Saturday, December 28, 2013

This Is Not An Ad . . .

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1:1-3 KJV)

. . . for an iPhone or any other gadget there. First, let me explain the graphic. My friend Beth Amatelli, author of “I Talk … God Listens,” posted this graphic in a comparison of 1993 and 2013 gadgets. Amazing how things changed in those twenty years – and how much things remain the same. And I’m certain you don’t understand how that ties into the first scripture, right?

Think about this – all of those gadgets are designed to gather information, retain it for a while then disperse that information so others can acquire it. Whether it be words, pictures, music or compilations, each gadget takes, holds then gives. One item does today what eight did twenty years ago.

Now, go back to that scripture. One item, Jonah, was given information to disperse so that others might acquire it. What hasn’t changed since Jonah’s time is that mankind continues to use his response – run away from God’s will, to go with them … from the presence of the LORD. People are trying to do that daily.

Large groups of people have bound together in an effort to stop God’s word, even His name, from being shared. Governments have stepped in and decided how He is to be presented to their people. Trust me on this one, He has plans of His own.

First, we have to understand what He wants for all of us – the commandments He gave – condensed beautifully in Matthew 22:34-39. Then think about Solomon’s conclusion – Ecc. 12:13 – after seeing life as vanity. Or Micah’s in Micah 6:8. Or the New Testament view, in John 3:9-18. Go ahead, click on the links and read God’s inspired words.

God has a purpose for each and every one of us. We do not know how all of this will link together, any more than Ruth knew that by following Naomi she would be a multiple-great-grandmother to the Messiah. What we do know, is that God loves us:

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

Just as for Nineveh, He provides:

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)

We have been given the ultimate decision-making in our lives, though. We can make the choice not to communicate with Him. We turn off our prayer life, not asking Him for direction and ignoring His instructions. No – don’t tell me you’ve never done that. We all have. Most of us do not receive as strong, attention-getting responses as Jonah or Saul – and for that I’m grateful!!

We have been known to go to those around us and ask, “What should I do?” when we should have been reading His word and asking in prayer, “What would You have me do?” Don’t trust me on this one – trust Him and His word – He knows you:

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalms 139:14-16 KJV)

Talk with Him.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Where Are We Standing?

Left? Right? Turn back?
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalms 1:1-2 KJV)

Too often, we’re not ready for that walk. We’re standing. I’ve read a quote attributed to St. Augustine, “Give me chastity and continence, but not yet.” He was too involved with the pleasures the world has to offer – a child out of wedlock part of the sensual pleasures. Yet, he changed and we remember him today as a man who sought and held a relationship with God. What kept him from it for so long? Perhaps his Confessions gives a clue:
For I disobeyed, not from a better choice, but from love of play, loving the pride of victory in my contests, and to have my ears tickled with lying fables,
He was having a good time not delighting in the law of the Lord, nor did he meditate on it – until later, when he listened to God’s voice telling him to “take up and read.” When he did, the scripture before him was:

Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:13-14 KJV)

Reading this gave new meaning to a phrase in that first Psalm:

standeth in the way of sinners

Oh, I do believe David meant that we were not to be standing with sinners – but it can also mean not to stand in their way and keep them from coming to God. Not to quench the work of the Holy Spirit. James Hudson Taylor in his “A Ribband of Blue and Other Bible Studies,” wrote:
Alas, the counsel of worldly-minded Christians does far more harm than that of the openly wicked.
Peter discovered this:

Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:22-23 KJV)

Peter simply voiced the same temptation Satan did:

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Matthew 4:8-10 KJV)

The temptation was to forgo the pain of the cross, the plan God laid out, and accept all the kingdoms of this world. Thwarting God’s way, however, ends in death. Solomon understood this early in his life and shared what he learned:

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

As Christians, are we spending more time on worldly matters? Shouldn’t we follow the advice given to St. Augustine – take up the scriptures, read them. He did and it changed his life. Will we heed God’s call for His work in our lives? We have excellent examples in those who have done so.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

My Christmas Prayer For All

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 KJV)

There’s no copyright shown on this graphic. No source I could locate to ask permission to use. I hope the artist will be kind enough to forgive me, too, for displaying this wonderful expression of what today means.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11 KJV)

Isaiah prophesied it. An angel proclaimed it. Jesus explained it:

Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 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? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 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. 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. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:9-19 KJV)

There is no better way to hear the story than God’s word. There is no better way to experience the forgiveness than within ourselves. There is no better way to share the joy for this world than to tell this story.

In closing, please click on this link to Igniter Media and listen to a story of the Christmas scale. May God bless you this day, and every day of your life.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Irreconcilable Differences

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:6-7 KJV)

I do not believe this painting – nor any other – truly captures the events of that evening in Bethlehem. However, I do believe that event occurred, and I believe the angel’s proclamation to shepherds:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:10-14 KJV)

This is an irreconcilable difference in belief that puts me at odds with approximately two-thirds of the inhabitants of this world. I, and those who also believe, are a minority.

Oh, there are way more than two-thirds who believe He was born, that His philosophical views are worthwhile, for the most part and that He died because of religious fanatics who could not accept His ignorance of their beliefs. They do not believe in angels, either.

The irreconcilable difference is not the birth, not even the angelic proclamation. It isn’t His teachings of how to treat our fellow man. There have been great strides in civilization based on His definition of who our neighbor is, and how to forgive those who cause us harm. Much of that has been done by men who do not accept His purpose from birth – to die in order that our sinfulness might be reconciled with our Creator.

And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. (Mark 8:29-31 KJV)

We are no longer bound by this charge to His disciples. We have been given another, that they received after this prophecy was fulfilled:

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)

That is part of the irreconcilable difference between me and the majority of this world. I have someone with me, always, who has given a command that I desire to fulfill. He taught a lot, and I’m still learning. Please, come learn with me.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday Night Services

There were three “light” things at our church last night. First was the sermon – the subject was peace; second was the candle lighting; third focused on the lights of our Angel Garden.

First, pastor shed light on the four different types of peace we can find in the Bible:
  • International – over which we have no control and will not see when we look at the world as a whole (Matthew 24:6-8);
  • Interpersonal – where we control only one segment, the rest depending on another person’s beliefs (Luke 12:51-53);
  • Personal – the peace we feel within ourselves (John 14:27, Philippians 4:7);
  • With God – complete, without separation (Ephesians 2:12-14)
Oh, there are many other verses for each type of peace. Feel free to look for them as you read your Bible.

Second, we took a look at the light scriptures. My favorites were mentioned as they seem contradictive:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16 KJV)

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)

Easily understood when we know:

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

He is seen in this world through us – we are the light when we are with Him. There will come a time that is not so:

And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5 KJV)

The congregation then picks up candles, circles the sanctuary and the lights are turned off. Darkness prevails, until he lights his candle. He then shares with the people to his right and left and the light moves around the room. What a difference just one candle makes – but what a tremendous difference a room full makes. A beautiful illustration of what can be when we share the light of the world.

Third was a few moments spent outside, in the Angel Garden. Started many years ago in the community, each angel is purchased by someone to remember a loved one who has died. A few years ago our church was asked to assume responsibility to display the angels in December and one person volunteered to oversee the project. Many angels have been added over the years. Another member built a lovely white silhouette manger scene that is also lighted.

Of course we know that people do not become angels, we are entirely different creatures of God. But these lighted angels are a remembrance of those we’ve loved and now miss. The names of those being remembered as well as the names of those who donated the angels are read, and we close in prayer.

This Sunday-before-Christmas lighting comes because of the birth of one child in Bethlehem. Heralded by angels, celebrated by shepherds and worshipped by wise men who sought Him:

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

Sunday, December 22, 2013


I’ve mentioned Charles H. Spurgeon before. I  have “Charles Spurgeon: Christian Classics Collection” and his “Lectures To My Students” on my Kindle. It was there I read:
Certain good men appeal to me who are distinguished by enormous vehemence and zeal, and a conspicuous absence of brains; brethren who would talk for ever and ever upon nothing – who would stamp and thump the Bible, and get nothing out of it all; earnest, awfully earnest, mountains  in labor of the most painful kind; but nothing comes of it all … whose capacity is most narrow and their conceit most broad … I conceive that these brethren will do quite as well without education as with it, and therefore I have usually declined their application.
Spurgeon goes on in this lecture to touch upon physical features that might preclude a denial, though it would pain him to do so. Then he adds:
I have met ten, twenty, a hundred brethren, who have pleaded that they were sure, quite sure that they were called to the ministry – they were certain of it, because they had failed in everything else.
He declined these men, looking instead for:
A really valuable minister would have excelled at anything. There is scarcely anything impossible to a man who can keep a congregation together for years and be the means of edifying them for hundreds of consecutive Sabbaths.
I know October is Pastor Appreciation month, but we need to keep our pastors in prayer throughout the year. Theirs is an often thankless, but oh, so very necessary job with tremendous responsibilities. Paul’s letters teach us so much about what to expect, yet the qualifications are short:

This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7 KJV)

As Paul set a task for Titus:

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:5-9 KJV)

Bottom line to me is “sound doctrine.” A pastor can display all of the qualifications, but his congregation should be able to look to scripture and confirm that it is with sound doctrine that he exhorts and convinces those who disagree and deny. Give thanks for such a man, and pray God will use him to the best of his abilities. It is to our advantage.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Love In Action

Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. (Isaiah 58:7-8 KJV)

Maria Elena of “Love in Action Christian Outreach” posted that verse this morning. I’ve written before of her work with children in Cebu City, Philippines. She feeds, clothes and teaches children through prayer and support of those who read these verses and ones in Matthew:

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:37-40 KJV)

Today we can be divided up into those who know God’s word – either we’re following it or ignoring it – and those who don’t – either they haven’t heard it or simply don’t believe it. So many could not connect the above selections and see that God remains the same. Jesus’ message of salvation includes looking after those with physical needs, not just spiritual needs. James knew this:

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? (James 2:15-16 KJV)

In America this month, untold millions of people will go into debt, spending money that may come to them in 2014 if their job doesn’t disappear. Will what they buy feed, clothe or comfort a person in need? Or will it be opened, appreciated, then stored with so many other gifts to take up space in an overfilled home?

I remember participating in a company Christmas gift exchange – one where a gift may be taken a couple of times before becoming the property of one person. It was a large group, lots of fun with a variety of gifts. There was one lovely young lady who was about the tenth to pick. She chose an envelope that was in the stack, not one of the prettily wrapped packages. She opened and read that the suggested $10 for gifts had been donated to an international children’s fund.

There was complete silence. Most of us felt sorry for her, believing she was missing out on the game, and wondered who would put such a gift in to be picked. She must have understood how this was received, and she explained that she chose it because she brought it. Sadly, there was a sense of relief – and no one took that gift from her.

God chose such a gift, giving His son:

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)

Believing, we shall not perish. However, believing brings action – if we love, if we accept His gift.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Three Men, Same Name

Stitched Panorama
There were three men named Ananias mentioned in the Bible. All three in the book of Acts, all religious men, each one so different from the others!

The first was a church member who lied, and died. It appears he wanted to be part of the church, but not really. A double minded man (see James 1:8 and 4:8)

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. (Acts 5:1-2 KJV)

Perhaps he wanted other members to think highly of him, while not living what he said he believed. Peter was immediately aware of what happened, and that Ananias had sinned against God:

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. (Acts 5:4 KJV)

He did not get to keep that which he sat back:

And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. (Acts 5:5 KJV)

The third Ananias was high priest. Also not living what scripture had taught him to do:

And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. (Acts 23:1-2 KJV)

Chapter 22 is a wonderful sermon. Paul gave his testimony of how he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. For the council to believe him meant believing in the Resurrection. Sadducees could not admit that as they did not believe there was anything after death and Pharisees could not admit they had a part in killing the Messiah.

The rest of chapter 23 makes a great conspiracy story, and would have ended in Paul’s death – with Ananias compliant – if not for a Roman soldier who wrote:

This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them: then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. Acts 23:27 KJV)

The story of the middle Ananias is different. A Christian living in Damascus, called of God, answering as so many others:

And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. (Acts 9:10 KJV)

Ready to serve his Lord – until he learned his calling:

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, (Acts 9:11 KJV)

Ananias had heard about Paul. He knew what havoc was being done to those who believed and served a risen savior. He feared what might happen to him if he went to see this man. He told God of his fears, and God responded:

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. (Acts 9:15-16 KJV)

Which Ananias are we? The one who looked upon religion as something to show others but not to be lived? One who in anger does not listen to a man witnessing to God’s presence in his life? One who fears the outcome but trusts God’s plan enough to act and help a man understand God’s plan?

All of these men said they were God’s men. Which example will we be?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Do You See What I See?

It was Saturday before our Adult Christmas Party on Monday night. While the choir was practicing for the Christmas Program, I checked the sign-up sheet. Nope – we hadn’t signed up, and I didn’t see our daughter’s name on there. I called her and she said, “I signed up. My name is on there.”

I ran down the names, beginning with pastor's signature – his name and his wife – no, I did not see her name signed up anywhere on the sheets. She said, “Does that say page 1 of 4?” “Yes.” “My name is on that first page.”

Poor child. She must have thought she put it there. She said, “Look at the first line.”

My only excuse is that the eyes looked for what I expected to see. A typed form that had columns for menu items, names and with signatures in varying ink colors. What had NOT registered was the first line below the typed column headers – with her name typed in.

I expected signed names, not typed names, so that’s all my mind registered. Reminds me of scripture:

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

Jesus’ disciples had just left a group of Pharisees who had been tempting Him by saying a sign would convince them to believe:

And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. (Mark 8:11-12 KJV)

Later, on the ship, Jesus tells the disciples:

And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. (Mark 8:15 KJV)

They never considered the lesson He had in mind:

Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the ship with them more than one loaf.  . . .  And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have no bread. (Mark 8:14, 16 KJV)

Like me, they did not look beyond their own expectations to see the lesson Jesus taught. They had the example of His providing bread and fish for thousands, yet thought He was concerned because they had no bread. They had seen the encounter with their own eyes. They had heard the temptation with their own ears, but did not apply it to themselves.

Especially here at Christmas, how much of His story are we seeing, hearing and applying? Do we see the manger without including the cross? Do we miss the gift among all our giving? Does our physical gift include our love? Do we remember that Christmas is explained in:

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)

Or, do we overlook that first line, seeing only what we expect?

Friday, December 13, 2013


Stitched Panorama
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, (Isaiah 35:6a KJV)

And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: (Acts 3:8-9 KJV)

I think you knew I couldn’t leave two chapters with only one post. Return with me to yesterday and let’s look at praising God.

The song says “The lame will leap,” and this is the reference. This man asked for what he thought would help. He was given what he really needed. Then he was walking and leaping and praising God for the wonderful gift he received instead of alms. Peter had told him:

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. (Acts 3:6 KJV)

There must have been other people in Jerusalem who could not walk, but this man was in front of Peter and Peter had the ability to do something for him. Peter did not have the ability to pay for food or shelter or doctors or hospitals or rehabilitation, but he did have the gospel and the gifts bestowed on him by Jesus. He gave what he had, the name of Jesus, the Messiah, who was known as a Nazarene.

After the healing, they all entered the temple. Can you imagine what a distraction it would be to those who came to quietly worship? Instead of internal contemplation of God and His past dealings with the people; instead of heads bowed in silent worship; instead of public prayers to garner attention – there is a crowd gathering around that beggar that always sat at the door, the one most people ignored.

And all the people saw him walking and praising God: And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. (Acts 3:9-11 KJV)

Be ready when anyone wonders about our beliefs, this chapter – especially verses 12 to 26 – is an excellent gospel. In these few verses Peter reminds those in the temple of the God they worship, the prophets who spoke the words He gave them, the son who came and was killed by them, who rose as prophesied. Peter reminded them of their own sins, and the cure:

Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. (Acts 3:26 KJV)

Jesus came to bless us and turn us away from our sins. We do not clean up our lives then come to Him. There is nothing on earth we can do to earn that right to be noticed by Him.  He came to us and for us and asks that we accept that. We do not become perfect to get to Him. He works with us toward perfection as we walk with Him.

He first heals us, then we run and leap and show everyone as we praise Him for what we’ve received.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Where Do We Go From Here?

Last month I asked, How Did We Get There?  Now, once we’re there, just where do we go? What do we do once we make the decision to serve the Lord? I think part of the answer is found in the fourth chapter of Acts, which includes:

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, (Acts 4:29 KJV)

The incident began in the Temple, in the third chapter, beginning with a lame man’s healing and a closing prayer:

Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. (Acts 3:26 KJV)

Chapter four begins with the officials of the Temple being upset with Peter and John to the extent they were imprisoned. The next day the two were brought before those officials, asked what they were doing, which gave Peter the opportunity to once again give the Gospel of Jesus:

And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:7-12 KJV)

If you have not heard this gospel in your congregation, I do believe it is necessary to seek another where you do.

The officials sent them aside while this was discussed, but the gospel ignored. They made their decision, and it was not to accept Jesus:

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. (Acts 4:18-19 KJV)

Today we are faced with many who tell us still, do not speak the name of Jesus or there will be legal repercussions – we will sue you. May we pray as the disciples did.

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, (Acts 4:29 KJV)

Read the two chapters together. They tell a wondrous story of faith, witnessing, healing, belief by thousands of witnesses, closing with the care of others:

And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:33-35 KJV)

Where do we go from here, from this chapter? For most people, it has been away from the New Testament church. Will we pray for “all boldness” that we may speak His word? They did. Will we?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; (Romans 2:5 KJV)

There are times when we wish the wrath of God would fall on those we deem to have earned it. That’s a judgment call on our part after we’ve done some fruit inspection and found them as wanting of good fruit as the fig tree Jesus passed (Mark 11:12-25)

Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: (Romans 2:6-7 KJV)

That’s where we see ourselves, isn’t it?

But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; (Romans 2:8-9 KJV)

And, isn’t this where we see those who disagree with us?

Careful, then, that we follow the whole counsel of God, as Paul stated:

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27 KJV)

We also need to remember who is the father of lies:

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. (John 8:44-45 KJV)

Satan lied to Eve, using God’s words with evil intent. He did the same to Jesus in the wilderness. He does the same today. Except for that wilderness bit, it has worked well for him. He creates doubt, division and hatred, all built on lies. And, we are excellent co-conspirators in his endeavors.

We jump to defensive postures, tossing words back that are just as untruthful – as Eve did when she added to God’s commands:

But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (Genesis 3:3 KJV)

The Bible does not include “touch” in God’s command not to eat of that tree, but Eve thought it necessary to defend herself against temptation.

What words do we add in righteous indignation when we defend our own beliefs? Do we check the truth of the temptations to wrath that we receive? Do we accept the lie and respond in kind – but not in kindness? Let’s go back to Romans:

But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. Romans 2:10-11 KJV)

Are we working for good – or simply thinking the other guy is bad? Let me, once again, encourage all of us to be more noble, as the Bereans:

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)

Search to see if things are what they seem. Check the source, verify the author. The father of lies is still at his divisive work.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Different, But Similar

Stitched Panorama
This fall I’ve listened to two men with whom I disagree on some doctrinal issues. There are scriptures I’ve read, studied and hold dear that their interpretation is 180 degrees from mine. Those are serious differences and I would enjoy an opportunity to discuss them in prayer, but I’m likely never to meet them.

The first is the Catholic Pope, Francis I. Much has been made in the media about his reaching out to people in love, for God is love. The Pope has been clear, too, that doctrine has not changed.
The second is Gerald Jeffers, an Apostolic preacher I heard first on Youtube, not aware of his existence before hearing him lead a congregation in “Oh Come Let Us Adore Him,” convincingly telling us that’s not a seasonal song – He is worthy for adoration every day.

The message I received from both men, that God has and does love us, is tied to:

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:17 KJV)

Please, before anyone starts in about the differences between their doctrines and mine, please focus on the scripture and ask our Lord what it means.

Consider Jesus’ ministry. Yes, He condemned sinfulness, then He forgave – even to the point of death. Are we teaching more condemnation than forgiveness? Are we doing more condemnation than we are forgiving? As evangelicals, is our approach based more on the event of salvation than the life of adoration?

The gospel, the good news, has always been:

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

Our Lord’s interpretation of the Law is succinct:

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 22:36-40 KJV)

Do we start with these commandments, or do we begin by telling someone they are a lost sinner.  Both are truth – the gospel is true, and it is true that everyone of us is a sinner.  Just as Paul, we are to know and share truth, all of it:

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27 KJV)

Too often, I feel, we stick with the sinner part. That could be because we understand the awfulness of the hell we faced without God, and we celebrate our deliverance from it through His merciful forgiveness. We cannot, however, omit focusing on the reason we have that forgiveness. God loved the world – me, you, everyone in it – enough to provide Himself in His Son.

Not everyone will accept this gift, and that breaks my heart. It is, however, a personal decision. I cannot accept for anyone but myself. I can, and I do, present scripture and encourage everyone to follow Jesus’ commandments – love God and neighbor. Read His word. Know His Word. Come, let us adore Him, the one who is worthy.

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9 KJV)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

“The Case For Christmas”

That’s a book by Lee Strobel. It’s available on for $1.99 right now and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Yes – it is written by a Christian. Yes – he writes of interviews with Christian theologians. Some reviews look upon that as a case of the blind leading the blind. I found it interesting to read a tiny bit about Strobel’s conversion, but more so about a Jew who looked beyond the Talmud’s view of Jesus and found himself following the teachings of a fellow Jew. Yes – the conversations were between Christians, but incorporated much information from others who do not believe in Him.

By now, you know that I have trusted, do and will trust Jesus as the promised Messiah, Son of God, my savior. And, I pray He is yours, too.

Back to talking about Christmas. There is a paragraph toward the end of the book:
So, ironically, it’s the evidence for Easter that provided the decisive confirmation for me that the Christmas story is true: that the freshly born baby in the manger was the unique Son of God, sent on a mission to be the savior of the world.
Strobel, Lee (2009-07-27). The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger (pp. 89-90). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
That’s why we celebrate Christmas. The two events are not special unless they are both real. In other words, there is no reason to be exchanging gifts unless it’s part of celebrating God’s gift to mankind. There’s no gift to mankind without the resurrection. Somehow I think a number of people are ignoring both of them as they fight crowds for the best deal to add more stuff to the stuff we have and that we really could live without.

Lee Strobel has written other books. I’d suggest “The Case For Christ,” also on Amazon (for a bit more – but it covers more, too.)  It tells Strobel’s reason for leaving atheism for Christianity.  All of us come to Him by different testimonies, different witnesses. And, we’re all willing to talk about the journey, about Him and about the reasons we serve Him. It’s with us every moment of every day simply because life is eternal and we share it with Him.

Very few are offered the opportunity to face Him the way that turned Saul into Paul, but we’re all ready to share the good news with anyone willing – or eager, in some cases – to hear how much He means to us. As I see it, what he means can be summed in two verses:

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)

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

For me, that’s Christmas.