Saturday, May 30, 2015
We Christians sometimes see witnessing as something that is done once. We tell people what we believe as the most simple, uncomplicated truth . . .
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)
. . . without taking time to learn their concept of God, the world, begotten, believing or everlasting life. We haven’t a clue about their family life to know what they see in their father when we tell them about our Father . . .
And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2 KJV)
. . . and that we should do His will – without explaining what His will might be. At the very least, though, we have planted a seed. A seed that may not show fruit for some time – if ever. Some will never have an interest in hearing why we believe God is important in their lives.
Understanding that Jesus faced that every day of His ministry may help us show others His importance. His responses to unbelieving questions should be our lessons.
When Sadducees came to Jesus with a scheme to trap Him by asking what they deemed was a difficult doctrinal question, His response tells us what we should know:
Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. (Matthew 22:29 KJV)
The scriptures are inspired by God – virtually God-breathed – and we do err by not knowing them and using them to explain our hope:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)
We can be ready if we not only become familiar with God’s word but apply it to our own lives before attempting to apply it to others. We do have help in our daily witnessing to His impact on our lives.
When speaking to His disciples, He promised words would be provided:
But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost. (Mark 13:11 KJV)
We see examples of that in the book of Acts as many of them were brought before governors and kings. They were able to speak the gospel under stressful and adverse conditions. And, we see where their words were noted – and basically rejected:
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. (Acts 26:28 KJV)
I’m giving this a lot of thought today partly because I do not know what to say. A young life touched mine years ago and I saw there a response to the many people interested in sharing God’s love. Today the symbols I see in that life signify satanic rituals, replacing what we had hoped would be Christian growth. Rather than walk away shaking off dust, I pray that God will provide the right person with the right words – and prepare myself, should an opportunity arise.
Friday, May 29, 2015
and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh,
and will give them an heart of flesh:
That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances,
and do them:
and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
(Ezekiel 11:19-20 KJV)
I thought of this graphic from a post I did three years ago. I had a different verse in mind for today, though:
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:20-23 KJV)
Now I’d like to look at that verse as it is written in the International Children’s Bible:
20 My child, pay attention to my words.This could very well be every parent’s prayer for their child, especially those who believe in God and that He has a purpose for our lives.
Listen closely to what I say.
21 Don’t ever forget my words.
Keep them deep within your heart.
22 These words are the secret to life for those who find them.
They bring health to the whole body.
23 Be very careful about what you think.
Your thoughts run your life
While we are very aware that the heart is not the seat of our emotions, we still use the phrases that seem as though it does. “I love you with all my heart.” “My heart is broken.” “I have a heavy heart.” The examples could go on and on, and they do in the Bible.
Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. (Psalms 4:4 KJV)
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5 KJV)
And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. (Acts 13:22 KJV)
Jesus confirmed how important our heart is:
For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. (Luke 6:43-45 KJV)
All this ties in to a Facebook post my teenage great-grandson posted. It’s a video done by a wrestler (my GGS is one, too!) who did not listen to his mother’s advice until after she passed away. Now he tells teens what he learned: "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future."
That’s almost biblical, too, close to what Jesus said:
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Matthew 6:21 KJV)
Take care of your heart, your emotions, your dedication and most especially your love. Know who has your heart. Do they have God’s interest in your heart, too? In your soul? That’s known through a relationship with God, who has your very soul’s care in His heart.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. (Titus 3:8-11 KJV)
I’m not certain how the graphic will display on the blog page, but it tells us that originally the Greek word used in Titus 3:10 meant “choose” and eventually meant to choose an opinion that is against what is generally accepted. Ironic, I believe, is that today what is generally accepted is not was Jesus told us God accepts. As followers of Christ, we should be aware of what Jesus said, not how current society applies those words.
You see, while I fully believe:
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 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. (Matthew 22:35-39 KJV)
I do not believe it negates the positive plan God instituted:
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. (Matthew 19:3-6 KJV)
The Pharisees came back with as human an argument as I’ve ever heard – and we still hear it today, without considering Jesus’ answer:
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 19:7-8 KJV)
Jesus is quoted as affirming God’s plan of one husband, one wife, from the beginning. However, the hardness of our hearts chooses to hold opinions against what God created.
We do make choices and live with consequences. God allows us to make those choices. Society accepts or rejects our lifestyles based on what seems good at the moment, subject to the winds of opinion. Society accepts or rejects God’s word also subject to the winds of opinion, doesn’t it?
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 KJV)
It is much easier to be swayed by something we’d like to hear than to hear we are not doing what we’re supposed to do. It is much easier to do what we know others have done before. Moses told the Israelites:
Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. (Deuteronomy 12:8 KJV)
Yet in just a few generations we read:
In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6 KJV)
That hadn’t changed for some in Solomon’s generation:
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15 KJV)
God knows whether the way is right:
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2 KJV)
So, how can we possibly know what to reject? If it seems right to us and we believe our heart is right, how can we know? For me, the answer is back with the Bereans:
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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 17:10-11 KJV)
Be ready in your mind to search the scriptures.
Monday, May 25, 2015
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. (John 15:12-14 KJV)
Sunday morning our pastor asked his class if there were those who lost family members in war. My husband raised his hand and mentioned his brother Jack. The loss of a single soldier costs families their future. The death of John Clarence “Jack” Blickensderfer in World War II changed our family forever. It is in honor of his life and death that we personalize Memorial Day each year.
Jack’s parents adopted two young brothers. Babies are the first request for adoption so it’s fortunate to be adopted at age eight. For brothers 8 and 7 to be adopted together, the odds were astronomical following World War II. Yet my husband and his brother were – because two planes collided over Hoorn, Holland, July 7, 1944 during a bombing run to Germany. Because one young man, who knew he could be killed, joined with others to protect his nation and others from people determined to kill and enslave.
Jack was 19 when he enlisted. Before his 20th birthday he completed Army Air Corps training and was a Captain flying co-pilot for a B-17 Flying Fortress – not the Hilo Hattie, their plane was not available for the photo:
When his parents received word of his death, his father wrote a poem, “God Was Very Close Today.” Just a few years before, Jack’s grandfather had written in his will a note to his children:
To my dear family survivors; the greatest asset I can hand down to you is to commend you to the Lord Jesus Christ whom I have tried to serve from childhood. He is the only rock or foundation you can safely build or rely upon and you should love Him with all your might.
I, too, wish to pass down to my family that same thought that was given by our Father through His Son:
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 3:16-17 KJV)
Isaiah wrote of Him as seen by those who killed Him:
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)
We who love Him as Lord understand why:
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. (Isaiah 53:5 KJV)
Today there are many in our nation who do not appear to understand or appreciate those we remember on Memorial Day. There are as many, or more, who do not understand God’s love that goes far beyond laying down a life for friends, but doing it for those who despise and reject.
It takes time to reflect and understand. I pray that time is taken and understanding is gained.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
I was reading a novel and toward the end there was an interesting paragraph about regrets. We’ve all experienced regrets, maybe even remorse, along with a bit of self-pity when we think of what has happened to us. Some never get past that point to consider what we’ve done to others and regret those actions.
There’s a parable beginning in Matthew 18:24, about a king that forgave a servant's debt. The servant, however, tossed his debtor into prison. In verse 32 we read the king's view of this action:
Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? (Matthew 18:32-33 KJV)
The servant had not learned mercy as his master had. He gave no thought to forgiving others. The servant showed no repentance, no change in his life. He did live to regret his actions, but it was to late:
And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. (Matthew 18:34 KJV)
Today, the definition of "repent" is to feel (or even express) sincere regret or remorse about wrongdoing. Synonyms are remorse, regret, contrition. The definition gave the source – Latin to Old French to Old English, with a graph showing “regret”’s use going down hill for more than a hundred years:
How about what I see as even greater than regret is contrition. Again we see synonyms of remorse, repentance, sorrow, regret while the definition is feeling remorseful and penitent.
Penitent – now there’s a good word both as an adjective (contrite, remorseful, sorry, apologetic, regretful, conscience-stricken, rueful, ashamed) and as a noun (a person who repents their sins or wrongdoings and, in the Christian Church, seeks forgiveness from God) – now there’s action. There’s making changes.
Psalm 51 is way at the top of my favorites. David confesses his sin and sets an example, as a man’s after God’s own heart, for our own:
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalms 51:14-17 KJV)
Acknowledging without changing reminds me of an old adage that says the definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different outcome. Continuing in what God has made clear to us is sinfulness while regretting our actions is not repenting.
Yet, repenting is what Jesus preached from the beginning of His ministry:
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17 KJV)
To the end book of the Bible:
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:19-20 KJV)
That’s the church at Laodicea, the last of the seven Jesus addressed in John’s vision. Chapter 4 moves the conversation to the Lord’s throne, away from what was to happen in this world. Now that’s a huge change!
Are we willing to make the changes necessary in our lives to understand the 51st psalm? To make the offering of a broken and contrite heart? Not to have it broken to cause us pain, but to bring to us recognition of our sins to the point we ask His forgiveness and change our ways. Is that the change our lives need? I do so believe it is needed in mine.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
In the United States House of Representatives is Thomas Hudson Jone’s sculpture of Hammurabi. His Code dates back to 1754 BC:
It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the code, and partial copies exist on a human-sized stone stele and various clay tablets.
It was used as the legal authority of what happened to those who broke that code.
The United States has such an authority, the Constitution. Created in the 18th century, it must be applied in 21th century cultural activities though there are thousands of new words in dictionaries that were unable to be considered when it was written. Still, it is used as the authority of this nation’s existence. At times.
While in a doctor’s office, I picked up a TIME magazine from February of this year, the article about the measles epidemic/dispute. One line struck me as going way beyond that one subject:
"In a culture upended by diminished authorities . . ."
What absolute truth is included in that statement!! Where do we see authority? I must tell you that my bottom line authority is God’s word. I believe what is written in what I believe is God’s word to mankind, and I believe it is our Holy Bible. Please do not begin an argument over what is a true Bible. That question actually diminishes God’s message.
There are 53 verses referencing scripture(s) in the KJV. The Good News Bible has 162. Some might see that as discrepancy - until looking at specific verses:
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Matthew 4:10 KJV)
Then Jesus answered, "Go away, Satan! The scripture says, 'Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!' " (Matthew 4:10 GNB)
So, if we add “it is written” as well as “scripture”, the numbers are much, much closer. Each translation tells us that the people who heard Jesus recognized scriptures as such. What was found in Qumran confirms our expectations that they were scriptures then and are scriptures today. From those writings that Bereans checked was was preached to them to be so.
They searched documents of authority to verify a tremendous change to what they had been taught. They discovered for themselves, based on an authority they trusted. Not the people who told them what the authority said, but by personal searching. If they had no authority, they would be as we are today – wondering what to believe and where to look for it.
Yes, I am concerned about a lack of authority in our government – at all levels. I doubt I am alone. I am more concerned about denominations doubting scriptural authority, relying instead on cultural desires. I am also concerned that some pick out scriptures that sound good, but ignore what Paul preached:
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. (Acts 20:27 KJV)
We will find what we seek. If we seek God, He will be found. If we seek our own desires, they too can be found. Remember, Satan tempted our Lord with scripture that lack all the counsel of God.
Be aware of authority. Use it wisely.
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
This isn’t the best of graphics – I cropped and resized from a screen capture. I found it after searching for one of the scriptures from a set of cards our missions group made. In case you can’t read the reference for what God said:
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (2 Corinthians 9:8 KJV)
The cards our group created has the “You Say” on one side and the “God Says” on the other. I must admit I glued some of them together because I’m not talented as some of our ladies who make beautiful things from paper. We have provided them for several different missionaries to pass around, and offered them at our craft fair. They provide an opportunity for people to see that we often have the same feelings, the same questions for God. Such as, “I feel all alone.” Yet we read:
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5 KJV)
No, never alone. Even when we say, “I am afraid.”
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7 KJV)
A sound mind? But, what if I’m not smart enough?
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV)
Yes, He has provided wisdom to those who sought Him and asked in order that they might serve Him by helping others. Moses asked for help, he knew he could not face Pharaoh alone. And Solomon asked to help the people he was to govern. I venture to say both of them worried about their responsibilities. Peter tell us:
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7 KJV)
No one knows your particular situation, though. Why can’t they see how tiring it is to go from day to day, to the point it’s easy to say, “I can’t go on!” Then, He tells us:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)
Oh, there are so many more! The Bible has so many examples of His mercy and His grace – along with examples of His perfect judgment.
I read something from the Bible and get comfort and education from it even while I’m asking questions. I pray for my readers that they, too, will understand what a comfort it is as we figure things out.
Might one of your questions be, “Is He able?”
And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. (Matthew 9:27-29 KJV)
Monday, May 18, 2015
Yes – I do watch “Bones” reruns. No, I’m not certain why, but I have given it thought. That’s right, it makes me think. Recently I heard the Dr. Brennan character speak of the "Jesus myth." She explained that she could not accept His miracles, but understood forgiveness as the reason the "myth" endures. How sad to miss so much of God’s message to mankind, but she’s on the right path because God does offer so much forgiveness. He also requires that we do, too:
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22 KJV)
Please note that Jesus said nothing about the brother changing. We sort of add that part in. We look for remorse, for repentance, for lifestyle changes then we’ll consider forgiveness. Remember earlier in the week when I mentioned the thief on the cross? There wasn’t time for any change to be made in his life. He did admit his guilt, but he did not ask for forgiveness of his sinful life:
And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. (Luke 23:42 KJV)
When a sick man was brought to Him, Jesus first forgave his sins:
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. (Matthew 9:2 KJV)
Jesus explained why – then healed the man:
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. (Matthew 9:3-6 KJV)
All sin is against God’s will, as David realized:
Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 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 51:2-4 KJV)
The best example Jesus gave for me is:
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12 KJV)
Am I willing to expect God’s forgiveness to match mine? Or, should I change mine to match His?
Sunday, May 17, 2015
National Archives & Records Administration, ARC Identifier: 302035
I have written a letter of resignation, though mine included a two-week notice. I have typed letters of resignation for other people, too, but many simply abandon jobs. One I remember had some pretty serious consequences. The employee had a company credit card and used it liberally in New Orleans preceding Mardi Gras. Upon realizing his error, he checked into a mental institution for rehabilitation. His parents contacted the company and began setting up restitution.
Jesus’ disciples were very much aware of job abandonment:
In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. (Matthew 26:55-56 KJV)
Forsaken. Even Peter, upon whose testimony the church was to be built, as we find from Matthew 29:69 to:
Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. (Matthew 26:74 KJV)
Paul understood abandonment as John Mark left he and Barnabas, but also:
For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (2 Timothy 4:10-11 KJV)
Mark redeemed himself, giving Paul good cause to see him as profitable for the ministry.
Isn’t that awesome? Both Peter and Mark abandoned the job God had in store for them. Both returned to witness to the fact that God has use for those who abandoned Him – which we all have at one time or another, haven’t we? Isaiah wrote of this:
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. (Isaiah 53:6 KJV)
We, too, can return to the job. Think of how many turned our Lord down during their lives, yet got the job done. Well, it’s a much shorter list to name those who followed without fail.
I’m not here to list failures, though. Mine would take up much more space than is available on the web. Add yours and we would just weep on each others shoulder. No, I’m here today to recognize failures occur and redemption is available to each of us.
That’s the miracle! We proclaim with Zacharias:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, (Luke 1:68 KJV)
We can sing with Fanny Crosby:
Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.
And, we can learn a new song:
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9 KJV)
Get back to the job God has for us.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
We meet a very sweet girl while on vacation. We were eating lunch at Tupelo Honey restaurant (which I do recommend!) and the usual discussion was taking place: “I’ll take the ticket”, “No, you got it last time, it’s my turn”, “Let me take care of it”; when our sweet waitress explained to both gentlemen how much better it is to accept the gift, allowing both to receive a blessing.
We’ll call her REL – not her name, but it comes close – and she went to to chat with us a bit about how so many people will turn down a gift, thinking it a social obligation. I heard this same thought from a gentleman in our church years ago – allow someone to be a blessing to you.
Okay, I’m going to take this up a notch and give you some verses about gifts – and hope you either have accepted, or will accept in the near future. Yes, I am praying for several people who have been very open about not having Jesus in their life. They have not accepted God’s gift as explained in the most quoted verse in the Bible:
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)
God’s gift. I agree with Paul:
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV)
The gift is explained more than once:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (Ephesians 2:8 KJV)
God intends for us to use this gift ourselves, and spread the word that it is available to all:
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. (Ephesians 4:4-7 KJV)
We are given smaller gifts to use in sharing the word of God’s gift. Paul was aware of his, and of Timothy’s:
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:14-16 KJV)
I have neglected my gift in my lifetime and I’m certain others have, too. But neglecting is not as bad for us as not accepting the gift. Refusing and thus losing both being blessed and the opportunity to be a blessing:
For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:2-3 KJV)
I pray for those on my list that they will not neglect so great salvation. I pray they will accept God’s gift, receive His blessing and be a blessing to others in His name.
I read this past week that “You did not do anything to achieve your salvation, but you must do something to exhibit it.” The references included:
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12-13 KJV)
As the church in Philippi, we will not have the pastor, evangelist, mentor to disciple us. Eventually we must work with God what is His will and His pleasure in our lives. That’s not an easy task.
It is not as praying, “God, do with me as You will,” or “Tell me what You want,” or even “I am Yours to do with as you will.” The most telling work we will do is discover what God has for us to do. We will miss the mark, often. We may even come to His will late in our lives, missing out on blessings and being a blessing to others. Fortunately, it is never too late.
See the thief on the cross? The lasts few moments of his life were a blessing to him and to many others across the ages:
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:39-43 KJV)
Both men desired to be off the cross and away from death. Both men spoke to Christ to achieve their goals – one with sarcasm and disbelief, the other willing to allow Christ to determine the outcome. Both came to the knowledge this was indeed the Christ but after their deaths.
Why wait that long? Utilize the faith available to both of these men, and to us:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)
We think first of the Holy Bible as being God’s word to mankind, but the Bible itself tells us of the Word:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:1-5 KJV)
Jesus was with and was God. Without Him was not any thing made. What have we earned? Nothing. What have we been given? Life that is in Him. The true question is, have we comprehended that life? That light?
Friday, May 15, 2015
I like this picture of Christ. It is so human, and speaks to me as does this scripture:
The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:4-7 KJV)
God created man, then became man so we could understand that when He speaks of what we are to do, He has done it.
When we experience sorrow, pain, grief, shame, we know He is not removed from those experiences. We do not pray to a far off deity who simple watches His creation. We reach out to our Father who loved us to explain that love:
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. 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 3:16-18 KJV)
We think of His death on the cross and tend to forget the thirty years lived as we live, without attention except from family and friends. We tend to forget the daily activities of the three years of witnessing to people, sharing God’s message to the people He loved. We tend to concentrate on those three years, and the last three days.
Oh, we celebrate His birth, mourn His death and believe in His resurrection – but we think of those as “mountain top” experiences and forget that He applied God’s teachings every single day of His life. Here on earth, and in our future.
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
He endured shame while despising it. He knows what it feels like when we feel ashamed – which we should because of our own nature to go against God’s will. He sees it from both viewpoints. He understands us, though we cannot understand all that He is – for now.
There will come a time when we bow before Him. It is up to us whether He will understand and say, “Well done.” If we do nothing – it cannot be said.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
When I saw this graphic on Facebook, I took a copy and made it wallpaper on my locked iPhone. I wanted it to remind me before I opened the phone that there was a top priority, according to this scripture:
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Ephesians 5:19-20 KJV)
That was the weekend. Then Tuesday we learned that a dear young lady, in the process of adopting her autistic grandson, lost her husband in a motorcycle accident. My husband’s regular plasmapheresis could not be done due to clotting in his graft and a thrombectomy was required. My daughter’s doctor visit confirmed another sinus infection and asthma aggravation – becoming a chronic problem. And, I was sick.
Eventually I picked up the phone to use it and saw the graphic. “Thank you.” God be praised, I could.
I thanked Him for answered prayer for the young lady – she met her husband following specific prayers. She and I asked that she find a husband she “could look up to.” That was a spiritual request because she had grown spiritually and wanted to continue that growth with someone who understood. God, so good to us, not only fulfilled that request but provided a well-over-six-foot gentleman, taller than she was. Their life together was blessed and they were blessings to others. She will grieve, as will we who love her, but she thanked God for the time they had and the memories that will live in her.
I thanked Him, too, for the nurses who looked after my husband and recognized the blockage before attempting the process. I also thanked Him for the doctor who for all his lack of bedside manners is very good at what he does. The correcting operation is being done as I type. I pray for that doctor, too.
I thank God for my daughter receiving helpful medication to alleviate her symptoms and provide physical comfort as I pray for her spiritual comfort, too.
There is so much more. So many things to be thankful for in a world that presents pain as we move through it. Our Lord experienced what we do, all the while knowing what could be and what was to come. I think of how He desired to comfort:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matthew 23:37 KJV)
Because of His living as we do, we can endure, as He did, for the joy that was set before Him and for us:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)
Yes, each day I will give thanks to God for all things.
Monday, May 11, 2015
During our 3,000 mile-almost-three-week trip, this stop comes to mind first. It personifies the division that almost destroyed our nation. The drive through the Military Park is divided between Union (blue) and Confederate (red) markers which gives names to military units defending/attacking each spot. There are markers along the way about each company that people felt strongly enough to remember in a lasting, tangible way.
The monuments have some names – usually the commanding officer – but cannot list all the men who died there, much less served there. Of the seventeen thousand Union troops who are buried there, thirteen thousand are under markers labeled “Unknown.”
My Beloved Husband had a second-great-grandfather there. Erastus Fredrick (1844-1930) was there in the 68th Ohio Infantry, according to the 1906 Vicksburg Battlefield Commission. It is possible that two of my second great-uncles were there, too. My great- and great-great-grandfathers were in nearby battles, but Vicksburg is not part of their records.
Real names, real people that have descendants who look past the divisive past our nation survived and look to the future. Some people prefer not to.
The early church faced divisions. Letters were written to churches as reminders that we are to hold single purposes.
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 KJV)
Here Paul is writing of spiritual gifts and their diversity within believers. But I believe it ties to:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:1-6 KJV)
Please go ahead and read the verses following in Ephesians 4, but let me skip ahead to the goal Paul stated:
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; 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)
Spend some defining our personal goals. Do they include speaking the truth in love, growing up into Christ is all (and I repeat that, ALL) things? If not, we can find ourselves on a different path:
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. (Ephesians 4:17-19 KJV)
It is a matter of choice – and we are faced with this choice time and time again. The Bible helps us continue on the right path, when it is not ignored. What’s your choice?