Monday, June 30, 2014

Following A Pattern

Back in 2009 I wrote a blog, “Sewing It Up”, about difficulties following directions. It was written before I was using graphics, and it was rather short, too. One of the things I wrote:
At times things are not working as expected, as promised. Promises include joy and a glorious future. Here and now, there is trouble and faith is wavering. There are events that bring sadness, sorrow, frustration, anger, fear. Were not the promises that these burdens would be placed elsewhere?
… came to mind today while I was thinking about errors I’ve made on this particular quilt top. on the far left is a finished column. on the sewing table are two squares correctly sewn to create the pattern, and two squares where I got it wrong. It seemed right when I sewed it!!

I may have seemed right to me as I was doing it, but once it was out from under the presser foot – it was wrong. I knew better than to trust my own judgment but to follow the right pattern. That’s based on an early Bible lesson:

In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6 KJV)

Israel was told not to do that a generation or two before:

Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. (Deuteronomy 12:8 KJV)

The lesson continued for generations afterward:

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

Paul knew this lesson, too:

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

Following a pattern to achieve expected results applies in a number of instances besides piecing a quilt or sewing a dress. If we want peaches out of our own orchard for cobblers, we would plant peach trees, not apples – no matter how good they were. We follow the correct pattern, we achieve expected results.

So, what does a Christian expect? The result I expect is eternal life with Him. Doesn’t seem like too much to expect, especially when It’s the same promise Christ made to a thief:

And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43 KJV)

And, what does God expect? That’s laid out in scripture, too:

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)

Those are for us to consider and to follow. Later, Jesus told us to teach His commandments, but we were never told to impose them on another. Each one of us must determine whether to follow the pattern for the desired results – or continually seek other ways that seem right to us. Frankly, I’d rather be right with God!!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Man’s Steps

I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. (Psalms 37:25 KJV)

Boy, that first part is truth about me!! Even I have come to accept how far past "middle age" I've reached. And I can give testimony about that second part, too. God provides for His children - when they are in His will, but his children can stumble. David addresses that a few verses ahead of this:

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 KJV)

The Pulpit Commentary says this about this entire Psalm:
The whole poem is grave, quiet, equable, devoid of excitement or lyric fervour. It is unlike David's other compositions, but may be his, as asserted in the title, and may be the only composition which we possess of his belonging to his old age (verse 25).
Age does make us more reflective, looking at past experiences instead of planning years ahead. A good many people ten years older than I am are in full-care facilities. A good many others left this life and we’ve attended funerals for people younger than ourselves, too. I pray our experiences are passed down a generation or two, though those two generations away seem disinclined to listen. They are two busy with plans and preparations for the rest of their lives, while we’re explaining that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.

That is such a biblical truth that it pains me I didn’t see it when I was their age. I didn’t pay attention to the object lesson, either:
The object of the poem is to reassure men whose minds are disturbed by the fact of the frequent prosperity of the wicked, to convince them that in every case retribution will overtake the ungodly man at the last, and to impress upon them that the condition of the righteous, even when they suffer, is far preferable to that of the wicked, whatever prosperity they may enjoy.
Yes, the wicked prosper – sometimes for all of their lives:

I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. (Psalms 37:35-36 KJV)

There will come a time when I cannot be found. Many will believe I simply died and ceased to exist. I don’t believe that because I trust what I believe God inspired men across the ages to write; what has been preserved in one book, God’s journey with mankind. If I’m wrong, none of us will ever know it. However, if I’m right, it not only makes a difference in this world but in the next. The Bible tells me so:

. . .  for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Timothy 1:12b KJV)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Isaiah 6

Oh, my – another week has almost gone by and I’ve only touched once on our Sunday School lessons in Isaiah, and that was last week! This past Sunday we skipped from chapter 1 to chapter 6. I had forgotten that those first five chapters happened before Isaiah volunteered, answering God’s call:

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 KJV)

Unlike Paul, he was not blinded and he described what he saw in verses 1-4. Like Paul, he realized how unworthy he was:

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. (Isaiah 6:5 KJV)

Now, I haven’t decided which would be preferable, the live coal held in tongs by an angel, or the blindness that fell on Paul. I would pray that in either case, the removal would allow me to be fit for service and that I would respond with “Send me.”

Of course, I didn’t. I opted for an every day ordinary marriage and the daily perils of American life with a husband, children, homemaking and employment. Missed opportunities. Which is one reason I continue to encourage Bible reading and share through this blog – one of my ministries is to share what I read. To plant seeds of curiosity, if you will, and pray they find fertile soil to bear their own fruit that I (mostly likely) will not see in this lifetime.

Not a problem – I doubt Isaiah nor Paul conceptualized how their words would be received over thousands of years. God knows that not all will hear:

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. (Isaiah 6:9 KJV)

Isaiah did not ask about salary, subsistence or working conditions, but he did ask about the length of time he was to “go, and tell this people.”

Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, And the LORD have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. (Isaiah 6:11-12 KJV)

Now, that’s a long time!! Are you prepared to not have people listen to us for that length of time? Perhaps, when you hear the results:

But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof. (Isaiah 6:13 KJV)

Not too clear to me, but there’s that seed thing again. I do believe I’ll continue, always praying for that good ground of Matthew 13:3-9 and Mark 4:3-8.

Hear ye, indeed.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Here a little, and there a little . . .

Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (Isaiah 28:9-13 KJV)

Verse 29 appears to be Isaiah giving voice to his adversaries in a rhetorical question – aren’t they the priests? Doesn’t Isaiah understand they do understand doctrine? The looked upon Isaiah as being nitpicky, one precept on another, one line upon another – without understand that Isaiah was giving them God’s word.

God’s word should give the weary rest. It should be refreshing. It should provide freedom, just as Jesus tells us:

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)

Yes, there is a yoke to help us go where we need to go. Yes, there is a burden for us to carry as well as a goal to achieve. It is worth it! We do however, need to be aware that not all leaders are equal, just as Isaiah explains. It’s just as true in the New Testament as in the Old:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-8 KJV)

There is only one who came to seek and save us. Only one who died for our sins. Only one who is worthy:

Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. (Revelation 5:12 KJV)

No matter how good your preacher, teacher, spiritual leader is, there is only one who is worthy of not only of adoration, but came to save sinners:

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. (1 Timothy 1:15 KJV)

Paul acknowledges his sinfulness just after he praises Christ:

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; (1 Timothy 1:12 KJV)

Paul literally gave his life to and for that ministry. I do not know what your ministry is, but I’d love to hear about it – what it is, how you came to it and how our Lord work in it. You don’t have to Comment publicly – drop an e-mail if you wish. I will join you in prayer for your ministry.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Integrity, Character, Truth

I had a boss once that had her integrity questioned. She was greatly offended, but it turned out the question was valid. What she did wasn’t illegal, but it was unethical and would have impacted the future of a couple of employees. It also was easily discoverable, and other than being offended at being found out, there was no defense. It did impact her future with the company.

In a recent e-mail from Focus on the Family, John MacArthur was quoted:
According to Scripture, virtually everything that truly qualifies a person for leadership is directly related to character. It's not about style, status, personal charisma, clout, or worldly measurements of success. Integrity is the main issue that makes the difference between a good leader and a bad one.
The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. He that walketh uprightly walketh surely: but he that perverteth his ways shall be known. (Proverbs 10:8-9 KJV)

As I mentioned the other day, the meaning of words change over the years. Rather than look upon “character” as the moral or ethical quality of an individual (as when I grew up), today it means the combined traits of an individual and is used in network advertising to cover differences in individuals rather than a measure of honesty.

Our nation has fluctuated with the activism of outspoken groups who will not be denied the desires of their heart, while our Lord inspired:

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. (Psalms 37:4-5 KJV)

Does that really mean we will achieve the desires of our heart even if it is outside of God’s will for our lives? I doubt it, when we read further:

And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. (Psalms 37:6 KJV)

Our actions will show our integrity and character – will they stand up to truth in the light of day? In the light of God’s judgment? The example for Christians is always Jesus, who is the truth, the way and the light. Do our combined traits reflect His humility? His obedience to our Father’s will? Will we stand in the light of His judgment and be as truthful as Jesus before Pilate?

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 KJV)

Can we say we were born to serve God – or to achieve personal goals that have no bearing on God’s love?

Do we take pride in our own integrity and character without knowing truth?

Or, as my one boss – are we offended when someone does show us the truth? I need to be certain of my own answers before I can understand someone else's answers or ideas.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Stitched Panorama
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-8 KJV)

I have seen charges of “Apostasy!” tossed about within Christian denominations, and often between differing denominations. It is a huge charge, but the word is not found in the New Testament. The concept is, though, in the above passage and several others.

It means to turn one’s back on their religion, to deny what they had believed and to embrace another belief. In Islam’s Sharia law, it is cause for death, the sentence recently given to a woman born to a Christian mother (who raised her as a Christian) and a Muslim father (who abandoned his family.) In Islam, all mankind are born Muslim and only the geographic chances of birth determine whether they are led astray or are raised correctly.

This woman, raised Christian, married to an American Christian, was condemned to death, to be carried out after the birth of her child. That child was born on the floor of a prison cell. She refused to recant her Christianity, refused to become an apostate Christian, though she would die.

Monday we were praising the decision Sudan’s officials made to release her. Tuesday we were in prayer again, as she and her family were arrested as they were leaving Sudan. Please, join us in prayer.

This did, however, make me think about how Christians treat apostasy. I know apostates – those who have determined that Christianity is not an answer for them. One selected Wicca. Another became an atheist, then moved into agnosticism. Another defines a belief, if forced to define such, in Humanism. Still another has turned to answers in a failed social philosophy. Each held membership in a Christian denomination. Each recanted their Christianity without the threat of a death sentence.

Frankly, it’s not for me to make them change their minds. Not one of them is interested in hearing my thoughts on their spiritual status, and nothing I say or do will impact them until their own personal search brings them to question the status quo.

I believe Paul addresses the question in 2 Thessalonians 2, a reminder of what he had told them before:

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:5 KJV)

It isn’t our job to remove the tares, either. According to Matthew 13:28-40 we leave that to the Lord:

So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. (Matthew 13:27-29 KJV)

I can pray for them the same way I can pray for Meriam Yehya Ibrahim – that God’s will be done and that it will bring Him glory.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fruit, Beams and Motes

They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:16 KJV)

For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. (Luke 6:43-44 KJV)

Membership in our Christian denomination requires a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. Since this cannot be accomplished by toddlers, we do not baptize babies. Baptism is an outward indication of an inward change that accompanies that expression of faith.

When that inward change occurs, more than baptism is expected. Just as figs from a fig tree or grapes from a grapevine are expected fruit, a Christian’s life should bear fruit:

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)

(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) (Ephesians 5:9 KJV)

The other side of the ‘fruit story’ is told in adjoining verses, along with consequences:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:18b-21 KJV)

But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. (Ephesians 5:3-7 KJV)

It’s my own, personal, opinion that we should begin our inspections with our own fruit - any time in our Christian life - before inspecting others. Do my actions match those found in the fruit of the Spirit? Do I display fruit against such there is no law? What do others see in me? I think of that as I see others facing such questions and wonder how I might be of help.

I believe that’s what Jesus meant in His parable about beams and motes:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:3-5 KJV)

Please note that once we do get that beam out of our own eye, we can see clearly to help our brother clear his, not before and not ignoring his.

Monday, June 23, 2014

New and Old

This past week I was challenged to watch a YouTube video with the premise that I could “educate” myself. Apparently it is a new concept to the person making the request, but it was old news to me. This particular re-building of the perfect society has a fairly recent name, but the idea really goes back to a question asked much earlier:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1 KJV)

A slight misquote of God’s word, and the response was just as bad a misquote:

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

Eve added that part about touching it, for God’s word was:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17 KJV)

The disciples and the new church misinterpreted God’s message, too. They looked for Christ’s immediate return and they would have no need for personal property:

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (Acts 2:44-46 KJV)

Eventually a truth became evident enough to include in the Bible, and would be incorporated in colonial records millennia later:

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10 KJV)

Captain John Smith put it into law at Jamestown:
. . . you must obey this now for a Law, that he that will not work shall not eat (except by sickness he be disabled) for the labors of thirty or forty honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintain an hundred and fifty idle loiterers.
I’m certain each of us would rather be “breaking bread from house to house” without concern for the source of that bread. We would certainly desire that phrase Karl Marx used so well, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” if we lacked the ability to provide bread for ourselves.

Some look upon that as a political statement, or movement, but basically the desire is to negate what the fall of man earned:

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. (Genesis 3:17-19 KJV)

No, this is not a new concept. Not just Solomon’s “no new thing under the sun”, but Paul’s addendum to Thessalonians 3:10:

For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. (2 Thessalonians 3:11 KJV)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Another View of Strait and Narrow

(I was looking back over posts from years ago and noticed that this older one had received the most hits. I don't know why - maybe because of Google searches for a specific topic or a specific verse. Maybe - just maybe - it has a good message? That "strait" and "narrow" has been speaking to my heart for some time.)

This graphic is another where I can’t give the source. It appears to be a copy of a copy, etc.

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14 KJV)

While it does give a good view of a ‘narrow way’ and the distance might appear to be a ‘strait gate,’ it doesn’t convey the thought from Matthew 7 that I have in mind.

You see, I think I know some people who are following that narrow way.  They’ve chosen to do so and by reading God’s word they believe they are moving toward that strait gate.

But sometimes there seems to be more milling around on the road.  People trying to fit personal preferences into the way, actually impeding forward progress of others.  Oh, they haven’t left the narrow way, but they appear to be stepping from side to side rather than focusing on the Lord’s will and moving forward.

Some of my readers think that I’ve spent too much time discussing His will. They ask, “We have the ability to think, shouldn’t we use it?” I certainly hope so!  I do believe I’ve pushed people to do that – think, and think outside the box. However, I have strongly encouraged people to look for, and to follow God’s will – not their own preferences.

Living by our preferences – based on our likes, dislikes, pleasures, desires – is living without regard to rules. This is circumstantial or situational ethics, changing with society’s whims or cultural fluctuations. Preferences have no absolutes and any rules change with what feels good.

It’s those personal preferences that bring us to the edge of the narrow road.  Sort of, “I like eight of those commandments, but the other two just don’t fit my lifestyle, so we can ignore them.”  Won’t take long until all ten are history and we’ve walked over to that broad way.

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: (Matthew 7:13 KJV)

David often wrote of God’s path in his Psalms:

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalms 16:11 KJV)

Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight. (Psalms 119:35 KJV)

What do we get for walking the narrow way?  For keeping to His path?  For following His commandments?  We get what He has promised, for we’re told He loves us.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:3 KJV)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Pure 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)

I know some widows, and I know some fatherless children. I’m certain we all do. Seeing to their needs is defined by James as pure religion, so just what does our society think religion is, besides being a noun?
  • the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods:  "ideas about the relationship between science and religion"
  • a particular system of faith and worship: plural noun: religions:  "the world's great religions"
  • a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance: "consumerism is the new religion"
Yes, I looked it up. So many words have changed since I was in school, back when “gay” meant one was happy, cheerful and it related to ones disposition. I wanted today’s definition of “religion” and it is just as strange.

I do not have faith in a “superhuman controlling power”, though I do believe in the personal God as described in the Bible. The second comes close regarding faith and worship, as does the third with it’s supreme importance. Still, it is at variance by selecting a secular item as a “religion.” What does the word mean to you – and what would its purest form be?

I don’t think simply providing money to a widow or a fatherless child is the bottom line, either. Our government has done an excellent job of flowing money into programs designed to help, with extremely limited results. I think Jesus’ parable comes much closer to defining an active belief in a God involved in our personal lives:

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. (Matthew 25:34-36 KJV)

Religion is not a floating bubble of imminent destruction. Religion is action.  It is faith in a supreme being, certainly not human or superhuman. I like how James was inspired to write:

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (James 1:22-24 KJV)

If we look at religion and simply see a reflection of ourselves, there is no reason to be a follower. We are deceiving ourselves. There are boundaries to be met, action to be done and blessings to be received.

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:25 KJV)

Do something nice today for a widow or a fatherless child. It’s a pure thing to do.

Friday, June 20, 2014

“Christ In Isaiah”


Did I mention how good the messages were Sunday? Starting with our Sunday School lesson! We’re starting a brand new study that our pastor prepared about the book of Isaiah. Of course, we’re beginning with the first verse in the first chapter:

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

I like the introduction – we met the writer, learn that he is telling us what he saw, that it concerned Judah and Jerusalem through the reign of four kings. Then he tells us how God sees His chosen people:

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. (Isaiah 1:1-4 KJV)

There’s much more in the lesson – and I’ll most likely touch on some later, but I want to spend time with this “sinful nation.” Just the week before I had read a blog about The Banning of Sin:
The unbeliever would have us muzzled unless we paint a pretty picture of religion and stop talking about sin. We can't call sin, "sin". We can't state something is "wrong." We can't look like a Christian. We can't speak like a Christian. If we dare, there is a price. Ridicule, prejudice, even violence.  . . .  Christians are required by the current political climate to restrain their Christianity because the non-Christian, which includes the faithless and those of other faiths, are offended by Christianity.
The Bible specifically states what is and is not sinful. Most of the explanations are in positive ways, such as Jesus’ description of biblical marriage (Matthew 19:3-6), as Adam described in Genesis 2:24. Unfortunately, that doesn’t match what people want today, so instead of changing, they negate the word of God.

There isn't a reason to keep a full list of sins available, but in a couple of verses, Paul offers short list he was inspired to write:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)

I believe he caught me in there with hatred (I’ve been guilty of that!), wrath (sorry – and I do apologize for the temper I display). Envy? Most of that is past. I feel a great contentment and certainly would not trade what I have for any other person’s. But, in the past, that one got me, too. Come on, you can admit it – to yourself at least, no need to tell us – you fit in there somewhere, too, don’t you? If we continue to do such things we shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  He said so, not some mean Christian.

Why wouldn't we inherit? Because He knows what comes next is forsaking the Lord, just as Isaiah saw happen in Judah. Don’t believe it? Look at our own nation today. There is undeniably envy, strife and absolute sedition among a people that have declared God dead and banned the label “sin” as it applies to their lives. Or, as some have done, declared that God may live, but He accepts them and their chosen path – since all roads lead to Him.

Regrettably, that’s not biblical. I don’t know what book they are reading – or have re-written – but my Bible still says:

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)

Good News Translation (GNT): For sin pays its wage—death; but God's free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

American Standard Version (ASV): For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

English Standard Version (ESV): For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Easy-to-Read Version (ERV): When people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. But God gives his people a free gift—eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

And more.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How Precious!

That’s a picture of the Hope Diamond. It is 112 3/16 carat whose color has been described as “violet.” When it ended up in the French royal jewels, it was described as “blue.” I saw it at the Smithsonian and you can read it’s history on their website. It is surrounded by other diamonds, not as large obviously, but still precious jewels.

What is most precious to you?  I doubt that it is jewelry, royal or not. You might agree with John Newton:
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Robert Lloyd Russell, a blogger I read often, posted about “precious” verses, “5 Valuable Items.” He begins with Peter’s description of something most precious!!

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (1 Peter 1:18-19 KJV)

I agree with him – the blood of Christ is a good beginning of such a precious list. John describes why:

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (Revelation 1:5 KJV)

That ties right back into God’s grace:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 KJV)

Jesus spoke of His Father’s gifts:

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:9-11 KJV)

Are we asking for precious gifts? Or settling for polished rocks that just weigh us down? Or, even lesser material.  It will make a difference to us, Paul writes:

According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

As every builder knows, the foundation must be firm.

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Once we have that firm foundation, we must determine how precious is our building:

Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it,

We will be tested:

because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

And, there are consequences:

If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15 KJV)

I titled this with an exclamation – but it’s really a question. What is precious, and how precious is it?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What’s It To You?


It’s massive, isn’t? This is just one small view of the star that provides the just-right warmth of our planet. Mercury isn’t suitable, neither is Venus. Mars lacks what we need, and so do the rest of the planets in our solar system. We’re the little baby bear of this Goldilocks story, just right.

Now, how small does our star appear:


That’s just a small portion of our Milky Way galaxy, and there are probably more galaxies in the universe than stars in the Milky Way. Is your concept of God big enough to have created more than this? Or is He so small that He is only concerned about this miniscule bundle of rock and water?

David’s knowledge of the universe was much less than our, but he acknowledge God was in it:

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. (Psalms 19:1 KJV)

Do we put limitations on God’s ability because David saw Him in a much smaller universe than we know of today?

David also understood the smallness of mankind:

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

Is that how we see ourselves? What are we that God would be mindful of us? How could we possibly be of interest to the creator of the Universe that we are just now beginning to measure? Do you have some of the same questions I have?

Maybe there is a remembrance of what once existed:

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 KJV)

Or, is our awareness (just as it was theirs) that we’ve failed Him? That we accepted the offered temptation, just as Eve did? Just as Adam? Aren’t we hiding – not from God – but from our own errors of judgment?

My apologies – I’m not answering my own questions, but they do lead along thought paths I’m following. Knowing our own smallness in our universe, we apply limitations to God – yet we look for many more of these baby-bear-just-right planets because our imagination can accept they exist. We refuse to believe that life as we would recognize it doesn't exist elsewhere in this vast universe.

We have no proof of this, but we seek to find out. Why not use some of that imaginative ability to seek God - and be rewarded?

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)

Monday, June 16, 2014

What I Am

Sunday morning’s worship service held several songs, but two of them described me so very well.  The first is a Gaither song, “Sinner Saved By Grace,” adapted in a hymnal but not much different from the original lyrics. I would put a link up, but there are so many different places that I’ll let you choose whether you read them or listen to them on a video. The title describes me – I am a sinner saved by God’s grace.

I know I’m a sinner, and I ever so much relate to what Paul wrote:

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

There are some other songs that cover the same thought, but this one is so true for me. It begins: 

If you could see what I once was

… but you don’t have to go that far back. I still leave God’s strait and narrow way He’s provided:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14 KJV)

Yet, He loves me, as ever much as He loves you. John knew that He loved us first:

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

Which brings me to one of the other songs from Sunday morning – God’s Been Good – and other words in that song tell the best part - in my life!!

I feel blessed beyond my wildest dreams when I go to sleep each night
And though I've had my share of hard times, I wouldn't change them if I could
'Cause through it all, God's been good.

If I told you how good you’d either think I was bragging, or you’d think it’s no big deal ‘cause you’ve had better without Him. But – I’ve been blessed by His presence and I love talking with others who know that same blessed feeling.

That’s what I am – a sinner saved by grace and blessed by God.

I’m not alone, either. Oh, there are many that range from ignoring us through making fun of us to those who hate and would harm us simply because we acknowledge the presence of God in our lives and wish to share Him. That’s not new and it won’t go away.

I wish I could say it doesn’t matter, we’ll just ignore them and continue as we are, but God’s love doesn’t work that way. He loved us enough to provide what we need to grow our faith. Why is that faith important?

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV)

Not boasting, I promise! Just sharing how to grow that necessary faith:

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)

So, how does that kind of faith come?

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

That’s why I suggest Bible reading so strongly. They are freely available –,, and my personal favorite, Yes – there are items for purchase, but the free apps for PC, tablets and smartphones include one or two Bible translations. As you know, my preference is KJV, which may not be yours. If you choose another, check the context of the verses I’ve used. Read the surrounding chapters. Get to know the books author, when and where he lived and why he was inspired to write. Use the tools available to you – and share your experience with me. I’d love to hear what you learn. May God bless the reading of His word.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


So, time has passed. I spent two weeks without social media, and I have scads of notes from sermons, Sunday School and verses I had read on my own. Where to start? And that question made me think of Pastor’s Sunday night sermon about questions and answers. It was a good sermon using a question and answer session Jesus had (in Matthew 21 and 22, Luke 20) with a variety of groups, and I have notes on it that I’ll be using later.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a question and answer session with Jesus?

Don’t wait for it, though I do believe we will have such opportunities. Just take a look at the question He asked:

And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? (Luke 9:18 KJV)

The answer came quickly – from more than one person, since the Bible says:

They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. (Luke 9:19 KJV)

They knew their history. They knew of the prophets and the impact their preaching, their fulfilled prophecies, had on the nation of Israel. Jesus had been telling everyone who would listen about God and what He expects from men, and what He has to offer to those who believe following His steps is the way to live. Sounded much as those earlier prophets – and, Jesus spoke with authority. People identified Him with those prophets. But – Jesus had another question:

He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

That, my beloved readers, is the one question we must each answer – no one can answer it for us, no one can make that decision for us. How have you answered it? My answer matches Peter’s:

Peter answering said, The Christ of God. (Luke 9:20 KJV)

The promised Messiah, sent from God to . . . do what?

For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10 KJV)

Those aren’t my words – Jesus spoke them to a large gathering at Zacchaeus’ house. Those words answer Pilate’s question:

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? 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 KJV)

Pilate had an earlier question – and Jesus gave Him the truth in answer:

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 KJV)

Jesus knew who He was, where He was, why He was here. Can we say the same? What are our answers to those same questions?