Are you a part of the family?


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Ruth 1:16 “And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God:”

One of the great family passages is found in the book of Ruth as quoted above. Ruth is told by Naomi to go back to her homeland of Moab. Ruth refuses; and, in fact, makes the case that she will, “whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge,” and accept the family of Naomi. She crowns the declaration of loyalty with the words; thy God shall be my God. There is a wonderful world wide family of redeemed people of “every nation, and kindred, and tongue….” (Rev. 14:6). It is the family of God! In Ephesians 3:15 we read, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named”; there is no greater bonding factor in the world than God. This unique family functions through the local church – the body of baptized believers. Within the local church there is any number of different personalities. Yet they love, care, give, and look out for each other. They function in both good times and bad. God himself is the one that makes all this possible. The life of the believer is enhanced by the brothers and sisters in the local church. My prayer for each of you is that you will assume your responsibility in the local church. There is a place for you to serve. You’ve been assigned a special place in the heart and life of at least one person. As a child of God, we should seek to do His will and be a blessing. If you have not received Christ as your Savior, you know nothing of the blessings of membership in this family. The greatest household in the world is the household of faith. Be like Ruth; make her God your God.

Acts 16:31, “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

 

Pure Heart Attitudes


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Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God!”   How can they be pure in heart unless they are saved?

The world is far from being pure in heart but revels in uncleanness and wickedness.

It is God’s will that we be pure.  I Thessalonians 4:7, “For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.”

The immoral will be judged by God.   I Thessalonians 4:6, “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.”

Hebrews 13:4, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

Lustful thoughts are sinful.  Matthew 15:19-20, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”

We are to run from immorality, I Corinthians 6:18, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”

A pure heart is attained only through the blood of Christ.  I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

 

 

Down to the Dust


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The Lord has provided hundreds of places for us to stay in our evangelistic trips for the past 27 summers, some of them were very rustic, very hot, or very cold, and some of them were luxurious.

In 2013, the Lord allowed us to stay for a week in a beautiful Victorian bed and breakfast in Campbellsburg, IN.  We were the only guests there.  The church was very gracious to us in our accommodations.  I must have taken about 250 pictures of our beautiful house.  I still have a bar of soap on my dresser that I received in that bed and breakfast.  The drawing on the soap label is much like the design of that house.  I look at it every day and remind myself that my God allowed us to stay in that beautiful place.  

I took pictures in the morning sunlight from the east and made a special trip just before sunset to photograph it in the late evening sun.  I took pictures of the front, of the sides, of the windows, and of the gingerbread.  I took pictures inside and outside.  I took many pictures of the tower and the lightning rod at the top of the conical roof of the tower.  As an astronomy and earth science teacher, I took several pictures of the moon in the sky just beside the decorative lightning rod.

I came to the conclusion that everything about that house was decorative right down to the little details.  Even the “inside” of the copper door hinges were ornately designed with a delicate flare!

I have always been impressed with God’s great concern about details.  The first week of devotions that I led for the faculty of my current school (28 years ago) was a series of Bible lessons about “dust.”  I found that God was concerned about details even down to the dust!  

On Mt. Carmel, fire fell from heaven and consumed every part of Elijah’s sacrifice and altar, even the dust.  It also licked up the water that was in the trench.

In Daniel’s story about the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, God tells us that these three men came out of the furnace alive and did not even smell of smoke!

Yes, our God is concerned about little details.  Someone took the time and expense to see to it that even the hinges in that beautiful house were a sight to behold, but our God is even more concerned about details in our lives.  

Twenty-seven years ago some folks laughed when a child called out a prayer request, “Pray for my boo-boo.”  That child held up a finger with a band aid around it.  Others thought it was a juvenile request, but the God of Daniel is concerned even about a little cut on a child’s finger.

We should find comfort in the fact that the God of the Bible pays attention to even the little details of our life and our needs.

Attached:  This is a picture of the fine detail of the “interior” of the hinges in that Victorian house.  Usually this part of the hinge is completely hidden from view, but the builder made sure it was ornate anyway.

 

O Be Careful Little Tongue


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Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Matthew 12:33-37

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are what you eat” used in a conversation?  Interesting little thought provoker.  How about, “You are what you say,” maybe not quite so often?  Matthew recorded a statement similar to that spoken by Christ, Himself, to a group of listeners, possibly made up of mostly Pharisees.  The text noted above is the record of that conversation.

Christ reminds us that it is our heart that determines what is on the outside, just like the tree – a good tree brings forth good fruit; a bad tree brings forth bad fruit.  Therefore the focus is truly on what is on the inside…the heart…not so much the outside.  Remember that!  We as man, prone to do the will of our sinful nature, often struggle with having the outside match the inside when the inside has been transformed to something good by the Holy Spirit.  It takes effort to learn control and rely upon the guiding of the Holy Spirit in all that we do.

However, Christ did not stop there.  He kept on going with another statement to ensure we understood the fullness of what He was speaking about.  He continues with the idea that words are important and need to have purpose; they must have “work” to do.  The Greek behind the term “idle” in verse 36 is literally “non-working”; giving the sense that the word is spoken just to be spoken…it has no purpose or meaning other than to be a noise.  To coincide with that non-working sense, He used just a general term for word “rhema” and then later in the same verse switches to a different word (logos) – here translated “account” – to depict the difference between the ideas.  Specifically in this instance, by context, one is just that which is spoken (rhema), the other is something that has a purpose (logos).   Note the words with purpose are given at the Day of Judgment.   

In the next verse, He continues with an explanation of the need for those purposeful words: justification or condemnation.  The term He used translated as “words” in both instances here in verse 37 is logos, giving the connection between the latter part of the preceding verse and this verse.  It is by those purposeful words that we will be judged along with the multitude of other thoughts, words, and actions.

Remember that it is the heart that is of utmost importance here, not just the tongue because we, as man, can be dual minded in that we say things contrary to that which is truly in our hearts whether good or bad.  But know this: salvation is an act of God upon the belief of the heart of a man.  Yet, we shall give “account” for what we speak at the Day of Judgment.  Let us remember that children’s song…”Oh, be careful little tongue what you say.”  It is through the state of the heart, “accounts” of the words spoken, and deeds done, that judgment will be passed.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing


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O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love;

Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning (James 1:17).

From Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson, 1758.

Who Are You?


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Who are you? People who don’t know you think you are a stranger.  People who do know you might call you a parent or a child or a sibling or a spouse or a friend or a coworker or a good citizen.  But who does God say you are?  How does He describe your relationship with Him?  If you have trusted Christ to be your Savior, you have a new identity.  According to 2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.”  What is this new creature?  There are many fascinating figures of speech used throughout God’s Word that describe who we are in relation to God once we are saved.

If these do not apply to you, you should ask Christ to save you from your sin and shame and to transform you into the creature described in the following ways:

I am a friend of Christ, a friend of God!  (John 15:14-15, James 2:23)

I am no longer God’s enemy!  (Romans 5:10)

I am a child of God!  (John 1:12, 1 Peter 1:14, Romans 8:16, 2 Cor 6:18)

I am a brother of Christ!  (Hebrews 2:11)

I am part of a chosen generation, and a peculiar people!  (1 Peter 2:9)

I am a Christian (Christ-like one)! (Acts 11:26, 1 Peter 4:16)

I am a follower of God!  (Ephesians 5:1, Luke 9:23)

I am an heir! (Galatians 4:7, 1 Peter 1:4)

I am a child of light, a reflection of God’s light!  (Eph 5:8, Mat 5:14, 2 Cor 3:18, Phi 2:15)

I am a soldier!  (2 Timothy 2:3)

I am a servant!  (Luke 17:10, 2 Cor 4:5)

I am a stranger and pilgrim and sojourner!  (1 Peter 2:11, Eph 2:19, Heb 11:13, 13:14)

I am an ambassador from another country offering reconciliation!  (2 Cor 5:18-20)

I am a preacher!  (Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:15)

I am a part of a royal priesthood!  (1 Peter 2:5,9)

I am a saint from a holy nation!  (1 Peter 2:9)

 

What a responsibility it is to wear the name Christian!  But it truly is a grand thing to be a Christian.  Let’s live as God has planned for His redeemed to live.

Falling Uphill


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Isaiah 41:10, Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

I have never been particularly clumsy—it is just that I can be walking along in a flowing, easy way, then suddenly experience an adverse reaction to gravity, ha!  At such a time, usually about once I year, I just take a tumble because I didn’t see something that appeared under my feet in time to avoid it!

What has been disconcerting is the fact that, since my chemotherapy for breast cancer eight years ago, I have a tendency to do that falling thing slightly more often, maybe three times a year now.  I have checked and found that, although doctors don’t want to correlate a lack of sensation on the bottom of my right foot with chemotherapy, there are quite a few women who have had exactly that same phenomenon after chemo.  It is not a big deal, just scary when something unexpected happens, usually because I didn’t pick my foot up high enough and caught it on something uneven on the floor or walkway.

My husband and I were out walking around our local lake on Thanksgiving weekend when I did exactly that while stepping over a crack in the asphalt.  I tripped, tried to grab my husband, missed, and ended up faceplanting and breaking my nose.  The discoloration spread for two days until I not only had a red nose, but two blackened eyes and various red splotches on my cheeks.  Quite memorable in a not-so-good way, although it taught me once again that my husband is my hero when he helped me stop the bleeding with his socks, then slowly walked me every step of the way home. (I fell at the halfway point, 1.5 miles from home.) 

And I took a very slight tumble on the sidewalk of Cracker Barrel the other day as I was so excited that I followed my best friend into the parking lot that I did not look down in time to see  the curb while exiting my vehicle.  We were coming from two ends of the state, and I could not believe it when I arrived at the stoplight right behind her.  Thankfully, when I dropped my iPad to the ground, the case protected it.  And I was away from the Cracker Barrel windows, so hopefully no one saw.  Vanity, thy name is woman.

All this to say that God has indeed promised to uphold me with the right hand of His righteousness.  Life is messy, and we are flawed creatures, with bodies that break or respond to things like chemotherapy in weird ways.  But God is faithful and will superintend His plan in our lives all life long.

We can and do face setbacks like my broken nose.  But we can trace the path of His grace even in those moments.  He will always be with us, just as He was with me and ensured my husband was there on that walk when I fell.   

God Said It!


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Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt  believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

I love to read the Word of God for many reasons. The foremost reason is for its message of redemption. There are many more reasons, but today I would like to ask you to think with me about the exactness of the Bible. We will see where God gives us exact steps to follow, and thus he assures us of exact results

In the verse quoted above, you see a perfect example of what I love. The Bible gives me strength, assurance, and a sense of “I (God) said it, that settles it”–the issue is done, settled, no questions necessary. The Bible says thou shalt be saved.

If you look with me at the major aspects of the verse, they are specific and very logical. Man has the problem so he must take the first step in becoming a part of the work already done on the cross. We must confess with our mouth that we are guilty of the sin that we are accused of by God.  This is called repentance.  We see our sin as God sees it.

Our Anchor, the one we openly confess as God is Jesus Christ. This open confession requires a relationship with him and a reliance on His ability at all times. This confession is not halfhearted or shallow. We must accept stated truth in the Bible, believe in thine heart. The word heart here among other things includes our intellect, thought process, center of spiritual life, our passions, our will, and more. This is where we get a new direction or a new way or better yet a new life. John 10:28a, And I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish.

We are given one more requirement in our verse and that is to believe that the resurrection of Christ was a victory over sin, death, and the grave. When these factors come together in a life, we have God’s promise, thou shalt be saved. For me, it is a done deal–no questions, no if’s, ands or buts. God is spoken His word; I love the simplicity.

If you’re saved today, you can rejoice with me. Dear friend, if you are not saved, I challenge you to read the Word of God and trust Christ as your Savior. If we can help you in any way call us at 757-424-4673.

 

 

Biscuits!


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One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called on one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer.  The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, “Lord, I hate buttermilk.”

The pastor opened one eye wondering where this was going.  The deacon continued, “Lord, I hate lard.”  Now the pastor was totally perplexed.  The deacon continued, “Lord I ain’t too crazy about plain flour.  But after you mix ‘em all together and bake ‘em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits.”

“Lord, help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don’t like, whenever we don’t understand what You are doing, that we need to wait and see what You are making.  After you get through mixing and baking, it’ll probably be something better than biscuits.  Amen.”

 

Borrowed from Facebook

Four Powerhouse Propositions


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If Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning Messiah’s First Advent – and He did (as Paul declared and demonstrated to the Jews in the synagogue in Thessalonica in Acts 17:1-3) – then four great truths of the Christian Religion necessarily follow:

  1. There is a Great God – for who but He can forecast the future?
  2. This Great God is Lord of History – for who but He can set such a marvelous plan into motion, carry it out across the wide centuries in the face of mounting human and Satanic opposition, and bring it all to pass in due season?
  3. This Lord of History inspired the writers of Holy Scripture – for who but He could pour such brilliance into their spirits?
  4. Jesus of Nazareth is the Promised Messiah – for who but He could even begin to answer to the amazing array of all these ancient announcements?