Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fear Not – it’s not just for Christmas

FearNot

Somewhere I’ve read that there are 365 verses in the Bible that tell us not to fear. Other’s have felt enough curiosity to do some research. One’s a blogging pastor’s wife, who created a printable list less than 365; another is a blogging Christian author, who found more than 365.

I haven’t verified either, but with the help of e-Sword.net, I could list all the 62 KJV verses specifically state “Fear not.” That’s enough for me to continue with the theme that beautiful graphic put in my mind.

Fear not. Most of the things we fear are unknown, aren’t they. We anticipate future events and conjure up what can possibly go wrong – or, is it as my children say, I’m the one mother that lived by a personal variation of Murphy’s law:  Anything can go wrong and when it does it will happen at the worst possible moment and circumstances.

Yet – I believe the book that tells me about the God who knows all.

I believe Him when He inspired:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11 KJV)

He was speaking specifically to Israel, but we know He is omnipotent and knows the plans for us, too. He also inspired:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 KJV)

There is nothing in that verse – or any other – that tells us we won’t have troubles, but it will work for good. Nothing to fear there, because we’ve read the rest of the story and know that the Lamb wins. I read two good book on that very subject – Revelation and “And the Lamb Wins.” Both those books speak of lots of trouble. Yet, we are to fear not.

What kind of troubles may we expect? Read the Bible and see what examples are laid out before us. I suggest beginning in Hebrews 11:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. (Hebrews 11:1-2 KJV)

Read the next couple of chapters and learn about these elders – then look them up in the Old Testament and learn more about their lives. There were rough patches, weren’t there?

How about God’s only begotten son? He’s an example in Hebrews, too:

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 KJV)

He knew, as He sweat great drops as of blood that there would be joy following the coming pain and shame. He knows what is in store for us:

Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12:32 KJV)

Still – for all the good words found in God’s book, I love the ones that not only were spoken to remove fear but to provide promises:

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)

Which causes me still to pray in gratefulness:

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

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Does It Matter?

GoodEnough
A nice meme, isn’t it? I saw it posted and it sounded good – for a moment. Treat others nicely and all is well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t match what I’ve learned over my lifetime and I have a few questions – along with some biblical background.

First – why doesn’t it matter how many Sundays you sit in church? Doesn’t the Bible tell us:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 KJV)

And, didn’t we learn from our Saviour how the example was set:

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

Yes – Jesus was accustomed to attending worship services.

Second – it doesn’t matter if you think you are saved? Once again, I turn to my Bible, where it tells me why it was written:

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31 KJV)

The most memorized verse is from that same book:

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)

Two optional outcomes: perish, or everlasting life.  One way (even if it does appear to be exclusive, remember that “whosoever believeth”):

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)

Third – God really does see what you do and how you treat people:

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)

There are many verses that outlines God’s requirements beyond John 3:16. One of my favorites is:

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 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 6:7-8 KJV)

My conclusion is similar to Solomon’s, so I’ll use his words:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:13 KJV)

Jesus gave us God’s definition of His commandments:

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)

Please take time to read the Bible to confirm that what I’ve included here is correctly quoted and in context. Church attendance is helpful, but not necessary. It will by natural course follow salvation and the desire to love God with all our heart. There is no doubt in my mind that salvation is important and is not determined by how we treat other people, but how we treat them in accordance with God’s command.

Do you see it differently?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Vessels For . . . ?

Clay_-_Jar_and_Cover_for_Manuscript_Rolls_-_Walters_482058_-_Side_A

The King James Version of the Bible was translated from a number of sources, none as old as the Great Isaiah Scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls are older than the New Testament, but they do show how carefully the books of the Old Testament were preserved for over two thousand years. We have clay jars and a dry climate to thank for that.

Simple clay vessels. Seems as though there should be a spiritual thought there, right? Maybe from:

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: (Acts 9:15 KJV)

Here the Lord is speaking to Ananias about Paul. Better than most of us – reminiscent of Samuel – Ananias answered God by saying:

Behold, I am here, Lord. (Acts 9:10b KJV)

A lot of biblical characters as well as people today would not recognize the call, much less respond. Most would be fearful – as Ananias was when he heard what he was supposed to do:

And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, (Acts 9:11 KJV)

Ananias knew Saul’s reputation – for imprisoning and killing followers of Christ. Men, women, children – any person teaching or believing that Jesus was the son of God, Saul had the authority over their lives.

But, to God Saul was a chosen vessel, little better than those that kept scrolls safe for two thousand years. It did take Jesus Christ stopping Saul on the road to Damascus to make that vessel fit for God’s work. That message was given hundreds of years before:

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. (Jeremiah 18:1-4 KJV)

Ananias may have known that scripture, but we know for certain Paul did when he wrote:

Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:19-21 KJV)

God created Saul – and recreated him into Paul, a vessel fit to complete the work God had in mind for him.

Why, then are we - marred as we are by life and things of this world – so loath to allow the Potter to take our lives and make “it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make.” Do we really think we can do the job better than He can? More likeable than He would? Just what vessel do we want to be in the Potter’s hand?

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Blindness

Not displayed in this graphic is the bone structure surrounding the eye. If you are sufficiently interested, click here for information on the seven bones that make of the orbital structure protecting the eye.

Why the anatomy lesson? To help understand why our eyes are important. The Bible tells of the importance:

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22-23 KJV)

Losing one’s sight can happen in an instant, or over a long period of time. Macular Degeneration can take years for sight to be lost, but an accident takes second.  My son-in-law stepped into a door handle that hit the orbital bone below his eye, shattering the bone. When he got into the house, his first question was, “Is my eye still in?” The trauma was so great he thought he had literally lost his eye. Fortunately, there was no damage to the eyeball and eventually the muscles and bones healed without loss of sight. That quickly, an inch different, and his sight would be gone and at least half of his body would be as the Bible said, “full of darkness.”

However, the Bible speaks figuratively as well as literally and the light here also means:

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12 KJV)

John recognized this early in his gospel:

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:4-5 KJV)

We have all seen examples of those who do not comprehend – those who will not see. The first quote that comes to mind isn’t from the Bible, though it is close to Jeremiah 5:21:
There Are None So Blind As Those Who Will Not See:
• According to the ‘Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings’ this proverb has been traced back to 1546 (John Heywood), and resembles the Biblical verse Jeremiah 5:21 (‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’). In 1738 it was used by Jonathan Swift in his ‘Polite Conversation’ and is first attested in the United States in the 1713 ‘Works of Thomas Chalkley’. The full saying is: ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’.
There is a reason for many not seeing what they read, not hearing what they’ve been told, nor accepting what they’ve been taught:

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Corinthians 4:4 KJV)

How are they blinded and deafened? By things that appear desirable and attainable. And we see those things everywhere we look, don’t we? Our entertainment is filled with images that too often look better to us than what God has to offer because the gratification is instantaneous. “We have what you want – buy it here – on sale!”

Jesus tells us differently:

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. (Luke 11:34-35 KJV)

People around us see what we say and do – how we live. What is the light that shines from us – God or this world? Who sees it? Everyone in our lives at any given moment. That’s why we need to follow Peter’s advice:

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)

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Second Conference Post

Shunammite

While I’m not going to repeat all of conference notes, I do want to cover some of the “Be Our Guest” notes about hospitality. Take time to read II Kings 4 to learn about her. If you find it interesting, move ahead to II Kings 8, where we learn more about this hospitable lady, whom the Bible describes as “great”:

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. 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 4:8-10 KJV)

Not all of us have the means to build “a little chamber” and furnish it for a traveling preacher – but wouldn’t it be nice? That is hospitality above our cultural level. But, we do invite people into our homes – unless we live in CHAOS!!!

That’s an acronym. One I’ve used as the full statement when I believed my house was a mess (and it often is – to me) and I simply Couldn’t Have Anyone Over. It’s a Syndrome.  Yep, that CHAOS. Mrs. Terrie Chappell gave us that acronym, but I recognized the syndrome.

For Christian women, if we don’t believe we live up to Proverbs 31, we simply can’t have anyone over until everything is picked up, put in the right place, cleaned, polished, decorated correctly – but that’s ridiculous, isn’t it? We respond to invitations and assure the lady of the house that having the dog food bowls in the kitchen aren’t a problem. We kiss the child with the chocolate-covered face and love them before and after the chocolate is wiped away.

I am reminded of a missionary I heard speak in North Carolina in 1960. She and her husband ministered to migrants who made the trip from south to north picking the ripened fields along the way. She and her husband had served their ministry a short while before a migrant family asked them to join them in their evening meal. It was a huge step, and she was not expecting the same lifestyle she lived.

The differences between their lifestyles were much more than the mismatched, cracked dinnerware. That was made evident when the lady opened a can of dog food instead of a can of hash, heated it on a wood fire and shared with her family and the visitors.  Yes, our missionary ate the same meal as those in her ministry.

Tell me, is our personal CHAOS similar to this situation? Are you concerned about being an example in a mission conference? If so – and even your home truly is chaos – would you deprive someone of being a blessing to you. Would you deprive them of receiving a blessing, too?

Hospitality isn’t even showing our very best. It is accepting people into our home in the same manner Jesus accepts us into His kingdom. The thief on the cross simply asked to be remembered – and Jesus accompanied him to Paradise. When Jesus is our daily companion as Savior, let us open our homes as we have opened our hearts. What better place to share Him with people who wish to spend time with us?

Friday, March 17, 2017

Conference March 11, 2017

JoshuaBaptistJoshuaTexas

The beautiful graphic is a bit misleading – we were there in the early morning light, having left our First Baptist Church of Cottondale at 6:00 am for the slightly over an hour’s drive on Saturday, March 11. Please feel free to visit both churches if you are in the Fort Worth area.

Conference theme was:         DaughtersOfTheKing

Which was appropriate, based on:

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:14-17 KJV)

It was a day filled with fellowship, food, service and learning opportunities. While we left at six, it was after five before we returned home, and I know I could have stayed a bit longer.

Breakfast was ready for us at 8:00, Welcome and instructions at 8:45; Main Session at 10:00 with three split Sessions (plus an awesome lunch) from 11:00-2:30 with another Main Session lasting until 3:30. Each of the Sessions offered life lessons with royalty themes – and I’ll be posting some of my thoughts in coming blogs. May not be the same received from other attendees, but these I found applicable for me.

Among the papers in binders prepared for each attendee was a map. It is so helpful for the first timers to have a map of what to expect and where rooms are to be found.

Another page were the Session Leaders:


  • Mrs. Terrie Chappell – Clicking on her name will lead you to the “About” page of her blog. Click on the menu and you’ll find information on her books, too.
  • Mrs. Danielle Mordh – Also a pastor’s wife, she is involved in a number of educational ministries.
  • Mrs. Kristine Sisson – A graduate of Lancaster Baptist School and West Coasts Baptist College, she and her husband serve in the youth department.
  • Ms. Martha Johnson – Martha has severed as a lay Biblical counselor for twenty-eight years. She maintains a counseling practice at Victory Baptist Church in Weatherford, Texas (and I’ve attended several conferences over the years to her wisdom-filled application of biblical teachings.)


The opening session, “Be Our Guest” – Creating an inviting home – covered the principle of hospitality. I must tell you, those principles were well displayed by the Joshua Baptist Church members.

First, the conference was for ladies, so no gentlemen in the auditorium or sessions, but they were there – serving. They served our breakfast, our breaks and our lunch. And, they did it with smiles of welcome and answers for any questions we might have. With so many women (last count I heard there were over 350), the men gave up three of their restrooms in the church. Making certain of the cleanliness (the whole church was spotless!), the signs “Men” were replaced with “Today these facilities are for women’s convenience” and it was appreciated. Lunch was plated and waiting for us as we filed into their Fellowship Hall.

That, my dear readers, is hospitable!!! And, hospitality is biblical:

Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. (Romans 12:13 KJV)

Use hospitality one to another without grudging. (1 Peter 4:9 KJV)

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

Dale Evans Rogers made this verse among the most popular and filled with love:

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2 KJV)

Now – I need to set aside time to share more with you about this conference that was such a blessing to me and others. Tomorrow’s blog will begin the sharing.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Submit. Or Else?

 

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Graphic screen capture from FB, linked to forevermom.com

Over decades I have seen this subject arise when speaking of spousal abuse in a “Christian” home. The fears are validated by the reality we see in our own communities and requires Christ’s followers to turn to His word for answers.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)

One verse, repeated in:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18)

And families have actually died over misunderstand this single message: Submit – or else.

In functioning Christian churches and families, there is not this single message, standing alone, but it is included in a passage that affects the entire family and beliefs of Christ’s church. In it’s message is inclusion of all Christians, the local church, the husband and the wife. All are called to do specific actions  in life:

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 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; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (Ephesians 5:8-33)

Verbal and/or physical abuse of a spouse fails to achieve what defined here. When any spouse – husband or wife – uses these verses to demand less than Christian actions for their spouse, it is sinfulness. We are not required to remain in a sinfully damaging relationship that will affect future generations. No husband – and especially no congregation – is biblical in any way, shape or form by requiring a spouse to remain in such a broken relationship.

When we are faced with such situations, when we learn of them, it is not be turned into gossip nor an item for church vote. Neither are we to shame or censure without knowing the particulars. When we do – when actions are evident, our response should be biblical – exhort, support and aid in God’s plan of salvation for individuals. Not in character assassination or retribution. At worst, the family does break apart. At best, there is repentance and restoration. Does the Bible require less? Then cite your source.