Archive for the ‘answers’ Category

Get real.

God does not want you to lose sight of the good things that He has for you.  You can expect God to deliver just as He says.

He offers you a way to understand how He works.  He provides us with a way to see Him at work.  He works on our behalf.  He works things out without our help at all.

Trust Him today.  He can be trusted.

Call on Him today.  He will surely answer.

God is still in charge.

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14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 
16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

-Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)

God is available to us.  We do not have to await a mediator in the form of a priest or anyone else.  Jesus serves as our “great high priest” who “did not sin.” He is our mediator, seated at the right hand of the throne of God and advocating for us before God.  

Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 
– Mark 15:38 (NKJV)

He makes our access to God available to us.  The work of Jesus upon the cross brought about the torn veil that led to the Holy of Holies, the inner sanctuary of the temple where access to God was limited to those of the priestly order.  That was destroyed and torn in two by the sacrifice of Jesus.  We, as believers through His shed blood, now have access to God.

Take some time and spend it with God, meditating on the sacrifice of Jesus.

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Mark is an intriguing account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Even the world outside of Christendom has a point of view and perspective on the Gospels due to the fact that Jesus is such an intriguing character.  Look at what PBS says about the Gospel of Mark.

Our last class spent the bulk of its time period with a focus on the transfiguration of Jesus in Mark chapter 9.  The online reference site www.about.com has the following “analysis” of these sections of the Scriptures:

The Gospel According to Mark, Chapter 9 – Analysis and Commentary

The ninth chapter of Mark starts out with one of the most important pre-passion events: Jesus’ transfiguration, which reveals something about his true nature to a select inner group of apostles. After this, Jesus continues to work miracles but includes further predictions about his coming death as well as warnings about the dangers inherent in giving in to temptations to sin.

Transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:1-8) – Analysis and Commentary

Jesus appears here with two figures: Moses, representing Jewish law and Elijah, representing Jewish prophecy. Moses is important because he was the figure believed to have given the Jews their basic laws and to have written the five books of the Torah – the basis of Judaism itself. Connecting Jesus to Moses thus connects Jesus to the very origins of Judaism, establishing a divinely authorized continuity between the ancient laws and Jesus’ teachings.

Reactions to Jesus’ Transfiguration (Mark 9:9-13) – Analysis and Commentary

As Jesus returns from the mountaintop with the three apostles, the connection between Jews and Elijah is made more explicit. It is interesting that this is the relationship focused upon most of all and not the relationship with Moses, even though both Moses and Elijah appeared on the mountain with Jesus. It is also interesting that Jesus refers to himself here as ‘Son of man’ again – twice, in fact.

I posted this as “analysis” because you have to consider the source.  Don’t get caught up in what the world has to say about Jesus or His Word.  When you see Newsweek and National Geographic, even Time Magazine, making references to Jesus and His ministry on earth, keep in mind the perspective from which they view Christianity and its followers.

What does the Word itself say about Jesus?

Use biblical references such as sites and software for analysis and commentary to assist you in your research once you have read and studied the Word itself.  These do not replace a thorough study of the Scriptures.  Include a view of a chain reference such as Thompson Chain Reference Bible available as a smart phone app and with some Bible software.

At some point, Christians like us will need to have a perspective on the importance of our belief in the accounts of the life of Jesus provided to us through the Gospels.  If we profess and confess Him to be Lord and Savior, the Son of God, then we should be able to point to what confirms our belief in the Scriptures.  IDK (I Don’t Know) just will not do for us if we are trying to win souls for Christ.

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And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. – Mark 11:25 (ESV)

Problems come up when we have to deal with each other.  Jesus addressed it.  He stated it plainly.  He didn’t sugar-coat the truth.  He offered a solution that many of us just won’t get into at all.

He said for us to forgive.  If you have something against somebody, forgive that person.  If you still hold a grudge, paraphrasing Jesus, don’t just pray to God.  Forgive that person.  Free yourself of the emotional baggage and bondage, then pray to the Father who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Harbor ill feelings about somebody and you won’t get far.  That’s not good.  You will end up at odds with others and out of order with God.  God has forgiven you for your trespasses.  That should help you forgive others, too.

There’s a solution in the Scriptures for the problems in the pews.

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. – Matthew 6:12 (NIV)

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“Accept God’s will in every situation.” – Andrew Murray
Things happen.  If you read it on a bumper sticker, you would probably get another version of what happens.  We just have to come to grips with the reality and fact of the matter.  Things just happen.
Things happen that are out of our control.  Things happen that are caused by our bad decisions.  Things happen because of what do or don’t do, what we say or fail to say.  Things happen.
We have to learn to accept God’s will.  We cannot simply toss around the notion that Satan is out to get us every time that we come across an uneasy situation.  We have to realize that God’s will is perfect.  He allows things to happen, even to us as his children, so that He may get the glory in the outcome.  He is always at work.  He may be working on us before He ever works it out in our favor.
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trialsJames 1:2 (NASB)
God is able to work everything out.  He has a plan that is carried out through His will.  Both are perfect.  His will is perfect and so is His plan.  How He works it out will work together for our good and His glory.

Read God’s Plans for You by Andrew Murray and discover some of the unique things that God desires you to through your life and your ministry for His glory.

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Heard and Helped

“The state of the church calls for unceasing prayer.” – Andrew Murray

I cry out loud to God.  I call to God, and he will hear me. –Psalm 77:1 (NCV)

The believer seeks to be helped.  He cries out to God, seeking God’s help for him.  The believer wants God’s help.  He needs God’s help.  The believer cries out in prayer, seeking the help of God.

In order to get God’s help, the believer needs to be heard by God.  The believer’s desire to be helped is a high priority, but his desire to be heard ranks right up there with being helped.  The believer has to believe in God’s ability to help him as well as God’s ability to hear him.  The believer needs to be heard by God to be helped by God.

This psalm of Asaph expresses the distress of a man in need.  He appears at the end of his wits.  He seems to be on edge, on the verge of losing it all.  He was in a desperate place.  He was in a place where he knew that he needed God to intervene on his behalf.  Just look at his approach.  He cried “out loud” to God.  He called to God.  

Verses 3 through 12 of the psalm show the process of consideration and contemplation that the man went through, meditating, thinking, recalling, remembering, and more.  He ends up recognizing God’s miraculous ways and His mighty works.  He ends up thinking on God’s care for His own flock, the tribe of Israel, and how He cared for them, leading them like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron (v. 20, NIV).

God is willing to hear you.  God has all of the help that you need at his disposal.  He can help you.  Will you cry out to Him? Will you submit your will to His will? Will you share your prayers with God? He will hear you.  He can help you.

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Christmas Crime

Christmas With the Kranks

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.
-Judges 2:10 (NLT)
This holiday season has disturbed me a bit.  No, it’s not because me artificial tree looks like it needs a stimulus package or recovery funds.  I can deal with that.  It’s not even because we have Christmas on a tight budget this year (and every year).  It certainly isn’t due to the fact that my Christmas savings account was empty before I had purchased a single gift for anyone.  None of that is a big deal to me.

The Ice Harvest

These holiday criminals have me puzzled.  They prey upon households that tend to be the people who really don’t deserve to be robbed blind if there ever such a list existed.  For instance, a woman from our church and a family friend spent much of early December helping prepare for our church’s Angel Tree celebration for the children of the incarcerated through Prison Fellowship.  Yet, her house was robbed and ransacked just days before Christmas.  My neighbor who never fails to speak or wave and who always seems to be ready to offer a cheery smile was robbed the day before Christmas as I grumbled about losing a gift card for one of my family members.  Here I was complaining about the $30 card I had lost, but this man and his family were wiped out in an instant.

Trapped in Paradise
It is some sad commentary on us when we think that we are immune to Christmas crimeLook at the world today.  Crime may be on an upswing due to hard times and other factors.  It’s unreal out here with the economy and the job market.  However, if we do not see the reality that is before our eyes, we may end up wondering the worst and missing our own miracles.
Home Alone
Imagine the worst and expect the worst.  It comes out like that.  It is like Murphy’s Law or a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We tend to live up to the expectations of others and we live out our own expectations of ourselves. Don’t let bad things run around in your mind to the point that you embrace cynicism and negativity as part of your outlook on daily living, even the holidays.  Embrace the miracle of what you have been given today and in this moment.  The miracle is that God allowed you to see or hear about it.  Do something about it.  Do something special for the people who had to deal with it.  Take full advantage of today.  Make the most of every God-given opportunity today.
What kept it from being your house? Grace.  Why wasn’t it you? Goodness (His, not mine).  Who could have prevented it from happening to them? No one but God.  Then, after all of that line of questioning, you still have to ask: Why did He allow it to happen to them?
I suspect it was done so the Lord could  use you somehow in some special way for someone else.

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 1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”- Genesis 16:1-2 (NIV)

5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the LORD judge between you and me.”- Genesis 16:5 (NIV)

I have read it over and over again.  I think that somewhere between verse 2 and verse 5, Sarai had a major change go down with her.  Her idea to have her slave girl give both she and her husband a child soon turned their home into a very hostile household.  She was quick to say that the Lord was keeping her barren and that they needed Hagar early on, but when she felt wronged, she shifted the blame to her husband.

Be sure to note this: God never said or suggested this method in the first place.  Go promised Abraham a son.  He wasn’t promised with a caveat that required him to help God out with it.  He was promised a son of His own blood.  Sarai’s interpretation of her own barren state matches with the lack of patience that many of have with the Lord’s timing.  Usually, when we feel that the Lord is taking too long, we need to look inside of ourselves and see why we are so impatient with our “very present help.” Oftentimes, we seek to move God along, and then we find ourselves in need of more help than we need in the beginning because of what we have done.

Do you want things to run smoothly, at least smoother than they have in the past? Keep your trust in God, not you and your latest idea.  Do you think that you have an idea that will move things along a lot faster? Take it back to God in prayer.  See what His answer is today.  If His answer matches with your idea, go for it in His name.  If not, work on being a little more patient with the one who is longsuffering and exhibits lovingkindness towards his dear children.

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Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.- Genesis 3:1 (ESV)

Typically, we get the story wrong.  Art gives us a false perception at times, especially when it comes to this Old Testament . We picture a snake slithering and easing up on this woman.  Oftentimes, the depiction is of a snake entangled upon some tree limb and hanging in the face of the woman, Eve.  Or, in some cases, where the Scriptures don’t even come into consideration, the snake is positioned between the man and woman with his coiled body asymmetrically balancing the artwork as he offers the temptation of a deep-red apple to both parties.

Can you simply read Genesis 3 for yourself?

The serpent was not cursed until after he participated in the temptation of mankind.  In essence, we do not know the serpent’s previous condition, its pre-fall nature, but we are certain that, after Genesis 3:14, the serpent’s condition is changed by God Almighty.  The word “enmity” comes up in the next verse as an indication of the changed relationship between mankind and the serpent.  Regardless of how we look at it, the serpent demonstrates that God can change us.  He is an example of God’s correction of created beings under His divine control.

The serpent symbolizes the introduction of devilish deception.  He introduced a seed of doubt in regards to the Word of God.  He simply shared that what man had been led to believe was not so.  He keyed in on the notion that God had something to hide, something to keep from man. 

Imagine if we understood are enemy and his tactics so well that we could have our defenses ready for anything he threw our way.  That would be just a taste of paradise.

*From Eden to Egypt is a series for Life Path Ministries by Rev. Bruce Jackson that chronicles a daily study and reading of the Book of Genesis and The Genesis Record by Henry M. Morris.

Genesis Record, The: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings

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14 Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah:

“I was no prophet,

Nor was I a son of a prophet,

But I was a sheepbreeder

And a tender of sycamore fruit.
15 Then the Lord took me as I followed the flock,

And the Lord said to me,

‘Go, prophesy to My people Israel.’

Amos’ defense of himself in response to Amaziah’s accusations of him let us know that Amos was “no prophet” and certainly not “a son of prophet.”  Among the prophets of the Old Testament, we discover that Amos was not of a priestly lineage like Jeremiah or Isaiah.  Amos was a “herdsman” who “followed the flock.”  In fact, it is Amos’ claim that God found him as he “followed the flock” as “sheepbreeder.”
The Lord will seek us out in order to get us sparked.  He will seek us out to get us started.  He will seek us out to show us or send us, even to summon us.  He initiates something within us that causes us to respond to His call upon our lives.
Once we have been found by the Lord, we begin to start. . .

  • Seeking the Lord
  • Serving the Lord
  • Satisfying the Lord

Think hard about it.  When did God call you? Where did He find you?

God expects a response to His call. He waits on the weary soul that has been beckoned. He awaits a change to come over the one who has been summoned.

Did you start seeking Him? Did you start serving Him? Did you start satisfying God?

Respond to God bidding you.  He sought you out for a purpose. Don’t resist or rebel.

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