Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I Will Pray or Moaning and Complaining?

There is a song in the hymnal with the lines, "I will pray, I will pray, Unto thee I pray, Morning, Noon and Evening, Unto thee I pray". It has its basis in Psalms 55:17:

"Evening, and morning, and at noonday, will I complain, and moan; And he will hear my voice."
(Psalms 55:17 ASV)

In reading the American Standard Version (ASV) I have a moment of pause, not to mention a bit of a laugh. Complaining to the Lord is probably more futile than fruitful, and although it is a faithful translation of the text, it is better rendered as it is in the King James Version (KJV):

"Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."
(Psalms 55:17 KJV)

The best thing to keep in mind is that a faithful servant (or in this instance servant and child of God) wants to communicate with the Father. The Father wants the child/servant to talk to Him as well. 

God is not our fairy God-mother (or father) who will grant our every whim, but He is a merciful God that listens, that hears our petitions, and answers according to what is best for us. 


And in like manner the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as we ought; but the Spirit himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered; and he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 
(Romans 8:26-27 ASV)

The challenge is to change 'complaining' into a petition and not just a griping session. His children need to be respectful and loving in their petitions. 

"Cast thy burden upon Jehovah, and he will sustain thee: He will never suffer the righteous to be moved. But thou, O God, wilt bring them down into the pit of destruction: Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; But I will trust in thee." (Psalms 55:22-23 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior! 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

SMELLING SWEET


We identify many things by their odor. Walking in Grandma's backdoor as an apple pie is baking can be a pleasant experience. At least if Grandma is a good cook, and all things go well, it can be. My Grandma was the best cinnamon roll maker (in the whole world we always said). I took up making cinnamon rolls for my children and now grandchildren. And as long as I don't have overflow dripping in the bottom of the oven things smell pretty good. 

This morning while I was outside I couldn't help but smell the blossoms on our lovely crab apple tree. Such a sweet smell, and this time of year those smells are everywhere. The petals from the apple, pear, peach, plum, and all of the blossoming trees blow from the trees like a flower girl at a grand wedding scattering petals on the vivid green grass.

There is a popular meme that reminds us, "In a world where you can be anything--be kind." 

It isn't always easy to be kind. When others are mean and nasty—that can be difficult. When we are tired and cranky—that can be hard. Some ideas that may help us remember to be kind would be:

  • We all have off days. This might have been their's
  • Life is too short to let others dump garbage in your life
  • There are some people that are jerks, that doesn't mean we have to repay in kind
  • Prayer is a good avenue; use it often
  • A forgiving spirit permeates like perfumed air, or salt brine

Even when it is difficult. We are to be the salt and the light, and an odor of a sweet smell. 


"and walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odor of a sweet smell." (Ephesians 5:2 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Friday, April 14, 2017

The World Loves Its Own


"If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you." (John 15:18)

In this world of social messaging it is easy to let people know how you feel about--well, about anything and everything. Just a simple comment on some simple (or not so simple) post on Facebook can send the vitriol flying like rabid foam from a sick animal. Especially if you give a "Godly or Christian" answer. Do we on occasion long for the days gone by when people/society respected the teachings of Jesus?    

 "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John 15:19)

I am reminded of the children's book by C. S. Lewis, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.Of course it is a children's allegory of Jesus, who is represented in the Lion. At one point Aslan (the lion) allows himself to be slain by the evil/darkness of the witch. She and her minions believe they have overcome good. They slay the lion, and celebrate their victory. They are free to rule the world, to have their way and have nothing, and no one in their way. 

They dance, they party, free, free, they rejoice. And the good people of Narnia weep. 

"Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also." 
(John 15:20)

So many thoughts press in my mind here. Sunday the world of Christendom celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus. {Easter is a miss-translation of the original word "Passover"  in the King James version. Easter comes from a pagan holiday.}  

"And when he had apprehended him (Peter), he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people."(Acts 12:4 KJV)

Resurrection: in the classic C.S. Lewis story, the rulers of darkness didn't understand that the lion (Aslan) that was slain for the redemption of the people of Narnia could not be kept in the grave. And in this life neither can Jesus be kept prisoner by the powers of darkness in the grave.

The powers of darkness celebrated that miserable Friday as Jesus hung on the cross, thinking they had won the victory, but they were wrong. Christians need to stop celebrating Easter, and celebrate the Resurrection. We need to realize it isn't about the bunny, it's about the lamb...and the lion. The Lion of Judah, that overcame the powers of darkness. That crushed the head of Satan.

"And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." (Genesis 3:14-15 KJV)

Compromise. The world wants us to live as if Jesus Lost the battle. But wait, life during the Roman Empire was very wicked, yet believers persevered. Many times in the last 2,000 years wickedness has prevailed, but still believers persevered. They fought through the wickedness with truth and righteousness, and with all prayer and supplication. So what can we do? Here are some thoughts, and scriptures that will hopefully encourage each of us:
  • Thought—return to holiness and righteousness with fasting and prayer; turn from self-righteousness, to Christ's righteousness "For ye were once darkness, but are now light in the Lord: walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light is in all goodness and righteousness and truth)," (Ephesians 5:8-9 ASV)
  • Start living as though we won the battle; "Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;" (Romans 12:12 KJV)
  • "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;" (Luke 18:1-5 KJV)
  • Pray that our eyes, hearts, and minds will be open and discerning to the will of God. Try the spirits, for not all preach/teach the true Word, and second like to that, pray for our friends, neighbors, and the lost that their hearts and minds will be open to the Truth as well.
  • "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:" (Colossians 4:2-3 KJV)
Hallelujah! What a Savior! 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Are You Peter?

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat:"
(Luke 22:31 ASV)

I'm not Peter, yet there are times that I feel like I'm being sifted as wheat. Satan doesn't use any one thing to sift us since we are all different. What may tempt one person, may not affect another person at all. Some things that tempt:
  • family —"Can a man take fire in his bosom, And his clothes not be burned?" Proverbs 6:27                     those who are close to us are the ones that can sway us into doing good things or evil. If Satan wants to work, he often uses those we love and care about. For example a couple had fallen away from church and Bible study attendance. After a time they decided to begin attending again that Sunday morning. Saturday evening cousins showed up unexpected for the weekend. What to do? Entertain their family members, or as they had predetermined, attend Sunday worship? They told their cousins that they were welcomed to attend with them, stay at the house and wait for them to return, but they were going to Church Sunday. From that day forward no one from their family came to visit unannounced on Saturday. 
  • friends—"wherein they think strange that ye run not with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:" 1 Peter 4:4 ASV            Some friends are as they say, 'fair weather friends'. They are only there for what they call the good times. Running amuck, basically. Those who come out of the world have those kind of people hanging on them. Or, as in the previous example, have friends who will try to pull you back into the mud with them.
  • enemies—"It is enough for the disciple that he be as his teacher, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household!" Matthew 10:25 ASV           If they have hated Jesus they will hate his followers. Our enemies wish to do us harm in one way or another. By throwing stumbling blocks before us, throwing mud in the form of lies or slander at our reputation. Enemies we know are not going to help us on our way. 
  • time and chance — "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all." Ecclesiastes 9:11      Time can be a friend, or an enemy. But with all of life there is the wearing and grinding of happenings which are out of our control. Just as money doesn't make us good or bad people, just more of what we are, Life doesn't make us good or bad people, it just reveals what our character is. 
"And Jehovah said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered Jehovah, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job? for there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil." Job 1:7-8 ASV
  
Let us be known as 'one that feareth God, and turneth away from evil. 
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Live Long And...

Like many Americans, and many people across the world, I have come to my ripe age  through no fault of my own. Not that I have lived a wild life, but the uncertainties of life are numerous. In generations past if a person made it through childhood it was an accomplishment. The number of children born into a family, for instance, may have been as many as five, with only two, maybe three surviving to adulthood.

  "If a man beget a hundred children, and live many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul be not filled with good, and moreover he have no burial; I say, that an untimely birth is better than he:" Ecclesiastes 6:3

During a Bible lesson some twenty years ago the speaker admonished the audience that 'if you read just one chapter in Proverbs every day of the month, you will read the entire book of Proverbs twelve times in a year'. We took this to heart for our home-school Bible class that year. I wonder if there wouldn't be some benefit in choosing to read a shorter book, say Ecclesiastes, Colossians, or James several times a month, and the next month move to another short Bible book. Read that one several times the next month, etcetera. Nothing wrong with reading Proverbs twelve times, but there is  inspiration in many books we don't read as often.

In an age when suicide happens all too often, we need to revisit the scriptures. Through the ages many people have asked, what's it all about? What is life—and more important, what is my life? Indeed, Ecclesiastes asks and answers these same questions.


  • If a man (person) lives a long life, but their life is not filled with good what benefit is it?
  •  yea, though he live a thousand years twice told, and yet enjoy no good, do not all go to one place?  All the labor of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled. Ecclesiastes 6:6-7
Some people go to the ends of the earth, climb mountains, run races, preform charities, build businesses, in short they DO things in search of happiness and purpose.

Christians work the work of the Kingdom, not to be saved, but because they are saved. We should find the calling that God has for us, and work not to find happiness, but because we are happy. 

 "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the fullness of the rich will not suffer him to sleep."
(Ecclesiastes 5:12 ASV)

"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may spend it in your pleasures. ... Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you. ...Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. ...Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. ...Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall exalt you."
(James 4:3,7,8,10 ASV)

  • don't ask for evil things, or things to use for evil
  • look for God's will in all things
  • Draw near unto God, and purify your heart
  • Especially, Humble yourself to listen and do God's will


 "whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away."
(James 4:14 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Day

If the Lord came today there are many people who would be surprised. Christians would be just as  surprised as unbelievers in this matter.

"Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through. Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh."  (Matthew 24:42-44 ASV)
A speaker related the account of how not long ago he had been forced into a doctor's visit. The doctor after the check up, informed the man that he was going to have an operation on the morrow. The speaker reacted with, "Oh, no, I've got things to do..." 

The audience laughed. We've most all had the same response for something unplanned we had to do. No matter what we think we have to do, there are some things that trump our plans. 

"And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of thy hands: They shall perish; but thou continuest: And they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a mantle shalt thou roll them up, As a garment, and they shall be changed: But thou art the same, And thy years shall not fail." (Hebrews 1:10-12 ASV)

Our life here is brief. Even if we live a hundred years, in the expanse of eternity that is brief. 

Two things we need to keep in mind are the brevity of life; and the surety of eternity... 

No matter what (most) believers confess with their lips, like the speaker in the third paragraph most of us don't believe we will ever die. Not yet at least. Normal quasi healthy people believe they will arise tomorrow to live another day. We have just one more thing, one more project, one more--well, some things we've got to do. 

I heard the story of a wealthy prominent man who had some health issues. His friend, a doctor by profession, tried to get him to slow down and take it a bit easier. The wealthy man told him, "I've got too much to do. When I get my work all done, I'll slow down." At last the doctor said to him,"Bill, come with me. I have something I want to show you." They got in the doctor's car and took a drive through town. The doctor pulled up and parked at the entrance to the local cemetery. "Bill," he said to his friend, "look here. How many of these folks in here do you think ever got all their work done?"

I would like to leave you with these thoughts: 
  • As sure as there was a beginning of the world, there will be an end. The Lord will come, and it will be unexpected. All will see him, and all will receive judgement.
"And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;"(Hebrews 9:27 ASV)
  • It is important to be prepared and/or remain faithful.God is a loving God, and a loving God must be just. 
 "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31 ASV)
  • To come into judgement unprepared would be reprehensible. In this life it is our only duty to love and obey our God. If we fail this, we've failed everything. 
"Cast not away therefore your boldness, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise."(Hebrews 10:35-36 ASV)
  • Be patient in the Lord, and you will receive the recompense of your reward. 
Behold, he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they that pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn over him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior!


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Misnomers?

Earlier this year I viewed a video on face book. It has a unique message for those unbelievers of the world. The host interviews random people about their beliefs, and in the end talks to them about the Gospel of Jesus. One woman in particular cannot accept the idea of God judging people, of hell--an eternal punishment. Many people have a similar view. How could a loving God send people to an everlasting punishment?

Several months ago I attended a meeting at the local library on "understanding" Islam. The speaker at one point stated that there are similarities between the Bible and Islam. I've heard this idea before, the idea that Christianity approves of and is similar to Islam. They are both on equal footing.

This shows that the speaker doesn't have a grasp on Biblical scripture, nor a clear understanding of God. It could be compared to me making the statement: "The other day our local newspaper reported a horrendous crime committed in the capitol city. I will never read  that newspaper again. Any paper that can condone such a wicked crime is just wrong."

The newspaper in reporting the crime does not condone the crime. Because the Bible tells us about things that have happened does not mean that it approved of those things. 

*"And he {God}said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. But thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. And in the fourth generation they shall come hither again; for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet full.(Genesis 15:13-16)

In this scripture God is telling Abram that Abram's offspring would go into another country and live there for four hundred years, but that God would bring them out of that land and they would come back to the land of Canaan and posses it at that time. But it wasn't going to happen until after four hundred years because the iniquity of the present inhabitants was not 'full'. Those inhabitants would become exceeding sinful, but they were not yet. This is a prophesy of things to come.

*"And he said, Hagar, Sarai's handmaid, whence camest thou? and whither goest thou? And she said, I am fleeing from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of Jehovah said unto her... And she called the name of Jehovah that spake unto her, Thou art a God that seeth: for she said, Have I even here looked after him that seeth me?"(Genesis 16:8-13)

In this example the Angel of Jehovah is speaking to Sarai's handmaid, Hagar, who has run away from her mistress. After a bit of conversation Hagar called Jehovah that spake unto her, Thou art a God that seeth: for she said, Have I even here looked after him that seeth me? Hagar calls him 'a God that seeth'.

*"That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And Jehovah said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake." (Genesis 18:25-26)

In the last case Abraham is bargaining with God, attempting to save the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Cities which the text says, "the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;" (Genesis 18:20-21) And Abraham describes Jehovah God and calls Him, "the Judge of all the earth?"

In these instances we see several aspects of Jehovah God. He is all knowing even to seeing into the future. Second we see that he is all seeing even to the small detail of a serving maid and her child. And lastly, Jehovah God is the Judge of all the earth.

Link this back to the original paragraph, and the thoughts therein. When the woman who couldn't accept the idea of a loving God and an eternal place of punishment heard the story of a predatory person who committed a heinous crime against an innocent, her face showed horror. The next few words out of her mouth were about judgement and punishment of such a wicked crime. The next look on her face was one of understanding. She made the connection between the horrible nature of sin and how it is related to judgement and eternal punishment. 

We see ourselves as decent folks, as 'not all that bad'. Yet, how would a 'holy God' see us? If we haven't been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ we would look pretty bad. That's just the flat truth, and we would deserve punishment. God isn't part of a democracy. We can't vote and decide whether we like God's rules, or God's laws. Jehovah God sets the standards and in the end He will see and He will judge. The Christian life is the best life for while we are here in this world, in this body as well as in the hereafter. 

Hallelujah! What a Savior!