Sunday, October 8, 2017

Can We Agree Here

Last night as my wife and I were in bed, after we had prayed, I lay thinking about the things I’ve heard lately and the thought came to me. There are a lot of things that are unclear in the Bible. There are a lot of questions that men find to argue about. Look at all the different denominations and even divisions within denominations. Think of what makes your church right and your neighbors church not so right; things like baptism, communion, what happens when we die. All of these things men have parted company about at different times and sometimes with very strong and not loving feelings and words.

These questions are often truly difficult if not impossible to prove empirically. But as I was thinking about these things, a verse came to my mind that a precious brother shared several times in small meetings.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, according as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who has called us to glory and virtue, through which He has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, so that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4)

There are so many things that we could disagree about, but here I see something that I need to give very serious attention.

God has given us all things, think of that ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness. There is nothing lacking; Not in what God has provided. What is lacking is my accepting and taking what God has provided.

How do I do that?

Through the knowledge that I can have through the Bible and by the Spirit of God, about God and about Jesus. Simply follow Jesus.

God calls us to glory and virtue so we can become those who live by divine nature and overcome the corruption that is in the world because of lust. 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

How did Jesus overcome Sin?

How did Jesus Overcome Sin?

This may seem like a moot question, since Jesus was God and God cannot be tempted. That’s a whole other problem for another time, maybe.

In Hebrews it says He was tempted in all points in the same way we are yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) After Jesus was baptized in Matthew 3, in Matthew 4 It says, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” Hmm?

The story that follows is one of Satan, the Devil, tempting Jesus with a proposition and Jesus answering with a scripture. It all seems pretty simple. Just memorize a bunch of scriptures then you will always have an answer for the Devil. Ever tried that? I have and I have found that when temptation arises I forget to think about the correct answer. Temptation doesn’t seem to arrive with an announcement on a schedule, there is no flashing orange light to alert you. Temptation is the flash of a thought to think or do something that in hindsight I will regret. Then, before I consider the words of Scripture, I act in the wrong way.

Why was Jesus successful and I am not? I believe the answer can be found in Psalms 119:11. “I have hidden Your Word in my heart, so that I might not sin against you.” My heart is where I need to hide Scripture. My heart is where I hold the things that I truly care about, the things I love. Memorizing scripture is not enough.

I need to hide God’s Word in my heart. David was speaking about the Scriptures. But, since I have a new understanding of The Word of God, I need to hide Jesus, the Word of God, and appropriate Scripture, also the word of God in that place where I love them.

This hiding process is the act of meditating on the life and teachings of God’s Word. Memorize, then repeat back to God until those words and the person of Jesus are firmly in residence in my heart.

When the Word of God has first place in my heart resisting the lusts of my flesh becomes much more natural.

Happily, I can say that this is how I have experienced some success. Still much to conquer.

It's something to think about.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Letter To My Friends

To my Dear Friends,
Whoever you are, I have asked that the friends of my children and the friends of their friends from Facebook take the time to read this short letter, but if you are reading this for any reason, thank you for stopping by for a few minutes.

I joined Facebook several years ago when, because of my work, I couldn’t be around family and the friends that have touched my life. I wanted to keep in touch. I wanted to see where life took you. I have seen some wonderful developments and some developments that have not been so wonderful. Many things have given me reason to be very happy. Other things have caused me tremendous sorrow. Sometimes I have been tempted to unfriend you because of the directions you have chosen, but I have been stopped.

Over many years my life has taken several turns, some pretty good and others, well, not so good. I have made good choices, some really terrible choices and lots somewhere in between. For most of my life I have been what many would call religious, although much of the time I have hated that term. I hope you will keep reading anyway.

In the center of our body, each of us has a heart. When that thing works properly things are at least pretty good (some of us have other parts that are causing trouble). In the center of our being, each of us has a kind of a spiritual heart. Just as our physical heart is designed to provide nourishment to our whole body, that spiritual heart nourishes and affects our entire life and then the lives that we touch.

When I allow anger, hatred and disrespect to be the thing that my spiritual heart is pumping, even for the best of reasons, that anger, hatred and disrespect will spoil the good that I desire to do. I desperately need to examine what motivates my words and actions in order to accomplish the good effect that I desire. Anger, hatred and disrespect have always motivated people to action but the results of those actions have never been good.

Love, respect and dignity work much more slowly but the result is much better.

Please, allow me to suggest that you consider the man Jesus. I am not suggesting or attempting to get you to join any religion. There have been many negative results of the “Christian religion”. So, I simply ask that you look at the life and words of the man, Jesus.

Jesus came because of love, he gave respect to everyone and treated each one with dignity, because he only wanted to help each one find a better life. See his heart in his life and his words. I certainly see where I can improve.

Please… think about these things.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Oil and light

Jesus told a story about 10 virgins waiting for the bridegroom. (Matthew 25:1-13) He said 5 were wise and 5 were foolish. The wise brought oil in their vessels.

I think I may have found a little more understanding about how this works in practical living. This morning I was reading in the Gospel of Matthew, endeavoring to listen for the Spirit of God to speak to my heart. Lately the analogy of salt and light has been coming to mind frequently (really for some time). I was thinking about things like 1 Peter 3:15. “…ready always to give an answer to all who ask you for a reason for the hope that is in you”. Suddenly I realized, no one has asked me for a reason for the hope that is within me.

The realization is clear and painful. My light is not shining so that those around me are amazed and interested.

The 5 wise virgins did 2 things. They brought oil in their vessels and they trimmed their lamps so they would burn clear and bright.

I think the oil in my vessel is the Word of God, the Scriptures, hidden in my heart (psalms 119:11). These are Scriptures memorized and meditated upon until they find a home in my heart. “In my heart”, that is the place where I embrace things and hold them dear, in reality, not just in a catchy tune.

They also all trimmed their lamps. This refers to the part of the wick that is burnt and will not allow the lamp to burn brightly. I am sure there is much to apply to my life here as well but the pain of seeing clearly my need is enough to think about for the time being. And I must take action to correct the problem.

It’s something to think about

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Always a Servant

Of Jesus, it says;
“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7)
He took the form of a servant. I had never seen that before and cannot yet begin to comprehend the full impact of what it means for me. “the form of a servant.”

I have gone through my life thinking that I was free to be whatever I wanted to be. But in reality, whichever way I choose and whatever I choose to do I am a servant. The question is, “Do I serve sin or do I serve righteousness?”

Until I chose to be born again by the grace and power of God, I was the absolute servant of sin. The main sin being self interest and my rightness.

After I was born of God, I did not automatically stop serving sin or being the servant of sin. No, but then I had received the power (kjv) or authority to choose to be the servant of another (John 1:12).  Now I can choose to be the servant of God and righteousness. I do this by choosing to obey the word of God.

No matter where we are or what we do we are always servants. The question for me is will I serve sin unto death or because of the grace of God will I serve righteousness unto life everlasting.

I am learning to choose better and I pray that you are as well.

Let us each one learn more faithfulness.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Is That Really Funny?

There have been times when I would laugh at jokes about gays, disabled people and minorities. I even told some. There are other groups that are the subject of humor. You might understand what I’m talking about; People who aren’t like me; People who have different value systems.

Many of these jokes are for the purpose of dividing people into us and them.

Dividing; That is kind of the opposite of what I understand to be my calling as a follower of Jesus.
Jesus tells us to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations”, (that’s a lot of people not like me). In John 17:21 Jesus prays that we might all be one.

If I am taking part in divisive humor how can I truly have any part in creating the unity that Jesus has in mind for me?

I believe this is a serious matter for me. Jesus speaks of a plant having good fruit and bad. He says it is not possible (Matthew 7:15-20). And James speaks of a fountain bringing forth sweet water and bitter (James 3:11).

It’s something to think about.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Jesus Didn't have a Webpage

Today I began by thinking about prayer and how my prayer practice has developed over the years and I may write about that at another time. But then I was thinking about Isaiah 42:1-4 which talks about the servant of God that he will uphold, and of course refers ultimately to Jesus. But as a disciple, Jesus is a pattern for me to consider.

In thinking about the Isaiah passage I was thinking about how Jesus didn’t have any media to announce his upcoming revival meeting. There was no webpage for people to find out where he would be next. Jesus simply went around healing the sick and telling stories. Or providing free lunches for a lot of people, and telling stories.

Matthew 13:34 tells us that

All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.

Those who came to Jesus seeking, searching, requesting more understanding, more in depth teaching were shown more.

I see three things that I need to give close attention.

First: I need to suppress my desire to make others see the valuable truth that I have found. Mostly they are not interested.

Second: I need to be among those who ask, seek and knock.

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:8)

And finally or maybe first I need to be finding the good that I can do and be doing that.

Following Jesus is a matter of doing what I can see he did and doing the things he says I am to do.