Thursday, January 28, 2010


This little study really precedes yesterday’s about the church, but either way is a serious issue then…and now! God’s plans and institutions don’t change, too bad we fail to pay attention as we should. God established three institutions for society:

1. The Home     2. Human Government     3. Worshipping Community

The Worshipping Community consists of two groups:

           1. Israel, Old Covenant     2. Church, New Covenant

First in time is the home (in time and significance) because the home is the basis for society. Is it any wonder the world is in such terrible shape if the home is foundational????? Satan always knows exactly where to attack to do the most damage. When God wedded Adam and Eve in the Garden, He laid the foundation for the social institutions humanity would build. When that foundation crumbles, society begins to fall apart (?)…Psalm 11:3. As we read in Judges 17:1-6, we can see that crumbling in action.

Dysfunctional families don’t come much more dysfunctional than this. Spiritually and morally dense, they managed to break almost every one of the Ten Commandments and not feel the least bit guilty before the Lord! In fact, they thought they were serving the Lord by the bizarre things they did. Does this ring any bells in anyone’s head?  Look at this list:                                                                   

1. The son dishonored his mother, stole from her and lied about it.

2. He coveted the silver and took it. Colossians 3:5 says coveting is idolatry.

3. He lied about the whole deal until the curse scared hi8m into confessing. He broke the 5th, 8th, and 9th, 10th, commandments

4. He broke the 1st and 2nd by having a shrine of false gods in his home.

5. He stole the silver, breaking the 3rd commandment and took the name of the Lord in vain.

Breaking seven of ten commandments without leaving home is quite an achievement! Deuteronomy 12 tells us the people were not permitted to have private ‘shrines” in their own homes. Micah’s mother made no attempt to deal with her son’s sins: his character surely didn’t improve by the way she handled the matter. She was a corrupt person herself, her son was no better. He ordained his own son to serve as priest…Micah knew the Levites were to be the only priests, anybody else serving as priests were to be killed, Numbers 3:10.

Because Micah and his family did not submit to the authority of God’s Word their home was a place of religious and moral confusion…a great deal like  homes in our day where money is the God the whole family worships. If every home and family had Christ at the center and Head of the home, we could stop some of our crime before it starts. Godly homes are the foundation  for a just and happy society.

Not only did God establish the home and instruct parents how to raise their children, (Deuteronomy 6) but He also instituted spiritual leadership in the worshipping community. Ander the Old Covenant, the tabernacle and then the temple were the center of the community and the Aaronic priesthood supervised both. Under the New Covenant, the Holly Spirit calls and equips ministers to serve Him and His people. Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4:1-6. In His Word, God told the Old Testament priests what they were supposed to do; and in His Word today the Holy Spirit guides His church and explains its order and its ministry. It’s all there…we need to read it, understand it, and obey it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This is a story from the book of Judges, (17:7-13) a very up and down book to say the least. The time of the Judges came about after the death of Moses, the death of Joshua and no apparent leader to take the place of these two giants of leadership. The people of Israel were at loose ends due to no leader and what we see in the book are cycles of prosperity, indulgence and sin, falling away from God, judgment from God, conquering by a foreign nation, captivity, eventually back to prosperity, etc., etc. There are seven cycles like this throughout the book. It ends with these words, which I personally believe exemplify OUR day: “and because there was no leader in Israel, every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” This story is about a man named Jonathan. He was a Levite, who was living in the town of Bethlehem, no one of the designated towns for priests to live in. He was probably there because the Israelites were not supporting the Tabernacle and it’s ministry as God had commanded them to do. (you can read about how God intended His work to be funded, especially OT times in the Pentateuch, particularly Exodus-Deuteronomy.) When God’s people grow indifferent to spiritual things one of the first evidences of their apathy is a decline in their giving to the work of the Lord! Instead of seeking the mind of God for his future, Jonathan set out to find a place to work and live even if it meant abandoning his calling as a servant of God. The nation was at a low ebb spiritually, and quite possibly he could have done something to bring them back to God. It was his responsibility to do just that. Even though he was only one man, that’s all God needs to begin a work that can change a nation. Instead of being available to God, he was agreeable to men. He eventually found himself a comfortable home and job with a man named Micah. If Jonathan was typical of God’s servants in that time period, it’s no wonder the nation was confused and corrupt. He had no appreciation for his high calling as a Levite…he was a chosen servant of God! The Levites were to assist the priests in ministry, they were to teach the law to the people, be involved in the sacred music and praises of Israel. Numbers 3:6-13; Nehemiah 8:7; 2 Chr 17:7-9; 35:3; Ezra 3:10.

Jonathan gave it all up for comfort and security in the home of an idolater. Now bear in mind, Jonathan’s ministry with Micah wasn’t a spiritual ministry at all. He was a hireling…not a true shepherd, Judges 18:4; John 10:12-13. He didn’t serve the true and living God; he worked for Micah and his idols. He wasn’t a spokesperson for the Lord, he gave people what they wanted to hear, Judges 18:6. When he was offered a new and more favorable position, more money and people, and he took it. He then assisted his new employer in stealing his former employers gods!

Whenever the church has a “hireling ministry” God can’t bless. We need true and faithful shepherds who are called of the Lord, and are actively and completely serving Him…and doing it His way. He is not doing it for personal gain but out of love for his Lord and Savior. He knows he is called to stay with the flock, feed them, protect them, and lead them to the best of his ability. He will stay with that flock until God tells him otherwise, not making a move until He tells him so. True shepherds receive their calling directly from God, it is not a job opportunity, read Galatians 1:6. It must grieve god to see His people worshipping the idols of ministerial success statistics, buildings, entertaining programs and music, reputations, and more worldly ideas. What makes it worse, these hirelings will call what’s happening the blessing of God. Jonathans and Micahs will always find each other.

God should have been King in Israel and His Word, law…but the people preferred to do their own thing, Judges 21-25. Take for instance the tribe of Dan, who didn’t accept the assigned the assigned (by God) territory, but coveted another’s place. Joshua 19:51 was to oppose the divine will. Isn’t it the same today??? We aren’t willing to accept what God gives and instead want what somebody else has, and will do almost anything to get it, James 4:1-3. The corruption that is in the world is fed by “evil desires,” 2 Peter 1:4. The elders of Israel should have put a stop to the men of Dan as they moved north to conquer another’s territory. Covetousness is strong, and once people get an appetite for “something more” it is difficult to control them. When the Danites met up with Jonathan, they asked his counsel and he told them what they wanted to hear. He told them about Micah’s collection of god’s and the spies invaded the shrine and stole them! The Danites then hired Jonathan thus silencing him, he was always ready for a better job! When Micah discovered the shrine had been vandalized, he called his neighbors and they pursued them. But it was useless and Micah had to go home defeated. In verse 24 Micah says “what else do I have?” This reveals the folly and tragedy of “religion” apart from the true and living God.

The tribe of Dan was the first tribe to adopt an idolatrous system of worship. Their house of worship was in Shiloh, but they preferred their images and idols. Years later when the kingdom divided, Jeroboam 1 set up golden calves in Dan and Beersheba and encouraged the whole nation to turn away from the God of Israel, I Kings 12:25-33. the story of Micah, Jonathan and the Danites is more than a story, it is the revelation of the wickedness of the human heart and the hopelessness of human society without God. We truly should be mindful of this story in our day…we are proceeding to do the same thing!


Saturday, January 23, 2010


Continuing on about our Life Message…

6) Accept the fact that God loves you unconditionally…We humans have a very difficult time getting an understanding of unconditional love, mainly because whether we realize it or not, we love conditionally, I believe because of our fallen nature. Many times even our body language puts forth the idea that our love depends…God’s love is as far from that as possible…remember, He loved us before we even gave Him a thought! Conditional love is based mainly on performance, you do/act right (by our standard of right) and I will love you. Many…too many children perceive that fact very early in life, from a parent or guardian, and it sticks, unfortunately. If we are spending adequate time with the Lord, maturing in our attitudes and ways of interacting, we will develop an unconditionally loving attitude toward others, and REALLY show Christ to people who badly need Him.

7) God is in control of absolutely everything in life…we all SAY this, but don’t model it in our lives and live as if we do indeed believe it! We all like control, of ourselves and others. But, the real control tower, our minds, is God’s and HE SHOULD be the one controlling us. I think we should give this serious thought, because it ties into so many other areas. REMEMBER…when we are born again, our minds are NOT born again…the Scripture tells us in many places we are to renew our minds constantly by reading Scripture, meditating on it, memorizing it so that it sinks in and becomes real…what a privilege to think (and act) God’s very thoughts…see Colossians 1:9…and have His mind on everyday things.

8) Depend completely on the Holy Spirit for every direction…He requires that  we submit to Him, and stay yielded in order to be effective in our service. We are gifted for service to the Body of Christ and placed where HE wants us to serve…see Romans 12:1-2…The place of service may be different than you would pick…why?…because God hates pride, and frequently will put us into ministry that isn’t easy for us to do in our own strength. Then we MUST depend on Him to do it through us. God hates pride so much, it is destructive to us, ruins our testimony and robs Him of the glory only He deserves. Another area where we need quiet time with Hi8m in order to be where and what we should be…we can never serve in our own strength but many times we will try. We mess it up, trust me, we incapable of doing the kind of job God wants done when we attempt to do it on our own. Additionally, in our own strength, we will feel proud and self-confident, something He hates.

9) Personal time of meditation is the best time we could ever spend.  to be content and please God we MUST know the Word. Additionally, we must be familiar with the character of God, which can only be learned by knowing the Scripture internally and personally from cover to cover, observing the character studies contained in the Book. This reading and contemplating grows us and gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to conform us to the image of Christ and having His mind.

10) The Word of God will transform your life…YOU CAN TAKE THAT TO THE BANK!!!!! This transformation is the process God has ordained, He uses it to teach us about Him, our fallen nature and His plan to change that nature “line upon line, precept upon precept.”  and as He tells Israel all through the Old Testament, “I tell you these things for your own good.” Indeed, YOU CAN TAKETHAT TO THE BANK!’

God bless you as you mull over these precepts. They worked for me, and they’ll work for you, if you’re willing.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Here are the principles I said I would post, things I’ve learned in my 30+ years of walking with the Lord…

1. Obey God and leave the consequences to Him. A phrase that is spoken frequently to the point I wonder if we take it seriously. I have found in obeying God what we would call “consequences” are not as devastating as we might expect. One thing I have learned: He is not A HARD TASKMASTER and doesn’t expect more than we can give. We many times get ourselves in positions that are harsh, and may be, but the question becomes, is it truly of God or did we bring it on ourselves? And…He always has a way of escape the harshness, but it will be HIS way!Bear in mind: A) We need to learn to listen to Him. 2) We need to learn to trust Him, and this takes practice, but is definitely worth it. As we read the Word, God reveals to us areas that need change…He wants us to ponder it as we sit quietly in His presence. I am pretty sure we have lost the ability to “be still” in our so-called modern society. God speaks with a still, small voice…when WE are quiet! When we are constantly on the move, He may have to bring something into our lives that forces us to “settle.” Quieting ourselves and being available to the Spirit takes devotion.

2. Learn to trust the Lord for everything you need. 1)Ask yourself if you are willing to stop worrying, fretting, being anxious, or frustrated. 2) Are you willing to believe what you see…what you hear…or what God says????? Most of us don’t even talk to God about our everyday decisions, our schedules, our purchases, plans and dreams…we just “do them”…I have found that God loves to be consulted about these seemingly small areas of our lives, He really does. Try saying to Him, “I don’t know the end from the beginning, but YOU do” and mean it. His response will surprise you!

3. Learn to wait on God. 1) He always has a specific time and purpose .2) Sometimes we wait because WE are not ready, or others are not ready, and sometimes He has a better way. Waiting today is almost a joke. now days, if you want it, go get it! it’s called “immediate gratification”…but God isn’t into that. He has a bigger picture, there are others involved, and He knows more than we do. Many times that quiet little voice inside us urges me to wait, be still, don’t do or say that…and the more I obey, the better things are. As a single woman living alone, it is a great comfort to me to know I can depend on God to this extent. I can trust Him to do only good for me and that takes much of  the stress out of everyday living.

4. Give generously to God’s work. 1) Don’t be overly attached to “things”. Hold them loosely. 2) Ask God to protect you from greed and materialism. 3) Life isn’t made up of “things” but our relationship with God, and what we convey to others about Him.

5.Recognize you can’t and don’t live the Christian life on your own. As I said earlier, we are God’s Ambassadors, good or bad. How many times have you heard someone say, “if that’s what a Christian is like, I don’t want to be one,” I would not want to answer to the Lord for that kind of testimony.

That is only half the principles, the last ten I’ll post tomorrow. I trust they are a help to you as you seek to understand, trust and obey God, and learn to love Him better.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


How much thought have you given to the “picture” of your relationship with the Lord do you project to those you come in contact with? I’ve given it alot of thought, especially as I’ve grown older and seem to be bumping into too many what I would call “phonies”…Ii hate making that judgment but the Scripture says, “by their fruit (Gal 5) you will know them.” When a person’s lifestyle and interaction with others is blatantly ungodly, what other conclusion can you come to. At times I think to myself, “do they realize they will have to account to God one day, for very idle word?” Probably not, I can’t imagine they don’t care, and don’t think it through. But that only makes it even more important for the rest of the world of believers to live what the Scripture says.

What made me think about it was an a few incidents at the prison with the staff. They are usually a pretty hard-hearted bunch, not inclined to talk with chaplains, even small talk. A few years back, I became chaplain “by default.” I was very pleasantly surprised at the reaction of the staff, the helping attitude, the desire on their part to come to me with problems…family and personal. I realized they had been watching me for along time . I wasn’t aware of it, but they were, and obviously felt comfortable with me, enough to talk, one-on-one. The more I thought about it, I realized we should all be like that all the time.  Our everyday lives should be so transparent and open that our commitment to Christ and His influence on us, would be obvious! We should display an attitude of acceptance and availability. I understand not everyone is a “people person.” And, even more sadly, not every professing Christian has gone though the process of maturing in areas where they are weak, where there are stronghold of anger and/or bitterness or other places of character or personality flaws. I think we need to think about that…there are thousands upon thousands of believers that have NEVER allowed the Spirit of God to refine them, deal with them in areas of their lives that need healing, and that is very, very sad. God desires balance in our lives, and is perfectly capable of making balance a reality in each and everyone of us. To minister to people, one needs to be whole, and only God is capable of doing that. He can and will, if we let Him. But usually we go about our lives after salvation in the same way we lived before we came to Christ. We bring all the accumulated baggage of the years and relationships prior to salvation right along with us, recognizing Christ cleansed us from sin and ASSUMING He dealt with our defects at the same time. WRONG!!! Our minds are not born again, and need to be renewed day by day. Over and over the Word tells us about renewing, abiding, having the mind of Christ…etc., etc. Do we do anything about it??? Usually not, we just go about our lives, continuing to ignore this very critical area of growth. How about you? Are there places in your heart/mind or spirit that you know are not what they should be but you aren’t sure what to do? You are not alone…if you want to talk about it, email me and we can talk.

Another area I ponder alot…what could we possibly do to please God or make Him happy? He doesn’t need us you know…but He loves us and has chosen to interact with us, even though many times I am sure we are a burden to Him. What  can we possibly do to make Him pleased He made us His? Many months I read through the books of Psalms and Proverbs, 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb a day will take you through the two books in a month and give you a good grasp of the content of both. Tomorrow I will give you ten principles I gleaned from these two books that give us an idea of what pleases God.

Monday, January 18, 2010


In the Christian life, it will never do to only accumulate knowledge. What you learn with your mind you must respond to from the heart in obedience. Then, and only then does it become yours…your own personal possession, one you can live, and share with others. You will find you can empathize with others trials and pain! There is a big difference between sympathy and empathy…most of us can sympathize with almost any situation that is difficult, but empathy takes personal experience…you can only empathize if you have “been there, done that.” Knowledge that is not filtered through the spirit of a redeemed man will make him proud and self-reliant, instead of obedient and even more dependant on the God who gave Him the knowledge to begin with. Appropriation…a big word, an important word…when knowledge becomes yours through personal experience and understanding, you have turned that knowledge into wisdom by the power of God in you!!! The world and other Christians are looking for people of God that are living what Scripture says…they are looking in the hope that God and His Word are real…will you live it in front of them?

GODLY WISDOM… is seeing things from God’s point of view and responding appropriately. Here are some ways to walk with wisdom.

1. Have a strong desire to walk wisely.

2. Learn to meditate on the Word, portions that “stand out”to you.

3. Learn to turn your mind to the truths in the Word, use the “grid” in Phil 4:8 to filter the truth.

4.Don’t be afraid to “step put” on something the Scripture tells you to do, take the step and leave the consequences to Him.

5. Learn to be sensitive to the promptings  of the Holy Spirit. Learn from your mistakes, and never be afraid to ask yourself, “why do I feel/do this way.”…

6. Believe that God is all-wise, that you CAN trust Him, and when you do, listen, He’ll protect you and keep you safe with integrity.

7.Have the courage to do what God asks of you, even when you don’t understand, (it isn’t necessary to understand, but it is necessary to obey), and are fearful. Understand clearly that you will never go wrong trusting and obeying God.


1.You will gain a clear picture of who God is and will see His point of view.

2. You will gain clear direction about God’s plan.

3. You will also gain God’s protection from wrong thinking an action.

4 God will provide the strength and power to accomplish the task.

5. Peace and contentment will become a personal possession for this kind of obedience and humility.

6. Prosperity, materially and spiritually will be yours according to Prov. 8:17-21. This does not mean that you will become a millionaire, but you will definitely have what you need.

7. This kind of walk with the Lord contributes to long life and good health. Additionally, you will become a blessing to those whose lives you touch…family, friends and co-workers.


When you find promises in the Word, and you are having difficulties with an issue in your life, think about these things in regard to answered prayer…

1. Does this promise meet my personal need/desire?

2. Am I asking, yet being submissive to His will?

3. Would God’s fulfilling this promise honor Him?

4. Could this answer harm or interfere with His will for another?

5. Does the Holy Spirit bear witness that God is pleased with my request?

6. Does my request contradict the Word of God?

7. Will the answer further my spiritual growth?

Learning to know the promises of the Word, to ask with confidence because you know you are in His will, can lead you on a wonderful life of intimacy with Creator of the Universe…imagine that!!!! Intimacy is about a relationship, not a gift exchange. When we live expectantly, serve Him purely, slow down and spend seasons with Him in His Word, in prayer and meditation…He fills your soul with HIMSELF. God doesn’t meet us  at the Mall…He meets us in the inner sanctum of our hearts. If it’s intimacy we want, we need to be more intrigued with the Giver than the gift. Not the stuff He does for us, but HIM!…to experience Him more than we do, more than all the things we are attracted to and we will find that He and He alone…IS SUFFICIENT!!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010


When Jesus finished these parables, He asked the disciples if they understood…they said yes. Hearing and understanding involves responsibility1  and to illustrate this He told another parable. In verse 52 Jesus speaks of the teacher of the law…a steward perhaps, one that dispenses out of the household things both old and new…He is telling the disciples to be prepared to not just hear and record in the mind what they are learning but to align them with Old Testament teaching, and be willing and able to give it out…live it and give it…the household steward is responsible to the master to guard the treasure and dispense what is needed, where and when it is needed. Teachers of the Gospel are to do the same, carefully and fully, remembering they are accountable to the Master.

From verse 53 to the end of the chapter, Jesus is in Nazareth, His hometown, teaching and preaching. And, causing a stir! The Scripture says they were OFFENDED with Him. He annoyed them! they wanted to know who He thought He was!!!! We need to remember that if we are teaching/living the Gospel our lives and teaching WILL OFFEND OTHERS JUST AS HE DID! Part of our identity with Him is this form of persecution…misunderstanding perhaps, but it will happen because of WHOSE we are, it is our lot and our privilege! THEY knew who He was, the son of Mary and the carpenter…they did indeed know Him after the flesh but they surely didn’t KNOW who He was! Pity…He was from that time on referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, and His followers Nazarenes, but there was no hometown reception for Him…Matthew chooses this incident to close out the section on “rebellion against the King.”

There are other interesting parables worthy of our thinking about. Three in particular speak to us about our attitude and compassion toward those we are to serve.

Matthew 18:12-14 THE LOST SHEEP

I personally love this one, it speaks of the concern of the Shepherd for EACH sheep…one has wandered away and He goes and finds it, and rejoices much that it is found. He states that it is not His will that even ONE should be lost. It reminds me of another, recorded for us in Luke 15:11-32 THE PRODOGAL SON…such a beautiful picture of God’s desire for us to “come home” to Him. The prodigal son his inheritance (in those days this would indicate he wished his father was dead), left home and lived an utterly debauched lifestyle until his money ran out. When He realized what was happening to him, he repented and returned to his father. In the parable, the Father was ALWAYS looking for his son to return, and when he saw him coming, he ran to meet him with his arms opened wide, eagerly forgiving and loving him. He ordered a feast to be prepared and there was rejoicing and happiness in the home. The older brother, however, who still had his inheritance and would gain everything his father had, was sullen and angry…Jesus in the parable was talking to the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who like the elder brother were self righteous, prejudice, indifferent to repentant sinners…

Matthew 19:16-26, THE RICH YOUNG RULER

This is another favorite, mainly because I use it as a yardstick with prisoners, particularly as they prepare to leave for home.The parable tells us that he came to Jesus, asked Him some questions, which the Lord answered. He still persisted on asking more, again Jesus answered. Finally, Jesus got to the heart of the matter…the man’s HEART attitude toward his life. He was more interested in “doing” than in “being”. Jesus told him to divest himself of his belongings and become a follower…the man could not do it! He was apparently very comfortable with what he had, both in possessions and in position, and wasn’t willing to “see” that these two “things” in his life would keep him from God’s best. Many times we are willing to settle for doing good things for God, when He really wants us to be “perfect” just as He is…He wants us to mature, whole and complete, not holding onto “stuff”…we are like the rich some ruler, we decline the Lord’s offer and move on. This is the part I like…Luke says, “Jesus looked on him with love,…and let him go”!!!!One of the most difficult parts of a mentor’s job is the “letting go”…for whatever reason…and there are many times we must “let him go.”

We serve a gracious, loving Father, One who wants us to enjoy His heaven with Him. He works very hard on us to prepare us for that pleasure. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases we resist His grace, and lack of forgiveness is a prime offender, but not the only one. We really need to think long and hard, are we “hearing” all that we should, and are we responding in a positive way to the Holy Spirit, and His urging us to really be reconciled to God. Not only salvation, but are we allowing God to have His way???? He wants us to have the same mind and heart as Christ. We are to be conformed to His image…the question is…ARE WE??????

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Satan has been known to use some distinctive ploys…here are a few:

1. False teachers who lie and contradict God’s Word.

2. Fear of what others will think.

3. Pride,…that binds one to sin, the need for salvation and the further need for sanctification, and cultivates the desire to compromise.

4. Telling oneself, “I’m not so bad,” or “I can help myself.”

5. Doubt

6. Prejudice

7. Stubbornness

8. Procrastination

9. Love of the World

10. Love of sin

The superficial hearer eagerly embraces the message of salvation with great emotional excitement but in reality the acceptance is shallow. They NEVER count the cost, they NEVER repent of sin…remorseful, maybe…but true repentance indicates a willingness to leave sin and go the other way…toward godliness. They NEVER die to self…self and self gratification stays in the front of the mind, and whenever trial comes, they escape into their sin and their old life, and the old life in part is doing or working things out for yourself instead of waiting for God, and His BEST for your life. And this is not too difficult, because they never really turned from it! Sadly, this type of person fills our churches…and THINK they are saved because they are active and zealous for the church…they are rarely consistent, the “feelings” have changed but not the heart…that rocky, hard place below the surface of the heart that was never penetrated by the Gospel. And with the stresses of life, they fall away in despair.

The worldly hearer (such as the Rich Young Ruler), are those who hear the Word taught, even agree, but are in reality very worldly. The Gospel cannot take root in this heart! It cannot root or grow because their first love is for the “things” of life and they see these things as having more meaning to them, than spiritual things. Tragic, but true. They find they must work for them and work hard…but that’s not God’s plan…He offers a gift, but we must take it, and at times, give up the tangible for the spiritual. This kind of person works too many hours to give God any quality time, spend their money on “things”…entertainment and fine dining, fitness, exotic vacations, to “get away from it all,” definite wants but not needs. Their life is full of thorns and weeds. In the end they must choose, their love for worldly things or identification with Christ which is true cross-bearing…the two cannot co-exist. Genuine faith will turn away without a second thought, from anything that puts a strain on the relationship or fellowship with God.

The receptive hearer is the one who hears the Word, and understands…the only barrier to salvation is unbelief! Good soil accepts Christ on HIS TERMS,  hearing, understanding, bearing fruit…the maximum amount of fruit can be born by the heart of obedience you show forth. Obedience is the key to a fruitful life, and is very pleasing to God.

Matthew 13:31-52… The mustard seek and yeast seem to us that Jesus was saying that in spite of great opposition, the “kingdom” would grow abnormally…false growth…room in it for wheat and tares, (the darnel of the middle east could not be told from real wheat until after the harvest), outwardly giving a false picture of expansion. The leaven is an inward thing…false living and false being…clearly present today and I’m sure in many ages past.

Matthew 13:44-45… The treasure is the nation of Israel, (Exodus 19:5; Psa 135:4;) it was put here to being glory to God…it failed! There are many who teach that Jesus died for all in order to save Israel, (John 11:51; Isa 53:8). Due to their rejection, they have suffered judgment and seeming destruction but in God’s sight, they are “hidden”…and will be revealed yet in a future time, with great glory. God sees Israel as His Treasure and  will one day establish her in her glorious kingdom.

Matthew 13:45-46… The pearl represents the church. Today the church, the Body of Christ, is made up of gentiles and believing Jews, (Ephesians 2:11) Unlike most gems, the pearl is a unity…it cannot be carved up like a diamond or emerald. The church is a unity, (Ephesians 4:4-6) even though here on earth there is division. Like a pearl, the church is a product of suffering. Christ’s suffering made possible her existence. A pearl grows gradually, so does the church and so do we as members of the Body. And as the pearl grows underwater where it cannot be seen, so the growth of the true church cannot be seen clearly.

Matthew 13:47-50… the net or dragnet is pretty evident…fishermen throw out the net and it drags along the bottom and gathers what it will. Even so, the church gathers “what it will,” believers and pretenders, and God Himself will do the separating.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I have always thought of the parables as the teachings of the King…Jesus had such a wonderful way of expressing Himself and using as examples, familiar items. Obviously He wanted people to understand what He was telling them, even going to the extent of calling the disciples aside and giving them detailed explanations. Sometimes they got it, sometimes they didn’t. But…after the resurrection, they understood it all. For the next day or two I’ll be blogging on my view of the parables, so here goes!

Matthew 13 is a dividing point in the teaching of the Lord. Prior to this, He taught in the synagogues, to His own people the Jews as was His instruction from the Father. His manner of teaching was straight-forward and with authority. He performed miracles to show His Messiahship, according to the Scripture. But the Jewish leaders didn’t want this meek, loving, truth-telling Jesus…He didn’t fit THEIR picture since they were looking for a Messiah-King to deliver them from Rome, and give the leaders more prominence. It’s really interesting that the most spiritually blessed and enlightened of all generations turned its back on the King, the very Son of God…and He, after many attempts to show them, pronounced judgment on them…read what He said to them in Matthew 21:33-45!

Does this mean that God’s plan for Israel has been frustrated and failed? Not at all…it simply means the final fulfillment will come about at a later time, a time when Israel WILL believe! In the meantime, an interval of time is in operation, (see John 1:12), a period not revealed in the Old Testament, one that the Lord referred to as a mystery of the Kingdom of Heaven, read Matthew 13:11. It begins with His rejection and crucifixion, even though they continued to preach to the Jews until the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, and it continues until the present time. The parables were primarily directed at His disciples/followers, intended to teach them what His kingdom was going to be like, what they could expect as they (and we) take up the preaching and teaching of the kingdom. When we read Kingdom of Heaven or Kingdom of God, they mean the same thing. Matthew used “Kingdom of Heaven” in his gospel 32x’s, and it is not used anywhere else.

Jesus admonished His listeners in three ways…in Matthew He says “let him hear”…in Mark 13:9 He says “be careful what you hear”…and in Luke 8:18 He says “be careful how you hear”…the word hear is used in Matthew 19x’s and is very good advice!

MATTHEW 13:1-30…  A parable is taking a commonly known object or practice and using it to illustrate truth or a principle. Jesus was hiding truth, wrapping it up so to speak, in order to continue to teach His disciples the things they needed to know to carry out the plan of the Father. The word parable itself means, “to cast alongside…a story or comparison put alongside something else to make the lesson clear:”…this method of teaching enabled Him to continue His teaching, to adapt to their capacities, and because he knew principles were grasped better when pictures were painted. Also, He could severely reprove His enemies without giving open offense. He intended that His teaching give understanding of His words and the principles he was teaching, to those who trusted in Him. Please read Mark 4:34. He speaks of the interval as a mystery…the revelation of something previously unknown, a spiritual truth known only by divine revelation. Only those on the “inside” were told the truth, and told by Him!

In this parable the sower is the Lord…the seed is the Word and the soil is our hearts…every human heart is capable of redemption…there is no such thing as a naturally unredeemable heart. If a person is never saved, it is because they made a choice not to “hear” and respond to the work of God…John6:37 says “the one who comes to me I will in no way cast out.” All COULD receive the seed and then participate in the life available to all believers. The difference in the soils is not in their composition but in their condition, according to Dr John MacArthur. In the parable, the sun represents persecution, and persecution helps true believers to grow…but…it will kill a plant with no root! This explains who some believers don’t last…their faith was weak, understandingly  meager, (no root) and their decision insincere. It is difficult to comprehend that according to this parable, 75% of professing believers are not believers at all! John 2:23-25 tells us it IS possible to believer and yet not be saved. UNLESS FRUIT IS EVIDENCED IN THE LIFE, THERE IS NO SAVING FAITH IN THE HEART!

Here are some fruitful evidences of true salvation:

1. Holiness……….Romans 6:22        

2. Christian Character……….Galatians 5:22-23

3. Good Works……….Colossians !: 10

4. Winning Others To Christ……….Romans 1:13

5. Sharing What We Have……….Romans 15:25-26

6. Praising God……….Hebrews 13:15

Four kinds of soil in the parable are as follows

1). Unresponsive   2). Superficial   3). Worldly   4). Receptive

The unresponsive hearer has no understanding because of a hard heart. The Old Testament calls it “stiff-necked!” He is unconcerned with the things of God, will spend little or no time with the Lord, hardly reads the Word, is very good at excuses, still has the same priorities as when he was unsaved, and is generally indifferent to anything spiritual. There has been no penetration by the seed, of the heart and mind. This insensitivity and resisting leaves one open to the enemy…who comes along at first opportunity to snatch away what has been sown…remember, Satan is an imitator…he plants false Christians, encourages false growth, and introduces false doctrine. And boy, is he good at it! Since he cannot uproot true Christians, those with roots, he’ll plant counterfeits in their midst, and counterfeits in the fellowship do great damage…read 2 Peter 2 and  1John 4:1-6. He loves to work, as God’s people sleep.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Waiting and Delays…What a Drag!

We were wondering about '”knowing” the voice of Jesus, wondering if we were talking to ourselves…Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me, “ John 10:27. Identifying the voice of God  SHOULD BE the normal, natural part of  any committed believer’s life and walk. But, a new-born lamb would not necessarily know the Shepherd’s voice. A sheep that has been with the Shepherd for awhile SHOULD know His voice! That is part of maturity…recognizing that particular voice. As you pray and seek the Lord’s mind, (see 1 Cor 2:16), you will know you have heard from Him…hard to describe, but you KNOW…peace settles in as you sense the instructions coming to mind, you sense the “rightness” of what you are hearing, and sometimes wonder what took you so long to “get it.” Naturally, it is not an audible voice, but believe me, you know that you have heard from Him. Here are some guidelines to help you as you get to know Him better and are listening for His instruction…

1. What you hear will always be consistent with His Word…  God will NEVER tell you to do something or pursue a relationship or business arrangement that is not of Him, and the principles of His Word. Whatever you are hearing, ask yourself, “is this in line with the Word?” Please note here…if you have not built the Word into your life, and developed a close relationship with your Savior so that you are familiar with His character, you may be very confused about whether you are being guided by the Lord.

2. The Lord’s guidance will contradict the philosophy of the world. If we look at the life of Jesus, we find that His ministry often contradicted the way of the world. In my own life, that very thing has happened more than once, and He always clearly showed me the correct way, His way. He taught His followers to forgive while the world teaches us to get even. He admonished them to go the extra mile, even with an enemy. But the world tells us to take all we can and worry about no one but ourselves. God exhorts us to live our lives according to His value system and not the world’s, which is anti-god and anti-faith.

3. What God teaches you will clash with your fleshly desires. God never requires us to do something that is inconsistent with the Scripture, we know that….Satan is the one who entices us to gratify the flesh. We serve a God who enjoys us and intends for us to enjoy life to the full…(John 10:10). His prescription for lasting fulfillment is this: “Seek first the kingdom of God and ALL these things will be given to you.” Instantaneous gratification is nothing more than the flesh seeking to have it own way, it’s desires met. Jesus, instead teaches us to gratify the Spirit and not the flesh…then we will know peace.

4. God speaks word of courage and encouragement to us.  God’s word to Joshua was, “be strong and courageous, do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” Jos 1:9. God is omniscient, He is sovereign over all things, and He will never leave us. He provides the courage and strength we need from day to day. However, we need to listen as Joshua did, for his encouragement. If we spend our days running and rushing around, we will miss what God’s  Spirit wants to say to us. We need to learn to be still before God! This is what King David did whenever he faced a challenge. He listened for God’s Word to him. The Lord encourages those who seek His way for their lives.

5. God’s Word causes us to consider the consequences of our sin and it’s effect on others.  Our actions affect others. Therefore, we have a responsibility to do what is right before God and those we love. We may think our private sin does not hurt anyone but us, but in reality it hurts the entire body of Christ.

6. What we hear contributes to our spiritual growth.   We learn by reading and studying God’s Word. The Apostle Paul writes, “faith comes from hearing and hearing comes by the Word of Christ,” Romans 10:17.

7. God’s voice builds faith and brings a calmness to our lives.  As you learn to hear and discern the voice of God, a distinct calmness fills your heart. Paul called it, “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, “ Phil 4:7. I can testify from personal experience, this is so. Peace and contentment are a precious gift of God, He loves to give it to those who listen to Him.

God speaks to us so that we may understand truth. He speaks primarily through His Word, through the Holy Spirit to our consciences, through circumstances, and through other, godly people. By applying what you hear to the truth of Scripture, you can learn to recognize His voice! God bless you as you “listen” for His voice!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


One of the most essential aspects of Christian living, waiting…our God uses it to work into us patience and endurance. Patience, faith, deep faith, and trust in the Living God to work character into us is very foreign to life in America today. As we allow the Holy Spirit to build them into our lives, we mature and take on the character of Christ as God intends for us to do.

What does it mean to WAIT in a Biblical sense? It means to stay where you are, continue doing what you currently are doing, until you receive further instruction from Him! It involves CHOICE,…TO CONSCIOUSLY AND ACTIVELY WAIT FOR HIS ANSWER!

Why wait? He only gives us clear direction when we wait to receive it. And, it is much easier when you are already walking in the Spirit!

To what purpose? God uses the waiting time to get us in tune/step with Him…our decisions effect others, and have an equal effect on those around us.

And what about delays? Brother Lawrence words…”keep my attention on God,” remind us of the words of the Apostle Paul as he wrote to the Colossian believers, “set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden  with Christ in God,” Col 3:2-3. There is a secret to the Christian life that many overlook. Paul, however, understood it and often wrote about it. Jesus practiced it daily and taught it to His disciples. It is the discipline of maintaining a fixed focus on God! 

If Peter had practiced this, he would have never noticed the raging waves billowing at his side that night on the stormy Sea of Galilee. But we often do what Peter did, we start out with our spiritual gaze set on Christ, only to have it drift over to the varying circumstances of life. When this happens we fall to the feelings of insecurity, fear, anxiety, anger and more.

The writer of Hebrews also admonishes us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, “ Heb 12:2. Again, Paul advises us to fix our eyes on what is seen, nor on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal, “ 2 Cor 4:18.

Focusing on the troubles of Your life only diverts your attention away from God. Apart from Jesus Christ, nothing has the power to heal what is hurt or to correct what has been damaged. Only God has the ability to calm your fears, lay to rest your suffering, and bring peace tin place of frustration and sorrow. When you are listening for God’s voice, how do you know He is the One speaking? Are you hearing some other voice? People say, “I am asking the Lord for direction in my life, but it’s as if I’m hearing two different voices. How do I know that God is the One who is speaking to me, or if Satan is telling me to do this? Or…am I just talking to myself?????


Friday, January 8, 2010

JOHN 13, Servanthood, part 4

I would suggest re-reading John 13 before reading on…Jesus loved them and us with a kind of love unknown to we humans, a humble, unassuming and unconditional kind of love. He modeled it well. Listed here a a few of the character qualities of Christexhibgited in this act of selfless service on His part…

1. There is no attitude of “me first” but a willingness to assume a lowly position.

2. A deep devotion to doing what was needful for another.

3. A delight in doing for others, no hesitation or begrudging to serve

4. A conscious dependence on the Father, not only here but in everything He did.

5. He was always in control of HIs thoughts, He never exhibited worry or mindfretting.

6. He kept  distance from anything that encouraged pride.

7. He was determined to be obedient.

He was clearly teaching that there is complete cleansing in our acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior…but we must be mindful of the sin around us that will contaminate and affect us, sometimes pulling us into thoughts and actions we do not want in our lives. Then, we need to take them to Him for “foot washing”…confession, so as not to break fellowship with Him and allow guilt or shame to separate us even for moments of time.

How gracious of Him to speak to Peter about his denial…it did not keep Peter from denying, but it must have helped him to bear the shame of what he had done after the fact. Peter was always the spokesman, always speaking up, many times “putting his foot in his mouth” by speaking up, but his love for the Lord was very real and Jesus knew it. Judas on the other hand had his own agenda, also something Jesus was aware of: we see that clearly at the end of this chapter. I think something is very clear here…the total humanness of everyone involved. Jesus great love for the men, and they loved Him back, but with a different kind of love, more like the way WE love. We all tend to love conditionally, we don’t mean to, but we do, it is the human way. Jesus though totally human, was also God, and knew and loved them as well as us, from the foundation of the world. And His love was complete, full, untarnished by any human tendencies.
They needed to see that, so that they could know how they were to love each other, as He had loved them.I am sure is was not easy for them to put into practice this kind of love. Only the Holy Spirit can produce that quality of love in us…and to have it, we must be willing to put aside our pettiness, our controlling instinct and self-love.The last thing I want us to look at is Judas. In verse2 we read that Satan had already prompted Judas to betray Jesus. I remember years ago, a Pastor taught that Judas was anxious for the Kingdom…now! Jesus was not going in that direction and Judas thought he could help Him out…put Him in a position to HAVE to assume the kingship. Then, Judas could be a big deal, have a higher position in Jesus government. Perhaps! Anyway, in verse 27, Jesus identified His betrayer, He handed him the bread dipped in the dish. And the Word says, “immediately, Satan entered into him,” that sends chills up my spine. What an awful thing. Judas was with Jesus three years, and yet was so blind he could hand Him over to the Pharisees and soldiers…with a kiss! What a hypocrite!

I think it unfortunate that in many cases we really don’t  look at these men as human beings, just like us. They had the same heart, mind, vices, habits, baggage…and Jesus knew it and them. In the next few chapters He is going to give them some wonderful advice…and promises. They are ours today, He wants the best for us, in many cases more than we want it for ourselves…but that’s another blog!!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010


We are all familiar with the Biblical story of the life of Job, but how many of us have thought of the effect Job’s suffering had on his wife? I really think she gets a “bum wrap” from most of us because she said in her frustration, “do you still maintain your integrity (piety)? Curse God and die!” We forget or don’t think of the effect all this tragedy and suffering had on her…loss of ten children, all of their belongings and wealth gone, household at the very least disbanded…and her husband suffering severely in his flesh, living outside of the city, alone. Remember that no one knew about the scene in Heaven between God and Satan, which is part of the reason Mrs Job and Job’s friends searched for explanations.

The Scripture isn’t clear exactly when the book of Job was written, but most conservative scholars place it after Babel and either before or contemporaneous with Abraham. They knew about Adam (ch 31) and the flood, (ch 12), and it was during the time when the
Chaldeans that murdered servants (ch 1)were nomads, having not yet become city dwellers. I hardly think life was easy for women back then, even when they were wealthy enough to have servants to help. Think about the physical logistics of every day life then, the cooking, cleaning, sewing and weaving, laundry, etc., the lack of sanitation and any kind of medical care other than what was available to them with herbs and roots…this woman  had given birth at least ten times and raised those children. She apparently conducted the household efficiently, honoring her husband, and was a respected member of “the community",” Now again, not knowing the scene in Heaven, what would happen “normally” in this kind of a situation and to US!!!!In dire situations, it is frequently easier to deal with the physical than the spiritual. We would begin to second guess God and His goodness…remember too, there was no written Scripture then, nothing to “go to” for comfort, and I would guess it was extremely difficult at that particular time to remind yourself that God had something “bigger and better.” Let’s take the liberty of conjecture about Mrs. Job, the possible bad and the good…think about it in terms of things and the emotions involved that have happened to us.

1. She scoffed at Job’s dependence on God, she said “do you STILL”

2. She was looking at his predicament, not the Person in charge of the predicament…Job’s condition had received Sovereign authorization, but that was unknown to her,

3. She saw the hardship, not the heart/hearts God was working on.

4. Her feelings for her husbands suffering were getting in the way of her focus on God and what He was doing.

5. Her “name and position” were important to her…what would people think!

6. She couldn’t see an answer or a way out of this terrible dilemma.

7. Her suggestion for solving Job’s situation offered him no comfort.

8. She couldn’t see God’s “character building in action” or the “hereafter”vs here and now.

I offer none of these criticisms of Mrs Job…I have been guilty of these attitudes myself on numerous occasions, and that realization in itself has caused me to take a “deeper look” at the spiritual and emotional issues of life, especially suffering/testing in the life of believers. Let’s think about a few reasons why God allows us to suffer

1). Reasons concerning God Himself:

a. to bring Him glory

b. to show His Sovereignty

c. to give US insight into His nature and character.

2). Reasons concerning us:

a. with regard to fruit bearing, patience, joy, maturity

b . sorrow over our own lack or condition

c. God’s concern /sorrow over us and love for us causes Him to chasten/prune (cut away sin and hindrances that would drain spiritual life)

d. God’s grace…not silent suffering but profiting and giving God glory!

e. Godly suffering is not intuitive, it’s learned!

f. Growing to maturity by means of submission and the learning process.

g. expressing in word and lifestyle change, the grace of God in changing us.

h. accepting hardship as the expression of His sovereign will…He chooses to bring us into line.

i. recognition of our call to maturity…suffering/hardship serves a purpose toward growth and maturity TO HIS ETERNAL GLORY!!

J. we will stand in His presence, mature, TO HIS ETERNAL GLORY!!

k. the entire process of bringing sons to glory, conformed to His image, will be TO HIS ETERNAL GLORY!!


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

John and Servanthood, Part 3

In our humanness, how can we ever hope to live this kind of life? Well, one way and one way only…in total reliance on the Lord and allowing Him to lead us into an Abiding Life. Now what does that mean? Simply put, it means to remain or stay around, stay close, and listen up! Another definition I heard once is “to settle down, and make yourself at home”…it speaks strongly of identity with Him, as it says in Hebrews, “bearing His reproach outside the camp”…living as He lived…for the Father’s glory. His reproach…what does that mean? He uses the word abide 11x’s in this chapter…it must be pretty important. Fellowship with Him, His life working in and through us to produce fruit, (Gal 5), being obedient is a key issue, and leaves us no excuse to continue on in our own, self-propelled manner. Obedience is a concept we take to very well, we would much rather do our own thing, and usually we think we are “entitled”…we live in a world like the time of the Judges. The last verse in that book speaks of that time frame, but it also addresses ours. “And every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” Judges 21:25. But let’s go back to the beginning for a little understanding…Adam and Eve…their obedience or lack of it. The Lord gave them one restriction in their perfect environment…don’t eat, and they did. Imagine that, perfect people, in a perfect environment, and yet sin entered the human race by way of our “federal head”…Adam. All of his descendants now carry his original sin. Christ, the Second Adam, perfectan, perfect life, provided the unblemished sacrifice the Father’s holiness required. He paid the penalty for the original sin of all those that would believe on His name and accept the gift of forgiveness the Father offers. Price paid, fellowship restored, glory coming. His sinless life and sacrificial death took care of the sin issue as far as the Godhead was concerned. Now, mankind could be  put back into relationship with God as HE intended from the beginning. When we are born again, the natural spirit (or “old man” as Paul calls it in Romans 6) is where the transaction takes place. know the flesh isn’t made new, we still have the same bodies. And guess what? The mind isn’t born again either…the Scripture tells us we are to “RENEW THE MIND”…HOW????   By reading and reading and reading the very Words of God, His thoughts, His rules, His loce and mercy. All the way through, we must allow His words to wash our minds and attitudes. We have many years of baggage accumulated in our minds that need to be gotten rid of, things we did and said and thought as unbelievers they are now unacceptable. We will give God this time of reading, meditating, memorizing and studying, and do it gladly once we realize what a waste we are in our pathetic, self-absorbed, unrenewed self interest. God means for us to listen to the Holy Spirit as He convicts us of our bad attitudes and behaviors…and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!!!!  It is not an easy thing to allow God to deal with our old man/flesh…it is messy, nasty and hurtful. It is  also a process that takes years and years, alot of hard work. But…here we are at the top of a new year, a good time to begin, so make a plan! There’s  saying, aim at nothing and you’re sure to hit it”…make a plan and work it, you’ll never be sorry! ABIDING…BECOMING ONE WITH HIM…NO GREATER GOAL FOR A NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jesus and Servanthood, John 15, part 2

Whenever jesus taught, he used familiar illustrations to insure the hearers would understand. Here He used A VINE, BRANCHES, A VINEDRESSER. This chapter also explains what happens when we don’t listen and obey. Read verses 1-6, and notice He says THE FATHER does two things: 1) He takes away branches that do not bear fruit…2) He prunes brances that do bear to increase production. The whole chapter is pocess we will ALL go through if we are indeed, IN CHRIST! One of the things I like in these chapters is that they do away with the notion that anyone who says they are a Christian…is. What What the Scripture says is that is we say we are a Christian, we will live like one, according to what is in the Scripture as a measuring rod. We will bear fruit to God’s glory by abiding, being obedient and evidencing a changed life. Galatians says “it is no longer I that lives, but Christ lives in me”…Gal 2:20. It also says, “I” am crucified with Christ. We use those words, but do they have meaning to us? I think not…Jesus said, “whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, an follow Me. “ Matt 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:22-26. What does this mean?????  Denying myself does not mean doing without something, or giving more to the needy. It is giving up my right to run my own life…it is saying to God and meaning it, (as Isaiah did) “here am I, send me”…it is being willing to do things God’s way no matter the cost. And bear in mind, God’s way is usually contrary to the world’s way. Taking up our cross isn’t putting up with a nasty wife or boss, enduring a painful illness, etc., which is what most people think it means. What it DOES mean is being willing to be identified with the cross and He whose life was given up there. In Roman times only the most vile thief or murderer was crucified. And mind you, Jesus wasn’t very popular with the “in” crowd, the religious leaders as well as the worldly gang. Scripture says, “He was despised and rejected of men”…His family didn’t understand Who He was, and in fact thought Him crazy. His disciples didn’t comprehend His Messiahship, nor that He was God in the flesh. He ma have been the most solitary person that ever lived. Taking up your cross is being willing to assume that kind of identity and life…are you willing??? I have found over the years that most people have trials of one kind or another, but for some reason unknown to me, do not see those trial or circumstances as an opportunity to identify with the Lord of Glory.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Jesus and Servanthood, John 13

John chapters 13-17 happen to be favorites of mine. I don’t believe there are any more beautiful and meaningful chapters in all of God’s Word. The content of these chapters is intense. Jesus and His disciples are in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, had acquired a private room in which to share it. It was referred to as the Upper room. Jesus knew exactly what He was facing an when, knew it was imperative to have the disciples prepared for what they were facing. He completely understood their need for reassurance and courage, even though He Himself felt the need for their support! In chapter 13 He showed them clearly what it meant to be a servant, and emphasized to them that servanthood was expected of them, (and us) as it was expected of Him. He Himself took the lowly position of a house slave and ministered to them. He made it perfectly clear that as the Master was treated, so they could expect to be treated, and so should they expect to serve. Jesus dearly loved these men. He had been with them 24/7 for at least three years, teaching and illustrating to them to them the realities of His Kingdom and indeed, he and the Father are ONE, and as they knew Him, they knew the Father. And now, he was entrusting to them the future of his Gospel, the Father’s plan for mankind. His heart was heavy, thinking of what was ahead, His concern for them and the confusion and fear they would feel. They were His…and He loved them. He wanted them to understand HOW they could get the job done…exactly how they could accomplish the tasks He was entrusting to them. His words to them are His words to us today, and their empowerment is ours…if we take it! Chapters 13 and 14 contain many questions by the disciples , all pertaining to earthly matters, troubled hearts, what was beyond, where was HE going; “they didn’t know the way,” they wanted to “see God!..”and why was He telling them Who He was and not others? There are times today when people ask the same questions of us…

In these two chapters He answered those questions, and tried to reassure them. But, He wanted to bring them back to :now”…the reality of their personal relationship to Him and their service to Him. He very much wanted them to SEE His plan for them here in the world.

And, so He began to tell them about relationship, and service…service that is like His own…selfless, compassionate, caring and complete. His life was lived for one purpose, to complete the task the Father gave Him to do, and bring glory to the Father…and I have news for you…our task is the same! We can choose to ignore the call on our lives if we want to, but God will not let us forget we are His, and we owe Him…we owe Him us!  We can/will accomplish the task. Whatever it may be in our individual lives, but only if we do it in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. All of chapter 15 shows Jesus explaining to the disciples how to rely on the Holy Spirit…He calls it ABIDING, and we’ll talk about abiding next time.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


     Last time we talked about the Old Testament and the 400 Silent Years. This blog will be about the New Testament. Since blogs are short, these are only an over view, but will give you an accurate thumbnail of both parts of the Scripture.

     The New Testament tells the story of Jesus Christ, the Promised Redeemer and the history of the Church, which He refers to as His Body. The New Testament additionally contains the “rules” for Christian living, and the reason for living in that fashion.

     The whole of God’s Book shows us the progression of god’s plan…no hit or miss here, no mistakes or surprises…from eternity past to Creation to Consummation, to Eternity Future. God knew all that would happen. We might ask here, “why did He bother since He knew man would fail Him and sin, He also knew what it would cost Him in paying the price for that sin and separation in mankind. All I can say is the Love of God prevailed and overshadowed the cost…incomprehensible to us, but true. HE WANTED US! 

The next question to contemplate is this: is the Bible God’s Word and is the Bible we have today reliable and true to the original text? We have already heard 19-20. We can additionally read more in Psa 19 and Psa 119 and Prov 30:5-6. This is clear, God Himself says this Book is His revealed Word to us in his many quotes while here on earth. Here is something else to consider, “The Bible claims ultimate spiritual authority in doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness because it represents the inspired Word of Almighty God. Scripture asserts it’s spiritual sufficiency, so much so that it claims exclusivity for it’s teaching. God’s Word declares itself to be true, therefore trustworthy, these facts are dependant on the fact that the Scriptures are God-given, which guarantees its quality at the Source and in it’s original writing. In the Scripture, the person of God and the Word of God are everywhere interrelated, so much so that whatever is true of the character of God, is true about the nature of God’s Word. God is true, impeccable, and reliable: therefore, so is His Word. What a person thinks about His Word, in reality reflects on what a person thinks about God. Consider these two demands: Deut 8:3…Job 23:12.

     By the early Fourth Century (350 AD), what is referred to as “the Canon of Scripture” was assembled, as we have it today. The various councils that met over Church history did not vote for the Canonicity of a book, but rather recognized (after the fact) what had already been written. Regarding the Old Testament, by the time of Christ all the books had been written and accepted by the Jewish community. The last book, Malachi was complete in 430 BC. By Christ’s time, the Old Testament He used and has been used throughout the centuries since were as we have them today…including leaving out the Apocrypha . These books were added to the end of the OT about 200-150 BC in the Greek translation called the Septuagint and continues to appear in some versions. The main case against their inclusion is that no New Testament writer cited a single passage nor did Jesus affirm any of it as He recognized the Old Testament canon of His era. There are three principles used to validate divine revelation and inspiration:

               1.) Recognized Prophet or Apostle is the author, or

               one associated with them, such as Luke,

               Mark, James, Jude

               2. ) Cannot disagree or contradict previous


               3.) Must have the consensus of the Church

               as an inspired book.

     As to preservation, 1 Peter 1:24b-25 says it all. When the
Dead Sea Scrolls were found and studied, 1947-56, the manuscripts found were from 200-100 BC and said essentially the same things that are in our Old Testament today. There are 5,000 existing manuscripts many dating back to within 25-50 years of the writing of the New Testament. Scholars verify that 99.9% of the original writing reclaimed indicates that what we have is what was originally written. The remaining 2% has no variants affecting any Christian doctrine. The most compelling argument for no future additions to Scripture is the admonition in Rev 22:18-19.

     God is an orderly, consistent God. Nothing is left to chance. This accounts in part to why He is so active in our lives. He4 wants us for His  own, and He does what is necessary to see that is exactly what happens!             

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year…Beginnings

     If you were God, and had a desire to share your glory with others, how would you do it? How would you go about “making” others, and revealing yourself to them in a manner they could understand? Would you want them to have “minds of their own” or would you want them to blindly obey you? Now I don’t know whether God asks Himself questions or not, but for we humans, these are valid points to consider. We are going to investigate God Himself, how he works in our lives, how He works in history, and what He expects back from us…the process of this investigation has a name, it’s THEOLOGY…THE STUDY OF GOD.   We are going to look at it from a strictly Biblical point of view, no “tradition”…tradition being the long standing practice that has the effect of written down law, but is not. I encourage any who red this blog to check it out for yourself…you should never accept any teaching by anybody without reading the text yourself, praying, thinking and allowing the Spirit of God to open your mind and speak to you by His Spirit in your inner man.

      God has revealed Himself in more than one way…creation, the world around us is one way. he reveals Himself much more completely in His written Word, the Bible. And lastly, in Hebrews we are told He revealed Himself in God the Eternal Son.

     Our Bible is the written record of God’s plan  for His creation and His dealings with them. It was written over a period of 1500 years by 40 different human writers, all but two of them Jews.  Of course the real “writer” of the Book was God, the Holy Spirit…the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, translated into Greek just before the time of Christ. The New Testament was written in Greek, and the Book we now have was complete as we have it by the end of the first century AD. when the last of the Apostles died. Moses was the first writer, and it is considered truth that John the Beloved Disciple was the last. He (John) was also the only one of the disciples/apostles to die a natural death. All the rest were martyred. The OT records for us the creation, with the promise of the Redeemer very early in the Book, Gen 3;16…from the fall of man we go on through the early years of history, and in Gen 12 we read of God choosing one man and beginning a nation with him and his descendants. Why did God “choose the Jews?”…God wanted three things to be done by these special and privileged people: He wanted them to (1) write and preserve the Scripture, (2) to be a testimony to Him and His goodness,  (3)to be a :pure” people through whom He could bring the Redeemer. The balance of the OT, records God dealing with His people, the Jews. The last book of the OT, Malachi concludes his dealings with the exception of a seven year period, which we will discuss in another lesson. For the next 400 years, God is silent. During this silent period, some of the Jewish traditions came into being. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Sanhedrin came into existence, they were the “ruling body” of the Jews in Jesus day, the group He most criticized.

                       TO BE CONTINUED………………………