One Anothering – IV

June 30, 2017

Image result for photo christian fellowshipII Corinthians 8:1-5

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

I am changing the featured Scripture simply to add some variety to the idea of One Anothering!  This series is concerned with how we are to relate to one another according to God’s directive.  Here, from II Corinthians 8:1 through 5 is another example of One Anothering:

      …we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of
      Macedonia:  that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy
      and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.  For I
      bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability,
      they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would
      receive the gift, and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.  And
      this they did, not as we had hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord,
      and then to us by the will of God.

The Macedonian Christians practiced One Anothering by liberally giving of themselves and their means to struggling believers in Judea!

There are thirty-two words in the New King James Version New Testament that combine with the term one another.  And each instance shows us a way to serve one another in Christ!  Having covered eleven of them, we will go on…

•      “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love…” (Romans 12:10).  There are two phrases here that are related to one another.

      ✞      The Greek for kindly affectionate is φιλόστοργος (pronounced fil-os’-tor-gos).  According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary it means, “(cherishing ones kindred, especially parents or children); fond of natural relatives, that is, fraternal towards fellow Christians….”  Do we really cherish our brothers and sisters in Christ – cherish like a dear natural family member?

      ✞      The Greek for brotherly love is φιλαδελφία (pronounced fil-ad-el-fee’-ah, and spelled philadelphia).  That’s right, the major Pennsylvania city is named after this biblical term!  Unfortunately, some have said (from personal experience, I suppose) that instead ofThe city of brotherly love,” it is “The city of brotherly shove!”  But, instead of shoving other believers around, we are to love them as brothers (and sisters) – family members!  Strong tells us that philadelphia means “fraternal affection….”  You might say it is a step under agape love, the kind of love that is given and continues no matter what!  This philadelphia love does depend (as least somewhat) on being reciprocal!  It is still a very strong family love! (See Hebrews 13:1).

•      “…in honor giving preference to one another…” (Romans 12:10).  Again, two Greek words describe this instance of One Anothering!

      ✞      in honorτιμή (pronounced tee-may’).  It means “a value, that is, money paid, or (concretely and collectively) valuables; by analogy esteem (especially of the highest degree), or the dignity itself….”  Esteeming, considering as valuable, and giving dignity to one another – this would surely improve relating to one another in our churches, and throughout the Christian world!

      ✞      giving preference προηγέομαι (pronounced pro-ay-geh’-om-ahee).  The meaning is, “to lead the way for others, that is, show deference….”  Are we leading the way – showing deference (humble submission and respect) for other believers?  Are we setting the positive example for others to follow? (See I Corinthians 4:16; 11:1; Galatians 4:12).

•      “…let us not judge one another…” (Romans 14:6).  The Greek word for judge is κρίνω (pronounced kree’-no).  It means “Properly to distinguish, that is, decide (mentally or judicially); by implication to try, condemn, punish….”  But the word is modified by μηκέτι (pronounced may-ket’-ee), meaning, “no further….”  In other words, don’t judge one another!  You do not know the motives behind the actions of other Christians!  In my first church I was seen coming out of a bar – one of the worst dives in town!  It could have caused a scandal!  But why was I there?  The bar’s owner also had a roofing business – the best one in the area!  And the church roof was leaking…!

Paul applies this concept, let us not judge one another, in Romans 14:1 through 4, and verses 10 through 13 – especially as it applies to eating foods offered to idols:

      Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful
      things.  For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats
      only vegetables.  Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and
      let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received
      him.  Who are you to judge another’s servant?  To his own master he
      stands or falls.  Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make
      him stand….But why do you judge your brother?  Or, why do you show
      contempt for your brother?  For we shall all stand before the judgment
      seat of Christ.  So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 
      Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore [the One Anothering
      phrase we are considering], but rather [let us] resolve this, not to put a
      stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

And James warns us in James 4:11 and 12:

      Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.  He who speaks evil of a brother
      and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law.  But if you
      judge the law, are not a doer of the law, but a judge.  There is one Lawgiver,
      who is able to save and destroy.  Who are you to judge another?

In other words, unless it is clear by Scripture, leave the judgment to God!

More on Monday….

One Anothering – III

June 28, 2017

Image result for photo Christian fellowship

Acts 2:41, 42, 44, 45

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

Relating to each other as brothers and sisters in Christ I callOne Anothering!  Acts 2:41,42, 44 and 45 shows us how the believers in the early Church loved and served One Another.

      Then those who gladly received…[Peter’s] word were baptized; and that
      day about three thousand souls were added to them.  And they continued
      steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of
      bread, and in prayers….Now all who believed were together, and had all
      things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided
      them among all as anyone had need.

Thirty-two words in the New King James Version New Testament are associated with the term one another, teaching us how we should relate to one another in our churches!  We covered eight words so far in the last two blogs.  All the rest (24 more), but one, only occur once in each case.  Let’s continue…

•      edify another, or one another – two times (see Romans 14:19; I Thessalonians 5:11).  The Greek words are οἰκοδομή and οἰκοδομέω (pronounced oy-kod-om-ay’ and oy-kod-om-eh’-o) – the first word being a noun meaning (according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary) “architecture, that is, (concretely) a structure; figuratively confirmation….”  The second is a verb – “to be a house builder, that is, construct or (figuratively) confirm….”  The idea is that we are to build up one another!  After all, we together are the Lord’s dwelling place – Hishouse’(see II Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 3:17; Hebrews 5:6; I Peter 2:5; I John 4:13) – through the Holy Spirit residing within every Christian! (See Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 6:19).  So we are to edify, to build up each other to make us together a fit dwelling place for God! (See Hebrews 10:24, 25).

•      peace with one another – The context is Mark 9:50:  “Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.”  The Greek word for peace is εἰρηνεύω (pronounced i-rane-yoo’-o).  It means “to be (act) peaceful….”  What does this have to do with Having salt in… ourselves?  Salt both preserves and adds flavor!  We are to do both!

      ✞      We are to be the preservative that holds back the corruption of the world! (See II Thessalonians 2:7, 8 – that which restrains lawlessness in this old world is God the Holy Spirit within His people).

      ✞      And we are to add flavor to life! (See II Corinthians 2:14-16).  For it is only by the Lord Jesus Christ that people can find[eternal] life, and…have it [life now] more abundantly.” (John 10:10).

All this is to be done in peace with one another!  There is little peace in the world – between nations, interaction between people (groups, families, person-to-person), and within the heart and soul of individuals.  We, as Christians, are to show the way – to…be at peace among… ourselves.” (I Thessalonians 5:13).

•      wash one another’s feet – John 13:14:  “If I…your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  The Greek word for wash is νίπτω (pronounced nip’-to).  It means “To cleanse (especially the hands or the feet or the face); ceremonially to perform ablution….”  In some small denominations and independent churches, foot-washing is viewed as an ordinance on par with baptism and communion (the Lord’s table).  But most Christians do not practice it, even once in awhile.  They view it more as an illustration to serve one another (see Galatians 5:13).

Washing feet was the job of a household servant!  And the disciples had problems with this servant attitude!  More than once they desired to be first and indispensable in the hierarchy of Christ’s kingdom! (See Matthew 18:1; 20:20, 21; Mark 9:35; 10:35-37; Luke 9:46; 22:24).  But, if you look at the context of this foot-washing scene in John 13:1-5, it almost seems like Jesus should have come bursting in with glory!  Instead – according to Philippians 2:7 and 8 – He…made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant…He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”  This foot-washing was just another step of servanthood as the Lord of glory (see I Corinthians 2:8; James 2:1) moved toward the cross!

Jesus was also teaching about our need for ongoing cleansing as believers!  Peter, in John 13:8 vehemently objected to his Lord washing his feet.  But Jesus told him in verses 8 and 9, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me….He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean….

      ✞      We are completely cleansed from sin when we put our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior! (See Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 103:12; Colossians 2:13, 14).

      ✞      But, as we walk through our daily life, we get ourfeet dirtywith sin!  It is like those of ancient times who walked home from the public baths wearing sandals.  When they reached their residence, the household servant would wash the dust from their feet.  I John 1:7 gives us the spiritual explanation of this illustration:  “…if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”  In the Greek it says, “…keeps on cleansing us from all sin.”  It is an ongoing action – Christ’s blood keeping us clean!  We are under a constant blood bath, without which we would become a stench to the Father!

Continued on Friday….

One Anothering – II

June 26, 2017

Image result for Photo Christian fellowship

Acts 2:41, 42, 44, 45

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

One Anothering has to do with how we relate to each other as Christians in the Body of Christ – the Church!  This study investigates the words one another in the New Testament as they apply to believers.  Although these two words are not in our featured Scripture, Acts 2:41,42, 44 and 45 gives us a wonderful example of One Anothering in the early Church!

      Then those who gladly received…[Peter’s] word were baptized; and that
      day about three thousand souls were added to them.  And they continued
      steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of
      bread, and in prayers….Now all who believed were together, and had all
      things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided
      them among all as anyone had need.

There are 32 words associated with one another applied to Christian fellowship in the New King James Version New Testament, and we covered the first four in Monday’s blog.  Let’s continue looking at them in descending order of the number of times they occur…

•      admonish [or admonishing] one another – two times (see Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16).  The Greek word for admonish is νουθετέω (pronounced noo-thet-eh’-o).  Strong, in his Greek Dictionary tells us that it means “to put in mind, that is, (by implication) to caution or reprove gently….”  I think a key word here is gently.  Some people come in like a storm trooper, saying as it were, “This person is wrong!  And by God, I am going to set him straight!”  Paul is admonishing us in Galatians 6:1 and 2:

      Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual
      restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest
      you also be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the
      law of Christ.

And what is the law of Christ?  It is found in John 13:34:  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”  In Romans 13:8 and 9 the apostle says that such love…has fulfilled the law…,” and “… any… commandment…[is] summed up in this…‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  …love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

•      bearing one another – two times (see Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13).  The Greek word for bearing is ἀνέχομαι (pronounced an-ekh’-om-ahee).  It means “to hold oneself up against, that is, (figuratively) put up with….”  Other Bible editions translate bearing as forbearing, putting up with, supporting, accepting, lovingly accepting, tolerant.  It comes to mind that the word in the Greek puts forth the idea that some folks are very easy to bear, accept, tolerate, etc.  But some people just seem to ‘rub you the wrong way’!  Even these we are to lovingly accept !  And that is not always easy!  Peter questioned the Lord about forgiving an offender:  “Up to seven times,” he asked? (Matthew 18:21).  He was being magnanimous!  The scribes and Pharisees taught that you only had to forgive someone for the same offense three times.  But Jesus said in Matthew 18:22, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  No wonder the disciples cried out in Luke 17:5, “Increase our faith!

•      This next word is out of frequency-of-use order, but the idea is very related to bearing one another (see above).  In Galatians 6:2 we are told to “Bear one another’s burdens….”  In the Greek the word is βαστάζω (pronounced bas-tad’-zo).  So it is a different word from bearing one another.  It means “(through the idea of removal); to lift, literally or figuratively (endure, declare, sustain, receive, etc.)….”  The thought conveyed takes me to Psalm 55:22:  “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you….”  The idea is that God will bear or carry whatever you cast on Him!  But it is you whom He sustains!  We are the burden cast upon Him that He carries! (See Isaiah 46:3, 4).  In that sense, we, as Christians, are to help carry one another!

•      exhort one another – two times (see Hebrews 3:13; 10:25).  The word exhort is παρακαλέω (pronounced par-ak-al-eh’-o).  Strong tells us the meaning:  “to call near, that is, invite, invoke (by imploration, hortation or consolation)….”  Jesus, in John 14:16 and 17, told His followers:  “…I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth….”  The ‘another Helper‘ is from the New King James Version (also translated such in six other versions I have).  But in six more it is called another Comforter, and termed an Advocate in one more.  The Holy Spirit is another Helper, Comforter, or Advocate just like Jesus – called near to help us! (See for instance Romans 8:26).  As a matter of fact, He is sonear, the Spirit takes up permanent residence in every true Christian! (See Romans 8:9; I Corinthians 6:19).

How does this apply to one another as Christians?  As the Holy Spirit is called near to be a Helper, so we are to stand alongside of each other to exhort (help, lift burdens, implore, instruct, console) one another! (See Romans 12:8; Galatians 6:2; Colossians 3:16; II Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 10:24, 25).

More to come concerning One Anothering on Wednesday!

One Anothering – I

June 23, 2017

Image result for Photo Christian fellowship

Acts 2:41, 42, 44, 45

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

I looked up in the New Testament, by my computer Bible application, “…one another…” as it applies to Christians.  I found 53 times the term is used in the New King James Version.  I also counted the different words associated with one another, and came up with 32 that are applied to Christian fellowship.  I then considered what featured Scripture to use for this study.  I chose one that does not even once contain the words one another in it!  But it highlights community in the Christian life – and that is the context out of which One Anothering makes sense!  Here is Acts 2:41,42, 44 and 45:

      Then those who gladly received…[Peter’s] word were baptized; and that
      day about three thousand souls were added to them.  And they continued
      steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of
      bread, and in prayers….Now all who believed were together, and had all
      things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided
      them among all as anyone had need.

Although this passage does not feature the term, it surely shows that the early believers cared for one anotherLet’s look at this term and the words in the New Testament that are associated with it.  The term, one anotherἀλλήλων (pronounced al-lay’-lone) – means just that, one another (also reciprocally; mutually).  The 32 words that are associated with one another in the New King James Version (as applied to Christian fellowship) are presented in descending order of the number of times they occur.

•      love one another – fourteen times (see John 13:34 – used twice; 13:35; 15:12, 17; Romans 13:8; I Thessalonians 3:12; I Peter 1:22; I John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; II John 1:5).  In all cases the word used is ἀγάπη (pronounced ag-ah’-pay) – twelve times in the verb form, ἀγαπάω (pronounced ag-ap-ah’-o), and once in the noun form, ἀγάπηIt is the type of love wherewith God loves us – as seen in John 3:16:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  It is a totally unselfish love, given without regard of receiving love back!  Such love sees the potential in the person loved, and loves in spite of that one’s present condition! (See Romans 5:6-8).  We are to love one another in the that way!

•      greet one another – four times (see Romans 16:16; I Corinthians 16:20; II Corinthians 13:12; I Peter 5:14).  The word greet in each case is ἀσπάζομαι (pronounced os-pad’-zom-ahee).  According to Strong’s Greek Dictionary, it means “to enfold in the arms, that is, (by implication) to salute, (figuratively) to welcome….”  All four occurrences of greet one another add to the admonition in a way similar to this from II Corinthians 13:12:  “Greet one another with a holy kiss.”  Many times members of a biological family show such affection to one another.  Christians are admonished to show the same to brothers and sisters in the Lord!

•      members of one another – two times (see Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:25).  The Greek word is μέλος (pronounced mel’-os).  It means a limb or part of the body.  In I Corinthians 12:12 through 27, Paul expands on this analogy telling us that every part (member) of the Body of Christ is important!  Yes, they are different from one another, and have varied functions!  But all are necessary and must be appreciated!  Here is the summary Scripture of this section, I Corinthians 12:25 through 27:

      …there should be no schism in the body, but…the members should have
      the same care for one another.  And if one member suffers, all the mem-
      bers suffer with it; or is one member is honored, all the members rejoice
      with it.  Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

Are we treating other Christians as we should?  And are we identifying with those perhaps at great distances from us who are undergoing extreme trials and/or persecution?

•      the same mind [or like-minded] toward one another – two times (see Romans 12:16; 15:5).  In the Greek the word is φρονέω (pronounced fron-eh’-o).  Strong gives this definition:  “to exercise the mind, that is, entertain or have a sentiment or opinion; by implication to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction); intensively to interest oneself in (with concern or obedience)….”  Other Bible versions translate the phrase thus:

      ✞     Be [or live] in harmony with one another [or each other].” (Bible in Basic English; English Standard Version; God Word to the Nations; International Standard Version).

      ✞     Live together in peace with each other” (Contemporary English Version).

      ✞     Have the same concern for everyone.” (Good News Bible).

      ✞     …minding the same thing toward one another….” (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible; Modern King James Version).

We are not to show favoritism because of social status or other socially imposed distinctions!  Paul finishes Romans 12:16 by writing, “Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.  Do not be wise in your own opinion.”  James expands on the thought in James 2:1 through 4 (English Standard Version):

      My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus
      Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine
      clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing
      also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine
      clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the
      poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you
      not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with
      evil thoughts?

Treat all your Christian brothers and sisters with equal love, fairness, and dignity!

We will continue One Anothering in our next blog on Monday.

Lazarus Loosed!

June 21, 2017

Image result for photo Lazarus

John 11:43, 44

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

Lazarus had died! His sisters, Martha and Mary “…sent to…[Jesus], saying, ‘Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.’ ” (John 11:3). But Jesus was “…away…beyond the Jordan…the place where John was baptizing at first…” (John 10:40). We are told in John 3:23 that “…John…was baptizing in Aenon near Salim….” This was about 45 miles north of the Dead Sea, and almost 50 miles northeast of Jerusalem. That’s at least a two-day walk, and it says in John 11:6 that Jesus “…stayed two more days in the place where He was.” That’s why John 11:17 informs us, “So when Jesus came, He found that he [Lazarus] had already been in the tomb four days.

We know that the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead – an amazing miracle! Here is the record from John 11:43 and 44:

      [Jesus]…cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who
      had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face
      was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him

But what happened to Lazarus after he was raised? Let’s look at Lazarus Loosed!

•      The Scripture gives us two pieces of information of post-resurrection Lazarus:

      ✞      John 12:1 and 2 – “…six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany…. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.” How long did this take place after Lazarus was Loosed? There may be a hint in John 10:22: “Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.” After a run-in with the Jews (who attempted to stone Him – see John 10:31), the Lord left Jerusalem and went to Aenon near Salim. The Feast of Dedication (today called Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights) is celebrated in late November or December. The supper to which Jesus was invited at Bethany was held six days before Passover, (observed late March or into April). But how long before Lazarus was Loosed, that the supper was served, we don’t know.

What we are told about this supper is that Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Jesus. The three siblings of this hosting family show three ways of relating to the Lord in John 12:2:

              ▸      “…Martha served…” the dinner, tending to the needs of the guests. But that was Martha’s personality! (See Luke 10:38-40). We all need to serve the Lord by serving others! (See Galatians 5:13).

              ▸      Lazarus…sat at the table with…” Jesus. He was in fellowship with the Lord! We need this aspect also. You might say, we need to just be hanging out with Him – and with one another as Christians! (See Acts 2:42; I Corinthians 1:9; I John 1:3).

              ▸      …Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.Mary was worshiping her Lord! We need to regularly do the same! (See John 4:23, 24; 10:30; Hebrews 1:6).

      ✞      John 12:9-11 – “Then a great many of the Jews…came…that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests took counsel that they might also put Lazarus to death, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.” I am sure Lazarus heard about this plot, and it must have been difficult to live under the threat of death!

In many parts of this world, to convert to Christianity is to have a very serious death threat put upon you! We are blessed in this western world to live our lives free of such threats. But we must keep our struggling brothers and sisters in Christ in prayer! And we must help them as we have opportunity! Did not Paul say in I Corinthians 12:25 and 26:

      …there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should
      have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the
      members suffer with it; or is one member is honored, all the members
      rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individ-

•      Tradition gives us some information about Lazarus after he was Loosed (The Search for the Twelve Apostles, by William Steuart McBirnie). McBirnie covers not only the twelve, there are 20 chapters covering the traditions of several other Biblical people. Lazarus is one of them!

      ✞      Lazarus is said to have traveled to Cyprus about 60 AD to escape the increasing Jewish persecution. He, according to tradition, was the first bishop of the See of Kitium in Cyprus. Some say he died in Cyprus and point to his tomb in that city.

      ✞      He then traveled to Marseilles, France where he became bishop for seven years. Some say he died in France and his crypt is there.

Both traditions tell us that many people converted to Christianity because of the witness of this kindly and zealous man! While traditions are not Scripture, we can take inspiration from Lazarus’ example and strive to have the kind of witness that will bring many to Jesus Christ! After all, we, too, have been raised from the dead! Paul wrote in Romans 6:3-5, 8, and 11:

      …do you not know that so many of us as were baptized into Christ
      Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with
      Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from
      the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in
      newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness
      of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resur-
      rection….Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also
      live with Him….Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead in-
      deed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Live as one alive from the dead! Live as Lazarus Loosed!

Who Owns The Title? – II

June 19, 2017

Image result for photo ownership

Mark 8:34-37

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

We are looking at Who Owns The Title to your soul – your life?  According to John 8:44, Satan does! (the natural condition when we are born into this world – see the last blog).  But we have the opportunity to change that ownership!  And Jesus gives us the invitation in Mark 8:34 through 37:

      Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up
      his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose
      it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 
      For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his
      own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

You might ask, “How is it that the evil one Owns The Title to my soul?  I thought we were created in the image of God! ”  Yes, according to Genesis 1:26 and 27 we were.  But when our first parents in Genesis 3:1-7 gave in to temptation and obeyed Satan rather than God, the ownership was transferred.  Not only does the devil have Title to your soul (in your natural born state), but he has Title to the whole world system!  This is shown in Luke 4:5 and 6 – the second temptation he offered Jesus:

      Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the
      kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him,
      “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been de-
      livered to me; and I give it to whomever I wish.”

The ownership of all the kingdoms of the world…and their glory includes the societies of those kingdoms – and the people who make up those societies!  And if a person remains under the devil’s jurisdiction, that person will follow Satan all the way into eternal hell! (See Revelation 20:10; 21:8).

We started to examine what we must do to change ownership, looking into verse 34 of our featured Scripture.  This is extremely important!  I strongly suggest you review Monday’s blog to nail down what you must do!  Then do it!  But let’s go on:

•      Mark 8:35 – “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”  The understanding of this verse depends on the correct interpretation of “his life”.  One of the big lies that Satan fosters on people is that they are in control of their own lives!  But God says something different! (See Job 12:9, 10; Ezekiel 18:4; Luke 12:15-21).  The life to which Jesus is referring in verse 35 is the life of which we think we are in control! (See James 4:13-17).  If we hang on to that thinking, we are in trouble, especially eternal trouble!  To lose your life means to have all that you have lived for – strived for, expended your energy for – turn into dust and ashes!  And then you will hear the Lord Jesus say,Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25:41).

But if we give up thatcontroland give over the dominion of our life to the One who originally designed us, we will save our life!  The contrast is vividly pointed out in John 10:10.  The Lord tells us, “The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.  I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  The first mention of life in this verse means eternal life! (See John 3:36; I John 5:11-13).  The second mention points to this temporal life.  Why do I say that?  Because in heaven, obviously life will be lived abundantly!  What then does the abundance consist of here and now?  Perhaps many things, including the Lord’s presence, provision, protection, etc.  But I believe it especially refers to the nine manifestations of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22 and 23 (Easy-to-Read Version):  “…love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  If you have these qualities in your life, you will truly live life more abundantly!

•      Mark 8:36 and 37 – “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  I remember the man whom my wife worked for years ago.  He was a good man by society’s standards.  But he was not a Christian.  One day he was telling us about his family:  “All my children have turned out great!  They are all educated, have good jobs and families.  What more could you ask for? ”  But two paragraphs above, I described what the Bible says about losing your life.  There is no profit in all that you have worked for being consumed by God’s judgment fire!  And I am sure those facing the great white throne judgment of Revelation 20:11 through 14 would do anything to exchange their soul at that time of judgment! (See Revelation 6:15-17).  But, as it says in Psalm 49:7 and 8 (Good News Bible):  “We can never redeem ourselves; we cannot pay God the price for our lives, because the payment for a human life is too great.  What we could pay would never be enough….

So, it comes down to this:  If you want to give God The Title to your soul – your life; if you want to have eternal life, and have life more abundantly, then accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, and follow Him closely as your Lord!

Praying Biblically For Our Children – II

June 16, 2017

Image result for photo family

Ephesians 6:1-4

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

I am choosing another featured Scripture for this second installment of Praying Biblically For Our Children.  It is II Timothy 5:8 – and at first may not seem like a good choice for the subject we are considering:  “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”  Paul is addressing the subject of financial and material provision given by the church to those in true need.  But, he is saying, the responsibility of a family provider is to take care of his own first – and not leave the it to the church to provide!

My wife and I take our responsibility to provide for our family seriously!  And not only financially and materially, but also by praying regularly for them!  Thus, I have sought ways to creatively and Biblically pray for my family members.

Our first grandchild, Chelsea Faith, has a family of her own…

•      John – Chelsea’s husband, has a strong Biblical name.  John the apostle and his brother James in Mark 3:17 were nicknamed,…Boanerges, that is, ‘Sons of Thunder.’ ”  And so I pray for John,Lord, may John be a Son of Thunder for you, loving you, serving you, and loudly sounding out the gospel so others can clearly hear!

•      Noah is my first great-grandson!  In the Bible, God said of Noah, in Genesis 7:1: “…I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.”  And so I pray for Noah,God Almighty, may my Noah be found righteous by a strong faith in Jesus Christ, in his generation!

•      Annabelle was born to Chelsea Thanksgiving day – our first great-grand-daughter!  Chelsea calls her AB, short for Annabelle, and I call her Abi (or Abby).  I have always liked the name Abby, and Abi is Biblical.  The name is found in II Kings 18:2, concerning, “…Hezekiah, king of Judah….His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah.” (II Kings 18:1, 2).  Hezekiah was a good and godly king who reigned for 29 years in Jerusalem (see II Kings 18:2-7).  Although it does not stipulate, Abi must have been a godly influence in her son’s life for him to turn out to be such a strong follower of Jehovah!  And so I pray for my Abi,God, may she grow up to be a woman of strong faith who will be the mother of faithful children who, in turn, will influence many people!

•      John brought his own daughter into the relationship with Chelsea – Madelynn (called Maddy).  In my mind, I have adopted her as my own great-granddaughter!  I have not found any Biblical connection with the name Madelynn or Maddy, so I pray for her,Oh Lord, just make Maddie a strong Christian who will marry an equally strong Christian man.  May they raise a faithful family!

•      Ann, my daughter, is married to Daniel, and their firstborn is named Daniel after his father.  As I wrote in the last blog:

      We read the story of Daniel in the Bible book that carries his name. Daniel
      served the Lord even though he was taken captive as a teenager from Jerusa-
      lem to Babylon!  He was so faithful, he served in the Babylonian court for
      over seven decades, serving under six Babylonian kings, and two Medo/Per-
      sian kings.  According to the Biblical record, he influenced at least two kings
      to come to faith in Jehovah! (See Daniel, chapters 4 and 6).

And so I pray for both my Daniels,God, may father and son be such a strong Christians that they will even influence even kings, and others in high positions!

•      Meagan is Dan and Ann’s daughter!  Meagan is a fine young teenager with a sweet disposition.  Although I can’t find a Biblical equivalent to her name, I pray this was for Meagan:   “Father, may Meagan have an open heart to Your Son Jesus and follow Him faithfully.  May she marry a young man of solid Christian conviction, and raise a family of strong believing children.

•      Ann’s half-brother’s given name is Anthony – but everyone called him Bobby!  He was with us for four years and then went back to live with his biological mother.  We have lost track if him for over thirty years, but I pray for him daily!  While he does not carry a Biblical name, Saint Anthony of the early thirteenth century AD was a pious young man who joined the Franciscan Order.  He was a great teacher and preacher, and was canonized by Pope Gregory IX less than one year after his death, at the young age of 35!  In 1946, Pope Pius XII proclaimed Anthony a Doctor of the Church – a high honor!  And so I pray for Bobby (Anthony)Oh, God, I so want to see Bobby in heaven and hug and love him.  Please, may he and his family be strong Christians!

I saved the best for last!

•      Hope is my dear and wonderful wife of almost 49 years!  While I had nothing to do with choosing her name, I rejoice in what her parents decided to name her!  Paul wrote in Romans 5:3 through 5:

      …we…glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
      and perseverance, character; and character, hope.  Now hope does not
      disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by
      the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

No, Hope has never disappointed me!  She is a strong Christian woman whom I see reading and studying her Bible often.  She regularly prays, and we pray together frequently. We are active in our church, and she has supported me through the ups and downs of 44 years of being a pastor!  She is my confidant, my lover, my best friend!  So I pray for my wife Hope,Thank you, Lord God, for my Hope!  May she never make You (or me) ashamed!  Keep us both in health and in love with each other and – most of all – in love with You!

May these two blogs help us in Praying Biblically For Our Children and the rest of our families!

Praying Biblically For Our Children – I

June 14, 2017

Image result for photo family of boys

Ephesians 6:1-4

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

I pray for my family every day – my dear wife, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  But it seems to ‘get old’ just to say in one way or another, “Bless my family…,” and then to name them.  So I sought other ways to pray for them.  Since my wife and I have been Christians for a long time, we gave our daughter a Bible name.  We thought long and hard about which name to give her.  We liked the names Rachel and Rebekah, both Biblical names, but both had been used in the family for a couple of generations.  Then in the newspaper one day we were reading Dear Abby, and this woman wrote in saying, “Why don’t parents think it through before they tag their child with a strange name they will carry all the rest of their life?”  Her name was Bethany!  We looked at each other, and said,That’s it!

We also have another daughter, Ann, who was our foster daughter.  We never adopted her because her biological mom was still active in her life.  But she is our other daughter!  Both our daughters are grown and have families of their own.  Bethany is even a grandmother herself!

We did our best to heed Ephesians 6:1 through 4:

      Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your
      father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise, “that
      it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”  And you
      fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the
      training and admonition of the Lord.

We tried to bring up our daughters in the training and admonition of the Lord !  Bethany, especially, has chosen Biblical names for all her children.  So here is how I often pray for my family:

•      Bethany is the town just a short distance southeast of Jerusalem – the town of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. (See John 11:1).  These three siblings – apparently being financially well-off – often hosted Jesus and his disciples at their home.  Jesus was always welcome in Bethany!  And so I pray for my daughter,Lord, may Jesus always be welcome in Bethany’s heart and life.

•      Ann – while not a Biblical name, according to tradition and apocryphal writings, Ann was the mother of Mary, and the grandmother of Jesus!  She is known as Saint Ann! (or Anna, or Anne).  And so I pray for her,God, our Ann is already a saint, in that she is a Christian [see Romans 1:7 and many other Scriptures].  But may she be a saintly person as was (apparently) Mary’s mother.

•      Our first grandchild is Chelsea Faith.  And so I concentrate on her middle name, Faith!  For the Bible says in Romans 5:1:  “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (See Ephesians 2:8, 9 – and many other Scriptures concerning faith).  And so I pray for my grand daugher,O Lord, may Chelsea live her life by strong faith, being pleasing to You.

•      Chris – Bethany’s husband, as well as their eldest son, are named Chris.  I pray for them both this way:  “The cross is often represented in the form of a ‘ t’.  So may the cross be added to ‘Chris’ that they may represent Christ!

•      Stephen is Bethany and Chris’ second eldest.  In the Bible, Stephen was the first follower of Jesus who died for his faith! (See Acts 7:51-60).  And so I pray for Stephen,Lord, may Stephen be faithful to you, even unto death!

•      Daniel – number three son.  We read the story of Daniel in the Bible book that carries his name.  Daniel served the Lord even though he was taken captive as a teenager from Jerusalem to Babylon!  He was so faithful, he served in the Babylonian court for over seven decades, serving under six Babylonian kings, and two Medo/Persian kings.  According to the Biblical record, he influenced at least two kings to come to faith in Jehovah! (See Daniel, chapters 4 and 6).  And so I pray for our Daniel,God Almighty, may Daniel be such a strong Christian that he will even influence those in high positions!

•      Josiah – the fourth son of that family.  Josiah was a godly king who led a great revival in Judah! (See II Kings 22:1-23:29).  And that nation greatly needed revival after his father Manasseh’s long and wicked reign! (See II Kings 21:1-18).  And so I pray for Josiah,My Lord, may Josiah be a dedicated Christian, and lead many people in genuine revival!

•      Gideon – number five son.  In the story of Gideon (see Judges 6:11-8:32), this man led the Israelites to a great victory over Israel’s enemies, the Midianites and Amalekites.  Later he further defeated two Midianite kings, Zeba and Zalmunna and the remaining Midianite army.  But Gideon struggled!  And he tested God with a skin of lamb’s wool! (See Judges 6:36-40).  And he needed other supernatural assurances from God to accomplish what he was called to do! So I pray for our Gideon, “Lord, though he struggle with doubts, may Gideon receive assurances from You and accomplish great things for God!

•      Isaiah – our youngest grandson in Chris and Bethany’s family.  Isaiah was a major prophet who lived in the eighth century BC, and ministered to the southern kingdom of Judah.  God’s dramatic call upon him is recorded in Isaiah 6:1-8.  Isaiah saw a vision of the glorified LORD, and heard Him say,Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us? ”  And Isaiah responded,Here am I!  Send me! ”  And so I pray for our Isaiah,God, may Isaiah hear your call and respond, ‘Here am I!  Send me!’

More about Praying Biblically For Our Children in the next blog.

Who Owns The Title? – I

June 12, 2017

Image result for photo title deed

Mark 8:34-37

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

I own my own home – or do I?  Ok, we re-mortgaged it a few years ago to use the equity we had build up on our first mortgage.  I received a notice from our insurance company recently telling me that according to their records the wrong bank is listed as holding the mortgage.  You see, the bank was bought out last fall by a big banking concern, and the name changed.  The insurance company wanted the correct name on their records because, if there was a major loss and they had to pay, they had claim up to the mortgage value of our house!  So who really owns the house?  It is worth more than what we owe on our mortgage, so I own part of my home!  But the bank owns the rest!  And the insurance company has a valid claim also!

Who owns your soul?  In Jesus’ day, the Jewish idea of ‘soul’ involved more than what we think today.  It was akin to the life of the whole person!  We might then ask, “Who owns you?”  Who has Title to your life?  Jesus dealt with this question in Mark 8:34 through 37:

      Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up
      his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose
      it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 
      For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his
      own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

God desires to have Title to your life!  But does He have it?  If He does not, who does?  Jesus answered that question in John 8:44 when He told the Pharisees, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you will do.”  Was it just the self-righteous Pharisees to whom the Lord was directing this statement?  No!  We are all naturally in this dilemma!  We are all naturally under the fatherhood – the dominion of Satan,…and the desires of your father you will do…!  Saint Paul, writing to believers, put it this way in Ephesians 2:2 and 3 (English Standard Version):

      …you once walked, following the course of this world, following the
      prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons
      of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of
      our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were
      by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

One of the descriptions of the devil’s personality and purpose is found in II Thessalonians 2:4:  “…who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God…showing himself that he is God.”  Satan is the opposite of the good and righteous God, and his Title to a soul results in a wasted life now and being forever condemned to hell in eternity! (See John 10:10; Revelation 21:8).  No wonder Paul tells us in Romans 3:10 and 23:  “There is none righteous, no not one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

So how do we change who has the Title to our soul – our life?  Let’s examine Mark 8:34 through 37:

•      Mark 8:34 – “…come after Me….”  Jesus simply told Peter and his brother Andrew in Matthew 4:19, “Follow Me…”  Jeremiah expanded on that idea in Jeremiah 29:13 and 14:  “‘…you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,’ says the LORD….”  We must come to Jesus with some things in mind:

      ✞      We are sinners who can do nothing to deserve God’s favor! (See Isaiah 64:6; Titus 3:5).

      ✞      We must seek some way (someOne) who has already paid the price for our sins! (See Romans 5:6; II Corinthians 5:21; I Peter 1:18, 19).

      ✞      We must receive that One – Jesus Christ – as our own personal Savior! (See John 1:12; Romans 10:9-13).

•      Mark 8:34 – “…let him deny himself….”  What does it mean to deny yourself? While God wants us to accept Jesus as our Savior, the Son of God must also be our Lord! (See Luke 2:11; 6:46; John 13:13, 14; I Corinthians 8:6; II Corinthians 4:5; Philippians 2:11; Revelation 19:16).  A lord is one whom you obey.  And the obedience necessary is plainly shown by what Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane:  “…nevertheless not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).

•      Mark 8:34 – “…and take up his cross, and follow Me.”  I discussed this at length in an early blog on April 26, 2013, Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear!  While the title is humorous, the content of the blog is very serious!  It involves realizing that the cross we are called to carry is an instrument of death!  Jesus carried His cross as He went out to die.  We are called to do the same – dying to ourselves (our old sinful nature) so we can live for the Lord!  Again, the way to accomplish this is by heeding Luke 22:24:  “…nevertheless not my will, but Yours be done.” (See also Romans 6:2-14; Colossians 3:1-3).

When you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, and give God control of your life through owning His Son as your Lord, you are handing over Title to your soul – your life – to Him!  Satan no longer has claim to you!  You have transferred ownership to someOne else!

More on this in Wednesday’s blog.

Under Or Over? – V

June 9, 2017

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Isaiah 40:28-31

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

One more time – our featured Scripture – Isaiah 40:28 through 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. 
      There is no searching of His understanding.  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.

We’ll try to finish up this series by examining the benefits derived when we wait on the LORD in verse 31 of Isaiah 40.

•      We already saw…

      ✞      …in verse 28 that when we wait on the LORD our understanding of God is expanded! (See Over Or Under? – III, Monday’s blog).

      ✞      …in verses 29 and 30 that we cannot make it on our own strength! (See Over Or Under? – IV, Wednesday’s blog).

•      So let’s go on to the benefits listed in verse 31 – “…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.

      ✞     …they…shall renew their strength….”  Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:10, “…be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”  Remember, as Christians, we have two natures, the old Adamic nature – also called the deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9); the natural man (I Corinthians 2:14); the flesh (Galatians 5:19); the old man (Ephesians 4:22) – and the new nature, that which we receive when we are born again (see John 3:3-8; II Corinthians 5:17).  If we do not work to strengthen the new nature (see Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10), the sinful world will input strength into the old!  And the old sinful nature will be the dominant one manifested! (See Proverbs 4:23; Mark 7:20-23).

However, to wait on the LORD, the main thing we can do is what Paul admonishes in Colossians 3:16:  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….”  The new nature is fed and made strong through the word of Christ, the Bible!  Or, as it says in Colossians 3:10, “…the new man…is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him….”  Such knowledge comes from knowing God and His Word!

      ✞     …they shall mount up with wings like eagles….”  From pets-animals/high-can-eagle-fly-98ca31be0fecef5d:

              Eagles fly 10,000 to 15,000 feet high at about 65 mph.  They can glide
              for hours without rest on warm updrafts of air.  With their acute vision,
              they are able to spot prey a mile down below.

Most problems – trials, testings, temptations, etc. – are atground levelof this old sinful world! (See I John 2:15-17).  If we are atground level’ (you might say, if we are of the worldsee John 17:16; James 4:4), we will find ourselves Under our problems instead of Over them!  But if we wait on the LORD, we shall mount up with wings as eagles!  Being ten to fifteen thousand feet above the problems sure can give things a different perspective!  This is seeing things from God’s perspective!  And, as far as problems – trials, testings, temptations, etc. – are concerned, “…with God all things are possible…!  We can be like Paul who testified in Philippians 4:13:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

      ✞     …they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Sometimes it takes great effort to overcome a problem.  It may seem like the solution is a long way off.  But whether we have to run or walk that long distance, if we wait on the LORD, we can cover the distance to the solution without getting weary, without being faint !  And, as mentioned in the last point, if we mount up with wings as eagles, we can add flying to running and/or walking!

Consider Elijah in…

      ✡      …I Kings 18:41 through 46.  Due to Elijah’s prayers, there was a three-and-a-half year drought in Israel (see James 5:17, 18).  And when he prayed for the drought to end, the prophet was told to warn King Ahab in verse 41 to “Go up, eat and drink, for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”  Apparently, Ahab was also told to drive his chariot to Jezreel before the rain stopped him (verse 45).  But this is what it says in verse 46:  “Then the hand of the LORD came upon Elijah, and he girded up his loins and ran ahead of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.

      ✡      …I Kings 19:1 through 8.  Queen Jezebel threatened to have Elijah killed.  “And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life…” (verse 3).  The prophet was so devastated by the problems he was facing, “…he prayed that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough!  Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!’ ” (verse 4).  But an angel came and fed him, giving him strength (verses 5 through 8), and it says in verse 8 (Easy-to-Read Version), “So Elijah got up. He ate and drank and felt strong.  Then Elijah walked for 40 days and nights to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God.

…they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).  This was precisely true in Elijah’s case!  And God can do whatever it takes for us to overcome our challenges!  If we wait upon the LORD, we can be Over our troubles instead of Under them!