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RIGHTEOUS, BLESSED, AND WASHED

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Solomon stated, “Righteousness exaulteth a nation.” (Prov.14:34). If the nation I am a citizen in does righteous things, does that guarantee my salvation? No. When citizens of a nation do what is morally right, the individuals and nation as a whole enjoy the results. However, salvation is granted by God to individuals, not nations. Salvation takes place in the mind of God. Therefore, man cannot create his own way to be saved. A prophet stated, “The way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6). God gave us the way through His Son. Jesus died in our place for the sins you and I committed. When we place our trust in and follow Him, he takes away all our sins.

In Romans 4:7,8 we read, “Blessed and to be envied, are those whose sins are forgiven and put out of sight. Yes, what joy there is for anyone whose sins are no longer counted against him by the Lord.” When a Christian stands before Jesus in the judgment, guess how many sins he will have to answer for? None. That’s right. None. Why? Because all his sins have not only been forgiven but forgotten. That person will stand before God as though he had never sinned. He will be perfect because he is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ. That’s why we must put our trust in Jesus rather than in our accomplishments. Not our works, but his blood puts us in right standing with God.

We often ask in song, “What can wash away my sins?” The answer is also given, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” That song is correct. We sing God’s truth which is called gospel or “Good News.” How can I bath myself in the blood of Jesus? He died 2,000 years ago. By faith I can die to sin and be buried with Christ into his death. Inspiration tells me that I get into this burial by immersion. What a beautiful picture Paul paints in Romans 6 of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. I can be blessed by what he did by being involved in his sacrifice through that immersion. As a sinner, I must die to the body of sin. I bury that body through a burial with Jesus in water and I am raised from that watery grave as a new or saved person because I became a partner with Jesus in his death. Free at last from the old creature and now revealed as the new man (2 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 6:3-4).

Regardless of which path my country takes, I can be right with God. When I am right with God, He removes all my sins. All of them. My trust is in Jesus whose blood keeps me in good standing with the Father. God has provided the way, the truth, and the life for us if we will accept it. God saves. Since He does, we can be saved by following his guide lines rather than ours.

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I FEAR!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

fearWhen I look at my righteous achievements, I fear. When I look at my perfection, I fear.  When I look at the quality of my prayers, I fear.  When I look at my life each day, I fear.  When I think about dying, I fear.  When I think about the judgment, I fear.  Am I paranoid?  Some might think so, but “No!”  Do I have panic attacks? No. How can I possess fear and not have negative results?  How can I own those fears and be a Christian?  I am one, but my shoulders are too small to bear fear’s burden alone!

My righteous achievements?  Laughable.  My perfection?  Nonexistent.  The quality of my prayers? Dismal. My daily life? Inadequate. My death? Frightening. The judgment? Questionable.

Yet, I don’t have panic attacks nor negative results.  I haven’t been defrocked.  My shoulders remain small.  I fall so short, if measured in inches, powerful microscopes would not see me. Paul may have been “chief” but I’m second.  My cry is the same as his, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  (Romans 7:24 (NKJV).  His and my answer?  Jesus!  Jesus!  Jesus!!  What’s yours?

Without Jesus, fear would be my driver.  What can I do to pay for my sins or assist Jesus’ blood in my cleansing?  If perfection is required, failure is my companion.  Perfection was Jesus’ mission, not mine.  Belief in what He did for me is required, not “Look how much I have done for you, Jesus.”  I sin, but it drives me to the one who remits it.  If I thought my prayers paid for my forgiveness, I would be a fool.  My gospel would not be good news but one rewarded with damnation.  I don’t fear dying because I know who walks with me through that valley.  I am not afraid of judgment because I will not stand there to remind Jesus about how faithful I’ve been, but rather praise Him for how gracious He is.  I will not look at my achievements, but glory in His.  He takes away fears and gives peace! He is my focus, not me!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV).

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A COMPLETE BIBLE; A BLESSING!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

In Luke 14: 15-24 Jesus tells about a man who had a banquet but the invited guest had excuses and could not attend.  The master sent hbible-scrollis servant out to invite people off the street.  The hall was still not filled, so the master told the servant to “Go out to the highways and country roads.  Make them come.  I want my house to be full!  I tell you, none of those men whom I invited first will get a taste of my banquet!

We are introduced to the same story in Matthew 22:1-10.  However, a lot of things are added and the purpose is different from the one in Luke.  In Matthew, the secondary invited folks, if not properly dressed, are bound and thrown out.  The story ends with, “Many are invited, but few are chosen” rather than “none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

In Luke’s account the “excuses” are more detailed than in Matthew.  Luke doesn’t mention that this is a wedding party.  Matthew does.  Luke is more descriptive about who the servant invites.  In Luke the guest are compelled to come, but not so in Matthew.  In Luke the host is “a certain man” whereas in Matthew he is “a king.”  In Matthew, how one is dressed is important, but Luke says nothing about it.

The Holy Spirit inspired both Matthew and Luke.  So, why are their stories different?  Both are stories or “parables.”  Matthew is writing to a different audience than Luke.  Matthew fills in some details of Jesus’ story not covered by Luke.  Luke is writing to a Gentile readership.  Luke picks out a lesson that fits the audience he is writing to whereas Matthew uses what will best fit his readers.

Preachers are often approached after a service and told what the individual got from the sermon.  Most preachers are surprised because the point they were making is different from the point that person heard.  Sometimes an audience with different needs receives help to deal with that need from a sermon that wasn’t designed by the speaker to address it.  Sometimes a person is feeling guilty about a secret sin and imagines the preacher is exposing it, whereas the minister is totally innocent of the charges.  It is the power of God’s word (Hebrews 4:12)!

Matthew is not contradicting Luke.  Both are giving the essence of Jesus’ story, but dealing with different points from the story which fits their respective readers.  In the first century, most people would not have both Matthew’s account and Luke’s.  We have the advantage of possessing both so we may gain the lessons delivered to both audiences.

In studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, one needs to research the parallels of each to gain all that is being said.  Our studies are enriched by this advantageous blessing.

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WHAT’S YOUR ASSURANCE?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A few Sundays ago one of our songs was, “Lord, I Need You,” written by Matt Maher in 2013.  Some of the words are:

assuranceLord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You.

As the congregation sang that song I wondered how well those words were sinking into our consciousness?  How many believe God will save them because of their righteousness, performed to co-host His?  One faith teaches that we must have more “good” works than bad ones if we are going to heaven.  In other words, you are on a “point system” and must work to produce “x” number in order to save yourself!  If that is our religious foundation, we have no business singing Matt’s song!

In discussing the righteousness of Jesus as compared to ours, an individual asked if his obedience didn’t amount to something in procuring his salvation.  Is “obedience” necessary?  Yes (2 John 1:9 NIV).  If one loves the Lord, he will willingly obey Him (John 14:15, 23; 15:10).  However, that is altogether different than saying, “My righteousness is worth __% in paying for my salvation.”  Actually, “our righteousness” is like a dirty rag, that if you touched it, you would want to immediately wash your hands (Isaiah 64:6)!

At the judgment, one will not remind Jesus about how well his works measured up to Jesus’ actions upon the cross and expectantly state, “You owe me something for what I’ve done!”  Those who do such have missed the Good News completely.  In fact, it could be another gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).

If my trust in going to heaven is based upon how obedient I am, my failure to “do enough” will leave me frustrated, ridden with guilt, depressed, and with a fear that will consume me.  Why?  Because our obedience will never be sufficient to make a down payment on our sin debt.  However, I can with assurance say that Jesus is my Savior and I trust that He paid it all for me!

“Lord, I need You, oh, I need You, Every hour I need You, My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need you.”

Jesus paid it all!!  I am not capable of adding even 1%.  Jesus is not a 99% Savior.  He is my 100% Lord and Savior!  He is the one who saves, not me (Hebrews 5:1)!  I obey Him, not to make points, but because He made the points for me.  I can never repay Him.  My obedience does not supplement the full price he paid for me (1 Corinthians 6:20)!  Why do men demote what Jesus did in order to glorify what we think we’ve done?

What is your assurance built on?  You??

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Monday, December 26, 2016

This family got up together.  The boy dressed and went to milk the cow.  The father cut and retrieved wood for the cook stove and started the fire.  The mother prepared breakfast for going-to-church-2everyone after she got the youngest child dressed.

The father fed the livestock.  The mother gathered the eggs and fed the chickens.  The boy strained the milk, separating the cream, and put the milk where it would stay cool.  Everyone finished breakfast, got the Bible, and finished getting ready to go to church.  The mule was harnessed and each member mounted it.  Snow was still on the ground, but the weather had warmed causing the yard and road to be soft and muddy.  They rode five miles to the church building in town, arriving fifteen minutes early.  The year was 1895.

The alarm goes off.  An arm manages to swings out from under the covers and hit the snooze button.  Fifteen minutes later, the scene repeats itself.  He and his wife finally drag out of bed.  He retrieves the Sunday paper and sits to read the funnies.  The wife yells at the two boys to get up, “IT’S SUNDAY”!  There is no response.  A second, third, and fourth warning is called out, each getting louder.  Grumbling is heard.  Arguments begin.  It signals that both are up!

Mom heats up some Pop-Tarts for breakfast.  Three times “Breakfast is ready” bounces off the walls before anyone appears.  There is bantering between the boys but breakfast is soon consumed.  Instructions again about it being Sunday and the boys are admonished to “quit messing around and get dressed.”  Dad is included in the instruction!  He shaves and combs his hair.  He and she get dressed.  A few more admonitions and the boys look half way decent.  It takes a few more warnings to get everyone in the family vehicle.  Off they go.  They live four block from the church building.  The speed limit is 40, but dad fudges 5 miles more.  This morning they hit all the green lights.  They arrive but parking near the entrance is taken.  Four part grumbling fills the car.  They are in the seventh row of parked cars and down about 300 feet.  All four doors open and the family exits, heading for the church entrance.  The wind is brisk and cold.  More grumbling. They are ten minutes late rather than the usual fifteen.  They congratulate themselves on being five minutes earlier!  The father is the great grandson of the youngest brother pictured on the mule.  The year is 2016.

The wife sees that picture every Sunday and wonders if their ride was on a mule rather than in a Ford Bronco, would they arrive at church fifteen minutes early?

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I BELIEVE WORSHIP IS. . .

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 07-29-2021

In John 4:20-24 the word “worship” or proskuneo (προσκυνεω) is used eleven times.  The Samaritan woman was first to introducing it and did so twice before Jesus revealed the kind of “worship” the Father wanted.  Strong’s Greek-English Lexicon defines the word “worship” as “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand; to fawn or crouch; or to prostrate oneself in homage.”  That definition of “worship” may be a surprise and shocking to some of today’s believers?  Some have reduced that word to five specific acts exercised in the Sunday morning’s assembly.

The New Testament never states that “worship is singing, praying, preaching, giving, or  communion.”  Some assume that was Jesus’ meaning of the word when he used it in John 4:20-24.  If scripture does not state “Worship is singing” or the other four acts, then what is New Testament worship?  Since the primary meaning of the word is “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand, to crouch, or prostrate,” then what is the importance in the additional words displayed with the expression “and worship(s)”?  Why did Bible time individuals feel compelled to kneel or fall down to “lick God’s hand”?  Did Jesus not say that “the Father seeketh such to worship him” (v. 24)?  Out of 60 uses of the word proskuneo in the New Testament, several include that specific activity with the word “worship.”

Jesus, for example, was being tempted by Satan who offered him the kingdoms of the earth if he would “FALL DOWN and worship” him.  Satan wanted Jesus to fall down before him and like “a dog licking his master’s hand,” make Satan his master.  If Jesus had done that, he would not have been our Savior.  Satan failed and Jesus won.  In the Corinthian letter Paul spoke of a man going into the church’s assembly “who FALLS DOWN ON HIS FACE and worships” (1 Corinthians 14:25).  In Revelation 4:10, 5:14, 7:11, 11:16, 19:10, and 22:9 different ones FALL DOWN and worship.  Some are said to have FALLEN on their “face.”  In Matthew 2:2, 8, 11; 8:2, 9:13; 15:25; and 20:20 different ones FELL or KNELT to worship.  In none of those passages are we informed that any of those individuals performed “worship” by engaging in those five acts previously mentioned.  Keep in mind that Greek scholars define worship as, “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand.”  Jesus is giving us a picture of what worship in spirit and in truth looks like.

What is worship?  If the word was translated and we used the translation in our descriptions, people would be confused and have no idea what we were talking about.  Someone might ask, “Where are you going?”  You respond, “Oh, the family and I are going to lick God’s hand in spirit and in truth.”  What is the definition of worship which Jesus discussed with that Samaritan woman?  Worship when translated means “to kiss or lick God’s hand?  Notice what some did prior to that kiss or lick.  They knelt or fell down to express that Jesus was their Lord.

If Jesus appeared in the skies, coming to judge the world, what posture do you think both saint and sinner would manifest?  Paul said, “every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10).  I’m sure some would go further by falling on their face?  Will we be like a dog that appreciates his master, or be calling for the mountains to fall upon us so we could hopefully escape the judgment of God?  What is worship?  Is it not an attitude which one develops because of who he belongs to?  Jesus said to that Samaritan woman, “You worship what you do not know” (John 4:22).  Do we have that woman’s misunderstanding of “worship”?

What did the word “worship” (proskuneo) mean when Jesus used it?  Have we substituted another meaning because ours suits our culture and acceptability?  Are we guilty of placing it in the same category as some do with “baptism” which allows an individual to substitute sprinkling or pouring rather than submit to immersion?  If our shortcoming on this subject is negative, we have a problem.  If perfection is required before one may enter heaven, the problem is compounded.  Perhaps that is why God’s grace and Jesus’ blood is so important!  So, do you agree with Greek scholarship that it means “to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand”?  If not, then what do you believe “worship,” as given by Jesus in John 4:20-24, means?

THE SALVATION OF THE ERRING SAVED!

My Thoughts . . .

Monday, 07-26-2021

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1 NIV).

Warnings like the above are given several times in the New Testament.  Satan may have appeared to Adam and Eve as a serpent, but today he dresses up and appears educated and appealing.  The image some have created and laughed over is a man with a swinging tail all dressed in red.  The devil is not stupid but uses his intellect to make fools of some of the world’s smartest people.  Jesus warned “take heed what you hear” ((Mark 4:24).  The Corinthian church had members who had received the gift of prophecy, yet they did not remain on that inspired road.  This led to confusion during the assembly (1 Corinthians 14).  God is not the author of confusion, but church members have often dressed themselves in that mantle (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40).

1 John 4:1 was written by the apostle to Christians and congregations in the first century.  Those assemblies were made up of the “saved” (Acts 2:47 ASV).  Those assemblies were referred to as “the body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:27).  Jesus was the head of his body (Ephesians 1:22-23).  Paul wrote a letter to the membership of saved individuals in the city of Corinth.  Among that membership were prophets who received inspired messages from God.  Yet those prophets were involved in Corinth’s Sunday error of confusion.    

Although the saved in Corinth needed correcting, only ONE MEMBER was delivered to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5).  Correction was needed by all, yet despite their rejection of Paul as an apostle, denying the resurrection, the weekly confusion in their assemblies, and the rest of their multiple faults, none but that one individual lost his fellowship with God.  That fact makes the two Corinthian letters a thorn in the side of some interpretations on withdrawing fellowship that is being practiced today.

In today’s church, most have experienced one or multiple divisions where they attend.  In those divisions, both sides claim to be right.  Fellowship is usually lost and rarely regained.  In most, the topic which led to the cessation of fellowship is based more on control than scripture.  That fact makes the withdrawing of fellowship contradictory to how God dealt with the church in Corinth.

The Holy Spirit was not as demanding as modern-day believers are when it comes to withdrawing fellowship from one another!  We could learn a great lesson from God if we would open our hearts to His instruction.  Sadly, the lesson of 1 and 2 Corinthians remains lost to those who need it most.

LIMITED WORSHIP EQUALS LIMITED FELLOWSHIP!

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 07-22, 2021

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him.  For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So, glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

A Christian is God’s temple and God’s Spirit dwells in him.  You are a temple of the Holy Spirit because you have been bought by God.  Jesus purchased you with his own blood!  Yet, some believe they must meet with others in a specific location before they can offer up worship to God.  God dwells in His people continually.  Since that is so, why do some believe we are limited in worshiping Him only one to three hours each week?

When one is on his way to the church building, God has been dwelling in him before he arrives in that assembly room.  Some believe their worship is limited from 10 until 11 a.m. whereas God is present in the saved prior to that hour, during that hour, and after that hour.  Although God lives within the believer, some believe worship is restricted to that auditorium beginning with the “opening prayer” and ceasing with the “closing one.”  Does that not seem strange?

Did Jesus purchase you with His blood so you can ignore His indwelling 167 hours of each week?  Is “worship” restricted to that locale, during that specific hour, while engaged in five specific acts?  If so, would that not mean that though God’s living presence is in you 24/7, you do not recognize it except one hour on Sunday morning?  If you claim you worship three hours each week, that still leaves 165 hours when you ignore His presence by not offering Him what you call worship.  Is that actually spelled-out in scripture?

Some believe “worship” is restricted to location, day, time, and to five specific acts performed during that assembly.  If that is true, then those “specifics” actually limit worship.  However, most ignore the fact that none of those “acts” are described as “worship” by any inspired writer.  Assumption is used to call those acts “worship.”  It is also used to add those five acts to John 4 and assume they are what Jesus was specifically referring to.  That assumption is accepted as scriptural fact by those who follow that teaching.  If so, then one of the inspired writers would have stated it in the New Testament.  Since none do, one will locate it only in non-inspired literature.  That would make it “the traditions of men.” 

Since God dwells in the saved person, that individual may talk to God any time about anything.  One may also talk to God giving Him thanks for His multiple blessings.  I am not sure who is responsible for limiting our conversation with the Lord, but God’s indwelling is based upon the fellowship we enjoy with Him as His saved people 24/7.  Those who limit that fellowship suffer the consequences.  To see how that kind of fellowship works, try that limited style of fellowship with your spouse.  Talk with your mate using the same amount of time that you speak with God.  The way that marriage progresses will depend upon whether your fellowship is limited or not.  Will that “time spent” enhance your marriage or destroy it?

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? . . . You were bought with a price.  So, glorify God in your body(1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:20).

THE MYSTERY OF PERFECTION

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 07-19-2021

There are usually extremes on any topic introduced.  Whether a topic is considered extreme depends upon a person’s viewpoint.  Preachers usually exhort their members to “be faithful” or “obedient” to receive a “well done” from Jesus.  The preacher may define what he means by “faithful” or “obedient” in his sermon.  However, he may not.  So, what does “being perfect” mean?  Without clarification an audience may misunderstand those two terms.  If such is defined or inferred as perfection, they have misunderstood. 

What do you think “perfect” or “perfection” means?  Some may define it as “never sinning again.”  Do you remember when Jesus told the adulterous woman, “Go and sin no more”?  They thought Jesus was saying she was to be sinless for the rest of her life.  If that is what Jesus meant, then the woman would have been better off being stoned by the Jewish leadership.  Some who believe God requires a sinless life will spend the rest of their time in doubt, fear, uncertainty, despondence, and hopelessness.  With that concept, Christianity is not a blessing.  It becomes a burden that continually questions one’s destiny. 

Some believe in what is called “gap insurance.”  They do their dead-level-best to be sinless but recognize the gap between where they are spiritually and the desired condition they desire.  They manifest doubts concerning their salvation but hope God will fill that gap with His grace.  Yet, they will not know if that filling will be granted in a positive way until the judgment.  The foundation of their faith degrades into fingernail biting until they fearfully stand before Jesus hoping for adequate gap insurance!

There is another group that believes self- perfection or sinlessness is not a requirement.  Why develop that understanding?  Because scripture teaches us that no one is sinless (Romans 3:23; 5:12).  If one is not perfect, how can he be saved?  The answer is Jesus!  He purchased the sins of those who put their trust in him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Jesus’ blood continues to cleanse the individual keeping him intact as God’s holy Temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).  Jesus took that person’s sins upon himself at the cross and bestows upon that individual God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  The individual recognizes his shortcomings, admits them, and knows the only one who can keep him in fellowship with God is Jesus (1 John 1:7-9).  He views himself as a forgiven sinner who follows Jesus.

There is another group that believes once they are saved, they may commit any or all sins and never lose their salvation, even if they refuse to repent.  Their response is that a person who is truly justified will never want to be disobedient.  Every believer has that desire, but reality knows human perfection is the devil’s fallacy.  So, that individual recognizes his shortcomings.  Those shortcomings teach him where to put his trust.  Some mistakenly believe that their wrongdoings mean that they are not true believers.  Those doubts originate from Satan.  Our failures at perfection teach us our great need for Jesus.  He is Savior, not man. 

The Hebrew writer spoke of some who did not return to Jesus (Hebrews 10:38-39, Cf.  3:12; 6:4-6).   Those who remained faithful recognized their inability to be without sin but continued to follow Jesus who remits their sins and continues to fellowship them.  Our faith is based in Jesus who saves.  We continue to trust him knowing that his blood keeps us cleansed.  He is the author of our salvation and the one who perfects our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2). 

Satan is still twisting God’s truth and wants the believer to question the power of Jesus’ blood to save.  He wants us to believe that we are co-saviors with Jesus and our salvation is based upon a divine 50/50% condition.  Jesus did his 50% and we must complete 100% of our 50.  The problem with that lie is that we do not complete that 50%.  We are not an additional 50% co-savior with Jesus.  He is either our total Savior or none.  Our choice.

Does Jesus being our Savior eliminate our need of faith?  I never said that it did.  Must our faith bring us to obey Jesus?  I never said it did not.  Then, does our obedience not make us co-saviors with Jesus?  It makes your faith an obedient one, but it is Jesus who saves.  Did you shed your blood upon the cross?  No.  Did the Father send you to be your savior?  No.  Do you live a sinless life?  You know the answer.

If you believe being “faithful” or “obedient” demands perfection on your part, Christianity is going to be a life of fear and doubt.  Faithfulness and obedience are found in those who do not “trample the Son of God underfoot,” who do not “treat as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them,” nor are they guilty of “insulting the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10: 29).   Those who are “faithful” or “obedient” are the ones who do not “shrink back and are destroyed” but “those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39).     You are a sinner, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!  Understand WHO is Savior and you will be blessed by that recognition.

THE TIRED AND HUNGRY SAVIOR

My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 07-15-2021

Jesus and his apostles came to Jacob’s well near the Samaritan city of Sychar.  They were hungry and needed to buy food, but John uses the Greek word kopiao to describe Jesus’ condition.  The word is translated as “wearied” by most English translations.  The NIV renders it as “tired.”  The word means “to feel fatigue from labor.”  Whether one accepts the English translation of “wearied” or “tired,” the revelation of Jesus’ condition is intriguing.

Jesus and the twelve have been walking together.  Hunger necessitates the need to buy food in the nearest town.  Jesus is tired, so he rests while the twelve go to purchase food.  Out of thirteen men, only Jesus is “wearied with his journey” or “worn out by the trip” (KJV, Message).  In the previous chapter of John 3, Jesus goes to his cousin John to be immersed.  That baptism takes place near Aenon which is about thirty miles from Sychar.  If that is where their trip originated, it would be about an eight-hour journey on foot if four miles is covered each hour. 

Jesus wished to rest while his companions went to Sychar to find and buy food.  Being “wearied” illustrates Jesus’ humanity.  The twelve were also tired, but not as much as Jesus.  Notice that all twelve left him and went into Sychar, about half a mile north of the well.  People from that city needed to travel to the well to replenish their drinking water.  The woman who came was alone, which may have been necessary due to her way of life.  That fact may have meant she was not socially accepted by the town’s women who came earlier.

Most Jews traveled around Samaria on their way to Galilee or from Galilee to Jerusalem.  The translations do not make it clear as to why Jesus and companions decided to travel through Samaria.  Luke informs us that Jesus was not welcomed prior to that when he traveled through the area (Luke 9:52-56).  The KJV states, “he must needs go through Samaria.”  The NIV translation is, “Now he had to go through Samaria.”  The NKJV renders it as, “He needed to go through Samaria.”  The Message translates it as, “To get there, he had to pass through Samaria.”  Inspiration does not tell us why he had that need.  Jews and Samaritans did not enjoy one another’s company.  Can the reader imagine the reception the twelve received when buying food?

The woman is surprised that Jesus talks to her and asks him why he is doing so (John 4:9).  The average man would have ignored that woman.  Why?  First, she was a woman and second, she was a Samaritan.  No self-respecting Jewish male would talk to such a person much less drink water supplied by her.  In fact, he would not ask her for water.  No wonder the woman was surprised (v. 9).  Jesus asked her for H2O but possessed “living water” that gave “eternal life” and she wanted it (v. 15).  Then Jesus had an unusual request, “Go and get your husband” or “Go call your husband, and then come back” (V. 16).  Most women would have reacted differently by concluding that this foreigner was getting too personal.  She did not do so but treplied, “I’m not married” (V. 17).  Imagine her shock when this stranger informed her that she had five husbands and she was not married to the man she was living with (V. 18).  Some women today would have been shocked and refused to continue that confrontation.  However, this woman thought he was a prophet and the Messiah which both Jew and Samaritans expected (V. 19, 25).

She rushed back to town and informed the male citizens that she had been talking to a man who could be the “Christ” or “Messiah.”  It is surprising that a woman with her reputation would be believed by some of Sychar’s citizens (V. 39).  Due to her testimony, the people invite Jesus and the apostles to be their guests and those hearing Jesus speak also believed.  The differences between Jew and Samaritan vanished and the thirteen Jews accept the town’s hospitality for two days (V. 40).

The message of Jesus removed a lifetime of prejudice which was held by Jew and Samaritans with hospitality taking its place.  If that could happen in the first century, there is no reason it cannot take place in the twenty-first one.  Jesus was not too tired nor hungry to give them that “living water” which would last throughout eternity.  He still offers it! 

THE FEAR THAT ROBS US OF TRUST

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 07-12-2021

There are multiple passages in the Old Testament which speak of fearing God (Leviticus 19:14, 32; 25:17; Joshua 4:24, 24:14).  Even in the New there are several that cover that topic (Matthew 10:23; Acts 9:31; and Ephesians 5:21).  Sometimes youth as well as older people respond to the gospel out of fear of God’s judgment.  Even those who have been Christians for years continue to allow that fear to cloud their relationship with God.  Fear is not wrong unless it is misunderstood.  Due to that misunderstanding, some are cheated out of a wonderful relationship which God.  The key word revealed in the New Testament is the word “Father.”

If a person grew up with an abusive father or one that was present but personally absent, that shortcoming may paint God as an identical twin.  Some view Yahweh as an angry Father who finds very few things to brag about concerning His children.  They believe He is disappointed with them because of their lack of perfection.

Misunderstanding is the devil’s tool to misguide disciples of Jesus.  The apostles continually misunderstood the Lord’s purpose.  They thought they had found a second David who would restore the first David’s kingdom.  When Peter’s sword removed Malchus’ ear, he may have thought his active blade would begin the demise of Rome’s control.  Jesus pulled the proverbial rug out from under Peter’s plans when he told the apostle to holster the sword.  The blade remained in his possession, but Peter had no future need to use it.  Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world!  The apostles disappeared into the safety of darkness.  Their beloved Rabbi would soon suffer a criminal’s punishment.  Priests and Pilate could sigh with relief.  Another enemy of the State was executed.  The fear which gripped the apostles has been inherited by 2021 disciples!  Yet that fear can be replaced with joy when we understand how much the Father loves us.

God is our Father.  God loved us so much that He gave His Son to save us (John 3:16-17).  God does not want us separated from His love (Romans 8:39).  Realizing how much God loves us will cast out that fear (1 John 4:7).  Satan wants us to develop the kind of fear that causes us to mistrust God.  Sadly, some develop that type of fear rather than cultivating an appreciation and gratefulness for God’s love. 

What is fear doing for you?

SOMETIMES TRUTH WITH ERROR IS DIGESTED!

My Thought. . .

Thursday, 07-08-2021

In a recent article a fellow student of God’s word introduced his theme with the following:

The Scriptures tell us what God desires in worship musically, but His instructions never include the use of instruments. Since we are charged to handle Scripture accurately (2 Tim. 2:15), we should review the relevant passages pertaining to musical worship among Christians: And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26).”

The writer wanted to “review the relevant passages” relating to “musical worship AMONG CHRISTIANS.”  The problem with his review is that he started with Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 to introduce “the relevant passages pertaining to musical worship among Christians”? 

First, the church is made up of Christians, but the church did not begin until Acts 2 which was several weeks AFTER the events of Matthew 26.  Those described in Matthew 26:30 or Mark 14:26 could not be “Christians” because Jesus had not yet been crucified.   They may have been disciples, but they were not yet “Christians.”  Since Jesus had not been crucified, no one in those two passages could be members of “the body of Christ.”  Why?  That “body” would not exist until AFTER Jesus returned to heaven and poured out the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:9-11, 2:1-47).

Second, those who are singing in Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 are UNDER the Old Testament covenant not the New Testament.  The New Testament cannot exist during the events of Matthew 26/Mark 14 because Jesus’ blood has not yet been shed to ratified that Testament!  Without that shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22).  Since the apostles and Jesus were under the first covenant in Matthew 26/Mark 14, they were authorized to sing with or without an instrument.  When “singing” was mentioned without including the instrument, Jews under that covenant did not argue that the expression “sing” excluded the other.  Since Jesus kept the Law of Moses, he would have sung with or without one.  There are numerous passages in the first covenant (Old Testament) where God’s children sang with or without the instrument.  Why without?  Due to circumstances.  People did not carry a harp with them each time they left the house.  Jesus was a Jew and Jews often accompanied their singing with mechanical instruments of music.  That is a biblical fact which Bible students understand.

Third, for over 1,600 years Jews sang with or without mechanical instruments of music because both practices were authorized.  To infer that Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 demanded only singing, is ludicrous.  When one begins with a false premise as his foundational proof, he uses false doctrine to build that house.  When that happens, it weakens a person’s arguments and ends up weakening his line of reasoning.

Fourth, if the one being taught notices error at the beginning of his teacher’s presentation, it will be easy to reject the rest of his teaching.  Truth remains truth regardless of who presents it.  It is also true that error remains error regardless of who presents it.  Sometimes an audience may accept what is taught because of their respect for the teacher.  Remember, the respectful may believe what they teach is truth when it is not.  It is the responsibility of those who hear to take heed!  That applies to this article as well.

Fifth, it is possible for an individual to claim that anyone who accompanied his singing with an instrument under the Old Covenant was in violation to that law.  However, most Bible students will identify that position as false.  Even though an individual may be honest and sincere in teaching something he believes is true, it may not be.  Tradition often takes years to be accepted, but once it is, it may also clothe itself in the appearance of being inspired.  It is our responsibility to take heed what we hear, what we believe, and what we teach.  

SATAN QUOTES FROM THE KING JAMES VERSION

My Thoughts . . .
Thursday, 07-01-2021

There are two passages in the New Testament that most students are familiar with. One is Jesus correcting some who are teaching other what they believe is truth when it is not.

“Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (Mark 7:13).

The other is from Paul to Timothy,

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1:5).

In Mark 7:13 Jesus is speaking to folks who are children of God under the first covenant that he and they are living under (Old Testament). What they have handed down (taught) to others is tradition rather than a “thus saith the Lord.” Those who received that teaching apparently accepted it as truth. They may have been honest and sincere in that reception, yet it was only man-made tradition.

The second passage is from Paul to Timothy. Timothy’s faith is built upon what his mother and grandmother have taught him. Since Paul mentions the “faith” instilled in Timothy by his mother and grandmother, we understand the origin of that teaching is the scriptures they have read, believed, and taught.

The common theme in both is that one person teaches another what he comes to believe. He believes it because he trusts his teacher. He believes his teacher will impart nothing but the truth to him. That view causes him to believe that his faith is based upon the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If he is guilty of rejecting what he has been taught, he believes he is guilty of rejecting God’s word. That student may be so trustful of his teacher that he rarely thinks, “I really ought to learn what I believe and why.” However, accepting another person’s teaching means that basically “our faith is someone else’s faith.” Although that may not be wrong, one should believe because he has done his own research.

The Samaritan woman believed Jesus was the Messiah which both Jews and Samaritans were expecting. She went back to her town and told people what she had observed. Some believed her report. Others wanted to make sure her story was correct (John 4:28-30, 39-41). One is not denying God’s Spirit by wanting to check out another person’s testimony. Keep in mind that all twelve apostles were with Jesus for three years or more, yet they continued to misunderstand his mission. Truth was given multiple times and they missed it. Even before Jesus ascended back to the Father they asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Sadly people are still looking for that specific kind of kingdom.

Jesus told his disciples, “Take heed WHAT you hear” (Mark 4:24). Luke records Jesus warning, “Take heed therefore HOW you hear” (Luke 8:18). He also stated, “Take heed that you be NOT DECEIVED” (Luke 21: 8). Just because someone tells you the Bible states something, you need to check it out for yourself. Even the devil quoted scripture to Jesus (Matthew 4:6). You might be surprised at the number of people who believe scripture teaches that “every tub sits upon its own bottom” and that Saul “fell off his horse.”

WHEN IS MODESTY, MODEST?

My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 06-28-2021

I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God” (1 Timothy 2:9-10).

The Greek word for “modest” is kosmios (κοσμιος).  It is found twice in the New Testament.  It is located once in the above passage and the other in 1 Timothy 3:2.  In the latter it is one of the qualifications of an elder.  Most English translations render it with different English expressions.  “Good behavior” (KJV, NKJV), “Orderly” (ASV), “Respectful” (NASV), “Dignified” (RSV), “Full of good deeds” (TLB), or “Good reputation” (NLT).  In a sense a woman will show those characteristics by the way she is dressed.  A modest mind and a modest disposition usually will equal modest clothing.

The word “modesty” is usually interpreted today in harmony with twenty-first century culture rather than Paul’s environment.  Paul uses the word to describe how a woman will manifest her belief through how she presents herself.  He discusses her outward appearance by what she does or does not display.  She is not to have an (1) elaborate hairstyle, 2) not wear gold or pearls, (3) nor dress in expensive clothes.  (4) When she follows Paul’s instruction, she is being appropriate as a child of God.

There is a contrast between first and twenty-first century women in what is considered modest or appropriate.  For example, a woman wearing a ring, necklace, or bracelet of gold would hardly be noticed in our society.  In Paul’s day, she would have stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.  Some older folks may remember the first time a female member entered the church building in a “pantsuit”?  That introduction became next Sunday’s sermon topic dug up from the Old rather than the New Testament.  When culture changes it often leaves one’s view of modesty behind.  Think what attitude folks today would have if a preacher stood up to speak wearing what Paul, Peter, or Jesus wore every day?  Imagine the adverse comments of the audience when they viewed the preacher’s toes due to his first century sandals?  Would anyone comment if his wife or daughter entered the church building wearing a dark colored dress that covered her head down to the top of her feet?  The audience would not notice if she were wearing a ring, necklace, or bracelet of gold.  Some would believe she was improperly dressed and doing so only to be noticed.  Since that “notice” would be for the wrong reason, would she not be considered immodest? 

When your wife or daughter enters the church building do male and female members gasp because both have been to the hairdresser, and each is wearing several rings, bracelets, or necklaces made of gold?  No?  Why not?  Because such wear is not considered immodest by our culture.  Even if it were considered immodest because they were overly burdened with gold, probably some of the ladies would think Paul needed to mind his own business.  Why?  Then as well as today, people have different ideas about what is or is not modesty.  For example, where does Paul say that women in the first century need to be judged by the standard of modesty recognized in the twenty-first century?  He does not.  Neither does he give permission for twenty-first century female members to discard his instruction and substitute their definition.  Culture changes and so does the view of what is or is not modest.  For example, is God’s view of modesty for today taken from the standard of what was modest in 1890?  If not, where does scripture state the correct universal standard for modesty in each century or nation?  Modesty finds its negative and positive sides in the culture of that day.  Sometimes that culture may be sinful for one country but not another.  If so, members of faith will be challenged to practice a better standard.  There may be some disagreement concerning what is “better.”  If that culture is too conservative, the challenge is in finding the proper application without alienating those who believe their standard is divine and universal.  Sadly, Paul does not discuss nor approve of those suggestions.  If not, would they be valid? 

In our attempts to be modest, let us not be guilty of binding human mentality upon others as if our judgments are divine.  If Paul’s instruction is bound despite culture changing, then 1 Timothy 2:9-10 continues to stand as God’s standard of what is or is not modest.  Since we do not use Paul’s definition today, apparently, we have been given divine liberty to change Paul’s instruction to fit our views?  Has that been approved?

______________

As you finish reading this article, I hope you will keep in mind that it is only My Thoughts.  Hopefully, it is in harmony with why Paul gave his instruction.  Each person is responsible for his own study of God’s word and the applications made. 

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