My Thoughts

Adventures in Faith


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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Monday, October 15, 2018

Most believers want to do more, but their best efforts are always less.  They want to be better, but their spiritual arms aren’t long enough to reach that goal.  They have a burning desire to please God, but imperfections trash that hope.

If they can do one more thing each day, which they normally put off, God will be impressed and love them more!  Anxiety is the reward of that “one more thing.”  Fear shouts, “Your constant failures are robbing you of your eternal salvation!”

There are some believers who think because they do more than others, their faithfulness will gain them special merit.  Doing more is a false satisfaction embedded in human assurance that fails rather than satisfies.  Honesty steps through a door thought closed and shakes its head negatively.  Each swallows another Rolaids to calm their doubts and build their hope that tomorrow they will do better.

The devil is alive, well, and very busy.  He uses our emotions, hoping we will become discouraged and turn away from God.  The world steps in to assist.  “God doesn’t love you because you’ve failed to do your best.”  “You have failed again, and it decreases God’s favor for you.”

Rather than wake up, some think, if they say one more prayer, attend one more assembly, volunteer for one more spiritual task, take food to one more shut-in, visit the hospital one more time, have one more Bible study, knock on one more door, think one more good thought, love one more person, go on one more medical mission trip, and accomplish one more good thing that they failed to do the day before, God will see their worth and announce, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”  Yes, obedience is the testimony to our faith.  Yet, Satan deceives people into believing God can’t love them unless they capture perfection though their own will power.  They believe that such is the deciding factor that will save them.  It makes man’s accomplishments his personal savior.  His “will power” assists the blood of Jesus and the grace of God to give him the needed push to get across the finish line of being eternally saved!  He will be successful in saving himself!

Despite their obedience, Christianity seems to dangle that favorite carrot just beyond their reach.  God appears to be related to the Egyptian Task Masters more than being a loving Father desiring fellowship with His creation.  So, perfection in obedience is the challenge for each believer to be his own savior!  Desire and hard word will accomplish that goal!  Some have believed they reached it (Luke 18:9-14).

Will we ever accomplish perfection?  The Old and New Testaments reply with a tremendous “NO!”  But the New Testament does show us how we may reach and maintain that lofty position.  Why is it necessary?  We believe we must be perfect to go to Heaven.  Right?  Since we never make the goal of being perfect, nor maintain it, how are we made perfect??

We’ve already seen that perfection is not through human power.  Here is the “how”!  God sent His Word to earth to be born as a human being and experience life and temptations as we do.  He did, he was, but he didn’t!  He did come to earth.  He was born as a human being.  He was tempted, but he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).  He was God in human form to give himself as a perfect sinless sacrifice for our sins.  He paid the price!  He paid all of it!  We put our faith in him as the one whose blood cleanses all past, present, and future sins.  God’s grace is larger than all our sins.  Yes, some decided that it wasn’t for them and turned from it (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:25-29).  Those who stayed were still sinful human beings (1 John 1:7-10).  But they were perfected by Jesus’ blood and God grace (Hebrews 10:38-39; Ephesians 2:12-13).

The word “death” carries the idea of separation.  The spirit departs from the body because of death.  Paul tell us that we die to sin.  Yet, we know we commit sin due to our imperfections (1 John 1:8, 10).  Paul tells us that our spirit is cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  The flesh motivates us to be fleshly or “sin.”  That body will be separated from our spirit at death.  It is of the earth.  What God breathed into us is from Him (Hebrews 12:9).  Our sins are not counted against us (Romans 4:8 NIV).  They are continually removed by Jesus’ blood, so we may stand cleansed before God (Hebrews 10:17).  We are “hid” in Jesus (Colossians 3:1-4).  We are members of his sinless body (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23; 5:25-27).  Being “in” Christ, we are no longer under condemnation (Romans 8:1)!

Since the Spirit reveals those things to us, let us be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV).  Jesus is our salvation!


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.  For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.  In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” Colossians 2:8-12 NKJV

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.  For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.  In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” Colossians 2:8-12 NIV

There is confusion over the subject of baptism.  In 1974 a preacher informed me that his church did not require baptism for any purpose.  Most churches believe it is not essential to salvation, but necessary to obedience to Jesus and to join their fellowship or church.  Although baptism is required for church membership, advocates do not believe membership in their church is essential to their salvation.  They understand the believer is saved prior to seeking membership.  Yet, some of those churches believe immersion is required to obey Jesus by following his example.  However, being saved and obeying Jesus are not synonymous.  If one refuses to obey Jesus, it is an indication that his faith wasn’t the “saving kind.”  If his faith is “the saving kind,” he will be immersed to obey Jesus.  There are those that believe immersion is tied in with salvation because one must obey Jesus’ commands.  Obey = right faith.  Refuse = dead faith.  To recite it in a different way: Obey = necessary.  Refuse = not the saving kind of faith.

There are passages where faith and saved stand together without the expression baptism.  Some understand this as God’s example of showing that baptism is not essential to salvation, only necessary for obedience.  The conclusion understood is that if baptism was essential, God would have included it in all passages with the subject of salvation.  This understanding is not applied when the words “repent” and “confession” are missingfrom those faith + saved passages.  Some who believe immersion is essential to salvation also believe one’s obedience is a part of their payment in removing those sins.  For them, works of righteousness, required by God, are their part in that purchase plan.  Others believe that immersion is their faith in action.  Faith + action = a saving faith.  Faith without action = no obedience.

At the beginning of this article are two quotes taken from the same passage, but from different translations.  The first is the New King James Version and the second from the New International Version.  Both are different in some expressions than those found in the 1611 King James Version.

  1. There is a warning to not be deceived by man’s philosophies and traditions. Why?
  2. Because IN Christ God dwells and IN him we are “complete” or “given fullness.” Conclusion: Why settle for man’s offerings?
  3. IN him we received circumcision, which biblically is a sign of a covenant with God.
  • Israel submitted to a fleshly kind. Our circumcision is different.
  • Israel lost their foreskin. We put off or lose the body of flesh or fleshly nature (flesh = old man of sin, Romans 6:2, 6-10; 8:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9).
  1. That circumcision is appropriated when we are “buried with him in baptism and raised with him through faith.

Faith motivates the individual to be circumcised by being buried with Jesus and raised with him, so the sinful nature may be removed.

 What if a person has that one, two, three, four sequences switched?  Would that switch put the new sequence into Paul’s warning found in Number one?  In the Garden, Satan pulled a switch with Eve by inserting the one word “NOT” (Genesis 3:4)!

Just a thought.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Today’s news media reports something as true, but a few issues later have to begrudgingly admit that they were mistaken.  Charges are made by the media, then later withdrawn.  Sometimes there is an apology, but not often.  Such practices used to be called “yellow journalism.”  Today some accept it as truth, even when it is exposed as a lie.  Some prefer to believe it is the truth regardless.  I wondered how those same news outlets would report on Jesus’ activities if they were reporting on them in the first century?


(AP from Tyre and Sidon)

Jesus, traveling in the region of Tyre and Sidon, was approached by a Canaanite woman who requested healing for her daughter.  Being the racist he is, he demonstrated his superiority as a man and a Jew by refusing to acknowledge her presence.  His apostles, also racists, wanted him to get rid of her.  Her presence and pleas were an embarrassment to Jesus and his Jewish staff.  The woman fell at Jesus’ feet begging for help.  Jesus, the self-proclaimed Messiah, referred to her as a “dog.”   The poor woman was humiliated and suffered the abuse in her attempt to save her daughter.  Jesus and entourage left the poor soul behind as they made their way to the region of Lake Galilee (Matthew 15:21-27).


(AP from the Sea of Galilee Region)

Jesus was surrounded by people seeking to be healed.  One woman, who had been sick for twelve years was hoping he could help.  She could not make herself be heard by Jesus due to the noise of the crowd.  She felt if she could tap Jesus on the shoulder and get his attention, maybe he would help her.  She reached, with much effort through the mass of humanity and managed to barely touch him.  The self-proclaimed Messiah abruptly stopped and turned, shocking those around him with his explosive movement.  People were surprised by his harsh demand, “Who touched me?”  He succeeded in embarrassing the woman.  His movement and demand frightened her.  She had sought healing and here was her healer turning to make a fool out of her!  Those who knew Jesus for what he really was, were not surprised by this action (Mark 5:24-30).


(AP near Jerusalem)

Local religious dignitaries were shocked when Jesus entered their city and told the citizens he would work on the Sabbath.  He did not respect Yahweh, the Ten Commandments, God’s sacred rest day, nor the faith of the townspeople.  There were six days this self-proclaimed Messiah could do his works of healing, but he chose to break the Sabbath.  Such blasphemy indicated the type of ministry he was running (Luke 13:14).


(AP from Jerusalem)

Jesus went among a crowd of people who were seeking medical help, but he did not declare who he was.  He singled out one man and asked him, “Do you want to be healed?”  He refused to ask that of the multitude surround this man.  He told the fellow to pick up his mattress and walk away.  The man did, but he should not have done so since it was the Sabbath.  Jesus had told the man to do something that was a violation of their religious law!  The joke was upon that poor man since he found himself in trouble for violating that law.  The man could not tell his accusers who had commanded him to carry his mattress on the Sabbath.  The crowd soon learned what a cruel, unfeeling individual Jesus was and how he enjoyed taking advantage of people in the most bazaar ways (John 5:1-16).  He healed the man but did not reveal who he was, so the poor man was left to take the blame for what Jesus did.  What about the multitude?  They were not asked if they wanted to be healed.  Jesus had no love for them.  He wasn’t interested in their pain nor sickness.

Perhaps this is the reason that the crowds present at Jesus’ trial felt compelled to cry out, “Crucify him, crucify him!”  What would you do if you had read the news media reports about Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph?



Monday, October 2018

We’re all broken.  Some worse than others as far as consequences are concerned.  What many broken people fail to understand is that Satan uses our brokenness to deceive us!  He does this in many ways, too numerous to fit in this article.  However, here are a few.

1. If things are going our way, God is good.  We are being blessed.  Satan steps in and convinces us that we deserve those blessings.  Then everything is taken away.  Our children die in horrible accidents.  Employment is lost.  Bankruptcy is declared.  Most of our friends evaporate.  Family can’t help.  Job suffered from painful sores from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head (Job 2:7).  Medicine would not touch it.  Relief was unavailable (v.8).  But, Mrs. Job wasn’t infected!  Yes, she lost the cushiony life she had become accustomed to.  She lost the prestige of being the wife of a rich and influential husband.  She had lost her children too.  She had been reduced to poverty.  Since hubby had the sores and she didn’t, it had to be his fault.  She had suffered the shame and his condition longer than most women would have endured.  Despite her strength, she had reached her limit!  Her excellent solution to end her dreadful condition was to advise him to “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).  Did Job’s friends support him or agree with her?  They shared by blaming Job.  If he would confess his sin, things would normalize!  Have you ever been in his shoes?  Have you ever occupied hers?  Have you ever had friends like that?  Have you ever been there?

2. You believe that God loves you because you can quote John 3:16 without fault.  However, you think that if you will make one more visit, read one more Bible chapter, pray one more prayer, talk Jesus to one more person, and volunteer to do one more spiritual activity, God will love you more.  Also, it might help reward you by placing you a little closer to heaven!  Have you ever been there (Matthew 5:5)?

3. Every time the church doors are opened, you are there.  You are engaged in every activity on the church calendar.  Every time a volunteer is required, you are it.  You enjoy people referring to how busy you are for the Lord.  You are proud because you are mending the cracks in your own brokenness.  However, there are those who aren’t engaged in that accomplishment as well as you.  You view others as not being as convicted in their faith as you are because they are not active in what you are involved in.  You thank God for your spiritual strength and speak of it in your prayers.  You also are thankful that you are not as neglectful as others who are nowhere near your spirituality.  Have you ever been there (Luke 18:9-14)?

4. You believe you are a faithful Christian because you are at the church building without fault.  Others are amazed at your spiritual accomplishments.  Your prayers are worth remembering and cloning.  Your obedience is remarkably outstanding.  You are very conscience about crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” in your spiritual journey.   Your memory work is impeccable.  Your recall is without fault.  Your logic is flawless.  If Paul had any competition, you would be it!  Yet, your meekness is noteworthy.  Your patience is coveted.  Your humility is admirable.  Yet invisible to others is the turmoil you live with.  Your face is pointed toward heaven, but your feet seemed to be slipping towards hell.  Your prayers are offered with honesty, but you question your heart and God’s hearing.  You attempt to obey as perfectly as possible, but your imperfection announces your failure.  You know John 3:16 shouts God’s love for you, but you question your love for Him.  You know Jesus paid it all, yet you feel he left room for you to pay something, but you haven’t reached the amount.  You know you are faithful, but aren’t sure if it will ever be complete?  Jesus pled, “Come to me,” but that action on your part lacks perfection (Matthew 11:28-30).  You want to trust Jesus rather than in your abilities, but there is one more thing to do, which you haven’t done, and you know you could have!  Have you ever been there?  Paul was.  Have you not yet realized what he did (Romans 7:24-25; 8:1)?

The devil uses our brokenness to deceive us.  We can listen to him, or we can put our trust in Jesus.  When we do, Paul’s answer makes sense (Romans 8:1).


Thursday, September 27, 2018

When you think about David, what remembrance comes to mind? Is it because:

1. He was a shepherd boy and killed a lion and a bear protecting his father’s sheep?
2. He stood up to Goliath and killed him?
3. He soothed King Saul by playing a harp?
4. He wrote most of the Psalms?
5. King Saul attempted to kill him?
6. He and King Saul’s son, Jonathan, were very good friends?
7. He had several wives?
8. He was a great warrior?
9. He was King over Israel?
10. His son Absalom tried to dethrone him?
11. He committed fornication with Uriah’s wife Bathsheba?
12. He numbered Israel and as a result, 70,000 men perished?

Here is an interesting comment in First Kings.

“Because David did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5 NKJV, Emphasis mine, RH).

The Living Bible expresses it like this,

“For David had obeyed God during his entire life except for the affair concerning Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:5 TLB, Emphasis mine, RH).

In the New Testament David is listed in “God’s Hall of Faith” between Jephthah and Samuel (Hebrews 11:32). Luke records Paul’s speech in which the statement is made that God said, “’I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’” (Acts 13:22 NKJV, Emphasis mine, RH).

With that testimony, one might think David’s one and only sin was with Uriah’s wife and later putting Uriah in a position for the enemy to kill him. As a child I was taught about David, but his fornication and complicity to have Uriah killed was never introduced. Most children have a vision of David being a boy with a remarkable ability to use a slingshot. Probably most shepherd boys were! As children, we never aligned David and sin together during those formative years.

Did David sin more than once? Some know about his sin of numbering Israel. God spared David, but not 70,000 men. Because of his fornication, the son born from that act died, but not David.
Some know David killed Goliath, but few realize that he severed the giant’s head and took it with him when he went to Jerusalem (1 Samuel 17:54). Young boys would relish such stories just as girls would not! Teachers avoided such details in Sunday School. Those details would have been “R” rated in the fifties!

Quite a few do not realize that David was a mighty warrior. He usually fought side by side with his men. As a warrior king, he was commissioned to kill pagan enemies, which included men, women, boys, girls, and babies! That’s right! Why? Because the idolatrous adults would raise their children to believe and practice what they did. David and Israel were God’s instrument of vengeance upon those who rejected Him and substituted wood, stone, and metal to worship. Despite their immorality, David would fellowship with his enemies while running from Saul yet be deceptive with them. Today, we would say he would stab them in the back when they weren’t looking! Yet, th0se actions, as horrible as they were, did not label him as faithless. Remember, he is in God’s “Hall of Faith”!

The fact that he had more than one wife, at the same time, would eliminate him from membership in most churches today. Even if some could overlook his multiple wives, wouldn’t having a woman’s husband killed because he got her pregnant, get him banned from most memberships today? Even if he killed a dangerous enemy and was an excellent sling-shooter, wouldn’t we vomit at the sight of him carrying Goliath’s head as he motored down Main Street in a welcoming parade? Would today’s admirers give David a slap of congratulations on his back because he separated multitudes of children from their families? That’s what happens when you kill children (babies) with the older members of the family!

We live under a different and better covenant than David. The kingdom we are in is different from his (John 18:36). Our entrance into that kingdom family is different (John 3:3, 5-6). Our mission is unlike his (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16, 20a; Luke 24:46-47). Our sword and armor are completely different (Ephesians 6:11-17). We offer life in the name of Jesus (John 3:15-16; 5:40; 10:10; Acts 2:40-41)! Because of Jesus, our slate is wiped clean (Acts 3:19; Colossians 2:13; 1 John 2:12). Regardless of what a person has been guilty of, God will forgive (Romans 8:1). When one receives God’s word and is baptized, God adds that individual to the saved body of Jesus (Acts 2:41, 47). Not only is he forgiven, but his sins are never brought up again. (Acts 2:41; Hebrews 10:17). When a person is “in Christ,” there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). When an individual becomes a Christian, he takes his place with David among the faithful of the Old Testament! His name is written in the book of Life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5). Is your name written there?


Monday, September 24, 2018

Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of the telephone, but you probably didn’t realize it all came down to his attorney’s punctuality. Had he arrived at the U.S. Patent Office just two hours later, we would be talking about Elisha Gray being the man behind the squawk box, and Bell would have been just another of a long line of men who missed their chance at fame and fortune.  What if Bell’s lawyer wasn’t a punctual individual?  What if Elisha Gray was always early for his appointments?  If so, history would have to be rewritten!

Have you ever been late for an appointment?  Did you apologize for your tardiness?  Did you lose your contract with that appointee?  Perhaps I have the wrong impression, but it seems that some are always late in arriving for the Sunday assembly!  One could blame the clock once, but every week?  Usually if punctuality is not important to an individual as far as his faith is concerned, he usually has that same habit about other appointments.

Peter and John went to the Temple for prayer at the ninth hour (Acts 3:1).  What if the lame man’s family was five minutes late in carrying him to his usual spot to beg?  There would have been no miraculous healing.  Peter and John would have gone for prayer, but the reason for Peter’s sermon would not have been present.  This lack of preaching would have left the priests, captain of the Temple, and the Sadducees void of any offense.  No arrest would have taken place.  Five thousand would not have become believers (Acts 4:4).  Peter and John would not have been arrested.  Neither would they have had the opportunity to teach the ruling religious party.  There would have been no need to report to the church nor for that group to assemble and pray.  The book of Acts would be shorter due to the void left by the material from 3:2 to 4:31.

From time to time, being late may be unavoidable, but is that true for one who makes it a habit?  There are some events, regardless of habit, where one will not be late, but on time (Hebrews 9:27)!  Are you ready for that appointment?


Thursday, September 10, 2018

Most believers wish to be respectful to God. That desire is commendable. How do we show that respect? Is it done by the men wearing a suit, tie, white shirt, socks and shoes that have been shined? Do women accomplish that desire by wearing an expensive dress, just the right make-up, correctly coiffured hair, and the latest style shoes? We are told that one shows respect by entering the sanctuary (auditorium) quietly.

There is nothing wrong with men wearing a nice suit or women buying a nice dress to wear in the assembly. However, not one single apostle or prophet thought respect was built with style. I doubt if Peter’s wife turned to him and said, “You’re not wearing THAT to church, are you?” If you want to please God, it isn’t about the cost of your clothing and how impressive it is to men (James 2:2-4). What is important is the character that clothes your spirit. Paul said, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph.4:24). That is what shows respect to God. So what are you wearing prior to, during, and after the assembly is dismissed?

Is your church on Sunday morning more formal than it is on Sunday night? Is Wednesday evening more informal than Sunday night? Is Sunday School more informal than Wednesday evening? What scripture teaches this formalism? New Testament assemblies were not divided into formal and informal. Suit and ties on Sunday morning and dress shirt and slacks on Sunday night are man, not God made. So, where did formalism come from? Isn’t it man’s creation to emphasize the externals? When we go to the Bible to find what guidelines we should use to determine which assemblies are formal and which are informal, silence is our reward. Formalism alienates the disadvantaged. It attracts our social equals. It places a burden on those who worry about being accepted by man. God looks at our heart, not at the price tag on our suit. We may impress others with what we wear, but that isn’t what God is searching for.

The LORD does not look at the things which man views. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).


Monday, September 17, 2018

“On bended knee I come, with a humble heart I come;

Bowing down before Your holy throne.

Lifting holy hands to You, As I pledge my love a – new, –

I worship You in spirit, I worship you in truth;

Make my life a holy praise unto You.”


Paul told the Corinthians church, “I will sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

If we were in pre-school through the third grade, we might animate our singing by doing what the words state in the above song.  We would bend the knee or bow down, as well as raise up holy hands (1 Timothy 2:8).   But, wouldn’t that only be in a VBS or a child’s class?  Adults would sing the words but never put them into action.   When we sing this song, we are either standing or sitting.  Isn’t that an action?  Most never bend a knee nor bow down.  One or two might lift up holy hands, but that isn’t the common practice followed by most worshipers.

When we sing the “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” outlined in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, do we mean what we are singing?  Paul was admonishing the Corinthians to sing with understanding.  Do we?  We sing the words of the last two lines above, but is our singing as stated in the song — “in spirit, I worship you in truth”?  We sing one song by saying, “I love you Lord.”  Are those just words, like “on bended knee I come” or “lifting holy hands to You.”  Is our heart involved in doing what we sing?  Paul tells two congregations to make “melody in your heart to the Lord” and “singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”  What if the mechanics of singing acappella is correct, but “in our heart” is missing?

Is our worship performed out of habit or is it in giving honor to God and edifying one another?  If it is habitual, is it the kind of worship being accomplished which Jesus spoke about in John 4:23-24?  Is it personal or put on?  It might be routine but is it “in spirit and in truth”?

If, because of the wording of this song we bowed down on our knees and raise our hands, are we only crossing things off our “to do list”?  Innocent habits may turn into traditions which future generations will address as “law.”  In some songs, at certain places, we clap.  In other songs that habit has not been established.  If we do something out of habit, rather than “in our heart,” are we still “in spirit and in truth”?  Why clap on one song but not others?  These questions are not written to condemn, only to make us aware of our actions which we label as “worship.”  When we sing, “On bending knee I come,” are we practicing what we sing?  Perhaps the words are poetic and meant metaphorically?

If I am singing the words, but disconnected from their message, what happens to the “in spirit and in truth” part?  If I justify myself by saying, “Everyone does it,” does that make it right?  What if that song had been written as . . .


Standing or sitting I come, with a humble heart I come;

Bowing my head before Your holy throne.

Tapping my foot to You, As I pledge my love a – new, –

I worship You in spirit, I worship you in truth;

Make my life a holy praise unto You.”


Would that have more meaning and be in tune with my actions while singing it?

The lesson?

I will sing with the understanding” (1 Corinthians 14:15).

Only a thought.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

When I went to Russia for the first time in 1992, we visited the first McDonalds to be established in Moscow.  The square was filled with young people.  The line stretched for a block and a half.  At first, I thought they were all Americans because they wore what our youth did.  Yet, they were Russians. They looked like us, but they weren’t.  Have you noticed how often Christians do that?  We dress like the world.  We talk like the world.  We even think like the world.  When we do, we are putting Jesus on the back burner.  Why?  Because this is the “here and now,” and heaven seems so far away!  Religion becomes an emergency cell phone to only call the Divine 911.  However, until faith in Jesus becomes our daily garment, we will be nothing more than flashlights with dead batteries.  How far away is heaven for you?

That condition isn’t reserved for the young or middle aged only.  It infects the older generations too.  Sin comes in different shades.  Satan convinces us that our shade isn’t as bad as another person’s.  The thought is advanced that even though we are guilty, we can repent after self is satisfied.  Eve thought the forbidden was good, pleasant, and desirable (Genesis 3:6).  She probably thought, “Since God made everything good, why isn’t it good enough to eat” (Genesis 1:3, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31).  Since God made everything good, isn’t the next logical step, “Since everything is good, and that good is pleasant to behold, it must be God’s dessert just waiting for us to taste.”  Logic certainly would be in favor of adding, “anything that is good to eat and pleasant to behold, must have been put here by God to make us wise.”  Perhaps Adam was so silent in all this because he was dumbfounded by his beautiful wife’s logic?  In fact, don’t we continue to mimic it today?

The Old Testament speaks well of David.  He is held in high esteem by the Jews.  The New Testament places him in “Faith’s Hall of Fame” (Hebrews 11:32).  Despite his faith, the following passage is a glaring reminder that none are perfect, and all need the Lord.

For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life–except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.” (1 Kings 15:5.  Also see Romans 3:10, 23).

I cannot make myself perfect.  That is not my goal.  Jesus can make me perfect through his blood and God’s grace.  Heaven may seem far away, but the distance need not to be measured if we put our complete trust in Jesus now!

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