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Showing posts from 2015

New Years Eve Day

Is the last day of the year any more significant than any other day? It is 24 hours long just like the other 364 days. It has a sun rising and setting and a moon in the night. It can have clouds, clear skies or wind just like other days. But it does hold a particular importance because it is a transitional day. The old year is coming to a close at midnight and the new year begins the next day. It is the last day of the tax year…yeah for that, I guess? It is a chance to "take stock" of what you have accomplished during the year and then seek a clean start tomorrow. What does the Bible say? We do not know what the next day will bring forth, so good not to boast and good also to say "if the Lord wills" each day. (Proverbs 27:1; James 4:13-17) Each day also has enough trouble of its own, so do not worry about the next day keep your focus on this day. (Matthew 6:34) We are to pray every day, "give us each day our daily bread." (Luke 11:3) We should imitate th…

Heaven

Have you ever wondered what heaven is like? Is it an ethereal place where we walk on clouds and see winged angels jotting here and there, and where there is a gigantic and beautiful throne on which God sits? I believe we can understand a better picture than this from Revelation 21. In Revelation, John the apostle, has been made privy to many dramatic acts of God on a rebellious world. But when he writes the end of the book, he shares beautiful and majestic visions. One of these is the New Jerusalem. "I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." (Rev. 21:2) This relates to a bride coming down the aisle, beautifully adorned, walking towards her husband, ready to be united with him. I have three daughters and one daughter-in-law and have viewed each of them walking down the aisle all radiant and adorned in beauty. Each time has been a glorious sight for me. So, comes an eternal city down o…

The Devil's End

There are many that mock the existence of a spirit being who is called in Scripture the "devil, dragon, ancient serpent, and Satan." However, their mocking does not eliminate the truth that he has existed longer than man. Satan is identified as the one controlling the world system (1 John 5:19) and empowering the Antichrist and the False Prophet during the time of the Tribulation. (Revelation 13:2) But his end takes two intriguing turns. First, an angel comes down from heaven with a key and a chain. “He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him…” (Revelation 20:2-3) This is done to alter the environment on the earth during the Millennial (thousand year) reign of Christ. It puts the blame for all rebellion squarely back on men's sin natures which Satan has manipulated. There is no excuse, not even "the devil made me do it," and men must…

Greatness and Care

Having a listing appointment eight miles south of Rockwall, I drove out at 6:30 PM on Wednesday. It was just getting dark as I arrived and I walked in with confidence that I could answer the questions my new sellers would ask. It all went well and as I returned to my car I became aware of how dark it was out there in the "boon docks." That cause me to look up and as I had seen from the Colorado Rocky Mountains at 12,000 feet above sea level, here I saw it also…a sky full of stars. The psalmist in explaining how caring God is for those who "delight" in Him used an infinite to finite comparison. He said, "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name." (Psalm 147:4) Think about that. God has the stars all counted (because He created them) and they are each appointed to a specific task. Each one fills a place in the darkened sky where there would be only emptiness without them doing their job. Searching the internet on the question of  &…

Evaluate

It is good to evaluate your year as it comes to a close. What went right? What were your successes? What did you accomplish? How are you better at years end than you were at years beginning? We should also consider our nation as another year passes before us. We think that we are in a stable country that has the rule of law but consider the mightiest of cities spoken about in the book of Revelation. Here is Babylon, the center of the commercial universe. She is "dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet, and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls! In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!" (Rev. 18:16-17) Note the swiftness of her demise. Just one hour and she was totally ruined. It is good to evaluate your gains and losses but also to not be prideful of them. Rather, to be wary of changing tides and wise about how you are preparing for the future. So many of us live only in the moment and do very little about the future. Last night powerful storms …

What Changed?

Ah yes, this is the day AFTER Christmas. People are standing in lines to return gifts, "How could they have thought this was what I wanted?" or "Didn't they know that was not my color?" or "I already had this, bought it for myself two weeks ago." All the "fah, lah, lah, lah, lahing" is over and the lighted tree looks naked without the covering of presents beneath its boughs. But what has changed? Obviously, to the God who lives outside of time, nothing has changed. His purpose, the gift of the Son was right on target and He continues to accomplish His will. But to us, has nothing changed or are we quickly moving back to our old ways, our selfishness, and our perpetual wrong desires? The Christ child came to change our lives; to bring peace inside, if not outside us. Do we see Christmas as OVER or do we finally realize that it can be a new beginning where we put Him first every day? Consider how you view the day after Christmas and change to …

Fourth Reason for the Season

We don't really understand how great this reason is until we consider our personal life and the world as a whole. Have you ever tried to make your way through the house without turning on a light? It can be hazardous especially if someone else has moved a chair, dropped a doll or mini car in your pathway. You view it in your mind as clear but you get an unexpected shock when you step on something or stub your toe. Light is essential to our lives. However, the world is inherently dark. We do understand that because we see it on the movie screen. Darkness threatens the existence of Middle Earth. The Lord of the Rings tells this saga and if not for brave and unyielding men and women it would conquer but light ends up winning. From Middle Earth to the galaxies above our heads, Star Wars also tells the story of an empire gone dark. It seeks to rule the stars and presses the battle into every planet. See we know, we see that darkness is always willing to rear its ugly head. But God bro…

Third Reason for the Season

We are searching out the reasons for this Christmas season and have already shared that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that we can live with Him eternally because of God's great love. So, saving us and allowing us to live with Him because if His great love are the first two reasons for this season. The third reason is that God does not depend on our works but acts upon us by the Holy Spirit to save us. He said to Zerubbabel, "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit." (Zechariah 4:6)  There is no work we can exhibit and no power that we can express which will make us pure in His eyes. It is through the Spirit of God that we are brought from death to life. His Spirit not only brings salvation to us but He also dwells within us for the rest of our life. He is the channel through which we have daily communion with God. He is the provider of comfort and the voice within us that directs us to do God's will. As Jesus Christ allowed himself to be directed b…

Second Reason for the Season

God has exhibited His love to His people and also to the world by sending the Son to die for its sins. Each person that believes on the Lord Jesus Christ has their name written in the book of life. Those who have not had their name written in the book of life will be deceived and die without hope of heaven. John, the Apostle, speaks of this, “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) This verse reveals the rebellion of the Tribulation period when the Antichrist and False Prophet rule for seven years but it also reveals the greater love He has for us. God in eternity past (I’m talking about the Trinity composed of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) determined to create the world and man. He created us with the ability to know Him and the option to choose for or against Him. He wanted man to make the decision to love Him back, not be…

First Reason for the Season

During this time when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who was and is and will always be the Son of God. It is good to be reminded that he came for specific reasons and one of those was because we have a mortal enemy, Satan, that seeks to devour us. "“The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” (Revelation 12:9a) Satan is in an endless battle against the people of Israel and the Church. Notice two things: one, “that ancient serpent” statement which takes his presence all the way back to the Garden of Eden; and two, “leads the whole world astray” which takes him into our future. In 1John 5:19 it says that the world (not the physical earth but the world system) lies in the lap of the wicked one. He is controlling and using it. Is there any doubt that Satan is alive and well in our times as we see hate in hearts of Islamic extremists, the greed of the world’s elite, and the desire for power by men in hi…

Judgment and Mercy

David was late into his reign as King over Israel when he decided to number the fighting men in his army. This was met with push back from Joab, his commander, because he felt this was a prideful act by the King. However, he was overruled and in the next nine months the order completed and reported to David that the number was eight hundred thousand. At the moment of this seemingly good news, "David was conscience-stricken…and said to the Lord, 'I have sinned greatly in what I have done.'" The next morning, the prophet Gad appeared before David and gave him three choices from God as punishment for his sin. Three years of famine, three months of fleeing from his enemies, or three days of plague on the people. David's choice was, "Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men." (2 Samuel 24:14) David felt that even in judgment God would be more merciful than any man would be. Habakkuk served …

Doing What He Pleases

In your understand, how great is your God, and to what extent does His greatness impact His sovereignty? "Wow! Are we getting deep right at the beginning? This is pretty heavy stuff!" Let me share what I have recently read in the psalms. Psalm 135 begins with much praise toward God. Then the psalmist under inspiration says this, "I know that the Lord is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods." Okay, the writer maintains this as a personal conviction, "I know." Then he connects others with that knowledge by saying, "our Lord," and ends by an inclusive statement about God's greatness, "greater than all gods." (135:5) Conviction, connection, and comparison. He's just getting started. Next, he makes clear the impact of God's greatness on His sovereignty. "The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths." (135:6) God does whatever pleases Him. He is not hin…

Punishment

How does God "rein in" man? I'm asking, when people or national leaders become arrogant, idolatrous, flippant in their recognition of God, how does God deal with them? In asking this question, I am not saying that God is "dealing with them" because He is arrogant but because He is seeking to draw all men unto Himself for salvation. When the seals are broken by Jesus Christ in Revelation 6, several of them are identified as horses. There was a "fiery red one," "a black horse," and "a pale horse." These revealed three destructive forces which drop people to their knees. They break wills, reveal all that is trusted as chaff, and cause people to turn toward God. They are the sword, famine, and plague. In the heart of the book of Jeremiah (16:4; 21:6-7; 27:8, 13; 32:24, 36; 34:17; 42:17) these three destroyers are spoken of many times. As Creator, God knows our weaknesses and in order to bring us to a point of turning toward Him He deplo…

Compassion

Jonah, I just have to say the name and you think you know the story. He was swallowed by a whale, right? Yes, this was his transportation mode back to where he ran from God, but it is only a small piece of the story. God did command Jonah, a Hebrew, to go to Nineveh, a pagan capital whose people were the enemies of the Hebrew nation. Jonah didn't want to go because he knew that God was "a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity." (Jonah 4:2) So Jonah ran, and in doing so actually enlarged the impact of his message. God worked with a disobedient Jonah to bring His message to more people. God was not going to let disobedience get in the way of His will for sailors and for Nineveh, and for that matter  all who have heard this story from that time forward. Here are some benefits of the greater story. One, God is able to take disobedience and turn it toward His purposes. Two, if Jonah had not run to Tarshish an…

Fear or Trust

There is a conundrum, a puzzling problem that we see on a regular basis. It is a fear which creeps into our souls and intimidates us not to speak out about God. We may be a powerful "warrior" physically but we shy away from expressing our faith. Why? Solomon said this which might help us understand, "Fear of man will prove to be a snare…" (Proverbs 29:25a) Fear of hurt to our own person can be created by blackmail, outright oppression, vengeance, or a dark heart wielding evil deeds. This causes us to alter our course, adjust our words, shrink back from support of others that are doing so, and therefore aligns us with the feared. The king loses his integrity. The judge provides an unrighteous sentence. The believer compromises the gospel. All act to afford themselves protection but all end up in bondage. The question rolling around in the back of each one's mind is "what will others think of me?" This false premise, the need to be liked or to protect se…

Soul Time

When have you sat quietly and waited on the Lord to speak to you? When have you quieted your surroundings and your thoughts to just be still? In our day it seems impossible to get away from sounds of people. Cars, motorcycles, lawn mowers, people talking, music penetrating your car from what seems to be a virtual boom box on wheels in the next lane all give us a busy mind. Man is noisy and insistent on being heard but what about God? The Psalmist said, “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. But I have stilled and quieted my soul.” (Psalm 131:1-2)  It is not pride and desire (the undervaluing of others) or the important and difficult (the overestimating and overreaching of one’s self) that is where the Psalmist is focusing. He seeks to find genuine rest for his soul by stilling and quieting his internal tempest and focusing his attention on God. To still and quiet your soul is to refuse to lis…

Hasty Words

When was the last time that words came out of your mouth that you regretted the moment they were heard entering your ears? When did your words get you into trouble, not because you were standing on integrity but because you did not carefully choose them? Every word that is formed on our lips needs to be measured. It needs to be carefully chosen and slowly considered because more than your life is at stake in the words that come out of your mouth. Solomon studied those who spoke hastily. He said, "Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him." (Proverbs 29:20) It is true that sometimes our words skip being monitored by our reason and flow directly out of our heart without due consideration and too much passion. These become regrettable times. A brother, James, said this in his faith and works book, "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that G…

Godly Instruction

We all have been instructed by a number of teachers starting in Elementary school through High School, and for some on into College, University and even graduate school. We heard the things our instructors said and we read the many books required of us. All of it brought to us a host of wise instruction but all of it failed in one regard because most of the time, if not all the time, it left out godly instruction. Solomon makes this statement, "Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law." (Proverbs 29:18) Other translations say, "Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keeps the law, happy is he." These words have been used in many sermons but what exactly is Solomon saying? "Vision" is interpreted by the contrasting final statement to be Divine instruction, the law in their case. "Perish" is interpreted as to be let loose or left to run wild. We can be taught many ethical prec…

Duty

Hosea has some striking pictures throughout it. One of those is the picture of Jacob who continually sought the favor of God during his lifetime. In his mother's womb he sought the blessing of God by grabbing his brother's heel seeking to be the first born. Then, in his adulthood, coming back from Laban's home, he wrestled with God and wouldn't let him go until He blessed him. Jacob sought after God even in his weakness and faltering. Hosea uses Jacob's life to illustrate that seeking God was always possible, however the people of Israel, descendants of Jacob, never were able to understand this truth and so ran after idols and into sinfulness. God desired them to come to Him but they perpetually turned away. His challenge to the people was three-fold: 1) "Return to your God." This would be accomplished by seeing God for who He is, the provider, caretaker, creator, and Lord over them and moving toward instead of away from Him. This would lead to challenge 2)…

Imitation

What are the things around us that are imitations?  Could they be jewelry, silicon bodies, voice imitations, paintings, generic drugs, foods, furs, boots, and more? In the dictionary the meaning of imitation is, "to endeavor to follow or try to follow in action or manner; to copy, mimic, or counterfeit." What is the purpose of imitation? To deceive or trick another person. To make money at low cost, as in "it's a cheap imitation." Purveyors of quality goods fight this battle all the time. Imitation might also be done to create a laugh as "he sounds and acts just like President Bush." Or, it may be used to bolster someone else's self-image, as in "imitation is a form of flattery." John the Apostle when speaking to his dear friend Gaius said, "Do not imitate what is evil but what is good." (3 John 11) Two other men are spoken of in this book, Diotrephes and Demetrius. Diotrephes loved to be first, ignored the reality around him, g…

Rushing Along

Debi and I just returned from seeing relatives in Nashville, TN and Bremen, IN. We started our return at two AM from Bremen, a seventeen hour trip by car back to Rockwall. It was cold, 36 degrees, and overcast as we departed and soon rain began to fall and we experienced it almost all the way home. As I was driving along, I began to think about each car as a human being and the weather as the circumstances each finds themselves in. Whether clear or cloudy, wet or dry, dark or light, cars push forward toward their destinations. Everyone had some place to go and some need of being on the road. Some cars were zooming along, breaking speed limits, dodging in and out of traffic, and splashing water up on other cars as they passed. Some were semis, large and strong, driver's seats high above the rest, and very determined with their experience on the road to get where they need to be on time. There were moments when rain was pouring down and car after car was lining up in the left lane…

Thanks #5 - God's Church

We often think of the church as a building of wood and bricks, sticks and mortar but the building is only a representation of the spiritual community that assembles within. The church is a place to hear and discuss the Word of God; to accent the work of parents in training their children and the discipling of men and women. It used to be a central influence to the city around it but that has grown limited, sometimes non-existent today. But God's purpose for the church has never changed. It is a place of encouragement, fellowship, prayer, involvement in spiritual gifts given to enhance its ability to bless itself and bless the world around it. And, the "gates of Hades [hell] will not overcome it." (Matthew 16:18) Thank God for your church. Thank Him for the energy of those who work inside it and for the many who attend weekly. Thank Him that He has left this place where new believers can be nurtured and more mature believers can train others in the ways of God.

Thanks #4 - God's Son

Sometime back beyond the beginning of time, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit (the Trinity) discuss what they would do about the sin of man on earth. God the Son "was chosen before the creation of the world." (1 Peter 1:20) He was chosen yet volunteered to be the sacrifice for sin. Speaking of this moment in the book of Hebrews God the Son said, "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, 'Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God.'" (Hebrews 10:5-9) God set aside the ritual worship of the Law to bring a greater and more sufficient sacrifice for sin and that was His only Son. We are able to give thanks for His Son because "we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (10:10) It became no longer necessary on a daily basis for sacrifices of bulls, …

Thanks #3 - God's Word

Where would we be without the guiding lamp of Scripture? It illuminates all God wants us to know about ourselves, our world, and Him. Composed by over forty different authors whose end product was the inspired Words of God, over a span of sixteen hundred years, it has one consistent message threaded through its sixty-six books. It begins with the broad picture of creation, the fall of man, the worldwide flood, and desperate attempts by men to take control of their environment however weak those attempts are. (Genesis 1-11) Then, narrows the focus to one man, Abraham, and his wife Sarah, to which were given the promise by God of a growing family, later enslaved in Egypt, released by God's hand, develop into a powerful and respected nation, only to be taken into captivity due to disobedience, but, the one through whom the Messiah of the world came to take away sin by his death and resurrection. (Genesis 12-John 21) The rest of its books (Acts-Revelation) share our present and futur…

Thanks #2 - God's Creation

We have been placed on a world that is full of God's creations. The mountains and valleys, the streams, rivers and oceans are all His creation. The cycle of evaporation which leads to rain is His doing. The plants, animals, microscopic and  enormous, are all His handiwork. Jeremiah said, "This is what the Lord says he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it." (33:2) God should be listened to because He has shown His great power and diversity in creation. The Psalmist said, "How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures." (104:24) "The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it." (89:11) To the Jews Paul said, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." (Hebrews 11:3) There is no credible evidence that the world was made by anything e…

Thanks #1 - God's Goodness

We have a tendency to accept things as though we deserve them; though we have worked for them and now have received them because they are due to us. It is a new way of thinking to be thankful. God understands that it takes a pure heart to be thankful. It takes a heart that has moved away from selfish desires and is seeing, maybe for the first time, clearly about themselves and God. The psalmist spends much time being thankful. He says, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever." (Psalm 118:1, 29) This psalm begins and ends with this statement. It clarifies what we are to do, "give thanks;" to whom we are to give it, "to the Lord;" for the reason that "He is good…and His love" is everlasting. If God is your God then thankfulness should be regularly returned to Him for making you righteous through His Son's death and resurrection. You have been set free in answer to your requests. God is no longer just your creator b…

Discovering Holiness

There are some that seek holiness by living apart from the world. They believe that to be "holy" which is defined as "set apart" they must remove themselves from the world. But in doing so, does it not eliminate the opportunity to share their faith with others who have not yet heard the story? In the book of James, the apostle shares three tests for the believer's life. They are his/her speech, their care of those who legitimately need care, and holiness of personal life. James states of the last of the three that the world is prevalent "with moral filth and evil." (1:21) And then, challenges the believer "to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (1:27) If, as it were, we are slogging through mud, how do we keep ourselves clean? First, we must recognize that we cannot find purity in and of ourselves. To think that we can clean our garments is foolish while the sin nature lives within us. The Holy Spirit's influence and impact…

Attitude

It is refreshing to see a poor man stand tall and live life to its fullest and it is even more refreshing to see a rich man that is normal, humble and approachable. James writes in his book about faith and works, "The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower." (James 1:9-10) Here we find a paradox of the two extremes of life positions and how they are linked together. The poor brother is seen with the high position of being made an heir of God the Father. The rich man is seen with a low position of God choosing him for salvation and not ignoring him because he was rich. Having a right attitude about your circumstances removes them from making you a victim of them. Salvation comes to both with equality. Grace is bestowed by faith not by works or standing. The present life experience, whether poor or rich, has no influence over life beyo…

Sacrifice

When was the last time you worshiped God? I'm not asking you when was the last time you went to church, I'm asking you when was the last time you focused yourself on responses to God for who He is, what He has done, and what He will do? It's easy for life to become so cluttered with activities that seem to be a must and our sight so narrowed to our own selfishness that we fail to respond to the God who makes it all possible. As the writer of Hebrews brings his instructions to a close for the church at large, he pointedly speaks of three important sacrifices: "through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased." (Hebrews 13:15-16) When God is adequately praised, then those who do so naturally offer also the sacrifice of good works and the sacrifice of sharing. To praise God is to express honor and glo…

Big Faith

How large is your faith and how far do you extend it? At what point in your life does faith fade away and you become subservient to disbelief? Abraham is a great example of one who continued to enlarge his faith. God tells him to leave family and birthplace and travel west and south to Canaan. He goes without pushback. Then he cannot have children with Sarah but struggles with the alternatives of his nephew Lot becoming his heir (Genesis 14:16), his servant Eliezer becoming his heir (Genesis 15:3), or Ishmael becoming his heir (Genesis 16:2). But there is no interpretation necessary for the promise of a son birthed by Sarah. He has Isaac as heir from her as God had said. (Genesis 17:19; 21:2) Is it any wonder that the writer of Hebrews says of Abraham when he is confronted with his own sacrifice of that very son, "Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead." (Hebrews 11:19) This is what is coursing through his mind at the moment he stands over Isaac laid out on top of …

Pleasing God

As a father there have been times when my young children have come to me and said, "Dad, look at what I did! Look at what I made! Look at what I found!" There has been a desire upon their part to please me. We do this with God our Father, also, in fact, He is always looking for those who will please Him. The hall of fame of the righteous in Hebrews 11 reveals many who were "commended" as those who "pleased God." We have spoken in January of 2013 and June of 2014 in the Today's Word about Noah, listed in Hebrews 11 as one of the righteous. We talked about the fact that he walked with God, then obeyed God, and then worshiped God. In Hebrews 11, it says, "By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear he built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith." (11:7) Four things are evident from this verse. One, Noah was "warned about things not yet…

Daily Direction

There are some things we do every day, like taking a shower, brushing our teeth, eating meals, and many more actives of routine which make our physical life better. The same should be true of our spiritual life. The writer of Hebrews suggested the following activities as regular for our spiritual life all on the basis of forgiveness, for when it comes through the body of the risen Savior, and we accept it, then we have responsibilities to ourselves and to the church, the spiritual body of believers. We are to "draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith." (Hebrews 10:22) Not because of our work but because of Christ's work, we have entered the new and living way, a way based on faith. We are to "hold unswervingly to the hope we profess" (10:23) This "hold" is a hold fast; a firm hold which masters that which is held. And, it is to be held "unswervingly" which means to not lean back, or incline to the past. Hope looks fo…

Wiser and Smarter

How can you become a person that is wiser and smarter? Is it a matter of training or instinct? Solomon was the ultimate Sherlock Holmes, investigating all that happened in his world. He sought to draw from the actions of people, lessons in life. At one point he said, “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 27:12) This is like saying, there are some people who stop at a red light, but others that drive right through it and receive the consequences. There are two ways to address danger in your life: one, is wisely, and the other is ignorantly. The wise person sees danger, he is alerted to it as it begins, he analyses a situation, anticipates danger and takes refuge. He protects himself from the effects of danger by removing himself from the situation. On the other hand, the simple person just keeps on driving ahead; they miss the road signs for danger ahead and end up suffering greatly. That suffering may be physical, as in a car…

Holiness

In His discussions with the Israelites through the prophet Ezekiel, God says, "I gave them my Sabbaths as a sign between us, so they would know that I the Lord made them holy." (Ezekiel 20:12) It can't be any clearer than that for Israel. "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!" (Hebrews 9:14) Whether in times past or today we understand that any attempts on our part to make ourselves holy are futile. Good works, worship of surrogate gods (idols), gifts, religion, living away from the masses, does no good at helping us to be holy in God's eyes. God makes us holy in and of Himself and through the death and resurrection of His Son. In light of this FACT, we must understand that it is by grace (unmerited favor) we are saved to eternal life and it is a gift of God. Getting an absolute hold on this tru…

Personal Responsibility

Are you a blamer or do you take responsibility for your actions? It seems that sometimes we are both. Think about your credit cards, a ticket for speeding, your house payment to a loan company, water bill, electric bill, gas bill. Who is responsible to pay your bills? Is it someone else or is it you? The obvious answer is, YOU. Ezekiel 18 emphasizes personal responsibility. It supposes three different scenarios: a righteous father, an unrighteous son, and a righteous grandson. It challenges the often quoted proverb in Israel: "The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge." (18:2) Or translating, there is guilt passed on to the next generation and others become responsible for your personal sin(s). If a righteous man does what is just and fair, following God's decrees and faithfully keeping His laws, then he is righteous and will live. However, if his son, who is a violent man, does the opposite of his father, he "will surely be put to deat…

Testing God

Have you ever heard your mother or father say, "Now, don't put me to the test!" It is the nature of a child to go to the edge of created boundaries and to push against them. To put your parent to the test is to challenge their rules or boundaries. It is to push up against the guidelines they have set for living under their umbrella. You and I have seen parents "put to the test" and it is not a pretty sight. They become angry, disappointed, determined to now make their point about following the rules very clear. Several times in Scripture this idea of putting God to the test is mentioned. "In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test." (Psalm 106:14) "We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes." (1 Corinthians 10:9)  This refers to the people of Israel in the wilderness who "grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, 'Why ha…

Make Over

In the movie, My Fair Lady, two English gentlemen, Professor Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering, wager concerning the ability of Higgins to change the speech of a pauper into that of a lady. Language, culture, posture, and etiquette are pounded into Eliza Doolittle, a cockney flower girl.  Yet, in the end however successful they think they have become was shattered by the truth of their internal struggles of love. A similar yet more powerful and meaningful story is told by Ezekiel of God's choosing and caring for Israel. On the day Israel was born it was "thrown out into the open field" and despised, but God "passed by and saw [her] kicking about in [her] blood." He said, "live!" God then made "you grow like a plant of the field…and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels." Later, God passed by and "saw that you were old enough for love." He "spread the corner of [his] garment over you and covered your nakedness. […

Two Sides

Pick up a quarter and look at the markings on each side. They are different, both have meaning but are part of the same coin. Listen to two people share their version of a story and it will be different because it is told from their perspective. There are two sides to the story of Joseph's departure to Egypt. Genesis 37 tells the story of Joseph's continued proclamation that his brothers and his mother and father were going to bow down to him. His brothers were infuriated with this suggestion and upon the occasion of Joseph travel to join them, far away from their father, as they tended the flocks, they "sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt." (Genesis 37:28) That was their story, but Psalm 105 tells a slightly larger story, it's God's story of that incident. "He [God] sent a man before them—Joseph, sold as a slave." (Ps. 105:17) Their story was that he was sold. God's story was, yes he was sold by his…

Buried Treasure

On a regular basis there are people searching the depths of the sea for buried treasure. Some seek gold and silver sunken in ships now covered by water and sand to obtain wealth for themselves. Others seek answers, clarity to questions long asked, like the Titanic sinking or the reality of slave ships and their cargo. Treasure is exciting to find but requires a discipline to discover. Lives are dedicated to its pursuit and documents are scanned and parsed to find clues to its locations. It seems to be one of the ultimate quests, exploring lost moments that are decades and centuries old. But there is one treasure that is before all of our eyes. It lays on tables before us, is among stacks on shelves, but is hardly thought by most to be of enough value to study. That treasure is the writings of the Bible. It is identified as "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 attitud…