Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Proverbs 22 4-22-19

April 23, 2019

Why have a “Quiet Time?” To hear from the LORD! If we read or study but never hear from the Spirit, then we have read in vain.

11 “One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.”

Who wouldn’t want the king for his friend? We have the opportunity to hang out with the King of kings! He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. Why wouldn’t we seek His opinion and wisdom on everything?

Jesus said, 28 “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened [I believe that’s all of us!], and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.

  1. The invitation is clear. He is waiting for us.
  2. Are we weary and burdened? Do we carry the weight of sin in our bodies? YES!
  3. He will give us REST!
  4. His yoke is easy, His burden light. He will never place more upon us than we can handle WITH HIS HELP. There’s plenty out there that is overwhelming, but He promises that with Him we can handle anything.
  5. He is gentle and humble in heart. Do you believe this?

If Jesus’ own New Covenant is based upon the law of love (see John 13:34), then we must accept that He is, indeed, gentle and humble in heart. He desires for us to know Him. Paul says,

10 “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12

His desire to live in us was so great that He came and died for us so that He could live in us! Now, THAT’S a story worth sharing!

Proverbs 23 4-23-19

April 23, 2019

As long as we feel we can do things ourselves, we will not experience the power and encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

1 When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. 3 Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.

Our tendency toward sin is to indulge (gluttony). We are tempted to partake in that which is not for us, not for now, or too much of a good thing. We have an ENEMY, the devil, who wants us to fail.

We tend to be guided by how we feel. DON’T LISTEN! Instead, turn to Him who is inside you and listen to Him. He will guide you into all truth.

Solomon knew human nature:

4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust in your own cleverness.

6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies;

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,

The good news is that Jesus came to save and heal sinners. We were sick with sin; Jesus healed us. We were dead spiritually; Jesus resurrected us. We now walk in newness of life with Him (Romans 6:4-7)!

Jesus set the example the day He called Matthew to be his disciple. Matthew threw a big party and invited all of his friends and cohorts.

15 While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s (Matthew’s) house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

When we recognize our limitations, we will allow the Spirit to make us into Christ’s image. Let’s let Him!

Proverbs 22 4-22-19

April 22, 2019

Why have a “Quiet Time?” To hear from the LORD! If we read or study but never hear from the Spirit, then we have read in vain.

11 “One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.”

Who wouldn’t want the king for his friend? We have the opportunity to hang out with the King of kings! He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. Why wouldn’t we seek His opinion and wisdom on everything?

Jesus said, 28 “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened [I believe that’s all of us!], and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.

  1. The invitation is clear. He is waiting for us.
  2. Are we weary and burdened? Do we carry the weight of sin in our bodies? YES!
  3. He will give us REST!
  4. His yoke is easy, His burden light. He will never place more upon us than we can handle WITH HIS HELP. There’s plenty out there that is overwhelming, but He promises that with Him we can handle anything.
  5. He is gentle and humble in heart. Do you believe this?

If Jesus’ own New Covenant is based upon the law of love (see John 13:34), then we must accept that He is, indeed, gentle and humble in heart. He desires for us to know Him. Paul says,

10 “these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12

His desire to live in us was so great that He came and died for us so that He could live in us! Now, THAT’S a story worth sharing!

A Two-Way Street

January 6, 2019

The Bible is a conundrum, a riddle. It is its own witness, yet it claims that two witnesses are needed to verify truth. The reality is that the Bible can only be “proved true” if one believes that the God of the Bible is real, for He is the Witness that makes all the claims of the Bible true.

There is no way to intellectually argue a person into faith in God. A person must be open to the idea that he doesn’t have all the facts and is willing to be open to God revealing Himself to him. Then, God must do exactly that! The Christian faith is built on an event, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and an experience, when He introduces himself to a person. Christianity is a relationship with the Heavenly Father, through the Son (Jesus), by the Holy Spirit. The Bible is His Story on paper.

People who neglect the Bible ignore the fact that it was first spoken by God and then written down by the listener (the writer). Jesus IS the WORD and is the action and the power behind every spoken word of God. Therefore, the Bible is the living Word of God, as stated in itself in Hebrews 4:12.

To read the Bible for facts and history is good, and science is proving everyday the wonderful truths-with incredible accuracy-of God’s creation and involvement in our world. But, the greater reason to read the Bible is to interact with God. Since Jesus is our Savior, Intercessor, and Friend, and the Holy Spirit is our Counselor, Comforter, and Guide, we an speak to them interchangeably without any disrespect to any of them. They are 3-in-1.

Once a person comes to believe the validity and authority of the Bible, he can begin to trust its claims as truth. He realizes that anything that sets itself up in opposition to it is a lie and a deception of the enemy, Satan. He also realizes that no only does he have incomplete knowledge–of everything–but, also, that anything learned outside of God’s word, that which contradicts its truths, has been deviously engineered to hoodwink all who hear it.

Further, the more he doubts the world’s claims, the more dependent he becomes on the Lord and His Word for truth. Hence, the hunger and thirst of which the Bible speaks in Matthew 5:6. Now, through faith, he has sweet fellowship with our Lord and experiences all the benefits of a relationship with Him: Abounding love, inexpressible joy, peace that passes all understanding, grace beyond measure, and a hope in heaven where we will spend eternity with our Lord and Savior, our Redeemer, our Victor, our KING!

On a personal note, the daily walk and interaction with Him is enough for me. If there were no afterlife, following Christ is still beyond compare to any pleasures this world has to offer–even in the face of persecution and physical deprivation. His presence in my life IS Heaven!

The reality of the truth of the Bible is that God is knowable, and He wants us to know Him. The realness and closeness of our relationship with Him is what is attractive to people who are searching for truth, for family, and for something to believe in beyond themselves. Our relationship and fellowship with Him and, therefore, with each other (His Body) is what attracts searchers to Him. So, let’s start digging into His Word and discover HIM!

Here We Go a-Caroling

December 16, 2018

If you go caroling this season, I thought you might like to have some music by which to sing.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bbo0entjkmf4r39/AAAJcZ3wydfclmKnSTfiDxHia?dl=0

This link included traditional carols from the Baptist Hymnal with full orchestration and four-part voices.

It also includes the music without the voices, as well as a split-track version for the seriously musical (and picky).

Enjoy spreading the Good News!

What Christmas Means To Me

December 14, 2018

Christmas is about Christ’s coming. Well, let me tell you about when He came to me.

When I was a young boy, a strange thing happened to me one Sunday morning. As I was sitting in church, I found myself enthralled in what the pastor was saying. There seemed to be a voice inside of me that was agreeing with what he said. I sat up and took notice!

I had grown up in church, so I knew many of the stories of the Bible. I had sung the songs of Christ’s birth, had made crafts depicting events from His life and ministry, and I had always heard of His death and resurrection, but that’s all they were–stories. They weren’t real to me. I’m not sure what the preacher said that morning, but I do know this: The Holy Spirit placed in me an awareness of my need for Jesus in my life. All of a sudden, those stories became real to me! He had spoken to me!!!

Later that week, I asked my mom what I needed to do to be saved. She instructed me to get alone with Him and ask Him into my life. So, I went to my bedroom and knelt down. I told Him I was a sinner (I wasn’t real clear what that meant; I just knew that it was between Him and me, and I wanted it out of the way); I asked Him to forgive me (which I found out later that He already had), and to come into my life and be my Lord. I assumed that He would be like another parent to me–which is absolutely correct!

A neat thing happened next: I saw out of the corner of my eye someone standing there smiling at me. When I turned to look, no one was there (I suppose I caught my guardian angel not being careful…). The sense of Jesus coming to live in my heart was warm and light. I have felt it all my life, although it is sometimes keener than at other times. He still speaks to me. In fact, He is always speaking to me! If I am not hearing from Him as I read the Bible, then I am not paying attention. He speaks to me when I drive (which can be quite convicting), He sings with me as I sing, and He sings over me as I sleep (He told me so in His Word). He is all the time whispering to me things like, “I love you with an everlasting love,” and, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” He also tells me, “Be strong and courageous; am I not with you always?” And the one I love to hear the most is, “My peace I give you.” Having Jesus in my life gives me a joy that nothing in this world can touch!

The day Christ came into my life is a microcosm of Him coming to earth. He came so that I could be reunited with the Father, which He achieved by dying on the cross in my place–and then rising again to give us victory over death! The price has been paid, and Forgiveness is offered to everyone; all a person has to do is receive it by placing his life into His capable hands.

So, Christ’s coming, both to earth and to my heart, is what Christmas means to me.

I Never Imagined…

December 11, 2018

The question has come up whether Jesus was complete when He entered Mary’s womb (which would make Mary a surrogate mother) or whether God joined with Mary’s chromosomes in order to fashion Jesus–just as every baby is fashioned. While both sides have good arguments, I would like to explore one that seems stronger than the other.

Let’s string some pearls:

Luke 1:31 “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the set time had fully come [in the fullness of time], God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Hebrews 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

My son-in-law postulated that a woman’s egg was still sinless until it mated with the male counterpart, thus, David’s statement in Psalm 51, “Surely I as sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David, along with all mankind (both male and female), was conceived in sin. In Mary’s case, her egg mated with the Holy Spirit, therefore begetting God in human form. The Greek meaning for the word, “conceive,” is…”to conceive.” But, in Isaiah 7:14, we find the Hebrew term, “conceive,” as meaning…”to conceive.” It does add one more thought, and that is of a mental conception, as in original thought. It was something original!

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Philippians 2:5-7 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

Now, before someone cries, “Heresy!” let us remember that all things in the timeline happen outside the timeline, as well. For instance, Christ died for us both BEFORE time,

Revelation 13:8b …the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

and IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME. Likewise, Jesus was “brought forth” before time began, but also had a place in our history some 2000 years ago. Do I pretend to understand it? Absolutely NOT!I have faith in our LORD that His plan is perfect and complete, and it is well above my purview. I accept it on faith because of the passage in Hebrews.

  1. He shared in our humanity (2:14);
  2. He was made like us, fully human in every way (2:16);
  3. He Himself suffered when He was tempted (2:18).

Now Hebrews 4:15-16 comes fully into play:

  1. He EMPATHIZES with us (not just feeling pity for us, but actually feeling what we feel because He has experienced what we experience-yet, without sin-v15);
  2. We can approach God with confidence (v16);
  3. We will receive mercy and grace as needed (Jesus lives as our Intercessor – see 7:25 -and Advocate – see 1 John 2:1).

Is it necessary that Jesus have human chromosomes? It stands to reason so that He could share in humanity in every way: from pain to joy (each time He healed), from dismay to thrill (when the disciples finally understood), from fear to peace (in the garden), and from temptation to victory (at His desert experience and upon His death). The point is identification. God created all emotions, but God, through Jesus, identified with us on a level that we need. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence…

To me, the whole subject boils down to Gabriel’s statement, “You will conceive…” He didn’t say, “You will be implanted…”

An interesting passage, which takes on new meaning under these new parameters, is Proverbs 8:22-31:

Proverbs 8:22 “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;
[23] I was appointed from eternity,
from the beginning, before the world began.
[24] When there were no oceans, I was given birth,
when there were no springs abounding with water;
[25] before the mountains were settled in place,
before the hills, I was given birth,
[26] before he made the earth or its fields
or any of the dust of the world.
[27] I was there when he set the heavens in place,
when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
[28] when he established the clouds above
and fixed securely the fountains of the deep,
[29] when he gave the sea its boundary
so the waters would not overstep his command,
and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.
[30] Then I was the craftsman at his side.
I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,
[31] rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

Wisdom is usually a personification in Proverbs, but 1 Corinthians 1:30 tells us that Jesus became for us “wisdom from God. If He is the “wisdom” in this passage, He brings new meaning to the words used. As I looked up each word, I found that the setting can be taken as a ceremony where Jesus is anointed and appointed (the Hebrew meanings of “possessed me,” “set up,” “brought forth”) to be the sin sacrifice and then presented as an offering (a libation) to be poured out for us. In light of Revelation 13:8, “...the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world,” we see that God’s first act IN creation was presenting the Light of the World:

Genesis 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

In the words of my daughter, “That Light is Jesus Christ,” Who was presented to the physical universe in human form, was the Creator, and is the One who holds all things together:

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was with God in the beginning.
[3] Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. [4] In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

Hebrews 1:2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. [3] The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. [16] For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. [17] He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Did “the One and only Son (John 3:16)” who was “begotten by the Father (John 1:14),” indeed, mix with Mary’s chromosomes to fashion God in a human body? How? When? Good questions. Concerning the “when,” we must remember that everything outside of time has a place in the timeline. Christ died outside of time, but we also know that “in the fullness of time, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship (Galatians 4:4).” Paul calls Jesus “The firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15).”

So, was Jesus fully human? I believe He had to be in order to complete the task given Him. Is it worth withdrawing fellowship with those who don’t believe as I do? No. In fact, we should be focusing on the PURPOSE of the Incarnation i.e. the CROSS (that’s for another article). Do I understand the nuances of the Incarnation? No, but I do understand enough to know that it was something special and new:

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

God was providing us a way back to Him through Jesus our Savior and He is using His natural design to do it. Now, THAT’S worth celebrating!

 

Proverbs 10 12-10-18

December 10, 2018

What we are willing to do to know Christ better reveals to us and to the world where our treasure truly lies.

Proverbs 10:3 The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.

Are we interested in the things of God? Do we really want Christ to be our LORD? Are we listening for His voice and looking for His direction? If we acknowledge His Spirit within us, He will give us the desire to know Him.

Proverbs 13:25 The righteous eat to their hearts’ content, but the stomach of the wicked goes hungry.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

As Christians, heaven has begun for us. Heaven is wherever God is, and He is in our hearts, therefore, we have heaven in our hearts. He is training us in holiness and righteousness, and He knows our limitations in the flesh. One day, we will shed our skin, so to speak, and enter His presence fully. Until then, we enjoy His fellowship the best we can as He has prescribed:

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Let us have the same attitude as Paul:

Philippians 3:10-12 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Remember that obedience brings blessings–it also brings the right feelings. “If we change the way we think, then we will change the way we feel” (Beth Moore). So, let’s get busy being obedient so that we can enjoy those blessings!

Proverbs 9 12-9-18

December 9, 2018

Are we willing to do whatever it takes? We must reach the point that we are willing to try by trusting Him.

Proverbs 9:2 She [wisdom] has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table.

Preparation is key to success. God had everything lined up for His Advent (Jesus’ birth). How do we know?

Galatians 4:4-5 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

The fullness of time means that everything was ready. How can preparation affect our lives? As Christ followers, we would do well to:

1. Learn as much as we can in order to know what pleases our LORD.

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

Ephesians 5:10 and find out what pleases the Lord.

2. Put off the old person with his selfish attitude and put on the new person–with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

3. Put into practice what we know and allow the LORD to sharpen and hone us into effective ambassadors for Him.

Matthew 7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Let’s remember who we are in Christ and that “nothing is impossible with Him (God-Luke 1:37).” Let’s worship Him in Spirit and in truth in our respective places of worship today.

Proverbs 8 12-8-18

December 8, 2018

Our goal must be Jesus Christ. HE is why we read the Bible, pray, and work on holiness. Connect with Him RIGHT NOW!

Proverbs 8:1 Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice?

There was a long time when the written statutes of God were the only way for most people to know God. I’m sure He made Himself known, but the relationship was vague and obscured and was based on obedience to the Law of Moses.

When Christ came, He introduced a new way to know God: Through Him!

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Hebrews 7:24-25 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Why do we settle for less?

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C. S. Lewis

Many people today discount the Bible because it has too many unexplainable events in it. Let’s take it from God’s perspective: He wants us–His children, His creations–to know about this world in which we live, about Him, and about His plan. He gives us a collection of correspondence explaining why He has lost contact with us and what He has done about it. Why is it hard for us to understand that He would write on a primer level? We judge God when we consider His Word as “beneath us.”

I hold to this verse as my reason to consider The Bible and all its truths as trustworthy–more than that, they are VITAL to us if we are to know God on a deeper level:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

His Word is written for us and He speaks to us as His Spirit leads us moment by moment. He speaks through the Bible and interprets our world for us through His Spirit. If we did not have the Bible, I believe that He could still lead us into holiness and righteousness through His Spirit–but WE DO! Let’s use it to learn and to communicate with Him. Let’s read it and allow Him to interpret it according to our lives and needs.

Let us not be “half-hearted creatures,” but hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

[I got that out of the Bible]