Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Two Rainbows



We see rainbows everywhere in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling. Is it a deliberate shaking of the fist in God's face or was the rainbow chosen ignorantly?  

 

You see the symbol they chose is connected to God's judgment. It was the symbol that God chose to make a covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy all of mankind except for Noah's family. Why did He destroy the earth? Because mankind had become so utterly wicked, flagrantly defying the laws of God and worshipping other things and gods instead of God Himself. So He destroyed everyone except for those in the ark.

 

The rainbow is a symbol of God's grace and mercy in that He promised to never destroy the earth again by flood in response to man's wickedness. But now we see His covenant symbol being used to flagrantly snub people's noses at God.

 

God will judge us. His promise was that He wouldn't do it by flood. God can and will judge the earth by other means. 2 Peter says in the last days the earth will be melted with a fervent heat. God may choose to judge our nation before the end times. We see it in smaller ways already....natural disasters, erosion of freedoms, invasion of enemies such as ISIS all point to coming judgement for our unfaithfulness to God and His Word.

 

Back to the rainbow. How will you embrace it? Will you embrace it as a symbol of in your face rebellion against God or will you embrace it as a symbol of God's judgment and mercy and turn from your sin? The choice is yours.


Scripture related to this:


And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:21-22 KJV)


And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. (Genesis 9:12-17 KJV)


Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (2 Peter 3:3-12 KJV)




Friday, June 19, 2015

Real Encouragement~Let Others See Christ In Me

1 Corinthians 2
Real encouragement is more about sightedness than it is about explanation. When I talk about sightedness, I am not talking about physical eyes, but the eyes of the heart. God has given us the capacity to “see” unseen spiritual realities that are as real and vital as any physical thing we can see or touch. Spiritual sightedness is a precious gift. 

We get overwhelmed and discouraged in relationships not because we don’t understand what is going on, but because we don’t see Christ. We see the husband who barely communicates. We see the friend who has been disloyal. We see the child who rebels. We see the boss who is unrelentingly critical. We see the wife who is bitter and angry. We see the small group frozen in casual relationships. We see neighbors more concerned about boundaries than community. Our relationship problems can loom so large that they obstruct our view of the one thing that can give us the hope and courage to go on—Christ. 

Encouragement is about giving struggling people the eyes to see an unseen Christ. He is the only hope when the call of relationship has taken me way beyond my own wisdom, strength, and character. As we live with each other in the middle of the already and the not yet, we need eyes to see this one amazing reality: we are Christ’s and he is ours.
~Timothy S. Lane and Paul David Tripp

Thursday, June 18, 2015

...All Scripture is fulfilled in the gospel

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7 NASB)

...All Scripture is fulfilled in the gospel, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything points to this event...

...You can’t doubt that God loves at the cross. And, as God himself argues, if he demonstrated sacrificial love then, how could you think he would leave you on your own now? God argues that he did not deliver us so that we could be left to ourselves. He delivered us so that we would belong to him and receive all the benefits of being brought into God’s family.

Edward T. Welch



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

From My Devotional Reading Today

From "Heart of the Matter"...a daily devotional


Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; (1 Peter 2:11 KJV)

...How does anxiety misfire? Anxiety can serve a useful function when it alerts us to trouble and drives us to bring those troubles to God. But usually anxiety is also part of the trouble. First, we overreact to real trouble. Second, we become upset about things that ought not to trouble us. In both cases, our bad anxiety reaction reveals what is really going on in our hearts. In every situation where you feel sinfully anxious, you believe something is threatening your world. Your world feels out of control; you are afraid something bad might happen; and you are trying to control your world to keep that bad thing from taking place. How do you respond when you don’t get what you want? Or when you get what you don’t want? Are you full of fear, anxiety, and worry? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you become obsessed with your problem? Does your mind go over your troubles again and again? All of these responses give you a window into your heart. They help you see which of your hopes, dreams, and wishes you have organized your life around. They tell you what it is that you believe you can’t do without. They let you know which of your desires has become your master. The Bible has a very graphic phrase for those desires. It calls them the “lusts of our flesh” (Ephesians 2:3; 1 Peter 2:11 nasb).~David Rowlison

Monday, June 01, 2015

Marsha's Musings: God's Provisions (Isaiah 43:19-20)


This is a comforting scripture to meditate on when it seems like life is turned upside down.  

Are you becoming tired of the process?  God is going to do a new thing.

Do things look impossible?  God will make a way.

Is your energy spent?  God will give refreshment.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Simplicity (2 Cor. 1:12)



For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. -2 Corinthians 1:12

When I read this the word simplicity stood out to me. I looked up the Greek word for it and learned that it means 

1) singleness, simplicity, sincerity, mental honesty

a) the virtue of one who is free from pretence and hypocrisy

2) not self seeking, openness of heart manifesting itself by generousity

It seems that all of the above meanings can fit in this verse.  The definition that sticks out to me is number 2.  

You see, I have difficulty with this in the area of hospitality.  As Flylady (the homemaking guru) puts it.  I have CHAOS...Can't Have Anybody Over Syndrome.  

This makes me embarrassed to invite others over, therefore causing me to not have an openess of heart and a lack of generosity in sharing my home with others.  The Bible says we are to be hospitable, but CHAOS prevents that.

This word simplicity means more to me than just the Greek meanings.  It means I need to simplify my life...get rid of things I don't need and make my home easier to clean and neaten up so that CHAOS is banished. How can I be generous with my home if I am always concerned about  the mess it is in?  How can I be generous and open with others if my thoughts are about the clutter that pervades my life?

Simplicity...This is what I want for my home and life.  What can I do today to work toward that goal, so that my home will be a place I can bring people into and  serve them with godly sincerity and hospitality without worrying about the CHAOS.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Be Mature In Your Thinking (1 Cor. 14:20


I won't re-type the verse since it is pictured above.  This verse comes from the context where Paul is giving instructions about speaking in tongues and prophesying.  Apparently things were getting a bit chaotic and out of order with people popping up all the place to say their piece.  They were acting immature and disorderly.

This verse has great application for the church today.  Many church fights could be avoided just by applying this scripture to be infants in evil and mature in your thinking.  

So often, as in the Corinthian church, immature thinking leads to selfish motives and actions.  There is always someone who thinks they should control the direction of the church or the people in it and when they can't get their way they set about to stir up trouble. This is the result of immature thinking.

Let's take care that we are mature in our thinking and innocent when it comes to evil.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Marsha's Musings: How Then Shall We Live? (2 Cor. 7:1)



Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1 KJV)

What promises does Paul talk about?

Here they are:

God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18 KJV)

In light of these promises we are to do the following:

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; 

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing;
(2 Corinthians 6:16-18 KJV)

Most people in the U.S. and Canada don't bow before idols in their worship, however, there are many religions that do on this continent as well as around the world.  

What is an idol?  It is anything that you allow to take the place of Jesus Christ or that you esteem as more important than your than Jesus Christ and His Word (the Bible)

I am so guilty of this from time to time!  When I get too busy trying to keep up with my day to day activities that I fail to take time to read my Bible, meditate on what God is saying to me through His Word and spend time in prayer, then I have made my schedule and activities into an idol. 

You see, bowing in prayer before an idol of Mary, Budda, etc. is not the only way to put idols in the place of Jesus Christ.

We can make an idol out of our Sunday dinner when we sit in church planning in our minds what we are going to fix or how we are going to fix it.  We elevate the dinner above paying attention to God's Word being preached. It becomes an idol. We do the same thing with our weekly schedule, allowing it to take over our thoughts instead of worshipping God with all our mind and heart.

I think you get my drift. There are so many ways that we can put people, things and activities over and above God in our lives.

And that is to say nothing of sinful behaviors that are done in private by some. Pornography, lusting after others, coveting other's possessions and spouses are idols because these activities are done in direct disobedience to God's Word. It is to elevate one's desires above God's desires.

So, in light of the promises that God will be in you and be your God, receive you and you will be His people and He will be a Father to you and you will be His sons and daughters, how are we to live?

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1 KJV)

Friday, May 08, 2015

Marsha's Musings: God Says Even The Feeble Member is Necessary!



For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (1 Corinthians 12:12-18, 21-22 KJV)

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Marsha's Musings: How to Escape Temptations (I Corinthians 10:6-14, 23-24, 31 NKJV)


Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 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. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:6-14, 23-24, 31 NKJV)

Idolatry is at the root of sexual immorality, testing the Lord, and complaining.  Each one of these sins stems from idolizing and wanting that which we do not have and want.  It is a discontentment with what God has provided.

Then we have this:  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.

What is the way to escape?  Verse 14 gives us the answer: Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
Verses 23-24, 31 give further instruction for the escape of temptation:
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 

In review, how do we escape temptation?
1. Flee idolatry
2. Realize that lawful things are not always helpful or edifying
3. Seek other's well-being over your own
4. Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God


Monday, May 04, 2015

Marsha's Musings: How to Run The Race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV)




Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV)

1. Run in such a way to obtain the prize
    A. Exercise self-control in all things
         1. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2 Peter 1:5-10 ESV)
         2.  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)
        3. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7 ESV)
        
    B. Have a purpose don't be aimless
         1. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)
          2. For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, (Acts 13:36 ESV)
           3. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)
           4. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, (2 Timothy 1:8-9 ESV)

I see that self-control means that I remember that I have been cleansed from my former sins and therefore am humbled by this to where I want to be self-controlled so as to not fall back into those old ways.  Self control is a patient waiting for the appearing of Jesus Christ, while living an upright and godly life. It is realizing that we are in the last days, praying for strength to endure and be godly, exercising self control so as to not nullify my prayers in this regard.

To run with purpose means to pursue God's purpose for my life.  The way to do that is to "...love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27 ESV)



Friday, April 24, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Following the Lord Wholly (Deuteronomy 1:36)



except Caleb the son of Jephunneh. He shall see it, and to him and to his children I will give the land on which he has trodden, because he has wholly followed the Lord!’ (Deuteronomy 1:36 ESV)

What does it mean to follow the Lored wholly as Caleb did?  I can think of a few things.

1. It means trusting in God in spite of overwhelming odds.  There were giants in the land!
2. It means being willing to take the heat and stand up for something that is different than what the crowd wants to do.  The others said it was too hard and they would be defeated.  But Caleb said the opposite.
3. It means looking at the possibilities instead of the difficulties!  It was a land flowing with milk and honey.  They brought back a giant bunch of grapes that took two men to carry on a stick between them. So optimism instead of pessimism is in order. 
4. I'm sure this was true of Caleb:  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30 ESV)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Two Unstable Environments (Psalm 46:1-6)



God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. (Psalm 46:1-6 ESV)

Two unstable environments.  The earth and the nations/kingdoms are the two unstable environments mentioned here.  We live in both of these unstable environments.  

Our national security is at risk.  Terrorism is abundant and causes great instablitiy all around us.  Crime on our streets is increased.  A simple trip to the grocery store could turn into a hostage situation.

The earth is unstable.  Natural disasters can happen at any moment wiping out whole towns.  

When you stop to think about it, we humans who so much like our security and everything to be stable really have very little stability around us.   How are we to respond to this instability?  How are we to live with this without going crazy?

This passage gives us the solution to how to live with instability.  God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  We do not need to fear.  He has got this!  Did you catch that?  He is a very PRESENT help in trouble.  He is not a God who is afar off watching from a distance.  He is PRESENT and He is a PRESENT HELP in trouble.



Monday, April 13, 2015

Marsha's Musings: Forgiveness



Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:21-35 ESV)

Think about all God has forgiven you in Jesus Christ and then think about the one who has wronged you. Why are we so quick to accept God's forgiveness for our own great sins against Him, but so unwilling to extend that same mercy to our fellow man?

Forgiveness doesn't mean absolving another of responsibility in all cases.  Nor does forgiveness mean putting yourself back in a place where you will be hurt.  It means that you will not hold onto your anger, grudge or the need for vengeance against that person.  

Who do you have something against?  Set down your grievance and be merciful toward them.