Saturday, March 29, 2014
As readers of this blog – especially long-time readers – you deserve to know why I’m no longer posting daily. To some it might appear that I’ve slowed down on my encouraging to read the Bible. That’s somewhat true because I am not here every day stressing the fact that Bible reading is an integral part of a Christian’s daily life.
Attention to Bible reading – accompanied by the prayerful desire to understand God’s word – is very important to me. Obviously, because I’ve been posting that encouragement for years.
Since the first of the year I’ve had a tendon problem with my hand – which seems to be working good now, as long as I don’t type as much as I used to. So – there’s a natural slowdown on the number of posts.
I’ve also found another good use for my time without stressing my hand, yet providing another ministry. No – not just the quilt top above that will eventually go to a young man who needs more than warmth. That’s only part of it. Cutting and sewing and repeating the process in piecing a quilt top leave a lot of time to think. Not much to read and type, but a lot of time to think. If I have time to think, I have time to pray.
What have I been praying for? First of all, the young man who will receive the quilt when our ladies group is finished with it. God knows where this will go and He knows this young man’s needs. What I pray for is that he will have an open heart to receive God’s direction; that God will place witnesses in his life who can explain, even as Philip explained to the Ethiopian in Acts 8:
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. (Acts 8:35 KJV)
I pray that the young man will listen and come to understand. But that doesn’t take too long, even though I pray it more than once, so I call to mind my PUSH list – Pray Until Something Happens. This list only changes when the prayer is answered. It’s not always answered “Yes.” At times there is a definite “No” and every once in a while neither answer is apparent. That means to keep on praying.
It is not necessary to pray publicly nor is it necessary to go into your closet, though both places have a time and a purpose. It is necessary to pray in order to have a close relationship with our Lord. There are examples of prayer throughout the Bible. Often we understand this one, oh, too well:
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? (Revelation 6:10 KJV)
While they wait, we need to understand the importance of prayer. To not only follow the words, but to understand why Paul wrote:
Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)
Three words. One verse. Whether in your chair, on your knees or doing something for others, pray. Without ceasing.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
What kind of scientific discovery would it take to make you discount the existence of God?
Let me get one answer out of the way – for me there isn’t anything. Not even the discovery of sentient life on another planet/solar system/galaxy. For me, God exists.
For some others, articles such as CNN’s about the newest big bang theory cause consternation. It shouldn’t. There’s nothing there to negate:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 KJV)
There was a beginning, and there will be an end. In fact, the article includes:
So this latest discovery is good news for us believers, as it adds scientific support to the idea that the universe was caused – or created – by something or someone outside it and not dependent on it.
Atheist-turned-agnostic astronomer Fred Hoyle, who coined the term “Big Bang,” famously stated, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics."If I thought a “superintellect”, or an intelligent designer, existed, I’d be spending a great deal of thought as to why such an intellect would be interested enough to provide a design. The Bible provides insight into one explanation – obviously, the one I accept. And the article accepts, too:
The creation message in Genesis tells us that God created a special place for humans to live and thrive and be in communion with him; that God wants a relationship with us, and makes provisions for us to have fellowship with him, even after we turn away from him.
So, we know that Genesis was never intended to be a detailed scientific handbook, describing how God created the universe. It imparts a theological, not a scientific, message.Theology Proper, remember, is the study of God, not the study of natural science. We’ve been given opportunities to do great good – and just as easily, great harm. Doing the most good comes from following two rules:
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 KJV)
Some people I know have latched onto that last part without giving the first consideration. Others have put their faith into what a man – most likely a good man – tells them will provide a better life, focused on materialism. Still others depend on a man who tells them what the Bible means and what God requires. I suggest each one of these is missing an integral part of understanding our universe and the reason we exist by ignoring that first, great commandment.
Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6-8 KJV)
What better thing exists than to walk, humbly, with God?
Friday, March 21, 2014
But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:37 KJV)
“You know what I meant,” is often a lie to ourselves because we make assumptions that others really do know us well enough to read our minds when our mouths misspeak. The Bible is very clear on this, repeating Christ’s words again. Paul used them in his letter to the church at Corinth:
But as God is true, our word toward you was not yea and nay. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. (2 Corinthians 1:18-20 KJV)
James wrote of it, too:
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. (James 5:12 KJV)
We are also told that we need to give careful thought to what we speak:
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37 KJV)
I believe this is even more important in posting in blogs (such as this) or in social media, where the words spread around the world more quickly than in a roomful of people playing “Gossip.” Our words must be specific as they go public and further than ever before.
We’ve also been told what thoughts to give to these words:
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:9 KJV)
Now isn’t that reason enough to do these things? Aren’t we seeking to be with God? Hasn’t He made promises for those who seek Him? Aren’t we to have faith in Him?
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)
As I wrote previously, we are unlike God. Yet, He expects us to do His work here, all the while becoming more like Him, that He may be glorified:
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 KJV)
Let us not assume we know what another is thinking, but let our words be purposeful and explanatory. Let them lead others to think upon what is pure, too.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. (Psalms 147:4 KJV)
Our Wednesday night study was on Theology Proper – the study of what God is like. This graphic was chosen because it shows a small portion of the Milky Way galaxy seen from one spot on a mid-sized planet. We cannot comprehend knowing the names of all the stars contained in just this one photo – yet God knows them, and every thing else that He created. He is omnipotent – knows and understands everything.
Unlike God, we don’t get it. At most, we get a very small portion of it and we don’t understand why people don’t understand what we do. Got that? Probably not. We don’t think alike, we don’t perceive alike, our knowledge base is not like any other person’s. Our memories are different, and our memories color every facet of our lives. Unlike God.
This particular Psalm is not prefaced as being written by King David, though it is a song of praise, and he was known for praising God:
Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely. (Psalms 147:1 KJV)
We do that because we know quite a bit about God – that He is always there, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is not only omnipresent – so immense our minds cannot comprehend – He is also omnipotent:
Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:26-27 KJV)
Unlike God, we cannot achieve any of this. But – we can live by the virtues we see in Him. Ones we miss by a mile on so many occasions, but we need to continue pressing toward that mark of revealing His goodness through actions in our lives, showing love, grace and mercy.
The Rochester Family sings “Patching It Up” and it tells me several things, the first is: I do get tired of patching things up; God doesn’t. Fortunately for us, He is not only willing but is able to flow love, grace and mercy through us – if we do not build walls to block them.
Unlike God, we can change. We make the choices in our lives. He has given us the ability to choose whether or not His love is in us. He has given us the ability to share that love with others.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8 KJV)
We are commanded who and how to love:
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)
We are also told how to get help to do this:
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13 KJV)
Monday, March 17, 2014
O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. (Psalms 31:23 KJV)
No, I did not choose green for verses because of St. Patrick’s day – nor do I like green beer. The green font is an attention-getting decision to set apart scripture from my own thoughts simply because I like green. I believe the green beer is also an attention-getting sales technique to sell more beer on a remembrance day where most of the people ignore the Christian witness of a young Briton named Patrick.
March 17 is set aside to remember him, focusing mostly on the country to which he chose to be a Christian witness. Read much more about him on Persecution Blog. For the secular or cultural view, without a Christian witness, information is also available on Wikipedia. Or, read his own words in “The Confession of St. Patrick”:
I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many …Born into a Christian family in the Roman province of Britain, he was only sixteen when taken captive by a raiding party, ending up a slave in what is now Ireland, where Druids were worshipped. Though coming from a priestly family, he lacked education:
So, consequently, today I feel ashamed and I am mightily afraid to expose my ignorance, because, [not] eloquent, with a small vocabulary, I am unable to explain as the spirit is eager to do and as the soul and the mind indicate.That lack of eloquence did not keep him from returning to the land where he was held in slavery and giving a lifetime dedicated to witnessing to this biblical truth:
For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe.It is my position that this has nothing to do with green beer, turning a river green, having parades or celebrating a nation’s culture. It has everything to do with a personal relationship with God and a lifetime’s desire to share the gospel.
Patrick was born before the end of the fourth century, so we know that the message Jesus gave, as written in the gospels and shared by Paul, remained the same – preserved for close to four hundred years. Let me testify today that the message has been preserved through the sixteen centuries since Patrick’s confession. Many continue to believe:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3 KJV)
We believe all this happened:
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18 KJV)
It was Paul’s message and Patrick’s and mine and every Bible-believing preacher’s. Ask us about it, please.
Friday, March 14, 2014
After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. (Acts 18:1-3 KJV)
I do not own a business, but I do hold biblical convictions and I have not hesitated to speak out about them. Neither did Paul, who did have a business – tentmaking. The disciples called by Christ had businesses, too – Andrew, James, John, Peter, Matthew are all mentioned as having a specific source of income. As Paul, they also spread the gospel message that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah:
And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. (Acts 18:4-5 KJV)
I believe John most of all stressed the love God held for mankind. John 3:16 along with 1 John 3:16 speak of a love worth dying for – but continue on to:
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (1 John 3:17 KJV)
What does this have to do with “service”? It has to do with a business that provides for its clients/customers. Specifically in this blog, businesses who decline to provide for some customers, but not others, based on perceived religious grounds.
For a moment pretend you are a baker. While you make a wide variety of items, you also bake wedding cakes. Or, you are a photographer and you take pictures of weddings, families, portraits and other special events. Recently there have been headlines where these types of businesses declined to sell their products to same-sex couples based on specific scriptures.
Those scriptures are positive supports of God’s designed marriage – one man and one woman joining together for a lifetime. Close to the beginning of time, mankind failed to heed that design. In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus reaffirmed how marriage should be. Christians committed to following God’s plans for our lives include this design. As in many things, we fail.
So, I ask you – as the pretend business owner declining to serve same-sex marriages – do you also decline to serve divorcees? Do you decline to serve unbelievers? Do you decline to serve politicians, who are perceived to have lied at least once to achieve their election?
Is it because those sins are not as openly evident?
Go back to 1 John 3:17 - seeth his brother have need – isn’t what we need most is the love described by John that God has for every man? Isn’t the gospel the answer for every need we might have, not only on this earth but for all eternity?
Is there a scripture where Jesus declined a sinner? Did not Judas share in the last supper, including the foot washing? Is not every sinner in need of God?
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)
Under what circumstances should a Christian businessman decline service to a customer?
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Our Wednesday night song leader mentioned something that had been wearying him during the night. At first I thought I misheard and he said “worrying,” but I was wrong. My mind kept coming back to how weary we can become when we worry.
I went to look for an appropriate graphic. There were several I could have used, but this one drew me in. The background is in the story of Sir (Ernest) Edward "Weary" Dunlop. Nothing is as wearying as war.
Yet, we weary ourselves daily with so much minutia. We begin as children – I don’t think it’s confined to my family! I grew up with the story of my little cousin who was told by her parents that they were moving from town to her grandparents’ dairy farm. She was distraught about leaving her friends, so to help ease that pain they told her she could have the dog she’d always wanted and she’d even have a horse. A few hours later her Mom found her on the back porch sobbing. When asked why, she explained that she was worried because the dog would chase the horse.
Most of our worries are just that – future things that may or may not happen. When something does happen, it confirms our fears that things will only get worse and we continue wearying ourselves with burdens we need not bear:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)
This seems as another biblical contradiction – how can someone already burdened take on another yoke? Just how much are we to bear? This isn’t a mystery to those of us who have accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah and have accepted His offer. His burden of love for our fellowman is light and He has accepted our cares as His own – we are yoked with Him on an eternal journey.
I find it so sad that people are so offended by our using His name and telling His story that lawsuits are instituted to stop us from doing so. He asks so little from us in return for an eternity in His presence. The first step is given in the answer to a jailer’s question:
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31 KJV)
It is that easy – yet it isn’t. We don’t live in moments, they are connected to our lives before and after, as is this scripture. How could the jailer believe without knowing about Jesus? Paul took care of that:
And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (Acts 16:32 KJV)
Every Christian should be able to.
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 KJV)
There is no mention here of judgmental condemnation. If you run across a professed Christian who does so, please look elsewhere. Ask God to provide the answers. I trust that He will so there will be no more wearying.
Monday, March 10, 2014
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. (John 3:19-20 KJV)
Yesterday on Facebook I saw links to this blog a couple of times: “They’ll Be Dead By Morning (What Difference Will It Make?)
In case you don’t want to make the jump, it’s a blog about North Korea’s execution of 33 Christians. As my readers know, I don’t accept postings at face value, I do research to be certain it is a news item and if it is slanted. I didn’t find the story on ABC, CBS, CNN or NBC. I did find it in The Washington Times.
North Korea tyrant Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered that 33 Christians believed to be working alongside South Korean Baptist missionary Kim Jung-wook be put to death.
The news report doesn’t say they are being executed for being Christians, instead:
South Korean press cited by The Daily Mail reported that Mr. Kim has charged that the 33 are attempting to overthrow the government — the same accusation that led to the execution of the North Korean leader’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, and all Mr. Jang’s relatives.
That’s pretty much the same argument used to execute Jesus, that He said He had a kingdom, which was used to try Him under Roman law. What He said and what He did actually changed history, and a good part of the world – but not all of it.
Two years ago I used today’s graphic in the blog “Darkness vs Light.” North Korea has to have a white line drawn around it, or it would appear as part of the ocean, and South Korea would appear as an island. There is that much difference.
But what difference can it make to us? None of us can go there and spread the light, can we? Only someone who speaks the language, understands the culture and has a connection or two can make it across the border. What difference can we possibly make?
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. (Ephesians 3:7 KJV)
Right now, at this moment, we can pray to the Lord for the effectual working of His power. Are we ready to be a part of effectual prayer?
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. (James 5:16-18 KJV)
Share and pray – and make a difference that will last eternally.
Sunday, March 9, 2014
Give us day by day our daily bread. (Luke 11:3 KJV)
I am that bread of life. (John 6:48 KJV)
I don’t know the source for this graphic – I saw it on Facebook and was struck by two things – first, bread. That’s my logo and these two verses that tie that thought together. It really isn’t to enjoyed only on special occasions.
The second are the few words showing in the graphic: “… it was found written …”
Nehemiah’s story is almost complete. He started in Artaxerxes’ presence and in Chapter 13, he returned. In his absence, some of Moses’ writings were found and re-instituted:
On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever; Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing. Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude. (Nehemiah 13:1-3 KJV)
They knew the temple was important. They knew it was a symbol of God’s work in this world. But, somewhere along the line the people had forgotten:
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 6:7 KJV)
This was important enough to be repeatable:
And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 11:19 KJV)
The Bible is nourishment, which we need daily, not just on Christian holidays, not just on Sundays. Why?
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16 KJV)
I believe this to be true – scripture provides the foundation for our beliefs. Without a knowledge of scripture, it is easy to be led astray:
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2 Peter 2:1-2 KJV)
I firmly believe that time spent with the scriptures, especially when accompanied by prayer, offers awesome results. I’m reminded of the Ethiopian eunuch, riding in his chariot, reading Isaiah when he noticed Philip.
And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? (Acts 8:30 KJV)
The man did not, and his questions were answered. That’s the nourishment I expect, and have received, from the bread of life.