Thursday, June 19, 2008

Watch out for traps

Psalms 142:3 When I grow weak, you know what I'm going through. In the path where I walk, people have hidden a trap to catch me.

Matthew 6:13 Keep us from falling into sin when we are tempted. Save us from the evil one.

Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray. Then you won't fall into sin when you are tempted. The spirit is willing. But the body is weak."

1 Peter 5:8 Control yourselves. Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow.

1 Corinthians 10:13 You are tempted in the same way all other human beings are. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take. But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Isn't God great!!! And, I'm so glad that God loves me in spite of my sinful nature. But to be more clear, God loves me, but hates my sin. God also knows just how hard it is for me to walk with him - and be perfect. In fact, he knows that I'm not perfect, but loves me in spite of myself. That was the reason He sent His son - Jesus. Jesus was the only way that made it possible for me to even be able to stand in front of Him. Through Jesus, God looks at me, and sees Jesus' blood and He recognizes who I am.

Again, God knows how difficult my Christian walk is, because He saw what it was that His son Jesus went through. After Jesus was baptized, He was lead by the Spirit to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Can you imagine, being face to face with Satan? Who could stand up against that? Also, Jesus was constantly followed around by the Pharisees, who were intent on trapping him, who constantly tried to snare Him in His words. Jesus prevailed, and I can too with His help.

I must use the resources that are available to me in Christ in order to prevail. I am not saying that I never fall or stumble. I do. I am a sinner. But I must remain focused and press on toward my goal of walking with Him.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will always watch over me. You know that I am unworthy of your gift, and that on my own, I am nothing. Thank you for loving me and caring for me. I pray that you will remind me each time I am weak, of the life you lived, and of the terrible punishment that you went through on my behalf. Help me to feel guilty when I sin and to be sorry. Forgive me when I sin. Help me to get back up and continue my walk with you. I also pray for my friends, that they too might be made strong when we are apart. Help us to strive to be together and be united in You. Help me to love my brothers, and care for them the same way you cared for me. I love you. I make this prayer and petition through your most holy and righteous son - Jesus. Amen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Great Copy-cat

The Mockingbird is the most widely-known songbird in America. It is the state bird of Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas. It is best known for its singing abilities. Not only can it perform songs from 39 other species of birds, but it also can mimic sounds such as that of a barking dog, squeaky hinges, notes from a piano and even a cackling hen, so expertly that even an electronic analysis could not tell the difference between the mockingbird and the original. These birds have extraordinarily diverse repertoires acquired through imitating the calls, songs and parts of songs of other birds, other animals such as dogs and cats, humans, mechanical sounds, and even the sounds of other mockingbirds. Males typically sing more than females and un-mated males usually sing more than mated males. Un-mated male Mockingbirds can often be heard singing all night long if they are roosting next to street lights.
I'd like to read one verse that would be the focus of this study. It is:

1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

I understand that I should not pick out one single verse to make a point. So, I must first give a little background. The apostle Paul is warning the Corinthians that they too should imitate him. In fact, apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27 "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." And in the following chapter, Paul further explains that they have many distractions that they must avoid. He talks about how God was displease with His people whom he led out of Egypt. How that they soon forgot about how God destroyed Pharaoh's army, and led them through the Red Sea. They soon began to please themselves by becoming lustful and desired sinful things. How that they also created idols to serve like the Egyptians did. How that they also grumbled against God and tempted Him and sinned. Paul warns them in verse 6 of chapter 10 that "these things became our examples," and again in verse 11 "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition," It is once again here, that I'm reminded of my friendly Mockingbirds. They are able to observe others, to listen to others and duplicate. They can learn from others. Like us, we can learn from others. We can learn by other's examples and be admonished or provoked to do better than they did. We can learn from other peoples mistakes. It is a very large reason why we have the Bible as we know it today. God, in his supreme wisdom allowed us to know how he dealt with others - in both good and bad circumstances. God speaks to us today through His word - through His Spirit. And we can copy or duplicate that same spirit - or not.
I am amazed at every thing God has given to us. For us to be able to learn such simple little truths as that of the Mockingbird can teach us is truly inspiring. Please take the time to look around and observe His creation. Allow Him to teach you through His world. Most of all, as apostle Paul said it best, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1

Am I Listening to what God is Saying in His Word?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Stay Focused

Psalms 5:8 Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; Make Your way straight before my face.

Proverbs 4:25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,

Ecclesiastes 1:15 What is crooked cannot be made straight,

Isaiah 45:2 I will go before you And make the crooked places straight;

Luke 3:4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.

Luke 3:5 Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth;

Luke 9:57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, "Lord, I will follow You wherever You go." 58 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." 59 Then He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God." 61 And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house." 62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."

Okay, which way would you rather walk home, at night, in a rain storm, with lightning, on Halloween, with wild dogs running around? Okay scratch that last one - it can't ever be that bad could it? Point is, when the conditions are bad enough, and we're in a hurry, we'd prefer going the easy way, the clear way, the straight way, the way that has been cleared of all obstacles and nothing is in our way to hinder us or slow us down. Right? If we just had to make it home quickly, we would prefer not to be tripped up by anything.

Think of it this way. Have you ever lived in a part of town where you had to drive daily through a torn up street under construction? A few years ago, the city was widening the main street into our subdivision. This lasted for a few years too. First, one side was torn up, then the other. Part of the road was gravel, or dirt, the other part was partially paved. This was very inconvenient, dirty, bumpy and even confusing at times. Our travel was even hampered or restricted and we were caused to slow down through this part. Our way was "crooked" if you will. Then, one day, the day we had waited for for a few years, the road was finally finished. Ahhhhhh....... a nice smooth road to drive upon. I mean smooth, quiet, straight, fast and finished. It was perfect. No longer were we slowed down. We could come and go with ease, and make real good time.

The same thing is true in our spiritual lives. Without Christ, our way is hopelessly crooked. We can't even see the light at the end of the tunnel because of the turns in our way. We can't even focus on a goal, and reach our destination on our own. We have got to have additional help. We must have a Saviour. Someone to go before us, and give us focus. Someone who we can rely on to clear our way and make our way straight.

The last time I studied this passage was a year ago in bible class with a few friends. The point was made that if we have a goal, and we can focus on our goal - that mark way out in the distance, then as we're plowing, or driving, or walking, we can focus on that goal, and go straight toward it. Take a look again at the picture above. Nice and straight huh? How would you like to walk through that nice straight field on your way home from school like I did a few times when I was a kid. Man, that would be a piece of cake. So simple. Nothing in the way. If we can focus on the mark, don't turn around. Jesus implied that when you do, (he was talking to people who were very familiar with subsistence farming practices) when you do turn around and look behind you, you screw up. (remember Lot's wife) By the time you turn back around and look forward again, your row is now crooked - not straight. Whenever we turn around and look behind, we are worried and concerned with this life's problems. Jesus wants us to continue looking forward, to Him for our guidance. Keep God first in our lives, and focus on Him.

Am I listening to What God is Saying in His Word?

Monday, June 9, 2008

God: Creator, Artist, Provider, Father

Psalms 8:1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Matthew 6:28 Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

Luke 11:11 "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Luke 11:9 "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

I fail in so many ways. I am reminded again and again that when I am proud of myself, or in myself, I will soon be humbled. I am imperfect. Please do not rely on me to keep my promises. I promise myself things, only to be disappointed. My intentions are on what's best, but I fail and fall flat on my face. My point? I am human. I am selfish. I often times love myself more than I do others. My other point? I have a God that is perfect. He humbles the proud, and lifts up the humble. He says what He means, and keeps His promises. He is God, He is awesome, He is loving, He is good, He is all knowing, He is forever. He is righteous, holy, perfect, kind, long suffering.. .. . this could go on and on.

God is definitely a glorious God. As I was driving to work early the other morning, I witnessed a beautiful sunrise over the river. Awesome. God reminds us that He is still here. There is so much in my life that I don't do well. But I try very hard to give God the glory for His beautiful creation. When I think of all the wonderful, beautiful things that I've seen in my life, I recognize that God created that for me. I take it as a reminder that God is my creator, and if he spent the time to create a beautiful flower, or butterfly for my enjoyment, how much more enjoyment does He get out of watching me? When I watch nature, and understand that God has set his creation in motion, as I witness the butterfly going from flower to flower, I understand that His creation praises Him. After God created His creation, he stepped back and said, "It is good". But, the things of this life, we must realize are temporary. They are not lasting. In their season, they will fail. He created us in the same way. But I try and remember, that if He took the time to make something so beautiful for me to enjoy, how much more will he also take care of me. Thank you dear God, dear Father for your blessing of this life. Thank you for the blessing that I don't even realize you've blessed us with. More than that, although in my human-ness it's easier for me to thank you for these physical blessings, thank you also for your spiritual blessings that are found in your Son. Thank you for your way in which you made available for all to come to you.

Am I listening to what God is saying in His word?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jesus Was ...

Jesus' life was a whirl-wind of events. Not much at all is spoken about the first thirty years of his life. But the next three years were well documented extensively as found in the four gospels. But, even still, there remains an extremely large amount of events that are not even talked about. These are some of the areas that we claim to have to "wait and ask him some day". Truly there will be much to talk about there, in heaven with him. And all the time in the world to do it too. As I was thinking of what I could write about next for self encouragement, I stumbled across another word study. (what's new) Since Jesus was and is our perfect example, I started thinking about what it is that Jesus Was doing? We often remind ourselves about What Would Jesus Do in certain situations, but think about What Was Jesus Doing? So again, I typed in the search phrase "Jesus was" and ran it through several different translations and came up with a good list. The list is pretty short, simple, and to the point. But again, the list is hardly complete, as it's already been said:

John 21:25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

John 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

So now, the partial list. Jesus was:

  • with God
  • born of the virgin Mary
  • conceived by the Spirit of God
  • perfect
  • sinless
  • baptized
  • led by the Spirit
  • tempted by Satan
  • walking
  • hot, tired, & thirsty
  • teaching
  • impressed by faithful people
  • saddened by faithless people
  • sleeping
  • eating
  • speaking
  • followed by crowds
  • hated by the people
  • loved by children
  • passing by
  • compassionate
  • healing
  • praying
  • transfigured
  • sitting
  • reclining
  • troubled
  • alone
  • rejected
  • falsely accused
  • silent
  • spit upon
  • mocked
  • beaten
  • bruised
  • whipped
  • tortured
  • condemned
  • crucified
  • crying
  • buried
  • risen
  • taken up
  • glorified
  • magnified

Am I listening to what God is saying in His word?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

In Christ Jesus

Here's another study for me. If I click the link below, I will see a new window showing a number of verses with that specific phrase, "In Christ Jesus".

What I've done here is to combine several of the attributes found in those scriptures of being In Christ and put them together here in one paragraph. It is very comforting.

In Christ Jesus, I am justified by His grace and redeemed. I am made alive to God and dead to sin. I am the recipient of the gift of eternal life. I am uncondemmend and will walk according to the Spirit. I am made free from the law of sin and death, and alive to the law of the spirit of life. I am unseparated from the love of God and sanctified and called to be a saint. I am made righteous and free. I am the recipient of the promise of the spirit, and am justified by faith. I am made a son of God through faith. I am equal to each other and no better or worse than each other. I am justified by faith working through love. I am made a new creation, a faithful saint, and made alive with Christ. I am raised with Christ and sit together with Christ in heavenly places. I am the recipient of God's kindness, and am created for good works. I am brought near by the blood of Christ, so that I am made bold, and with confidence have access through faith. I am made perfect and strong in the grace, that I may also obtain salvation. I will suffer persecution.

You can see the advantages of being found in Christ. So if I study further, I will see how it is that I too can be found in Christ.

Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Am I listening to what God is saying in His word?