

That’s not what happened to Gideon – while he did ask God for some verification (the fleece and the dew, twice), Gideon did what God asked. He gathered an army of 32,000 men. They were still out-numbered by the Midianites about four to one, but that’s when God first said there were too many and sent home those who were afraid. Twenty-two thousand left.

Ten thousand were still too many, so selection continued until:

And the LORD said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place. (Judges 7:7 KJV)

“We can handle adversity, but not prosperity,” pastor said, then gave an example:

Sixteen years old was Uzziah when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and two years in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 26:3a KJV)

He accomplished a lot, as written in 2 Chronicles 26. It was written there that the Lord helped him. Until:

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

Aren’t we often the same way. We seek the Lord’s help when we feel weak but when we feel strong we think we can do without Him. Uzziah felt he could even take on the job of the high priest. Saul did that, too.

And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him. And Samuel said, What hast thou done? (1 Samuel 13:10-11a KJV)

When we take on the responsibilities that God has given to another we leave the plan God has for our lives, too. Uzziah was immediately struck with leprosy. It took longer for Saul to lose his kingdom, and his life. They felt they were strong.

Do we? Do we become complacent when our lives are comfortable, thinking we’ve become strong enough to live without what God has provided for us – a church home, Christian brethren to comfort, exhort and fellowship with us? Do we think we can do without prayer? Without reading His word?

Or do we pray without ceasing and enjoy life more abundantly in His presence? That’s so much better!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


For over fifteen hundred years the combination of dove and olive branch have symbolized peace in Christian art, though the one returning to Noah carried simply a plucked leaf:

And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. (Genesis 8:11 KJV)

By the third century this scene took on a change in paintings, with an olive branch instead of the leaf being shown.

The above graphic shows not only the dove in armor, but there is a sight lined up on what would be the heart. That photo “marks the spot where over 40 people were killed during the first Intafada”. Obviously, there remains no peace for Israel while her neighbors are planning her obliteration. Where do we find peace among men?

Christians have been told to live peaceably:

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18 KJV)

We do run into problems with that '’as much as lieth in you,” don’t we. Inside we harbor so many things that keep us from being at peace with ourselves, much less living peaceably with all men. Face it, we can’t get along with all of our family members – and God wants us to live peaceably with all men?

He knows that there are times peace is not possible. Jesus said:

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: (Luke 12:51 KJV)

Beliefs can be very divisive. People become defensive when theirs are denigrated. As Matthew Henry commented:
The one that continues in unbelief will be provoked, and will hate and persecute the one that by his faith and obedience witnesses against, and condemns, his unbelief and disobedience. A spirit of bigotry and persecution will break through the strongest bonds of relation and natural affection
This should not happen among Christians, though. Beyond loving God and our neighbors, Christ gave us a new commandment:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35 KJV)

While we’re working on the goal of being peaceable with all men, Christians need to love one another to fulfill this new commandment. Sometimes that’s hard, but most of the time it’s very easy to love those who join in worshipping our Lord. Then we all know that:

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:10-12 KJV)

That will give us the peace He promised:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27 KJV)