Monday, April 30, 2012

White Clover Blossoms

508.  "White Clover Blossoms"                     April 30, 2012
James 1-Part 4
Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted.  James 1:9 KJV


This brother is a believer in Christ, is considered poor in the world's eyes, of humble circumstances, as the NIV describes.
Liberty Bible Commentary states that low degree (tapeinos in Greek) is of a "lowly" economic or social status, but there is reason for joy.
So we po' folk have reason to rejoice. In God's esteem we are exalted.
Rejoice means to glory in a thing; exalted means rank, high station.
What gives me reason to rejoice and something to boast about?
  • Through the grace of God I have been lifted out of the mirey clay (Ps.40:2).
  • I have a heavenly position in Christ (Eph. 1:3).
  • I can rejoice in having a high spiritual standing before God, though a poor believer, by grace and the hope which that brings.  (MacArthur)
  • I am an adopted child of God and join-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17).
  • I have an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiles, that fades not away, reserved in heaven for me (1Peter 1:4).
  • I am justified, pardoned, and sanctified by the grace of God through Jesus Christ.
  • I am a priest unto God.
There must be more things that could be added to this list. Perhaps you have some to share with us. How encouraging it is to think that there is more to come-heaven.


But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.  James 1:10 KJV

I recall spending recess time of our early elementary years, sitting on the grass and conversing with my girlfriends. We would tie together the stems of white clover blooms. Our purpose was making a crown or laurel. Sometimes we would put them together and make a long jump rope. It didn't matter whether you were a child of a rich family in the community or a child of a poor family, we all worked together. We all wore the beautiful crowns, pretending to be princesses, and jumped the unique ropes of white clover. In God's kingdom, it doesn't matter if you are rich or poor in this world. the blooms would soon pass away and our adventure was over, and we little girls were onto another.

Verse 10 talks about the rich being made low. He may rejoice because temporal things are not all he has. When he humbles himself, repenting of sin, he becomes a child of God and a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:1-7).  (Falwell)

The illustration of the sun in the middle of the day, shines in full strength, with its heat very great and scorching, causes the flower to shrivel and dry up, then drops to the ground; the beauty that  is pleasant to the eye is lost and no more recovered. Earthly riches, like the flower of the field, have an outward show and glory in them, which attract the mind, and fix attention to them for a while; glittering and looking lovely, pleasant to behold, desirable to enjoy; when the sun of persecution , or any other outward calamity arises, they are quickly destroyed, and are no more.
So the rich man fades away, Riches are uncertain things, make themselves wings and fly away; they are things that are not, a vain show. riches often fade away in a man's lifetime, before he dies and he fades away; comes to decay; his glory does not descend after him, but falls off from him as the flower of the field before the heat of the sun. (John Gill)

Christ was rich in heaven, stripped of all His riches, and came in a low estate, condescended to men of low estate. Now He is seated next to the Father on the throne, high and lifted up.

As the poor brother forgets all his earthly poverty, so the rich brother forgets all his earthly riches. By faith in Christ the two are equals. (Hiebert, citing Lenski)

If we put our life and identity into things that fade away, we will fade away also. How much better it is to put our life and our identy into things that will never fade! If a man is only rich in this world, when he dies, he leaves his riches. But if a man is rich before God, he goes to the riches!  (Guzik)

Do I consider myself better than others just because I have more riches? On the other hand, do I consider myself poorer than others because I don't have as much as they do? In the spiritual realm, I would rather be rich in faith and Christ than worldly riches.

Charles Swindoll says,"When stretched, faith doesn't break; it produces genuine stability."

Am I considering it a joy when my faith is tested? Do I lack wisdom in handling the trial? If so, do I ask God for wisdom? Do I have sustaining faith that surrenders to God and His purposes in my trials?


Turn to Jesus for my sustaining faith and stronghold during trials.

Joyfully accept trials, inconveniences, for my good and the testing of my faith.

Stay humble; trust Jesus.

Friday, April 27, 2012


507.  " Sailboats"                           April 27, 2012
James 1-Part 3
 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.   James 1:5-8


How's it going friends? I'm so glad you are walking with me along this country road of faith today. Some of you have been with me for a while now. You are blessing my heart in your faithfulness. Others are newcomers-welcome. I feel like we can sit down on my front porch this morning and share a glass of iced tea, troubles, trials, and temptations in our lives. I just wanted to say thank you for your love that travels through these wires of modern technology.
Friends, how is your joy doing in the midst of problems? We all have problems because that is life. I have already learned, after only studying 4 verses in James, that as a Christian, I am to have joy in the midst of trials. I suppose that is possible because I am supposed to have it before that trial comes. Hmm. Yes, Lord.
Another thing I have learned is that faith is tested through trials, not produced by trials. So I am to already have the faith ahead of the trial. How is the testing of your faith going? Are you still trusting Jesus?

Several times I have been to the oceans' front and watched sailboats on the water.  It is amazing to me how they can go sailing across the water so effortlessly. The wind is the source of its power. Without a rudder,though, it would go wherever the wind sends it. I don't want to be like that kind of sailboat, tossed around, moved up and down by the waves of troubles. Come to think about it, I don't have to be like it because all I need do is ask God for wisdom as to what to do in my trial. There's more to learn, friends.

Joy, faith, patience. Oh you how I need it all!  In other words, keep on keepin' on, friends. Don't let trials discourage you. Our God is still on His throne, in control. Enough review, I'm ready for some good food for my soul today. How about you?
Verse 5 says that if I lack wisdom, boy do I, all I need to do is ask God for some. After all, He is the only wise God and is available to us through Jesus.
Wisdom is the knowledge and practice of the requisites for godly and upright living. (Thayer's Lexicon)
Knowledge is raw information, but wisdom knows how to use it. (Guzik)
Knowledge is the ability to take things apart, but wisdom is the ability to put things together. (Unknown)
What does wisdom have to do with enduring trials? It may refer to some solution or answer to the trial, or it may pertain to the wisdom to trust God. Job had no solutions or explanations regarding his trial. Instead, God taught him why it was wise to trust Him without knowing why his suffering was taking place. God will help the individual know what course of action is the most "trusting."
(William Baker)

Back to verse 5, God gives to me wisdom, when I ask for it. How? He gives it liberally and upbraideth not. According to Thayer's Lexicon, liberally means simply, openly, frankly, sincerely (led solely by His desire to bless); upbraideth means cast (favors received) in one's teeth.
Young's Concordance says upbraideth means reproach, revile. Webster's Dictionary says upbraideth means blame, rebuke.
Wow! God is ready to pour out wisdom upon me, since He doesn't look down on me for asking for wisdom in how to handle this problem or trial. He doesn't rebuke me for not being able to handle it myself. I need God's help and wisdom concerning this matter. (I think that is the way He wants it.)

God is the giver of all things, in nature, providence, and grace. He isn't prejudice about to whom He gives wisdom, but He gives it to rich and poor, high and low, more and less sinners. He gives widsom readily, freely, cheerfully, abundantly. (Gill)

God has wisdom in abundance (Rom. 11:33) available for those who seek it. (MacArthur)
Charles Swindoll, in his Bible Study guide, James, Practical and Authentic Living says:
All of us knows what it's like to flunk a trial. We remember the wrong responses-resistant attitudes, temper tantrums demanding instant relief-that have advanced nothing but our immaturity and misery. Why do we do these things? Why don't we hang in there? James offers two reasons why our troubles often get the best of us. Lack of wisdom and lack of faith are the reasons. James is referring to the ability to view a test from Godd's perspective. Without this kind of wisdom, the ability to endure becomes elusive, and the goal of maturity may never be reached.
Yes indeed, I need God's wisdom. I better to asking for it. I have a few problems to solve.
Am I letting trials bring me to maturity as a Christian? Do I seek God in the midst of trials? Are the fruit of the Spirit evident in my life? Do others see my faith growing and continuing?


How am I supposed to ask for wisdom? Verses 6-8 tell us:
  • Ask in faith. I am to ask without doubting God's ability or desire to give me His wisdom. Do I have faith in His power and faithfulness to perform His promises? Whatever is asked, according to the will of God, is for His glory and my. Falwell said to ask myself, "How can I find purpose in this predicament?" (Wanting in verse 4 and lack in verse 5 stem from the same word, leipo, that mean " to leave." Prayer must be offered with confident trust in a sovereign God.
  • Ask in faith with nothing wavering. Wavering means to be at variance with one's self, hesitated, doubt. (Thayer's Lexicon) Do I have second thoughts about my prayer? Don't doubt about the thing asked for, whether it's right or not to ask for it, settle that before asking. Determine if it is His will to do it. If it is God's will, He will do it; God has the power to do it.  He is faithful to His promises. What's proper and suitable, God will give in His own time and way.
  • Don't be like the wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed. This doubter is driven and tossed by circumstances. I am to avow that God is all He claims to be under any any circumstances. God intends that trials will drive believers to greater dependency upon Him, by showing them their own inadequacy. The person who doubts God's ability or willingness to provide this wisdom is like the billowing, restless sea, moving back and forth with its endless tides, never able to settle.
  • If I am a waver, I may expect nothing from the Lord. He wants a 100% . Is my faith up and down, here today and gone tomorrow, strong in the easy times and weak in the trials, or is it stedfast, always strong and believing God?
  • If I am a double minded person, I will be unstable in all my ways. (verse 8) Double minded means two souled; unstable means inconstant, restless. (Thayer's Lexicon) It refers to having one's mind or soul divided between God and the world. Am I confused in my thinking, restless in thoughts, or shifting and moving? Swindoll describes this double minded person as one who wants his or her own will and God's at the same time.
[Resources: James, Practical and Authentic Living by C. Swindoll, The MacArthur Bible Commentary, The Book of James and First and Second Peter, by William Baker, Liberty Bible Commentary]


Stay full-full of joy and faith.

Ask for God's wisdom when unsure about a situation, how to solve a problem.

Trust God in everything. He has a purpose and a will. His thoughts are higher than mine.

Keep praying, studying the Bible, meditating on Scripture, in fellowship with God and others.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Slam That Door

506.  "Slam That Door"                                April 26, 2012
James 1-Part 2
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;  Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.   James 1:2-4  KJV

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trial; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  New American Standard

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
New LivingTranslation


Brethren refers to both male and female believers, born again of the same grace, belong to the same family and household of faith, to the same Father, being all children of God, by faith in Christ.

Joy means to count the cause or occasion of joy; fall means to fall around; divers is veriegated, spotted, various, different; temptations are adversity, affliction (distress), trouble (our trial) sent by God and serving to test or prove ones faith, holiness, character.

What do we know about temptations, trials, troubles, testing?
  • They are inevitable. James didn't use the word if, but the word when I encounter various trials.That's the way life is-one test, trial, temptation after another. I can expect them to come, and they will come, in various, different, all kinds of sizes, shapes, and colors.
  • They have a purpose. Start seeing tests specifically designed by God to stretch our faith, not simply our pocketbooks, friendships, or health. View them as servants that bring about the circumstances needed to help us grow. (Swindoll's Bible Study Book on James)
David Guzik said, "Trials are occasions for joy, not discouraged resignation. Faith is tested through trials, not produced by trials. Trials reveal what faith we do have, not because God does not know how much faith we have, but to make it evident to ourselves and those around us. If trials don't produce faith, what does? Romans 10:17 says, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Faith is built in us as we hear, understand, and trust in God's Word."


During the hot summer days, the front and back doors of our country house would be left open. We had screen doors with wooden frames to keep the flies out.  Those were the days before we had air conditioning. It allowed any breeze that was passing by our way to enter the house and cool us off. But as a child who was running outside to play, I always let the screen door slam shut behind me. How many times did Mom tell me not to slam the screen door? It didn't matter to me, with chores done, I was running to a life of freedom outside.
After studying today's scriptures, I realize there is a door I need to slam, the door of temptation to sin. An idle mind is the devil's playground is a saying of long ago. I find that is where he tempts me to dwell on thoughts that I shouldn't be thinking. Now that I recognize his techniques, I say, "I slam the door on that thought." It stops. Now I am trying to replace a bad thought with Scripture. Give it a try, friends. Philippians 4:8 tells us the good things on which we are to think.

Now that I understand about this testing and troubles, that they'll come and for a purpose, how do I handle them? How can I overcome temptations so they don't overcome me?
If I don't, then temptation will lead me to sinful actions. Sin waits at the door of my life. (Cain's jealousy grew and resulted into murder.)

I found some answers as I read Blackaby's devotional book, Experiencing God Day by Day:
  • Temptations can come at unexpected moments; immediately after a spiritual victory.
  • Stop and deal with sinful thoughts and selfish feelings.
  • Evaluate my life to reveal temptations I should remove.
  • Remove anything in my environment that tempts me to sin. (Deut. 22:21)
  • Avoid every kind of temptation (1Thess. 5:22).
  • Renounce sin.
  • Run; Joseph fled immediately (Gen. 39:12).
  • Stay close to God; ask for His strength to resist.
  • Refuse to compromise my integrity; David did in 1 Sam. 26:8.
  • Watch over my heart.
  • Rely on God's Word.
  • Jesus is my model.
Since I know all of this, then the test, trials, and troubles that come my way are supposed to produce patience, they do. Ha! I'm guilty of griping and complaining. I probably could get an award for it.

Patience means steadfastness, constancey, endurance, according to Thayer's Leixicon.
Guzik says that patience means to remain under.

Webster's Dictionary defines patience as endurance of pain or provocation without complaint; the power to wait calmly; perseverance.

Oh boy, I don't need a cupful of patience, I need a gallon. No complaining? Waiting calmly? Hmmm.

When trials are received with faith, it produces patience. but patience isn't inevitably produced in times of trial. If difficulties are received in unbelief and grumbling, trials can produce bitterness and discouragement. this is why James exhorts us to count it all joy. Counting it all joy is faith's response to a time of trial. (Guzik)

When stretched, faith doesn't break, it produces genuine stability(Swindoll)

What are we told to do in verse 4? Let means cooperate. Give in to the testing. Let the test go on, regardless of your circumstances. Don't cut short the process that will bring about your maturity. (Swindoll)

Here are the Greek meanings of more words:
perfect-brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness;
work-toil or struggle with hindrances;
entire-free from sin, faultless;
wanting-to lag, be inferior;
nothing-in nothing.

So I am to cooperate, enduring so the trial's purpose is completed in me, in order to be complete, free from sin, lagging in nothing. Even when those little agitations come, I'm not to sin in my attitude. Wow!

Too often we grasp relief from trouble so eagerly that we fail to receive the entire lesson that God intended for us. We are cautioned to observe our attitudes more than our circumstances. If one does this, he will realize the road to Christian maturity. Perfection is reserved for the life to come (1John 1:8). (Falwell)

One who has patience is able to remain under a potential threat without panicking. (Baker)


Slam the door on temptation to sin.

Remove any thing that causes me to be tempted.

Stay in God's Word; yield to the Holy Spirit.

Strive to pass the tests with patience, keeping faith.

Stop complaining about the little things that go wrong.

Smile :0)

    Wednesday, April 25, 2012

    Bam, Bang, Boom

    505.  "Bam, Bang, Boom"                       April 25, 2012
    Introduction to James
    James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.   James 1:1
    Which one of the five men named "James" that are mentioned in the Bible is this author? They were:
    1. the father of Judas the apostle, not Iscariot (Luke 6:16).
    2. the son of Alphaeus, another apostle (Matt. 10:3)
    3. James the Little/James the Less(Mark 15:40)
    4. the brother of John and the son of Zebedee (Matt. 4:21)
    5. the oldest half brother of Jesus (Matt. 13:55, Mark 6:3) and brother of Jude (Jude 1). (Swindoll)
    According to MacArthur, the first two were not seriously considered as the writer of this letter, and the son of Zebedee was martyred, under Herod Agrippa I, no later than A.D. 44,  too early to have written it (Acts 12:2). That leaves the last James, the half-brother of Jesus and brother of Jude, who shared the same mother, but not the same father. All five men were living in the first century; the last two were apostles. "Most conservative New Testament scholoars agree that this James was Jesus' half brother, born and raised in the same family," said Charles Swindoll in his Bible study guide on James.

    When Jesus claimed to be the Messiah, James, his older brother, and other sibliings, thought Jesus had lost his senses (Mark 3:21) and did not believe in Jesus (John 7:5). James' unbelief may have persisted up to the time of Jesus' death on the cross. But 1 Corinthians 15:1-7 tells us that, afterward, the resurrected Lord Jesus visited James; and from that moment on, James appears in the Scriptures as a different man. He became a significant leader in the Jerusalem church.
    Written to the "brethren," people dispersed abroad, meaning "scattered throughout," as one might scatter seed. (Swindoll)
    In his book, The book of James and First and Second Peter-Faith, Suffering, and Knowledge, William Baker says:
    James was speaking to believing Jews who were part of the early Diaspora (dispersion) throughout the Mediterranean region. The gospel had traveled quickly out of Jerusalem by the many Jewish pilgrims who were there for Passover when the Lord Jesus had been crucified and come forth from the grave. The news of this event traveled fast to the synagogues throughout the Roman world, and many Jews realized that Jesus was their promised King and Savior. It appears that James' audience had been believers for some time.
    Most scholars place the date of this book around A.D. 45, just before the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15; A.D. 48-49). (Baker)
    The date was about A.D. 45 and Claudius was emperor in Rome. Under his rule the Jews had been persecuted and driven out of Rome and their homeland, Palestine. (Swindoll)
    This book was the earliest written of the New Testament cannon books/letters. It was written before Paul wrote Galatians in 48-49 A.D. and the earliest gospel-Matthew (50-60 A.D.) This is a new realization for me. Of course, James wrote this book prior to his death by stoning in A.D. 62.

    MacArthur says that James is dated A.D. 44-49.


    James doesn't identify his physical relationship with Jesus, half-brother, but his spiritual relationship, by God's grace alone. (verse 1)
    James' influence extended to Christian Jews throughout the empire. Tradition nicknames James "the Just." It describes him as a man of great piety and constant prayer. His writing provides us with insights into the earliest day of the church.
    Christ's name is only found twice in this book (1:1 and 2:1).He gives over 50 imparitives, warnings and reproofs. He doesn't teach doctrine as Paul did. Instead, James instructs how to live the Christian life. In looking at several outlines of James, a common word or thread is the word "test" or "testing."

    The main theme of this book, according to Swindoll, is "Real faith produces genuine works. If you say you've come to know the Lord Jesus, then that should be reflected by your life."
    James speaks a lot of works and is practical rather than theological. (MacArthur)


    How does James describe himself in verse 1? He is a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Servant, in this passage, refers to those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men: used of apostles. (Thayer's Lexicon)

    Bam, boom, bang. During their growing up years, our children loved sleeping-in on Saturdays. No hurried schedule, no school to go to, so we let them. As for me, my body stayed on the same schedule-up at 5:30. It didn't know Saturdays and Sundays were for sleeping in. So I would get up at the same time, get the chores of house cleaning done, and fix breakfast for them. That sounds nice, but actually, their memories are different from mine. (I did it out of love.) I hear complaints about the noises I made as I cleaned-a mop hitting the hallway walls-bam, boom; dishes being put away-bang; bathrooms' running water, and washer going. Now that they have a family of their own, I think they appreciate what I did for them. Sixteen years later, I still get up early on Saturdays. Oh, well.

    How's my attitude in serving my family? How's their attitude in helping me? Do I grumble during the dishwashing duty? Do I complain when I have to pick up clothes to be washed? Do I tire of the endless dusting and vaccuming of the house? Am I creative in cooking or just pour it out of a can? Where is the love in serving those I love most? Oh my, those household duties, they never end, but children do grow up and leave home. Spouses do die. Am I serving the Lord Jesus as I do those mundane duties?  Time for an attitude adjustment.


    Leave those bad attitudes and serve the Lord Jesus.

    Let love prevail.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    Hearer or Doer

    504.  " Hearer or Doer"                          April 24, 2012
    Summary of Hebrews

    Even though the author of Hebrews is unknown to us, he was known to his readers, since he did not identify himself. Most scholors consider Paul as the author. It was probably written in the first century. the readers are second generation Christians, so the date would be earlier than A.D. 70. That is when the Roman army destroyed the Temple. Timothy is still alive as the letter was written. It is interesting to recall that many quotes were from the Old Testament and were written in Greek, not Hebrew. (That was the language in which the OT was written.)

    Topics covered by the author include: The superiority of:
    • Jesus Christ's position: A better name, better than angels, Moses
    • Jesus Christ's priesthood: a High Priest, fulfillment, like Melchizedek
    • Jesus Christ's priestly ministry: a better covenant, sanctuary, sacrifice
    • the believer's privileges: faith that saves, is false, genuine, heroes of faith, persevering faith
    • Christian behavior in relation to: others, ourselves, God
    • the postscript. 
    [Resource: The MacArthur Bible Commentary]


    Actually, in thinking about any lesson, whether it is given in a classroom setting, a church setting, or a home setting, is designed to encourage the listener to a course of action, to get up and do it. Isn't that why we have the teachings of Jesus-He told His New Testament followers and modern Christians how to live. We have the teachings of Moses-the law which God gave to instruct the way of life and worship by His chosen people, the Israelites. We have the teachings of Paul-directed by the Lord as encouragement to increase our faith, and living by faith. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us in faith and obedience.

    James 1:22 says, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

    I want to be a hearer and a doer, a sort of Mary and Martha in one. "I can't hear what you're saying for seeing your actions" is not what I want said of me. How about you?

    The book of Hebrews is intensely practical in its application to everyday living. The writer himself even refers to his letter as a "word of exhortation." Exhortations were designed to stir the readers into action. Those exhortations were given in the form of six warnings against:
    1. drifting from "the things we have heard" (2:1-4)
    2. disbelieving the "voice" of God (3:7-14)
    3. degenerating from "the elementary proinciples of Christ" (5:11-6:20)
    4. despising "the knowledge of the truth" (10: 26-39)
    5. devaluing "the greace of God" (12:15-17)
    6. departing from Him "who speaks" (12:25-29).
    {Resource: The MacArthur Bible Commentary]


    I always like to review some scriptures that were special to me, those which I highlighted. Here they are:
    God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. (1:1-3)

    How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him.  (2:3)

    What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? Or the Son of man, that Thou visitest Him? (2:6)

    Thou hast put all things in subjection under His feet. (2:8a)

    For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things... (2:10)

    For every house is builded by some man; but He that built all things is God. (3:4)

    Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear His voice, Harden not your hearts...

    But exhort one another daily... (3:13)

    For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (4:12)

    For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (4:15)

    Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (4:16) was impossible for God to lie... (6:18)

    Which hope (Jesus) we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.  (6:19)

    Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him (Jesus), seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.  (7:25)

    And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. (9:27)

    By the which will  we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 

    And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.  (10:17)

    For we know him that hath said, Vengence belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge His people.  (10:30)

    It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  (10:31)

    Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. (10:38)

    Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  (11:1)

    But without faith it is impossible to please him. (11:6)

    For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (12:6)

    Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (13:8)

    By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.  (13:15)


    Be a hearer of the Word and a doer of the Word of God.

    Monday, April 23, 2012

    Saying Good Bye

    503.  "Saying Good Bye"                         April 23, 2012
    Hebrews 13-Part 10
    And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.   Hebrews 13:22


    How did I say good bye? I always knew there would come a day when it was the last time I saw him or I would say my last good bye. We visited at Thanksgiving, but not at Christmas. I had plans to call him on his birthday, but it was too late. We buried Dad on his birthday. However, I did send new pictures of the kids, which he got in time. It's been 25 years so I can't remember the exact words we spoke.  So now, I should consider how I leave someone I love. What would I say if I knew those were the last words I would ever speak to them? Is there something else I would want to say?
    Here we are at the end of another book in the Bible. It's hard to believe. How did the writer close his letter?

    Because the most majestic and memorable benediction in the whole Bible is recorded in Hebrews 13:20-21, it is fitting to use it as the benediction for us.

    May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  (NIV)

    Before we depart from our friends, don't we often wish them the best? "Have a good time, be safe, come again, see you later," sometimes  are our fairwells.


    The primary nature and purpose of this epistle has been for exhortation. His last adminition is that they might bear with it. (Falwell)

    New International Version says, Brothers, I urge you to bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written you only a short letter.

    The KJV uses the word suffer, which means to bear with, to listen; exhortation means to admonish (warn against, reprove mildly), to exhort (urge to a course of action).

    In his Bible Study guide on Hebrews, Charles Swindoll says:
    In verses 22-25, the writer give three comands:
    1. Bear with the truth of God. (verse 22) He is encouraging his readers to do more than just listen to the Word and read its concepts. He wants his readers to abide by the concepts, to apply them to readers to take pains to absorb them.
    2. Take notice of the people of God. (verse 23) It is likely that Timothy had been released from prison. it was a common experience, back in days, to be incarcerated. We're surrounded by peoplein a variety of prisons. Instead of being prisoners of steel bars, they may be captives of illness, grief, the unwanted horror of divorce, or the battle of trying to discover themselves. We must take notice of them and reach out with acceptance.
    3. Express and accept greetings. (verse 24) Salute means to bid welcome, greet. In New Testament times, it referred to delicate affection and touching, kissing, embracing, and hugging. Chirstians in modern times usually shake hands. At times we need to embrace, not in a romantic or seductive sense, but as a way of exhibiting care and providing affirmation. This kind of touch says, "You're a part of me. You mean something to me."
    4. Grace: A Final Farewell. (verse 25) He didn't say, "Obey my warnings or else!" nor "Live and let live. Have fun!" He simply says, "Grace be with you all!"
    Do I apply the Word of God and not just read it? Do I help those in their own prison to be set free by Jesus and His Word? How friendly am I with greeting someone? do I share the grace of God with others?


    Greet people like they are special.

    Instead of just walking away, say a special fairwell to my loved ones.

    Listen and apply God's Word to my life.

    Ask God to open my eyes to see those in their own prison, who need Jesus to free them.

    Spread grace around.

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    In Need of Mending

    502.  "In Need of Mending"                          April 20, 2012
    Hebrews 13-Part 9
    Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  Hebrews 13:20-21


    I have not been a fisherman, soldier, a sailor, nor a doctor, but my broken heart has been in need of mending, my ways need mending or changed, I need outfitted with the Armor of God in preparation for spiritual battle, even equiped for my journey of life. God sees to it that I have these things. Let's stop our walk and look closer.

    In this benediction, we see the major themes  of Hebrews:
    • peace-Concerning Christianity, peace is the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is; the Lord who is the author and promoter of peace. (Thayer's Lexicon)                      mmIn Numbers 6:24-26, God told Moses to tell Aaron and his sons how to bless the children of Israel saying:The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
    • the resurrected Christ-He is brought again from the dead. (Acts 2:24) Jesus said,"I am the resurrection and the life..." (John 11:25)
    • the blood-We are justified by Jesus' blood. (Rom. 5:9)
    • the covenant-Genesis 9:16 talks about the rainbow as a reminder of this everlasting covenant of not flooding the earth again as to destroying all flesh; Genesis 17:7-8 tells of the everlasting covenant God made with Abraham: possession of the land of Canaan, and He would be their God, the covenant would continue with his seed.
    • spiritual perfection (maturity)-integrity, clear mind, clean heart, lively affections, regular and resolved wills, which result from the work of God. 
    • God's work in the believer-He works through and in us by way of His Holy Spirit.(Gal. 5:22-26)
    We also see the titles of Christ: God of peace, our Lord, Great Shepherd of the sheep (who died for the sheep, lives in us today and in heaven( John 10:11). As Chief Shepherd, He will come for the sheep (1Peter 5:4). As our High Priest, Jesus interceeds for us now.

    Do I praise Him for being the God of Peace, my Great Shepherd that leads me and provides for me daily?


    In the rest of his closing prayer, the writer asks God to "make you perfect in every good work to do His will." Make perfect is translated in the word katartidzo, to doctors means "to set a broken bone;" to fishermen it meant "to mend a broken net;" to sailors it meant "to outfit a ship for voyage;" to soldiers it meant "to equip an army for battle."

    Our Savior in heaven wants to equip us for life on earth. He tenderly sets our broken bones in our lives so that we might walk straight and run our life-races successfully. He wants to repair the breaks in the nets so that we might catch fish and win souls. He wants to equip us for battle and outfit us so that we will not be battered in the storms of life. He wants to marture us, work in us and through us, that which pleases Him and accomplishes His will.

    Do you have anything in need of mending-marriage, relationships, feelings, ways, etc.? Jesus is waiting to help.

    What does God use to equip us? He uses the Word of God (2Tim. 3:16-17), prayer (1Thess. 3:10), and fellowship of the local church (Eph. 4:11-12).

    Do I ask the Lord to make me perfect ion every good work to do His will? Do I ask Him to work in me that which is well-pleasing in His sight? Do I live through Jesus for His glory? 
    [Resource: Warren Wiersbe's book Be Confident]


    Praise the God of Peace, the Great Shepherd, my Resurrected Savior.

    Don't resist His breaking me, since it is for my good and His glory.

    Watch as He equips me for the storms and battles of life.

    Live to please Jesus and to do His will.


      Thursday, April 19, 2012

      Pray, Pray, Pray

      501.  "Pray, Pray, Pray"                           April 19, 2012
      Hebrews 13-Part 8
      Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.  Hebrews 13:18-19
      Ministers and Christian leaders need prayers offered up for them daily. We should pray that God will teach those who teach us. That God would make them vigilant, wise, zealous, successful, assist them in all their labors, support them under all their burdens, and strengthen them under all their temptations. (Matthew Henry)

      "It isn't out of our resources that we pray prayers of intercession, but out of God's inexhaustible grace,"says The Preacher's Commentary Series on Hebrews.

      Here is a cry for help, a person in need. If it is Paul writing this letter, he's probably in prison. What kind of help is he asking the readers to give?
      1. Pray for us. (Don't we assume that an admission of need is a confession of guilt?) This is definitely not the case here. Pray, used here, refers to praying to God, supplication, pray earnestly for.
                Prayer is in present imperative verb tense. It looks for continuous activity and implies that they
                had already been prayling for him. (Guzik)

                We are created interdependent people, whether a society or a church, functioning like a body.
                 Each part has its abilities, which it offers to the whole, yet each part is dependent upon other
                 members of the body for its supply of strength. So it is with prayer. God has given us
                 responsibility for one another. (The Preacher's Commentary)

                 How faithful am I to pray for my brothers and sister believers? Do I specifically pray when
                 asked? Am I spending enough time in prayer, that God wants me to spend?

      How am I to pray, according to scriptures?
      • so that your faith fails not (Luke 22:32)
      • night and day praying exceedingly (1Thess. 3:10)
      • that ye do no evil (2Cor. 13:7)
      • to come over here (Acts 16:9)
      • for them that despitefully use you and persecute you (Matt. 5:44)
      • fall on your face (Matt. 26:39)
      • kneeled down (Acts 9:40)
      • pray, pray, and pray, even a third time (Matt. 26:44)
      • in a solitary place (Mark 1:35)
      • when you stand praying, forgive (Mark 11:25)
      • in my house (Acts 10:30), on the house top (verse 9)
      • in the city (Acts 11:5)
      • singing praises to God (Acts 16:25)
      • in the temple (Acts 22:17)
      • praying always (Eph. 6:18)
      • giving thanks (Col 1:3)
      • do not cease to pray for you (Col 1:9)
      • when someone is afflicted (James 5:13)
      • everywhere-on a mountain, in the wilderness, on a lake
      I think I'm getting the picture-It is important that I pray for myself, other believers, and the lost.
      Jesus interceeds to the Father when we pray in His name. Even when we don't know what to pray.


      What else does the writer have to say, according to New American Standard?

             2. We are sure that we have a good conscience. King James Version uses the word
                  "trust."  Trust is putting to proof, experience. Conscience is a co-perception, a
                  moral conscience. "A good conscience is sanctified by the Spirit of God, sprinkled by the
                  blood of Jesus," stated John Gill. They are walking in purity.
                  "A good conscience has respect to all god's commands and all our duty," said Matthew Henry.

            3. Desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. The term desire is from a Greek word
                that conveys the idea not of a"wish," but of "firm determination."  They were determined to live
                honestly-not as men, but as ministers, faithfully dispensing the Word of Truth; willing to behave
                with decency and propriety.
            4. I urge you all the more to do this (pray). This writer, soldier of the cross, is healthy and pure,
                but he's in need of reinforcements. Keep on praying! Bring in the assistance I need so that I can
                survive through this battle. He wants to revisit the readers again. (Swindoll)

      Do you have an urgent need? Are you willing to share it with us  so we can pray for you? You may want to use generalities.

      LET IT GO

      When I feel the urgency to pray for another, let go and do it.

      Keep prayer as my priority.

      Wednesday, April 18, 2012

      Fetch Some Eggs

      500.  "Fetch Some Eggs"                           April 17, 2012
      Hebrews 13-Part 7
      Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.   Hebrews 13:17


      It is hard to believe that today is my 500th posting on this blog, by my counting. May God bless you as you read. To Jesus be the glory, honor and praise!

      When I was a child, I was often sent to the garage to fetch some eggs for Mom to use in cooking. Now that was a dreaded task. The hens wanted to keep their eggs so they would hatch baby chicks instead of letting me have them peacefully. They would ruffle up those feathers, make loud clucks, and peck at anything that came near them, which was me. So I devised a method-I wouldn't get pecked if I used a croquet mallet to carefully scrap them out of the nest, away from her, on the ground. Now I thought that was pretty smart for a kid my age, until they chased me out of the garage. I obeyed what Mom told me to do, but not very joyfully, I admit.

      It is for my benefit that I obey my spiritual leaders and do what they say, this verse is telling me. What do they do for me? They watch over my soul. They are accountable to God. I am to give them a reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. I am to obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to me. (NLT, NIV)

      According to Thayer's Lexicon:
      obey  means to listen to, yield to, comply with;
      rule is leading as respects influence; overseers or leaders of Christian churches;
      submit means to resist no longer, but to give way, yield; to yield to authority and admonition;
      watch is to exercise constant vigilance over something (an image drawn from shepherds).

      I want my spiritual leaders to do their work with joy, cheerfully because I am obeying their teaching, preaching, and leading scripturally. Do I no longer resist what they point out in the Word of God? Do I obey the biblical principles they are showing me?

      Warren Wiersbe said, "When a servant of God is in the will of God, teaching the Word of God, the people of God should submit and obey. This does not mean that pastors should be dictators, nor church members have a flippant attitude toward pastoral authority. One day both will have to give an account to the Lord. When a shepherd is faithful to watch for souls, it is important that the sheep obey him."

      Do my leaders duck away into hiding when they see me coming? Do I make their life miserable or joyful? Or do the have a smile on their face?

      As a children's leader and a mission's leader in my church, I am accountable for those under my leadership and how I lead them. Am I leading them down the right path, as the Word of God directs?


      Liberty Bible Commentary says, submit denotes an assent to another's direction. God has given these leaders the work of overseeing, not by being an overlord but by being an example. (1Peter 5)

      Am I willing to turn, change my ways and opinions to follow what the leader says? Do I joyfully submit?
      Resist no longer is a good definition for submit. As I yield my will to Christ's will, I will submit to my leaders in authority over me. That makes my Lord happy.

      LET IT GO

      Submit to and obey joyfully my spriritual leaders that God has put over me.

      Be a leader in subjection to the Word of God and those in authority over me.


      Tuesday, April 17, 2012

      What Pleases?

      Hebrews 13-Part 6
      By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.   Hebrews 13:15-16


      What pleases me? A smile from a stranger, an encouraging word from a friend, a hug from a child, an unexpected bouquet of flowers, hearing "I love you"spoken to me, just to name a few. What is important isn't what pleases me but what pleases God? That's what I want to find out. I have been searching for answers for almost two years as I have been walking on this road of faith through the New Testament. Have I found the answers? Some. Today's key verses fill in the bits and pieces missing.

      What pleases God?
      • Faith-Without faith is its impossible to please Him. (Heb. 11:6)
      • A gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God's sight. (1 Peter 3:4)
      • Obedience-To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed than the fat of rams. (1Sm. 15:22)
      • The condition of the heart-Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Sam. 16:7)
      • Deny self, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus. (Luke 9:23)
      • Love, bless, do good to, and pray for your enemies. (Matt. 5:44)
      • Forgiving others. (Matt. 6:14)
      • Mercy shown.(Hosea 6:6)
      • Prayer and fasting. (Matt. 7:21)
      • Loving God-with all your heart, soul, and mind. (Matt. 22:37)
      • Loving your neighbor-as yourself. (Matt.22:39)
      • Look after the orphans and widows in their distress, and keep yourself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)
      • Meditate on His Word. (Ps. 119:11)
      • In everything give thanks. (1Thess. 5:18)
      I am sure the lists could continue, and will continue. Maybe that should be my next project.


      Now, what do our key verses say are the kind of sacrifices which please God?
      1. A sacrifice of praise that is offered continually. Sacrifice, used here, means a free gift; praise is a thank-offering, a sacrifice of praise presented to God for some benefit received.(Thayer's Lexicon) What kind of free gift can I give to God, who owns everything? Praise is what He wants, thanks for what I have received from Him. What might that be? The gift of salvation in Jesus, breath of life, daily needs, unending love and forgiveness, understanding, patience, mercy and grace, and so much more from Him. In Hebrew, the language in which the Old Testament is written, praise is made up of two words, hallal, meaning to praise, and jah, which is the word for God. So praise means "praise be to God" or "praise the Lord."(Harold Sala)
            Proper praise that pleases God is offered:
      • by Jesus, who is our High Priest, who offered Himself as the blood sacrifice for me, on the         altar of the cross (He interceeds for us, we go through Jesus to get to God). Jesus is the                altar upon which we lay our sacrifices of praise.
      • continually, so I am always praising Him.
      • is a sacrifice, so it may be costly (not feel like praising) or inconvenient (outside                 the church, with non-believers).
      • is the fruit of our lips, more than just thoughts directed towards God. Fruit means praises, which are presented to God as a thank-offering. It is spoken out unto  the Lord, either in prose or in song. (Guzik)
           2. Giving thanks to His name. Thanks means to praise, celebrate. We should approach the
               presence of God, attend the house of God, and acknowledge the work of God with an offering of
               thanksgiving. We thank God for what He has done and praise Him for who He is. We recognize
               the names of God, giving glory and honor of His divine perfections.

           3. Do good and share with others. Give to those in need and communicating with the poor. These
               acts are done in faith, and springs from love, is direffted to the glory of God. Koinonia can mean
               fellowship and generosity, sharing, contribution, or gift.

      Do I give God an unending offering of praise out of my heart thoughout the day? Do my sacrifices involve my tongue, my actions, and my finances? Do I remember to present my body as a living sacrifice to God daily? (Rom. 12:1) (Falwell)

      The sacrifices of praise coming from the lips of God's people please Him only when accompanied by loving action. (MacArthur)

      Do I just speak words or do I share and care? Things to ponder.

      LET IT GO

      Sing praises to the Lord continually today.

      Thank Him for all things.

      Do good and share with others.

      Strive to please God in all that I do.

      Monday, April 16, 2012

      Camping Out

      Hebrews 13-Part 4
      Wherefore, Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.   Hebrews 13:12-14


      During one summer visit to our family, my sister inlaw's family and mine decided to camp out locally. Neither families had a tent nor any camping gear. It was a last minute whelm. They threw a mattress in the back of their truck and we threw  lawn chairs into our car. (It was only a few miles from my in-laws' house.) The guys went up stream fishing while we gals set up camp. Actually, all we did was start a campfire, set up lounge chairs, spread out blankets, and got cozy for our private night on the lake. However, it didn't seem to be the secluded spot to camp that we thought it was. Some guys walked by us after dark, then set off fireworks a short distance down stream. That resulted in us women folk and kids getting nervous. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, the guys returned to camp. I thought we women were making the sacrifice of comfort so the men could enjoy fishing, but it turned out that they were as cold as we were. (Wind off the lake gets cold at 2am.) And they didn't catch any fish, either, so they actually sacrificed comfort so we could have a good visit. The men's sacrifice was made outside of camp, just as our key verse describes Jesus' sacrifice that was made outside the camp. What does it mean?

      First, verse 11 tells about the High Priests who made the sin offering for the people, on the Day of Attonement, mentioned in Leviticus 16 and Exodus 29. They killed the goat, sprinkled its blood on the Mercy Seat, then burned the goat's flesh outside the camp.
      Jesus fulfilled that, when He suffered outside the city gates of Jerusalem, where the temple was located, on Golgotha's cross. As our sin offering, Christ has been seperated from the Jewish camp. Those who have turned to Him for redemption must also join Him outside the camp. (We don't hold to Judaism's offerings.)
      We do not participate in the sacrificial ritual because Jesus is our Sacrificial Lamb.


      We have no continuing city, Jerusalem with its temple. We seek our city, which  is to come, the New Jerusalem. Is my faith inside or outside the camp? Because of Jesus, I am a citizen of that  heavenly city.

      Figuratively, believers must join Jesus outside the camp of the world, no longer beign a part of its unholy systems and practices (2 Tim. 2:4). This would also depict the departure from the Levitical system. The uncommitted Hebrews needed to take the bold step of leaving that system and being outside the camp of old covenant Israel. (MacArthur)

      How bold are my steps? Do I bear Jesus' reproach?

      Reproach, according to Webster's Dictionary, is a charge with a fault; shame, disgrace.

      Thayer's Lexicon says reproach is such as Christ suffered (for the cause of God, from its enemies).

      As a believer and follower of Christ, am I willing to seperate myself from the world, pay the price, and accept the same abuse, mistreatment, or persecution He took upon Himself at Calvary? Grace is worth it all.

      Can I be charged with being a follower of Jesus? Am I guilty of living for Him instead of self? Do I act like a citizen of this world or a citizen of heaven?

      LET IT GO

      Let go of the world and cling to Jesus.

      Join Jesus outside the camp.

      Act like a citizen of the New Jerusalem.

      Friday, April 13, 2012

      Strengthened by Grace

      Hebrews 13-Part 4
      Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were thus occupied were not benefited. We have an altar, from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
      Hebrews 13:9-10


      Do I get hung up on what I can eat or don't eat? Do I judge others by what they eat or don't eat?
      For six months I followed a very strick diet so I would not have to take a shot every week. My efforts paid off. So far, so good. The problem is, since I don't have the pain, I tend to slide back into my old ways. Yesterday I ate strawberries, barbq chicken, and corn, which were some of my forbidden fruit. My body told me about it, too. I said all of that to show that I enjoy the benefits of following my diet. It strengthens my body. Also, I enjoy the benefits of grace. I don't have to offer animal sacrifices for my sins, as in the Old Testament days. Shall we look closer into grace?

      Is my heart strengthened by grace?
      Legalism weakens the heart; human restrictions deter growth. It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were thus occupied were not benefited. No person is ever benefited by following a heresy.

      Ephesians 2:8 says, For by grace are ye saved though faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

      Grace has been defined as unmerited favor. It's a gift, not one that we deserve, can work for, nor can get on our own. Since Jesus doesn't change, His grace is always available.
      God's grace is uncontainable. Time and space do not restrick it.

      Ann Voskamp said in her daily devotional, God in the Moment:
      Grace means favor, from the Latin word, gratia. It connotes a free readiness, a free and ready favor. That's grace. It is one thing to choose to take the grace offered at the cross, but to choose to live as one
      filling with His grace? Choosing to fill with all that He freely gives...with glory and grace and God?
      It is a choice.
      This act of naming grace moments, this list of God's gifts, moves beyond the shopping list variety of prayer and into the other side, the other side of prayer, the interior of His throne room, the inner walls of His powerful, love-beating heart. The list is God's list, the pulse of His love-love thrums on the other side of our prayers.

      Do I thank the Father for His free grace? How often do I thank Him? Can I list a thousand gifts of grace this year for which I am thankful?


      In verse 9, we are to not be carried away from grace, by various, different (divers), new, unheard(strange), teachings (doctrines).  (Thayer's Lexicon)

      These teachings are of a variety of colors pleasing to the eye and wooing to the senses. Although the doctines of others may be appealing, they may be fake. Don't be led astray. (Swindoll)

      Some of the Jewish Christians were being tempted to return to the ritual of the Jewish system. Meat was a vital element of Jewish ritual. The distinction of what was clean or unclean for eating was largely based upon that which was clean or unclean upon the altar. (Falwell)

      It was according to the Levitical laws.  There are four specifics listed here that touch the lives of those who embrace grace and the person of Jesus Christ:
      • We have an altar, which is the cross, where Christ's sacrificial offering was made.(verse 10)
      • We have a reproach to bear. Believers should be willing to pay the price for identifying with Christ. There's a seperation stigma with which we must live. To fully and genuinely align ourselves with Christ is to accept the same abuse, mistreatment, and persecution He took upon Himself at Calvary. It's part of the curriculum of grace. (verse 13)
      • We have a city to seek. It is a city which God has designed and built located in heaaven, not on earth. We aren't home yet. (verse 14)
      • We have a sacrifice to offer. It is a sacrifice of praise, of doing good, and of giving. It is a sacrifice of ourselves. (verse 15) (Swindoll) 
      Jesus told His disciples, in Matthew 16:24: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

       LET IT GO
      Hold up the cross of Jesus, no matter what the cost.
      Die to self and live for Jesus.
      Endure what I must in order to remain faithful to my Savior.

      Thursday, April 12, 2012

      Yellowed with Age

      Hebrews 13-Part 3
      Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.  Hebrews 13:8


      I have an old Webster's Dictionary that I use quite frequently. It sits on my bookshelf in two parts, with tattered pages, which are beginning to yellow. I don't even know how old it is because the cover and front pages are missing. Oh, I have newer dictionaries that I could use, including the internet ones, but this old faithful one is just fine. It has the old words. Some things that are yellowed with age are still usable, such as Mom's old cookbooks, the deed to our farm. I find comfort in knowing that some things don't change. Our key verse tells us that Jesus Christ is one of them. Let's look a little closer.

      The word same means immutable, which means unchangeable.

      Unlike the weather, seasons, and people, there are some things which do not change. God's truths do not change. The Trinity, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit do not change. God is not proone to change; He is constantly the same. My problem in understanding this is that I haven't known such a person. God is not fickle; His moods don't swing, and His dealings with us are not subject to cancellation or redefinition. (Swindoll)

      I am secure in knowing that God's love, faithfulness, mercy, grace, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, kindness, laws, promises, judgements, and plans don't change. His character has been the same since before the creation of the world. He is the same person as in ancient days, Old Testament times, during His walk on earth, New Testament times, and modern times, today. Jesus is my prophet, priest, and King as He was back then.

      Joni Eareckson Tada, in her devotional book, Diamond in the Dust, told what her friend Francie's
      Grandma  Grace wrote in her worn Bible saying:
      "There 's nothing old or worn out about the love of God. His love has not yellowed with age. It is neither fragile nor ragged at the edges. God's love is as current now as it was a century ago, as fresh today as it will be tomorrow. Today, praise the Lord that He is the same, always loving, always merciful, and that with Him there is no shadow of turning."

      Joni goes on to pray,"Jesus, I'm amazed that You never change. You are always faithful. Your promises are time-tested. Together with the saints of the ages, including Grandma Grace...I praise You!"

      Do I completely trust Jesus, who is the same always, immutable person, Savior?


      Verse 7 tells us that as Christians, we are to show our faith by:
      • remembering our leaders, (spiritual fathers who were dead/martyred) who led properly,
      • recalling those who spoke the Word of God to us, (led us to Christ as Savior),
      • consider the outcome of their way of life, (godly character), the right outcome,
      • imitate their faith, (follow their example).
      Consider means to look upon a subject to investigate and observe it accurately. I am to study the life of individuals, pastors, teachers, parents, and even biblical ones. Are they having a godly influence on me?

      Charles Swindoll gives us three lasting principles as guidelines for me:
      1. It is unbiblical to support wrong leadership, no matter how sincere it may appear.
      2. It is unwise to claim no leadership, no matter how comfortable it may feel.
      3. It is unprofitable to resist right leadershiop, no matter how painful it may be.
      Spiritual leaders are unlike domestic, business, or professional leaders in that they look over the souls of their constituents. They carry a burden for their people. They're concerned whether or not those under their leadership are growing and having their souls adequately nurtured in faith.

      Do I daily pray for my spiritual leaders?

      LET IT GO

      Thank Jesus for remaining the same, unchangeable, immutable Savior He always was, is, and will be.

      Pray, encourage, and show respect for the spiritual leaders that God has placed over me.

      Wednesday, April 11, 2012

      Content with a Twelve-year Old Car

      Hebrews 13-Part 2
      Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.  Hebrews 13:5-6 KJV


      There are four promises in verses 5-6, which are quoting Old Testament verses, .
      1. God will never leave thee.
      2. He will never forsake thee.
      3. The Lord is my helper.
      4. I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

      God told these promises to three men and a nation-he would never leave, fail, forsake them. To whom did He speak them?
      *to Jacob in Genesis 28:15,
      *to Joshua in Joshua 1:5,
      *to Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:20, and
      *to Israel in Dueteronomy 31:6,8.

      It is a divine adage. What was said to them extends also to us. He will never withdraw His presence nor His help. (Bengel)

      John Gill says, "These promises made Joshua belongs to all believers. God won't leave us destitute of His presence, nor will He forsake the work of His own hands in them, but will perform it until the day of Christ. He won't leave or forsake them, so as that they shall perish. He won't forsake them in life, nor at death, nor at judgement. He is able to help, and does help, when none else can."
      Men can do nothing against God, and God can make all that men do against his people to turn to their good. (Matthew Henry)
      The last promise is quoted from Psalm 118:6, The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
      The word fear means to be afraid; to be struck with fear; to be seized with alarm, of those who fear harm or injury.
      Do I still fear people after reading these promises?
      Isaiah 12:2a states, Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.


      My 12 year old car had a dent in the front finder (my fault), an air conditioner that didn't work, the seals around the windows chopped up (ugly), 3 windows that wouldn't roll up or down because they stuck in that positon, back armrest broken off, just to name a few problems. I spent a few years dissatisfied with it, grumbling any chance I got. Finally, seeing the advantages of keeping it instead of buying a new one (twice the gas mileage of an SUV, no car payment), I didn't want to get rid of it. After all, I only drove it to church and work twice a week. Then a car, just like it, only a different make, was dropped into my lap. Now that was God's blessing to me. It is even the same color. Why can't I learn that lesson about other things? Contentment, grateful to God for all He has given me.

      The first part of our key verses tells us how our manner of life (conversation) should be-without covetousness and be content with what we have.

      Covetousness means loving money; loving silver.

      This is the only scripture listed which has that particular meaning. Found elsewhere, it means dishonest gain, and the wish to have more.

      Don't love money; be satisfied with what you have, states New Living Translation.

      Let your way of life be free from the love of money, being content with what you have, says New American Standard.

      Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, says New International Version.

      Greed is a sickness of the soul, a malignancy in the spirit, a bottomless pit that Christians are to steer away from at all costs. The love of money is the root of all knds of evil because it is a kind of addictive idolatry (1Tiom.6:10). The more the greedy person gets, the more he or she wants. (Shepherd's Notes)

      "It is not money or the lack of money that is the problem, but the love of money. Christians are not to set their affections on the almighty dollar or make the increase of money their purpose for living," states Swindoll in his Bible study book Hebrews II.

      Liberty Bible Commentary states:
      These Jewish Christians to whom this epistle was written had been spoiled financially by their persecutors, and they had accepted it joyfully at first (10:34). But it grew more difficult to live with the condition as it continued. The author then bases his admonition to contentment upon two Old Testament promises. When trust is placed in money, it will only produce covetousness and contention (1Tim. 6:9-10).

      Lusting after material riches is "a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness" (1Tim. 3:3). (MacArthur)

      It sounds like, that often as the new wears off, we become dissatisfied. It wasn't until I became content with my 12 year old car that God provided a better one for me. (same year, but better condition)
      The second point in verse 5 tells us to be content. Content means to be satisfied with a thing.
      Paul learned to be content in whatever state he was in (Phil. 4:11-12). Oh, that I could.

      Covetousness is the opposite of contentment. Contentment has much more to do with what you are on the inside rather than what you have. Real contentment comes only when we trust in God to meet our needs and to be our security. It's amazing that we are often more likely to put security and find contentment in things far less reliable and secure than God Himself. (Guzik)

      Contentment frees you to enjoy every good thing God has given you. It demonstrataes your belief that God loves you and has your best interest in mind. Discontent stems from the sin of ingratitude and a lack of faiath that God loves you enough to provide for all that you need. Strive to be grateful for all that God has given you. A grateful heart has no room for envy. (Blackaby)

      Paul told Timothy, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. (1Tim. 6:6-8)

      Swindoll said, "It is doubtful that anything can bring us greater and more lasting satisfaction in life than being committed to our mates and contented with our life-styles. If it has a price tag, it won't bring lasting satisfaction."

      Do I really need more things outside my current situation to make me happy or fulfilled?
      Do I accept my life-style as God-given and sufficient, regardless of my surroundings or any other person's status?

      I don't know about you, but I have some homework.

      LET IT GO

      Let go of discontentment and confess it as sin.

      Be  satisfied and grateful for my lot in life.

      Thank God for all He has given me.

      Don't worry, be happy.

      Trust God to never leave me nor forsake me.

      Tuesday, April 10, 2012

      What is Showing?

      Hebrews 13-Part 1
      Let brotherly love continue. Hebrews 13:1


      Because I wear longer skirts and dresses, some are down to my ankles, I bought new longer slips to wear with them. However, I did hem up a few outfits to my calves. The problem I had was that I forgot this longer slip I wore one Sunday morning was longer than a shortened jumper, so it was evident, showing below my jumper hem. I realized this when I sat down, seeing my longer slip. How could I solve this problem and at church, mind you? I went into the restroom and did some tucking in from above, if you know where I'm talking about. It was a temporary solution. Now I remember to wear the shorter slip with that jumper. Well gals, just as my slip was showing (though not desired),
       I do want my faith to be showing. Are there any evidences of faith in my life as I walk by faith and not by sight? What is showing as the Lord looks upon me? I found some suggestions to help me here in chapter 13.

      Chapter 13 can be described as essential practical ethics of Christian living. They portray the true gospel to the world, encourage others to believe in Christ, and bring glory to God. (MacArthur)

      As Christians, we are to show our faith by:

        1. Keep on loving each other as brothers.
      • The basis for this fellowship is brotherly love. (verse 1) The deepest kind of fellowship is not based on race or family relationship; it is based on the spiritual life we have in Christ. A church fellowship basesd on anything other than love for Christ and for one another simply will not last. (Rom. 12:10, 1 Peter 1:22)
      • Love used in verse 1 is the word Philidelphia in the Greek. It refers to the love which Christians cherish for each other as "brethren." (Thayer's Concordance) "It speaks of brotherly friendship and affection; the love of deep friendship and partnership; from the root word philia. (Guzik)
        2. Do not forget to entertain strangers. (Some have entertained angels without knowing it.)
      • Where there is true Christian love, there will also be hospitality. (verse 2) Traveling ministers and poor saints needed a place to stay, so since the churches met in homes, it was natural for a visitor to stay with his host. Pastors and all saints should be "given to hospitality."(Rom. 12:1) We are to show compassion to people we do not know, strangers (wanderers, refugees, froeigners, nonacquaintance). (Swindoll)
       3. Remember those in prison, as if you were their fellow prisoners.
      • Love also expresses itself in concern. (verse 3) Early Christians were arrested and imprisoned for their faith, so they needed ministering. We should pray for those around the world that suffer for their faith.
       4. Remember those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
      • "This reference to prisoners includes the Christians of the time who were undergoing persecution, beatings, bruising, and rejection because of their faith in Jesus Christ," states Charles Swindoll. Falwell said it like this, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them."
      Is my faith showing by me doing these things?


      5. Let marriage be held in  honor.
      • The home is the first place where Christian love should be practiced. (verse 4)
      •  Purity and loyalty in the marriage honors the Lord. (Eph. 5:3-6) Set our standards high; keep our marriage vows, whether we ar veterans or rookies. God originated it and set its rules.
      6. Let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
      • Adulterers, fornicators, homosexuals, and sexually immoral will be judged.
      • Undefiled means "free from contamination." Something contaminated is soiled, infected by contact or association, made unfit because of the introduction of unwholesome and undesirable elements.
      • God does not demand of His people anything that is unreasonable or impossible. Strict and tough, yes, but not impossible. (1Cor. 6:16-18) Disgrace, shame, and guilt invade the heart. The mind is affected as with no other sin.
      • God does forgive sin when asked. He gives strength to withstand temptations, when asked.
      • It takes a commitment to one's mate and working through problems, to stay together so that the relaionship can grow. We must keep on renewing our commitments daily.
      LET IT GO

      Let my faith be evident.

      Show brotherly love to other Christians.

      Be hospitable.

      Have concern for those who are suffering.

      Keep my thoughts pure so I honor and love my spouse.

      Honor God with my marriage.

      1. 3.    

      Monday, April 9, 2012

      My World Shaken Up

      Hebrews 12-Part 7
      Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.    Hebrews 12:26


      Only a few months ago, we felt the after shock of the earthquake in Oklahoma, a five hour drive away. It was evening and my husband and I were watching television. All of a sudden, the floor and walls shook. I suggested it was an earthquake, but he was doubtful. We heard the next day that it was. It caused a helpless feeling inside of me as I just sat there, looking for things to fall into the floor. They didn't, of course. Since then, we have had other trimmers. It is an unusual thing to have earthquakes in our area of the state. Scripture tells us to expect it to happen. Our God will shake up things in our world.

      God is shaking this world in which we live by earthquakes in diverse places. (Matt. 24:7 warns us.)
      In verse 26, the author is quoting Haggai 2:6, where the Lord says He will not only shake earth, but heaven  again. It is referring to the time of Jesus' Second Coming.
      When were there earthquakes?
      • at the time of giving the Ten Commandments,
      • when Jesus died on the cross,
      • when Jesus rose from the dead.
      He is shaking the economic systems of the world. He is shaking the very things men think are unshakable. He will shake the earth when Jesus' feet touch the Mt. of Olives.
      There are some things which cannot be shaken:
      • God's Throne
      • God's Word
      • God's Son
      • God's Church
      • God's Kingdom.
      [Reference: Things Which Cannot Be Shaken, a sermon by Stan Coffey]

      It is the things which are made, the physical things, that will be shaken. They will be removed. Those things that cannot be shaken will remain. (verse 27)
      Is God shaking up things in your world? He is mine.


      Verse 28 says, Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have greace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.

      In Revelation 1:17b-18, Jesus said, Fear not; I am the first and the last; I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the key of hell and of death.

      What are we exhorted to do?
      *Let us have grace, (echomen charin in Greek), is translated better as "Let us be grateful."
      An ingratitude lies at the very root of all sin and rebellion against God (Rom 1:21), so gratitude is the pulsating heartbeat of every positive response to the gospel. (Liberty Bible Commentary)
      Grace, in Thayer's Concordance, as ussed in verse 28, means to be thankful to one.

      *Serve God with reverence and godly fear, as well as love and gratitude.
      We are encouaged to hold onto grace and thus be able to approach God and see Him fully revealed as awesome and consuming. We are prone to use grace as an excuse for not talking God seriously, for allowing our level of commitment to slide. Where do you fit into this scheme? How significant is God to you? If god suddenly and silently left the scene, how long wold it be before you missed Him in your life? Would you be aware that He was gone? (Swindoll)

      I Thessalonians 4:18 says, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

      Philippians 4:6 states, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

      Am I continualy giving thanks, or is it only at mealtime? I have joined Ann Voskamp in having a Gratitude Journal in which I number things for which I am grateful. Will you join us? (She has a website for further assistance.)

      LET IT GO

      When my faith is shaken, hold onto Jesus.

      Be ready for when He shakes up my world.

      Give thanks for all things.

      Thank God for His immovable and unshakable Kingdom.

      Friday, April 6, 2012

      Listen When He Speaks

      Hebrews 12-Part 6
      See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.    Hebrews 12:25a

      Some voices I recognize on the phone and the caller doesn't have to identify themselves. My dad's voice was one of them. Although it has been twenty-five years since I heard my dad speak, I would recognize it if he spoke today. One day my uncle recorded dad's voice on a cassette recorder, which he was trying to fix. Dad walked into his house during that process. It is a precious thing to me all these years later. How I miss his voice. So it is when I don't hear my heavenly father speaking to me. I miss His voice. (Do I listen when He speaks to me?) Our key verse gives us a warning. Shall we look further into it?

      The New Living Translation says, Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven!
      According to Strong's Concordance, speaketh (laleo in Greek) means to talk, speak, tell.
      Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancrestors throught the prophets. and now in these fianl days, he has spoken to us through His Son. (Heb. 1:1-2a from NLT)
      In the Experiencing God study by Henry and Richard Blackaby and Claude King, we learn these principles about God speaking:
      1. God speaks to His people. In the Old Testament days He spoke in many different ways.
          He spoke through angels,visions, dreams, the use of the Urim and Thummim, symbolic actions, a
          gentle whisper, miraculous signs, and other ways.
      2. That God spoke to people is far more important than how He spoke.
      3. When God spoke, it was usually unique to that individual.
      4. When God spoke, the person was sure it was God.
      5. When God spoke, the person knew what God said.
      6. When God spoke, that was an encounter with God.
      7. If I do not have clear instructions from God in a matter, I will pray and wait. I will not try to
          bypass the love relationship.

      The danger lies in refusing to hear the warning of Him who speaks from heaven; for if those at Mont sinai did not escape God's wrath, much more shall not we escape.One may escape God's warnings now, but God will not be escaped then. (Liberty Bible Commentary)

      The Experiencing God has more to say to us:
      • God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
      • When I come to God's Word, the Author Himself is present to instruct me. Truth is never discovered, truth is revealed.
      • God reveals His purposes so you will know what He plans to do. (Amos 3:7)
      • God reveals His ways to us because they are the only means to accomplish His purposes. ( Prov. 19:21)
      • When the Spirit directs my attention to a truth, I write it down, meditate on it, and adjust my life to it. I alert myself to watch for ways God may be that way in my life during the day.
      • What God says in prayer is far more important than what you say. (John 16:13)
      • god wants me to know how to accomplish things only He can do. He wants me to know what He is about to do so I can join Him. He wants me to have faith to believe He can do what He says.
      • Go to God and ask Him to show you His perspective on your circumstances. Jesus watched circumstances to know where the Father wanted to involve Him in His work. 
      • Apart from the body(church) you cannot fully know God's will for relating to God's people. Jesus Christ is the head of a local church. He places every member in the body as it pleases Him. He makes us interdependent, needing each other. Every member needs to listen to what the other members say.
      Am I listening?


      Swindoll says, "Our tendency when approaching the mountain of grace is to change certain things because of the freedom we enjoy. When laws are set aside and rules are put away, we tend to write our own laws and make our own rules. That's why these verses appear as a final warning in this book. We're not to lower God's standards to human standards. Although His covenant may be new, His character remains the same. Grace does not alter our responsibility to be obedient.
      To say that we are operating under new management in no way suggests that God no longer speaks with authority. God's word is nnow more intense: first, because a heavenly revelation is more emphatic than an earthly one; and second, the Sinai demonstration was limited, but Zion's is limitless. If His Word was to be obeyed back then, how  much more should it abe obeyed now?"
      Remember, we are in the grace race. How significant is God to me? Can I tell that I am on the right road of the race?
      God is not an error boy to have around; nor is He a pal, chum, or bully. He speaks from His throne, since His work of salvation is finished. His works speak to us presenting His blood, righteousnesss, and sacrifice.  We should not refuse whatever He is saying to us, make light of it, nor neglect it. We should hear it and do it.
      In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, Behold I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
      Have a wonderful Easter dear friends! Let's praise and worship our Risen Savior in church this Sunday together throughout our nation and world.

      He is Risen!

      LET IT GO
      Keep my ears open listening for God's voice; eyes open to see where He is working.
      Don't refuse to listen to my heavenly Father speak to me; keep my heart open to Him.
      Obey what He tells me to do.
      Run the race of grace.
      Share His love today.