Saturday, January 31, 2015
That Sour Rye Broth doesn’t look very appetizing, does it? Perhaps it would be better if there were some herbs? Pastor used these verses as part of Wednesday night’s lesson in our study of Elisha:
And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets. (2 Kings 4:38 KJV)
“Dearth” is an excellent descriptive word. It almost looks like “death”, and means a scarcity or lack. It comes from Middle English’s “derthe”, which is a shortage and dearness of food. Very appropriate for this time, and the “students” studying at Elisha’s “Bible college” (well, that’s what I think of as a decent description) were in need of physical nourishment. One went out to gather herbs:
And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not. (2 Kings 4:39 KJV)
This one was sent on a mission – gather herbs. He found something else and it looked good, must have smelled okay and would surely fill the need so he brought them home, cut them up and added to the soup. Then there’s that one, small, phrase “they knew them not.”
So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof. (2 Kings 4:40 KJV)
Ask someone who has had food poisoning – it’s not worth it just to have eaten a meal. There are substances that are very harmful, though looking at them doesn’t give us a clue. I had a grandnephew who loved cantaloupe, and was in ICU for listeria. Looked great, but was “death in the pot.” Elisha, a man of God, had an answer:
But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot. (2 Kings 4:41 KJV)
No, I cannot think of meal – any meal – that thrown into a pot will remove something harmful. However, I firmly believe that following God’s directions will. Elisha was a man of action, and a man of God. He accomplished miracles before – and after – this one. Following his directions cleansed the poison.
So – how does that apply to us? We aren’t making soup, we’re living our daily lives. How can this be applied to us? Pastor gave an example that I like.
God has laid out “recipes” for our lives – the “ingredients” that should be in a Christian’s life. The Bible is full of commandments, admonitions, exhortations, good examples and examples where people went terribly wrong. God has told us, over and over again, what is to be part of the “soup” that makes up our lives.
There are ingredients that look good and we think they will add spice to our lives. They don’t. There is no nourishment and in many cases the result is actually harmful. The one man who thought it was good ended up harming many.
So, get to know the recipe – the Bible – and check the ingredients in your life before adding what could end up taking it away. Excellent lesson in four verses!!
Friday, January 30, 2015
I don’t know where I acquired this remake of the M*A*S*H directions, and it points in all directions instead of one – but it does remind me that there are multiple religions, and even greater divisions within those religions. All tell us they are the way to God. I wasn’t surprised then to run across a blog entitled “All Paths Lead To God.”
Yes, the author writes: “Pick a path, any path–it will take you to God. Trust me: you will stand before Him one day.” But, he doesn’t give the scripture I have given in the past and will probably use again:
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:22-23 KJV)
Nor does he quote from the New Testament one of my favorite verses:
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10-11 KJV)
Nope. He simply uses:
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)
He simply – and in less words than I use – states:
There are many roads to God, but only one will make you holy and only one will bring you home.Oh, let me tell you, that short, simple blog brought home the message we often ignore. Every individual that ever lived will stand before our Creator. Whatever path we have taken, there is one destination. What happens before His throne should be in our minds. The Bible gives so many statements, so many examples, tells us completely, that we cannot be unprepared.
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)
That’s not even taking into consideration our deeds. We will be condemned by our own words. And, He has heard them all. We will stand before Him without a defense, guilty.
I’m not waiting – I bow my knee before Him now and confess, just as I will then:
For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:11-12 KJV)
Thursday, January 29, 2015
I was reading about a famous woman who was reported to have embraced Christianity later in life. I wanted to learn a bit more about her conversion, located her own statement of faith, and was saddened. In "About My Faith” she wrote about when her “journey” was made public. Yes, I have picked a tiny portion that spoke to me, but it says a lot:
"I had no intention of going public about my spiritual journey and in no way wanted to be tagged with the fundamentalism that Born-Again Christianity has come to be associated with. I found myself having to defend my action before I was entirely sure what it meant. I did feel reborn, I couldn’t deny that, but it had nothing to do with the perceived doctrines of fundamentalist Christianity."Her perceptions appeared clarified a bit later:
"Words like ‘Thou Shalt,’ ‘Salvation,” ‘Lord,’ and ‘Repentance,’ drowned out one of my favorite Sufi poems by Hafiz" where the refrain has God knowing only four words, "Come dance with Me."She stopped Bible study classes and comes to the conclusion that "experiencing the divine was more important than mere belief in the divine":
"From time to time, there have been the awakened ones, conduits of perception, who, by fully embodying Spirit, have shown us the way—Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, Allah, and others."However, she continues to feel like a Christian:
"Some will say that because of all this I am not a true Christian. So be it. I feel like a Christian, I believe in the teachings of Jesus and try to practice them in my life. I have found Christians all over this country who feel as I do. They may not have been ‘saved’ yet they hum with divine spirit."It reminded me of another woman, a fellow blogger, who spent time studying God’s word, called herself “Christian” but now disavows that label in a continued spiritual search.
It is my concern that both instances are defined by rejecting the Bible as God’s word.
I’ve spent several years encouraging people to read their Bible. I do not have the education or background to point to theological studies that indicate the Bible is what it says it is. I know I agree with Bereans and Peter that scriptures need study and may be hard to understand.
From other writings I’ve not included here, I believe both of these ladies set limitations on their expectations. I also believe that the Bible must be approached with an open mind. It needs to be viewed as any study – there is much to be learned. Some will be easily understood, but questions will remain to be chewed over later. As with feeding infants, meat comes later. There will come a time when we should be teaching, not rejecting:
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14 KJV)
Yesterday’s blog on the importance of prayer for missionaries applies here, too. Please add these two unnamed ladies to prayers for those seeking God.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
. . . last Sunday night. That’s not an unusual occurrence. Several times a year we have visiting missionaries – some going through deputation, some we’ve supported and while they are home on furlough.
Each them brings a bit of the calling and they share that with us. I remember so many of them! They are all different – yet alike in so many ways. So often we can’t even mention where they are serving because of laws within their country of service. Oh, the citizens are responsive and growing in faith – but the governments decline to accept them as missionaries. Reminds me of some of Paul’s travels:
But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. (Acts 9:24-25 KJV)
No, most of our missionaries do not have enemies “laying await”, but one does. His name, location, work absolutely cannot be mentioned here. In his situation, it could cost his life. Still, he tells of people who want to hear God’s word:
And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (Acts 17:19-20 KJV)
As missionaries from around the world visit our small country church, I think of our world as seen from the moon in “Earthrise”, God’s creation containing all mankind. And, He has a message for all mankind. Paul spoke that message in a number of places. To one, having some confusion, he taught:
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:33 KJV)
The foundation of his message didn’t change. It was given to him by Jesus, a call to be a missionary:
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18 KJV)
He spoke of where he gave this message and what the hearers were to do:
But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (Acts 26:20 KJV)
Missionaries have continued to do this same work from that time to this – with support from our local churches. They need us, just as we need them, to complete the work God has set for them to do. It’s a partnership. Financing first comes to mind, but that’s only a small portion. Of greater help are prayers.
Brethren, pray for us. (1 Thessalonians 5:25 KJV)
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: (2 Thessalonians 3:1 KJV)
Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. (Hebrews 13:18 KJV)
Funding is important, give as the Lord blesses, but prayer sustains both the sent and the sending.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
If you grew up going to Sunday School, you’ve heard the story of Joseph. We’re studying his life Sunday mornings. Last week he was sent to prison by a spurned woman. This week we focused on what he did in prison.
But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper. (Genesis 39:21-23 KJV)
He had gone from the pit where his brothers intended for him to die (well, except for Benjamin who was not involved and Reuben who intended to take him home to their father), to problems with a promiscuous wife (Potiphar’s, not his), on to prison – all of that simply for telling the truth and maintaining his integrity. Yet, wherever he was, God saw to it that Joseph prospered. Sunday’s lesson covered four things for us to think about when we are imprisoned.
Hold it right there – No! I do not expect any of my readers to be incarcerated by the government. But we do end up being imprisoned, or severely limited in what we do. Frankly, for us right now it’s health issues. We had to cancel a wonderful vacation we planned as Beloved Husband’s health turned. We are limited by time spent in Outpatient and in doctor’s offices. There are many ways to lose the freedom to do as we please. Now, back to the lesson.
First thing was – don’t give up:
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. (Galatians 6:9 KJV)
We may not be aware of just when that “due season” might be, but we know that God keeps His promises, and He is able to accomplish His will. Then we learned – do your part:
The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat. (Proverbs 13:4 KJV)
That’s the verse in the lesson, but I’m reminded that there are a large number of examples for us in the Bible of people who did as they were asked (some, Jonah comes to mind, had to be asked more than once) by God to do something way outside their comfort level. Next we learned – do be faithful. The lesson’s verse was II Timothy 4:2a-b, but I like:
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’t be ready always without being faithful to our Lord. Without faithfulness to His word, His will, we’re simply giving our own opinions. Mine won’t get you a cup of coffee. His provides salvation and eternal life. Your choice.
Finally, and a subject I’ve written about recently – do trust God’s timing:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV)
That’s hard to do – even with the Psalmist telling us:
Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Psalms 27:14 KJV)
That, and prayer, can provide peace, even in our own prisons:
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 KJV)
Monday, January 26, 2015
Gehazi is in the book of Second Kings, chapters 4, 5 and 8. In chapter 4 we find him traveling as a servant with Elisha, stopping at a home at a lady’s request:
And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. (2 Kings 4:8 KJV)
Our church has a small apartment, a bedroom with small kitchenette and bath, set aside for traveling missionaries – much as this great woman created for Elisha:
And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither. (2 Kings 4:9-10 KJV)
Elisha did stop, and appreciated the kindness, wanting to repay her, and asked Gehazi to bring her to him so he could offer her a return on her kindness:
And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people. (2 Kings 4:13 KJV)
I love her answer! To me it means “I’m happy where I am.” Gehazi had a suggestion, though. The lady was childless and her husband old. Perhaps one miracle would please her. So, she had a son.
I’m going to skip a bit – you can read the rest of this story in chapter 4, where the child died, Gehazi followed directions but no response, then Elisha restored the son to his mother. That has lessons of its own. I’m skipping to chapter 8:
Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years. And the woman arose, and did after the saying of the man of God: and she went with her household, and sojourned in the land of the Philistines seven years. (2 Kings 8:1-2 KJV)
Apparently she was widowed by this time – there is no mention of her husband in the household. She followed Elisha’s suggestion and survived the drought, only to return to find her land confiscated.
And it came to pass at the seven years' end, that the woman returned out of the land of the Philistines: and she went forth to cry unto the king for her house and for her land. (2 Kings 8:3 KJV)
For that time and place (as it is in many lands today) it would be difficult for a woman to be heard before a court, much less the king. God prepared for her to be heard:
And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done. And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life. (2 Kings 8:4-5 KJV)
Timing. There is nothing like God’s timing. This woman looked after God’s prophet. She was rewarded not only with a son, but her son’s life was returned, she was cared for during a drought and the way prepared for her property to be returned. God directed her path.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:6 KJV)
Sunday, January 25, 2015
That’s a screen capture from an NBC video. The mid-air accident in 2013 was well covered. Two aircraft, no longer airworthy and aflame. Skydivers escaping from them, each left on their own. The news called it a mid-air miracle. As reported in The Aviationist:
Several skydivers had cameras strapped to their helmet and filmed what could be a disaster. However, shocking footage aside, the collision did not cost the life to anyone: miraculously, all the skydivers jumped to safety, one of the pilots used the emergency chute, whereas the other pilot managed to land its Cessna A185 back at the airfield in spite of the damages on both fuselage and wing.All involved were experienced, which helped considerably, but not all experienced people involved in accidents – especially one such as this – survive. Looking back on this one, I thought of others who were faced with horror, lacking experience, yet survived to change the world.
And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; (Matthew 27:35-36 KJV)
Even Peter, who had taken up a sword in defense when He was arrested, had abandoned Him. Some were brave enough to stand at the foot of the cross:
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! (John 19:25-26 KJV)
The thief wanted Him to be a savior, too:
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. (Luke 23:39 KJV)
He did not save Himself, but did one of them:
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 23:41-43 KJV)
What changed this scenario from a group of people who were abandoned by a false prophet into a group that with a few weeks stunned Jerusalem? One simple act.
He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (Matthew 28:6 KJV)
“He is risen, as he said.” Jesus did what He said He would do. They not only had the fulfillment of prophecy, they had fulfillment of His personal promise. He appeared to them, too. For some, that was not enough:
And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. (Matthew 28:17 KJV)
The ones that didn’t doubt went on speaking of Him, sharing with others, until their reputation preceded them:
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; (Acts 17:6 KJV)
Which is less than believable – that two planes with skydivers – and their pilots – can survive a mid-air collision, or that God does so love the world?
Saturday, January 24, 2015
When my first granddaughter was a toddler, she would take the lemon slices from tea and eat them down to the rind. There’s no accounting for taste, is there? Most people won’t eat lemons in the same way they do apples, oranges, grapes. They do look past the sour citrus and make them into very sweet things – lemonade comes to my mind first, then Helen Crussell’s lemon pie.
I have Helen’s recipe. It is awesome, and I’ve included it on my Recipe Collecting site. Helen made it several times a year, but always for my Dad when they celebrated his birthday. She took something sour and made it very sweet.
How are we at looking past sour people and seeing the sweetness that God’s love adds to lives? I must admit, I’m not very good at that.
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)
Whosoever believeth – not just the “good” people, or the people who have the same doctrine and values I do. In fact, sinners are the whole focus:
I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 KJV)
Yes. There is rejoicing when a person we’ve looked down upon - or through, or simply ignored – discovers that God is love, and has loved us forever.
We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)
Don’t stop there. Continue reading:
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)
Even the ones that leave a sour flavor in our day.
There are times when we are to leave people out of our lives and allow God to work with them in other ways:
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (Matthew 10:14 KJV)
And, there are some who will leave us because we are doing God’s will:
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 4:3-4 KJV)
That’s still their decision, not ours, to do the “will of the gentiles.” Nothing we can do or say will change them – only their own choices. Perhaps that is what gives us the sour flavor, that it’s not within our ability to change another. It is within us to send forth sweetness.
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? (James 3:11 KJV)
Friday, January 23, 2015
At the start of Wednesday night class, each student is given three rubber bands. They don’t “earn” them, they get the rubber bands simply for showing up for class. They have instant gratification right in their hands. They keep the rubber bands through the evening by treating their lessons and others students with respect and not creating distractions. Should any of those things occur, a rubber band is returned to the teacher.
Why try to keep those rubber bands? At the end of an hour and a half, there are treats. Three separate treats. The loss of one rubber band removes one treat.
What’s the lesson for me? Well, we get a lot more than three rubber bands when we accept Jesus as our savior – we get eternal life with Him in a place of His choosing.
However, we do NOT get instant gratification and according to how I read the Bible (and have heard from others’ reading, too) we won’t lose that eternal life. There are treats available – earned. Such as the Crown of Rejoicing:
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? (1 Thessalonians 2:19 KJV)
To know that someone we love, someone we taught about our Lord, someone who followed Him and will be with Him at His return would be a moment of rejoicing, a crown from our Lord!
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8 KJV)
I’ll get this one – not because of my righteousness, but because I do love Him and will rejoice at His appearance!
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (James 1:12 KJV)
I have not passed by all the temptations I’ve met, but I do love my Lord and believe His promises!
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:4 KJV)
I won’t receive this one. The verses preceding this one define those eligible:
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:1-3 KJV)
That’s awesome responsibility, isn’t it? I believe we are aware there are some who do have not fed the flock God’s flock as Paul did:
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
(Acts 20:27 KJV)
It takes hearing the likeable as well as the hard instructions, as Peter said:
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)
So much better than treats for retained rubber bands, right?
Thursday, January 22, 2015
TWCCL accomplished several mission projects in the last two years. It is awesome to be in direct contact with missionaries and be able to provide handcrafted items that assist their congregations. I've posted photos of some of our meetings, and a few of the quilts we've completed for a boys' academy. That's such a blessing to everyone involved. We talked about these projects - and the ones we'll be doing in the future. All to honor our Lord.
Then we did an escape action to break her cabin fever! Lunch at a local restaurant with owners that provided our Christmas banquet - and will be catering our Valentine banquet. They have business cards for their church right beside their own business cards and are ready to be blessings to their clientele. It's a place where no one finds it unusual for a table full of people to bow their heads while saying grace. Which we do, and today was no different.
Saying grace in public always reminds me of a young man raised in our church who is now a pastor in a Texas church. When he was a senior at high school, another student walked up and asked him, "Why do you always sit and look at your food before you eat?" He was then able to explain that he wasn't looking at his food, he was bowing his head in prayer to give thanks for all God had given to him. That's being close to God - giving thanks. Similar to:
He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (Romans 14:6 KJV)
The remainder of the afternoon was a good nap time - yesterday morning started at 5:30, it was a long day and an unrestful night. Then we headed for Wednesday night services at the church - in a cold rain.
We are grateful for the rain, still being in an extreme drought in North Texas. There's snow in the panhandle, and we may get some, too. For that, we give thanks as we need moisture so greatly. It does keep attendance down for some of our older members. There are aches and pains and people recovering from health issues that are prevalent in the winter. The closing portion of our service includes a prayer list for specific needs.
The lesson tonight was on the Sunnamite woman, a story of Elisha. No - I won't cover that now, but it will be a blog soon. So much to learn about gratitude in that short story in II Kings 4 and the beginning of 8. Go ahead, get a head start by reading it!
Closing yesterday was making plans for today - that begins with a prayerful closeness, seeking His will for the coming day. How was your day?
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Tomorrow morning, should I miss praying on awakening (again!) there will be an appropriate scripture on the mirror in the bathroom. II Thessalonians 5:17 would be good - but I think something along the lines of:
Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. (Psalms 5:2-3 KJV)
Hmmm. Now to head into the day and see where else I'll need reminding. Not too early, for my first item is a visit to a dear friend and I know we'll be praying together for several people and projects on our hearts. I'm looking forward to seeking godliness today!
Did you need a reminder, too? What have you chosen to remind you to enjoy godliness today? Will it help tomorrow?
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Pastor said it Sunday and it opened up a train of thought for me. My daughter posted it on G+ (shared privately or I’d share the whole post):
I know, it sounds simplistic, but to have godliness, God must be included. Otherwise we find:
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 3:2-5 KJV)
We do read more of what godliness isn’t”:
If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:3-6 KJV)
There is focus on what godliness is, too:
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. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8 KJV)
I recently touched on including God in everything:
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV)
Whatever we do, do for the glory of God. That will include Him in every moment of our lives. It will help keep us close to Him, even though we know our sins can be forgiven:
And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. (2 Samuel 12:13 KJV)
If you think that sins have value, little ones versus big ones, take a look at the list of those headed for the lake of fire in Revelation 21:8!
The Psalmist asked God to search him, and gave reasons:
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalms 139:23-24 KJV)
God knows us. He knows our sins and He knows our godliness. He knows when we are outside His will. The way we know we are within His will is to have Him our thoughts every hour of every day – not just meeting we set up for Sunday mornings. When our very nature takes into consideration what He has in mind for mankind, for all of us.
How can we be certain we are in His will? When we can honestly confess our sins to Him and just as honestly pray, “Thy will be done.”
(If you don’t know where Agape fits in, please click on the graphic)
Monday, January 19, 2015
Authority is found several times in the Bible. I like its use in Luke 7:2-10:
And a certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. (Luke 7:2 KJV)
Rome held authority over Israel and shared that authority with its soldiers. This soldier was responsible for one hundred men who reported to him, as well as his own household. As a man of authority, he went to authorities when he needed help:
And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto him the elders of the Jews, beseeching him that he would come and heal his servant. (Luke 7:3 KJV)
Notice that he didn’t approach Jesus on his own. He went to elders of the Jews, people who were in a position of authority and asked them for help. Obviously, they knew where the real authority could be found:
And when they came to Jesus, they besought him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom he should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. (Luke 7:4-5 KJV)
The elders liked the soldier, deeming him worthy to have his request fulfilled. He had shown love for the Jewish people that was not required in his position. Perhaps, one good deed deserves another? Had he not built the synagogue would they have declined to see help?
Then Jesus went with them. And when he was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to him, saying unto him, Lord, trouble not thyself: for I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof: (Luke 7:6 KJV)
Did he think of how some would view Jesus for going into a Roman’s home? Not just a gentile, but a soldier of the empire that held them in subjugation? Did he consider the ripple effect of such a visit?
Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers, and I say unto one, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. (Luke 7:7-8 KJV)
A man of authority, he knew the limitations of his authority – what he could and could not do. He also knew that upon hearing his words, people responded to his authority. He recognized authority in Jesus. Without spending time with Him, without being in His circle of disciples, this soldier recognized Jesus’ authority to do miracles. He counted on that authority to be accomplished simply by Jesus’ words.
When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (Luke 7:9 KJV)
Hopefully, we know the answer to the chief priests and elders' question that came later in His ministry.
And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? (Matthew 21:23 KJV)
Sunday, January 18, 2015
That’s something we should be able to explain since it appears from Friday’s CNN headline that quite a few people are not aware what that means. Here’s the link to an opinion article: Is glorifying God a hate crime?
Of course, there is a news story with background on the situation – from a CNN news article:
Cochran self-published the book "Who Told You That You Were Naked." The GA Voice cited two passages from the book, which refers to homosexuality as unclean, inappropriate, vile and vulgar.
When his book became public, Cochran was suspended and ultimately fired by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
In his opinion piece, Russell D. Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, looks beyond the homosexual questions:
While many are pointing to passages in Cochran's book about sexuality, much of the furor, especially in online forums, is directed toward another passage, in which Cochran says that his life and work serve the purpose of glorifying God.
Some see this language as scary and subversive, as though Cochran were planning a theocratic takeover of the fire department and would refuse to put out fires for cohabiting couples or gay or lesbian people or atheists.
Christians understand that we exist for God’s glory. Are we doing a good job 1) of living up to His commands that He may be glorified; and 2) of explaining what that means.
That was part of the message given at Christ’s birth:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:13-14 KJV)
There are scriptures available to help us understand what we can do to glorify God:
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)
A little later, Paul advocates glorifying God in all we do:
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31 KJV)
Sounds good, right? So, what is “glory”? Strong’s defines δόξα as dignity, honor, praise, worship. That’s what we are to give, our lives lived with these characteristics simply because we love God. Our lives are to be lived consistent with Christ’s. He is our example. After He washed the disciples feet, He said:
For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:15-17 KJV)
No, we are not required to dress as He dressed, wear our hair as He did, eat as He ate. Our tasks are to be spiritual, as He is, and keep God’s commandments:
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40 KJV)
Yes – that’s a verse that I use often. I use it often to remind me that these two commandments can answer most of the questions I have when it comes to understanding what I should be doing to glorify God. I never get tired of reading it.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23 KJV)
A continuation of the “It’s complex” train of thought. Salvation sounds simple – see yesterday’s scriptures for the simplicity, and the beginning of the complexity. There’s a huge difference between religion and serving God. If that’s not clear, then one author’s words apply:
The above scripture is a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount, which begins with descriptions of how we are blessed. In chapter 7, Jesus has just concluded telling us that we should be fruit inspectors:
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. (Matthew 7:20 KJV)
Years later, Paul describes bad fruit, ending with good fruit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)
It appears Jesus was describing people who used religious words for show, but denied the source:
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5 KJV)
Perhaps the “form of godliness” is attending a worship service on Sunday morning. Perhaps dropping a portion of income into the offering plate. Then, believing the obligation to God fulfilled, leaving the church building and not giving it another thought for another week.
Who sat those obligations? Friends, neighbors, other church goers?The Bible tells us what God expects. Without reading it, knowing it, how can we possibly understand what He has in mind for us to do?
It’s easy to believe that worshiping together on Sunday morning fulfills an obligation. That is not the answer to the complexity of God’s service. Knowing what He intends for us to do requires being in discussions with Him. Knowing how to reach Him requires Bible study.
It requires knowing “what doth the Lord require of thee.” It requires knowing who “created the heavens and the earth”; who “sent his only begotten son”; who asked “what must I do to be saved?”; who gave the basis for all law by saying “thou shalt love.”
How can we love Him without getting to know Him?
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:13-15 KJV)
Listen to His word – know what is preached is scriptural:
O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. (Jeremiah 22:29 KJV)
Thursday, January 15, 2015
City streets are often very complex. Salvation, not so much, as defined in the Bible.
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31 KJV)
Understanding what that means is a bit more complex.
And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. (Acts 16:32-33 KJV)
The jailer had to learn background. Paul may have thought of that when he wrote:
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:13-14 KJV)
That preacher is necessary because he’s called:
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! (Romans 10:15 KJV)
It’s not a new message, but there are lies that have been told, even by some who said they were God’s called:
Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. (John 8:43-45 KJV)
Why not believe? That’s a question we answer individually. One answer I’ve heard has to do with the Bible not being believable. I’m not going to try to change anyone’s mind on that – but if you’re interested in an interesting investigation, try J. Warner Wallace’s “Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels” for an excellent read.
In my opinion, trying to put living a Christian life into one answer, one verse, is absolutely impossible. The answer is very complex – and totally complete in the Bible. It takes a lot of reading with a heart open to prayer and a mind seeking to know the truth – and having faith that God will provide an answer.
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)
It is possible to find Him.
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (Isaiah 55:6 KJV)
I remember a blog I read (no longer active) where an unbeliever asked God to show her that He exists. She told how He did, and for years she witnessed to people about it. I remember innumerable services where people walked to the front of a church and witnessed about their belief, too.
Every Lord’s Day, billions of people confirm their professions of faith by attending worship services. Every day a slightly fewer number serve Him in a ministry. That’s part of that complex answer, too. None of them can give anyone else a ministry – that call comes from God.
Have you received your call? Or is the answer still too complex?
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV)
The next seven verses count off specifics items and their opposites – born/die, plant/pluck, kill/heal, break down/build up, weep/laugh, mourn/dance, cast/gather, embrace/refrain, get/lose, keep/cast away, rend/sew, silence/speak, love/hate, war/peace. That just about covers it, doesn’t it?
We live in a world that changes. Events of time and conditions of life vary from person to person. We continually pass others as the days occur. Just as fashions change from one season to another, lives change.
The recent cut in gasoline prices gives testimony to such changes. We are certain there will be fluctuations in the future. The same goes for our personal security, both individual finances and national security. There is no way we can say, “Tomorrow will be just as today.”
We are – and can be fairly – certain that the sun will come up tomorrow. However, there will be a time when that will not occur, according to the Bible. Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31 and Luke 21:33 echo Jesus’ words:
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
But I like this one in Luke:
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. (Luke 16:17 KJV)
The chapter begins with Jesus talking with His disciples, giving them an example of an unfaithful servant who through cheating received his lord’s commendation. He follows with:
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? (Luke 16:10-12 KJV)
The Pharisees understood that He was describing them. They were stewards of God’s laws to the people, and they had cheated both God and the People. They were covetous, and God read their hearts:
And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:14-15 KJV)
He read their hearts and what He saw was an abomination. His laws went unchanged no matter what the Pharisees said. Then Jesus gave the example of Lazarus and the rich man. Do we believe, as the rich man did, that one rising from the grave could convince us?
And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (Luke 16:30-31 KJV)
He was right. One did rise from the dead, and most did not believe. Time passes, day after day. Each day one opportunity less to share His message, one less day to accept it.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Are you wondering why the title is “Redeemed” and the graphic a tire? It goes back over 50 years ago when my Beloved Husband was in the army and we were about 500 miles from home. Gasoline was less than $.30/gallon, but our pay was just over $200/month. We had an extra tire that we took to the pawn shop if we needed to go home before the first of the month, and it was redeemed when he was paid.
We haven’t used a pawnshop since those army days, but I remember what redeemed meant – we regained our tire when we repaid the cost. Had we not redeemed that tire, it would have been lost to us.
That process reminds me of Fanny Crosby and her hymn, “Redeemed”, which helps us do what as we’re told:
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; (Psalms 107:2 KJV)
Fanny certainly did – and when we sing her words, we are saying so, too:
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
His child and forever I am.
We used money to redeem the tire. God used different currency, and the Bible tells us about it.
Ye are bought with a price; (1 Corinthians 7:23a KJV)
Pastor gave us a sermon one time that showed us we were the pearl that was purchased:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46 KJV)
Why else would He have paid such a great price for us?
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)
When we realize this, we can praise with Zacharias:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, (Luke 1:68 KJV)
That redemption was not for physical things such as the tire, nor was it paid for with money that fluctuates in value.
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (1 Peter 1:18-19 KJV)
The joy we have been given through redemption is the reason we praise and share the news that anyone can be redeemed through His infinite mercy. It’s the plan and the message:
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)
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
A friend of mine had a wedding anniversary January 11. She remembered the wedding by posting photos of the man she loved all 35 years of their marriage, but who left her alone in this world as he moved on to the next. They not only believed but lived the promise “Till death do us part”, and it did.
The Bible has a lot to say about marriage. God set the example in Eden, and Jesus confirmed it during a discussion of divorce:
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:3-6 KJV)
So what about divorce? Aren’t there specific laws in Leviticus? The Pharisees were very familiar with the verses:
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)
Mankind has the choice – accept the hardness of their hearts and do as they please, or adhere to God’s original plan. It was, and still is, easier to accept the concept of divorce than to adhere to God’s design – in marriage as in every other area of our lives. When a couple does stay married, and remain in love with one another, they are considered an anomaly. Statistics today indicate marriage is optional.
Yet our instructions are pretty explicit. There are many, but my favorite is:
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; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (Ephesians 5:19-25 KJV)
A couple making melody in their hearts to the Lord will not find arguments comfortable. A couple giving thanks, always, for all things, will not be looking beyond their Lord for their future and happiness.
Political correctness does not like “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord” because they teach women to be true only to themselves. Yet, when a husband loves his wife as much as Christ loved the church, she gets the best of marriage.
That’s one reason I work toward being a Titus 2:3 aged woman, teaching this same lesson of loving ones husband, pointing to beautiful examples – such as my friend.
Monday, January 12, 2015
But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. (1 Corinthians 7:6-7 KJV)
In this chapter Paul answers questions about a man’s relationship to a woman and marriage. He doesn’t seem strongly in favor of marriage, wishing all men were as he, unencumbered to travel and preach the gospel. Right now, though, I’m interested in two other aspects of these verses.
First, what he writes here is with God’s permission, not God’s commandment. Here we see that God allowed Paul to include a personal suggestion – once it was made clear that not all men had to follow this to be examples of Christ to others. Paul understands that a wife and family means obligations and responsibilities that would not allow the freedom of movement needed for his work:
But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:32-33 KJV)
Paul is careful to explain the items that are his, not God’s:
But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. (1 Corinthians 7:12-13 KJV)
We see that same permission a bit later:
Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. (1 Corinthians 7:25 KJV)
He was given no commandment from the Lord in this question, but he offers his opinion. To me this is included in God’s word to help us understand the freedom of choice He has given us.
I also thought about the inclusion of the word “gift.” Paul’s gift appears to have been a ministry that could not include a family, but for another, the proper gift might be a family. Paul could understand, and share his opinion, on another’s gift. I believe God uses his words to give us a personal insight to our own gift.
Fifty-four years ago I made the choice for family. Even now I’m not certain I put sufficient thought into whether or not it was God’s choice for my life, but He has blessed that decision, abundantly. I do appreciate my gift!
I also appreciate this chapter as it allows us to see that God does give us choices. Paul could have omitted references to his personal views and written this chapter as commands from God. He took care to differentiate his thoughts from God’s commandments – and that allows us to consider the freedom we have within God’s gift to us.
Sunday, January 11, 2015
I ran across a book on Amazon, Read The Bible For Life. I was struck by the opening sentence in the review:
The Bible may be the most bought book in the world, but it is also often the least read and least applied due to a basic lack of understanding and motivation on the part of readers.At this point, I have no recommendation for or against, no review whether or not I think this book would be helpful in understanding or applying God’s word. I have found many such helpful tools, but have not read this one.
I do, however, strongly advocate reading the Bible for life – life everlasting!! That’s the very first promise one should learn from God’s word. If one is a follower of Christ, it is essential for growth, application and obedience to God’s commandments for those who love and serve him.
I remember a time we had a couple over for dinner. We had known “of” them for years. I feel well acquainted with them, aware of their church faithfulness, greeted them often in services, knew their children – but that Friday night was the first time we’ve spent time as two couples, sharing experiences, becoming friends.
Spending time studying God’s word is just such life-changing experiences. Each time we sit down with Bible in hand, prayer in our hearts and an open mind to hear Him teach us, we come closer to Him. Our decisions are strengthened, having His words available for application in our lives. Rather than stopping to wonder, “Is this what God would want me to do?”, we carry that awareness as we walk into situations that would lead us away from His will. David knew this:
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:10-11 KJV)
How can we hide His word in our hearts unless we seek that knowledge? And, can we acknowledge that what we seek often cannot be seen?
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)
Where do we gain and grow that faith?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)
Why do we need 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. … 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 11:3, 6 KJV)
Am I responding solely for the rewards? I pray that is not so – for I do believe that He is, that my faith can grow and I’m determined to diligently seek Him.
This isn’t simply a Christian, New Testament doctrine:
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. (Isaiah 55:6-8 KJV)
His ways are not ours – but we can change our ways. Read from the original, in context, verify for yourself.
Saturday, January 10, 2015
A sweet young Christian lady has requested prayer for strength as her beloved grandmother enters hospice. We all know why hospice exists – both of my parents and my brother-in-law spent days being cared for by hospice. Their employees I’ve known were caring professionals who provided as much peace and comfort as possible for their patients and the families.
No matter how well their job is accomplished, we begin to grieve and feel bereft. We know what is coming, and we do not want that day to arrive. That is no different for Christians than for non-believers. We grieve for what we are going to lose, for what our loved ones are going through and in the midst we seek comfort. It was promised to us:
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. (John 14:18 KJV)
This is a beautiful chapter containing the closing conversations Jesus held with His disciples. He begins with a comforting thought:
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. (John 14:1 KJV)
There are many things that trouble us. He addresses many in this chapter. One is in my father’s favorite verse:
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:2 KJV)
That prompted Thomas to ask, “How can we know the way?” I pray that by the time our loved ones enter hospice – and well before we do – we understand the answer to Thomas’ question:
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)
But – He was leaving! He just said so. Philip still didn’t understand and asked for a sign, “Show us the Father and that would be sufficient.” How patient is our Lord!
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? (John 14:9 KJV)
So, He continued explaining that they would not be left alone.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26 KJV)
So, for this young lady, I pray she’ll continue to ask for prayer from friends and family as she remembers the promises for peace, and the reason for rejoicing:
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. (John 14:27-28 KJV)
At the time my loved ones were in hospice, I grieved. I could not rejoice, but that’s what I’m asking from those who will wait should I enter hospice:
If you loved me, please rejoice. I believe what my savior has given us in God’s word. I believe verse 6, that He is the way, truth, life and that we come to the Father through Him. I believe the Comforter is available and able to bring all these things to our memory when we ask. I believe He told us why these things are available to us:
And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. (John 14:29 KJV)
Join in prayer, please, for the family’s strength as well as comfort for their grief through their loss.
Friday, January 9, 2015
I had ordered the package a week before. It was already a day late and as we drove home, we passed a UPS truck leaving our area. An expectation had been set. Nope – nothing on the porch, and UPS is used to leaving packages there.
I go to the trusty PC, bring up the order site, check the shipping – and their site says it was delivered, and has a tracking number. I take the tracking number to the UPS site to make a complaint. The entries’ response was “Not available.” I was becoming frustrated! I went back to the order site, to be certain I had the tracking number correct – and noticed I had misread the carrier. It was USPS, not UPS.
I was wrong. I had an expectation set in my mind and filtered what I quickly glanced over to fit my expectations.
How often do we do that with scriptures? Or, take one bit out of context since it does fit our expectations? That’s why I strongly advocate personal study based on a desire to learn more.
One example is the ever quick to be used:
Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7:1 KJV)
It is not good to create a doctrine on a single verse. Look to the surrounding verses to know the subject matter, the speaker, the audience as well as the rest of the lesson. It will take several verses to understand that judgment is not condemned when it is done correctly. Besides, that same lesson is found in Luke:
Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37 KJV)
Once again, there’s an introduction to the lesson, and additional informational information follows:
Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38 KJV)
It’s also not good to seek out a verse that agrees with a specific purpose. We still need to check the surrounding verses and the other criteria. A small example is a verse often used in wedding vows:
…whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:
The whole verse:
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: (Ruth 1:16 KJV)
… was said by a Moabitess to a Jewess, a widowed daughter-in-law to her widowed mother-in-law. A commitment from King David’s great-grandmother to his great-great-grandmother. Go back a little further in the genealogy in Matthew and we find:
And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; (Matthew 1:5 KJV)
That Rachab is also known as Rahab – remember her from Jericho?
And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot's house, named Rahab, and lodged there. (Joshua 2:1 KJV)
… mentioned again several times in the New Testament. My favorite is in Hebrews:
By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:31 KJV)
Take time to pay more attention than I did between UPS and USPS. While you may follow “rabbit trails” down different paths, it is best to realize differences. The difference can be a simple verse or two between right and wrong.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
We ended the year studying Elijah on Wednesday nights, and begin this year studying Elisha – a natural transition. We covered Elisha’s selection in I Kings 19:16-21 in December, as well as Elijah’s departure in II Kings 2. We returned to II Kings 2 last night to see the same scene from Elisha’s viewpoint – and move a few steps forward.
Elisha knew what was coming, though he was reminded in verses 3 and 5:
And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. (2 Kings 2:3 KJV)
And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. (2 Kings 2:5 KJV)
But later, those prophets did not listen to him. Even with foreknowledge, they were concerned about what happened to Elijah:
And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. (2 Kings 2:16 KJV)
They shamed him:
And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not. (2 Kings 2:17 KJV)
He responded as most of us would – told you so!
And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not? (2 Kings 2:18 KJV)
II Kings 2:23-25 was hard for me to understand. I’ve read it several times. Pastor’s lesson and van den Bundel’s painting helped me understand more. His painting is filled with lush foliage, definitely not the Judean hillside that would have been the Bethel area. He painted what he knew, and the word “children” meant the children he saw around him. Perhaps the ones who insulted Elisha were older, yet not considered adults:
And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. (2 Kings 2:23 KJV)
It is not a good idea to mock God’s chosen. It sounds to me as though they were daring him to go up the same way Elijah did, adding a literal insult to injury by pointing out his baldness. It also sounds to me as though Elisha understood they were mocking God, too. Yes, he cursed them, but the Bible doesn’t say that curse included bears – the punishment was in God’s hands.
Of course, just as van den Bundel painted from what was familiar to him, I’m interpreting from what is familiar to me.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Galatians 6:7 KJV)
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
I didn’t see this photograph as I was growing up, but I’ll never forget this strong-jawed young girl. I heard about her long after her death in Japan on Christmas Eve, 1912. She wrote a letter in 1887 that is said to have been …
… credited with providing the impetus for the creation of a Southern Baptist offering to support international missions, which later became the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions.
In our First Baptist Church of Cottondale, we’re not affiliated with this mission offering. We send our missionaries a little differently. Those called to missions present their plans to several churches, who then decide through congregational vote to support – or not. Our church doesn’t have a set amount, just a set percentage of our weekly offerings, along with any offerings specified for missions.
The church in Antioch did it similarly:
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:1-3 KJV)
They did a good job. We read about it Acts, and in Paul’s letters to the churches as he continued the work he was called to do. The church at Philippi is an example – they cared for Paul:
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. (Philippians 4:10 KJV)
These churches were able to show their care for specific missionaries, getting to know them, hearing about their travels, the people they’ve met and hearing from their supportive churches:
Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.(Philippians 4:14 KJV)
We get that, too – letters from missionaries we support are on our lobby walls, pictures of their families, where they are serving and their prayer requests. And, we are in contact with them. Several are on social media, allowing us daily contact. Paul did not have such an option, and some failed to communicate with him:
Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. (Philippians 4:15 KJV)
I know the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is important to the Southern Baptist Convention, but I like our methodology better. It creates a partnership between the congregation and the missionary. That’s good for the congregation as well as the missionary:
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19 KJV)
That is so true when our need is to support those we are sending to fulfill Christ’s command:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20 KJV)
Not all are called to a faraway mission field. But we are all called to be in His service, even when that calling is sending another.