Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Why Leaving?

I had recently addressed a similar article, on “Those Leaving” , and just finished reading this one, “Why millennials are leaving the church.”

Neither one have a full answer because the reasons vary so much – and have occurred for centuries. There are waves of revival seen across the years of history, and we may be on the cusp of another.
Both of the articles discuss some young adults leaving churches. Both articles also address those who stay – and, as this author includes, those who are seeking. She has an interesting list of “We want …” items, and then writes:
You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.
Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.
A number of churches have changed their names, added current music, updated technology, increased activities – all with the goal of enlarging attendance, working in their their community to reach people. Perhaps that’s not all that is needed, as she states:
What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.
They want – long for, she says - Jesus. That’s not new. There is a strip of paper on the pulpit in our church that has been there for more than fifteen years that we can confirm, probably longer. No one wishes to remove it, those words that the Greeks spoke to Philip and we need today:

And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. (John 12:20-21 KJV)

And, He is the one that should be seen, heard and worshipped in every Christian church. No program matters unless He is in the center. No Christian doctrine has importance unless it includes belief in His resurrection:

But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: (1 Corinthians 15:13-16 KJV)

Verse follows verse as Paul wrote to the church members at Corinth explaining how it is impossible to deny Jesus’ resurrection without denying all He preached. He was not a prophet. He was not a rabbi. He was not a good man with an excellent philosophy.

He was, is and will always be the Messiah, God’s plan of salvation for the world.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:57-58 KJV)

Now, that’s good preaching when we live it!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Pray for Who???

Yesterday’s blog on “pray for you” verses in the Bible did not touch on one thing I think is important. And, I can’t find one Bible verse that actually tells me to do this, expect for:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:43-44 KJV)

Even David’s Psalms call upon the Lord to punish his enemies. Jesus had a different message:  Pray for them which despitefully use you.

See? As soon as you read that, you thought of someone who despitefully used you, didn’t you? I can come up with a name or two.

So, are you praying for them?

Are you praying in the David style:

By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me. (Psalms 41:11 KJV)

Or, do you feel that if there is a God, He has abandoned you to enemies:

Because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked: for they cast iniquity upon me, and in wrath they hate me. (Psalms 55:3 KJV)

This man after God’s own heart knew enmity – by the very man God gave his description. A man to whom David showed mercy, sparing his life and regretting his death.

But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. (1 Samuel 13:14 KJV)

Think again of that one who despitefully uses you. OK, so there’s more than one. Make a list – just their names, no need to write down reasons. Now, make a commitment to pray for them.  No – not pray against them, pray for them. Pray they see God’s will in their lives.

If you can’t find something nice to pray, don’t be like Thumper this time. Just say their name in prayer and know the Holy Spirit will take your prayers before God’s throne:

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. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 KJV)

I trust God’s will in my life, and I trust His workings with others, too.  I know many will continue to deny Him. That is completely beyond my control. Though I feel sad about their loss, I feel hope that time remains whereby they may come to understand how much God does love us.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 KJV)

Do not grab on to those two words “not willing” and try to make them mean that all are saved. Read more. Find that the choice is ours and repentance is the key to understanding. Know that I pray for you.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Prayer Fullness

Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD. (1 Samuel 7:4-5 KJV)

Isn’t that wonderful? People committed to serve the Lord and Samuel committed to pray for them.

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)

Oops, now Samuel expects not only to pray but to teach them the good and right way. That means there is a bad or wrong way, doesn’t it? Must be – next we find:

… and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. (Job 42:8b KJV)

Oh, my! Now God is telling Job’s ‘friends’ there is a wrong and right. What is coming next in this search for “pray for you”?

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; (Colossians 1:9-10 KJV)

Wow, in the New Testament we find Paul praying for those who seek to walk worthy of the Lord and in every good work. Stands to reason there are some who don’t, right?

I like them all. These verses, stretching across hundreds of years, show a continuing prayerfulness by men of God praying for those seeking to do His will. Jesus set the standards for Christians, too, as he prayed for His disciples, then continued:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; (John 17:20 KJV)

I believe Jesus of Nazareth is the promised Messiah. There are so many scriptures confirming my belief that it takes the Bible to hold them all. Jesus prayed for me, because I believe the witnesses who have testified before me were truthful, and prayerful. Prayers have been given specifically for me, even as I was a non-believer.

What? You think I somehow was born believing that Jesus lived and died? Foolishness to even think that.

We all must come – within ourselves, without another’s actions – to realize what we’re missing. Then we must recognize and accept God’s merciful gift of His grace. Someone else’s Bible reading and prayer simply put the truth in front of me. I was free to ignore and turn aside. Which I did, until I realized what a tremendous gift was being offered, and accepted Who offered it.

That’s my prayer for readers. I know some who stop by here are dedicated followers of Jesus, mentioned in John 17:20. Others know Him but are lacking in faith, still searching for Samuel’s good and right way. Still others deny God’s existence. I give thanks to Him that He has not yet denied their heavenly existence. That He continues to offer opportunities for them to hear and believe through their word. That he offers, even now – right now – that they increase in the knowledge of God, who loves the unlovable:

We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Left Alone

And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19:10 KJV)

Ahab had gone home where he explained to Jezebel how Elijah had not only challenged Ba’al’s priests but how God had sent fire to light a soaked sacrifice in response to Elijah’s prayers. Then he described the death of the priests. Instead of being impressed with the response, she became enraged at the questioning, the lessening, of her power. She was more determined than ever to destroy Elijah as a token of the God who rejected her.

Yet, it is Elijah, not Jezebel, who feels alone – even I only, am left – wandering into the wilderness to beg God to allow him to die.

Well, Elijah is not alone. Each one of us has had one of those great moments of insight where we’ve understood God’s place and His power. We’ve seen His work – though it may not have been fire raining down on a water-soaked offering. We’ve known His place in our lives and we’ve made a commitment to Him, only to find ourselves wandering in a wilderness wondering, “What happened?”

Then we’ve looked for Him again, to find that power and wonder:

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:11-12 KJV)

We want the power of the wind that can break rocks, the earthquake that shakes the foundation of the earth, or the fire that will destroy what was made. We want the miracles that stand the world on its head, but we get the still, small, voice.

That voice tells us we’re not alone.

Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18 KJV)

We are not alone – and not simply because we have our Lord with us at all times. We are not alone because there are others who love and serve Him. Because they do, we are loved by others as much as He loves us.

Elijah did not wrap himself in the importance of God’s message and proclaim it to the world – he next passed his mantle to Elisha. Can we do as well, letting the next generation pick up where we left off – even with unfulfilled prophecies and expectations? Or do we see only where they lack, not accepting God’s fulfilling grace to see to the continuation of His message? Or do we still feel too alone?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The World

I’m still reading Jimmy Carter’s devotionals, and enjoying them. I like the format he uses – a Bible verse, his thoughts and a closing prayer. Chapter 21, dated January 18, 1998, is titled “A Wonderful Mystery” and uses a paraphrase of Ephesians 3:4-5 at the beginning. I think a bit more of the chapter helps:

If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: (Ephesians 3:2-6 KJV)

As part of Carter’s devotional thoughts, he asks a question – then gives his answer:
How could this simple carpenter’s son from Nazareth, who had only a three-year ministry on earth, have transformed the world in such a powerful way?
Jesus brought us a gift of love from God Almighty, so that no matter what we have done, if we repent, we can be totally forgiven and reconciled with God through faith in the risen Christ.
So much of this remains a mystery. Why did God choose this means of reconciliation? Why does God so love the world that He gave the means of salvation? Why did God love us before we loved Him?

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 KJV)

Let’s go a step further – just who does God love?

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)

The world – not Christians. The world – not just those we love. The world – that means the person that’s going to be rude to you today; the driver that cuts me off in traffic this afternoon; the person you over hear cursing. The world is huge and contains more unlovable people in it than the number of those we love. Yet, God loves every single one of them.

And, the biggest mystery of all is:  He expects us to love them, too.

For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. (1 John 3:11 KJV)

That’s not the only verse – the phrase “love one another” is used in twelve verses. Jesus spoke the words first in:

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)

Can all others see the mystery of God’s love for mankind through our love for all who need Him? In what way are we expressing His love for others in our daily lives?

Friday, July 26, 2013

John and Me

Did you know that I am greater than John the Baptist? In Jesus’ own words:

Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11 KJV)

OK, so that’s not literally what He meant. But, on lose logic, I’m headed for His kingdom (based on a number of biblical commitments) and I’ll certainly be among the least, so that will make me greater when I get there - but only for the time he was here. My logic is quite wrong.

Of course, John’s made his journey and continues to serve His Lord in heaven. When I get there, it won’t be with the same acclamation, I’m certain. John proclaimed the word of the Lord his entire life, giving up all worldly good to draw people away from the cities to hear God’s truth.

In this Matthew chapter, John has been imprisoned for telling the truth about Herod and his incestuous marriage. But hey, was it his place to judge? It was much like today – telling the truth sounds to those who do not wish to hear it that it is judgmental. People living in sinful situations still do not wish to be told it is sinful – that’s being judgmental, right?

While in prison, John has doubts. He had spent years proclaiming Christ’s coming:

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Matthew 3:11 KJV)

Like most of us, what is happening does not seem to be what we thought God had in mind. Are we wrong?

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? (Matthew 11:2-3 KJV)

Is that why we question, too? We expect action, and we’re waiting in prison? Jesus didn’t give a “yes/no” answer. He called upon a man’s ability to reason:

Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. (Matthew 11:4-6 KJV)

“Go and testify to what you’ve seen,” basically was His answer. Very similar to the Great Commission:

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)

See that ‘therefore’? It connects these verses to the previous verse – the one that tells us why He has the authority to make such a request – and why we should be responding to it daily:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matthew 28:18 KJV)

We have to back up one more verse to find out why Jesus explained this:

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. (Matthew 28:16-17 KJV)

Some doubted.” We are in good company, then – John, along with some disciples, doubted. Let’s get past those doubts and do as they did – serve God. Why not, at least we’re in His kingdom.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Whatever You Want

I’ve quoted Mark Dohle before, using his blog “Talking To Myself” as a starting point for thoughts. On this one, between:
“We can make love to whomever we want, do whatever we want, for it is our bodies and no one can tell us what to do”. It was of course true, but the song left a lot out, that being that there are often unforeseen consequences that can lead to a great deal of suffering for those involved.
When personal autonomy becomes the end all of life, then things really do fall apart.
I thought about a training session I took where the trainer started with the sentence:

You don’t have to do anything.

She went on to give examples – you don’t have to have a job; you don’t have to get up and go to work; you don’t have to pay your taxes. You don’t, even, have to eat. But – and that’s a huge but – you will pay the consequences. Not doing any one of those things will guarantee a life of need.

You may use drugs – but there are legal as well as physical consequences and an overdose can be lethal. There are a multitude of celebrity deaths with sufficient national coverage to confirm that truth.

You may be promiscuous – but there are emotional, physical and sometimes legal consequences. For women, consequences may be greater.

You may take what is not yours – again, there are legal consequences that seem to grow.

You may decide not to care about any of this – but there are always people who care about you.

The trainer explained so well that once we understand the consequences we make more rational decisions that in one class a student went home, told his wife he did not have to stay married, then filed for divorce. Apparently he determined the consequences were not as bad as his marriage.

Without consideration of the consequences, we are in great danger of doing harm to our lives.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Proverbs 14:12 KJV)

Unless we consider consequences, doing what we want may lead to death. As a toddler, my son wanted to know what would happen when you stuck a bobby pin into both sides of a wall socket. Burned fingers were the consequence, but it could have been much worse.

It’s not so much that we want to teach others “what” to think, but “how” to think. We’re not trying to confine actions as much as to protect valuables. The most valuable things I’ve had in my life are my children. Teaching them to learn from other’s experience doesn’t mean keeping them from experiencing life. It means teaching them to understand each and every action has consequences.

Please seriously consider the consequences laid out succinctly in God’s word:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17-18 KJV)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It’s Simple. Not So Much

The first part really is simple. The question was asked by a jailor:

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:30 KJV)

… and answered by men who walked with Jesus:

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31 KJV)

So, the easy part is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The not so much part is – who was He?

That often separates the curious unbeliever from the dedicated seeking unbeliever. The curious will politely listen, then ignore what they’ve been told.

… perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?  (Mark 8:17b-18a KJV)

Yes – those verses are slightly out of context, but they are powerful as part of Jesus’ parable explanation and stand alone about people who just don’t get it, no matter how many times it’s explained.  They are not seeking to know. God has promised that those who are seeking Him will find Him.

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

David knew that very well:

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. (1 Chronicles 28:9 KJV)

That may be hard for some. Perhaps they expect miracles before their very eyes. That’s not necessary.

Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (John 20:29 KJV)

My suggestion for those seeking is to read 1 John. The entire book. It is very short and will set the stage since it was written by one who did see and did believe. Then read each of the four gospels. This must be done with an open mind and prayerful heart. Remember, we’re seeking, with an open mind, not predicting the outcome. I’d suggest reading John first. After 1 John we’re already familiar with his style and the base of his message.

If the seeker can take John 1:1, accept that it can be true, the rest of John’s explanation will be an open book. After that, just continue reading.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What Do You Say?

Christ asked a number of questions. Several of my favorite ones are in Matthew. One I found when I reversed chapter/verse while looking up an important question. Instead of the verse I sought, I found:

And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? (Matthew 15:16 KJV)

Matthew recorded Jesus giving us a simple truth:

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)

There are considerable Jewish laws, extant, regarding what may or may not be eaten. That includes laws regarding preparation as well as specific meats. There are laws that define what may or may not be used in breads, and how some must be burnt. Religious leaders at that time – and today – knew those laws and admonished people who broke them. That’s why Jesus’ disciples told him:

Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? (Matthew 15:12 KJV)

Jesus responded:

But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. (Matthew 15:13-14 KJV)

God will take care of the uprooting – we are to let them alone, if they wish to remain blind to the truth. Peter, however, had one more question:

Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. (Matthew 15:15 KJV)

Which brings us to Christ’s answer in verse 16. I’m grateful He went on to explain the parable in Matthew 15:17-19. The verse, though, is our lesson to take to heart in our daily lives – what comes out of our mouth tells who and what we are, and there are many foul-mouthed people who still do not understand this parable.

But, I digressed. Back to the verse originally on my mind:

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? (Matthew 16:15 KJV)

When Jesus and His disciples came to Caesarea Philippi, He asked them who people said He was. Many answered that there were many answers:

And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. (Matthew 16:14 KJV)

It was obvious He was something special. That thought remains today. Even those who deny His deity acknowledge His philosophy is to be desired and they pick and choose what they like best. The questions were not over. Jesus ask that Matthew 16:15 question – the same one each of us must answer now or later.

Peter jumped on the answer:

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16 KJV)

Many of us have given that same answer, haven’t we? And, just as Peter did, we later deny we ever knew Him. That’s the time we need to come back to read His word to build our spiritual faith. It is His Spirit that provides the answers we seek, the ones we need.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17-18 KJV)

I know – the two verses are not the same question. But my question to myself and my readers is:  What do you say in answer to these two questions?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sunday School

Click on the graphic and you’ll be taken to my church’s website. From the graphic, you can tell that we’re in a farming community – but it’s a very diverse community and that’s reflected in our Sunday school. We have several adult classes – most are couples classes, though there is one Ladies Class and one college age class. Two of the adult classes are open to anyone, and another is for young marrieds, with pre-school children (most have nursery-age children.)

That’s the class Beloved Husband and I attended Sunday.  Don’t laugh! I know that we have great-grandchildren way beyond nursery age!!

However, this was a special lesson.  The class has been studying marriage, quite appropriately for those couples.  Just as appropriately, they requested three couples join them this Sunday for a question / answer session. The three couples must have met one specific criteria – they were to have been married over 50 years.

There was a wealth of couples from which to choose. Out of a membership of about 250 people, I can name ten couples in our church who qualify. We are not as rare as some people make us out to be.

The students had several prepared questions, and a couple were used as discussion starters. Of course, they were geared toward how God was a part of our marriages, but several other questions came up. Some of the best part of the discussions for me were:

Love changes over the years of marriage. Working together, it never lessens, but it changes as we change. With a God-centered marriage, there will be plenty of love from the time it was just two of you through to the time it is just the two of you, as it is now for us.

One of the first items of dissension will be finances. It is possible to adjust to a lessening of finances without a lessening of marital love. Open discussions about money should always include a prayer for God’s provision to accomplish His will. It makes a difference.

Plan to stay married long enough to celebrate that 50th wedding anniversary. It’s a good goal and will help get over rough spots. They will exist, and they are survivable.

The one thing a marriage cannot do without is either one it’s members. It is a partnership that works together, as God planned from the beginning. Jesus explained:

The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 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 19:3-8 KJV)

Oh, we covered so much more! And, the class may do this again. I hope so. That gives us the opportunity to serve our Lord as written in Titus 2. Go ahead, get out your Bible and read that chapter – then follow it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Thanks, Jimmy Carter

I really do not like the majority of Jimmy Carter’s politics. I also am at odds with much of his liberal views regarding Christianity. No doubt about it, I’m more conservative in both areas. But, I do not doubt his love for Christ and his desire to serve Him, so I bought (at a huge savings) his e-book Amazon had on sale, “Through the Year With Jimmy Carter.”

His devotions begin with a Bible verse, his views, background or a story and ends with a prayer. I do have to look up the verses – I continue to prefer the King James Version and see no reason to move to Carter’s preferred New International Version (which is copyrighted by Biblica, Inc.)

Last night I was reading Chapter 17, “A Shocking Revelation.” The scripture used reads:

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. (Luke 14:25-26 KJV)

I agreed with Carter’s assessment that hating my family is impossible. I had neglected to do as he did and look up the Greek word in Strong’s to define ‘hate.’ So, I did:
From a primary word μῖσος misos (hatred); to detest (especially to persecute); by extension to love less: - hate (-ful).
Of course!! As much as I love my parents, my spouse, my children – those people I would give my life for – I do love them less than I love Christ.

Why? Because He is able to give those I love so much more than I can. He loves them so much more than I do. My love for family includes my desire that they would come to trust and serve Him – that’s the only way we can spend eternity together.  Oh, I know our relationships will be different in heaven, as Jesus explained when the Sadducees gave him a trick question about a woman married seven times. Sadducees did not believe there was anything beyond death (that’s why they were sad, you see [sorry, couldn’t pass that up]), thus this question:

Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22:28-30 KJV)

Christ is not requiring that we include hate in our lives, only that we love Him more; that we listen to Him first. When it comes to priorities, He comes before parents, before my husband, before my children, even before my precious grand and great-grandchildren. Part of what that means to me is that I show those I love how much I do love Him.

How else can they know how much I love them eternally?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

It Is Attitude

Now we know that God heareth not sinners: (John 9:31a KJV)

That doesn’t sound good for us, does it? We are all sinners.

but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. (John 9:31 KJV)

See? Getting half the story isn’t worth much. Knowing the full story is awesome.

Our attitude impacts our prayer life. David was aware of this:

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. (Psalms 66:18-20 KJV)

Solomon understood that lesson and was specific about who God does not hear:

The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29 KJV)

He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. (Proverbs 28:9 KJV)

Long before the patriarchs, Job understood God’s desire for righteousness. His trials were not the result of his attitude or action and he understood about hypocrites:

For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul? Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him? Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God? (Job 27:8-10 KJV)

After his long speech to those who sought blame (chapters 26-31), Job closes with a solemn vindication of himself from all the charges of wicked conduct which had been insinuated against him by his friends. Job never denied God:

This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above. (Job 31:28 KJV)

Being righteous is not what is required, for we all fail in many ways. We must have faith that God exists and seek Him:

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)

As the newly sighted debated Pharisees about the healing of his blindness, he reminded them of what they taught:

The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. (John 9:30-31 KJV)

David knew that a clean heart was necessary, that God could provide it and that provision would renew their spiritual relationship:

Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalms 51:6-10 KJV)

Attitude is important, and we’ve been told what to bring to God as our sacrifice:

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalms 51:17 KJV)

Friday, July 19, 2013


I’ve enjoyed The Spiritual Encourager on Facebook. A post on Thursday brought to mind an old book. It took a bit longer than 1984, but a portion of that book has been achieved.  We live with ‘newspeak’, changing a word instead of changing our error. Adultery sounds so biblical, but affair sounds like fun.

Did you know that Daniel’s name was changed because it had meaning?

Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. (Daniel 1:6-7)

The children of Judah’s names had meanings connected to God. Their new names were an attempt to replace God. A Woodrow Kroll article explains:
After all, it just wouldn't do to have people serving in Nebuchadnezzar's court with names like Daniel ("God is my judge"), Hananiah ("Jehovah was favored"), Mishael ("who is like God") and Azariah ("strengthened by Jehovah").
These names honored the God of Israel, so Ashpenaz changed them to reflect Babylonian gods. Daniel became Belteshazzar ("Bel protect his life"), Hananiah was called Shadrach ("command of Akur"), Azariah became Abed-Nego ("servant of Nebo"), and Mishael was renamed Meshach (a possible corruption of the name Maraduk, another Babylonian deity).
In “Nineteen-Eighty-Four”, George Orwell wrote that newspeak would be accomplished by 2050.  We are so far ahead of schedule that we might as well call it done. Politically correct rhetoric defines terms and reasonable discussion or even valid debate is tossed out as divisive.

Our Bible translations have watered down or deleted doctrinal issues to the point we argue over them instead of spreading the good news that God loves the world enough to provide for our salvation. This is not new, as Isaiah testifies:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21)

Or, the way Paul wrote:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

And ‘Pulpit Commentaries’ expounds on this verse:
The measure of the number or the quality of their self-chosen teachers will be their own insatiable and ever-varying fancies and mental appetites, not the desire to be taught God's truth by teachers sent from God
God’s word has not changed. His promises are kept. Can we believe such promises as God gave Abraham?

And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. (Genesis 17:19)

Or do we laugh, as Abraham and Sarah did (Genesis 17:17, 18:12) – until it happened?

Thursday, July 18, 2013


“1 Peter 1”  original art by L. Wagner (copyrighted)

I have been blessed by meeting some very wonderful people over the internet. One created today’s graphic. She not only captures this world’s beauty, she combines it with the love of God she exhibits in her life. She lifts my spirits so often with the work she does simply by seeing God’s handiwork in every day scenes. She uses her talent to share God’s love. I knew when I saw this one that I needed to ask her permission to share not only the beauty but God’s word.

I went to sleep trying to think of the words to a hymn this photograph brought to mind. I could only remember parts.
The spacious firmament on high,
With all the blue ethereal sky,
And spangled heavens, a shining frame,
Their great Original proclaim.
Th' unwearied Sun from day to day
Does his Creator's power display;
And publishes to every land
The work of an Almighty hand.

Yes, my memory gave me most of it and I woke this morning with that music going through my mind, so I looked it up and found that Joseph Addison wrote it and on this site it is simply called “Hymn.” Of course, I looked further, finding Scripture and Music with “The Spacious Firmament” and a longer explanation:
“The Spacious Firmament” was written by Joseph Addison—one of England’s outstanding writers. These verses were part of a larger essay titled “An Essay on the Proper Means of Strengthening and Confirming Faith in the Mind of Man.” Addison prefaced his work with the words: “The Supreme Being has made the best arguments for His own existence in the formation of the heavens and earth.” Addison’s poem first appeared in The Spectator newspaper in 1712.
David saw this same beauty in God’s creation:

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. (Psalms 19:1-3)

Jesus spoke of how transient is that beauty:

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Luke 12:27-28)

The purpose of all the beauty God displays for us is in His word. Think about how long the words of His book have been directing mankind toward His salvation. That alone makes it unique. Peter recognized that in the verses Lily chose to include. I like the one before those, too, where it tells us believers are born again.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. (1 Peter 1:23)

Those are words Jesus gave to Nicodemus:

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 3:4-7)

Come, please, and study His word. Find out why.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Somehow I don’t think David was this close when he slung the stone into Goliath’s forehead. But, I do think this portrays quite well how David would have been dressed – by his own choice.

Saul, as a youth, was the son of a powerful man and was physically taller than those around him:

Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power. And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people. (1 Samuel 9:1-2)

David was but a lad – according to Eliab, a naughty one at that.

And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. (1 Samuel 17:28)

When David went to Saul to make his challenge against Goliath, can you imagine how he would have looked in Saul’s armor?

And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David put them off him. (1 Samuel 17:38-39)

Let me take that picture place it in another time, another place. Suppose we’re talking Pharisees instead of Saul. Pharisees were expecting Jews to put on the armor of their righteousness to overcome worldliness for God, but it was the wrong fit. Jesus came with God’s good news that belief in Him is first. With His strength the battles are fought – and won. His armor is proved.

I’ve often tried on someone else’s ‘armor’ instead of depending on God’s ability to reach, teach and lead me. It doesn’t take a theologically armored tank to fend off worldliness. It does take knowing who our enemy is, why we are battling and the source of our strength – David knew this:

Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. (1 Samuel 17:45-46)

When we fight daily battles, do we enter them knowing there is a God? Do we come to those battles in His name? Do we want all the earth to know Him?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I was reading in Genesis:

And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:4-5)

I made the connection from there to a verse I recalled:

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)


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)

Did you notice what all three of these verses have in common?

God’s got a plan.

Most of the time, it’s a mystery. When Joseph’s brothers were planning on killing him, none of them considered that it would turn out that he would save them and their families. When Satan worked in the hearts of the crowds seeking Jesus’ death, they thought they were ending His ministry, thwarting God’s plan, not understanding the mystery. When Jesus’ disciples stood at the foot of the cross (or hid until after He died), they did not understand the glory He was bringing them – and us.

It’s hindsight that allows us to ‘see’ God’s work in our lives; to understand that the ‘bad’ brought us to the greater good.

Now, I have no doubt that had his brothers respected Joseph’s visions and offered him their love that God would have used another way to bring him into prominence in Egypt. However, Christ’s physical death on the cross was ordained before this world was created. If every Jewish priest, every Pharisee, every Sadducee, had accepted Him as God’s Messiah, others would have stepped forward in accomplishment of God’s plan.

He does not need us to choose Him. He does not need us to spread His word.  He does not need us to witness to others what He has done in our lives. His purpose will be accomplished no matter what we decide as individuals. If we do not, it is our loss, not His.

The Bible tells us there is a heaven and there is a hell. God does not send people to hell, though He allows us the choice of where to spend eternity. None of us have earned or deserve heaven, but it is unearned by us through His matchless grace.

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 2:8-9)

Jesus summed it up even better:

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)

Take time to read and study that third chapter with prayer. Think about the entire conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus. Be prepared to be a part of God’s plan for after the cross.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Nehemiah’s Prayer

You might say he was among the lucky captives, living in the palace, cupbearer to the king. Doing such a good job that the king not only took notice of his moods, but responded with offers of help. Nehemiah had a burden on his heart for Jerusalem and the remnant left behind.

That Hanani, one of my brethren, came, he and certain men of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews that had escaped, which were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, (Nehemiah 1:2-4 KJV)

Before we take a look at Nehemiah’s prayer, I want you to remember this one:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV)

Now, take time to read Nehemiah’s prayer:

And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. (Nehemiah 1:4-9 KJV)

Sin = scattering, loss of nation; turning around, back to God = gathering, returning to His promises. How many times have we seen examples of this seemingly never-ending circle? People lose their faith, lose their commitment to God’s will, lose material goods. Stories of generations lost before response to a message causes us to turn around, returning to God. Yes, ‘us’, not only Israel – we need to take this personally and apply it to our lives.

Read more of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls. Good stories there!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Small Reminder

superstickies (3)
A small reminder that Jesus told us where to search for Him.

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

Everything in what we call the Old Testament that referred to a coming Messiah testifies of Him – even today!

I’ve mentioned this blog before – Abundant Life Now,  by Robert Lloyd Russell – who advocates the same thing:  Search the scriptures.

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:18 KJV)

I like that promise especially, since it is part of a scene where Abraham tells Isaac:

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:8 KJV)

John, who preached and baptized in anticipation of the messiah, said:

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29 KJV)

Think of preachers whose voices reach into the upper tiers of a stadium – without microphones, as today. Can you hear that shouted, “BEHOLD!!” John had just received that information, too:

And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. (John 1:31 KJV)

As people read His word in prayer, seeking His face and their understanding of His presence, revelations take place. Eyes are opened, through God’s grace, and faith grows.

Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not? and do ye not remember? (Mark 8:18 KJV)

Jesus asked that question of His disciples, men who walked with Him, traveling along speaking among each other as well as seeing Him do miracles and hearing His words in synagogues and hilltops – yet they did not understand. How come we think we – much less others – would be able to understand it all, even in a lifetime?

We need reminders, within ourselves and from other people, to continue to read the Bible, learn more about God and His messages to people. We need to discern what in the Bible are good examples, and what is written as examples where people went terribly wrong. We need to understand the reasons for God’s judgments – and how they apply to our own lives in today’s world.

Our way of life is not the same as Adam’s, Abraham’s, Moses’, Solomon’s, Matthew/Mark/Luke/John’s, but the God-inspired words they wrote are applicable for us. Every single day.

Come, read of Him. Set a reminder or two and read His word – every single day. Seek God in His word. Take the advice David offered Solomon:

And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. (1 Chronicles 28:9 KJV)

Saturday, July 13, 2013


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

That verse in Hebrews comes right after the words:

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (Hebrews 10:30 KJV)

Jonathan Edwards presented a sermon whose title is a bit different, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” that sometimes overrides the memorization of that first verse.

My original thought was to show how a well-known, well-documented, well-delivered piece of work could begin to sound as though it was a valid quote from the Bible. Hebrews 10:31 does not refer to an angry God, but I’ve heard that verse quoted with ‘angry’ instead of ‘living.’

No – this is not a post about misquoted Bible verses. We often misquote, but contain a truth even with the misquote. There are instances of God’s anger in the Bible, so we know He can be an angry God. We must clarify the source of that anger so that we do not substitute anger for love.

We’re not told that there was anger was against Adam and Eve, but later we were told He was angry with Moses:

And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. (Exodus 4:14 KJV)

The Hebrew ‘aph (אף) used here is from ’anaph (אנף), “to breathe hard, be angry (displeased).” I can handle the ‘displeased’ part, but I really don’t want to make God angry. Those standing around Jesus on the Sabbath were able to make Him angry, and we’re given the reason:

And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, (Mark 3:5a KJV)

Now the Greek orge (ὀργή ) translated here as ‘anger’ has a slightly different connotation that that in Exodus, “ire, [justifiable] abhorrence.” In either instance, God’s displeasure or ire is absolutely justified. Moses had declined to accomplish God’s will and the Pharisees wanted to catch Him in an unlawful act on the Sabbath. In both instances, God’s will prevailed, though some people were not included.

It was not God’s anger that excluded them – it was their own actions. Moses, though serving as God’s chosen deliverer from Egyptian bondage, did not see his sons serving as God’s priests. Instead, Aaron and his descendants filled that role. The Pharisees did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and lead their people to the Lord. Instead, gentiles became the bearers of glad tidings of great joy. Those choices affected all succeeding generations.

Yes, it is fearful to fall into the hands of the living God – but we all live there. Best done without a hard heart, isn’t it?

Friday, July 12, 2013


Smelling Coffee by Jennifer Walker is one of the blogs I follow. No, I’m not reprinting here. In fact, I haven't read it all yet, but from the first paragraph she addresses a subject that has been on my mind for a while – and it fits so well with our Pastor’s sermon last Sunday. Let’s look at that first – it’s an Elisha story.

It reminded me a bit of a Bible college, a group of ‘preacher boys’, these “sons of the prophets” that came to Elisha and said they were too crowded. He agreed and told them to go, cut down trees for beams, but they wanted him along, too.  Good thing they did:

But as one was felling a beam, the axe head fell into the water: and he cried, and said, Alas, master! for it was borrowed. And the man of God said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. (2 Kings 6:5-6 KJV)

Pastor likened that axe head to the joy of our salvation. Remember where David sang:

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

Jennifer wrote: “However, this week we learned that what we ‘hoped’ would work out, what we had ‘counted-on’ and ‘planned with that in mind’ would not be immediately coming to fruition. And my FAITH fell off the shelf, and then cracked a little.”

Every one of us have had that happen. Sometimes (as with David) our faith is broken by our own actions. Find out where he was in life when he wrote that 51st Psalm. Lots of things were broken. Sometimes, though, we are responding to what we firmly believe is God’s will in our lives, doing what He has asked us to do, but the results were completely unforeseen. Our faith, always fragile, can show fractures.

James wrote about this, just before he wrote in 1:6 for us not to waver:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4 KJV)

So – not having completed Jennifer’s blog, not knowing how she responded, I do have a suggestion for fragile or fractured faith – turn to God. As the young man with the missing axe head went to Elisha and confessed the loss, we go to God and confess our loss. Then turn to His word and read:

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

Remember that first joy we had when we understood Christ died for us and through Him we were given salvation? That’s what we need restored – the joy of God’s salvation through faith. Restoration, as David pled:

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalms 51:14-17 KJV)

Thank God! He is not fragile.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


There were some very active women in the Bible. One I read about recently was Deborah:

And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4-5 KJV)

I thought of an oasis, a well, palm trees and a path leading right up to Deborah’s tent. Being a wife, she had a lot of responsibilities besides being the judge for the children of Israel. God sent her instructions, and she passed them on:

And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. (Judges 4:6-7 KJV)

Deborah just put Barak in charge of ten thousand troops and promised him a victory, in the name of the Lord. Sound daunting? It did to Barak:

And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. (Judges 4:8 KJV)

Does that sound like anyone you know? I think it sounds very similar to me. Be the first to respond? Believe that I can really get the job done? And mine don’t involve ten thousand men strong and brave nor did I have to face another man’s army. Deborah had a ready answer, too:

And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the LORD shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. (Judges 4:9 KJV)

With Deborah along, the battle was won – but Sisera was not to fall into Barak’s hand. Instead, we have two examples in Judges 4 of women called by God to accomplish His will. Deborah, who not only obeyed Him by judging His people but carried His words, even when they might not be welcomed; and Jael, who slew Sisera and is remembered even today for doing so.

And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples. (Judges 4:22 KJV)

We know who she married, we know she killed a man and Deborah sang her name in praises to the Lord, equating Jael with safety:

Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves. Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel. LORD,  . . . in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways. (Judges 5:2-6 KJV)

Can we be called as Barak was and be more responsive than he? Can we be remembered as one who followed God’s call with faith, or do we offer God negotiations?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Those Leaving

One size does not fit all, and conversions come in many ways, at different times in our lives. That's a couple of the thoughts that came to my mind when I read "3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don't Leave the Church."

I have more personal information on some youth who did leave a church - but returned to it. I've written about that as part of my testimony. It's been a generational thing in our family - from my parents, through mine and into the next generations. Hearing, responding (perhaps to peer pressure), then finding that life in general is not supportive to church attendance contains many factors.  Only a couple of those are the subject of the above article, though. It's the "college years", where many churches lose members who had been faithful participants as youth.

The Preacher tells us:

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)

I’ve seen no statistics on how many of those who left do return. It certainly isn’t 100%.  Many do, however, when they realize what the Preacher says in later verses:

In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:  (Ecclesiastes 12:3-5 KJV)

We lose the blooms of youth, the flourishing growth of new ideas, new hopes, when we realize that much stays the same. There have been and there will be wars and rumors of wars, recessions and depressions, attempts which bring success and those with failures. We find what many have found before – wise words from experienced men:

And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. (Ecclesiastes 12:9-10 KJV)

As we age we find there are immutable absolute truths and that it behooves us to seek them, understand them and apply them, as men have done before:

And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:12-13 KJV)

The Preacher knew the result of this duty of man:

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14 KJV)

As did Paul, so many generations later:

But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. (Colossians 3:25 KJV)

I pray youths understand this lesson before they walk away. If they do leave, may they remember, and return.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Like Unto

Eight different times Matthew quotes Jesus as saying the kingdom of heaven is like something to which His audience could relate. Think of it as me describing things when all you can see is my little Accent:

The Cadillac Escalade is like unto it, having four tires, headlights on either side in front and side mirrors.

The Mercedes-Benz GL-Class GL550 is like unto it, having a door in the back.

The Lexus RX 350 is like unto it, having two doors on either side.

That just doesn’t do justice to our understanding of the Cadillac, Mercedes or Lexus, does it? They are so more luxurious than the Hyundai Accent that the analogies just do not paint a complete picture.

I believe our view of heaven is just as limited. Several verses in 1 Corinthian’s second chapter relate to this:

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Even with Jesus explaining what the kingdom is like, we’re seeing small slices that require a spiritual understanding.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14)

At least you had the photograph of the Accent in front of you. What if you were explaining those four vehicles to someone who had never seen a car? What words could be used? Would a few suffice, or would it take a book? Why, then, do we expect hearers new to God’s word to come to an understanding quickly?  Do we expect crops grow quickly as well, or mature over time?

I’m reminded of our enthusiastic young preacher-boys who would meet someone for the first time, ask if they were saved and (assuming a “I don’t know” answer) witness to them. They were blessed when that person repeated the ‘sinner’s prayer’ and counted them as saved. They have years of experience now, understanding much more about seed sowing and watering before fruit is borne.

And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. (John 4:37-38)

Paul understood, and explained:

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6-7)

Be prepared to explain what we know, with the understanding that we do not know God’s mind, only a portion of His plans and a small glimpse of His kingdom.  We do have the opportunity to know His word. Take advantage of that resource, OK?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Do We Need To Explain?

Jesus healed a blind man:

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. (John 9:1-7)

Nice little miracle, isn’t it? A man in need, a savior available, a miracle accomplished, an opportunity for Jesus to declare God’s glory. Awesome. But that certainly wasn’t the ‘rest of the story.’

The neighbors hardly recognized him and wanted to know what happened.  He gave them the facts and they wanted to see Jesus:

Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not. (John 9:12)

Being religious in nature and recognizing a miracle when they see one, they went to their religious leaders, who did not want to recognize Jesus as the miracle maker since He healed on the Sabbath:

Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. (John 9:16)

As most mean do, they argued amongst themselves, never looking into scripture, never praying to God for an answer. Instead they sent for his parents to verify he had been blind. Fearing these men, the parents said:

Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. (John 9:23)

So, they did. Not knowing Jesus as his savior, the man truthfully answered:

He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. (John 9:25)

When we are confronted by those who do not understand the changes, the miracle of salvation, in our lives, do we answer, “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see”? We should be able to do better, shouldn’t we? Too often we don’t, though we’ve received instructions.

But, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15)

All the blind man wanted was his sight. If all we want is our salvation, an escape from hell, perhaps his answer is sufficient. If, however, we’ve understood that following Him is giving ourselves to His service, we must learn much, much more in order to give our reason for hope.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


This is a repost. I've done that over the years, but usually it's been months or even years between the two posts.  This one is less than a week old. I neglected to 'share' this post - to let readers know it was available - and it has not received as many hits as more recent blogs.  Regrettable, for God's message of love is the center of Christianity and that message is not being heard far and wide.  Take a moment more and look for love in all the right places.

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV)

Did you know that the lawsuit that brought the decision on gay marriage was filed based on inheritance taxes? Had the federal government had allowed civil unions the same tax deductions, the decision would have been different. We’re back to money.

The one person who explained to me the reason for her abortion was specific – she could not afford another child. We’re back to money.

These two issues have literally divided our country, but there are more.

Wars appear to be fought for ideology – but how many can be traced to a battle for power, which can be translated into money, can’t it? How many battles within family really comes down to money, too?

We should be concerned that the desire for what money can – or cannot – buy will have us err from our faith. I trust the Bible. I believe it will pierce us through with many sorrows.

So – what should a Christian do when we discover that we really do love money? Perhaps it has brought us sorrow, too. What should we do?

Strangely enough, the answer is:  LOVE.

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:35-40 KJV)

Yes, I’ve used that one before, so let’s look at another verse:

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)

He loved us first, the Bible says so:

We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)

And, it says we’re supposed to work toward being as He is, in love:

According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Ephesians 1:4 KJV)

If we don’t love, there’s a problem:

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21 KJV)

Then we’re at the question, “Who is my brother?” Pretty much answered by Christ:

For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:50 KJV)

Wait a minute, Christian – don’t jump to conclusions. That doesn’t mean we only love other Christians. Remember when you weren’t in His will? He loved you then, too. Weren’t there other of His children ready to be of help, ready to love you enough to show you just how much He loved you? Can you do that, too? Love the unloved, the unlovable, share God’s love?  If not, take another look at 1 John 4:20-21.