The Bible All People Read – I

November 29, 2013
II Corinthians 3:1-3

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

On the internet, I Googled “The Ten Bestselling Books Of All Time” and was not surprised to see the Bible in first place!  What did surprise me was the book in the number two spot – Quotations From Chairman Mao!  However, while Mao Tse-Tung’s work has sold about 900 million copies, the Bible has sold over six billion copies!  So I guess God is really more popular than Chairman Mao!  Personally, I don’t own a copy of Mao Tse-Tung’s book, but I own around 27 various editions of the Bible.  And I have read every one of them!

The problem is that many people do not read the Bible.  They may even own a copy, but it is rarely opened and read!  Our former landlady when I was in seminary is a case in point.  It would be hard to find a nicer person than this wonderful Orthodox Catholic lady.  But I did not think she had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord.  So one day I had the opportunity to sit down with her at her kitchen table and share the good news of Jesus with her.  I asked if she had a Bible and her eyes lit up.  “Oh yes,” she exclaimed.  Then she went to a closet and pulled out a box from the top shelf.  As she handed it to me, she proudly told me, “They gave me this when my husband died.”  I opened the box and removed a brand new Bible from within – a  Bible that had never been opened!  And her husband had died 27 years before!!!

Too many people are like that.  They may even own a Bible, but they hardly ever open it and read it, let alone study it!

But there is a Bible that they do read!  And Saint Paul speaks about this in II Corinthians 3:1 through 3 (NIV):

    Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some
    people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?  You yourselves are
    our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.  You show
    that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with
    ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets
    of human hearts.

Paul was addressing problems that had cropped up in the church at Corinth in southern Greece.  Some in the church were causing controversy by saying that Paul was not what he was claiming to be – an apostle bearing the absolute truth from God revealed through the incarnation of Jesus Christ.  If you study II Corinthians 10:1 through 13:10 you will see a description of some of the dissension with which Paul was dealing.  Here are a few summary verses that will give you an idea of what Paul was facing:

•    II Corinthians 7:2 – “Open your hearts to us.  We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have defrauded no one.

•    II Corinthians 10:10 – “‘…his letters,’ they say, ‘are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.’

•    II Corinthians 11:5 and 6 – “For I consider that I am not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.  Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge.

•    II Corinthians 12:20 and 21 gives examples of the kinds of things going on among the people of the church at Corinth – “…contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults….uncleanness, fornication, and licentiousness….

•    II Corinthians 13:3 – “…you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me….

I will close this segment with the following thought:  Paul was saying in II Corinthians 3:1 through 3 that the work of the Lord through him and his associates in Corinth was written in the believers’ hearts and lives, not with ink on paper.  Now – and until Monday’s blog – think on this and how it applies to you and The Bible All People Read.

…In And For All Things

November 27 2013
Ephesians 5:20; I Thessalonians 5:18 

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

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, a wonderful holiday for so many people, when families get together and celebrate the blessings God has given them.  At least, that is what Thanksgiving is supposed to be!  For many, it is a troubling time, bringing to mind the sadness of lost loved ones, broken families, financial hardship or challenging medical problems.  What are we to do – especially as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ – when we face tough situations?

As a pastor I have counseled many people who are going through difficulties of one kind or another.  I have sometimes asked them a question, and I think their first reaction has been to throw something at me!  I say to them, “Have you thanked God yet for what you are going through?”  “What?” they might say.  “I’m supposed to thank God for this hard thing in my life?!!  No way!!!

But what about what God says in His Word?  Look at two scriptures that tell us plainly what we are to do:

•    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 everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Taking the ideas in reveres order, we are told to give thanks In And For All Things – in all situations!  And I think it may be easier to give thanks in all situations rather than for all situations!  That’s because we can always grit our teeth and say “Thank you, God, even though I am going through this tough time.  I thank you that You are with me, You will strengthen me and will see me through this.”  But to thank God for the difficult trial? 

•    “God, thank You that I have cancer.

•    “Father, thank You that my son is rebellious.

•    “Lord, thank You that we lost our home, we are broke, and we have no place to live.

…you get the idea.

Why are we supposed to thank God In And For All Things including the very tough problems of life?  It is because God will do what He promises in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  And what is His purpose for His children – toward which He will “…work…all things together for good…”?  Romans 8:29: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”  He never said it would feel good or even seem to be good from our perspective.  It says God is doing a work in us that will make us more and more like Jesus.  And that is hard work – and sometimes very painful – as He removes the rough and ungodly edges from our lives, and prepares us for His heavenly kingdom.

But one thing we can be sure of – again in Romans 8, this time in verse 18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  Also in II Corinthians 4:17 and 18 Paul writes,

    For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far
    more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the
    things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things
    which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Paul went through a lot of terrible suffering on earth.  Just read his description of it in II Corinthians 11:25 through 28!  And he could say it was all “…light affliction… but for a moment…”?

When we are there in heaven, we will look back at our earthly troubles and say, “It was all worth it!  Look what I have now!  Back then it seemed so long, but compared to eternity, it was really only a moment!  Now I have perfect love and joy forever!  And what I went through then prepared me to be more and more like Jesus.  I can now enjoy His perfection in my life for eternity!

So thank God In And For All Things!  It takes faith to believe He is doing a work in us that will be for our good and His glory.  But by faith – this Thanksgiving and every day – thank God In And For All Things!

Snuggling Up To God – V

November 25, 2013
John 14:15-17

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

We have been looking at several blogs about Snuggling Up To God.  And I often see myself snuggling close to the Father, especially because of what Moses wrote in Deuteronomy 33:27:  “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms….”  I can picture the Father holding me as a daddy might hold his young child, cradled in His arms.  Paul tells us Romans 8:15, “…you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ ” And “abba” – as we saw in last Wednesday’s blog – can mean “papa” or “daddy”.

Then in last Friday’s blog we discussed how John, the beloved apostle, leaned back upon Jesus’ breast as they dined at the last supper.  He asked Him, “Who is it, Lord? ” after Jesus told them one of the twelve would betray Him.  So if John could Snuggle Up To God the Son, I can picture myself doing the same.

But when it comes to the third person of the Trinity, it seems hard to imagine myself Snuggling Up To God the Holy Spirit.  In the King James version of the Bible, the Holy Spirit is referred to as “the Holy Ghost.”  This term – familiar to many – may be one of the reasons why Christians don’t seem to want to draw close to this third person of the Trinity.  How do you snuggle up to a ghost?!!  But this is ironic, because of the three persons of the Trinity, you might say the Holy Spirit is the closest to us of them all!  How so?  Jesus told His disciples in John 14:15-17:

    If you love Me, keep my commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and He
    will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever; even the
    Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him
    nor knows Him; but you know Him; for He dwells with you and will be in you.

Before Pentecost, when the Church was born – as recorded in Acts 2 – the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell believers.  He came upon them, or even filled them, for certain tasks.  But – except in rare exceptions – He did not live within them.  But since Jesus sent the Holy Spirit – called “…another Helper…” above, or “…another Comforter…” in the original King James – He dwells and abides within true believers permanently!   These two words – dwell and abide – are translated from two Greek words:

•    Dwelloy-keh’-o – meaning to occupy a house, i.e. reside (figuratively inhabit, remain, inhere).  This word is used in Romans 8:9 and 11 three times:

        But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of
        God dwells in you.  Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ,
        he is not His….But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the
        dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also
        give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.

•    Abidemen’-o – meaning to stay.  In I John 2:27 the word is used twice:

But the anointing [the Holy Spirit] which you have received from
        Him [God] abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you;
        but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is
        true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in

And don’t forget this verse from our featured scripture – John 14:16:

And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper [the
Holy Spirit], that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of

I think this shows that the Holy Spirit is sent from God into every true Christian upon his or her reception of Jesus Christ as their Savior.  And He is in you permanently!

Now, how much closer can you get to God than having the Holy Spirit indwell and abide in you permanently?  Talk about Snuggling Up To God!  Snuggle close, and let Him fill you, lead you and use you to further the Kingdom of God!

Snuggling Up To God – IV

November 22, 2013
John 13:21-26

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

It is easier – for me, at least – to snuggle up to Jesus than it is to the Father.  After all, one of the great truths of the Bible is the incarnation of the Son of God – Jesus Christ taking on human flesh.  He was a human being, just like you and me!  Being a guy, I don’t usually snuggle up to other guys, but I have – my father when I was a child, my favorite uncle, a dear family friend with whom I stayed overnight on a cold October night many years ago.  And my dear friend Bob whom I get to see about once every six months – we always greet each other with a big hug, and I get (and give) a kiss on the cheek!

There is a scripture that has always intrigued me, John 13:21-26.  Jesus was with His twelve disciples in the upper room at the last supper:

    …Jesus…was troubled in spirit…and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one
    of you will betray Me.”  Then the disciples looked at one another, perplexed
    about whom He spoke.  Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His
    disciples, whom Jesus loved.  Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask
    who it was of whom He spoke.  Then leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said
    to Him, “Lord, who is it?”  Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give a
    piece of bread when I have dipped it.”  And having dipped the bread, He gave
    it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

But when I studied the culture of Jesus’ day, the way people dined made this scripture very clear.  A cloth or carpet was spread on which bowls of food were set.  The men would then lie on the floor on their left side – perhaps on other carpets – left arms bent and leaning their heads on their left hands.  They would eat by dipping in the common pots and bowls of food with their right hands and bringing the food to their mouths – no silverware in those days!  You see, the left hand was the ‘unclean’ hand, reserved for personal toilet use among other things.  That’s why Paul referred to “…the right hand of fellowship…” in Galatians 2:9.  The left hand was never offered in greeting.

But back to the dining arrangement: The men would lie at an angle from the carpet set with food, their feet behind them to the right.  This is why in Luke 7:37 and 38 the sinful woman could so easily anoint Jesus’ feet as He dined at the Pharisee Simon’s house.  Close by the one so inclined to eat, the next man would lie in the same position – and the next, and the next….  This way many people could dine around a relatively small ‘table’ – the cloth or carpet set with food.  It would then be very easy for the disciple lying next to Jesus – probably John, although he is not named – to simply lean his head back against Jesus’ breast and ask Him the question, “Lord, who is it?

So it is much easier for me to picture myself Snuggling Up To God the Son than it is Snuggling Up To God the Father or the Holy Spirit.  After all, in Revelation 3:20 Jesus gives this wonderful invitation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  I can picture myself dining with my Lord and leaning against His breast as we talk.  I would be Snuggling Up To God!

Can we get any closer than Snuggling Up To God the Son?  Yes we can!  And we shall see that in the next blog on Monday.  In the meantime, hear again the Lord’s invitation from Revelation 3:20:  “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”  If you have ever seen artistic renderings of this verse, it shows Christ standing outside of a door with no handle!  It has to be opened from the inside!  It is up to you to open the door and invite Him in!

Jesus wants to come in and dine with you on a regular every-day basis.  And He doesn’t mind at all if you lean back on His breast to have intimate conversation with Him.  As a matter of fact, Jesus very much wants you Snuggling Up To God!

Snuggling Up To God – III

November 20, 2013
Deuteronomy 33:27

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

Can we really snuggle up to God the Father?  Is that idea too inappropriate concerning God, who is high and holy, Lord over all?  Often, when I pray, I try to picture what God looks like.  Now this is not easy, because He told Moses in Exodus 20:4

    You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything
    that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water
    under the earth….

Why?  Paul tells us in I Timothy 6:16 that God dwells “…in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see….”  We cannot see Him now in our present mortal state.  God warned Moses in Exodus 33:20, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”  He is just too glorious!  We will have to wait to see the Father in heaven.  For then we who are Christians will be changed.  Jesus – it says in Philippians 3:21 – will “…transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body…” (see also I Corinthians 15:42 through 54; I John 3:2).  Then – in glory – we will see God the Father!  This is one wonderful reason why Jesus came to earth as a human being.  We can see Him, and – as He said in John 14:9, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father….

So to pray and try to picture God as my Father as I talk to Him is not easy.  I often visualize Him as sitting upon a wonderful throne, and His face so gloriously lighted, I cannot really discern His features.

But then I came across a great verse in Deuteronomy 33:27, the first half:  “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms….”  God is portrayed here as holding a child in His arms, cradling him or her.  And those arms will never give out from providing protection and tender care.  When I hold one of my little grandsons in my arms – cradling him as I might a newborn – he often looks up at my face and sees me smiling down upon him with love and care.

So I have begun to imagine myself as a little child, held in “…the everlasting arms….”  From that perspective, I look up into the face of my loving heavenly Father who is smiling down at me.  That’s quite a different perspective than seeing God as a high, holy and far-removed judge who is ready to pronounce sentence upon us!  And it is very different from seeing myself bowing in worship at a distance from His glorious throne!

Go back to the theme of Monday’s blog, based on Romans 8:14 through 17 – Paul telling us in verse 15, “…you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ ” If “abba” can mean “papa” or “daddy”, is it such a stretch to think of us as a child intimately interacting with God the Father as his or her daddy?

My father left our family when I was ten years old.  This event, even in my young life, created such struggles over the years that I still deal with the effects.  And even as an adult I have often missed having a caring father – a daddy – in my life.  I remember back as a little boy climbing up in my daddy’s lap while he was sitting in his old Morse chair, and feeling safe and loved.  I guess that is why I took his leaving so hard.

There are times even now – when I feel the need for my daddy – that I picture myself climbing up in my “Abba Father’s” lap, putting my arms around His neck, kissing Him on the cheek, and telling Him, “I love you, Abba! ”  And in my mind I hear God say, “Awwww!  I love you, son.

Is that blasphemous?  I don’t think so!  It has given me a new and wonderful understanding of my loving and caring heavenly Father – the One with whom I am not afraid to be Snuggling Up To God!

That’s the Father.  In our next blog we will continue the series Snuggling Up To God by looking at Snuggling Up To Jesus!  Then one more – Snuggling Up To The Holy Spirit!  I hope you enjoy these blogs and benefit by them.  God bless you.

Snuggling Up To God – II

November 18, 2013
Romans 8:14-17

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

In Friday’s blog we started to explore Snuggling Up To God, a concept that is hard to grasp for many Christians who see the Father as high, holy and removed.  How can we Snuggle Up To God who is so other!  But God invites us to come close through His Son Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to save us.  How close?  It says in Romans 8:14-17:

    For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.  For you
    did not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit
    of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  The Spirit Himself bears
    witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, and if children, then
    heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with Him,
    that we may also be glorified together.

We are invited to be so close to God that we may call Him “Abba, Father.”  And abba in Aramaic – the common Hebrew language of Jesus’ day – can mean “papa” or even “daddy”.

We also began to look at scriptures where God shows His loving care for His children, almost like a tender-hearted mother rather than a distant father.  We saw how Jesus  invites us close to Himself, and so to the Father through Himself.  The scripture references we looked at in the previous blog are Isaiah 40:10, 11; 46:3, 4; 49:15, 16; Matthew 11:28-30 and Luke 13:34.

Let’s continue:

•    Psalm 23:5-6 – You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

•    Psalm 103:4 – The Lord…crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies….

•    Psalm 103:13 (Living Bible) – He is like a father to us, tender and sympathetic to those who reverence Him.

•    Mark 10:14-16 – …Jesus…said to them, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.  Assuredly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”  And He took them up in His arms, put His hands on them, and blessed them.

•    Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it….

•    I John 3:1 – Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!

•    I John 4:9-11 – In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

I hope this begins to show you how much God loves us, with a tender love that draws us to Himself – even as a little child is drawn to his or her “daddy”, and is invited to climb up into his lap.

I do not think that such intimacy with the God of the universe is blasphemous, especially since He has initiated this closeness by His own Son dying in our place, paying for our sins.  Just as God had intimate communion with Adam and Eve at the first, so He desires the same with His children now – redeemed by the Second Adam, Jesus Christ.  (See I Corinthians 15:45 through 49).

In the next blog, I will share a scripture with you that has given me a whole new perspective concerning the Father when I think about Him.

Snuggling Up To God – I

November 15, 2013
James 4:8

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

That’s an odd title to many Christians, “Snuggling Up To God”!  God is often thought to be so high and holy, He is quite far removed from us!  Oh, yes, He controls all things, and even intercedes for His children occasionally, but to snuggle up to Him?  That’s beyond comprehension for a lot of us.  I want to show you a half a verse in James, chapter 4 and verse 8:  “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”  How near can we “Draw near to God…”?

In Mark 14:36, when Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His arrest and crucifixion, this is how He began His prayer: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You.  Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not what I will, but what You will.”  “Abba”is loosely translated by some as “Daddy”.  But others reject that idea, saying the Aramaic word is just another expression meaning “Father” – and translated here (and in Romans 8:15 and Galatians 4:6) as “Father, my Father.”  Some scholars seem to be too careful that we do not get too familiar with God!

Here is the Bible dictionary entry from the website, – “Historically, this word would be used during New Testament times by a child addressing his or her father. It would have been akin to the modern use of papa.”  I tend to go with “papa” or “daddy”.  You see, there are two ways that the New Testament illustrates that we are brought into relationship with God as our Father:

•    We are adopted as children of the Father.  But this is not quite like our modern western idea of adoption.  In a family of means in Jesus’ time, a young son was given to the oversight of a schoolmaster – a trusted and educated slave whose job it was to train that child in formal, social and religious education.  When such training was complete, the son was presented to the father as being ready for full sonship – and all the responsibilities that entailed.  The son was accepted by the father, and so he was, in that sense, adopted into the family.  See Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5.

•    We are also born into God’s family.  According to John 1:12 and 13:

        But as many as received Him [Jesus Christ], to them He gave the right
        to become 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.

We are born-again, according to John 3:3 through 8 – the Holy Spirit bringing to life
our spiritually dead human spirits.  And so we are God’s sons and daughters by

The tender care God gives His children is shown forth in many ways in the Bible:

•    Isaiah 40:10 and 11 – Behold, the Lord God will come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.  He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those who are with young.

•    Isaiah 46:3 and 4 – Listen to Me…[you] who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb:  even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you!  I have made you, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

•    Isaiah 49:15 and 16 – Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb?  Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.  See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands….

•    Matthew 11:28 though 30 – Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

•    Luke 13:34 – O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her!  How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

I have run out of space for this blog!  I hate to quit in the middle, but maybe this cliff-hanger will induce you to come back!  I will write more on Friday, so stay tuned – and learn about Snuggling Up To God!

God’s Peace and the Bible

November 13, 2013
John 16:33

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

Where can we find peace when life upsets us?  Family challenges in the lives of children and grandchildren have given my wife and I some concern over the last few weeks.  Every family has situations that occur and bring challenges into their lives.  This was enough to keep my dear wife from falling asleep at a decent time for a couple of nights.  But she told me this morning that one night recently when she couldn’t sleep, she got up and read her Bible, especially some of the promises concerning God’s care.  As she committed the situation to the Lord in prayer, His peace came over her and she was able to go to bed and sleep soundly.  And since then, not only has the worry not been keeping her awake, but she has been able to go about everyday chores with the peace and confidence that God is in control and will work things out for His glory and in the best interest of those involved.

What was the key for my wife to go from worry to peace?  It is His Word, the Bible!  Jesus said 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

The Bible is the record of God’s dealing with man.  In the New Testament, especially the gospels, the actual words of Jesus Christ are recorded.  But more than that – and as it says in II Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…..” And Jesus, being “…the Word of God…” (according to Revelation 19:13), He is instrumental in all revelation comprising the Bible!  So what I am saying is that when Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you…”, that is not limited to what He had just spoken in John 16, or even to what is recorded in the Bible as the very words from His mouth, often printed in red.  It means any part of the Bible is His words spoken to us!

Do you see the link between the Word and peaceJesus gave us the Bible so that in Him we may have peace!  Yes, we will have trouble in this old world.  After all, who is called “…the god of this world…” (II Corinthians 4:4) and “…the prince of this world…” (John 13:1; 14:30)?  Satan, the devil, of whom Jesus said in John 10:10, he only comes “…to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”  That’s trouble for everyone in the world!  As it says in Job 5:7, “…man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”  But the Lord also said, “…be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  He overcame it all when He rose from the dead – the world, the devil, sin, death and hell!  Jesus Christ is the victor!  And when we put our faith in Him – that He died for our sins on the cross – we enter into that victory!  And part of that victory is peace in a world of trouble!

But how can we know all about the victory?  How can we know that we can enter into His peace?  By reading the Bible and its many promises concerning the subject!  For instance, one of my wife’s favorite scriptures – and mine also – is from Philippians 4:6 and 7:

    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with
    thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God,
    which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through
    Christ Jesus.

Instead of worrying about it, pray about it!  Commit it to God – whether trouble concerning yourself (“supplication”) or others (“prayer”) – and do it “with thanksgiving” – thanking Him by faith for the outcome yet to be revealed.  That’s our part.  His part is giving us “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding….”  We may not be able to understand why we are experiencing such peace in the midst of our particular troubles, but there it is, guarding our “hearts and minds”!  And how does this peace come?  “…through Christ Jesus.”  Peace comes by reading His Word, knowing what He has said in it, and believing it is true!  The mechanics of it all may remain a mystery to us.  But the reality of it has been proven again and again in the lives of believers through the ages.

Are troubles and worries crowding into your life?  Read God’s Word!  Believe His promises!  You will experience His peace!

How To Handle Problems

November 11, 2013
Isaiah 40:28-31

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

So are you now or have you ever experienced any problems in your life?  Are you a human being?  If you answered ‘Yes’ to the last question, then you have experienced problems!  Eliphaz the Temanite said it in Job 5:7: “…man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”  The last time I checked, sparks from a firefly upward!”  So troubles do come.  That’s part of living!  The issue then is, How To Handle Problems.  Some ‘sage’ said, “When in trouble, when in doubt; run in circles, scream and shout!”  Yeah, that is how a lot of people seem to handle their problems.  But the Bible tells us of a better way in Isaiah 40:28-31:

    Have you not known?  Have you not heard?  The everlasting God, the Lord,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary.  His under-
    standing is unsearchable.  He gives power to the weak; and to those who
    have no might He increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be
    weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord
    shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they
    shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Read again that last clause:  “…but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  There are four promises here:

•    They “…shall renew their strength….”  When we are faced with problems, one of the common heart-cries is, “O Lord, I need strength to get through this!”  This says God has already given us a measure of strength, and – in light of the problem we are facing – He will renew it.  One of my favorite verses is Deuteronomy 33:25:  “…as your days, so shall your strength be.”  In other words, God will give you the strength to match the situation – the problem – you are facing!
•    “…they shall mount up with wings like eagles….”  An eagle flies high.  And from that vantage point, the terrain below looks different.  How different would our problems look if we could view them from high up?  How different would our problems seem if we could look at them through God’s eyes?!
•    “…they shall run and not be weary….”  Yes, sometimes it takes quite awhile to get through the situation at hand.  This is the “run” that is referred to here.  It is not a sprint, but a marathon.  That’s also the idea in Hebrews 12:1 where it says, “…run with endurance the race that is set before us….”  The promise is the strength to run without getting worn out!
•    “…they shall walk and not faint.”  I can’t run anymore.  I used to enjoy a long run, but with two knee replacements, I can’t do that now.  But I can walk!  And I walk an average of 30 to 40 miles each week!  Sometimes running is out of the question.  But walking is an option.  This promise says we can walk without giving out, walking until we are home and are able to rest!

So what is the condition to experience these four promises when we are facing a problem?  It is for “…those who wait on the Lord….”  You see, God never loses strength.  He also is “…the Most High God…” (Daniel 5:21 and ten other verses), and He sees problems from above.  He is in it for the long haul, and He never tires, whether running or walking.  If we   “…wait on the Lord…”, He will see to it that we are given those qualities To Handle Problems.

How do we   “…wait on the Lord…”?  The key is in verse 28 of our scripture: “Have you not known?  Have you not heard? ”  The means to hear and know are right before us.  Almost everyone – especially in the western world – has access to a Bible.  The Bible is how you ‘hear’ and ‘know’ both who God is and what He will do for you as you try To Handle Problems!  Why do we neglect the Word of God?  It will not only inform us so we can know what God can do, it will also produce in us those qualities we need To Handle Problems! 

Read your Bible!  Study your Bible!  Memorize pertinent verses in your Bible!  Meditate – or think about – the truths you discover in your Bible!  This will help you to know both who God is and what He can do.  And He surely can help you learn How To Handle Problems!

By Whose Standard?

November 8, 2013
Matthew 5:48

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

Paul was defending himself to the Corinthian church because some were questioning his authority as an apostle.  One problem was that he was an intense little man, who – when he wrote his instructive and corrective letters to the churches – sounded like he was a giant!  In The Acts of Paul and Thecla, an apocryphal work of the mid-second century, a physical description is given of the saint:

    …he was a man of middling size, and his hair was scanty, and his legs were a
    little crooked, and his knees were projecting, and he had large eyes and his
    eyebrows met, and his nose was somewhat long….

But, the description adds, “…he was full of grace and mercy; at one time he seemed like a man, and at another time he seemed like an angel.”  Paul recounted in II Corinthians 10:7 through12 the charges his opponents were laying against him:

    Do you look at things according to the outward appearance?…I seem to terrify
    you by letters.  “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful; but his
    bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.”  Let such a person
    consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we
    will also be in deed when we are present.  For we dare not class ourselves or
    compare ourselves with those who commend themselves.  But they, measuring
    themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are
    not wise.

These opponents were saying, in other words, “Pay no attention to that little man.  Even though his letters seem ferocious, he’s a wimp in person!”  But Paul – though he was gracious and loving – was the same in person as well as in his writings.

Notice the last sentence of the above scripture: “But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”  Why is it not wise to compare ourselves with others?  Because we can always find someone who is worse off than we are, who is a greater sinner, who is not as successful, who has a more dysfunctional family, etc.  And in so comparing, we can become complacent with a false contentment, saying, “I’m not so bad!  Just look at so and so!

So, By Whose Standard are we then suppose to be measured?  There is only One, and that One is featured in our blog’s scripture of Matthew 5:48:  “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  Now that’s a high standard!  We are challenged to be as perfect as God!  Who can ever live up to this standard?!

Well, there is only One who had ever lived His life to that perfect standard – Jesus Christ.  I like how he challenged His enemies in John 8:46, “Which of you convicts Me of sin? ”  His enemies had been closely watching Him for some time to try to convict Him of sin!  But they couldn’t find a thing!  In the end, Jesus was ‘condemned’ on trumped-up charges that would never stand in an honorable court!  But if I asked those who knew me well – say, my wife – “Which of you convicts me of sin? ” she would not have to think very long before she could come up with a dozen sins I have committed – and probably a lot more!

So Jesus was perfect.  He never sinned once!   That’s what Peter declares in I Peter 2:22 when he said of his Lord, “…Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth.”  And here is the essence of the gospel:  not only did Jesus Christ take our sins upon Himself and fully pay for them when He died upon the cross, He also offers us to be clothed with His own perfect righteousness!  It is not our own righteousness, for we have none of our own before God!  It is His imputed righteousness, freely given to us who open our hearts and put our faith in Him and what He accomplished by dying for us and rising again!  (See II Corinthians 5:21).  Only in this way can we meet the standard that God has set for us – “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Are you comparing yourself to others so you can come out looking better than they are?  Or have you set yourself alongside of God’s standard of perfection?  If you have done the latter, then you will seek some way to meet that standard and so be acceptable to God.  That way is Jesus Christ, Who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.