Category Archives: God

Hope

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.

Psalm 130:7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
Observation
God redeems us from our sin and its consequences out of an expression of His love which is sacrificial and selfless. That is our hope when all else fails, it is our hope before self reliance, it is our hope in the beginning and in the end.
Application in my life
I read where the United Nations commission on global warming says that human life will be affected by rising surface temperatures, water will not be available to sub saharan areas of Africa and similar lands, millions of square miles of habitats along the coastline will be under water, and crops will not grow in areas where they currently do. People will migrate in order to survive and less food will be available to feed the growing planet’s population. I did not feel very good about our future reading this. The experts predicted violence and unrest by groups of people in reaction to the climate changes.

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Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is an example of the increased harm climate change has already brought into the environment today, which is more violent and deadly weather than ever before. When I think about the bleak picture that this presents, verses such as Psalm 130:7 help to provide a calm that comes with the realization that although I may not be able to place much hope and confidence in governments or corporations or other people, I do have a God with whom my hope belongs. While I believe †he increase in greenhouse gases do to human consumption is partly the result of sinful behavior and unwise choices, I also believe we all have a responsibility to do what we can to fix it.
My prayer
Lord help use providence to deal with the consequences of global warming, provide us shelter and safety from the storms ahead, let us act wisely to minimize the harm that the destructive production of greenhouse gasses has brought upon us. Allow us to see Your vision for a lifestyle that is a blessing and not a curse, Amen

Balanced Living

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say,” If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
Observation
James admonishes against the sin of worldliness and is speaking specifically to a certain kind of behavior that people fall into, or find themselves participating in or misguidedly see as the right way to act. It becomes part of the culture and as such dominates the thinking and the lives of many who live within it, including Christians
Application in my life
So our american culture has many Christian aspects to it as it has matured over the years. Christianity has always played a part, however, many people have distorted both the culture and the religion. What I get from this discussion is the idea expressed as Balanced Living. For example, planning and goal setting are good things to do in the proper situation. But what this verse reminds me of is where God fits into all that planning and goal setting. I want to strike the right balance in my life so that I do not plan God out of it. I used to work so much that I did not have time for church. How did that plan work for me?
I like to remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr who was leading a great cultural movement and died before the movement reached the point of changing American institutions. So he understood the concept of “If the Lord wills, we will live to do this or that.” And  he understood that he was a mist that appeared for a little time and then vanished. But the work can continue on with others who follow the same paths. For me it is summed up in the statement ‘redeem the time’.
My prayer
Lord if You will, let me redeem the time that I have to do the things that You direct me, that You place on my heart and are providing the spiritual force to accomplish. Let me lead a balanced life that places You at the center, and my family around the center, Amen

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Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

Wisdom

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the most holy place had not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle was still standing. Hebrews 9:11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation.
Observation
In the letter the author is explaining the transformation taking place between the old covenant that began with Abraham and the new covenant that exists with the ministry of Jesus Christ. He mentions that people did not know the way into the most holy place during the old covenant. Christ provides this new knowledge through His position as the new high priest
Application to my life 
As a professor I am often reminded that I am most effective when I find ways to help others learn new things. The more new things I am able to learn, the more effective I can be teaching others. Similarly, God continuously reminds us that wisdom is the key to understanding, and the knowledge we gain is a blessing. The knowledge provided by the coming of Christ was good news in one particular way: that it meant the establishment of a new covenant and by that a new way of salvation became available for all who would choose to accept it. This is what God wants Christians to share; to teach, to anyone willing to believe it. There are so many people today – all around the world – who do not have this knowledge and who would choose to accept it, if only someone would teach it to them.
My Prayer
I pray that I may do my part to help others learn about the new covenant and the good news of Christ. I pray that I continue to learn by prayer, and by reading the Bible, so that I can better share these truths and so that I can help others grow while I grow and increase in knowledge about being a disciple. Lord strengthen me in these areas, Amen.

 

Faith

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Matthew 16:18
Upon this rock I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it
Observation
Faith is a foundation of Christianity.  An aspect of that faith is the belief that God has given Jesus as the savior of mankind.  Faith in that truth is the basis of being a Christian
Application in my life 
Jesus tells me that this concept is the victory in the spiritual battle between good and evil.  In the next verse Jesus refers to the keys of the kingdom.  For me I understand these keys to be repentance, prayer, praise, service, and discipleship.  Evidence of my repentance includes removal of sinful thoughts and sinful actions and also by my focusing on Godly thoughts and sacrificial behavior (doing things more for the benefit of others than myself).  Prayer is a daily communication where I open myself up to God and allow myself to hear from Him.  Praise is audible exhortation to God when I am alone or with other believers. The purpose is to please Him as a form of worship.  Service is something I do for other believers as exemplified in Paul’s teachings. Giving to and working for people in the world, both believers and non believers, are acts of service.  Discipleship includes witnessing – sharing my life and my beliefs with others, bible study, having accountability relationships where I help others mature as Christians and others help me, fellowship – spending time together, and counseling.
My prayer
Dear God, thank you for providing victorious kingdom living and the abundant life.  Let my gratitude be expressed in genuine repentance, true service to your children, and submission to your will during my daily walk.

Love

Personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
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John 13:35
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples if ye have love one to another.
Observation
Disciples of Christ are to be identified by the love they demonstrate towards each other.
Application to my life
In my life the best testimony that I will have to anyone else will be the expressions of love between myself and others whom are fellow believers and have the desire to follow Christ’s teachings.  
How are these interactions able to be seen?  
What form do they take?  
Perhaps an example is by helping them out in an area of need.  Or it happens by spending time with them.  Doing things for them.  Establishing a close relationship with them and caring about the things they care about.  But should I cause them hurt or offend them somehow, I need to quickly recognize my fault and express my sorrow and ask for forgiveness.  I also would be quick to forgive them should I be hurt by something said or done to me.
The love that this depicts is a sacrificial love.  This love is not a selfish emotion.  It chooses to place others equal to or above our own interests.  This is something that isn’t human nature.  We are selfish by nauture. That makes this something that is most challenging.  Is that why Jesus gave this command?  Jesus was giving a command that could only be accomplished with the power of God.  By being obedient to God we as fellow believers can express this kind of love.
my prayer
Lord let me obey your command every way possible, Amen.
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Harsh Realities

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Matthew 13:41-42
The Son of Man shall send forth His angels; and they shall gather forth out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them that which do iniquity;
42 and shall cast them in a furnace of fire:  there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Observation
The consequence of sin, the consequence of rejecting God, is described in this passage.
Application
God sends us a clear message.  Jesus speaks clearly of how God regards mankind and what is in store for everyone.  Those that do not accept God will not recognize His authority and will choose to deny the reality that He is just, and that He has a plan to deal with every person individually.
As I work out my relationship with God, I can appreciate why saving grace is a foundation of my faith in God and a source for submitting my will to be under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Just as God’s declarations are clear, my life choices must also be clear.  I choose to practice discipleship and to live a renewed existence that is focused on removing sinful behaviors from my daily life, and replace them with wise behaviors.  My goal is to allow God to be in control of how I go about my daily life.
Prayer
Lord forgive me for the sin which I have thought about or acted out.  I desire to let You guide my thoughts, let You direct my actions.  I desire to let You be the source of my joy.  Show me how and when to express Your love to others, Amen
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The Syrian civil war has displaced thousands of Christians and Muslims, many who have fled to Lebanon. Open Doors
A pastor was quoted in the Gospel Herald saying that more people were becoming Christians after experiencing war in Syria.

My Journey

Personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Matthew 11:5 “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
Matthew 11:19 “The Son of Man came eating and drinking , and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a wine bibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'”
Observation
Jesus performed miracles which helped people to recognize Him as Lord and Savior.  Many people rejected Jesus and refused to believe in Him.
Application to my life
As a Christian believer I understand that much of the world will reject Jesus as Lord and Savior.  Much of the world will reject the idea that being a follower of Jesus is the only way to know and have a right relationship with their Creator: God the Father.  The only way for people to be reconciled to God for all eternity and not lost forever is by submitting to Jesus and the Word of God which Jesus speaks of in the Bible.
I believe this happens today because that is what happened between Jesus and many people when he preached on earth.  Jesus understood that it would happen also.  Yet He still lived as an example to others and told them the truth about who God is and what people needed to do to be reconciled with Him.
For my personal role I desire to pray, my personal connection to use to communicate with Jesus.  Whenever I do this I can learn what His will is for me.  By having this regular practice I can closely follow His will.  What is His specific will?  That in every possible way for me to do it, I am to set an example for others, both believers and non believers, of how God wants me to live.  And I am to tell the truth about Jesus to anyone who listens, regardless of whether or not they accept it.
My prayer
Lord, and Heavenly Father, I thank you for your saving grace, I submit myself to your wisdom and place myself where I can follow the direction of the Holy Spirit in the decisions that I make and the practices that I do as I live and cultivate relationships with other believers and people whom I would share the good news with, Amen.

A film that makes you comfortably consider uncomfortable realities: First Reformed

First Reformed is written and directed by Paul Schrader. It stars Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried and Cedric Kyles.

This film has religious themes. Yet at its core it is a film about the human condition. Ethan Hawke portrays minister Reverend Toller who presides over a handful of attendees in an historic church building. He is employed by mega church Pastor Jeffers, played by Cedric Kyles. One of his churchgoers, Mary, a pregnant Amanda Seyfried, seeks Toller’s help with her husband whom she is desperate to keep from being sent back to prison.

The approach to the story is brutal, stark, and emotionally jarring, sensitive viewers should be cautioned about the content as some could find it too disturbing.

The style of the film is the main character. It brought to mind Unforgiven, Clint Eastwood’s 1992 masterpiece about an aging gunslinger William Munny, in Wyoming circa 1881. The mood and the tone are clearly set as we are introduced to the fragile psychological state of Reverend Toller. His conflict is one that would challenge anyone. He has suffered loss, and in the process, betrayed his personal beliefs, with both physical and emotional consequences. Schrader manages to fill the screenplay with such a large quantity of ideas, you no doubt will miss some, but those that resonate with you will cause you pause.

The grace of this story is that from within it we can draw a relationship with scores of people who face similar issues during their lifetime. You see First Reformed, and you can consider the personal choices you have been making, even if your life looks nothing like any of those on the screen. Beyond that, it provides a polemic on the societies we live in and the world in general, by questioning who is responsible for the ills that surround us. Is it God? Is it mankind? Do our actions define what we believe? Do we have the free will to destroy the planet? If so what does that say about God?

The film will demand that you pay attention, and consider each and every nuanced aspect of the content and how it relates to other aspects of what takes place, in order to appreciate the messages. It becomes clear that this film is in some ways simple on its face, but at the same time complex beyond expectation. You could say that this is a story about religion that doesn’t preach. Or a tragic Shakespearean (sic) rendering of An Inconvenient Truth. What you cannot say is that it doesn’t deliver a powerful punch, a thoughtful story, and a contemplation of our spiritual condition.

10 Rules for Writing from Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.

‘looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…’ Hebrews 12:2

Here are some tips that you can choose to apply to your writing. Decide for yourself.

Write so that your product will provide consumers with joy. 
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Write what is in your heart. Don’t write what you think people will like or to please other people. Follow your heart when you write and be true to who you are and what you want to say. 
Luke 6:45 A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.

Believe in your vision for what you want to write. 
The Apostle John was directed in writing the book of Revelation to “Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this.” Revelation 1:19

Learn the art of writing. Practice the discipline of writing. 
Proverbs 23:12 Apply yourself to discipline and listen to words of knowledge.

To communicate a message understand what you are saying. Be sincere, have a clear conscience, and seek to find the purist form in your words. Avoid abstract, vague, confusing language. The Apostle Paul uses this advice when sharing with Timothy how he should stay true to the message they are supposed to be teaching. 
1 Timothy 1:5-7 Now the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. 6 Some have deviated from these and turned aside to fruitless discussion. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, although they don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on.

Think of your writing as a sacrificial gift to others, and expect to be paid what it is worth. 
Acts 20:35 includes part of the Apostle Paul’s direction to the church elders in Ephesus. In it he states “In every way I’ve shown you that by laboring like this, it is necessary to help the weak and to keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, for He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”. 
Likewise when Paul wrote to the churches in Galatia he advised them similarly “For each person will have to carry his own load. 6 The one who is taught the message must share all his good things with the teacher. 7 Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap,” Galatians 6:5-7a.

Apply careful investigation to what you write.
The Gospel attributed to Luke begins with this explanation: “Many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us. 3 It also seemed good to me, since I have carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in an orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed.” Luke 1:1-4

Have a clear and specific purpose for everything you write.
Joshua 18:4 Provide for yourselves three men from each tribe that I may send them, and that they may arise and walk through the land and write a description of it according to their inheritance; then they shall return to me.

Write when you find yourself most challenged. Write when it seems like it’s the last thing you should do. When in doubt, write. No matter what excuse you have not to write, write anyway.
Here in John 8:6 is an example of what Jesus did: “They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.”

Write for a higher standard. 1 Corinthians 4:3-5 “It is of little importance to me that I should be evaluated by you or by any human court. In fact, I don’t even evaluate myself. 4 For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. The One who evaluates me is the Lord.”

Conversion Controversy: Why Dr. James Dobson’s Surrogacy for Trump is Troubling | RedState

 

A Sunday Morning Sermon For You

 I’ve been getting pounded lately from Branch Trumpidians – the “Christian” sect – about Trump’s great relationship with God. He drinks the little bit of wine, eats the little cracker, etc… It’s no secret, and in fact, it is with a great deal of disappointment that many of us watched as the so-called evangelicals turned out in droves to | Read More »

Source: Conversion Controversy: Why Dr. James Dobson’s Surrogacy for Trump is Troubling | RedState