Wed, Nov 28th - 10:52PM
Just my idea of why discouraging things should be encouraging...
Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 (NIV)
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
"Look! This is something new"?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
Ok, I read this and I see two things: God had this all figured out beforeany of it happened and for Him, as if in our view, it has already happened. So for God, no big surprise.
I also see us thinking that the "Internet" (or whatever other "new" things we have created) as being something incredible and beyond the ken of someone like Solomon. How vain! Sure, we put "things" together very creatively and we can collectively enjoy this fact. But what is the underlying thing that is truely important? People have not changed. There is vanity on the Internet. There is rage. There are murderers, thieves and rapists running around here. The tool of the Internet is turned by them as we allow them to do so or unwittingly participate in it even...
It can also be very good. There are kind people who can reach out to others they normally could not hope to reach effectively. A person who is bedridden has a chance to reach you or me with something they want to tell us. It is easier. BUT, they could have done it before, and the thing that matters remains the same. The good and the bad that wars in the human heart. Read the whole book and see if that does not fit. Still, regardless, for God, there is no big surprise. And he smiled on the Good before there was the Internet. Don't be so proud!
People are discouraged by the evil that surrounds them and engulfs them. I tell you, they need not be that way. They are troubled by the evil they do. For them there is a hope, and I do not say "still" as if by not getting it all under (their) control that I could condemn them and take away their salvation in Christ. I do not consider the outward appearance maybe even as much as I should. But I know that the heart that I cannot fathom is what is important.
Read the whole of this book, and it is full of doom and gloom. But if you read only part of it, you really won't get the message. You see, reading too much into the horrible things that can happen in this world has no meaning in comparison to what our meaning and purpose is:
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV)
13 Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty (purpose) of man.
If you are following me so far, you might think this means we are doing God some great big favor by fulfilling our "duty". I tell you, yes but no. We are, but only indirectly. You see, the mistake is in thinking that the good we do for God is anything He needs from us. He does not! This, even, is for our good. How many of you, when your child makes something for you are first impressed with just how great their workmanship and skill is? If that is what you are looking for, your poor children are probably starving for approval, and will do things, even bad things, to get your attention. God doesn't do that to us, demanding perfection in that pottery ashtray we made that he has no use for.
The good that doing good does within us, improving us, that, dear brothers and sisters, is the good that God wants us to do for Him and brings Him joy as it gives us reasons to give Him glory! Just what we did for Him, the specific good, is of no matter. It is dust in the wind.
Two passages to illuminate that a bit more for you who need this to understand why I say this:
Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28And we know that in all things (everything, even the things he asks you to do) God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Acts 7:48-50 (NIV)
48"However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says:
49" 'Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
What kind of house will you build for me? says the Lord.
Or where will my resting place be?
50Has not my hand made all these things?'
This last part is what Stephen was saying to the High Priest and the Sanhedrin right before he was stoned. They relied upon their own works to "make" them righteous, and Stephen called them "stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears." He spoke true. He paid a high price, and even that action earned him nothing he had not already gained in the good it worked in him by doing it and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through him! Can we be so bold? Can we withstand such persecution?
Even more for you to consider:
Ephesians 2:10 (AMP)
10For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].
I personally think even the Amplified Bible is weak in bringing out the point that screams at me here. I ask you to examine for yourself and determine whether the works were made for us, or we were made for the works. There is a little of both, I understand. Ask yourself then, which is more important to God: You or the "works" you do? Which is more important to the Good Shepherd: The lamb who was lost, or the wool it could produce when he found it?
John 1:26-27 (NIV)
26"I baptize with water," John replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. 27He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie."
This is John the Baptist talking about Jesus. I dare say, if any among us even approaches the righteousness of John, that is a supremely elect few. Most of us are as unworthy to untie John's Sandals and he was of Christ's. Yet when Christ asked John to baptise Him, John did so. If you read Matthew 3:13-14, you will see that this righteous man paused before obeying. That is no small thing to observe. Take note: John was no automaton.
Yes, I am ranting a bit. I am ranting because there are children of God hurt by this attitude of "I have to be outwardly perfect now" and I am thinking those pushing this nonsense should consider millstones and deep water. Give the child a cool refreshing drink and don't beat up their child like faith!
We all exhibit this to some degree now and again. If you fall into that category, I am there with you. If you are there all the time, and refuse to budge, I am concerned for what this is doing to you as well. If you are ticking off a list, that improves you not at all. Take joy in the improvement, not in some indication of superior progress compared to others. Compare yourself to Christ and be humbled by someone gentle and strong. Please!
Mon, Nov 19th - 1:03AM
The way to do this may vary for each of us...
Hebrews 13:2 (NASB)
2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:16 (NASB)
16And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
Marsha talked about angels. I thought about we can be like angels. My preacher says that angels can be in the guise of a 250lb 6' 4" guy shoehorned impossibly into a small sports car, arriving just when you need someone to push your car and you are bold enough to pray for help. This theme has been bombarding me for the last few days.
Let me expand a bit, just to give you some ideas.
Some of you will have money and simply share that. That is perfectly good to do. Some of you will have time. Share that. That is good, too. Some a kind word or prayer. The point is to share what your faith allows you to, and not hold back.
I suggested letters and cards to soldiers in hospitals, for that is on my mind. Visiting those in prison, whether you know them or not, is probably greatly needed for many people this holiday season. They might just get more from it than you actually give, if you understand me. It could be a children's ward in a hospital. Or playing a game of chess with that goofy stinky guy that hangs out in the Library. Invite someone who needs it to a meal, maybe even Thanksgivng dinner in your home or a restaurant (with your company, where appropriate) The list is truly endless, and if you open your eyes and look, you will see a need no other seems to. Maybe that is what you need to honor God with.
This season need not be the only time, but is a good time to do it if you can do little at other times.
These are thoughts of how to do what Paul asks in these passages...
Add suggestions, if you wish...
My Thanks be to God,
Wed, Nov 14th - 12:12AM
Temple Tax -- Why not for 13?
Matthew 17:22-27 (AMP)
22When they were going about here and there in Galilee, Jesus said to them, The Son of Man is going to be turned over into the hands of men.
23And they will kill Him, and He will be raised [to life] again on the third day. And they were deeply and exceedingly grieved and distressed.
24When they arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the half shekel [the temple tax] went up to Peter and said, Does not your Teacher pay the half shekel?
25He answered, Yes. And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him [about it] first, saying, What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly rulers collect duties or tribute--from their own sons or from others not of their own family?
26And when Peter said, From other people not of their own family, Jesus said to him, Then the sons are exempt.
27However, in order not to give offense and cause them to stumble [that is, to cause them to judge unfavorably and unjustly] go down to the sea and throw in a hook. Take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find there a shekel. Take it and give it to them to pay the temple tax for Me and for yourself.
Exodus 38:26 (AMP)
26A beka for each man, that is, half a shekel, by the sanctuary shekel, for everyone who was counted, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men.
Interesting. I can see a couple of possibilities:
- Only Peter and Jesus were going to the Temple and therefore asked to pay the tax. His disciples did not miss many opportunities to hear him speak, however, so I have a hard time with this. Possible, I guess.
- The others were going, but he only paid for Himself and Peter. Nope. Not even close.
- Peter is 20 or older. So is Jesus. The rest are not. Learned Men? Chin Hair? Maybe not as we are conditioned to think after all! It gives new meaning to "From the Mouths of Babies," does it not?
Did I miss something?
BTW, What Christ Himself says in Matt 17:27 lends us simple understanding of what Paul is trying to get across in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 10:25, at least to what Paul was trying to tell those Strong in Faith. The whole of it shows how those who lack understanding may think that something is wrong when the person doing it is acting in total freedom otherwise. Read the words of Jesus and tell me what you understand!!!
Wed, Nov 7th - 1:32AM
Actually, I have something for Lee and Jessica...
I just did not want to take the time, but when I cannot sleep, well, I take that as a signal; this time of my guilt of selfishness. Please bear with the shortness and lack of full explanation...
Matthew 5:17-20 (NIV)
17"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)
36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
1 Timothy 1:8-11 (NIV)
8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
Hebrews 6:4-6 (NLT)
4 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come—6 and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.
Hebrews 5:7-8 (NLT)
7 While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. 8 Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.
The Law is for Teaching. It teaches those who are either ignorant or stubborn of specific wrongness in their actions and general wrongness in their thoughts. It helps us recognize manifestations of sin. The Law is not abolished and still as relevant and true as it ever was. Only the consequences have changed. Those who are living as Christ would have them, are living under the Law as He translated it to us.
I went to NLT for Hebrews 6:4-6 because it more cleanly addresses the problem many Hebrews were having. They wanted to fall back to the Law and get their justification by following the Law, thereby rejecting the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. This is not clear in all translations, but is what I feel strongly is being said.
And you will learn obedience in what you are willing to suffer for the sake of God. Just as Christ did. This is not a small thing.
Jessica, rejoice when you suffer, and this is for you:
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, (and you too, sister) whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
And if you cannot walk, consider it perseverance to just stand if that is what you feel you must and at that moment are given the strength to do.
May there be Many Blessings on All,
Tue, Nov 6th - 12:28AM
10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs.
20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.
22 But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh's heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said.
6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. 7 But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came upon men and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not. And the gnats were on men and animals.
19 The magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the LORD had said.
19 When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. 20 And he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire; then he ground it to powder, scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it.
21 He said to Aaron, "What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?"
22 "Do not be angry, my lord," Aaron answered. "You know how prone these people are to evil. 23 They said to me, 'Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him.' 24 So I told them, 'Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.' Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!"
2 Kings 1:1-4
1 After Ahab's death, Moab rebelled against Israel. 2 Now Ahaziah had fallen through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and injured himself. So he sent messengers, saying to them, "Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury."
3 But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, "Go up and meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and ask them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?' 4 Therefore this is what the LORD says: 'You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!' " So Elijah went.
Sun, Nov 4th - 8:16AM
Just thinking about the image of Fire...
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NIV)
12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Jude 1:22-23 (NIV)
22Be merciful to those who doubt; 23snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Back to Blog Main Page