TRY TO IMAGINE THIS

I was looking for a particular word in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, and for some un-be-known reason, I looked at the introduction, and became aware of the fact that it took him 30 years to prepare this masterpiece… You read it right, 30 years!

Hold on, just as I was fumbling in my mind about the amount of work involved, I remembered that he did it without a computer.  I doubt that he had time for many of the things that we “work” into our schedules these days.  Think of the financial support that God must have laid on some of His treasured helpers who saw to his customary needs.

Many in this day and age have come up with new Versions in order to somewhat assist those of younger, or newer converts, in their reading of the Scriptures and understand what they read.

  I have often wondered exactly how Philip broke down the wording of Isaiah for the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:32-33)!  When you read the rest of the Chapter, do you get goose pimples as the Holy Spirit guides all involved on this roadway and others subsequently?

Let us read the portion that the Ethiopian was reading: “He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He does not open His mouth.  In humiliation His judgment was taken away; who will relate His generation?  Of himself or of someone else?” (Isaiah 53)  “Please tell me! Of whom, does the prophet say this?  Then Philip opened his mouth and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.”

What followed was more than an eye opener; the eunuch not only understood that message, he follows up with questions on baptism and Philip baptizes him.

(The Baptists love this verse: “and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.”)

You know what?  The end of verse 39 says:  The eunuch “went on his way rejoicing!”  That should be enough to make any of us “go on our way rejoicing”.

SUBSERVIENT

When John opens the story related to Jesus, naturally, He is intent on communicating the wonderful truth that Jesus is The Word, and The Word was with God, and The Word was God.  (John 1:1)

After presenting the uniqueness of Jesus being both God and man, he presents the beauty of His purpose, to redeem man who is totally corrupt, into a spiritual child of a sinless God.

When one reads the uniqueness of the virgin birth of Christ, you also discover that from a human stand-point, Jesus, and John the baptizer, were cousins.  Because of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, I cannot help but believe that somewhere along the way Jesus and John the Baptizer had social interaction.

When John began his ministry (John 1:19) I have to wonder what type of relationship and understanding they had of each other.  Of one thing we can be certain, both had to know where they fit into God’s plan.

John’s preaching and baptizing in Jordan is filled with condescension-“I am not the Christ, I am not Elijah, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”

The Pharisees asked John: “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah the Prophet?”

John answered them saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know.  It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”

On the next day John saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is he on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, I came baptizing in water’.”  John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him.  I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’  I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:21-34)

I passed the room of my Father-in-law late one evening and there kneeling by his bed I saw a 90 year old man finalizing the day with the Almighty!  One, saying in effect: I am merely your servant Lord!   And like John, he was!

COMMON SENSE!

Even if you are prone to a negative view of the Scriptures, I have to believe that a person reading the 17th Chapter of Proverbs would find agreement with the many conclusions of the wise man, relating to common sense.

Verse 4 – “An evildoer listens to wicked lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue.”

Verse 7 – “Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, much less are lying lips to a prince.”

Verse 10 – “A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”

Verse 12 – “Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly.”

Verse 13 – “He who returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.”

Verse 14 – “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.”

Verse 15 – “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.”

Verse 16 – “Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, when he has no sense?”

Verse 17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”

There is ample advice for both – you and me!  We might refer to it as wisdom, it is also common sense.

KINGDOM PREACHING

I am certain (in my thinking) that your pastor has showed the difference between the preaching of Jesus, and even that He sent his disciples to preach in the same manner, with what might be called “Kingdom Preaching”, prior to His immediate crucifixion.

This was in keeping with His presentation initially as King, and then as Savior.  Let us remember those Kingdom principles are also appropriate for any man who wants to be blessed and a blessing.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.

Rejoice and be glad, for you reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under feet by men,

You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;

Nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp

stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:1-16)

SHE / THEY WERE SO EXCITED!

A friend and I usually get together once a week to talk about Scriptures, our families, and sometimes we go to some high-class diner, like Burger King, and eat while we yak on and on. 

The other morning we were about to leave when I spotted two elderly ladies sitting in another section of that classy diner.  I stopped to greet them, and as usual said, “Good morning ladies!  Have a blessed day!  ‘This is the day that the Lord hath made and I am going to rejoice and be glad in it’.” (Psalm 118:24)  He makes them and I enjoy every one of them!

Before I could say anything further one said, “Think about the Rapture!  At any moment we could be caught up in the air to meet the Lord”.  The other jumped into the conversation.  “I too believe that!  It might happen today!  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to meet our Savior?” 

We conversed on that for a few moments, than I noted to them that I was aware that they had a new pastor, and I will look forward to meeting him.  By the time I got out the door, I had left two happy saints inside and another two outside.

I might mention that I have used that little “springboard” time after time.  It works!  It opens doors to people that you do not normally get to speak with. I do not have to manipulate the conversation in my direction.

By the way, have a most blessed day in the Lord!   Look for peace; hope; joy; and whatever you feel your need to be.  Let go and Let GOD!

TEN COMMANDMENTS

Most of you reading this title will immediately say: “I know all ten!  Why print them.  Follow me and you cannot help but notice the ten of the New Testament were not what you had expected.

I do not know who compiled the list originally, but blessing will be for us to follow the schedule suggested!  Quotes from King James Version)

 1)  “Repent ye and believe the gospel.”  (Mark 1:15)

 2)  “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.  (Matthew 6:33)           

  • “Take no thought of the morrow.”  ((Matthew 6:34)
  • “Lift up your eyes and look on the fields for they are white already to harvest.”   (John 4:35)
  • “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”   (Matthew 5:16) 
  • “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  (Galatians  6:2)
  • “A New commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you.”   (John 13:4)
  • “Ye tithe, this ought ye to have done.”  (Matthew 23:23)
  • “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”  (Matthew 28: 19-20)
  • “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”   (Matthew 24:44)

A fresh look at our entrustment!

KNEE-MAIL

Traffic was at a “crawl”; “the good old days” of driving up Grand Avenue with one lane in each direction without much by way of interruption, has long gone. 

This snail pace because of development all around us has become a gigantic problem that worsens each day.  Since boredom set in, I began reading all of the license plates, bumper stickers and window decals; one of them caught my eye: “God answers knee mail.”

I said to myself: “I wish I could have thought of something like that!”  Some people have a way of projecting a thought with clarity and challenge in just a few words.  This one seemed to incorporate an entire sermon into four words.

The mind traversed more than half a century when we were kneeling to pray beside old home-made benches in the Evangelical Church in Bermuda.  In those days, Prayer Meetings were conducted on our knees. 

Just as quickly, my mind went to an Evangelical United Brethren Church in Milton, PA in 1955.  I had gone there to preach.  When it came time for the “pastoral prayer” in Sunday Morning Worship, the entire congregation went to their knees to pray.  In another preaching engagement in a Pentecostal Assembly, I was asked to lead in prayer.  We all gathered at the front, on our knees, and prayed.  Each of these experiences left an indelible impression in my mind and heart.

Here I was on Grand Ave being made aware of the blessedness of bowing the knee before our Wonderful Lord.  True, the words were a play on e-mail, but they were coming through loud and clear… we need to, if possible, get down on our knees and do business with God.  Encompassed in that act is a demonstration of subservience to the Almighty.

I am oft reminded of the old deacon, addressing the young man being considered for pastor of their church.  The young man asked: “How big a man do you want?”, to which the deacon replied: “We want a man who, on his knees, can reach heaven.”

The bended knee is often repeated in Scripture.  In Philippians 2:9-10, we read: “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Wouldn’t it be more sensible to here and now bend the knee before the Almighty in humility rather than to be forced to do so in eternity future?

God answers KNEE-mail!

MOSES’ DISCUSSION WITH GOD

I smile when I read some portions of Scripture.

You see, they tear into me, reminding this old boy of times when the Lord and I would get into a debate.  I always lost and should have known better.  Moses debated the Lord and lost.  I guess that to be my consolation.  Let’s visit their discussion in Exodus 3.

A reminder!  Moses was left in a basket of reeds as a result of Pharaoh’s decree to kill all Jewish babies.  Pharaoh’s daughter came to take a bath in that area, heard the baby’s cries, took him home and brought him up like an Egyptian.

Blood of an Israelite flowing through Moses veins, when he saw an Egyptian endeavoring to kill an Israelite, he killed the Egyptian, and naturally had to put on his running shoes!

While pasturing the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, he saw a burning bush, from which an angel of the Lord appeared.  Obviously, it was the Lord Himself!  Then we read: “The Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.  So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.”

“Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.  Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”

Moses belittles himself for a lack of words, (v13) with fitness, (v14) with authority, (4:1) with power of speech, (4:10) and special adaptation. (v4:13)  God still uses men with all our weaknesses. 

Moses was so intent about the things that he lacked; he forgot that it was the Lord who was going to enable him.  Sometimes we have to be hit with a 2×4 or its equivalent.  Moses, like many of us, was forgetting that it was God who chooses to empower us for the assignment He sends us on, and that we forget also that He has spoken and He intends to enable us for His assignment.

Our reluctance to tackle assignments from God is simply because we look in the mirror, see ourselves, and are prone to the weaknesses as over against the Strength of Our Savior.

Like Moses, I cannot – He can!  Never forget – He delights in using His Servants to accomplish His assignments.  Let us repeat: “I can’t? He can!”

THE FAMILY INHERITANCE

We read about and we hear about it constantly.  Someone dies and all of a sudden there is an eruption in the family about what a WILL says or does not say; sometimes it does not even exist.

What really is confusing is that some in the family says that it was believed to be entirely different and it must have been changed because of pressure; even mental deterioration may spring into the center of it.  What a mess!

That which catches my attention in Luke 12, where “someone in the crowd” was endeavoring to manipulate Jesus into disclosing his opinion about an inheritance!  First our Lord places the burden of such a responsibility in the hands of the one in control.  If there is a personal responsibility, it remains the decision of that individual.  If one feels he has been left nothing, do not let greed produce the quest to obtain part of the inheritance.  Remember, you had nothing and therefore you have lost nothing.

Jesus moves on to speak of the one who has great possessions.  Such an individual can become as greedy as the person who was requesting Jesus give His opinion on who is “Mr. Stingy”!

It is clearly apparent that the inheritor was probably the one who was the recipient of the inheritance… “I will tear down my barns and I will build bigger barns.”  Not only that, but “I will store all my grain and goods”.  The reason…  “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have?’  So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Jesus goes on to say, “do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for what your body, as to what you will put on; for Life is more than food, and the body more than clothing;” He does refer to the birds who have no resources stacked away, but are out working for their meals daily. 

Jesus continued by illustration:  “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  Do not even worry about what you will eat or drink, God knows your needs.”

A stinging rebuke!  “But seek His kingdom and these things will be added to you.  For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Quit worrying about an inheritance.  Read about our RICHES in Christ Jesus—so amplified in Ephesians!

GOD USES UNUSUAL PEOPLE

Every so often you meet a person that you think to yourself, “My, what God could do with that person! 

He has such a personality, and his ability to communicate is beyond the normal; wow!”  You meet another who you are convinced: “What a “nice” individual!  However, I doubt that he or she will get far in life.”

Try reading Exodus 3:13, 14 “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’”

“Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, the God of your fathers has sent me to you.’  Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’  ‘What shall I say to them?’  God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; AND SAID, ‘Thus you shall to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’”

As we read through Exodus we are made aware of numerous excuses that Moses used.  First he referred to his ability to speak. (v13)  We read of his fitness in verse 4 of Exodus.  There is also God’s reminder of his authority. (4:1 and following) Success lies in obedience, not our own strength.  Moses refers to his inability to speak in 4:10. (I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.)  Then God tells him: Go to Pharaoh in 9:13 and tell him: “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me!’”

One might remember how Moses was saved from drowning in a “sea going bassinette”; he was brought up in Pharaoh’s household; he killed one of Pharaoh’s people, and he was assigned by God to lead the Hebrews back to the Promised Land!  He named his excuses to God only to be told “I will go with you.”

We all have limitations of which we are aware, but we must learn to obey the leading of the Lord.  I was young in the Lord when I heard someone say: “Me and God make a majority!”  The road maybe rough, and the excuses of which we are well aware may be many, “But me and God make a majority!”