1 Corinthians 12:31b (NAS)

And I show you a still more excellent way.
1Corinthians 12:31b (NAS)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why Not?

Nearly everyone I know has several copies of the Bible laying around their house, but, I think we would be surprised to see how many people actually open it and read it on a daily basis.  In addition to these paper copies of the Bible, we have available to us, Bible "apps" for our computers and cell phones.  But having the Bible readily accessible does not necessarily mean that we will take advantage of it.  Why is it that Christians fail to study God's Word even though they know that they should.  I did my own survey, asking if it is important for us as Christians to study the Bible.  The results were unanimous.  Everyone said "Yes".  We also know that we should floss our teeth and take our vitamins and get more exercise, but, we don't always do these either. 

If we know that it is important to read and study the Bible, what are the reasons people give for not reading their Bible.  In his article,  Why should we study the Bible? , Dr. Richard J. Krejcir gives four reasons why Christians do not study the Bible.  The reasons are:
  • Apathy - I can't get motivated to do it, other things are pressing, I just don't have time, I'm too busy.
  • Arrogance - I already know what it says, I don't need it,  I can figure this out on my own, I've got this, it's not relevant for today. 
  • Confusion - I don't understand it, there are so many interpretations, I don't know how to do it, it's too difficult.
  • Falsehood - It's not really important, nobody knows for sure, I would never do that, I'll get by somehow.   

For me it's apathy, I'm not disciplined  and I tend to waste time.  Every morning I putter around my kitchen and laundry room doing what...., I'm not sure.  What I need to do is drop everything and get to the business at hand - spending time with God in prayer and Bible study.  I need to make it a priority, the thing I do first.  Each one of us is given a 24 hour day; how we use it is up to us.

Dear Father,  forgive me for wasting precious time doing things that will not matter in eternity.  Help me to make the most of the time that you have given me, Lord, and to make Bible study a priority.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him."  (James 1:25)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Only Book You Need to Read

My Granny Poole said that it's the only book you need to read.  I did not believe her at the time; I must have been maybe ten years old and thought her naive if she only read the Bible.  Now that I am as old as she was when she said it, I am inclined to agree with her.  I can still see her sitting there in her chair with her Bible opened in her lap, reading God's Holy Word.  She knew a secret then, that I have only since discovered - that is - everything I need to know is in God's Word.  Do you want to know what God is like?  The answer is in his Word.  Would you like to know what's going to happen in the future?  You can read about it in the Bible.  Need help with your marriage, your finances, raising your children?  The Scriptures will tell you what to do.  What about your health, your job, your in-laws, your leisure?  You name it, it's in his Word.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away.  Matthew 24:35.

But gaining knowledge and understanding are not the only thing that you receive when you read God's Word; God's Word has the power to change your behavior.  Whenever you read and study the Scriptures, you no longer sin or go astray; iniquity does not have dominion over you and you will not be ashamed.  You will be free from bondage to sin, putting your trust in God. In Isaiah 55:11 we read, So shall my Word be which goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Little by little, verse by verse, precept upon precept God's Word will change your heart as you read it daily and apply it in your life.  Your heart will be cleansed and enlarged, increasing your capacity to love God and others.  You will have an upright heart with a bent to do good if you allow God's Word to change you from the inside out. 

No other book is like the Bible.  The Bible is unique because it's author is God himself.  Some say it's his love letter to us.  It contains everything that he wants us to know.  I find new things every time I open it's pages, even in passages that I have read before.  I never get tired of reading or studying it because it speaks directly to me and to my situation.  Sometimes when I read it, I am encouraged to persevere, to keep doing what I'm doing; other times I'm comforted, finding assurance that God is with me through every trial.  Some days it makes me joyful, happy, and excited to read about his promises to us his children.  Then there are also times when I read the Bible and I feel convicted or sorry because I realize I have not done the things I should.  Always though, I sense the mystery and majesty of the Scriptures; because I realize that my understanding is limited and his Word contains so much more than I will ever be able to know and understand.  I feel as though I could spend a lifetime reading and studying and still only scratch the surface of what it all means.  O how I love thy law!  It is my meditation all the day.  Psalm 119:97

What about you; have you read any good books lately?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

No man can come.....except

You've heard the expression, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."  This principle applies to sharing your faith with someone who may or may not receive it.  In fact, our best arguments may fall on deaf ears, and our heart-felt plea may be scorned or laughed at.  Why is that, we might ask?

I am not the 'pushy' type; I do not force my opinions on others, but there have been times in my past when I felt impressed to share my Christian faith with a friend with whom I had established a friendship.  For example, I shared my personal testimony of faith in Christ with my college roommate.  I have had theological discussions with colleagues at work and I talked about what Christ  means to me with a neighbor who was a stay-at-home mom, like me.  Come to think of it, there have been numerous occasions when I have had the privilege of sharing with friends, the Good News of Jesus Christ.  But, aside from my children, I have never lead anyone to Christ.  Most of the time, my beliefs were accepted and the individual with whom I shared expressed genuine interest.  Looking back, I feel confident that God used these discussions to help the person to grow spiritually, to confirm what they believed, or to guide them in making good decisions.  

But, I have not always received affirmation when I shared my beliefs with others.  I remember one particular friend who had a daughter the same age as Hannah and even though we came from completely different backgrounds we were instant friends and spent hours talking about everything from our families to what we wanted out of life.  I grew to love her and and her family.  But, we could never see eye to eye when it came to talking about Jesus.  I talked about being born-again and having a new heart.  She talked about religious rituals and traditions and said my faith did not make sense.  She looked at things from a logical, scientific point of view and my experience did not pass the test of reason.  She has since moved to another state and we no longer have our long talks anymore, but I still think of her often.  

In John 6:22-71 Jesus talks with the multitude and his disciples about a difficult saying: he refers to himself as the Bread of Life and the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood if one is to follow him.  Naturally, they do not understand.
  • Jesus tells them in verse 29 that God's will is that they would believe in the one he has sent and in verse 40 that the Father's will is that those who see and believe will have eternal life.  So, it is clearly God's will that we would believe in Jesus, his son.  But, evidently, not everyone will believe. 

  • In verse 36-37, Jesus tells them the trouble is, you haven't believed even though you have seen me, but some will come to me - those the Father has given me. 

  • In verse 44-45, he continues his discourse, declaring that no man can come to me except the Father which sent me draw him.  And then he quotes from the prophets about being taught of the Lord which is a reference to the new covenant.  (See Hebrews 8:10-13) 

  • Verse 63 helps us understand the new covenant and that it is the Holy Spirit that gives us eternal life.  He repeats in verse 65 why it is that some would not believe, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it is given unto him of my Father.   

So, is it a waste of time for me to share my faith since the outcome is dependent on God?  Of course not, for who am I to say who will be saved and who will not.  My responsibility is to proclaim Jesus every time I have the opportunity.  And besides, I cannot save anyone, but I can pray.  I can pray that God would draw my friend to Jesus and I can pray that the Holy Spirit would quicken their heart to believe in him.    And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desire of him.  1John 5:14-15

Thursday, October 13, 2011

December 21, 2012

Our next door neighbor came over on Saturday to help Larry stain our deck.  "What do you think about all the hype about 2012?" he asked.  Come to find out, he had been watching the documentaries that have been on the History Channel the past months and he was intrigued; talking about the world coming to an end on December 21, 2012.  "You've got to admit," he said, "there has to be some truth to it because of all the different sources that are pointing to that date."  He was referring to the ancient Mayan calendar, the Hopi Indians, Nostradamus, the Bible Code, and scientists who predict a massive Solar storm. 

Larry and I looked at one another with one of those "knowing" looks that couples who have been married a long time use to communicate with each other.  Then later, when we were alone, we continued our discussion of the 2012 Domesday theory.  Neither of us had thought much about it before now; because a lot of the information that you see on TV is speculation, or just plain weird.  We had lumped the 2012 end of the world talk in with paranormal activity and UFO sightings; topics of unverified supposition.

What do I believe about the future and the things that will happen when the world as we know it comes to an end?  Our source of authority is the Bible so that is where I will look for information.  The next event we expect will be the rapture of the Church. See 1Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Christ will claim his Bride (the Church) and we will celebrate the wedding feast for seven years with him in heaven.  See John 14:1-3.  That seven year period will coincide with the Tribulation period here on planet earth.  See Revelation 3:10.  The last three and a half years of the Tribulation period will be a time of great troubles; including war, economic failure, earthquakes, and stars falling from the sky.  After these things Christ will return to earth with the Saints to destroy the Antichrist, imprison Satan, and establish his Millennial kingdom. See Revelation 19:11-20:3.  The events associated with the return of Christ are certain and infallible.  They are well documented through out scripture. 

How does all this fit in with 2012 Doomsday theories?  I'm not sure, but I am confident that there is a day of reckoning coming when life as we know it will drastically change.  Evil has been running rampant ever since Adam & Eve chose to disobey God, but evil will not be allowed to continue indefinitely.  Satan's days are numbered and God will triumph in the end.  If it happens in 2012, so be it.  But my confidence is not in Mayan calendars or the words of a mystic; my confidence is in the certain Word of God. 

In the last words of the Bible, Revelation 22:7,12,20, Jesus says three times, "Behold, I come quickly."  And with these words Jesus reminds us of his greatest promise - his return.  May we have confidence and not be ashamed at his coming.  See 1John 2:28.

Monday, October 10, 2011

When God Seems Far Away

Have you ever had one of those days when God seems a million miles away?  I had one of those days today.  I felt as though God had forgotten me.  I tried reading my Bible and the words just lay there on the page.  Worst of all, my prayers seemed to have no power.  We've all experienced it; the loneliness and void of feeling separated from God.  So what do you do when you can't find God? 

First of all, let me reassure you that God has not gone anywhere.  He is right where he has always been.  "Thy throne is established from of old;  Thou art from everlasting."  Psalm 93:2.  And God is still on his throne, irregardless of how I feel.  So, if God has not moved from his place, I must be the one who has moved and I must take steps to return to God.  Here are a few things that one can do.

1.  Confess your sins as soon as you are aware of them.  Unconfessed sin can keep us from God's holy presence.  In Psalm 32, David tells of how he felt when he had sins that had not been dealt with.  He goes on to tell how he felt once he had confessed his sins.  So be quick to confess your sins because they stand between you and God. 

2.  Praise God for who he is.  Think of as many words as you can to describe God.  For example, God is holy, he is just, God is loving, patient, and kind.  God is merciful.  Or sing a praise song.  Psalm 100 tells us to "enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise."  Praise is like a doorway into God's presence.

3.  Remember what God has done in the past.  Remember the special, precious times you have spent with him.  Remember when he answered your prayers.  Remember when he spoke to your heart.  Remember how he has blessed you with so many blessings.  Remember how much he loves you.  "Remember his wonders which he has done, his marvels, and the judgements uttered by his mouth," Psalm 105:5 

4.  Do something for someone else; help a neighbor or friend, cook an extra casserole to share, offer to babysit.  When we do things for others, it takes our mind off of us and our problems and helps us see the needs of others.  Putting others first pleases God. 

5.  Be obedient.  Do what you know to do.  Keep praying, keep reading the Word, keep loving God and others!  "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you."  James 4:8

Making this list was just what I needed to bring me back into God's presence.  He doesn't seem so far away anymore.  He has not forgotten me, in fact, he reminded me of his final words to his followers before he went back to heaven, "and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."  Matthew 28:20b,

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Deal with the sin in your house!

I said "No", to Hannah.  She wanted to go with Lynette and her boy friend to Ozark to watch a volleyball game and I didn't think it was a good idea because it was a school night and I don't know the boy very well.  It felt good to assert my parental authority and I probably should say no a lot more often.  Especially since I have been reading in 1 Samuel this week. 

Let me explain what I mean.  In chapter 2 we read that Eli's sons knew not the Lord and they sinned in the office of the priest.  Eli scolded his sons, but to no avail.  So God sent a message to Eli, through a man of God.  The message was not good.  God said that Eli did not have respect for the Lord's offerings and that he honored his sons more than he honored God and that he allowed sin to continue in his house.  Because of this, God was going to cut-off Eli's family from the priesthood, his two sons would die in one day, and God would raise up a faithful priest that would do God's will. 

Wow, being a parent carries a lot of responsibility; God holds parents responsible for their children's behavior.  It's not enough just to chasten them for their bad behavior, but the behavior must be corrected.  "For I have told him that I will judge his house forever, for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile and he restrained them not." (1Samuel 3:13)   A parent who fails to teach their child to obey, is dishonoring God. 

Raising a child is never easy, no matter what their temperament; and deep down, I know that Hannah has a tender heart and a humble spirit.  So I have tended to spoil her and let her slide by when it comes to enforcing the rules for our family.  I have done things for her that she should have done.  I have overlooked grumpy attitudes and hateful remarks.  And all of theses are signs of disrespect in a child; things that I should have taken immediate action to correct.

Forgive my weakness, Lord, for being a permissive parent, for letting disrespect and a rebellious attitude creep into my house. Help me to see it for what it is and to nip it in the bud.  Lord help me to be a good parent who holds to the highest standard of obedience,  a parent who is unafraid to deal with the sin in my house.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Maybe I will go away for a while.

Maybe then you will see the truth,
Maybe then you will know that I care.

Maybe if I am gone, you will have time to think.

Maybe you will remember the words I said,
Maybe you will even understand.

Maybe in time you will see things differently.

Maybe you will not think me so archaic,
Maybe you will be able to see with your heart.

And maybe, just  maybe, you will see me.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Before and After

Our church is doing the small group study, Just Walk Across the Room,   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VysahP_x7Wc&feature=related  in an effort to help us as Christians to share our faith with others.  One of the exercises we are challenged to do is to put in writing our "Before and After" story.  Before and after Christ, that is.  To tell how our life was before knowing Christ and how our life is after knowing Christ.

For me the story starts a long time ago, when I was just a child.  Even as a little girl, I could sense God  calling me.  I was raised in a christian home, by christian parents and grandparents who taught me by their example the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I accepted Jesus as my savior at a young age and had a child-like trust in him. 

During my teen years, I struggled with peer pressure and the pull of the world and I'm sad to say, the world won in that struggle.  I did things that I knew were wrong on Saturday night and then I would go to church on Sunday morning.  I straddled the fence, so to speak, during my teens and young adult life; confessing my sins and then falling to temptation again.  I knew that I was "saved" because salvation is based on the truth that when Jesus died on the cross, he paid the penalty for my sins. (Ephesians 2:8)  But, I was lacking in the commitment department: I was still carnal, a lukewarm christian.  I never stopped going to church, but I had a deep longing in my heart for something more.  I felt empty and disappointed with my life and how things were going.

But, one day a friend invited me to a ladies Bible study.  And for the first time, I began reading God's Word for myself.  I remember getting so excited that I read the whole book of John in one day.  The Word of God became alive to me, and it began to change my life.  (Hebrews 4:12)  That ladies Bible study was just the beginning of a life-long quest to find out more about this God who loved me so much he would die to save me from death and hell. 

I learned also about the Holy Spirit and his role in my life as the Comforter, and I asked him to fill me completely and to take control of my life.  When I surrendered my life to him, yielding every area of it to him and his will, sin no longer ruled in my life.  (Romans 6:6)  I wasn't straddling the fence any longer.  Gone were the days of running with the world and its crowd, because now I was walking daily with God's Holy Spirit as my guide.

Before I surrendered my life to Jesus and gave him the keys to my heart, I was living a miserable and defeated life.  After Jesus became the Lord of my life, I now have joy and peace and enjoy sweet fellowship with him everyday.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Do I really have to go to church?

"Do I really have to go to church?" she said.  "Me and God are OK.  I don't have to go to church to go to heaven.  I just can't go to church now.  All I do is cry and the people all look down on me and judge me because of all that's going on with my family."  I was speechless, taken aback, because I love to go to church; can't imagine why anyone would not want to go. 

Do you remember the children's song, I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me, Let Us Go Unto the House of the Lord.  Well, that song is me.  I'm ready to go to church on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night or any other time if there was a reason to go.  In fact, I'm miserable if I don't get to go to church.  Just ask my family; whenever I'm late for church, I suddenly become a speed demon when driving to church.  I may even reach the speed limit. 

But her question made me wonder, just why do we go to church?  Here are a few of the reasons I came up with, to explain why I go to church.

  • Jesus went to church.  (Luke 4:16) "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and as was his custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read".  Jesus went to church or synagogue, and to the temple in Jerusalem several times a year.  Remember the time his parents lost him when they went to the Jerusalem, and where did they find him?  Why he was in the temple discussing scripture with the Rabbis.  He told his anxious parents that they should have known that he had to be in His Father's house.
  • God commanded it.  (Exodus 20:8)  "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy."  God himself observed the Sabbath by resting on the 7th day after creation.  I believe he created our bodies and souls, in such a way that we can be renewed or rejuvenated if we will observe a Sabbath rest.  Granted you don't have to go to church to rest,  you can do that at home or anywhere.  But going to church is one way we "keep it holy".
  • We go to  church to offer sacrifices.  (Exodus 34:22-23)  "And you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks, that is the first fruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year.  Three times a year, all your males are to appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel."  We no longer offer sacrifices during our worship, but we sacrifice in other ways, by giving of our time, talents, and resources.  We are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices the apostle Paul said in Romans 12.  I believe that would include our service to God and others.
  • We go to church to worship God.  (Psalm 95:6)  "Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker."  This is the part of church that I so look forward to;  to focus on him, to sing to him, to thank him, to offer my life in submission to him.  I believe that this is the true worship that Jesus was speaking of when he told the woman at the well that true worshipers were those who worship in spirit and in truth.  (John 4:23-24)
  • We go to church to study the Bible.  (2Timothy 3:15)  "And that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,"  At church we study God's word in age appropriate classes, from childhood to senior adult; there's something for everyone.  Through the years, I have been in some wonderful Sunday School classes.  I have been grounded in my faith by the consistent, weekly times of Bible study. 
  • We go to church to fellowship with other believers.  The church is the body of Christ and made up of many members.  (1Corinthians 12:14) But we are one body in Christ.  Which means that we are in this thing called life together.  We need each other, to share the burden, to hold us accountable, and to encourage us.  God placed us in the body with other believers to help us.

Craig Groeschel has written a book called The Christian Atheist.  In his book he makes the point that some Christians  say that they believe in God, but live as though they don't believe that he has forgiven them for instance, or that he can change them.  He devotes one chapter of his book to the fact that some Christians believe in God but not the church.  He says in Chapter 12 that God is not calling us to go to church,  but he is calling us to be the Church, the hope of the world.  Since Jesus lives in believers, we represent him to the world. 

I have been the beneficiary of many blessings as a result of going to church.  It's sad when an individual, because of shame or guilt or fear, decides not to go to church.  To do so, is to miss out on the joys of going to church.