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!



Saturday, October 1, 2016

Stages

Pictures. I have a number of aerial pictures of my in-laws house and surrounding area. The progression from those early pictures to the later photos are quite stark. There are several different buildings--old ones removed, new ones added, a smaller house and a progression of additions. The 'sun porch' at the back of the house was named that for a reason, but now it sits comfortably in the shade of a large maple tree.

When they purchased the farm there was a farm house here, which they tore down in order to build this present structure. As far as I know there are no pictures of the original house, nor how the original buildings lay at the time of purchase. Even without them we still see quite a progression of changes throughout the years. 

 This morning the boys are loading some cattle to go to the sale barn and I'm sitting on the deck watching.  I have my Bible and a cup of coffee to occupy the moments when things are quiet at the loading chute.It's a beautiful morning. The temperatures are pleasant, pleasant sunshine, maybe just a touch on the lively side of a breeze. I'm hindered in my scope of vision by the lush growth of tree leaves, and reminded of those early pictures and their lack of anything but the bare minimum of ground cover.

"All things are full of weariness; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. That which hath been is that which shall be; and that which hath been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there a thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been long ago, in the ages which were before us." (Ecclesiastes 1:8-10 ASV)

Our lives are like the pictures in the photograph album, starting small and progressing along. Yesterday, so it seems we were sitting in the high chair with our head leaning toward our lunch, next is our school days with friends, family, and accomplishments. No matter where you are on your path there are common links through the stages of life.

One of my favorite Bible class lesson stories is called, 'Madge Learns to Listen'. It must be upteen million years old, and I've used it on a number of classes . It begins with a little girl (named Madge, of course) who is upset because 'no one ever listens to me'. Her Bible class teacher uses this to teach all of her little people the lesson that listening is a two way experience. When we learn to listen to those around us, we find that others that we come in contact with on a daily basis are more responsive to listening to us. And blessing of blessings we learn to be more attentive in listening to God.

I am visiting with a parent. Her ten year old girl is working with yarn and a crochet hook. I suspect the youngster believes she's doing something, but being an old hand at crocheting, I also suspect she is just diddling. During a lull in the conversation I question the youngster. She passes the item to me to examine, and indeed, informs me, she is making a blanket. I know that my words will fall on deaf ears, however, I tell her she may some day have a collar, but will never have a blanket. I continue, 'if you would like I can show you how to do this, or if you are content with what you are doing I will just give it back'. She was content to just diddle, so I gave it back. I guess there is something to say for being content.

One of the frustrations between generations is the lack of listening. We do have a generation gap today, and the main reason is too many people are in too big of a hurry to get nowhere. We all have instances of diddling, but should not be content to diddle our time away. Of course one of the sad things in life is younger people thinking that they don't need to listen to old farts. If we teach our youngsters to listen when they are young they are more likely to listen as they mature. As the old adage goes: Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And so it goes, "That which hath been is that which shall be...there is nothing new under the sun."

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

What Have You Gained?

Statistics tell us that most women are not happy about their image when they look in the mirror. When I was young and would sit watching my mother get ready for her day's work I would wonder. She fussed and fretted over something she didn't like about her hair. I could never see any difference between what she started with and what she settled with at the end, but she spent at least twenty minutes getting it done.  

"And every one that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life. But many shall be last that are first; and first that are last."  (Matthew 19:29-30 ASV)

Quite a few years ago we had a visitor at church one Sunday morning. The man (and maybe his son, if memory serves me at all) had once been associated with the congregation, long before our time. He had several friends amongst the congregation. When services were over there was a good deal of talking and banter from the members of the congregation. My husband and I waited, thinking surely someone of the man's friends from the congregation would invite him home for the noon meal. 

We were surprised when at the last everyone made their goodbyes, and no one had stepped up for a blessing. We asked the man if he would like to come home with us for the noon meal, and he gladly accepted. He came home with us to our modest home, a rather large family, and modest meal. Through the years this scene has taken place in our home, and I'm quite often amazed at what happens. 

While growing up, my Grandfather wasn't big on new innovations. He wasn't a casserole person. He wanted his 'meat, potatoes, and gravy', no nonsense stuff like casseroles for him. So a normal Sunday lunch for me still consisted of a roast of some sort, potatoes, a couple of vegetables, gravy, and of course dessert. Nothing fancy, but adequate. Yet, when we sat down to a simple meal and shared it with company as well it felt like a feast. We talked and laughed, shared stories, and on this particular Sunday lunch the man gave us a copy of a book he had just published. I felt sorry for those poor people who had missed the opportunity of such an afternoon.  

We just finished up a wonderful gospel meeting. In the same manner as my mother styling her hair, I fuss and fret over preparation for our visitor. Will this look right, will it be right, and what to prepare for meals? 

As most often happens 'time and tide wait for no man', and the eventful occurrence takes place. We currently have a phrase that covers many things: 'It is what it is'. I wish I could have polished things more, maybe gotten some optical things in order, but the speaker did an excellent job, and what a blessing we gained.

"The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, Jehovah hath made even both of them." (Proverbs 20:12 ASV)

I am reminded of this scripture and I realize I don't have to be the most beautiful person, or have the best possessions, greatest house, or what not. What I must have is seeing eyes, hearing ears, and an open heart. 

Somewhere along my path I came across a saying:  If there is room in the heart, there is room in the home. 

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Only Ones


During the last years of the elderly man's life the preacher would on occasion stop in for a visit. On one occasion the preacher brought pictures of horses and some old time farm equipment. They had a pleasant visit, and as was the preacher's usual habit he presented the Gospel to the older gentleman before leaving. The preacher had on every occasion of visiting presented the same Gospel, but on this visit something jogged the other man's mind.

With a shocked look at the preacher he said, "You think you're the only ones."

There have been a number of  'jokes' such as: Mr. Jones died and went to heaven. As Saint Peter was showing him around, he pointed to several groups of souls. "Over there is the Methodists, and over there are the Lutherans, and the Baptists are over there."
They passed another group, and Mr. Jones inquired, "Who's that over there?"
"Shhh," Saint Peter said, "That's the Church of Christ, and they think they're the only ones."

I used 'Church of Christ', in this instance, but in the past people have used Methodists, Baptists, and Lutherans as well as other religious titles to fill in the 'they think they're the only ones' blank. You see, in times past most religious entities believed that not everyone was going to heaven.Why was that so, and what has changed? Let us address the first why. Why did the different religions believe there was only one way?

"Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock:"
(Matthew 7:21-24 ASV)

They believed that because that's what the scriptures teach, and most of them believed their path was the right path. So, what happened? What changed?

Unbelievers searching for the Truth (and the path to heaven) were told by the various denominations various answers. For instance, some answers were: 'just believe', 'just recite the sinners prayer', or 'just follow our pattern/our creed'...there were as many answers as there were denominations. Many unbelievers became scoffers and remained unbelievers. And of course the obvious question became, 'how come there are so many answers, and where do the answers all come from' ?

Because of the conundrum the different answers made, and because most religions would point back to their own creeds, which created its own conundrum, they dropped the idea that their way was the only way. They were forced into the belief that 'we're all going to heaven, just taking different paths'.

But Jesus through the Bible still says:

"that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst send me." (John 17:21)

"Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment."  
(1 Corinthians 1:10)

So, the question comes, does it make a difference what we believe, and what we teach?

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." 
(1 Corinthians 10:12)

The first admonition comes from the Old Testament book of Proverbs. The second is from the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. These are warnings telling us 'watch what you're doing, because you can fall'. 

"These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:13)

How can we know what is right or wrong? By reading and following the teachings and commandments of the Son. If it doesn't say it in the Bible, it doesn't save. For instance, do the scriptures teach 'saying the sinners prayer'? No, so it doesn't save. We must believe, but the scriptures don't teach 'believe only'. Otherwise the demons would be saved:

 "Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder." (James 2:19)

Even the Apostle Paul buffeted his body daily so as not to be rejected:
"but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected." (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Why do so many, instead of looking to see if what they believe matches with what the scriptures teach, ignore the idea that they may be believing something that is false? The devil is the master of lies and deceit. It matters not how a person is deceived. If you believe and follow a lie you are still lost. I can believe falsely that I am safe, or that I am 'the only one'. Without proof and Truth my belief is still wrong. 

Do I believe that 'we're the only ones'? No. I believe those who follow the teachings of Christ and Him only are the only ones. Those following the straight and narrow way, as it speaks in Matthew, are the only ones. It isn't determined by me or you, but by the Word of God.

"Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfastness." (2 Peter 3:17 ASV)
Hallelujah! What a Savior!


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Too Soon Gone

Merle Haggard passed away in April, and many mourn the passing of this famous country singer. Over the last number of years I've witnessed the passing of many famous people, quite a few that I grew up listening to, or watching on television. Through out my days, and under various reasons and circumstances, I am reminded of the scripture in Psalms: 

"I have been young, and now am old; Yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his seed begging bread." (Psalms 37:25 ASV)

My thoughts tend to center on the phrase 'I have been young, and now am old'. Life has made that impression on me at sundry stages in my journey which had nothing to do with literal age. My husband and I married when we were eighteen. Marriage tends to mature a person, or as they say, we grew up together. There was ten years between our oldest child and the sixth child. Child number seven was born ten years later, approximately two weeks after our oldest grandchild joined the family. 

The first forty years of our life seemed to fly by. About the age forty-two, however, I felt as if I slammed into a brick wall. Life didn't slow down, but before that time I hit life at full throttle. Now my body began to hit slow motion mode in little things.  

"The wise man's eyes are in his head, and the fool walketh in darkness: and yet I perceived that one event happeneth to them all. Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so will it happen even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then said I in my heart, that this also is vanity." (Ecclesiastes 2:14-15 ASV)

The term, 'he went the way of all the earth', is used to gently remind people that 'as it happeneth to the fool, so will it happen to me...'. Too many people live their lives as if they are guaranteed life forever on this earth. They live as if life on this tiny spec in the universe is forever, and never make preparation for the vast ocean of eternity. 

"For of the wise man, even as of the fool, there is no remembrance for ever; seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. And how doth the wise man die even as the fool!"(Ecclesiastes 2:16 ASV)

 The book of Ecclesiastes deals with Solomon trying to make sense of life 'under the sun'; trying to make sense of life by taking God out of the equation. Earthly wisdom would cause a thinking person to ask the age old question, 'what's it all about?' What is the purpose of life? and as Solomon found, apart from a life with God there is no sense. We all die and are forgotten—even the famous of our times. 

"Therefore I turned about to cause my heart to despair concerning all the labor wherein I had labored under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:20 ASV)

"There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it is from the hand of God." (Ecclesiastes 2:24 ASV)

I sit on my deck and watch my children and grandchildren. I am reminded that even though the last twenty-one years have forced me to slow down, as Ecclesiastes tells us there is nothing better than to gather with family and friends. To watch  life begin, the middle of life, and in the words of the Psalmist: "I have been young, and now am old", as a Christian, there is nothing better. 

But as a Christian, I have prepared for the next stage as well. Life on this spec isn't the end. I am incredulous that so many of my fellow journeymen are so clueless. I will leave you with this encouragement—prepare for your eternity:

"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat upon it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. ...and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire." 
(Revelation 20:11-15 ASV)


Monday, July 18, 2016

A World of Turmoil

"And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters that are here, lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. But he lingered; and the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters, Jehovah being merciful unto him; and they brought him forth, and set him without the city." (Genesis 19:15-16 ASV)

Abraham in the preceeding chapter had bargained with Jehovah God. Jehovah had 'heard' the great cry of the city of Sodom and Gomorrah for its wickedness, and in response sent two angels down to check it out. The story here picks up as the angels have found it to be very wicked indeed. They have not been able to find even ten righteous souls in the entire city. The city is set for destruction, but first the angels must deliver Lot and his family out of the city. Destruction is hovering over the city, Lot is 'lolly gagging-dragging his feet' about leaving. At last the angels take him, his wife, his two daughters by their hands and bring them out of the city. They literally drag them out of the city, tell them to run for the hills, and 'do not look back'. 

"And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth (the angels brought forth Lot and family) abroad, that he (the angel) said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the Plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed." (Genesis 19:17 ASV)

There could have been several reasons Lot's wife looked back. For whatever reason, she looked back with longing when she had been distinctly warned 'do not look back', and she failed the test. 

"But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt."(Genesis 19:26 ASV)

Strangers and Pilgrims: we live in, yet are not part of this world.
Or have we grown comfortable here?

Far too many of my fellow Christian travelers have Lot syndrome, and many more have the 'Lot's wife' syndrome. How many times do I hear people telling stories about 'before' I was a christian I did thus and so. It's a remembrance of 'the good times' they had 'before'. The good times they gave up in order to suffer the walk of a christian. Instead of realizing what a blessing it is to give those things up and put them away; to walk in soberness and Godliness, they remember them with fondness. Like Lot's wife, they look back with longing.

"that ye no longer should live the rest of your time in flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past may suffice to have wrought the desire of the Gentiles, and to have walked in lasciviousness, lusts, winebibbings, revellings, carousings, and abominable idolatries: wherein they think strange that ye run not with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:" 
(1 Peter 4:2-4 ASV)

For my part, I want to finish my task here in this world, and to finish well. However, there are days when I feel I've seen too much. My heart loves my family and friends, but it loves even greater, and longs even more to return to that city and home of eternal rest and joy.  

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things make it manifest that they are seeking after a country of their own. And if indeed they had been mindful of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed of them, to be called their God; for he hath prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:13-16 ASV)

"Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Jehovah of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah." (Psalms 46:10-11 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior!