Sunday, November 30, 2014
This graphic is a screen capture, cropped from a much larger photo of a powerful wave. There’s no biblical application I found in the photo, but it does remind me of grief – the power and the crushing ability grief has in our lives, and there are plenty of examples of grief in the Bible.
I cannot imagine the grief Adam and Eve experienced:
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (Genesis 3:23-24 KJV)
There is no returning to Eden, for them or for us. We don’t even have their memory of being with God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, (Genesis 3:8b)
What we feel is the loss of loved ones, always stronger during holidays when families are usually at their closest. I can remember Christmas with my parents. That ceased in 1995 when my Mom went home to be with our Lord and again in 2000 for my Dad. I cannot imagine the waves of grief for a spouse, for a child, but I see the pain in family and friends.
How do we handle these waves of grief? I don’t know about others, but for me, it’s laying burdens on my Lord.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 KJV)
This is the same Lord who promised us a Comforter:
If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:15-18 KJV)
He did not leave us comfortless, and the Comforter has specific responsibilities:
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:26-27 KJV)
The Holy Ghost, even the Spirit of truth, is with us to teach us and to bring Christ’s words to us. In return, we get peace. Not the peace we’re always seeking in this world (and seem never to reach) but God’s peace:
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7 KJV)
There’s the true answer – Jesus, Christ, Son of God, Prince of Peace – and so many other names, including Lamb of God. That’s how I work through the waves of grief, which are just as real as that one in the graphic. Strong enough to knock us down, drag us under, and pull us back - without the strength we gain from our Lord. May He provide that same peace to all who seek and need Him.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
I have blogged about current events in the past, but I’ve stayed away from writing about Ferguson, Missouri. I was having a hard time putting my feelings into words – and no verse came to mind. Until yesterday when I was introduced to Benjamin Watson and his November 25 Facebook post.
He was angry, frustrated, fearful, embarrassed, sad, sympathetic, offended, confused, introspective, hopeless, hopeful and encouraged – and he articulated each of those feelings very well. I found myself agreeing with them, but from a different perspective – until the last paragraph. There we were in the same book:
I'M ENCOURAGED, because ultimately the problem is not a SKIN problem, it is a SIN problem. SIN is the reason we rebel against authority. SIN is the reason we abuse our authority. SIN is the reason we are racist, prejudiced and lie to cover for our own. SIN is the reason we riot, loot and burn.Rebelling against authority is not confined to Ferguson, MO, is it? We do it every time we go against God’s will. That is applicable to every human who walks on this earth – and to Satan:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8 KJV)
Mr. Wilson is also encouraged because:
BUT I'M ENCOURAGED because God has provided a solution for sin through the his son Jesus and with it, a transformed heart and mind. One that's capable of looking past the outward and seeing what's truly important in every human being. . . . It's the Gospel. So, finally, I'M ENCOURAGED because the Gospel gives mankind hope.There are two sides to every dividing incident in life. Our goal should be that the gospel – the good news – be part of the healing if it cannot be spread before as prevention.
Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:17-18 KJV)
I have not taken these verses out of context, but there is so much more in this chapter! We need to spend time there, to understand God’s love for everyone and our need to express that as we share our love with others:
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21 KJV)
Do we really need to ask who our “brother” is? Hasn’t our Lord shown us in His own life? Did He not die that all could come to hear of the salvation offered?
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1 Timothy 2:4-6 KJV)
Who are we to determine any person is not worthy to come “unto the knowledge of the truth”? That any person does not fall under “a ransom for all”?
Instead, let us spend time in prayer and preparation that we might be ready:
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)
Friday, November 28, 2014
It’s an easy word, showing up in sentences where we wish to indicate more than one person. “They” are the people we we see daily, talk with on a regular basis, see through as we walk past them, make us angry when we drive. “They” are everyone except us.
We also use the term too often when speaking of people who oppose us. “They” disagree with us. “They” don’t know what “they” are doing. “They” is often used in political discussions, but too often used in religious ones, too:
“They” don’t have the same (insert doctrine, service, prayer, dress, etc.) that “we” do.We seldom use it when speaking of people who agree. “They” then become “we.” “We” can work together to get things done. It would be good to remind ourselves that our Lord often used the word “ye.”
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 KJV)
Decide for yourself, which pronoun are you? Do you fit the “ye”, where ye are supposed to “Go … and teach all nations”, or are you to be taught? Do you “observe all things” He commanded? Do you believe He is with you always, feeling His presence – even when you are uncomfortable with it?
Knowing where we fit in these biblical pronouns helps us understand much more. It’s similar to understanding where Luke was as we read the book of Acts. He describes the activities of the apostles in a timeline, mostly using “they”, but there comes a time when it is obvious he is traveling with Paul when the pronoun changes to “we.”
And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. (Acts 16:8-10 KJV)
See how a pronoun change also changed a perspective? Before, the author depended on someone’s narrative to know what happened. After, he writes from his own experience.
So, how we use pronouns tells a great deal of how we experienced the narrative we are giving. I try to be aware of this in writing my blog. A good portion of it will be direct quotes from the Bible, but even those quotes are ones I’ve selected. Sometimes there are direct quotes from other sources, too, which must be identified by setting in paragraphs apart. Every selection and every surrounding word are mine and I must be able to take responsibility for what I write, what I say and what I do.
So must we all.
I do apologize for rambling (a bit more than usual, I think!), but I’m concerned that there are divisions where there should not be. There is also healing and companionship available:
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6 KJV)
Thursday, November 27, 2014
This graphic came from Ukrainiac.wordpress.com. Sometimes a search for a graphic to go along with a thought process brings unexpected blessings. During our time of thanks giving, pray for the people of Ukraine, and for our world leaders. God knows they need it and we do, too. We’ve been told to give thanks in everything:
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 KJV)
Here, nothing is lost in the differing translations of the Bible. We are to look for reasons to rejoice, always. We are to be in prayer – in touch with God - always. We are to find reasons for thankfulness, always. These are themes throughout the Bible.
Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. (1 Chronicles 16:8 KJV)
That’s just the first verse calling for us to “Give thanks” in chapter 16. David pitched a tent for the returning Ark, then delivered a Psalm to Asaph, most of which we find in Psalm 105. I love how it opens:
O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. (Psalms 105:1-4 KJV)
Because I know the Lord, I can give thanks unto Him, call upon His name at any time – and I certainly desire to make known how He has worked in my own life, praying people will allow Him to do so in theirs. Even in illness – my own and my loved ones – we can sing to and about Him, tell of His wondrous works – in our lives as well as through eternity – rejoice with those who seek Him and share their joy as well.
Whether it’s Psalm 107:1 or 118:29 – we’ll join in:
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalms 118:1 KJV)
For those two things are quite sufficient to be thankful. Then, He went much further:
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)
Before we acknowledged Him, before we considered loving Him, He loved us to lay the foundation for our adoption – even before this world was created:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: (1 Corinthians 2:7 KJV)
Not just on a day set aside for Thanksgiving, but forever rejoicing, give thanks unto the Lord while seeking to know Him better and better.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV)
Last night we held our Thanksgiving service. It’s a small change in schedule to help make it easier for families to get together for Thanksgiving Day.
It was a time for personal testimonies as well as biblical studies. A time to share our gratitude to God. Let me assure you, there were some testimonies given under circumstances which would make you wonder why a person could be grateful.
No, I will not go into specifics, but I will state that those people who spoke their gratitude in public are living proof that first verse can be done under the most adverse of circumstances. Which bring us to today’s graphic – taken in France in 1917. Can you imagine this widow and fatherless child considering thanks?
Perhaps James had similar in mind when he wrote:
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)
That’s not the first mention of widows and fatherless, though:
Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. (Exodus 22:22 KJV)
God defined the punishment for such affliction:
If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. (Exodus 22:23-24 KJV)
The New Testament gives the scenario covered with mercy, but consequences remain. There is good reason for us to consider consequences, for Peter told us:
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Peter 4:17-18 KJV)
Too many people have relied upon another verse:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7:1 KJV)
In the next sentence, Jesus tells us He knows we will be judging:
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:2 KJV)
How we treat others openly displays our judgment of them. Are we prepared for that same judgment to be applied to us? Are we prepared for God’s perfect judgment as described by Moses:
Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deuteronomy 32:3-4 KJV)
Thanks be to God that our righteousness is determined by our response to His gift:
For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) (Romans 5:17 KJV)
I believe that is the reason that so many could publicly give thanks last night, in spite of physical and personal difficulties, and we all could pray:
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV)
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
We believe good parents set specific rules for their children, for their own good. Parents who want their children to succeed lay a foundation of education, nutrition and physical activities that broaden a child’s experiences, teaching them to interact with others while growing physically and intellectually.
My husband's early years lacked that. His parents were young, poor and soon separated, first by war. His father was drafted and sent away from the family. His mother was torn between her own children’s need and the needs of her father and siblings when her mother died, she being the eldest. Their separation ended in divorce, remarriages, separation of children and eventually Department of Human Services intervention, needed to care for neglected children.
Adoption brought my husband and his brother parents that set specific rules, education, etc., changing their interaction within society. Yet, it was their own decisions to follow these rules and parental examples that brought them success. They could have rebelled - many do.
This has always been a good example of our own response to adoption:
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Romans 8:15 KJV)
We are given the opportunity to be the children of a loving father, who has set specific rules for us. Even after we acknowledge His existence, we often ignore His rules, His guidelines given for our own growth. He does offer the best for us:
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:11-13 KJV)
We’ve all seen parents who are quick to give a raised voice or a heavy fist. Not all parents are loving or wish their children success – but God does. And He prepared well ahead of time, before we could understand:
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-12 KJV)
Because of what He has done for us, what He has given to us now and what is promised for our future, shouldn’t we be aware of His rules, His plans and expectations? Should we try to turn them into what we want? Ignore them? Only at our own peril:
Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:1-3 KJV)
Monday, November 24, 2014
I can’t tell from the white here, but they are Half Square Triangles, each square consists of two triangles of different fabric. They have been sewn together as two 5” squares, cut apart to make two squares, in the process of being trimmed to 4.5”, then will be sewn together in rows which will then be sewn together and resemble a Texas flag. It’s a Christmas gift. This quilt will be reversible – a panel showing a Texas map with points of interest, a flowing flag and cowboy graphics, surrounded with western style borders. Great gift for a Texan, right?
As my husband asked, “How far have you gotten?” His concern (of course) is that this is the third quilt for Christmas and here it is past mid-November. I explained that first paragraph to him and his response was, “Do you realize how strange it sounds to say you sewed it together to cut it apart then cut it down so you can sew it together?”
OK, so it’s not simple for a non-participant to understand the piecing process in creating a quilt top. Watch a video or two by Missouri Star Quilt and it will make better sense. But – it does remind me of Christianity. You knew I’d get there, right?
Salvation really is easy:
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)
I’ve used that verse over and over because it is an absolute truth. Believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. However, after salvation comes the desire to know God. Like the cloth I purchased for the quilt, we can be an example just as we are when we are saved. But – to become the beautiful eye-catching pattern that creates an interest to learn more in another person, we are changed to fit where God desires our service, connected to others to complete a pattern where we are seen as Christians, not just called “Christian” because we belong to a church. That’s helpful, but only to us if we simply sit in a pew.
Oh, I’m getting my analogies all confused, but the meaning is clearly biblical:
And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:15-17 KJV)
We are new, putting forth effort to show the light of the world, as Jesus did:
As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. (John 9:5 KJV)
He is no longer in the world, but sitting at the right hand of God. We’re told that in many verses, but I like this one best:
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (Acts 2:33 KJV)
Because it shows the fulfillment of another verse:
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15:26 KJV)
Just as my pieced quilt top, I’m not finished yet and God is not finished with me. There is more to come, more time for me to continue my work and His.
Sunday, November 23, 2014
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (Ephesians 5:11-12 KJV)
Beginning in Genesis 2:25 where the man and his wife were not ashamed, ending with 1 John 2:28 where we will have confidence and not be ashamed at His coming, there are 111 verses using the word "ashamed." I was surprised at how many spoke of NOT being ashamed, though most spoke of how people were a shamed. Ninety-eight verses contain the word "shame"
I like Strong's definition of the Hebrew שׁמצה (H8103) from Exodus 32:25: Scornful whispering (of hostile spectators). And בּוּשׁ (H954) from Psalms 119:31: To be disappointed ... be confounded. Then there's the Greek αἰσχύνη (G152) from Hebrews 12:2 - which Christ despised: Disgrace.
We've gotten away from this feeling. There are things spoken of in our homes that are shameful. Well, maybe not in homes without television, computers or smartphones. Those communication devices bring programming and social media that often display things we would not invite into our homes, but there they are.
I find them in mine. I enjoy Facebook, but there are posts that contain words I will not speak. Often they are posted by family members. When that’s consistent, I’ve had to “deFriend,” causing rifts. But I don’t want to appear to support such words/photos. It’s biblical:
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, (Ephesians 5:15 KJV)
And, as always, there’s more to it than one simple verse:
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:16-20 KJV)
How can we possibly understand what the will of the Lord is until we know what has been written about Him? Not just one person’s interaction with Him, but hundreds, across even more hundred of years. Look at a preponderance of evidence. That’s a process used in genealogy as well as trials:
… the greater weight of the evidence required in a civil (non-criminal) lawsuit for the trier of fact (jury or judge without a jury) to decide in favor of one side or the other. This preponderance is based on the more convincing evidence and its probable truth or accuracy, and not on the amount of evidence.Of course, I’m a very biased reporter – I have personal evidence of what a difference God makes in lives. I know specific prayers and their answers – some not positive, but obviously within His will. I believe because I’ve done my own searching, learning, studying, praying and understanding. Thus I know this is a personal journey as each one moves along those paths. I’ve seen loved ones side-tracked by huge stumbling blocks and I pray for their return to:
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; (Psalms 105:4-5 KJV)
Friday, November 21, 2014
The photo is a screen capture from CNN today. The caption reads:
A student protester runs after he caught on fire while throwing a Molotov cocktail toward police Wednesday, November 19, in Makassar, Indonesia. He was among those protesting the decision of President Joko Widodo to raise fuel prices this week.
A terrible price to pay for one’s action when not taking into consideration unforeseen consequences. Yet, part of the problem across our world today is a feeling that we humans are entitled to do as we please -- that things that stand in our way of doing or getting what we want can be violently opposed without consequences.
The Bible has example after example of that not being the case. In fact, last Wednesday’s study in II Kings 1 is a good example. Our study series is on the life of Elijah, who stood against Ahab and Jezebel. This chapter takes place after Ahab’s death and his son takes the throne:
Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned two years over Israel. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in the way of his mother, and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin: For he served Baal, and worshipped him, and provoked to anger the LORD God of Israel, according to all that his father had done. (1 Kings 22:51-53 KJV)
In !! Kings 1, he starts out injured, in need of help, and looking for it in the wrong direction:
And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease. (2 Kings 1:2 KJV)
Absolutely the wrong thing to do – there were consequences, and the Lord sent Elijah to explain them:
But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed. (2 Kings 1:3-4 KJV)
The next few verses are worth reading for yourself, but know this – Ahaziah recognized the source of the prophecy without being told Elijah’s name. So he sent a “captain of 50 with his 50” to bring Elijah to him. The captain reached Elijah and commanded, “Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down.” They died. The next captain of fifty said, “O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly.” They died.
The next captain of 50 had a bit more common sense and good judgment:
And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. (2 Kings 1:13 KJV)
Is it really a good thing to pour gasoline on a fire? Isn’t it better to see the preciousness of life and work toward a solution? Read the rest of the story – see how it worked for this captain of 50 – and for Ahaziah, and why. What lessons can we gain to keep from catching on fire ourselves?
And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. (Numbers 22:1-2 KJV)
These next few chapters in Numbers tell a story of Balaam – whose name has been carried forward as a stumbling block, though he was in conversations with God:
And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee? And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying, Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out. (Numbers 22:9-11 KJV)
Balaam was truthful in his conversation with God – Balak requested that Israel be cursed, that Balak would be able to drive them out of Moab. God gave His answer:
And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed. (Numbers 22:12 KJV)
Unlike Jonah and so many others who heard from God, Balaam responded exactly as he had been told:
And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you. And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us. (Numbers 22:13-14 KJV)
Then this story diverges. Balak didn’t give up. He continued to press Balaam, offering more and more:
For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people. (Numbers 22:17 KJV)
Balaam still sounds good:
And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more. (Numbers 22:18 KJV)
Whole different story, if it had ended there – but it continues for additional verses, more chapters. Why? When Balaam can only give blessings for Israel. The Pulpit Commentary gives good reason:
God was angry with Balaam for going at all on such an errand. It is true that God had given him permission to go, but that very permission was a judicial act whereby God punished the covetous and disobedient longings of Balaam in allowing him to have his own way. God's anger is kindled by sin, and it was not less truly sin which prompted Balaam to go because he had succeeded in obtaining formal leave to go.Balaam’s actions were not that of a prophet of God, but a diviner, a soothsayer, paid by those who came to him for answers – a money-maker. I also like how the Pulpit Commentary explains that the miracle of the ass seeing the angel and speak was a lesson:
which was to exhibit in such a striking manner the stupidity and blindness of the most brilliant and gifted intellect when clouded by greed and selfishness.Thinking we're doing what God says without giving ourselves to the will of God can be a similar stumbling block. Going through the motions of a religious ritual without seeking God’s companionship thwarts what He requires of us:
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 6:8 KJV)
This Balaam did not do.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
We know a lot about David, King of Israel. There’s no doubt he loved the Lord and knew the Lord loved him:
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. (Psalms 139:17-18 KJV)
This entire Psalm is filled with David’s awe at how God knows him – and how much more he wants God to know:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24 KJV)
Do we want that same relationship? We would need to acknowledge all that God knows about us:
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. (Psalms 139:2-4 KJV)
Can we accept that God knows us better than anyone else? Can we accept that He knows everyone in that same manner? The person that gives us concern, God not only knows our concern but knows them as well as He knows us. And, He loves them, too. Enough to make them the same gift:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)
It is a beautiful gift:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)
What happens if we refuse it?
How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:3 KJV)
I believe we’ve been told what happens if we neglect God’s salvation back in Romans 6:23. If you doubt that, please explain to my why.
If not, then you must believe, as I do, that God exists, has spoken to us through the ages and cares about what we do now. That hundreds of years after David wrote:
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalms 8:4 KJV)
...the writer of Hebrews quotes:
But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Hebrews 2:6 KJV)
... and two millennia later, we’re discussing both as scripture. We should study why, shouldn’t we?
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Last Saturday we celebrated my daughter’s birthday. Her birthday wasn’t on that date, but it was convenient for a number of family and friends to gather and show their love and appreciation for her. We all knew it wasn’t the right day, but that didn’t change the celebration.
Which brings me to Christmas. December 25th is not Christ’s birth by any provable method. There are a number of reasons why it would not be His birth date, but I’m going to celebrate His birth anyway. The date is not a problem for me any more than Saturday was a problem for celebrating my daughter.
I don’t wait around for Christmas to celebrate my Savior, either. Every Sunday I celebrate His life and recognize His resurrection by worshipping with our local congregation. We sing hymns of rejoicing, remembrance and raise our voices while we . . .
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. (Psalms 98:4 KJV)
Christ told us to remember His last supper:
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. (1 Corinthians 11:23-25 KJV)
But no where in the Bible are we told we must do anything in remembrance of His birth. I do remember it each year, though, as a part of God’s love, expressed in His word:
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)
And, because I love Him:
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)
I believe Luke interviewed Mary, which gives us a close look at the reality of Jesus’ birth. I think of how hard it must have been for her to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem. I wonder how large the group was that made the trip? Were they tempted to linger in Jerusalem, or did they press on without stopping, reaching Bethlehem too late for a room at the inn?
Were there women traveling with them, or was it just Mary and Joseph at our Lord’s birth? How did she feel when the shepherd’s arrived?
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. (Luke 2:16-18 KJV)
Why ignore this beautiful story of His birth? Why not celebrate it at a given time each year?
Oh – because that time coincides with pagan worship? What time doesn’t? Because that time has been commercialized beyond reasonable limits? Ignore the commercialization. It’s that easy. Do not give into peer pressure or other people’s expectations. Lovingly make gifts if desired, but realize buying power will never display love.
Do not celebrate Christmas if it does not hold the gospel message for you. Do not celebrate Christmas if you cannot celebrate His resurrection. Do not celebrate Christ’s birth if Christ is not a part of daily life. It becomes a distraction, doesn’t it?
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Yesterday I received a forwarded e-mail with some “Christian one-liners”:
Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spiritedThat’s something a visiting preacher just included in a sermon. I heard it as I was comfortably ensconced in my regular right side, third row, where I sit every service. Fortunately, I know that I will be kind, welcoming and smiling when I welcome new people who are seated in that spot – it’s happened before.
until you try to sit in their pews.
It is easier to preach ten sermonsThat’s not a joke. That’s true. Preaching is really easy – simply use scripture. It can be read aloud and have the same awesome truth as when it was first given. Living what we read, believe, is much more difficult.
Than it is to live one.
Some minds are like concreteThat’s no joke, either. While there is absolute truth, we must be open to His word as we learn more and more from one scripture. Take the Sermon on the Mount as an example. When I first read it, I did not realize the progression from poor in spirit to the point where one is reviled for their beliefs. It took several lessons before I could see that Jesus went up into a mountain and called His disciples – was this sermon for them, not multitudes?
Thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.
We're called to be witnesses, not lawyers or judges.Again, where’s the joke? Non-believers are very quick to quote scripture:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7:1 KJV)
I’m always tempted to come back with the following verse, but that’s not what Christ gave as the Great Commission:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:20 KJV)
“All things” would include Matthew 7:1, so we’d better be certain we teach it and not ignore it while we would like to focus on 7:2.
God loves everyone,Now that one did bring a smile – but, again, there’s truth here. We’ve been told what the fruit of the spirit is:
but probably prefers 'fruits of the spirit' over 'religious nuts!'
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)
We’ve also been told specifically what pure religion is:
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)
That goes back to living that one sermon, right?
Monday, November 17, 2014
Back in 2010, when I was teaching Junior High Girls, we spent at least ten months giving our Youth an in-depth study of Ephesians. We covered maybe a verse or two at a time, but I don’t think we spent enough time on two verses.
The one above is the first verse. We covered “… be filled with the spirit” quite well and I’m certain we mentioned that the hymns and spiritual singing we (and special groups) do in our services is part of that filling with the spirit. But I don’t think we spent enough time on “making melody in your heart to the Lord."
What’s on your iPod/iPhone/MP3/TV or radio setting/CD player when it comes to music? Country western? What do we hear when we drive in city streets? Hard rock? I have it fairly easy – [at the original writing] my car is experiencing electrical difficulties, no radio, no player. So I listen to my iPhone. I have more than twelve hours of hymns and gospel music there, along with some great sermons. Isn’t that wonderful?
Beloved Husband’s CD player works fine in his truck. But only one CD played in it for months – our Easter cantata. I wake up in the morning with the music and words running through my mind: Isn’t the love of Jesus wonderful? And that’s a rhetorical question – I know the love of Jesus IS wonderful. And it is making a beautiful melody in my heart to hear those words over and over again.
Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Which one is going through your mind right now as you think of them? Did you almost break into song thinking of them? Do you look for any excuse for a song?
From David’s psalms, through Fanny Crosby’s hymns into Mark Lowry’s spiritual songs, they come to mind because I’ve heard them over and over again! Loving them each and every time. Which brings us to that second, slightly overlooked verse:
Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:20 KJV)
Always for all things. I do believe making melodies in my heart makes it much easier to give thanks for all things in all ways. Even when sadness overcomes, there’s a hymn that comes to mind. Mentioned recently is the comforting “It Is Well With My Soul.”
So, what melody will you be making this week? What song will well up in your heart and lift you closer to God?
Sunday, November 16, 2014
The Rochester Family’s album “Following The Leader” has several songs that run through my mind. “Don’t It Make You Want To Go” is one of them. Every time I hear it I think of the untold half.
And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. (1 Kings 10:4-7 KJV)
Sheba came to Solomon with a purpose:
And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. (1 Kings 10:1 KJV)
People with questions still seek out those who have been blessed by the Lord, wanting to know more and often their questions are hard. That much hasn’t changed.
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)
Are we ready to answer? That’s one reason I spend time with God’s word. How could I possibly be able to answer to anyone why I have hope if I’m not familiar with what He’s given us?
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? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:13-15 KJV)
That first sentence why I say that salvation is simple. However, it is absolutely necessary that we understand what “call upon” means; what “the name of the Lord” means and what is salvation? There we moved into the next sentences – and the need for those beautiful feet!
I have always been ready to give an answer to anyone who asks me why I believe that God is, why Jesus was born – and died – and why it is so important that our best hope is through His resurrection. But even that is not even half the story that’s written – and a small percentage of the whole story laid out for us. Come. Read with me.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
This picture was taken in 1942. The two men were best friends from the age of five, when the one on the left moved to a farm near the one on the right, my Dad. Their friendship lasted a lifetime, though there were many differences in their likes and dislikes. One thing they had in common was their love of our Lord. Even though they differed in some doctrinal questions, they both shared that love, between themselves and with others.
While I know none of the six were perfect, I doubt they fit into these categories:
For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: (1 Peter 4:3 KJV)
Perhaps they lost friends because they didn’t fit it:
Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: (1 Peter 4:4 KJV)
That can happen to new Christians, their old friends think it strange that they no longer do the things they used to, things that were in excess or matched verse 3. They not only think it strange, they talk about the strangeness.
New Christians enjoy different things – going to church, fellowship with other believers, learning more and more about God and how He works in our lives. The sad thing is, some drop out of these activities. I did, for several years. I stopped learning. I stopped attending.
It really didn’t take long before I ached – first for a place where I could worship the Lord, make a joyful noise before Him and feel His presence.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (Isaiah 55:6 KJV)
It may cost friends, but it will bring blessings. Guaranteed:
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. (Matthew 5:11 KJV)
There’s that speaking evil of us, again. It’s worth it:
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:12 KJV)
We’d be in good company then, wouldn’t we? Most certainly among friends!!
Friday, November 14, 2014
That was Pastor’s sermon title Sunday. There were several verses he gave us, but the center was a verse that is at the bottom of my blog page where I ask people to think before leaving comments:
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)
I have had comments that did not fit anywhere within that description, and I’ve deleted them. It is quite possible to say things that are true, honest, just pure, lovely, of good report, with virtue and praise that do take a completely different path the the one I’ve written. Those stay, even if I do not agree with their point of view.
For example – even though the flowers in the graphic are lovely – and most would agree – none of us would select them and their “stems” for a wedding bouquet. Carrying prickly pear cactus down the aisle may not be at the top of my list, but someone may disagree with me there, too.
We determine what goes into our minds much the same way we determine what goes into our mouth. Intake nourishes, and incorrect intake provides the wrong nourishment, doesn’t it? What do we choose to see with our eyes? Job made a decision about that:
I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid? (Job 31:1 KJV)
Job made a specific decision not to look at a woman other than his wife. Similarly, Daniel made a covenant to keep himself pure:
But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself. (Daniel 1:8 KJV)
How are they any better than we? Did they have a closer relationship with God? Only by our own choice. Job served God, and basically was allowed to be an example. Daniel was taken by a conquering army and placed in a sumptuous prison. Want to trade places with either one of them?
Yet, in our own luxury (don’t deny it – we do live in comparative luxury according to time and place) we have not made these covenants, these contracts, with our senses to keep them focused on those things we’ve been told. Or, have you?
I have set some boundaries across which I will neither go nor invite into my life. That means I’m the last to know about some celebrities who display lifestyles in media that fall beyond those boundaries. Yet, headlines introduce their names, also giving me reasons why I should not learn more about them. No – I will not give recent examples. I will not give them space on this screen nor more time in my mind.
Yes, that is making a judgment about their lifestyle. Why not? We have an instruction book that has well defined what offers us the best nourishment and growth pattern. The Bible not only prepared me for a life beyond this one, it prepares me for the abundant life now.
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:9-10 KJV)
Thursday, November 13, 2014
You have to be a certain age for this to make sense, but it really is a good joke on anyone who determined that there would be a time when we could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted.
The true key is determining what we want to do, isn’t it?
Frank Abagnale’s story, told in book and movie, glamorized a life lived as he pleased, but one he describes as, “the justification of a fantasy.” We know what we want, we don’t know if it is the best thing for us. That’s nothing new. The book of Judges mentions doing “right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, 21:25) and Solomon mentions it, too:
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2 KJV)
A variety of terms have been used among different generations. Too often it resembles Polonius’ advice to Laertes:
Without the accompanying desired results:
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
My generation had many who set out to find themselves, and forgot to look beyond themselves. Some believed headlines telling us “God is Dead,” and the articles that told us such a belief was simply illogical and unnecessary. Maybe our parents needed such a crutch, but no more. That’s no newer than David”s Psalm:
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. (Psalms 14:1a KJV)
Seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being is usually without regard for anything or anyone else. Such selfishness breaks all kinds of relationships. It can make us false to people we say we love, but do not put their love uppermost in our lives.
Our relationship with God requires unselfish love, devoted to Him.
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. (Matthew 22:37-38 KJV)
This is a strange, compelling love, that although it takes all of our heart, soul and mind, there’s love left over for the second commandment:
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Matthew 22:39 KJV)
This is the Greek ἀγαπάω (agapaō) love, in both verses. Not φιλέω (phileō), to be a friend to or fond of some one/thing. Rather than simply “having affection for” or a “sentiment or feeling about”, ἀγαπάω is defined as “wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety.” I like the distinction between the two definitions. I made a choice to love God, deliberately consenting to His commands.
That has worked very well for me!! No – I have not been able to do as I pleased. But, I have been pleased with what I am able to do as a follower of Christ. I trust my Lord to have my best interests and to be much more knowledgeable about my future than anyone else. He sees me through His own mercy and grace. For that I am eternally grateful. Because He has made changes in my heart, I see this scripture fulfilled:
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)
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. (Isaiah 64:4 KJV)
I have mentioned before that I anticipate a heavenly reunion and have requested of our Lord a picnic under the Tree of Life, beside the River of life . . . (Revelation 22:1-2) . . . where I could reminisce with people I’ve never met – the ones who carried the gospel across the ages and finally to my ears.
However, according to Isaiah and Paul, that won’t be near enough:
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV)
Except – that God has been revealing:
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:10-12 KJV)
Because of Jesus, whose death could not stop His message . . .
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8 KJV)
. . . we know more of God’s kingdom than we can understand. It must be accepted by faith:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
We’ve been told in parable after parable about the kingdom of heaven. Yet we continue to seek only things here on earth. We’ve been told over and over again in God’s word that He is in control, even when the “princes of this world” “crucified the Lord of glory.”
A quote from Psychology Today, based on controlled experiments, caught my eye:
The tendency to let expectation be our guide can cause even those of us who are intelligent, experienced, and well-trained to overlook some startlingly obvious things.One experiment used prepared x-rays. Researchers asked radiologists to search for lung cancer:
Unknown to the radiologists, though, the researchers had inserted into the x-rays a picture of something no professional would ever expect to see: a gorilla. The picture of the gorilla wasn’t tiny; it was about 45 times the size of the average cancerous lung nodule – or about the size of a matchbook in your lung.Delve into God’s word with a single expectation – that you will learn. Go beneath the surface of the words and learn the personal application. As I’ve said so many times before – be a Berean:
How many of the radiologists spotted the gorilla?
Very few. Some 83 percent of the radiologists missed the gorilla – even though eye-tracking showed that most of them had looked right at it.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11 KJV)
Search the scriptures, daily, to see whether these things are so.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
November 11 is set aside to remember those who offered their lives to keep their country safe. Originally set aside to remember that war to end war (which it quite obviously did not) and dedicated to peace, it was expanded in the United States to include all veterans. Those citizens who care enough for their country and fellowman to provide protection.
In 2009, in Bakersfield, California, residents both remembered and honored such men this year. Proof that such citizens are not without friends, though they may die alone. Not as casualties of war, for their services spent were in Korea and Viet Nam. Those who honored them, though they did not know the men, attended their final services.
I cannot imagine an American family without a family member serving their county in our military. Self, husband, father, uncle, brother, son, wife, mother, daughter, aunt, grand-child, a plethora of in-laws. Think of them. Can you name them? Name the branches of service? Think of poppies?
The poppies come from a Canadian’s poem:
Who do you remember this Remembrance Day? If they are near, thank them. If they are not, find a veteran and thank them. If you cannot find one, try my husband, my brothers-in-law, my son-in-law, my grandson, dozens of friends. Just contact me – I’ll give you a list. They must be your friends, for Christ tells us:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 KJV)
Monday, November 10, 2014
Rocks and stones are found throughout the Bible, and they usually denote strength and a good foundation. God truly is the rock of our salvation, as David proclaimed:
The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation. (2 Samuel 22:47 KJV)
And just as often in the Psalms:
In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. (Psalms 62:7 KJV)
It’s repeated, often:
O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. (Psalms 95:1 KJV)
God provided salvation for those who love Him, prophesied in the scriptures, then fulfilled in the New Testament. The very cornerstone of our belief is Jesus. More than once we’re told about the corner stone that God has in mind:
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16 KJV)
Jesus mentions that during His ministry:
Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? (Matthew 21:42 KJV)
Paul explained it to the people of Ephesus:
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (Ephesians 2:20 KJV)
Peter, too, explains in his letter:
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1 Peter 2:6-8 KJV)
Because I believe the Lord has provided all He promised, I’m looking forward to white stone He has described:
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17 KJV)
Rocks can be stumbling blocks or building blocks. How we see them often determines how we use them. Do we see ourselves building our lives on rocks, or sand, as Jesus described:
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 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 7:24-27 KJV)
Hearing without doing does not provide the rock on which we must build.
Sunday, November 9, 2014
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
(Psalms 51:2-3 KJV)
I experienced a Temporary Error – actually, more than one – with an internet application. One instruction was to clear the browsing data and I noticed the option above – obliterate from the beginning of time. Which reminded me of a couple of Bible verses (naturally!)
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:10-12 KJV)
Isn’t that wonderful? He removed our transgressions from us! Actually, when Jesus did that, it got Him into a lot of trouble:
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. (Matthew 9:2-6 KJV)
He not only had the ability to forgive sin, He explained why he did it – that we may know He has the power to do so. A forgiven Christian is grateful for that forgiveness – but does do sinful things, even after that forgiveness. It is because we can and know we won’t be punished? Not hardly:
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. (Romans 6:14-17 KJV)
Professing Christianity while continuing to commit known sins is hypocritical and can give the appearance of not having accepted Christ as savior. At the very least, it will negate a person’s testimony about Jesus as savior, giving doubt to His ability to bring changes to lives. The lack is ours, not His.
So, we end up back at fruit. Go ahead, look back several days – fruit pops us now and again, for good reason:
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. (Romans 6:21-22 KJV)
Saturday, November 8, 2014
And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. (1 Kings 19:1-2 KJV)
We’ve been looking at Elijah’s life on Wednesday nights. A couple of weeks ago, Pastor’s lesson was on Elijah facing down Baal’s prophets and priests – 850 people that Jezebel supported at the king’s table (1 Kings 18:19.) There had been no rain for over three years and Elijah made an offer to the people:
And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. (1 Kings 18:24 KJV)
The scene is described in the remainder of chapter 18 – Baal was powerless, God all powerful, false priests died, rains came and Ahab went home to his wife to tell her all that Elijah had done. She didn’t like it. She vowed that if she had not killed Elijah by the next day, let the gods kill her. Elijah left:
And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers. (1 Kings 19:3-4 KJV)
We had just seen how powerful God is, Elijah himself was the center of attention in that proof. But now he was not only headed away from perceived danger, but asking for death.
Before blaming him for lack of faith or for not seeking God’s will in the matter, take an inventory of the times we’ve done the same thing. Oh, not fearing Jezebel, but fearing the unknown – right after we’d seen evidence of God’s mercy and love. Is our life really in God’s hands – or have we taken back the burdens and not trusted Him to provide? Feeling lonely in your battles? Elijah did, mentioning it twice in conversation with God:
And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah? And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away. (1 Kings 19:9-10 KJV)
Again in verses 13 and 14, Elijah cries out his aloneness – but God knows better:
Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him. (1 Kings 19:18 KJV)
That’s not a lot in the national of Israel, is it? Perhaps there are not a lot today who have not bowed against God, but we can be certain we are no more alone than Elijah was, no matter how it feels. The reality is our fears are not warranted. Our God is able. Can we be as able as three Jewish men:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. (Daniel 3:16-18 KJV)
Friday, November 7, 2014
Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. (Genesis 6:14-15 KJV)
I had the privilege of knowing Pastor Jason Pugh as a teen and through his college years. Even though he has moved away to take a church of his own, it remains a pleasure to read his thoughts, including one posted last Thursday:
The structure of the ark is also a type of Christ and salvation in that it was designed to float rather than sail. You see the passengers on the ark had no capabilities of sailing the ark; the ark was in the complete control of God. In like manner the way of salvation is wholly of grace and wholly of God. Man does not sail the ship of salvation. Man’s salvation is not dependent upon him skillfully sailing through the flood waters of judgment by his merited works, but rather he is called to come to the ark, he is sealed in the ark, and he rests in the ark as God shelters him.The Bible does not mention how people spoke to Noah about his activity. It doesn’t tell us they argued with him, nor does it mention they ignored him. I wish It did, but we’re just told that Noah did as he was commanded, as did his family, and they were saved as the waters rose.
I believe that Pastor Pugh has given a beautiful analogy and it reminds me of several scriptures:
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13 KJV)
I like that John was concerned about our knowledge of eternal life. I like that he wanted us to know what happens when we believe. He repeats the thought often in his books, even in Jesus’ words:
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3 KJV)
That’s Christ, giving thanks to God before He died for us. Then there’s this one that Paul wrote to Timothy – I can’t repeat it, though, without breaking into song once I get to: “For I know whom …..”:
For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: 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 1:12 KJV)
My Lord has shown me over and over again that He provides – we do not earn:
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)
I am persuaded, too:
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 KJV)