Wednesday, July 30, 2014

So, Do You Go To Church?

I do. A neighborhood church (well, country style since it’s six miles away) and I pass a couple on the way. I don’t attend them due to doctrinal reasons. One has to do with salvation. The verses I find important are John 3:16, Acts 16:30-31 along with the Roman Road (3:23, 5:12, 5:8, 6:23, 10:13-14, 10:9-10) and many other verses. Another important to me has to do with how I was saved:

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)

Since it is God’s grace, God’s gift, I’ve never earned it – nor can I lose what God has freely given. Not because I can do anything about it, but He can and – as Paul, I believe Him:

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)

Paul firmly believed this:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . 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 8:35, 38-39 KJV)

Now, with all that background, why wouldn’t I attend church? Because there are hypocrites there? Not a good reason as we find those in every phase of life. Because there are sinners there? Absolutely there are, as none of us are perfect and I certainly fall into that category.

So, what’s the reason for not attending church? Because Jesus and his disciples didn’t? Sorry, His custom was to attend synagogue:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. (Luke 4:16 KJV)

I can’t believe He went alone.  Neither did Paul:

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, (Acts 17:1-2 KJV)

Why do you think they went to the synagogues? How about to show their respect for God and their desire to worship? Was it necessary for their salvation?  The Bible doesn’t tell us that, does it? However, if we like someone, don’t we spend time with them? And, don’t we expect to spend eternity with the church Christ established?

Besides – I want to grow my faith, and the Bible tells me how to do that:

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

I assure you, at my church we hear God’s word. We discuss God’s word. We study the times those words were written, the applications then and probable applications now – with emphasis on their application to my life.

We pray together, too. That’s just part of what we do at our church. There are many like mine. I pray you are able to enjoy one, too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

From Birth, Differences

This graphic comes from Wikimedia, taking figures from two Wikipedia articles that give membership counts for Christianity and Islam in the world. It reminds me how different these two religions are, even from birth.

A Muslim co-worker explained to me that everyone is born a Muslim. Some are born where they are immediately led astray and others are born where Islam is predominate and life is a struggle to retain the relationship with God. I have seen this elsewhere:
"No babe is born but upon Fitra (as a Muslim). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist." (Sahih Muslim, Book 033, Number 6426) Source
Christians, on the other hand, believe mankind is born with a sin nature and that we all have gone astray. God tells us this and provides a solution:

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:5-7 KJV)

Centuries after Isaiah proclaimed this, Paul wrote in agreement:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

Paul also tells us the result of sinfulness, and how to change our personal results:

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

My Muslim co-worker told me that life is a jihad, a spiritual struggle to do what is right in his life. That word has come to mean a war or struggle against unbelievers, too. Islam is not faith-based, it is works-based.

Christianity, on the other hand, requires faith first, with an expectation that good works will follow in a changed life:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)

Faith is an absolute necessity:

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)

Faith is tied so closely to love that it is almost impossible to separate them. James explains that faith is on display through our actions:

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18 KJV)

John in his letter gives a great truth that separates Christianity and Islam in one verse:

Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (1 John 2:23a KJV)

Jesus’ own words tells us what will happen when He is denied:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV)

From birth to heaven, there are differences between Christianity and Islam.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Royal Fashions

Looks a bit heavy, doesn’t it? Does this one look lighter?
Lots of bling, isn’t there? Would you want the responsibilities that went with either one of these crowns, knowing the second belongs to Iran? Shakespeare tells us  in Henry IV, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” and many have found that to be true. Yet, we are promised more than one.

The gospels (Matthew 27:29, Mark 15:17, John 19:2,5) tell us the one Jesus wore was of braided thorns, and His jailers used it to mock Him. His followers tell us of one He wears upon His return:

And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. (Revelation 6:2 KJV) 

And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. (Revelation 14:14 KJV)

I expect no less, for the Bible tells me so. I just don’t know when.

The Bible speaks of other crowns, too, as Paul wrote:

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 KJV)

That’s my first goal – the incorruptible crown, though Paul saw people as crowns, too:

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. (Philippians 4:1 KJV)

Can we truly say that our brothers in Christ are a joy and crown for us? Can we do as the next verse asks and be of the same mind in the Lord?  If that is our hope, we have something to look forward to seeing:

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19 KJV)

If we truly love our Lord and look forward to seeing Him, we will receive a crown:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8 KJV)

That’s not the important one, though. There’s a very special one I’m praying for:

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12 KJV)

There’s one that’s not available to everyone. I thought about it – mentioned it in yesterday’s blog – and know that it applies to those few who minister to the Shepherd’s flocks while here:

Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:2-4 KJV)

The grace of God provides our salvation, nothing that we do. These pastors who spend their lives feeding God’s flock as examples of His love do earn a crown of glory – and we know it will not fade away.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, (Mark 3:14 KJV)

Not all twelve did. One was a thief, liar and betrayed Him – and He knew that would happen. The rest of us don’t know when a man is ordained whether he will continue or preach, or not.

Friday night at our church, the last of our “Preacher Boys” was ordained and on his way to lead a church hours away. He will be missed here, but was welcomed by a new congregation. We know that because many made the trip to celebrate his ordination with us.

One of the scriptures read Friday tells us that Jesus ordained twelve out of many followers.

And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. (Mark 3:13 KJV)

He called them out to do specific tasks. He still does. Paul explains more about the type of man and the tasks as he explains to Titus:

For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: (Titus 1:5 KJV)

Then Paul gets specific – and as a preacher explained tonight, it’s a matter of priorities:

If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. (Titus 1:6 KJV)

Seek a good man who follows God’s plan of marriage and family. Family comes right after God, before the congregation. I had not noticed that before, but it’s a beautiful picture of how a Father loves His children, isn’t it? Paul continues repeating the first condition:

For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; (Titus 1:7 KJV)

That “selfwilled” means “self pleasing, arrogant.” I believe the easiest sin to fall into is pleasing ourselves rather than our Lord. “I will” instead of “Thy will” comes so quickly and easily, doesn’t it? Then Paul moves into positive territory:

But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; (Titus 1:8 KJV)

All of that is good for any of us to follow – blameless, one spouse, loving children, unselfish, even tempered, loving our fellow man, seeking holiness – but the next one is not a calling for all of us:

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. (Titus 1:9 KJV)

Paul taught Titus, Titus was to teach others and the result should be sound doctrine that helped other believers mature as well as convince non-believers. That’s a huge task, but one the newly ordained must continue to accomplish in the Lord's service.

This new pastor answered doctrinal questions before the congregation Friday night. We heard him state his beliefs and we heard the testimony of his salvation as well as that of his wife. Every Christian should be able to answer such questions and explain why, but a pastor must be able to help non-believers not only understand, but reach a turning point in their lives. That’s a huge task, too.

There are failures. We read about some in national news, others quietly fade away. Most new pastors spend their lifetime doing the huge tasks Jesus laid out:

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)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

By Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

I’ve flown half-way around the world in two directions - along with other passengers, having faith that each plane would reach our destination. In the last week, that faith failed with three commercial aircraft. Weather appears to be involved in two of those, humans in the third.

That, along with another chapter in “The Choice Is Yours …”, made me think about where I place my faith. My neurosurgeon’s faith in an MRI reading is part of my faith in the treatment I receive. But, I’m reminded of my mother’s faith in a surgeon and the elective surgery that led to an infection that eventually killed her.

Billions of people have placed their faith in electronics – computers are an absolute necessity in businesses, telephones keep businesses humming – yet we know that electro-magnetic impulses could bring these to a halt. The financial impact of a “Carrington Event” is calculated in the trillions and would be world-wide.

We hope catastrophes won’t happen. They do. So, where do we put our faith. I personally like the examples given in Hebrews chapter 11, where we often read, “By faith …”, followed by a personal example of faith. It is also where we read:

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)

“By faith …” Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses’ parents (go ahead, look up Amram and Jochebed) and Moses himself – all had faith, but there were also problems, as you get to know their stories.

The writer of Hebrews knew many more examples:

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: (Hebrews 11:32 KJV)

He writes of their many trials, imprisonments, torments, reaching the conclusion that the world was not worthy of them. What they faced over the years is included in Hebrews 11:33-38. He also gives us the end of each of their stories:

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39-40 KJV)

We have the same opportunity as they did to be an example of faith. It is to our advantage to believe in that “some better thing for us,” though we only see its substance in hope, through unseen evidence. Thanks be to God, He also provides us with how to gain such faith:

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

His word – not mine. Hear the word of the Lord.

Friday, July 25, 2014

This is not an ad!!


I know – I used this very same graphic – and the link to within the last two weeks. But it has so many things in it that speak to me that you may be seeing it again.

This time it’s a bit of “clarification”, early in her book. It has to do with “being real” and I quote, with one change:
Christians “sometimes confuse “being real” with not caring about appearances or transformation. One a few occasions, I’ve seen a lady lose her temper and shortly thereafter say, “Well, that’s just the way I am. It’s the real me.” It’s almost as if “being real” is an excuse for being wrong! She is implying that holding onto a grudge or struggle is okay as long as you don’t try to hide it.
I’m reminded of a family member whose mantra was, “That’s the way I was born and raised,” as though change was impossible. Many people will say, “God accepts me the way I am,” and to the extent that acceptability is all we’re looking for, that’s right.

God does ask for more – obedience. Before I give you a verse, let’s look at the background. Saul did not ask to become king. God sent Samuel to anoint him king in response to the people’s desire for a king. Eventually, Saul stopped seeking God’s will, substituting his own – even to the point of taking on priestly duties. Samuel explained that obedience is required over outward signs of sacrifice:

And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22 KJV)

“Being real” acknowledges this, recognizes sin for what it is – going against God’s will in our lives:

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalms 51:4 KJV)

David had changed the lives of many people in this sin – Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, Nathan and David’s descendants:

Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. (2 Samuel 12:10 KJV)

David made a choice to fulfill is own desire without considering the consequences of that choice. As he attempted to cover it up, bad choices accumulated until entire generations lived with the results.

God knows we were sinners before we came to believe Him capable of forgiving our sins. He – and we – know that we continue to sin:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10 KJV)

Thanks be to God for that forgiveness! Do we appreciate it enough to not repeat the same errors? Do we ask Him for His help in removing us from sin? Can we remember that He promises we can overcome temptation?

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)

Do we seek His way to escape? Or do we yield, as the seed falls on rocky ground and we fall away?

They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. (Luke 8:13 KJV)

“The Choice Is Yours: Life Happens. Walking With God Is A Decision”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Next Time

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? (Matthew 24:3 KJV)

They’ve been walking with Him around Judea for three years. He’s almost at the end of His ministry – and they are looking past what is going to happen, asking for a sign about what they don’t understand.

Wait for it . . . . Wait for it . . . . and you’ll most likely be waiting for it through a lifetime (or several!) Let me assure you, I know He’s coming back, and I know there are signs that indicate it could be soon:

And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (Matthew 24:6-7 KJV)

We certainly have wars – take your pick among several ongoing ones. And there are rumors of war – we wonder if/when things will escalate within many of the hot spots. We’ve had them for all time, not just now. These things are with us as much as the poor (only I’d rather be working for/with the poor instead of wars!)

Famines? Take your pick. The sub-Sahara has been in one since I was a child. Of course, there have been conflicts there since I was a child and famine has been used as a weapon of war. Pestilence accompanies poverty and war, but in the last hundred years we’ve bragged about wiping out some diseases (we haven’t) and groaned as we’ve found new ones.  Some old ones has followed migration paths and ended up in countries just now touched. As we intermingle around the globe, we share much more than we intend to.

Earthquakes are with us and there’s an app to keep us updated on the latest what/when/where, from the ring-of-fire Pacific rim to the most-likely-caused-by-fracking central plains. So, we have all the signs we were promised, don’t we. Problem is, we’ve had them all since Jesus described them. So, where is He?

That question rang out not too long after His resurrection:

And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3:4 KJV)

They couldn’t wait a generation without saying, “He said He was going to come. Since He hasn’t, He isn't.” That’s the logic many people use. We’re two thousand years past that point and the logic hasn’t changed at all, has it?

What Peter wrote tells me he believed what Jesus said in that Mount of Olives lesson:

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9 KJV)

By those words, it’s just been a couple of days. So, what do we do in the meantime? Jesus gave us that answer, too:

Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. (Matthew 24:44-46 KJV)

That, my dear readers, is just one thread through Sunday’s sermon. Pastor took us through Matthew’s 24th chapter and I do believe I could write all week and not cover all that I learned or confirmed in that one worship hour. Eventually that sermon will be posted on our First Baptist Church of Cottondale website. When it is, it is going to be on my iPhone and iPod. It will make good listening!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Confessing Before Men

And he said unto them, I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. (Jonah 1:9 KJV)

In 2009 our Senior Saints made their first day trip, visiting a museum with early Christian artifacts. Among the many pieces of funerary items, several depicted Jonah as well as Christ. On one side would be Jonah and the great fish – the other would show Christ and the cross. It’s a story every Christian knows because of the book of Jonah and the sign Jesus said would be given - in Matthew 12:39, Matthew 16:4, Luke 11:29-30.

We aren’t the only ones who know the story – Muslims for centuries have tended what is purported to be Jonah’s grave. This month, the Islamic State damaged or destroyed it.  Today, Nineveh is in need of a prophet to proclaim what God sent Jonah to do:

Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. (Jonah 1:1-2 KJV)

However, I have not received God’s word to be that person. It doesn’t appear that another has, either. I have been instructed to do what Jonah did in confessing before men, for though I am not a Hebrew, I do worship the Lord who made the sea and the dry land.  His son gave instructions, too:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33 KJV)

Paul saw that confession was truly good for our soul:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10 KJV)

At first Jonah turned his back on God’s instruction, to the point that he left town and headed in the opposite direction. I doubt he believed he would survive being thrown overboard, but that suggestion was his:

Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. (Jonah 1:11-12 KJV)

His shipmates didn’t take that suggestion – at first, but eventually, to save their lives:

So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. (Jonah 1:15 KJV)

There are many more good lessons in the four short chapters of Jonah. Running from God is just one of the examples we see in mankind today. The one I like best, though, is what happens when we do confess:

So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. . . . .  And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not. (Jonah 3:5 . . . . 10 KJV)

Things work so much better when we believe God and let people know that we do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jephthah’s Daughter

Yesterday we looked at Jephthah’s early life and his brothers’ tossing him out of the family – only to come to him later for help. Today, we’ll see what a tragic mistake he made on his own. Take a look at the graphic showing Jephthah being greeted by his daughter. I cropped yesterday's graphic from this. He doesn’t look happy to see her, does he? He has good reason for looking stricken.

There had been successful battles, but a big one was coming. Jephthah sought the Lord’s help:

Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon. And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. (Judges 11:29-31 KJV)

I cannot imagine what Jephthah thought would greet him – a hound, a horse, a pet goat or lamb – it could have been any number of things that came to mind. But, he came up with the vow on his own. This was not God’s requirement given to him in exchange for the battle. There were tragic consequences when he returned victorious:

And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. (Judges 11:34 KJV)

He kept his vow.

And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back. And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the LORD, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the LORD hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon. (Judges 11:35-36 KJV)

Did you notice that he blamed her? “Thou has brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me.” How we all do shift blame to someone else. His words brought them to this place, not hers.

The Law tells us:

And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:12 KJV)

Perhaps this very story was on Jesus’ mind when He taught us:

Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:33-37 KJV)

Jephthah made a thoughtless vow that brought evil upon himself and his daughter. Look to the center of the graphic where the artist shows the sacrifice being made.

Some scholars would point to Judges 11:37-38 that she was simply sent away. Unfortunately, the remaining verses tell us that he kept his vow, which should help us keep Matthew 5:37 in mind that we not create evil even while serving God’s purpose.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Cropped from a painting from WikiCommons.
Full painting in tomorrow's blog.

Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour,

The first lesson in our VBS book for 5th and 6th grade girls is about Jephthah. In this first mention of him in the book of Judges, he’s given a title of respect – a might man of valour! How he came to be recognized as such is a bit longer story.

The story of Jephthah reminds me of divided families today. Sibling rivalry can be difficult for all involved. Jephthah's situation was that of an outsider - his father had not married his mother, and also had sons with his wife.

and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah. And Gilead's wife bare him sons;

The stage is set for conflict:

and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art the son of a strange woman. (Judges 11:1-2 KJV)

Now, I’m going to leave Jephthah’s story for a bit and take a look at God’s plan for parents. 

First given in Genesis 2:24, repeated by Jesus in Matthew 19:5 and Mark 10:7, then reaffirmed by Paul in Ephesians 5:31, God designed a man and woman to be together as one. Jesus repeated the verse when he was asked about divorce:

. . . .  The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. (Matthew 19:2b-8 KJV)

Now, this doesn’t guarantee that siblings will get along – look at Abel and Cain! But in Jephthah’s case, and some of the sibling rivalry between King David’s children, there wouldn’t have been multiple mothers’ to increase their rivalry.

A child of divorce has no say in the matter. They don’t get to choose their parents any more than Jephthah did. They, too, may be forced out of a home they’ve known all their lives and have to make their way under some very poor circumstances. Jephthah became recognized as a mighty warrior by the brothers who eventually needed him to provide their security:

And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead. (Judges 11:8 KJV)

Can we have the strength to be a protector to those who have rejected us in the past? Can we offer them the security of God’s love and see them grow past us?

Tomorrow we’ll take another look at Jephthah, who made a tragic mistake.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Even With Instructions


Clicking on the link will take you to a tutorial on piecing this quilt block. The one in Connie’s tutorial is a wealth of color, but the one I’m making is in pinks and grays – my granddaughter’s requested colors. Here’s the first block I cut and sewed together Friday:


Do you see the problem on the left? Instead of placing right sides together on the final seam, I had it backward. I had to remove the stitches and redo that one seam. While I had that time with my hands busy, my mind did wander, once again finding biblical truths applicable to every day actions.

I had been so comfortable with how the block was going together! Connie’s tutorial page was so concise and easy to follow – and I had the 4x6 card in sight, standing up on my thread holder (thanks again to my Beloved Husband for that jewel!) so it went together as smooth as silk (or washable cotton, rather.) I became complacent and did not check to see if right sides really were together when I started sewing.

We have instructions right before us in our Bible, too. All of those instructions are based on a beautiful foundation:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

I believe I have enough similarities to other Christians to know that we all become complacent at one time or another and need a reminder of how important love is – or we get our lives backward. Love flows through the New Testament, but it begins with God.

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

Oh, yes – we’re certainly second here! He loved us before we knew He existed. He continues to love us even though we make errors. Some are as simple as noticing and redoing. Other’s seem to roll on for years, even decades, sticking out as sore thumbs – often as painful – but we never get around to reworking.

Some cannot be reworked completely, but show up as scars. With those, we must be cautious that we do not focus on them but on God’s forgiveness (when we acknowledge the error and ask His forgiveness.) When we see only the error, we’re prone to repeat it.

So far, I haven’t repeated an incorrect seam on these quilt blocks. But I do take a bit more time to be certain that it’s right before I lower the presser foot!

Might be a good idea to do that same process check with the subject of loving God and our neighbors. Getting ourselves right with God allows us to actually love our neighbors as we do ourselves.

When we do, things in our lives fit together much better – that’s God’s pattern.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Letter To Loved Ones

The text is the beginning of the First Epistle of Peter.
The illumination is a capital letter P since the letters following are ETRUS, making the word PETRUS (Peter in Latin).

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ,

Pick up your Bible, please, and turn to II Peter’s first chapter. Instead of putting his name at the end of the letter, Peter identifies himself, then addresses the recipients:

to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

He shares the same precious faith – not just “in”, but “through the righteousness” of both the Father and the Son:

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

He prays for those to whom he is writing – that they may know God and receive multiple portions of His grace and peace. He then acknowledges that all we have comes from God:

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,

We do have to know Him, and understand that He calls:

through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Of great importance are God’s promises:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:

Through these promises we receive precious gifts:

that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,

But we do have to leave something behind:

having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

All  of that in just the first four verses! The next three verses are all actions for us to complete:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

When we do this adding, we move closer and closer to our Lord’s will in our lives – and end up with the type of love that only comes between God and man. Paul in I Corinthians’ “love” chapter, 13, calls charity “the greatest of these.” That’s our goal – the charity of God’s love for mankind – and the love we give in return. When we know this, we will bear fruit:

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Not all of us accomplish this goal. Peter recognizes this, too:

But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

In my own opinion, once we’ve forgotten that we were cleansed from old sins, we not only repeat them but create new ones. We fall. Peter has a solution to that, too:

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
(2 Peter 1:1-10 KJV)

The application of these ten verses in our own lives is not as easy as they read – but the truth contained in them is valid. When we do diligently gain knowledge of Christ, adding faith and virtue while remembering we were cleansed of old sins, we will not fall.

The other side of the coin is just as true. When we become complacent, resting only on our current knowledge without building our faith, without bearing the fruit of good works from it, we will certainly fall.

Ten verses. Not even a full chapter, yet the application of these changes our lives.

Friday, July 11, 2014


And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew nigh to meet David, that David hasted, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:48 KJV)

David meeting Goliath is one of the stories children learn early. There are many lessons in it, and we are in error if we ignore them as adults.

The people around David - his brothers, his nation, his king -  had basically given up. They did not see a way to win against an army that produced a giant that bested every man that confronted him. David saw it differently:

And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? (1 Samuel 17:26 KJV)

David saw a man – one Philistine, not an entire army. He saw this man being disrespecting God, disapproving of God’s people and the army called by His name. He didn’t blame King Saul for being in the battle and he didn’t blame the army for not winning. He blamed Goliath for defying God.

And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. (1 Samuel 17:28 KJV)

I like to think that Eliab was angry because David was asking the question that Eliab should have asked – who is this Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God. But, perhaps Eliab knew the physical limitations of that very army. He forgot the spiritual power available to them.

David’s answer to Eliab comes out of the mouths of siblings today:

And David said, What have I now done? (1 Samuel 17:29 KJV)

That’s not confined to our family relationships, either. These arguments occur between brothers in Christ, too.  One will see that God is being defied and the other speaks of pride and personal naughtiness instead of seeking a spiritual solution.

As Christians, we face a variety of spiritual Goliaths. I’m reminded of a movie teens I know have enjoyed, “Facing Goliath”:
FACING GOLIATH is a story that examines a young man's realization that the strength of a determined heart is far more powerful than any muscular physique.
David not only faced Goliath, he ran toward him – see that first verse again. He was not accompanied by the Israelite army, but he ran toward the Philistine army and the giant that stood in front of it. Do we?

Or, do we run the other way?

When Saul had David brought to him and discussed the situation, he did not believe this youth would do more than die. David gave examples of protecting his flocks against a lion and a bear – but he had one more weapon of strength:

David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. (1 Samuel 17:37 KJV)

When we put on the whole armor of God, do we realize that it is all protection – except the word, the sword? In addition to the stones David carried, he also carried God’s promises. He trusted God’s word.

Don’t run away when God’s purpose can be accomplished by our running toward the problem.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

“The Choice Is Yours”

I hope you realize that what I write about here is not new.  It may be “news” to some, but the words and thoughts expressed are truly older than the hills. Putting them together is mine, and sometimes they ramble after “rabbit trails” instead of going in straight paths to a central thought. Other people take some of that old news, take time to organize and publish it, and I appreciate their time and effort. I often mention them here – as I am Terrie Chappell’s book.

I subscribe to a couple of Kindle discount lists, Pixel of Inc. and Book Bub. When I say “discount,” I really mean FREE. I’ve mentioned this before, and will probably do it again – you don’t need a Kindle, just the Kindle app – which runs on PCs smartphones. That’s where I picked up this book.  Today, it’s not free, but I still recommend it.

I saw several of the books and a teacher’s guide at my daughter’s when I left her mail. She hadn’t mentioned what the new series would be in her Sunday School class, but I’m so tempted now to audit that class just to cover this book completely.

I haven’t finished it – but it’s so good to pick up and read! I’ve been writing a blog for years and the main theme (oh, I hope that’s understood!) has been that having a relationship with God is a choice.

Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; (Joshua 24:14-16 KJV)

I chose to pick up this book because I want to be able to show the choices to others. I want to learn to better define the choice – though the Bible does it so well – we make, and consider the consequences.

Every biblical example I’ve cited has shown a choice. The Bible is not full of the correct choices. Some of the verses show horrible choices made, but the consequences of those bad choices are evident. Some of the decisions do not show consequences for generations, so it is very important that we not only choose, but that we teach, as we’ve been instructed:

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)

Trust me, every single day we are teaching someone simply through our choices. The last couple of days I’ve written on “Do as I say, not as I do.” Are we “doing” the right choice? I need to consider that daily, don’t I? Life is full of choices – make the most important one last forever.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

So, What Am I Saying?

I do hope you are following up from yesterday, if not – go back a page and read about Matthew 23:5. Then we can move on to discuss hypocrites and what to do about them. In fact, go ahead and read the entire 23rd chapter. Some people have and determined that all church leaders, and most of the members, are hypocrites and it would be better not to be around them. Some do see Pharisees from this chapter in all churches today. Sorry, that is an invalid perception.

Let’s back up to the first of this chapter.

Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not. (Matthew 23:1-3 KJV)

The first part of this is positive – listen to what the Pharisees tell you to observe, observe and do it. That’s a positive. If they tell us to spend time in prayer and studying God’s word, we should be doing it. If they give us examples from God’s word as to how best live our lives, let us be doing it.

Just be careful that what we are doing is from God’s word and not from a person intent on self-aggrandizing. You know, the people intent on increasing their power, their status, their reputation. In this same chapter, Jesus tells us what leadership truly is:

But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:11-12 KJV)

For all that Jesus said about the scribes and Pharisees in this chapter, we must focus on what the people were told. In spite of the Pharisees’ desire to be the focus of attention, the center of worship, the people (and we, too) were told to do as they said – just don’t do it they way the Pharisees did. Don’t be the show off at worship. Don’t look to be seen pious by others. Don’t wear your religion on the exterior – it is to come from the heart.

The scribes and Pharisees met the tiniest of laws – but didn’t keep the spirit of the Law:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matthew 23:23 KJV)

They were doing the little things right, things that would be seen – but they omitted the important things that are seen by God. Judgment, mercy and faith. Those need to be done the same as the others. None are to be left undone.

So – what does that mean to us? Basically, to me, it is to ignore the hypocrisy and those who practice it.

Continue to keep God’s commandments from our hearts, our own desire to please Him. Some will that we are too pious, that we do wear our own type of phylacteries. Not my concern.

My concern is to have the heart that serves God. To do that requires His input:

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. (Psalms 51:10-13 KJV)

Isn’t that what we’re after?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Do As I say

Did you know that has a biblical basis? Oh, I’ll get there in a bit.

I spent some time on Pastor's Sunday morning sermon, "Scribes and Pharisees," from Matthew 23. Yes - the whole chapter. And that took some additional research, beginning with verse 5.

But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, (Matthew 23:5 KJV)

These Phylacteries were strips of parchment, or small cubes covered with letter, on or in which were written sections of the Law (think Ten Commandments.) The concept of wearing them between comes from:

And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD'S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. (Exodus 13:9 KJV)

And again in:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. (Deuteronomy 6:4-8 KJV)

Let’s hear that once more:

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: (Deuteronomy 11:18-20 KJV)

Three times our Lord mentioned having His word between the eyes of the Jewish people. Eventually it became easier for the leaders to place a physical explanation to a spiritual request. Wearing the words showed everyone that saw them how serious they were about God. Phylactaries became more and more prominent, as did their public piety. As John puts it:

Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:42-43 KJV)

If you don’t believe Jesus knew that, turn back a few pages to Luke:

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. (Luke 18:10-12 KJV)

Did you notice that the public didn’t pray to God, but “prayed thus with himself”?

Oh, my – I’ve rambled on with my research and didn’t get to the best part. Regrettably, you’ll need to come back tomorrow to read the first (not rest, but first) of the story.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Name In The Book

Do you know what a canker is? Totally not pleasant, yet used to describe Hymenaeus and Philetus.  One we’ve heard of before:

Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme. (1 Timothy 1:19-20 KJV)

Both entries contain descriptions I would not like applied to me. Philetus is only mentioned once. There are other examples in the Bible – such as Balaam, first shown as being against God in Numbers 22, but we find him used as a bad example in Deuteronomy 23, Joshua 13 and 24, Nehemiah 13, Micah 6, 2 Peter 2, Jude and Revelation 2. I would never want my name remembered for centuries as being against God!!

There is a book I want my name in – and I believe it is there:

And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:3 KJV)

That book is referenced several times in Revelation, beginning with Jesus’ words:

He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5 KJV)

That’s why I want my name in that book – and I believe it’s there because Jesus came to seek and save the lost. That’s me!!

Remember me mentioning consequences in the past week? Here’s why that’s important:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12 KJV)

What’s in there? Well, we’re told:

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:35-37 KJV)

What words of ours are already in that book? Everything in our past. What will be entered from this day forward? Everything in our future. Today we can be more aware of what’s written by our name in the book.

Sunday, July 6, 2014


I could use a bit of prayer this Sunday morning. I’m teaching the Junior/Senior High Girls while their teacher is on vacation. And, I got to pick the lesson – actually, write the lesson – since they will be starting a new 13-week course the following Sunday.

Part of what I’ll be teaching has to do with etymology. I want them to know the roots, the sources, of specific words as well as learn why those words are important. I want them to know whether or not the meaning of specific words have remained the same – or not.

Many words I used as a child have entirely different meanings today. Some words have changed as they applied to places, too.  I learned of Peking – our students know of Beijing. I could point out Bombay on a world map. I would hope our girls could locate Mumbai. I memorized a list of mission nations that included Northern Rhodesia, which is no longer on a map – which is true of many nations.

Constantinople was named for the Emperor Constantine, but you would know that visiting Istanbul. Traces of New Amsterdam is in the history book, not in the replacement name of New York.

Yet the history that includes those names is important in understanding today’s world, just as the history of words are important in understand their use today. They come to us through different languages, too.

One we’ll be looking into isn’t found in the Bible – apostate. But the thought behind the word is and I hope to teach what the Bible has to say about the meaning of that word and how it is applied today.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV)

To do so means studying the Greek, with Strong’s definition G646:
ἀποστασία  apostasia
Feminine of the same as G647; defection from truth (properly the state), (“apostasy”): - falling away, forsake.
Which also means discussing why the New Testament is in Greek and the Old Testament in Hebrew. I also want to cover:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV)

Which these girls have memorized – I know. I also know it most likely was presented as a memory verse, absent the surrounding (in context) passage:

Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; (2 Timothy 2:14-17 KJV)

I want to include this about not striving – arguing – over words to the point that those listening cease to listen. Be purposeful in studying and presenting God’s word, don’t get caught up in empty, fruitless discussions.

Know the roots of faith, too. Discern those who are open to receiving God’s word, to know the difference between Bereans and Thessalonians:

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)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

In The Angle – Or Out?

The angle is the same – and it isn’t. It all depends if we’re on the inside or the outside or if we measure the whole. For some reason, this reminded me those who see Christians trapped within 45 degrees of “Do’s” and 315 degrees of “Don’t’s.” I see Christians with the greatest of freedoms – and some guidelines to keep us from danger – a hedge of protection, if you will. I also see that hedge as being biblical verses and examples, not confining rules which subject us to punishments when we cross guiding lines.

For me, it’s positive guidelines, such as:

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. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 KJV)

Those are all positives, just as Jesus outlined the complete positives of God’s laws:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40 KJV)

Absolutely positive. Do these two things and we won’t need to list the “Don’t’s” – even those found in the Bible. 

Unfortunately, human nature not being what it should, God inspired writers to include some of those lists and we should be aware of them:

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)

They ate, and began to die. There are consequences when we cross guide lines:

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)

Lines are protection. Satan saw a hedge of protection, provided by God, around Job:

Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. (Job 1:10-11 KJV)

Job did not curse God in spite of all that Satan was allowed to do to him. Yes, allowed. Just as we are allowed to do willful damage to others if we go past those guidelines laid out for protection – not only for ourselves, but for those whose lives we enter and share, if only for a short time.

I continue to see Christianity as a source of freedom and protection, not a confining prison that obliterates choices. How should it be seen? Confining angles or open areas with guided paths?

Friday, July 4, 2014

“Real Freedom”

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36 KJV)

“Real Freedom” was the title of Pastor’s Sunday morning sermon. It had nothing to do with the 4th of July, but everything to do with the freedom Christ offers. Funny, isn’t it, to think of the cross when discussing freedom. Being on a cross certainly curtailed freedom! Except for Christ.

And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. (John 12:32-33 KJV)

Just as today, the people who heard Him did not believe, did not understand and had the same question that rings out today:

The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? (John 12:34 KJV)

They understood that Jesus was understood to be the Christ – the promised Messiah – but they did not understand about death. The greatest proof of His divinity was the Resurrection. There was more for us than dying. Even in our sinfulness, He brought proof there was more, then gave it to us. Along with some instructions:

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (Galatians 5:13-15 KJV)

No – that’s not the only verse of instructions. There are many more across the New Testament. But this one has a good message. We are called to liberty, but not to use it in error. We are called to love. If we use our liberty to damage others, we will be damaged ourselves.

In another chapter God inspired Paul to share, he wrote of the veil that Moses wore (Exodus 34:33) most likely because the light was too intense. Jesus, as the light of the world, offers no veil but liberty:

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 KJV)

A Christian's liberty is not offered, condoned or restricted by any national means. Our liberty is eternal, given by one whose purpose included life, abundantly:

I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10b KJV)

I sorta doubt Pastor would recognize my ramblings as being connected to his sermon – I do tend to roam a bit more in my thoughts. But I’m certain we’d both agree with Paul’s comment on God’s gift to mankind:

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

Oh, yes - thinking about yesterday's post. We're not free from earthly consequences. Keep that in mind!

Thursday, July 3, 2014


We are the sum of our choices. Although we don't choose our parents, we do choose how we treat them. Everything else in our lives depends on choices we make - and their consequences. We are responsible for those choices. When we want changes, we have choices to make - and consequences occur. Moses was very aware of this:

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (Deuteronomy 30:19 KJV)

In surrounding verses, Moses prophesied the future, anticipating both the blessing and the curse would come upon the people according to their obedient faithfulness to their obedience to God's Law, or whether disobedient and unfaithful. The next generation spoke of that same choice making it very personal:

And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15 KJV)

Our nation has given us many more choices – we may marry anyone we wish, or we can live without marriage with anyone we wish. We may bear children, or we can discard them before or after birth. The family unit consists of a variety of ex-spouses dividing children’s time with or without rancor and or bitterness. There is no “mental illness” to be treated for the safety of others – until tragedy occurs, then blame is placed elsewhere, not on an individual’s choices.

Laws are written, publicly distributed, but the choice of following them or not is a personal decision. Doubt that? Our own president determines which laws will be enforced, and which do not suit him and will be ignored. Ignorance of the law has ceased to be a lack of defense and has become a part of the logic of personal freedom.

We’ve allowed choices to be made for us, and we are living with the consequences. Instead of seeing more choices before us, we live in despair, seeing only consequences.

I ask that you consider the consequences of making the choice to seek and serve God:

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)

We are never without the choice of serving God. We make that choice every day as we awaken. The Bible tells us what is necessary and prayer opens opportunities for us to know what He has for us to do.

What are the consequences for serving Him? Sometimes they appear much less than a reward, thinking of a young Christian woman who gave birth in prison because she would not deny her lord and savior. Or, Christ’s disciples, who died for their belief in His deity. For most of us, not so much. We may face some laughter, some derision, a few who turn aside from us. Long term? We have it made:

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:11-13 KJV)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

That’s Me!

Stitched Panorama
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 KJV)

Yep – that’s me reflected in the verse, just as if I were looking in a mirror. Sinners = me. I am absolutely positive that verse applies to everyone living today. Just as that small Nambian sparrow, I’d be looking in the mirror at me if I thought I could see a sinner there.

There are several other words that mean “me” when I’m reading scripture, such as “all”:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

Yep – that’s me, too. There are several verses that confirm we’ve not reached our goal, but there are others that include all of us, too:

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

Since we all were sinners, coming up short of God’s glory, we sure fall into the “that which was lost” category. Thank God (literally!!) He did send His son to seek – and to save.

Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:9 KJV)

There are dozens of salvation verses – but I really like this one which means that I will receive the end of my faith, even the salvation of my soul. Again, that’s me.

I can see my self in so many of the Bible’s stories. Most good, but some where one called by God comes up short. I also see that He does not abandon those who are called – even when they obviously fall short. The book of Hebrews, chapter 11, gives a wide range of people of faith. In addition to their faith, the Bible also tells about some of their failings, too.  That helps me!!  Through their stories I can see in many instances, that’s me, and God did not give up on them.

Jonah turned his back on God and ran away. God brought him back to Nineveh and worked with him when his preaching was successful and made him unhappy. That tells me God does not give up on His people.
Neither do His people give up on God – if we follow the examples of Joseph (where prison failed to destroy his faith) or Job (where the loss of material things dimmed with the loss of children and health.)  Then again, we may turn out to be examples of Balaam (who set out to curse Israelites in spite of God’s intervention) or Saul (who forgot who make him king, and why.)

The Bible not only gives examples of how we should be, it gives examples of people who missed God’s glory and their paths after doing so. None of them turned out well.

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:17-18 KJV)

Whosoever – that’s me, too!! My lack of belief did not condemn me – I was condemned already simply because I was human. I heard the message, but it took me quite a while to make the choice to believe what I was hearing. Once I did, I was obligated to do:

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22 KJV)

What example did James use for our deceiving ourselves?  Why, that old mirror image:

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. 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 1:23-25 KJV)

That’s me – is it you?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Not My Fault …

. . .  God made me this way. Haven’t we read that reasoning for a person’s actions – probably used it ourselves? Paul addresses that very question:

For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? (Romans 9:17-20 KJV)

Job – a man perfect, upright and God-fearing - resisted God’s will, to the point that God asked and Job answered:

Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. (Job 40:1-4 KJV)

I believe Esther might not have seen God’s hand in where she was – until Mordecai’s faith helped her understand that placement was important:

For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14 KJV)

Who are we to tell God, “You made me this way so I can’t do as you ask,” when He’s told us:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 KJV)

I see that “way to escape” as God’s sovereignty, not our abilities. His grace, not our works. Unlike other religions in our world, Christianity teaches our salvation is totally dependent upon God:

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)

We were created to do good works – which will display our faith, as James tells us:

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18 KJV)

However God made us – and we’re all very, very different -  once we understand that He did make us, perhaps we can accept ourselves as His children. With His guidance, we can accomplish our given task – to love our Lord and do His good work.