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Showing posts from 2018

Change

We are surrounded by change, we have to adjust. We have to flow with it to keep up. Especially as a New Year approaches, we think about good ways to “change,” to resolve to make our lives better. But note what God says about Himself and change. “I the Lord do not change. So you O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed (Malachi 3:6)." God does not shirk from His promises that He has made with Abraham, David, and Israel. He does not back off at all. In so doing, God assures us of His steadfastness, His “un-changeability” and we should be grateful for that. The people of Israel were continuously morphing as a result of evil influences. God established the Ten Commandments for them to follow and as much as they tried, they couldn’t keep all of them. Rather, they always desired wrong change; to have something new in their religion. This took them down dead ends and dark alleys where they defiled themselves. However, God’s unchangeableness allowed them to come back to Him, to trust His…

Reflect

We are in the last two days of 2018 and in a moment of quiet it is always good to reflect on the year. Here are some thought producing questions for you to answer: What goals did you accomplish in 2018? What are two of the best events you experienced this year? (Think widely not just about concerts.) How did you help the poor and needy in 2018? (A biblical mandate.) What time, talent and treasure did you give to God this year? How have you grown in your faith in 2018? Hopefully these questions will help you reflect on the good things of life and leave you with a sense of accomplishment and forward movement today.

Ups and Downs

I love the story of Joseph in the Bible. He had some extreme ups and downs in his life, although the eleventh son born to Jacob, he was the first son born to Jacob's beloved wife Rachel. Jacob loved her so he loved him more than he loved his brothers born from three other mothers. So Jacob gave Joseph a pampered life which led to him being despised by his brothers. It was probably more about jealousy than anything else. That jealousy was the reason they tried to get rid of him. Some wanted to kill him but calmer heads prevailed so he was sold rather than murdered. That change in one act had significant impact on those brother's future as well as the nation of Israel which was being formed by God. So Joseph begins his up and down life. He was up with his father, then down by being sold into slavery. He excels in his work to his slave master and so is raised to the one over all Potiphar's possessions. He is down when Potiphar's wife falsely accuses him and is believed, and…

Christmas Spirit

What do you think the Christmas Spirit is? If having more patience, more happiness, more generosity and maybe even being more loving are all signs of the Christmas spirit, then it suggests that your words and actions in this season are not the regular you of the rest of the year. Getting into the Christmas spirit is a challenge for some. You know that the hustle and bustle of this season way exceeds the rest of the year. Mall stores are jammed as well as their parking lots, extra meals are eaten in crowded restaurants, and maybe long trips are taken by car, train or plane to be with family. All these raise your stress level! Oh yes, and then the parties for work, church, and other organizations that you feel you must attend. And don't forget all those donations for various organizations that encourage you to be a "blessing" to them. Christmas spirit doesn't last long when you know the charge bill will be in your mail box in less than thirty days and your Christmas exp…

Accused

Remember that sister or brother that always accused you of being the one who disobeyed or did something bad to them? How about working in a place where a tattletale is present? You would periodically be faced with accusations foisted on you by this person or your boss because of this person's accusations. Wow! None of us feel comfortable in those kinds of situations. So, are you aware of the one who accuses you before your Heavenly Father? Job gave us a look into the throne room of God in the first two chapters of his Old Testament book. It sets the picture for the continued accusations that God deals with every day. Job wrote under inspiration and said, "One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them (Job 1:6)." Here are all God's worshipers and in among them was Satan, not a worshiper of God, who was there to accuse Job of really not being true to God for the right reasons. Satan comes bac…

Presence

Presence  1949 was a post-WWII time with great expansion and future hope of peace on earth. That was when George Orwell published his book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, more commonly referred to as 1984.  He wrote about a time thirty-five years in the future when most of the world's population was victim to perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance and perpetual propaganda. The "Thought Police" persecute individualism and independent thinking. "Big Brother," as he is called, is the Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality but possibly isn't even a real person. This classic novel memorialized the concepts of Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and more. It popularized the adjective “Orwellian,” which describes official deception, secret surveillance, misleading terminology and manipulation of recorded history by the authoritarian state. We see this coming true today as the government continues to infringe on and capture "pro…

Cry of Despair

Who said, "Violence is everywhere!...Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted." Could it be a person from Paris, France today or during the Renaissance? How about during the days of Hitler's Germany? What about today, maybe someone in Congress said this? It seems in this persons time society was in revolt. The bad outnumbered the good and the balancing weights of justice were broken. How about the fact that people loved to argue and fight? Sound like Democrats and Republicans? All those guesses are wrong. It was said by Habbakuk (1:2-4) a prophet in the days before the nation of Judah (southern kingdom of Israel) went into captivity to Babylon. That would make it around 600 B.C.! That was over 2,618 years ago. What is the common denominator between that time and today…

Resolutions

At the end of every year many of us look at the possibility of a New Year's resolution. Some consider dieting, exercising, being a better person, working harder, spending less, smoking less, reading more, traveling more and on it goes. What have you resolved in your past New Years? How did that work out? There are statistics kept concerning these decisions and here are a few of them: By 6 weeks into the New Year, 80% of those who set resolutions have given up.Only 9.2% of those who set resolutions reported feeling like they had been successful.37.8% of twenty-somethings were successful.16.3% of those over fifty were successful.So, what does this tell us about New Year's resolutions? They are too audacious; too much bluster and not enough grit. Or maybe the people have not established enough time in their new routines to aid in keeping them going toward their goal. Old habits are hard to break and the difference in success of twenty-somethings to that of fift…

A Whale and A Worm

The story of Jonah is well known. Most look at it on the surface and see a prophet who runs away from God, is saved by a whale, and ends up warning people who repent. There are four truths we can uncover in Jonah's story. The process of disobedience is explained. Jonah proceeds to “go down” four times: down to Joppa (a place), down inside the ship (a vehicle), down into the sea (a discipline), and finally down into the belly of the whale (a result). Truth 1: Going away from God is always going down but God can never be "got away" from. Just think of the prodigal son, and Peter after the crucifixion. Even Jonah's disobedience is being used by God to capture the hearts of sailors. These pagan sailors are caught in the fierce storm with Jonah and are thinking they need to save themselves and Jonah but, when all their prayers to their gods and their physical efforts are found to be ineffective in calming the storm, then they assent to Jonah's request to throw him overbo…

Waiting

It seems we do a lot of waiting in life. Waiting for family to get ready before we can go somewhere. Waiting for the street light to turn green. Waiting for the end of the month. Waiting for a raise. Waiting for a package to arrive on our doorstep. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Can we think about waiting in the spiritual sense, too? The Psalmist’s often shared his confidence that the Lord cared and loved him. He said, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope (Psalm 130:5)." He learned to wait for God to act in whatever the circumstance was before him. The Psalmist’s particular circumstance was not noted in this Psalm so that we could apply it to all our circumstances. We can ask, why the repetition of “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits?” The soul consists of the mind, emotions and will and psalmist may get his body to wait calmly but the inner man still could be full of anxiety, so he states it is not only me on the outside that waits but me on the inside. …

Recycling In Life Series - 20 - Final Thoughts

As we said in the introduction to the Recycling In Life Series, there is a process involved in recycling the situations of our life. It begins with being thankful, no matter what is taking place. This is a matter of viewing the situation from a higher position. It is considering that God is powerful enough to not have allowed that into your life and because He did allow it, then we need to be thankful, for if we are grateful then that opens the door of our mind to objectivity. That will allow us to honestly view the situation and grow from it. With true thankfulness addressed, the next step in the process of recycling is to determine responsibility or fault. This requires you be rational not accusative, calm not agitated, and above all humble not haughty. Determining responsibility causes one to sometimes cringe and maybe do a "duck and weave," but ultimately the essence is to allow the blame to rest on you if dully deserved. If not you but another, do consider if there was a…

Sexual Immorality 2

But let's put aside the passion and just look at the facts. Not my facts, but God's. Here are some of the relevant passages, but certainly not all of them, that speak to sexual immorality: It didn't take long for corruption and wickedness to gain the upper hand with people in the newly created world. "Everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart (Genesis 6:5-6)" Noah was the only "blameless person living on earth at that time, and he walked in close fellowship with God (6:9)." God loved and God knew the boundaries He had set. So the earth was destroyed by water and even the animals paid the penalty of death for humanities sinful behavior but God started again with four couples, Noah, his wife, three sons, and three daughters-in-law.After this and the Tower of Babel where languages were …

Sexual Immorality 1

There is ignorance about these words, even a fear of using them in this PC world. For a long time as a nation we have been separated from what might be called our moral anchoring. The recent statement by Lauren Daigle is an illustration of this. When asked in an interview if she felt homosexuality was a sin she said, "I can't honestly answer on that. In a sense, I have too many people that I love that are homosexual. I don't know. I actually had a conversation with someone last night about it. I can't say one way or the other. I'm not God." Here is a relatively young person who states that she doesn't know because maybe the Bible doesn't declare it clear enough? That says multitudes about where we are, what our pastors and priests are preaching, and how little the average person knows about what is in the Bible. Even though the Bible is the most printed of all books ever, it seems it's not getting read and studied that much. It is now common place…

Help

"Where does my help come from?" The psalmist asked this important question and we might ask it too. It does suggest the possibility of dependence and we don't like to think about that. We have passed through childhood and are now excited about entering independence. We think this a proper end and it was even encouraged by our parents as they wanted us to "be more independent." But what we learned, if we are wise at all, is that no one is truly ever independent, they depend on some things and some one's. The writer poses this question as he begins Psalm 121, "I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there?" The "mountains" or "hills" are the city of Jerusalem and possibly specifically the Temple mount. He poses, "Does my help come from this place of authority?" The way he asked the question seems to suggest it doesn't. His answer is, "My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." His rea…

Recycling In Life Series - Self-Control Study - 18

Self-control too often becomes a burden to us but that's because we are trying to live the Christian life in our own strength. It was never intended to be that way. God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer in the world. He did this as a promise and also as the guide Who can help us develop spiritually. So, let's see what the review of Scripture can tell us about Self-Control: Examples of Self-Control to Study: Paul spoke about self-control with Govenor Felix and it made him tremble for kings always did what they wanted. (Acts 24:24-26)See the Ten Commandments and their relationship to self-control and the rest of the fruits of the Spirit  (Exodus 20:1-17)Definitions of Self-Control: Self-control is having mastery or possession of your vessel (body). (Psalm 101:2)It is controlling the old habits, attitudes, ways that used to control us in the old nature.It is a discipline of the whole life, especially in morality.The whole body can be …

Recycling In Life Series - Self-Control - 17

When we talk about self-control what you probably imagine is keeping your tongue under control,  managing your thoughts, exercising regularly, controlling your spending, tamping down your emotions, or managing your input of food. Wow! I would be tired trying to do all these. When used in Scripture God is talking about the control of your whole life which includes your body, soul (mind, emotions, and will) and spirit. Is this making you even more tired? Here's the deal, this can only successfully be accomplished through the help of the Holy Spirit. In fact it is a fruit of the Spirit when He is in first place in our hearts. Since the day we were born, we have lived to please our five physical senses. What tastes good, sounds good, looks good, smells good, and feels good is what we want. Our mind and emotion daily unite to command our will to get us what we think we need. But when salvation comes to the heart, believing that we cannot pay for our sin and are unable to move naturally …

Five Requests

The 176 verses of Psalm 119 are broken into 22 groups of 8 verses each and praise God for the Law of God in almost every verse. Each group of eight is a disconnected series of utterances but definitely each group is also focused on this truth. That a person would go to such lengths in praise about God's Law substantiates it as an incredible and holy gift which one cannot stop extolling. Even in the midst of affliction the psalmist (whoever he might have been) seeks deeper insight into God's word. This is revealed in the fourth grouping of 8 verses, Psalm 119:25-32. Here along with praise of the Word are five requests of the psalmist: 1)"Revive me by Your Word" (25) He finds himself among the dust, exhausted and humiliated by his affliction and asks his Heavenly Father to resuscitate his ailing soul; to re-breathe into him a breath of life through his study in the word. 2)"Teach me your decrees" (26) Now that the psalmist has shared his difficulties with God an…

Thank God Today

On this Thanksgiving Day let all “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his [Father’s] great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for" us (1 Peter 1:3-4). God the Father who is the Author of our human generation is also the Author of our human regeneration. This regeneration gives us a living hope that is vital to our welfare and is at the heart of powerful living. It grows, strengthens and gains more beauty as time passes in opposition to a natural hope which fades as our body fades. Further, God the Father gives us a pure inheritance, not one that is gained by fraud, dishonesty, or any kind of corruption. If we look back far enough into the past of many millionaires there was great gain made by dishonest means but not so with this inheritance which was amassed through the purity and activity of God’s Son. It is et…

Recycling In Life Series – Meekness Study – 16

We have seen that Moses accepted all that God did with a humble heart having learned through many lessons of life and personal conversations with God that being a usable instrument in the mighty hand of the Everlasting God was a far greater honor than listening to the accolades of man for a season. Moses's meekness was the result of knowing himself, God, his circumstances and his calling. There are three "semesters" to Moses' life which reveal much about him and much about God. His first forty years were the semester of learning which includes his birth to his exile from Egypt that was necessary because of his killing of an Egyptian. Special features of this time were his protection at birth, the special attention of Pharaoh's daughter, and his being instilled with a special calling by his birth family. The second forty years was his semester of leaning which began with his exile from Egypt and ended when God sent him back to Egypt from his wilderness wanderings. …

Recycling In Life Series – Meekness – 15

Meekness is described as power under restraint, but is qualified as not referring as much to outward physical strength as to inward soul strength. It is supposedly a "self-controlled" strength, reasonable but not weak and involving a yielding but not spineless assent. It is described further as a gentle manliness which is not native to the human heart. But by spiritual definition, it is recognition of God's hand in every situation rather than to be fighting against Him. Moses was identified as the meekest man on the earth and this illustrates clearly the embodiment of this word. He wrote of himself, "Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." (Numbers 12:3) We might question this coming from his own hand, however he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so we take it as truth. He dealt with a petulant people always getting into trouble. They were selfish, idolatrous, rebellious and perpetual whiners. Someti…

Gifts

All of us have grown up in a family. We have lived in the circumstances our parents created and it became the norm for us. If we were poor, then we lived without much. If we were rich we lived with plenty. If we were more than poor but less than rich, then we accepted that also. It was the life we were given. Now, that is not to say that some don't become unsatisfied with their lot and make a conscious decision to change it. Then, their children become used to something different. The writer of Hebrews shows us the distinct difference between the Old Covenant, wrapped up in the Law and its sacrifices, and the New Covenant, wrapped up in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice. The Old Covenant left us wanting. Sacrifices for sin had to be perpetually given. There was no permanence to forgiveness only a covering over, sometimes called atonement. But Christ's work on the cross ushered in the New Covenant; one that was permanent, full of promise for today and eternity to come. Peter in his …

Prudent Person

There is definitely a difference between a wise person and a fool. Solomon saw that difference in the way each responded to the same information. He said, "A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton [fool] goes blindly on and suffers the consequences." (Proverbs 27:12) The actions of the prudent person are to see danger coming in advance; to see signs that point to danger in the distance. A road sign that indicates a sharp curve ahead suggests that speed should be lowered to execute the turn successfully. The wise driver heeds the sign, cuts his speed, navigates the turn and travels on without incident. The simpleton ignores the sign, challenges the curve for fun and ends up over the cliff, down the embankment, broken and dying. When Jesus was sent to be crucified, he was first taken by soldiers to their headquarters. They called the entire regiment to mock him, put a crown of thorns on his head, placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter, kn…

Thanks

We often get so caught up in our daily lives that we fail to thank God or the people around us that help us and do good work. Thankfulness is an attitude of gratefulness and expresses appreciation to another for small or large actions they take on our behalf. As we enter into the Thanksgiving season, and for that matter the rest of our year, it is important to share thanks with God and others. The psalmist gives us a good example of the cycle that usually takes place in our lives that lead to thankfulness. He said, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever." (Ps. 107: 1) He then moves through four life situations in which the cycle is displayed that leads to thankfulness. Situation 1: "Some wandered in the wilderness, lost and homeless." They cried out, "Lord, help!...He rescued them from their distress." "Let them praise the Lord for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them." (107:6, 8) Sit…