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I stated it plainly: I own some and have been gifted some Nike gear but I am not supporting a winged Greek goddess of victory

It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t scripted. It was just a little insight I was sharing based upon our discussion on what is a covenant.

I wasn’t trying to step on any toes. I wasn’t trying to offend anyone. My intention was to inform. I’m not judging anyone. I’m not condemning them either.

I am just not going to support a winged Greek goddess bearing a swoosh with my hard-earned money or the money that a local church might share with me as a guest minister in the pulpit, even the faithful believers who support my ministry with occasional free will gifts.

I just cannot do it with Nike.

What’s that about?

When I Discovered Who Nike Really Is

I was attending community college in San Diego in the late 90s and spending a lot of time at the library with my nose in all sorts of books and publications. One of my main research topics was world religions. While browsing through a book on world belief systems for empowerment, confidence and motivation, I discovered who Nike really is.

Nike: Greek Winged Goddess of Victory

  • Greek mythological goddess, child of one of the Titans
  • Symbols: wings, golden sandals, wreath
  • Known as: “the Winged Goddess”
  • Famous stone statue depicting Nike erected in ancient city of Ephesus

What God Says about Other Gods

You shall have no other gods before Me.

exodus 20:3 (NKJV)

Let me break this verse down in its context. it will make plenty of sense to you when you consider that this verse follows God introducing Himself: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”

  • the Lord your God: He asserted Himself as their God, not as the God of their fathers as before with the burning bush to Moses on Mount Horeb and through Moses and Aaron in Egypt
  • who brought you out of the land of Egypt: He reminds them of His marvelous miracle at the Red Sea that allowed them to escape to freedom but also wiped out the mightiest army on the face of the earth at the time
  • out of the house of bondage: He is sure to stress that their outcries for relief from the burden of bondage that seemed to go unheard and unattended were taken care of in the deliverance that he provided them

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me

Exodus 20:5 (ESV)

God’s a jealous God. That says enough right there if we just stop where it says: “a jealous God.” Based upon this warning alone, it would seem only just to not try and play games with God in this regard.

for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God

Exodus 34:14 (NKJV)

The connection to covenants comes in Exodus 34 as God makes a covenant with the children of Israel prior to driving out the inhabitants of the Promised Land. That’s where it is right there. That’s how it fits. God, “whose name is Jealous,” wants you all to Himself and that covenant makes it binding. No other gods have any place in that equation.

Determined Not to Entangle Myself with Anything Like That

Man, I was floored. I think I had tennis for P.E. coming up and I had Nike all over me, including shoes, socks, shorts, and maybe even the shirt. I felt some kind of way about it, even tried to rationalize it. That was all up until I read a little deeper and understood a little bit more about Nike’s influence in historic cities like Ephesus, a city I was familiar with from reading and studying the Bible. Finally, I just made a decision after some consideration, prayer, and quiet time.

I just couldn’t just do it with Nike anymore.

Watch the discussion on other gods as I share about Nike in last week’s livestream

Sporting But Not Supporting

Like I said before, I might own some Nike items leftover from Father’s Day and birthday gifts, even stuff from the 90s when I didn’t know any better. I think it all might amount to 4 or 5 pairs of socks, a sweatsuit, a pair of sweatpants, and maybe 2 pairs of Nike shorts. No Nike shoes. No Jordans either.

You might catch me working out or playing basketball in the Nike shorts. Occasionally, you’ll see me in the sweatsuit or sweatpants. And those socks tend to make their rounds when I wear my steel-toe boots because of their thickness (You know those socks they get you for father’s Day like an afterthought while they’re shopping in Kohl’s or JC Penney.) At worst, you’ll spot me on the Nike Run app but once Strava or Garmin, even Samsung Health, get it together a little better then I am game to switch over whether I lose followers in the community or not.


Tune in this week and watch Live @ Lunch Bible Study as we continue with the Jeremiah Journey. We study the Book of Jeremiah week by week, chapter by chapter for 2021 every Wednesday at 11 AM PST.

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. . . behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord. One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten – Jeremiah 24:1-2 (ESV)

Fruit has a prominent place in the Bible. For New Testament believers, fruit is the byproduct of our good works in the name of the Lord. His desire is that we produce “much fruit.” Also, fruit is considered one’s offspring, the fruit of your loins. It represents your own legacy. It also represents the potential abundance of the harvest as well as the hard work and toil of the vineyard.

Photo by furkanfdemir on Pexels.com

Ripe or Rotten Fruit

In chapter 24, we see that two baskets of figs have been placed at the temple. One basket has ripe fruit, while the other has rotten fruit. Each has its own basket. If it had said that the figs were all in the same basket, I could imagine the results at the end of the day. We’d expect a basket full of rotting fruit, spoiled by the closeness of the rotten fruit to the ripe fruit. Essentially, the rotten fruit would eventually ruin the ripe fruit.

Oddly, the two separate baskets make it so that the rotten figs do not interact with the good figs. The rotten figs do not have the opportunity to ruin the good figs. The bad ones do not have a chance to turn the good ones bad like them.

God has plans for both the good and bad figs. He points out how the good figs will be watched over and cared for, even brought back to Judah after exile to Babylon. Oddly enough, that is not the fate of Jehoiachin the king of Judah according to chapter 22.

Discover the Big Idea

That seems sort of odd. Good figs get sent into exile, and bad figs remain in place.

The bad figs actually do not get exiled. They remain in place and in Jerusalem and even in Egypt. In fact, when it comes to King Zedekiah of Judah and his officials, they actually remain in power.

 9 I will make them a horror[a] to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a reproach, a byword, a taunt, and a curse in all the places where I shall drive them. 10 And I will send sword, famine, and pestilence upon them, until they shall be utterly destroyed from the land that I gave to them and their fathers. - Jeremiah 24:9-10 (ESV)

We are not called to reason or rationalize why or even how God does what He does. We are called to accept it as right and just as part of who He is and His character or persona (for lack of a better term). We are called to believe it in faith and embrace it as part of God’s will while accepting it as part of the way He works.

Some focus on breaking down God to the simplest part and live with that. Others find it necessary to get into the deep constructs of what makes God tick and why along with adding how it happens, too. Many take a more studious approach and search the Scriptures to discover who God is and accept Him as He is found in the context of the Bible.

Get comfortable with God doing things His way. Get beyond your past hang-ups about what God does that mystifies you and leaves you dumbfounded. Get to a place where you can come to accept God as the true and living God who rules over all.

Go to the discussion guide for this week and see what God has in store for the good figs.

Tune in on Wednesday at 11 AM PST to discover and discuss more about this chapter of Jeremiah.

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For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10  (ESV)

silhouette-photo-of-3-cross-under-the-blue-sky-70847

We’re not saved by works. That is not how salvation works. we are saved by grace through faith. Our salvation is a gift from God.

So how do works fit in?

We are saved to serve the Lord.

Growing in His Word

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works . . .

That is what it says. Verse 10 says as believers, we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” The conclusion is that we do not get engaged in good works as a means for obtaining salvation. Nor do we perform good works as a means of paying back God for His goodness.

We serve because we are saved.

We have been saved in order to serve the Lord, our Master, our God.

What makes it difficult to stick with that is the ideas and interpretations folks have that do not fit the theological framework of salvation. People believe half-truths that have been passed down for centuries from the pulpit to the pews. People take commentary as gospel. People accept the words of the pastor without checking the Scriptures like the believers in Berea (Acts 17:11).

The problem comes down to how folks accept and apply what they hear from others rather than placing their focus on what they hear from God.

Being called to salvation is the recruitment and enlistment into the kingdom of God, while it also ushers in the next phase of being called to serve the Lord. Just as we accept the terms of salvation, we must readily accept the terms of service to the Lord. The text in verse 10 says that “we should walk in them.” In other words, we should live out our faith in service, through good works.

The calling of a Christian is not just to salvation.  God wants us to understand that we were not just saved.

We were saved to serve the Lord.

 

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The Promise of Prayer

 Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you. – 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

Prayer is a promising exercise.  Aside from its ability to help believers release tension and pressure as well as express themselves openly to God directly, prayer comes with a simple promise.

Prayer may not change the outcome.

The promise of prayer is that it can change our own outlook.

Prayer can change our outlook on matters both big and small.  It can actually alter our own perspective on our position within the midst of misery or the precipice of a problem.

“Prayers never die.” – E.M. Bounds

Once we pray, the promise still holds true.  The promise is all about change.

You may not God’s mind or His intention like the prayer of Hezekiah when called out to get his house in order through the prophet Isaiah.  Yet, prayer offers us power to change our walk along this journey of life.  You can make changes in your life due to your prayer life.

Here is how to tap into the ever-changing power and promise of prayer:

  • Put prayer into effect.
  • Take advantage of what God can offers you through prayer.
  • Always stay connected to God through an active and responsive prayer life.

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Then the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he departed and took with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten changes of clothing. Then he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which said,

Now be advised, when this letter comes to you, that I have sent Naaman my servant to you, that you may heal him of his leprosy.

– 2 Kings 5:5

Sometimes, our problems will cause us to go to extreme measures to get relief.  We will be so desperate for a solution that we will take advice from unlikely sources and end up in unlikely places in hope of a healing.

11 But Naaman became furious, and went away . . .’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage.

– 2 Kings 5:11-12

What Naaman received did not meet his expectations.  For all of his high hopes for a healing, he received some simplistic instructions.  In fact, he was not even granted an audience with the prophet.  According to verse 10, “And Elisha sent a messenger to him. . .” as he stood outside of Elisha’s doorway.  Naaman had expected some form of royal reception after all that he had gone through to get there.

13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

-2 Kings 5:13-14

Although Naaman was hardened by the reception and the proposed remedy, he responded accordingly after some prodding and pleading by his own servants.  He did as instructed.  His flesh was restored.  he received his healing after all.

What can we learn from this?

God can bless us with something simple that we might try to complicate.  God may not want us to jump through hoops for what He has for us.  He may just want to see our faith in action.

We have a choice today.  We can be hardened or we can be healed.

What will be your choice today?

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Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

– Psalm 118:1 (NKJV)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
    His faithful love endures forever.

– Psalm 118:1 (NLT)

I look at these passages and see little difference.  By translation, the New King James Version (NKJV) utilizes mercy and the New Living Translation (NLT) uses love.  Neither is synonymous with the other according to our English dictionary and thesaurus.  However, Our interpretation of the Scriptures must look beyond the surface for our true inspiration and insight.

compassion for the miserable. Its object is misery. By the atoning sacrifice of Christ a way is open for the exercise of mercy towards the sons of men, in harmony with the demands of truth and righteousness (Gen. 19:19Ex. 20:634:6, 7; Ps. 85:1086:1516). In Christ mercy and truth meet together. Mercy is also a Christian grace (Matt. 5:718:33-35).

This word seems to require explanation only in the case of its use by our Lord in his interview with “Simon, the son of Jonas,” after his resurrection (John 21:1617). When our Lord says, “Lovest thou me?” he uses the Greek word _agapas_; and when Simon answers, he uses the Greek word _philo_, i.e., “I love.” This is the usage in the first and second questions put by our Lord; but in the third our Lord uses Simon’s word. The distinction between these two Greek words is thus fitly described by Trench:, “_Agapan_ has more of judgment and deliberate choice; _philein_ has more of attachment and peculiar personal affection. Thus the ‘Lovest thou’ (Gr. agapas) on the lips of the Lord seems to Peter at this moment too cold a word, as though his Lord were keeping him at a distance, or at least not inviting him to draw near, as in the passionate yearning of his heart he desired now to do. Therefore he puts by the word and substitutes his own stronger ‘I love’ (Gr. philo) in its room. A second time he does the same. And now he has conquered; for when the Lord demands a third time whether he loves him, he does it in the word which alone will satisfy Peter (‘Lovest thou,’ Gr. phileis), which alone claims from him that personal attachment and affection with which indeed he knows that his heart is full.”

Mercy is for our misery, it says.  Love is an expression of our relationship more so than a feeling or emotion.  Action springs from love, i.e. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son. . .For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16-17, NIV).  The love sparks an action on God’s part for the benefit of those in misery (that would be us- “the world.”)

Can I justify substituting mercy for love, or vice versa?

I probably couldn’t muster enough searching of the Scriptures and the mysteries of God revealed within them to satisfy the hunger and thirst that many brothers and sisters would have for the answer to this.  After all, it is not my answer.  Ultimately, it is God’s answer.

Yet, let who He is satisfy your quest for such knowledge.  Look at His names.  

Jehovah Jireh means that He is our Provider.

Jehovah Shalom means that He is our Peace.

Jehovah Elohim means that He is the Creator, the Trinity or the Three-in-One plural name of  God revealed to us in Genesis.

He is full of love, mercy, peace, creation and all that we need Him to be to us.

Just based upon who He is to us, He can provide both mercy and love that endure forever.

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There is a God

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” . . . – Psalm 14:1 (NIV)

From what the Bible says, an atheist is considered a fool.

(Psalm 53:1 says the same thing as Psalm 14:1)

To avoid falling into foolishness, consider the evidence of God’s creative existence.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained – Psalm 8:3 (NASB)

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. – John 1:3 (NIV)

… When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. – Genesis 5:1 (NIV)

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world  and those who dwell therein, – Psalm 24:1 (ESV)

As we go further in our personal Bible study and devotional time, pray and meditate on God’s presence  and seek His confirmation of His own existence in your life as Lord and Master.

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If It Had,Not, Been For The Lord, On My Side / Where Would I Be?, Where Would I Be? /

The classic gospel song that is derived from the Scriptures in Psalm 124.  It stems from a personal reflection amid the call for a collection reflection.  Each heart and every soul is to ponder and think deeply about the ways that the Lord has done miraculous things in their own lives as well as those both near and dear to them.  They would collectively look back upon how God had enhanced and enriched the lives of men and women throughout the ages.  In particular, the collective reflection would collide and combine with the personal reflection, bringing about a response from among people.

Think about what your response would be amid such a song of ascents.

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Help from on High

God offers us some serious heavenly help.

It is a statement that could stand all by itself and on its own.  Yet, it is also a statement supported by all sorts of verses from the Scriptures.  The Book of Psalms gives us an array of God’s attributes such Him being “good and upright” (Psalm 25:8).  In particular, Psalm 25 shows us how the Lord offers us help from on high.

Show me Your ways, O Lord ; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
– Psalm 25:4-5

Good and upright is the Lord ; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way. The humble He guides in justice, And the humble He teaches His way. – Psalm 25:8-9

Who is the man that fears the Lord ? Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.- Psalm 25:12

The secret of the Lord  is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant. – Psalm 25:14

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, For I wait for You. – Psalm 25:21

Look at all of the different types of help that He provides His people.  He gives us mercy and truth along with His covenant and “the way” as He teaches and protects us.

God gives us help from on high.  Take a moment and embrace every ounce of His help.

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Problems with Patience

Have you really had struggles or trials with patience?

Think back and see what you really thought during such times.

Were you eagerly awaiting something, only to discover that you needed to exercise patience?

Patience can become a problem when you have taken the ready position without any means of going forward.  Some folks can this “the waiting game.” Others shout and pout or rant and rave.  Yet, patience is what is required. 

God expects us to await and remain aware.  Some of God’s work is unfolding things in His own way despite everything being in His hands and under His control.  He may just be watching us while we are waiting, seeing if we have the patience to persist.  But patience also has its “perfect work.”

You might not like it, but it is part of how God works.  You may want to quote some biblical eloquence about how God wants you blessed or why God has all things for all His children.  However, let me allow the Scriptures to speak to that as well.

But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:4

But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,
– 2 Cor. 6:4
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.- James

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; -Col. 1:9-11

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