Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pray Without Ceasing

Does that sound easy? There are times seems not, until we pause to think. I remember over 30 years ago listening to a motivational speaker telling about being late to a very important meeting where she would interview a Japanese gentlemen who had a very busy schedule. She began to think about what would be the worst thing that could happen – she would be fired.

But, that wasn’t the worst thing that could happen in her life.

As she entered the company parking lot, she yelled out the window with a smile that her husband and children were just fine. Losing one of them would have been much worse than losing the job she applied for and accepted.

That is exactly what we should be doing as Christians:

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)

Do you believe a misled Jew wrote those words, or were they inspired by God to show us how our relationship with Him can be? I believe He loves us enough to provide guidance. Then we can give thanks always – even in a hospital emergency room Tuesday eveining with your spouse having chest pains.

Yes, we can give thanks that there is good treatments. good facilities, excellent doctors and nurses, a triage process that cuts down on waiting. Pause to think about what it was like in previous decades, centuries, and thank God for what is available now.

That’s a good process, you know – pause, listen, think, respond - to use with others. Can we be grateful for all the people that are in our life? Come one, truthfully, didn’t you think of one person as you thought? I came up with a couple – and the idea of asking God to let me know why they are in my life.  For my good, or theirs?

That’s a part of prayer, too. We are told to pray without ceasing. It’s in one verse, and not hard to understand. In fact, it would appear I was repeating:

Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV)

A nice standalone sentence that fits right in with the rest of the advice:

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly,
comfort the feebleminded,
support the weak,
be patient toward all men.
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 

(1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 KJV)

Do you know that if we do all of that, all of our lives, we still are not “good enough” to stand before God as His child? Yes, He asks that we do what He wants, but He does have a requirement in reaching Him that many will not accept.

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)

John 3:16-18 says it even better. Excuse me? I’m called judgmental? I’m condemning? Please read the chapter. God makes the judgment, I don’t. I study His word, looking to see how what He said affected others. I see those who accept as well as those who reject. I prefer believing, but I can never, ever, convince someone else. It’s not my job.

Nope, mine is to encourage the reading of His word and allow others to make up their own minds. To help me – and them – I find it much better to pray without ceasing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016



I met Pastor John Tino on-line several years ago through another ministry – that one in the Philippines. This week, Pastor Tino arrived in Dallas for a four-month ministry. I never expected to be in the same country as John, and never gave thought that we’d be less than two hours away, even by plane. Yet – he is now in nearby Dallas.

This blog isn’t about Pastor Tino, though, it’s about missions.

I believe that evangelicals think of Paul as being the first missionary and we teach children – and adults – of his missionary journeys as told in the New Testament. We tend to forget that our true first missionary example is Jesus, Christ.

Jesus left His home – heaven – to come to save the lost. He said so:

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

His mission was to all mankind. Angels said so:

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

He went about preaching and teaching and calling others to follow Him. That’s what Paul did. That’s what missionaries through the years have done. That’s what we are all supposed to be doing, isn’t?

Yes, we all have differing ministries – different gifts for serving God:

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (Romans 12:6-9 KJV)

It’s a blessing for me to learn from people who are using their gifts to serve God’s and share His love with others. Through the internet I’ve met people I most likely would never have met without it. I see God’s love in action and I’m given the opportunity to pray for His work half way around the world.

Most importantly, I see the same messages that Jesus gave in His ministry being given both in words and in examples. The one that touches my heart today is:

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:14 KJV)
But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:14 KJV)
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:16 KJV)

Pray for the children. Today I saw missions for children discussed in several places – in Kenya/Tanzania, Philippines, Myanmar and the United States. There are more, many more places where the name of Jesus is spoken with love and His work shown to children.

The best thing we can offer those who serve our Lord is prayer. That’s also the most difficult, because we can’t know their immediate needs. Fortunately, we’ve been given help:

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27 KJV)

Take a moment and pray for missionaries – especially ones in His service with children.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Hedge = Fence


Sunday night our Youth Pastor used this verse:

He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him. (Ecclesiastes 10:8 KJV)

I will admit that when we first read it, I wondered how a full sermon would come from that one verse – but he gave an excellent one!

No, I’m not going to repeat his sermon (thought some of this may be almost direct quotes, I’ll admit) but I want to look at where we see hedges in the Bible. The first verse that popped up was:

And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. (Mark 12:1 KJV)

No, again, I’m not going to take a deep look at the parable – just at that hedge. He set it around the vineyard for protection. That’s where you’ll find “hedge” used biblically. Satan used it to rail at God about Job:

Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. (Job 1:9-11 KJV)

Satan claimed God protected Job and that’s the only reason Job loved God. Job proved that was incorrect – absolutely incorrect! But the Bible also talks about hedges of thorns:

The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. (Proverbs 15:19 KJV)

By his own choices, the slothful man could not break through the hedge of thorns to make headway.
Hedges were used then as we use fences now. We have cross fences on our acreage, with gates from one to another to move our tiny herd from one grazing pasture to another. While we direct their movements, it is for their protection, to give them what best to maintain their health. They still will reach as far as they can through a barbed wire fence to reach the grass they think might be better.

City people have fences, too – but they usually aren’t as prominent. Some are to corral a different kind of livestock than ours – dogs, and children. Both are within fences for their own protection – and often to protect others.

Edges = fences = protection. Now that you’ve thought about some of the fences you’ve seen in your life, consider the protection that God has provided in His word. What we see as “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not.” Why are they there?

God certainly does not need them, does He? We cannot harm Him, so He doesn’t need protection. They were written for mankind’s protection – but the majority of mankind ignores them. Genesis 2 gives us the first one that was broken, Leviticus contains a multitude but Jesus condensed the Law down to two.

How do we maintain the biblical protection God has provided? I hope to do better by spending time in His word, reading examples. Please, join me.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


I once read how thoughtless Jesus was at age 12 when He left His parents to spend time with the priests in Jerusalem. Definitely not 21st century America where parents come under the scrutiny of city and/or state government for allowing their children to walk to a park and back home.

Is that Jerusalem trip an indictment of Jesus or His parents? Hardly. It is a description of one incident in His life. One that shows His obedience to His Heavenly Father, and to His earthly parents. There is no indication they considered punishment:

And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. (Luke 2:50-52 KJV)

There is another incident on my mind – a wedding at Cana. Once again His mother did not understand, made a minor request and her son declined. She continued with instructions:

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. (John 2:5 KJV)

For all of her pondering after His birth, she could not see past the earthly things. She isn’t alone. His disciples spent three years looking for an earthly king and abandoned Him after Gethsemane. The religious leaders of the day never accepted His assurance that prophecy was fulfilled.

Oh, He told them, but you’d have to read all four gospels all the way through to get all the verses where He openly spoke of God’s purpose, Jesus’ reason for being here. Then you’d have to read the remainder of the New Testament as His purpose was put to work. Not until His resurrection – just as He said – did His disciples begin to understand. Not until Thomas stood before Him did he cease to doubt.

Jesus was born for a purpose.

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

And that brings forth questions – from people who are supposed to have answers:

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

Jesus continued to speak of heavenly things with the purpose of bringing mankind closer to heaven:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 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 3:14-18 KJV)

Our purpose? To believe Him and be like Him. Thanks be to God that He’s still patiently working with me to fulfill that purpose.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Thoughts From Wednesday


Wednesday night’s lesson covered parts of Numbers 31 and 32. Pastor covered quite a bit, but I want to focus on a request in chapter 32 by two Israeli tribes as they approach the land God promised to them.

Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle;  . . .  Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan. (Numbers 32:1, 5 KJV)

The plans were made. The twelve tribes would cross Jordan and subdue the land that God promised to them – even though the generation that received the promise had perished in the 40 years journey in the wilderness. The tribal leaders for Reuben and Gad looked around them, saw how good it was for their cattle and decided they would just stay where they were.

Moses chided them:

And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here? And wherefore discourage ye the heart of the children of Israel from going over into the land which the LORD hath given them? (Numbers 32:6-7 KJV)

He went into detail as to why they journeyed in the wilderness and basically told them they were repeating their fathers’ rebellion against God’s will. Apparently he convinced them, for they promised that they would fight with their brethren for the land, but when finished, they would return to this east of Jordan land.  This was acceptable – if they kept their word. If not, Moses said:

But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23 KJV)

I’ve heard that last part for years – and had not paid attention to where it was in the Bible. I thought it was for everyone who sinned – and they would not be able to keep their sin hidden any more than I could hide my disobedience from my parents.

Studying in context, there’s more than just being discovered – it’s passing up what God has in store, settling for what looks very good right now instead of moving forward. At least Moses was able to impress upon them that if they did not assist the remaining tribes, they could lose what they wanted.

But – they couldn’t see past what they wanted. And, I wondered what I passed up in the past. Doesn’t really matter now, and no one will be interested in my “I could have been . . .” Neither am I. I know where I am and how I got here. By the grace of God, I’ve learned that Paul’s type of contentment is good. I am content in that I know I am now in the place God wants me to be. That provides a great deal of peace for me.

No, I don’t have all I want. Not hardly. I do have enough to be eternally grateful for what the Lord has provided, to thank Him daily and to speak of Him every opportunity. And I appreciate the lessons He provides through examples thousands of years ago, applicable today.

That’s one reason I encourage the reading of His word, receiving His messages.

Thursday, April 14, 2016



I was reminded today that Paul did not have a Bible, whether it was KJV, ERV, NIV, NKJV or another other version available today. What he had was the Tanakh, which combines the Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim. From Wikipedia:
The three-part division reflected in the acronym "Tanakh" is well attested in literature of the Rabbinic period.[2] During that period, however, "Tanakh" was not used. Instead, the proper title was Mikra (or Miqra, מקרא, meaning "reading" or "that which is read") because the biblical texts were read publicly. Mikra continues to be used in Hebrew to this day, alongside Tanakh, to refer to the Hebrew scriptures. In modern spoken Hebrew, they are interchangeable.
Jesus is described as reading publicly in Luke 4:15-21. What He read was from Isaiah in the Nevi’im:
contains two sub-groups, the Former Prophets (נביאים ראשונים Nevi'im Rishonim, the narrative books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings) and the Latter Prophets (נביאים אחרונים Nevi'im Aharonim, the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and The Twelve minor prophets).
The Torah contains the books written by Moses, the books of the Law, but can cover much more:
The term Torah means instruction and offers a way of life for those who follow it; it can mean the continued narrative from Genesis to the end of the Tanakh, and it can even mean the totality of Jewish teaching, culture and practice
The third portion, is the Ketuvim,
The Ketuvim are believed to have been written under divine inspiration, but with one level less authority than that of prophecy . . . Found among the Writings within the Hebrew scriptures, I and II Chronicles form one book, along with Ezra and Nehemiah which form a single unit entitled "Ezra–Nehemiah".[4] (In citations by chapter and verse numbers, however, the Hebrew equivalents of "Nehemiah", "I Chronicles" and "II Chronicles" are used, as the system of chapter division was imported from Christian usage.) Collectively, eleven books are included in the Ketuvim.
I took the easy way, Wikipedia, and it is a very high level, overly concise commentary. Paul, on the other hand, had been studying these writings for years, under Gamaliel, a doctor of Jewish Law. He had so much to work with – and did not recognize Jesus as the expected Messiah. For the years of Jesus’ ministry, he had to have heard about Him, even if he never heard Jesus speak.

We have Jesus’ words – usually printed in red to make them stand out and have us take notice – yet we’re not better than Paul until we take notice. After he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he preached:

And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (Acts 9:19-20 KJV)

He used his personal experience with Jesus, a few words only, and his knowledge of God’s words to Israel to convert in two continents.

Why, then, when we have so many tools, is it so hard for us to read those same words and preach Christ as the Son of God?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Our Enemies?


There is a much more readable explanatory grid on Wikimedia’s Commons. I ran across these while looking for a graphic to go with my subject today – Enemies. I was reminded that Jews were not the only enemies of the Third Reich. I was also reminded that – while we do not place fabric labels on prison pajamas – we label our enemies with hateful words, curse them with colorful phrases, apply biblical descriptions with a relish that is unseemly from followers of Christ.

Even though we’ve been taught:

Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5:43-44 KJV)

And, we’ve been told why:

That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? (Matthew 5:45-46 KJV)

Oh, we cling to these verses and pray for those we do not love. But we sort of ignore similar verses in Luke:

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:35-36 KJV)

Do you see the additional information Luke gives us in Jesus’ words? Let me focus for a moment on those words:
… for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

The next verse, Luke 6:37, is often thrown in the face of Christians (by those who do not follow Christ) as examples of hypocrisy. I think they missed an even greater example in verse 35. Christians too often are not kind to those who are ungrateful and especially to those who do evil, sinning against God.

You disagree? Really? You can give examples of doing for the ungrateful? I can too. Wonderfully dedicated missionaries who work in our area, nearby cities, our state, our country, other nations – some who have died at the hands of what we consider evil. But . . . what about ourselves, in our daily life, when we condemn others? When does that move from discernment to judgmental?

Yes, Christ defined judgment and who would face it – please remember, it was His place to judge. He also taught us what to do when we’re facing evil:

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 KJV)

Continue reading all the counsel of God.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Something’s Not Right


I have seen more quotes of Matthew 7:1 and Luke 6:37 on social media than any other verses. Not even John 3:16 gets as much use as these two verses. It is as if the entire Bible filters down to these two verses – for those who wish to continue doing what is labeled as “sin” in other verses. The appearance is that if they say it often enough, Christians will forget:

And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:5-8 KJV)

Trust me, without God’s help, we would fall into that lake because of His judgment, not because we point out what God has deemed against His will.

Back in John’s third chapter, where a believer in God came to ask theological questions, we are given God’s plan of salvation. People sin – act against God’s will ; God sent an explanation of how to return to His will; some will ignore and continue to sin – to their own destruction.

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. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:18-19 KJV)

We have set a very high bar for considering an act “evil.”
Adjective: profoundly immoral and malevolent
Noun: profound immorality, wickedness, and depravity, especially when regarded as a supernatural force
Do any of us think of ourselves as profoundly anything? Certainly not evil. right? Besides, we’re doing unto others what we like, aren’t we? I think that’s a thumbs down. But the judgment called for is God’s, not ours.

Discernment, the ability to tell the difference, does belong to the Christian and is exampled in Christ’s words to the church at Ephesus:

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. (Revelation 2:2-3 KJV)

Isn’t that how we truly feel about sin? That we cannot bear lies as deeply as evil? But – how are we doing in patience? Do we labor in God’s work – without fainting?

Do not pass judgment, just as the scripture says. And, do as scripture says:

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35 KJV)

God does the judging, we do the loving – and the staying away from sin. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Wavering? Torn Between Possibilities?


There are times in our lives when we are faced with major decisions. There are possibilities in either direction we might select, and pitfalls. Both have unknown possibilities. We need a bit of wisdom to know what to do. Considering James’ first chapter is a good start. Verses 1-4 are an introduction from James to the twelve tribes followed by a request for patience during trials. Then this:

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. (James 1:5-8 KJV)

Matthew Henry, in his commentary, gives us this:
We should not pray so much for the removal of an affliction as for wisdom to make a right use of it. And who is there that does not want wisdom under any great trials or exercises to guide him in his judging of things, in the government of his own spirit and temper, and in the management of his affairs? To be wise in trying times is a special gift of God, and to him we must seek for it.
From my own experience, we are much more apt to request the removal of any affliction than to accept it and use it to God’s glory. We’re often too busy looking for a way out and if there isn’t one, turning it over to God because it is too hard for us to “fix.”

Unfortunately, most of the time we are asking for a “fix” for the consequences of our own actions – personal and made without asking God’s help. It could have been much better if we had asked for wisdom in making decisions, then used His guidelines to implement that decision.

The Greek for “double minded” is δίψυχος, used only twice in the Bible, and only in James. In addition to “wavering” and “doubting”, it also means “divided in interest.” Christians usually are divided between this world and what God has promised us. John was aware of this:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:15-16 KJV)

So was Paul:

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

But I believe their words came from Jesus:

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. (John 17:14 KJV)

Use God-given wisdom to make decisions while living in this world, but keep those decisions focused on God’s eternal planning – which includes each and every one of us.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Following Instructions

This QuiltFOX Design pattern looks lovely, doesn’t it. The pattern tells me there are two top squares, mirrored, as well as two bottom rectangles, also mirrored.  That means that the center piece and the next round on the top are the same (unless, like me, you choose a material that points to the left or right), but from there on, each piece mirrors the other side. Also, keep in mind that each quadrant has 20 pieces.

For someone used to creating quilts, set up to do it several hours each day – this may be easy. I’ve lost my way several times. The first time was with the first set of directions. Fortunately, before I cut fabric, the designer provided an update that was much more explanatory.

However, this morning I sewed three pieces incorrectly and will have to get out the seam ripper and make corrections. Which, of course, reminded me that God is forgiving with us, but the incorrect items in our lives must be fixed or things will never fit.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:36-37 KJV)

But (I can hear yours just as easily as I said mine) they were wrong! Why should I be forgiving when it hasn’t even been requested?! Yes, I put emphasis on my sentences. I was emphatic that THEY WERE WRONG! Perhaps it was personally vindictive. Well, He covered that, too:

But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. (Luke 6:35 KJV)

That’s sufficient, isn’t it? Nope. And it all has to do with love:

If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15 KJV)

Fortunately, we start with just two. Everything else should be based on these:

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

Does that mean we are supposed to put up with sinfulness? Again, Nope:

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. (Mark 6:11 KJV)

Jesus said that to His disciples as they went out to teach. If people will not heed His commandments, the judgment will be God’s, not ours. We may know it will come, we may tell them what will come, but the telling must be done with love. Remember Luke 6:35 above and Matthew 5:44 –  for enemies, or even friends who despitefully use you.

Remember, our own forgiveness can come from within ourselves.

And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. (Luke 11:4a KJV)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Tell It To Jesus

The Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Eames Rankin, D.D., LL.D., of Charlestown, Massachusetts spoke at Wheaton College Commencement in 1869. The College history includes:
Born in Thornton, New Hampshire on 2 January 1828, Thornton graduated from Middlebury College in 1848.  He read theology at Andover, and was pastor of the First Congregational Church of St. Albans, Vermont from 1857 to 1863, and subsequently was pastor of churches in Lowell and Charlestown (Winthrop Church), MA, Washington, D.C., and Orange, NJ.  Rankin served as chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. He was Professor of Pastoral Theology at Howard University, and served as Howard University's President from 1889 to 1903. Rankin died in 1904.
He wrote numerous hymns. One is titled “Out of My Darkness Into Thy Light” but I know it as “Jesus I come.” Another has but one title, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” But my favorite is the graphic above – “Tell It To Jesus.” That’s so very biblical:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28 KJV)

Please note that neither labor nor burden are taken out of the equation. We will continue to do both, but we will have rest. The next two verses tell us that we will take on additional responsibilities, too:

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 11:29-30 KJV)

He doesn’t promise to wait until we’re rested, either. Also, we are to accept His yoke without laying down our own. After that we take time to learn of Him.  Unfortunately, we too often find His burden confusing because we do not take that next step and learn about Him. He knows all about us, though, and He wants to talk with us. He gave an example in the Lord’s Prayer.

After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
(Matthew 6:9-13 KJV)

Go over those verses once more, please, and think about the words, the order and the reasoning behind them. They have meaning and they have power. Did you say them – or did you pray them?
Did we include ourselves when thinking of “earth”, “our debts”, “forgive our debtors,” “us” for both leading and deliverance? Do we really want His kingdom to come? Do we believe He has a kingdom? That He is all power? That all glory belongs to Him? If not, we’re just saying – not praying.

Looking up the word “pray” and you’ll find it 39 times in the KJV gospels. The first six are words Jesus spoke, and the seventh begins a story I love:

And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. (Matthew 14:23 KJV)

Can you imagine how few times He had alone? The disciples were out in a boat while he prayed, alone. A storm rose – they say that can happen quickly on the Sea of Galilee. He came walking to them and the men feared that sight as much as the storm. Peter called to join Him and started out, failing, calling out “Lord, save me!” Jesus stopped the failure, provided the salvation:

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him,

That must have been a wondrous thing for Peter to experience – Jesus taking his hand in salvation! Awesome – until the next part of the verse:

and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
(Matthew 14:31 KJV)

Peter told Jesus he wanted to walk out to Him; Jesus said, “Come”; Peter took first steps, then feared instead of focusing on and talking to Jesus. Don’t blame Peter until we can do better, right?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Bread of Life

In case you weren’t aware, that’s my logo. I created it many years ago and have no reason to change it. Unfortunately, I’ve misfiled the nice, large, clean graphic and only have this one.

The two verses are important to me. Luke 11:3 is part of the example Jesus gave us for the Lord’s prayer. John 6:48 is part of a larger lesson on belief and everlasting life along with His confirmation that His life is the bread of life. I could have included Matthew 4:4, Jesus’ answer to Satan when He was offered bread from stone.

More than three hundred verses in the Bible contain 361 references to bread. It was important to the living. Not as important, however, as the message carried by the man who said He was the bread of life:

The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (John 4:25-26 KJV)

He tells her – and us – that He is the expected Messiah. Isaiah looked forward to Him in Isaiah 53:1-10 and others, including Isaiah 61:1-2. Jesus read Isaiah’s prophecies and told a synagogue congregation:

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. (Luke 4:17-21 KJV)

That’s what’s behind John 6:48, fulfillment of scripture. the unspeakable gift of God. So much more than the manna provided to the Children of Israel, Jesus provides life everlasting. But much happened in that day of John’s sixth chapter, beginning with people following Him in a multitude because He healed people. Look back at my blog “The Bible Said He Did” for that description.

There were so many people, hungry people, and He was aware:

When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. (John 6:5-6 KJV)

What He would do would feed five thousand people, and it was considered a miracle. I’m certain were it to be repeated today, it would be considered a miracle. A man who walked dusty roads, preached astonishing doctrine, amazingly healed people, fed five – and three – thousand people, was followed by multitudes and yet people today think He sits on a throne in heaven, uninterested in our lives. Perhaps we should consider:

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)

The question to me is – how neglectful have I been? I am the only one who can consider, answer and respond. Are you able to do the same about the man who said “I am the bread of life”?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How Literate Are You, Biblically?

None of my Bibles look like this. One of my husband’s does, though – except there is a middle column with reference numbers and scripture connections. There are millions of different styles of Bibles, only unopened ones from the same printing are just alike. As soon as the box is opened, most get some writing  in them. Some as presentations for an achievement, a lot for family occasions. At our church, newly baptized members are given one as a gift from the church. I’ve wondered about the percentage of use afterward.

One I’ve had for about 40 years is highlighted and noted. That was before I started keeping a notebook – and started using a tablet with a digital Bible. My digital Bible is highlighted and notes are often added, but the notebooks keep more info than the Bible now.

From February 14 of this year, my notes include using tools. My husband uses tools to create furniture. Several pieces in our home, including an oversized nine-drawer chest of drawers. I love them! I have some ceramic items that carry memories, and I must admit I use a number of tools to make quilts, so I use them, too.

The Bible is a Christian’s best tool. The purpose of this tool is to point people to God. How can we use this tool without study and instruction?

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

There are many ways to grow Bible usage – daily readings is excellent. I recommend YouVersion apps for specific topical reading – and these apps have no ads:
A free Bible on your phone, tablet, and computer. YouVersion is a simple, ad-free Bible that brings God's Word into your daily life.
For more in-depth studying, I recommend e-Sword. which also has apps for iPhone and computer. I regret it is not yet available for Google store, but it is much more comprehensive by offering commentaries. As with YouVersion, the app, Bible and some other resources are free. As with Olive Tree, more versions and resources cost. Items without copyright are free – newer versions and books cost.

No – old does not mean outdated. Somethings are always appropriate:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 KJV)

Did you know you were to teach, talk or how often? Do you know what words were commanded to be taught and discussed? That’s part of being Bible literate.

Bible literacy also includes knowing what God expects us to do.

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8 KJV)

Do you know where our Lord said obedience was more important than sacrifice? Do you know where Jesus said “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears,“ or what scripture He just read – or where He read it? If not, why not?

No – this is not simply for Christians. Anyone who denies there is a God deserves to know why they believe there is not a God. More importantly, Christians should be able to explain why - and what - they do believe.

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)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Reasonable, But . . .

No, my topic is not Zechariah’s first vision of horses, although those are interesting subjects. This happened to be the most interesting of the Zechariah graphics on Commons. What I want to think about today is in Zechariah’s seventh chapter where people came to the priests and prophets with a question:

And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years? (Zechariah 7:3 KJV)

The question really is: We’ve done this for many years, commemorating the burning of the temple. Should we still do it? The equivalent happens here in the United States (probably worldwide) when holidays come.

Should we commemorate Thanksgiving? After all, it was an invasion by Europe and eventually destroyed cultures. Why hold that memory. Frankly, that’s a bleak picture. That holiday does have roots in factual history, those who first came where here for freedom to worship and it took decades for adventurers to join in, once such a beautiful land became well known. Why not continue to give thanks? My family does, and will continue to do so for reasons behind our own faith.

For these Jews questioning priests, the Lord had an answer that fits for me, too:

Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? (Zechariah 7:5 KJV)

The reason God gives here can serve for me, too. I celebrate certain holidays because they are important to my belief in God, not for men.

In the next verses, God explains specifics for the memorials under question. Then comes verses where God gives specifics as to what should be done. The actions are applicable to any time, any people:

Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. (Zechariah 7:9-10 KJV)

That is found across the Bible and are included in Jesus’ doctrine. The apostles repeated them and John used them as examples of faith:

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. (James 2:15-18 KJV)

Unfortunately, the apostles’ teachings, Jesus’ preaching of doctrines, even God’s word to prophets usually ends up with:

But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 7:11-12 KJV)

Will we encounter that great wrath from the most powerful source? Will we respond in the same way, and will he, as here:

Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts: (Zechariah 7:13 KJV)

How reasonable is it for us to expect God to respond to our cries to Him -- when we ignore His words to us?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Notes on Note Taking

My father was a note taker. The habit started when he was a teen and survived a traumatic brain injury that affected his short term memory. He would study each morning, take notes and eventually was valedictorian of his graduating class. Twenty years later, when he went to work for American Airlines, he kept a notebook with daily tasks to be certain he accomplished them all. One of the last things he used in 2000 was a small old notebook where he wrote down the jobs he had, from picking cotton to American Airlines Security, followed by retirement. I picked up some of his habit.

I take notes. From these notes come almost all I write here, though some catch my attention on the ‘net. I keep sermon notes – usually three times a week, sometimes more, sometimes less, but always there are reminders of scriptures and references of things I think are important. My current notebook begins December 3, 2015 when we were studying Proverbs chapter 18. I noted several verses, but marked:

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. (Proverbs 18:13 KJV)

When reading a commentary on this verse I found a reference:
Many mighty men have been greatly disgraced; and the honourable delivered into other men's hands. Blame not before thou hast examined the truth: understand first, and then rebuke. Answer not before thou hast heard the cause: neither interrupt men in the midst of their talk. Ecclesiasticus 11:8
Along with an explanatory note about the Apocrypha in the original 1611 King James Bible, removed in 1885. And, there was a note in the commentary – originally in Latin, but I found a translation:
The one who decides in any case, without hearing the other side of the question, though he might determine justly, is not therefore just (Seneca)
Research takes multiple paths and keeping notes on those paths (the reason for taking them, the results of taking them, and the changes caused/not caused) are important. I know that from my genealogy research but particularly for my Bible study and research.

Another example is in older GPS instructions for finding the First Baptist Church of Cottondale. The earliest online mapping apparently thought the street address being in Paradise also placed this church in Paradise. As John Wayne used to say, “Not hardly.” Taking someone else’s word, no matter how technologically/scientifically advanced, sometimes sends us in the wrong direction.

Jesus gave us some specific travel advice:

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

“Strait” does not mean “straight.” It means “… limited spatial capacity; narrow or cramped.” Sort of the same as narrow “… limited in extent, amount, or scope; restricted.”That could be why followers of Christ are often called narrow-minded. We do decline to accept the widened view of “anything goes,” or as the Bible puts it:

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, they did:

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)

Until even Solomon notes:

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. (Proverbs 12:15 KJV)

Do be cautious about that counsel. We can find people that agree with us – just ask the question on FB or Twitter and thousands will agree that the moon is made of green cheese. Seek wise counsel for wise counseling. Especially as it refers to God:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. (Matthew 7:15-17 KJV)

How’s your fruit?