May 20, 2017

Jesus the Carpenter

I have always found it interesting that Jesus was a carpenter. His earthly father, Joseph was a carpenter and had obviously passed the trade on to Jesus. In Matthew 13:55 the Jews ask if this was not the carpenter's son. In Mark 6:3 the Jews ask if Jesus was not the carpenter. I like that Jesus was taught to work with his hands as he was growing up and while the Bible is silent about this, we can easily assume that he carried that trade right up until he began his ministry. That would be why the Jews were astonished at his doctrine as he taught and questioned "is not this the carpenter?" That was how he was known up to this point. I don't know why but that makes me smile. 

I think it is a lovely thought that the carpenter (builder) learned that profession and also is the builder of the bridge (metaphorically & spiritually) between us and God. The song "Jesus Built a Bridge" has always made my mind picture that of a carpenter and I am not even sure that was the intent or thought when the song was written. Jesus the carpenter builds. He uses trials in our lives to build us and make us strong. He uses relationships to bless us, try us and help us build our faith in Him and one another. It is a beautiful thought and picture! 

Just a little thought to help you picture Jesus in a different way. I know a young man that once told me when we worked with youth that he was going to be a carpenter and that he figured it was good enough for Jesus so it was good enough for him. ---He did become one by the way! 

Jesus already built that bridge between you and God when He died on the cross and rose from the grave. Have you taken the opportunity to use the bridge? You can use it by accepting that you are a sinner and that your sin separates you from God. When you put your trust and faith in what Jesus did, you become a child of God and therefore may use the bridge. 

May 9, 2017

Building Strong Muscles

We are having Revival meetings this week and the preacher said something Sunday night that triggered this thought. He talked about building our spiritual muscles is just like building our physical muscles. How true!!

If you do not want weak muscles you must exercise to build them up and make them strong. In the same manner, we must also exercise spiritually. Sometimes God forces us to do this! ---because we know that what is not used grows weak. 

One way we exercise spiritually is to read our Bibles and study it. Another way is by spending time in prayer both in thanksgiving, and in asking for help for ourselves and others. Yet another way to exercise spiritually is to go to church and spend time with other Christians. One of the best ways is to have open discussions about God's Word with friends, family and other church members. (Iron sharpeneth iron!) 

Sometimes God uses trials or just every day situations to build our spiritual muscles by forcing us to rely on Him. By allowing us to go through the fiery trials and then letting us see the outcome He had planned. Letting us experience His good for us and His glory, builds our faith like nothing else. 

Some folks continue to have weak spiritual muscles because they do not exercise them.  They coast along on the coattails of others or just meandering through life without a care in the world for staying strong spiritually. Eventually, they will be too weak to fight against the fiery darts that come their way. This will lead them to turn from church and God and they will be left with nothing but anger, bitterness, cynicism, apathy, and sarcasm towards the things of God. In reality it was their own lack of muscle building, yet they will blame God and God's servants. 

How about you? Do you exercise on a regular basis to build your spiritual muscles? If you have been lax in this area and allowed yourself to become weak, there's no better time like the present to start your spiritual exercising.

April 23, 2017

Three Things God Cannot Do

Just a quick thought today. Over the years and here recently, I've heard people say, "God wouldn't do that," or "God already did this, so He won't do that to me," or "I just don't think God is fair," or "I just don't think God is that way," or "I don't understand why God...". Well, my response is always "what makes you say that or think that?" There are only three things God cannot do and that is 1-Lie, 2- be unjust, 3- make a mistake. That's it!!!  

God can do anything and everything He so chooses! It his His ball game. He created it (the world, and everything in it). He gets to make ALL the rules! Just because we have a Bible example over here in this spot where He did this, doesn't mean He must follow through in that same aspect over there in that situation. Just in case you aren't well versed in Bible, in some places he removes enemies, diseases, or situations that arise. While in others He allows a different person to suffer through situations. Hence the verse that says ...I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and I show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (Ex. 33:19) The Bible also says it rains on the just and the unjust. 

God is the Supreme Being! Telling me or Him that He can't or won't do something is absurd. (such as, let a mom die of cancer and never allow a sister to then get cancer so as to not put the family through more) Telling me or God that He made a mistake or is wrong is also absurd. To me that is what transgender people are saying. God messed up and made them wrong. NO! God made them male and female. He made them separate. He DID NOT make a mistake and give one of them the wrong genital parts. --- Let me get this straight, He can create the whole world from nothing and speak it into being, create humans from dirt, His own breath and then a rib in 6 literal days, but He messed up making some of the people walking today by giving them the incorrect body parts to match what their brain tells them? Hmm? Who is making the mistake? Not God!

This last part was just something that came to me as I was typing. It actually wasn't the point of the post. It wasn't a lead in to get to rant. It just happened. It was more about saying that God wouldn't or can't or must... 

Even many Christians seem to have the attitude that God must fit their mold and thought process. I believe completely that He can and will do whatever and anything He wants to do. He is not required to fit a mold. Even in His wrath He is loving. You don't have to believe it, but just because you don't; doesn't mean it isn't true! 

Just to get you thinking and because I've gone too long without blogging. It's been an emotional month for me as April always is, so I haven't taken time to post. It's not like I'm reaching hundreds anyways! lol My average readership is between 25 and 35 sooo.  But, if I can get one of those to think and reason for themselves, I've accomplished my task.

April 11, 2017

Noah's Ark Series Lesson 3

Having Fixed Points in a Changing World
Matt. 7:24-27, Heb. 12:25-28

In a world of constant change there are some things in life that are fixed points. They don't change. they can be counted on.
--Navigators can count on the North Star
--Builders trust in plumb lines
--Musicians depend on set notes

Psychologists say that change is hard for most people - even good changes.
--change is threatening, frightening, & intimidating
--most people resist it  and down right avoid it

Psychologists also say that the best way to adjust to change is to remember and focus on some fixed points in our life.
--Fixed points are things we can trust & commit to
--Little kids learn this at a very young age - when they go into a new situation, they usually reach for & cling to a security blanket, teddy bear, or other toy, mom, dad or even their thumb because they want something that they know & makes them feel secure

So, what are some fixed points for us as our world shudders, shakes and we go through trials?
Heb. 13:8 tells us that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever

Because of this He gives us strong foundations to build upon
Let's look at some fixed points in anyone's life....

I. Truth
--Sometimes it is hard to sort out lies from truth but we can use Jesus as a measuring stick
--We need to measure everything we see, read or hear by the standard of truth found in God's Word
--If it goes against what Scripture says--it CANNOT be truth!
--By the way, God will NOT impress upon you to do something that goes against His Word
-- For instance, God doesn't impress upon people to murder someone, steal from others or even get a divorce - when someone chooses to do those things they have made up their own minds because God would not urge someone to do something contrary to His Word

Prov. 23:23 tells us to buy the truth and sell it not
John 14:6 - Jesus tells us He is the truth
Rom. 3:4  says that God is true and every man a liar

--When Satan makes us doubt - cling to the truths of the Bible

II. Love
--We love him because he first loved us - this is the only reason we know about love

Rom. 8:38-39 - Once we get saved, we become God's child and we can't be separated from his love
--even when we think that no one on earth loves us, we can rest assured of God's love for us

**True love is that which gives expecting nothing in return

III. God
--He is immutable or unchangeable
Ps. 102:27, Mal. 3;6, Rev. 1:8

Though God allows and sometimes even brings changes in our lives, we can trust Him for He is unchanging -- He is always just, always fair, and always loving even when He brings His wrath. Everything He does is for our good and for His glory

IV. God's Word 
--it endures forever
Ps. 119:89, Is. 40:8, Matt. 24:35, 1 Peter 1:25

--when we go through trials we can search the Bible for comfort and also for what to do

March 30, 2017

Just Who Is Running the Show?

Been observing society lately. --- Both in public places such as stores and restaurants along with church and extended family. Some days I can't help but wonder who is running things in everyone's home. 

This can be a touchy subject. I reckon I was raised a certain way and was taught that the adults are in charge and have the authority. When I forgot that, I was reminded real quick with some sort of punishment and discipline. Those are two different things by the way! That being said, I am sure there were times I and my sister were allowed unknowingly to run the show. I suppose  all parents can be guilty at times of allowing the kids to run things. 

This needs explaining. When my parents told me to do something, it was done or there were consequences. When they said "no", I understood and there was no whining until I got what I wanted just to get me to be quiet or out of their hair. (there was a short time in late grade school when if I cried my dad would give in and we would go for a visit to my cousin's house...I believe this only happened because my dad actually didn't mind going for that visit or wanted to himself visit also) My parents were not constantly running me places or to activities just because I wanted it. I didn't get to choose the tv programs or radio stations in the living room. I could listen to music in my room but we never had more than one tv while growing up and Bob and I only have one now! However, every parent has been guilty of giving in because they don't want the argument. It just wasn't the norm at my house growing up, nor do I believe it was the norm while raising my kids.

When I was in high school (this was after my dad passed away) I ran track and cross country my freshman and sophomore years. My sister ran cross country her freshman year but then was in Poms after that. Outside of this, my mom was NOT running us here and there and all around the square to every shindig we wanted on a regular basis. In other words, my mom did not cater to my life's activities. She had her own activities and she was also taking care of the home while working. This did not make her an unkind, uncaring or unloving mother. Quite the contrary. My mom was the most giving person I have ever known. However, back then, children did not decide what was happening each night, which activities were taking place or which tv shows were being watched. And most assuredly parents weren't running around, spinning like a top trying to get each kid some place they each wanted to be. No wonder there is such a need for gasoline! lol 

I watch today as parents are doing nothing but budgeting their time around what each child in the home wants to do. This includes budgeting around church time and most of the time church loses!  Marriages are falling apart because there is no time for the grown ups to enjoy time together or go on a date or relaxing even. It is go, go, go around the kids' schedules. When and why did this happen in our society?!

Some of it comes out of feelings of guilt due to parents working so much. Some of it comes out of wanting to give children everything the adult missed out on including all the activities along with material things. Some of it comes from listening to society telling us that kids NEED activities to develop social skills. Baloney! Many of the social skills they are picking up at these activities are things that will cause you headache in the future with your children! Some of it comes from lazy parenting and not wanting to set boundaries. I don't reckon the reasons really matter. It needs fixing! I do not understand why a child needs to be on the go constantly. I do not understand why a child should get to be the one to choose what is watched on tv. Just to keep them quiet? I understand using the tv as a babysitter at times, but this should not be the constant. 

What are we teaching these young people? We are teaching them that what THEY want and what THEY think is all that matters. We are doing them an injustice because guess what, their future boss is not going to care! Their future spouse is going to need their own needs met also. This is why so many young people today can't hold a job. They can't take orders or do what is expected because they want to be in charge! We already have a generation that my generation in general raised up to not be able to handle it when things don't go their way. We currently have a generation of adults that need their safe room,  safe space, lapel pins, and time out areas just to cope with things when life doesn't happen the way they want. 

It is time that parents parent! It is time they be the ones in charge. It is time that boundaries are set. It is time to take time for marriages not just family activities or children's activities. It is time to teach. It is time to teach self control, consideration for others, that I am not the only person that matters, there are rules and consequences when the rules are broken, sometimes life isn't fair, sometimes life hurts, AND you don't always get everything you want! Parents need to let kids know that they were not put on this planet to serve and cater to their every whim! 

March 19, 2017

A Close Look at Luke 22:31-34

I did some serious delving into this passage in Luke. A few things brought this study about. I recently had someone say that this passage says that Jesus prayed for Peter to be saved. When I read it after this person said that, I immediately thought, this passage doesn't mean what you think it does. I don't know what it is about me unless it is discernment from the Holy Spirit but when someone is using a verse to back up what they are saying or proving a point in a sermon, something often doesn't sit right with me when it is being used incorrectly or out of context. It will immediately nag at me somewhere in the recesses of my mind that makes me go and study further. (That's a good thing by the way!) We should every one of us do this if someone is teaching or preaching something that doesn't sit quite right with us in our minds. Never just assume the preacher, teacher or lay person is right because they should know more than you. I'm not saying you should challenge them on the spot but go and study for yourself and if you find them incorrect then go to them in private and show them what you have found. Many will not hear you because of arrogance and feelings of offence but SOME will! 

Anyhoo, I wasn't sure why it was nagging at me about this passage but I intended to find out and it wasn't an immediate understanding. I had to think it through in different scenarios and compare scripture with scripture and/or other thoughts alluded to in the Bible. (Also, should be how you study!) 

First of all, saying that this is proof that Jesus prayed for Peter to be saved goes against what most preach about the apostles. Most preach that the apostles at this time in Christ's ministry were saved. This is a whole other topic for a different day. But, if you hold to that thought then this clearly isn't what is happening when Jesus says "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." If he was already saved at this point because he was an apostle of Christ, then why would Jesus need to pray for his salvation? 

Now let's look at this reasonably and rationally. What does it say?  ... Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:   But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not:...There was a time in my life when I believed(because I heard it preached this way) that this was a prayer that was in reference to Peter denying Jesus later that night. This thought actually doesn't fit either! If Jesus were praying anything wouldn't you think His prayer, of all people, would have power to be answered? (No, you don't get to go to the Garden when He prayed let this cup pass from me because He also prayed not my will but yours LORD.) In this passage in Luke, He doesn't say Your will LORD. Yet, we know that Peter DOES deny Jesus three times later! So, did Jesus' prayer have no power? 

What does sifting wheat do? At harvest time, the wheat is thrashed and sifted to remove the unusable parts of the wheat. Now, there is nothing noble about Satan's intentions when it comes to a follower of Christ but I believe this is very similar to the story of Job. Satan kept going to God and trying to get permission to do things to Job to prove that Job wouldn't keep trusting in God if bad things happened. Sifting is sorting out the good and the bad. Notice it says Satan has desired but Jesus prays that Peter's faith doesn't fail. He could have just told Satan no, you don't get to sift Peter. Also,He doesn't pray that he be converted. It says WHEN you are converted! 

I believe this passage is talking about Peter's faith not failing in the end, beyond the night of the Crucifixion and unbelief of Jesus' resurrection. (Poor Thomas gets a bad rap because in reality, NONE of the apostles believed until they saw Jesus in bodily form or have an angel tell them he was resurrected) We know, because we have the rest of the Bible after Luke and the gospels that Peter went on to be a strong leader and witness for Christ to the Jews and gentiles. (Paul may be considered the apostle to the gentiles but it was Peter who started that ministry!) Peter is the one whom Jesus said He would give the keys to the kingdom of heaven. He is the one who gets to preach at Pentecost. Peter needed taken down a notch or two from his arrogance. When he denied Christ, Jesus looked right at him and Peter was well aware what he had done and that Jesus had told him so and he went out and wept bitterly (and I believe humbled to serve like never before). 

No other explanation makes sense logically looking at scripture. I fully understand that sometimes we can't look at scripture and try to make sense or be logical because of our finite minds not comprehending but when we CAN figure it out, we should! 

I'm sure some will disagree with my take on this passage. If so, feel free to post a comment to try and prove your point. I certainly don't mind debate. Maybe I have missed something to look at but right now, I believe what I have posted is correct. And, if I have done nothing else but make you study then I have succeeded at my intention! Have a blessed time in the Word! :)

March 12, 2017

Some Things You Can't Borrow - Lesson 2 Noah's Ark Series

Matt. 25:1-13
When a crisis comes in your life you must have your own resources of faith and spiritual strength because they can't be borrowed at the last minute.

I. Can't borrow someone else's commitment to the Bible
A. Need your OWN Bible that YOU have read, studied & memorized 
--others can hand you a Bible and/or quote scripture to you but if you haven't got it inside you yourself, it won't be as comforting, it won't have as much meaning for you

B. If you don't know the Bible - YOUR Bible, when you need verses to help yourself or someone else you won't be able to find the verses you need
--I often know that a particular verse is somewhere in a certain area of the page on the right or left in my own Bible

II. Can't borrow someone else's commitment to prayer
A. Need your own personal time with God
--this is to have your sins confessed up so that your relationship is right with God - If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear.

B. Don't just rely on others for prayer
--many people want others to pray for them but never pray for themselves
--others can pray and it can be helpful and powerful but others do not know you or your needs, thoughts, & desires as well as you do!

III. Can't borrow someone else's commitment to Christ
A. We must have our own relationship with Jesus
--you can't go to heaven because your mom, dad, spouse, or anyone else is saved - must have it for yourself

B. We must have our own peace & trust in Christ when the storm is raging
--the disciples had no peace on the ship when the storm came even though Jesus was there with them, and He was calm and sleeping
--they had seen His miracles & still had not drawn close enough to Him to have peace & trust that He would care for them

We can have peace & joy in the storms of life but only when we abide in Him.

We need to be building an ark of spiritual strength because there are some things that just can't be borrowed - especially at the last minute. Build it by having a commitment to the Bible, to prayer, and to Christ.