Quote for 1/18/2018

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

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Jesus is our best and only proof of this. Scripture tells us that He was tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Jesus was always relying on God and His Word to resist temptation. The most notable instance of this happened right after John the Baptist baptized Jesus at the Jordan. Jesus then was led to the wilderness where He first fasted and then was tempted by Satan, one on one.

First, Satan tempted Him to rely on Himself and use His power to turn stones to bread and eat. Jesus countered him with God’s Word, saying that man lives by God’s Word and not mere bread.

Seeing that Jesus relied on God’s Word, He tried to pervert God’s Word to Jesus just as he had to Eve in Eden eons before. Jesus called him out again that it is not for us to test God at His Word.

Finally, he sought to tempt Jesus with worldly riches. All it would take is to worship him. Jesus again rebuked Satan from scripture.

Rely on God. Keep His Word pure. Worship no one but Him. Sounds a bit like the verse from the 16th, doesn’t it?

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Where Do I Start?

BibleFor whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.   Romans 15:4

For most of my life the Bible has seemed to be this impenetrable book. The question I’ve often asked, and one I’m sure you have too, is “Where do I start?” There certainly are parts that are harder than others, and there are good reasons why.

HISTORY

There have been about 2000 years of it since the last book of the Bible was written. Some books of the Bible contain historical references that are not clear to us by any means. Daniel, Matthew 24, and Revelation come to mind. Sometimes it isn’t about what’s referred to as “Apocryphal Language” as much as it’s about most of us not knowing enough history to make sense of what we read.

Agents of BabylonThat’s why it’s important to find authors who have studied the history surrounding biblical times who can, first, identify what is being described and, second, explain it clearly. I recently started reading Agents of Babylon by Dr. David Jeremiah, which has opened the Book of Daniel to me as never before.

I always read carefully and critically, especially when it comes to things I find outside of the mainstream. YouTube, for example, can be a wealth of information, but you need to really have your thinking cap on and be critical.

I have three categories that I put sources into:

First – The Nut Case has no idea what he’s talking about and isn’t afraid to put his ignorance on brightly lit display.

Second – Very Credible has the education, certifications, and experience to bring good information to light. VC knows how to communicate clearly and lucidly and is easy to evaluate. You might still find sufficient grounds to dismiss him, but he’s very credible in that he’s reasonably thoughtful and well-spoken.

Third – The Amateur Savant comes across as a Nut Case, because he is not educated, has no credentials, but has been able, through natural intelligence and very hard work, to arrive at truth. So, while a Nut Case in style, he’s Very Credible in substance. I often listen to Nut Cases a bit longer than I should just because I want to make sure I’m not accidently dismissing a savant.

LINEAR THINKING

Aristotle

Aristotle

This is how we, western educated sons and daughters of Aristotle think and read. Unfortunately, not all societies throughout time share this thought pattern. Daniel is a case in point. In one sentence, he’s with a son who’s dad he’s already covered in large part. In the very next sentence, using zero transition, he’s back to the dad as if this is happening in real time.

 

You could make a comedy routine out of this sort of stream of consciousness delivery, comparing it to someone’s mother. She prattles on while you listen with increasingly murderous rage, waiting for the point to come across.

Lazy SusanI call it The Lazy Susan approach. Think of a Lazy Susan in the middle of a table that just keeps turning on its own. As it turns, you keep grabbing the next interesting thing you see and put it on your plate – or in your manuscript – until you finally get to whatever’s at the center. Instead of getting to the hub of the issue directly as a sane, linear-thinking person would, the Lazy Susan Thinker sort of spirals haphazardly in toward the ending.

FAMILIARITY

While some sections of the Bible seem as clear as smoky glass, others elude us because they are so very familiar. These are spots where we need to slow down and try to see if we’re missing anything. This is very hard to do, because, as they say, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Case in point:

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.   Genesis 3:15

Maybe it’s just me, but I realized at one point that there’s something we never discuss when we look at this verse. Even worse, I found it embarrassingly obvious when I finally saw it. Remember, God is talking to the serpent – and Satan, by extension – who tricked Eve into sinning. Who is Satan’s seed?!?

LAZINESS

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what the answer is to that last question. You want me to tell you instead of hitting the Bible yourself, reading it cover to cover, and finding answers for that question and a whole slew of others that will come up from carefully reading God’s Word.

I am currently working on my own Biblical timeline. I’m using an Excel spreadsheet to record data that I find from the Bible to tell me when things happened. Since B.C./A.D. dating wasn’t used in any Biblical period, I’ve invented my own dating method that I call Creation Plus, or C.P. I will eventually add a B.C./A.D. timeline once I’m confident I’ve reached a point where that can be done to my own satisfaction.

See below that Noah died at age 950, in the year 2006 C.P., 350 years after the Flood. It was only 39 years after Noah’s death that God appeared to Abram and Sarai in 2045 C.P.:

Creation PlusThe Bible also uses weights and measures unfamiliar to us, so I made another spreadsheet for conversions. In Googling “Cubit” I learned that there is a long cubit and a short one. The long cubit was used in king David’s time. Long after that the standard cubit used was shorter. So, for example, Goliath is described as being six cubits and a span tall. His coat of mail and spearhead are also described. Here’s a screen shot of those calculations:

Goliaths MeasuresSo start reading the Bible. Genesis 1. In the beginning, if you will. If you come across something you don’t understand like weights and measures, Google them. When it comes to the meaning of Biblical events or theology, find yourself a really good Christian author. And be warned; there are MANY so-called Christians out there deceiving many away from God’s Truth. Joel Osteen comes to mind.

OK.  I know you’re thinking about it. I won’t tell you who Satan’s seed is, but here are a couple Bible references that contain the answer. Also included; some writing I’ve done on it.

Enoch-Sakach-Ph-D-9780934917056Genesis 6

Numbers 13

And the first in my series on the Book of Enoch; Connecting the Dots; The Book of Enoch, Part 1

Happy reading!!

Quote for 1/17/2018

Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.   Philippians 2:14-16 NKJV

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This is a hard one for me to comment on simply because I don’t believe in being a target. I’ve learned that barking back at a bully can actually improve things. It isn’t my first choice, but I show a flash of aggression and then go back to being me.

Paul didn’t have to go to Rome, speaking legally. Once it was learned that he was a Roman citizen, the authorities told him they were sorry for the misunderstanding and were willing to let it all go. Paul got his back up, and he essentially told them he wanted his day in court. It went something like, “You think you can accuse me and degrade me publicly and that an apology behind closed doors is good enough? I’m thinking not!”

When Jesus told Ananias to minister to Saul and Ananias tried to remind Him that Saul is no Christian’s friend, Jesus replied that “…I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”

So maybe Paul was acting on orders. Other than that he was a pretty docile guy after his conversion. He certainly practiced what he preached in this section from his letter to the Philippians.

Quote for 1/16/2018

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.   Galatians 5:16 NKJV

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This is spiritually keeping your eye on the ball. Golfers should NEVER think about the hazards. If they do, that’s exactly where the ball will go. It’s the same thing spiritually. Stay plugged in to God by staying in touch at all times, as Paul encouraged the church in Thessalonica:

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.   1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

He’s not talking about constantly folding your hands with your eyes closed. Just talk to God as you go through your day. He’s right there next to you. Talk to Him. Ask Him for help. Thank Him for making the light as you drive. Pray for whoever is in the ambulance that went by you with its siren and lights on.

Everything you do all day long should be done walking in the Spirit, always plugged in to His power and grace.

Quote for 1/15/2018

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:31-32 NKJV

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It’s the difference between being lost and knowing where you are. With GPS devices and phone apps I don’t know that we are as familiar with this lost feeling as we were 20-30 years ago. Do you know the truth of where you are and which way your destination lies?

Why do we fill our lives with things and selfies and countless other “me too” efforts? Could it be a search for truth, an effort to discover just where we are in the universe? Could it be a search for which direction we need to take?

We all need a GPS, a God Positioning System. The Bible. Jesus’ Word. How often do we open it to check our position in this world? How often do we take its directions?

Read your bible. You don’t know where to start? Try opening it like any other book and start at the beginning. Discover the truth of God’s love for you and set your course in His direction.

“…and the Truth shall make you free.”

Quote for 1/14/2018

[ Obedience by Faith ] If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.   1 John 4:20-21 NKJV

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I won’t lie to you; this one is hard. Not everyone s loveable by human standards. Some people are a real challenge to just tolerate.

But we are ALL loveable by God’s standards. That’s just something we need to take on faith. And act on.

Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh, My!!

Lion and Lamb“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them.”   Isaiah 11:6

I once saw a show on cable about odd animal pairings; members of different species that formed a bond. For example, an antelope and giraffe formed a strong bond. It also include pairings between people and animals.

One old cowboy was friends with a ferocious buffalo. That thing would charge the fence when others came near. He damn near lifted the whole fence up and out of the way, almost freeing himself. But when the ol’ boy entered the corral, the buffalo became gentle as could be. This 1 ton behemoth was even allowed in the house where he sauntered around, slow and easy. Didn’t so much as knock a tea cup off a table.

Hyena ManAnother guy – and this yahoo was COMPLETELY nuts in my book – got himself in with a pack of wild hyenas. HYENAS!! The host of the show had to stay in a cage so the hyenas couldn’t get to her while he frolicked and played dominance games with this pack of carnivores. By the way, seeing them next to a person, this was the first time I realized just how big those ugly suckers are! He’s even gotten severely bitten and hospitalized when they got a little too zealous in trying to take some dominance from him. It’s taken him many years to become part of the pack, but they consider him a dominant member of the pack now.

Hyena

Laughter – The best medicine?

After getting over my amazement at what I was seeing, a question came to me. Is sin instinctual? Is sin part of human and animal instinct? Is it when we overcome our instincts to maul and eat each other that we start getting a glimpse of what the new Earth will be like, as Isaiah wrote above? People won’t maul and eat each other. Animals won’t maul and eat other animals, let alone people. Is love and patience, such as the hyena man showed, a glimpse of the real natural order God intended? The hyenas were buddy/buddy with him as long as he could keep that love and patience in front of them. But when instincts come back to the fore…

 

Let’s continue the parallel. In each case, someone put a lot of work into being loving instead of tasty. In particular, this effort was not only fraught with danger, but real injuries for the hyena guy. But he “forgave” in a sense and overcame the pack. He overcame instinct with love.

Passion of ChristIsn’t that what Jesus did? Isn’t that what he’s asking us to do? Just like I saw hyena-man as seriously deranged for his efforts, might we not see people the same way for wanting to overcome a person who is more animal than human with love? And get pretty well roughed up in the process?

Allow me a confession here. I sometime witness people who I can’t help seeing as just animals in human form. They are just so far gone from civilized behavior, it’s hard to see them as people, let alone people with souls.

Should you make the same confession?

Isaiah paints a much better picture of eternal life than we give him credit for. Maybe God uses these sorts of people – and I have no idea if they’re Christian – to show us graphically what Isaiah wrote about? Maybe this show is not just educational or entertaining. Maybe it’s another way God uses the world to get our attention. If we just decide to listen.

I look forward to that day when the instinct is to hug and love, not eat and burp.

Quote for 1/13/2018

…that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:19-20 NKJV

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God wants us.  Intensely.  He is our Creator, but He still asks for our permission to have a relationship with us!

God sacrifices His Son, Jesus to reconcile us to Him after choosing against Him, and giving us a mulligan, a do-over.

Then He asks us to be His partners in spreading that Good News.  You know how this works; singing your own praises doesn’t necessarily impress someone else nearly as much as a friend singing them for you.

God asks us to be His ambassadors, telling others…no, SHOWING others what a profound effect God has on our lives.  He asks us to make His plea to others for Him, because He knows how effective that is.

Please.  Be reconciled to Him.  Join Him in His love and providence, and show everyone you know how full of hope and life they can be too!

Quote for 1/12/2018

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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.   Galatians 3:26-28 NKJV

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This verse of the day from BibleGateway.com tells us that, through Jesus atoning sacrifice and our faithful acceptance of His Grace, we are on a par with Christ; we are all one in Him.

Paul continues this theme in chapter 4 his letter to the church in Galatia:

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

The Son of God earned both His salvation and ours by perfectly fulfilling the Law.

For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.   Hebrews 4:15

Jesus could have failed, having been tempted as we are, but He didn’t! He earned us our adoption papers into His family, adoption by His – and now our – heavenly Father!

And we are now all one with them, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

Happy Friday!

Quote for 1/11/2017

I called on the Lord in distress; The Lord answered me and set me in a broad place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?    Psalm 118:5-6 NKJV

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I keep several Bible verses at the bottom of my prayer list, several of which make nice corollaries to this:

Be strong & of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.    Joshua 1:9

Wait on the Lord.  Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord!    Psalm 27:14

These are my two favorites, although I have several more.  Oh!  And let’s never forget to say “Thank You!”

Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.        Psalm 50:15