Friday, May 31, 2013
Just as I saw it, traffic began stopping. The truck in the right lane ahead of us left burning rubber as we almost as quickly pulled off to the left shoulder. I saw the young lady step out of her pickup in the median and fall to the ground.
In the picture she's sitting on the ground wearing a cowboy hat, beside her pickup. Note that all four corners made contact with the ground - and it's pointed in the opposite direction from which she was headed. She appeared fine, except for a few cuts and scratches - and shock. Police and ambulance were there in just over ten minutes.
Afterwards, as the four of us talked, I was struck by the differences on what we saw that the others didn't, and what we missed the another saw. I woke this morning with that on my mind and the harmony of the gospels.
Four different men with differing attitudes, backgrounds, education, perspectives, writing about the one Man that not only changes their lives but eventually affected ours today through their writings. Yes - I believe they, and those who saved their words, were inspired by God to share that good news for all men. I also believe their perspective, even their personality, gives individual insight.
Detractors point to perceived differences and cry "Foul!! This is error!", but the message of God's loving gift for His creature remains the same. Just as we four would have written our own perspective of this young lady's accident and asked that you consider the whole, please read the gospels seeking the whole counsel of God's message.
We gave thanks we were able to continue our journey, leaving her in capable, professional, hands of first responders. They are a blessing to those they serve.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
> Made a quick pit stop and purchased sunglasses for my Beloved Husband. So far, his sunglasses were the only thing forgotten. So far!
> Had an interesting chat with the clerk while checking out. She had just made change for the young man ahead of me. He mentioned that he still had a problem keeping our money straight. Of course I asked about his home and he told me he was from South Africa. He was very friendly, very personable and we had a nice chat.
> As he left, the clerk told me he was here to work the harvest. For the next months they would harvest wheat here, then move north as the fields ripen. I remember when my male cousins worked harvest, making money in the summer - some paying their college tuition with hard work.
> The clerk told me that young men in town were too lazy to harvest. The companies had to bring in workers from Europe, even South Africa. She knows her community much better than I do, but I do not doubt her observation.
> These jobs we cannot ship overseas, and it appears we cannot get Americans to work them, either. I really didn't expect to find such a microcosm of our country's ills within a few hours of starting vacation.
> Our Lord has fields white unto harvest, too, and few laborers. Will he need to go elsewhere? Take a moment and read John 4:35. Are you one of His laborers? If not, why not? In the meantime, pray to The Lord of the harvest.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
I’ve been in this situation before – away from a computer on vacation. The iPhone I carry is NOT equal to even a small laptop much less my marvelous desktop with comfortable keyboard. However, the desktop is much too bulky to carry, and on this vacation the laptop is simply over-the-top, too. We are taking our first vacation in more than three years and it’s going to be a long one.
During the week before vacation, we’ve had company and we've had a great time simply visiting, running around (hitting quilt shops in McKinney, Denton, Weatherford - and wishing Decatur had one, too!) and generally not spending time at a desk. I was able to get a few words down, but on vacation, those may be fewer.
You may arrive here and read the same thing for several days straight. Thus, you – my dear readers – may come to believe that 1) I’m not reading my Bible; 2) I’m not thinking about you.
Perish both thoughts!! See in the graphic, above the ‘Phone’ icon? It says Bible apps – more than one of them. Never – not even when there isn’t phone connections – without a Bible to read, a commentary to research, a devotional thought available. Next to the Bible Apps icon you’ll find an e-Sword icon, a recent addition to the iPhone Bible app family. I like it well enough to use it first!
Yes, I’ll be thinking of you – I may even get in a small post or two along the way. I will not, however, be able to edit/format them correctly – so some may appear as odd in sight as they do in thought. If one does get posted, at least the mobile version of my blog still allows for Sharing, so you’ll see a post on Google+ or Facebook. Most likely these will not be posted daily – and there won’t be the copied/pasted scripture references, just references. Please take time to look them up yourself, OK?
This trip is going to be a huge test for us. We’ll be leaving Thursday morning. Today is one of Beloved Husband’s plasmapheresis treatments, which is very tiring. He should be able to sleep through the Texas panhandle without missing much. We’ll have wonderful friends with us and be able to stop often along the way, for this will be a long, long journey. Please keep us in your prayers for safe travel and continued health.
When posts are made these coming weeks, they will most likely be accompanied by snapshots of our journey. Please feel free to comment with suggestions or corrections or even directions! We’re headed across the Texas panhandle through Colorado into Wyoming to Yellowstone. Then we’ll head west toward South Dakota before stopping at Mount Rushmore, then back through Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and home again/home again, jiggity jog.
Thank you for your patience, for returning to read and I promise to be back on schedule by the end of June. Until then, may I suggest reading the book of 1 John?
That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:3-4 KJV)
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Salvation is an event. It’s a huge simple thing. It is not reached without serious decision making, but it is a single event.
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31 KJV)
What follows is a process, ongoing, never ending upon this earth. Jesus knew that when we prayed for us, for our sanctification.
And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. (John 17:13-18 KJV)
We do not sit and wait for His return any more than He sat and waited for the cross. As He was sent into the world to teach and serve, He sends us in the same process. We have examples throughout the Bible of people who responded to God’s spoken word. Most of the New Testament is history of one man, who is God's Word, and His effect on others.
If He has no effect on our lives, how can we be certain we believe on Him? We’ve been told He was perfection:
And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; (Hebrews 5:9 KJV)
We are also told to go toward perfection ourselves:
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 6:1 KJV)
How can we, when we don’t even practice true religion?
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27 KJV)
Remember, Christ did it without funding. He did it by walking, talking, teaching, attending synagogue, praying, discussing – all of those are active verbs. I must take inventory every once in a while to be certain I’m being active, not listening to the world’s temptations, no matter how good they sound or how much I can justify their need in my life. It is Christ who supplies what I need as I continue moving from the event of my salvation through the process of my Christian life.
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:11-13 KJV)
Monday, May 27, 2013
I saw the movie “King Solomon’s Mines” as a teen and my imagination was captured by the height of the Maasai tribesmen as well as their culture at the time. Not until the turn of this century did I discover a distant familial connection to the book’s author, H. Rider Haggard, through a distant cousin, Blanche Blick Burnham.
It is a small world, and I was blessed to be given another glimpse into the Maasai community by Pastor John Tino, by his own words:
I am a blood born child of the Maasai community in Kenya.I was very impressed by this line at the bottom of his home page:
This web site JohnTino.com does not receive donationsInstead of seeking personal gain, his work is funded through About Face Missions. After looking over John’s site, and AFM, I’m reminded of several verses:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Christ used “teach” in our 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: (Matthew 28:19)
But the teaching is just as the preaching:
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:13-14)
There must be a teacher before there can be a student. How can we, so far away, be of help. Our finances are limited, our budgets strained. The needs are many, resources few. Then came the answer, from God’s word:
But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:36-38)
Pray ye the Lord, that He will send. We can all do that. There is no impact on our budget, no pain in our pocketbook and we’re fulfilling a command Christ gave His disciples. Pray.
Take care, though, and be prepared for your heart to be moved and your budget impacted when you receive a call from God for a specific part of the harvest. Yes, we may be called as part of those laborers. Why not? We’ve given Him our lives, should we not be prepared to respond when He calls? Jesus was, and was sent:
Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. (John 17:7-8)
Why then should we not respond as He and others:
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8)
Sunday, May 26, 2013
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38)
That’s the problem with taking a single verse and using it standing alone. It can be understood from the previous verses. Bro. Bob Gilbert pointed that out in one of his ‘AH-HA!!’ moments.
What was Jesus discussing just before this? Beginning with verse 20, we hear the beatitudes:
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. (Luke 6:20-23)
Compare those with Matthew’s in chapter 5, verses 3-12. Not just poor, but poor in spirit. Not just hunger, but hunger and thirst after righteousness. Remember, Matthew was there and inspired, Luke wasn’t there, was still inspired. They do not conflict, they complement each other. Jesus was teaching His disciples how to live, how to be examples to others.
Just before we get to the referenced ‘it’, Jesus speaks of judgment. One so many people use so others will not look upon their actions as being in error:
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37)
The Greek translated ‘give’, δίδωμι, has many connotations as to handing something over to someone for their advantage. Goes much further than simply giving money. We talking ministering, according to Strong’s Number G1325. (If you don’t know what I mean by Strong’s numbers, visit the explanation on Wikipedia, then download KJV+ from e-Sword.net.) That gives a better understanding to the words chosen for each verse.
Here we have one short verse (37) that sounds very good standing alone. Same for the next (38) – put them together and the ‘it’ we might receive for doing what we’re supposed to do becomes doubly important. What we’re giving is ourselves – ministering to all. We’re not judging – triaging, deciding who is in greatest need – but responding to God’s call to provide what we’ve been given where He wants it provided.
How can we recognize callings versus the huge amount of needs we see each day? God determines that, we don’t. We hear His call when we’re close and listening to what He has for us as individuals. Only God can see to every need for every person. He knows where we are called and we must listen to His voice – not our own, not a loved one’s
We can’t hear Him if we’ve denied His existence. Take His word, as written:
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. (Psalms 119:105-106)
Saturday, May 25, 2013
Yep, that’s us on a Thursday evening at Immanuel Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Please not there is not a bouquet in my hand – that’s what he’s whispering to me, “You forgot your bouquet.” No, I did not turn around and go back to get it. Deenie was quite capable of taking care of it, though I wish I could have seen the surprised look on her face when she was left standing there!
52 weeks make a year, so we’ve have a year of years? They’ve been filled. The year following our wedding we not only added a child, but a sister-in-law when his brother married my best friend from work. He’s gone home to be with our Lord, just this last spring. She’s with us this weekend and we’re enjoying the company.
Family was added over the years – and we’ve lost members, too. God has been with us through it all, even when we walked away from the path He laid out for us. He never left. We did. And, we returned to discover greater blessings.
We both believed, from childhood, the words of our Lord:
And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:4-8)
We still do. Nothing I’ve seen in society has lessened my belief in Jesus’ words about God’s plan from the beginning.
There have been tremendous upheavals in our country’s culture, but the Bible remains as it has been – God’s word. It remains our final authority on family matters, and they are all addressed in this book.
Don’t take my word for it – look for the answer to your question in His book. I’ve found mine and we’re going to spend some time rejoicing:
Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. (Proverbs 5:18)
Friday, May 24, 2013
Even I find it strange that this week’s posts have moved backward each day, looking at a different aspect of Moses’ life and those around him. Yesterday’s look at Miriam’s self-inflicted wound brings to mind her initial bravery.
Moses lived because Miriam was old enough to watch and care. From a distance she watched the ark of bulrushes that held her baby brother. When it was found, she became brave enough to speak to royalty, reuniting mother and child:
Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? (Exodus 2:7)
What did she think about as they grew up, he in the palace while she remained in slave quarters? Could there have been jealousy that he had so much and she had so little? The Bible doesn’t address that at all. Apparently, though, she or her mother told Moses the story of his birth, for he recognized himself as a Hebrew:
And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. (Exodus 2:11-12)
Moses knew he had done wrong. He knew it even before he killed the man, looking this way and that way, trying hard that no one would see the evil he he had in mind. However, our sins cannot be hidden, specifically from God, but almost always from men. They are discovered.
And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. (Exodus 2:14)
There are consequences for us as news of our own errors spread. For Moses, that spread to Pharaoh, the head of the house he was raised in. The man with all the power of Egypt at his beck and call.
Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses.
Moses could not face Pharaoh. He could not admit what he had done or why it was wrong. Instead, he ran away.
But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well. (Exodus 2:15)
If we are so certain that what we do is right, why can’t we take responsibility for our actions? From childhood our answers lay blame on someone else’s words or actions, causing a reaction on our part.
Moses saw an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew. Instead of working within the palace, his response was to kill – planning on no one ever knowing. There is no mention of God or God’s intervention in Moses’ life to this point. There is no indication that God might have used his life in the palace to institute changes – what if he had been brought to the kingdom for such a time?
Not many people are called the way Moses and Paul were, stopped in their tracks with specific God-given instructions for their lives. Even they required correction and direction through communication with God. We have that, too. Through Bible reading, prayer and service to His glory, we can know and understand where He leads, where it is to our advantage to go.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Mark Dohle’s blog left me with a question, his answer and some continued thoughts:
What happens to our hearts when we mock, gossip and belittle others? It is a self inflicted wound that will only bleed and become more infected until the time we seek forgiveness and mercy for the damage done.I thought first of those who do self-harm, most often cuts on their limbs. Not suicidal cuts, and pretty much defined as cries for help for a wide variety of reasons, too numerous to list here. That reminded me of the Bible story I’ve been reading through the last few blogs.
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (Numbers 12:1)
It wasn’t about Moses’ leadership, it was because of his wife that Miriam spoke against Moses. We are not told why she became gossipy and backbiting about her sister-in-law. It may simply have been because she was Ethiopian. Miriam's offence was sufficient that she, Moses and Aaron were called into the tabernacle.
And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. (Numbers 12:4-5)
What did she think when she got the summons? That God would vindicate her? Did she still believe that she was equal to Moses’ calling? Did she expect accolades and honors? Or was she filled with trepidation, fearing – knowing – she had been wrong? Did she expect punishment for being so hurtful?
God explained to them that Moses was special. Others may hear God through dreams, but to Moses, He spoke face to face. God did not chastise Miriam, did not call attention to her error, did not call out a punishment upon her. He simply left, and her self-inflicted wound was evident:
And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. (Numbers 12:10)
Her verbal attack on God’s spokesman was without merit. She had taken an earthly desire, voiced it in front of God’s people and had to live with the consequences of going against God Himself. Her disease was self-inflicted, by her own mouth she was convicted and punished.
The consequences of our actions are often similar self-inflicted wounds. Some may be physically painful, but the spiritual wounding we do separates us from God. Prayer and a contrite heart brings us back to Him. We are not told that Miriam said anything – but Aaron cried out for her, as did Moses:
And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. (Numbers 12:11)
And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. (Numbers 12:13)
Seven days passed before she was healed and was able to return. How long will we wait before we will ask God’s forgiveness for how we wounded ourselves?
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. (Psalms 37:11 KJV)
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 KJV)
What is this meekness we should be achieving? Top definitions are patience, humbleness, gentleness, enduring injury without resentment. Some would assume the word denotes weakness – it does not.
I ran across its first use in the KJV while preparing yesterday’s blog:
(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) (Numbers 12:3 KJV)
Moses was not seeking God. He wasn’t looking to be used by God, for certain. He backed away, telling God he wasn’t good at public speaking. But God had a plan for this meek man. Perhaps his meekness came after his remorse over killing a man, after living with the consequences of what he thought was right, but could not have been.
David wasn’t seek God nor to be used by Him, either. David made many mistakes, but he understood meekness. David used the word in another Psalm:
The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. (Psalms 22:26 KJV)
Think of the fruits of the spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)
Meekness is not at the top of the list. Love comes first. With God’s love in our hearts we can have joy and peace fairly quickly, but longsuffering takes a while, often the result of our own errors but sometimes injuries from others. Both Moses and David suffered consequences of both kinds. I don’t believe that has changed for us today. How then can we achieve the meekness God uses so well?
Christ is our first example. As a child He knew He was to be about His father’s business. As an adult He knew how to answer temptation:
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4 KJV)
While it is absolutely true that I believe the Bible is our final authority on questions of faith, I agree with Paul’s farewell to Ephesus:
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:27-28 KJV)
That whole counsel of God includes the failures of godly men that match or surpass our own, and include God’s continued relationship with them through His mercy, His grace and their humbling before Him. That example is evident through His book – strong men, capable and honorable – bending their knee before God, humbly confessing then accepting His mercy, ever extended.
Listing them would name so many – Adam to Noah to Abraham to Jacob to Moses and on through to Peter and Paul, even those who crucified Him. This is our great cloud of witnesses. May God grant that we learn from them how to be what He can use to the best of His abilities, not ours.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
(Numbers 12:16 KJV)
And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? (Numbers 14:2-3 KJV)
Why would they think it have been better to die in Egypt or the wilderness? Why were they concerned about where they would die? God had made - and kept - promises.
Moses, in my opinion, had already made a mistake when sending out the spies.
And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes. (Numbers 13:18-20 KJV)
God had promised them this land, just as He had promised them release from Egypt. Now Moses was looking at that gift to judge whether it was worth it or not? That should have been part of the decision in leaving Egypt. These orders display a doubt that proved very costly. Moses backed away from his leadership responsibilities as well as backing away from God’s command.
It was a good land:
And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. (Numbers 13:27 KJV)
Instead of moving forward, the people whimpered about dying elsewhere – and they did.
Caleb and Joshua tried to convince the congregation:
And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.(Numbers 14:7-9 KJV)
Are we any different? Do we have sufficient faith to know that God has plans in our life? Do we stay in touch with Him in prayer and Bible reading to create that spiritual closeness for communication? Do we attempt to read His mind instead of listening to His direction? Or do we miss out, facing death without His direction?
I know some of the placed where I missed listening, I just don’t know about what I missed. Fortunately, He is a forgiving God. For that I am grateful and will spend time with Him to learn more.
Monday, May 20, 2013
We had three graduates celebrated Sunday night. One whose family chose our church years ago, raising him from childhood in this congregation. Another who chose to come as a youth, though his family was not active members. The third a fairly new member. All face what our Youth Pastor described as the "Mistake Zone."
True, serious mistakes can be made as a teen, but there's a greater opportunity for forgiveness and correction as a teen than there is as a high school graduate, to all intents and purposes – an adult. Mistakes made in this zone have greater consequences. The biblical example given included Psalm 90:
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. (Psalms 90:1-2 KJV)
Nope - not one of David's -- this is labeled "A Prayer of Moses the man of God." The example had to do with the "Mistake Zone" decision of an entire generation of the Children of Israel.
Moses led them out of Egypt toward the land God promised to them. He told them He would see to it the land would be theirs. Their initial mistake was sending twelve men to verify what God had already told them. Then, they ignored the report. All twelve gave a good report of how fertile the land was, bringing samples of the crops with them. Only two, however, were willing to comply with God's command.
Ten were too frightened by the physical world to trust the spiritual. They ignored the plagues against Egypt. The forgot the dry land between the waters of the Red Sea. They erased the memory of the pillars both day and night. Perhaps they had even forget Mount Sinai and the commandments given from the Lord. Instead of seeing God’s possibilities, they saw themselves as grasshoppers:
And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. (Numbers 13:33)
David, on the other hand, faced a giant and trusted the Lord:
David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. (1 Samuel 17:37)
David certainly didn’t live happily ever after – but he was a man after God’s own heart:
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)
Oh, he entered that Mistake Zone, too. Just as an entire generation of Israelites were kept out of the Promised Land, David was kept from building the temple for God’s house because of mistakes he made by not heeding God’s word, God’s plan for his life.
How much better, more blessed, easier – all those opportunities!! – it would be for each one of us when we stay close enough to our Lord to hear, then heed, His word.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:11)
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Note the yellow push pin above. The pin part is supposed to be touching our property, just south and a hair east of Lake Bridgeport in Wise county, Texas. The raincloud icons indicate where tornados caused damage on May 15 in the countryside of Wise and Montague counties, Millsap and greater damage to homes in Granbury, Cleburne and Ennis.
Yes, we have a cubbyhole, but not an in-ground storm cellar. We depend on there being an EF-3 or less. If it’s an EF-4 or more, only our foundation would remain, as occurred in Granbury, where at least six people lost their lives, in spite of twenty minutes warning.
I heeded the warning, calling Beloved Husband from his workshop, and followed the storms’ progress as they moved from west to east, with the heaviest to our south. We have a closet under a staircase that remains free enough from the junk-collected stuff to hold both of us and give our two cats room to explore an area that is usually off limits to them. No, we only checked it out to be certain it was ready (Okay, so sometimes items accumulate in the floor!), then returned to watch the skies and listen to the weather channels.
We were prepared for storms. We have lived the majority of our lives in what is termed tornado alley in Oklahoma and Texas, though this graphic from the same site gives a slightly different view based on frequency. When my family lived in California, we had a different concept of being prepared for earthquakes. Preparing for east coast hurricanes is different than preparing for ice storms. Those with heavy snows prepare in other ways for being cut off during winter months. Being able to function following a life-changing event remains our goal.
Why, then, do new Christians often believe they’ve done all they need to by making a public profession of faith? True, that’s all the Bible says is required for salvation:
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31)
That truly is a life-changing event! Lives do not cease to function once we’ve made that decision to place ourselves into the Lord’s will. We do continue to function following that event, and there are some instructions given in the Bible as to how.
Peter, Andrew, James, John and the other disciples followed Him, literally – though one did not believe, but did so for his own advantage. When it became obvious there was no earthly advantage in following this teacher to the cross, Judas first abandoned Jesus, then left this life altogether. There are some professing Christianity that do the same.
Others, though, like the eleven disciples, falter a bit in their faith, deny a bit as Peter, doubt some as Thomas, but continue throughout with a faith that sustains them through error and doubt. They continually updated their state of preparedness for all of life’s storms. It gives a strong foundation.
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:48-49)
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The question came up: Are these blogs written for someone in particular?
Well, not so much. What I write each day is something I’ve thought about. This blog is dedicated to putting Bible reading into every day situations – making application of verses to my life. However, I do think about how specific readers might perceive the subject.
Part of the problem with the internet, personal blogs, social networking, comment sections, etc. is that we all tend to treat others online as objects, never considering what we would say if we were sitting face-to-face communicating with a loved one, friend or slight acquaintance. Because of this, there are some very uncharitable postings.
Most of the mainstream media sites have lost my use of their Comments section due to the abject hatred displayed. Words and concepts unacceptable in person-to-person discussions are thrown at opponents, without consideration for how they would sound aloud. Sadly, this is true of some social media postings.
A very kind aged woman ‘Shared’ on Facebook a cartoon that was funny. Unfortunately, the title of the page originating the cartoon was a totally unacceptable pejorative curse word which she overlooked. If it were spoken aloud among her friends, there would have been gasps of disbelief, but displayed on a screen?
Because of this internet culture, I do think of specific people as I type. I think of a reprobate Christian, an avowed atheist, a faithful deacon, a curious youth, a Sunday School girl (for whom these writings began.) I think of what words I would use in talking to them – how the conversation would flow, even try to anticipate some of their questions and seek to answer them as they occur. I use the word “Readers”, but I put specific faces, actual names, into these conversations.
Why? Because I really do talk this way and hold such conversations. I would be more than happy to sit down with anyone and discuss any subject I’ve placed on this site. You see, I believe the scripture:
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)
How can I be ready to give answers if I haven’t studied the subject? How can I answer every man if I haven’t considered specific people? How can I tell anyone about my hope unless I can explain its source?
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Give a voice to the backslidden. Put a face to the unsaved. See the smile of the servant. Enjoy the curiosity in the eye of a child. Do not allow the objectification of the world turn us into “us” or “them”. Do not speak or write to a blank mask. Above all, consider who hears all:
Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. (Psalms 5:1)
Friday, May 17, 2013
If you click on the above graphic, you’ll be taken to the Dictionary of Numbers site. I ran across it this morning when I followed a link from another’s blog on her faith. In her blog was this quote:
A friend of mine, Glen Chiacchieri, has created a Chrome extension to help solve this problem: Dictionary of Numbers. It searches the text in your browser for quantities it understands and inserts contextual statements in brackets. It might turn the phrase “315 million people” into “315 million people [≈ the population of the United States]“.
As Glen explains, he once read an article about US wildfires which mentioned that the largest fire of the year had burned “300,000 acres.” This didn’t mean much to Glen:
“I have no idea how much 300,000 acres is [...] But we need to understand this number to answer the obvious question: how much of the United States was on fire? This is why I made Dictionary of Numbers.”
Dictionary of Numbers helpfully informs me that 300,000 acres is about the area of LA or Hong Kong.I realized that we do not relate to things that we cannot apply to something we understand. Oh, we have the knowledge that 300,000 of anything is a lot, but equating that to the physical area of Los Angeles rather than a cloud of gnats is where understanding begins.
Even greater understanding comes when we have comparisons. Americans more easily visualize Los Angeles than we do Hong Kong. Putting those two places together in our minds as equal in size enhances our knowledge of both, though we may never set foot in either one.
So – where’s the daily spiritual application? What scripture supports this? One of my favorites – used often on this site:
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)
What? You don’t get the connection? Well, let me explain a bit further.
When we read about that 300,000 acres, and don’t know how to equate that to a physical size, we can’t understand the extent of the damage unless we do the research, the searching, to add the application to our knowledge base.
When we read about someone’s act of faith, their relating a spiritual experience, their understanding of salvation, we can’t understand the extent of their faith until we do the research, the searching, to add the application to our knowledge base.
For some readers, changing from a physical world application to a spiritual experience application is a trigger to shut down and move away. Please don’t. Please understand that to simply state there is no spiritual existence without research is simply denial.
Take some time to find out how a belief system is applied, for good or for bad, and what that application means to 7,000,000,000 (current world population) people. Study, seriously, the benefits of the greatest, and the second greatest, commandments.
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)
Study with people who put their faith and their actions in these verses. If they are living what they believe, they can explain it.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
It’s this scene of reconciliation that we parents want to experience. We tend to forget the first part of the story:
And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. (Luke 15:12)
The father didn’t have to give him anything, but he gave him the two things we often keep from our children – the opportunity to be wrong as well as allowing them to live with the consequences. That part’s the hardest. We have a tendency to continue picking them up along the way, helping them back to … To what? To continue doing the same thing knowing we’ll be there to pick them up?
When our children were learning to walk, didn’t we offer them some help, some instruction, but eventually allowed them to fall and start again? We don’t we do that when they turn their backs on what we’ve taught and join the bevy of prodigals,
In this parable, Christ tells of letting go. There is no trip by the father to check on his son’s welfare. There is no indication that gossip reached home, so we have no idea whether the father knew what was happening. We do know from Bible stories that news spread fairly quickly about John and Jesus, so it may be inferred that the youth’s indiscretions were known by the family.
Too often today, children return – or remain at – home, expecting parents to subsidize the lifestyle that the prodigal sought. Too often today, parents continue to financially and physically support their child in a style that could be described:
And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. (Luke 15:13)
Too often today we’re afraid that if we don’t subsidize, the child will not live to realize:
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. (Luke 15:18-19)
We do not have the faith to place that portion of our lives into God’s hands. We should, since we’ve returned to our Father ourselves with that same prayer - I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.
We can – and certainly should be – teaching our children from infancy. We can – and just as certainly – should let go, even when we think they may be hurt physically and emotionally. God gave us that blessed freedom to do as we pleased. He knew exactly what we would do with it. Then, He gave Himself to provide for our return.
For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. (Luke 15:24)
That fifteenth chapter in Luke gives several examples of lost and found. Each one contains a celebration. The one I like best, though is:
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7)
God allows us the freedom to be prodigals. Can we follow His example for our own children?
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. (Isaiah 54:7 KJV)
I read that verse this morning and immediately this one came to mind:
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:45-46 KJV)
I know – they don’t “go together.” One does not lead to the other – not a prophecy and fulfillment, but together they made me think of how we allow ourselves to move away from God through sin, then cry out that we are forsaken.
I believe this feeling of being forsaken was part of what Jesus prayed would pass:
He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. (Matthew 26:42 KJV)
Dying, painfully was bad. Dying humiliated on a cross was bad. Being separated from God is indescribable. No wonder there was an earthquake in the darkness of that separation.
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (Matthew 27:51 KJV)
It’s OK to cry out – we all do it. The cross was necessary, but our separations are of our own making and acknowledgment of our errors is necessary. So, when we cry out, are we as prepared as Jesus was to accept God’s will? Do we remember there are consequences?
Sin had come into the world through a man. The plan of redemption included sin’s erasure by one man. To do that, sin was laid upon one man – mine, yours, all, through the ages. If we feel a separation from God due to our own sins, what Jesus carried is beyond our abilities to comprehend, but we can appreciate it.
We can be eternally grateful that when we give ourselves to Him, there is no separation – our sins are gone. Then we can rejoice, as David did:
I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalms 32:5 KJV)
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4)
Based on the above floor plan, there’s a lot more to this house than shows. Stairs must go to bedrooms, but even a full floor plan can’t tell us whether this will become a home or not. Neither does that verse. Having a house filled with precious and pleasant riches doesn’t make it a comfortable home where love abounds.
Before Tyvek ®, homes were often covered with a black felted tar paper. I knew a mother who raised six sons in what was basically a tar-papered shack – without wood or brick façade – and raised them with love. Our pastor spoke of being raised in what sounds like a similar home, with interior walls having a single wallboard – studs and wiring open to the rooms. Neither of these would be considered as holding precious and pleasant riches – but they did.
Homes are firmed through wisdom and understanding, firmly establishing strong foundations. Using those tools, their chambers are filled with a most precious love. Now where to get this? The psalmist tells us:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (Psalms 111:10)
The theme carried forward another generation:
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:9-10)
Along with that information comes another piece of value:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
I’m certain we’ve all experienced that feeling that what we’re teaching is completely ignored as irrelevant if not completely incompetent. How did you respond to that feeling? When we ascribe human emotions to God, why is it always loving kindness and never the exasperation we feel when others do not pay attention to what we say?
God has given us blueprints for building what amounts to a firm foundation on solid rock, and we continue to build with sticks on shifting sand.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:26-27)
How difficult is it to accept God’s love, live with it in building all relationships, even the ones where we must look at the cross for our example for saying:
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34a)
This is our God – loving, forgiving and in the mansion-building business.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2)
Monday, May 13, 2013
The other day I read an editorial – unfortunately, I did not save the URL, nor can I locate it when searching – about a mix-up in labels for Whole Foods salads. An employee made an error and vegetarian salads were labeled chicken while chicken salads were labeled vegetarian. Such labeling is very important for people with allergies, but also very important for vegans. The last graph in the article stated there was no room for compromise, no room for error.
While searching for the editorial, I ran across another titled “The Vegan Police” on the site NoCompromise.org. Here’s just a small sample from that article:
I remember questioning why I should feel guilty for trying to live as pure of a life as possible. … As Don Barnes from NAVS states in his paper, The Dangers of Elitism, "The Vegan Police do more harm than good, for they seek to shame rather than inspire, to coerce rather than convince and to mock rather than act as a model for others". I do not entirely agree with Don, in that I don't think the intentions of those deputies in the vegan police are always to shame, coerce and mock. Mostly, I think it is outrage that causes activists to ridicule the actions of others.I thought about the desire to live a pure life. From my point of view, that’s what Christianity is, just as Christ spoke:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Just a few verses earlier He said:
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
I do understand our goal and I press toward that mark, that high calling of God, but I remain imperfect. How then do I feel when that imperfection is shamed, coerced or mocked? That’s when I thought about how that paragraph could read with just a few changes:
I remember questioning why I should feel guilty for trying to live as pure of a life as possible. … As a preacher from an evangelical church stated in his sermon, The Dangers of Legalism, "The Legalist do more harm than good, for they seek to shame rather than inspire, to coerce rather than convince and to mock rather than act as a model for others". I do not entirely agree, in that I don't think the intentions of those deputies in the legalism police are always to shame, coerce and mock. Mostly, I think it is outrage that causes legalists to ridicule the actions of others.Does legalist outrage have a place in our Christian walk? Christ did throw over the money changers in the temple, and He did address the Pharisees:
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (Matthew 23:33)
Yet the majority of His message remains:
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 22:37-40)
No amount of policing can enforce these commandments. The love comes from the heart, not out of shame but contriteness; not out of coercion but concern; never out of mockery but by example.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
It didn't exist as such until President Woodrow Wilson made it official in 1914. Though others considered a similar day (such as Julia Ward Howe’s “Mothers Day for Peace”) Anna Jarvis began work in 1908 to set aside a day for Americans to honor their mothers. She did so in honor to her own mother. She succeeded so well that it became nationally recognized and very commercialized.
According to Cristina Rouvalis in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on the 100th anniversary of the first Mother's Day service of May 10, 1908:
Miss Jarvis' image of Mother's Day was very specific. It was a singular Mother's Day -- not Mothers' Day. "She didn't see it as a holiday … She saw it as an intimate day between you and your mom."That created some difficulties.
First problem is the commercialization – which was a serious problem for Anna Jarvis after the day was created. It reminds me of Christ speaking to the Pharisees:
For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. (Matthew 15:4-6)
Of what value is a costly gift without the intimacy? Do mothers really want a floral display over a conversation and hug? Not in my world.
Another problem exists for those of us whose mothers are no longer here for us to hug. We can best honor our mothers by accepting that of our children.
Still others are without their mothers here, and have no children. Opportunities remain to honor mothers through God’s word. This is a very good day to follow God’s command with a promise:
Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Exodus 20:12)
The first four commandments address man’s relationship with God – this one is at the top of the list of commandments for man’s relationship with his fellow man.
Spend some time reading about the mothers included in God’s word. Bring to life the daily activities of each one of those women as they slept through the night with one ear tuned to the needs of their families. They arose each morning to see to their family’s meals, whether fixed by their own hands or directing another’s.
There were chores to be done, lessons to be taught, tales to be heard just as there are today. There are things we ask of our children that they are not ready to do, but it gets done:
And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. (John 2:3-5)
Christ honored His mother’s request, though it was not yet time for miracles. As in all things, He is our example. As mothers, follow His example and pray our children do, too.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
To get to why this is my subject today, you really need to have read yesterday’s post – but this one can stand alone because we all come to crossroads in our lives. We’re faced with decisions that really do determine the rest of our lives. In 2 Chronicles 34, King Josiah had made several decision from the age eight that led him on a path to God and doing God’s will. Even though there was punishment for his nation in the future – direct consequences for their omitting God from their lives – God heard Josiah’s remorseful prayers and there was a promise for the king:
Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again. (2 Chronicles 34:28)
According to 2 Chronicles 34:8, he was twenty-six when he began rebuilding the temple and the Book of Law, the Torah, was discovered, read to him. His prayers were heard and God responded with a promise there would be peace until Josiah’s death.
Christians aren’t promised as much. We’re told to expect persecution and being misunderstood. But, Josiah had peace before him, as long as he lived. Sounds like a formula for “happy ever after” doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, our lives have many crossroads, many decisions along the way that can keep us on God’s path – or shorten our paths, definitively.
Chapter 34 also tells us that Josiah reigned thirty-one years. From the age of eight, that would make him thirty-nine. So, for thirteen years, from the age of twenty-six, Josiah rebuilt the temple and served the Lord. Until:
After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him. But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not. (2 Chronicles 35:20-21)
We are not told that Josiah sought counsel to see if Necho spoke the truth, though the next verse says Necho’s words were from the mouth of God. Instead, Josiah headed in disguise for the thick of the battle – in the valley of Megiddo.
And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations. (2 Chronicles 35:25)
We still do the same. Those of us who seek God do find Him. We continue to have crossroads in our lives, as Josiah did. At first we are as he:
And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. (2 Chronicles 34:2)
I have not done Josiah’s story justice. It is a picture of where we were, where we are and what can become of us based on our choices.
Friday, May 10, 2013
I often repeat verses. Every once in a while, I’ve reposted an entire blog entry. Most often, though, I repeat because something different has caught my attention in a verse – or story – I’ve heard/told before. Back in December of 2010 I posted three blogs about the reign of Josiah, king of Judah – December 8th, 9th and 10th. I’ve decided not to read them again (though you may by clicking on the numbers) so I don’t know how much I’ll repeat. Pastor read from 2 Chronicles 34 last night, and that’s where my thoughts were.
Receiving the throne at eight, it’s almost certain Josiah had counselors. They might have been pretty good guys, since by the age of sixteen he made some life-determining choices:
For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. (2 Chronicles 34:3)
He knew the difference between right and wrong, though the “Why?” was not discovered until years later:
Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king's, saying, Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book. (2 Chronicles 34:18-21)
I know – that’s longer than most verses I post, but there’s a huge story there.
The Torah, the Book of the Law, was unknown to Josiah. He did not have God’s word as a reference, a weighing balance between right and wrong. What he did have was a desire to seek after the God of David his father. When he was sixteen he was destroying altars to Baal. Not until he was twenty-six did he turn to restoring the temple, which led to the discover of the books. Not until then did he realize how deeply his nation had strayed from God’s commandments.
He was right. There were consequences for not following God’s words:
Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched. (2 Chronicles 34:25)
Zephaniah’s description of that wrath, written during the time of King Josiah, is vivid. Bible scholars look upon his description as matching that of the end of days. But, for Josiah, the Lord had kind words:
Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the LORD. (2 Chronicles 34:27)
Oh – my! I’m only half way through!! Do you think there’s a “happy ever” after ending based on God’s hearing Josiah? Find out tomorrow.
Thursday, May 9, 2013
I recently read this quote:
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident.Schopenhauer was an atheist, so I’m certain he and I do not view truth as the same. Because I am a Christian, I would add a fourth stage – after acceptance, truth is ignored.
OK, if not ignored, argued over again and again and, ad infinitum. Pilate is quoted as asking Jesus:
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?
Apparently his question was rhetorical, for instead of waiting to hear Jesus’ answer, Pilate made a public pronouncement:
And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. (John 18:38)
This is Jesus statement in which Pilot found no fault at all:
Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. (John 18:37)
What is it that people find so difficult to accept in Christ?
Most who deny this as truth do not accept there is a God. They mock those who do. One of the most derisive makes a mockery of Christian beliefs and art, referring to their own mock deity as a ‘monster.’ The concept of a man giving his life for another is simply beyond their comprehension. The thought of God giving Himself as His own atonement is more than awkward because it requires consideration of existence beyond what we can see in the physical world.
Yet, the Bible describes this very early in God’s relationship with man:
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)
Promised in the Old, recognized in the New:
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Why? I don’t know exactly, but it has something to do with 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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)
We have been told the truth, we have been shown the truth and many have accepted the truth. We are accused of hating those that do not – and that is NOT the truth.
Pity, sorrow, hope – all those feelings are ones I have for those who deny Jesus’ life, Christ’s resurrection, God’s existence. Mostly hope, for those who listen and every once in a while, ask a question.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
There are so many uplifting hymns – such as:
I hope you clicked on the link and listened to the young ladies singing that hymn. It speaks a lot to God’s forgiveness. I’ve been thinking about that lately. I am so grateful that my sins are gone – by the merciful grace of a loving God.
I was directed by a cousin to Adam Hamilton’s book, Forgiveness, and I’ve enjoyed the first few pages into it. Early in the book we find an explanation:
But what is it we are actually looking for when we seek forgiveness? We are not asking the other person to excuse what we’ve done, but rather to pardon us. We are looking for reconciliation, for the restoration of our relationship. We are asking for that person to release the right to retaliate.God’s retaliation is simple – He does nothing. He does not “send” anyone to hell. He has told us what hell is, how people get there and He has given us the perfect way to keep us from ever experiencing hell. What we do with that gift is ours to decide. It’s not forced upon us, we are given choices. Why blame Him when the choices we’ve made send us on our merry way?
There is peace in our relationship with God when we are assured our sins are gone. That relationship becomes strained when we return to sin – and don’t think that doesn’t happen! That’s why the Lord’s prayer contains daily applications:
After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. (Matthew 6:9-13)
Note that He said our prayers are to be in this manner, not so much in these exact words. I think it would be valid for us to be specific when we ask Him to forgive our daily debts – the ones we commit as well as the tasks He’s given us that we’ve omitted doing.
When we do ask for forgiveness, are we also asking for the natural consequences of our sins to disappear, too? That’s probably not to be expected. Too often there are serious consequences in going against God’s commandments. Most of those have secular laws, too, that must be faced.
Unfortunately, there are also societal situations where following God’s commandments offend others. Continuing in a close relationship with God helps us determine whether we are pleasing men, or God. Paul faced – and answered – that question:
For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:10-12)
Best we answer that ourselves, isn’t it? While we’re asking forgiveness.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
We say “Don’t be stubborn as a mule!” David included a horse:
Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. (Psalms 32:9)
In the previous verse, David had written about God’s instructions:
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psalms 32:8)
What might these two verse have to do with the beginning of this Psalm?
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. (Psalms 32:1-2)
These first verses were written by a man who transgressed – broke God’s law. He knew it, and attempted to keep men from knowing it by breaking another of God’s laws. This man had sinned – by doing what everyone knew was wrong, in both instances. His iniquity was depraved indifference for others – a defilement of his own soul. That man also understood forgiveness. His soul no longer carried the burden of guilt.
Instead, this man accepted God’s instruction, even the punishment that was meted out. Although God knew of his sin, there is a necessary step that he – and we today – attempt to avoid:
I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. (Psalms 32:5)
This Psalm isn’t the only time David wrote of his sin and God’s forgiveness.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalms 51:1-4)
He hurt others, defamed a wife, killed a man, destroyed a family, destroyed the trust of his closest friends – but it against the laws of God that David sinned.
It is against the laws of God that we sin, too. Please – do not weigh the difference between our sins and David’s. There really is none. When laws are broken, we’ve set a variety of conditions for restoring society, but God’s laws are different. He requires acknowledgement of those sins and a change of heart. Thank God, He also provides forgiveness!
David knew what was needed and shared with us:
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalms 51:17)
In Psalm 37, David wrote of being old and knowing:
The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand. (Psalms 37:23-24)
Learn the lesson while young. Bring to our Lord your contrite heart instead of mule-headedness.
Monday, May 6, 2013
Back in the 1860’s a name was created for a bag used by sailors to carry some necessary items. By the 1960’s it was in regular use in our house for any carry-along bag that held our necessary items. Ditty bags are still in use in our house – but I had to explain the term to my daughter a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, there was another couple with us (about ten years older) who knew not only the name but how useful a ditty bag could be.
Thought about that – and about Judas Iscariot.
Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (John 12:3-6 KJV)
John is the only writer who mentions the fact that Judas was the keeper of the bag, apparently of money. John mentions this twice:
Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. (John 13:26-29 KJV)
In both stories, Judas “had the bag.” Apparently that had been his responsibility for some time. When Judas left, disciples thought he had been sent on an errand that required him to disburse money. He was trusted by his fellow disciples.
What necessities do we carry for Christ? What do we keep in our ditty bag? Does it contain
- a schedule of church activities where we can fellowship with believers?
- a prayer list for those we love and those we may not love but know they need Christ?
- tithes and love offerings to continue Christ’s work here?
- a Bible to share with others?
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (Matthew 28:19 KJV)
This is a continuation of Christ’s purposes:
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)
So, determine what God has given for us to do, then pack up a ditty bag and let’s get it done.