Monday, May 13, 2019

Making A Move

In February my sister joined us in our home. It took more than a day to move, although we all refer to “moving day” as it was a single event. There are adjustments made for some time before that day, and adjustments continue afterward. We had to empty the room she was moving into – she had to pack a home, with a single room in mind upon her arrival. For us heading into the fourth month, it has worked well – but more adjustments are coming and we know that.

How does that fit into a scripture covered in Sunday School?

Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: (1 Peter 4:4 KJV)

It’s not a complete thought, is it? Who thinks it strange? What kind of riot? What evil speaking? Just as all scripture, context is very important, so let’s go back to the first verses in chapter 4:

Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: (1 Peter 4:1-3 KJV)

When we accept God’s gift of salvation through faith in Christ, our goal becomes following His example, thinking of what He taught, ceasing from the sins He defined. We no longer list the rest of our time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. Before we became Christians, we sinned in the categories Peter listed.
Lasciviousness = indicates sexual interest or expressions of lust or lewdness. Can we go a day without seeing such an expression?
Excess of wine = drunkenness. alcoholism. Which may not show up in front of us, but don’t we see the results in broken lives and families?
Revellings - If you go out to celebrate your graduation and you are drinking, partying and having a great time, this is an example of when you are revelling. So, what’s so wrong with that? Take a look at the definition from the Free Dictionary = “A boisterous festivity or celebration; merrymaking. [Middle English revelen, to carouse, from Old French reveler, to rebel, carouse, from Latin rebellāre, to rebel; see rebel.]” Goes much further than celebrating a milestone event, doesn’t it? 
Abominable idolatries = according to Quora, a detestable thing or idol, an unclean thing, an abomination, detestation. 2. Strong's definition: filth, an idolatrous object. Yet we use “idol” to denote a celebrity or a television show, right?
We do some of these things daily, without giving consideration to the fact that we should move away from them, becoming closer to what God has laid out for our lives. We should no longer live without Christ in our lives – and many of us have accepted that. In today’s world we are mocked, called hypocrites, people speak evil of them, and in some places in the world people are killed simply because they are Christians.

Peter says the people who do those things will think us strange when we don’t run around with them after accepting Christ.

When a convict finishes his time in prison, he is encouraged to stay away from the people he was running around with when he was arrested. In most cases, they were doing the same thing then – and would be doing similar when the convict is released. Going back to the same lifestyle and same friends can result in the same ending.

Lifestyle changes are necessary when we make a move. Especially when we purpose in our hearts to live our lives as followers of Christ. What we do as Christians impacts other persons’ concept of Christianity. Learning how to reflect Christ requires learning about Him. The first place to look is the Bible, the scriptures that convinced the Bereans. We have more now than they did – we have the first person accounts of men who walked with Jesus, recorded His words, saw Him die, and experienced His resurrection.

Take time to read Peter’s two books, then read John’s three, beginning now. Then go back and begin with Matthew and read the remainder. You’ll find love, He promised.

Monday, April 29, 2019

'Tis The Glory Hallelujah Jubilee

Last week I woke with one phrase – and the accompanying music, but only to that one phrase – running through my mind – “…. glory hallelujah jubilee!” No, the exclamation point isn’t in the lyrics, which I finally found, When They Ring the Golden Bells by Daniel de Marbelle.

The copyright for the CD is dated 1972. While I know I’ve had it – original cover copied for the graphic above – for decades, I’m not certain when. Only when I was gifted an iPod in 2001 and put a lot of gospel music on it did I listen to music regularly as I drove to and from work – an hour each way for the next five years.

So it’s been over ten years since I’ve played this CD – and that one line surfaced. I couldn’t even hum the whole song, couldn’t remember the rest of the lyrics, but it wouldn’t leave me until I found the CD. Of course, those words weren’t in the title, but as soon as I read that title the music came back and I could search for the full lyrics.

A very good example of what goes into our mind stays there.

Much is written about nothing being erased from the internet – but it is even more truth that nothing is erased from our memory, unless it is through traumatic brain injury. With a brain tumor, I’m well aware of that! What does go into our brain will resurface, thus the Bible has specific verses about the subject.

I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me. (Psalms 101:3 KJV)

There are wicked things we may choose to read or watch. There are wicked things we may bring into our minds, that become part of our memory, that may come out when we least expect it.

The Bible has suggestions for what we should be taking in, and returning to others:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)

It’s not necessary to ask “What would Jesus do” in any given situation when we know what He did – and we learn that from reading the Bible. We are able to choose what we do, think, or say by measuring by the verse above.

Why am I thinking about this today? Because I stopped reading a book that was not written with the above in mind. It was so vile in the first chapters that I skipped to the end to see if virtue was shown, and it was not. In what I read was no violence, no cursing, but there were several actions of the following highlighted words, including a death that was the mystery to be solved:

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 KJV)

If I take all that in, and the book does not include justice achieved, virtue exampled, or God is not praised, what have I gained? And if I speak it aloud, what is the value? Why should I have it in my memory:

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. (Matthew 15:11 KJV)

The Bible has stories about all the works of the flesh as well as the fruits of the Spirit. From King David we know about adultery, strife, and even murder – but we also have stories of truth, faith, and repentance in one man’s life story. Saul/Paul gives us hatred, strife, and murder – balanced with lots of love and good report following his meeting with the resurrected Christ. These are in my memory, and every time I read biblical stories I learn more, and am able to apply them in my own life.

All of these thoughts as a result of one remembered line that I recalled in my sleep. What are you putting in your memory  banks?

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Haman's Choices

So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour? Now Haman thought in his heart, To whom would the king delight to do honour more than to myself? (‭‭Esther‬ ‭6:6 KJV)

Haman did not have the opportunity to listen to Jesus’ explanation of choosing the least in order to be placed higher:

For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 14:11 KJV)

Instead, Haman’s ego was so large he believed the king was asking him to design his own honor. Don’t we fall into that same error? Narcissism is defined as “excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and one's physical appearance.” We see narcissism in selfies, a person quite alone, admiring their own body or their acquisitions. Based on his own desires, Haman told the king what should be done to honor himself:

And Haman answered the king, For the man whom the king delighteth to honour, Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: And let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honour, and bring him on horseback through the street of the city, and proclaim before him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honour. (Esther 6:7-9 KJV)

I suggest you read the chapter – better yet, the entire book of Esther to get the whole story, but suffice it to say that Mordecai received what Haman desired for himself. Haman was the “king’s most noble” prince who delivered the horse and led the proclamation. Can you imagine his anger? Haman had, in previous verses, planned Mordecai’s death and prepared the gallows for the hanging:

And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. (Esther 6:4 KJV)

That made it convenient for the rest of Haman’s story. Get the specifics in the book, but his end was:

So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king's wrath pacified. (Esther 7:10 KJV)

Most of us haven’t prepared to take another person’s life, but it is possible to damage their lives by not considering them as individuals, simply an extension of ourselves – subject to our desires, not theirs.

Our Lord has an answer for this narcissistic attitude :

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33 KJV)

What “things”? The ones listed in the previous chapter 6 verses. What will we eat, drink, wear; basically, what we have in life. That is added to our life when we seek first the kingdom of God. Please note that self adoration is not included. That wouldn’t happen if we paid attention to the two commandments that Jesus said were the basis for all others:

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)

Haman chose to elevate himself, hating Mordecai for not feeling the same way. Haman chose to honor himself, but instead walked in front of a horse, proclaiming honor to Mordecai. Haman chose to destroy Mordecai – and all Jews – but the gallows he built took his life, and those who attempted to cleanse the kingdom of Jews were themselves killed.

The Bible tells us we cannot serve two masters. If we put ourselves first, we are not serving God – which is the first and great commandment.‭‬‬

Thursday, April 18, 2019

He Prayed

This graphic isn’t too different from many others showing Christ praying in Gethsemane – He’s alone and/or the disciples are sleeping. But have you read the scriptures of the time He spent in prayer there?

Let’s start in Matthew, chapter 26, verse 36 and following. Here’s what strikes me:

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (Matthew 26:36-38 KJV)

Peter, James and John – the three in the graphic above, asleep. But Jesus didn’t pray with them, He went off by Himself as He asked His Father:

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. (Matthew 26:39 KJV)

Three times He prayed this prayer, three times the disciples slept. But when we read Mark from 14:32, there’s a bit more information. James and John are named, Jesus’ sorrow is said to be sorrowful unto death, and He bade them tarry while He went apart to pray:

And he went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. (Mark 14:35-36 KJV)

I don’t remember ever seeing a painting of Jesus prostrate on the ground praying not to die on the cross. Luke adds to this scene:

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44 KJV)

In John 17 we read of Christ’s prayer for those who follow Him, in chapter 18 we read of the betrayal by Judas, but nothing about the loneliness of praying alone a prayer that He knew God would not answer as a positive. For the plan made before the creation required that Christ would die. But only God knew that was the end of the beginning (that’s a great song, too!) and the best was yet to come.
The final part of Jesus’ prayer is where we should be when we are asking anything of God:

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22:42 KJV)

As it was in the example He gave earlier, just as we should pray today,

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10b KJV)

Jesus told us why God’s will should be done – it is the very best of everything for us:

. . . for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:8 KJV)
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him? (Luke 11:13 KJV)

So, why did Jesus accept what God planned for mankind’s salvation:

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)

No, as a man Jesus did not want the humiliation of a trial where the verdict was predetermined. No, He did not want to go through the beatings that were coming. No, as a man, He could not abide the knowledge that the sins of the world required His blood.  No, He did not want to go through the torture of crucifixion.

For us, each and every one of us, He endured the cross, despised the shame, because of the joy He shares with angels:

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)

I am a sinner, and I repented, thus creating joy in heaven. One day, through faith in God’s grace, I’ll be among those lifting my voice in joyful praise – not because Jesus died, but because of resurrection and the joyous reality that we serve a risen savior.

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

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The First Taste

Pastor’s sermon last Sunday mentioned that he has been the first to give each of his grandchildren their first taste of ice cream. Perhaps such bribery does make a difference, but I want Christians reading this to think of their first taste of fulfilled scripture. The one where you realized that John 3:16-18 and Acts 16:30-33 included you.

How did you feel when you knew you brought joy to heaven:

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)

When I read of a person’s acceptance of Christ as savior, that’s the verse that comes to my mind. I know that person could do as Paul did before Agrippa – give a personal witness to God’s plan of salvation. In Acts 26, Paul told Agrippa what he probably already knew of Paul’s background. The he closed with the prophesies, Christ’s suffering death, and the culmination in the resurrection – proof of which changed Paul from a killer of Christians to a missionary for Christ:

Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. (Acts 26:22-23 KJV)

Agrippa missed this opportunity:

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. (Acts 26:28 KJV)

That wasn’t your answer – at least once in your life – was it Christian? You believed! Then you made that belief public in a congregation of Christians. After that you followed His example in baptism, and continued on with your life. At least I did. I forgot about the joy of our salvation. But over the years, I’ve been reminded and revived. It’s easy when we recognize we need to pray with David:

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (Psalms 51:12 KJV)

David had lost joy through the sins of adultery, concealment, and murder – culminating in the death of his new baby son. Our sins may not appear to be as “bad”, but sinfulness is being disobedient to God. I don’t think there are categories of sinfulness, just a separation in our relationship with God when we keep our sins to ourselves.

Psalm 50 begins with David’s confession of his sinfulness:

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalms 51:1-4 KJV)

Wasn’t that first taste of joy filled with the knowledge that our sins were gone? But we have an adversary that reminds us that we did not remain sin free. That’s not enough to keep us from God. We can accept his forgiveness as we regret and leave our sin. We can pray for restoration of the joy of God’s salvation and taste again the joy spoken of so often in the Bible.

Once again we can sing with fervor “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee”, not only meaning it, but taking joy in our ability to sing it and share it with others.

That’s what Christians are supposed to do:

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)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

As Easy As A B C . . .

Our newer generations may not remember wooden blocks, but many of us actually teethed on these. They were fun to play with as well as being an introduction to education as our moms used them to spell words for us. Simple words for new learners.

Pastor used A, B, and C, as examples in his sermon Sunday – the ABCs for how to become a Christian. It is truly as easy as in the following:

A – admit our sinfulness.
B – believe on Jesus as Savior.
C – confess that openly.

All of that is confirmed through scripture. Although Jesus didn’t put the concept in specific words, He often spoke of sins and that sins were forgiven by His words. We all have them, as Paul put into words:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)

Yes, I have. You have, too. We probably will again – sooner than we want to and probably unplanned. God knew that from creation. That knowledge was included from the beginning:

Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2 Timothy 1:9 KJV)

The bolding is mine – you won’t find that verse in bold font in the Bible. I want it to stand out as part of learning about God. It’s hard for us to relate to the fact that God exists outside of what we know as “time.” For us, this world – and universe – has a beginning and an end. Science spends a lot of time attempting to explain that. Until Einstein, the concept that time was relative was only a concept in a few minds. As a Christian, it should not be considered a limitation for God.

Believing in God, and Jesus as savior, is a necessity for a Christian:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:16-18 KJV)

Yes, without this belief, please do not call yourself a Christian. Those without believing fall into verse 18. Not my words, but specific to the Bible.

Confessing our belief is next:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9 KJV)
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13 KJV)

As easy as A B C . . . but that is very limiting if that’s all you know about Christianity. Christ himself asks us to learn more:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 KJV)

We can’t simply stop after we admit, believe, and confess. We’ve only learned a small part from a few verses. There is much more and He asks that we “learn of me”, get to know God’s word and see the plans He has for mankind threaded through, from Genesis through Revelation.

What I write has no meaning without studying each verse in context for understanding. Studying with a purpose, even if it is to prove me – or God – without merit. I always welcome the opportunity to follow Peter’s admonition to Christians:

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 9, 2019

They, Me, and Thee?

Feel free to click on the graphic to reach, which will explain their products, planning, or click on to see sign in (or create an account) to learn much, much more.

I belong to a variety of groups that pray, and a couple of them read Bible lessons in the YouVersion app. There are literally hundreds of subjects, most include a devotional, specific verses that apply to the devotional, and some that allows notes shared with other readers.

That’s one of the things I’ve come to enjoy – reading the same things the same day as a number of other people, then reading their thoughts on the theme and verses they’ve just finished.  Nope – I won’t share what we did with you now. But, if you wish to become friends in the YouVersion app, I’d be happy to share thoughts with you and read yours.

Right now, I have more than one reading plan I’m doing daily. One is long term, 89 days looking at doctrines specific to Christianity and where they are found in the Bible. It’s a good study and we have Jesus as our example:

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. 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 4:16-21 KJV) (Bolding is my way of calling attention)

Jesus was accustomed to being in the synagogue hearing scripture read on the sabbath. He was also accustomed to reading the scriptures before the congregation. He closed the book after reading, took His seat – then told them what was read was prophecy and it was fulfilled right then. Wow, wouldn’t it have been wonderful to hear that? Guess not so much, for the neighbors.

And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. (Luke 4:22-24 KJV)

They were no more interested in hearing Scripture than they were to hear it was fulfilled. What they wanted were the miracles that were done in Capernaum, not listening to scriptures. How did the people in Capernaum feel about this:

And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee. (Matthew 11:23-24 KJV)

Yep – they wanted the miracles, too, not the scriptures, not the fulfillment of prophecy. So what does that have to do with how I started this blog? The same thing – are we willing to read the scriptures, learn about Jesus, see what God has in mind – or are we looking for the miracles without reading God’s word about the Word of God?

We have the ability to share the scriptures with friends – literally – around the world. Within a short period of time, people I know in America, Britain, China, Demark, Ecuador – anywhere – can read exactly the same scripture I’m reading and we can all share a comment on what we’ve read.

They – my friends on YouVersion – and me – since I’ve opened a link to them – do this on a regular basis. Will Thee join us?