and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Straight Up Part 1

I like to tell stories, I like to link real life with the Bible in ways that help people think about the Lord, but when it comes down to it, there is one thing I think we all need more than books- Christian or not, stories, other’s thoughts, sermons and teachings, and fellowship.  We need to know the Word of God, the Bible.

The time is getting short.  There are many out there that speak obvious lies.  They are usually easy to detect.  But there are many claiming Christianity that are changing, twisting, wrongly interpreting, and ignoring important things from the Word.  How will we know if we do not read and study the Word on our own?

I encourage all of us today, not just to read the Word, but to study it in depth using the Word to help us interpret properly (not just some man’s thoughts on what it means).  We need to hide the Word in our hearts (Ps. 119:11).  Otherwise, how will we know if a man is accurate or not?  Just because ‘he’ is a respected pastor/ preacher/ speaker/ author/ professor/ t.v. or radio persona/ Bible study writer/ etc, does not mean ‘he’ is always right.  We must know our Word to ensure what we are hearing is accurate so that we do not become deceived.  We must use discernment and that will come by knowing the Word (Heb. ).

2Tm. 3:
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. (v.13)
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (v.14)
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (v.15)
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (v.16)
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished (fully equipped) unto all good works. (v.17)

We need to know the Word inside and out.  Nothing will prepare us more for what is to come than the Word.  The Bereans were highly thought of by the author of Acts.  Note how the Jewish synagogue goers there didn’t automatically believe everything they heard even though it came from Paul and Silas- two well known, accepted teachers of good repute:

These people were more receptive than those in Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive the message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if those things were so. 
Acts  ISV

So that, “no man deceive you by any means...(2Th. 2:3),

       we all need to carefully examine  all  that we hear and read.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Keepin’ It Simple

       I think the last time I planned a special meal was years ago.  The reason being, I am not a great cook, I don’t have a lot of talent in the area (don’t care to) and some important skills are lacking.  One of those is timing.  The more dishes you add to a meal, the messier it gets time wise.  Eventually, what happens to me is one or two dishes are not ready when the rest of the food is, causing some of the food to get cold while other food is still cooking very frustrating for me.  Of course there are times I forget stuff and it remains in the fridge (like the homemade cranberry sauce at Christmas- hubby cooked, I distributed)

       So for me, as boring as it sounds, I stick to three dishes with an occasional salad made ahead: meat, starch, veggies.  I keep it simple because it’s easier for me to handle and really, it’s all you need to meet your nutritional requirements.  Healthy food, lots of veggies, who needs fancy or special meals?  It all goes down the same place just saying.

       In 1983, it was a simple message that changed my life.  Jesus Christ was God come in the flesh to die for my sins and was resurrected to life by the power of God.  We are all sinners, and we need to repent and ask forgiveness for our sins and give our lives over to the Lord.  This is the gospel.  Simple enough, but we seem to want to complicate it today, adding in financial blessings, speaking positive, steps to healing, and more effective ways of getting our message out there, all while continuing controversies, nitpicking at exact meanings of words, and endless debates.

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God… And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.  1Cor. 2:1,4,5
For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  1Cor.
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.  Tt. 3:9

       Peter’s first few messages were simple: you (man) have sinned, you need to repent and turn to God for only in Jesus is there salvation through His death and resurrection.  (Acts 2:14; ; 4:8)  He simply pointed them to Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.  The message of the cross doesn’t need to be complicated or fancy in order to work.  The power of God makes the words change hearts.  Our need for our/ man’s wisdom only gets in the way of God working.

       Keeping it simple means it won’t be messy or hard to understand, and hearts won’t get cold while waiting for our great oratory to be done.  Keeping it simple meets all the requirements for salvation except the action of the hearer.  The simple gospel message is necessary in the lives of every person on the face of the earth, for the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. ), and Jesus is the only way in which men might be saved (Acts 4:12).

Jesus loves you enough to come in human form, live a sinless life, yet die guilty for your sins, but God raised Him from the dead and you can be forgiven and have eternal life with Him.

Let’s keep it simple.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In His Place

       Do you ever put yourself in the place of one of the Bible characters in order to try and understand the story?  I actually do it often and I find, especially in historical context, it brings up some interesting points.  In the days of Elisha, there was a Syrian man of great importance to his country and his king.  His name was Naaman (meaning beautiful; agreeable) and he was the head of the army, known to be great, honourable and a man of valour (2Kn. 5:1).  But Naaman was no longer beautiful for he had leprosy.

       Naaman must have taken pride in the fact his sickness did not prevent him from doing his job, and doing it well.  In fact, he won several battles and took spoils from the other lands.  On one of these excursions, he brought home a Jewish servant girl for his wife, and the servant girl mentioned to the wife about a prophet who could remove the sickness (v.2,3).  Naaman loaded up some bribe money and clothing (v.5) and drove off to find the prophet.

       After a brief detour to the king of Israel, Naaman rode his chariot (v.9) to the door of the prophet.  I’m sure as he arrived, he expected a large welcome, at the very least an honourable welcome from the prophet himself, after all, he was a well respected, noble man.  Instead, a lowly servant answered the door and told him to go wash in the Jordan seven times and he would be clean.  ‘Huh?  What?’

But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.  (v.11)
Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.  (v.12)

       Why was Naaman so enraged?  Because he was an important somebody and Elisha treated him as insignificant.  How dare he!!!  Naaman wanted the man of God to at least show up in person, then call on God in a grand display of spirituality, and show God’s power through his own actions.  Then considering the filthy waters of the Jordan, Naaman would have gotten angrier as the waters in his own country were far superior to the Jordan.  Naaman almost lost out on God’s blessing due to his own arrogance and pride.

And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?  (v.13)
Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.  (v.14)

       Obviously a wise and sympathetic man, Naaman’s servant reminded his master that if it was a great task instead of a humble one, he would have done it probably without question, and so Naaman followed the instructions properly and was completely healed.  Finally, Naaman humbled himself to the hand of God and saw the truth.

And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.  (v.15)
But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.  (v. 16)

       It is hard to say if Naaman’s offer of blessing was in honest gratitude or wanting to pay for services rendered, but either way, Elisha could not be convinced to take any of it- after all, it was God who did the healing.  A sovereign God works miracles out of compassion and mercy, not bribes.

       Like Naaman, we often expect God to act in certain ways in our lives, miracles to happen when and how we want them to, difficulties to disappear, money to appear, and diseases to be healed on our schedule.  (I’ve been in Naaman’s place many times.  I can’t count how often I was angry at God for not doing what I wanted…)  The reality is that a sovereign God, one who sees and knows all, should be trusted to do what’s best for all of us; and for that we must humble our own pride and arrogance and surrender, praying that God’s will- will be done.

One slice of humble pie available for eating!
     (Lord, help me to trust You more...)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Vacuum in Our Heart- Quote

A Vacuum in Our Heart-  Quote

“There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” 
                 Blaise Pascal

       Pascal lived in the 1600’s and was a mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher.  By man’s standards, he would be considered intelligent, but I think this quote shows him as wise.  By whatever age he made it, he realized that there was an emptiness in the heart (emotions, thoughts) of every man.

       As a young girl who was mostly ignored by the world around her, I made the same discovery by observing all those close to me.  In my family and others I found work, money, popularity, boys, drugs, success, household pride, ambition, smoking, alcohol and friendship all being used to help fill that void.  None of those things ever really satisfied the people around me, and the happiness they felt just never lasted long enough.  Invariably, the emptiness would return and they would move on to try and fill the void again.

       As Christians we may not chose some of the ‘bad’ things to fill that void, but there are other things we try to fill it with, and because they are ‘good’ things, we don’t realize we are trying to fill God’s spot with something or someone else.  For instance, many young Christians are overly eager to date, get married and raise families.  Filled with God first and foremost, relationships are wonderful, but if not feelings are transitory and can fade, change, grow and regress quickly in human relationships.  No matter how much we try to fit someone in God’s spot in our hearts, they will never completely satisfy and so we will still seek out more to fill it. 

       You will often hear, “I am not happy in this relationship anymore,” as people speak of ending another relationship.  The truth is, the person is not happy- period, and that is because God is not filling their heart completing them.  Trying to fit other people into God’s spot is a big reason for many divorces, as man fails and can never fully satisfy our emptiness like our God.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God,
and his righteousness  Mt. 6:33
And thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all thry soul, and with all they mind, and with all they strength:  this is the first commandment.  Mk. 12:30
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  Lk. 14:26

       That last verse sounds harsh until you remember it is the Lord you are to love with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, not your wife, husband or child.  God is supposed to fill the vacuum, and only when that happens are we truly free to love unconditionally because we no longer need another human to satisfy us.  We will live in our relationships more peacefully when the God of peace fills our hearts in love first.

Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty  Hs. 10:2
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 
Mt. 6:19-21

       When our hearts are divided and we try to fill them up with a little God and a lot of other things, eventually we will become dissatisfied with life.  Good or bad things- they are all vanity (Ec. ) and of no profit to us in the end.  We will still feel empty.  If God is our treasure and fills our hearts completely, we are free to love, laugh and live with all the abundance He gives (Jh. ).

Lord Jesus, come fill our hearts completely with You!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Lost Glasses

       I’ve worn glasses for most of my life, probably since I was about six.  I never really minded because without them I can’t see far away very well, but there are a few annoyances when one must wear glasses: raindrops, hot/ cold fog, dirt and grease, and for those of us in mid-life, the fact you now need bifocals or reading glasses as well.  But really, for me, the worst of the problems is losing my glasses, which happens often.  I mean, how do they expect you to find your glasses when you can’t see to find them?!!

       Are we not advanced enough technologically that we should automatically have small locator chips in all our important items like glasses- and keys (and maybe kids? J)  That way I wouldn’t have to call in the infantry to find my specs, sometimes even paying for the service L nor have my kids laugh while making sure they’re not pushed up on my head.  Perhaps one day it will be reality.

       But finding an object is still easier than finding something intangible: love, forgiveness, hope, dreams; and sometimes it is faith we lose.  How do you find your faith again when it is lost, usually because of disappointments in trials?  Sure, we can passively wait for it to spontaneously happen, but that could take a while.  A pro-active stance would be better.

Ask for faith, more faith, restored faith...
And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.  Lk. 17:5
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.  Mt. 7:7,8

Read the Word
Heb. 11 encourages faith, also reading God’s fulfilled promises in all the Bible
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.  Rom. 15:4

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits (treatment)  Ps. 103:2
you shall remember… Dt. 5:15; 8:2

Seek to live in the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  Gal. 5:22,23
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God…  2Tm. 1:6

       And hopefully we can find our faith increasing over time instead of losing it time and again.  Then when Jesus returns we won’t wonder if He will find faith on the earth (Lk. 18:8), but we will be able to say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."  (2Tm. 4:7,8)

For the just shall live by faith.  (Gal. 3:11)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Who’s Your Daddy?

God the Father   by Guercino

       We have two adopted children.  Our daughter was adopted as a two day old, and our son as a three and a half year old when our daughter turned four.  Neither of them was asked if they wanted to be adopted by us.  They weren’t old enough to help make such a significant decision, so there were other adults who determined our suitability as parents to them.  On the other hand, older children are often asked if they want to be adopted by the social workers and later the judge signing the orders, and their replies could considerably alter the judge’s decision.

       By the time we (you and I) are able to make a decision for Christ, we are old enough to decide if we want Jehovah God to be our Father.  He is the Father (Is. 9:6; Mt. 6:9) and a father to the fatherless (Ps. 68:5).  He wants to make His home with us (John ).  Once we make that decision, the Judge of all creation ‘signs the papers’ (with our approval) and we become sons of God, adopted by the Most High.  But first we need to make that decision... 

Who do you want to be your Daddy?

Let these scriptures encourage you to choose God as your Father:
God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.  Gal. 4:4-7
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,  Eph. 1:5
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. …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  Rom. 8:14-17
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God  1Jn. 3:1