My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith


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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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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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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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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My Thoughts. . .
Monday, 10-11-2021 & Thursday, 10-14-2021

Paul corrected Peter in Galatians 2. Did Paul have a debate with himself before he confronted the fisherman? Sometimes a situation presents a “no win results.” If he corrects Peter, will his intrusion be interpreted as poking his nose into something that is none of his business? What if Peter and others misinterpret what Paul is doing? His actions only adds more fuel to the fire making things worse? Did Paul grapple with the fact that he was not perfect and Peter could point out his sins too? If so, what if Peter’s revelation was more shocking about Paul than what Paul was correcting about Peter? Did Paul have any of those thoughts or did he just wade in to correct Peter despite the outcome?

When the Chloe family informed Paul of the sinful practices in the Corinthian assembly, why did Paul decide that only one man needed to be withdrawn from? Why did God continue to indwell those disciples? Were they without fault? Did God not know what Corinth was doing before the Chloe family put pen to paper?

Jesus told Peter that before the rooster woke everyone up, Peter would deny him three times. Peter not only denied Jesus, he added something to his speech to emphasize that denial. When Jesus rose from the tomb and sat eating with Peter and others, he turned and spoke to the apostle. If you were in Peter’s sandals, what would be the first thing to roll off your tongue in that situation? Would you not apologize for your blustering denial as well as your prideful speech before going to the garden where Jesus prayed? If your reply was the same as Peter’s when a young slave girl asked if he was a disciple of Jesus, would those who heard your impressive denials have thought, “Wow, you really loves Jesus”? What would be your first thoughts later on when Jesus came into your presence? Would your first words to him be an apology and tearful pleas begging for forgiveness?

There are times when we need correcting when our situation infects not only us, but many others. If one’s shortcomings forbids him from correcting another, then no one could teach another the gospel of Christ without first becoming perfect (sinless) himself. Paul never claimed to be perfect. No other apostle did.

The Corinthian brethren were riddled with error which needed to be corrected. That one individual who Paul commanded them to withdraw from was guilty of doing what pagans did not indulge in. God is patient and so He continued to indwell the membership while they made those speedless corrections. They needed to discipline that one person to save his soul, to stop the act he was engaged in, and begin getting themselves “right with God.” Our patience cannot be compared to God’s patience since our actions today show we would have withdrawn from the entire assembly in Corinth. We would not have restore that fellowship until the invitation given was quickly fulfilled by every erring member.

Some folks view Jesus as a strict, frowned face wearing Savior. For some, he never smiled. He never told a joke nor laughed when a disciple told one. He was all business and never happy unless his followers walked in sinless perfection behind him. Some believe he spoke English with a King James accent. The reason he did not condemn the adulterous woman brought before him is that he was not a “personal” witness of her sinful act. According to the Law he had to regretfully let her leave. Of course, was he not telling her to do the impossible by saying, “Go and sin no more”? Would you be capable of doing that?

Why were the first words out of Jesus’ mouth to Peter not, “You need to repent”? If someone in the congregation did what Peter was guilty of, would we slap him on the back and over look his transgression? We would probably feel justified in informing him that he needed to repent and ask for prayer! Is forgiveness given without repentance?

Perhaps all of the dialogue or events surrounding a particular event are not given. Only the point being made is. For example, did the apostles return the man’s donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on? Did they sell it rather than return it? Did the owner come out of the crowd and reclaim it after Jesus no longer needed it? Did they release it hoping it would find its way back to its owner? Did they give it away? When the father brought his son to Jesus and informed the Lord that the boy fell into the fire, did Jesus also heal his scars? When the “about three thousand” were immersed, where did they do it? Did they use some of the pools in the immediate area or did they go to the Jordan River? Who did the immersing? Was anything said prior to each person’s immersion? Since the Bible is silent, does that mean we are at liberty to do what we think the Lord would have done? If so, are we guilty of add to scriptures details which God did not give?

Sadly, Scripture does not always detail the details.


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 10-07-2021

If someone has been disobedient and wants to be forgiven, we say that person needs to repent.  Sometimes to reinforce our expectation, we quote Luke 13:5 “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”  When Peter preached on Pentecost and accused the crowd of killing Jesus, they ask what they needed to do (Acts 2:37).  Peter stated, “Repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38).  However, not everyone who needed to repent did so.

At that last Passover meal, the disciples were arguing about who was going to be Jesus’ number one man (Luke 22:24).  Perhaps this is why Jesus washed their feet to quash that type of thinking (John 13:4-12)?  Despite this argumentation about greatness, repentance is not introduced.

During that Passover meal Peter was emphatic in telling Jesus he would not deny him (Matthew 26:33, 35).  Yet, he did (Matthew 26:69-75).  When Jesus was resurrected, some of the disciples believed, but Matthew 28:17 reveals that “some doubted.”    We are not told who nor how many bore that guilt.  Mark does write that Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief (Mark 16:14).  Luke reports that Jesus asked them why they were “troubled” and had “doubt” (Luke 24:38).  Yet, none are told that they will perish unless they repent.  When Jesus was arrested the apostles disappeared into the protection of Palestinian darkness.  John and Peter recovered enough to go where they had taken Jesus.  Peter began fulfilling those denials which Jesus foretold.  Later, John is the only apostles mentioned at the crucifixion (John 19:27).  Despite the apostles’ reaction, none are admonished that they will perish unless they repent.  In Jesus’ third appearance with the apostles, he speaks to Peter.  Yet, he does not demand repentance from Peter for his denials, lies, or foul language (Mark 14:66-71).  His dialogue with Peter is, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).  The word “repentance” is not uttered.  When the adulterous woman was brought to Jesus and her accusers left, he asked “Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?”  After she answered his question, Jesus said, “Then neither do I condemn you, go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10-11).  The word “repentance” is not in his dialogue for either that woman or when he spoke with Peter.  Even in the Old Testament a prostitute lies to protect two Jewish spies.  She lies to the men of her own country that are searching for them.  Repentance is never mentioned.  The Hebrew writer speaks of her faith but does not mention repentance being needed due to her lying.  We assume that repentance was needed and demanded.  But assumptions are not usually based upon factual evidence.  That is the case here.

It is interesting that Peter draws his sword to defend Jesus and ends up denying him.  What a contrast.  Jesus told the apostles that they would know the truth which offers freedom, yet they ran for the cover of darkness when soldiers appeared.  Jesus had lost just as much sleep as the apostles did, but they slept rather than praying with him.  Twelve men joined Jesus expecting a kingdom but were shocked and bewildered when the Lord spoke of the necessity of his death.  They were willing to follow where Jesus led but met behind closed doors fearing they would also be arrested.  For over three years they were in the presence of God in the flesh, yet their support was much like ours.  We strive for perfection but are rewarded with failure.  We hope for mercy but expect condemnation.  Repentance?  We believe it is needed for others.  We quote scripture to prove its necessity.  We expect it.  We require it.  But do we see a need for it ourselves?


My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 10-04-2021

We are introduced to the birth of Jesus in Matthews 1:1. Mary and Joseph are told that the babe’s name will be “Jesus.”  In the Hebrew language his name was “Joshua.”  Some Bible students believe “Christ” is Jesus’ last name.  Actually, it is a non-translated word which means “anointed.”  If those who own an English translation knew what the Hebrew expression for “Jesus Christ” is, they would know it meant “Joshua the Anointed One.”

The son of Mary was named by heaven and means “he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:18-25).  His name told the world he was the anointed one of God.  When Peter spoke to the Jewish council, he informed them, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Peter told thousands on Pentecost to “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” and Luke informs his readers that “those who gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41).  In speaking with his disciples, Jesus stated, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).  When Jesus said “my” who was he referring to?  Was he not promising to build his church?

His name means (1) he will save people from their sins.  Peter informs the Jewish clerics that (2) no one else can save but him.  Peter informs his audience that (4) “remission of sins” is received “in Jesus’ name.”  Jesus promises to build (5) his church (“called out”).  Luke informs us that those who responded to Peter’s preaching were added by God to “the saved” (Acts 2:46-47).  When Jesus promised to build “my assembly,” who does that word “my” refer to?  Was Jesus not promising to save those who belonged to him?

The saved are referred to by the following phrases: (1) my church, (2) the church, (3) the saved, (4) the body of Christ, (5) the church of God, (6) the church of the living God, (7) the church of the firstborn, (8) the church of (location), (9) the churches of  the Gentiles, (10) the churches of Christ, (11) the churches of God, (12) the churches of (location), (13) the churches, (14) and the churches of the saints.  What is mystifying is that inspiration never refers to it as “the church of Jesus,” “Jesus’ church,” “the body of Jesus,” “the churches of Jesus,” or “Jesus’ churches.”  The closest inspiration gets to its ownership is when Jesus made that promise to build “my church.”

The expression “Christian” is found three times in the New Testament.  It is never translated.  The disciples in Antioch are the first to be called “Christians” (Acts 11:26).  Herod used it once in a negative way (Acts 26:28).  The apostle Peter indicated that it was a name disciples would glorify God in (1 Peter 4:16).  Paul puts the word “Christ” which means “anointed”) with the plural word “churches” in Romans 16:16.  If the Greek expression had been translated, that would literally be “assemblies of the Anointed One.”  The expression “body of Christ” is used several times (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12; Colossians 2:17).    Paul also uses the plural word “churches” with the expression “of the saints.”  “Saints” is equivalent to saying “Christians.”  In Greek that would be “assemblies of the saved,” since the “saved” are “Christians.”  Once Paul used the expression “kingdom of Christ” (Ephesians 5:5).  If the anglicized expression “Christian” was translated, it would be “a follower of Christ” or “a follower of the Anointed One.”  In Hebrew it would be “a follower of the Messiah.”   

God does not use “meaningless” words.  Perhaps we’ve missed a wonderful lesson due to man “anglicizing some words rather than translating them.  It is mystifying that the church was not identified by inspiration with the personal name of Jesus.  The first century church did not erect buildings.  There was no need for a street sign to identify them.  Identity came from the lives of those who wore Jesus’ title.  Also, persecution made public identification dangerous.  Identifying public signs do not guarantee that those meeting in that location actually follow Jesus.    Millions identify themselves with street or highway signs.  Perhaps if those who identify themselves with a sign were actually “followers of Jesus,” those signs would not be needed.  So, what have we missed? 


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 09-30-2021

Remember when Jesus told the rambunctious Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed?  In the garden, when a group came to arrest Jesus, Peter used his sword to cut off the ear of the one closest to them.  He was protecting Jesus from the mob.  Yet, Peter’s actions were not needed because Jesus could not fulfill his role by being protected.  Imagine Peter’s shock when Jesus told him to put away his sword.   There would be no bragging from that apostle’s lips on how he protected his Rabbi.

We are told that the disciples fled into the protection of darkness.  Where they decided to hide, we are not told.  We know they later showed up in that upper room.  We also know that Peter and John decided to go where they had taken Jesus.  At least John knew.  John gained entrance without any problems.  John was known by those who guarded the doors.  He apparently did not care if they knew he followed Jesus.  However, Peter wasn’t thrilled nor as brave now as he had been when he drew his sword.  We are not told whether or not Peter discarded his sword before they arrived at the judgment hall.  If he was accused of bearing a sword as a disciple of Jesus, would he be allowed to enter?  If he continued to bear that sword, did that have any bearing upon him denying he was a disciple?  John sees no reason to inform us either way.  

Later, when the apostles were gathered in that upper room, only Thomas was missing.  Peter was there who did make up that group.  Is there any dialogue from him?  Neither Matthew, Mark, Luke nor John mention Peter saying anything.  His bragging had been wiped out by denial.  That rooster had silenced the talkative fisherman.  On the second appearance in that upper room, Jesus addresses Thomas.  Does Peter speak up?  There is no record of him doing so.  It is not until Jesus appears at the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee), where the apostles are fishing, that Peter opens his mouth (John 21:1).  He may have opened his mouth, but he was not the first one to speak.  Jesus initiated the conversation, not Peter.

The apostles have caught 153 large fish in their net (John 21:11).  They prepared and cooked the fish and had finished eating.  Peter is silent.  Can you imagine what was going through Peter’s mind during that time?  What could he say?  Will Jesus forgive him?  His previous actions have been ridiculous.  His mistakes are not secretive.  No bragging falls from Peter’s mouth.  He offers no great claims of what he will do.  What will Jesus say to him?  The meal is finished, and Jesus asked Peter, “Do you truly love me more than these?” (John 21:15).  Wow!  What a question!  Will Peter brag about how much more he loves Jesus than the others?  Is he that brazen?  No.  His reply is, “You know that I love you.”  Is that an affirmation statement or a question?  Translators put a period rather than a question mark at the end of Peter’s reply.  Jesus does not question Peter’s prior actions or statements.  It is a simple request from Jesus to “Feed my sheep.”  Jesus does not belittle the apostle.  He does not whip him with a reminder of his denials.  The Lord saw the apostle’s potential.  So, on the day of Pentecost, who stands up to speak?  It is the sheep feeder!  One day he is a scared denier and the next time he is a stouthearted disciple.

Jesus sees beyond our shortcomings.  Whatever you are addicted to, Jesus sees your potential.  Whatever perspectives you have which keeps you on the negative side of life, Jesus sees your potential and continues to knock at your door.  Sin is a devastating weight that knocks our legs out from under us.  Yet, despite how devastating our fall is, Jesus continues to hold out his hands to lift us up because he sees that potential.  He never looks for perfection because he is too busy looking at what we could be (Romans 3:10, 23)?  He wants you to do what he told Peter to do.  “Follow me” (John 21:19, 22).  Peter was not perfect, but who is?  Peter put his trust in Jesus’ perfection.  Who or what do you trust?  


My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 09-27-2021

When we look at our world, we see it with different eyes.  If one hasn’t reached his 21st birthday, some of the changes taking place are welcomed.  Some believe change is needed or else.  The old must go and the new must be introduced.  For someone who is 60 or older, that kind of change is discouraged.  However, degraded lifestyles once questioned and rejected are now popular.  What was decent and respectful is ridiculed and abandoned as “old fashion.”  Some congratulate the change and believe it has been too slow in coming.  Others bemoan its appearance and wonder if society will ever be normal again.  Congratulations are mingled with sympathy, and one wonders how he can live with his neighbor?

Life has its extremes.  One extreme thinks that Jews and Christians waste their time in praying to a non-existent god.   They believe such a faith enslaves those who mindlessly believe a god hears their pleas.  They view these “believers” as weak-minded individuals who possess a faith going “nowhere.”  The other extreme is labeled “faith.”  It is a faith based upon assumption rather than on biblical teaching.  Sadly, a “feel-good” religion can be conservatively wrong.  The middle territory is desired by some and ridiculed by others.  Jesus was accused of being an extremist who was guilty of blasphemy according to the Jewish clerics.  He was suspected of being anti Roman by the occupying forces.  Both parties cooperated in crucifying him and driving his followers behind locked doors. 

Long before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, a Hebrew prophet wrote,

Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption!  They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.  Why should you be beaten anymore?  Why do you persist in rebellion?  Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted.  From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness — only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil. . . .Woe  to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.  Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.  Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine and champions at mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, but deny justice to the innocent” (Isaiah 1:4-6; 5:20-23).     

Man makes changes that lead him away from God and he congratulates himself, believing he is making the world better.  Man promises heaven and pays off with hell.  He brags about his love for people as he sentences them to death.  He fills his speech by mentioning “God,” but reveals he is talking about himself.  He brags about making a great nation while removing the foundation that made it great.  He brags about restoring happiness while drowning people in hatred.  Man attempts to make himself god.  His failures are blamed on the innocent when he himself is the guilty one.

This world is not the home of the righteous.  If that thought is ignored, the believer will fall in love with the fallible rather than yearn for the eternal.  He may convince himself that his control is badly needed, even when his body rests in the grave.  Death will quickly evaporate that kind of thinking.  What is left behind no longer belongs to those who have departed.  The ultimate gift after death will either bring joy or useless pleading (Luke 16:20-25).

Life has its extremes.  What are yours?     


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 09-23-2021

And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days” (Acts 20:6).

Luke informs us that the group he was traveling with arrived in the city of Troas and spent seven days there.  In verse seven he and Paul met with the Troas disciples upon the first day of the week.

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

Apparently, the Troas church did not have mid-week services since Luke does not mention it.  If they did have such, Luke didn’t believe it to be important enough to record.  There is a system of belief by some that if the Bible is silent, one may not add other actions which are not mentioned.

The church did have Sunday services but since “many lights” are mentioned (v. 8), it indicates a Sunday evening meeting.  If they were using Jewish time, Sunday began at sundown one day and ended at sundown on the next one.  Since they were meeting after sundown, the Jewish Sunday or first-day-of-the week was beginning.  In our reckoning of time, it would start at 6:01 pm Saturday evening and end on our Sunday at 6:00 p.m.  Today most Bible students would read our system of time into the passage making this meeting fit our way of observing Sunday from 12 midnight and end at 12 midnight the next evening.   This time difference is ignored by some and debated by others.

Luke mentions the sole purpose of the Troas brethren meeting in that home.  They came together “to break bread.”  Most assume this expression means “communion” or “the Lord’s supper.”  The expression “breaking” and “bread” is found in Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; and 1 Corinthians 11:23-24, referring to that purpose.  However, it is also found in the Passover meal where that breaking of bread was done prior to Jesus referring to his body or blood and was part of the Passover bread and drinking the Passover wine.

Acts 20:7-11 first mentions “break bread” and then follows with “Paul preaching.”  Luke does not indicate in the expression “disciples came together to break bread” whether it was performed before or after Paul spoke.  While he is speaking, one member goes to sleep, falls out of the third story window, and dies in the fall.  Paul stops preaching and all go to the courtyard to find the young man dead.  In verse 11, Paul restores life to Eutychus.  Luke states, “When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten” (v. 11).  Luke uses the expression “broken bread” again.  They are the same words used by Jesus as he instituted the communion and the same words contained in Acts 20:7 prior to Eutychus’ falling from the window.

The only two activities mentioned in that assembly was preaching and breaking bread.  We may believe and claim that they prayed, sang, and gave, but that would be classified as assumption.  Since Luke tells us what was done, do we really have the authority to add other actions when scripture is silent?  It is interesting that singing is not mentioned until Paul writes to the Ephesian and Colossian congregations in 60-61 A.D.  Those letters were written 12 years after Paul’s visit to Troas.  Most add singing, prayer, and giving to the Troas meeting because it is what we do, not what Luke wrote.  What if Luke is correct and our additions are nothing but assumptions?  Is the doctrine of Christ built upon what inspiration specifically says, or what we assume what must be added?

Acts 5 talks about the contribution with a man and his wife lying about what they have given.  Did they also have several songs, a prayer or two, passing the plate, and Peter preaching?  None of that is mentioned.  Some do not believe it was a church “worship” assembly because of that silence.  What if the only thing being done was giving?  It may not follow our actions in our assemblies, but what did Luke write?  Verse 12 does follow, but it is Peter and the other apostles miraculously healing people.  We don’t substitute a nursing or clinical program as part of our services, but the first century brethren did.  We add when scripture does not and subtract when inspiration adds.  If we stopped adding our assumptions to what is inspired, or subtracting what inspiration does add but we do not, would we be more like the New Testament church?

Man has been “improving” the New Testament church since before the beginning of the second century.  Those improvements have gained acceptance through centuries of practice.  That acceptance often makes restoration impossible because our modifications are taught as customs based upon biblical “inference” and “expediency.”  This causes any deviation to be viewed as liberalism or being too “ultra” conservative.  When Jewish brethren began complaining about Gentile believers not being circumcised, the “liberal” vs. the “ultra conservative” problem began.  It continues even today.  It is what it is!


My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 09-20-2021

Of the twelve apostles, Peter is the one who jumps into the conversation expressing his allegiance to the Lord. At the Passover feast when Jesus informed them that one of them would betray him, Peter responds that it is not him because he will lay down his life for Jesus (John 13:37; Luke 22:33). Jesus’ response must have bewildered the fisherman when the Christ spoke about Peter denying him (Luke 22:34). Did Peter say to himself, “Jesus, I’ll prove myself to you and everyone else”?

When the crowd came to arrest Jesus, Peter reached for the sword which Jesus had approved of prior to the Garden’s visit (John 18:10). He cut off the ear of the nearest man. Rather than praise Peter, Jesus commanded him to put it away (v. 11). Imagine the contradictory questions this reaction did to confuse Peter’s thinking? The apostle’s believed Jesus was the answer to removing Roman domination and re-establishing David’s kingdom (Acts 1:6). The apostles knew the religious hierarchy hated Jesus and accused him of blasphemy and being led by Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24; John 10:33). Peter possessed a sword, and he would die defending his Rabbi. His allegiance and actions were negated by Jesus’ surprising command (Luke 22:51 NASV, RSV, NIV). Jesus’ surrender was not the response expected from the promised Messiah. The apostles fled into the safety of darkness. Peter and John went to the palace of the high priest (John 16:15). John was known by the high priest, so he arranged for Peter to also come in.

Peter was not a willing companion of John. His sword swinging was past history. Scripture does not say, but I doubt if Peter continued to possess that sword when he stood at that door. The female at the door is referred to as “her,” “girl on duty,” “slave,” “maid,” or “damsel” by the KJV through the ASV, NASV, RSV, NKJV, and the NIV. She is the first to ask if Peter is a disciple of Jesus. His answer is short, “I know not what thou sayest” (Matthew 26:70 KJV). “I do not know what you are talking about” (NASV, NIV). “I do not know what you mean” (RSV). “I do not know what you are saying” (NKJV). He begins fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy. Another maid or slave girl and man point him out and he responds to them with “an oath” to convince them that “I do not know the man” (Matthew 26:72). The third event states others accused him because of his dialect. His response was “to curse and to swear” his denial (Matthew 27:74). I do not know the exact location of that rooster, but he fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy. Peter certainly heard it and recognized what he had done. He departed and “wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62).

The only apostle present at the cross was John. Peter is not mentioned. Where is this apostle who stated, “You are the Messiah, the Son of God” when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am” (Matthew 16:15-16)? When Jesus appeared to the group meeting in a room that had a locked door, Peter was present (John 20:19)? All were “overjoyed” at the Lord’s appearance (v. 20). What does the forceful apostle Peter say? Nothing is recorded. Jesus appears again when the apostles are fishing. Jesus speaks to them from the shore. Peter jumps out of the boat and swims to shore. He does not address Jesus. He helps bring the net in that is full. They clean and cook some of the 153 fish caught in that net. They sit and eat their portion. What does Peter say during this time? Absolutely nothing. Peter’s solution of what to say never comes. When they finished eating, Jesus turns to Peter and asked, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” (John 21:15). Have you ever been in an embarrassing situation and hoped you do not become the center of attraction? Peter had bragged that he would not deny Jesus. Despite Jesus’ warning, he did deny. Here Jesus is asking if he loves him more than the others do. Will he revert back to the Simon who inflates his faithfulness? His reply is, “You know that I love you.” Jesus has used a higher meaning word for “love” than the one Peter has chosen. Peter’s word means “to like.” Jesus repeats that loftier word the second time. Peter responds by using the weaker of the two. The third time Jesus uses Peter’s word. Each time Jesus stated, “Feed my sheep.” Peter was still a leader, but now he was ready to be a better one. The lesson had been illustrated and learned.

How many of us have been asked by the Lord, “Do you LOVE me?” and our answer is, “Yes, Lord, we LIKE you”? Jesus accepts that, then says “OK, feed my sheep.”


My Thoughts. . .

Monday, 09-13-2021

Was the woman who was brought before Jesus and charged, guilty of that sin?  She was caught in the act.  She did not deny the charge.  She was expecting to be stoned for her sin.  The ones who caught her made a correct condemnation of her act.  They also knew what the scriptures said about her sin and what punishment she must receive.  Jesus knew what she did.  He also knew the scriptures.  Yet, he told her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:3-11 KJV). Some today might condemn Jesus for ignoring scripture and being “too soft on sin.”  Since her accusers left, she did not have any eyewitnesses to her act.  Jesus did not ask them to spare her life.  He made a simple statement, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”  What sins had they committed that quickly disbanded those accusers?  Maybe several of them had been that woman’s customer and that was how they knew where she was and what she was doing?  Notice how the woman’s partner is not mentioned.  Was he one of the accusers?  Scripture does not say.  Jesus did not condemn her, but his last words were, “Go and sin no more.”

Perhaps that woman learned from that episode and stopped committing adultery.  Did she stop “sinning”?  If Jesus could forgive a person of adultery, could he not forgive her of any other sin?  John 8 stirs up a number of questions.  Did she ask Jesus to pray for her?  John does not tell us.  Did she ask him to forgive her?  If so, John does not record it.  Did Jesus command her to “Repent”?  Again, John is silent.  We assume things which the passage does not reveal.  If she did not repent, does God forgive without repentance?  Later, if she stumbled, fell, and cursed, would God overlook that explicative without repentance or confession of sin?  Some believe this part of John 8 has been added by later writer and John did not pen it.  Perhaps they thought it seemed to put Jesus in a compromising situation and to keep that from happening, it should be removed?

When an individual submits to that burial in water that Paul wrote about, and was raised to walk in newness of life, he was completely cleansed (Romans 6:1-11).  Although he is no longer “a slave to sin” and he has been “set free from sin” (vv.6-7), he does not remain sinless.    For some, that is a contradiction.  Paul informed Christians that all have sinned.  We are not perfect.  We continue to trust in Jesus because we have “died to sin” so it is no longer our “master” and we are no longer its slave (v. 14).  Thankfully, we are now “under grace.”

Paul saw how some might think this gave them the freedom to sin.  He told the Roman saints, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?   God forbid” (Romans 6:1-2).  There are two extremes.  First, one may keep on living in sin since he thinks God’s grace will cover him.  The second extreme is that one must be sinless after becoming a Christian or he is lost again.  Both are extremes and each is false.  Since grace is in the picture, so if the cleansing blood of Jesus.  Notice Paul’s stated, “continue in sin.”  Should we once more become slaves to sin?  No.  Yet, Christians do sin from time to time.  Yet, that sinner does not lose fellowship with God because he continues to trust in the price Jesus paid.


My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, 09-16-2021

The event called World War I caused Bible believers to think that conflict was described by the book of Revelation.  The events of John’s prophecy did not happen, even though one religious leader still wrote that Jesus would return in 1925.  That date passed without fulfillment.  That leader had his subjects gathering up his “prophecy” for destruction.  His successors would later continue to give dates of Jesus’ return and have the same results.

In 1939 world events began to create war clouds that overshadowed what had transpired in 1914 to 1918.  It was identified as World War II.  The expression “allies” vs “axis” identified the two foes.  The war touched the entire globe.  The USA attempted to remain aloof of events in Europe in 1939 and 1940.  When the USA fleet in Hawaii was crippled by the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941, the expression “World War II” became prominent.   The winner of that war was in doubt during the first half as both Germany and Japan successfully began their world conquest.

The European struggle ended on May 8, 1945, identified as VE Day.  On September 2, 1945, the Japanese surrender was identified as VJ Day.  It took the devastation of two atomic bombs to end that struggle.  That conflict ended with 23,967,900 military deaths and 38,968,000 approximate civilian demises.  The USA lost 388,933 service personal.  That conflict affected every area of the United States.  It also reignited some Bible readers to announce that this struggle was the beginning of the end of the world.  The announcement was made that the book of Revelation was being fulfilled.

When the Jewish State was created in Palestine on May 14, 1948, Bible students again thought prophecy was being fulfilled that would result in Jesus’ return.  Forty-seven years later a book, The Late Great Planet Earth suggested 1995 might be the time when Jesus’ glorious return would take place.  The only successful results was that the author led his readers to accept his assumptions.  There were some who sold everything and patiently waited for disappointment.

One lesson came out of all those expectations.  Some decided to never get into the guessing game again and their future prophecies were silenced.  Yet, though the expectation had been rewarded negatively, it still burned within the souls of those who looked for it in their lifetime.  One may admire the faith exhibited by those who continue to look for Jesus’  return, but the failure of past lessons should be an eye opener.

Some interpret the return of Jesus in Revelation to set up his 1,000-year kingdom on earth as a “near” future event.  If that interpretation is correct, I will be among those who rejoice at Jesus’ return.  However, 2,000 years stretches John’s “at hand,” “shortly be done,” “soon,” “time is near,” “time is at hand,” or “quickly” from different English versions Revelation 1:1, 3; 22:6, 7, 10, 12, 20.  John was writing to the first century churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.  Those words should be directly applied to them, rather than ignore and skip over them to make the 2021 church the recipient. With modern happenings grabbing the news, and an awakening of renewed interest in Jesus return, the book of Revelation is once more being spotlighted.  Prophecies are being aligned with modern events to harmonize with the Covid-19 pandemic.  An imminent return of Jesus is exciting hearts again as some believer’s rush to read Revelation’s passages to confirm their belief of that return in our lifetime.  If Charles Taze Russell, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, or perhaps Hal Lindsey could speak up, they would advise today’s excited to be more cautious than they were.   

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