Getting The Package Ready Matthew 1:18-25

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Yes, this is Joseph’s story…….when Mary told him she was pregnant! Joseph was to be entrusted with being the earthly father of God’s Son. And the Lord had work to do on this man before he could receive this gift of of Jesus. This work involved getting the package ready!

  • The package, in this case, was the family into which Jesus was to be placed.
  • The package, in a wider sense, is everyone who receives the Son of God as Savior!

Here is the redacted Scripture of Matthew 1:18 through 25:

     After [Jesus’]...mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph
     ...she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then 
     Joseph...not wanting to make her a public example, 
     was minded to put her away secretly. But while he 
     thought about these things, behold, an angel of the 
     Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph...
     do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for 
     that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 
     And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call 
     His name Jesus, for He will save His people from 
     their sins.” ...Then Joseph...did as the angel of 
     the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and
     ...she...brought forth her firstborn Son. And he 
     called His name Jesus.

Joseph was a carpenter by trade. He had a small shop in Nazareth, about ninety miles north of Jerusalem. He was a commoner in Israel, not one of the elite, such as a member of the Sadducees, the Pharisees, or the teachers of the Jewish law. But he had been schooled growing up, and he was familiar with many of the laws in the Pentateuch.

  • He was in love with a young maiden named Mary who also lived in Nazareth. They were betrothed (engaged) to be married in the near future!
Betrothal was a serious commitment! It could 
          only be broken by a divorce!

     ✡   But Joseph had no plans of a divorce with this 
          beautiful young woman.
  • But suddenly Mary went away! And she was gone for more than three months!
What Joseph didn’t know was that Mary went 
          to see her older cousin Elizabeth who had 
          become pregnant six month’s earlier. Eliz-
          abeth and her husband Zacharias lived in 
          the hill country of Judah.

     ✡   Although Scripture doesn’t say, it seems 
          Mary wanted the comfort of a godly woman 
          who was also pregnant, and would under-
          stand Mary’s situation!

     ✡   Mary stayed with her cousin until after 
          Elizabeth’s baby was born. The baby grew 
          up to be John the Baptist!
  • When Mary finally returned, she told Joseph she was pregnant……pregnant by God’s Holy Spirit! And she would deliver the long-awaited Messiah into the world!
     ✡   For the angel Gabriel had told her...

           “...behold, you will conceive...and bring 
           forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 
           He will be great, and will be called the 
           Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will 
           give Him the throne of His father David. 
           And He will reign over the house of Jacob 
           forever, and of His kingdom there will be 
           no end.” (Luke 1:31 through 33).

     ✡   But Joseph couldn’t believe her! In his mind, 
          the only explanation was that Mary had been 
          unfaithful!
  • Joseph was …a just man…,and he knew what he had to do! (just meaning “…upright, righteous, virturous, keeping the commands of God…;” Thayer’s Greek Definitions).
     ✡   He may have recalled the words of the Syna-
          gogue’s rabbi, reading Leviticus 20:10: 
          “...the adulterer and the adulteress shall 
          surely be put to death.”But Joseph just couldn’t have Mary put to 
          death!  So, “...not wanting to make her a 
          public example, [he] was minded to put her 
          away secretly.” (Matthew 1:19).

     ✡   He would break their betrothal and send her 
          away to have her baby......... away from 
          Nazareth, away from threat of death, away 
          from his life, away from his heart!

But God had other plans!

  • …plans to ‘get the package ready’
...to prepare Joseph to receive both Mary 
          and her baby!...to be a husband to his wife, and a father 
          to Jesus!
  • Matthew 1:20 and 21:
     ...while he thought about these things, behold, 
     an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, 
     saying, “Joseph...do not be afraid to take to 
     you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived 
     in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring 
     forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, 
     for He will save His people from their sins.” 
  • This was an angelic message from God Himself! It was settled! The package was ready!…Then Joseph…did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and…she…brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:24 and 25).

God had to ‘get the package ready’ for His Son to be born into the world. But this first advent was not the only instance of the Lord working to ‘get the package ready’!

  • I John 5:1 – “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God….
     What does it mean to “...believe...that Jesus 
         is the Christ...”?

         ➔   It means believing that He is the 
              Messiah, the One promised to Israel 
              to redeem them and the whole world 
              from the ravages of sin!

         ➔   It means believing the Old Testament 
              promises, such as Isaiah 9:6 and 7:

                 For unto us a Child is born, unto 
                 us a Son is given; and the govern-
                 ment will be upon His shoulder. And 
                 His name will be called Wonderful, 
                 Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting 
                 Father, Prince of Peace. Of the in-
                 crease of His government and peace 
                 there will be no end, upon the throne 
                 of David and over His kingdom, to 
                 order it and establish it with judg-
                 ment and justice from that time for-
                 ward, even forever.

         ➔   It means believing the many New Testament 
              Scriptures concerning our acceptance of 
              Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord! Here are 
              four:

                 John 11:27 – “...I believe that 
                  You are the Christ, the Son of 
                  God, who is to come into the 
                  world.”

                 Acts 16:31 – “Believe on the Lord 
                  Jesus Christ, and you will be saved
                  ....”

                 Romans 10:9 – “...if you confess 
                  with your mouth the Lord Jesus, 
                  and believe in your heart that God 
                  has raised Him from the dead, you 
                  will be saved.”

                 I John 5:11 and 12:

                    ...this is the testimony: that God 
                    has given us eternal life, and this 
                    life is in His Son. He who has the 
                    Son has life; he who does not the 
                    Son of God does not have life.

     ✞   God, through His Holy Spirit, works in unbeliev-
         ers’ hearts to prepare them to receive the gift 
         of......salvation through Jesus Christ!...being born into God’s family!
  • There is another package preparation in the lives of Christians that God is continually working on!
     ✞   God, through His Holy Spirit, dwells in every 
         Christian believer!

         ➔   I Corinthians 3:16 – “Do you not know 
              that you are the temple of God and that 
              the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

         ➔   I Corinthians 6:19 and 20:

                 Or do you not know that your body 
                 is the temple of the Holy Spirit 
                 who is in you, whom you have from 
                 God, and you are not your own? For 
                 you are bought with a price; there-
                 fore glorify God in your body and 
                 in your spirit, which are God’s

     Jesus told His disciples in John 14:16, “...I 
         will ask the Father, and he shall give you an-
         other Comforter, that he may abide with you for 
         ever, even the Spirit of truth....”

         ➔   The Holy Spirit is......the indwelling seal of God, 
                  that ...He who has begun a good 
                  work in you will complete it un-
                  til the day of [the return of] 
                  Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6).

                 “...the Comforter...” (John 14:6 – 
                  above). According to M. R. Vincent’s 
                  Word Studies, Comforter is the Greek 
                  word, αράκλητος (pronounced par-ak’-
                  lay-tos, and meaning “one who is 
                  called to another’s side to aid him
                  ...”).

                 “...another...” in the Greek is 
                  ἄλλος (pronounced al’-los, and, ac-
                  cording to Vincent it means, “The 
                  advocate who is to be sent is not 
                  different from Christ, but another 
                  similar to Himself.”

         ➔   So much so is the Holy Spirit just like 
              Jesus that, when it is the Spirit who in-
              dwells us,  Paul, in Colossians 1:27, 
              could say,“...Christ in you, the hope of 
              glory.
  • The question is: Are you a ‘prepared package’ (container, temple, dwelling place) for Jesus Christ to live in you?
     ✞   None of us are good enough to provide the perfect 
         dwelling place for our Savior, to live through His 
         Holy Spirit!

     ✞   That is why God is still working on us......to refine us!...to take away our sinful tendencies 
              that dirty upGod’s package!...to become what Paul wrote in Ephesians 
              2:19 through 22 (Bible in Basic English):

                 ...you are numbered among the saints, 
                 and of the family of God, resting on 
                 the base of the apostles and prophets, 
                 Christ Jesus Himself being the chief 
                 keystone, in Whom all the building, 
                 rightly joined together, comes to be 
                 a holy house of God in the Lord; in 
                 whom you, with the rest, are united 
                 together as a living-place of God in 
                 the Spirit. 

     ✞   He isgetting the package ready!

He is getting YOU ready, Christian…
to be a more glorious ‘package’
to house Jesus Christ
through His Holy Spi
rit!

Giving From A Willing Heart Exodus 35:4-9

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Moses came down from Mount Sinai the second time, according to Exodus 34:29 through 35, bearing the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God! Yes, this was the second time! The first time, recorded in 32:1 through 29, the Israelites had sinned by fashioning and worshiping a golden calf! Moses, in anger, broke the first set of stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments at the foot of the mountain!

This second time, he came bearing not only the Ten Commandments, but also directions from the LORD as to the construction of the holy tabernacle and its accoutrements, and how to properly worship God. The directions started with the gathering of the needed materials. Here is Exodus 35:4 through 9:

     ....And Moses spoke to all the congregation of Israel, 
     saying: “This is the thing which the LORD commanded, 
     saying, ‘Take from among you an offering to the LORD. 
     Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an 
     offering to the LORD: gold, silver, and bronze; blue 
     and purple and scarlet yarn, fine linen thread, and 
     goats hair; ram’s skins dyed red, badger skins, and 
     acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the 
     anointing oil and for sweet incense; onyx stones, 
     and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breast-
     plate.’”

We can learn a lot about giving from these six verses!

Exodus 35:4 – “This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying….The instructions came from the LORD! So also, our instructions concerning giving must come from the Word of God!

  • In the Old Testament the tithe, which is the tenth (see Leviticus 27:32), was commanded by God to be given! Offerings were often given beyond that minimum tithe.
  • In the New Testament, while the tithe is not put forth as a law that Christains must obey, ten percent of our income offered to God is a good place to start with our giving!
  • I also know you cannot out-give the LORD!
     Luke 6:38:

           Give and it will be given to you; good 
           measure, pressed down, shaken together, 
           and running over will be put into your 
           lap, for with the same measure that you 
           use, it will be measured to you again.

     II Corinthians 9:6 – “But this I say: He 
         who sows sparingly will also read sparingly, 
         and he who sows bountifully will also reap 
         bountifully.Someone once said, “I shovel out, and God 
         shovels in. But God uses the bigger shovel!”
  • I can testify of the LORD’s faithfulness of provision. Upon marriage to my bride Hope, she exacted four promises from me:
     Will you go to church with me?”

     Will you pray with me?Will you read the Bible with me?Will you tithe with me?

I said yes to all four requests, and we have been doing these things for over 53 years! God has never let us down! He has always supplied our needs, not always our wants, but we have never gone hungry, never lacked shelter, clothes, or other necessities of life! He has blessed us abundantly in many ways – sometimes by miracles!

But let’s get back to examining those six verses in Exodus 35…

Exodus 35:5 – “Take from among you an offering to the LORD….

  • Our giving is always to the LORD, no matter where we might give…
     ...to our church, to missions, to relieve 
         hunger or disease – wherever He directs us 
         to give.

     ✞   This last point is important! We are to give 
         where He directs! This particular offering in 
         Exodus chapter 35 was for the building of the 
         tabernacle and the establishment of Israel’s 
         worship of Jehovah.
  • The offering was to be taken …from among you…! God asks only what…
     ✞   ...we already have! Or...

     ✞   ...what He will provide for us to give! This 
         requires faith to believe He will give us what 
         He asks us to give to Him!
  • In this Scriptural instance, the Israelites had all that the LORD required of them! They got it as payment for their many years of slavery to the Egyptians!
     ✡   Exodus 3:21 and 22 – When God called Moses at the 
          burning bush, He told him...

           “...I will give this people favor in the sight 
           of the Egyptians; and it shall be, when you go, 
           that you shall not go emptyhanded. But every 
           woman shall ask of her neighbor, namely, of her 
           who dwells near her house, articles of silver, 
           articles of gold, and clothing; and you shall 
           put them on your sons and on your daughters. So 
           you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

     ✡   Exodus 12:35 and 36:

           Now the children of Israel had done according 
           to the word of Moses, and they had asked from 
           the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of 
           gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the 
           people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so 
           that they granted them what they requested. 
           Thus they plundered the Egyptians. 

Exodus 35:5 – “Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD….
This is vital to giving!

  • Any gift given must come from a willing heart!
     ✡   Exodus 25:2 – God told Moses, “Speak to the 
          children of Israel, that they bring Me an of-
          fering. From everyone who gives it willingly 
          with his heart you shall take My offering.II Corinthians 9:7 – “...let each one give as 
         he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of 
         necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
  • We must never be like that tightwad who every week sang in his mind his own rendition of the last verse of the hymn, Blest Be The Tie That Binds…..after he dropped a nickel in the offering plate:When we asunder part, it gives me inward pain…!

Exodus 35:5 through 9:

     ...gold, silver, and bronze; blue and purple and 
     scarlet yarn, fine linen thread, and goats hair; 
     ram’s skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia 
     wood; oil for the light, and spices for the a-
     nointing oil and for sweet incense; onyx stones, 
     and stones to be set in the ephod and in the 
     breastplate.
  • God knows exactly what is needed in each specific situation, whether it be
     ✞   ...a local individual need!

     ✞   ...what a mission or missionary needs half 
         a world away!
  • And sometimes He lays upon the heart of the giver the exact amount of the specific item of the need!

So give as God directs!
And give from a willing heart!

Can We Behold God’s Glory?

II Corinthians 4:6

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Can we see the glory of God? Two Scriptures come to mind concerning this question:

  • Exodus 33:18 – Moses beseeched God,Please, show me Your glory.
     ✡   Israel’s leader was angry, frustrated, and hurt 
          because the Jewish people, recently delivered 
          from slavery in Egypt, had now made an image of 
          Apis, the Egyptian god in the form of a bull 
          that symbolized fertility, sexual power, and 
          physical strength.

     ✡   Moses had been on Mount Sinai’s summit for forty 
          days receiving the Ten Commandments.Broken-hearted, exhausted, and angry, Moses 
          needed God’s strength, encouragement, and the 
          assurance that the LORD would remain with them 
          as Israel’s God, leading them into the Promised 
          Land!

But what was God’s answer when Moses asked to see His glory?

     “You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me 
     and live....Here is a place by Me, and you shall 
     stand on a rock. So it shall be, while My glory 
     passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of 
     the rock, and will cover you with My hand while 
     I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you 
     shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.” 
     (Exodus 33:20 through 23).
  • I Timothy 6:15 and 16 – Paul, writing about Jesus Christ in His heavenly glory, said,
     ...He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the 
     King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone has 
     immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light,
     whom no man has seen or can see.......unapproachable light...! Light that cannot be approached!

Apparently, humankind, in our sin-tainted mortal bodies, cannot abide, or even remain alive, in the presence of the full manifestation of God’s glory! His righteous glory would so overcome our sinful person, that we would immediately die!

So how can we ever get to know who God really is if we can’t see Him? It is not a problem that we can ever solve……….but God did! He sent His Son to become a human being, a fully human being who veiled the divine glory, so we could abide in His presence!

But He was still fully God!

  • The Bible proclaims Jesus’ divinity multiple times! Here are a few Scriptures:
     John 1:1 and 14 – “In the beginning was the 
         Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word 
         was God...And the Word was made flesh, and 
         dwelt among us....John 14:7 through 9: 

           Jesus told His disciples, “If you had known 
           Me, you would have known My Father also; and 
           from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” 
           Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, 
           and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to 
           him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet 
           you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen 
           Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 
           ‘Show us the Father’?” 


      Philippians 2:6 (Contemporary English Version) – 
         “Christ was truly God.Colossians 1:15 – Jesus ...is the image of the 
         invisible God....Hebrews 1:8 – “But to the Son He [the Father] 
         says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever
         ....’
  • On that basis, that Jesus is truly God come in the flesh, Paul wrote in II Corinthians 4:6 (our featured Scripture):
     For it is God who commanded the light to shine out of 
     darkness who has shone in our hearts to give the light 
     of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of 
     Jesus Christ.

We canseeGod in the face of Jesus Christ because He IS God come in the flesh!

  • How can we seeHim when He departed the earth almost two thousand years ago? I agree that we can’t physically see the face of Jesus (unless He gives us the rare occurrence of a vision of Himself). However…
  • We seeJesus through the Bible’s presentation of Him! The more we get into the Word, and the Word in us (see Colossians 3:16), the more real He becomes, and the more clearly we will see His face, and the glory of God in His face (His person)!

Above, I said, “…in our sin-tainted mortal bodies, [we] cannot abide, or even remain alive, in the presence of the full manifestation of God’s glory! His righteous glory would so overcome our sinful person, that we would immediately die!

In I Thessalonians 4:17 we read, “…and thus we will ever be with the Lord.How can this be, if His glory will destroy us? The answer is it will only destroy our sinful selves! When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are given a new nature! We become a new person in Him! As it says in II Corinthians 5:17, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.

  • The new nature is from God, a copy of the perfect human nature that Jesus had!
     John 1:12 and 13:

           ...as many as received [Christ]...to them he 
           gave the right to become the children of God, 
           to those who believe in His name; who were 
           born, not of blood, nor of the will of the 
           flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

     John 3:3 and 5 – This is why Jesus told Nicode-
         mus, “...unless one is born again...born of...
         the Spirit...he cannot see the kingdom of God
         ....he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.This new nature is described as being born of 
         God, and is mentioned twice in I John:

         ➔   I John 3:9 – “Whoever is born of God does 
              not sin, for His seed remains in him; and 
              he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

         ➔   I John 5:18 – “We know that whoever is born 
              of God does not sin; but he who has born of 
              God keeps himself, and the wicked one does 
              not touch him.”

         Because the new nature comes from God, it is per-
         fect, without sin, and cannot sin!
  • If we are given a new nature, a copy of Christ’s godly nature, how come there is an ongoing battle against sin in the Christian’s life?
     ✞   We still have the old sinful nature! Paul calls 
         that nature the flesh’ in Galatians 5:19. Then 
         through verse 21 he gives examples of the nasty 
         stuff that comes out of that sinful nature: 

           Now the works of the flesh are evident, which 
           are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewd-
           ness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, 
           jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambi-
           tions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, 
           drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which 
           I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you 
           in time past, that those who practice such 
           things will not inherit the kingdom of God.             

     That old nature is called by other names in the 
         Bible – none of them good!

         ➔   Romans 8:3 – “...sinful flesh....”

         ➔   Romans 8:7 – “...the carnal mind....”

         ➔   I Corinthians 2:14 – “...the natural man....”

         ➔   Ephesians 4:22 – “...the old man....✞   The old nature and the new nature are constantly 
         at war!

         ➔   Romans 8:6 through 8 (Eastern Standard 
              Version):

                For to set the mind on the flesh is death, 
                but to set the mind on the Spirit is life 
                and peace. For the mind that is set on the 
                flesh is hostile to God, for it does not 
                submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 
                Those who are in the flesh cannot please 
                God.

         ➔   Galatians 5:16 and 17 (International Standard 
              Version):

                So I say, live by the Spirit, and you 
                will never fulfill the desires of the 
                flesh. For what the flesh wants is op-
                posed to the Spirit, and what the Spir-
                it wants is opposed to the flesh. They 
                are opposed to each other, and so you 
                do not do what you want to do. 

         ➔   Read Paul’s description of the battle in 
              Romans 7:14 through 24.

        So we are to ally with the new nature, and fight 
         the old nature, as it says in Romans 6:11 through 
         14:

           Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to 
           be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God 
           in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do 
           not let sin reign in your mortal body, 
           that you should obey it in its lusts. And 
           do not present your members as instruments 
           of  un-righteousness to sin, but present 
           yourselves to God as being alive from the 
           dead, and your members as instruments of 
           righteousness to God. For sin shall not 
           have dominion over you....

An interesting thing happens at the rapture’s resurrection of those who are “…dead in Christ…” (I Thessalonians 4:16), meaning those who have died believing in Jesus Christ as Savior:

  • I Corinthians 15:49 through 54:
     ...as we have borne the image of the man of dust 
     [Adam, our first parent], we shall also bear the 
     image of the heavenly Man....flesh and blood can-
     not inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corrup-
     tion inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a 
     mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all 
     be changed -- in a moment, in the twinkling of an 
     eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will 
     sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, 
     and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must 
     put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on 
     immortality....then shall be brought to pass the 
     saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in 
     victory.” 
  • Philippians 3: 20 and 21:
     For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we 
     also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus 
     Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it 
     may be conformed to His glorious body, according 
     to the working by which He is able even to subdue 
     all things to Himself.
  • I Thessalonians 4:16 and 17:
     ...the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then those 
     who are alive and remain shall be caught up together 
     with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. 
     And so we shall ever be with the Lord.
  • I John 3:2:
     Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has 
     not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know 
     that when He [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be like 
     Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

These Scriptures reveal what occurs when, at the rapture, the Lord claims His faithful ones, both living and dead. Here is what happens:

  • The believing dead whose souls are already in heaven with Jesus (see II Corinthians 5:6-8), will have their bodies raised and reunited with their souls! Those Christians who are alive when the rapture occurs, will have our bodies changed into eternal bodies!
     It won’t be the old fleshly bodies that are 
         raised, the bodies that are wracked by sin. 
         We will be given a glorious body like Jesus’ 
         resurrection body!

     ✞   That glorious body...
...will never be subject to sickness, 
              and will never die!...will never be tainted by sin – or 
              even temptation to sin! 
  • Revelation 22:3 through 2 (International Standard Version):
     There will no longer be any curse. The throne of God 
     and the lamb will be in the city. His servants will 
     worship Him and see His face, and His name will be 
     on their foreheads. There will be no more night, and 
     they will not need any light from lamps or the sun 
     because the Lord God will shine on them. They will 
     rule forever and ever. He told me, "These words are 
     trustworthy and true....”

It is in that heavenly state that we will behold the full glory of the Triune God with no negative effects! Until then, we cansee’ “…the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ…” (II Corinthians 4:5). We can do this by getting into the Bible, and letting …the word of Christ dwell in [us]…richly…” (Colossians 3:16).

So immerse yourself in the Word, and the Word will immerse itself in YOU!

More and more you will see,
…the light of the glory of God
in the face of Jesus Christ.

Elijah’s Thankfulness (or lack thereof) I Kings 19:9, 10

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

What could Elijah be thankful for? Pictured above is the prophet in a cave on Mount Sinai. It was an extremely low point in Elijah’s life!

  • He had just defeated Queen Jezebel’s hundreds of false prophets on Mount Carmel! I Kings 18:19 Elijah commanded King Ahab “…to gather all Israel to me on Mount Carmel, [and] the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, and the four hundred prophets of Asherah….” But thereafter in the Biblical record, it seems like only the 450 prophets of Baal showed up! But still…
...it was a mighty victory for the true LORD God 
          Jehovah!

     ✡   But it must have taken a lot of physical/mental/
          emotional energy out of Elijah in the process.

     ✡   The confrontation on Mount Carmel ended with...

         ➔   ...proof that Jehovah was the real God 
              as opposed to the false gods worshiped 
              by the Israelites.

         ➔   ...a revival of sorts (because it didn’t 
              last) of the attending Israelites who, 
              upon witnessing fire come down from hea-
              ven shouted, “The LORD, He is God! The 
              LORD, He is God!” (I Kings 18:38).

         ➔   ...all 450 false prophets of Baal being 
              put to death!
  • I Kings 19:1 through 3:
     And [King] Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had 
     done, also how he had executed all the prophets 
     with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to 
     Elijah saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more 
     also, if I do not make your life as one of them by 
     tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, 
     [Elijah]...arose and ran for his life....
  • I Kings 19:4 – Alone and running from Jezebel’s threat, the prophet collapsed under a broom tree…“And he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’
  • I Kings 19:5 through 7 – He slept from exhaustion! And as he slept, God twice sent an angel to him, providing Elijah with sustaining bread and water!
  • I Kings 19:8 – “So he arose, ate and drank, and he went in the strength of that food forty days…and nights as far as…the mountain of God.

You would think that Elijah would have been encouraged and thankful after this miraculous provision……..but he was not! For we find him in a cave on Mount Sinai (called Horeb in the text), still very discouraged! This is where our featured Scripture comes in, I Kings 19:9 and 10:

     And there he went into a cave, and spent the night 
     there in that place; and behold, the word of the 
     LORD came to him, and He said to him, “What are you 
     doing here, Elijah?” So he said, “I have been very 
     zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children 
     of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down 
     Your altars, and killed your prophets with the 
     sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my 
     life.”

After God showed the prophet His power three times by sending “…a great and strong wind… [that] tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces…[then] an earthquake…and…a fire….” (I Kings 19:11 and 12). But, it says, “…the LORD was not in…these mighty acts!

Where was God? In verse 12 it says, God came with “…a still small voice….Sometimes God speaks quietly! We have to learn to be attuned to His still small voice! (see Isaiah 30:21).

What did God say in that still small voice? And suddenly a voice came to him, and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ ” (I Kings 19:13). Exactly the same question a second time! And so, in verse 14, Elijah gave exactly the same answer:

     “I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; 
     for the children of Israel have forsaken Your cove-
     nant, torn down Your altars, and killed your prophets 
     with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to 
     take my life.”

Somehow this second confession of the prophet does not sound as convincing! I think God just wanted Elijah to hear himself say it again – because it turns out, it was a rather foolish answer! For the LORD gave replied:

  • I Kings 19:15 – “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; and when you arrive, anoint Hazael as king over Syria.
  • I Kings 19:16 – “Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel.
  • I Kings 19:16 – “And Elisha the son of Shaphat…you shall anoint as prophet in your place.

I Kings 19:18 – “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.

To get the full story of Elijah, the prophet of God, and his ministry, you would have to read I Kings chapters 17 through 19, chapter 21, and II Kings chapters 1 and 2. Also, it would be good to read Luke chapter 9.

What has all this to do with Elijah’s thankfulness?

  • The LORD greatly used this man – and he could be thankful for this! Yes, he had trials and down times, but he is considered, after Moses, to be the greatest prophet in the Old Testament!
  • Highlighted in this Gem (in I Kings chapter 18) Elijah should have been thankful that…
...he turned the hearts of so many Israelites (at 
          least temporarily) back to the LORD!...he rid Israel of hundreds of false prophets 
          of Baal!
  • In I Kings chapter 19, during his flight from Queen Jezebel, he could thank God for the provision of food (twice given by an angel) as he slept in the desert! By the way, this was only the second time God gave His special heavenly bread, the first being the miraculous food of manna given to the Israelites during the 40 years of wandering in the desert.
  • Elijah could also be grateful for his continuing ministry…
     ✡   ...that the LORD outlined for him in I Kings 
          19:15 and 16 (listed above).

     ✡   ...as further recorded in I Kings chapters 17 
          through 19, 21, and II Kings 1 and 2.
  • He could thank God for such a willing and able disciple in Elisha!
     ✡   Elisha had asked in II Kings 2:9 for “...a 
          double portion of your spirit...upon me.”

     ✡   Recorded from II Kings 2 through chapter 13 are 
          the miracles this mighty prophet performed! 
          There are twice the miracles recorded than what 
          Elijah performed! But Elisha did ask for “...a 
          double portion of [Elijah’s] spirit...!

It is not easy being called to serve the LORD God!

  • There are many mountaintop experiences for which to be thankful!
  • And there are valleys (some very deep) through which we must pass!
     ✡   But remember Psalm 23:4 – “Yea, though I walk 
          through the valley of the shadow of death, I 
          will fear no evil; for You are with me.”

         ➔   Death is only a shadow to the believer!
God is with us even then.......especially 
              then!It is in the valleys where we learn the most 
          important lessons of life!

But if Romans 8:28 is true (and it is) then we can thank God for everything!

     Romans 8:28 and 29: 

             ...we know that all things work together 
             for good to those who love God, to those 
             who are called according to His purpose. 
             For whom He foreknew, He also predestin-
             ated to be conformed to the image of His 
             Son, that He might be the firstborn among 
             many brethren.   

     ✞   God is doing a work in His children, making us 
         more and more into the image of Jesus! 

     ✞   Then we can fulfill...

         ➔   ...Ephesians 5:20 – “...giving thanks 
              always for all things to God the Father 
              in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

         ➔   ...I Thessalonians 5:18 – “...in every-
              thing give thanks; for this is the will 
              of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Focusing on Elijah, we must not see only the down times! For I’m sure he had much for which to thank his LORD……..and so should we!

This Thanksgiving, let us focus on giving thanks to God…
For the mountaintops, for the valleys!
For all the things He allows to touch our lives!

Idolatry In Contemporary Society Matthew 22:34-38

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Above is pictured the Egyptian god Apis, with a solar disk between his horns supported by serpents. The disk represented the goddess Hathor, the mother of Apis. Many biblical scholars think Apis was the idol represented by the golden calf that Aaron made for the Israelites when Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 32:1-4).

But that is ancient history! No longer in enlightened society – especially in America – do people so openly practice idolatry………or do they? It all depends on what one considers to be idolatry!

Let’s look at Matthew 22:34 through 38:

     Then one of...the Pharisees...a lawyer, asked [Jesus]
     ...a question, testing Him...“Teacher, which is the 
     great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, 
     “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your 
     heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 
     This is the first and great commandment.”

Other versions of the Bible (Good News Bible, God’s Word to the nations, International Standard Version) say “This is the greatest and most important commandment.” (verse 38).

By the way, the gospels of Mark and Luke add one more category: we are to “…love the LORD your God…with all your strength.” (see Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).

Now, compare this greatest and most important commandment with what Jesus said in John 14:15: “If you love Me, keep my commandments.” The paraphrased Living Bible succinctly puts it this way, “If you love Me, obey Me….” So if we apply this to “…the greatest and most important commandment…,” it could read, “You shall OBEY the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and with all your strength.” (Matthew 12:37, with Mark 12:30 added).

If this is the greatest and most important commandment….

  • …and it can be understood as “…OBEY the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…and with all your strength…
  • …then BREAKING the greatest and most important commandment would be the GREATEST SIN!

Another point: The intended purpose of this command (originally given to the Jews in Deuteronomy 6:5) is that it is to be kept continuously! And who can accomplish this – loving and obeying the LORD God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength…ALL THE TIME? Is it any wonder that Saint Paul tells us in Romans 3:23, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”?

Do you know that there is a throne within you?

  • This throne is said, figuratively speaking, to be in our heart, the innermost site of the individual’s total being, the place which controls every aspect of life!
  • One can argue it is the brain or psyche, but we will stick with what…
     ✡   ...Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:23: “Keep your 
          heart with all diligence, for out of it spring 
          the issues of life....Jesus said in Matthew 12:35: “A good man out 
         of the good treasure of his heart brings forth 
         good things, and an evil man out of the evil 
         treasure brings forth evil things.

The throne of your heart is where the one who controls the whole of your life is seated!

  • Before you become a Christian, you yourself are seated on that throne!
  • After you accept Jesus as your Savior, HE is the One who is to be seated on that throne, controlling your life!

He deserves to occupy the throne of your life!

  • As recorded in Luke 22:42, Jesus prayed intensively in the Garden of Gethsemane concerning His imminent persecution and crucifixion, “Father, if it is Your will, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.
     Not only was Jesus fully divine, He was also 
         fully human! And in His humanity, He did not 
         want to face......the mistreatment!...the soldiers’ beating and mocking!...the Roman whipping!
...carrying His own cross, the instrument 
              of His death!
...the agony of His crucifixion!

     ✞   But still He cried out,...nevertheless not 
         My will, but Yours, be done.
  • Upon that cross Jesus purchased our salvation!
     ✞   He paid for our sins – fully! (see I Peter 
         2:24; I John 2:2).

     When we accept Him as Savior...

         ➔   ...He clothes us with His own right-
              eousness! (see II Corinthians 5:21).

         ➔   ...we are totally accepted in Him be-
              fore the Father! (see Ephesians 1:6). 

         ➔   ...we will never come under God’s con-
              demnation! (see John 5:24).

         ➔   ...we have, as a present possession, 
              eternal life! (see John 5:24; 10:28; 
              I John 5:11-13).
  • No one else but our Lord deserves to occupy the throne of our life – to be in control of our lives!

But too often, we climb back on the throne of our heart!

  • And when we do, Jesus will step aside and let you sit there, trying to control your life, as long as you want! It breaks His heart, because He has the best in mind for us in everything! As it says in Romans 8:31 and 32:
     What then shall we say to these things? If God is for 
     us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His 
     own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall 
     He not with Him freely give us all things?

But remember, God’s goal for us is to be made more and more like His Son! So not all things will be pleasant in our lives, just like Jesus faced hard times (see Romans 8:28, 29).

  • Continuing with our ascending back on the throne of our heart:
     It is like we are corrupting Luke 22:42 by 
         saying, “Not THY will, but MINE be done!♀   Anything that is taking the place of Jesus 
         Christ in our lives is idolatry!

	➔   ...whether it be a physical idol, such 
             as the golden bull in the above photo...

	➔   ...or our own selves calling the shots 
             of our life while we occupy the place 
             where Jesus should be reigning!

Paul writes in Romans 1:23 of those who engage in idolarty: They …changed the glory of the incorruptable God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed beasts and creeping things.Man (human beings) is first on the list of what idolaters will worship!

So let us be careful of whom we allow on the throne of our heart – our Christian life!

It will be either the Lord Jesus Christ…
…or us!

The Collateral Damage Of Sin! Jeremiah 15:1-4

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

I wrote a Gem called A Bad King In Heaven on August 31 of this year. It is about King Manasseh of the southern kingdom of Judah. Manasseh, son of the godly king Hezekiah, was an evil king for most of his 55-year reign. Here is part of the Scriptural record from II Kings 21:1 through 16, highlighting his wickedness (International Standard Version – redacted):

     He did what the LORD considered to be evil, following 
     the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD 
     had expelled....He rebuilt the high places that his 
     father Hezekiah had destroyed. He erected altars for 
     Baal...and worshipped and served the stars of heaven
     ....He made his son into a burnt offering, practiced 
     witchcraft, used divination, and consorted with medi-
     ums and spirit-channelers ....He also erected the 
     carved image of Asherah...inside the Temple about 
     which the LORD had spoken..., “I will put my Name 
     forever in this Temple....And I will not make Israel's 
     feet to wander anymore from the land that I have given 
     [them]...if they will...do everything that I have com-
     manded....”  But they would not listen. Manasseh led 
     them astray to practice more evil than the nations 
     whom the LORD had destroyed....In addition to this, 
     Manasseh shed lots of innocent blood —until he had 
     filled Jerusalem from one end to another....So the 
     LORD announced..., “Because King Manasseh...has com-
     mitted these despicable things...making Judah sin 
     with its idols....I'm going to bring...a disaster to 
     Jerusalem and Judah....I will abandon the survivors 
     of my heritage and hand them over to their enemies.”

Yes, Manasseh was a wicked king! But according to II Chronicles 33:12 and 13, he repented!

     Now when he [Manasseh] was in affliction [in Babylon], 
     he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself 
     greatly before the God of his fathers, and he prayed 
     to Him; and [the LORD]...received his entreaty, heard 
     his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem 
     into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD 
     was God. 

The final years of his 55 year reign were spent trying to rectify the evil he had fostered upon the people of Judah! In II Chronicles 33:15 and 16 it is recorded:

     He took away the foreign gods and the idol from the 
     house of the LORD, and all the altars that he had 
     built...in Jerusalem; and cast them out of the city. 
     He also repaired the altar of the LORD, sacrificed 
     peace offerings and thank offerings on it, and com-
     manded Judah to serve the LORD God of Israel.

Manesseh personally repented. And he tried to undo the damage he had done in leading his subjects into grievous sin. But, while God forgives the individual upon repentence of sin and faith in His mercy and grace, eradicating the sinful influence a wicked life has on others is not so readily accomplished! Manasseh’s sin resulted in a lot of collateral damage!

  • Wikipedia defines Collateral damage as, “…any death, injury, or other damage inflicted that is an incidental result of an activity.” The term was originally used in the 1960’s and 70’s, referring to military action during the Vietnam war, described as “…friendly fire or to the intentional killing of non-combatants and destruction of their property.
  • Manasseh’s collateral damage was the 70-year Babylonian capitivity of his Judean subjects because of their wicked actions imitating their king, even though the captivity was 56 years after their regent’s death! Here is what our featured Scripture of Jeremiah 15:1 through 4 records:
     Then the Lord said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel 
     stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable to-
     ward this people. Cast them out of My sight, and let 
     them go forth. And it shall be, if they say to you, 
     ‘Where should we go?’ then you shall tell them, ‘Thus 
     says the Lord: “Such as are for death, to death; and 
     such as are for the sword, to the sword; and such as 
     are for the famine, to the famine; and such as are 
     for the captivity, to the captivity. And I will ap-
     point over them four forms of destruction,” says the 
     Lord: “the sword to slay, the dogs to drag, the birds 
     of the heavens and the beasts of the earth to devour 
     and destroy. I will hand them over to trouble, to all 
     kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son 
     of Hezekiah, king of Judah, for what he did in Jeru-
     salem.”’
Manasseh personal sins were grievous! But 
                he later repented and was forgiven.

	     His Judean subjects imitated their king’s 
                wicked ways, but they didn’t repent! And 
                so they were severely punished by...

	...many losing their lives to war, 
                     starvation, and disease as the Bab-
                     ylonian army invaded their land and 
                     besieged their cities.

	...many others, by force, being de-
                     ported to Babylon, a thousand-mile 
                     march to the east.

What has all this to do with us today? ” you might ask. We are told in Malachi 3:6, “…I am the LORD, I do not change….” He “…is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). If He did not ignore the sins of the people of Judah, He will not leave unpunished the iniquity of His people today!

     ✞     But God has made provision for the forgiveness 
           of our sins by the sacrifrice of His Son on 
           the cross! As it is written in Colossians 1:19 
           through 22 (Good News Bible):

               For it was by God's own decision that 
               the Son has in Himself the full nature 
               of God. Through the Son, then, God de-
               cided to bring the whole universe back 
               to Himself. God made peace through His 
               Son's blood on the cross and so brought 
               back to Himself all things, both on 
               earth and in heaven. At one time you 
               were far away from God and were His en-
               emies because of the evil things you 
               did and thought. But now, by means of 
               the physical death of His Son, God has 
               made you His friends, in order to bring 
               you, holy, pure, and faultless, into 
               His presence. 

       We are told in I John 1:9, “If we confess our 
           sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our 
           sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous-
           ness.No sin is unforgivable.......if we fol-
           low the instructions of I John 1:9. 

     ✞     Jesus Christ has already paid for our sins, for 
           it says in I John 2:2, “And He Himself is the 
           propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only 
           but also for the whole world.

But be aware of the collateral damage of our misdeeds! What we do and say can affect those around us, including our children and generations of descendants to come! We can also infect with our sins the lives of neighbors, friends, business associates, schoolmates……anyone with whom we interact! As someone has said, “We never sin in a vacuum!We always are influencing those around us!

Paul gave his own example of this in I Corinthians 8:8 through 13 (Contemporary English Version):

     Don't cause problems for someone with a weak con-
     cience, just because you have the right to eat any-
     thing. You know all this, and so it doesn't bother 
     you to eat in the temple of an idol. But suppose a 
     person with a weak conscience sees you and decides 
     to eat food that has been offered to idols. Then 
     what you know has destroyed someone Christ died for. 
     When you sin by hurting a follower with a weak con-
     science, you sin against Christ. So if I hurt one 
     of the Lord's followers by what I eat, I will never 
     eat meat as long as I live. 

We, in America, probably don’t have to worry about eating (or not eating) food offered to idols. But the principle stands!

So be careful!
Don’t produce the collateral damage of sin!

A Veteran Remembers The War…II Timothy 4:6-8

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The veteran in mind is not remembering Afghanistan, Granada, Desert Storm, Vietnam, Korea, or World War II! The veteran here is Saint Paul, and he is remembering in II Timothy 4:6 through 8, his many years of battle proclaiming the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ:

     For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, 
     and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought 
     the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept 
     the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown 
     of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, 
     will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but 
     also to all who have loved His appearing. 

There are other Scriptures where Paul likens the Christian life to being a soldier in battle:

  • In Ephesians 6:10 through 19, the apostle describes what we must know and practice concerning the battle in which we are engaged – the source of our effectiveness, the enemy, the protective armor, and the offensive weapons!
        Verse 10 – The source of our effectiveness:...be strong in the Lord and in the power of 
         His might.Verses 11 and 12 – The enemy against whom we 
         are to fight:

         ➔   “...the [wily] devil.”

         ➔   “...principalities...powers...rulers of 
              darkness of this age...spiritual hosts 
              of wickedness in the heavenly places.   Verses 14 through 17 – the defensive armor:

         ➔   “...having girded your waist with truth
              ....”

         ➔   “...having put on the breastplate of 
              righteousness....”

         ➔   “...having shod your feet with the prepar-
              ation of the gospel of peace....”

         ➔   “...taking the shield of faith with which 
              you will be able to quench all the fiery 
              darts of the wicked one.”

         ➔   “...take the helmet of salvation....       Verses 17 and 18 – The offensive weapons:

         ➔   “...take...the sword of the Spirit, which 
              is the word of God.”

         ➔   “Praying always with all prayer and sup-
              plication in the Spirit....

• In II Timothy 2:3 and 4, Paul encouraged Timothy: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ….that [you]…may please Him who enlisted [you]…as a soldier.

So we who are Christians are called to be soldiers who are engaging in battle in spiritual warfare!

But back to the veteran who is remembering the war: What was Paul thinking about? He lists some of his battles in II Corinthians 11:23 through 28:

  • Verse 23 – “…in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.
  • Verse 24 – “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.
  • Verse 25 – “Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep….
  • Verse 26 –
     ...in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils 
     of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils 
     of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in 
     the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among 
     false brethren....
  • Verse 27 – “…in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness….
  • Verse 28 – “…besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”

I would say, Paul experienced as many hardships, yea, even more, than the soldier who has fought in the wars listed above – or any other conflict!

Jesus Christ challenges us to follow Him! (see Matthew 4:19; 16:24). And to truly follow Him involves carrying our cross to go out to die with Him! (see Mark 8:34-37). For we must die to ourselves that we might live for God! (see Luke 22:42; Romans 6:10).

To be a soldier enlisted to fight the battles of Christ, we must learn spiritual warfare! I suggest that you study Gems, Know Your Enemy– I through XXI, published on this website from May 5th through June 21st, 2013. These twenty-one Gems will help you prepare to be God’s soldier. Then, like Paul, at the end of your life you will be A Veteran [who] Remembers The War…

And you will hear your Commander say,
Well done, good and faithful servant.
(Matthew 25:23)

The Potter’s Untold Story…Jeremiah 18:1-4

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

When it comes to interpreting Scripture, we are hesitant to speculate what might have been, but is not recorded in holy writ! But I have often thought of what is not written in Jeremiah 18:1 through 4. Here are these four verses as translated in the New King James Bible:

     The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 
     “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I 
     will cause you to hear My words. Then I went down to 
     the potter’s house, and there he was, making something 
     at his wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was 
     marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again 
     into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter 
     to make.

What this Scripture doesn’t say is what the potter did with the clay after the first vessel he was making was marred, and before he made the second vessel! Let’s use some sacred imagination to see what happened.

The clay upon the potter’s wheel had been worked to get it into proper condition, called ‘pugging.Pugging means, “The act or process of working and tempering clay to make it plastic and of uniform consistency…” (www.wordnik.com). But, apparently, there was a hard lump in the clay that had not been worked out! So when the potter was turning the clay on his wheel, perhaps making a jug or a bowl, and when he was thinning out the sides of the vessel, his fingers struck the hard knot of unworked clay, and the whole vessel suddenly went cockeyed (or “…was marred…”)! Here is where sacred imagination comes in.

  • The potter sat there for a moment, looking at the ruined vessel. But it had happened multiple times before in his long career as a potter, and he knew what to do!
  • He examined the marred clay to see exactly where the hard lump was that had not been properly pugged.
  • He scraped the clay from his turning wheel and began to knead it, to feel the consistency of the lump, and to seek if any other small lumps had escaped the pugging process.
  • The potter then threw the clay hard upon the sturdy stone wheel, now still from turning, and began to deeply knead it, concentrating on the hard lump.
  • He added a bit of water to make the clay more malleable, and continued kneading it, at times scraping it off the wheel and throwing it on the stone surface again.
  • Finally, he had the clay of a good workable consistency, and…

…he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.

Why are we applying sacred imagination to this potter’s house scene? Because this is a picture of what God is doing to and for His children! We are told in Hebrews 12:7 through 11 (Contemporary English Version):

     Be patient when you are being corrected! This is how 
     God treats His children. Don't all parents correct 
     their children? God corrects all of His children, and 
     if He doesn't correct you, then you don't really be-
     long to Him. Our earthly fathers correct us, and we 
     still respect them. Isn't it even better to be given 
     true life by letting our spiritual Father correct us? 
     Our human fathers correct us for a short time, and 
     they do it as they think best. But God corrects us 
     for our own good, because He wants us to be holy, as 
     He is. It is never fun to be corrected. In fact, at 
     the time it is always painful. But if we learn to 
     obey by being corrected, we will do right and live 
     at peace.

The Father’s purpose for each of His children is clearly defined in Romans 8:29: “…whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son….God’s purpose is to make each believer into the image of Jesus Christ! (see also I Corinthians 15:48, 49; II Corinthians 3:18; I John 3:2).

  • But to be like Jesus, God has a lot of work to do in my life and yours!
  • As He molds us into the image of His Son, we will present hard lumps of rebellion that have not been properlypugged ’!
  • When that happens, the Father will…
     ✞   ...look us over, knowing exactly what He must 
         do...

     ✞   ...scrape us off the formation wheel...

     ✞   ...knead us to break down the tough spots and 
         hard lumps...

     ✞   ...add a little heavenly moisture to make us 
         more pliable...

     ✞   ...occasionally throw us forcefully onto the 
         formation wheel to break the rebellious places 
         in our life...

…until the Father gets what He wants,
a child of God who truly represents Him!

We can do two things if we are being corrected by our Heavenly Father:

  • We can fight His discipline tooth and nail because we, like a stubborn child are saying, “I DON’T WANNA!

OR

  • We can submit, knowing that, even in painful discipline, “…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

It will not only be so much easier on us to submit to the Father’s discipline, but…

…being made more and more like Jesus,
we will bring glory to God,
our Heavenly Father!

I’m My Own Grampa!

Colossians 4:14-16

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

I am taking a break from 8 Promises From God About Your Children. I want to concentrate on a Scripture that Saint Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. The apostle had to rebuke them for certain unchristian attitudes and actions, reminding them of previous work among them, when Paul led many (or most) of them to faith in Christ. Here is I Corinthians 4:14 through 16:

     I do not write these things to shame you, but as my 
     beloved children I warn you. For though you might 
     have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do 
     not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have 
     begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge 
     you, imitate me.

Paul was their spiritual father, having given them new birth and life in Jesus! They were his spiritual children! There are other times the apostle alludes to this spiritual birthing:

  • Concerning Timothy…
        In I Corinthians 4:17 he told the church in 
         Corinth, “For this reason I have sent Timothy 
         to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in 
         the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in 
         Christ....   Speaking of Timothy to the Christians at 
         Philippi, Paul wrote in Philippians 2:22, 
         “...you know his proven character, that as 
         a son with his father he serves with me in 
         the gospel.   In the first epistle to Timothy, there are two 
         references:

         ➔   Paul addresses his letter in I Timothy 
              1:2 – “To Timothy, my true son in the 
              faith....”

         ➔   In I Timothy 1:18, the apostle charged 
              “...son Timothy, according to the pro-
              phesies previously made concerning you, 
              that by them you may wage a good warfare
              ....   In his last written epistle, just before Paul 
         was martyred, he said in his second letter to 
         Timothy, II Timothy 2:1, “You therefore my son, 
         be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
  • Apparently, Paul had led Titus to faith in the Lord, for in Titus 1:4 he writes, “To Titus, my true son in the common faith….
  • He wrote from a Roman prison to Philemon, the owner of the runaway slave Onesimus in Philemon 1:10: “I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains….

I took the time to establish this spiritual relationship of being the parent (father or mother) of one whom you might lead to faith in Jesus Christ! Why? Because my wife Hope and I led my mother to the Lord when she was in her sixties!

  • I became my mother’s father (spiritually speaking).
  • So (spiritually speaking) I’m my own grampa!

There is a country song by the same name, I’m My Own Grampa! Written by Dwight Latham and Moe Jaffe, performed by Lonzo and Oscar in 1947, Ray Stevens is one of the later artists to sing a rendition. He even mapped out a family tree showing how he could be his own grampa! (see diagram above).

Just for fun, here are the lyrics of I’m My Own Grampa! See if you can follow the logic!

Now, many many years ago
When I was twenty three
I was married to a widow
Who was pretty as could be

This widow had a grown-up daughter
Had hair of red
My father fell in love with her
And soon the two were wed

This made my dad my son-in-law
And changed my very life
My daughter was my mother
‘Cause she was my father’s wife

To complicate the matters
Even though it brought me joy
I soon became the father
Of a bouncing baby boy

My little baby then became
A brother-in-law to dad
And so became my uncle
Though it made me very sad

For if he was my uncle
That also made him the brother
Of the widow’s grown-up daughter
Who, of course, was my step-mother

Chorus

I’m my own grandpa
I’m my own grandpa
It sounds funny I know
But it really is so
I’m my own grandpa

My father’s wife then had a son
That kept them on the run
And he became my grandchild
For he was my daughter’s son

My wife is now my mother’s mother
And it makes me blue
Because, she is my wife
She’s my grandmother too

Chorus

Now, if my wife is my grandmother
Then, I am her grandchild
And every time I think of it
It nearly drives me wild

For now I have become
The strangest case you ever saw
As husband of my grandmother
I am my own grandpa

Chorus

It doesn’t stop there either!

  • I have two older brothers whom I have led to the Lord. That means (spiritually speaking) I am my brothers’ father! So I am my own father also!
  • My wife and I led our granddaughter to faith in Jesus. So (spiritually speaking) I am my granddaughter’s father! That means, I am my own son!
  • My daughter, age eight, led her sister, age nine to Jesus. So (spiritually speaking) she is my daughter’s mother, making her my second wife! (Now, Hope, don’t get jealous!)

All this to say, as Christians, we can have fun! I think God has a sense of humor! After all, He created the likes of you and me!

Raising Children In A Frightening World! – IV

Proverbs 11:21

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

This is another eight-word Scripture, this time from Proverbs 11:21 (King James Version): “…the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.” The question is, delivered from what? Although Proverbs, from chapter 10 through chapter 25, consists mostly of what seems like stand-alone wise snippets, there is a context which will give us a better idea from what “…the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.” Here is Proverbs 11:17 through 21, this time from the New King James Version (with verse numbers) :

     17 “The merciful man does good for his own soul, but 
         he who is cruel troubles his own flesh.”
     18 “The wicked man does deceptive work, but he who 
        sows righteousness will have a sure reward.”
     19 “As righteousness leads to life, so he who pursues 
        evil pursues it to his own death.”
     20 “Those who are of a perverse heart are an abomina-
        tion to the Lord, but the blameless in their ways 
        are His delight.”
     21 “Though they join forces, the wicked will not go 
        unpunished; but the posterity of the righteous will 
        be delivered.

Do you see the pattern in these five verses? The first part of each verse is just the opposite of the second part.

  • In the first part of verses 17 and 19, the merciful man and those who have righteousness in their life are highlighted.
  • In the first part of verses 18, 20, and 21, the wicked man, and those who have a perverse heart are brought to the fore.
  • And in each verse the opposite of the first part is emphasized in the second part!

Let’s take a look at verse 21, remembering that, according to I Kings 4:29 through 34, Solomon, who spoke these proverbs, was the wisest mortal man in history!

Proverbs 11:21 – “Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; but the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.

  • We will tackle the wicked part first. “Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished….
  There are several instances in the Bible where the wicked 
  have joined forces, but it didn’t do them much good! Here 
  are a four examples:

     ✡   Genesis 14:9 (Jewish Publication Society Bible) – 
          “...Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of 
          Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch 
          king of Ellasar...” banded together and defeated 
          five kings of the plain of Jordan, including the 
          king of Sodom. 

             Then they took all the goods of Sodom and 
             Gomorrah, and all their provisions and went 
             their way. They also took Lot, Abraham’s 
             brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom and his 
             goods, and departed. (Genesis 14:11, 12).

     ✡   Genesis 14:14 through 16 – We don’t know the num-
          ber of the enemy troops, but Abraham gathered 
          together an army of ...his 318 trained servants 
          who were born in his own house, and went in pur-
          suit of them....north of Damascus... [about 180 
          miles north!]” And the patriarch defeated the 
          four enemy kings, and brought back all the cap-
          tured people as well as the spoil from the enemy 
          raids!

     ✡   Joshua 11:1 through 5 – Several Canaanite kings 
          came together, “as many people as the sand that 
          is on the seashore, and very many horses and 
          chariots.” (verse 4). But such an enemy army is 
          no match for our great God Almighty! For it says 
          in Joshua 11:8, “And the LORD delivered them 
          [all] into the hand of Israel, who defeated them
          ....According to Ephesians 6:12 (International Stan-
         dard Version), “For our struggle is not against h
         uman opponents, but against rulers, authorities, 
         cosmic powers in the darkness around us, and evil 
         spiritual forces in the heavenly realm. That is 
         a vast number of the enemy! But we are told in I 
         Corinthians 15:24, Jesus...puts an end to all 
         rule and all authority and power.

Our God is powerful! And, no matter the size and/or strength of the enemy we are facing, “…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15:57).

  • …but the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.
        Posterity means “...all future generations....” 
         (the Thesaurus of Word Perfect) ...our children 
         and grand children! 

     ✡   As a matter of fact, it goes way beyond our 
          grandchildren! In the second commandment of the 
          Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:5 and 6, God told 
          Moses:

             For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous 
             God, visiting the iniquity on the child-
             ren to the third and fouth generations 
             of those who hate Me, but showing mercy 
             to the thousands [of genrerations], to 
             those who love Me and keep My command-
             ments.

From what shall…the posterity of the righteous…be delivered…?

  • First of all, they shall be delivered from eternal judgment and spiritual death – which is being in hell, separated from God and His goodness forever!
     ✡   Isaiah 59:2 – “But your iniquities have separated 
          you from your God....” And if this condition is 
          not rectified, our sins will take us down to 
          hell!

But it is rectified!

        Galatians 3:13 – “Christ has redeemed us us from 
         the curse of the law, having become a curse for 
         us....” 

         ➔   He took our sins (and their curse of death) 
              upon Himself, while on the cross, and paid 
              for them fully before the Father! And He 
              proved the payment of His own life was ac-
              ceptable to redeem us, because Jesus rose 
              from the dead three days later!

         ➔   I Peter 1:18 and 19 – “...you were not re-
              deemed with corruptible things, like silver 
              or gold, but with the precious blood of 
              Christ....”

         ➔   Hebrews 9:26 – We are washed clean by the 
              sacrifice of Jesus!
  • …the posterity of the righteous…shall also be delivered from anything that will overcome them!
        ...delivered from destructive habits! I have been 
         psychologically diagnosed as having an extremely 
         addictive personality! 

         ➔   I have experienced addiction to food, nico-
              tine, alcohol, drugs, pornography, and about 
              anything else which can one can enslave a 
              person! By God’s grace and power, I have been 
              delivered from all these addictions, and my 
              life has been brought back into balance!

         ➔   As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 6:12, “All 
              things are lawful for me, but all things 
              are not helpful. All things are lawful for 
              me, but I will not be brought under the 
              power of any.   ...delivered from soul-endangering situations! In 
         Jude 1:24 it says, God...is able to keep you 
         from falling, and to present you faultless before 
         the presence of His glory with exceeding joy....
     However, the Lord does not promise to keep us from 
     persecution.  Just the opposite, “...all who desire 
     to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecu-
     tion.Millions of believers living in places hostile 
     to Christianity suffer persecution – even unto death!
     But Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “...do not fear those 
     who kill the body but cannot kill the soul....

Thank and praise God that I, and so many others who love the Lord Jesus, have relative peace, prosperity and security living in America! Take advantage of it, and…

  • …share the gospel with the lost! (see Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8).
  • …give generously of the resources God has given us! (see Luke 6:38; II Corinthians 9:6-8).
  • …gather regularly for worship and fellowship! (see Hebrews 10:24, 25).
  • …love and serve God fully! (see Mark 12:30; John 14:15).

So as it applies to our children – our posterity as well as ourselves, Jesus assures us in John 16:33,


These things I have spoken to you,
that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation:
but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.