Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Recipe for Success


Last fall I transcribed a couple hundred recipes to create our mission group’s recipe book. Each recipe had specific ingredients and just as specific directions required to achieve the same end product each time they were used.

Some of the recipes were flexible – offering a choice of ingredients for a flavor change, but still requiring specific directions. Many were flexible enough that simply substituting a flavoring or herb would be palate pleasing. However, it is necessary to know what the words mean. The words that describe the ingredients as well as the words giving the direction. The above graphic of a centuries old recipe has familiar words – salt and bread; some apparent words – suger and nutmege; and some I don’t get at all. Directions are unclear.

The Bible can be similarly difficult until we become acquainted with the words. Know the source on which the translation is based. Learn the meaning of the source words. No, I do not mean we each have to learn Hebrew and Greek to understand our Bible.  When a recipe calls simply for “apples”, results will differ if one uses Granny Smith and another Red Delicious. It’s the same with words. We do need to understand how and why source words may differ.

This is why I encourage – perhaps even challenge – my readers to search the scriptures to learn what God has said across the centuries to those who seek Him – and to those who deny Him. Keep in mind that Jesus, Peter, Paul, James and John all referred to the Torah or the Tanakh when relating scriptures, prophecy fulfilled  and prophecy to be fulfilled.

The gospel – the good news for mankind – has been written, but has yet to be completed. “It is finished,” that Jesus spoke on the cross – what does that mean? I could tell you what it means to me, but what it means to you is important to you, not to me. What God offers is very personal – it cannot be earned and no amount of good works buy salvation:

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)

Yet we are told that faith should result in good works:

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. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2:18-20 KJV)

I can talk about my faith from morning until sunset – but if you can’t see my faith in my every day activities you will never see it as more than words that fall flat. If my faith does not show concern for the unsaved, I’m not living by the words given by Jesus and those who witnessed His ministry.  If what I write here does cannot be found in scriptures, you should never pay heed.

So, I really appreciate it when someone checks my blogs against scripture – both Old Testament and New – to see if what I understand from scriptures is true.  Is it – or not?

Monday, March 30, 2015



(Some things bear repeating - thus a "rerun" because a specific thought ran through my mind this morning:)

“It’s probably not cancer, now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

How would you look at your doctor if given such a response to a request for information on symptoms?

“Dec 4, 2011 – Feds say Gulf tuna probably OK after BP oil spill, now stop worrying and enjoy your tuna.”

Did that take the concerns out of the public regarding seafood from the Gulf?

“Probably OK if it wasn't a building site the amenities were open, now stop worrying and enjoy your vacation.”

Is that the resort you would book for your vacation?

“Kendall's Advanced Theory of Statistics, Volume 1: Distribution Theory” includes:
Probability is ordinarily used to describe an attitude of mind towards some proposition of whose truth we are not certain.
I can fully understand that anyone, at some time or another, can be uncertain about God. That’s why, though someone is considered a faithful Christian, our faith wavers during life, though we do not express disbelief.

I do find it interesting that a group of atheists would use ‘probably’ rather than the outspoken “There is no god,” often found expressed.

Just remember, whether something is written by a group on the side of a bus or by a grandmother at home on her laptop, they are both SLOP (an acronym for self-selected listener opinion polls), an acronym coined by Norman Bradburn, director of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.  The thoughts we display are most assuredly self-selected and should not be considered the thoughts of society as a whole.

That’s why faith has to be a very individual decision, reached within a person after careful consideration of the information available. Which is why Christians will – and should – be judged for what they do and say.

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:36-37 KJV)

What I write here has little value for me.  I could simply read my Bible each day, think about how it applies to my life, consider outside sources and work toward a balance of applicability. However, I’ve read Ezekiel’s third chapter and the story of the watchman has a hold on my heart.

But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. (Ezekiel 33:6 KJV)

So I write, leaving up to our Creator the probability that anyone heeds.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Internet Made Me Do It

"-FsA14 - Freiheit statt Angst 017" by Markus Winkler, Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Well, according to CNN. In a “Belief” article on CNN, “Atheists open up: What they want you to know,” we hear about an avowed atheist:
"Stan Bennett" is a minister in a small town, but he no longer believes in God. He's actively searching for other employment so he can leave behind the job he's known for more than 30 years. He knows he's going to come out as an atheist one day, but he's not ready yet. (He is a closeted atheist, so CNN concealed his identity).
Can you now understand why the non-believers know there are hypocrites in church? While searching for “other employment,” he continues leading a congregation, unable to fulfill the basic principles of the Bible:

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)

I left the hyperlink to his pseudonym to show that he is now relieved (but not enough to leave his position) by:
It felt good to be able to say the words with my mouth, “I don’t believe in God.” For the first time in months, I felt the muscles relax in my stomach and shoulders.
It reminded me so much of the first verses in Luke 17, where one commentary describes Jesus’ teaching as:
The offences, then, especially alluded to were no doubt the worldliness and selfishness of professors of godliness. The sight of these, professedly serving God and all the while serving mammon more earnestly, would bring the very name of God's service into evil odour with some; while with others such conduct would serve as an example to be imitated.
The result – for the offending professors of godliness – is given:

Then said he unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe unto him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. (Luke 17:1-2 KJV) 

Why is this man – and other clergymen – atheists? Let me return to the article:
Bennett: Little by little, we are growing up. It's more difficult for people to stay in their religious cocoons away from the rest of the world. Higher education, travel and the Internet all contribute to our awareness of a bigger world with bigger concepts than the cultural superstitions in which we were raised.
Jerry DeWitt – previously a Pentecostal minister, now has a congregation of atheists:
DeWitt: One word: Google. The questions have always been at hand, but now the answers are within our grasp.
David Silverman, proud to be an “in your face” atheist:
Silverman: Religion is factually wrong. As a result, religion lives on ignorance of facts. The reason people are giving up on mythology is the Internet, and the access to information it represents.
Really? I can find dozens of cures for cancer on the internet (excuse me, but they don’t work.) I can find thousands of causes for cancer on the internet, too. Some of them do work on some people. I can find people who agree that fighting for ISIS the the best thing, while just as many will tell me that not fighting for anything will save the world.

I tell people (a very small number but also on the internet) that Jesus is the Christ, but I back it up with quotations from a book these three men reject out of hand. My citing scriptures will have no bearing for them because they accept only facts – and biblical facts do not fit in their world view.

The question will not be decided here on earth in our lifetimes. It remains a matter of faith. Only at our death will we know for certain which faith is correct:  that the majority of mankind has been wrong since the beginning of time and that there is no creator. Or, there is and He rewards.

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)

Friday, March 27, 2015



1. of or according to the teaching of the gospel or the Christian religion. synonyms: scriptural, biblical; fundamentalist, "evangelical Christianity"

1. a member of the evangelical tradition in the Christian Church.

That doesn’t sound too bad, does it – following the teaching of the gospel or the Christian religion? Especially when “Scriptural” means: of, from, or relating to the Bible, and “Biblical” means of, relating to, or contained in the Bible. We do run into current political correctness when we look at fundamentalist, though: Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true.

Oh, my – that’s when we lose people’s attention. That’s when we’re compared to: 
Progressive Christianity is a form of Christianity which is characterized by a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity, a strong emphasis on social justice and care for the poor and the oppressed, and environmental stewardship of the Earth.
May I please take the position that as an evangelical I, too, care strongly about justice, caring for the poor and oppressed and the environmental stewardship of our planet while caring more strongly about the eternal life of each individual’s soul? To state that evangelicals do none of these things is an insulting affront that I find both demeaning and offensive to my faith and my life.

Google “Evangelical Christianity” on the internet and you will not find a single paragraph similar to “Progressive Christianity,” but you will find such additions to the phrase as: cult, vs catholicism, social darwinism. An adversarial aspect – the result of believing the Bible to hold the good news for mankind, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our savior, and that the words in the Bible are true. Such words as:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

. . . and . . .

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

. . . and . . .

That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:15-17 KJV)

Should I then be mocked and derided because I believe a couple should have a marriage as Jesus describes in Matthew 19:4-9? Must I discount the words of an apostle who spread the good news to non-Jews in that first century – yet described those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God?

In many verses of the Bible we are told what God wants from mankind. One of my favorites is Micah 6:8, which invokes in my mind words from the Garden of Eden:

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:

. . . though sinful actions had created a separation God has always had plans to heal . . .

and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8 KJV)

As an evangelical, I believe people still separate themselves from God by not accepting His forgiveness when they seek Him. And I find Bill Muehlenberg’s CultureWatch article interesting.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How Do We Measure?


This graphic is of a ruler from a company that believed the slogan. Supervisors received reams of paper each year that gave measurement of man hours spent, against income; overhead costs, against profit. How many man hours without an accident. There were measurements for just about everything. Salaries and promotions hinged on those measurements.

The company paid close attention to those measurements – good ones, and ones that did not measure up to corporate standards. Employees were very aware of the measurements used. There were specific meetings to address measurements.

Now, let’s apply this concept to ourselves.

Does God have measurements? Ask King Saul, who did not measure up and then ask King David, who was seen as a man after God’s own heart. Ask Esther, who was told someone else would measure up if she didn’t. Ask Jonah, who ran away and had to live in darkness before he saw the light. Ask Moses, who tried to turn down the job God knew he could measure up to.

The first measurement is knowing God exists, but that alone is insufficient:

Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19 KJV)

The second is trusting Him:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

Let’s go back to Jonah’s story for a moment’s review – God called him for a specific task, Jonah ran. Recognizing he had placed a crew in danger, he sought to atone by sacrificing himself. God saved him in a most inconvenient way and Jonah did the job he didn’t want to do – then became upset because God’s plan of redemption worked:

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. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. (Jonah 3:10-4:1 KJV)

Jonah set forth God’s measurements for Nineveh, and they measured up. Why then was Jonah angry?

And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. (Jonah 4:2 KJV)

Basically, I see Jonah saying, “I knew when you called me that you were too good to destroy Nineveh and didn’t need me to tell them that.” Jonah placed his own viewpoints, his own limits on God’s planning. He knew God measured up, but didn’t think about his own need to measure up to God’s planning.

Do we do the same by defining God by our own understanding? Have we not read:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV)

First we know He exists, then have faith that He rewards and third we are to heed His call for what He has for us to do. Oh, yes – He does have work for each one of us. I need to tend to my work, not yours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Vertigo Lessons

I have not given my daughter enough sympathy during her bouts with vertigo.  Yes – she has had more than one. I had one last Thursday morning – and I wish to never have another one.  I did learn a lot about a cause, though.

Sometimes it is Benign Paroxysmal Positioning Vertigo (BPPV). But, sometimes it is something else entirely – and can be worse – including simply getting older (though getting older is a good thing!)

There are some things that can be done – especially when the patient (me) could not suppress the nausea sufficiently to get to the car, much less anticipate a 25 mile drive to the ER – my doctor was out of town and his office was leaving messages. Especially when there was a house full of visitors. One was my sister, whose friend had a similar attack and had good responses to the Epley Maneuver.

My doctor did call back, suggesting across-the-counter mecilizine, which I will testify does impair thinking – it puts me to sleep. As simple to take as a child’s chewable aspirin, it didn’t take long to put me to sleep – but before it did, I was aware of conversations around me yet unable to respond. Not a nice feeling – but lots better than nausea!!

Sunday I was discussing with a nurse what was meant by a “few days” – the number of days I was told to “take it easy and not make quick movements.” I wanted to go to church, but still felt light headed. She said she couldn’t tell me not to go, but asked that I consider how many times I would sit down/get up, be in crowds, turn my head to talk to someone, what would happen if I fell – and I realized how much better it would be for me to wait.

Sunday was a lead-in to our church’s 60th anniversary. Sunday evening’s services were held  at the Cottondale Community Center, where services were held 1955-1956, before the first church building was started. That building was eventually moved to Chico, Texas, when our new building was completed – and next Sunday evening services will be held in Chico.

I felt bad about missing this special service, but I would have been a mild distraction as people asked about my health, and a detrimental distraction if I had fallen or had a recurrence. I do not wish to be a stumbling block for anyone – especially for my readers.

Vertigo was a word I knew, but nothing I had experienced. I needed help in acquiring knowledge how best to work through it, and I needed to heed the advice given. I was as new to vertigo as anyone unacquainted with Jesus as their personal Lord and savior.

Getting to know Him takes acquiring knowledge and heeding advice from someone who knows Him well. Being discipled by an actively practicing Christian is the best way to work through the Bible and acquire knowledge. Personal prayer and Bible study is good, but it’s so much better to have someone share their own experiences.

Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.  (James 3:13 KJV)

It is not a question of arguments nor debates. It is a communication between people who love God, wish to do His will and seek a closer relationship. Strife is not good:

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (James 3:14-18 KJV)

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Sorry - no blog today. Must stay very still while fighting vertigo!  Hopefully only a couple of days!

I am following my doctor's orders. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bearing Fruit


Nice grapevine, isn’t it? It’s bearing a great deal of fruit. That’s what a follower of Jesus is supposed to do, according to the Bible. Go back a few days on this blog, to “The Third Part” of 2 Peter 1:5. The acquisition of knowledge can become a comfortable place to stay. I got to thinking about that while writing yesterday’s blog. It is good to study, but getting bogged down in study keeps us from bearing fruit.

When we accept Jesus as our savior, we accept His descriptions of what we are to become. One is:

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5 KJV)

Jesus uses spiritual growth and fruit in a parable He gave to the crowd and explained to His disciples in Matthew 13:1-23, which ends with bearing fruit:

But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:23 KJV)

Hear God’s word. Understand it – and bear fruit. Now that we’ve got that part down pat, what is the fruit?  You may be surprised to find it pretty much matches the eight parts we studied:

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)

Pretty good fruit, isn’t it? Since we’ve given our lives to God . . . What? You didn’t get that part?

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 KJV)

That’s why there’s a list preceding Galatians 5:22-23. We are not always bearing fruit. It really doesn’t come naturally, as any farmer can tell you. It takes work. Preparing, seeding, watering, weeding and sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes the ground is hard as stone:

But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (Matthew 13:20-21 KJV)

Branches get pruned and trained by the master gardener. We were given an example about what happened to the fruitless:

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! (Matthew 21:18-20 KJV)

Take a look at a Bonsai. Even with small roots, careful pruning and care can make even a small tree fruitful. Spend time with the Lord who created Eden and can make each of us fruitful through His grace.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Does it Matter?

At the top of this blog are tabs that tell more about me.  The second tab, “What I Believe,” should be important to readers.

That entry will explain the foundation for my beliefs. The doctrine, if you will, upon which my faith is based. A lot more people read my blog than stop by and read what I believe and why I write, so I thought it might be a good idea to introduce readers to a bit more of me.

I used to have a tab called “My Witness,” because my daughter asked about it. I removed that, most because it went unnoticed, but also because every blog I write speaks of my witnessing that Jesus Christ is my Lord and savior. The Bible teaches me about what God has in mind for mankind, and what He expects from us. Through reading, learning and application of God’s word in our lives, we do His will.

It does matter what we believe. It matters in this world when His commands are not followed:

O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: (Isaiah 48:18 KJV)

It matters in eternity, when His love is not accepted:

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 3:18 KJV)

He does continue to send messages to His people:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! (Luke 13:34 KJV)

Just as Elijah in I Kings 19, we may not be aware of all who believe. And, just as Esther in 4:14, we may not be aware that another will step in and do what God has in mind for us if we decline His love. We do need to be aware that God has a purpose in our lives for what He tells us to do and we do it by faith:

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3 KJV)

I want this blog to send readers to look into scriptures to see if what I write is true. As always, I ask that my readers be Bereans:

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)

I do. I run across articles, websites, posts of differing beliefs and viewpoints. Some are in direct opposition to what I believe and what I post it is necessary for me to search the scriptures daily, checking to see whether those things – or what I’ve said – are scripturally based. It matters, very seriously to me, that my beliefs are biblically based.

It matters eternally what each of us believes about Jesus. Study that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Noah, By Faith


It’s a children’s story and often a children’s toy, as caught in this graphic from Germany. We all know how the animals went two by two into the ark that Noah built.

But that wasn’t Scott Matthew’s sermon Sunday morning. Oh, yes – we don’t just get uplifting gospel music through the Rochester family. We also get biblical preaching. Yesterday we started in Genesis 6. The first verses describe the sinfulness of the earth, but God found righteousness, too, as he did in Noah’s great-grandfather, Enoch:

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:8-9 KJV)

Noah is mentioned in nine books of the Bible, but Scott sent us to one verse in Hebrews for the message:

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7 KJV)

That’s the chapter I quote often, the chapter that gives us living examples of faith. Many of those lived in times where it appeared there was more evil than good. There were times when God was forgotten or ignored – expect for a faithful few. Or, one.

Scott pointed out five things about Noah from that one verse in Hebrews. Each thing is something we can do in our own lives and each thing was done for one reason:  the saving of his house. Not the building that shelters, but family. His loved ones, just as we love ours, and should follow his example. Here’s what Noah did to save his loved ones:

1 – He believed the words of God. By faith Noah, being warned of God . . . we can do exactly that same thing. By faith. Take a look at Hebrews 11:6, since you are right there. Faith is rewarded.

2 – Noah was moved by fear. The Preacher understood this and wrote Ecclesiastes 12:13. It’s not the same fear that first comes to mind. Check out Strongs G2125, εὐλαβέομαι, where we first act cautiously, being aware or reverencing standing in awe. That’s the fear that moved Noah, and should move us.

3 – He prepared an ark. He set out to do what God told him to do. Stepped out in faith in response to God’s word telling him what to do. That not only bears repeating, but should be our goal, too. Check that out in James 1:22 or Romans 2:13. If God’s word tells us the same thing twice (and many more along this same theme) it is important to apply in our own lives, don’t you think?

4 – He condemned the world. Not each person individually, not judged a person by his own standards. He did not join in on what the world was doing and accepted the truth of God’s judgment upon the sinfulness of the world’s action. That remains true as shown in John 3:17-18. We each have condemned ourselves, and God has shown each how to be saved.

5 – Noah became an heir, by faith, just as we are able:

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

Scott Matthew’s sermon was much richer with descriptions and examples and many scriptures. This is but a short highlight – yet it carries the same message we've heard from the beginning of time, that through faith in God’s grace we are His heirs. Fearfully awesome, isn’t it?

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Once A Year And More


If you click on the graphic above, or their name, you’ll be taken to the website of The Rochester Family. They visit our church annually in the spring and it’s a great start to new life and new growth.

They sing. Oh, how they do sing! They arrive on Saturday, so they are kind enough to give a concert and we invite everyone who enjoys bluegrass gospel music. Last night we had 310 people overflowing into extra seating in our sanctuary. Remember, we are a small country church.

This morning they will sing for us again during Sunday School, a song or two during worship service, then Scott Matthews (on the right bottom in the graphic) will give the message this morning. I do wish you could be there. I enjoy hearing him give a message from God’s word.

Their lyrics are from God’s word, too. One sticks in my mind from last night:

It’s not what I’ve done, it’s that I’ve been to Calvary.

To me those words reflect two scriptures:

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)

… and …

And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. (Luke 23:33 KJV)

There were plenty of people on that Jerusalem hill – men, women, Jews, Romans, believers, scoffers – and we know what happened to few of them. Jesus’ mother was there, and He placed her in the care of a disciple He loved. A Roman soldier there who said what I believe today:

And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God. (Mark 15:39 KJV)

A visit to Calvary should reflect the life of the man who died there. We should seek to know His doctrine – the basis for His beliefs, the foundation upon which He placed His beliefs. Many heard His doctrine:

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (Matthew 7:28-29 KJV)

He shared the source of His doctrine:

And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. (John 7:15-17 KJV)

It is a pleasure to enjoy the music and the lyrics when listening to talented people with beautiful voices. It is better when what you hear has a firm foundation in the good news that was given to all men. It is everywhere around us, that gospel first given by angels to shepherds:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV)

The Rochesters sing lyrics that tell much of His life and people’s response to it. Fortunately, I don’t have to wait until next year to hear them – I have at least ten hours of their CDs available all through the year. I’d share, but I hope you have some of your own.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

It’s A Matter Of Judgment


What can go wrong when a person is healed? Take a look at John’s seventh chapter where Jesus defines how to judge:

Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24 KJV)

Look back at what happened that brought about this statement. In John chapter 5, Jesus had healed a man who had taken up his bed and walked away, completely restored to health. Because of this, people sought to kill Jesus for healing on the sabbath – and it had not been forgotten.

In chapter seven, was time for the Feast of the Tabernacles, the seventh feast given to Israel - observed in the fall, in accordance with Leviticus 23:34 and Deuteronomy 16:13. At first, Jesus was not going:

Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up yet unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. (John 7:8-10 KJV)

It may have appeared to be secret, but not for long:

Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. (John 7:14 KJV)

His teaching was not well received:

The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? (John 7:20 KJV)

Jesus then gives an example of what could appear to be the breaking of God’s law in the fulfillment of God’s law:

Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. (John 7:22 KJV)

Remembering the sabbath day and keeping it holy is one of the Ten Commandments. Circumcision is to be done on the eighth day after a boy’s birth, and that might fall on the sabbath. What should be done? Christ answered that:

Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? (John 7:22-23 KJV)

Which brings us back to verse 24. The lesson I take away from this is that we are to make judgment calls in our Christian lives – not based on superficial appearance, but including positive consequences. Breaking speeding laws isn’t condoned, except in cases of emergencies. What is applicable for ambulances and fire trucks may be applicable for individuals in life-threatening situations. It is a judgment call.  Consider the case and complete the decision making.

Context is important. Calling solely upon Matthew 7:1 indicates a lack of understanding of the fullness of God’s word. It is up to each one of us to read, study, come to understand and teach God’s word as Paul described he did:

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27 KJV)

Even Peter said this was hard to understand, but necessary:

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16 KJV)

Friday, March 13, 2015

What Hast Thou Done?

And Samuel said, What hast thou done?

It’s a simple question, isn’t it? Too often it is answered with excuses, just as:

And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;  (1 Samuel 13:11 KJV)

Saul is taking credit for seeing a problem that required a solution, then blames Samuel for not being on time as well as blaming the Philistines for preparing for battles. Makes himself sound very good, doesn’t it? He’s aware of what’s going on around him, Samuel’s not paying attention – as well as being late – and the Philistines must be stopped. Only Saul is doing as he should, in his answer.

Unfortunately, Saul didn’t stop, with this explanation or his actions:

Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering. (1 Samuel 13:12 KJV)

“Therefore”, after giving his reasoning Saul confesses his sin. He took over Samuel’s responsibility of making a burnt offering.

Doesn’t sound too bad in black and white, does it? Oh, but it was – and is. I believe it has to do with what is in a person’s heart when they approach God. When we read “I forced myself,” we know that Saul was aware that making the burnt offering was not his responsibility. Saul had already complained about Samuel not showing up and gave that as one of the reasons for making the offering.

Also, Saul appears to equate beating the Philistines and asking for God’s help with the burnt offering, not with building a relationship with God. We see the difference in Samuel’s answer:

And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever. But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. (1 Samuel 13:13-14 KJV)

A look at Psalm 26 shows a lot about David’s relationship with God – why he was a man after God’s own heart:

A Psalm of David. Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. (Psalms 26:1-2 KJV)

Saul is never shown as seeing God so personally. David’s prayers to the Lord are as personal as one friend to another, yet acknowledge God’s omnipotence. David approaches God acknowledging his shortcomings, understanding that his life is in God’s hands and stating his dependence upon God.

Huge differences between these two men. Samuel’s pronouncement “thy kingdom shall not continue” indicates there had been the possibility that it would. It was not his actions that removed that possibility, but what was in his heart - the foundation for the actions – that Saul’s kingdom did not continue.

It is my foundation – my heart’s desires – that determines my relationship with God, too. When I trust in the Lord, His desires are in my heart:

Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. (Psalms 37:4 KJV)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Things Remain The Same


Many biblical stories contain names familiar to us today. This map shows how close Amman, Damascus and Jerusalem are – names in our news almost on a daily basis. A bit of checking in Wikipedia about Damascus shows a name that appears in our Wednesday Bible lesson:
As this new state expanded south, it prevented the Kingdom of Israel from spreading north and the two kingdoms soon clashed as they both sought to dominate trading hegemony in the east. Under Ezron's grandson, Ben-Hadad I (880–841 BC), and his successor Hazael, Damascus annexed Bashan (modern-day Hauran region), and went on the offensive with Israel.
The lesson included the meeting between Elisha and Hazael in II Kings 8:7-15. For some undocumented reason, Elisha is in Damascus:

And Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither. (2 Kings 8:7 KJV)

The first thought I wrote on my lesson notes had to do with how Elisha was known as “the man of God.” What a reputation preceded him to Damascus! We tend to forget that we have a reputation of our own – does it include a reference to God?

Elisha was well known to Benhadad. Perhaps Benhadad was aware of Naaman’s healing from leprosy, or perhaps he was the Syrian king of II Kings 6 whose troops were blinded. However he knew, he sought help:

And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God, and enquire of the LORD by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease? (2 Kings 8:8 KJV)

The second name from Wikipedia. Obviously trusted by Benhadad, he was allowed into the king’s sickroom and given a message to ask the man of God. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what our future holds? As we find – not so much!

Hazael did take presents – forty camels loaded with the best Damascus had to offer – and asked the question. He then discovered Elisha knew much more than the answer to that one question:

And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die. And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept. (2 Kings 8:10-11 KJV)

I visualized Elisha keeping eye contact with Hazael, letting him know that he could not only see Benhadad well, but he knew what Hazael was going to do. He wept, but not for the assassination:

And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. (2 Kings 8:12 KJV)

That verse brought tears to my eyes, too. Not simply because of the evil Benhadad was going to - and did - to Israel, just as Elisha prophesied, but because that same evil, those same atrocities, are being done today. In the same area, ISIS is slaying young men, children and woman.

We need to remember David’s strong faith in God’s judgment:

Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever. O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them. But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. (Psalms 9:5-8 KJV)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Eighth Part

So, we’ve achieved all but the last part – and I want to start this in a negative way, defining how we are without charity:

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 KJV)

We can, with due diligence, add to ourselves all the things Peter listed:

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 until we add that last:

and to brotherly kindness charity. (2 Peter 1:5-7 KJV)

. . .  we have nothing.

So, why did we do all the faith building, knowledge gathering, soul cleansing, leveling out, patience learning, good working, brotherly loving – and still end up with NOTHING?!?!?

Not understanding the love God has for us, and returning that love to Him.

Now that took some soul-searching on my part to know I did not have it. I had problems getting past brotherly kindness, much less accepting that the love God has for us must be given back through Him to others. Bottom line, that’s my goal as a follower of Christ.

This isn’t the same “charity” we think of when we donate to good causes.  This is Greek, ἀγάπη (Strong’s G26), one of three words for love used in the New Testament. This is not the friendship love that gave Philadelphia its name, nor the physical love of Eros. This is the spiritual love that God has for us and expects us to extend to others.

In that thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians, Paul continues after telling us what we miss by not having love. He describes what God’s love is like. But there can be no greater love example than God’s love for us:

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

The Greek translated “charity” in Paul’s letter is the same Greek translated “love” in this verse. The same Greek translated “love” in John’s letter:

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

If we cannot love in that same manner, we have not arrived at the end of our journey:

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)

That is the end of the series. Please, do not place any blame on my pastor who gave two awesome sermons on these eight items. His sermons made me think hard about those steps in my own life. My journey is not complete – but I’m still moving forward.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Seventh Part

Do you have a brother? I don’t. I do have a sister, and I can remember many times of sibling rivalry. Yet, I love her. Joseph had brothers, too. At their reunion, brotherly kindness was evident. Now, I have brothers, too, in Christ. I know that for several reasons, but partly because Peter speaks of it as the seventh item:

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; (2 Peter 1:5-7a KJV)

Brotherly kindness comes after godliness? Really? It would be almost impossible without godliness, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t it take being closer to God, acting within His will, to achieve the following?

And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:30-32 KJV)

Isn’t that what David saw when he asked our Lord to judge him and referred to:

For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: (Psalms 26:3a KJV)

We know what God has done in the past. We have His example before us and it is filled with loving kindness.

Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD. (Psalms 107:43 KJV)

Even for the unlovable? Yes. Why?

We love him, because he first loved us. 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 4:19-21 KJV)

How lovable are we? Not so much.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:10 KJV)

Yet – God so loved us that He gave His only begotten son. We believed what we heard about Him and placed our faith in His promises. We stepped forward on the path to Christian growth. We’ve seen His love in action and we’ve examined our own lives and we should know about brotherly love:

But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. (1 Thessalonians 4:9 KJV)

No doubt it is God’s will that we have brotherly kindness for those God loves, and He’ll take care of the rest:

Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:1-2 KJV)

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Sixth Part

Okay – we’re getting closer. After we’ve stepped up to patience, Peter tells us what’s next:

And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; (2 Peter 1:6 KJV)

Godliness?  Didn’t we get that covered in the second step, Virtue? Didn’t we get changed, become a new creature and start doing good works? Paul wrote Timothy about godliness being profitable:

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. (1 Timothy 4:8-9 KJV)

But doesn’t tell us what is it, how we are to be. Jude tells us what it is not:

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4 KJV)

As does Paul:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 KJV)

Godliness is a higher form of virtue. It is allowing ourselves to be transformed:

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2 KJV)

Virtue can have us doing good works, very good works. Godliness has us seeking God’s will – then following His will.

Now, do you see anywhere in there that we will be happy, have our physical needs covered, be safe from harm? Not when we are striving to become more Christ-like in our steps. Not when we know what He expected:

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:3-4 KJV)

He did all of that for me, to change me, to conform me:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:28-29 KJV)

To step through to Godliness – we must get to know God. We must move past good works to become His good work, among many brethren. Let’s look at that tomorrow. Yes – there are two more!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Fifth Part

Have you been patiently waiting for the fifth step? Careful, that step can be a stumbling block if we try to do it alone:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; (2 Peter 1:5-6a KJV)

Oops – patience!! James tells us:

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (James 1:2-3 KJV)

In Hebrews we were told:

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:36 KJV)

Much earlier, Jesus said:

In your patience possess ye your souls. (Luke 21:19 KJV)

However, I see the most informative statement in Jesus’ explanation to the disciples about seeds:

And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. (Luke 8:14 KJV)

These understood that they heard was God’s word and were willing to go forward in His will – until they were faced with cares, need for riches or chose to enjoy the pleasures of this life instead of living in faith the steps it takes to grow in God’s will. Actually, some of these do have faith, live virtuous lives while acquiring knowledge - but become stuck before achieving patience.

Maybe we should change minding Ps&Qs to Patience Quotient. I should take stock of my Patience Quotient on a regular basis. It takes patience to see God’s work when we have prayed and there is no apparent answer – or the most apparent answer is “No.” Especially when life does not make sense to us.

No – I will not go into specific examples of temptations we face. They are personal and affect each one of us differently. What is a temptation for me may not be for someone else - I might mention something that could become temptation to another. We can be certain that what takes our attention away from growing through God’s grace, that is temptation. And, it has a source both Ezekiel and Peter knew:

There is a conspiracy of her prophets in the midst thereof, like a roaring lion ravening the prey; they have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they have made her many widows in the midst thereof. (Ezekiel 22:25 KJV)

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)

That message has not changed. Some temptations look very good. Some come as tribulations and are painful. Some tribulations come as the result of giving in to temptations. Too often Christian growth ends at this step. Others, as Paul, continue forward:

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Romans 5:3-5 KJV)

Work through to patience with God’s help – never alone. It's a journey with Him.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Fourth Part


Temperance. In America the word brings to mind the Temperance Movement of the 19th century, culminating in the Prohibition constitutional amendment – which didn’t last. Yet Peter makes it the fourth part of things for a follower of Christ to add with due diligence:

and to temperance patience; (2 Peter 1:6b KJV)

Peter used ἐγκράτεια (Strong’s G1466), defined as self-mastery, self-restraint, self-control, continence. How are you doing at this? Me? Not so well. I keep thinking of yesterday’s blog on Knowledge – maybe if I learn just a little more … maybe there’s an answer just beyond what I’ve read … I can’t possibly know it all.

But, if I stick with biblical doctrine, I don’t have to look further than:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 KJV)

Both the gate and the way are narrow, so it is not an insult to call me narrow minded, is it? Not taking the broad way that offers so many options. Why do I need an option other than the eternal life offered through belief in Jesus Christ as Lord? Oh – I’ll miss out on so much, won’t I?

Remember those winds from yesterday’s blog? The choice of accepting a doctrine-of-the-month, or sticking with the Bible – which is preferable? Regrettably for the highly news-worthy mega-churches or the bitterly divisive one-man’s-doctrine type churches, or even the discovery-of-the-day main-stream-media, there are written words inspired by God.

Since Moses began writing them down, there have been groups swinging in the wind from the left to the right, back and forth, picking here, poking there – while the narrow way points to the strait gate, and that’s my goal. The one Peter used earlier in this chapter:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:4 KJV)

Following Christ, and only Christ, takes considerable self-control. I must understand why I’m following Him, and not be swayed by the mirror-images displayed by those who look elsewhere. Is it for personal gain?  His example keeps us from looking for fame, fortune, power. He had all of those fleetingly upon this earth. He chose the ordinary, corruptible people to travel with Him and changed them into orators and authors as they moved along the same narrow way He teaches us.

Is this steadfastness of purpose – swinging neither to the left or right, high nor low, but remaining temperate - impossible?

And they that heard it said, Who then can be saved? And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. (Luke 18:26-27 KJV)

Temperance? Three steps beyond faith, two beyond virtue and it follows obtaining knowledge. Yet – it does not complete Christian growth.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Third Part


This third step is one I enjoy – and I share each day. Knowledge. The joy I have learning about God’s word falls into this category:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (2 Peter 1:5 KJV)

If you’re not familiar with the faith and virtue part, look back a couple of days and you’ll find that these are steps Peter sees as essential to Christian growth. This third part is where we can get stuck. Especially, if like me, it is so wonderful to learn – and so difficult to apply, so we keep looking to find something that fits our lifestyle.

Adding knowledge may sound as simple as single verse salvation – do as the jailer who asked Paul and Silas what he had to do to be saved:

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:31 KJV)

Saying “I believe” is not believing. The jailer had knowledge, doctrine - a set of beliefs - to acquire and build upon:

And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (Acts 16:32 KJV)

I wonder which scriptures they used. There were no New Testament writings at this point – Luke hadn’t written these words to Theophilus. Did Paul speak of doctrine, as Moses did?

Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. (Deuteronomy 32:1-3 KJV)

Zophar declined Job’s doctrine:

For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes. But oh that God would speak, and open his lips against thee; And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is! Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth. (Job 11:4-6 KJV)

Yet we know – and Zophar discovered – that Job’s doctrine, his knowledge of God, was correct. His tribulations were seen as God’s punishment, but his belief that his actions were pure in God’s eyes remained firm. His doctrine was pure, and he was unmoved, as David described:

He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved. (Psalms 62:6 KJV)

Yet, it is possible to be stuck in this area. Unable to accept there is a true doctrine we keep searching, tossed to and fro:

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

The way we move past this is often overlooked in the next verse:

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:14-15 KJV)

For Christians need to be aware that one single, very important, person had doctrine in which we need to place our faith:

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: (Matthew 7:28 KJV)

And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine. (Matthew 22:33 KJV)

The knowledge we need most is the doctrine Jesus Christ taught.

Knowledge is only the third step. A place where we can be carried about by those who may be in the same step. Peter gives us eight to consider. Moving to the fourth part may be difficult. I know from personal experience.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Second Part

The first part is faith. Visit yesterday’s blog if you’ve arrived here without “getting” the first part. We’re spending time with Peter’s second letter. In the first verse he introduces himself, and those to whom the letter is addressed:

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1 KJV)

Peter addresses the faithful, those who have expressed publicly their faith in God and have accepted the gift of salvation through His son, our savior, Jesus Christ. Without that faith, the rest of this instruction might not make sense:

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue;  (2 Peter 1:5a KJV)

Changes come with the acceptance of God’s gift of grace through faith. If not, there is no growth. That thread runs through the entire Bible. Our relationship with God sets us on path that diverges from ourselves and leads to Him.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

Others will notice the changes we make:

That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. 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: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: (1 Peter 4:2-4 KJV)

Jesus refers to this as being born again, back to yesterday’s visit with Nicodemus:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:3-7 KJV)

Paul, for all of his long discourse, puts this succinctly in one verse:

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 5:17 KJV)

The changes come from the inside and are seen by others. If no change:

But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. (James 3:14-15 KJV)

If there are no changes following a profession of faith, how will people know we follow Jesus? How can we know what needs to be changed in the first place? That’s The Third Part.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The First Part

There have been many times I could have sat through hours of teaching, when one point led to another and each one opened my eyes to sights unseen. My pastor, however, is aware that time does make a difference and is careful not to reach the point where people stop listening. Sunday morning’s sermon was one of those times.

The scripture reference came from a short letter and follows an introduction validating his credentials as well as describing to whom it was written:

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1 KJV)

It was upon Peter’s statement of faith that Jesus gave as the foundation of His church:

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:15-18 KJV)

That’s why our Sunday morning scripture began with faith:

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. (2 Peter 1:5-7 KJV)

Faith is an absolute necessity for salvation. The Bible tells us so. Christianity is established by faith in God.

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

Jesus explained it to a man who served God, yet did not understand God’s teachings:

Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3:9-12 KJV)

Nicodemus knew that what Jesus did had to have come from God – but he did not understand what was so different about Jesus. To answer him, Jesus drew upon an example very familiar to a religious Jew, and foretold His own death:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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 3:14-16 KJV)

Without faith in God’s love for His creation, understanding that Jesus was the Messiah would be impossible. Without faith in God’s perfect planning, accepting the death of the Messiah at the hands of Jews would be just as impossible. Today it remains a barrier to billions of people who will not accept the totality of God’s message. Too often a reader of God’s word shuts out portions of His will as still being impossible. Yet, we were told:

When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:25-26 KJV)

The Bible also tells us how to achieve faith:

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

And, it speaks of its 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)

If this is not understandable, The Second Part will be just as understandable, so spend some time here determining the strength of personal faith in Jesus, God’s son, our savior, Christ.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


We are continuing our study of Joseph, but not so much his life but principles displayed that are applicable in our own. Last Sunday (in spite of ice and snow) we were in class for Genesis 45, beginning with:

Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. (Genesis 45:1 KJV)

I’ve seen a similar reunion. Joseph’s took place 22 years after his brothers sold him into slavery. The one I witnessed was almost 37 years after a mother sent two of her sons off with her ex-husband to another state, and lost them to what we know as Child Protective Services today. There’s a long story I hope to write, but one day my Beloved Husband was reunited with his mother – and discovered two brothers and two sisters he had not known.

I know from experience such reunions are filled with tears. Some joyful, some springing from regret for actions not taken and opportunities lost. Is there any possibilities that anyone in our family could say, as Joseph did:

Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, . . . for God did send me. (Genesis 45:5a, c KJV)
So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: (Genesis 45:8a KJV)
. . . God hath made me . . . (Genesis 45:9c\b KJV)

What he had gone through gave Joseph the ability and the position to provide for his family during the seven-year drought. He had learned what the psalmist later wrote:

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. (Psalms 130:5 KJV)

The psalmist had the Torah to read about Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Joseph simply had his faith in God. As our Sunday School lesson put it:
Though Joseph doesn’t have a Bible he knows God’s heart because he knows God’s way.
Joseph had personal knowledge of God’s work in his life, and he retained a personal relationship with Him that led to the reunion with his family. The lesson gave three principles:
  • Allow God time to work. Just as we’re told in Psalms 130:5.
  • Await opportunities to talk. Joseph waited two years, two tests, before revealing himself to his brothers.
  • Anticipate God’s blessings on your efforts. God’s designs are good.
It is obvious in this chapter that Joseph held no bitterness toward his brothers. And, he never mentions to them in these passages about the years spent in prison for being faithful to his master. He looked forward through the next five years of famine to protecting his family.

The lesson referred to Ephesians for an example for us to be able to achieve such a reunion:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 KJV)

Excellent advice for everyone – especially me.

Monday, March 2, 2015


Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. (Isaiah 40:28 KJV)

Isaiah knew what the kingdom of Judah faced with Babylon. He encouraged them through the sufficiency of their Lord. As one commentary puts it:
Since the Creator knows the name of everything in His complex creation, how could He, the God of Israel, possibly forget His covenant people? Since He is as powerful as He is, how could He be incapable of helping them? . . . He is eternal, not bound to the present, as we are. He is Yahweh, the covenant-keeping God. He is the Creator of all the earth, not restricted to only one locale at a time. He does not grow tired, because He is omnipotent. He is inscrutable, because He is omniscient. He is unlimited by time, space, power, and understanding
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:29-31 KJV)

God is dependable. He is all the words that define dependable: trustworthy, reliable, faithful, unfailing. We don’t know how to depend on – to rely on, to be determined by or to be controlled – Him. In fact, we do not wish to be controlled by anyone or to have our lives determined by anyone. Truthfully, do we?

Yet, that’s what He asks. He asks that we wait upon Him.

That might have a double meaning – to serve Him, or to be patient with Him. Even the Hebrew קוה has no single meaning – to wait, look for, hope – or to collect, bind together. Either one should be how we respond to God. We need to depend on Him as well as be of service to Him.

Verse 31 is my Beloved Husband’s favorite verse. All three times he was in ICU, that verse was on the wall across from his bed where he could see it every time he awakened. He knew that waiting upon the Lord was the way to renew his strength. Not a very patient man, he learned patience while being controlled by others. For a while, he could not expel air from his lungs. He discovered that depending on others – and a machine – could provide the very breath he needed to live. And that scriptures brought strengthened faith.

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (Matthew 4:3 KJV)

I’m afraid this is still done, too often.  “If you are real, God, then . . .” and we insert what we want into the equation. Jesus had the answer we are too limited to use:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4 KJV) (see also Deuteronomy 8:3)

Am I capable of depending on what I read in God’s word to build a relationship with Him? If not – why? If so, am I dependable in doing?