Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Will to Believe

CharlesHaddonSpurgeon
"Believing is a matter of the will. A man does not believe without being willing to believe."
C. H. Spurgeon 1834-1892

I do like this Spurgeon quote. While I firmly believe that …

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

… I’ve found that people will hear what they want to listen to. Too often our minds are closed to anything that does not confirm or agree with what we wish to hear. Very often mankind becomes defensive rather than keeping an open mind and hearing what an opponent has to say. Or, maybe we’re just more in tune to that now in this political season.

We do need to listen, verify that what we heard is what was originally meant, then make a decision based on our research. That’s how we should react to politics – and how we should react to religion.

Rather than a blanket, “That’s wrong,” we need to be able to explain why we think it’s wrong as well as offer an explanation as to how we came to that conclusion.  Too often we can’t and end up closing down communication that is beneficial to both parties.

I think of Paul standing on Mars Hill:

Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. (Acts 17:22 KJV)

Now, if we were to accuse someone of being too superstitious, I wonder if they would listen to anything else we said. But, the Athenians heard Paul out:

For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; (Acts 17:23-24 KJV)

I’ve not had enough curiosity to discover why there was such an altar – did they have a fear that they might slight a powerful God? Or, did they feel there was something more powerful than what they knew?

After hearing Paul’s message, their response what just about what people experience today:

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. (Acts 17:32 KJV)

Only Dionysius and Damaris were named as those who believed. Pretty much, again, as it is today. Few open their hearts and minds to hear the message. We never hear about these two again. There is no pauline letter to the church at Athens to tell us more about them. Did they hold meetings in their home as a church grew?

Would we today? I know a couple – not missionaries, not a pastor and his wife, just an ordinary Christian couple – who did. They opened their home to strangers to worship and learn. What can we do? Speak publicly as Paul, host meetings, witness to others or mock, as some did.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today Is The Day



My Beloved Husband’s brother and his wife spent part of the weekend with us. We were very worried about his breathing during the visit. He was having difficulty keeping his oxygen level above 70. We were even concerned that the portable oxygen machine was not working correctly. They went home Sunday, and Monday his doctor wanted him in the hospital – but they couldn’t make it all the way across their county to the one where their doctor practiced. They had to stop at an ER along the way to get him stabilized. He is now under his doctor's care in their destination hospital. Please, keep him in prayer.

I know exactly how she felt. We’ve done that twice since last November. Too ill to get to the hospital where the doctor who knows us practices, so we get to the closest emergency room for stabilization, then moved on in an ambulance. Ironic that both brothers are experiencing life-threatening medical emergencies in the same year.

It does bring to mind that we have no promises of tomorrow. Matthew Henry’s comments on the following verse are apropos:
Today, while it is called today. The morrow is none of ours: we know not what will be on the morrow, nor where we shall be; and we should remember that present seasons of grace are short and uncertain, and cannot be recalled when they are past.
(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) (2 Corinthians 6:2 KJV)

The second verse that comes to mind is:

Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34 KJV)

Too many people read this and feel the words are a license to do as they please, giving no thought to tomorrow – or the consequences of their actions. They remember this verse and ignore the ones before it:

(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:32-33 KJV)

“All these things” refers to what we will be eating, drinking, wearing. God will be adding all these things to us as we need them after we’ve sought His kingdom and His righteousness.

He will provide for us eternally, if we accept His offer to do so. He does not force His will upon his creation. That choice is ours, though many choices are not available to us as time progresses.

There will come a day when even that choice is no longer available. When the second year is added behind the dash that signifies our lives, our opportunity to choose is over.

We’ve already heard reports from the east coast that Monday was the day for some people. Today may be the day for others. Please, give careful thought to His kingdom and His righteousness as this is read, for we do not know which today will be ours.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Repeating Prayer - And More

Most of this was originally posted here a long time ago. I'm repeating it today because of two ladies I consider prayer warriors - not because they are in a battle, but because they are dedicated to praying for others on a consistent basis. One almost gave up wearing a Prayer Warrior badge because it might offend others - they should not be offended by recognizing how often she is on her knees in prayer. The other is outspoken, too, about spending time with her Lord, almost always for other people. She knows He sees to her care. So, I focus on prayer again today:


Jesus was speaking to His disciples at the temple, explaining what would be coming in the future.  Some would come saying they were the Christ, but they were not.  There would be wars that would appear to be enough to end all wars, but they would not. Whether taken to prison or simply sought out for answers, He had words for His followers as the world comes to them:

And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: (Luke 21:13-14 KJV)

I believe that when a Christian is following God’s will for their lives, they will have opportunities for testifying about their faith.  It is a very good way for us to explain our faith to others, to share what we believe and why we believe it. When we do so He will provide what to say:

For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. (Luke 21:15 KJV)

The problem is we don’t spend enough time with Him and with His word to feel that comfortable speaking about our faith, our beliefs.

In our jobs, we spend 40+ hours/week gaining experience.  When it is a profession, not just work, we do extra training.  Some is company provided, some we spend time and money outside of work to learn how to do our job better, how to advance in our careers and we build networks of people in similar positions, learning from them, too.

Seldom do we apply that process to our religion.  A Pew Survey from 2010 has some interesting data: The differences between 1970's and the 2000's among young adults' religious affiliation is remarkable -- 1970, 12% unaffiliated, or have no religion; 2000, 23%. Daily prayer was up, 41% to 45% of young adults, as with other age groups, so those affiliated with a religion appear to be praying more.

Worship attendance included Total Population as well as being broken down by ages. Out of the 77% who gave a religious affiliation, only 46% attend services at least weekly.  Prayer comes in a little better -- of that 77% affiliated, only 65% pray daily.

Scripture reading comes last. A paltry 40% read scripture daily. At least those of you who stop by here daily get a dose of scripture! And, my readers know that I read scripture – Every. Single. Day.

Why? Because I’m called upon to witness. People ask me what I believe, and I feel a personal responsibility to be truthful about what and why I believe. So, I go to scheduled church serves three times a week to learn from our pastor.  I attend Sunday School and Ladies Meetings to share what I know and to learn more from others witnessing about the Messiah’s work in their lives.  That gives me my congregation’s doctrine.

I find that insufficient – I must know how what I believe stacks up against others.  If I only hear/read from one viewpoint, how can I discern the truth?  How can anyone? It takes time, thoughtfulness and research for us to be settled in our hearts.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Accountability

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Whether from the viewpoint of child or parent, we’re familiar with being ‘caught with our hand in the cookie jar’ and having to account for our actions.  Turn that heat up a lot and you’ll understand Paul’s description:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10 KJV)

When we stand there, as in the above parent/child scenario, He knows whether it be good or bad, and so do we. We know before we do it, too, but we go ahead and do that which we know we shouldn’t. We find so many ways to justify it in our own sight. We often have help from others who wish us to walk their path with them. Most of the time we make the decision to err without giving thought to the consequences – to our accountability.

What would you prefer hidden from view?  I sure have some ‘bad’ that I’d prefer kept only among family or perhaps close, loving friends who would forgive me.  Thank God I know that He’s forgiven me through the gift of His son, our Christ, but I will hear about the bad, as well as the good, when I stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

I doubt that there lived a person on this planet who is comfortable with all the actions they’ve taken during their lifetime. Biblically, Isaiah wrote it first:

Who hath declared from the beginning, that we may know? and beforetime, that we may say, He is righteous? yea, there is none that sheweth, yea, there is none that declareth, yea, there is none that heareth your words. (Isaiah 41:26 KJV)

Paul knew all of the scriptures and thought that one bore repeating:

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Romans 3:10-12 KJV)

Nope – we just aren’t good enough. There is always a commandment we’ve broken within the two that Christ pointed out as the basis for all the law – loving God with everything we have and our neighbor as ourselves. We’ve broken those. Every person reading this has broken both of those at one time or another.

Don’t tell me you haven’t, you’re as I am, imperfect.

Thank God, He knows this and planned from the beginning of creation for a way for us to reach perfection through Himself, who is perfect:

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21 KJV)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I’m Being Mary

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Yesterday, and most likely today, I’ve been Mary.  Oh, yes – I did cook breakfast, put a wonderful soup in the crockpot (if you like a thick soup with Italian flavors – recipe is right here), had leftovers from the night before for the guys to make sandwiches and promised them peace and quiet while we gals headed out. We spent the day indulging in a lot of shopping, a little buying, a tea-room/chick-meal lunch and a lot of getting acquainted general chit-chat that did include several conversation on biblical subjects and church events.
I sat beside my friends, my company and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Nobody was a Martha.

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:38-42 KJV)

No, I didn’t read that verse this morning and thought about combining it with yesterday. That story came to mind when I thought, “Wish I had a real dining room, with a nice table,” as I planned the meals for our guests. stay. But, I don’t.

This morning I was thinking about how much I enjoyed yesterday, then thought about how little Martha enjoyed Jesus’ visit to her home. I don’t think she envied Mary for the time she spent at Jesus’ feet listening, I think she wanted the effort she put forth for cooking to be appreciated.

It’s easy to get attention for oneself by pointing out the flaws in another. Some people do it by gossiping. The subject of the gossip gives the teller attention. Some do it by over-achieving. If they’re better, they draw attention from others.Some do it simply by being loud and interruptive, leaving others to either over-shout or simply walking away.

I give thanks for the Martha’s in my world.  They teach me how to do things carefully, but I decline to be troubled if presentation isn’t colorful or the centerpiece is simply salt, pepper and sugar containers. That’s most likely why I chose the two verses in my ‘logo’:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4 KJV)

and:

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:35 KJV)

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Same Request

Pythagorean_proof
Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. (2 Corinthians 13:3 KJV)

This is a desire we all have – proof. Not just of Christ speaking through our preacher or any man of God, but of the Christ, the sent-of-God Messiah. If we could only have proof that Jesus was the Messiah, then we would also have proof that God exists and our faith is not in vain.

Don’t expect that ‘proof’ to be given until He appears at His return.

The entire gospel hinges on faith. Our faith that God exists, that He loves mankind, that what He set in motion has reason for existence, that there were men who spoke (and speak) for Him and that His words are true. Paul rolled all  of that together in his letter to the Ephesians:

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 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 should boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9 KJV)

If proof were given to us, it would negate this verse:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

That same proof would negate the stories that followed, stories of men who were close enough to God to step out in faith to accomplish His will. Each of those stories speak to the hearts of men today, though we are faint of heart when it comes to following His will, and some do it reluctantly. Read their stories in the Bible.

How are we doing when we ‘think’ God might exist, but we don’t go looking for Him? How do we respond when we read that ...

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


... but we don’t spend time with God’s word?

Relationships are built on communication, sharing, being together. God has provide His written word that tells us we can come to Him in prayer at any time.  He has also provided the Word, described by John:

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. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5 KJV)

Please, take time to comprehend. Make requests of God for faith.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Letter For You

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People don’t write letters any more. At least most people don’t.  I don’t. Most of my correspondence is via e-mail or a messaging system. I will not, however, abbreviate words. It’s hard enough to get a message across without eye contact, facial expression or body language, therefore I will be very careful about the words I select – especially here. I think Peter’s words are just as selected when he wrote to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: in 2 Peter 1:1

He was an eye witness to Jesus’ three years of ministry, and he wanted that witness to be available, so he wrote a letter to you and to me, and told us why he wrote:

Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:15-16 KJV)

It was verses before these that our pastor used Wednesday night, beginning with 1 Peter 1:5 and continuing through steps of Christian growth.  I believe those words were specifically in order:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue;

It is faith that saves us through God’s grace. Without that faith, we remain unsaved. With only that faith, we do not grow and we do not bear fruit. To bear good fruit we need to understand a virtuous life and attempt to live that virtue as we learn more. A Christian should continue to grow through the following:

and to virtue knowledge;

We need to increase our knowledge through God’s word. It holds the inspired memories of many people, written over hundreds of years, yet still describes a singular God. The more we learn about Him, the better we understand where we fit in His plan.

And to knowledge temperance;

There it is – and it does not pertain to prohibition – self-control. As our faith, virtue and knowledge grow, we come to understand that self-control, tempering our actions and reactions, leads to a more secure life here as well as preparing us for eternity.

and to temperance patience;

Sometimes patience is the hardest, for it responds to things beyond ourselves.  Up to this point, we could work on our own, but patience requires being with others. We need that patience to move on to:

and to patience godliness;

Wow, shouldn’t that be last?  Here it is with two more to follow, and it comes directly after patience. Hmmm. Think if we try to skip patience that it will be extremely difficult to work toward godliness? And, without godliness, we can’t move forward:

And to godliness brotherly kindness;

That truly is more difficult than godliness.  God is good.  Our human brothers, more often than not, aren’t. See why it follows both patience and godliness?

and to brotherly kindness charity.

As Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13, Peter understands that the greatest, at the top of the list, is charity. He also knows that:

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8 KJV)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hearts of the Family

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Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4:5-6 KJV)

It was nice to get a reminder through Treasures from a Shoebox about this verse. Yes, my children are grown – doesn’t matter, does it? There’s no age limit in that verse, is there? My children are always my children and I will always be their parent. Probably not in eternity, though, since Jesus said:

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22:30 KJV)

Think of the prodigal’s father in Luke 15, more than eager to forgive and return his son into the family. The father, always ready, while the son made decisions that placed him in horrible ways of life. That’s the picture God described, but people still live.

The biblical family structure is one husband, one wife and children. Even though the Bible describes men having multiple wives, that was not God’s plan, neither was divorce, as Jesus said:

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)

Yes, professing Christians divorce – and that should not be. Their children suffer. Multiple marriages, multiple divorces, multiple step-parents – plus children born without a father in their lives, or fathers that change from one marriage to the next. What have we done to generations of children simply because we are unable to properly wait for a soul mate? I read:

If he is not interested in your soul, he is not your soul mate

Our junior and senior high school girls feel the need for a man in their life. They will read this and think I’m an odd duck, but I pray they will try it -- Get a journal. May be simply a spiral binder, anything holding paper together so it can’t be torn out will do. Take a look at the one on Smelling Coffee’s site, that’s where I got the journal idea.

Write a journal to your husband – future in the case of the unmarried, but married women can do this, too – telling him that you are praying for him (and be sure to do so.) Tell him how you feel about the Lord, and how you pray he will feel, too.  Tell him about your expectations in your marriage. Tell him how you are preparing yourself for him and the Lord’s service.

If you are not thinking about him, what do you see in your future?

How Is Your Stuff?

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From our drive, looking over the pasture
Three years ago, in the fall of 2009, I was reading about fires in California. I wrote a blog about it then. Today, as I was cleaning my stuff, it came to mind.  According to T. J. Lynch, a victim of California’s Station fire:
"It's pretty surreal, pretty humbling, how your life is represented in these objects that you collect and then you have to whittle them down," he said, describing the difficulty of choosing what to bring with them.
We’ve seen such smoke, a half a mile from our home. Fortunately the wind was not in our direction, and a great many awesome firefighters ended its fury. We had to consider how to move our cattle, gather dogs, wonder about chickens – and that’s just living things, not the objects we had collected over the years, the ‘stuff’ that makes up our lives.

Rachel took some stuff from her father’s tent when Jacob fled with his family. She must have felt it was worth it to take them, then sit upon them to hide her theft.

Whereas thou hast searched all my stuff, what hast thou found of all thy household stuff? set it here before my brethren and thy brethren, that they may judge betwixt us both. (Genesis 31:37 KJV)

Joseph told his brothers not to be concerned about their own stuff – he had enough in Egypt to take care of all of them.

Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours. (Genesis 45:20 KJV)

Moses found out it was possible to have too much stuff!

For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much. (Exodus 36:7 KJV)
Look around – what stuff do we need? What stuff do we want – and why? Is the stuff important to us, or to our children? Why have we accumulated this stuff? Where will it eventually go? Why do we need it now?
What would we take in case of fire? Why would we choose that? Because it would be expensive to replace? Because of the memories it invokes?

Christ speaks of a day when we need to abandon our stuff:

In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. (Luke 17:31 KJV)

Do we have the wrong stuff?

Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. (Joshua 7:11 KJV)

Let’s take inventory of our stuff. Appreciate that which we’ve accumulated, but determine if we’ve taken of the accursed thing and put them among our own stuff. Let’s clear them out and determine what stuff is worth rescuing, and what is not.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What Does It Look Like?

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But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 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: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. (1 Corinthians 15:35-38 KJV)

Without clicking on the graphic, can you tell from the seed what plant will appear? Are we looking at potential grain? Fruit? Nut? Can we imagine the taste, the feel, the size of what will grow on that one stalk?

Why, then, are any of us able to describe what our spiritual bodies will be? I think it’s because of how the gospel writers described Jesus following His resurrection. He was recognizable – well, to most. There was the story of the road to Emmaus, where He wasn’t recognized until He blessed and broke the bread. Also, because of John’s Revelation descriptions, in words we understand, but put together in ways that still seem odd in this world.

Some seeds are quite similar, but produce very different results. Think of tomatoes – seeds that appear to be the same produce anywhere from grape tomatoes to Big Boy. I expect there will be as large a number of varieties in our spiritual bodies. The more problems I have with my current one, the more I think about the differences.

Paul used several examples to show differences between flesh of animals, birds, fish - of celestial bodies, the stars, moon and sun, then between flesh and spirit:

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:42-44 KJV)

Now, that will preach! In fact, I’ve heard sermons on this very topic, and I hope you have, too.  To me, it means the preacher has studied the Bible and understands there is much more to life that what we look forward to here. We’re told elsewhere:

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24 KJV)

Christians expect to spend eternity with God as a spirit, and they need to be studying the spiritual aspects of their own being – not just the physical life we have in this realm. Too often we’re focused on our physical surroundings, limiting ourselves. Open our hearts to the eternal.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Buried and Risen

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Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:12-15 KJV)

We don’t get buried sitting or standing and we cannot possibly understand the faith of the operation of God as we’re being held as babes in our mother’s arms. For us, the baptism in water symbolizes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. For us, we rise to walk a different way than before we followed Christ into baptism:

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4 KJV)

Get that “should” part? We don’t always get that ourselves and find ourselves on that broad way that brings harm to others. We should always consider how others see us after we’ve made the open, public commitment to include Christ in every step of our life.

Oh, that wasn’t part of the understanding? That from the time we were to be aware of what is and isn’t sinful, and that we were supposed to turn our backs on our sinful selves?

One of my junior high girls, several years ago, asked the question in class, “What if we keep sinning? Are we still saved?” My answer to her may have seemed harsh, but it is true:
“If a person goes forward saying they trust in the Lord as their savior, follows Him in baptism but doesn’t make any change in their life, continuing to hurt themselves and others with their words and actions – that person needs to review why they thought they were saved.”
Once we admit we are sinful, continuing in that same sinful nature simply means we have not turned our lives over to God.  We have not read His word. We have not spent time in prayer seeking His will. We feel safe and complacent and return to doing what gives pleasure to ourselves or power over others. I do not know the result of her review

We can know if we do have eternal life. John said it plainly:

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13 KJV)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Expedient? Edifying?


All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (1 Corinthians 10:23 KJV)

Because of Christ’s death and resurrection, His followers are released from following the law. Paul wrote a great deal about this:

Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:28 KJV)

A lot of people stop right there, taking what they want – we are released from following the law, which means we can do anything! Some proceed to do everything, without reading the following verses:

Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law. (Romans 3:29-31 KJV)

God’s law should be established in our hearts, as Paul continues into the next chapter on this same theme:

Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (Romans 4:16 KJV)

So – if we do not have to follow the law, why can’t do we anything we want?

It’s not expedient, Paul wrote – not profitable, serviceable, advantageous or convenient. Take your pick, but there just isn't anything good in not following God's law.

It doesn’t edify – it isn’t constructive, doesn’t improve things or lift them – or us – up. Again, there just isn’t anything good in not following God’s law.

Seeking His plan takes some time – time spent studying His word and time spent in prayer. It is a never-ending learning process, which some people never start. They make a profession of faith, join a church and believe that’s all that’s required. I believe there is much more to be learned, and spending time with God’s people, worshipping Him, reading and hearing His word – all of that is important in getting to know what He has in mind. I like what Paul said:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1-4 KJV)

God wants all men to be saved – and come to know the truth. He is not, however, a puppet-master controlling everyone’s life. Those who will not seek and learn the truth are left to live their lives without Him.

Which way did you chose?  I chose life, everlasting, with Him – want to talk about it?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Difficult?

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Someone once asked me how difficult was it to come up with a new blog each day. It has not been a problem for me. Unfortunately, I do take time from some other things I should be doing, but coming up with a subject is as easy as opening a Bible – which I do more than once a day.

I do have a problem keeping notes around too long, though. If I could sit down at a keyboard all day long, I could continually write about what I find in the Bible that should be applied to our lives. It’s a good thing I can’t do that or I would never be living my life and applying the things I’ve learned!

We all have problems in that application area, don’t we.  Sometimes the things we know just don’t get applied. Paul described it as:

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (Romans 7:19 KJV)

Paul had accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Paul gave God full allegiance, fulfilling the first commandment. Paul fulfilled the second, too, loving his neighbors – perhaps even more than himself.  Yet he confesses to doing evil, evil that he really didn’t want to do. Was he saved?

Yes – he was. It is evident in the abrupt change in his life. While Nicodemus came to Jesus privately, Paul was outspoken about their encounter. While Zacchaeus gave part of his wealth back, Paul left his entire heritage to follow the Lord’s command to share His word.

Is salvation easy? Yes – and, no.

Yes, it is as easy as the answer to the jailer’s question:

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)

No, because when we do say that we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, things should change in our lives so that people look at us, see the difference and sometimes push us away. Jesus knew this and gave us words of preparation:

And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-27 KJV)

It’s sort of like any other major life change – we can go through it, but we come out the other side a changed person. We do things differently, we think differently, we seek to know about our Lord and spend time with His word.

If those changes are not evident in your life, perhaps some consideration should be given as to why.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wednesday Night’s Lesson

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Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:7-9 KJV)

We’ve been studying Ecclesiastes on Wednesday nights – this week we were on Chapter 9 and pastor came to these four things we should be doing now:

1 – Eat with a merry heart – you’ve earned it with good work. Now, that doesn’t mean to gorge ourselves, but take our ease and enjoy our meals. A family, be it husband/wife or a house full, is always a blessing.

2 – White clothing was reserved for special occasions,  so this means we shouldn’t set back our best things but use and enjoy them or we may never do so.

3 – Now I do like this one – we are to enjoy our spouse, and I most certainly do love him all the days of the life God has given us, and will continue doing so for as many more years as we have together. This one I have truly enjoyed!

4 – Enjoy the fruits of your labor. It’s earned you the first and second  items on this list. Plan for the future, but be aware of other things Solomon learned and included in this chapter:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. (Ecclesiastes 9:11 KJV)

In this world, the good guys don’t always win. Time and chance happen to all. From his own experience and watching the lives of others, Solomon learned this valuable lesson. We did learn just a bit more, though, from Paul.

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)

In this world, we do have hope, but have no assurance that our plans will be completed. The only thing Solomon knew would happen to everyone is death, and we won’t be taking anything from this world when we leave.

For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 KJV)

Paul defined the Christian’s hope:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; (1 Timothy 1:1 KJV)

Is it yours while here under the sun?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Paul’s Call For The Church

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Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10 KJV)

I am now 91% complete on my chronological reading of the Bible. I’m in Acts, and I look forward to each day to find out if I’ll be reading Luke or Paul’s letters.  Seeing where these letters fit into his journey helps me understand the timing and current activities. I can see that his witness in each city is the same. From the Jewish scriptures, he teaches of the Messiah, then of Jesus’ completion of those prophecies. He knows them well, having studied to be a priest himself. Only a stop on the road to Damascus changed his path to the strait gate and narrow way.

Other converts were teaching, too, and new Christians began dividing themselves. Paul hears of such a division in Corinth:

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:12 KJV)

Paul gives the most beautiful answer, one that remains a foundational truth today:

Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:13 KJV)

Whether it is the church, pastor, youth director, Sunday School teacher, college, ministry, missionary – the list is endless – that brought us to Christ, we are never to be more interested in them than we are in serving our Lord. We do not seek the name Christian for ourselves, but for Him.

If we say, “I’m a member of the Greater-than-any-other-church,” or “Dr. So-and-so preaches this-or-that and reaches more people,” we are denying God’s power and presence, placing our faith in mankind, in flesh. Paul wrote about that, too:

That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:29-31 KJV)

Through Acts we can see Paul’s witness and his preaching. He pretty much defines it in 1 Corinthians:

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1:23-25 KJV)

It is very difficult to get past the stumbling block and the foolishness – Christ requires we follow His teachings, His commandments, when all we want is to pleasure ourselves. The thought of giving up anything creates a defensiveness in us that is really a stumbling block – and our own foolishness. Paul knew this better than most and was God’s choice to teach us, even today.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Two of Our Dogs

Chihuahuas
Annisita and Juanita
Dogs are mentioned forty times in the Bible – usually as being dead. Only once is it possible to see their verses in a positive light (if at all):

For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. (Ecclesiastes 9:4 KJV)

That’s not much of a compliment, is it? The thought came to mind today because I have lost two dogs, Annie died Monday night in her sleep and we have an appointment for Juanita at the vet this morning.

Not quite twenty years ago, Second Daughter had two children who would be headed for college someday. As others before her, she thought she could raise a bit of extra money by raising puppies and selling them. She picked up a beautiful black and tan Chihuahua baby and named her Ramona. She fit right into SD’s purse as we headed off to spend money buying the comforts a puppy needed.  Too soon we found that one of those comforts was a vet, who would save her life.

For the next eighteen years, Ramona brought pleasure into our lives. Before two years were out she also brought her mate and three puppies into the home. Two of the puppies were sold (as planned) and SD’s heart was just about broken when they left, even though one went to her brother and she’d see Max often over his lifetime. The third puppy she gave to her father – we had just lost our own poodle to old age -- and we named her Juanita.

The next litter was worse. One of the pups was born with a bad heart. She had problems at birth, and Grandson took her, warmed her and called her Lucky. She had what we thought were seizures, couldn’t breath and her tongue would turn blue.  The vet gave us the bad news and Lucky was put to sleep. Her littermate was sold to a little girl whose mother turned around within three blocks and returned the dog. The girl had began sneezing in the car, couldn’t stop and assumed an allergy to the dog. Children come first.

SD gave us the third puppy and we named her Annasita, ending up as Annie. SD kept her three for several years, then found homes for the two guys. Ramona, Juanita and Annie shared a dog run in front of our house – until last winter. Ramona’s health began to fail, she had experienced a couple of strokes, and she passed away sleeping in the sunshine.

Now, not a year later, we must let our girls go, too. Juanita has dysplasia, is almost blind with cataracts and is deaf, too.  Annie served as her guide for the doggy door and helped her around the yard. They’ve been inseparable since Annie’s birth. I was always concerned that Juanita would go first and Annie would be heart broken. Instead, Juanita is left alone without her seeing eye sister. It’s time for us to let go and provide both comfort and peace.

Do “All Dogs Go To Heaven”? Bible doesn’t say either way. Only man is mentioned as having a spirit. One day we’ll know. Until then, it’s in God’s hands, and I thank Him for the gift of unconditional love these little ladies have shown us all of their lives. And I thank you for understanding our loss.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Economics

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That’s a statue of Diana of Ephesus. Luke wrote about her:

And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. (Acts 19:23 KJV)

There was a silversmith living in Ephesus and his greatest income was derived from selling idols:

For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; (Acts 19:24 KJV)

While the first missionaries were turning the world upside down (Acts 17:6), they impacted Demetrius’ income. So, called his craftsmen:

Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: (Acts 19:25-26 KJV)

Note that he starts with economics – local, regional and throughout all Asia! Paul was having an effect with his message of God’s mercy and His grace. It was depressing this particular industry and they decided to fight back.  Oh, and there was mention of their religion:

So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. (Acts 19:27 KJV)

Hyperbole. Demetrius knew the whole world did not worship Diana, just as we Christians know that the whole world does not know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Demetrius just couldn’t stand the economic impact of people not buying his idols. He turned a personal economic situation into a volatile public mob intent on harming Paul and his companions. The mob wasn’t even certain what was going on:

Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. (Acts 19:32 KJV)

I wish we knew more about the one man who had enough sense and physical presence to calm an angry mob:

And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. (Acts 19:35-37 KJV)

Can we do as well as this clerk? Can we look at issues that have both secular and religious impact and study them calmly, without trying to shout slogans to cover another’s speech? If we cannot, perhaps the clerk would speak to us, too:

For we are in danger to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. (Acts 19:40 KJV)

Whether it is secular or religious, know your cause and be able to give an account with a firm foundation, not an emotional knee-jerk in response to someone’s perceived damages.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What A Sunday!!!!

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There it is – that beautiful blue and white planet – half in darkness, half in light. It does remind me:

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5 KJV)

I meet three families today who want to carry that good news into areas where it is not currently a familiar verse. One spoke in each of our services today, and I wish I could go with them, all of them.

First was Stefan Carlin. He spoke during what would have been our regular Sunday School hour. Raised in a Christian home, he still didn’t understand salvation until an adult. He succeeded in his dream to leave Romania, moving to Germany, becoming a businessman, marrying, raising a family – then hearing our Lord call him home to Romania as a missionary. He has a wonderful vision of working in his homeland.

Second was Randy Ashcraft. Our church supported his family’s ministry for many years, and we’ve seen fruit from their work for three generations.  One of his cousins, a missionary to Ukraine, is on my sideboard.  His father and grandfather served in Mexico, but Randy and his family have been called to work with Muslims in the far east.

Third, during this evening’s service, was Kirk Kirkland. Want to hear about a bus kid gone good? Well, this one certainly is. He is doing what the Lord has laid before him, and the world is missing out on a vocalist – unless they come hear him in church. His rendition of “Blessed Assurance” was moving. I heard the strength of Fanny Crosby’s beliefs in this man’s voice. He’s taking that story, that song, into the center city in Cincinnati. If you are near there, mark your calendar for Easter, 2013, to join him and his family as they open their doors to speak that story, and sing that song of salvation.

In the meantime, please keep each of these families in prayer as they move through deputation (that’s an Independent Baptist terminology – ask me about it) into their mission field.

Recently I wrote to another missionary:
… you get to go where God called you and not us, and we get to be there with you in prayer, seeing the pictures, reading the blog. You get to tell people about us and how much we love them and pray for them, too. Yep - our missionaries do have those beautiful feet and are important to those who send and those who receive. We love your service to our Lord.
We’re a team – those who send, those who go and those who receive the word. Become part of that team through prayer as they go and tell all nations:

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:13-15 KJV)

Become part of the beautiful feet preaching the gospel.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

No, It Doesn’t

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During a recent discussion, “It goes without saying,” was a response I really didn’t like.  No, it doesn’t go without saying.

In our world today we cannot make assumptions that any two people in a discussion are in agreement on vital points. That’s very true as we decide the direction our county is to move in the next four years, but it’s even more important when it comes to understanding what the Bible has in store for our lives now and into eternity.

I honestly cannot remember the exact topic, and it wouldn’t make a difference if I could – the fact is that we need to clarify our statements made on our beliefs, and we need to be able to cite the source of those beliefs.
If I do a link or a copy/paste that I find interesting, educational or amusing, I need to be certain it has a valid, stable foundation or I’m building thoughts on sand.

Paul wanted believers to support each other, understand each other:

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (Philippians 2:1-2 KJV)

He includes in a later verse our very best example:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5 KJV)

Unfortunately, many take this verse, look for something in the four gospels that Jesus did that will justify what they want to do and consider that they are likeminded. Equally unfortunately, they overlook the things that Jesus did daily:
Spending time in prayer with His father;
Spending time with the sick;
Spending time discussing scriptures;
Spending time explaining what He believed and why.
How much time do we spend each day on any one of those things? Jesus also set people straight:

But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (Matthew 23:13 KJV)

These ‘woes’ go on for several verses, stating openly what the Pharisees were doing and not doing – how many of Christ’s complaints fit our lives? Are we not very similar to their failings? Could Jesus also say to us:

Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. (Matthew 23:38 KJV)

If we truly believe “It goes without saying,” then why did Christ have to say all He did? Are we saying the same things He did? Or, as Eve, do we add a word or two, a thought here or there? That’s why I believe strongly in studying scripture, using scripture as the foundation of what I believe. Not what someone else says – although they may set a direction for me to study and I may come to agree with them. It is not for me to use any other writing as the foundation of my beliefs. Why?

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

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Seeking God’s Assurance In My Plans

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PE. Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them. The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments. Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name. Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.  (Psalms 119:129-136 KJV)

I ran across this article by Charles Stanley, giving some good advice as we seek ASSURANCE OF GOD’S WILL in our lives. As we seek His will, these are good questions, and Dr. Stanley suggested we read:

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: (Ephesians 1:15-17 KJV)

There are plenty of God’s children who will pray with us for that spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
God does not "play games" with His children by veiling His will in mystery. Believers can be sure of His leading in any situation. When we need confirmation, the following questions will help clarify:
1. IS THIS DECISION CONSISTENT WITH GOD’S WORD? If we want to know His will, God's Word will indicate the best move. The passage may not mention our exact situation, but the principle will speak to our situation.
2. IS THIS A WISE DECISION? A choice may seem  reasonable and even be pleasing emotionally, but the decision will stand long after present feelings have faded. We must consider consequences and long - term effects.
3. CAN I ASK GOD TO ENABLE ME? Contrary to popular opinion, believers can't ask the Lord for anything they want. A man in need of money, for example, cannot seek divine blessing on a shady deal. God promises to provide, but anything gained outside His plan will turn to ashes.
4. DO I HAVE GENUINE PEACE? We can talk and talk at God, but we cannot force peace. Regardless of the way we think or feel about a matter, God will not give us a tranquil heart before the time is right. Genuine peace includes His confirmation, a calm heart, and the affirmation of our conscience.
The goal of evaluating a situation by means of these questions is not to get to "YES!" but to honestly seek God's will. Prayerfully consider each query until you can say, "I know this is the Lord's plan for me."
- Dr.Charles Stanley

Friday, October 12, 2012

Do We Know God?

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"God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand you have failed." St. Augustine

I’ve quoted this before, but this verse brought that quote to mind again:

Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it. (Ecclesiastes 8:17 KJV)

To know what God is, what His full plans are, is not within the ability of His creation. We can seek Him, we can find Him, we can accept Him, but we cannot say we understand Him any more than Job did:

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

What do we declare? Nothing more than what He has given us in His word and displayed for us in our own lives. We’re treading on thin ice when we go beyond that, aren’t we?

Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? (Job 40:6-8 KJV)

Do we condemn God in order to make ourselves feel better?  Which do we say: “God does not exist”; “We don’t need to have a mythical father to help us”; “No one can prove there is a God”?

Or do we acknowledge Him? Humble ourselves before His power and praise His name for what He’s done? I have, I do and I will – though there have been times I have failed to comply with His commandments, I’ve never doubted His existence and His interest in His creation.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. (Psalms 8:3-5 KJV)

We have very finite knowledge attempting to understand the infinite. Our minds cannot possibly encompass all that He is – and we don’t need to. We do need to know what He has told us:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3:11-12 KJV)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Are You On Facebook?

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Missionary Mike Mislan is. Wednesday he reminded his Christian Friends that we are on a huge mission field of a billion (by latest FB news) people in 213 countries. How better to complete our task:

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 KJV)

Most FB users don’t think about witnessing their Christian lives online, but that’s exactly what they are doing when they include their religion as part of their profile. Besides, their friends and family connections on FB absolutely know whether they are church members, church attenders and/or live Christ-based lives. Somehow, though, the internet portion often appears sufficiently anonymous that we bring the social and game aspects into our thoughts and leave our Christian witness behind.

I see Facebook as a facet of my entire life. I started with a small group of Facebook friends, consisting of family, church friends and work friends, but over the years I’ve added many more – a couple of Preacher Kids in the Philippines (one now here in the States, yeah!!!!), missionaries (stretching from the Ukraine down South America across again to the Philippines) and Mums who love their children no matter where in the world they are – and they do scatter.

Each one of the above share one thing in common with me – they love God and have accepted the gift of His Son as their savior.

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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 3:15-16 KJV)

My words, my actions, my Blog posts, my Facebook status and comments should reflect that and never bring shadows upon what God has given to all of us. What I post should always reflect what has gone into my mind and heart:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)

It’s not what we take in to nourish our bodies, it’s what we take in to our minds that defiles and comes out in our words:

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (Matthew 15:10-11 KJV)

What we post on Facebook is our life and it has the capability of being shared across the world to a billion people. What should we be showing them? We are showing our faith – is it in God? Mankind? A latest fad? Plans for the moment or plans for a lifetime? Are we living in the here-and-now, moment-to-moment or eternally?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Bit of Texas History

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For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers: (Job 8:8 KJV)

That verse was given to us today by a Texian Christian Writer. Go ahead, spend a few moments looking over their website. Our speaker Tuesday was Jan Payne Pierce, Director.

Jan came to our Second Tuesday group (used to be Senior Saints – but not all are seniors and some of us would be questionably saints as we’re works in progress) to open our minds to God and Texas history. A person whose name was previously unknown to me is in the above photo – Moses Austin.

Austin’s heritage tracks back to Massachusetts when Richard Austin arrived on the ship Bevis in 1638. Moses was born in Connecticut, moved to Virginia then on to Missouri, then part of Spain’s Louisiana. He was there in 1803 when Louisiana was purchased by the United States. A bank panic in 1819 cost him his business and his fortune and he sought new adventure in Spain’s San Antonio de Bexar in Tejas. His first interview failed, but on the street he met a friend – of his and the Spanish governor and an agreement was reached that Austin would bring 300 colonists into the region.

Unfortunately, Moses’ health failed and he died before he could fulfill that agreement, leaving his son the legacy to complete the colony. The rest is well-known Texas history. Except for how many times God’s name is used in the documents setting up the new nation.

Their Declaration of Independence was in response to a military dictatorship that came into existence after Mexico’s independence from Spain’s control. They were supposed to part of a new republic, but the government changed often between 1824 and 1835. Included in their complaints against the dictatorship was lack of education, and lack of religious freedom.

Texas was born partly out of the citizen’s desire to be free to worship God as their conscience required. The United State’s First Amendment was part of Texas’ birth as a nation.

The freedom of (not from, but of) worship may be a very American attribute that goes back to the foundation of this country. Violent battles have been fought to assure this freedom, among many others. I pray they never need to be fought for again.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36 KJV)

That’s the freedom we need to understand. The freedom offered by God through His son, along many other gifts:

He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32 KJV)

I am grateful that God gave men the ability to worship Him across the ages, offering freedoms that we appreciate today. Freedoms we can trace back through our history, our heritage and keep as part of our future. Please, do inquire of the former age – search for the faith of our fathers.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

And That Means?

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A beautiful scene, some thoughtful words – but what does it mean?

My uncle doesn’t accept such beauty nor thoughtful words at first view. I had a copy of Desiderata on my refrigerator when they visited. He asked about it, what did it mean, why did I choose it? My answer? Because it looked good. I hadn’t really read the entire page.

When I did, it was pretty much filled with platitudes. The words sounded nice, “Go placidly amidst the noise and haste.” That’s why there’s a quiet meadow in the background – not the six-lane highway making it’s way across the metroplex, filled with traffic making both noise and haste. Having a bit of silence there would be peaceful, wouldn’t it.

The remaining article has about as much relevance, but I’m not picking on this particular piece – we see them often on line, select them to share with others when we find one that tugs at our emotions. We seldom check for the source, even less do we look at the author’s background or look for the full article to see the context.

Too often people look at the Bible that same way. A verse here, a verse there, looking at one that fits their lifestyle, putting away those that really don’t fit or raise questions. These books are not just designed to decorate walls, they are to be read, studied – in depth and in context. That’s why one of my favorite verses, used over and over on this blog, is:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 KJV)

The result of those searches?

Therefore many of them believed; (Acts 17:12a KJV)

What did Thessalonica do that was wrong? They did not receive the word with an open mind – and they did not do their due diligence to see if what was said could possibly be true.  Their minds were made up that these men were liars. Yet Jesus said:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)

He spoke of Himself and scriptures another time, on the road to Emmaus:

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27 KJV)

Do you know what Jesus said about Himself? Several Bible have His words in red so it’s obvious what He said. Do you know where the conversations took place? Who was with Him? Was He addressing a few, many or through all time?

How can you tell unless you read?  Don’t you need to know who wrote the book? When? what was happening at that time in history?

There’s so much more, especially read in prayer. Then we can fix our error, know the scripture and the power of God.

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

Light

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The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9:2 KJV)

Matthew tells us this prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus:

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. (Matthew 4:14-16 KJV)

John was aware of this, too:

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5 KJV)

Then, Jesus made it certain:

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)

As soon as that was said, denials began:

The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. (John 8:13 KJV)

I thought of these verses when I looked at today’s graphic. Darkness stands in the way of the light, but it splits, diffuses and spreads. His explained a bit about light:

As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5 KJV)

With Him at His Father’s side, we can take to heart the words to His disciples:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14 KJV)

As Christians, we are the light of the world.  Where do we sit? Is there darkness in front of us? Where does our light shine? Is it a true reflection of His light?

These are questions I ask about my life, and I hope others are taking a look at the light in their lives. We speak of mountains and valleys in our daily living – where does the light fit it? How far can it be seen? Do we allow distractions, such as that large tree, to cast shadows on our light?

Christ not only has the answers to our questions, He is the answer. The light we display is but a reflection of His. Ours will grow brighter as we grow closer to Him through reading, studying, praying and being aware of God’s will for His work in our lives. Look at the positive examples in the Bible, those who followed His will.

Do not expect the path to be easy. There are no biblical verses telling us that life here will be easy. We are told there will be temptations:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)

Are we looking for that way to escape and reflect light? Or are we moving into the darkness, our light dimming?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Philip’s Witness

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This is Rembrandt’s view of Philip baptizing Queen Candace’s eunuch. Doesn’t match what I had in mind, mostly because there are no other people mentioned in the scripture. I see just the two of them, looking over the scroll Isaiah had written so many centuries before. Jesus spoke of those scriptures:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)

The Ethiopian asked questions, Philip answered with Jesus:

And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. (Acts 8:34-35 KJV)

We do not worship the God of the Old Testament, or the New; the God of Israel or of gentiles. We worship the one and only God who created the heaven and earth, there is none other. The God Jesus explained is God of the living:

But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. (Matthew 22:31-32 KJV)

I’ve like Philip since I read that he introduced Jesus to his friend:

Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. (John 1:45-46 KJV)

“Come, and see.” How many of us have gone to our own friends and introduced them to the Lord we love and serve? How many times do we tender the invitation to join us? Philip was ready to seek out his friend, and just as ready to speak to strangers about the man he followed for three years.

Think about that – he watched Jesus die, and saw Him resurrected. He didn’t write about, he just went to witnessing. He knew the scriptures and he shared his knowledge. Can’t we do the same?

If not, why not? Why can’t we perk up a conversation with a scripture or two? Politically incorrect? Socially incorrect? Public figures do it every once in a while and make national news. Are we that afraid of voicing beliefs that are supposed to be the foundation of our lives?

Or is it a test to see whether or not stones will cry out?

And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples. And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. (Luke 19:39-40 KJV)

I think they would.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

An App For That

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There’s a lot of information in that one little area on my smartphone. I used most of them in discussions with our doctors this week.  Thursday was ‘intake’ day, new doctor and new forms to be filled out – and we included printouts from the My Medical app. That holds all of our medical history in one spot, easily printed, easily e-mailed. I referred to it a couple of times when giving background to David’s new doctor. She asked about tracking medication, and I said “I have an app for that.” I introduced her to RxMindeMe.

We spoke about blood glucose and blood pressure monitoring – yep, “I have an app for that.” She complimented us on the use of technology to track and share.

What does that have to do with Bible reading? Well, “I have an app for that,” too. Several, actually. For the Bible itself, I have YouVersion  and Olive Tree. Why two? Because one I like for moving quickly between verses and the other I like for the chronological reading through on a daily plan. I also have a Bible Concordance app and a denomination’s app for specified pray requests.

What’s best about them? Well, they allow me to read my Bible any time, any place under any circumstances (except dead batteries.) Best of all, every app I’ve mentioned here is FREE.  The medical and the biblical apps are freely given.

One free app not on my smartphone but on my PC is e-Sword, where the author quotes Jesus:

freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8b KJV)

He was sending His disciples to preach the news that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. They were to tell of what they had freely received of Him, and were to just as freely give. Peter knew how to give freely when he met the beggar after the Resurrection:

And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. (Acts 3:2-8 KJV)

When was the last time you went to a church not only walking, but eagerly and praising God? Have you received nothing free?