Friday, June 3, 2016

The Bad, the Good and the Just in Time

This has been a down and up day for me..  This morning I got the results of one of my tests from yesterday and it showed a white blood cell count of 50+ which is way over what it is supposed to be..  it was not a great way to start the day.

This afternoon we went on another bike ride on the Cowichan Valley Trail and although we have ridden this trail 5 or 6 times, today I saw something I have not seen before although we have surely passed it by every time.  I guess I have been concentrating on the trail and missed what was in the farm yards just beyond the side of the trail.  So here is what I saw:

What a cute little pony!  I liked that it was looking right at me.  Kind of chubby but cute just the same.

We went our usual distance and on the way back my husband was, as usual, way in front of me.  I saw something dash across the trail in front of him and learned later that it was a rabbit.  I am thankful that my husband was not close enough to hit it.

We also passed two ladies walking 5 dogs which were on leash..  This was a nice change from the last time we rode when there were a couple of off-leash dogs.  The ladies stopped as we approached and waited until we passed.  I thanked them for doing so.

But the "just in time"  was something that would have scared me if I were riding the trail.  A fellow on a mountain bike came speeding onto the staging area and sped on down the trail at a terrific speed.  I was happy that my ride was finished before he hit the trail.  I do not know why he was going so fast, but I do wonder how the 5 dogs reacted unless he slowed down when he saw them.

You never know what the day will bring.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Different Meanings of a Rainbow

 weekly photo challenge treasure

What does a rainbow bring to your mind?   My first thought is of Genesis 9:13-16, where the LORD God establishes his covenant between God and “every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth”  and what is this covenant?  V13-16I 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.”

In this passage, the rainbow is the sign of God’s covenant that no more would the earth be destroyed by a flood as it was in the days of Noah and the ark.  How many of us since then have looked upon the rainbow and marveled at its beauty.

Then there is the old Sunday School song, Mr. Noah Built An Ark.  I wonder if children still sing this song in these days?  The latter part of the song says “whenever you see a rainbow, remember God is love.”  But of course, God is so much more than love.  When I shared this song with my granddaughter when she was little,  we used to sing “whenever you see a rainbow, remember God loves you.”  So the rainbow  had special meaning for me because my granddaughter still remembers that God loves her when she sees a rainbow.  Here is a rainbow as I like to think of it, the rainbow in the clouds, the sign of God’s covenant and his love.

But now there is a new meaning for the rainbow, and this saddens me.  The rainbow has become a symbol of the gay community.   I have no clue why they chose a rainbow and I wonder, as time passes, how many people will remember that the rainbow was originally a sign of the covenant God made, or may have heard the Sunday School song and remembered that God is love?  or will they more remember what it is a symbol for now?
It’s not my purpose in writing this piece to say anything more regarding the gay community,  except to say that  I am saddened that this beautiful rainbow has become a symbol of something which God does not approve of, enough said.

I would just like to quote the final verse from the song Mr. Noah Built an Ark..

Jesus died upon a tree
Jesus died for you and me
Go into the ark and you will be
Safe for all eternity.
Whenever you see a rainbow, whenever you see a rainbow, whenever you see a rainbow, remember God is love.

And what do these words mean?  The Lord Jesus was crucified upon a cross, shedding his precious blood and taking upon himself the punishment for sin, dying on the cross, being buried and then rising from the grave.  He is the one and only risen Saviour, the Son of God.  Go into the ark means this:  all have sinned, and you know in your heart that this means you too.  Believe that the Lord Jesus was crucified, that he shed his precious blood and took the punishment for your sins upon himself.  Trust in Jesus to save you, and you will be saved for all eternity.

So if you have followed the tag “gay community” and planned on berating me for making this post about the rainbow, I hope that instead, you have realized your need of the Saviour, and that you have trusted in him.

vcg/June 2016

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Salvation Simply

John 3:1-19

In the darkness Nicodemus stands listening to the Lord Jesus.  This deeply religious man has been told by the Lord that to see God's kingdom he must be born again.  To enter God's kingdom Nicodemus for all his religion, must be the recipient of a spiritual birth brought about by God, the Holy Spirit. V5 "..verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Jesus taught this religious man that true religion is being born again.  Jesus teaches that the true religion is being born again.  Jesus teaches Nicodemus that God initiates this new birth, and Jesus teaches Nicodemus that to be born again is absolutely essential.  It is not an optional extra experience that some Christians have and others don't.  You must be born again or you cannot see God's kingdom. 

We must remember that Jesus is talking to this man who is a religious pharisee.  The pharisees liked to be in complete control of their religion.  That is why Jesus says in V8 that Nicodemus has as much control over being born again as he did over the wind. V8 "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit."    You must be born again.  Jesus says that in V7 "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again."  did you know that this Greek verb means that it is an action completed in the is a passive verb.  You don't do it.  To be born again is something that God does to you.  To be born again is of God.  John 1: 12-13 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."    Born of God.  The new birth is of God.  Nicodemus is astounded and he says "how can these things be"

To be born again is hard to understand:    This religious man cannot understand the kingdom of God because he is not born again.  He doesn't have spiritual life.  The person who is not born again is a natural man (1 Corin 2:14) who receives not the things of the spirit of God, they are foolishness to him, neither can he understand them because they are spiritually discerned.   Jesus says in V10 "..Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?"   Master means teacher.  Of Israel means renowned in Israel.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that he is a renowned teacher among God's people and yet  he was ignorant in these matters.  

Nicodemus should have had a knowledge of what it says in Ezekiel 36:26 "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."   God is going to take way hearts of stone and give living hearts of flesh.  That is God in the old testament talking about the creation of spiritual life within people being born again.   Nicodemus was a spiritual leader who was unacquainted with the basics of spiritual life.  In V9-13 Jesus goes on to say that these things are real, they can be explained.  People being born again change from the inside out.  How these things originated in heaven in God's plan and purpose, Nicodemus doesn't understand.  Jesus said that he was in heaven and that he had planned it all.

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Lesson From a Baby Bird, a Big Black Beetle and a Pair of Sheep

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…”

John 10:  I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.”

Yesterday I saw something which was quite sad but combined with two things that I saw on our bike ride today on the Cowichan Valley Trail, there is a definite lesson for me.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on a chair in our back yard and I noticed that a paper wasp had landed on something small and pink.  The wasp stayed on the object for quite a time as though it was gathering food.  After it flew away I went over to see what the pink thing was, and was sad to discover that it was a tiny baby bird.  No feathers, surely newly hatched.  We have had quite a lot of wind lately, so I must surmise that the baby was blown out of the nest.  There was not a mark on its little body so I don’t think that it was tossed out by the mother or other siblings.   I wondered at the brevity of this little life, and it made me think of the verse from the book of Ecclesiastes concerning the fact that there is a season and a time to everything.  It was not meant for this little bird to grow, and fledge and live a normal life.
Then today husband and I went for a bike ride on the Cowichan Valley Trail.  It has been a week since we have been there, and I was a little shaky on the way up the trail.  At one point I saw two bike riders coming towards me from a distance so I stopped and got off my bike.  It was then that I noticed a big black beetle making its way across the trail to the other side.  I wondered whether or not it was going to survive two bikes going by.  As I watched, the first bike passed missing the beetle by not more than an inch.  The beetle turned 90 degrees to the left and the second bike passed him by at a greater distance.

I remembered how the baby bird died very shortly after hatching, and marveled at how this beetle had lived in the face of danger.
Husband and I travelled further up the trail and then turned around and headed back.  And about half-way back  I noticed that husband had stopped and then I saw that there were two sheep at the side of the trail, grazing.  I took several photographs of them and then remembered John chapter 10, and the teaching about the Lord Jesus being the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep.

There was a lesson in all these things.  That being, all things are in God’s hands, he gives life, and he takes it away,  the baby bird died, I know not why, but the beetle lived.  The Good Shepherd cares for all.  Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen, but God knows and we just have to trust in him and in his sovereign will for all creation.

Below is a photo of the pair of sheep..  my reminder of the Good Shepherd.trail sheep
My husband always says that I go too slow on my bike, but which is better? to go fast and miss all the things the Lord has to show me? or to go slow and see them all.  I will continue to ride slowly and marvel at what the Lord has for me.

vcg/May 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gospel of John: The Marriage in Cana

John 2:1-11

The Lord Jesus was with his disciples among the other guests at the marriage in Cana of Galilee. As the invited guests arrived there would have been servants at the door, and on either side of the door there were 3 great big stone waterpots. As the guests filed in, the servants would splash water on the hands and feet of every guest. After a short ceremony the wedding feast would begin.

This passage concerning the marriage in Cana teaches us that Jesus is God and he has great power. In this account of this wedding feast, the apostle John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, furnishes us only with the essential details. When: it was on the third day. Where: Cana of Galilee Who: Jesus, his mother and some of the disciples.. Why: they were at a wedding.

The teaching on marriage: V1-2 Marriage is honourable. One of the first public events of the Lord’s ministry was to attend a wedding because marriage is honourable and good or else Jesus wouldn’t have been there. Those who lightly esteem marriage have not the mind of Christ. Marriage is hallowed because Jesus was there. This an important point because marriage is lightly esteemed in these days. But in this passage, marriage is honourable. It’s all too common nowadays to hear even believers saying to a young couple who are engaged and who are so close, “it will all end once you are married” it happens all the time. Marriage sometimes becomes the butt end of jokes. There is always some one to comment. But the bible says that marriage is honourable in all. The closeness of engaged people does not end once you are married, but it becomes stronger as the years go by. A properly cultivated marriage grows as the years go by. God ordained marriage. Christ graced marriage by his presence at Cana of Galilee. When somebody starts to make jokes, the question to ask is this: Was God wrong? was Christ wrong on the area of marriage? of course he wasn’t.. so why do some Christians make fun of something that God has ordained? The flippant attitude concerning important things comes from worldly attitudes towards serious things. Unbelievers do not hold marriage as God does. How does a Christian make sure they are not worldly? Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. It’s a different mindset. Let this mind be in you which is also in Christ Jesus. A Christians outlook to life and all important things including marriage is the same as Christ’s outlook, not the worlds. Christ was invited to the wedding in Cana and he agreed with the wedding, and he came to the wedding.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

But God Made You Alive

Christian, how were you saved?  God Made You Alive

Ephesians 2:1-5

Before our conversion there was nothing in us to commend us to God, we were spiritually dead in trespasses and sins.  Not only that but we were worldly.  Our life was governed by the plan or the mold of this world.  This is humanity without God.  We were also disobedient, we were willfully disobedient to the word of God.  We were lost creatures.  This manifested itself in physical and intellectual desires.  By nature, by physical birth we were also damned, we were under God's wrath.  But that was in time past.  It was before we were saved that we were like that.  But Christians are no longer dead (in sin), or worldly, or disobedient, or under wrath.  You were that before conversion but it is all finished now. 

But (you might say) "what about so and so, they profess Christ but they disobey Christ all the time.  They don't have any spiritual hunger."  There is one answer, that person was not truly converted.  Ephesians 2:2 "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."  Note the important words "in time past"  A past completed action is now over and finished permanently, it doesn't happen anymore.   If these things are not past then you are not converted.  You can't be. 

Christians before their conversion were in a terrible state and could do nothing to change it.  Was there any hope?  Is there any hope?  If there is any hope it is not in you or me.  There is not one shred of hope in humanity, not one.  But there is hope and there was hope and we are going to find out about it.
But God: V4 "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,"  the little word But means nevertheless, you were dead, you had no hope and you were much more, But God, nevertheless God, in spite of what you were, God.  This the But of difference and the But of hope.  But God.  

Please note the verse does not say that you were dead, you were damned, "but human free will" does it?  It doesn't say you were bound in sin "but a wee bit of religion" It doesn't say "but good works"  It doesn't say "but human free will" because your will was a slave and a servant of sin before you were saved. Ephesians 2:2 "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."     Your will was not free.   It doesn't say "but religion" because religion doesn't make any difference.  It doesn't say "but good works" because before you were saved you didn't have any saving good works..  there is no good saving works before God.  It doesn't say any of those things because it was nothing in us.  It says that we were all those wretched things in V3 "Among whom also we times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others."  But God.  In spite of what you were, God did something.  But God.  Those two words are the difference between biblical Christianity and every other religion in the world. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bicycle Riding in Living Forest Campground: I Cannot Ride Roads

I wrote in my last post concerning bicycle rides that we were going to Living Forest Campground in Nanaimo for a few days so I could practice riding my bike on paved, quiet roads that are throughout the campground.  My husband has no problem riding anywhere.   Part of the trip was also so we could test out our new screen tent which I am happy to say, went up easily and is bigger and has better roof coverage than our previous one.  This is our second Outbound purchase this year and I hope that it serves us as well as the gazebo we bought a month or so ago has done in rain and wind.  We also took our Copper Canyon tent which we never sleep in, but use to store things and it seemed a good idea to store our bikes in the tent.  Just as well, because there was a sign posted on the washroom building saying that there had been bikes stolen in the campground and to be careful.  Here is a photo of our camp.  The site is large, surrounded on three sides by trees, really a lovely spot.

living forest camp

But getting back to the main reason for our going.. to practice riding on paved roads.  It was clear to me at the start of my ride that this was not going to be easy.  The campground roads are more hilly than I remember, and I haven’t figured out how to change gears and concentrate on my riding at the same time.  Riding at my senior age is not coming easily.  At one point my husband who was in front of me, called out “car coming” and so I went to the side of the road and almost fell over onto the gravel at the side.  Thank Electra for their flat foot technology in moving the pedals forward which enabled me to catch myself.  As it was, I walked the bike up the rest of the hill and then white-knuckled it down the other side, riding the brakes to slow down.  After that it was smooth for a time but then we turned onto another road in the campground and I almost fell off again.  So that was it, shaking I walked the bike back to our camp.  I really think that my fear of what might happen if I fell is most of the reason for my problems in riding on roads.  I am defeated at the thought of  breaking a bone just before I am due to go on Saturday to the hospital for my kidney ultrasound  and on Sunday to my granddaughter’s dance recital.   And how is this trusting the Lord?   I know that my attitude is not good and that an adjustment is necessary.

So after a couple of hours, I wanted to come home.  The campground is only an hour away so at least it was not a long drive.  My husband was not happy with me but this morning I made him some pancakes for breakfast, and today we plan on going to a farm market that is starting today in Chemainus and then riding this afternoon on the Cowichan Valley Trail which is our familiar place to ride.  Husband says it will be a long time before he suggests going camping again, but next time we will leave our bikes at home when we do go camping.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Riding the Cowichan Trail: Dappled Light is not Much Fun

This past Sunday we had our fourth bicycle ride on the Cowichan Valley Trail.  One thing I am learning is that the look of this trail is ever-changing, as are the challenges and obstacles you might find.

As usual, there were several avid riders on their expensive mountain bikes who were ready to take on the trail,  I wonder what they think of old fogeys such as us who wear everyday clothing and ride cruiser bicycles.  Also there were hikers and people riding horses (although all we saw of them was fresh piles of manure), and this time there was a family of four: mom, dad, and two small children one in a stroller.  They also had a Jack Russel Terrier that was not on leash at the time we saw it.  Thankfully this dog did not bother us but seemed more interested in the smells and sounds at the side of the trail.

I must admit that off leash dogs are one thing I do not want to run into on this trail because I still am very insecure and drift from side to side on the trail.  We had previously ridden this trail to a spot where Sahtlam Road has an entrance to the trail and we decided to go to the road instead of riding our bikes into the heavily forested area.  This is a quiet dead-end road with a gradual incline but as we were heading up the road there was the sound of large dogs barking loudly and running towards us.  Thankfully there was a high fence which kept them in, but this incident showed me that I still am not ready for riding on public roads.  I wonder if I ever will be?

How to Put Worry to Death

Matthew 6:24-34

Life is about more than stuff says Jesus Christ, the aim and goal of life is not the abundance of the things that one can possess, the materialistic view of life  is utterly bankrupt and guilt ridden.  This view of life does not lead to peace nor happiness, but is  slavery to money and things - material goods as the goal and purpose of life leads to nothing but worry and anxiety.
 In these verses Jesus Christ commands his followers not to worry and be anxious about the future. V25 "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.  Is not the life more than meat and the body than raiment?"  "take no thought"   doesn't mean don't think about it, it means don't be anxious or worry about it.  V26-30 Jesus tells us why we are not to worry about these things.  V32 "(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek......) the word "Gentile" means not Jewish, or those who are unbelievers.. "seek" means "run after, pursue"  This is not the Christian mind-set.  If Christians grasp the teaching of this section, you will live differently than the unbelieving people and you will be a lot more happy and content and at peace than the unsaved.  

Christ teaches "do not worry" an imperative command.  The western culture thrives on people's worries and anxieties, and makes loads of money out of people's worries and anxieties.  There is not a man that can give peace of mind and not a man that can take it away from the Christian.   The powers that be want you to worry, they want to keep you worrying and anxious.  Throw off the shackles of worry and listen to the teaching of Jesus Christ in these verses as he demolishes utterly the foolishness and stupidity of worrying.  Do you know that worrying is irrational and illogical?  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Riding the Cowichan Valley Trail 2: Was it or Wasn't it?

Was it or wasn’t it a bear?  Yesterday was our second time riding our bicycles on the Cowichan Valley Trail and it turned out to be a bit exciting.  First we followed the route west towards Lake Cowichan again, this time going farther than before.  As we rode past the farms and entered more heavily forested area, I grew a little uncomfortable going further that way.  We had travelled 5 km along this road, so we headed back to the parking lot and decided to cross the highway and go east on the same trail.  And that is when the trip became kind of scary.

This part of the trail is very peaceful, there is a stream at the side of the trail down an embankment and it sounded lovely riding beside it.  About 1 km along the trail we came to a forested cul-de-sac and stopped to decide if we wanted to go farther.  By this time having traveled 11 km in total, I was getting a bit tired.  As we stood there, I heard a low throaty growl, not a dog.  Didn’t see anything but I told my husband I wanted to head back and he told me that he had heard a growl, I had not told him that I did.  So we mounted our bikes and as we started back I could smell a strong animal odor.  I was nervous riding behind my husband so I kept calling him and asking me if there was anything behind me as we rode back to the parking lot.

We could not say for sure what animal had made that sound but today we decided to buy rear-view mirrors for our bikes, so we went to the bike store where we had purchased our bikes and asked the fellow if they sold rear-view mirrors.  I expected him to chuckle but he went right to them.  I told him that thus far we had just travelled the Cowichan Valley Trail and didn’t mention our experience of the day before, but he spoke right up and said “there are bears on that trail”..  Good grief, that is what I did not want to hear.  So we asked him where they were and he said that someone had seen a black bear on the Sherman Road section, and that is exactly where we heard the sound the day before.

So was it or wasn’t it a bear?  I do not know for certain but it is not going to keep us from riding this trail.  I have a personal alarm which is extremely loud and I think that it would deter any bear.  At least this time of year there is lots of Spring grasses for them to eat.   Hopefully we will not see a cougar or a wolf.

It will be more comforting being able to see what is behind me now.  Nevertheless, I wonder what future rides will bring?

Monday, May 16, 2016

First Bicycle Ride on the Cowichan Valley Trail

Last Friday we picked up our new 7 speed Electra Townie bicycles at a local bicycle store called Cycle Therapy.  It has been 25 years since we last owned and rode bicycles, and let me say I was very nervous as these bikes are bigger and differently shaped than the 21 speed Norco bikes we owned then.   But they do say that one never forgets how to ride, so we set out in a quiet area to ride our new bikes.  I was white-knuckling it and was very shaky at first, but it slowly came back as we traveled the roads of this quiet residential area.

I am not ready now, and it will be some time before I am ready, to ride my bicycle on the roads near our home.  My reason is that I tend to drift towards the middle of the road and that could be deadly.  Also, it has been my experience when walking this road, that some people who use bicycles as transportation and not for pleasure or sport, do not possess any bicycle manners.  They do not let you know that they are coming up behind you, and they are going way too fast.  A few times I know that if I had stepped further into the walking lane I would have been hit and seriously hurt by some of these people who do not let you know that they are coming.

I remembered that there was a trail head to the Cowichan Valley Trail about 10 minutes from our home, so yesterday we loaded up our bikes and went to the parking lot.  And what a wonderful experience it was to ride part-way up this trail.  There was forest on both sides so the path was shaded.  The surface was tightly packed small gravel, quite easy to ride on.   It was up-hill but it was so gradual that I could barely notice except it was a bit harder to pedal at times.   I rode to the sound of sheep baaaaing in the distance,  at one point a horse and rider passed us, and a few bicycle riders who were obviously more experienced than we were.  (We being my husband and myself)..  and it was then that I saw the difference between a sport rider and the transportation riders that I have seen.  One man who was riding up behind me called out to say “rider coming, passing on your left”..    what a pleasure that was, to know that someone was coming.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

What Has Led to So Many False Professed Christians?

What Has Led to So Many False Professed Christians?  What is a False Christian?  This is a long read, but worth it.

Philippians 3:17-21

What does the bible say the church is?  What are the churches  truly like?  Many, many people in the churches in the Western world today who say they are Christians are not.   What is a false Christian? how can there be such a thing?  This is a contradiction in words because a false Christian is not a Christian, but the term is used for ease of understanding.  Someone who thinks that they are a Christian when they are not. 
Philippians 3:17-21 is the true situation.  The theme runs through the bible, Vl8-19 "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things."   The context is that these professing Christians were in the church in Philippi and in other churches that the apostle Paul was writing about.  This is a biblical thing, but the scary bit is that in V18 it says that there are "many"  The word "many" in Greek means "altogether common"  and Paul weeps "wails out loud" because it is a terrible thing for the church of Jesus Christ, and a terrible thing  for those who think that they are Christians when they are not.  There are some who disagree with apostolic doctrine, they serve their own desires, and this is seen in their disobedient lives.  If there were many like this in the days of the apostles, surely there are many more in the days when the apostles are gone.   The question then is, what has led to so many false professed Christians?  

In the 1860s Charles Spurgeon said these words:  "Their life is not consistent with the great things of God.  I do fear that the evil (of false professions) instead of having decreased has multiplied and grown in danger.  We have more professions now and consequently we have more hypocrisy."  Spurgeon said that because when Spurgeon was a boy a man called Charles Finney who was then a famous evangelist in America was evangelizing.  He didn't believe in original sin, he believed that sin was a choice, that we were not sinners by nature, free will.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Salvation Comes to Zacchaeus

Luke 19:1-10

The Lord Jesus is going on his journey to Jerusalem, he is going to the feast of the Passover and on the way  he comes to Jericho.  It's a six hour walk from Jericho to Jerusalem and as Jesus is passing through Jericho (which was a fertile and prosperous city) he was surrounded by a throng of people.  V3  There are two main characters in this story, Jesus and Zacchaeus.. 

V1 Jesus was coming up through Jericho through a large crowd of people.  He is now a very famous and controversial person who has healed many sick people, exorcised demons, performed miracles, and most important he has been teaching and preaching for 3 years.  Crowds follow him everywhere he goes, but they say he is an old testament Prophet returned.  The powers that be in Israel, the religious authorities and leaders, hate Jesus because during his 3 year ministry he has exposed their sin and hypocrisy of religion.  He has unmasked their disobedience to God and their love of human ideas.  He has shown that the leaders are sinners just like everybody else and they hate him for it because the religious always think that they are better than everybody else.  They have tried to trick Jesus and he not only refutes them but he makes them look foolish.  All these leaders want Jesus dead and they are willing to stoop to any level and use any means to accomplish their goal of murder.  So much for their religion.  But in doing all this, these leaders are exactly fulfilling the plan that God had ordained before the world was even made.  So here is Jesus coming up the main street of Jericho.

And here is Zacchaeus V2-4  "And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was very rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.  And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way."   Zacchaeus doesn't have the credentials of Jesus, the common people hate Zacchaes because he is a tax collector (publican) and not only that but (V2) he was the chief tax collector, the boss of all the tax collectors.  Tax collectors in Israel were known as traitors because they worked for Rome and hated by the common people.  Zacchaeus was rich (abundant in his wealth) but this day Zacchaeus heard that Jesus was coming, he must already of heard of Jesus.  He wants to see Jesus, he had a casual interest and wanted to see who he was.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

American Election: What is Going On?

I am Canadian and the first to admit that I don’t know much about politics.  However, that being said, the news this morning that Cruz has suspended his campaign and that Kasich was about to suspend his campaign leaves Donald Trump alone.  So what is going on?  It seems a little fishy to me but then I tend to have a bit of a suspicious nature.

Is someone else waiting in the wings about to emerge for the Republicans?  Or is there another plan in mind, that at the last, Cruz or Kasich will try to have themselves nominated instead of Trump?  Can this happen if he has all the delegates that are needed?

What does “suspended” mean?

According to Websters dictionary it means (in part)  Hung up; caused to cease for a time; delayed;
If Cruz had said that he was quitting the campaign that would have been one thing, but saying he “suspended” his campaign makes me think that at the convention he might emerge again.    Time will tell.

And while I am at it, why do news commentators insist on saying that Donald Trump is a “former reality show host”  isn’t he much more than that? I think of him as a businessman first of all.

These are only the musings of my somewhat befuddled mind.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Strange Illness and a Little Miracle

Again its been almost one month since I last posted and it has been a very unusual month.

About 3 weeks ago I was very agitated but did not know why.  Then 2 weeks ago my body began to go into slow motion: I moved slowly, talked slowly and quietly.  My husband said that I was mumbling and that  it was like I had taken an overdose of tranquilizers even though I am not on tranquilizers.  My brother phoned and when I answered he asked me if I had just gotten up.  I had a very difficult time coming up with words I wanted to use, my brain was very foggy in its thoughts.  I lost desire to eat and forced myself to get something down.  One afternoon I sat in the backyard on a chair dozing most of the afternoon.  Then it became difficult to write or type, had to slowly write the letters, forming their shape like a child would do.  I used to be able to type along with sermons but now that would be impossible as my speed has slowed so much.  Other parts of my body were out of whack as well, something was clearly wrong with my bladder and kidneys.  I lost my balance and started banging into things.

This past week I began to improve, but went to our family physician with a written list of what had happened and after doing an exam he had an appointment made for me the next day at the local hospital for a CT scan on my head.  He also phoned an internist and an appointment was made for two days later.  Most people have to wait weeks or months for either of these, but he considered it important enough to mark it "urgent" so space was made for me.  He said my heart was racing so he ordered blood tests, an EKG and a cultured urinalysis.  I went next door to the clinic and had the EKG, had blood drawn, but I was shocked and a little scared to find blood in my urine.  When I returned to the doctor's office and handed him the results of the EKG, I mentioned that it was scary to find the blood but he said that some of my symptoms were scary.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares

If there is anything in the bible that convinces me that Christians will be on this earth until the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is the parable of the wheat and the tares.  Here are notes I made from the sermon on this parable by Paul Dowling of Whiteabbey Congregational (Reformed) at Sermon Audio.  Link to the sermon at the end:

The Wheat and the Tares

Matthew 13:24-30, V36-43

The day that Jesus told this parable he was at the seaside and sitting on a fishing boat just off the shore, preaching to multitudes of people on the beach. (Matthew 13:1-2)  According to V24, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.  A temporary tale with an eternal message. An illustration in words that are commonly understood to bring a message that is commonly forgotten.  This parable is taken from the agricultural world.  This parable is commonly known as the wheat and the tares and it is about the kingdom of heaven.  Where is the kingdom of heaven?  is it big or is it small?  how does it grow? what is the value of becoming a part of the kingdom of heaven.  This parable is about the kingdom of heaven.

What are the facts?  V24 "...the kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field." The kingdom of heaven is like a field.  a field that has been prepared for sowing.  V25 "But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way."  At night, the enemy comes and sows tares among the wheat in the field.  Tares are a type of a weed called Darnel.   Darnel is a poisonous plant that is related to wheat and it is a plant that is impossible to distinguish from wheat because it looks precisely the same until the ears form for the fruit, and then when the fruit comes it looks very different from wheat. (Here is a link to an article on Darnel: )That is why it says in V26 "But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also."   They couldn't tell the difference until the fruit came.  One is poisonous and one is good.  This parable the Lord was teaching was something that really happened, sowing Darnel in the wheat was a crime against a particular Roman law.  People did this as an act of vengeance against someone else, they would sow Darnel in their field. 

V27,28a  "So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?  He said unto them, An enemy hath done this...."   It wasn't the good farmer that sowed the tares, he sowed only good seed, it was an enemy that sowed the tares.  V28b-30 "The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?  But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn."   The servants wanted to pull the weeds but the master wouldn't let them do that.  A heavy infestation of Darnel couldn't be pulled up because the roots of the weeds were stronger than the roots of the wheat.  They were tangled together, to pull the weeds up you have to wait until the harvest and pull them up together.   There would be a separation of the plants in the future.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How God Reveals Himself

Psalm 8:1-4, Job 38:1-7,33-37

The word "revelation" means revealing, God has revealed himself.    Something that you wouldn't have found out by your own methods, that is what revelation means.  The doctrine of revelation is the doctrine that tells us that God reveals himself.   This revelation of God is absolutely essential for without God revealing himself to us we would never come to know him.  Man by his own abilities can never find out God.  By our own mind or intellect, we could never know or discover God because God is not subject to our tests and our methods.  God does not put himself under our microscope to be investigated.  He is not an object to be inspected by great men, he is above and beyond us.   By nature an object to be inspected must be lower than the one inspecting it.  That is why you can inspect an ant but the ant can't inspect you.   Without God revealing himself to us in two main ways, we would be completely in the dark about God.  But Praise the Lord, he has condescended to reveal himself to humanity.   It is general revelation and special revelation.  Let us not forget that for God to reveal himself is needed  Isaiah 40:28 "Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding."  Man cannot come to understand God without revelation.  Job was asked in Job 11:7 "Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfections?"  No.  Humans are completely shut in to what God reveals.  Everything we know about God we know because he has revealed it to us.

General Revelation:  God reveals himself generally, in a general way to everybody, to all mankind.  Externally and internally.  External revelation is this:  God has seen fit to leave his fingerprints upon the creation, like we do if we are making something of wood or metal.  The creation of the world, the planets, God has left his fingerprints in the creation.  The detail and complexity of the universe is amazing.  So complicated, man could not make a leaf because these things call for a designer.  God tells us that from the creation, the outward creation,  people can see that there is a God.  This is external revelation. Psalm 8:3-4 "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him?....."   When the psalmist studied the sun and the moon, it made him think naturally about God, when, not if.  It is taken for granted that God's people would be interested in his creation.  The heavens declare the glory of God, the earth shows his handiwork.  There is a creator, there is a designer.  There is no human being that has any excuse for not believing in God.  Romans 1:20 "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.."  Created beings fully and clearly see and understand that there is a God, and so they are without excuse. 

Internal revelation: man has built in religion, he is God conscious by nature, God has placed eternity in the heart of man.  Everybody knows that there is a God.   But it's not enough to lead us to a saving knowledge of the true God, because even man with his intellectual capacity cannot find the true God.  They need special revelation.  When Paul was preaching on Mar's hill (Acts 17:19-31) he spoke of the unknown God, the true God.  Human knowledge admits that there is a God, but true knowledge of God, has to be specially revealed.    

Sunday, April 3, 2016

One Month Away..

My goodness, how time flies.  It has been one month since I made my last blog post and so much has happened.   Illness was in this house, and I was sick with bronchitis and the flu.  My husband came down with the same thing but whereas I was able to stay home, he had to make a trip to the emergency room of the local hospital having breathing problems and abdominal pain.  He was on oxygen and IV fluids while there and they sent him home on antibiotics saying that he also had bronchitis.  In all, I was sick from February 4th until this past week which was end of March, and he was sick from middle of March to this week when we both finally stopped coughing.  Thank the Lord that this is past.

Also, in the middle of March I sadly made the decision to sell my little Chihuahua/toy poodle puppy after taking her for her second vaccine and was told by the vet of all the problems that a tiny dog such as her can face.  I saw future huge vet bills in the picture which would be very difficult to meet being retired and on fixed income, and this combined with the fact that our Shih Tzu had become very depressed while we had her, plus the fact that house-breaking her was going to be a major issue, brought about this decision.  I know that it was the right decision because the day after I listed her she was sold to a very nice lady.  I believe in my heart that the Lord sent this lady.

As well, my daughter-in-law was involved in a car accident which was not her fault.  Someone turned left in front of her and the crash which followed resulted in her car being written off.  I am so very thankful that she was not seriously injured, and that my granddaughter was away at Girl Guide camp and so was not in the car when the crash occurred.  Quite often we hear of accidents in this area where people are killed, so thank the Lord for my daughter-in-law's life being spared.

I confess that I have not been listening to sermons this past month, with all that has gone on I have felt kind of numb, but I know that it is time to get my life back on track and to this end, I will be posting notes to sermons by Paul Dowling again soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jairus' Daughter: a story of faith and trust

Mark 5:21-43   (25-34 is the woman with the issue of blood)

When the Lord was here on earth and did wonderful miracles, he did things that are beyond the powers of men.  The Lord Jesus did these miracles to point to His divinity.  These were things that only God could do.  Jesus' miracles are not recorded in the bible to make us think that we can do the same because we can't do the same, but Christs' power is revealed to encourage us to see that Jesus is God and he can do anything, his power is unlimited.  

Nothing is too hard for Jesus.  As Christians, when we see what an almighty and wonderful Jesus we have it is going to strengthen our faith to really believe and trust in him even when it is hard, and even when the world scorns and laughs and there is opposition.  If we see that Jesus is God and he can do anything, then all the scorn of the world will not make any difference whatsoever to us because we really believe in the omnipotent Saviour.  Spurgeon said:  "I believe what I believe and I will believe it even if I believe it alone."  Not dependent upon what other people think, not dependent upon current opinions or what the crowd thinks, not religious fashion, Spurgeon says that faith that is not dependent upon anybody else, but on Christ alone because  he is such a marvelous wonderful Saviour.  This faith only comes through a personal study of the bible.  We really believe what the bible says because we have pondered the scriptures and God has convinced us that this is true and logical and makes complete sense.  When we really believe that, it is not somebody else's faith that has convinced us, but it's our faith,  what we have come to believe and it doesn't matter if the whole world is against us, it makes no difference whatsoever because we are not relying on other people's opinions or feelings, or relying on other people for support. You can really say with Spurgeon, "I believe what I believe and I will believe it even if I believe it alone."  My faith is in Christ.  And that is the purpose of the recording of the miracles in the bible, because Jesus is God and he can do anything and there is no room for doubt at all.  If the almighty God humbled himself and became confined to a human body, then what is there that God cannot do?  Nothing.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Seriousness is Better Than a Good Laugh

Ecclesiastes 7:1-4

These words in the book of Ecclesiastes were written by a man of whom God says was the wisest man who ever lived.  He was a king, one of the greatest kings in world history.  He was rich, so rich that his riches are beyond description.  He had 700 wives, and 300 concubines.   He experienced all the pleasure he ever wanted, he was looked up to by surrounding kings and queens who paid homage to him.  No kingdom in the history of the world was equal to the glory of King Solomon and his kingdom.  But King Solomon fell.  The bible tells us that his wives turned his heart away from God 1 Kings 11:3-4 "...and his wives turned away his heart.  For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God..." and King Solomon built temples to false gods and he began to live only for pleasure and feasting and he made God angry with him and God punished him.  It was after Solomon's fall when he saw his great failings and he turned back to God in his old age that he wrote the Proverbs and the book of Ecclesiastes.  It was after all his experience of life that he wrote these words:

  Eccle 7:1-4 "A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.  It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.  Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.  The heart of the wise in in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth."
When Solomon wrote those words he was inspired by God the Holy Spirit, this is the teaching of God.  The message can be summed up in one sentence.  Seriousness is better than frivolity.  Here is a paragraph of relevance to our entertainment-crazed generation.  The four verses are  a series of paradoxes, apparent contradictions, they state the complete opposite of what the majority opinion is in this world.  That is to be expected because when it comes to the real meaning of life and real life values, the world is always wrong because the unsaved world does not know the author of life.  They do knot know the one who came to give us life in all its fullness so therefore its obvious that they are going to be wrong in their view of life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Hands of Jesus

John 20:24-29

V27 "Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands;......" Jesus said "Behold my hands" 

 It was Sunday night,  Jesus had risen from the dead and that evening he appeared to all the disciples except Thomas who had missed Christ's appearance.  The disciples had told Thomas that Christ had come into their midst, but Thomas said V25 "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and  thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."  It was 8 days after that and  the disciples had gathered again, and the doors were shut when suddenly Jesus was there and he said V26 "Peace be unto you." Thomas was there, and Jesus spoke words that would change Thomas forever: V27 "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing."     
"Behold my hands" Behold, pay attention, perceive with your eyes, look.  The word behold is used to emphasize something that is very important.  He commanded Thomas to look at his hands.  Thomas could have looked his eyes away, he didn't need to put his finger into his hands, but as he looked upon the pierced hands of the Son of God, it changed this doubter forever. 

Little hands:  Look at the hands of Jesus Christ, at the reality of biblical truth, and perhaps if you are not saved, the words "behold my hands" will change your life.  We will stand in the upper room and look at Jesus hands and see with your mind's eye how these hands of Jesus came to be so scarred.  Remember firstly that these hands used to be little hands, because 33 years previous Jesus was born.  A little baby with little hands.  But those hands which Jesus was showing to Thomas, grew by natural gradual process in the normal way and please note that this Jesus is the creator of all things.  John 1:3  "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."  Those little hands are the hands of the creator, but the eternal Son of God once had little hands when Jesus was born of Mary, "unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)

Working Hands: But also remember that his hands were working hands.  Joseph, the husband of Mary, was a carpenter and sons in those days always learned their father's trade, so Jesus was a carpenter.  The bible plainly tells us this in Mark 6:3 "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Judah, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him."    Jesus was a tradesman.  His hands were a workman's hands.  He worked with wood up until he was 30 years old.  In Jesus' day you couldn't be a tradesman if you couldn't do the work.  Joseph taught Jesus the trade, and he could do it and that is all that counts.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Bible women: Dorcas, also called Tabitha

There are only seven verses in the book of Acts, chapter 9 that speak of this  woman Dorcas, also called Tabitha.  But she is an example of a Proverbs 31 woman, that whose price is "above rubies".   What a wonderful role model she is:

Acts 9:36 "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did."

Firstly we know that Dorcas lived in Joppa, which was a port town, and that she is called a "disciple".   A disciple is one who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and received Him as their Saviour.  One who is abiding in Jesus, one who is trusting  in Him for their day to day life, one who has left the world and the things in the world behind, one who is a light. 

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." John 16:8

We know that Dorcas was "full of good works and almsdeeds which she did".  And how her life glorified God.   Dorcas is not remembered for beauty, or for riches.   She is remembered for her being "full of good works and almsdeeds."  Proverbs 31:31 "Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."  Dorcas would have had a compassionate heart,  for an "almsdeed" is a "act of charity, a charitable gift" according to Websters 1828 dictionary.  And so Dorcas saw where there was a need, and she gave according to that which the Lord gave to her.

Acts 9:37-38 "And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them."

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Significance of the Insignificant

This is a wonderful sermon of encouragement for the Christian, and hope for the lost.

2 Kings 5:1-19

This chapter starts by saying that Syria had been delivered by God through Naaman. V1 "Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper."  the word delivered means a great victory.  Quite profound..  God the LORD, Yahweh, Jehovah is in control of international politics.  It is God who grants success.  Yahweh or Jehovah is the God of the whole earth, not just Israel.  Yahweh draws near to his people but the whole earth is under God. God controls the nations.  God is involved in national events.  God is also involved in people's lives, even in little circumstances.  In this passage are several things regarding bigness, smallness and cleanness before God.

The great man with a big problem:  V1  "Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper."    The verse tells us of the greatness of Naaman, he was more than a captain, he is the top man in the army of Syria.. a "great man" a man of renown, he is honourable, exalted and lifted up.  He is a powerful warrior, mighty, and by him Syria had been given victories.  A national hero. But he was a leper.  Naaman was a great man but he had a big problem.  The teaching is that fame and bigness does not mean that all is well with you, that all is right and happy in your life.  

The little maid with the big answer:  V2-3  "And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman's wife.  And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord (Naaman) were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy."  The verse emphasizes her littleness, she is the complete opposite of the greatness of Naaman.  A little girl  captive from her home, a servant girl but the rest of this chapter hinges upon her.  She is not even named.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

God Is...

In this day of the compromising church, emergent teaching and pastors who teach “feel good” sermons, what does the bible say about who God is?  Is he only a God of love?  Who is God to the believer, the Christian, Who was he to the saints of the old testament?  Who is God to the unbeliever?

Regarding Abraham, Gen 21:22 “, God is with thee in all that thou doest:”  Hebrews says that Abraham was a man of faith Heb 11:8,10 “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went….  For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”  Notice that Abraham obeyed the command of God when he was called out.

Deut 33:27 “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: ”

2 Samuel 22:33, the words of king David, after his sin with Bathsheba, after his repentance, “God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect”

Psalm 48:14, pure comfort to the believer “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death”

Psalm 59:17 “Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy.”

Psalm 74:12 “For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”  This verse certainly shows that it is God who saves, not men who save themselves by “making a decision”

Psalm 89:7 “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.”  God demands reverential fear, fear of who he is, the Sovereign and mighty God.

Proverbs 30:5  “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.”   The bible, the word of God, is to be trusted.  But this does not include the modern versions that twist and change the true word of God.

The following verses show that the LORD God is more than love:

Deuteronomy 4:24 “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God”  

Deut. 6:4-7 teaches that it is not enough to hang on the fact that God is love, the Israelites were, and believers are commanded:  “thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might and these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up…”   Do you think upon the Lord during the week? or only on Sunday.  Do you love him? do you talk to others of  the word of God?

Psalm 7:11 “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”

Nah 1:2 “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies”   This verse should make the unbeliever cringe.

Romans 1:18 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness”

Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  This is another verse that should prick the heart of the unsaved.

This verse offers hope to the lost:

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Avoid Temptation: The Snares of Satan

Genesis 39:4-12

2 Corinthians 2:11

What are Satan's devices?  Satan can get an advantage over believers if we are not aware of his devices (snares, subtle schemes or traps).  Satan is also called the Tempter.  When he attacks the people of God it is usually not obvious.  If he went around like a roaring lion all the time no one would be deceived by him.  The bible tells us that he is the Tempter.  The church of Christ should not be ignorant of his devices because he wants to lure Christians into sin.  Many Christians are deceived into wrong thinking and actions.  Subtlety is his method, and traps are not easy to get out of.   Some evangelical leaders are so lacking discernment of Satan's devices that they take everything at face value, and anyone that says they are evangelical, they believe it.  There are so many men and women who are not aware of Satan's devices.  They are naive, living in the past, thinking that evangelical means the same thing now as it did in the 60s. But sadly, it does not.  Now, its not the biblical gospel, its the bible plus other things.  "make a decision"  "raise your hand". 

Sometimes Satan presents the bait and hides the hook.  Just do this thing and you will enjoy it but there are consequences which are hidden.   Sometimes Satan makes sin look small, he belittles sin, he presents God as all love and no justice.  Sometimes he says go and sin you can repent after.  That shows how Satan has snared Christians with his subtle schemes and many don't even know it.  Many Christians do not really want to know what the bible says.  Someone can prove from the bible that a church is disobeying God and it won't make any difference at all because people will just ignore it and pretend that it was never said.  They won't put it right because most professed Christians are determined not to obey the word of God and yet they still cling to the myth that they are saved, saved in their sin, clinging to a little profession.  Wanting, hoping to believe but Jesus said that it was only those who DO the will of my Father who will get to heaven.  Its a sad, sad situation when a professed Christian is content in their disobedience to the word of God.  

Satan's tactic will be that he will make a Christian confident to venture into the very place where they are going to be tempted.  He fills them with the notion that they can go to a place of temptation but they will be strong and not sin, they will be able to resist the temptation.   Satan says that you can resist temptation that is put in your path.  When you get tempted to think in that way, remember that Christians are to avoid temptation and all appearance of evil "lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory."   Don't think that you can put your finger in the fire but not get burned.  Enter not into the path of the wicked.  You are not going to get victory over sin if you don't avoid the temptation.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Joseph and the Wife of Potiphar

Genesis 39

The wife of Potiphar was a woman of very poor moral character, yet her part in the story of Joseph, shows forth the power of a godly man to resist temptation, and ultimately find that the hand of God was there all along, working together all things for good.

Joseph was the much-loved son of Jacob.  But he was hated by his brother's because of a dream that Joseph had which involved them.  Eventually the brothers sold Joseph to merchantmen for 20 pieces of silver, and Joseph was brought to Egypt. (Genesis 37:27-28) After Joseph was taken to Egypt, he was bought by a man named Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, "and the LORD was with Joseph...."(Gen 39:2)  And Joseph became overseer of the house of Potiphar, and over all that he had.  "And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.  And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had put into his hand." (Gen 39:3-4)

But it was in the ultimate plan of God that Joseph would rise to an even more important position, one that would ultimately reunite him with his brothers and his father, but first Joseph would face temptation, and his faithfulness would be sorely tested.  That temptation came in the form of Potiphar's wife.

As Potiphar was an important man, it is likely that his wife also enjoyed a position of importance, and was no doubt used to having her commands obeyed under threat of imprisonment or worse.  As did Eve before her, and King David after her, she was tempted with that which pleased the eye, in this case Joseph, who was "a goodly person and well favoured" (Gen 39:6)  It is at this point that Potiphar's wife desires to commit adultery with Joseph, "And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said 'Lie with me' (Gen. 39:7)  We do not know if this was a regular habit with her, but this is given for our instruction as it is in James 1:13-15 "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every mam is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."   Surely this was a test allowed by God,  but a temptation of the devil.  Proverbs 6:29, 32 "So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent.  ..But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul." 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Will We Know Each Other in Heaven? (Repreached)

2 Samuel 12:15-23

The picture that the bible paints of heaven is altogether wonderful.  And we who are believers more than likely can confess that we do not think about heaven enough, although there is something about it that makes us want to be there.  It awakens a deep emotion in the heart of every believer, a perfection or maybe a feeling of going home because we are pilgrims in this world and heaven is our home and that is where we are going.  But there is one question that bothers people, and that is this:  will we know one another in heaven.

I (Paul Dowling) believe that the bible tells us or at least very strongly hints to us that we will know one another in heaven.   Many of the great men in history believed that we will know one another in heaven.  But, one might say, can you give any evidence from the bible?  Here are several points:

-David's comfort is based upon knowing one another in heaven.  In 2 Sam 12 the passage is about David's sins, and a baby boy is born by adultery, and God in his perfect justice has determined that the child will not live.  The child becomes very sick and dies.  There is no profit from this sin for David.  David prays while the child is alive, weeps and fasts for 7 days and then the child dies.  And then David breaks his fast, washes himself, ceases to pray and the servants don't understand so he tells them why he is not broken more now than when the child was alive. V23  "But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."  There is no more  reason to pray, we don't pray for the dead.   But now he is dead, why should I fast any longer?  Can I bring him back again?  There is only comfort in those words for David if he would know his baby son in the next world.  I don't think there is much comfort in saying that he would go to him but he won't know him when he sees him, what comfort is there in that?  None at all.  David says I will go to him, its comforting to him to think that and say that because he believes that he will know his son when he says them.  David hoped to meet his child again in another world.  The separation would not be forever.  

-Because the apostle Paul expected to recognize the Thessalonian converts at Christ's second coming.  1 Thess 2:17-20  "But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.  Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.  For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?"    What does this mean?  Paul is saying that he wanted to come and meet the converts but he was hindered, he couldn't come.. separated in presence but not in heart.  Paul is hoping for and looking forward to seeing them at Christ's second coming.  Its not much comfort to think that we are separated now but at Christ's second coming you will be there but I won't know you.  What comfort is there in that? None.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Soul Sleep? Today Thou Shalt Be With Me in Paradise

Revelation 6:9-11

2 Corinthians 5:1-8

Soul sleep: almost every heresy that is around today found its origins in early church history, there is nothing new under the sun.  Soul sleep originated in Arabia and then raised its head in the times of the Reformation, and even in the present day there are those who believe in soul sleep.  Why would some people believe in it?  Because of faulty human reason, (they say) "God couldn't condemn us until we are proven guilty, or bring us into heaven until we are proven innocent.  So since the judgment is at the end of time,  if we die now our souls must sleep until the judgment and then we either go to heaven or to hell."  That is absolutely faulty human reason.  It assumes that we are innocent until proven guilty at the judgment, but the bible says we are guilty now and condemned already.  John 3:18 "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."   Some people say that the scriptures talk about "sleeping in Jesus" and they take that literally as sleeping but they are wrong.  In the bible, sleep is a metaphor for death.  Lazarus was "asleep" but he was dead.  Jairus' daughter was dead, not just sleeping. 

Those who believe in soul sleep could say regarding these examples,  "we agree but all you are doing is shooting down something that we do not believe.  We agree that Lazarus was dead, that Jairus daughter was dead, we do not believe in body sleep, but soul sleep.  A Christian's body dies but their soul sleeps until the last judgment and you did not refute that view."   This morning I will, by God's grace, prove that soul sleep is wrong. 

The first difference between those who teach soul sleep and those who are believers is the view of death.  Those who teach soul sleep say that death is that the body dies and the soul sleeps.  However, if the body dies and the soul sleeps, where does the soul sleep?  But  Christians, say "what is death?"  Death according to the bible is separation of soul from body.  The body dies and the soul is removed from the body.  Death is not sleep.  It is a separation of body from soul.  Here are 7 bible passages that show that souls do not sleep but live on consciously.

-Solomon says "The soul or spirit returns to the God who gave it.  Eccl 12:6-5-7 " goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.  Or ever the silver cord be loosed, ...then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."  The context is getting old, dying.  He is talking about the separation of the soul from body.  Notice it says "then shall the dust return" not after it sleeps until the judgment.   At death the body turns to dust and the soul (spirit) returns to God and it doesn't say anything about soul sleep.  No unconsciousness is mentioned.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

No SuperBowl Here

So tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday, and I am happy to say that we will not be among the millions that will be watching.  I have always been very thankful that my husband has never been a Sports person.

This morning I was watching the news and it gave the percentages of what takes place during the Superbowl.  I was surprised that only 60% is the actual game, 35% is advertising, and 5% is entertainment.  That is a lot of commercials, and even though Superbowl commercials are always looked forward to, it seems strange to me that a lot of people don’t mind having to wait through all those commercials for the game to continue.  It was quite funny to me that the announcer said that the first Superbowl game was “only” a football game.

It’s interesting to me what “entertainment” is these days.  I looked the word “entertain” up in the bible and here is the only reference:

Hebrews 13:2 “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”

Now this is the kind of entertainment that would be truly awesome and wonderful.  Can you imagine entertaining an angel?

Well, one thing for sure, the highways and byways will be very quiet while the game is on, and that is always a good thing.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Jesus Calms the Storm

Mark 4:35-41 "And the same day, when the even (evening) was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.  And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship.  And there were also with him other little ships.  And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waters beat into the ship, so that it was now full.  And he (Jesus) was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?  And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.  And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?  And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

Earlier that day the Lord Jesus had been teaching in parables to multitudes of people.  After Jesus had taught the multitudes all day, he was weary, and for a short time he was teaching his disciples what the parables meant in a house and then he was back out on  boat.  After all the teaching was over, the multitudes were sent away, and Jesus said to his disciples "let us pass over to the other side."  The other side of what?  The other side of the Sea of Galilee.  The Lord Jesus had been teaching most of the day at Capernaeum.  Jesus wanted to go to another place at the other side called Gadara. (Chp 5:1)  This journey would take between 5 and 6 hours in good weather.
According to V35 they set sail in the evening where Jesus fell asleep at the back of the boat.  They were sailing in a smaller boat for 5 or 6 hours.  It would have been dark, and cold.  The disciples would have felt the splash of the water on their faces, and heard the flap of the sails, felt the wind. 
With the darkness, storm clouds were gathering and the wind began to strengthen causing the waves to be bigger, and the waves were smashing against the side of the boat.  The sea became like a cauldron.  When it began Peter and James were used to being on the sea because they were fishermen but it wasn't long before they were afraid.  Men who went to sea all their lives began to think that they were going to perish, so ferocious was the storm.  Matthew's gospel says  it was like a tempest on the sea.  With this fierce wind blowing, the waves were very large and broke over the boat so that the ship was now filling with water.

The Sea of Galilee is in a basin, down low 680 feet below the Mediterranean.  It is very hot during the day, the east side has mountains, the west side has hills and valleys.  To the north is Mount Herman with cold air that came down.  With cold air coming down and hot air rising up, that can cause a great storm.  This storm of wind made experienced sailors terrified.  In this situation, Jesus is weary.  V38  he was in the hinder part of the ship on a pillow asleep.  A great contrast between Jesus sleeping and the great storm which was taking place.   That teaches us of the humanity of Jesus Christ, he was tired and sleepy just like we can be.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Way to Heaven

John 14:1-6 "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.  Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither you goest; and how can we know the way?  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

In this passage the Lord Jesus teaches us about heaven.  How do we get there? What is the way to heaven?  We have to ask that question because there is a way to heaven.  In our modern western world people just assume heaven.  It is assumed that we will go to heaven when we die.  People assume that they will arrive in heaven after death, this is an almost universal idea.  People who have no interest in God, no interest in Jesus Christ, no interest in His church, no time for the bible, somehow still think it's fitting and  natural that they will end up in heaven after they die.  If their destiny is questioned, they are hurt and offended. "They are looking down upon us now from heaven", that is what they say about people who had no interest in God their whole life.  "They are in a better place now."  Wake up.  Heaven is assumed because the people in the world don't seem to understand one of the facts of life: if you are going to end up somewhere, you need to be on the way to that place.  If you are not on the way to that place you are not going to end up there.  That is a fact of life.  Everybody knows that.  

Does there need to be a way to heaven?  Of course there needs to be a way.  There is a connection, a logical connection, a factual connection, an unquestionable connection, no one can deny it, between the way you are on and the destination at which you will arrive.  If you want to go to somewhere, you need to be on the road to get there.  If you are not on the way to a certain destination, you will not end up there.  There is an undeniable factual connection between the way you are on, and the destination at which you will arrive.  You don't get to a place by doing nothing.  Modern people assume they will get to heaven by sitting in their living room and doing nothing.  They assume that there is no connection between the way and the destination.  They assume heaven because modern people are illogical and irrational in this area.  The bible says they are foolish.  Jeremiah 5:4 "Therefore I said, Surely these are poor, they are foolish: for they know not the way of the LORD, nor the judgment of their God."