Posts

Showing posts from 2013

A Beautiful Woman

What is the most important thought a woman should have in her head? Our society would probably say she needs to be always thinking about how to maintain her beauty. This would be a focus on her outward appearance which we know with common understanding continues to fade away. But this is the objective of many women today and there are multiple advertisements for skin care, face lifts and the like to help them expend their dollars and time on this focus. But there is another focus that is much more advantageous than the maintenance of outward beauty. The writer of Proverbs ends his thirty-one chapters of wisdom by focusing on a virtuous woman. He reveals the various aspects of her life in detail showing her industry, abilities and oversight, her compassion, her strength, dignity and wisdom. He compares these virtues to that of outward beauty by saying, "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears [reverences and respects] the Lord is to be praised." (3…

Take it to Heart

Malachi is the name of the last book of the Old Testament. He was a prophet at the time of Nehemiah during the return of the people to Israel after the seventy years of captivity and around 440 B.C. Nothing personal is known about Malachi but his messages to the leaders, priests and people of Israel as they try to set up life again as a Jewish nation are potent warnings. One significant phrase spoken by Malachi to the priests strikes us today. He said, "Since you do not listen and since you do not set your heart to honor my name…" (Malachi 2:2) First of all, the priests were not abiding by the laws of sacrifice when they returned to the land and were allowing the people to give whatever they wanted to God rather than their best. This explains the phrase, "set your heart to honor my name." They had not determined to do what God had specifically told them to do. They did not listen to Him and they did not obey His words. The phrase "set your heart" could …

Praise God

What is praise all about? The psalmist in Psalm 148 expresses praise's breadth and depth. He begins by calling for praise from the heavens. All of it, including angels and stars (inanimate and animate created things) in the heavens are to give praise "to the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created." (vs. 5) Not only has God created them but "he set them in place…and gave a decree that they will never pass away." (vs. 6) Leupold in his book on the Psalms explains the original emphasis of verse 6 by saying that this expresses the idea of "continuous creation, that work in which the power of the original word of creation still sustains and vitalizes all things and continues them in being." In other words, the creation is not on its own but continues to be held together by God. This is certainly a reason to praise God. Second, he as well calls for praise from the animate and inanimate of the earth including all great sea creatures, the p…

Creation Assumptions

There is much information available to us about the creation of the world and it grows larger as we develop better tools but it is the underlying assumptions we make that determine where the evidence will take us. In our scientific world we read fossils and beautiful natural wonders, like the Grand Canyon, to mean that lots of time was needed to make these possible. We assume that, rather than know that. But there is a simple explanation for all the wonders and fossils; it is God's creative abilities and actions in past time. Throughout scripture we keep seeing the words that are mentioned in Psalm 146:6, "The Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them…" If our assumption is God was the creator of the world, the sea and all living things, then we see color, small and large intricateness, and variety as a sign of His great power and intellect. If our assumption is that all creation happened without His hand, then we have to make a way for it to happen. We…

All

Has the thought ever passed through your mind that God doesn't care one bit about you? Maybe that, if there is a God, He is so concerned about the larger events of life that He doesn't have time to see or hear you? Well…you are mistaken and I can prove it. A good friend of mine once defined the word "all" by saying "all means all and that's all all means." When this word is used in Scripture and seen in context with humans, you are within its definition. The writer of Psalm 145, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says the following concerning God and the word "all:" He is "good to all" 9aHe is "compassionate on all" 9bHe is "faithful to all his promises" 13bHe is "loving to all" 13cHe "upholds all who fall" 14aHe "lifts up all who are bowed down" 14bHe is "righteous in all his ways" 17aHe is "loving to all" 17b (second…

Truth

This one word expresses so much. God is full of truth and wants us to be the same way. In the future when Jerusalem is the capital of the world it will be called "the City of Truth" (Zechariah 8:3) because God will return to and dwell in Jerusalem. The "truth" of the city is connected to the God who is present in the city. God commands the nation of Israel to "speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts." (Zechariah 8:16) He also encourages them to "love truth and peace." (Zechariah 8:19) What we see about truth is that it brings clarity. It creates a point at which a person has to make a decision to follow the truth or to leave the truth for lies. Other nations will come to Jerusalem and seek truth from God because truth draws others to it. It also forwards God's way giving people an understanding of what it is and the way to follow it. How can you live a life of truth today? What in your life is not t…

Dismayed?

What happens within you when things are difficult, your spirit is growing faint and your heart is dismayed? One answer to this question is found in Psalm 143:5-6. As the Psalmist is facing enemies, defeat and hiding from the world he says, "I remember the days of long ago: I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done. I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land." First, he remembers what has happened in the past. He thinks about how God has saved; how He has done great things, i.e. Noah's ark, Israel's rescue from bondage, provision given in the wilderness. These things reveal the hand of God to be able and near. Then, not only does he remember them but he meditates on them. He does as a cow does with its food. He brings it up over and over and chews on every detail of the work of God toward man. He sees God's hand in the large and the small. He infiltrates his present setting with God's power, grace and …

Dragon

The very word conjures up the thought of danger. In The Hobbit, The Desolation of Smaug, we are given a powerful picture of a great dragon. He is sleeping among the wealth of the dwarfs in the Lonely Mountain. Bilbo is sent into his lair to retrieve the Arkenstone and in the process awakens the sleeping beast. Their discussion follows where Smaug reveals his prideful character boasting about his protective covering, rehearses his previous victories and voices his decision to continue to destroy mankind at will.  Smaug summarizes himself succinctly in a mere three words with his final statement "I am death." Director Peter Jackson has given us a picture of a terrifying creature, full of self-confidence, bent on destruction, and void of humility. Take that picture and sear it to your mind as you read the words of Revelation 12 where "an enormous red dragon" whose "tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to earth" (vss. 3-4) is called …

Confidence

What happens to your confidence level when you are surrounded by problems? Does it dissolve, dissipate or all together disappear? This would seem likely if your life was built on sandy ground. David was the eighth of his father Jesse's sons. Being the lowest on the "totem pole" he was the one out in the fields as a shepherd guiding and protecting the sheep of his father. Then one day the prophet Samuel came to Bethlehem and met with his father and David was eventually called in to also meet Samuel. This is where David is anointed the King of Israel. (1 Samuel 16) David's life could be called a story book life as so many wonderful events happened to him but David also faced many tumultuous moments. Yet, he was confident in the Lord's hand on his life. Writing in Psalm 138 he says, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes." (vs. 7) Here we see the confidence of David as he says …

Waiting

Habakkuk the prophet of God around 620 B.C. asked God the following question: "How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, 'Violence!' but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?" (Habakkuk 1:2-3) This is an honest question by a righteous man to a righteous God. What would keep God from answering his request? Consider the following: God is not the servant of a man. He is not required at the crackle of their voice to act. God has an appointed time for everything. He says to Habakkuk of this point in the history of man, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." (Habakkuk 2:3) God says, I have it under control. I know you want me to act immediately but you must trust me to act when all things are aligned. I am not ignoring you; I am just following my plan…

Basis of Life

How do you wish to live your life? There are some that wish for the lottery to call their number? There are some that wish great power, personal prominence, or the opportunity to be famous. They seek to find a way that will make their life easier. But we know that those who get this wish do not have an easier life just a different life. The writer of Proverbs 30 in a moment of clarity asked God for two things. He wanted these to happen. He wanted God to not withhold them from his life. First, he requested God to "keep falsehood and lies far from me."  And second, he requested that he be given "neither poverty nor riches." (vs. 7) Out of all that he could request, why these two things? These two are the basis of life for most people. A life based on lies rather than on truth and integrity and a life based on monetary wealth as its measuring line. What he wanted was to be kept from a life that was false in its words and beliefs and a life that was focused just on g…

Peace

Isn't this proclaimed as a part of the Christmas message? The heavenly host declared "on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14)  This word means "an undisturbed state of mind, calm and quiet." The world, even at the time of Jesus' birth, had been plagued with war as it continues to be today. But the heavenly hosts were not proclaiming a peace brought about by a nation who had overpowered all others as was true of the Roman Empire peace. This was a peace brought about by one man, the Messiah. Micah the prophet identified a time all would live securely, when the Messiah's greatness would reach to the ends of the earth. "And he will be their peace." (Micah 5:5) He brings peace but also he himself IS peace. John quoted Jesus as saying just before he died on the cross, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 1…

Revenge

Why do we do what we do? Is it to help others or to hurt them? Sometimes the very blackness of our hearts is revealed in our desires. Jonah and the whale has been a story told children since 800 B.C. when it happened. It is the story of a man running away from God's direction on his life. It involves disobedience, endangerment of others, a miracle of travel inside a whale, reconciliation to God's will and the total transformation of a people in a foreign city. Why did he run? We could say that he just didn't want to do God's will but there is a deeper reason to his running. It is about his understanding of God and how Jonah didn't want the Ninevites (the people of Nineveh) to have the opportunity to repent because they had continually harassed the people of Israel. Here are the words of Jonah by Jonah about why he ran: "This is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a …

Creator

Debi and I recently visited the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in downtown Dallas. It opened just over a year ago and is four floors of many fantastic displays related to science and nature. I captured this placard at the entrance to one of the halls: What it said was, "Visit the Discovering Life Hall to discover more about evolution and how it works." It saddened me to be confronted with the "Theory of Evolution" here. All the displays tout evolution as the master force behind the universe. They were still explaining the big bang theory as the way the universe and specifically the Earth came about. All the diversity and beauty of the earth and its gems, creatures, resources such as oil, and the universe itself were all the result of evolution they said. I walked those halls, stood in front of myriad displays and wanted to sing praise to God. They shared the details so well but emphasized the miracle of evolution as the source rather than creator God. The sadde…

Confidence

Can a young leaders boldness be seen as arrogance by those more mature? David seemed to encounter this criticism as he declared he would take down the giant Goliath, yet would not wear the king's armor and depended only on his sling which, he said, had killed a lion and a bear. The charge of arrogance and pride had certainly been leveled against him and so Psalm 131 is a revealing of David's personal defense to such a charge. It says, 1 "My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore." David had to look into his heart to see if he was "haughty" and if he was a meddler in things above his pay grade. His conclusion was that he was neither; the charges were false. Other men interpreted David'…

Realizations

In a dark time what becomes your greatest realization? Is it that there are others around you that have been the cause of your pain? That would be deflecting any blame on yourself in favor of those around you who are surely to blame. Or, is it your circumstances that have pressed in upon you and therefore you have had to respond in the way you did? That would make your problem merely a response to your current circumstances and really not connected to who you are. Here is the real fact: the realization by you should be that you are a fallen person and that you, on a regular basis, do commit sins, whether so called large or small, white or black, and that you are the source of your problems. The Psalmist in one of the seven penitential Psalms explores this true realization when he says, "If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?" (Psalm 130:3) He is saying that we do sin, not a little but a lot, and if God would keep a record, He would not miss one of t…

Hasty Words

Most of us, if not all of us, have blurted words off our tongue before our mind could take a look at them. These would be considered hasty words, not well thought through and these words prove to be a problem to us and to others. Solomon said, "Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him." (Proverbs 29:20) Hasty words are impulsive words that splash out on the people around us. It has been said that water poured out on sand cannot be retrieved and so are the words we speak; there is no "taking them back," only damage control. So what can help us manage our words, for the sake of those around us and for our own sake? Our words always need to have time for consideration and the counsel of others. They need to have time to ponder rather than plunge us immediately into condemnation via assumption. Words ready to be spoken need to have been mulled over, asked questions of: Is this the right word? Is there a better way to say this? …

Trinity

There are many who suggest there is no such thing as the Trinity. Although the word is not used in Scripture, this word does describe the relationship of the three divine persons within the one divine essence of the Godhead who are connected in an unceasing unity of person, purpose and plan. In Genesis 1:1-2 God creates, Elohim the word used for God here has the plural ending "im," making room for more than one person. Further, in Genesis 1:2, "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters," revealing a second person. John 1:1 says that Jesus is the "Word" and was with the Father and the Spirit at this moment of creation, "in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." In Matthew 28:19 Jesus encourages worldwide discipleship to be done "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Clearly referencing all three persons. In Luke 1:35 an angel shares the involvement of all three pers…

Two Steps

A picture is presented of Jacob in Hosea 12 referencing the great struggle he had with God at Bethel. Jacob, when fleeing from Esau who had given him his birthright, met God at Bethel and each committed themselves to the other. (Genesis 28:10-22) He was a deceiver and trickster initially and yet God loved him and promised him a family and land. Then after he had spent twenty plus years at Laban's home and married his two daughters, Jacob traveled back to meet Esau, and when he came through Bethel he again met God and committed himself to Him a new by demanding that all idols in his family's possession be removed. (Genesis 35:2-4). Hosea used this story of Jacob by applying it to the nation of Israel who had taken up idols, depended on other nations to protect them, and ignored a walk with God. He called out to them "you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always." (Hosea 12:6) Coming back to God indicated that they had drifted o…

Imitate Good

The Apostle John was the youngest and the last of the Twelve Apostles. Around 90 A.D., he wrote the gospel of John which was a different approach in viewing the Lord Jesus' work on earth and also the three short epistles of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John. John was continually in contact with churches under his influence. He wrote them and sent individuals to them to raise support for ministry and also to deepen their understanding of Christianity. He had a dear friend named Gaius who was a trusted friend and confidant. John had written to the church that Gaius attended but his efforts to encourage them were blocked by Diotrephes. So he writes the personal letter of 3rd John to use Diotrephes actions as a lesson to Gaius. Diotrephes was one who "desired to be first" in the church. He was a Greek and had been filled with Gnostic teachings before becoming a believer. His "education" colored the way he believed the church should go and grow. It also colored his "war…

Departure

Hosea spoke out against the leaders of his day: the priests and the king of  Ephraim, otherwise known as the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He identified the fact that "a spirit of prostitution is in their heart," (Hosea 5:4) referencing their idolatry. He stated that these people would go to worship God but "they will not find him: he has withdrawn himself from them." (5:6) They are intent on pursuing idols." (5:11)  He spoke of God causing destruction on them and not allowing anyone to rescue them. His disciplining hand was meant to drive them back to Him but they did not always repent. So, God says, "then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt." (5:15) Ezekiel speaks of similar reasons for the Southern Kingdom's demise, also known as Judah. They had submitted to idol worship and God departed from them. In Judah was the Temple at Jerusalem and in the Temple was where the glory of God dwelt. He begins this process of departure fro…

Keep from Idols

At least 213 times the word "idol" is used in the Bible and at least 19 times there is a reference to "idolatry," which is the pursuit of an idol. There is an ongoing concern about idols and their connection to the human heart from God. An idol is anything that occupies the place of God in your heart. It is what the heart wanders to when it cannot settle on God. This word was first used in the Bible in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17) and most powerfully seen in the making of the golden calf by the people of Israel at the base of Mount Sinai while God and Moses were at the top creating the Ten Commandments. From Exodus we can go all the way to 1John 5:21 which is that book's last verse and see the concern of the author for people's hearts to be captured by an idol. John challenges the people, "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." "Keep" is the word "to guard, to watch, to keep watch." It marks an immediate threat a…

Thrive

It has become apparent that when good people are in office, whether local, statewide or national, those under their jurisdiction thrive. The principle of thriving is simply put in Proverbs 29:2, "When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan." A righteous king, governor, mayor or council member leads the people in such a way that they are happy, content and able to thrive. He allows them to dream, to discover and to prosper. It is just the opposite when the king, governor or local official is wicked. He lines the pockets of his insiders with wealth and increases the burden already on the poor and those in the middle class. He is a despicable despot and it can be said of those under his rule, "if tears be their drink, patience will be their bread, till God have mercy on them." This truth can also play out for the leaders of a family. Good leaders are found throughout the Bible such as: David, Solomon, Mordecai…

Appointed

When you see world events going on around you, you can be lulled into the belief that all things continue as they have always been and that God seems absent from the world and those of His who live in it. Great wars, powerful natural destructive acts, and incredibly strong leaders emerge and disappear. It seems like the earth is a boiling bowl of chili rising and falling with the heat of its own making. Daniel 11 is a chapter that views the rise and fall of empires and all their trappings. Words are used like, "three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth" (vs. 1); "when he has gained power by his wealth, he will stir up everyone against the kingdom of Greece" (vs. 2); "then a mighty king will appear, who will reign with great power and do as he pleases" (vs. 3); "his empire will be broken up…uprooted and given to others" (vs. 4). "the king of the south will become strong" (vs. 5a); but one of his commanders will become s…

Watcher

Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? It is not a feeling of ease or peace; it usually brings anxiety and fear to the heart. There is One who is watching over you all the time. This One, God the Father, who is never falling asleep due to exhaustion, is never weary and is never inattentive, is watching you.
The Psalmist declared in Psalm 121 six times that the "Maker of heaven and earth" is the One "who watches over" you. This brings peace, rest, and assurance that whatever befalls us is under His watchful eyes. It is important to understand also that our help comes from the watchful Lord.
Do you daily live with this thought in mind? Do you believe that help comes only from Him (whether direct or indirect)? This is the way a believer is to think. There is no suggestion that believing this is one of many options; it is THE option that is true for us and to the nature of God our Father. He cares; He watches; He comes. How have you seen help come from G…

Slavery

We don't use this term too often now unless we are talking about a time in history but can it apply to you today? Peter indicated that "a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." (2 Peter 2:19)
Peter is not specific about this person, who he is, what status he has, where he lives, what he does for a living but he is absolute about the fact that he can become mastered. This word, "slave," identifies bondage, being totally under the hand and power of another. It is a term not of hope but of lack of personal freedom and control over your body and decision making.
And, to what is this person enslaved? The answer is, "to whatever has mastered him." It is not limited to one of the seven deadly sins of Proverbs 6:16-19 (pride, lying, murder, scheming, the rush to do evil, be a false witness, or a dissension maker) or to one of the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20:1-17 (idolatry, cursing, dishonoring of parents, murder, adultery, theft, false testimony, covet…

Walk the Walk

It has been said that being truthful is walking the walk and talking the talk. This means that there is integrity within the person that causes them to act and talk in a unified way. Their actions are the natural outcome of their words.
John in speaking to believers said, "Whoever claims to live in him [Christ] must walk as Jesus did." (1 John 2:6)In interpreting this short but powerful statement we must understand what the word "walk" actually means. First it means habitual, continuous action. The person is walking the same way all the time, every day, every hour. Second, it has the emphasis of one conducting himself wisely and is aligning his behavior with his talk.
So, John is saying that one who "claims" to be living in Christ must "walk as Jesus did." Living in close fellowship with and dependence on Christ is to mimic Christ's life while on earth. He had a relationship with Father God, he had fellowship with Him, friendship, dependenc…

Slavery

We don't use this term too often now unless we are talking about a time in history but can it apply to you today? Peter indicated that "a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." (2 Peter 2:19)
Peter is not specific about this person, who he is, what status he has, where he lives, what he does for a living but he is absolute about the fact that you can become mastered. This word, "slave," identifies bondage, being totally under the hand and power of another. It is a term not of hope but of lack of personal freedom and control over your body and decision making.
And, to what is this person in slavery? The answer is, "to whatever has mastered him." It is not limited to one of the seven deadly sins of Proverbs 6:16-19 (pride, lying, murder, scheming, the rush to do evil, be a false witness, or a dissension maker) or the one of the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20:1-17 (idolatry, cursing, dishonoring of parents, murder, adultery, theft, false testimony…

Heaven Rules

There are times God has to speak to us in the language we best understand. Somewhat like a mother or father who spoke to us in that way they knew would get our attention.
Nebuchadnezzar had ruled Babylon for many years and Daniel was serving as his interpreter. Neb, as his friends called him, was a proud ruler saying as he gazed out from the roof of his royal palace, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" (Daniel 4:30)
At that moment, although Daniel had warned him of it, Neb was turned into an insane person who ate grass like a cow. His body hair grew long, he wandered out in the rain, and his nails grew as long as the claws of a bird. He stayed this way for seven years and then his mind was returned to him.
Daniel's statement to the King was that "your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules." (Daniel 4:26) Neb said after his time had ended, "…

Ultimate Trust

If your life was on the line and you knew that to cling to your faith would possibly mean your death, what would you do?
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego had such an experience. Their understanding of God was just the stories their families had told them and the few remnants of the Old Testament books that they had in their synagogues but their faith was deep.
King Nebuchadnezzar promised that any leader in his kingdom that did not bow down to the golden idol of him which had been set up would be thrown in the furnace. Knowing this and the fact that they were being watched, the three men did not bow at the appointed time.
As a result, they were thrown into the blazing furnace, heated to seven times hotter than normal, and were protected there from any harm by "his angel." They emerged and King Nebuchadnezzar's statement about their ultimate trust in God is telling, "They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather t…

Evidence

Debi and I are fond of detective shows on TV. Throughout an hour several different persons can be implicated as potential suspects but it is the evidence that will finally link the guilty party to the crime. We go through the process of following the evidence also and try to beat the detectives to the punch about who is the criminal. It's fun for us.
Paul said in Romans 1:19-20 that "what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse."
The evidence that God exists is revealed to us in the nature around us. Its intricacies, diversity, color, and more express two things about God: one, that He is powerful, and two, that He has personhood. He is not THE creation but is evidenced by it. The creation continues to speak to us about its creator.
So…

Metamorphosis

This is a process whereby change happens from the inside out. The beautiful example of this is the caterpillar into the butterfly. From the inside out the caterpillar in its cocoon goes through the process of metamorphosis. This once crawler on the ground becomes a flyer in the air. He is changed so that if at first we see a butterfly we would not think that it had come from a caterpillar.
The Apostle Paul understood the change that takes place in a life when Jesus Christ is accepted as Savior. It begins in that moment and continues on until physical death. He said to the Galatian Christians, "I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) These believers had been born again but their growth was limited because they were living under the law due to the work of some legalistic Jews who preached that God still required the believer to be under the Law of Moses even though they were born again by the Spirit of God.
The word "formed&…

Paradox

Webster defines a paradox as a statement that seems contradictory, absurd, inconsistent, or even untenable. It is hard to see it as truth and yet it has the very heart of truth as its basis. The Apostle Paul found the deepest secret of the spiritual life and shared it as a paradox with the believers at Corinth. It was that "when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:10)
How was this so? Paul gives five areas where this was so:
In physical weakness (a "thorn in the flesh" continually tormented him)In insults (verbal attacks or physical assaults)In hardships (labored, toiled, gone without sleep, hungry, thirsty, gone without food, cold and naked) (2 Corinthians 11:27)In persecutions ("in prison more frequently, flogged more severely, exposed to death again and again." 5 times received of Jews 39 lashes, 3 times beaten with rods, 1 time stoned, 3 times shipwrecked, 1 time spent a night and a day in the open s…

One Distinction

What is it that makes an apple an apple? That may seem like a stupid question but we know that an apple is distinct from a pear, a banana and the rest of the fruits and vegetables. It is distinct in its skin, the tree it grows on, the taste it has and even the seeds at its core.
There are many religions in the world and each one has its beliefs that distinguish it from others. Hinduism has its idea of reincarnation but that is very hard to prove. Islam has its five times a day worship pattern. Throughout the world in nations or ethnicities there are different religions yet one thing is present in them all and that is the necessity to work for your salvation. You are the one who earns your way to whatever eternal state you think you are going.
So, what makes Christianity distinct? Is it the hope of living eternally with God or the living of a pure life? These are there but are not its distinction. The one thing that sets Christianity apart is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the …

Change

What happens when something comes into and starts to rock your world? Sometimes it can come in as a ripple effect off someone else or it might be a direct hit on your lifestyle. What do you do?
Early in the growth of the Christian church things were going well. Miracles were being performed and men and women were coming to Christ as their Savior. It seemed that everything was good and results were continuously positive. Then, that changed.
Peter was sent by God to Cornelius, a Gentile, and shared the Word and his whole family came to Christ but that began to rock the original disciples in Jerusalem. They summoned Peter to discuss this. Then persecution began to scatter the church members into other cities. These spoke to Grecians and they too became believers. So, the Jerusalem church sent Barnabas to examine these converts and found that God was indeed continuing to expand the believer's circle, and without their permission!
Then, Barnabas went and got Saul who had been for at l…

Prejudice

What do you think of a person with a different colored skin? What about those who have much more or much less money than you? How about those who are more educated or less educated than you? Are you better than them?What is your feeling about a person from another culture or ethnic group?
It is amazing how many preconceived notions we have that keep us apart from others. We narrow our circle of friends and limit our connection to those who are seemingly better or worse than us.
Peter, a disciple of Jesus, was confronted with the prejudice he had against anyone who wasn't a Jew. He was trained that way and God had to bring a vision into his life to change him. (Acts 10:9-13) With this vision, Peter was being prepared emotionally and intellectually to accept an invitation to visit Cornelius, a centurion in the army of Rome and definitely not a Jew.
So, when the servants of Cornelius arrived to request that Peter come with them to visit Cornelius, Peter does not hesitate. He goes, s…

Dissatisfaction

At the end of the Thanksgiving meal how do you feel? Most of us would say we feel bloated, completely satisfied, and even comment that there is "no more room for another piece of pumpkin pie or any sweet morsel." There is a principle exampled in this moment. It is stated in this way, "He who is full loathes honey,…" We cannot eat another bite; we push away from anything else because we are soooo full.
But there is more to this proverb, for the end of the sentence states "…but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet." (Proverbs 27:7) Here we find the contrast. Too much of a good thing seems to embitter our heart against any more. Sweetness partaken of for too long a period purges our desire for more. There is being satisfied and there is being hungry.
The spiritual application of this is that we can become satisfied with our life, our activities, our desires, filled to a place that we desire nothing else. We may even go to church; walk the Christia…

Old Testament Purpose

What is the purpose of the Old Testament? We can think of it as an historical account of the birth, growth, ascension and decline of the nation of Israel but is that all it is? No, there is something much more significant than just the collection of history books into one book.
There is a message within it concerning the Messiah of Israel. There are a multitude of passages in the New Testament that give illustration of the Messiah using the word "as" or "like" such as, "as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:40) This is called a type and means that the Old Testament Jonah's three days in the belly of the whale had more meaning than just being a mode of transportation from his point where he was thrown in the sea to the point where he was thrown up on the beach. It was a type of the Messiah as he would be for three days in the g…